Self-isolated? 20 new things to do – part 1/2

A month into self-quarantine, after hours of coloring and Netflix binge watching, my family is ready to take on some new activities to spend our down time at home.

This is a 2-part series of 20 things to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. Part 2 will be published shortly.

The criteria I used to generate the 20 things are as follows:

  • Social-distancing compliant
  • Fun
  • Something of value post-pandemic
  • Novel
  • Affordable
  • Effort required

Please let me know the things you do in the comment box below.

1. Adopt a new city

Select a new city, in your own or foreign country. Research it as if you will visit it in 6 months. Find out about its history, customs, interesting places to see, recent news, etc.

I chose Lima, Peru.

One way to familiarize yourself with a new city is to scour the Internet for information and the latest news. A good tool for that is Google Alerts. I created an alert on the search term ‘Lima, Peru’, and configured it to email me a weekly digest of the search results.

2. Plant something

Local realtors regularly send me free stuff, with their names on it of course—fridge magnets, paper pads, letter openers, post-it notes… One particular realtor sent me packets of sweet basil seeds.

I have not planted a seed since elementary school. The seeds from the realtor have sat idly inside my drawer for several years, and I don’t know if there is still any life in them. I’ll find out soon enough.

3. Read a classic book

You can download classics with expired copyrights from Project Gutenberg. My choice of a classic to read: The Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis.

4. Make natural soap

Making my own soap seems outlandish to me, if not for COVID-19. If toilet-paper making were as easy, I’d have suggested it, but failing that, soap making was the next best thing for personal hygiene during a pandemic. I’ve always loved natural hand-made soap with wonderful fragrances and colors.

5. Learn a new language

I am learning Spanish, but the statement must be made with a disclaimer: it wasn’t something I started during the lockdown. My 2017 blog post can attest to my previous effort on learning Spanish, mainly using the Duolingo app on my smart phone. Strictly speaking, the ‘new’ part was adding Netflix to my language learning experience since the lockdown, with ‘Money heist’ (‘La casa del papel’) being my favorite tool.

6. Cook a new cuisine

Learn to cook a whole new cuisine, be it haute, vegan, or fusion … whatever your heart fancies. New cuisines entail new spices and food preparation methods. If you are less ambitious, settle for a particular dish instead of a new cooking style.

My first thought was to make curry from scratch. On second thought however, curry making might not be the best culinary idea in lockdown mode—the lingering smell around the house would drive everyone in my family crazy. To be determined.

7. Add a new exercise routine

Variety is the key to a sustainable fitness plan. Before COVID-19, I had 3 routines: jogging, lifting dumbbells, and shooting baskets. Basketball is no longer a viable option, due to the closure of public courts.

To replace basketball, I am looking for an introductory level stretching exercise routine. If you know of one, please tell me in the comment box.

8. Start a new blog

Initially, I was a little hesitant about starting a new blog, when I already had 2—the one you are reading and a Linux technology blog. Showing my true colors, I ended up following my heart rather than my head. My third blog will be all about learning the Spanish language and culture.

If you are thinking of starting a new blog, I’d recommend using Google’s Blogger or WordPress.

9. Play a new game

I own 2 types of games: board games and computer games. My board games, oldies of the same ilk as Monopoly and RISK, are currently gathering dust on the bookshelves. The video games I do play are solitaire, backgammon, and rogue (a Dungeons & Dragons game created during the 80’s).

While the aforementioned are all fine games to play, the game industry has progressed, and I have not kept pace. My objective is to learn to play a new video game (or board game) that millennials also play.

10. Visualize a new hairstyle

For the foreseeable future, all hair salons will remain closed … while our hair keeps growing. Unless you are a media personality, that should not pose a major problem. In fact, the self-quarantine affords you an opportunity to change your hairstyle.

The overgrown hair would provide more raw material for the barber to eventually work with. More importantly, the next time you see anyone important, outside of your immediate household, they probably will have forgotten what you look like. This would help cushion the initial shock from your new look.

Last but not least, refrain from cutting your own hair (or anybody else’s) during self-isolation. Wait out the pandemic and have a true professional implement your vision.


The next 10 things to do in a pandemic will appear in Part 2 of this series.