Quarantine rambles

Working from home seems to be mostly going ok for my company. We have several standing "coffee break" video chats each week for the human connection and are using video more for other meetings. We have learned how to add custom background images to Microsoft Teams and this is a source of amusement. (I would like to find some from Babylon 5, particularly images from (a) Minbar and (b) inside the station, but have had no luck so far.) My team has a new person who started a few weeks ago, so he started in quarantine and hasn't yet been to the office. I'm his mentor, so I'm trying to make sure he's getting all the support and human connection he needs. The situation seems roughest on the people who live alone, though the ones with small children at home have challenges too. I'm fortunate to have Dani and the cat.

I have read a little more fiction than usual, some of it made available for free by authors because of the quarantine. Thank you! One that I just finished is Dragon of Glass by Zoe Chant, a delightful, lightweight novel about a transplant from another world and the woman who released him; watching him try to fit into our world is a lot of fun. Tor is making the Murderbot novellas available this week for free (leading up to a novel release next month); I'd read the first a while back but hadn't read the others yet, so this is good timing. I also have a gift waiting from a Kickstarter for a different book (while you're waiting and stuck at home, here...). I also just read (not free) The Body in the Building, a novella by a friend and fellow SE refugee. The point-of-view character is an architect who discovers problems with a major project, and then discovers that those problems were only the tip of an iceberg of bigger problems... I figured out the mystery before the reveal but also fell for some misdirection, so neither too easy nor too hard.

I have been spending more time in the kitchen. Yes I'm cooking all our meals at home aside from very occasional takeout from local restaurants, but also: with the food supply being sometimes erratic, I've upped the produce deliveries and am doing some low-key preserving. I've never canned and don't have the equipment, but I'm pickling things (to refrigerate, not shelf-stable). So far I've pickled eggs, beets, cauliflower, and jalapenos, and will do some carrots next. I also plan to dry some fruit, dried fruit not requiring refrigeration. (I'm trying to keep the fridge full.) I haven't been able to get bread flour since Pesach ended, so I guess I'll try making bread with all-purpose flour. (Also haven't been able to get rye flour.) I would like to get some more seedlings for container gardening, but I don't know if I want to go to Home Depot for them and nobody delivers. (Insert rant about how Home Depot gets to sell plants because they sell stuff for home repair, but local nurseries had to close.)

Someone I know indirectly from Mi Yodeya suggested a book and a series of videos on Reb Nachman that look very personally relevant. (I've read one chapter of the book and seen one of the videos so far; more soon.) I joined an online talmud class (by R' Ethan Tucker of Hadar). A friend pointed out to me that since we're all stuck at home anyway, synagogues in other cities are just as available to me as my local ones. There's one in DC that seems like a good fit for me. Closer to home, my synagogue's two rabbis and cantor each hold a weekly open chat on Zoom, so I'll get to see my rabbi that way tomorrow.

Our choir director sends out daily music selections with accompanying (short) history essays. I'm enjoying these.

I have barely watched any TV.