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Day 175: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

I went into a hole, and didn’t write anything for 15 days.  Nor read the Internet, messed around on twitter, read discord, or did anything but start the new job.  I’m sort of behind on all the things, and I haven’t done or read or thought about anything except new job in weeks.

Except, I read the Jeffrey Goldberg Atlantic article when it popped up in my feed.  (I read all news via highly curated RSS in Feedly.  I do not get my news from random Internet posts.  So should you.)  If you are the one person on Earth who hasn’t read the article yet, or you are like me and decided what your life needed was a more challenging job in a pandemic and you haven’t seen it, here it is:

Trump: Americans who Died in War are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers.’

Despite knowing, understanding, and internalizing how terrible a human being Donald Trump is, my reaction to this article was fast, visceral, and active disgust.  Yes, while there is pushback going on right now as he rallies his allies to his side and ride their white steeds to FOX News, there’s zero doubt any of this story is true.

  • There’s a C-SPAN clip on him bagging on John McCain in 2015 as a loser for getting captured in Vietnam.
  • He refused to attend John McCain’s funeral.
  • He has disparaged Gold Star Families.
  • He’s called widows of the fallen and made them cry.
  • He called generals “losers and babies” to their faces.
  • He wants military parades but doesn’t want to include the injured because “nobody wants to see that.”
  • He refused to honor the Marine Dead of WWI on the 100th anniversary of the war because his hair might get wet.

Should I go on?  There’s dozens of examples of Trump calling the military “losers.”  My reaction wasn’t to the piece but seeing it all in one place. I wasn’t even surprised.  But I was disgusted.  The story of the US Military is, for better or for worse, the story of America herself.  We can discuss the pros and cons of the veneration of the military all day, but Christ almighty.  The line was, as they say, firmly crossed.  My reaction goes deep.

His supporters — the only line they have to defend him — is that he doesn’t hate the troops, he just sounds like an asshole.

I finally crossed a line.  If people in my life want to support Trump, that’s your prerogative but you keep it far the hell away from me because there’s something deeply wrong with him, and by that definition, you.  Leadership flows from the top.  He’s a deeply vile human being, a rot that comes right out of his soul.  You want to follow vileness, fine, but it tars your soul, too.   Everything he touches he corrupts, and that includes the people who somehow still follow him.

How anyone thinks someone who craps all over the US Military should be Commander in Chief is far beyond me or my ability to comprehend humanity.   How anyone can support someone so innately awful who has such contempt for his fellow human beings is beyond me.

This is just ugh.  So awful.  So very awful.

Everything else going on is fine.  I’m not really doing anything — not really reading or writing or indulging in any hobbies right now.

School starts on Tuesday and that should be a real treat for all of us.


  • 80,718,811 completed tests
  • 6,177,201 positive cases
  • 189,555 dead from COVID-19
  • 111,332 cases in MD with 3,891 deaths
  • 1 in 72 people have it in Howard County.

I hate to be the dick in the room but this COVID thing is still here.  Remember that?  The thing that is killing people at a good clip?  I thought it would get better in two weeks but it looks like this COVID-19 thing hasn’t gone anywhere.  We’re still losing 1000 people a day.  We’re still clocking in at 50K positive tests a day.  I guess we’re ok with that.

Maybe while Donald Trump isn’t getting the pandemic under control, he can call more people losers and suckers.


Day 160: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

I was a little busy this week.  I’ll be a little busy next week.  And the week after.  It’s a good busy, but it is busy busy busy busy and I feel drained and it feels like something crawled into my brainmeats and died.  People know what the job is, now.  Onboarding is hard.

I never got around to reading War and Peace — it’s on the list, and it might be higher now for Reasons — but I saw this quote from it the other day:

With the enemy’s approach to Moscow, the Moscovites’ view of their situation did not grow more serious but on the contrary became even more frivolous, as always happens with people who see a great danger approaching. At the approach of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal power in the human soul: one very reasonably tells a man to consider the nature of the danger and the means of escaping it; the other, still more reasonably, says that it is too depressing and painful to think of the danger, since it is not in man’s power to foresee everything and avert the general course of events, and it is therefore better to disregard what is painful till it comes, and to think about what is pleasant. In solitude a man generally listens to the first voice, but in society to the second. So it was now with the inhabitants of Moscow. It was long since people had been as gay in Moscow as that year.

Napoleon is on the march.  He’s burning his way through Europe.  He’s headed toward Moscow.  He’s a clear and present danger.  And when Napoleon arrives in Moscow, he and his army will kill everyone and burn the city to the ground.

Do the Moscovites’ prepare for the coming onslaught?  No, of course not.  They party.  The closer Napoleon comes, the more they party.

War and Peace is the entire American answer to… all of 2020, really.  There’s the oncoming onslaught.  The right thing to do is prepare for it.  But preparing for it is too hard, too painful, too much to think about.  Let’s instead it will simply go away one day — it will just disappear, like a miracle — and go party instead.  Maybe Napoleon will change his mind?

Like everyone else, I thought Biden’s speech last night was good.  He was angry, which came as a surprise.  Uncle Joe is never angry, not like that.  But he was angry for all of us.  He’s offended that anyone sat aside and let the virus harm Americans.  It offends him deep in his core.

It does help that Trump went out of his way to set all these expectations about Biden’s compromised brain. Biden’s brain is not compromised (he is a bit slower now, though), he has a stutter.  But we don’t let those details get in the way of Trump.  So Trump set these expectations and lowered expectations for Biden immensely and then Biden sailed over them and now, well, Trump has to pass his own bar.  Which he won’t.

Trump’s spell is starting to break.  The Democrats no longer fear his twitter feed, and the Never Trumpers are right behind.  Once the fear is gone, he’s nothing but a crazy, ranting old man.

I’m cheesed at the Biden-Harris store right now because they will not sell me a magnet.  I’ll need to get a sticker pack and hang it in a clip instead.  Dammit.  I’m not going to just donate money. I require swag in return.


  • 69,604,861 tests completed
  • 5,553,197 positive cases
  • 176,372 dead from COVID-19
  • 103,317 cases in MD,  3,781 dead
  • 1 in 77 people have it in Howard County, MD

We’re getting all the school emails and yes, it’s remote learning for a month and then re-evaluate.  We’re going to be hyper strict about school this fall, and use the big white board to track assignments and classes.  It happens at the desk, dressed, ready to go, with camera on.  This will be… horrible.

Day 156: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

Sorry about the lack of posting lately.  My brain has been tofu and I have been, to put it mildly, distracted.  Today, my short interregnum of being unemployed came to an end; but now I work in an underground bunker in an undisclosed location.

I’m mostly exhausted.  I haven’t slept nightmare-free in weeks, and last night was no exception.  I’m becoming concerned that we’re going to have a country-wide case of PTSD once this is all over.  PTSD from the pandemic, PTSD from Trump, PTSD from all the crazy.  They’re going to have to dump PTSD meds into the water supply.  I no longer have insomnia.  Nope, now I have this instead.  Woo.

I’m hoping the feeling of forwardness I’ll get now will help with the gray haze problem.  Everything from March until today has been a grey haze without much forward momentum, but maybe now that will change. New things will fill my brain for the next several months and by time I wake up from it, it’ll be Thanksgiving.  At least I’ll be extremely entertained by learning new things and that will perk me up a bit.

I think I’m going to give the Dems a miss.  I never miss a convention, but it’s so… the Internet will tell me what the good bits are and I’ll go watch the good bits.

Here’s some dumb stuff I’ve been up to last few days:

I realized this weekend that I’m still incapable of reading dense academic non-fiction.  I put the Venetian spies to the side — despite having highlighted half the book — and picked up Fonda Lee’s “Jade City” instead.  Which has turned out to be awesome.   It won’t last long.  The characters are a little flat, but it’s balanced out by all the crime lord kung-fu.

We watched the first episode of Lovecraft Country and I thought it was amazing.  I’m kicking myself for not having read the book earlier, especially as I like Matt Ruff’s work.

We finished the second season of Doom Patrol.  It just… stops… because the pandemic halted filming, and that made me sad.

We discovered the Harley Quinn animated series now that DC Universe is getting subsumed into HBO Max and it’s… uh… I dig it.  I think it’s great.  But I found it a little surprisingly hard-R at first, and I had not steeled my brain against it.  Now that I have, I’m team Poison Ivy.

We’re working our way through Picard now, having inhaled all of Discovery.  I totally get why people don’t like Picard, but it comes from having read multiple Michael Chabon novels.  Picard is Star Trek as written by Michael Chabon.  It’s going to be more thinky, more pondery, more talk about the philosophy of things than sort of a smash and grab Star Trek episode.  I don’t think that’s what people want out of Star Trek.  Right now, I still really like it, but I’m ok with more meditative “what is life, what are Romulans” Star Trek.  (Also, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is one of my all time favorite books.)

I need to pick up all my Rust projects, so they’re going to bump my ML projects down a notch.  Yes, I will finish the brain transplant for birdcam, and move the predict service to somewhere sustainable.  But then I need to go back to the Rust game engine.  There’s suddenly a pressing need for me to get to passingly adequate in Rust.

And… I think that’s it.  Oh, I have this new Razer Blade, and it’s baller.  Best computer I’ve ever owned, hands down.  Take that, Apple.


  • 67,621,119 completed tests
  • 5,380,726 positive results
  • 172,087 confirmed dead from this damn thing
  • 100,772 cases in MD with 3,746 dead
  • 1 in 79 have it in Howard County

First off, Hogan went all we’re doing great today and I don’t really see it.  That Howard County number is just creeping toward me.  Now it’s 1 in a movie theater has it.  Even a socially distant movie theater.

Second, we crossed 170K somewhere recently and no one seems to care.

We, as Americans, are just idiots.  We are deliberately choosing not to get this under control.


Day 152: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

I’ve reached new heights of frustration with WordPress.  It upgraded to WordPress 5.5 and broke the connection between and my site.  I was working in the regular WordPress block editor when a spare keystroke somehow deleted my entire post.  I went to restore it from drafts, and learned that the new fancy Block Editor no longer keeps a running log of drafts, so if you hit something wrong, through a stray finger stroke because, say, you have arthritis in your hands, posts are just gone.  So this sucks.  

Right now, I’m using MarsEdit.  Since I don’t use it all that much, my layout foo is not great.

Instead of writing the entire post out again, here are some highlights:

1. I wrote up the Eversink Post Office for Swords of the Serpentine and published it on Critical-Hits.  You can go read it.  I didn’t get any feedback either way, but if people like these things, I’ll write more of them.

2. I’m sort of hooked on the high ridiculousness of spy networks in the late-Renaissance, early-Modern period.  Crypto key exchange by sneaker net is hilarious. And broken.  But there’s an awesome adventure awaiting whomever can break into the government building or diplomat’s office and steal the big codebook with all the one time pads.  Who wants the book?  Who do they work for?  What is the motivation?  If you hand it over, what happens? It’s a terrific mcguffin.

3. I have lots of opinions on the Big 10’s canceled season but they all boil down to: “It is Donald Trump’s fault there is no Michigan Football this year and I hold him personally responsible.”  MAGAworld blah blah blah spin spin spin.  He could have stopped this thing months ago and chose not to because a blue state might get some Federal support.  I’m sorry.  It’s his fault.  He’s in the big chair.  I hold him responsible.

4. I’m sort of bemused by the Biden selection of Kamala Harris as his VP.  She was the front runner the entire time.  She was the conventional, consensus pick.  She was the one everyone assumed he was going to take as his running mate.  And when he did so, we were all shocked.  Shocked!  Shocked by the conventional wisdom!  I read a piece complaining that Biden’s campaign is bland.  

I don’t know about anyone else but I’m absolutely fine with bland.  Bland, right now, is good.  Bland is competent.  Bland will get problems fixed.  Bland will stop tweeting.  Bring on the bland.

5. I’m as frustrated as everyone else about this incredibly nonsense with the post office.  The idea here is to simply stop everyone in the country from voting.  Here’s the deal: I am planning to go out and vote even if I have to wear a hazmat suit.  It will happen.  And so should you.  This thing with the mail should stop no one from voting even if we have to go put ourselves at risk for it. 

6. This whole idea of “let’s change jobs and take a prestige job in the middle of the pandemic” wasn’t as well thought out as I thought.  While they’ve been doing a nice job with onboarding, and my equipment is upstairs, my nerves are a jangle.  I feel like my bloodstream is full of glass.  I don’t do well with change or the unknown or anticipation on the best days, but my nerves are shot for 2020.  I know I’ll feel better in a couple of weeks, but yeah… the nightmares are something else.  I’m fairly freaked out but I’ll make it work.

7. I got birdcam to work.  Last time I worked on birdcam, it took me weeks.  This time, it took about two and a half days.  For those who don’t know what birdcam is, it’s a IoT project designed to automatically detect and share pictures of birds (or fire hydrants or, occasionally, bears) on the Internet. It’s a PIR (passive infrared sensor) hooked to a raspberry pi.  When the PIR detects movement, it sends a signal to the system to take a picture with the onboard webcam.  The picture is sent to a service running Keras and Yolov3 object detection pretrained model.  Keras returns a set of predictions with confidence intervals.  If the model finds a bird in the model with more than 50% confidence, it tweets the picture out.  It also stores the image in one of several sorted buckets on S3.

Mostly what was in birdcam was old, now dead code.  And I bought it a new brain (aka a RPi 4 B).  But no birdcam today.  It’s raining all day.  And I have a make magazine catalog of other possible brains for IoT projects.


  • 63,731,305 completed tests.
  • 5,179,655 positive results
  • 168,275 dead from covid
  • 97,959 Cases in MD with 3,713 dead
  • 1 in 82 people have it in Howard County

So, because Trump wants fewer tests, we’re now testing less instead of testing more.  And people wait weeks for results.  This is insane.   It’s just insane.  And the whole “move the CDC data to HHS” has been a debacle.  Hiding data and generating less data doesn’t make the positivity rate go down, and doesn’t stop fewer people from dying.  We’re up to 1500 people dying a day again.  We have a 9/11 every 48 hours.  Why is this ok?  I do not get how this is ok.  

Day 149: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

I am sitting on my deck doing two things right now:

  • Freaking out from having a good solid case of imposter syndrome around the new job believing I don’t know how to write code or do deeply technical things anymore because hey I don’t really do that anymore and it’s all going to go quite poorly next week and…
  • Upgrading and rewriting a bunch of python 3.8 code on my raspberry Pi (after I patched up Debian) to more “adult” code with coroutines using aiobotocore on the AWS calls and using the new typing library after I figured out how to get remote ssh to work through visual studio code (yay .ssh) and integrating my Yolov3 detection code into the service so that it processes detections locally because it’s ok if it sits and ponders for 6-7 seconds.  This after I rearranged and extracted my ML code into a portable module and banged out some crap code this morning to walk a directory of images, pass them through the detector, drop the guys who have no boxes found, and load them up into a CSV so I could see that Yolo occasionally believes I am taking pictures of fire hydrants and also of bears.

So either I know what I’m doing or I don’t.  It’s like Heisenberg’s uncertainty knowledge. Or I should be ok with being able to bang out perfectly acceptable data science python, accept that I’m good enough for now, and move on with my life.

I’m pretty wrecked about the death of the Big 10 Football season.  I knew it was coming a mile away but it’s terrible that it’s here.  I have no interest in the kids going out to play in dangerous conditions but, on the other hand, there’s no really good reason why we have dangerous conditions at all except extreme negligence.  This one is a deeply emotional blow.  We’ve now decided as a society that we’re not going to have college football because we decided as a society that we cannot be adults and do the thing that needs adulting and grow up.  We have decided that we don’t have things anymore.

(Slate has this blow by blow of how Trump killed Americans and destroyed the country — and football — if you can stomach it.)

It’s just another thing that has died in this pandemic on a long list of things that have died: the economy, travel, vacations, going to the movies, going to the mall, going out to eat, summer hanging out on people’s decks, new media coming out, MLB (mostly), school in the fall, fall sports, the global reputation of the United States.  And we’re ok with all these things dying because… mah freedomzzzzz. MAH FREEDOMZZZZZZZZ!  GIMME MAH FREEDOMZZZZZZZZZ!  BIRDS AND GUNS AND SHIT BLOWING UP AND FREEDOMZ!

God.  Take your freedomz and just go away.  I’m so angry about it all I want to explode. I just don’t understand how any sane person can… be ok… with this.

Also, one day I will remember all the commands for systemd but today is not that day.  And I’m busy trying to convince my Pi that it’s ok to run some Fortran.  It doesn’t believe me.


  • 61,792,571 total completed tests.
  • 5,028,806 total positive results
  • 164,900 dead
  • 96,065 cases in MD with 3,682 dead
  • 1 out of 84 people have it in Howard County

When do we care about the number of the dead?  200,000?  250,000? 1,000,000?  It feels like no one cares that 165K people are dead from this thing who didn’t need to be dead.  Are we that level of sociopaths?  This whole thing is incomprehensible to me, day after day, week after week. I just don’t get it.  How horrible of a people are we?






Day 146: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

I am sitting out on my deck with my portable fan blowing in my face learning how to manipulate Yolo v3  so I can upgrade my prediction algorithms and set up birdcam once again.

For those who do not know, the plan behind birdcam — completely derailed by the pandemic — is this:

  • Have a raspberry pi hooked to a passive infrared sensor (a PIR) to sense movement.
  • When sensed movement, take a picture with the onboard camera.
  • Convert the image into digits and pass it through an ML object detection algorithm.
  • If it believes that it has found a bird, then store the image in S3 and send out a message.  And perhaps, tweet out birds, as is appropriate to twitter.
  • If it has not seen a bird, then dump the image.

My original model had, like, a 63% accuracy, which was complete garbage.  That lead me down a path of sitting down and really learning the basics of Machine Learning (done), build some neural nets from scratch with their activator functions, also from scratch, in numpy so I actually knew what they were doing (done), understand how CNNs work by building one from scratch (done), learn how to make Keras do basic CNN things (done), and then, finally, start working with Yolo v3.

So, on vacation, I decided to be up to my armpits in data science python.  Which, of course, is nothing like regular python.  It’s a skill I did not have.  Right now, the yolov3.weights file is downloading and I shall endeavor to learn fun new things about transfer learning.

The problem with starting with keras is that you just sort of wire things together like magic lego bricks.  Oh, it’s a multi-classifier, I guess I need a crossentropy loss function.  It’s a regression, so I’ll use MSE and RMSE.  And you just plug those things into the workflow and out pops a trained model all ready to get saved, slurped onto a PI somewhere, and off it goes.

I liked learning all the math but with the pandemic and my brain fully tapioca’d it took freaking forever.  That said, I can do a CNN for my image classifiers and do RNNs for the time series of the hydroponics data collection to predict when a plant needs water.  I now have that power under my control.

Also, I installed pylance in my visual studio code setup and it feels like programming-based cheating with all the type checking and inspection and hotness.  20 years of python in vim and I’m like where has this been all this time?  It’s way too easy to get something done now.

There’s a fly that lives on this deck and no matter how much I wave at it it doesn’t stop buzzing my head.  I’ve brought out a fan, and the fan does wonders on all other bugs except the fly.  It is impervious to the fan.

Other than that, I read a comic.  I worked on my Mom’s site a bunch.  And that’s it.  Vacation it is.

I haven’t actually looked at the news today.  At all.  I feel better about the universe for it.


  • 59,652,675 total tests
  • 4,869,058 confirmed cases
  • 162,130 dead
  • 93,601 cases in MD with 3,650 dead
  • 1 in 87 people have it in Howard County

Hilarious fact!  The reason that the daily cases loads are going down isn’t because we have the spread of the virus under control.  NO!  It’s because test results are taking so long to come back that people aren’t getting tested at all.  That’s right.  People have simply stopped getting tested.  It looks like caseloads are going down but deaths are going up up up up!  Woo!  USA! USA!

Also, my kid’s school is rollout out the MOSH PIT mnemonic to help remember to wear masks and wash hands when on campus and man I am torn on that one.

Day 144: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

I quit my job and today was my last day.  I am, suffice to say, extremely emotional and sad about this.  I was super proud of our little company.  I mean, I still am, I’m just not there anymore.   It was four and a half years of my life, and I poured everything that was me into it to make it work.  I lived and breathed the place.

I don’t talk about work in public — an old habit from Zenimax that has served me well and will serve me well into the future.  But because this is a blog about living through the pandemic, I can say there is a straight line correlation between changing jobs right now, making an insane leap into the unknown when everything is remote and online, and the pandemic.  Because yes, I worked at a travel tech startup, and it’s an ugly, ugly time for travel tech startups in ways I cannot even begin to describe.  There aren’t words invented on Earth to describe my combination of rage and sorrow.  The travel industry is bad right now.  It’s bad.

Much of my rage I’ve poured out here on my blog at the pandemic — the lack of leadership, the lack of movement, the lack of testing, the lack of tracing, the complacency — was because I was directly impacted all day, every day, without end, with nothing I could do.  People would ask how was work and I’d say “oh it’s the apocalypse.” I’d rage at my blog and move on. Funny thing, at the new job I will be impacted all day, every day, without end, but in a much different and much weirder way.

It’s awful.

I will miss my job, and my team, terribly.  It was a great place with great people.  It still is, and I dearly hope that they survive this mess and come out stronger for it.  I can’t say enough positive things about the people.

This is the first time I changed jobs under my own power where I wasn’t like “that person X over there sucked.”  It’s like, this is bad, this situation is bad, the pandemic is bad, but at the end of the day, the fault lies at the feet of the pandemic and the horrific Federal response.  Had we had good Federal leadership, or a coordinated response, or we stifled it like the EU, it’s unlikely I would have jumped.  Or I would have thought much harder about it.  Or slow rolled and I would have stayed longer to see how well things recovered.  Had we returned to the ~60% travel as predicted by now… but we’re at 22% right now.  Globally.  It’s not getting better.  Not in 2020.

Fuck you, 2020.  Also, I am not a Donald Trump fan.

And I got a rare opportunity to do some good in the world, and I took it, because the world is so bad right now that I needed to take a job where I could punch evil right in the face.  There are other, ah, perks, that go with the job.

I’ll never talk about the new job on the Internet.  Don’t ask.  You can assume, if you know me, I chose the door labeled “crazy” because if there’s one thing I’m going to do, it’s acquire as many “no shit, there I was” stories before I die.

Lots of other things happened today but I don’t really care.

That was my day.  How was yours?


  • 58,903,657 completed tests
  • 4,759,729 positive cases.
  • 159,486 dead
  • 92,420 cases in MD with 3,628 deaths
  • 1 in every 87 has it in Howard County

Looks like the rate of finding infected people is slowing down again but the death rate is shooting up like mad.  ~1500 dead a day.  Christ, what are we even doing.  It’s a 9/11 every 2 days and I feel like no one cares or is arguing about the semantics of masks.


Day 143: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

I’ve definitely gotten lax about posting things up to the blog here.  But that’s because it’s been 143 days.  I expected to blog every day for 90 days — three months — and then it would be gone and I’d wander back to talking about cyberpunk or machine learning or something else I’m super interested in.

But no.  I’ve been keeping this up for nearly 5 months.  And I swear we’ve entered some kind of weird new grey purgatory where nothing is getting better but no one cares and they’re going about their lives anyway which spreads the virus and ensures nothing gets any better and we’re in this loop and it’s a wildly spinning wheel of enlightenment going around and around like a psychotic tilt-a-whirl.

This interview with Trump and Jonathan Swan of Axios is utterly bonkers:

Watch the video.  Trump honestly seems to believe this utter nonsense coming out of his mouth about jerry rigging stats to make the US look good, and his staff armed him with cartoonish diagrams to help him make his point and look smart.  And then, people believe him.  And then they go out without masks.  And then more virus.  And here I am blogging on month 5 about COVID-19.

Two topics I am truly tired of: people dying of COVID-19 and Donald Trump.

Yet  he won’t — and can’t — go away because he is POTUS in this strangely dark and bleak Earth Two.  And the virus won’t either.  We’re all trapped together in this endless bleak purgatory. So, tableflip.

There’s so many other things in the news but I have reached news saturation.  I cannot read it anymore. I could spend an entire blog post simply ranting about the abuse of the Postal Service.  What did the Postal Service ever do to anyone?  What happened to my favorite Congressional fight of all time, when they decided to shut down the Postal Service for no delivery Sundays and Congressmen believed not receiving mail 7 days a week would make the nation dumber?  (Apparently, that came to pass.)  Or the economy which is now so deep in the hole I have no idea how it’s going to climb out?

Sometimes I feel like we’re all sitting here at the end of time.

  • I was on a nice panel with Kevin and Matt at GenCon for Swords of the Serpentine.  You can watch it here.
  • I finished the machine learning book I’ve been reading and the back came with a buy another for 30% off coupon so I burned that coupon on yet another book but this one on analyzing networks.  I think I’m equipped to start climbing the Keras cliff now, though.
  • I have not finished Venice’s Secret Spies.  It’s a pretty slow, dense read but it’s full of all sorts of goodness.  I’m in the middle of written correspondence networks.  I had this hot idea about a CYOA adventure written in ink that is just about composing and sending intelligence email in Early Modern Europe but I never have any time for my hot hot ideas.

Oh yeah.  We bought the office a small window air conditioner.  It was getting over 85 in here even with the AC cranked downstairs.  Floors of the house went from sweltering -> cool -> ice cold.  Now we can get the cool -> ice cold under control and use the air conditioner whenever the office is in use.

This blog post was just a meandering mess.  So let’s kill it off and look at the stats.


  • 57,543,852 completed tests.
  • 4,707,863 positive cases
  • 158,151 dead
  • 91,710 cases in MD with 3,619 dead
  • 1 in 88 people have it in Howard County

It’s definitely climbing back up the hill to pandemic heights again here in Maryland.  (Charts here.)  We’re finding more of it — probably those CVS drive through testing stations.  A smaller climb of hospitalizations and fewer deaths.  This probably means it’s younger people getting it and we’re finding it but it’s still spreading like wildfire.  Maryland has started contact tracing, and finding that it’s all house parties and family gatherings.

People aren’t going to the bars here, but they are having huge gatherings and hanging around with each other.  Then people pass it to each other and… breakout.

Turns out it was Marlins players sneaking out to the bars that brought down the Marlins.  I get it.  I really want to go to a party with my friends and sit on their deck and drink and talk about stuff.  Like, more than anything.  I’m super bored of this thing.  Day 143!!!  DAY 143!!!

But it’s gotta get under control.  1000 people a day dying is not acceptable.  It’s not acceptable, folks.  It’s not.

Day 139: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

I keep opening WordPress, staring at a blank page, and then closing it again because I’m not even sure how to wrap my head around what is going on anymore.

But let’s try anyway.

Trump threatened yesterday to move the date of the election — a thing he cannot do — just like some kind of autocratic dictator because he’s desperately trying to find more time so he can pivot.

He has not only given up on the coronavirus, he’s given up on the economy. Being President is no longer fun, he isn’t going to win, he’s going to be a loser, and now he’s not going to bother with any of it anymore.  Unless everyone relents and lets him be President for Life, his new plan is to walk away and let it all burn.

I read a nice piece on Trump’s incentives which you can read here.  His incentives are:

  1. Win the election at any cost.
  2. Pass the buck and dodge blame for losing.
  3. Bind his voters to him tighter.
  4. Wander off to his next grift at 9.95 a month.

Nowhere in there is “protect down ballot lawmakers of his party” or “protect his party” or “protect American democracy.” He has no interest in any of those things.  He’s only interested in:



Passing the blame to someone else.

That’s it.  And since winning is off the table, here comes the obfuscation, the lies,  the blaming, the racism, the gaslighting, everything.  He doesn’t care about the economy because he can’t win on it, so screw it.  He doesn’t care about Americans — they can all burn as far as he is concerned.  He doesn’t care about 150,000 dead.

Trump hijacked the Republican Party and now it’s his creature, whatever that is.  Whatever the Republican Party used to be is dead now.  It’s not coming back.  Trump infested it, murdered it, and wears its skin.

Anyway, I am ranting.  But I am very deeply angry about the “let’s push the election date” trial balloon.  It’s so offensive down to my core, I don’t even know where to start.   It’s even more offensive — marginally — than the revelation that there is no national testing plan because a national testing plan included helping blue states.  Because if you are not part of Trump’s special voter clique, he is fine with letting you die.

This is the greatest single act of pure nihilism in the modern age.  He can’t win.  The race has become Trump vs the Virus, and the Virus cannot be spun, or gaslit, or lied to.  The Virus is immune to all of Trump’s bullying and attacks.  The Virus simply kills.  It’s Trump vs the Virus, and the Virus is winning.

Oh yeah.  And a hurricane is on its way.  Aiming right for Florida.  Where it is pandemic-city.  So that should work out well.

I so want to turn everything off and write a bit this weekend.  No news.  It just makes me angrier and angrier.


  • 54,466,962 tests completed.
  • 4,491,696 positive cases found.
  • 154,801 dead.
  • 87,743 cases in MD with 3,586 dead
  • 1 in 93 have it in Howard County

Here’s a study on how 260 campers were infected all at once at a summer camp in Georgia in June.  Most of them were children.  Think about that when talking about opening up the schools.


Day 137: A Day in the Life of COVID-19

During the day, I have banished my news feeds and twitter to my phone.

When we were all in the office, I had very few personal anything running on my machine.  Putting spotify on my machine was a huge concession — but I need trance to get into the deep work headspace these days.  I had a few slack chatrooms in my slack client. And that was it.  There weren’t any security requirements or anything that kept things off my box.  I was just too busy all day to bother opening them up.

Being home meant that I no longer had the dash between rooms between meetings.  I could indulge and have a separate browser with that stuff and take a peek when I had a break.  But it meant I had access to that stuff all day.

And things, deeply crazy things, now happen all day long.  I remember fondly when a deeply crazy thing was like… 9/11.  But it feels like we have some kind of 9/11-level event every day, day after day, with no end.

So I’ve now turned it off during the day.  And I’ll skim the headlines in the evening and read something long form on the coronavirus — the only news that actually matters.  That has reduced my headaches by nearly 50%.  I just stopped looking at it all day every day.  There’s nothing I can do so I might as well go forward.

As for the coronavirus, the world has turned into a grey slog.  Selfish people won’t wear masks, Congress won’t fund testing and tracing, and the Federal Government won’t even take a make believe leadership role, so we’re in for a long wait while we wait for everyone who is going to get it to get it, and everyone who is going to drop dead from it to drop dead from it.  That’s kind of what we’ve signed up for.  We live in the dumbest country in the world in the dumbest possible timeline.

Look, eventually, pandemics burn themselves out by themselves.  They kill everyone they’re going to kill and move on.  Now, when pandemics rage out of control and kill everyone they’re going to kill, they tend to kill a huge number of people.  Check out, say, the Plague of Justinian in 541 AD.  Killed maybe 10% of the population of the entire world.  The Great Plague of London in 1666 killed 15% of the population of London.  That’s how this works.

It looks like new cases have gone down a tad in the US, but the death rate is, of course, skyrocketing.

I don’t even know any more.  There’s a part of me that is full of utter rage at a calamity that didn’t need to happen.  That never needed to happen.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump somehow thinks that what we all really really really really want, right now, in 2020, with the world on fire and body bags piling up and the economy in shambles, is a major change in the Affordable Housing Rules.  Tableflip.

We’re not really doing anything right now except watching Star Trek Discovery.  Although I’ll watch Cursed tonight.


  • 53,825,445 tests completed
  • 4,358,031 cases found in the US
  • 152,085 dead
  • 86,096 cases in MD with 3,558 dead
  • 1 in 95 have it in Howard County

I don’t actually believe that the plague spread is slowing down.  I think that the labs are over capacity and are backed up by a week or more, and that is what is reflected in the data.  I also suspect that the data is less good than it should be.

Meanwhile, we’re back up to 1500 people dying a day.  We are experiencing 1 9/11 every 2 days again.  No one seems to care.  Remember when we cared about 9/11?  1 every 2 days, people.




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