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Welcome back to another edition of Heroes of the Quarantine. Take in some inspiring stories of individuals and brands that are using ingenuity to help fight the spread of the virus, or are just delivering some smiles during our collective isolation. 

A quarantine challenge

Jennifer George, the granddaughter of cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg, announced a challenge this week to help creative individuals stuck at home pay tribute to her grandfather’s eponymous machine. For those unfamiliar, a Rube Goldberg machine is a gadget that completes an ordinary task in a complex and convoluted way. Every year, the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest crowns the individual who builds the most effective, creative machine. 

The 2020 Contest initially asked participants to build a machine that turned on a light switch, but the pandemic encouraged officials to adjust course. So instead of a light switch, George changed the goal to have participants create a machine that drops a bar of soap into your hand, encouraging good hygiene that neutralizes the coronavirus.

Tech giants play nice

Tragedy often brings people together. And pandemics, it seems, can do the same for tech rivals.

Apple and Google announced on Monday that they’d be teaming up to develop “contact tracing” during the coronavirus pandemic. Starting in May, individuals who use either Apple or Google smartphones—roughly 3 billion of the world’s 9 billion people—may receive alerts if they come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Though that might set off some alarms for people with privacy concerns, the companies promise that the service will only function for those who opt in, identities will not be disclosed, location data won’t be collected, and sensitive personal information won’t be compromised.  

A spot-on brand commercial parody

Hey. We’re Ceros. And we’re here to show you that this parody of boiler-plate advertisements in response to tragedy is the best thing you’ll see all week. This video, created by copywriter Samantha Geloso, was a pitch-perfect re-creation of ads like these, from the inspiring orchestral music to the gallery of headshots (“because brands are people, too”) to the blank white screen just before the end of the ad. It’s got over 40,000 views since it was posted last week.

Public, virtual commencement speeches

If you’re a college student who won’t get to experience an in-person graduation this Spring (everyone is hungover and sweaty, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be), you can still get your full dose of commencement speech inspiration.

iHeartMedia’s new podcast, Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020, will feature keynotes from celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, John Legend, Eli Manning, and more. The speeches will be published together on May 15th, two days before National Graduation Day on May 17th.

You gotta fight… for your right… to refund

The folks at Cranky Concierge are always dedicated to assisting air travelers with their plans. But since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Cranky team has launched a “Refund Hunter” tool for travelers who are no longer flying. For a flat fee of $30 per booking, you can send along your booking confirmation and the date of your purchase to Cranky Concierge, who will let you know your options for recourse. If you don’t like your current options, they’ll track waivers and flight cancellations that might grant you a more favorable option, like a refund. And once you’ve decided your preferred option, they’ll help you carry it out with the airline or a travel agent. It’s a small price to pay for big peace of mind with notoriously refund-averse airlines.

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