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November 22, 2020

Baby, it's cold outside!

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How cold?

So cold you can see the melody....

Photograph by Kathrin Swoboda, who specializes in capturing shots of birds in action.

November 22, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

'Make perfect'

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When I was a boy I was obsessive — bordering on OCD — when it came to my stuff being placed just so on my dresser and nightstand (not that I had a lot of stuff, mind you).

As I got older, I became a bit less so, but still organized and minimalist.

I recall once when a med school classmate stopped by my L.A. apartment, the first thing he said was, "Did you just move in?"

I'd lived there three years by then.

Anyhoo, I've changed when it comes to neatness; the transformation was gradual, yet I suddenly noticed it a few weeks ago.

My home is now a messy, chaotic place: above and below, photos taken while I was writing this post this past Wednesday morning.

One thing I've noticed about my new lifestyle is that I seem to exert a lot less time and effort just doing stuff around the house to keep things neat and tidy: once a certain level of disorder is reached, it takes zero energy to maintain it at this new equilibrium.

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At first I wondered if the new look signalled the onset of Alzheimer's, since one of the cardinal signs is loss of interest in one's surroundings.

I don't think so, judging by everything else in my life, but who knows?

One weird thing is that my boj readership is steadily increasing and has been over the past year, something I wouldn't expect if indeed my brain was rotting away.

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Besides which, my hometown, Podunkville, Virginia, falls at the light end of the gray scale of prevalence.

For those who read to the end, a bonus quiz: can you find Gray Cat?

She's there, I promise.

November 22, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Top 200 most common passwords of 2020

21

All 200 here.

At this point, why bother changing them?

[via NordPress]

November 22, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wearing a mask lets you hide in plain sight

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I'm sure this has occurred to most people since we entered CoronaWorld but last week being the new "nobody you know" made it to the front page of Section D of the dead tree iteration (yes, they're still cranking them out) of the New York Times.

Remember how you used to pretend not to see someone you know?

No need to pretend any more.

Even movie stars* now can go out!

As I think about it, it's like being invisible in a minor key.

Below, excerpts from Alyson Krueger's article.

Julianne Kassidy had one ex she definitely didn’t want to run into. (Don't we all?)

In late October, it had almost been a year since Ms. Kassidy, 20, a college student in Los Angeles, had last seen this former boyfriend — until she walked into a grocery store, and there he was.

Her heart raced, she felt sweaty and she started panicking.

Would he follow her to the car?

Would she have to talk to him?

Then it dawned on her: He didn't recognize her because, per local and national guidelines, she was wearing a face covering.

"He looked at me dead in the face and walked right past me," Ms. Kassidy said. "I was like, 'Oh, thank God.'"

Saved by the mask.

Guess again

The main role of a mask is obviously to protect you and the people around you from the coronavirus.

But some people are finding another positive benefit to wearing them: anonymity.

The ability to walk down the street and not be recognized is a gift many are cherishing.

For some it means the end of unwanted small talk when they are trying to run errands.

For others, it allows them to be exactly how they want to be in public — there is no need to put on a fake smile or hold back tears — regardless of who is around.

"Do you know how many random men used to tell me I would be prettier if I smiled?" said Ms. Kassidy, who also works for a lighting design company. "I haven't heard that in nine months, and it's incredible. It's none of their business."

Of course, there are downsides to everyone being hard to recognize. There are awkward encounters when friends and family members mix each other up ("I thought you were Sarah!" "I look like Sarah?!").

Others feel masks sever a connection to their community.

Christopher Franklin has lived in Norman, Oklahoma, since 2012.

While it's one of the bigger cities in the state, it has a small-town feel to it.

"I waited tables for a long time, so I know everybody," he said. "I run into people all the time."

Mr. Franklin, who is 35 and works for a pharmacy software company, used to dread bumping into people he knows.

It gave him anxiety to be peppered with questions or have to think of what to say.

He has even had a few panic attacks.

Sure, wearing a mask limits those encounters.

But it also makes it easier for him to chat with people when a run-in still occurs.

"I suppose it's a vulnerability thing, or it could just be a breathing regulation thing or a 'we are in this together' unity thing," he said. "I really don’t have a good answer, I just know I feel a lot less anxious when I am wearing it in public. It makes it a little bit easier to talk to people."

He said even when the pandemic ends and masks are no longer medically necessary, he will keep one in his pocket.

Mr. Franklin also has someone in his life he doesn't ever want to see again.

"It's a fellow, and I would rather not share why I dislike him," he said. "There is no great way to explain it, but we all have these people we would rather see first than vice versa, right?"

Indeed.

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Mr. Franklin was in a gas station, and the man in question walked up to the counter in front of him.

He immediately thought he could use his mask as a shield.

"I looked away from him, and I made sure it was far up and covered my face," he said. "I saw him looking at me twice. I counted it. Then he left. He didn't seem to recognize me. Just that extra seed of doubt that someone may not be who you think, it was enough to keep him away."

What about in even more sociable environments?

Luke Chileski is a sophomore at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, which has about 1,800 students and an average class size of 11 people.

"There are a lot of people whose names I know, and there are a lot of people who I've had one or two conversations with," he said.

Mr. Chileski, 20, likes premeditated social gatherings.

"If I know someone I know is going to be at a certain place, and I talk to them, I don't care. I’ll mentally prepare to have that conversation," he said. "I like having friends."

But spontaneous encounters, not so much.

"Sometimes when people spring up on me and pester me with a whole bunch of questions, it is rough for me," he said. "I will immediately turn around and leave the dining room if I see people I know."

This year has gone much smoother than the last because of one handy prop: his mask, which allows him to see and be seen only when he wants.

The day after Mr. Chileski moved in, a friend of a friend waved to him in the parking lot, but he didn't recognize her because of her mask.

It was the perfect excuse to avoid saying hi (although he later figured out who it was and apologized because he felt bad ignoring her).

Some of his classes still meet in person, and he can sit anywhere in the room without being pinpointed.

He no longer gets approached in the cafeteria line or while running errands.

"The masks are kind of a good thing because they just let me be," he said. "For outgoing people that must stink, but for me, it's phenomenal."

[Pictured, from the top; Priyanka Chopra; Jennifer Aniston; Vanessa Hudgens]

November 22, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

What is it?

Try again

Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: smaller than a bread box.

Another: inedible.

November 22, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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