Games. Books. Food. Music. Activities to keep the kids happy. Activities to keep the adults happy. Star staff offer a wealth of ideas for making it through day-to-day life in the age of coronavirus lockdown
In this age of knowledge work, there are suddenly more people working from home than ever before. For some people, it might be the first time they haven't regularly reported into the office to do their jobs. On top of that, kids across the globe are now attending school from home, many probably also for the first time. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a lot of change at a lot of people in very short order. StarCompliance staff are dealing with this drastic change in their personal and professional lives, as well. As such, we thought we'd devote this week's blog to the numerous approaches to life on lockdown and activities undertaken by Star parents and kids to see them through it all, with the hope it gives you some ideas you can put into practice.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN
Melissa Macatuno—Star Director Of Marketing and avid board-gamer—kicks this section off with a long list of games her and her husband are playing to keep themselves entertained:
Star Director Of Professional Services Jeremy Stonehouse offered Cards Against Humanity as a way to pass the time. The game's own website describes it as "a party game for horrible people." Is there something you're trying to tell us, Jeremy?
- For Star Business Analyst Danny Holwerda's family, board games and cards are always popular. "Our favorite card games lately are Fluxx and Coup, and our favorite board games are Tsuro and Betrayal At House On The Hill."
- As for Star Controller Jonathan Stone: "Every night we play a board game as a family—from charades, to Yahtzee, to Monopoly. This keeps our minds sharp while having fun."
- For Business Analyst Sean Bowes, it's fantasy classic Dungeons & Dragons. Sean: "As I play D&D in my spare time, I've been painting a lot of miniatures and drawing maps, because you can never be too prepared. I'm planning to play online if quarantine isn’t lifted soon."
- And for those into computer gaming: "PlayStation Now is a monthly subscription that allows you to stream and download games for only £8 per month," says Sean, "and you can buy individual months at a time."
BOOKS—ONWORDS AND UPWARDS
Whether read on a Kindle, an iPad, or the good old printed page, books remain an ideal way to pass the time. Whether transporting you to exotic places or keeping you firmly grounded in the here and now, a good read can keep you engaged and offer sharp observations and insights.
- Monique Tyson, Star's Digital Marketing Coordinator, has recently immersed herself in The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your life, Your Success.
- Senior Business Analyst Leslie Gigliotti has joined a virtual book club and has begun Louisa May Alcott's Little Women—a classic that never goes out of style, but is in fashion particularly of late since it was recently made into a major motion picture.
MUSIC—THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE
People have long turned to music to lift their spirits. Star Team Lead and Developer Robert Gammon offered the following FREE online performance opportunities for those currently "missing the pleasure of attending live [classical] performances:"
- The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (sign up using voucher code BERLINPHIL)
- The London Symphony Orchestra will stream concerts from their archive twice a week.
- The Wigmore Hall has made available their archive of live-streaming chamber, instrumental, and Lieder concerts.
- The New York Chamber Music Society’s archive is also being made available for free.
- Pianist Igor Levit is streaming occasional concerts on Twitter from his apartment.
Music isn't the only universal language. Whether you're cooking it or simply ordering it, food is on the menu for many people trying to stay engaged and uplifted in these trying times. Star Director Of Product Management Will Haggerty and his wife have been looking to Serious Eats as a source of new recipes to try and master, with Tamagoyaki being, as Will himself puts it, "my latest attempt at a challenging new dish to master."
Senior Sales Executive Paul Geishecker and his family have also been busy in the kitchen of late. Crispy Tacos, a.k.a., Tacos Dorados, are currently popular in the Geishecker household, as is some authentic Texas chili. Danny Holwerda has undertaken to teach his 11-year old son Jack how to make scrambled eggs—a recipe that should always be part of a cook's repertoire, no matter his age. And in Controller Jonathan Stone's house, making dinner has become a family enterprise. "They seem to really enjoy being part of the preparation process," says Jonathan.
Finally, Star CEO Jennifer Sun is not be outdone when it comes to lockdown-driven kitchen efforts. "Life on the road is part of my job," says Jenn. "But now that I'm working from home, I have far more opportunity to cook. I’ve been working on my ethnic cooking—getting back to my roots—and also trying out some new dishes." Below is a shot of Easter brunch. Do you have any leftovers available for shipping, Jenn?
TELEVISION & FILM
Never far from the mind of a person simply bored out of her gourd or trying to catch up with the latest bingeable Netflix series, television and film are high on the list of "fun things to do when you're housebound" for Star staff.
- Star Director Of Professional Services Jeremy Stonehouse offers The Stranger, Mindhunter, and RuPaul’s Drag Race as can't-miss TV, and Rocket Man, Knives Out, and Judy as can't-miss cinema.
- Developer Tony Brenton offers the new Disney+ service and National Geographic Channel as near-perfect television viewing for those who prefer exploring the universe from their sofa.
- Controller Jonathan Stone has dug into the insanely popular Tiger King on Netflix, as well as Narcos and Vikings.
BEYOND THE SOFA—EXERCISE!
All that extra time spent in the kitchen cooking tacos and on the sofa watching Tiger King might require extra time spent getting out and exercising. And if you can't technically get "out" to exercise due to lockdown restrictions, Sean Bowes offers the following: "I do a lot of powerlifting but don’t have access to a gym, so I’ve had to get very creative with a 50kg kettlebell. But I plan to build myself a squat rack in the coming weeks."
Your Star blogger makes sure he gets out on a brisk, two-mile walk every day, ends his day with some yoga and stretching, and tries his best to get the family out on a bike ride every evening. Senior Developer Richard Coates says he is "taking advantage of the quiet roads to go on bike rides through the villages and countryside." Jonathan Stone notes that less fast food has led to some very welcome weight loss. And Data Warehouse Developer Tony Brenton offers: "I have fitness gear at home, predominantly weights, and I still get out for an unsociable walk most days."
Melissa Macatuno and Jonathan Stone are staying fit using Mirror, the latest in home gym experiences. Per a very tired Melissa: "Mirror makes it feel like you have a trainer in your house telling you to work harder! It’s been a great way to break up the day. I tend to work out during lunch so I can come back for the second half of the work day with a clear mind, ready to get back to it." Just make sure you maintain proper social distance from your reflection, Melissa.
HELPING OUT THE HELPERS
We're all acutely aware that medical personnel around the world are now working numbingly long hours in extremely hazardous conditions to take care of those sick with COVID-19. SDE Team Lead Fran Pickford and a friend have taken it upon themselves to alleviate some of the suffering these heroes themselves are experiencing. "The personal protective equipment they all must wear causes great discomfort and soreness," says Fran. "The alcohol gel and constant washing of hands is making their hands very dry, sore, and painful. The face masks and hats are rubbing, bruising, and irritating their skin. We set out to raise some money in order to buy and then donate hand, face, and barrier creams to them."
AROUND THE HOUSE AND IN THE YARD
If you're so motivated, now is the perfect time to do those things that need doing on the property. "I renovated my garden and built a picnic bench during my lunchtimes last week," says Sean Bowes, "which will be nice once we’re allowed back outside."
Senior Developer Richard Coates offers: "I've taken this as a good excuse to get on top of the gardening. I bought my house towards the end of last year and it had a pleasant but boring back garden with lots of grasses and bamboo. I've now started to turn it into a cottage garden with lots of flowers and wildlife friendly plants."
LAST BUT NEVER LEAST, KEEPING THE KIDS OCCUPIED
Kids are home from school. Parents are home from the office. Lockdown restrictions can mean more limited opportunities to keep your kids from not complaining about how bored they are. Keeping the kids off of the stranglehold of devices can also be a challenge in such circumstances. Here's how Star parents are coping:
- Jonathan Stone: "We're trying to keep a regimented schedule for the kids that breaks down the day to include fun activities as well as their distance learning."
- Tony Brenton: "My son is enjoying improving his already quite terrifying accuracy shooting airsoft and .177 air pistols in our walled back garden."
- Danny Holwerda: "Our Boy Scout meetings have been canceled until the quarantine is lifted, but each Monday evening I put on my uniform and host online merit-badge classes for any of the boys who want to attend. We finished Family Life merit badge this week, and next week we’ll start Personal Management merit badge."
- Paul Geishecker: "In between homeschooling lessons, the kids are going outdoors in our yard. They've roped of an area they call the “construction site,” are digging holes, and stopping people from entering the area unless they have hardhats, goggles, and proper permits. When this is all over, I'm going to be buying a big bag of grass seed."
From the Star family to yours, we hope you’re staying safe and staying healthy. Hopefully, we’ve inspired you to try a few new things to fill your time at home. And finally, for no other reason than devastatingly cute animal pics are what the Internet exists for, here's Jeremy Stonehouse's dog: