UPDATED! Pandemic Diary, November 17th, 2021: Some Uplifting Music to Get Through Difficult Times

I am now in the third week of a union strike by professors, instructors, and librarians at my university, during the rising fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic here in Manitoba, and having just been blasted with our first big dump of winter snow.

In other words, I am completely stressed out.

One of the reasons why I have been blogging almost exclusively about Second Life lately, and not about what’s going on in the broader metaverse, is that SL is my happy place, where I go to escape messy, chaotic, and painful reality. Second Life (plus the RuPaul’s Drag Race and Dragula franchises) are helping me stay sane and get through this time of high anxiety and high uncertainty!

I wanted to share a short playlist of five songs which I have been listening to, when I feel anxious, upset, and stressed. I know that many of you (including the faculty, staff, and students at my university) are feeling pretty stressed out as well, and I sincerely hope that listening to this uplifting music helps in some small way. Maybe you’ll even find a new song to help you get through the tougher times in your life!

YouTube Music: https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgsEMkuBXPb9EGepUhCOmpNwsyq77546i&feature=share

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/173526c5AnIurL6sFH2MA3?si=360ddc00f51e4b95

Here’s my playlist:

Rise Up – Andra Day

This Is Me – Keala Settle

(Something Inside) So Strong – Labi Siffre

You Gotta Be – Des’ree

Proud – Heather Small

I hope this music cheers you up during your stressful times!

P.S. I am open to suggestions of other songs along this vein, so if you know of a great uplifting song that you think should be added to this playlist, please leave a comment on this blogpost, thanks!

UPDATE Nov. 19th, 2021: I have had another suggestion for another great song to add to my playlist. Thank you, Scott Forbes!

I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty

Pandemic Diary, October 3rd, 2021: Different Shades of Blue

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Tell by the way you hang your head
The way you cast your eyes and things you haven’t said
You’ve gathered past ten years written on your face
Your whole damn life’s been one big race
Everybody goes there whether they want to or not
Everybody starts to hold on to what they got
And start to settle in with the long haul
Real life baby, oh, you can’t have it all

When you got nothing left to lose
Might sound good, but I’m not sure that’s true
You carry the pain around and that’s what sees you through
The different shades of blue

—Joe Bonamassa, Different Shades of Blue

Depression is a funny thing (not literally, of course; perhaps it would be more accurate to say that depression is a strange thing). It can go away or come back, settle in for the long haul and then lift unexpectedly, at a moment’s notice. I have become accustomed to my moods, sometimes only noticing them when remarked upon by friends, family, and coworkers.

I am often feeling different shades of blue, cranky and exhausted, worn out by twenty months of pandemic and a very busy September at my university. I often find myself lying on the sofa, with the lights turned off, listening to one or another relaxing music livestream on YouTube. I seem to be spending a lot of time on YouTube lately for some reason, rabidly consuming content which seems to fall into four main categories:

Here’s an example of the kind of video I like to put on when I am feeling stressed and depressed, and I need to chill. It’s just a livestream of a tropical beach somewhere, where the waves crashing onto the shore. Sometimes I even leave it on and go to sleep! I find the sound of the waves so soothing.

One livestream video channel, which I find I like to listen to while lying on the sofa in the darkness, is deceptively simple but very soothing: 1920s-1940s oldies music playing muffled (as if it were in another room), with the sound of crickets chirping. Metro reports:

A wave of videos have emerged on YouTube since the pandemic began. Creators are putting together playlists of muffled oldies music (from the 1920s-40s) with sound effects of rain, thunder, and log fires over the top to create the illusion of being inside a cozy room with distant background music…

At a time when things life feels far less certain and predictable, it makes sense that people are turning to comforting sounds to help them unwind or relax while getting on with other tasks.

Creator of YouTube channel Nemo’s Dreamscapes, which currently has over 103k subscribers, says they’ve noticed these kinds of videos have existed for a few years now, but it’s only more recently they’ve become a ‘trend’.

Here’s an example from Nemo’s Dreamscapes:

If you are also feeling different shades of blue, I hope that you can find a bit of serenity with my YouTube picks! I find it also helps to take a firm break from my newsfeed and my social media (I tend to doomscroll the COVID-19 news until I am thoroughly angry, anxious, and demoralized!).

Stay safe and stay healthy!


P.S. Did you know that Ryan’s 15-minute three-cheese lasanga is clinically proven to cure depression? 😉 (Hey, it’s gotta be better for you than ivermectin!) Here’s the recipe. All the fabulous serotonin-boosting lasagna taste, in just fifteen minutes!!!

Pandemic Diary, September 17th, 2021: COVID-19 Worry and NFT Insanity

Well, folks, it’s been a week.

I delivered no less than seven different training sessions (online and remotely, either from my office at the science library or from home) to various classes of agriculture students. I have been fighting with computer hardware and software problems all week, starting on Monday when I couldn’t get my microphone to work, to yesterday when I got unceremoniously booted out of the the online class I was teaching using Cisco WebEx—TWICE. I am exhausted.

To add to my overall bad mood, the most recent data on breakthrough COVID-19 cases here in Manitoba are somewhat worrying. According to this report from CTV News, while fully vaccinated people are not being affected nearly as much as the unvaccinated, breakthrough cases are happening. And even more worrying, 16 fully vaccinated Manitobans have died of COVID-19 so far. That is not good news.

Mark my words: COVID still has the ability to throw some curveballs at us. For the love of God, if you have not already done so, GET VACCINATED! And please do everything you can—handwashing, face masks, social distancing, etc.—to stay safe and healthy. You do not want to catch this virus if you can avoid it!


However, I can still laugh at the continued silliness in the hothouse of the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) market. Everybody seems to be leaping on the get-rich-quick bandwagon.

I am currently blocking and deleting spam direct messages on Discord (people shilling for one blockchain-based scheme after another), at the rate of about one per day now. It would appear everybody and their dog has come up with some sort of harebrained NFT project to try and part you from your hard-earned dollar.

Today, I got the following spam direct message via Discord (blurred to avoid giving you his name and link addresses):

Hi. A new project Mint will begin in 7-9 days. There will be 10000 Covid themed NFT’s in total. Don’t miss your chance to get in on the start of an incredible cool project. FUCK COVID

Clicking through to the website (and no, I am not going to bother to link to it), and behold!

OMG!!! There’s only ten thousand NFT facemasks, supplies are limited so act now and get that rare collectible!

NOT.

Which reminded me of the following message I received recently via the feedback form on my blog:

Hello there, I’m David from Next Earth – we are the only blockchain and Earth map based metaverse 🙂 We’ve launched in the end of July and now only a few hours left until the end of land pack presale.. By now, more than 150.000 Dollars worth of land tiles has been sold and it’s increasing day by day, just like our community, so we are really excited about our future. It would be awesome if you could help us with spreading the word, and since you have quite a lot followers I can easily offer you a referral code with a fair amount of commission.. I’d be extremely interested in what you think and how we could collaborate, so please get back to me and let’s discuss our opportunities! Best regards, David

Image taken from the Next Earth website (no, I am NOT giving you a link)

Dear David:

NOT!!!

I wrote about what I think about Next Earth, Earth 2, and all the other “buy a virtual piece of earth” scams here.

And I swear to God: the next person who tries to get me to buy into their harebrained, lame-ass NFT scheme is gonna get bitchslapped into next Thursday.

Pandemic Diary, September 13th, 2021: Back to School—Welcome to the New Normal

Today, for the first time in several weeks, I am working from my office in the science library. Our library opened September 7th, 2021 to students, faculty, staff, and the public, offering individual study space only (no access to the print collection on the upper floors). Everybody still has to wear a 3-ply facemask and comply with social distancing regulations, although I can take off my facemask when I am in my own office with the door closed.

On August 19th, 2021 the University of Manitoba announced that all faculty, staff, students, and even visitors to campus will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Individuals aged 12 and over are required to have their first dose by September 22nd, 2021 and their second dose by the end of October 2021. It’s not clear what penalties those who refuse to get vaccinated will face; they might be required to undergo weekly testing, or they may be barred from classes (in Manitoba we have implemented a proof of vaccine immunization system, both a cellphone app and a plastic card). Access to restaurants and other public spaces has been restricted to vaccinated people only.

Over the next few weeks, instead of standing in front of a classroom of students to give presentations on how to use the University of Manitoba Libraries effectively and efficiently, I will once again be delivering my slides online and remotely, via Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, or Zoom, either from home or my office. (I am going to have to schlepp my portable webcam and my microphone headset between locations.)

I spent an EXTREMELY frustrating hour and half this morning trying—in vain—to get the microphone on my work computer to work, going through two different webcams (my own and a colleague’s) plus my microphone headset. Nothing worked. Finally in desperation I rebooted my computer, and finally it worked! If it hadn’t, I would have had to drive back home and do today’s training session for some food science students from home instead of the office.

Welcome to the new normal, folks.

The good news is that nearly 80% off Manitobans are fully vaccinated:

The bad news is that there are pockets (mostly within Manitoba’s Mennonite Bible belt) where vaccine uptake remains stubbornly low. Some Low German Mennonites have even moved from Canada back to Mexico and Central America, just to avoid vaccination! (Winnipeg Free Press; the website has a paywall, so here is an archived version of the article).

Even worse, anti-vaccine protestors at hospitals in Winnipeg and across Canada are impeding access to healthcare services. I have completely lost all patience with these people, and I sincerely hope that the Winnipeg Police Service arrests and charges these COVIDiots. ENOUGH ALREADY. I am so angry.

Because I am so busy with training requests this September, my pace of blogging will slow a little bit this month (I will try to blog in the evenings and on weekends, but no promises!). Stay safe, stay healthy, and GET VACCINATED if you have not already done so.

person getting vaccinated
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com