How to make me feel old (Lenovo edition)

I like my Thinkpad X1 Carbon. The finish has this weirdly soothing texture, the keyboard is like everything Apple would never do (a good thing) and it generally runs well.

I am always keeping my eye on laptops because I am in the market for a new one this year, so I am subscribed to Lenovo’s newsletter.

It is a total coincidence that I am writing about newsletters two days in a row, I assure you.

Today I get this:

Basically, Lenovo is telling me I am old. A senior.


Zinio: We don’t know how April Fools works

I get newsletters from Zinio, the online magazine store, offering savings and such on various, well, online magazines. It’s a decent service, though increasingly niche as the general web provides a less-curated overabundance of information on any topic out there.

Today is April 1st, aka April Fools Day. During a global pandemic, with thousands sick and dying and everyone forced to stay away from each other to prevent the spread of the virus, some companies, like Google, have wisely chosen to forsake the usual “funny” jokes we see across the web today.

Zinio had this in today’s newsletter:

“April Fools is not cancelled” would seem to be saying that what follows is a joke or prank. Does this mean “Get up to 40% off?” is a joke? No, it still applies. This is Zinio’s standard promo discount on magazines that they offer regularly.

Unless you use a very broad interpretation of April Fools as a “holiday” or special occasion to “celebrate”, this ad makes no sense at all. It’s confusing and ill-conceived.

It made me realize I don’t need to get these newsletters anymore, so thank you, Zinio ad department, for helping slim down my inbox with your inept attempt at humor.

Well, that was a month (March 2020 edition)

If I go back all the way to the start of the year–you know, three months ago–I had probably heard about the coronavirus that was starting to appear in China, but it was otherwise just another news story in the background, like so many others.

Today, two days from April, I am in my third week of working from home, the place I work is all but locked down, businesses that aren’t “essential services” are closed, transit is ghost trains and empty buses, and it’s still ridiculously difficult to buy toilet paper, which is a fitting epitaph for this species if we manage to extinguish ourselves–maybe not with this virus, but perhaps with another.

For the first time I am keenly aware of sharing the sidewalk with others. Walks are now solitary affairs, with wide berths given to others. Runs have become stressful exercises (ho ho) in avoidance. Visiting friends has gone virtual. I look at Facebook almost every day (ew).

It’s awful. But enough about Facebook.

The news coverage of COVID-19 is constant and ever-present. You can’t do anything without seeing or hearing the effects of the virus (as I write this, 16 stories on the CBC News website are about COVID-19. That’s all of the stories, by the way). I wonder how long I’ll be working from home; through April seems like a safe bet. Beyond that, it all depends on how under control the virus is. This is the first global pandemic in the age of social media and easy, world-spanning travel, so we are in a very real sense in uncharted territory now.

Some things haven’t changed. I get up in the morning and have my usual breakfast. I work out on the treadmill. I write on this blog. But even the regular things have that undercurrent of unreality to them because I know these normal routines are set against a world that is operating dramatically differently than it was a couple of months ago.

I’m curious about what sort of blog post I’ll be making in June, as we reach the middle of the year and the start of summer. Will things be starting to return to normal, or will we be settling in for longer, more permanent changes to how our whole society works? I don’t know. I’m not even sure I want to know.

But we’ll see in three months. Until then, interesting times.

Two day ordering, pandemic edition

The order is for some lighting, so nothing critical or anything, but it underscores how Amazon is being slammed by everyone with so many physical stores currently shut down. My usual experience is for them to deliver ahead of schedule, now two day delivery has stretched to four weeks.

Just another sign of the times. It’s hard to believe just a month ago the world seemed relatively normal (awful in a lot of ways, but still normal).

More obvious answers to obvious questions

(Technically the question is implied, not stated outright.)

Question: The Trick to Shorter Meetings?
Answer: End them sooner.

Thank you. My consulting fees are reasonable, please see my LinkedIn for more.

Egg quest complete!

I didn’t even realize I was on an egg quest until I went shopping for eggs.

Of course, in this time of panic-buying and hoarding, the grocery store had no eggs. Like, none at all, not even the most expensive, free range “the chickens that laid these live better lives than you do” eggs.

I went across the street to Shoppers Drug Mart as they have a few aisles devoted to groceries. I wasn’t expecting them to have any eggs, but lo, they did! I grabbed a dozen (I didn’t see any signs indicating limits but I’m not a panic-filled hoarder) and went to the checkout…where the cashier was standing behind a giant plexiglass partition. It had a cutout in the bottom for me to slide the eggs through so he could scan them. He did so and placed the eggs and the receipt at the end of the till, away from his body.

It was a bit weird.

But now I can have eggs for breakfast for at least six days.

My only political cartoon post (possibly)

I normally don’t post political cartoons, but I’m making an exception here because I think this one perfectly captures the essence of a person entirely unfit for the position he holds and his real priority–himself.

For future generations (if any): This refers to the COVID-19 global pandemic of 2020

More things not to do in the pandemic (and a few you can)

Closures continue, though we’re not in full stay-at-home mode yet like California, where its population of 40 million people (more than all of Canada) are literally being asked to stay home and not go anywhere unless it is for an essential service.

Here’s the latest bunch of things I can’t do:

  • Go out for dinner (all restaurants are closed except for take out and delivery)
  • Get a coffee (Starbucks is closed. Technically, I still can go because they are keeping stores close to emergency services open and there is one a few blocks from Royal Columbian hospital that’s open, so if society begins to totally collapse and I want a final oat fudge bar, I’m set. For now.)
  • Go to a playground in Vancouver (the ones in New West are still open for the time being, with signs basically telling kids not to play together which…uh, good luck with that?)
  • Go to work (work from home started on Wednesday; staff are only going in on an as-needed basis)
  • Buy groceries between 7-8 a.m. (reserved for seniors and those at risk, though I’d only shop this early if I was doing it in a dream, anyway)
  • Go to The Other 11 Months local NaNoWriMo weekly writing group (postponed indefinitely for obvious reasons, though I haven’t gone for quite awhile due to my extended writing slump)

But to not go all Negative Nellie, here are things I can do:

  • Grab a bunch of free games from services ranging from Apple’s App Store to
  • Buy Serif’s line of excellent Affinity software for 50% off
  • Go outside, provided I practice social distancing (as a bonus, the weather has finally been sunny and mild this week)
  • Ride the bus for free and enter through the rear doors (to promote social distancing)
  • Purchase a Nintendo Switch w. Animal Crossing bundle (just kidding, this thing is sold out everywhere)
  • Bu the new iPad Pro with LIDAR! Why would I want an iPad with LIAR? I do not know.

The next phase of this pandemic will be interesting. Everyone will adjust to the restrictions and the novelty of it will keep things interesting for a few weeks. But I suspect a lot of people think it will also be over in a few weeks and if it’s not…what next? People lived through years of war, but in our hyper social media-dominated world, will we as a society have what it takes to keep it together if all of this starts stretching past weeks and into months?

To quote Home Simpson, “I don’t know.”

At long last toilet paper

A blog headline I never thought I’d write.

Today at noon–the first day of spring (and a glorious early spring day it was)– I went to Save On Foods and found the toilet paper aisle empty, as usual. But at the end of the aisle there was a small pallet with a partly opened cardboard box…filled with Western Family toilet paper!

I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t been working from home and able to check over lunch they would have been out again after dinner, even with the new 1-per customer limit (down from 2-per just yesterday). I consider this acquisition a minor miracle, given the awesome panic and hoarding that is gripping the general public.

I am hoping this is the last time I feel a need to blog about toilet paper.

This day

Today was not a good day.

That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Also, here’s a quote from someone on Broken Forum:

On another topic, people have been stealing toilet paper out of the hospital bathrooms, because apparently humanity is beyond redemption, and also desperate enough to steal the single-ply industrial sandpaper they use there.

Signs of the times (2020 global pandemic edition)

I went out on my TPQ (Toilet Paper Quest) again, since I had time at noon (today is the first day my department is working from home, which I will talk about in some other post). My TPQ ended with me once more empty-handed, left only with sadness. And jam. They had jam and it was on sale, so I bought some jam.

The empty toilet paper shelves have a new sign, though, so there is some small hope I might get some before the last three rolls get used:

Unless the sign means they only had two packages in total, which is also possible.

Those chili-style baked beans I posted about a few days ago were also gone. Desperate times, indeed.

And the meat section was nearly barren. Fittingly, a single, mask-clad woman was picking over what little was left.

Meatless in New West

I’m not really concerned yet, just annoyed and a little depressed at all the needless hoarding going on that is preventing others from getting anything at all. If the zombie apocalypse starts, I’m pointing the brain-eaters to the houses with all the toilet paper.

The continuing effects of the global pandemic on my life

In list form, because I lists:

  • Still no toilet paper at the grocery store
  • Hand sanitizer also remains vanished
  • As of tomorrow, I am working from home until [no date specified]
  • Things I can’t do because they are closed:
    • Buy a book at Indigo
    • Buy an iPad at an Apple store
    • Buy a Surface Pro at a Microsoft store
    • See a movie at Landmark Cinemas
    • Have a stiff drink at any bar to try to forget about the pandemic
    • Exercise, go for a swim or play a sport at any indoor public facility
  • Things I can’t do because they are no longer allowed:
    • Gather with more than 50 people
  • Things that are still allowed:
    • Fretting
    • Worrying
    • Pacing back and forth
    • Checking your temperature
    • Did I mention fretting and worrying?

The whole thing still seems surreal, but the new wrinkle of working from home (which in a way is a relief as it allows me to avoid the long commute on public transit where I could be exposed to the virus or unwittingly expose it to others) has added a more tangible sense of yep, things have changed.

The question now is, for how long? Optimists say weeks, pessimists say months and I haven’t checked with the nihilists yet. I’m expecting that we will at least be edging into summer before anything resembling a sense of normalcy returns, and I consider that leaning toward the optimist side of things.