Shut in sounds: Oysterband—Early Days of a Better Nation

When we finally come out of this terrifying situation that the world has found itself embroiled in, the very best we can hope for is to become a better people than we were before COVID-19 struck, forcing us away from one another.

We'll have to work for it, but it's achievable. Read the rest

Radio Garden is a great way to discover music from around the world

Thanks to the coronavirus, international travel is pretty much out of the question. This, however, doesn't mean that you can't take a taste of a huge number of cultures from around the world, without ever leaving your home.

Radio Garden is a web service with a visual interface that allows you to tune into a vast variety of radio stations from around the world: Spin the globe, zoom in on the region you're interested in listening in on and choose a radio station. You're in business. During a recent trip to Morocco, I got into the kingdom's music scene, in a big way. Thanks to Radio Garden, I'm able to tune in and discover new sounds, anytime I please. If you're trapped inside and hungry for something to do, give it a try. It'll kill at least a few hours of your time Read the rest

Making Cadbury Creme Eggs from scratch takes a lot of work... and sugar

Look, nothing about what's done in this video is easy or anything less than time consuming. But, if you're hellbent on being able to enjoy something as close to a Cadbury Creme Egg as possible, 365 days of the year, this recipe is your huckleberry. Read the rest

Idiots in the UK risk their community for the sake of socialization and bouncy castles

Apparently, Greater Manchester is the New Florida during spring break of the United Kingdom. Despite warnings, daily updates to the number of victims of COVID-19 and the threat of steep fines for breaking quarantine or engaging in large public gatherings, an absurd number of Mancunians refuse to do anything to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The local police? They're pissed off.

From The BBC:

There were 1,132 coronavirus-related breaches reported between 25 March and 7 April, the force said.

That included 494 house parties - some with DJs, fireworks and bouncy castles - and 166 street parties.

One woman in Bury became the first person in Greater Manchester to be charged under the Coronavirus Act 2020 after police had to repeatedly shut down one of the gatherings.

The force, which has released updated figures, also had to deal with 122 different groups gathering to play sports, 173 more gatherings in parks and 112 incidents of anti-social behaviour and public disorder.

All of this, of course, is absolutely insane. Not only does this sort of lunacy increase the possibility of infection for anyone in attendance of such bullshit get-togethers, it's also putting police officers in danger of contracting coronavirus, each and every time they have to show up to shut a party down. Also, where the hell do you get a bouncy castle in the middle of a pandemic?

Having been safely, if not happily housebound since the end of February, I can't imagine what selfish needs that folks throwing parties and generally ignoring medical advice in the name of maintaining their social lives are thinking. Read the rest

Shut in sounds: Jason Isbell—Cover Me Up

While you're sheltering in place, I hope it's with someone who loves you and makes you feel whole. Read the rest

The right to repair is the right to screw up

If you own a piece of hardware, you should be able to do whatever the hell you want with it, period. Don't like the color? Paint it. Not enough storage? Upgrade it. Not thrilled with it's operating system? Change it out. Many companies disagree with this. They'll void thew warranties of the things you putter about with. If you're cool with that, then putter away.

I do.

A couple of weeks ago, I got tired of the way that my accidentally tapping any of a number of keys on my Pomera DM30 would switch my typing, in mid-sentence, into Japanese. So, I changed it: Popping the caps off of all of the culprit keys, I removed their membrane. After the keys were popped back into place, it looked exactly the same as the device I started with, boasting one important difference: it only types in English now. It's a small, successful hardware hack that pays dividends towards my quality of life and productivity when I use my DM30 to churn out text. I've performed similarly simple operations on other hardware in the past: installing a new battery and a larger SSD in my ancient 11" MacBook Air. A New battery and replacement display for my wife's iPhone SE? Yep. They're small wins that have gone a long way towards building my confidence as a tinkerer and, consequentially, make me want to tinker with even more of the shit that I own.

Today, I was planning on sharing how easy it was to upgrade my 7th-generation iPod Classic with 256GB of Micro SD storage and a 3,000 mAh battery. Read the rest

Scientists: enzyme eats plastic like it's made of Pringles

More often than not, the solutions for slowing the roll of our planet into an untenable ball of environmental disasters is right under our noses—protect green spaces. End the use fossil fuels. Recycle, repair or up-cycle the living shit out of everything we own or consume.

Also, be certain to check in piles of dead leaves for scientific breakthroughs.

From The Guardian:

A mutant bacterial enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles for recycling in hours has been created by scientists.

The enzyme, originally discovered in a compost heap of leaves, reduced the bottles to chemical building blocks that were then used to make high-quality new bottles. Existing recycling technologies usually produce plastic only good enough for clothing and carpets.

The company behind the breakthrough, Carbios, said it was aiming for industrial-scale recycling within five years. It has partnered with major companies including Pepsi and L’Oréal to accelerate development. Independent experts called the new enzyme a major advance.

Considering the fact that we've found plastic waste damn near everywhere we've gone looking for it, Carbios' breakthrough has the potential to become a huge deal in our fight to save our home.

While the enzyme only made its debut to the scientific community, this month, as a potential plastic-gobbling miracle, it was originally discovered back in 2012. Sometimes, it takes the scientific community a while to get traction. But, once they have their shit together (along with the support of our institutions, applicable laws and the cash they need in order to do their research) what can be achieved is, sometimes, astonishing. Read the rest

Get into Google's Stadia game service for free

It's easy to get bored, sheltering in place, or worse, being confined to one room in your home under quarantine. I've played my fair share of video games over the past few days and, I'm sure that many of y'all have been getting down with a bit of pew-pew, too.

However, don't already own a gaming console or a computer with a decent video card, you might be shit out of luck: the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One are all reportedly becoming harder to find in stores and online. If you're having trouble nailing down a gaming system to blow away the hours with, Google announced today that they have a new offer to see you through the dull times.

From The Verge:

Google is launching the free version of its Stadia game streaming service today. Anyone with a Gmail address can sign up, and Google is even providing a free two-month trial of Stadia Pro as part of the launch. It comes just two months after Google promised a free tier was imminent, and it will mean anyone can get access to nine titles, including GRID, Destiny 2: The Collection, and Thumper, free of charge.

Google is also making some changes to Stadia to accommodate the influx of new users. “To reduce load on the internet further, we’re working toward a temporary feature that changes the default screen resolution from 4k to 1080p,” explains Phil Harrison, Google’s Stadia chief. “The vast majority of people on a desktop or laptop won’t notice a significant drop in gameplay quality, but you can choose your data usage options in the Stadia app.”

Read the rest

Shut in sounds: The Decemberists—Calamity Song

Let's take a moment to reflect upon the fact that, no matter how dire things are and, how more terrible they're expected to become, we're still able to issue some control over our lives. By staying indoors as often as we can, social distancing when we're out and, enacting strict quarantine procedures at the first sign of illness, we all have the ability to flatten the COVID-19 curve.

That's one helluva a lot more than you can say about our ability as individuals to steer the course of disasters like a nuclear exchange, monsoon or earthquake. Read the rest

Limit the spread of coronavirus by keeping your cat indoors

No matter how much joy owning a cat may have brought into your life, there's no denying that they're nothing more than cuddly little murder machines that like to watch you clean their shit from a box. While there's not a lot you can do about the latter, in this time of plague, you can put the brakes on the number of things your kitty kills, on purpose or (as cats might try to convince you), unintentionally.

From CNN:

Cat owners who are self-isolating or have Covid-19 symptoms should consider keeping their pets indoors to stop them carrying the virus on their fur, a veterinary body has advised.

The British Veterinary Association said animals "can act as fomites" (objects that can become contaminated with infectious organisms) and could hold the virus on their fur if they are petted by someone who has contracted it. "For pet owners who have Covid-19 or who are self-isolating we are recommending that you keep your cat indoors if possible, during that time," the BVA said in a statement. "The virus could be on their fur in the same way it is on other surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs." The body said, however, that its main advice to pet owners was to practice good hand hygiene.

So, you're sick and you pet your kitty, Mittens, before letting it outside. Covered in your COVID-19 cooties, Mittens roams your neighborhood where, multiple people might give him a scritch behind his ears. BOOM: in addition to any birds Mittens may have casually murdered while he was out for his stroll, he's also passed along a virus that has the potential to send any number of individuals reeling off this mortal coil. Read the rest

Shut in sounds: Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band—We Deserve a Happy Ending

I'm not sure that we deserve a happy ending. But like the rest of you, right now, I'm hoping like hell for one. Read the rest

Easter Bunny & the Tooth Fairy designated as essential workers

Good news everyone: at least one nation in the world has its shit together.

despite being busy curb stomping its COVID-19 curve, New Zealand has also take steps to ensure that, in addition to the front line medical personnel, police and the under appreciated saints who make so little money that they can't afford to stop working in shops and grocery stores, two more individuals that serve the nation have been deemed 'essential.'

From The New York Times:

[New Zealand] prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced on Monday that the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy were considered essential workers, too.

In her comments, Ms. Ardern acknowledged the tooth fairy, given the nature of the job, might have it a bit easier than the Easter bunny during the pandemic. “If the Easter bunny doesn’t make it to your household, then we have to understand that it’s a bit difficult at the moment,” she said.

Yeah, it's goofy. But it's also a solid bit of inclusive leadership that I wish we could have more of.

It's not enough to reassure adults that if we stay home everything is going maaaaaaaybe be ok. Kids have it rough right now too, especially those too young to understand what's going on. For someone to tell them, on television or over the radio that the traditions they've come to love can, officially, continue to carry on, is a big deal.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of Lorie Shaull Read the rest

How to catch a fish using a mouse trap

If you've ever wanted to catch a fish with a trap designed to catch other edible, living things, your time has arrived. I'm not sure if this is a technique that's common knowledge in outdoor circles, but it's frigging brilliant.

Also, what's the deal with the guy in the top left corner of the video, two minutes, fifty-five seconds in? He just kind of melts into the tree. Creepy. Read the rest

Manhattan cathedral has been converted into a field hospital

While the separation of church and state is typically the way we prefer to roll in much of the western world, it seems that in times of tragedy their collision in unavoidable. According to The New York Times, Manhattan's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is preparing to do duty as a coronavirus field hospital.

From The New York Times:

The cathedral, which describes itself as the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, said on Monday that its 600-foot-long nave and equally large subterranean crypt would be turned into an emergency hospital as part of the fight against the pandemic.

Nine climate-controlled medical tents capable of holding a total of at least 200 patients will be erected inside the cathedral by the end of the week, said the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, the dean of the cathedral.

The crypt, which is primarily accessible via a series of winding staircases, will be used as “a staging area” for medical personnel, he said. It is the first time the cathedral, which is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, will have been used for such a task, he said.

It's a decidedly old school move: in times of plague, war and other massive humanitarian disasters, religious structures across a wide variety of faiths have been used to treat the sick and shelter them from harm.

It's expected that patients will begin to be sent to the cathedral within the next week, if not sooner. Personnel from Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital which, for those unfamiliar with Manhattan, is located right next to the cathedral, will be staffing the field hospital once it's in operation. Read the rest

COVID-19 may be attacking the hearts of some infected individuals

Given that I came into the COVID-19 crisis with heart issues, I've been extra paranoid and extra cautious about catching the coronavirus: I'm a member of what they're calling a 'high-risk group'.

However, it looks like I, and a whole helluva lot of other people have much more to worry about, should the virus get a stranglehold on us. Based on observations from medical personnel from around the world, one in five patients infected with the COVID-19 show signs of heart injury during and after their treatment.

From Scientific American:

While the focus of the COVID-19 pandemic has been on respiratory problems and securing enough ventilators, doctors on the front lines are grappling with a new medical mystery.

In addition to lung damage, many COVID-19 patients are also developing heart problems—and dying of cardiac arrest.

As more data comes in from China and Italy, as well as Washington state and New York, more cardiac experts are coming to believe the COVID-19 virus can infect the heart muscle. An initial study found cardiac damage in as many as 1 in 5 patients, leading to heart failure and death even among those who show no signs of respiratory distress.

That could change the way doctors and hospitals need to think about patients, particularly in the early stages of illness. It also could open up a second front in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, with a need for new precautions in people with preexisting heart problems, new demands for equipment and, ultimately, new treatment plans for damaged hearts among those who survive.

Read the rest

Shut in sounds: Richard Thompson—1952 Vincent Black Lightning

1952 Vincent Black Lightning is a song that makes me think about fresh starts, old habits, love and loss—topics that we all currently have way too much time to ponder, just now. Read the rest

Quarantine DIY: build your own motorized drift trike

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be installing a number of upgrades into my shotgun and converting my iPod classic to use SD cards for storage and a 3,000 mAh battery. Both projects will allow me to get a lot more use out of the stuff that I already own. That said, I'm feeling kind of bummed that I don't have the parts on hand to build my own motorized drift trike. Read the rest

More posts