Monday, May 18, 2020

Zoom Nation



HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Do you remember when Zoom was just a TV show? I’m gonna Zoom Zoom Zoom-a Zoom?

(I think I used to watch it in college.)

But in these times, Zoom is a necessity. As is Crowdcast, and Facebook live, and Instagram live, and every other platform that allows us to be together but not together.


Hank teaching a class to MWA Florida
  Zoom-- to use that as the shorthand for all--is my way of life now. It is a true gift, and I am grateful. But I sometimes do three a day, not even counting the ones where I’m in the audience. Facebook live and Instagram live too, and both at once for First Chapter Fun! And I just did a truly hilarious interview with Barbara Peters at Poisoned Pen--it's pretty funny. (Here's the link.)
I think we both forgot we were being taped, and just talked about everything.
Hank and Barbara 

But there are some questions I still have.

One. What do you wear? My TV reporter clothes are too formal. My hanging out at home clothes are too casual. Patterns don’t work, nor do sleeveless things, or shirts with droopy collars. Jewelry is problematic. And what, everyone is just going to watch in real time as my roots get longer?

Two. Where do you look? Every single device--iPhone, iPad, desktop, laptop--has a camera in a different place. And the camera, I have learned, is not where you think it is. So you see people looking up, or down and to the right, or down and to the left, because nobody knows exactly where to look. Plus, it seems to change every moment of every day. Argh.

Three. The lighting. Are you kidding me? I have lights, but they don’t work at all. Seriously, I have spent the past 40 years in television and I understand lighting, but my study, where I do these events, is full of daylight. In real life, that is a great thing. In Zoom life that is hideous, unless we shoot between 11am and 1pm. Either I either look all blown out, or like a spooky ghost. (Below is an author event--see how different the lighting is for each of us?)



Hank at an author event--see how the lighting is different for each of us?

Four. The eyestrain. Truly, after the first couple of days of Zoom living, I thought: Why do my eyes hurt? And then I started hearing about this from other people. Staring at the screen, writing, is bad enough, but Zooming is apparently even more wearying. Do you have this?
Five. Good news though, we have learned to take turns :-) and even better, we do not lose touch. We’ve had cocktail zooms with pals. That’s so great! I just gave a library talk where 75 people showed up. Each of their faces, in a tiny box on the screen, wherever they were--at a kitchen table, or in a cozy chair, or on a couch. And I swear a couple of them were in bed. (Not together.) And it just made me almost burst into tears. 

How's YOUR Zoom life?
JENN MCKINLAY: I have Zoom fatigue. I’m happy to watch other’s Zoom, like the parade of amazing authors visiting the Poisoned Pen just about every day, but for me personally I can not do that for a year or maybe two. When I get desperate to see my friends, it’s a nice way to fill the gap, but it just isn’t the same. I miss hugging people, and the Hooligans are getting weary of filling the gap. LOL!

RHYS BOWEN:   Zoom seems to have become a way of life in Lockdown Lodge. We Zoom with our kids and grandkids once a week. Our daughter Clare celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary on Saturday with a renewal of vows via Zoom, with the same priest and the whole family present. So moving.
I have done several Zoom book clubs meetings, Zoom podcasts, interviews etc.
I learned quickly how to position my Mac so that the lighting comes in from the window and disguises my neck.
And once a week my church choir meets via Zoom. The only thing we can’t do is sing together as internet speeds differ and it sounds terrible. So the choir director sings and plays the piano. We mute and sing along, except for a couple of clueless members who always forget to mute and we hear them, half a beat behind!

HALLIE EPHRON: The first time I watched a Zoom event, it was three authors… one of them (the guy) was very obviously NOT paying attention except when it was his turn to speak… very off-putting. (Did not make me want to read his book.)
So here’s what puts me off about Zoom-ing. You cannot sit there on the call and as you listen to other people, roll your eyes, zone out and check your phone, stand up and adjust your pantyhose, eat potato chips, or… pick your nose. Maybe this is a good thing but it is exhausting to continue looking alert alive, well-behaved and tuned in.
Also people put the camera so close to their faces it feels, uh, clinical. Or shoot themselves(!) from below. Not your best angle as you age, imhop.
Having said that, we used Zoom to have a fantastic family silly song and dance party.
And I’m with Jenn on missing hugging. Seriously missing it. (“Lockdown Lodge!” Love that, Rhys.)


LUCY BURDETTE: I’m very very grateful that we’ve had Zoom during all this, but agree--it’s no substitute for real people:(. John and I have caught up with lots of old friends and had group sessions with his sibs, and then my sibs, cousins, and 93 year old uncle. That brings me to tears, thinking about him quarantined in a house by himself--for how long?
My favorite use is for yoga classes, which I’m doing three times a week. Lifesaver, truly.


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: SO MUCH ZOOM. Zoom for the two college classes I teach. Zoom for office hours. Zoom for church and coffee hour. Zoom with book clubs. Zoom with book stores. Saturday, I slept in and then didn’t open my laptop for the whole day. I read, I worked in the garden, I made dinner and dessert, I hung up laundry on the line - it was unbelievably wonderful to spend one day without my face being buried in a computer screen.
That being said, I’ve got my Zoom techniques down: I close the curtains in front of me and tape a thin pashmina to the window on the side. (Like Hank, I have a lot of natural light by my desk.) I’ve moved lamps around for fill-in. My laptop goes up on a stack of old SAT and ACT prep books - they’re huge! I’ve got a book-related event uniform: a solid color open-necked shirt with the same color cardigan if it’s cold.
The light, if I filter it with the curtains and the pashmina as above, is working well for me now the sun doesn’t set until 8:30. However, if we’re still doing this when Daylight Time ends, I’m buying myself one of those circle lights because I’m tired of having a desk lamp and a music light and a standing lamp clustered around my desk. From the outside, it looks like I’m running a lighting store.


DEBORAH CROMBIE: I have only done a little Zoom; with the REDS, with my husband’s family, a couple of cocktail hours with friends. In none of these have I had to worry about how I looked. BUT this week I have a Zoom interview with lots of viewers (I hope!) and that will be a whole different kettle of fish.
     I have been doing Zoom from my downstairs desk in the sun porch, in the afternoons, but this will be at 7 pm and I will have to be upstairs in my office so I won’t have dogs barking, etc. No idea what to wear, how to do the lighting, etc. I think I’m going to look really weird with makeup. And, oh my gosh, what am I going to do with my HAIR???


HANK: And there you have it. The hair thing. The lighting thing. The better-than-nothing thing. How about you, Reds and readers? Are you zooming? What do you think? As readers, do you attend zoom events? Do you enjoy them?

RED HOT DEALS!
*The Murder List (Now a USA Today Bestseller!) is on sale for $1.99 in ebook! This offer ENDS on Wednesday!
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*Lucy's DEATH ON THE MENU ebook available on all platforms 
until May 24 $1.99!
*Jenn's ebook of Sprinkle with Murder is available for $2.99 as part of Berkley's first in series promotion!

102 comments:

  1. Okay, I’ve sort of Zoomed a couple of the author things; church has been on Facebook Live or YouTube. As a reader, I’m only in the audience, so I don’t have to worry about hair or clothes or lighting or looking distracted because I can block the webcam and just enjoy the program. And I’ve loved the author things I’ve been able to see.

    This gift from the Internet, being able to be together [after a fashion] when we’re all in our homes, is wonderful. But Zoom is no replacement for actually being out in the world. As others have said, I need to see people. I need hugs . . . .

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    1. Yes, hugs! (And I do love the video blocking feature, I must say )

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  2. My church has been on Facebook Live, but my church small group has been via Zoom. And I did a couple of Zoom game nights this weekend, which was fun.

    I haven't used it as much as some people have. Definitely have the attention wandering problem. It's just so tempting to flip over to something else on my computer for a minute, especially with my laptop right there on my lap.

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    1. Tell us about game nights! What do you play? and how? I would love to know this…

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    2. The host has bought several digital games on the platform Steam. We played games where it was okay for everyone to see everything, and she shared her screen. We either took over control when it was our turn, or we told her what we wanted to do. The problem was that it lagged, so it took a little time and patience sometimes, but it was overall fun. It helped that I really needed the social interaction.

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  3. I enjoy watching Facebook live events. But this is a Zoom-free zone. I have no desire to zoom. I am content with phone conversations, emails, and texts. I don’t know why but the idea of being on camera makes me extremely uncomfortable. I’m holding off on visual contact until I can have tactile contact too!

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    1. Pat, you can join a Zoom event without video. That way you don't have to worry about your appearance but can enjoy the fun.

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    2. Yes, video blocking! Very good. But sometimes I agree, the phone is just fine…

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  4. I am Zoom-free so far. But I have enjoyed watching Facebook Live and Crowdcast virtual events. The online commenting is often as much fun as seeing the video.

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    1. I totally agree about the online commenting, Grace! If you do that at a live event, you get shushed! :-D

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    2. Yes, the online, thing is so hilarious! Sometimes it distracts from the event, though… Do you find that?

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  5. If we have to live through a pandemic, at least we're doing it in a time where we have platforms like Zoom to stay in touch. I've been doing a lot (not as much as Hank!) and have heard from normally homebound readers and writers who truly appreciate being able to attend events they'd have missed otherwise. I see this as a wonderful opportunity to expand our outreach even after we're back to real life. (Hugging? OMG, I miss it so much!)

    Lighting. I'm still working on that. My log cabin is warm in person, but videos as dark. So I have harsh light from windows and deep shadows from walls. Working on it. Hair? We're all in the same boat. Grown out roots and shaggy ends are the new style. I'm working it!

    I confess, last night I ordered a brand new laptop with a built-in camera and mic. I've been using my Chromebook for Zooming because neither my old laptop (dinosaur) or desktop have the capability. And my Chromebook camera is low quality. Must keep up with the trends.

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    1. "...shaggy ends are the new style" -- Do you promise? We just heard that hair salons here in the Boston area will be reopening. And I'm conflicted about whether to risk it. OK? Not ok??

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    2. I'm not going to the hair salon for a long time.

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    3. Not ok yet, Hallie, in my opinion. Unless you go to a very small one person at a time salon, and then it is still a risk. Your hair looks great to me xox

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    4. I am going in to get mine done Wednesday, but the situation is as Ann outlines above: a single hairstylist with one chair in his loft, and I can wait in my car until the previous client leaves and is cleaned up after. We will both be wearing a mask (though I realize mine may have to come down once or twice) and I figure my biggest risk area is sticking my debit card into the machine and keying in the pass code. But that happens at the end, so if I can just discipline myself to touch nothing until I get out and sanitize my hands, I think I'll be OK.

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    5. Oh, I am so longing to go! But you know, I’m going to skip it for now. Everyone understands, and I keep thinking: there’s no reason to look fabulous in a hospital bed . And Hallie, I just saw you on a video call, and your hair And Hallie, I just saw you on a video call, and your hair looks fabulous..

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    6. Susan, if I have to go out to a store, I put some wipes in a ziplock bag in my pocket. When it is time to check out, I take out my card and a wipe, put the wipe in my palm and around my index finger to key in the passcode, then use the same wipe to clean the card, then fold up the rest of the wipe over the 'contaminated' part and throw it away on the way out. It is easy and I don't have to worry so much getting back to my car.

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    7. Not doing that any time soon. Our numbers are going up here, not down, so I will continue to be shaggy. Unless I can get my hair stylist to come cut my hair on my front porch lol

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    8. Oh, Hallie, in my opinion, NOT okay. Hank makes an excellent point. No one's hair looks good in the hospital. You look fabulous just the way you are!

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  6. Agree about to too much zooming and crowdcasting, but it also let my kids celebrate Mother's Day with me, and way back at Easter we had a bigger Easter brunch. My Friends Meeting has been gathering (yes, in mostly silence) for worship on Sundays at ten - except yesterday zoom crashed everywhere! Oops.

    I'm with Julia - I stand at my standing desk with the laptop up on two reams of paper and a big box of envelopes, so I am looking slightly up at the camera. If I remember to look at it. Julia, I know what you mean about the three lamps!

    No hugs is killing me. And the thought of this going through the fall is, too. My son and his wife are moving back to MA in August and I want to hang out with them, dammit, help them move in.

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    1. Oh, and we also were able to have a lovely memorial service for Sheila Connolly over zoom. So there is that...

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    2. Yes, it certainly is a balance between how lucky we are to have this, and now, how we have to do it.

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  7. I haven't done any sort of ZOOM things but I do agree it is (mostly) a great way to be together. I'm afraid i would fidget and then my mind would wander so it was good to learn you can just watch without being watched.

    Hallie, pantyhose?

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  8. Turning to Hank for this one: Makeup?? Same as what I'd wear for an event or less/more/different?? And Julia, you look GREAT in the Zoom camera. Going to look for my white pashmina.

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    1. That is so interesting, Hallie. Actually, I wear less make up then I do for a regular event. It just… The lighting is so harsh, I worry about looking over done.

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    2. I have not worn any make up for more than two months. I'm afraid that whatever I put on now is going to look exaggerated.

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  9. Facebook Live and FaceTime here: a weekly writers' group led by Jaden Terrell on Mondays at 1pm EDT (Spirit of Ink), Cincinnati Ballet daily "live from the living room" classes: conditioning, barre, pilates, ballet I and II. Group FaceTime discussions with the kids and their dogs (food is popular, and everyone's herb garden), and a scholarship interview. The candidate sat in her car to escape her dogs and we had a lovely discussion.

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    1. Very wise use! Sounds like you have this perfectly figured out.

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  10. Like many of you, I have done a LOT of Zoom meetings. Many for work. Two boards I sit on have now had two Zoom meetings each. My book club met by Zoom last month, but we put off this month's meeting by a week in the hopes we can sit outside, socially distanced, this month. (Forecast doesn't look promising.) A few Zoom happy hours.

    Interestingly, what I have NOT done is any Zoom time with family. I talk to my sister on the phone almost daily, and we talk to Bob's 93-year-old mother at least once a week. He texts and calls with his many siblings. But no one has ever suggested a Zoom visit, and we haven't felt the urge. I somehow feel that it would just make me miss their hugs all the more.

    As I explored what to wear, I settled on a solid color shirt with a simple neckline. I know it sounds crazy, but my experience has been that if I put on dangling earrings, I look polished, like I made an effort. That's really all it takes.

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    1. I'm all about the dangly earrings, toO!

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    2. Yes, jewelry is a question! I so agree about earrings, and the simple neckline.

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    3. Hmm, I'm not sure about the dangly earrings. One news reporter was wearing some rather large and dangly ones and I was totally distracted. Every time her head moved they would do a little dance. I have no idea what she was talking about. It might have been important.

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    4. Earrings, hmmm. I've completely forgotten about jewelry!

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    5. Totally. Earrings. If nothing else, I put on earrings every day. (Oh wait, that sounds... wrong.)

      And they are chosen with extra care for Zoom meetings.

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  11. I've been teaching math to seventh graders since Mid March via Google Meets. In my plan book I've listed the lessons under " Teaching wearing slippers." Clothing has been the school sweatshirt or staff tee, very casual. Challenging enough to teach in person, never mind when students have an icon up instead of a head shot. Using the grid I see everyone. No make up for me, even in class. They never noticed when I stopped wearing it. Background was tricky. Didn't realize what was showing until some asked " Who is the bride in the picture?" It was me 50+ years ago. Now I close the office door and have the computer camera facing a blank wall!! Definitely different, we only had 3 days to change from in school to virtual!! Still learning. Each day I just hope I don't hit the wrong button, and wipe everything and everyone out:-( 18 more days until the end...not at anyone is counting!

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    1. Thank wall! I guess that is good to prevent distractions…

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  12. No zooming here. Facetime one on one is enough for me. I last had all my family together on Halloween, and I'm not sure when I'll see any of them again, all so far away in Texas. But I have attended a couple of Crowdcasts. Last night's Noir at the Bar was great fun, and I look forward to more. What I wear or what passes for my hair these days doesn't matter a whit. Being a hermit at heart, and having Julie for company, I'm doing quite well during this quarantine. It will be a long time before I make any unnecessary trips out in public. Except for tomorrow's root canal.

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    1. Oh, a root canal! You are brave… Let us know how that goes, OK?

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  13. I've had a paid zoom account for about 3 years, and use it regularly, so this hasn't been a big change in my home. I'd already had the lighting down (I use a Diva Light which lets me adjust for tone and brightness depending on how much other light is in the room), the position is straight on for allowing the camera (which I'm excellent at staring into and rarely ever look at the screen) to be at eye level. I have some wardrobe choices that work great if I'm the featured speaker, and pay much less attention to what I'm wearing if I'm not. I hard-wire into the internet if it is a paid appointment (career coaching, virtual organizing, or speaking event) because I want to make sure my customer gets what they paid for.

    My latest challenge -- it's undeniable that I really need to wear eyeglasses more than every before, especially if I'm trying to pay attention to the screen or read those tiny names under the faces. Of course... that means I'm introducing glare from my diva light or from my screen itself! Oh well! Maybe the glare can distract people from my roots...

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    1. Good thought! And oh, the roots stuff, it’s a tragedy :-). But everyone has them, and for as long as I can pretend, I am going to try to ignore them.
      Diva light! I will look that up. And there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of you with gratitude. Xxx Your clients always get what they pay for your clients always get what they pay for.

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    2. Here is the diva light / selfie light I currently use. It plugs in via USB to my computer (so I don't have to worry about whether a battery/rechargeable one is on full juice:

      https://amzn.to/368HHR1

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    3. And I couldn't be more thrilled that you're such a happy client! Loved working with you and helping make your life happier!

      Please tell me that "roots" and "natural grays" will be all the rage come summer... and I'll finally be en vogue!

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    4. Oh, yeah, we are avant garde. We are the way to go. People will be ADDING roots.

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  14. We do Zoom staff meetings twice a week to keep everybody engaged as we work from home, and it's surprisingly nice to see all my colleagues on a regular basis. I've learned how to put up video backgrounds so folks don't have to look at my messy house, and how to mute my mic when the dogs start to bark at the yard guys. We have all met each others' cats, as cats will Zoom bomb if they get the chance. I also initiated a Zoom happy hour with two friends, one of whom is dealing with a health crisis, and it was really nice to see their faces.

    As Rhys has discovered, it's really not possible to do those lovely montage performances without a lot of behind-the-scenes sound balancing and technical tweaking. And it is certainly not safe to get all 55 of my musicians onstage in our regular setup, moving vast quantities of spit-laden air for a live concert. We'd need a stage the size of a football stadium to get everybody together at socially safe distances. But we have done a YouTube listening party in partnership with our local classical station: they played the audio of one of our past concerts as part of their regular broadcast, and we jumped in on YouTube to comment throughout the concert. It was sort of like participating in the director's commentary on a film. Musicologists were standing by, in case we shared any historically significant tidbits. It was great fun!

    Lighting is a problem, as is background decor, but the most interesting thing, wardrobe wise, happened the other morning when a pretty red cardigan I wore over a basic tank looked onscreen like I was wearing a flannel bathrobe over a sleep cami. Not great for a staff meeting! At least I didn't have bed head.

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    1. Yes, You have to do a test run of every outfit, and how ridiculous is that? And my white shirts that I used to wear all the time… Impossible on camera.

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    2. Gigi we’ve been discussing how to get our choir back together now that Arizona has opened up. Rehearsals using the whole church? Groups of eight choir members at each service? Not me. I’m not risking singing in public until I’m vaccinated!

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  15. I have been Zooming and Google Chatting like crazy. Zooming with close friends, family, Book Group, and the cast of thousands (only 70 of us) the Docent corps from the museum where I volunteer. Google chat with my family as my niece works for Google. Two board meetings and two doctor "visits" not on Zoom as not secure enough so on another platform.
    As to what to wear. Well they only see the top so a nice top or shirt. And as to my hair. Well I don't think anyone thought that I was still a brunette. The skunk stripe down my part is now a dead giveaway. And my hair is growing to college length. Remember when we all had long hair? My guy closed the salon and has rented a single space so there would only be the two of us so I may go. Otherwise I am going to look like some old hippy with white in front and a brown end to her pony tail.

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    1. I feel for anyone who normally colors their hair. I had no idea that my neighbor across the street is completely white-haired!

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    2. Oh, sigh. Someone once said to me that in a couple of weeks, 80% of the blondes in the United States will disappear.

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  16. As Annette said, aren't we lucky we have all these connections right now? As hard as it is to be isolated from friends and family, it would be so much worse without ready access to the Internet, cell phone contacts, and options like Zoom.

    My husband must be missing hugs, too, because he is willing to hug at multiple times of the day. Without each other we would be in a fix, I think. It's been quite a bonding time for us, and I hope other couples are finding that to be the case.

    I've had six Zoom sessions, so far: two different book clubs, and three sessions with my three daughters and their families, plus a walk around my middle daughter's new house and neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. The book club ones were so great I almost wish we could do that all the time, except that I miss everyone else's cooking. We all potluck for the one club, and everyone tries to come up with dishes that are either mentioned in the book or germane to the setting in some way. Every single member, including most of the spouses, are superb cooks, too.

    The family ones have been the most fun. Both sons-in-law join in, and the teenage grandson and step-grandson wander through making hilarious comments randomly. For the one on Easter I dug out my bunny headdress I made in 1969, and I wore a face mask for another session, at least to begin with. I'm trying to think of something fun to do for the next one. My middle daughter lives on the West Coast, so it's usually dinnertime for her, and we get to laugh at her nutty dinner choices. The first one? A can of pumpkin (!) and some black beans. She is a hoot. Her new house has a gorgeous pink dogwood tree as tall as the house. Her roommate was calling it a honeysuckle.

    I think I've figured out the lighting, which is indirect flooding at the wall in front of me. But the looking thing, as Hank said, is kind of off-putting. I'm using a big-screen monitor, as opposed to a tablet like an iPad, and that does not help. Although it makes it a lot easier to see everyone.

    And isn't it distracting to see yourself? I had no idea about my neck. Ugh. (Channeling Nora Ephron here.)

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    1. Yes the neck! Ah. If you wear a turtleneck, you look like a floating head. yes, I use a big screen monitor, too. But for first chapter fun, I am on the big screen monitor and an iPad at the same time!
      Apparently the secret is that the camera in the big screen monitor is not where the little green light is! Nor is it on an iPad. When you are facing the screen, the camera lens for the “selfie “shot is not the same camera you use when you take a photo. When you are facing the screen, the camera lens for the “selfie “shot is not the same camera you use when you take a photo. And that’s why so many people are looking in the wrong place.

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  17. , I forgot to say! I do all my reporting by zoom, which is really actually very difficult. And have you seen RoomRater on Twitter? This hilarious person writes the background of all the commentators and reporters and interview subjects. It is hilarious!

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    1. It is! But have you seen his room? Even he rated it as very low!

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  18. Hank -- That is what I was going to comment on: people's backgrounds. Totally fascinating! Authors: Rest assured -- I'll read your books no matter what you or your hair look like, but know that, during Zoom or video events, I'm quietly assessing the books in the case behind, the art on the wall and the general state of the room from which you're Zooming!!

    Personal note: My mum came through her surgery yesterday and seems to be recovering according to plan. Phew.

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    1. Amanda, I'm very happy that the surgery went well and continue to send positive thoughts your mom's way.

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    2. So happy to hear that, Amanda!

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    3. Amanda glad to hear about your mom!

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  19. We Skype every week and sometimes more often than that with our kids and grandkids. The lighting is always weird in this room, but it isn't really a problem because we are never in a professional situation, it's all casual.
    I do not generally wear a lot of makeup, although in normal times, I wear eye liner and lipstick almost every day when I go out, and certainly when I go to meetings or to class. Even when we go out to dinner or to parties, I rarely wear much more than a smear of eye shadow and a bit of mascara with the line and lipstick. It's enough. (Some people will always see beauty and some will never see it, no matter how much you do.)
    I have a language class once a week on Zoom. I do not put on any makeup and I am not worried about the gray which is slowly showing up in my hair. The lighting in this room just is not good for being on camera. My glasses, which I need for the class, reflect the light back at the screen so eye makeup would be a waste. I am one of 6 students, not the teacher.
    I've had several committee meetings and for one of them I did put on lipstick. When I said it was the first time in 2 months that I'd put it on, everyone laughed (masks cover that part of your face at the grocery store, so...). The professionals on all of the calls are well dressed and wear makeup. The volunteers are all casual.
    Hank, you looked lovely last week on the First Chapter Fun. Julia, I've seen a couple of your interviews and you really looked stunning in each. We are all much more critical of ourselves than most other people.
    What I said about beauty earlier, I learned in college. I never wore any makeup then. With my hair tied back in a scarf, and an ugly gold sweater, I ran to add-drop to fix my schedule for the following semester. I looked like hell and knew it. Bumped into a guy I really liked and he asked me out on the spot. I knew I looked like hell. To him, well he just didn't see the mess I saw when I ran over there. Lesson learned.
    Last word, my mother always said, "Beauty is as Beauty does!"
    Stay safe and well. See you all on Zoom.

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    1. Judy, I've had the best luck by using a little desk lamp aimed at the wall in front of me. It bounces the light back onto my face, softly enough that is doesn't glare. I wonder if that would help your poor lighting situation?

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    2. That's what I'm doing too, Karen. Two of them. But they have to be the same kind of light bulb or you get weird effects.

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  20. How's my Zoom life?

    Surely you jest. I haven't got a Zoom life. I don't even have a webcam on my computer. Which I'm glad about really. I don't really attend any of these events on the various websites. On occasion I'll see a singer perform a song that they streamed live but I see it after the fact.

    I've taken part in a couple of those Facebook events that have been done for book launches and such but they didn't have a video component.

    So I haven't had to worry about any of those things that you have Hank.

    Just the way I like it. HA!

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  21. I don't have Zoom. I only do a couple of FaceTime and Skype a week with family and friend. It is OK for me right now.

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    1. Yup--those all work! It's all the same, interconnecting.. xo

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  22. I've done a lot of Zooming. I think we've had seven of our weekly Toastmasters meetings on Zoom now--fortunately, several members have paid accounts. I actually gave a speech last week, which had an added benefit: I stayed seated and had some notes that I could glance at quickly! The last couple of Sisters in Crime meetings have been on Zoom as well. Unfortunately, I couldn't access the meeting this month, but at least I could watch the recording afterwards. I think we are going to use Crowdcast next time, as I was not the only one who couldn't access it.

    My book club met on Zoom for the first time last week, and it was wonderful! After the first 15 minutes or so, we split into two rooms, and we shuffled that halfway through. One of my Meetups (Chat night) also finally went Zoom, which was terrific.

    My hairdresser must have been prescient--she had a one-station salon put into her garage just before the lockdown. The salon where I used to see her hasn't reopened yet, but she is doing hair for one person every other day and doing a lot of airing out and sanitizing in between appointments. I'm going to chance a haircut on Wednesday, even though her home is an hour away (and in a county that isn't as strict as mine), mainly because I'm getting ready to move. I think I'll delay the highlights a bit longer, as my hair is light and the gray doesn't show all that much.

    My local son and I videochat on Facebook Mesenger with the rest of the family at least once a week.

    As for lighting and how I look, it's evolving but I don't spend much time worrying about it. I have to use my iPad because I don't have a camera on my desktop. I've learned to perch it on top of about six inches of books or whatever, which helps a little, but lighting is still a challenge.

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    1. And it so much depends on the time of day, right? But I do agree about the availability of notes--invisibly!

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  23. I think I'd better start practicing tonight for that Wednesday night event!! Thanks for the tips, everyone.

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  24. Deborah Romano--still having internet probs!--says:
    I’m grateful for the technology that is currently allowing people to stay in touch. However, like many of you, I can’t wait to return to in-person contact.

    So far, I have attended three Zoom meetings. The meetings themselves were great. I’ve had the opportunity to do more, but the technical aspects were aggravating. Even though the meetings were all sponsored by the same organization, accessing each meeting was different each time. The last one took long enough that I almost gave up! I do them on my cell phone, from my tiny cramped condo. There are only two choices of places to sit, and lighting is bad in both of them. I slouch down in my chair, in the hopes that nobody can see all the piles of overflowing boxes all around me, representing unfinished “quarantine reorganizing projects”. It looks like I’m moving.

    Because just about everyone has stripy hair right now, I don’t spend too much time thinking about how many inches of roots are showing. I noticed that some of the women on Zoom are wearing hats, and I can probably guess why! Hair salons in CT are supposed to reopen soon, but people in my age group are being urged to continue staying away for some time. I intend to take that advice. And maybe start wearing hats when I go out in public!

    DebRo

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  25. Yes, Zooming with friends and choir members (Tomorrow is our post-non-concert-potluck-get-together.)

    As Amanda mentioned above, I think the bookcase backgrounds reveal much. I don't suppose for a moment ANY of us has to worry about our bookcases being broadcast out to the universe. They're all good.

    Earlier this month Canadians were treated to viewing Parliament's first Zoom session. I especially enjoyed comparing the bookcases behind the Prime Minister (clearly real, assorted books that lived there) with, um, someone I won't identify but Canadians know who I mean: Lots of Covid-spaced tchotchkes, and perhaps a dozen matching fake-leather bound books (with gilt tooling), probably bought by the foot.

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    1. OOOH, covid-bookcase-gossip! Tell us more!

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    2. Oh, all right (I'm easy.) It was the soon-to-be-ex Leader of the Opposition. He'd be gone by now but they had to postpone the Leadership Convention.

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  26. I have thus far been Zoomless. I don’t know that I want to get presentable enough to do one. I haven’t worn makeup for two months, and my hair is a bizarre mixture of gray and hair coloring. I do FaceTime with my ten-year-old granddaughter, who doesn’t care what Grammy looks like. I suppose I’ll eventually participate in a Zoom, but for now FaceTime suffices.

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    1. Come on, Kathy! We all have covid hair, and you'd have fun! And remember, you can up a photo of yourself..xoxo

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    2. Kathy, I have two words for you: head scarves. Not the ones tied beneath your chin like the queen at the races, but folded into a wide headband and tied under your hair at the nape of your neck. They cover a multitude of, shall we say, issues. Signed, someone who grew out her gray hair over the course of two years!

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    3. Hank and Julia, thanks for your encouragement. I won't give up on doing Zoom. And, Hank, the term covid hair is perfect. Julia, I was wondering how long it took the gray hair to grow out. I've toyed with the idea of just letting my hair go gray now. I wonder how many women will do that at this point.

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    4. We don't, um, have a choice...xooxo

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  27. I'm with Annette. If we have to have a pandemic, do it now when we have the technology to let us see one another. Yes, it's not a replacement. My 25th college reunion was supposed to be this summer and it's been postponed until next year. I was able to get together with four of my college friends and we spent 2 hours online chatting. It was wonderful and we're going to do it again.

    I've done a fair number of Zoom meetings (I include Crowcast in that). Here's my take:

    Clothing: Be comfortable, but not sloppy. I did an Instagram live with Sara Dahmen and we talked about how all these things have introduced a level of "casualness" into appearances. People understand. You're at home, they're at home, and they don't expect you to look like you just walked out of the Green Room with a professional stylist.

    Makeup: Wear enough to soften any harsh features. I usually use a little foundation, some concealer, a smudge of blush, and eyeliner/mascara. And that's it. Enough to keep me looking sallow and "old."

    Hair: Everybody's in the same boat, so who cares? I think I've mentioned before I have one of those cuts that is supposed to be a bob, but if it grows out it's just a long bob. My issue is that I have an ever-expanding circle of silver/black, but I'm not getting to cut off the colored ends so it looks...weird. But whatever.

    Camera: I haven't figure this one out. I think you're supposed to look at the camera on your device, but I feel REALLY weird looking at a black dot and not a person so I'm sure I'm one of the "wandering gaze" folks. I try to get the device high enough that I'm not giving myself a double-chin from looking down.

    Lighting: All I've managed to do is avoid shadows and avoid being washed out. I think that's good enough.

    Bottom line: People know I'm an author, not a screen personality, and I think they're appreciative of the opportunity to "get together" in any form. As long as I don't look like a shlub, I'm okay (ditto if I'm in the audience).

    And for those of you who are camera shy, most platforms allow you to join audio only and shut off the camera, so please join in!

    Oh, and if you are presenting, please get some headphones and a microphone. Even a cheap-o set of earbuds and a mic works (like the earpods you get with an iPhone). Otherwise, the sound from your speakers feeds back into your mic on your computer and the feedback/distortion is unpleasant in the least.

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    1. Good list, Liz! And yes, people are very forgiving, but might as well be aware of what's weird. I just finished an interview on Zoom, and luckily, before we started ,I realized Jonathan had left a basket of laundry in the shot. Oops. But I stashed it away in time.

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    2. LOL, yeah, stashing the basket of laundry (especially if it was dirty!) was probably a good call.

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    3. Liz, that makes me think of something a friend suggested - connecting my bluetooth earpiece to the computer and using that instead of my laptop's (not great) mic.

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  28. No Zoom here. Don't have the software, haven't felt the need for it. My wife uses Duo to connect with her daughters and grandies, since that's what the schools use. I'm perfectly happy without, but then I don't HAVE to talk to anyone by video. I do still use that old fashioned thing called a telephone for voice-to-voice communication, but that's not for groups. Besides, most of the calls I get on my land line (yes, I know) are spam calls, so I only respond to messages from people with whom I want to talk.

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    1. Rick - it's funny, but as I was writing my part of the conversation, I realized I hadn't Zoomed or Skyped once with family. We all like the old-fashioned phone call (probably because my sister and I share a trait of being unable to sit still and talk - we both prefer to be folding clothes or walking the dog while chatting.

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  29. Hank, if your lighting is too harsh, put a white pillow case over the lamp.

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    1. Great idea..except I only have day light. I will DEFINITELY try it at night, though! Thank you!

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  30. Zoom is new to me. I was hesitant to use Zoom until I started using Zoom with my yoga/pilates/ballet combo classes.

    And I have used Zoom for book events like the Conversations with Authors at Book Passage. Unfortunately the Zoom events with authors are NOT captioned for Deaf viewers.

    Mixed feelings about Zoom. For interactions with people, that may work. My teachers were worried that I would not be able to hear the talking during classes and luckily there is a chat feature where I can type in questions.

    For viewing only, I prefer You Tube because it is more likely to have English subtitles than Zoom.

    Diana

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    1. Diana, you raise an excellent point about access for the hard of hearing. I wonder if Crowdcast (another popular platform) has captioning available? It's something I'll ask about the next time I'm setting up an event.

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    2. There's one platform that does it automatically if you ask..ah...Facebook, maybe? Or maybe it's YouTube.

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  31. Solved the Zoom problem-- computer doesn't have a camera or a mic. So I can't. So my space is my own. Not missing anything as far as I can tell.

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  32. I am so late, my life has been kind of off here. Yes, I Zoom, but luckily it limited to church and virtual choir rehearsal which isn't a rehearsal but a meet and greet and drink. I only turn the video on for choir, but I make sure my pile of books are behind my head as much as possible. My biggest problem is that I'm using my phone so I am holding it the whole time, trying not to juggle it too much. I've loaded Zoom into my Kindle but I still have to hold it and the volume isn't as good as my phone.

    Oh, wow, I just looked up. The sun starting to set and the is a splash of light highlighting some of the redwood boughs as the wind moves them up and down and back and forth. The rest of the boughs are dark and shadowed. It's pretty, what's a nice surprise, I like it.

    I go to the office and meetings are done through this Microsoft Team meeting thing, which is weird. I've only had to do one meeting but it was uncomfortable. Either you are listening by your speakers on your computer, you can type your comments or you are on the phone, listening. I work in a central room with cubicals, there is no privacy, so I was in the phone so others didn't have to listen to all the meeting just my side of the conversation.

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  33. Oh, the redwoods, so beautiful!
    You know you can get tripods for your phone, very very inexpensive, and you won’t have to hold it anymore! Or maybe prop it on some books? :-)

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Don't know what I did wrong there but reposted below. Sorry.

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  34. I have a stand for my iPhone. I find it very useful. It was perfect for my first zoom with my dermatologist who had to explain what zoom was! I felt a little odd, but it allowed her to see my rash, make a good diagnosis, and get a prescription delivery to my pharmacy and a door front delivery from them. I don't use it with friends or church. I tried our church's zoom, but it was really not the worship I would attend, because I look like hell!

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  35. ... and I'm on the wrong day anyway!

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