Today is May the Fourth the semi-offical Star Wars day, simply for the pun. This is a special May 4th for me because I am also now two weeks past my last vaccination, and by CDC guidelines can consider myself amoungst the vaccinated! I brought out a few extra Star Wars trinkets to adorn my Zoom background to celebrate.
Here is a project I did this past winter that I have not yet shared, an upgrade to my ski goggles.
Skiing with glasses is a really mixed bag. Its very hard to control the humidity inside the goggles to stop the glasses from fogging over. I often ski without glasses as my prescription is very light. Its usually sunny enough that I can see fine without my glasses, or its foggy enough that there is nothing to see, glasses or not.
To improve this situation I tried adding some lenses into the goggles.
Using some round lenses pulled from a cheap pair of glasses I 3D printed an insert to fit inside the goggles. This was my first project print with flexible TPU plastic, allowing the insert to be printed flat and then bending to fit the contour of the goggles.
Though the ski season was cut short these insets worked much better than wearing glasses under the goggles. And I will continue to use them next year with some tweaks.
The goggles do look a little silly, but I kinda like the look. Reminds me of Starlord’s Guardians of the Galaxy helmet.
Nearly everyone in the world are now in different phases of isolation or quarantine. My experience is anything but unique, but as Seattle was one of the first hot spots on this continent I figure we are probably a week or two ahead of most of North America. As something to stay entertained and sane in my fifth week of isolation I put together a little timeline of how I experienced this pandemic and what I’ve been doing while cooped up.
Firstly I must acknowledge that I am very lucky to be well suited for this quarantine. My work can be done at home and even before all offices were closed I was already working from home about one day a week. I live in a fairly large house and have an office set up for myself which allows me to have a separate physical space to work and take Zoom calls. I know many who live in small apartments who don’t have a desk, and are working off of kitchen tables. I live with a roommate so I have not been completely devoid of human interaction while isolated.
I am fortunate that a lot of my social life was already online. Before the quarantine I was already keeping up with friends in other states and around Seattle by playing games online. While the home isolation changed many of my social plans, for a few of my social circles very little changed.
- March 1st:
Some items are noticeably missing while grocery shopping. Mostly just bulk things like flour, rice, potatoes.
- Week of March 2nd:
I started limiting the time I spent in the office. Working from home some full days or just going in for the after noon. Around March 5th most tech workers in Seattle were being told to work from home for the next few weeks. I still meet with friends at a bar for trivia and still have people over for Dungeons and Dragons in person.
- March 7th:
Last day skiing of the season though we didn’t know that at the time.
- Week of March 9th:
A fairly normal work week. Getting work done is a strong distraction from the new isolation. Though everyone is working from home, not too much is out of the ordinary. I still feel like this is a temporary arrangement and things will be normal soon. Pub trivia is now movie night at a friends house to avoid public spaces and large gatherings.
- March 14th:
Vail ski resorts closes all mountains nationally “for two weeks”, but the writing is on the wall that the season is over. We decide to cancel a planned ski trip to Utah at the end of the month. This is really where the scale of how disruptive this might be starts to set in as events through June start to cancel.
- Week of March 16th:
The weather in Seattle is warming up and it starts feeling very stifling to be inside. Working from home feels restrictive. On March 18th my company makes the decision to close all offices globally for at least the next three months. This is going to be more than a few weeks of WFH, better get comfortable. All socializing has moved online.
- Week of March 23rd:
Most of each day is spent at the computer, it is the portal to the outside. Days are spent working and nights are spent online with friends. This is our new existence. Days start to blend together.
- Week of March 30th:
I think this was the worse week yet. Most of the time I found it very hard to focus. Very little work accomplished, very little time spent on personal projects. At the end of the week I realized it had been 2 weeks since I last left the house. After a few hours out on a bicycle things are much better.
A close friend is hospitalized for COVID-19, and is put on a ventilator.
- Week of April 6th:
Isolation and staying in start seeming like the new normal. Keeping a routine, including time spent outside and exercise is very important. Passover Seder is a 20 person Zoom call.
My friend has recovered enough to be taken off the ventilator and sent home.
How I Stay Sane
“There no more Mondays, Tuesday, Wednesdays, …etc.
There is only Day”
Staying at home for a few weeks and spending pretty much every day in front of the computer, things start to blend together. It was difficult to put together a timeline for this post of what’s been going on the past four weeks; the day to day is slow and repetitive and the news is so fast and quick to change.
I’ve tried to keep the same schedule as I normally would. This means getting up around 7 every morning, showering, getting dressed into not-pajamas, and trying to work normal-ish hours. To try and keep some office chatter going, we have a daily drop in call just for socializing.
Even though we cannot congregate in groups, every recurring weekly social events have still been meeting. Pub Trivia is now online Jack-Box, Dungeons & Dragons is now online. I’ve also done some board game and movie nights online with some fancy software.
There is still a lot of unscheduled time at home, and you can only clean the house so many times a day. This is a good time to indulge in some hobbies or take up some new ones. The first week of isolation I was working on building a new computer. The second week of isolation I did a lot of cooking; and now that I have secured more flour, a lot of baking.
One large project was Adam Ragusia’s three day lasagna that had me rolling out meters of pasta. Last week I was practicing making some sourdough bread, and now that Passover has started I will try some homemade Matzoh.
Now that I’ve gotten this large post out of the way I’ll be posting more incremental updates on the day to day.
While everyone has discovered Zoom as a way to stay connected, there are a few other programs and services I want to call out.
Discord and Mumble; Zoom’s origins are as enterprise telecomunication software, and it shows. Zoom is lacking in a lot of powerful features that make calls with lots of members more pleasant, like a usable push-to-talk or individual volume controls for each member. Discord and Mumble are mostly voice-only clients (Discord does now support video) which were built for online gaming. With this different pedigree there are different set of features supported.
Watch2Gether and NetflixParty; These are browser extensions which will sync up the streams from Netflix/Amazon/ Hulu/YouTube/etc for multiple people, allowing you to still have a movie night with others while isolated.
JackBox Party Packs; Many have probably played a JackBox party game at a house party at some point. Most of the games can be played online with one person sharing their screen or streaming to Twitch/Mixer.
TabletopSimulator; Its very hard to play board games while staying at least 6 ft apart from one another. TabletopSimulator provides a framework to play a lot of your favorite board games on the computer with friends online.
Looking to the Future
While no one knows how long isolation will be recommended, this week is the first week where the numbers have started looking better. The newest IHME models now estimate that Washington may already be past the peak of infections, showing everyone that isolating at home does pay off. I am greatly looking forward to when I can go outside without feeling paranoid or guilty and when I can again meet up with friends for a coffee or a drink.
I ended 2016 with a promise to increase usage of this blog and to provide updates on my many hobbies. With a mix of trying to create some meaningful changes to my life and lots of lethargy I have failed to update this blog since.
Falling into the publisher’s dilemma: going too long without an update means that the next thing to be posted must be of sufficient quality to compensate for the gap. The gap grows to the point where no post would be enough to fill weeks of neglect.
Breaking this tread I give everyone dinner I be made and my first attempt at making one of my favorite noodles; Udon at home.
As 2016 draws to a close, I’ve taking a bit of time to look through the two and a half years of memories that this blog has chronicled. Though I’ve only averaged a few posts a month its is nice to have an easy means of going back to see what I was doing months and years ago. Seeing the starting points of new hobbies and obsessions. Getting my first VR headset, building my 3D printer, and taking up amateur photography.
According to the WordPress stats this is the 100th post to this blog. That surpasses my previous best by 87 posts. I’ve got several attempts archived, old blogs from middle and high school, filled with embarrassing posts and even some really bad poetry. For posterity sake I’m rather glad that all those blogs failed and it’s this one that has kept my interest, as its the highest quality blog I’ve written to date.
While 2016 was a pretty crappy year, one can hope that 2017 will be better. While I cannot fix the problems of the world I can try to increase and improve the content of this blog, and possible make my life more interesting at the same time.
Though it may be Christmas it really doesn’t seem it. In Syracuse, a place known for its long cold snowy winters this Christmas was surprisingly green and sunny.
The last full day of our trip we spend in Colorado Springs. At this point in the trip we had hiked over 40 miles and thousands of feet of elevation; we were surprisingly worn out for the end of a vacation. We still manged to drag ourselves out to experience this new city.
First stop; the Garden of the Gods.
We had just watched The Martian the previous night and walking around these giant red rocks really made me feel like I was on Mars, a thousand years in the future and the space tourists are all looking around and taking pictures of where Watney was trapped.
Some light hiking a little ways away.
Afterwards we went to the Colorado Spring Money Museum. They had the motherload of coin collections.
The museum also had an exhibit of sunk treasure and the most interesting part was the models of the ships from which these coins were recovered.
For the second day of the trip we packed our bags and checked out of hotel in Denver and drove lengthy 14 minutes to our hotel in Boulder. Maybe we though this state was more spread out than it actually is.
In Boulder it was time for our first hike of the trip. We’ve had a little over a day to acclimate to the high elevations, why not go hike up a mountain, right?
Our target was the Flat Irons outside of Boulder. Giant red rocks protruding from the ground like teeth in a maw. This massive natural structures are basically the foot hills of the Rockies.
The hike was a struggle but the amazing view from the top was well worth it.
The top of the kick was mostly rock scrambles and unfortunately not Jonathan’s watch did not escape unscathed.
Not to be outdone, Justin dropped his phone on a rock and smashed it to bits. It seems that technology and nature don’t get a long too well.
On the way down we found a friend who was very interested in any granola bars that we might have brought.
After the hike we went into Boulder for some lunch and found some tasty Chinese noodles. The we walked around the Pearl Street Mall, boulder promenade street, and the only lively place on a Sunday night.
To end the night we found a Saloon hidden in the basement of a dark restaurant that had free pool tables and cheap drinks.