Last April, I capped off my birthday at the Magic Kingdom. I brought one of the oldest Whirley mugs in my collection back to Gaston's and drank the last HEB Pure Cane Sugar cola I brought with me from Texas out of it. I sang along with the fireworks and rode my favorite rides. This year, I sat alone in my apartment, watching Hawaii Five-0 and eating leftover pizza, trying to be thankful I'm healthy, employed, and alive.
"Trying to find the new normal" has been a big phrase the last month. People trying to figure out how to work from home, how to keep their kids learning from home, how to get essential supplies while minimizing the risk of infection, how to try and stay healthy and active and sane while we hear the death toll rising every day.
There are so many things we can do to try and help stop the spread, to help frontline workers that are risking their lives trying to keep society functioning and safe for the rest of us, to help our neighbors and our friends. And please, if you're able, give to the Frontline Responders Fund that's working to get protective gear where it's needed the most. Also, if no one in your house is sick, go give blood!
But before you try to run your soul ragged trying to convince yourself that everything's fine and you should be carrying on as close to normal as you can, take a deep breath and repeat this in your head: it's chaos, be kind. It was a mantra of Patton Oswalt's late wife Michelle McNamara, which he shared in his Annihilation stand-up special — a great watch while we're all stuck inside and in a slightly morose mood — and it's something that we could all live by for however long this lasts.
It's chaos, be kind to the people around you that are just as stressed and worried as you are. It's chaos, be kind to the family members who are calling you for tech support because they can't get their Skype working. Most importantly, it's chaos, be kind to yourself. I've spent a lot of this last month beating myself up for not firing on all cylinders, for letting myself slip into a funk with everything that's going on.
We have to take care of ourselves mentally as well as physically if we're going to get through this, so be kind to yourself. Get yourself a nice takeout meal every now and then — from a local restaurant if you can — take a quick break and listen to some fun music, and go to bed early when you can and treat yourself to a few extra hours of sleep. Drink a fun beverage out of a souvenir mug and remember the fun you had when you picked it up! If you need to step away from the chaos for a moment, whether it's rebellious kids who are tired of only seeing friends on a screen or the utter insanity on social media, then take a deep breath in, breathe out, and remember.
It's chaos, be kind.
And now, back to technology and other happenings in the world:
- I am not on the Animal Crossing train the way many of my co-workers are — the only gaming console I own is an NVIDIA Shield TV that I use all day every day for streaming services — but I did download Disney Sorcerer's Arena and while it's fun when you're starting out, the pay-to-win and horrible matching system will quickly steer you away from PVP and energy spawns too slowly for the kind of consistent, casual play I expect from a mobile game. It's fun and I love being able to unlock and play some of my favorite characters, but there's a lot of work that needs to be done to level the game out for those of us who can't drop $50 to unlock the new characters for the latest event.
- It's OnePlus week and I'm looking forward to seeing what we actually get with the OnePlus 8 and whatever their budget model is going to be called, but the OnePlus 8 Pro going to be a hard sell for anyone outside enthusiast circles, especially this year. Don't get me wrong, though, I'm going to fawn over all the fun color options because OnePlus makes some of the prettiest phone colors around and I want more phones that come in pretty colors and not just black, silver, blue and pink. Gimme some cool purples, greens, and reds!
- I have the ASUS Chromebook Flip C436 in for review — that'll be coming soon — and while it's not quite the easy sell the C434 was, having a fingerprint sensor on a Chromebook is nice and it's just about the perfect size for working at my standing desk, or on my couch with the new lap desk, which the C436 is almost perfectly sized for.
- Chromebooks have been selling fast everywhere the last few weeks, but I beg you to please check the price history of a Chromebook before you buy one right now. The Lenovo C330 was $279 when it launched in 2018, and you absolutely should NOT give some third-party seller over $400 for one today. Shame on them for listing that and shame on retailers for not cracking down on the price gouging we're also seeing on other popular Chromebooks like the ASUS C214 and ASUS C434. If you need an affordable Chromebook, Walmart has the Lenovo C340-11 for $260 with it arriving in two weeks.
- If you haven't found some face masks locally, I highly recommend hitting up the /r/Masks4All subreddit, which has great references for how to make masks at home even if you don't have serwing materials. It also has some great resources for how to better fit a mask to your face and keep the bands from irritating your ears or messing with your glasses.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go induldge some Disney Parks magic.
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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.