5 things I learned in self-isolation

Two weeks ago, I mentioned that I had caught Covid. Once I had tested positive, I was required to self-isolate for at least seven days. Since the duck and I do not live alone (as in just the two of us), self-isolation for me meant spending virtually all day in my bedroom. The duck isolated with me in solidarity for the most part. Fortunately, I could convince the duck to go on occasional solo outside walks. Since there are no duck-specific Covid regulations, we decided that as long as the duck kept a safe distance from other strollers, it would be okay. Just because I was stuck in a room – at some point, I had resorted to counting the wood fibers in my sand-colored ingrain wallpaper (that was beginning to look like a delicious oatmeal waterfall) – didn’t mean the duck shouldn’t get some fresh air from time to time.

Whenever the duck came back from a solo outdoor adventure, we had a lot to talk about. The duck told me about the first heralds of spring. In return, I shared some of my most interesting isolation-induced insights:

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Bye-bye, computer hands!

A coworker once told me that I have “computer hands,” a phrase that I have reused many times to describe my hands since then.
At work, I was regularly touching hot surfaces, washing my hands, and using the aggressive sanitizer provided. As a result of that, my hands had become uncomfortably dry. Whenever the opportunity arose, I would bury them in a thick layer of lotion to combat that dryness. After witnessing one of those moisture-replenishment sessions, my coworker asked me what was wrong. I told her that I had acquired the power to pick up dry cleaning cloths with my stretched-out hands (because my palms were so rough that they had a decent grip). She grabbed my hands, examined them, and told me nonchalantly that, “yeah, you have computer hands.” Unfortunately, our work didn’t involve any computer-related tasks.
After I had moved to Japan with the duck, my hands slowly regained their computer state. For a while, they were happy, regularly typing away on computer keyboards, with no consistent aggressive sanitizing and hot-surface-touching to speak of.hand lotion
When the pandemic started, I preferred to use my own mild sanitizer instead of the harsher ones provided at the entrances of public places (I love how I no longer have to hide my sanitizer bottle inside a pocket. Now I can walk around with it attached to my backpack without anyone judging me for being “too extreme”). My hands were happy, I was happy, and the duck was happy (because I wasn’t complaining about my dry hands).
Then I got Covid. I ended up using a lot of hand sanitizer, and not always the mild and moisturizing kind, throughout the day. Paired with washing them much more often than usual, I infuriated my spoiled computer hands (because, let’s face it, “computer hands” is just a term for hands that haven’t had to do a lot of strenuous work. In short: the hands of a lazy person, like myself). They were getting ready to revive the dry cleaning cloth magic trick. It’s been weeks since then, but my hands are still not back to their lazy, “let them eat cake”-state. Fortunately, I always have a few extra tubes of hand lotion stashed away!

Here’s Covid!

Even if you’ve never watched The Shining, you’re probably familiar with the clip of Jack wrecking the bathroom door with an ax, peeking in, and exclaiming: “Here’s Johnny!”

Well, that’s the image that popped into my head several weeks ago when I read the result of a COVID-19 lateral flow test I had just taken: “positive.” The duck and I had had a positive case at home the previous week, and I was recovering from flu symptoms, so the positive result didn’t come as a complete surprise. However, being the homebodies that we are (we were socially distancing before it was cool), the duck and I had always secretly expected to be among the few who would never catch Covid. At least I stayed true to my lazy lifestyle and got infected at home. Even though everyone at our place (but the duck)* was triple-vaccinated at that point, and we had been careful, especially after that first positive test result, that sneaky virus outsmarted me somewhere along the line. Maybe this will be a new ducktective case for us to solve?
Either way, I’ll leave it at that, for now, brew myself another cup of lemon ginger tea, and pin all my hopes on the duck, who will now have to defend our honor as lazy, Covid-free homebodies alone!

I hope you’ve managed to stay healthy throughout the winter/summer. And that you will never have to experience the disintegration of your favorite excuse for at-home laziness! (Well, at least I gained ‘self-isolation’ as an excuse for a particularly lazy few days.)

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Last winter sunset

Today I want to share a photo from the duck and my last walk this past astronomical winter. Even though the day had been sunny, the temperatures were still low enough to remind us of our icy wings and hands when we saw off autumn in Kyoto several years ago. We set off on our sunset walk pretty late, so we had less than half an hour of light bright enough for our camera friend to work with without the photos becoming too grainy.Last 2021/2022 winter sunset
After that walk, I spent a lot of time inside. But that’s a story for another day.
Until then, have a happy and healthy spring!

Snacks: Vegan pretzel chocolate

It’s no secret that the duck and I are obsessed with grocery shopping. As mildly miserly misers, we always know what is on sale at all local grocery stores. So, when we saw that Chocjes bars were offered at almost half their usual price one week, we knew it was finally time to try one.Chocjes duck Chocjes is a vegan chocolate bar by Katjes, a German candy company known for licorice and gummy candy. A few years ago, they transitioned to only producing vegetarian and vegan products. Out of the three Chocjes varieties on sale, cookie lover, salty pretzel, and sea caramel, the duck and I didn’t even have to think about which one we wanted to try. We are obsessed with pretzels, after all (why else would we create an animation about them?). And we’ve just recently focused on a cookie flavor. Since we have only done one chocolate-related taste test this year, the duck and I saw this vegan chocolate as the perfect opportunity for another one of our super subjective chocolate reviews:

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The duck and I decided to dedicate our newest artistic endeavor to one of our favorite words in German, the Zeitungsente. This colloquial expression for a newspaper hoax translates to ‘newspaper duck.’ I tried to fold one out of a printed-out newspaper hoax story:ZeitungsenteMy origami skills are still mediocre, so I was grateful for the duck’s suggestion to enhance the photo of our newspaper duck with some digital art.Hauptzeitungsente
To mark the occasion, the duck turned the leftover newspaper-print paper into a fancy hat and demanded to be addressed as Hauptzeitungsente, the ‘main newspaper duck,’ for the remainder of the day. Of course, I obliged. I’m glad that these seem to be the only shenanigans the Hauptzeitungsente is up to today.

What is your favorite benign (newspaper) hoax story or practical joke?


♪Movie night snacks #Goldenweektreats #nibbleswithfriends #Tokyomemories #worththepain #TBT

This is a photo the duck and I like to look at whenever we need a reminder that terrible days have the potential to end sweetly:

movie night treats
Two years ago, I shared a photo from a spontaneous Shinjuku pancake afternoon with our sugar-appreciation-pals. I also mentioned that on the way home, my ankle was hurting so badly that I was moving at a painful pace of 600 mph, meters per hour, that is. Fortunately, the duck (who had waddled ahead and was waiting for me at the front door while listening to a whole episode of The Truth) and I had a movie night with our housemates to look forward to on my slow waddle home from the station. Once we saw what Mm had bought for the occasion – fancy cakes and mixed nuts, a true delicacy in expensive Tokyo – the duck and I were a bit ashamed for only contributing popcorn. Despite that shame and my aching ankle (that was responsible for more than one mistimed tear as we watched the action movie we had decided on), I have fond memories of this movie night nearly four years ago ♪
5/5 popcorn kernels for our kind, exceptional housemates and a positively memorable evening ♪
(0/5 sneaky tears for the post-Akita ankle pain)

The duck and I miss our time in Tokyo. I would even put up with another week of not being able to walk and the constant risk of drowning in my own tears of pain if that meant a few cozy days at our Tokyo place filled with movies, housemate chats, and all those delicious Japanese treats ♥

Our favorite jogging podcasts

I will start off by admitting that it was very hard to not write ‘jogcasts’ instead of ‘jogging podcasts’ in the title – the duck had some serious convincing to do. With that out of the way, let’s get to the actual post:
Two weeks ago, the duck and I credited the power of our running podcasts for our uncharacteristic endurance in completing our slow jogs.
running podcast duckToday, we want to share a list of our top five fiction podcasts that have kept us engaged distracted enough to not give up in the middle of a jog. Maybe there are one or two among them that you’d like to listen to yourself. Be it to accompany your most dreaded* exercise or your chores, daily commutes, relaxing sessions, or anything in between: Continue reading


Earphone drama

Though I do use my earphones to listen to drama, this story is about the dramatic demise of far too many earphones in far too little time:
I listen to podcasts a lot these days. Accompanied by stories, chores become substantially more enjoyable, but only with clear audio. When I got a new phone five years ago, I declared it my podcast machine and happily used the earphones that had come with it and with volume control to catch up on all my favorite podcasts. After two and a half years of dependable service, my earphones finally broke, and I was left to look for a worthy replacement. At first, I thought it would be best to order a cheap (probably knockoff) replica with all the same functions. Despite the visual likeness, the replacement shared no resemblance in longevity, for six months later, the new earphones shared the fate of their predecessor. Thinking I might have received a faulty set, I went for an identical replacement. And, six months after that, another one. After my third set of earphones had also broken after half a year, I did some math: If three-to-four-euro earphones broke after six months, 10 euro earphones would function for about a year and a half, right? earphonesWell, after eight months of ignoring the duck’s chuckles whenever I confidently and naively plugged my cool new earphones into my portable podcast machine, I had to learn that that was not one of the real-life uses my math teachers had referred to in response to the regularly occurring question ‘why?’: My comparatively expensive earphones broke down after less than half their predicted lifetime.
At that point, I was frustrated. For a while, I made do without a functioning set of earphones, but I soon came to realize that the happiness I would feel from not getting guaranteed headaches after wearing my over-ear headphones (that I tend to only use with my laptop or on a plane) for too long would outweigh the anger from having to replace my earphones more often than some people – not me! – replace their toothbrush.
Well, these days, I sport over-ten-euro-earphones and I’m optimistic that these, at last, will feed my podcast addiction for a minimum of two years!

Running for ten minutes

The observant reader might have noticed that the title of today’s blog post looks familiar. That’s because last year, I declared that, in a joint effort with the duck, I would attempt to extend my running stamina beyond the approximate ten seconds it was at. Given our unsuccessful history with running, the duck and I are surprised to admit that, about a year later, we’re still pretend-running on a somewhat regular basis. Although our fatalistic 2021 prediction didn’t come true, we are still not 100% convinced that we will not have to outrun zombies sometime in the future (though, running from zombies is not what today’s post is about). For now, we can say that we’ve caught a few buses after 30-second sprints without feeling nauseous, which the duck and I consider a great success.10 minute run duckBut, since we are inherently lazy, getting to those rewarding bus sprints wasn’t always smooth sailing: Continue reading