I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a fan of science fiction. You can see my love of the genre throughout my apartment.

The “2001: A Space Odyssey” poster from Japan (thanks to a dear friend), boxes of comic books, the numerous plastic models from the Terminator 2 Hunter Killer Tank to the Battlestar Galactica, and the collection of action figures (probably around 200 or so and growing at a rate I question whether I can sustain) — all of that makes me a nerd. I’m good with that.

And for so many nerds, one single overarching event has become something of Mecca: San Diego Comic-Con.

Don’t let the name fool you. This is no mere or even big comic book convention. Comic-Con has evolved into the largest pop culture festival in the world. Toymakers produce exclusive items available only at the annual convention. Major Hollywood studios reveal their blockbusters there. But the real highlights are the guest panels, where filmmakers, actors, writers, producers and other stars of pop culture take to stages to reveal their upcoming projects or simply engage in a Q&A with the audience.

I’ve never gone to Comic-Con. And due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no one gets to go this year.

Instead, I and nerds and anyone else can attend Comic-Con @ Home, which began Wednesday. And those panels — all 350 of them — are going to be available for free on the official Comic-Con YouTube page: www.youtube.com/user/ComicCon.

I’m so good with that.

The virus and how we are dealing with it has disrupted our lives in so many ways. But it also has revealed ways we can connect to one another.

Once-in-a-while virtual meetings have become just another part of the workday. The video conferencing app Zoom has become so popular we now say things like, “I’m Zooming this afternoon.” Doctors see patients via telemedicine. Choirs and bands provide virtual concerts in real time (that sounds like science fiction right there).

The brains behind La Grande’s creative performance space, hq, have joined the virtual revolution, just like Peak Lifestyle Studio and Loveland Funeral Chapel and other local businesses and nonprofits. While the coronavirus is not going away, the pandemic will. But our need to connect to others is not going away, and thus going virtual will stay part of our lives from now on.

Science fiction has proposed this in one form or another for decades. Meetings where people don’t leave their homes and instead participate via a holographic projection, for example. But we find we don’t even need that kind of tech. We just need a big enough monitor to see everyone at the meeting.

And I can’t help but think there can be substantial cost savings from this tech. Some state agencies, for example, require regular meetings of all their employees to gather in one place, usually Portland or Bend. All that comes with travel costs — gas, food and lodging. Not cheap.

Making those big meetings virtual, however, should cut down on those costs, maybe save the state — and therefore the public — a little money.

Yeah, I’m good with that, too.

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