Day 191: Tuesday Sad

It is hard to imagine that we have been locked down for so long.

I am sad this evening.

The Covid-19 disaster continues to go on. I see that the politic of denying the tragedy and the rejecting of the other disaster of climate change. For me, I cannot grasp the illogic of racism that is so strong in my country. I also can no longer be tricked by the illusion of equality that I believed most of my life–we, I, need to do better. All of this crashes down on me once in a while. Today is one of those days.

I think it helps me to recall why I am writing.

I hope the reader knows I try to be entertaining while writing and sharing my adventures of trying to make it through the crazy that is another day in the lockdown. I like to joke that this is the “unoccupied Greater Portland” when looking at the politics that is my reality in Oregon. I try to find the focus or the fog each day and record it and share this nugget of life. But, it is hard today; the focus is sharp today, and it hurts a bit.

I hope each day to tell the story of the lockdown as experienced in my tiny corner of Greater Portland that somehow has become an attractor of disaster. Chaos Theory has gone weird! What could be next?

There is meaning, I believe, to write each day what happened, including what was for lunch and dinner, and how many died. I mean to witness their deaths by stating the count. Each night I try to find some music that might bring solace to another day of loss.

Today I write with tears. I will not apologize or ask for solace because of the tears. They help.

This morning started with a strange dream. I had left Nike and returned to my previous job working on old boat-anchor terminals (if you have worked on old IBM 5250 terminals or had to carry one–you understand their size and weight) on the old IBM computer systems. Everyone was happy to see me. It seems, remember, dream logic is not that logical, because the cure for the Covid-19 virus, global warming, Trump, and all the other problems of the world was to change everything back to the 1980s. Yes, we all returned to the “safer” times of the cold-war and old computer systems, and I was again in Washington DC as a System/36 RPGII programmer. No Internet. No social media. In the dream, as one of the few people who could code on old IBM equipment, I was welcomed back to my old job on K Street with enthusiasm. I sat down at an off-white IBM terminal that went buzz a lot crowded on a table with a poor chair–the IBM terminals did not fit in the cubicles. I started to create a data definition (don’t ask; it is old stuff you will never need to know) when a noise outside blessedly released me from 1988–Reagan is president in my dream.

I was awakened from reinventing 1988 by my neighbors poorly backing up a vehicle at 5:45ish. I put on my robe and went outside to see people in the dark, incorrectly backing up a trailer and finally leaving after 15 minutes of this. They missed Air Volvo, my car is parked in the driveway, by two feet. My neighbors say, “Sorry,” when he sees me and leaves. I was not awake enough to roll-my eyes.

So my first meeting is at 7AM, and I was out yesterday. I have a backlog of email and my day is meeting and Zoom rich. I clear what I can that is not useful, make promises to get to some of the items, and prepare to face the day of Zooming.

I slipped in some work during the status meetings. I have seen a few slots that have opened on my schedule, but I plan to take a break and walk and read, so I work the status meetings.

I manage to pay attention and work and clear the backlog by late morning, at least the things I know about. I got some more meetings planned at the end of the day from directors.

I slipped out for a walk between meetings. I am stiff–my legs just seem to not work right, and my waistline is getting the virus extension; more exercise is an apparent cure.

Lunch was a tuna fish sub from Subway with two bags of chips, an extra bag for Susie–she loves a salty snack. It was ten bucks for the sub, three bucks for chips, and seven bucks to deliver. It seemed extravagant for tuna fish, but I love tuna fish, and Susie is allergic to fish, so I can only get it once in a while.

I had a few more hours of meetings and then a break before I hit the last two director scheduled meetings.

I have found a new delightful book, Yes, Chef, that I highly recommend. Since Anthony Bourdain passed, I have avoided chef books, but this one is just fun so far.

I talked to the insurance company, Allstate, today. Apparently, if my house is not to local building code when they go to rebuild it from some disaster, I have to pay for the upgrade to code. Today I agreed to pay the extra $33 dollars a year to get this covered by my insurance. I have no comment on this–I thought it was a given. Now I am covered. Yea are warned!

Susie got going late, and Corwin and Susie had to get her coffee, water, and breakfast. I was on an hour of Zoom calls looking at designs and giving my input, so I could not help Susie this afternoon.

As often happen, I was given almost no time to decide if I would agree to a technical solution. Luckily I was involved in these technologies as they were brought to Nike a few years ago. I can usually agree and get it over. And I do.

Finishing work, I make dinner by using my own taco seasoning. I looked up what the Internet suggested and managed to make a decent taco. Shells are from a box.

I finally had time to catch up on one of my new favs. I watched the next episode of Lovecraft County and was surprised by the content. It was a sexy horror story set in the middle of the Korean War. None of this is from the book, but again the story worked for me. Furthermore, if you are ready for Hollywood styled Lovecraft horror set in the 1950s from a black family perspective, this is excellent.

I am still sad and tired of the battle, but it is another day, and victory is just to get to the next day.

Today we declare that we are the witness to more than nine-hundred sixty people whose suffering of the virus ended today. We wish them, their caregivers, and their people peace.

I found this and thought America was a good ending for today. 

Day 190: Monday Off

It is day 190, and I did not feel ready to return to work on Monday. I thought I had not finished enough this weekend so much I wanted another day. I was also not sure I could face so many hours of Zoom status meetings. So I put in the paid-time-off (PTO) request in and slept in today–to 8ish.

Susie had some problems this morning and then had to rush off to hair and nail appointment. It was good that I was on PTO, as this would not have meshed well with the meetings. I find being a caregiver in a Covid-19 work from the home world is not that easy.

Returning to one of the things I wanted to do today, I spent most of the day working on my 3D printer build. I am still trying to learn how to use all of this 2020 beam and Torx screws to build my printer. I managed to make the heated plate where the 3D item is produced. I got all of the stepper motors mounted (the motor takes steps and can thus control the tiny steps needed to print in 3D). I managed to find all the parts and attached them so far. I had a panic when a picture did not quite match, but I looked the piece up on the internet and then was able to find it–just a bad photo in the instructions.

Everything was good until I hit the most crucial part, the extruder. The pieces do not fit together. I cannot mount it on to the bars that control its movement. The screws holes are not quite right. I tried for an hour. I know they are 0.2 millimeters too close in the mount to hold the extruder. Ugh! I bought this in 2017, and the company is totally lockdown–no help is coming.

I will wait and see if I think of anything else to do; otherwise, I will drill the hole slightly larger.

I had reheated spaghetti and meatballs for lunch and made Chicken Kiev (frozen from Schwans) with rice and freshly steamed carrots.

Tonight is Monday, and so I have online Dungeons and Dragons using Roll20. Corwin is back with us, so I have all five players. I had to spend more than an hour preparing for the game. I reviewed what we did last week and what is possible to happen tonight. I also suggest that Corwin’s character was warned by the Mad Mage to move to more challenging sections of the Maze. “Follow the Rust Monster,” he is told.

We start the online game without issues, and soon we have everyone going in video chat and in the game.

The characters meet in the adventure just as they attack a zombie beholder. Corwin rejoins them (he missed the last game, so we decided that the Mad Mage just wanted to talk to him). The players over-power the encounter (they are too high-level for the encounters), and after a search, they find a gate marked with a rust monster and head down.

The gate pops them magically to the sixth level, and they are soon exploring a lost dwarven fortress now incorporated in the Mad Mage’s Maze. The dangers are greater, and they fight magical robots designed to look like angry dwarves. The battle was not hard for them to win, but they took some hits this time. Now they understand that they have some of the defenses still working. We end there as they rest in a lost temple of healing and goodness, preparing for much more challenging adventures. We are set to play next Monday!

I read for a bit and try to fix the printer one more time. Parts will not go together. I will look at that later–I will let it sit for a day or so.

I have decided to paint more gaming figures. Richard, one of the leaders of some groups I play in Portland, sent me a text that the figures for Heros of Land, Air, and Sea boardgame (HOLAS) need to be painted to make the game work.  I have a copy of the game; I got it for 60% off–massive dudes-on-the-board game and started painting some of it. I will paint it more soon and exchange my painted figures for unpainted (It may surprise folks to learn that I often paint sets of figures two or three times now). I like to paint, and it is nice to use painted dudes-on-board when gaming.

I hope to use the new 3D printer to make some more items for gaming. My resin printer cannot make larger items.

More than three-hundred eighty people lost their battle with the virus today in the USA.

I was looking for a harvest song as we enter the fall: We Plough The Fields and Scatter.



Day 189: Sunday Eating Out

It is hard to imagine we are on day 189 of the lockdown!

I started late this morning after a night of poor sleep. I could not sleep through the morning, so I got up late after just laying there for a few hours. I made coffee and watched the “Most Deadliest Catch” and then “Alaska Bering Sea Gold” reality TV. My legs hurt, and I was stiff, so I just wanted to take it very easy–coffee and TV. I also found my emotions too close to the surface, and so I was bad company. I am not sure that I didn’t cry when the story of the fishing mentioned for the first time Covid-19. The filming of Most Deadliest Catch is always the previous year; the show just hit 2020 and Covid-19. It is hard to see their reactions, which mirrored ours back in early 2020. It is hard to watch the captains of the crab boats discussing what the

The coffee and some TV worked, and my emotions, tired feeling, and stiffness went back to normal. Mariah asked me about lunch, and we headed to the Golden Valley Brewery. We sat outside and had burgers and the cheap $3 beer, a Kölsch. Mariah was off to Portland, and I returned home to work on building a 3D printer.

Back to Torx and metric parts, the build of the printer went on for a few hours. I am slowly learning how to build with 2020 T-slot beams and their connecting elements. The beams are made to allow you to slide nuts into them and then attach premade components. I bought the printer because of these parts; I wanted to try out this kind of build. It was 2017 then when I purchased a Folger 2020 i3 kit, and I got busy with coding Machine Learning, so the printer sent on a shelf. I have a few items I need a larger build for, and so I want this printer as it can build larger items than my resin 3D printer. The resin printer makes perfect 28mm figures (Dungeons and Dragon scale) and other small items great for board games. It is mostly my inexperience that causes a failed print on the resin printer.

My previous 3D printer is in the attic. It never worked and seemed to be permanently out of adjustment. I am hopeful that this do-it-yourself (DIY) printer will be a better fit.

I got the frame built. I then read more Maisie Dobbs and relaxed and woke-up stiff again.

Susie wanted to go out and get dinner somewhere. We headed to the Olive Garden; I thought I could do a huge salad and some small dish. I downloaded the app on my phone and put our name in. It said we were tenth in line and had a 30-minute wait. I rushed Susie and then complained about the Oregon drivers braking for green-lights (why?!) the whole way there. We make it according to the app and are now fifth on the list.

I see the folks there, and they inform me I am now on the real list and that there is a ninety-minute wait. I am frustrated as the application had me rushing there and telling me I could eat before nine! Susie is surprised as we get back in the car.

Pastrini’s, about a mile away, has room. We have a lovely meal there and take tiramisu home (it was delicious). As we are eating outside, we saw GrubHub drivers and pick-up orders running non-stop. We even witness folks popping out of running cars left with flashing hazard lights in the street to get their food. The traffic had to drive around the vehicle.

We came home and decided that I need another day off after the terrible two weeks of bad air and stress.

Today more than two-hundred ninety people in the USA died from the infections according to the reports.

Today I decided that all I wanted was a clear sky and rain and a Shaker hymn to mind: ‘Tis Be a Gift to Be Simple.


Day 188: Saturday Clear Air

I am reading another Maisie Dobbs crime-mystery-WW2 novel, the last one available–number fifteen in the series, so I was not asleep until after 1:30 last night. Which would be not so bad if I was not up at 7:30ish to get ready for my hair-cut with Zerida, Susie’s gal, at 9:15. This is on my Kindle, so I do not flood the house with new books.

The air quality is fair!

So down to Bridgeport to the House of Hair this morning. I usually like to be early, but with all the restrictions, I prefer to be on time now, so I try to get there at the exact minute, three minutes before this time. My hair is short and orderly again.

From there, I headed to Portland, but it was too early, so I stopped at Barbur Boulevard Starbucks. I sat in the parking lot using the Internet on my Apple in the car while I watched the navigation update. It is about an hour to get the updates installed for the Pacific Northwest (PNW). I had noticed that the Nav in Air Volvo, the name of the car, was missing important new features in Portland–like Mox Boarding House and where I was headed. So I waited for it to update and apply the updates. The last step is to turn off the car (!?) to get the update installed–Air Volvo asked for a reboot! I went into Starbucks to get some coffee and a danish. I also buy, like I use to before Covid-19, a bag of coffee and have it ground. I do not think I can catch Covid-19 from coffee.

I saw in recommended reading on Powell’s website, and instead of ordering a physical copy from Powell’s–sorry Powell’s, I ordered the book, Yes, Chef, on my Kindle. I have too many physical books as it is! I read the first chapter, and it is hard to put down (I use the cloud reader that works in a browser). I recommend the book (at least the first pages).

Off to Portland with Air Volvo Nav now zeroing in on Mox Boarding Room PDX, I carry three games with me, and Tatyana and Marylin are happy to see me returning. I missed last weekend due to the smoke. Sydney is not there as she has the nightshift. We catch-up and share stories of the terrible smoke from last week. I catch-up with Sydney when she comes in later.

Evan shows up, and we get some food and set-up the board game Scythe. Evan looked at all the player mats and tries to pick one he wants to play. Evan takes the Crimean Khanate faction. I select the Rusviet (Russian), and Evan hands me the Innovative mat, and he takes Mechanical. In this game, you get a faction that defines the powers of your technology (mechs) and unique ability and then a mat that describes your arrangement of the same skills everyone has (some other mats are Agricultural, Militant, Industrial, Patriotic, and Engineering). There is an extra-large payment for upgrades on my mat of Innovative. I am thus driven to attain oil that is used to pay for upgrades. Evan can build with one less resource if he burns a combat card but starts with none, so he tries to get the cards. He also can build mechs for less than I, but he has to pay to bolster his strength to do that–making it expensive. I build mechs by producing goods and people–this lets me build an engine of creating the resources that I then use to build the mech in one step. I quickly have an engine running and have most of my mechs built.

Evan decides to attack me and break my engines. I often let him attack and then barely resist to then attack him in his weakened and overextended positions on the next turn. Evan attacks me over and over while I keep building and upgrading, and then I start to enlist also. I score stars for combat and an objective. Stars are won by completed a build of all of one time of capability, reaching a maximum rating, winning battles, and achieving often weird random objectives. The game stops when a player earns the sixth star. I win after my sixth star.  It was a longer game as I completed all my upgrades (six) and all my enlistments (four) and all my mechs (4), so I scored high. We also used the alternative encounter deck, which can cause higher scoring. The deck is a mixed bag; Evan got one card that was so poor that we agreed to let him have another draw.

Scythe is one of the best newer styled game (released in 2016). It is designed to force the player into making choices from multi-options while dispensing with paper counters and war iconography found in many games. Scythe, while based on a science fiction steampunk story, does not let the theme remove choices. It is up to the players to drive the game and make decisions–there is almost no luck. You see the loss of choice in many World War 2 games that force the game to follow history. The designer of WW2 games then often squares some of the loss of control with dice rolls and thematic rules. For example, why should not the USA join Germany for an easily win–a morally bankrupt suggestion, but if all you want is to win a game, that combination will win.

I find Scythe a well balanced and well-supported game! Last year Modular Scythe was released to allow the players to have even more control. The game builds a random board, but the players have to pick where to play and what to play. It is for experts.

We then moved to the game Architect of the West Kingdom with Artisans add-on. This is another excellent new style game. Architects is less about engine building and more about gathering and using resources to build scoring items. Players place a worker every turn and get something in return or get to do something. The players are often short some essential things and suddenly having to “arrest” their workers to put them to work on gathering other resources. Every turn is a decision about what to do with a worker. The game also allows you to “arrest” the other players’ workers, and there are a few places were direct competition exists. The other players can ruin your plans. Architects also makes an excellent solo game; there is an automata card deck to control the other robot player.

In our play, I slipped up and did not build enough buildings and lost to Evan by seven points. Sadly, I had a seven-point building in my hand that I needed more wood to build when Evan stopped the game with the last building.

We then left Mox splitting wins this time. I headed off to Guardian Games and Evan off to dinner, pizza. I bought a bottle of the Turbo Dork color at Guardians, silver fox. These are special metallic paints I want to try-out. The staff at Guardians asked me to report back to them on my experience using the Turbo Dork paint.

Corwin made spaghetti with meatballs for dinner. I watch an old movie with Susie, The International, the story of a criminal bank being investigated by the New York prosecutor office–sound familiar? The film ends in Istanbul, and I like to see all the places I have been to.

I hope to get to the build of my 3D printer tonight, but it is already late.

Today about six-hundred fifty people died from the virus in the USA.

With the excellent air, I thought a chant would be right: The Eagle Song.

Day 187: Friday Thunder and Rain

Last night I small tree frog appeared by the front door as I put out the trash. I had watered the lawn before the smoke became dangerous and must have attracted the little frog. The rain came last night with the frog. I did wash my car yesterday.

About 3ish, there was a massive crash, and I called out and grabbed Susie. I thought she had fallen and smashed through the window or brought down some furniture as she fell. It was a flash of point-blank lightning and thunder. It was terrifying. The noise was never that loud again, but I listen to the storm until 4 something. The rain poured, and it stormed all day.

The air went to normal today.

I started work groggy at 7ish and had my first Zoom meeting at 8AM. This is an international meeting of many companies that run the same industry solution to run the back-office processes (and sometimes the front-office) called SAP HANA. My colleague presented. It is always fun to see all the folks from other major brands that run the same software.

I slipped in a bagel and coffee.

After that, I took care of status meetings, updated timesheets, and talked to some developers and architects about aligning on some error recovery processes. Stuff that would put you, my readers, asleep, but it is the boring stuff that can kill’ya in computers if they are not correctly defined and handled.

Aside: My boss, Warren back in Maryland in the 1990s, told me once after a very poor day that “it is OK to screw-up, and it is OK to break production and crash everything, just fix it and go on. It is NOT OK to create a legend and a story of a terrible computer mistake that took days or weeks to recover from.”

I had to meet with a few folks about design.

With the rain coming, it was time to replace the air filter in the furnace/AC–I want clean, nice air again. I was out of filters at the house. I saw that I could buy one for $35 online or buy one for half that at my local hardware. So in my mask, I went to True Value and picked up two filters. I then installed it and was shocked by what the two months of bad air had done to my filter. It was warped and almost black. The filters are usually gray when it is time to replace them.

(the new one next to the dirty one)

I made two hot dogs with buns for lunch. I had forgotten how much I loved a pair of hot dogs with mustard. I had this with the last can of pears.

The smell of smoke disappeared. The rain and the new filter worked.

The afternoon was more informational meetings, one a Zoom conference at 4PM on a Friday (ugh!). I started doing some documentation of processes. I had to remember how to use the editor, which took most of my time between meetings in the afternoon.

Susie got going late, and the thunderstorms continued. The rain was heavy at times. I made Susie a brunch of scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and ham with toast sliding that in between meetings.

Work finally ended about 5ish; I then fried a hamburger and heated up chili from a can. I put the burger on a bun I toasted and then covered it in chili with some cheese and some onion–a chili burger. It was good.

I started building my 3D printer tonight: Folger 2020 i3. I discovered as I began to look at putting it together that everything is metric and Torx style screws. I have not done that much work with either. I have printed the assembly instructions, and I have my digital caliper to help me measure the parts to know which part is which. I spent some time confused until, embarrassed to admit it, I pressed the button to show metric on the caliper. After that, everything began to work. I also found I have Torx included in my special Craftsman set of different screw driving heads. So I was able to get going. I got out my small measure tapes. I have special ones for wargaming that is in inches and metric. Inches for small ship models and metric for some 28mm figure (Dungeon and Dragons scale) games. I need to measure some parts. I just have a few steps done tonight.

The groceries came about the same time I made Susie a grilled ham and swiss sandwich. I had them delivered tonight as I had missed the times for morning and afternoon delivery. The little frog hopped out when I went left the house. The frog is likely following the bugs that are attracted to the porch light.

I was happy to see the rain and the frog, and the smell of smoke is gone.

The market was down in the US. I was reading online that some claim it is now the last stand of the US central bank, The Fed. The goal for The Fed is to get through without creating a no-growth economy, much like what Japan has been facing for years. The Fed cannot lower interest rates much more. Many are concerned that the only growth now in the USA economy is actually the stimulus money; there is no real growth. Again, some say that is what happened to Japan. I will keep watching.

More than nine-hundred fifty people in the USA died from Corvid-19, according to the Internet reports.

The Notorious RBG was welcomed to her next court by her friend Scalia today. I will miss her and her writing for the court. I have the cookbook published by the Supreme Court Historical Society to celebrate her husband’s, Martin Ginsberg, excellent cooking for the court and the families of the court. He passed away some years ago, and a book was created to celebrate his life. I flipped through it again to remember her and her husband, who both were so loved by both liberal and conservative members of the court.

I will have to make something from the Chef Supreme.

A quote:

My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.
I said on the equality side of it, that it is essential to a woman’s equality with man that she be the decision-maker, that her choice be controlling.
Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.
I wanted something for the Gingsburgs and thought this would do: Are Ye Able. This is Methodist Hymnal 530.