Tuesday notes

Of course my BNB position got stopped out while I slept. Of course.

I’m going to feel bad if this moons again, but I had too much of my trading stack bottled up in his one position. Most all of it is in BTC now, about eight percent is in $ALGO, $SOL, $ZEN and $ZRX.

Haven Protocol ($XHV) is up again, marking an eight on the TD Sequential. I got my node synced up again, and am probably going to convert funds to the “offshore” XUSD vault if things take off again tomorrow.

The only thing in my screeners that are forming a buy right now is $CELO

The project came up on my radar a few days ago, although I haven’t done much research. They’re centered around providing banking services to anyone with a smartphone, which is admirable and they’re still in testnet, which seems like an interesting opportunity to run a validator node on the cheap. There doesn’t seem to be much information about how much stake is required, and there seems to be some sort of validator election that occurs to promote full nodes to validators.

The only thing stopping me from putting in an order right now is the fact that the only exchange I have access to is Bittrex, and I’m not trying to move any funds right now. If I did, I’d probably move them into the Yearn sBTC vault.

Speaking of which, I am expecting my BlockFi withdrawals today and tomorrow, which will be going in the vault.

Adulting

It’s been a remarkably productive day today at the homestead.

We allowed the girls to stay up a bit last night, I wound up going to bed a bit earlier than usual on a Friday as I had my bender Thursday night. We all woke up and were out of bed by seven. Even Missus gave up on trying to go back to sleep as she normally does.

We were expecting rain this weekend and most of next week due to the hurricane that’s been moving through the gulf coast, so I went out as soon as was neighborly and did my monthly weed-eating. Missus tended to her flower beds, and even I wound up pulling some weeds and laying some mulch myself. I also downed some limbs in the backyard as well. All of this before eleven in the morning.

Missus had me hang a new shelf over the bathtub, and I don’t know what was getting into me at that point but I must have felt motivated, cause I started cleaning out old piles of computer junk. My downstairs office almost looks empty.

I’ve got about a dozen or so hard drives that have just been laying in boxes, ones I’ve pulled out of clients machines out over the years, lots of five hundred gigs and under. I actually recabled one of my machines so I can start inventorying them and cleaning them out so I get rid of them. So now my upstairs office is a mess, but I have a plan to get rid of a lot of old equipment, routers and access points, all kinds of stuff that’s just been laying around the house. The reorganization is long overdue, and it’s helpful to see how things are developing. Calming, almost.

I’ve done enough for today, so now I’m going to spend some time working on my programming projects, restoring some blockchain wallets, and doing some research on LINK and ETH 2.0 nodes. You know, the kind of things one does on a Saturday night.

Afternoon slump

I’m forcing myself to bang out this post while I have some time to myself this afternoon. The girls are at their grandmothers for a few hours this afternoon, but I’m not really motivated to do much today. Younger had a bit of a reaction to a vaccine she got yesterday, with a fever and aches, so I spent half the night in bed with her, and I’ve been dragging ass all day.

I managed to wrap up my latest Substack newsletter last night, a three thousand word post about reinventing oneself and which covered three book reviews: ChooseFI, Digital Minimalism, and Atomic Habits. It went out this morning and I’ve already gotten two responses from friends about it. One of them told me she was selling her house and moving into a sailboat!

Getting the piece finished was a challenge. I spent over a month actually getting it done, and wound up cutting a lot from it, including a partial review of the Alexander Hamilton biography. I didn’t want to include any books that I hadn’t finished. My time tracking indicates I spent about ten hours on it, which is probably very conservative, accuracy wise. I don’t think I’m going to take as long for the next one; I’ve already got a theme brewing for the next.

In addition to the Substack, I’m still cross-posting on Medium (tomorrow) as well as LinkedIn on Friday. I’m trying to figure out which one will be the most lucrative, so for now the extra effort is just an experiment. So far my last cross-post on Medium garnered a whopping two views, so I won’t be retiring anytime soon.

Work continues to be a slog, with most of my time spent managing a subcontracted printer service program. It’s a mess, and even if it does manage to be profitable, it’s the kind of hourly-rate limited opportunity that I’m trying to get my Boss to get away from. That is, even if it becomes sustainable, it’s not going to be the type of scalable work that we’ll need in the future.

I spent some time yesterday working on building a C++ development pipeline for a client that builds embedded systems using Texas Instruments ARM and DSP systems. It’s the challenging, and exhausting when I’m not able to get into an uninterrupted flow state that I need. I hope to get a couple of more hours on that this week, and work toward building a full CI/CD pipeline for the client’s new project, and have a nice accomplishment to put on my resume.

Speaking of which, I’m still musing over some job applications that have been coming through LinkedIn, and one came through my alma mater today that I need to look at later. I can’t let my fear hold me back. I fear that I’m not going to find a job that’s better than what I have now. By better I mean that offers me a higher paying salary, and the type of freedom that I have now. Even thinking about it, I feel a bit of anxiousness.

Also, I’m working through the AWS introductory training. I’m not sure if I’m going to go for the certification (it is cheap,) but it’s mainly for my own knowledge and to help me build out some systems that I’m mulling over for my cryptocurrency-related projects.

Time for a reset and a fresh week

My mood has been low lately. We’ve been stuck in the house for the past several days due to rain, so everyone has been a bit on edge. The girls have been acting like wild creatures most of the time, and have been very difficult to manage. We should be done with the rain for a few days, but it’s expected to pick back up midweek. The yard is in severe need of a mowing.

Several months ago, near the start of the lockdown, we had promised the girls a trampoline as a reward. We put off the purchase as long as we could, and finally ordered one a month ago. There were delays, likely due to demand and supply issues in Asia, but we expect it to arrive today. Hopefully this will keep the kids from using the living room couches as part of their obstacle courses.

I don’t feel like I got much done this weekend. I got bored with The Outer Worlds Friday and wound up purchasing Detroit: Become Human a game about AI from Quantic Dream, which has made narrative-heavy games like Heavy Rain, which press the boundaries of graphical fidelity and story. I really enjoy them, and hadn’t realized that this one was out. Plus, it was only forty dollars, which is a good price for a triple-A title.

I would up staying up till after three in the morning, and slept in till almost eleven, so I didn’t get anything done. I didn’t write, I even skipped meditation for the first time in forever.

My unfinished Substack article is weighing like an albatross over my head. I just need to sit down and copy/paste my previous review of ChooseFI and give it another edit. I don’t know why I’m procrastinating on it.

I’ve also been struggling with this damn Mobile Device Management project I’m working on. I’ve become convinced that managing devices that aren’t enrolled in a Volume Purchase Program through Apple or the carrier is unmanageable. Enrolling the devices through managed IDs just doesn’t work quite the way it should. I’ll be writing this one up for sure, but it’s probably going to take some time for me to get my client enrolled in the program.

Even though I’m feeling this malaise, it’s important to get back on track. Missing a day or two is ok, as long as I don’t let it fall into a bad habit. Time to get back on that horse.

Advice of the elders

It is the blessed end to a long, rough week, I have cracked open what promises to be the first of several El Guapo IPAs this evening, and I am doing the last thing on my to-do list before I begin an evening of letting my hair down. My plans to “take the day off”, didn’t quite work out as planned, as I got a late afternoon call with some urgency that requires completion before noon Monday. For now, I have made no promises to myself other than to complete this daily ritual of writing, and then I will release myself to my whims.

We have finally allowed our new cats, Bodie and Utah, reign of the house. I am mildly anxious about the effect of cat dander on my various computers. So far that have stayed off the table where my mining equipment sits. At night we keep them locked in the master bedroom or bathroom, rather, lest they scamper over the bed at 3AM and wake Missus up, as they did last night. I have been sleeping in Younger’s bed, like a babe.

Besides the sleep deprivation, litter boxes and vomit that we’ve found on the bathroom floor for the past few days, the cats have been a wonderful addition to the family. The girls love them, and Elder actually did the chore of cleaning the litter box today on her own. Wonderful. I myself have flashbacks to a cat-crowded apartment that I stayed in during my twenties whenever I smell cat litter, and have told Missus that she needs to come up with a plan for me to have my shower, where a litter box is sitting, returned to operation.

The girls are doing well. Their TV consumption has come down quite a bit, and we’ve been making progress with their academics, as I’ve called it. I’m especially proud of some progress that Elder made with her piano today. She’s been stuck on a Playground Sessions bootcamp lesson for the Game of Thrones theme that she’s been stuck on for several weeks it seems. It’s not the first two-hand lesson that she’s done, so I’m not sure why she’s having such trouble. The app itself is actually causing her some stress, since playing with the real-time accompaniment and feedback is too much when she’s struggling to play. She wants to rush through them instead of giving herself time to grow, so I’ve been trying to coax her into playing it half-speed or from sheet music, but she resists.

I’ve found that starting each session by backtracking to the individual hands-separate lessons as a warmup before going into the harder one has been working well. And today I had her just look at the music and practice the problem bars over and over until she could put the longer sections together. And she started to get it. I think she’ll need a few more practice session on her own before she does the test again. And hopefully she’ll listen to her old man when he offers advice!

Thoughts on work and family

Work, or rather my job, has been taking up entirely too much of my mental power lately, and I am operating at my limit. My limit. I’m basically running myself ragged at this point. I’ve already been responsible for taking care of the kids from the time they wake up at seven in the morning till the time my wife gets off work at five o’clock, and managing my work responsibilities, and now I’ve got the added responsibility of overseeing an employee. I feel like I’ve got another child.

I’m not quite as overwhelmed as I have been in the past as I’m doing a lot better at limiting my workload, but it’s damn near impossible to take care of the girls and work at the same time during the day. I’m just going to start taking every other Friday off.

I had a pretty heated argument with my boss today about things. We’ve been together for eight years this winter, so like any married couple we’ve learned how to fight with each other. I basically abdicated responsibility for this employee several years ago after attempting on several occasions to manage him, but each time found him unable to follow my directions. I don’t know if I’ve become a better leader or if he’s become more focused, but I feel like we’ve turned a corner in the two weeks since he’s been reporting to me.

There are definitely more tools at my disposal this time. I’m basically using Microsoft Planner — a kanban board — to limit his work in progress, and have been micromanaging the shit out of him this entire time. I don’t trust his judgement. He’s been managing two separate business segments and has had absolutely zero accountability. And my boss wants to complain about him taking advantage of us, while it’s been his failure to hold him accountable that has gotten us to where we are now. The employee has been put on part time work, and we’ve brought in an HR representative to put him on notice. So yea, he’s focused now.

I think the real difference between this time and the last attempts I’ve made at managing this employee is that I’ve gotten Boss out of the way. We’re not giving conflicting, or changing priorities. If something goes on the board, it gets finished. Done. Done. Done. It seems like we’ve been operating in a state of constant anxiety, where everything is urgent and important, and today I actually felt somewhat relaxed in that I didn’t feel the need to follow up with this employee every two hours.

The things I’d found out, the way that Boss and this employee had been operating, frankly boggled my mind. So much of what had been allowed was completely unacceptable, and I’ve managed to turn things around pretty quickly.

My own projects however, have been put on hold, mainly from exhaustion, and the absence of the time needed for me to do the deep work needed to get things done.


The kids have compounded things this week as well. I’ve been forced to shift how I deal with their academics. I usually let them work on their school at the same time, either independently while I get stuff done or while taking turns. Since I’ve been using RemNote’s spaced repetition with them, I’ve had to be more hands on, so I’ve been letting one of them take a turn watching a show while I work with the other one. We haven’t been doing a lot lately, but I really need to sit down with both of them or they’ll get frustrated and complain that something is too hard. So sitting with them and working it out together seems to calm things down a bit and allow me to really work with them on something.

I think I may be helping Elder a bit too much with her math. I’ve been drilling her on vocabulary lately, but I’m not really happy with her math skills. She still counts a lot, even for basic things like 8-2, so I’m going to be adding some more flash cards to her routine. I even write a short program to generate the cards needed.

# Addition
x = range(1,10)
y = x 
for i in x:
  for j in y:
    print(i,"+",j,"::",i+j)

# Output
1 + 1 :: 2
1 + 2 :: 3
...
9 + 8 :: 17
9 + 9 :: 18

Changing this for subtraction and multiplication is trivial.

Beyond that though, she’s still flying through some of the questions on the Khan Academy tests, mixing up addition and subtraction, and I should probably let her make more wrong answers.

Still, I’m mostly happy with the way things have been going, even though there’s been some behavioral problems. I’m still being my usual hard-ass self, but they are being creative and playing, and most importantly, not watching a lot of TV.

Tomorrow though, I’m turning off my desk phone, closing my email and messaging apps, and I’m not checking anything until after lunch. I have got to get some project work done, and I want to take the kids to the beach.

The weekend starts early tomorrow.

Vaccine coming or permanent pandemic? COVID Day 148

Vaccination

Early this year, as it became apparent that COVID-19 was going to cause a serious pandemic, I remember reading someone who proposed that people start keeping pandemic diaries. These type of first-person accounts would be important from a historical perspective, as they were useful for figuring out what had happened during the past pandemics like the Spanish Flu. I began taking it in all seriousness, and have published twenty-six entries so far, trying to detail my family’s experience.

Some of the first estimates that I read near the start of the lockdown said that we were looking at potentially eighteen months to two years of lockdowns and restrictions before either a vaccine was available for mass production or the disease mutated into a benign form. It’s hard to believe that we’re only five months in at this point. Other predictions about a second wave, worst that the first, have been accurate, but it will be some time before we see whether my initial napkin calculation of five hundred thousand dead will be close.

Several readings of psychology show that human mental outlooks seem to return to baseline six months following a life-changing event. Lottery winners and those suffering new para or quadriplegics lose the elation or despair that circumstances have brought them after half a year, and I myself have noticed how much has become normal that seemed absolutely stressful back in March. Life becomes normal. This has popped up in my readings of stoicism as the hedonic treadmill.

This normalization has been one of the worst things about the Trump era, but I’ll hold off on the political ranting for now. In general, people just became too stir-crazy to adhere to strict lockdown procedures for more than six weeks, and began sliding back to normalcy. We’re guilty of it ourselves. At one point, after raising my voice at the kids, I told Missus that we had to go let them play with their friends, or else we would have no choice but to send them to daycare. I’ve refused to consider sending them back, mainly for financial reasons, less so for the health risk. But aside from moving to an isolated area where they can roam free, there’s no way we can keep them locked away from everyone.

Our isolation pod that we previously formed with our neighbors seems to have become a bit more diffuse over the past few weeks. The girls can still play with their friends down the street, the T’s, but I’ve stopped being concerned about what they do with their time. The most we can do at this point is just wash our hands and wear a mask when we go out, and just stay away from large groups.

Adults I see out in the world without a mask are assumed to be either a sociopath or an idiot. I’m not sure which is worse, those that go without masks or those that leave them down under their nose while they wear them. It’s a stark contrast between going to Barnes and Nobles or Lowes, or heading into stores here in the city versus our trips out to the mountains.

Yesterday’s news said that Putin announced a Russian vaccine was available and that he and his daughter had both received it. Apparently the Chinese have one and have been giving it to their military and scientists working with the disease. There’s been some reports of pushback from the scientific community with regard to safety, but I’m still on the fence as to whether it’s just propaganda at this point. Still, there seemed to be a response from the financial markets, as this hope of normalcy returning caused gold and crypto to dip.

I’m not holding my breath of any resolution here in the US soon. Umair pointed out that Trump would do nothing to stem the virus while he was in office, and by the time Biden would be in place to put measures in effect it would be too late. COVID would be a permanent part of American life until a cure or treatment is found. As I’ve oft repeated from him, American passports are near useless now as most countries with stable COVID rates have banned US travelers.

Our main concern now is the upcoming school year. I’ve practically given up looking for a new job, given my belief that finding a better full-time job which will let me manage the kids will be nigh impossible. That may be my fear talking, or laziness, as most all of my day is taken up with managing the household. I spend most of my time working, reading or writing and taking after the kids. For now, we look for ways to compound our existing finances, mainly bitcoin, cut our expenses, and minimize our lifestyle. I hardly spend any money on myself, and am starting to save up some free cash for the first time since we bought the house.

Schools are going virtual for the first seven weeks or so, and we’ll have to see what that looks like for Elder. My main concern is that she’ll be tied up, leaving me with Younger, which may interfere with my job to the extent that I’ll have to place her back in daycare. I’d rather pull them both and homeschool them, to be honest, but I can’t seriously say whether that is more for my benefit of theirs. Probably mine.

Evening pages

Today is international cat day, which is fitting given the fact that our family is now bigger by two young tabby cat brothers, Bodie and Utah. We picked them up yesterday evening and they are currently having the run of the master bedroom and bath while we acclimate to each other. Another day or so and we’ll let them start having the run of the rest of the house. They’re lovely, and very affectionate. Utah likes to nibble on fingers a bit too hard, but other than that they are very nice with the girls, although they are a bit mischievous.

I spent most of the day recovering from my party time last night. I eventually turned in at 2:30AM after drinking a sixer of El Guapo and a bit more, but the day was pretty chill and free of drama. I still managed to clean up, cook several meals, catch up on my reading, and practice piano. It’s dusk now, and I’m not sure I have a long writing session in me tonight. We’ll be putting the girls to bed soon, and I may read or watch some tutorials or training videos if Missus decides to turn in early.

My second batch of homebrew IPA was not ready yesterday as I had hoped. I failed to account for the fact that yeast can’t carbonate the bottles when they are in the fridge, so I’ve taken them out to sit at room temperature for another two weeks. In the meantime I got sucked up in the homebrew subculture a bit, starting with this customer review of a Mr. Beer refill that reads more like the diary of a mad scientist. I started wondering what the hell they were talking about, and eventually found myself fantasising over some of the five gallon kits over at Midwest Supplies. Missus will have my head if I make this my new hobby. (Ooh, they even have Kombucha kits!)

And in a bit of good news, I was checking my bank account and saw an eight hundred dollar transaction listed on a credit card that was associated with my main bank account. A credit card I’ve never used. I was a bit freaked out at first, then realized that I had accidently made a payment to it by mistake instead of my main card. I made a call to get the charge reversed, and now I’m back to the point where I’ve got all my bills ready to pay for the next month. It is quite the feeling of security.

So, no alcohol or video games for me tonight. I think I’m going to play around with Notion and see if I can make a net worth tracker. Integrating it with some APIs would be nice, but don’t think I can call scripts from within Notion. We shall see.

TGIF

What a week. I’ve taken my work hat off for the week, at least as far as Zombie, LLC is concerned. There may be life left left. I’ve taken over responsibility for the service management of our federal contract and managed to turn the whole thing around in a week. It’s remarkable what I can get done when my boss isn’t getting in the way. Limiting our work in progress has helped tremendously. I’ve been able to keep our tech focused, and have worked out several kinks in our process that should streamline operations, including some major issues that shouldn’t have been tolerated in the first place.

And furthermore, I’ve managed to keep the kids focused as well. We seem to have come to an understanding about the relationship between their academic and other work and television. We haven’t had too many problems this week.

I’ve been shouldering a lot this week, man, have I ever. I’m looking forward to relaxing tonight, and getting this post out of the way is the last thing I told myself I’d do before I take a look and see how my second batch of homebrew has turned out.

In about an hour we’ll be heading out to get ready for the arrival of the newest members of our family. I’ll be heading to the pet store with the girls to grab a litter box and other supplies, and the Missus will be heading to the shelter to pick up the cats. Then it’s beer, video games, and the last two episodes of Dark before I call it a night.

Tomorrow, my focus is on the deck project, for which I’m about ready to order some lumber, and do some light house and yard work. The only other thing I want to do this weekend is finish my Substack and get that ready to publish on Monday. I’ll probably fill the rest of my free time with reading, and maybe plan a trip out with the kids to the beach or a pool somewhere.

Well there, it’s quarter after four. Close enough to five for me. Cheers.

Evening pages

Today has been a whirlwind. Missus actually got up before me this morning, which never happens, and we had a little quiet time around the house before the girls got up. It was nice. I got an early work call which set the tone for the rest of the day. I’ve been busy all day, and have a couple minutes before dinner while the girls are out shopping for cat supplies.

Yes, I said “cat supplies”. We’ve been talking about getting one for some time, and have been looking at candidates from the local cat shelter for almost two months now. We went there yesterday and wound up adopting not one, but two cats. Utah and Bodie, yes, named after the characters from Point Break. And they’re polydactyls, one has six fingers on its front paws, and the other six on the back. So the girls are out right now buying litter boxes and toys, food in anticipation of them coming home with us tomorrow. The kids couldn’t be happier. Me? Meh. I’m more of a dog guy, but don’t want the responsibility of having one.

The girls spent most of the day play acting scenes from Moana all morning. We were watching the Broadway Junior version of it on YouTube yesterday, so they laid blankets out on the floor for the ocean, and stuffed pillows in their shirts to be like Maui. Elder found a basket she could fit on her back and was dancing around like a crab to Shiny. It was super cute, so I’m planning on them doing a performance for Missus and I later this week, if they can stop arguing long enough to figure out who is going to be who.

Work is really a blur. Between managing the helpdesk, onboarding a new telecom partner, and trying to manage our printer tech, I barely have time to deal with my own projects. I’ve got to migrate 11 users’ Apple IDs off of a domain so we can federate it with Apple Business Manager, and I’m trying to figure out how to design a build workflow for C++ ARM and DSP modules, not to mention handling all my other stuff. I was pissed during the day I think I yelled “that’s not my job” at my boss at one point on the phone today. Whew.

As far as side projects go, I’m not getting a lot done, that’s for sure. I did write up a contract template for my web hosting clients that I’m happy with, but I’m going to have to start cutting some costs if some people don’t pay up this month. Basecamp is going to have to go, and I’ve got several other smaller vendors that need to go, like my Adobe CC account that I’ve used once in the last six months.

Other than that, I’m looking forward to relaxing tomorrow with my latest batch of homebrew tomorrow. I ordered another refill and have been researching some bigger kits and working on upping my game as far as quality control goes. Missus will have a fit if I try to buy two hundred dollars worth of vats and supplies though. Maybe I can blame my mom for buying me a kit in the first place.