Humanity Rocks: Helping Each Other in the Time of Coronavirus

Since the onset of this current health crisis, it’s been noted that Isaac Newton did some of his best work while “sheltering in place” at home during the Great Plague of London in the 1660s. Hopefully, meeting professionals everywhere are finding their own ways to remain productive.

But, as you may soon discover, being confined to home offices and virtual meetings can feel…limiting. Fortunately, times of crisis also tend to bring out the better instincts in people and even corporations (which are run by people). Cynics can attribute some of the following wholly to smart marketing—attempts to tempt the homebound with more attractive introductory offers—but a more hopeful interpretation is that we have begun the process of coming together again.

Read All About It!

Timely, accurate information is critical in this fast-moving pandemic. Many newspapers—whose journalists are braving the virus daily to continue reporting the news—have temporarily taken down their online paywalls so nonsubscribers have either full access or access to coronavirus stories.

Major media sources doing so include:

But there comes a time when your brain wants to wrap itself around something else—like a killer pie recipe. Many public libraries offer RBDigital to read hundreds of magazines online at no charge. We’re talking titles such as Cook’s Illustrated, Men’s Health and Wired. Go to your library’s website and look for it. While you’re at it, check for a path to check out free ebooks and audiobooks, too.

Parks are Open!

Even in areas of the country, such as Northern California, where sheltering-in-place has been put into effect, the great outdoors is open, and people are being urged to safely take advantage of it. To that end, National Park Service is waiving entry fees at most national parks, while still cordoning off areas or attractions, such as visitor centers, where masses of visitors tend to congregate.

Free Apps for Work and Health!

Does kid noise, the hammering of a Ms. Fix-it next door or another distraction keep you from being your best at home?

Dark Noise, an iOS app, is a repository of high-quality background noises that includes white noise, rain, campfires and more than 30 others. It usually costs $3.99 in the App Store, but the TestFlight beta is now free during the coronavirus crisis. “Maybe it’ll help people cope if they can simulate the sound of an office space or coffee shop while stuck in their homes,” developer Charlie Chapman said on Twitter. You can join for free here.

If your gym is shuttered, no problem. Join the virtual gym. Peloton is among those companies extending its free trial period—in this case, to a full 90 days. Its app works on iOS, Android and Amazon Fire TV, and provides a host of live and on-demand classes that include outdoor running, treadmill, strength training, HIIT, yoga and meditation. After the trial, a monthly sub will cost you $13 if you choose to continue.

Planet Fitness is another option. It’s offering free daily home workouts streamed live on Facebook at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET. The company’s app for iOS, which contains hundreds of workouts, is also free for download.

You can also find numerous mediation and yoga for free on YouTube.

Culture for Nothing!

You’ve probably taken virtual tours of hotels and convention centers, so why not a museum? Hundreds of the world’s museums are yours to browse on Google’s Arts & Culture collection. When else would you be able to check out Nagoya City Art Museum in Japan?

New York Metropolitan Opera is streaming a daily encore performance in HD at least through the end of March, unless this free service is extended. Watch the streams in a browser or download a Met Opera on Demand app for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices.

Binge Watch for Free!

Several of the lesser-known streaming services are trying to get your attention by sweetening their introductory free periods. Acorn TV, which streams notable United Kingdom programming, is giving away a 30-day free trial to customers who use the code FREE30 when signing up. Otherwise, it’s $6 per month or $60 a year.

Sundance Now, an AMC Networks channel that features acclaimed dramas and documentaries has a similar deal. Instead of a week’s free trial, you get 30 days with the code SUNDANCENOW30; thereafter, it’s $7 a month or $60 for a year.

Over at PBS, make up for the postponement of the Major League Baseball season by watching Ken Burns’ Emmy-winning documentary series Baseball for free on its site and all other PBS digital platforms.

Just watch to giggle and grin? Monterey Bay Aquarium is closed due to coronavirus, but you can watch critters frolic on 10 live webcams. “Until we reopen,” said Julie Packard, the aquarium’s executive director, “you can check in on the sea otters, sway with the kelp, find tranquility with the jellies and look for wildlife out on Monterey Bay.”

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