April 2020

It’s April now. Somehow it feels like it’s been months and months since mid-March when things really turned serious (or at least, became serious to people in North America), though it’s been less than 3 weeks. It feels like nearly a year since things otherwise turned upside-down in mid February.

https://globalnews.ca/news/6700788/coronavirus-covid-19-canada-cases-data/

There are more people back at work this week, many having taken a 14-day self-isolation period, or are continuing to work from home. It was getting pretty lonely, but I’m not sure I want to be around any more people than I already am.

I’ve been reading social media posts about people in quarantine, and it still all seems so surreal.

PPE and hand sanitizer is still in short supply. Hospitals are asking for donations of real PPE (eg N95 masks, and water-resistant gowns), though there is a growing social movement to produce DIY “PPE”, such as cloth masks. I’m not yet sure how I feel about that.

Most of them will be poorly made, in the sense that cloths masks are not a great barrier to begin with, especially not to droplets and viruses, and the less informed people will make crappy masks (even by handmade PPE standards), simply because they don’t know any better (eg making ill-fitting, single-layer masks, or unwashable masks made out of paper towels or something, rather than multi-layer fitted masks). Plus I suppose there’s potential risk of people slapping on a DIY cotton mask and then feeling safer than they really are, and thus taking more risks than they otherwise would.
That said, if someone if going to be an idiot in public, to be honest I would rather have a thin cotton level of protection from them than no protection from them, so I don’t know. 🤷‍♀️

Shopping is Different

Shopping is different. I wonder how much it will change shopping habits in general, once this is all over? No stores approve of anyone just wandering around to kill time (though it still happens in larger stores like grocery stores, I think). In many places, you need to know exactly what you want ahead of time, because an employee will go collect it for you. I went to Pet Valu last week. Only two people were allowed into the store at a time, one at the register being checked out, and one waiting behind a line of tape for an employee to fetch the items you want to the front. Of course, me being me, I basically shop by sight. I know what the item I want looks like, but unless it’s something new I’m trying, I’ve long since forgotten the brand name. Cool, awesome. At least I could describe exactly where the brand of cat food I wanted was on the shelf, so the guy was able to grab the exact one I wanted.

Luke went out to get groceries today. Bulk Barn only let in one person at a time, and he was given a “personal shopper” who was the one to actually scoop out anything from the bins, then escorted him directly to the checkout. The cashier was behind a plexiglass barrier. I still haven’t been out shopping anywhere larger than the tiny pet food store, so I have not seen these yet.
He was able to buy toilet paper, though! Only one 12-pack per person, but still. Yay! (the things I cheer about now)

Gas is currently $0.759, holy crap. It’s still higher here in Tourist Town than other places in Ontario, where it apparently averages $0.659. I don’t think I’ve seen it that low as an adult. Maybe the early 2000s??

Nobody is making April Fool’s Day jokes this year. Nobody dares. It would be refreshing and nice, if it wasn’t for these reasons.

Photo from the Winnipeg Free Press.

Essential Services

Ontario has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses as of 11:59pm on 24MAR2020. The list of all “essential” businesses is quite long, though:
https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/what-s-essential-the-services-and-workplaces-still-open-1.4865668

My workplace is essential, apparently. I suppose that makes sense – people need anything that can help them stay calm these days. Honestly, it’s quite a relief to find out one way or another. My anxiety has been through the roof these past few days, hearing rumours of closures. My brain is happy to have a firm decision, even if it means no quarantine for me. I don’t like ambiguity, and I hate it even more when everything is moving so fast lately, and everything is ambiguous. With a firm direction I can just accept things and make it work. The unknown bothers me much more than the known, even if the known is crappy. I can adapt.

I am grateful to still be employed, when I know so many who have lost their jobs.

State of Emergency

Ontario has declared a state of emergency.
We’ve extended March Break by two weeks, so schools have been ordered to remain closed until April 5th.
Honestly, I kinda doubt they will re-open at that time. They’ve extended the tax filing deadline to June 1 (from April 30). That says to me they’re expecting this to take longer than 2 weeks to fix, especially with other news reports from around the world. We’ll see, though. Some people seem overly optimistic.

From ontario.ca:
As a result of this declaration and its associated orders, the following establishments are legally required to close immediately:

  • All facilities providing indoor recreational programs;
  • All public libraries;
  • All private schools as defined in the Education Act;
  • All licensed child care centres;
  • All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery;
  • All theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies; and
  • Concert venues.

Further, all organized public events of over fifty people are also prohibited, including parades and events and communal services within places of worship. These orders were approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and will remain in place until March 31, 2020, at which point they will be reassessed and considered for extension, unless this order is terminated earlier.

https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/ontario-enacts-declaration-of-emergency-to-protect-the-public.html

There’s chatter of maybe we should close most things and keep open only “essential services”, but I’m not fully sure what that includes. For now, social distancing measures have been implemented at work, but people are restless and scared and worried. People are working from home if they can. My job is 80% computer, 20% immediately hands-on and time sensitive, so I’m still going in. There’s news of some companies laying off employees so they can apply for EI, rather than just not being paid for a few weeks (or however long this lasts), but fortunately that hasn’t happened at my company.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Dustin’ off the old blog to try to record some of the world events happening recently.

WHO has officially announced COVID-19 is a pandemic.

http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/news/news/2020/3/who-announces-covid-19-outbreak-a-pandemic

It’s been in the news for a while now, but people have only really been paying attention for the past few weeks. Now it’s serious, and people are forced to pay attention.

Most of us at work have been distracted by Black Tuesday, but now this dominates much of the conversation.

Gas prices are sitting around $1.09.9/L
People are hoarding toilet paper, of all things. It’s sold out everywhere within hours of here. Every scrap of toilet paper is gone from stores, as have Lysol wipes. We still have a big pack left, but we just opened it last week, which is our normal signal to watch closely for a tp sale and stock up (to normal levels of “stocked up”, not crazy apocalypse stocking up).
Maybe we should buy a bidet.

I Miss LiveJournal

I miss LiveJournal.
Not necessarily LJ itself, but the culture of it. The precursor to full-on blogging, it was blogging for our friends, but with a community attached. Friends could follow you, and you had the option of creating filters so that only a subset of your followers could see certain posts. You could join interest groups. Everything was chronological because back in the day, it hadn’t occurred to anyone to mess with this.

The next step was individual personal blogs. A lot of my friends had one, but a lot did not. There was an awkward split between bloggers and LJers, which resulted in crossposting from my LJ to my actual blog, in the hopes that my entire intended audience (my ACTUAL FRIENDS) would see it, regardless of which platform they used. Blogging also had the disadvantage of having everything be publicly available to anyone. Sure, you could lock down your blog and require your friends to create an account and log in to read it, but let’s face it, that’s a pain in the ass for all concerned, especially in the time of “account fatigue” where people are loath to create yet another account on yet another site, even for a friend. Believe me, I tried. 😅 It was the early days of blogging and people were still afraid of posting too much personal info online, so I tried to friends-lock this blog, but what actually happened was that I’m pretty sure only about 3 of my friends had the time/energy/mental bandwidth to actually create an account in the first place. This ALSO blocked my feed from the handy-dandy RSS readers most people used so no one was alerted if I made a new post unless they actually went to my blog and logged in. Ain’t nobody got time for that, so I can’t blame ’em.

I miss Google Reader.
All the blogs I followed, both personal and “professional”, in one place for easy reading from any device, in chronological order. It was easier for my, psychologically speaking, to go to a single site and read all my blogs within it, rather than opening up a bookmark folder and clicking on each one individually.
It’s definitely a chicken-and-egg scenario, but at the same time as we lost the tools for easy personal blogging and blog reading, there was a big shift from long-form blog posts to short Facebook posts and shares.

Facebook is pretty much the only contact I have with some people these days. Like many of you, I am trapped there. Facebook has SOME of the features of all of the above formats. You can filter posts so they are only seen by a select few, you can join interest groups, and it’s a single feed of all your friends in one place.
But our posts are slaves to the algorithm. Filtered or “friends only” posts are given less importance than public posts, it seems, so that even your friends who are ON that list might not see them. Or if they do see them, it could be served up days later instead of in a chronological timeline. (But don’t worry, they liked that meme I shared, which shows we were both on FB, but only being shown what the algorithm thought was most important at the time). Following groups or pages is no guarantee you’ll see any of their content at all, unless you force the algorithm by immediately interacting with several of their existing posts to “tell” it that you want to see that content. (because joining a group isn’t enough to let it know you want to see posts from the group, apparently).

What’s the solution? Who knows.

Writing a long-form post has been made fairly unattractive, by way of getting little to no feedback when your friends don’t even see it, don’t see it for days, or simply because it appears lower in their feed than a quick post that’s short enough to have a pretty, colourful background. (Don’t get me wrong, I actually love those backgrounds. But they provide a very real pressure to keep posts short and easily digestible both because a) only short posts get to have one and b) I swear posts with background get a slight advantage in the algorithm). Often, because of our ever more busy culture, people might see your long post, but feel like they “don’t have time” to commit to it right now, especially since the post is snipped for length. People can’t even make an informed decision about if they have time or not when they can’t see how long the post might be, and expending it to see feels like committing, so they scroll past without expanding it. Often intending to come back later to read it, but we all know that’s not what usually happens in the fast-paced world of social media. (People genuinely forget, and also FB assumes that since you’ve already “seen” it, it both doesn’t have to show you again AND it thinks you were uninterested in that sort of content because you didn’t interact with it.)

What’s the solution? Who knows.
I’ve seen this discussion go round and round for years. No one has found a viable solution yet. New social media platforms tend to fizzle out before a critical mass migration occurs (either because the platform itself sucks, has some scandal, or just because it’s so hard to break into the niche that Facebook occupies), and it’s so hard to pry people off of it. I could leave Facebook for another platform at any time I wanted. We all could. As long as I was ok with mostly speaking to myself, since only a tiny percentage of my friends would see what I post there. Facebook, for all its flaws and reasons for me to leave, still serves the purpose of actually connecting me with my friends. In order for any of us to move, we have to convince all the people we care about to move along with us. Even this whole long post is just a venting of vague frustration.

Phone Plan Fun

I’m switching cell providers again, and hop on one of those new  “limited time” 10GB for $60 everyone is offering now. Actually I’ll be going with $40 for 10GB for the next 10 months at Freedom Mobile, as they offered it at $50 to undercut the Big 3, plus there was a limited-time $10/mo credit for bringing your own phone. Public Mobile has been great (cheap, and the Telus network worked anywhere), but I was paying $40 for 4GB, which was still over and above what any other carrier was offering until recently. PM is also the discount-discount-discount carrier. They don’t even have a support number to call; if something goes wrong you need to sign up for their online forums and message a moderator (their support agents). I normally don’t mind low-end customer service, because I so rarely ever need to call customer service, though I’ve had two issues with PM so far, which is more than usual for me, and wonky service plus low-end customer support isn’t worth the cost for me anymore.

Luke’s number ported over just fine from PM, but mine got “stuck” somehow, 🙄 so now I’ve had to go to the forums and DM a mod to see how to get my number unstuck. Yes, there’s no contract and yes my phone was unlocked, it’s just a quirk somewhere in the porting system.

Everyone’s system has been slammed these past few days with nearly every carrier offering some version of this new plan, and people swapping plans and carriers all over the place. I don’t mind, as long as it works out correctly eventually.

I’m also hoping Freedom has improved a bit since the old Wind days. I never had any actual problems with them, but it was not ideal back in the early days. I worked in a concrete bunker of a building in Guelph, so service was kinda spotty, and it also had troubles with the tall buildings in the TO downtown core. It still seemed like the best option for me now though, so I’m going to give it a shot. 🙂

Busy, Busy

About a month ago, I accidentally picked up a second job. Another startup across the hall asked me to help out with Office Manager-y stuff part-time after my regular work hours. I’d already known them for a year, since they used to be in a room in our office until they grew big enough to have their own space, so they know my skills and that we can work together. They checked with my boss and everything, first, so it’s all good.

Extra money? Doing the thing I already do all day? Without even needing to go anywhere? Works for me!

Except now two days a week I’m essentially at work for 12+ hours a day. For some reason it’s a lot rougher to get home at 9pm after doing the same thing twice than for staying late to work on a rush project. Plus just this weekend, I started a new project that’ll get its own post.

I’m exhausted a lot.

Exhausted cat.

Not my cat, but looks like him and I had to wipe my phone and lost a bunch of cat pics, so close enough. Photo by Traci Lawson via Flickr

Adventures with Canada Post

OH MY GOD Have I got a huge rant about Canada Post today.  >.<

[I may reformat this later, but for now it’s just copypasta from texts I sent today.  Sorry.]

Very important package went missing.  Not arrived, but marked as delivered.  Not in the lobby mailbox.  I think the carrier put it in the wrong box, and i have no idea where it was actually left, so I can’t just go to that company and ask.

Their CS is ball-ass awful.  I phoned in, and their automated system told me it was delivered and that was all the info they had.  It said I could create a ticket online.

So I created a ticket online.  but first I HAD to register for an account, because fuck you.

Then I fill in the ticket, giving them all the details.  “From address” was a REQUIRED field, so I looked up the Best Buy Mississauga address and used that.  WTF.  Ok, so I fill out their stupid 5 PART FORM and hit send.

Then it tells me Thank you for your submission, your ticket has been noted, we will not contact you about this issue again and the ticket status says CLOSED

JFC qkehkjhsfkjehfkuwyrdmofereoirtjlrvkgjrtlg

So I am an angry Caitlin.

So I went downstairs and left a message on the lobby box asking if anyone else received it, and to bring it to our suite.  I also left a note INSIDE our box rescinding permission to leave packages in the box, and saying they all must be brought to the suite directly.

I also called a different CP phone number, and actually talked to a guy and opened a service claim, since it was a $200 package.  Cool, got that set up, but in order to proceed they need Best Buy to phone in and approve the claim.

So Best Buy is actually pretty cool, and has a “contact us about this order” form on their site, so I can use that.

But that’s not the point.

I’m also annoyed because this is a $200 package.  It’s “just” a bunch of MacBook Air USB to Ethernet adapters, to solve our office networking problems, but that’s not the point.  It’s a thing we ordered and need, and was supposedly delivered.

And it was $200 worth of shit.

I think I know how the problem happened, so I’m pissed off at that too.

You know how the CP package delivery is usually separate from the normal CP mail delivery?

A few months back, we got a new CP package guy.  He came up and asked me if we required him to come up to the suite if a package did not require a signature, or if he could just put them in the box.  I said the box was fine.  Tra la la.

Now, we are suite 304, but our actual box is number 300.  I have no idea why, it just is.  But the names of each company in a box are PRINTED INSIDE THE BOX.  So if the CP guy just looked at “304” and stuffed it in the #304 box, instead of the SURFEASY BOX, then I can understand the problem, except for the fact that it’s a known issue and that’s why we have the names written inside the boxes (and CP knows about this)

So I left a note on #304 asking if they’d received it, but they might not even see that until tomorrow, and *then*, even IF they have it, might not have time to run it over to me that day.

I know I sure as hell don’t have time to run around re-delivering mail, sorry.

And I left a note inside our box rescinding permission to leave packages in the box.

I’m more pissed off about the whole thing because of their shit CS support for this.  If someone else got the box, there’s a good chance I’ll actually get it for reals tomorrow.  It’s the terrible, hour-long adventure of actually trying to get CP to know about the problem that really pissed me off.

And I get (and technically, support) the push to get tickets done online as opposed to over the phone, but JFC have a better ticketing system!  Don’t AUTO-CLOSE reports of missing mail.

But it’s also a pissoff that it happened in general. Everything else I needed to fix the network arrived today (from other places, and not through CP).  The Airport Express.  The ethernet cables.  Just not these, the things I need to ATTACH the ethernet cables >.<

So I can;t even set up the Airport thingies, since I need to connect to it via ethernet to set it up, and spoilers, I have a Macbook Air and therefore need the adapter to use an ethernet cable.

Plus I needed the adapters for the 4 other people in the office, and myself, who will need them to connect to the network> UGH

OH.  AND.

The shitty ticket form for CP had a 1000 character limit for details.  Ok, fine.  But it didn’t say how many characters you HAD, it just yelled at you if you were over.  So I fucked around with it for a bit, trying to see what I could cut to get under 1000 characters, but it wasn’t working.  So I copypasta into Word to do a character count.  726 characters, 944 including spaces.  HOLY HELLS, CP.

And now I am utterly, utterly drained.

It’s … It’s Alive!

Well, sort of. I’d like to get back into documenting my life a bit more, so I spiffed up the blog so it’s actually functional again. Updated the version, slapped on a new (free) theme, and I’m all set.

In theory, anyway. Let’s see if I can actually remember to take time to write things.

I mostly stopped because of Facebook, really.  More people responded to posts there, since they were already on it anyway, so things here got ignored. I never really bother to write out full stories for FB, so I’d write a quick blurb about something, people would like/comment, and that would pretty much be it. Blegh.