“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” -- Carl Sagan

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Day 16: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

Normal warning: These posts are not to entertain.  They’re to put a pin in my sanity.  If you want funny, please head off to reddit.

I’m sitting out on my deck and it’s absolutely gorgeous out here.  60-some degrees, clear skies, light breeze. Birds are chirping.  Trees are covered in buds.  First round of early spring flowers came and went. You’d never know that Hogan ordered a stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the virus today.

Today’s theme is “having issues with anxiety.”  Feeling tired all the time, utterly strung out, not sleeping well anxiety.  Having a hard time anxiety.

Some of it is from news.  Things like “GOP Plows Forward with Plans to Kill Obamacare.”  Really?  That’s what you care about right now?  Taking away people’s health care during a global pandemic?  Or the “hey only 100-200K people are going to die go us USA USA USA.”

Alot of it is work, which is fueled by anxiety++.  The more object-oriented version of anxiety, where you can inherit anxiety from macro anxiety-producing sources.

Alot of it is deep uncertainty because no one has any idea how this is all going to end.

Some of it from the proximity to NYC.  It hasn’t reached friend-of-a-friend death yet, but it’s reached acquaintance-of-acquaintance.  Brother in Law and his wife are in Brooklyn hunkered down.  Worried about everyone in all our fine East Coast cities.

A dash is exposing myself to stupid during an anxiety-fueled time which I honestly don’t need and shouldn’t do.

I mean, shit like this makes me think that we’re going to be trapped here forever.  Dear God.  “Right-Wing Performance Art.”  These people are killing other people.  It’s never going to end.

I could get on telemedicine and try to get some pills but then I’m taking resources from people who need them, so I will stick with boxed wine.  And I’m not convinced I need them, honestly, when I can jack up my workouts like crazy.

Which I have done.

Speaking of which, I have worked out so much to control my anxiety that the ass in my jeans is loose. I have lost tangible inches on my tights and butt from the zillions of squat reps.  My pants fit weird. I could douse myself in pure milk chocolate and not put on weight.  It’s so bad, my left knee went hey, remember me? this morning while I was doing hills on the bike.  I’m going to rig up Ring-Fit to do Arms/Chest/Abs for the rest of the week until my knee plays nicely again.

I’m still playing Animal Crossing.  You should, too.

I pulled the first hydroponically-grown peppers off the plant yesterday.  Initial experiment: success.

I need to, like, do things.  Hobbies sprouting like weeds.

Day 15: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

Normal warning: These posts are not to entertain.  They’re to put a pin in my sanity.  If you want funny, please head off to reddit.

Good news!  If you’re hoping — yearning — for a massive political alignment in US politics, then you’re in for a treat!  It’s definitely going to happen!  What that political alignment looks like is an excellent question, but there is 0 percent chance the current two parties will look like the same two parties 2, 3, 4 years from now.  They might look the same right now, but times, they are a changin’.

I suspect, even if he does not become president, Bernie Sanders will win in the end.  But those are my suspicions and not a fact.

I’m a big student of US History.  I have a bookcase dedicated to dead tree copies of Revolutionary War books, more books stashed in other bookcases, and then a Kindle full of more.  It’s useful to pull Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States right about now.

I’m hovering somewhere between Schopenhauer (not my dog, the philosopher) and Nietzsche on the “time is a flat circle” — between the will and the self, being bound to the eternal circle and able to get off it.   Are we trapped forever revisiting the past?  Does the past simply cast such a long shadow over the present that we feel like we’re repeating failed lessons? Does it matter?

The closest analog to where we are today is not the Great Depression.  The world kept moving during the Great Depression.  As terrible as it was, you could still go out to eat.  The closest analogy to where we are today is the Civil War.

The depths of the Civil War is the last time we had this truly Federal emergency and the enemy was on our shores.  It was the last time we had this push and pull of philosophies until the whole thing unraveled, and the philosophies of one region hardened against the philosophies of the other.  It was the last time we shut down economies of entire regions.

It was the last time we had mass death and maiming in the United States.

Putting aside slavery for a moment (difficult, yeah, talking about the Civil War), the situation is much the same, but with war instead of plague.  Two very different national parties emerged from the wreckage.  A different country emerged.  We even changed our name from “These United States” to “The United States.”  Industries disrupted.  People out of work countrywide.  Communities struggling to cope with the aftermath of widespread death, disease, and dismemberment.

The COVID-19 projections board is projecting 81,000 deaths.  And the Government says 100K to 200K.  With the ultra-libertarian “fuck you” politics of the South (sans Virginia), I’ll be surprised if it’s that low.  Not to mention the millions of people who have permanent health scarring from this thing.  We’re looking at Civil War-like death here.

I’m not saying we’re about to pull together armies and start shooting each other — although at this point, I take nothing off the table.  We were a loose confederation of states that we thought of as the United States before the Civil War, and we were America afterward.

The Great Depression had a massive political realignment as well.  We do see echoes of it in our current world.  (Go read Barbara Tuchman’s A Proud Tower to see echoes of our world in the world of 1890-1915, and then read Zinn to fill in the years, and see how it is us.)  Before the Great Depression, the only touch normal people had with the Federal Government was the Post Office. Afterward, it was everywhere, in everything.  The Democrats became the party of “the people” (with some old, crazy, Southern stragglers) and the Republicans became the party of business.

We’ve tilted way too far into the party of business.  The realignment will be around the people.

I know, Howard Zinn is too left wing, blahdy blahdy blaaaah.  I have not read it, but James McPhearson’s book “Battle Cry” is supposedly the best single-volume history of the Civil War.  We’re all locked in our houses so… book club time?

A few other things:

  • We’re going to try D&D over various streaming tools and see how that goes.
  • I acquired a recipe for wooden table in Animal Crossing.  I am unreasonably excited about my wooden table DIY recipe. It’s near impossible to get a good table in that game.  I’ll be making and sending them out.
  • I also caught a sturgeon this morning!
  • I spent another hour deep in a Rust online class.  Man, that language has opinions about code.  Yikes.  I think I’m getting the general hang of it and then I hit traits and my brain melts.   However, I am convinced it’s a superior C/C++ even with the little I’ve played with it and those are my main jam.  I’m reading every “rust gamedev” thing I can find.
  • I need to spend some quality time with my Russian lessons.  Spending deep focus time with Russian is hard.  There’s too much crazy in the world.

Day 14: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

Normal warning: These posts are not to entertain.  They’re to put a pin in my sanity.  If you want funny, please head off to reddit.

14 days!  14 days!!!  This is insane.  14 days!!! It’s thunderstorming outside, so there is no chance of deck time or a walk or anything.  Locked inside another day.  14 days!!!

At least another 14 days to go.  Sorry, Trumpster, this won’t be over by Easter.

No one resorted to cannibalism.  Yet.  Although we are eating chicken poppers and cheese fries for lunch.  That’s close to cannibalism… if we’re chickens.

With all of us stuck in the house, the house gets filthy quick.  I accelerated my vacuuming schedule.  Even once a week, it’s pulling enormous hairballs out of the carpet.  What I’d do without the Dyson stick vacuum, I don’t know.  It’s a lifesaver.

My frugalness is a saving grace in all this.

I received the update for Ring-Fit and tried to play the rhythm game.  The word here is “tried.”  I failed.  Horribly.  On novice.  Here I was dying with the overhead wide squats but oh no.  That rhythm game is out to kill me.  The new jogging mode feels half-completed.  I suspect that update was due in two months and Nintendo rushed it.  That’s ok.  I still have planks.

Animal Crossing continues to be a thing.

We’re going to play another chapter in 7th Continent this afternoon.  It’s fun!  We haven’t died!  Yet!  We will probably die today!  Yay!

Trump’s approval ratings took a 13% nosedive, and they’re on a 4-5 day lag.  Good.  His last 36% support will support him until they, too, start getting sick and dying.  Then hopefully the support under him will collapse.  The guy deserves whatever is waiting for him on the other side of this, and it’s not reelection.  He’s flying to Norfolk for a photo op and the Government of Virginia is trying to kick him out.  Right now.

I am getting concerned about this pattern of states closing borders to other states.  Will there be a United States after this?

Later when this is all over, I will talk about work.  Sitting at the pinnacle of a small company with the economy shut off has been… a horrible education.  Something I never want to learn again.  My anxiety hovers somewhere between “maybe this will be ok” and “OH MY FUCKING GOD” 24/7.  If I was a money packrat before… I’m turning into that cartoon from the Great Depression of a guy stuffing 20s into his mattress.

Scattered thoughts today.  I feel burned out.  Maybe something more coherent tomorrow.

Day 13: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

Normal warning: These posts are not to entertain.  They’re to put a pin in my sanity.  If you want funny, please head off to reddit.

The name of the game, and the lynchpin in my sanity, is exercising. I have been exercising so much lately I’m running up all these rewards on my Apple Watch.  Without it, I would be a ball of anxiety curled up in a corner and rocking back and forth slowly.

I have three outs for exercising:

  • Ring-Fit in the basement.  I have cranked Ring-Fit’s intensity up to “insane.”  I have done more squats doing Ring-Fit the last two weeks than I have done in my entire life.  Overhead wide-squats.
  • Recumbent Bike.  I had to swap out my precious spin bike for a recumbent bike because old, but I have it set on hills and then go to town for a half hour.  I have it set to about as hard as I can tolerate.
  • Walking the dog.  Because the dog needs walking.

This has helped keep the wheels on the bus of my sanity.  Otherwise, I’d be non-functional.

The birds are out in force.  With no cars on the road and less pollution, the trees are coming in greener than last year, the flowers blooming a bit better, and the birds are out in force.  Today is likely bird feeder day.  The cardinals have been hanging around the deck giving me expectant looks so we’ll feed them.  Even walking around the block with the dog this morning, I spotted a good six different species of bird.  No car noise to chase them away, so they’re taking up residence in all the trees.

To get birdcam back out, I need to rebuild the model.  My model last year had like a 60% precision and that’s awful for an ML model.  So I’m going to go back to the drawing board and re-read all the tensorflow/keras walkthroughs on object recognition.  I’ll likely run the model direct off the rpi instead of running it in EC2 to keep my costs down.  I’ll still leverage S3 for image storage, though, since it’s cheaper than food.

I haven’t done tons with my hydroponics setup.  It’s hard to focus on electronics with everything going on.  Or, more to the point, not going on, what with everyone waiting to get sick and maybe die.

I’m still learning Russian but that’s starting to slow what with being distracted all the time.

Eric scored 18 rolls of toilet paper yesterday.  I considered briefly selling them on the black toilet paper market.

I’m getting bored enough to want to write but now is not the time for funny jokes about murder hobos.

The Federal Government is worse than inept.  We’d be better off if we were 50 separate countries at this point.  I’m starting to worry about Detroit and SE Michigan in general.   There’s a letter going around stating that some hospitals are already moving to “comfort care” (ie morphine) for COVID-19.  So yeah, congrats guys, you’re going to kill off people with your horribleness.

Day 12: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

Normal warning: These posts are not to entertain.  They’re to put a pin in my sanity.  If you want funny, please head off to reddit.

I have this bizarre technical issue with WordPress where it occasionally eats my post.  I may rethink my workflow and move to MarsEdit (which I have) instead of the WordPress site.

The Trumpster hates the Priorities USA “I don’t take responsibility” ad.  He’s been sending takedown notices to get it off TV (which infringe on freedom of speech).  To do my part for God and Country, here it is. It’s 16 seconds long but it packs a punch.

The unemployment statistics came out at it’s 3.3M in a week.  Mnuchin went on CNBC and said this gem:

“I just think these numbers right now are not relevant. Whether they’re bigger or smaller in the short term… the good thing about this bill is, the president is protecting these people.”

This country — and this Administration — lacks both empathy and a moral center.  There’s no acknowledgment of the pain this is causing.  They somehow have it in their heads this only affects their opponent’s voters.  Tanking the economy to own the libs.

This is, without a doubt, the single biggest failure in US History.  The enemy is here, in the house, and it’s unclear what we as a nation even cares about.

As for the bill… the bill is garbage.  It’s small, it’s stingy, it will help very few small businesses or individuals.  We’re patting ourselves on the back for not giving Trump a $500B slush fund to spend on himself, but that’s about all there is in that thing.  It’s a conservative bill and it goes nowhere near far enough.  It’s a failure, and it hasn’t been signed yet.  Ugh.

No sign of this thing abating.  We’ve passed the 1000 tracked death mark, and we’re massively undercounting.  70K cases identified, and testing has hardly begun.  Still looks like exponential growth.  I follow Infection 2020 and we’ve identified 14,000 new cases in the last 24 hours.  Sheer madness.

I have this sentiment analysis thing from Grammarly and it tells me I sound sad and disappointed.  So there you go.  Right from the AI to you.  Thank you AI bot, for telling me the obvious.  Our robot future, ladies and gentlemen.

I’m still working.

I’m still living in terror.

Time to go play Animal Crossing.

Day 11: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

Donald Trump wants You to Die for the Economy!

I stole this picture off the Internet.

Normal warning: These posts are not to entertain.  They’re to put a pin in my sanity.  If you want funny, please head off to reddit.

Here we are with Thomas Friedman rationalizing letting millions die for the economy in the NY Times.  In 48 hours, this is where we’ve landed as a society.

Media has cleaved in two:

  • Bleeding heart squishy liberals who fear a future where bodies rot in heaps, the health system collapses, and believe economies can always come back to life and….
  • Rock-Ribbed Hard-eyed American Conservative Realists who are ok with 1-3% (or more) of our society dying all at once so we can have drive-thru McDonald’s.

On twitter I follow maybe a dozen economists that spread across the entire spectrum and a majority of them — even the hard-core right-wing conservative ones — are waving their hands and saying “you cannot undie the dead.”  No one who has ever worked in policy is going “sure, let’s kill people for a Big Mac.”  It’s the White House, the armchair epidemiologists, the pretend economists, the pundits, and billionaires taking a bath on their portfolios.  No real doctors or real economists without columns in the NYTs Opinion Section are saying this.

So frustrating.  We’ve created a society with no moral center.

The new White House game is to hold medical supplies hostage until the states pay homage to Trump.  It’s disgusting.  People are dying, but unless they come and fete at the foot of Trump, he refuses to nationalize the logistics and distribution system for ventilators and masks.  He wants to play giver of life and giver of death.  And I still cannot believe people are OK with this – to the tune of 49% of the country!  You won’t be ok with this when some member of your family dies, let me tell you.

He doesn’t want to do anything and all he wants to do is deflect blame.

Eric is telling me to stop reading the news.  Probably a good plan.

It’s raining outside.  I ate something that didn’t agree with me for dinner last night.  I slept poorly.  I feel busy but ineffective.  I hooked up to Folding@Home.

I had an idea for 3D printing and logistics but my 3D printer doesn’t  use the right plastic, which is a bummer.  Had it printed the right plastic I might sort of duck out of work to build a prototype.  I found there was 3D printing capacity out there to print masks and it’s all being managed off a Discord and a google sheet.  We could probably build something better than that.

I caught a blue marlin in Animal Crossing off the pier.  Soon I will hook my switch to twitter and share my catch.

Day 10: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

Normal warning: These posts are not to entertain.  They’re to put a pin in my sanity.  If you want funny, please head off to reddit.

Jesus Chris.  Day 10.

Had we all listened and social distanced when this started, we’d be out of it by now.  14 days from beginning to end.  But no, we are a narcissist, self-centered country full of narcissist, self-centered people lead by a narcissist, self-centered leader.

Today, I am in full-bore rant about Trump mode.  Tomorrow, I promise, more working out and Animal Crossing.

Because he is starting to personally feel the heat of his own utterly incompetent policies, he wants to roll out more self-destructive, incompetent policies.  6 out of 7 of his main properties are failing.  They’ve closed down Mar-a-Lago.  Now he can’t golf.  Poor baby.

Instead of learn from his actions, he’s decided nope.  This is all over.  Everyone back to work.  Too bad.  Besides, only 3% of the population will die.  That’s as many people who die in car accidents every year!  We don’t close down the roads because of car accidents!

Except… the population of the United States is 327 million.  3% of 327 million is 9.81 million people.  First off, 6 million die in car accidents happen a year, and they are not all fatal.  Second, when we’re talking about 10 million people dying from COVID-19, they all die at once.

The hospitals are overwhelmed with the dying and the dead.

Those who need care other than COVID-19 — heart attack victims, strokes, cancer, etc. — cannot get into hospitals and they, too, die.

Those who have minor infections get major infections.  Those turn into pneumonia and they, too, die as well.

We’re not talking 3% of the population.  We’re talking 10s of millions.  Bodies piling up in ice rinks to keep them cold as they wait to get shoveled into furnaces.  Bodies stacked up on the side of the road.  All so Trump doesn’t have to close his goddamn golf courses.

The evil is breathtaking.  And for some crazy reason, 55% of Americans approve of his handling of the crisis.  I don’t get it.  He actually wants you, yes you, you reading this, to die for his resorts and yet you approve of him.   I can’t get past this.  I read that and seize up.

And he’s had a polling bump.  Good god.  Are we that horrible as a society?  Have we rotted that far?  Who the fuck likes this guy?

Now the bailout is on hold because he can’t use 500 billion as a personal slush fund and hand out favors.  That was clearly his plan: hand out money to his buddies and everyone else can go die in snow.  Sure they’re rolling out Yea Olde Nancy Pelosi Attack Handbook.  But I am thankful for the Ds who stopped that monstrosity before it got out the door.

My mind cannot wrap around or comprehend the awfulness.  It just can’t.

Eric says I need to stop reading the news.  But I’m just.. yeah.

Also, my museum in Animal Crossing opened and I built the store.  So that’s something.

Day 9: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

Normal warning: These posts are not to entertain.  They’re to put a pin in my sanity.  If you want funny, please head off to reddit.

Here we are at a full week 2.  I am going mildly stir crazy.  I set up the deck so I can go outside and work, but it’s raining today.  I’m bummed out about my vegetable garden and came to terms with myself that I won’t grow outside this year.  I need to get the tenting up now, and get new soil in now, and that won’t happen.  I do have this hydroponics setup though…

We are all trapped in Tom Nook’s universe now.  Animal Crossing is like a dopamine generator.  Read the news, absorb the awful, log in, and pick some apples.  Build a table.  Catch some butterflies.  Turn it off.  Read the news.  Pick apples. Rinse and repeat.

It’s the only route to sanity.

Somewhere in the Animal Crossing world someone passed laws around lending and notification because now, Tom Nook actually warns you how much things cost.  And he has a generous payback period.  I assume this is the result of the 2008 Financial Crisis.  Even the Animal Crossing world has Dodd-Frank financial reporting rules.

Speaking of Switch games, I finished off Tokyo Mirage Sessions to free up time for other projects: finishing my hydroponics electronics work, learning Russian, learning Rust, etc. I’m not in the mood for a 40-60 hour obligation.  I also have this issue where I get squirrelly in the last 5 hours of any JRPG and want to get it done and move on to another thing.

We broke out the board games yesterday.  We’re playing this living choose your own adventure game called 7th Continent and it’s enjoyable.  A little maddening, but enjoyable.  We got off Starter Island, we’ve figured out the system, and now we’re ready to rock.  Board games are a great way to fill the time…. now to figure out how to play board games on Hangouts.

In today in politics, the crying Trumpbaby, he retweeted like 30 things thing morning all talking about how great he is.  I guess as POTUS in the middle of a global pandemic he has nothing else to do? He also tweeted this gem:


He’s freaking out.  What 15 day period?  When did it start?  What does he mean?  What way other than let millions die?  Who knows.  And who cares.  I have no idea why he’s still on tv.

I should wander back in the direction of work which is its own thing.

Stay safe, peeps.

Day 8: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

Normal warning: These posts are not to entertain.  They’re to put a pin in my sanity.  If you want funny, please head off to reddit.

I don’t have a whole lot today but I am committed to writing something every single day so here it is.

We had a death in the family from what, I presume, was simply old age, not COVID-19.  Usually, I would hop on a plane with my Mom to go up but because of the virus, there’s no funeral and only a limited mass.  It’s touching everything.

Animal Crossing has taken over the household.  We have three different copies, so three different islands.  Unfortunately, two of us have apples, but one of us has peaches.  We are all enslaved to the global empire of Nook, Inc.

We’re going to try to play 7th Continent.  I picked it up on its second printing, assuming I’d never see it again.  We didn’t think we’d have time to play it but suddenly, time!  Who knew!  So we’ll figure that out.

I cleaned the deck yesterday so I can spend some time outside since the sitting inside all the time is starting to have some mental health impacts.

I just had an alert from the NYT on my phone saying the hospitals are overwhelmed and the doctors are going to go pick who lives and who dies.  So that’s a thing.  I think I will turn that alert off.

I tried listening to a 538 podcast talking about the economy and the nice economist they had on the show came to the same conclusion I came to — absolutely no one knows.  There’s no model for what is going on right now.

I’m feeling blah and not in the mood to write so that’s it for today.

Day 7: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

Normal warning: These posts are not to entertain.  They’re to put a pin in my sanity.  If you want funny, please head off to reddit.

I got out of bed, didn’t exercise, and played several hours of Animal Crossing.  Animal Crossing is a brain balm.  It’s a place where everything is happy and good all the time.  I caught some fish.  I caught some butterflies.  I planted some flowers.  I made some stuff.

I keep reading the news and freaking out.  I have to stop reading the news but I have a news habit that is long and well-defined.  I read the most non-biased sources I can and they are still very… terrible.

Capitalism as a system isn’t designed to simply turn… off.  Never in the history of capitalism has capitalism stopped.  Even during the Great Depression it was sluggish.  But in large swaths of the global economy, governments have applied a killed switch.  It’s off.  No money or goods flowing.  It’s spooky.

I agree with those who say Trump should stop giving press conferences.  He’s actively making things worse.  He isn’t interested in a solution — Trump is interested in an illusion of a quick solution and getting credit for it.  He doesn’t care if people die on his watch.  He doesn’t care if millions die on his watch.  As long as he can slap the Trump Brand on the a solution and declare victory, he’s good.

History will not be kind to him.  Not that that helps us in the here and now.

20 years of terrible GOP policies are failing us.  Tax cut and spend and sequestration and all that were smoke and mirrors to funnel money from taxpayers to corporations.  Now when we need good policies, we find they’ve been dismantling them all to line their pockets.  History will not be kind to them, either.  Not that that helps us now either.  But trickle down economics has been exposed as the utter fraud it is.

Everyone is worried about the November election.  This is the only place I think our system will save us: it’s baked into the Constitution that everyone in elected office is out of a job in January, 2021.  No wiggle room.  No exceptions.  When you vote is protected by a set of laws that must go through Congress to move the date.  When everyone is out is baked.

I can see right leaning states trying to rig something in this crisis to keep people from voting, though, because otherwise they’re all going to go extinct.  Although I can see people doubling and tripling down on their racism and xenophobia and preserving some form of Trumpy GOP at the ballot box.  How much is a good question.

Anyway.  Going back to gardening for real and gardening in Animal Crossing. Only gardening can save us from going crazy while stuck in our homes.

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