7 Things: Edition II

Here’s some things that I found on the internet. I liked them. You might too. If not, feel free to write a complaint.

1. Letters to fans

Tom Hanks is probably the nicest man in the world. On hearing of a young man being bullied because of his name – Corona – he wrote him a letter, and sent him his typewriter.

Mr Hanks is more modest than John Cleese:

And, thankfully, less honest than Rik Mayall:

2. You can have a tour of a Goat farm during your next Zoom meeting

A Californian goat sanctuary has come up with a unique way of raising funds during the COVID-19 lockdown. In return for a donation, they’ll join your Zoom meeting and give you a tour of the farm. To be fair, at this point you could replace me with a goat and our company Zoom meetings would probably make more sense.

Goat-2-Meeting, via CNN.

3. Nokia Wallpapers

Only people of a certain age will remember these.

4. Delta IV Heavy Launch Photo

John Kraus takes photos of rocket launches for a living, which seems like a pretty cool thing to get paid for.

From Reddit, and more here.

5. Stephen Moss guides us through common bird calls

One of the benefits of being at home, for me, is that I’ve become more aware of the visitors to my garden. I’ve been trying to identify the different bird calls. It’s harder than you would think. Steve gives a helpful guide to three common ones.

6. Jennifer Anniston & Matt Perry performed in a Windows 95 video guide

Those were simpler times. Via Youtube.

7. Bring back blogs

Wired Magazine has an excellent article on the inadequacies of social media, with an emphasis on Twitter, as a platform for disseminating complex information during global emergencies. Instead, they say, institutions should provide experts with the tools to publish long-form content on their own sites, and then use Twitter as a way to discuss and collaborate.

When confined to Twitter, pandemic experts mainly express themselves through 15- or 20-tweet long threads. Not only is this format cumbersome to consume, it also can’t easily be updated. To make matters worse, these threads are quickly pushed out of view by the downward pressure of the growing user timeline. A page or post on a blog, on the other hand, allows the expert to more easily write long-form content, including links to their articles and rich graphics, they can easily update as new information arises.

Obviously I am biased, but I think this is a grand idea.

Via Wired: ‘Expert Twitter’ Only Goes So Far. Bring Back Blogs

Notes from week ending 12th April, 2020

The city of Hull is not a desirable place to live. People joke that even the Coronavirus doesn’t want to come to here. It does have one of the lowest infection rates in the country, so perhaps there is some truth to it. Hull isn’t on the way to anywhere. You have to come here with intent – and there’s really not that many reasons to do that. A copper once told me that the reason we don’t have much gun crime (compared to other cities) is that there’s only one road in and one road out, making escape problematic. It’s a strange place.

There are a lot of hours between waking and sleeping. It’s one of the many things that didn’t get much consideration before, but now seem very important – like knowing that your lungs will keep flapping without need of mechanical intervention or, to a lesser extent, that you have enough toilet roll.

My employer expects me to work during the week. I’m grateful for this. It passes the time and they are willing to pay me for it. I’m used to working from home and I’ve stuck dutifully to my regular schedule – it’s the hours after that now feel oppressive.

I started with good intentions: start running again, exercise daily, eat better – all the clichés. If I had an ounce of commitment, I would come out of the lockdown looking a little less like Peter Kaye and more like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I tried Jo Wicks once, at the beginning when motivation was high. That was a laugh. I nearly died. There’s no way those workouts are designed for kids. I bet he laughs when the camera is off – “bet the fat bastards are sweating now!”. Instead, I’ve been reading mental conspiracy theories on Twitter and selling imaginary turnips to strangers over the internet. I have not baked any sourdough bread – that’s one more thing I can add to my list of things that I probably won’t do.

It’s spookily quiet around here. Cities are loud places. There is a constant background noise of traffic, helicopters and sirens; interrupted sporadically by a dickhead on a scooter, a pisshead shouting at himself or the neighbour coughing up her lungs as she sparks up the tenth spliff of the day. Quiet is rare. Silence is rarer. Right now the predominant sounds are the blackbirds that live in the bush at the end of the garden and the gurgling of a pond fountain that has either only just appeared or was previously drowned out by the din. Normality will be difficult to get used to again.

Nature seems grateful for our absence. As I walk through the woodland near our house, I note that the local wildlife seems braver. Birds fly closer and chatter loudly. A fox watches me carefully from the path but doesn’t flee. They seem aware that the outside spaces are theirs again, for now. Good for them.

My week notes are intermittent because there’s not a lot going on. There’s only so much you can write about Zoom meetings, home working and this big, weird situation we all find ourselves in.

Until next time.