COVID-19

This post was originally shared on my Facebook page.

Good evening, friends.

I think for many of us, it’s starting to settle in that we’re in for a marathon, not a sprint. Today, Oregon Governor Kate Brown extended the state’s school closures through April 28th. Today is also the day that Oregon’s closure of dine-in restaurants and bars went into effect. Thousands of Oregonians, my brother included, are now either out of work or very near. McMenamin’s, a local brewpub and hospitality chain, is laying off 3,000 workers. It’s a temporary measure so the workers can immediately claim unemployment, but still–this is huge.

I’ll be honest: I’m feeling the weight of this today. I’m seeing clients via video chat and suspecting that I may not see them face-to-face again for a long time. There’s an enormity to this. A pandemic is beyond the human comprehension in so many ways: it is spread by invisible viruses, an effective response looks like an overreaction, and it connects us all, on a scale so much greater than we can grasp. Add to that the huge uncertainty in what comes next, the disappointment in our leaders and the decades-long decimation of our social fabric, and… oof. Yeah. I’m gonna need a good cry tonight.

Part of being in it for the long haul means recognizing that our emotions are likely to run the gamut. This isn’t like an afternoon of protest, where you’ll be driven by one or two primary feelings. This is very likely going to be part of the fabric of our lives for months. You’ll feel calm and capable for a while, you’ll feel worried or stressed or anxious, you’ll feel angry, you’ll feel hopeful, and, yeah, you may also just feel depressed. Despondent. Overwhelmed.

That’s normal. And if we expect it, we don’t need to be surprised or disappointed when we or the people we love run into it.

I don’t have much to give tonight, and that’s okay. One of my favorite quotes goes, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” In the coming months, we’re all going to have times when we’re tapped out. If this pandemic is a marathon rather than a sprint, then it behooves all of us to practice taking care of ourselves just as much as we would anyone else, and falling back when we need to regroup.

When you’re rested and ready again, there’s good work to be done as we march toward a brighter future together.

Dream big and fight hard,
Your buddy Spencer

COVID-19

This post was originally shared on my Facebook page.

A couple things tonight before bed:

1. Now is a great time to pick up journaling! Even if you just log what happened in the day, it’s a good way to fight boredom. Plus, it’s not every day that you live through a pandemic–your seemingly mundane (or not) observations today might make really interesting reading in the future!

2. Even when we’re cooped up, we’re still humans, and that means we’re still creative and artistic and appreciative of things that speak to the human spirit. Now would be an awesome time to practice and share a skill with your friends. Sing! Play an instrument! Draw! Write poetry, or read it! It won’t be perfect, and that’s okay–maybe one thing we shed as we walk through this pandemic can be our inhuman perfectionistic expectations of ourselves. A big tip of the hat to my friend Meaghan Russell for inspiring this with her #SequesterSongs project.

3. Please strongly consider reaching out to your neighbors if you haven’t already. I did so on Friday via letter and have already heard from three of the households that live on my street. We are going to be so much stronger during this if we can rely on one another and form networks of mutual aid. No one knows where this is going–so try to start forming solidarity now.

4. As the effects of the pandemic intensify, practice taking stock. What do you have in abundance? That’s what you can share. What is scarce for you? That’s where you can turn to your community for help. There’s no shame in personal scarcity–it’s impossible to have everything all the time.

5. From my own experience, my anxiety is at its worse when I feel like I’m alone and have to shoulder it all myself. Don’t be silly and anxious like me. Reach out to your friends. Reach out to your neighbors. Reach out to the people who will help carry the load with you. This world was not meant to be borne on individual backs.

6. In terms of personal projects, I’m still working at getting Motley, my little social network, ready to launch. With more and more of us practicing social distancing, I realize online communication is gonna become all the more important. Believe me, I want to get Motley off the ground so that we have a little community space that’s not run by a giant untrustworthy megacorporation.

7. Also, I’m working on moving my blog, which is why I’m posting this big thing here instead of there.

8. Finally, I’ll reiterate what I said earlier this weekend: I have an open invitation to anyone who wants to chat via text, phone, or video. I’m on Marco Polo and Signal, both of which are great apps. Reach out if you’re feeling cabin fever, or if you just want to say hi.

I’ve long hated the overuse of this slogan and its endless remixes, but I think it’s more apt now than ever before in my life: keep calm and carry on. We’ll get through this together. Don’t let fear harden your heart or wall you off.

Dream big and fight hard,
Your buddy Spencer

Radicalized by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow
Four short stories about the near future and the dystopia we're building for ourselves.

Doctorow is quickly becoming one of my favorite sci-fi writers, because he understands how sci-fi can help us understand our present and imagine different futures. These four short stories are each grim in their own ways, but they also contain within them the seeds of better futures: futures built on cooperation and justice. I want Cory Doctorow in my commune when society collapses.

This book is a nice companion to Doctorow’s Walkaway.

An incomplete puzzle

Someone asked me the other day, “What about your other half?”

What a weird phrase. “My other half,” as though I am an incomplete person without my wife. Was I just a partial human for the first 21 years of my life, until we started dating? When she’s at roller derby practice, or on a trip in another city, am I back to being unwhole?

If she’s so important to completing me, how did she end up with this Spencer-material I’m apparently missing? Did she inherit it at birth from her parents? Was it specifically tuned for 21-year-old Spencer, or did it mature and grow as I did?

Did I get auto-Horcruxed?

If people can have other halves, could some people have other thirds? Other quarters? Do you become less yourself the more people you love? Are asexuals and aromantics intrinsically more whole than the rest of us? Can the majority shareholders in Spencer outvote me?

Okay, I didn’t just land on this planet yesterday; obviously, I know it’s just an idiom. But it’s such a weird one. I’m not an incomplete person without my wife. She’s not part of me, and I’m not a part of her. We’re two independent, complete people who have chosen to build a life together, not because it was written in the stars or because we’re two halves of one soul, but simply because we want to.

That’s enough.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky ChambersBecky Chambers

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful - exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet.

Optimistic spacefaring sci-fi! Grounding the story in the idea of family was excellent, and really made the story sing for me. I loved the anthropological angle as we were introduced to different sentient species and their cultures. I would definitely hang with Aandrisks.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

See more of my thoughts here.

Photo of someone welding, with the NISEI logo superimposed

Over the last three days, I’ve examined the work of Project NISEI, the fan-run program to keep Android: Netrunner alive after its official cancellation. In the first post in this series, I shared a brief history of Netrunner and NISEI and highlighted the strengths NISEI has exhibited in their first seven months. In the second post, I switched to my critic’s glasses and pointed out areas for improvement in NISEI’s handling of their first spoiler season. Yesterday, I went further, criticizing what I believed were NISEI’s substantial weaknesses in their web communications, both on their website and social media. Today, I want to cap off the series with recommendations for ways NISEI could address the challenges I identified.

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