18 votes

What novel things can people do from home?

With the need for social distancing and self-isolation and #Stay(ing)TheFuckHome becoming near global realities, it is looking like many of us, and nearly everyone we know, will be spending large amounts of time staying in. I like this guide (thanks again, @aphoenix!), which ends with "Treat quarantine as an opportunity to do some of those things you never usually have time for."

Certainly we all have things in our life like that, but I also think it would be neat to try to brainstorm a list of things people can do for new experiences -- things they might not think to do or know are available to them. Everybody knows we can catch up on Netflix and our unread pile of books, but what else is out there? What can I do when I need a change of pace? What novel things can people do from home/online that don't require them to go out for resources/supplies?

32 comments

  1. [15]
    JXM
    Link
    If you have a house, now is as good a time as any to trim your hedges and do other gardening tasks that you might have been putting off for a while! Heck, you could even clean your gutters!

    If you have a house, now is as good a time as any to trim your hedges and do other gardening tasks that you might have been putting off for a while!

    Heck, you could even clean your gutters!

    15 votes
    1. [14]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      I recently got allergy tested and it turns out I am allergic to pretty much all of nature. My allergist said that, should I perform any yardwork, I should only do so while wearing a mask. I'm now...

      I recently got allergy tested and it turns out I am allergic to pretty much all of nature. My allergist said that, should I perform any yardwork, I should only do so while wearing a mask. I'm now torn between wanting to do a spring cleanup of my yard (there are plenty of limbs and leaves strewn about right now from fall and winter) and not wanting to incite panic by being visible outside in a mask right now.

      The allergies are also a little alarming personally, as it's nearly impossible not to touch my face if my eyes and nose are itching (which is all the time).

      7 votes
      1. [6]
        mxuribe
        Link Parent
        All is not lost! I'm not a doctor, but I've struggled with allergies since as far back as i can remember (maybe since around kindergarten age), and at the risk of sounding like an info-mmercial:...

        All is not lost! I'm not a doctor, but I've struggled with allergies since as far back as i can remember (maybe since around kindergarten age), and at the risk of sounding like an info-mmercial: you too can do yard work, allergies be damned! @patience_limited has the right idea with using a bandana and goggles (or even just sunglasses). I've owned a home for 20 years and only in the last 2 years started using a bandana (and i started with sunglasses but moved to goggles because they fit better, don't slip off sometimes, etc.)...and wow, what an immense difference in the quality of my life! I used to simply rely on benadryl (either before or after work), and it would make me groggy, irritable, etc. But, now i use a bandana, baseball cap (for blocking the sun!), and goggles (somtimes also gloves depending on the type of work). Another key to a good approach - beyond the obvious trying as best as possible avoiding touching your mucous membranes like eyes, etc. - is to immediately wash your hands and face when you're back in the house/when you're done.

        Separately, you should:

        • Consider asking your doctor what sorts of medicine you can take on a regular basis as a preventative to flare ups - e.g. generic zytrec, etc.
        • Educate yourself on what specific things (both around your house, and in general out in the world) trigger a reaction, and naturally avoid close contact with them if possible.
        • Plan your work to leverage tools in such a clever manner that helps you avoid contact. I've seen online a person jury rig a cardboard "blocker" attached to the end of their weed wacker to avoid debris getting tossed back at him (sorry can't find the reference right now). While they were using it for safety purposes, i can imagine using this to minimize potentially allergic material getting flung back at your face, etc.

        I want to end again with: all is not lost! Like i said, I've struggled all of my life with allergies - they're awful in many more ways than I've described here with landscaping - but you can still live a happy life; simply learn how to best mitigate triggers. Best of luck, and happy to answer any other questions that you might have!!!

        9 votes
        1. [2]
          patience_limited
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I forgot (because this is pretty much a given for any strenuous outdoor activity in Florida) - don't just wash your hands and face, head straight for the shower to get anything off your hair and...

          I forgot (because this is pretty much a given for any strenuous outdoor activity in Florida) - don't just wash your hands and face, head straight for the shower to get anything off your hair and other exposed skin. After years of gardening under mango trees with a spectacular mango sap allergy (we're into Tyvek suit territory here - it's basically poison ivy), I even kept special soap around to clean off allergens. As /u/mxuribe said, everything is still possible, it just takes more effort.

          7 votes
          1. mxuribe
            Link Parent
            Oh yeah, agreed; a shower is loads better!

            Oh yeah, agreed; a shower is loads better!

        2. [3]
          kfwyre
          Link Parent
          This is wonderful, thank you! Your advice is similar to (and in many ways adds to) the advice I got from my doctor. My doctor recommended I take an OTC allergy med daily, and when I asked if any...

          This is wonderful, thank you! Your advice is similar to (and in many ways adds to) the advice I got from my doctor.

          My doctor recommended I take an OTC allergy med daily, and when I asked if any particular one would be better than another, he said that everybody swears by their particular brand but that they all should work comparably. My plan was to spend a few weeks on each one and cycle through them, seeing how I responded to each. I just finished with Zyrtec (which I've taken in the past) and am trying Allegra right now, with Xyzal up next, though I'm realizing it's not exactly a fair comparison, as I was taking the Zyrtec before spring really started to kick up.

          One of the things I'm allergic to is dust mites, so I went through the process of de-dust miting my bedroom. I cleaned everything, bought those expensive mattress and pillow covers, picked up a nice air filter that I run while I sleep, and wash all my linens weekly in hot water. I will note that it made a huge difference in my sleep quality, though sadly not my overall fatigue levels (the main point of the allergy testing was as part of diagnosing chronic fatigue issues I've had for years now). When I was deep-cleaning my house the other day (on account of the coronavirus), I didn't wear any protective gear and had a reaction almost immediately after finishing up: sneezing and really itchy eyes. It remains to be seen whether that's from the dust I kicked up or because I was using cleaner with a fragrance, which I am also allergic to!

          Anyway, I appreciate your positivity and support. I never had a problem with allergies at all, and it seems these have developed (and developed strongly) in the past couple of years. When they did the patch tests on my back, the person reading the spots literally said "whoa" when she pulled off the bandages, followed by "let me go get my supervisor." The doctor told me I had the most positive results he'd seen in the last six months. I now realize how much of my life I have to reorient around these allergies (and how debilitating they are when triggered), and how other people have been long suffering this way for years. I appreciate the perspective and hope that you're offering, because for a while, even before this coronavirus outbreak, things were looking pretty grim for me in this area, especially with the arrival of spring.

          4 votes
          1. Weldawadyathink
            Link Parent
            Once you decide on an allergy drug, look at buying them at Costco. In my experience, the in house brands are just as good as the real thing, and they are so cheap. Zyrtec and claritin equivalents...

            Once you decide on an allergy drug, look at buying them at Costco. In my experience, the in house brands are just as good as the real thing, and they are so cheap. Zyrtec and claritin equivalents for about $20 for 365 tablets. The allegra is a bit more expensive at $20 for 180 tablets. Either way, look into those once you figure out which you want.

            Also, if you get any sort of congestion, look into the pseudopphedrine based decongestants. Those are a miracle drug. I personally swear by claritin d 24 hour, even though I don't use claritin much anymore.

            Either way, good luck with your allergies!

            2 votes
      2. patience_limited
        Link Parent
        You can stop most allergen-sized airborne particles with a closely-woven bandana or t-shirt cloth mask. They're not sufficient for coronavirus protection, but they'll substantially reduce your...

        You can stop most allergen-sized airborne particles with a closely-woven bandana or t-shirt cloth mask.

        They're not sufficient for coronavirus protection, but they'll substantially reduce your exposure to respiratory allergens if you have to do outdoor work. I've used a double-layer of bandana as a short-duration mask for tasks like leaf-raking and putting down mulch, as I'm pretty seriously allergic to Aspergillus and other soil molds. It helps, but be sure to put everything you're wearing directly into the washer when you get indoors. Oh, and wear goggles if you have them; again, not full protection, but they help.

        7 votes
      3. [2]
        hamstergeddon
        Link Parent
        I feel real bad for folks with allergies or even just regular colds who are going to be viewed super suspiciously for the next few weeks :(

        I feel real bad for folks with allergies or even just regular colds who are going to be viewed super suspiciously for the next few weeks :(

        5 votes
        1. reese
          Link Parent
          I have post-nasal drip, acid reflux, and allergies. I obnoxiously cough like Ethan Klein. Can confirm people with similar problems are viewed super suspiciously rn.

          I have post-nasal drip, acid reflux, and allergies. I obnoxiously cough like Ethan Klein. Can confirm people with similar problems are viewed super suspiciously rn.

          6 votes
      4. JXM
        Link Parent
        Get a little sign for your yard that says, "Don't panic! It's just regular allergies!" and put it out when you're working.

        Get a little sign for your yard that says, "Don't panic! It's just regular allergies!" and put it out when you're working.

        5 votes
      5. [3]
        tomf
        Link Parent
        have you considered getting a shitload of allergy shots? When I was a kid I had a lot of allergies and went through the ol' shots. Now I can pretty much wear a cat for a scarf without any issues.

        have you considered getting a shitload of allergy shots? When I was a kid I had a lot of allergies and went through the ol' shots. Now I can pretty much wear a cat for a scarf without any issues.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          kfwyre
          Link Parent
          I have an appointment scheduled for later in the year (allegedly -- at this point, who knows what things will look like in a couple of months with anything related to healthcare?). He recommended...

          I have an appointment scheduled for later in the year (allegedly -- at this point, who knows what things will look like in a couple of months with anything related to healthcare?). He recommended in the interim finding ways to avoid allergen exposure and seeing whether that's a sustainable solution. After doing that and seeing how it goes, we're going to re-evaluate as to whether immunotherapy is necessary.

          4 votes
          1. tomf
            Link Parent
            allergies suck. Get into the habit of washing your face -- water alone should be fine. When the doctor did the dots to see what I was allergic to, everything lit up. But since I was ten or so, I...

            allergies suck. Get into the habit of washing your face -- water alone should be fine.

            When the doctor did the dots to see what I was allergic to, everything lit up. But since I was ten or so, I haven't any allergic responses to anything.

            3 votes
  2. [2]
    ThatFanficGuy
    Link
    Now that more people potentially in your timezone staying the fuck home, you may start looking for that D&D group you always wanted to play with. It may also be the time you contribute to...

    Now that more people potentially in your timezone staying the fuck home, you may start looking for that D&D group you always wanted to play with.

    It may also be the time you contribute to open-source projects. Every little bit helps: spelling fix, bringing the code to uniform formatting, bug fixes, new features, documentation... Make sure to exercise good will and obey contribution rules if any are present, and you'll be a welcome contributor to any project.

    Learning languages. Communicating with people around the world is incredibly easy this way, so you can get some practice. Language services such as DuoLingo may be a good bet if you're starting.

    Personally, I also enjoyed Lingvist while it had free courses: the platform provides helpful ways to get better acquainted with the language: using words in context by default, statistics, goals, refresher courses, texts to work with... Languages are few, and I've only ever tried the German course, but it does have Russian. If y'all looking to learn some, feel free to message me if you need advice with the language.

    Learning programming languages or development skills, too. There are plenty of platforms to learn JS, CSS, HTML, and all sorts of mid-to-advanced web technologies. There are also plenty of platforms to learn a more programm-y language: C++, Python, Ruby, Rust... Even if you don't use them for job prospects, you can create your own software, suited to your own needs, once you learn any of those.

    12 votes
    1. Parliament
      Link Parent
      I happened to start DuoLingo for Spanish a few days before everything shutdown. Definitely second this idea.

      Learning languages. Communicating with people around the world is incredibly easy this way, so you can get some practice. Language services such as DuoLingo may be a good bet if you're starting.

      I happened to start DuoLingo for Spanish a few days before everything shutdown. Definitely second this idea.

      4 votes
  3. patience_limited
    Link
    Aside from what others have mentioned, a couple of tips I discovered from being stuck at home recovering from a hip replacement: Set yourself a timer and get up to move for at least 10 minutes...

    Aside from what others have mentioned, a couple of tips I discovered from being stuck at home recovering from a hip replacement:

    1. Set yourself a timer and get up to move for at least 10 minutes every hour. Even just pacing around the house, you can easily get in 5 km of walking or other easy exercise this way. You'll keep anxiety and stress at bay as well.

    2. Create a budget, if you don't already have one in place, or update your existing one. If you're on a work hiatus or otherwise looking at a reduced income stream, it helps to have a realistic plan in place.

    3. Bring the outdoors inside. If your weather is clement enough, open your windows and shades (given sufficient distance from neighbors) as much as possible. It's good for your mood and decreases exposure to indoor air pollutants. Natural ventilation also reduces relative pathogen exposure if someone in the house is ill.

    4. Clean and tidy all the things. Aside from CDC cleaning recommendations and Marie Kondo, it's stress-reducing (for me, anyway) to live in an orderly environment, where you know where everything is. Getting clothing and other household donations together may be helpful to others.

    5. Reach out to all the people you haven't talked to or corresponded with for a while. It's nice to knit your community of friends and family a little tighter, especially if you've been consumed with work.

    6. If you're in a position to do so, donate to poverty-relief, medical aid, and child services charities. There's a list of reliable entities seeking COVID-19 relief funds here.

    10 votes
  4. [3]
    kfwyre
    Link
    GeoGuessr is a game that places you somewhere in the world from a street-view perspective. You then have to navigate around, looking for landmarks and key information, to try to identify where you...

    GeoGuessr is a game that places you somewhere in the world from a street-view perspective. You then have to navigate around, looking for landmarks and key information, to try to identify where you are in the world and place yourself on an overview map. This can be a neat way of "going somewhere new" without risk.

    Anki is a flashcard app that uses spaced repetition to log things in memory. It is great for things like language learning, and there are a ton of pre-made card sets you can use to study.

    ClozeMaster is a language-learning tool that has you complete sentences in other languages in order to help you learn vocabulary and sentence structure.

    Mozilla's Common Voice project is an open dataset for voice recognition, and you can easily contribute either by recording your own voice or by validating sentences spoken by others.

    DistroTest lets you test-drive different Linux distributions easily, with no live booting or installation needed.

    Home organization is a great thing to tackle. Clean out that junk drawer that's been bothering you for years, or refresh that closet that's gotten out of sorts over time.

    Use/update a password manager. Now's a great time to make sure that all of your online accounts are stored in a password manager and are up to date with different, secure passwords.

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      Autoxidation
      Link Parent
      Unfortunately Geoguessr is a bleak shadow of its former self after the Google API changes made about 8 months ago. I used to play this with my coworkers every Friday and it's simply not worth it...

      Unfortunately Geoguessr is a bleak shadow of its former self after the Google API changes made about 8 months ago. I used to play this with my coworkers every Friday and it's simply not worth it anymore.

      3 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        This is disappointing to hear. I used to love it, but I admittedly hadn't used it in a good long while.

        This is disappointing to hear. I used to love it, but I admittedly hadn't used it in a good long while.

  5. vakieh
    Link
    Join the hordes of students learning online. MIT OpenCourseware.

    Join the hordes of students learning online. MIT OpenCourseware.

    9 votes
  6. nacho
    Link
    Call and catch up with friends and family. Not only is the corona-situation a good excuse to call people I haven't spoken with in too long, but I can use that opportunity to catch up with...

    Call and catch up with friends and family.

    Not only is the corona-situation a good excuse to call people I haven't spoken with in too long, but I can use that opportunity to catch up with everything pre-corona with them as well.

    8 votes
  7. skybrian
    (edited )
    Link
    If you have any experience with keyboard instruments, order a melodica and learn to play. They are pretty cheap and fun. If you're curious about electronic music, try out VCV Rack. This is free...

    If you have any experience with keyboard instruments, order a melodica and learn to play. They are pretty cheap and fun.

    If you're curious about electronic music, try out VCV Rack. This is free software that emulates a modular synthesizer. It's quite easy to use and it's fun to learn about what the different modules do.

    Maybe consider getting or giving music lessons over video chat.

    7 votes
  8. [5]
    aphoenix
    (edited )
    Link
    You're welcome for the guide; I'm glad you enjoy it. I've separated things into two groups: "staying in" and "staying distant". Staying in may require a yard, so if it doesn't work for you, my...

    You're welcome for the guide; I'm glad you enjoy it.

    I've separated things into two groups: "staying in" and "staying distant". Staying in may require a yard, so if it doesn't work for you, my apologies. Staying distant typically requires being away from your home, but in a way that's responsible and distant from other people.

    Staying In

    Learn how to Juggle! There are tons of YouTube tutorials on it, and it's a great way to keep your upper body moving. You can make your own juggling balls really easily (a bit of rice, plastic wrap, and six balloons is all you need) and it's not very difficult to get to the point that you can consistently keep the balls in the air. If you buy weighted balls, it's actually a really decent upper body workout as well.

    Learn some basic Card Magic! There are tons of YouTube tutorials on this too. Learn some basics, and keep yourself and others entertained. Almost everyone loves to see a good card trick in person.

    Clean / Fix your space. Paint that bathroom ceiling, clean the gutters, dig that hole in the front yard that you want to fill with river rock, clean out the french drain, attach the steps to your raised obstacle course ladder, clean out the sandbox and put a roof on it and add more sand, powerwash the back deck. This mostly turned into a really specific list for myself, but hopefully you get the point; there are things in each of our domiciles that probably could use a helping hand, and it's a great time to start working on them.

    Learn how to cook something. If you're not a cook, learn how to make some basic things. If you are a cook, learn how to cook something new! There are tons of tutorials online, and loads of recipe sites.

    Edit: Here are some ways to spend the time you may stockpile:

    Staying Distant

    Go disc golfing! If there's a free course near you (and there probably is - check out uDisc for an app with all the info you need) then it's a great way to go outside, be socially distant from people, touch only things that you bring with you, and actually stay somewhat active. It is socially acceptable to stay dozens of meters away from other people while doing this, and it's usually a nice walk as well.

    Couch to 5K. If you're healthy but remaining socially distant from people, maybe take some time to get yourself up to speed on running 5K. Running is another great activity that can keep you healthy without requiring that you touch equipment that other filthy people have been using, and also requires you to maintain some distance from other people. I like to run at a track near my house.

    Take a hike. We have a wonderful local arboretum that we went for a hike in on the weekend. We maintained distance from other people, but got out and enjoyed nature as a family.

    6 votes
    1. [4]
      patience_limited
      Link Parent
      Ditto on the outdoor activities if you've got opportunities available. Short of city-wide lockdowns, go enjoy the spring weather by walking, running, biking, or rowing if you can maintain safe...

      Ditto on the outdoor activities if you've got opportunities available. Short of city-wide lockdowns, go enjoy the spring weather by walking, running, biking, or rowing if you can maintain safe distance. [Even driving to moderately distant parks doesn't necessarily expose anyone, though I'd recommend hitting the bathroom at home first so you're not contacting the scary latrines.]

      5 votes
      1. [3]
        aphoenix
        Link Parent
        This is particularly important. Bring wipes and be responsible, but also try not to use the washrooms.

        hitting the bathroom at home first so you're not contacting the scary latrines.

        This is particularly important. Bring wipes and be responsible, but also try not to use the washrooms.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          patience_limited
          Link Parent
          We visited a particularly remote park this weekend, and it's possible to use the facilities without touching anything, but I'd definitely recommend bringing the usual hiking supplies (trowel and...

          We visited a particularly remote park this weekend, and it's possible to use the facilities without touching anything, but I'd definitely recommend bringing the usual hiking supplies (trowel and biodegradable paper/wipes) instead. Don't use the woods if you're near an inhabited area. Interestingly, they still had hand sanitizer.

          3 votes
          1. aphoenix
            Link Parent
            We did allow my son to pee in the woods this weekend. It was definitely more convenient than trying to find or use a washroom. Again, though, as you've said: dig a bit of a hole, cover it up, take...

            We did allow my son to pee in the woods this weekend. It was definitely more convenient than trying to find or use a washroom. Again, though, as you've said: dig a bit of a hole, cover it up, take your garbage with you (unless it's biodegradable, and then bury it). Nobody wants to step on shit in the woods.

            3 votes
  9. patience_limited
    Link
    Also, if you have contact information for your neighbors (especially if they have disabilities or other extra risks), check in with them if you're planning a necessary trip out. If you can pick up...

    Also, if you have contact information for your neighbors (especially if they have disabilities or other extra risks), check in with them if you're planning a necessary trip out. If you can pick up and door-drop groceries or other needed items for them, that can help them avoid exposure and delivery expenses. Don't exchange paper or coin currency, though.

    6 votes
  10. patience_limited
    Link
    More stuck-at-home activities which don't involve mindlessly vegging out in front of a screen: Here's a very large collection of bodyweight/no-equipment exercises. Learn to bake! There are lots of...

    More stuck-at-home activities which don't involve mindlessly vegging out in front of a screen:

    Here's a very large collection of bodyweight/no-equipment exercises.

    Learn to bake! There are lots of online resources, and I'll be happy to help with questions. Understandably, it's harder when you can't run out to the store for ingredients (learning substitutions is part of the fun), and don't have a crowd to consume the products of your lessons. But there's nothing like cookies or a loaf of fresh-baked bread to take people's minds off trouble. [Leaving parcels of goodies for the neighbors may require careful sanitation, though.]

    Up your artistic game:

    • Paper and pencils are all you need to learn beginning drawing - there plenty of good tutorials here, and it's an activity easily shared with kids.

    • Krita is a great FOSS painting and illustration package. Pixlr x is a usable web-based free Photoshop alternative for editing photos.

    • Even if you don't have a 3D printer, you can learn model-making. TinkerCAD and Vectary have accessible resources. [Any other hobbyists out there, feel free to pitch in.]

    • Knot-tying and macrame' require little more than string or rope - also fun for kids.

    • Do NaNoWriMo even if it isn't November.

    If you've got the space, plan a garden, or update your existing plans. This book should also make for inspiring reading. [We discovered that the heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo aren't heated or otherwise treated to prevent viability - garden experiments soon.]

    6 votes
  11. Atvelonis
    Link
    If you have a quiet environment at home, I think it would be a great time to practice some meditation or mindfulness. In times as stressful as these, it's certainly more necessary than ever.

    If you have a quiet environment at home, I think it would be a great time to practice some meditation or mindfulness. In times as stressful as these, it's certainly more necessary than ever.

    4 votes