From the Editor's Desk: Coming together before we fall apart

Zoom Happy Hour in Texas
Zoom Happy Hour in Texas (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

I live where I live for one reason — Walt Disney World — and most of the time, living in Orlando is pretty great. I work from home in the morning, eat lunch, then I can grab my Chromebook, head to a theme park, and continue working on my articles while I sit in Fantasyland, Galaxy's Edge, or somewhere in World Showcase. It helped me get out, stay active, and be around other human beings for a while.

When the pandemic started and the parks closed, I suddenly found myself living in isolation for weeks at a time, with my human contact being limited to phone calls from home, the occasional video call with a special friend and my usual Google Meets for work. And nevermind walking three to seven miles a week anymore; I wasn't even leaving the apartment most days. It made me feel listless, especially once my sleeping issues returned and time seemed to lose meaning.

By early May, it was apparent I needed to go be around other people for a while again. With air travel a high risk without much reward in time/money saved, I decided that I'd make the long, long drive back to Texas. Eighteen hours in a car isn't exactly my idea of fun, but I had Android Auto and YouTube Music to keep my company as I arrived back home a week ago.

Time to take a walk

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

It's been weird having to carve out my own little work-from-home-space amongst my parents working from home. My dad's always had his setup in the master bedroom, while my mom has migrated from working in the dining room to taking over my twin's old bedroom. I tend to oscillate between working at the kitchen table — where I can watch the baby deer out in the yard — and working on my bed with a trusty lap desk when I need privacy or quiet.

Working from home is no foreign concept at my parents' house: my dad has always brought his work home with him and while my mom taught phlebotomy courses in-person until three months ago, there is no end to the prep, grading, and other work that goes into being an adjunct. And of course there's me, who has been proud of being able to work anywhere with my trusty #HaveChromebookWillTravel.

What is new for them is shifting coffee dates and happy hours to Zoom instead of meeting up at a local joint. And while Texas has mostly reopened — to the detriment of our COVID case numbers — my parents' gatherings, like most of the folks I know, have steadfastly remained digital.

Of course, some activities just can't be replicated over a video call: I made the 90-mile trek up to Waco on Thursday night so that I could sing karaoke for the first time since New Year's. And let me tell you, they had a crowd. TrueLove, like all bars and restaurants, was limiting capacity, but there were still enough rowdy girls' nights and boys' clubs rolling through to make it hard to hear your own conversations.

It wasn't the safest decision I've made since the pandemic started — every singer got a fabric mic cover to use and hand sanitizer next to the mic — but I wore my mask as much of the time as I could, tried to sit away from other people, and getting up to sing was really, really cathartic for me. Just doing it once did wonders for my soul, but I'll likely hit it one more night before I return to Florida and await the parks re-opening.

It's a trap! An adorable trap!

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

For the most part, though, being home has meant I'm eating meals more consistently, I'm definitely getting more exercise going on the evening walks with the dog, and I'm getting more sunshine, too. It's been nice to get a breather, step back, and take stock of things, especially when (gesticulates widely) all this is going on.

And of course, pet the parents' pretty kitty. Now, onto business:

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  • The Android 11 Beta is here and while the toys here are mostly small potatoes at the moment — I'm digging the smart home controls, but the chat bubbles and the new autofill aren't really working yet — there is one advancement that's going to mean huge things for media hounds like me: the new media controls in Quick Settings that will let you swipe between audio apps without having to stop what you're doing in your current app.
  • Miles Morales got a video game! MILES MORALES GOT A VIDEO GAME!! And yes, that is more important than everything else about the PS5, including and especially everyone making fun of its design. It's a tallboy, but it is not a particularly bad design. And just think of how sick the custom/special editions are going to look when they swap that blue light out for red or green!
  • On the note of games, as someone who's a fan of watching video game "movies" on YouTube, I cannot wait to see how The Last of Us 2 absolutely wrecks me.
  • We're on a nostalgia kick this summer, and while Hayato's first Android phones have some sort of appeal, they seem kinda pedestrian by early Android standards. Of course, I came to Android on a Samsung Captivate Glide (I miss you, Soarin), and I still absolutely love the OG Moto X to bits, so my perspective on Android phones may be a bit skewed...
  • Our sister sites are going in on the rose-colored glasses, too, though Dan Thorp-Lancaster's may be a little too rosy when it comes to the Zune. Fun fact from my trip to Waco: there was a still-functional Zune HD controlling the music at the speakeasy I visited before karaoke.
  • Harish's Indian-focused review of the OnePlus 8 Pro is another strong reminder that the smartphone market is just so majorly different from how it in North America. Also, I want to steal Apoorva Bhardwaj for a week of photography lessons because just look at the pictures in that review! LOOK AT THEM!!

Finally, a privileged white girl, it is not my place to preach about systemic racism and the overmilitarized and horribly uneven policing of America. Instead, I suggest reading up on some history — if you need places to start, next week is the anniversary of the Tulsa massacre and you can also look at redlining for something truly infuriating that is still impacting millions to this day — and rather than signing national petitions, find what local civil rights groups are trying to accomplish in your area.

This is not how I imagined pride month going, either, but to all in the LGBTQ community, the fight is not over, and we will never stop fighting until everyone has the same rights and protections in society. And we can never forget those who have been taken from us so far.

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.