With the likelihood of a nationwide quarantine being reinstated, a lot of people will be looking for things to do to pass the time. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: there are now so many options for interesting things to do online that don’t require leaving the house that it’s embarrassing! That being the case, I’m only going to cover a few of them, because, well, I hope to have something to eat later, and getting some sleep is also on the agenda – neither of which I’ll have time for if I try for a complete list.
First, there’s Twitch (https://www.twitch.tv/). Those of you who are gamers have probably already heard about this platform, but in a nutshell: Twitch is a streaming service that allows people to (among other things) play games while others watch the stream remotely. It works as well for video/computer games as it does for role-playing game sessions, and I’ve spent a fair bit of time watching several different styles of Twitch streams. Animal Crossing for example, a hugely popular online game where people populate their own island with plants, animals, buildings, and stuff, is one that a number of people play on Twitch with regularity. I wrote last year about several of those RPG streams I’d been enjoying at that time; here’s a link to that post for more details: http://billbodden.com/2019/10/21/crossing-the-streams/
Podcasts are all over the place, covering every subject under the sun. Podcasts are often (but not exclusively!) audio-only recordings, and are great to listen to on a long drive or even while you’re doing something else, like gardening or cooking. I can’t possible do the subject justice here, except to say that the vast majority are searchable, and many can be downloaded through platforms like iTunes and Google Play. Many podcasts have their own website, and you can usually listen or watch directly from the site.
YouTube is full of fascinating material. Take the page “Ask a Mortician” for instance. Host Caitlin Doughty covers a wide variety of topics that relate to death – directly or indirectly – and I went down that amazing rabbit-hole one night during a recent bout of insomnia. Two topics that stuck with me in particular: “The Real Moby Dick Was So Much Worse”(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS299VkXZxI) and “The Lake That Never Gives Up Her Dead” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0Lg9HygEJc) I guarantee you’ll get sucked in, and there’s a lot more where those two came from!
I’ve loved being involved with Virtual Book Club for the last several months. (First rule of Virtual Book Club? TALK about Virtual Book Club!) Organized and hosted by the indomitable Madame Askew, it’s a monthly discussion that’s been in progress for several years. One of the ideas behind it is to help lesser-known authors – steampunk and “steampunk-adjacent” authors particularly – find a little more exposure and hopefully a few extra sales. This month’s (July 2020) discussion will cover the excellent novella The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark (Tor Books.) Here’s the link to the VBC Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/256347319118275/ It isn’t necessary to have read the book, but it is encouraged, and certainly after hearing the discussion, it’s likely you’ll want to obtain and read the book anyway. The discussion is hosted on Zoom (so you’ll need to download that to your phone or computer), and usually lasts about an hour. The Facebook page will have the Zoom access code posted the day of the event, so having a Facebook account (or a very reliable friend who does) will be useful.
Madame Askew herself is a vital resource for costumers and cosplayers everywhere. She regularly hosts sewing clinics and mini-workshops, offering tips and tricks to help make creating costumes — and also more practical, everyday garments – easier. She does most of this via her Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/MadameAskew) and sometimes through Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/MadameAskew/)
Having something to do to occupy one’s time is more important now that ever. I hope these suggestions will help make quarantine time a little more bearable – perhaps even fun! I the mean time, stay home, stay safe, and if you have to go out, WEAR A MASK!