Pandemic Diary: November 26th, 2020: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like (a COVID) Christmas…

Today, Manitoba’s top doctor reminded us that we all need to prepare for a Christmas which we will only be able to share with the members of our immediate household (and, in my case, for the first time in all my Christmases, alone):

The 5-day COVID-19 test positivity rate in Manitoba is almost 15%; in the Mennonite Bible Belt town of Steinbach, it is still hovering around 40%.

Despite this, the Steinbach Church of God still stubbornly plans to go ahead with in-person services, despite receiving several fines to date (since that article was written, the church has been issued a third, larger fine). It should probably come as no surprise that the Steinbach Church of God’s minister, Tobias Tissen, was a speaker at a now-notorious anti-mask rally held in Steinbach on November 14th (which I blogged about here).

Anti-mask rally held in the Mennonite Bible Belt town of Steinbach today (Source: CTV News/Danton Unger): no social distancing and not a face mask in sight

Meanwhile, a woman in a Kelowna, British Columbia, thrift store was arrested for entering the store without a facemask, refusing to leave, then screaming at and assaulting two police officers who were called to the scene:

And 30-year-old Jordan Alex Taylor knocked over and repeatedly punched a Walmart employee in Dawson Creek, B.C., who requested that he wear a facemask in the store (police reviewing the store’s surveillance video were able to identify Jordan, and later arrested him for the assault; you can view a 20-second video of the attack, captured by a nearby shopper’s cellphone, courtesy of the CBC).

All of which is slowly but surely, eroding my faith in humanity. The coronavirus pandemic is truly bringing out the worst, most odious impulses in some people. I look at the three examples I listed above and think: whatever happened to people thinking about the public good, instead of just themselves?

Has it always been like this, and it just took a pandemic to bring it to the surface? Has social media like Facebook played a role in this? Has our education system failed to produce civic-minded people? I must confess I am at a loss.

The misadventures of Tuesday evening have also underlined an unpalatable truth: that no matter how much care I take, and no matter how many precautions I follow, at any moment something unexpected could happen, that throws all my carefully-laid plans up in the air, and puts me at risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

So, no, I’m not feeling particularly optimistic this evening.

UPDATE Nov. 27th, 2020: This morning’s editorial cartoon in the Winnipeg Free Press pretty much says it all.

And so does this chart, also courtesy of the Winnipeg Free Press:

70% of all COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba happened in November 2020

UPDATED! Pandemic Diary, November 24th, 2020: The Dam Bursts

I first noticed the wet patch in the carpet next to my bed earlier this evening. Thinking that I must have tracked water in from the bathroom or kitchen from wet slippers, I applied a towel to sop up the water. Then a second towel, after which I observed, to my horror, that the water was actually seeping up from UNDERNEATH the carpet!

That was when I opened the door to my interior storage closet, to see a pool of water underneath my hot water heater. After hastily moving some boxes to dry land, I called the emergency number of my apartment complex. 

And so it is that, as of 10:08 p.m. this evening, I am firmly ensconced on my sofa, surrounded by piles of my pandemic preps, wearing an N95 mask, and typing this blogpost entry into my iPad, while a plumber (similarly masked) works to remove my busted hot water heater and replace it with a new one, tasks which he tells me will take an hour or two. (He tells me I’m lucky my water valve didn’t break; otherwise he would have had to shut the water off to the entire apartment building.)

But I am not feeling particularly lucky. That rested feeling I had after my staycation evaporated today, only my second day back at work, and even before the dam burst in my apartment, I had been feeling unwell, anxious, and depressed. I took the afternoon off sick, went back to bed, and slept until 9:00 p.m., when I woke to discover I had other problems.

I am feeling exhausted, afraid, and angry that despite essentially making myself a prisoner in my own apartment as the pandemic crisis goes from bad to worse, that this has happened, and that this puts me at risk of contracting a COVID-19 infection from another person, the plumber who is now invading my personal space, my man cave, my safe place. He is the first person I have let inside my apartment since mid-March, when I started working in self-isolation from home for my university library system. 

(Hang on a minute…the plumber’s welding just set off my smoke alarm.)

I am NOT a happy camper. 

UPDATE 11:32 p.m.: After the plumber packed up his things and left, I pulled out my Clorox wipes and disinfected anything and everything he touched (my water taps, my smoke alarm, my circuit breaker box, all my door handles, etc.). Unfortunately, he and I have been within 6 feet/2 metres of one another; my apartment is so small and so cluttered that it was unavoidable at certain points. I have been liberally applying hand sanitizer to my hands throughout, in an overabundance of caution.

After he left, I opened the patio door of my bedroom and a window in my living room, put my parka on, and let the cold air circulate through my apartment, just to be on the safe side. I laid down several towels in succession to sop up the water in my bedroom carpet.

As I was stamping down the final towel, I looked up, and saw a deer—an antlered young buck—staring at me through my open patio door. I stopped, and we stared at each other silently for a full minute, until he turned and wandered away. (He left before I could grab my cellphone to take a picture.)

This is not an unusual occurrence; I live close to wooded areas they frequent, and I have sometimes seen a wayward buck or doe in in the vicinity of my apartment, or during my pre-pandemic evening commute from work, usually in the late evening or early night.

But I took it as an omen. Whether a good omen or a bad one, I cannot yet say. 

UPDATED! Black Friday Sales in Second Life, Sinespace, and Cryptovoxels

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? You’re invited to be a part of the first ever cross-worlds discussion group, with over 460 people participating from every single social VR platform and virtual world! More details here


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Checking my WordPress statistics for this blog, I have seen a lot of traffic this week from people looking for Black Friday sales in Second Life and other virtual worlds, so I have decided to compile this blogpost.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have a virtual Black Friday sale you wish to promote, please just add a comment to this blogpost, thank you! I will NOT be constantly updating this blogpost with details on individual store sales, I don’t have time this week!


Second Life

UPDATE November 28th, 2020: If you are looking for the ultimate list of Second Life Black Friday sales, this Google Docs spreadsheet lists 366 stores in alphabetical order, giving SLURLs, sale start and end dates, and in a few cases, sale details.

UPDATE November 26th, 2020: The Fabulously Free in SL blog has just published their annual FabFree Black Friday Sale Listing, which is quite comprehensive!

UPDATE November 25th, 2020: Perhaps the most comprehensive sales listing has been published by the TeleportHub.com group, and is called the Black Friday Weekend Sale 2020. Over 130 Second Life stores are in this listing:


I want to profusely thank Holger Gilruth, who operates the Secondlife Discord server and the popular Secondlife group on Facebook (with nearly 15,000 members). As some of you already know, I have decided to personally boycott of Facebook and Oculus products and services, so I am no longer on the Facebook social network, and I am therefore no longer a member of any of the many Second Life groups there.

Holger was kind enough to share with me via Discord chat this morning, just a few of the Black Friday sales which were posted today in his Secondlife group on Facebook (and if you still have a Facebook account, you can use the link I posted above to visit and join his group):

TROPIX (SLURL):

YM SHOP (SLURL):

Pose Shoppe (SLURL):

Blackstone (SLURL):

PRETTY LIARS (SLURL):

Red’s Little Secrets (SLURL):

In other news, LeLutka is having a 50% Off Black Friday Sale on all their mesh heads from November 27th to 29th (SLURL). Thank you to Kira for the tip!

Daisy Haven shared with me that AVALE is having a 50% Off Sale, starting today and running until November 27th (SLURL):

Daisy also tells me that CHSkins (SLURL) is having a 50% refund sale (except gachas), on now until Nov. 30th. Thanks, Daisy!

Ari-Pari is having a Black Friday sale running from November 27th through December 1st. Gift cards will be 50% off and new releases will be 25% off. This sale is only at the Ari-Pari main store (SLURL). Thanks to Wyld for the heads-up!

Asia Ristow has sent me a link to a Flickr gallery with images of Black Friday 2020 sales in Second Life, compiled by Galaxy Doll, which you might find useful…and Asia also provided the following short list of noteworthy sales:

7 Deadly sKins – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Shadow%20Crest/129/44/41
BLACK FRIDAY 10 LINDEN skin offer of the day https://gyazo.com/54b5dd3ee6b11fda80c5bdba311fa718
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Shadow%20Crest/129/44/41 

Cheeky Pea – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Cheeky%20Pea/27/133/21
Gift cards purchased from the special Black Friday Gift Card Stand are 50% off for everyone, and VIP members get an EXTRA 10% off! (Make sure you wear your tag!)

LOGO’s free heads are still available until the 26th.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Eventide%20Far%20East/182/76/800

Magika – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Magika/
Get an instant refund of 30% on all mainstore purchases during Magika’s annual Black Friday sale. This applies to everything except group offers and gift cards.  20 – 30 November, 2020.

THIS IS WRONG – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Infinite%20Spirit/95/87/1101
This year we want to make something special for you! From Nov 26th to Nov 30th all shines @ the inworld store will be 40% OFF!!!

TOP1SALON & ROULY – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ocean%20Drive/131/145/188Starting the 21st BIG BLACK FRIDAY SALE 60% off! Sales continue until November 30th. But also in each of the stores, one of the products will cost 25L$ these products will change each everyday of the sale from 21 to 30 November.

Thank you so much, Asia!

MoonBubble of the SL New Release Feed Discord server (here’s an invite link) tells me that she been adding quite a few Black Friday sales to her #store-sales channel, and she plans to add more this week. Thanks, Moon!

Bixyl (who is a member of the RyanSchultz.com Discord server) tells me that there is a Black Friday sale at Furry Fashion (SLURL). Thanks, Bixyl!

And Bleue reached out to me on Discord to tell me about Salem:

My name is Bleue. Blogger Manager at Salem. I am reaching out as I saw that you’re sharing Black Friday sales on your blog site. Salem is starting its sale soon, and I was wondering if I could share the ad with you once it’s released? From there, could you help me spread the word about Salem? If possible? Thank you for your attention to this matter!

Official Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/157510866@N08/ Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Salem.Secondlife

The sale will commence on the 26th of this month. It’ll be 35% off the whole store, excluding gachas and new releases.

Thanks, Bleue!

Morbid Emor also contacted me regarding MOEKO, MORBID, and Stargazer:

Hi. I saw your message about Black Friday on the Second Life Syndicate channel. I love your blog – this is such an awesome idea. I have two brands, MORBID & MOEKO, and am business partner with Aggie Mactavish with Stargazer. We have Black Friday sales and have also just moved to some awesome new stores as well. I’m giving you the details here.

MORBID: Black Friday – week long sale from 25 Nov – 2 Dec – 50% off everything including gachas to celebrate move to new awesome store. Brand new group gifts, weekly sales. SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Venus/147/215/1302

Stargazer: Black Friday sales to celebrate move to new store: 50L select items, 100L skins, 40L gachas – 27-29 Nov SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Venus/165/19/1354

MOEKO: Black Friday – week long sale from 25 Nov – 2 Dec – 50% off everything including gachas and gift cards to celebrate move to new store. Brand new group gifts, weekly sales. SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Venus/150/153/1302

Session – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/kunst/177/185/23 Session will have 10 popular skins at Black Friday Sale from November 27th till 30th ♥ Get your discount with the Skin addiction tag!

Thank you, Morbid!

LALA sent me information about the Black Friday sales at LeiMotiv and Ariskea (both are links to Flickr images), and she added that there was a big sale at mesh head maker LAQ:

LAQ is also currently having a 75% off everything members only sale, they didn’t specify when it ends.

Thanks, LALA!

Kieran Stephens mentions that Booty’s Beauty is having a Black Friday sale from Nov. 25th to 27th. Here’s links to her in-world store and SL Marketplace store.

Also, the Second Life vlogger mzjazzy maii (a.k.a BunnyBoo) has compiled a very helpful list of stores which are having Black Friday sales in the following 12-minute YouTube video (there’s a list of the stores and SLURLs in the full video description):

And finally, although it is not technically a Good Friday sale, I have been informed that Ellnique Designs is closing. The owner tells me:

CLOSING DOWN SALE: everything L$25! With a heavy heart I am closing down Ellnique Designs (was Shoenique Designs) [after] 11 years of hard work. Now I am moving to Sansar and taking my designs there. More than welcome to join me. Thanks to all Members that have supported me for 9 years in Second Life. Everything L$25! Official closing day 31st December. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Mimosa%20Island/231/219/350


Sinespace

Gaby, the owner of Anatomy mesh heads and bodies, and PrettyDeceased apparel, tells me:

Pretty Deceased & Anatomy are still 50% off, decided to leave it also for Black Friday.

Thanks, Gaby! I have written about the Anatomy line of female heads and bodies before, here on my blog.


Cryptovoxels

If you are in the blockchain-based virtual world of Cryptovoxels, you might be interested in the following: JuRo Noble Arts is having a 50% Off Sale: Noyb, the proprietor, tells me:

Hey, about [those] Black Friday deals in the metaverse…We will have half price on our NFT purchases through Cryptovoxels from Friday to Monday.

Here’s your taxi to JuRo Nobel Arts!


Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

Pandemic Diary, November 22nd, 2020: Fuck You, Donald Trump

One of my quality-of-life metrics is the number of really good laugh-until-you-cry moments per year (obviously, they have been in rather short supply this year).

The health benefits of laughter are already well known:

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Laughter burns calories. Okay, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.

Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

Yesterday evening, while scrolling through my Twitter feed and clicking on Twitter’s suggestions for trending topics, I chanced upon the following funny tweet by Brian Guest:

I filled out a Trump survey trashing him a week ago, and in the NAME field I put Fuck You as my name. Forgot about it. Then just got this email out of the blue. And I’ve never been more baffled or laughed as hard as I just have. I thought he emailed truly addressing me like this:

Brian followed up with:

For 10 minutess I stared at my phone in awe—thinking this crazy man just tried to connect with supporters by droppin F-bombs in a campaign email! I was shocked. Mad. Sad. It was so unbelievable [yet] believable at the same time. Then the wave of laughs, realizing I just pranked myself so hard.

I then spent the next 20 minutes reading through all the comments which people left on Brian’s post, some of which were also extremely funny:

And the whole time, I was sitting at my computer, reading through all the posts, just absolutely HOWLING, with tears of laughter running down my face! (I’m quite sure the woman who lives upstairs from me in my apartment complex thought I had completely lost it.)

It was the best laugh I have had in months, people, perhaps all year. and let me tell you, in the middle of province-wide, code-red pandemic lockdown, I very much needed that laugh.

Stay healthy and stay sane in these trying times!