March 28: Day 16
Today I texted my Nina that we should Face Time, and she called me right away. She's home to take care of her father when he is released from the hospital. Which is great, because Nina is the most competent and with-it person I know. Nina chose to become a nurse while helping her mother care for her grandmother (my godfather's mother, my mother's mother's sister-in-law). Nina has promised to call me any time, day or night, if she needs more, or when there is ... news. I've disabled do-not-disturb on my phone. I also got to see my Tante Heide. She looks wonderful! Good genetics and no smoking will do that. And she is the most positive person I know.
Today I've baked. A financiers recipe from Cook's Illustrated (more on that if I ever get the content management system working on C-B again), and a sugar cookie mix that's been sitting around since Christmas '18. (That '18 just looks weird.)
Yesterday I continued my effort to write a system to generate PDFs of what we've done, instead of filling the fuckers out. And, of course, once there's an app tracking the data, they don't actually need the fucking PDFs. Learned a lot about the premier free PDF generation library for ruby, Prawn. Like, for example, you should probably buy a license for libPDF. Prawn is great (and has a higher-level and therefore more understandable API than LibPDF), but it's missing big features, like, importing and altering an existing PDF (had that feature, dropped it), and filling out forms.
Last night my cousins Robb and Pauline face-timed us, and we had a great chat and made each other laugh and bitched about the incompetency of the Cheeto in Chief. Robb and Pauline's steady income comes from providing music lessons at multiple pre-schools in the Philly area; they are contractors. Right now, they are giving lessons through Facebook live mornings at 10 a.m. Got little ones? Now you have a distraction for an hour. Pauline is also a fine artist; she's a little out of my price range now that she has work in 30 Hudson Yards, but I've started putting aside a little money eacy month to her for a piece in a few months. (If you've been to my house, you've seen her work.)
I've been hearing some rumors about the China and COVID-19, that I need to rant about right now:
If this virus were the product of some bioweapon program on the part of a foreign nation the Cheeto in Chief would be trumpeting it from the rooftops to up his ratings and get a hate on for China. Viruses mutate; that's why we need a different flu vaccine every year.
The virus coming to America and infecting so many people is due to American leadership (the Cheeto in Chief) ignoring and lying about it. China (along with Italy and South Korea) was an early warning. We could have prepared, and the Republican party both discouraged and prevented all preparation, oh wait, I forgot, they also profited directly by selling and buying stocks after a confidential briefing! The Federal government could have looked at how the disease spread in China, Italy and South Korea, looked at what worked (being truthful, testing, tracking, treating, lockdown to stop the spread, supporting people through the economic hardship of lockdown), what didn't (ignoring what was happening, putting the economy before people's lives).
March 25: It was the year of waiting
This morning, my cousin Nina messaged me to say her father, my godfather, Ernst, has cancer again. When I called my aunt Heide a week and a half ago, I'd joked to Jorj I couldn't fly for funerals and needed to be sure Ernst and Heide were isolating.
March 24: Day 12, shelter-in-place day 1
KYW reports we are allowed outside to exercise once a day.
My sanity is saved.
Later: Biked four and a half miles, three with Jake, and there were far more cars than I expected. People were also surprisingly (to me) shocked when a stranger saved hello. That tells you how cabin fevered I am: talking to strangers.
March 23: Day 11
As of ten minutes ago, we are officially in lockdown. While it suck far less than millions of dead people (300+ million population x 70% infection rate x 1.5% death rate), that does not mean this will not suck. Let's acknowledge that.
Even the anti-social, misanthropic introvert that I am has gotten enough cabin fever that I run every day, and I hate running, I only like having run. Sunday I made 2 1/4 miles, which felt fantastic, considering I feared the sprain in Mexico would keep me from anything but a slow jog every again. The jog was slow, but the form felt far more normal and less creaky. No more of that.
"You're dumb, and I love you, now get out of my way." — Jorj to Jet, who was in the middle of his ritual five-minute post-litterbox scratch.
No more bread for the neighbors, either. (This week was no-knead rye.) No walks with long-time friend Chris who happened to move in on the other side of the elementary school. No gardening.
More working on both web sites. There are no photos because the old laptop hard drive is dying, already corrupted the photo archive once, and the new laptop won't read the old archive. Twenty thousand edited and organized photos since Fall 2003, including Tobi, Sarah, Kraftwerk, Mom, and most of all, Jakob. Gotta buy software for editing at least, 'cause it's months before the Genius bar opens again.
We discovered The Good Place, and it is as good as everyone says.
Yesterday we did one last run to Seventh Dimension Games for a board game and MtG cards. Glen was taking orders via e-mail/Facebook/Twitter, would tell you the total (say, $40), and you would buy that many generic $1 items from his on-line store (previously used for event registrations like MtG prereleases). He'd bag it, and meet you at the door when you came for pick up.
We played Everdell tonight. It's not the cooperative game I thought. It's a cute, woodland version of San Juan. The family MtG player did well.
Never underestimate the value of a pull quote in bringing visual interest to a page.
March 19: The word for the day is "frenetic"
Met with my therapist and told her everything I'm doing to be on top of life and not fret. And she pointed out I am all. Over. The. Place.
My office has just arranged weekly plant watering duty.
March 18: Day 5
Baked bread today. It's a nice thing to do mid-afternoon for a quick break, and then there's bread for breakfast. As I walked past Jorj working at the dining room table, I gave him a quick kiss on the head. He was on a video call.
Jakob planned to bike with a friend to get pizza slices at lunch, but decided keeping two yards from each other was too much trouble.
Chat in the work Slack is all about accessing your voicemail from home. We were on VOIP when I started fourteen years ago; this means my "phone" (really a single-use computer), and not the outlet, has control of my phone number. My phone has been missing since my team moved desks five or so years ago. I'm adding an interesting new feature (or the start of it), if I can keep my mind on it: validating an uploaded file before loading data from it into some tables. I know! So exciting! This is my world! But. This is to more smoothly run the a mini-business inside of the med school: this mini-business buys research equipment wholesale, and then resells it at a smaller markup to the researchers. My group wrote the software that lets the researchers place orders, and bills orders to the correct research grants or overhead accounts. For years the team has manually uploaded the new prices and new equipment at the end of the year. With luck, we'll have that import updated.
March 17: It was the year we stood apart
Jakob's school held the monthly/quarterly coffee with the head over Zoom, and I was so happy to see other parents we know from Jakob's friend group, school parents things, and Jakob's pre-school I nearly cried. Jorj and I are going to try to set up a Zoom channel for the friend group parents. The friend group has called themselves the Nerd Squad.
As you know, my department is divided between people hired through the University, and those hired through the "Health System," after a health system power-play moved all IT under their control. All of us are now being required by the Health System to upload a PDF each day describing what we did, because god forbid we trust our staff, even though in many cases we've trusted peoples' lives with the systems they maintain. This is how my day looks:
- E-mail, caffeine, scroll anxiously through Twitter
- Push feature to production
- Meeting (bitch session)
- Check out new-to-me project (37 min)
- Stare blankly at code (other dev's)
- Break, "tidy" piles of Magic the Gathering cards by "sorting" them into more, smaller piles
- Stare blankly at code (mine)
- Fry rice for lunch, scroll anxiously through MetaFilter
- Stare blankly at e-mails
- Determine to be productive, break current task into smaller sub-tasks
- Break, "tidy" house by staring blankly at chaos
- Read department Slack
- Determine to be productive, re-order sub-tasks
- Give up for the day
March 15: It was the year we learned we were washing our hands wrong
Until I looked at the stylesheet for this page, I'd forgotten that CSS predates XHTML. Time to convert at least this page to HTML5 and CSS3.
We called and What's App'd the family in Germany and Sweden. They're fine! Schools and offices are closed! No public gatherings! My cousin Nina is an OP nurse in a hospital and Sarah and Javier's new son is just 2 months old and Tobi's still going in to his office but it's all good! My aunt and I agreed that no news will be good news.
Did a bit of gardening, and it was warm in the sun and a black sweater. Weeding, trash pick up, cut myself some forsythia. Waved to our neighbor Que who was watching his grandson scooting around his driveway, but kept my distance.
Stress cooking and baking continues: muffins for breakfast, and got the recipe up; broth from the carcass of last night's chicken; full batch of chili for dinner and freezing; The Kitchenista's buttermilk pie without the cranberry compote (the pie is amazing). The smell of the the broth and the chili always comfort me. They smell good, and having a freezer full of food is reassuring.
Jakob has played Stardew Valley all day with his friend M.
March 14: COVID-19 Social Distancing Day 2
I read a tweet suggesting keeping a diary during the pandemic, and first thought to write it in my recipe book, then remembered the blog. So, here we are.
It's the second day of deliberate social distancing for Jorj and myself, although I did go to HMart for milk and yeast and dumplings, and 7th Dimension for cards and packs and to keep Glen in business after he (prudently) cancelled all events at the store. Wednesday (Tuesday? not Thursday) Jorj asked when we would be going full wacko and refusing to leave the house, and, as it turns out, it was Friday.
Schools (first Cheltenham on Tuesday — there's a family in quarantine — then MontCo Thursday, then Pennsylvania Friday) are shut down, but Jakob's school is doing distance learning (poor kid, Miles is home and bored and playing a lot of Stardew Valley with J). Jorj and I are staying home to make sure Jakob's "attending" classes. Jakob and I plan to bike for forty-five minutes each afternoon.
Oh, yes, Jakob is now Jakob, full name.
If I'm home, I might as well bake. Today I baked four loaves of bread (not least because the no-knead dough won't last more than a week in the fridge), and stopped by our next-door and older neighbors to drop off some bread and see if they needed anything from the grocery store. I decided I wanted to be the person who helped her neighbors in the crisis, and had to talk myself around my anxiety. It was easier than I thought! And I got a jar of homemade granola! And a hug! We'll see if I can do this next weekend.
So, working from home: although I am a University employee, my department is now part of the hospital (OK, fine, the health system), and the big boss of all IT thinks we all need to be at the office to get any work done. If we're so freaking valuable, why aren't we approved to fill all open positions, add new ones, and increase the offere salary until we can actually recruit? Particularly galling is that this is a hospital (health system) employee saying this, who quotes epidemiologists advocating for social distance in one sentence, then says, nope, put yourself, your family, and everyone else at risk by coming in to work.
HMart: Jorj went shopping at 9:30 in the morning Thursday, the store was packed, and had no milk, bread, toilet paper, or lemons. Jorj got the last two yellow onions, the least moldy of the three red onions, and ten pounds of flour for me. A couple twitters reported (and Jorj's colleague Kam suggested) "ethnic," particularly Asian, groceries were still stocked. Well, we needed a few things from HMart, and sure enough, there was milk, yeast, lemons, non-moldy onions!
7th Dimension: Jakob learned to play Magic the Gathering at camp two summers ago. Of course, I needed to learn to play too, so that Jakob had a partner. Since all of Jakob's friends also learned to play that summer, he's much the better player. My decks needed more cards, and I need to make sure my game store stays in business.
February and August, 2010