Six weeks in

I think this is the end of the sixth week of social distancing / work from home / whatever this is. I’m starting to lose track. My last post was on Easter Sunday, two weeks ago, so I thought I should check in again. I don’t have much to report. I’m still employed and still healthy.

I’d mostly avoided take-out for the first four weeks of this thing, but I started getting more adventurous last week. After six weeks without pizza, I finally decided to just go ahead and order a whole 12″ pie last night. I only intended on eating half of it, but I wound up eating the whole thing. So I’m going to have to try to eat healthier today. I’ve been doing a pretty good job of sticking to routines, including staying with pretty much the same diet I was following before this started. But I’ve actually dropped a couple of pounds, so I think there’s room for an occasional pizza in there, as long as I don’t overdo it.

I’ve been going out for morning walks on most weekdays since this thing started. Generally, I go for a walk at the same time that I would normally leave for work. I try to take a photo or two on these walks. I’ve been writing short journal entries in Day One every day, and saving a photo with the entry. Today, I took a bunch of those photos and created an album on Flickr. You can find it here. They’re mostly just random photos of flowers and trees. But the routine of going for the walk, taking a photo or two, saving it to Day One, and writing a little journal entry is one of the things that’s helping me stay sane.

So, this hasn’t been much of an update. As usual, there’s a lot of news I could link to, but I’m not really in the mood to do that right now. I’ve gotten my laundry and grocery shopping done, and went for a nice walk, so now I just want to relax for a bit.

Easter Sunday

Well, today is apparently Easter Sunday. I haven’t really celebrated Easter in a traditional way in several years, so being at home alone on Easter isn’t that weird for me. Still, I usually try to get out and do something on Easter. Last year, I went out for a nice walk and uploaded some photos to Flickr. I could of course go out for a walk today, and might do that a bit later, but I’m thinking about just staying in all day. I had to go out a few times yesterday, and it was exhausting.

I have a bunch of stuff that I want to blog about today, and I’m not sure how to organize it all, so this post may be somewhat scattershot. We’re about a month into this whole social distancing thing, and there’s a lot on my mind.


I guess I’m going to start with masks. Here in the US, the initial advice to everyone was that wearing masks in public was unnecessary. This gradually evolved into the situation we have today, where mask-wearing in public, here in NJ, is now required in most public places. It was required in supermarkets starting last week, and has now been expanded to include situations like picking up take-out food. If you’re interesting in the science behind mask-wearing, Ars Technica has a good article on that. And the Pinboard guy has been pushing for public mask-wearing in the US for a while, and has a good blog post on the subject.

Acquiring masks here in NJ hasn’t been easy though. I haven’t seen them for sale anywhere, though of course I’ve only been to ShopRite and Walgreens in the past month. I watched a video showing how to make a mask with a bandana and two hair ties, and managed to make myself one that way. (I had a spare bandana, but I had to buy hair ties.) That will do in a pinch, but it’s not great. I also went online and ordered masks from a few different sources. Only one of those orders has shown up so far. It was an order of two apparently homemade cloth masks, via eBay, which shipped from Texas. They’re reasonably well-made and fit me OK. I don’t know if they’re going to last through too many washes, as the straps don’t seem too sturdy. But hopefully, they’ll be good enough for now. I also ordered a five-pack from Buck Mason, which should be shipping at the end of April or early May. I’m hoping those will be good quality and will last me a while. The options for mail-order face masks right now seem to be: (1) eBay, (2) Etsy, and (3) various mail-order clothing retailers that have added cloth masks to their stores, but aren’t able to keep up with demand. I found out about the Buck Mason masks from a GQ article. That article lists a bunch of other similar sources. (I found a fancy/ridiculous $185 face mask by following a link in that article. And, no, I’m not buying that one.)

My trip to ShopRite yesterday was my first adventure in public mask-wearing. It didn’t go too bad, but I found that my glasses were constantly fogging up. I’ve read articles about how you can prevent that (Kotaku, Lifehacker), but I’m not too optimistic about the methods they’re suggesting. I guess I’ll stick a tissue under the top of my mask the next time I go out and see how that works.


I have a few follow-ups to last week’s post on the state of the comics industry, and other comics-related stuff. First, here’s an article from the NY Times on the situation. It’s actually a pretty good summary of the situation. It used to be that mainstream articles about the comics industry routinely got stuff wrong, over-simplified things, and/or indulged in overused cliches (usually related to the 1960’s Batman TV show). But they’ve gotten a lot better in recent years.

I was going to link to some other stores about the current state of the comics industry here, but there’s probably not much point. There’s a lot of speculation, but nothing much solid. I will say that now is probably a good time to support some indie comics and charity fundraising bundles. I recently bought a Firelight Isle Kickstarter and a COVID-19 Humble Bundle. There’s probably a bunch of other stuff out there I could be buying, if I had the time and inclination to go looking.

I realized just yesterday that this weekend would have been WonderCon. I went last year, and had been seriously thinking about going this year too. It’s funny to think that, as recently as February 29, it still seemed possible that WonderCon wouldn’t be canceled. There’s a fairly low-key WonderCon at Home thing going on this weekend instead. I poked around on the site and checked out the Twitter hashtag, and there’s some cute stuff there, but I haven’t been able to work up too much enthusiasm for anything there.

How I’m Doing

(…for lack of a better section header.) I’m very glad that I still have a job, and that I can work from home, and that work stuff seems to be pretty stable, so far. And I’m glad that I appear to be healthy, and have enough to eat, and have TV and comics and books and music with which to distract myself. I’m very worried about how bad things could get if this crisis drags on for too long though. I’m worried about myself, and my friends, and the world at large, I guess. I mentioned above that I kind of exhausted myself yesterday, just dealing with some everyday stuff: laundry, grocery shopping, and a trip to the bank. All the hand-washing, mask-wearing, awkward maneuvering around other people, keeping up with new rules, dealing with the spotty availability of everyday things. It all adds up to extra stress. I’ve been hoping that, at some point, things will settle down a bit, and I can get into a good rhythm. But there always seems to be something new that throws a wrench into the works. Yesterday, it was the new rules around mask-wearing, the fact that all of the self-checkout lanes at ShopRite were cash-only, the broken change machine in the laundry room… I found myself with a headache in the afternoon, and of course immediately started to worry about whether that was a symptom of COVID-19 or just a regular everyday headache. I’m thinking it’s just a regular headache, but it’s persisting a bit today. I’m going to try to take it easy today and just rest and relax and hope that tomorrow will be a nice “normal” work day. And I hope that anyone who made it this far down into my self-indulgent ramblings is having a good day, a good Easter (where applicable), and is happy and healthy.


worrying about comics

The plight the comics industry finds itself in right now pales in comparison to the general plight we all find ourselves in right now. But hey, I’m a comics fan, so I worry about comics.

Part of my concern is of course selfish: I want to be able to keep buying and reading the comics I love. I want to go to comic cons. But I also worry about all the people who make their living in the comics industry: writers, artists, publishers, resellers, con organizers, and so on. Most of them are pretty good people, and most of them aren’t rich.

There’s quite a conundrum going on right now: publishers could, conceivably, continue releasing comics digitally while most of the comic stores are closed. But, if they do that, then fans will buy the digital copies from Comixology and the stores will lose that income. And some fans may never go back to the stores. But if the publishers hold off on any publishing, then they’ve got no money coming in at all. Meanwhile, Diamond isn’t shipping comics, accepting shipments from publishers, or paying vendors. So nobody can sell anything through Diamond.

ComicHub had a mildly interesting plan to allow fans to buy new comics online from their local shop and get advance digital copies of them, but that plan seems to have fizzled out. Marvel is now pausing work on a third of their upcoming releases. I’d expect DC to do something similar.

Comixology (owned by Amazon), meanwhile, is currently offering a two-month trial of Comixology Unlimited (which normally has a one-month trial). And Marvel (owned by Disney) is offering up some free stories on Marvel Unlimited, presumably hoping to snag a few new subscribers while comic shops are closed. I guess I have mixed feelings about this stuff. It bothers me that it might be only the very large companies that come through this thing in good shape. But, hey, we all have to make a living, and, well, I work for a pretty large company too.

John Jackson Miller wrote a great post on his blog giving some historical context and offering some hope for the future. It’s worth reading. Meanwhile, I just placed my April order with Westfield (for stuff shipping in June), so I guess I’m still optimistic that things will get back to “normal” at some point, and I’ll be able to buy and read good old-fashioned 32-page comics again at some point.