Hello dear readers. I hope you’re staying safe, and relatively sane in these unprecedented times. If your new life is at all like mine, you now spend a lot of time in Zoom calls, for "work" and for socializing. (Work is in quotes because a team of national experts are still on the fence about whether I have done any actual “work” in the past four weeks of "working" from home) I even hosted my annual Easter Brunch over Zoom, which went great because there was more ham than usual left over for me to eat!

The author is sitting at a small table with a gold tablecloth, set for dinner. He has dark hair and a beard and is wearing a yellow shirt. A laptop is sitting open on a wooden tv tray in front of the table. Photo by Andrea Black.Photo (and salad) by Andrea Black.

Since we’re all Zooming through life right now, tons of institutions, both local and national have released their own, official sets of virtual backgrounds that you can use while in a Zoom call. Posting a handful of watermarked, high-res images might seem like the absolute least that some of these organizations could do during this time of global pandemic, and it is. But also, we gotta keep those graphic designers busy or else they get very restless and start creating new worse fonts.

Anyhow, I decided I should jump on the bandwagon and release the AUTHORITATIVE set of A Building, A Feeling, and A Latrine Zoom backgrounds. Could you have just browsed through my old columns and picked out your favorite pictures yourself? Absolutely. However, I’m saving you time by telling you that these are the best ones, and I’ll also be imparting some of my best Zoom tips and quarantine lifestyle tips to you as we go through this collection.


First off, the OFFICIAL B/F/L logo!

A graphic with a white featuring a black building silhouette on the left, a solid black vertical rectangle with a red semi-circle in the center, and a black toilet silhouette on the right.

Flawless! Let’s see how it looks in a meeting.

The author is in the foreground of the logo background. His eyes are red. Image by Tom Ackerman.Image by Tom Ackerman.

Ah, I see Zoom thinks the whites of my eyes are part of the background and it’s making me look extremely evil. No problem, no problem, easily fixed! I'll just set up a makeshift green screen in my home. Easy peasy.

Next up, a cheeky one. I hate the HERE. apartment building, but it is a fun Zoom background, because if you’re ever in a call and somebody is like “hey is Tom here?” you can point at the sign and say "HELL YEAH I'M HERE." Classic.

The facade of an apartment building; it's comprised of grayish blue, light gray, and dark gray vertical rectangles, interspersed with windows. In the bottom right corner is the word Photo by Tom Ackerman.
A screenshot of the author in front of the building facade, gesturing toward the word Image by Tom Ackerman.

During these troubled economic times, it’s PIVOTAL to support your local businesses by making them your Zoom backgrounds, and also wearing their t-shirts while in Zoom calls.

A collection of old bathtubs and sinks, surrounded by a chain link fence. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.
A screenshot of the author in front of the bathtub and sink background. He's wearing an orange t-shirt that says Image by Tom Ackerman.

Big shout out to PACA and CU Adventures in Time & Space.

My column last December about fire hydrants was quite popular, so had to include one of those.

A close up of a red fire hydrant at ground level. It's sitting in a patch of grass covered in brown leaves. There is a sidewalk and stone wall in the background. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.
A screenshot of the author in a black t-shirt with a purple Champaign Ladies Amateur Wrestling logo. He is laughing and gesturing towards the fire hydrant. Image by Tom Ackerman.Image by Tom Ackerman.

"O Hydrant, u so silly!"

Here’s a Zoom background of the worst intersections on campus. Great for reminding everyone on the call of the small joys of not leaving the house ever. (no 4-way stops!)

A four-way intersection with white crosswalk lines across each part of the intersection. There are people walking along the sidewalk and crossing the intersection. The domed Armory building is in the background. Photo by Tom Ackerman. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Great Zoom tip: if you’re not sure that everyone on the call is paying attention, put on a creepy mask and see who notices.

A screenshot of the author in front of the intersection background wearing a cow mask that is white with black spots. Image by Tom Ackerman.Image by Tom Ackerman.

Sometimes it’s fun to dress up to match your Zoom background. This outfit and background combo tells everyone that you’d rather be (miniature) golfing!

A miniature golf green with a brick border. There is a yellow ball resting against a gray boulder in the middle of the green. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.
A screenshot of the author in a black baseball cap and blue collared with the mini golf green in the background. Image by Tom Ackerman. shirtImage by Tom Ackerman.

As fun as it is to imagine you’re Zooming in from a tropical beach or whatever, sometimes you want a background that really encapsulates your current fragmented mental state.

A pile of wood from a demolished building. There is a blue and white mattress in the foreground, and a gray cement block wall in the background. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.
Screenshot of the author with tousled hair giving a thumbs up sign; the demolished building is in the background. Image by Tom Ackerman.Image by Tom Ackerman.

Everyone will relate to what you’re going through with this Zoom background!

Of course it wouldn’t be a B/F/L background set without a bathroom, and why not use the worst bathroom I’ve ever reviewed!

A toilet and urinal covered in brown splatters. The walls are white tile. Photo by Tom Ackerman. Photo by Tom Ackerman.
A screenshot of the author making a disgusted face in front of a blue sheet with a portion of the bathroom background showing. Image by Tom Ackerman.Image by Tom Ackerman.

Oh geez. Not sure why you’d want to use this as your background, but I empower you to do so!

Anyway, there's lots of other great images in the Building/Feeling/Latrine archives, but I'll leave you with these for now. See you all next month! I promise you, no matter what happens in the world, I will continue to make dumb faces and write inane pee jokes for my adoring fans! 

Top image by Tom Ackerman.