Just another day in the life: Day 55

It is a beautiful day today. Perfect weather. The girls are playing together nicely in the living room, Missus is upstairs at work. I have half an hour before my scrum call, so I’m going to try to write quickly today.

I finished The Future Is Faster Than You Think. It took me a long time to read because of everything else going on, plus I wanted to let the ideas percolate in my head. A full review is upcoming as there are a lot of takeaways. They have CEO training — I wonder what they charge for that! — plus a venture fund that might lead to some possible opportunities. They have a digital version of their Abundance360 program that might be within my reach.

I downloaded GPT-2 here on this laptop, via their Dockerfile. It needed almost ten gigabyte of downloads for the model, and I still have no idea how to run it. That will need to wait for another day. I’m not quite sure what I want to do with it, but getting it up and running will be an interesting test. I’d like to see what it can do. I imagine prompting it with a subject and have it generate papers and blog posts. I’m sure there’s a business model in there some how. I know AI is used by a lot of financial news sites to generate articles based on firm reporting results, so the question is, how far can it be used.

Using Docker for development is going to be my new baseline, though. I really want to be come proficient with it. Ideally I’d like to have a setup where docker is running on my downstairs Linux server, and I can just connect to it using whichever machine I happen to be on. I currently have three workstations, though, one for “work”, my upstairs rig, and this laptop. It seems a bit much and like something I’ll need to pare down if we want to minimize or downsize. I should probably just get rid of the downstairs one completely, since I don’t really need a headless Linux server right now.

Today is the first day of the week, and I have a couple goals:

  • Provide at least two hours of value this week to my two clients, plus the pilot test I’m doing through Zombie, Inc. (six hours)
  • Sign a third client, at a higher rate than the other two. (two hours)
  • Register my LLC. I need liability protections to operate. (two hours)
  • Finish updating my resume and add it to the website.

Half the day is over, and most of the morning has been taken up with a trouble call and managing the kids and the kitchen.

Yesterday I spent several hours going through old mortgage statements and updating acccounts in GNUCash. I investigating refinancing and changing insurance companies, but both seemed a dead end. Even if we shaved an interest point off our mortgage, by the time you factored in three thousand dollars in fees, we’d save just over four hundred a year. It might make sense if we were going to take twenty five years to finish paying it off, but we don’t. If we roll rental income from Missus starter home into our mortgage, we could have our house paid off in ten years. Anyways, we’re at the point where we can drop our mortgage insurance. Applying that money to our principal will shave another two years off the maturity date.

The homeowners insurance quote I got from Lemonade wasn’t very good. The payments were higher than our current coverage from Nationwide, plus it didn’t seem that the coverage was better either. It was worth the fifteen minutes it took though.

I’ve still got a lot of catching up to do with our accounting, which will wait till next week. I’ve got nine months of utility bills to plug into GNUCash. Anyways, it’s one o’clock, and the girls are fighting.

We all need a break: Day 52

Well, I’ve done it. Last night I turned in what is hopefully the final assignment for my undergraduate career. I’m still awaiting final confirmation from my instructor, and hopefully tomorrow I will have my diploma conferred over to me and I will be a full-fledged computer scientist! The waiting is killing me.

It’s been very hard to focus these past few days. It’s hard enough keeping the kids from killing each other, seems like I’m constantly intervening to keep them from interrupting my wife’s phone therapy sessions upstairs. Add to that the craziness with the Bitcoin halving happening, and I’m barely able to stay focused on anything acutely work related. The last two days have been crazy. BTC’s runup from nine to ten thousand over the past 48 hours has been quite well for my IRA. My GBTC position is back in the green, and my other positions that I entered following the COVID drop last month have put my account in all-time high territory.

Of course the main question right now is whether this is a fool’s rally or not. The halvening is scheduled for Tuesday next week, and it’s anybody’s guess what’s going to happen. I’m extremely optimistic, long term, anyways, and currently eyeing 15K before I plan on taking profits from GBTC. My BTC target is 2.88 times the Mayer Multiple, currently about 8800, or about 25.4K. Of course a new ATH would likely cause us to surpass this quickly, and an the longer it takes us to get to one the higher my target will be. Ideally it will be somewhere around 40-50, but that could take months or even into next year.

BTC has been playing around either side of the 10K level for the past half day or so, and it seems that alts are having a bit of a rally. ZRX and BAT are up 40 and 25 percent right now, and the daily trade volume on IDEX is up 10x since the last time I took a look at it. My stake is up and I might actually make some money this year off it if things keep up.

Yesterday, my boss told the team that we were out of runway, and that he didn’t think we would make it through next month. I felt absolutely no anxiety about it whatsoever. It probably had something to do with the fact that I was staring at a green number bigger than my monthly salary in my IRA account, or the fact that we’ve got close to six months rent and utility expenses saved up in our joint account.

Yesterday we did a friendly neighborhood bike trade with our neighbors down the street. They’ve got several small children, and since Younger has almost outgrown her balance bike, we were able to swap for a larger pedal bike. I actually took the training wheels off of it and she’s been riding it today, although she’s not very confident about it and is a bit skittish on it. I’m still so proud of her.

That said, this week has felt pretty long. I can’t wait for Missus to sign off work cause keeping these kids occupied is pretty tiring. It’s hard to be a good dad when they don’t listen to anything I say. I had to withhold TV this morning just to get them to clean their room, and they never even had lunch today because they wouldn’t empty the dishwasher. Younger drew on the kitchen table with a Sharpie, so I threw every marker in the trash can. There’s been more yelling and screaming today, but at least the kids aren’t physically fighting. I’ve been doling out lots of spanks today as well, but thankfully more DadPoints. Elder’s on her class Zoom call and doing Khans while they read Harry Potter in the background. I told her it’s the only way she’s getting more TV today. Younger took the iPad upstairs to watch PBS, so I’m going to go get her right now for another try on the bike before I start cooking tenders.

We all need a break.

Life goes on: Day 51

Life imitates art, as they say, and Groundhog Day is probably the movie that life most represents right now. Life has collapsed to this house, and our street, and while it’s not just me that’s stuck in this time loop but the entire world. Routine has become destiny, and everything seems to be about structuring the day to make things as low-friction as possible. Kids are acting up during morning scrum calls? Move their TV time up an hour so it’s not ending when then call starts. Kids want to horseplay before bed? Don’t forget the afternoon bike ride to let them get it out of their system. Make a little progress on this project, do a little bit here. Pretty soon, ten thousand days will have passed and we’ll masters off the universe.

At the start of this lockdown, I thought I was going to be able to settle into some sort of rhythm between working and taking care of the kids, but deep work is proving impossible to come by; the sisters are fighting. Younger smacked her sister in the face with a doll yesterday, Elder has a mark under her eye now. The crying and whining and yelling pulls me out of whatever I’m trying to do and breaks my train of though. Even now, they’re in the other room. Elder is trying to get her sister to help with some task, and the only way her sister knows how to negotiate is by yelling back at her like some toddler Earl of Lemongrab. I can’t help wondering where they get it from, and fear I know the answer.

The DadPoint bribes have done little to help them focus on picking up after themselves. If anything it’s made me less high-strung about it. Yesterday was a bit much since I slept horribly and needed two naps just to get through the day. We’ll see if today is better. I’ve given them a goal to allow them to get a cat, which Missus and I have been talking about with them for many months, and Elder is very excited about it, although she seems to be more focused on the less routine tasks that I’ve set up for her; mopping the floor is still new enough that she’d rather do that then actually set the table.

Last night in bed, as I was reading about technological unemployment in The Future is Faster Than You Think, Missus remarked that we were so lucky to have chosen the fields that we’re in. “Everyone needs therapy at this point,” she said. I’m still not convinced that the current situation has been traumatic for the kids, any more so than average. We’re just lucky we have a large house with a backyard, and not holed up in some Italian apartment. I can only imagine what that’s like. I keep thinking about the bomb shelters of the Cold War era and thinking it amazing that people thought they were going to survive like that? Life goes on, I suppose.

Grades came in for my numerical methods class: A-. I got penalized because I couldn’t submit my solvers as single files; this was expected. I sent one last email to my professor to try and milk a bit more out of it, I’m not sure quite why, I suppose it was just to say goodbye. Perhaps I was looking for some kind of acknowledgement from him, after much of the extra work I did was ignored. Last night I wrote up a Docker guide for independent study. I have one or two more pages to write, guides for students and faculty on using GitLab for collaborative learning. Degree conferral day is Saturday, and then I will have my BSCS.

I’ve got two retainer clients now, and have a third to sign up. $250/month for two hours a week is not where I want to be in the long run; I’ll start charging more as we start making results. Maybe some project work will come. After I wrap on the schoolwork, I’ll put some more work on the CV site and get a resume posted, then start applying to jobs on LinkedIn and Monster.

Mother’s day is Sunday, and I haven’t bought gifts. I was going to get my mom a pair of socks with my brother and my faces on it — a gag gift — but I haven’t ordered it yet. I think I’ll go ahead and order them along with a copy of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I think I’ve seen her do everything related to art: craft painting, stained glass, now felting, but I think drawing is about the only thing I haven’t seen her do. My wife, on the other hand, just wants a clean house and sleep.

Morning pages: Day 44

After hitting ‘post’ yesterday, BTC proceeded to rip everyone’s faces off, ending up something like seventeen percent on the day. I must have gone to bed at one thirty this morning, drinking sake and watching it blast up to 9200 before going to bed. It’s retraced slightly since then, but my, yesterday was glorious. My equities portfolio is back to where it was in early February, before the COVID panic set in.

And speaking of everyone’s favorite coronavirus: cases in our state continue to rise. It’s probably more indicative of testing availability than anything. Since the Governor is using a 14-day decline in cases as an indicator before relaxing social distancing guidelines, we’re likely going to be shut down for a while more. The curve hasn’t even flattened.

Source: bing.com/covid

My final is coming along. I was able to implement my LU Factorization solver, and am working on Gauss-Sidel, Jacobi and SOR solvers. Besides that, the test is all questions on GMRES, based on which I’m not even really sure my professor understands. I have until noon Sunday, so things are looking good.

I’m going to publish my new professional web page today. The portfolio stuff isn’t done yet, and I want to add more job history and projects to it later, but I want to post it on LinkedIn and see if anyone else wants to hire to make one.

Via @doctorow: 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice from Kevin Kelly. There’s some wonderful gems in here. I can’t wait to share it with the girls. I will try reading it out loud with Elder. There’s some great professional, financial, and parenting advice in here. Kelly is a great thinker. I really should spend more time reading his blog. One of the bits: “don’t be the best, be the only”, made me think of something that I picked up recently: get good at something, master anything. Becoming really good at something will open the doors to more opportunities. I really hope I can instill this in my children.

We’ve been relaxing the home-school work the past week or so. We got Elder’s most recent report card, and even though they have another six weeks or so till the end of the school year, it seems that her teacher has only been reading Harry Potter to them. She had to cancel yesterday, and I told Elder to spend some time on Khans Academy. I showed her the other courses that they had on there, and she wanted to look at the Art History course. She though it was art training, and was a bit disappointed. I remembered that I had a copy of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain saved in a cache of books I downloaded some time ago, and started going over it with her. I’m thinking about heading out to the store to pick up some of the recommended supplies, but it’s probably best to make her go through a few of them first to see how serious she is. She’s also been asking for a sewing machine, which is interesting.

Finally, my wife’s birthday is next week. I ordered some stuff weeks ago, and let Elder order some more things off Amazon that came in earlier this week. I guess we will be baking a cake soon.

Five weeks in: day 35

I’ve found myself thinking about stories like Swiss Family Robinson, or Lost in Space, those where a family is trapped or abandoned somewhere and forced to hunker down for a long period of time. I suppose the analogy between those and our current situation during this Great Lockdown isn’t quite apt for a variety of reasons, but I don’t have any personal frame of reference. Hopefully we’re not in the Donner family. All I do know is that this period is likely to have a long-term effect on our culture, one which I imagine will soon be reflected in our art. There’s a scene in Devs where they’re looking back thirty thousand years a family of cave dwellers gathered round a fire an noting that some of the cave paintings were separated by five thousand years. “Imagine staying in one place for that long.”

I don’t feel like I’ve been as productive as I should lately. It’s hard to focus with two small children running around the house constantly, so I can only find small slivers of twenty or thirty minutes here and there with which to try and get into the zone. No more two or three hour blocks, unless it’s after everyone has gone to bed. By that time I’m drained. Perhaps that’s because I fell of the wagon last week and have been drinking in the evenings again. Perhaps it’s just the drain of fighting with Elder about everything, or just the constant cooking and cleaning, or having to manage groceries shopping twice as much. Or maybe it’s just the cumulative stress of worrying about losing my job, finishing my degree, and the numerous unfinished projects around the house that need to be addressed: replacing the dishwasher, the rotting boards on the deck that will need to be replaced soon. Trying to get a goddamn tomato seed to sprout.

I believe I’ve been successful disassociating myself from the action in the equities and crypto markets. I still check the price of bitcoin several times a day, and equities at least once daily when I trigger my value averaging program. I don’t stress about it; I might allow myself to be a bit elated when things skyrocket, but I haven’t freaked out or let it ruin my day when things tank. I guess I’ve been doing this long enough now that I’ve gotten good at compartmentalizing it. That said, I really do need to do some calculations and figure out what my gains have been over the years and compare it to what they would look like had I simply invested in an index fund. Then I’ll know whether I have any business in this game, or whether I’m simply a bad gambler.

Since I’m on the subject of the market, let me just make a note about the significance of yesterday. It was the fortieth celebration of Earth Day, the twelfth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon spill, and oil prices crashed so hard that futures went negative for the first time ever. It really is ironic.

So here we are, finally able to isolate ourselves, and idiots around the country are already trying to reopen the country. Thankfully our Governor isn’t as stupid as those elsewhere. I’ve been seeing charts of the Spanish Flu epidemic; the second wave is the worst one, and I fear that’s what we’re facing. Since the lockdown is working, it makes our efforts seem unnecessary. On top of that you have the portion of the population who’ve been feed the line that COVID is a hoax out there protesting the right to re-open Applebee’s. We’re no where near the end of this thing.

At least we hope that the girls will be able to see their grandparents in a few weeks. Elder has been using the Messenger Kids app to chat with family, so maybe we’re not quite like the Robinson’s yet.

COVID from Home: Day 34

My bronchitis seems to have cleared up this weekend. I was actually able to work out for the first time in ages, and even took Elder on a three mile bike ride yesterday. I’m pretty proud of her for trekking it out. It was fun, and good for her to get our of the house and get some exercise. Both of the girls are having problems getting to sleep on the weekends since we don’t give them melatonin Fridays and Saturdays, so I figured I’d see if physical exhaustion would do the trick. She did have trouble falling asleep, but here it is almost eight AM and she’s still in bed. Like clockwork, Monday comes around and she sleeps in.

We watched the last trio of the Star Wars movies this weekend. The Last Jedi is my fave of the bunch, especially the encounter between Luke and Kylo Ren in front of the salt mine. I was expecting problems going into Rise of Skywalker, having seen spoilers and reviews on Twitter. As a result I wasn’t too disappointed. The plot was contrived, and the whole movie was just too much for me. The girls liked it. Not sure if I want to go back and watch the prequels with them; we’re near the end of season one of Clone Wars, so we’ll probably just stick to that for now.

My mind seems to be pre-occupied with work. My boss had dismissed my comment about shuttering two weeks ago, but I noticed that payroll had been slipping again, from Thursday or Friday until the following week. I haven’t checked for this week yet, but I seem to be working out what my response is going to be. I’m not going to be working for free. I’ve been on unemployment before, and assuming the state’s infrastructure is holding up with the number of claimants, I have no problem going back on it for a while. Ultimately this is all unnecessary worry; I’ll have my degree in two weeks anyways.

I’m still not sure what my plan is. It’s become very hard to get things done with the girls home. My wife is locked in the office from eight to four, and I can’t take my little breaks on the piano or my upstairs workstation like I’m used to. I don’t see how I would take a full-time work from home position with them at home. Not without parking them in front of a screen all day. My priority is finishing my school work, and making sure that they’re getting some sort of structure learning. Younger still has to learn her letters and writing. As much as I like the idea of home-schooling them, I’m not sure I want to unschool them and just let them loose.

Our grocery lists now look less like a trip to the grocery store and more like the starting loadout for a trip on the Oregon Trail. Getting meat and cheese has been difficult lately, and with all of the COVID infections at the Smithfield pork plants, now seems like a really good time to stop eating meat. I’ve been cooking up a storm, but keeping fresh fruits and vegetables means that we have to get food orders in more than we had originally planned.

So far our gardening experiments have proved fruitless. We may have some things finally starting to sprout; I suppose it was a bit too cold outside for things to start on their own, and we’ve had a lot of rain the past week or two. We’ve got a clear, 30-count egg carton that will make a nice greenhouse for seeds, it will be our project with the kids later today. My wife brought home her plants from the office, so the kitchen is looking like a little atrium with all the greenery around.

We’re in a bit of disarray with my wife working from home now. She got a new desk, so we wound up getting rid of the bed in the guest room via the local buy nothing group. Thankfully I set Elder up with a laptop that she can use in her room for school, and I’m planning on setting up my old workstation for her that we can share somewhere else.

Finally, our dishwasher has decided to stop cleaning anything. I can’t tell if it’s water pressure, or crappy detergent, but nothing comes through clean anymore. So it looks like we’ll be buying a new one sometime this week.

At least it’s not COVID: Day 26

I went in for an X-ray on Wednesday after becoming worried about my breathing issues. I had a slight shortness of breath as well as some sort of weird noises from my lungs when inhaling or exhaling deeply. Given all the various ailments that the members of my family have had, I suppose I was becoming anxious. Plus my wife has still been going to her job at the medical center, which now has well over two dozen confirmed cases between patients and staff. One of the main reasons I went was to try to get an answer, whether it be COVID, or pneumonia. I was fairly confident that I had coronavirus, and was hoping I could get it confirmed so that my wife could get her two weeks excused from work. Turns out my x-rays are “consistent with bronchitis.” I payed a hundred dollars for the diagnostic.

Last week was spring break for the kids, so we put all instruction time on hold. In line with my post about raising successful people, I stopped forcing them to do chores, and just told them what to do if they wanted to watch a show. Their task was to clean the living room floor of all their toys. They did not accomplish this, but it was fine cause they actually spent all day playing together and outside. It was a beautiful day. The next day Elder complained to me for hours that her sister wasn’t helping, and she eventually did it herself. The new approach seems to be working. Its similar to how I’d taken to dealing with dinner: you don’t have to finish your plate, but you’re not getting seconds or desert until you do. We’ll see how this approach plays out next week, but I’m rather optimistic.

Facebook’s Messenger Kids has been a bit of a godsend. One our friends said they were using it and I finally got around to installing it a few days ago. I was able to add all of our family members to it, as well as some of Elder’s friends, and it was so nice for the girls to be able to contact their grandparents or friends without my wife or I having to facilitate. Plus it’s got those silly video filters that does the silly transformations that the kids like.

No progress on the “garden”. Nothing has sprouted yet, it’s been more than two weeks. I put more tomato and cilantro in the pots, but I think the seeds are too old or have been killed by keeping them in the shed. I may have to try the old paper towel in plastic bag method to be sure.

I am so close to getting my degree. The past week has been Django, Django, Django, as our team works to get our final prototype demo read for presentation on Thursday. Them I’m done with my professional development course, which leaves just numerical methods and independent study, which I have sort of rolled into one. I’ve been unable to get much out of my professor, I’m not sure what the problem is, and I’m sort of peeved as I think I’ve done him a big favor by converting his course materials into a GitLab repo. I spent hours converting his old HTML docs into Markdown and LaTeX, and I can’t even get an acknowledgement out of him. I think it’s cause he’s basically adverse to technology. It’s so ironic for a CS/engineering professor. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some closure on this Monday, and figure out what the hell I actually need to do to finish the semester. And hopefully I’ll be able to fulfill the requirements for my independent study at the same time.

There’s not a lot to say about work. It basically involves checking in for a morning scrum call, then there’s maybe an hour or two of actual work that needs doing. There’s work on my side projects that needs doing, but not a lot of income. I’ve been spending some extra time working on coding projects: I just got another commit on the TDAmeritrade library and have start looking at how to implement websockets for real time data. It will come in handy for the GBTC estimator, and allow me to make my value averaging protocol and trade planning more sophisticated. There’s probably several posts right there already.

Now that I seem to be on the other side of my medical problems, I’m going to need to start getting back into a fitness regimen. It’s been weeks since I lifted a weight, unless you count swinging the kids around.

Been playing games to unwind. FrostPunk and 8 Billion Humans on the PC, and just got a copy of Root in the mail yesterday that I’ve been waiting for. Elder and I had a late-night session playing last night that was fun. And I’ve been doing a lot of yummy cooking. We made a loaf of bread with the kids that came out nice and have promised them we’d do a practice run of a cake and frosting — from scratch — for their mother’s birthday next month.

COVID diaries: Day 15

Week three of self-quarantine. The Governor just issued a shelter-in-place order, so I think we’re going to have to restrict our kids from playing with their friends now. It’s going to be tough for them, (and me), but if we haven’t been exposed to the virus already then I’d like to keep it that way. It’s hard to tell; everyone in the house has been sick of some kind or another for over the past month. Most of us have had a cough for several days; I think it may be pollen allergies since everything has been covered with a blanket of thick yellow pollen for the past week.

The oldest one spent much of this morning doing piano lessons while her sister did Khans Academy Kids. I let them watch a couple of Disney shows between “school” work and play. I took the little one for a bike ride while her sister did her Zoom conference with the class. She’ll have another one this evening, and is too read Harry Potter for the class. They’re outside playing right now, it’s seventy degrees and sunny outside right now.

None of the cilantro or tomato seeds we planted last week have sprouted. I’m beginning to think my seeds are bunk. We may have to start again using the old damp towel in a plastic bag method. We’ll give it another day or two first. I have a couple of garlic cloves that have sprouted shoots that I want to stick out in a small planter. I’m not sure if it’ll make more cloves, but the red onion I put out months ago has gotten bigger and has some large green scallions growing out of it that I need to use.

My wife is still trying to secure telework capabilities from her work, but hopefully we’ll be able to finish completing those requirements tonight. Their forcing her to submit all her applications as one PDF, but don’t have the programs on the work computers to be able to compile them into one document. Just when you think Kafka was being melodramatic.

As far as school goes, I just turned in the midterm that I’ve been working on, and will be turning my attention to our group Django project next. Our professor seems to have checked out completely, besides the test, there’s been no communication from him for over a week. I know he was ready to retire but this may have been the straw that broke the camels back. I’m sure he’s considering retiring if on-premise classes don’t resume in the fall. I’m pretty sure they won’t for him — he’s too high risk.

And let me just rant for a moment about the idiocy of using Blackboard for computer science courses. It’s asinine. The BB text editor used for submission is one of the worst things I have ever been forced to use. Markdown makes much more sense. Pasting preformatted code in the BBE is useless, the HTML code that it generates is enough to give any web designer a heart attack. Even the LaTex support makes no sense. It doesn’t actually work for math or formulas wrapped in dollar signs, you have to do everything, including sub and superscripting, via a toolbar. It’s extremely inane.

That said, I’m loving Overleaf, the online LaTex editor. It’s a very good compiler, and I’ve been having a lot of success with it over the past few weeks. I wish that their Git implementation worked anonymously for use with Gitlab pipelines, but that’s my only gripe with them for the most part. It looks like they’ve open sourced their implementation, so I’m going to see if I can get the university to allow me to set one up for use with my individual project. I’d like to see some sort of system that allows LaTex within a GitLab repo, so that students can fork assignment repos and submit their code as pull requests for grading through some sort of pipeline testing.

Not much else to say right now. It’s late in the afternoon, and I’ve got to launch the website for the local party and send out a MailChimp blast. Once that’s out I’ll start working on dinner and recharging for another hour or two on school work tonight.

Grocery shopping adventures

It’s Saturday morning, but weekends have taken on a decidedly different feel to them now. “We don’t have to worry about what we’re doing tomorrow,” my wife said to me yesterday while we were talking in bed. No, we won’t be going out and about today, besides maybe a walk around the neighborhood, but with my wife home to help handle the kids, this might be the most productive I’ve been all week.

The house has slipped into a bit of a mess as I’ve struggled to keep up with the un-cleaning abilities of my two children. We’ve had a pile of crafts on the dining room table for almost two weeks now that needs some attention. I’m hoping to rearrange some things in the kitchen, and the garage desparately needs a good cleaning out. Somehow my wife managed to get the kids to believe that washing the cars was some kind of treat, so we may do that as well.

We’ll have to do some grocery shopping, or online ordering this weekend. I failed to account for the amount of food that these kids eat, and since my wife is no longer eating out at work, I’ve got to step up the amount that we buy by some amount. I’ll have to focus on making larger amounts when I cook, because cooking from scratch during the week every day is wearing me out. I just wish my kids weren’t so damn picky. I also need a way to buy certain items in bulk without having to go through Amazon. I buy these small half pound containers of nuts and trailmix, but I go through them so fast, I need to find some three pound bags of the stuff that I like, and more importantly, I need to find something that the girls like so I don’t have to keep feeding them crackers and other high-carb garbage all the time. And my oldest is going through peanut butter like nobody’s business.

The girls have made me promise them a trampoline. They’ve been asking for years, literally, but we’ve pushed back on it with various excuses, mainly that our yard already has a large playhouse, plus two trees, so we don’t really have room for a ten or fifteen foot trampoline in it. But now I’ve relented, and have been forced to agree that we will purchase one in five weeks, when the refund from day care comes through. Hopefully it won’t attract every kid in the surrounding neighborhood.

As far as the pandemic goes, it has finally hit the city. I read in the paper that a local police officer has tested positive. This individual was the booking and intake officer for the local jail, of all people, so I have a feeling things are about to turn into Rikers Island over there.

We, meaning my daughters and I, seemed to have developed a bit of a dry cough. It’s not too bad, and we don’t have any other symptoms right now, but it’s got me a bit worried. The girls have been playing very closely with the same small groups of friends for the last week, and I haven’t been around anyone except during my last grocery store run, which was a bit of a disaster.

My car was a bit slow to start when I left the house, it seemed like it turned over slowly a few times. I attributed it to the car having sit in the driveway for a full week, but it made it to the store with no problem. I got my groceries from a young associate, and tried to maintain social distance with the loading, but she got a bit close for my liking. We had some small talk, and I went back into the car and turned the key. Clickclicckclickclickclick. Nothing. Again, clickclickclickclickclick. She was dead. Mild panic set in as I tried to figure my best options, I texted my wife to let her know that I was having problems, that I was going to see if I could get a jump and might need her to come get me.

A car with a young couple pulled up in the spot next to me, but they walked into the store before I was ready to start asking. I had been watching the parking lot for a few minutes while I waited for my groceries. The store was busy, it was after 5PM on a Wednesday and people were going about their business. The only sign that there was a pandemic going on were a few people I saw going into the store wearing facemasks. One woman, probably in her fifties, came out carrying only a twelve pack of soda. I was dumbfounded that someone could be so seemingly careless.

I got out of the car and asked the first person to walk near, a white man, thirtyish, if he had cables. He did, but said he couldn’t give me a jump. He was glad to talk, and told me he had fried his Jeep’s electrical giving too many people jumps in the past, and launched into an explanation about feedback or some kind of surge caused by the vehicle being jumped. I asked if he could at least let me borrow the cables while he was shopping and I’d leave them at his Jeep. We walked back to the car, the dude still talking non-stop about whether he actually had them or not. We got to his Jeep, and he excitedly showed me a a twenty year old Apple II that he had found lying on the curb. It was surely worth thousands, he told me, if he could get it to work. Certainly, I agreed with him.

He didn’t have the cables, so we walked back to my car, I thanked him, and he went in. I cursed my luck. I leafed through the car’s user manual to make sure I knew how to jump it. I looked up possible alternative solutions on my phone and popped the trunk, checking the terminal cables. No fix. I texted my wife, “You’re my only hope, Obi Wan.”

I scanned the parking lot, looking for people or cars I thought might be likely to have cables. A jacked up pickup truck with FUCK GUN CONTROL window decal and a LVURSLF vanity plate? Yep, I though. A large, clean silver Dodge Ram pulled up and looked promising, so texted my wife to wait a minute and got out again.

The owner, an older black man, pulled a small device out of a bag. “That’ll jump it?” I asked, amazed. “It jumped that truck,” he replied, nodding back at his vehicle. After a couple of failed attempts, he allowed that the device may have been sitting in his car too long and might not have enough juice. I thanked him for his time. And got back in my car, squirting on some hand sanitizer.

By this time the couple parked next to me were walking back to their car, I asked them if they could give me a jump. Yes they said. The woman pulled some cables from her trunk and I noticed she was late in her second trimester of pregnancy. I felt vaugely guilty as we broke social distancing walking around her car. Our cars were parked a bit to far apart than ideal, and as the man and I struggled to untangle the cables, a woman approached carrying a portable jump starter. “Right on,” I told her.

The woman appeared underdressed for the weather, which was a bit brisk for me in my jeans and sweater. She looked a bit butch with her short haircut and was wearing basketball shorts and jersey. She got the jumper hooked up right way, and after a failed attempt and a quick reattachment, the engine turned over and started up. I thanked everyone profusely and got ready to leave. My wife pulled up right after, with both kids in the back seat. I told her we were good to go and followed her back to the house.

So, despite my best efforts to separate myself from everyone for the past couple weeks, a small little automotive setback at the grocery store expanded the number of people that I came in contact with. My wife and I realize how lucky we are, that millions of people have lost their job these last few days, and our income has not only remained the same, but our expenses have gone down. This world is crazy.

COVID Summer Camp: Day 12

It’s Friday, and in the 70s today after a couple days of rain and cold weather. The girls are out back playing with some friends. I just finished cooking some breaded chicken for dinner and have a good forty minutes before my wife comes home. The US officially has the most coronavirus cases, but we have yet to see the brunt of it here. The medical center where my wife works officially has it’s first cases; the first in the city.

I called day care today, planning on officially withdrawing the kids, but they’ve no longer requiring partial tuition payments too hold spaces open, so we’ve just requested a refund on a couple thousand dollars tuition that we deposited a few months ago as part of our credit card rewards hacking. That will take five weeks to come back, then will go in our savings until we determine what to do with it. Not having the $280 a week to pay means I’ll be able to start saving half of that. More on that after I finish Choose FI.

This first week home by myself has been a bit rough. I had trouble sleeping two nights ago and was dead on my feet by the time my wife came home. I’m trying to get as much done on at my desk as I can while keeping the girls off of the TV, but it’s a battle. I’m not having much luck keeping them to the schedule that my wife set up, but that’s mainly because the school teacher can’t seem to have their Zoom meetings at the same time for two days in a row. She’s trying to accommodate parents on different schedules, but it’s annoying.

I start the little one off with Khan’s Academy Kids, so she can learn her letters, then I try to get them outside for a bit before a snack around ten. If it’s raining I try to get them moving via GoNoodle, or there’s a Cosmic Yoga vids that she like’s to do. I may let her watch PBSKids if I’m having issues keeping her busy and I need to get something done.

Her sister, I’m pushing a bit. Trying to get her to do a quiz on Khan’s academy, or on this reading app that the school has suggested. Apparently my second grader is reading at a fifth grade level. I also try to get her to do morning pages, and am still pushing her to play piano even though she says she “hates” it. I think what she hates is me telling her what to do. I’m trying to balance between work and play. I let the two of them watch some Disney+ shows around one in the afternoon, then I let them do whatever they want till their mom comes home. Thankfully they’ve spent several hours outside.

The past few days we’ve been able to do some morning meditation. A short kids-oriented lesson on the Waking Up app seems to be okay with them. This morning we set on the deck on cushions with blankets and sleeping bags, listening to the birds chirping and tweeting at each other.

My wife is attempting to get telework granted, but the beaucracy has set impossible tasks in front of her, as usual. Now that the patients have been prohibited from coming to the medical center, she’s at less risk, and I’m wondering if she even wants to work from home and have to share home-school duties with me. We’ll see.

For school, I’m in the middle of an exam for my computational methods class. I’ve got five days and am about halfway through it. And I’m working on our Django app for my group project. I still have my independent project, which I haven’t worked on much at all.

Work is not much… work right now. I’ve got little to do, so I’m going to have to be proactive to keep myself busy. I’m starting to warm up to some of the other projects I had abandoned months ago, both internal ones and things I can do for my clients, more as exercises for my programming chops.

We’re almost ready to launch the new WordPress site for the local party. I’ve also been looking at a new theme for this site, as well as standing up a professional portfolio/CV site. Right now I’ve picked out a few from Envato Elements, but need to get a few things in order for my cornerstone client before I do that.

Tonight, I promised my oldest that I would let her pick out a video game on Steam. She’s been playing Roblox obsessively, and I was fine with her playing that unsupervised, but some of the games are pretty mindless and last night I found her playing some sort of FPS called Arsenal. I had mentioned that I might work on a game for it, but after looking at the developer kit for it decided that I didn’t have time for another complex project like that. So I’ll let her take a crack at it tonight, or see if there are any of the numerous programming games on there that she’ll like.

We’ve also started planting some seeds. I bought a subscription to SmartGardener, and loaded all my (five year old) seeds in the app. We’ve missed the window for almost everything but the cilantro, but I had the girls plant tomato plants yesterday just as an teaching experience. Something tells me that we’re going to need to start taking gardening much more seriously now.