Saturday, June 4, 2022
Well, I have the COVID
Thursday, February 24, 2022
PodCast 185: "Winter Olympics 2022 - Part 2" - Signal Watch Sports w/ Jamie and Ryan
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
PODCAST 184: "Winter Olympics 2022" - Signal Watch Sports w/ Jamie and Ryan
Monday, February 22, 2021
Winter Storm - February 2021 Part 5
Well, Texas being Texas, it's now a high of 70-something degrees. Skies are blue, and this is the weather people from out of state get duped into thinking we have all the time when they visit during the spring-times.
Today is the first day that hasn't felt like a total disaster. Yesterday I was still just sort of wandering around the house trying to figure out what to do and checking to make sure I wasn't spotting leaks or holes in the house that weren't there before. And, the inside of the house was and remains a bit of a mess. We've had a hard time keeping tidy during COVID to begin with, but add in our inability to just cook and clean with running, clean water, and it's all a bit of a mess.
Jamie's dialysis situation is pretty solid. She had treatment on Friday, and then again on Sunday. And, today, Monday, she's back on her regular schedule at her regular clinic. So, despite an ugly week of uncertainty, she's doing well, if a bit knackered. She did some chores for about two hours yesterday and then tapped out, for which I could not blame her.
I can't thank the nurses, technicians, social workers and others from Jamie's clinic enough. While it was clear this was an improvised effort, she had multiple people calling her, giving her information and driving in awful conditions (and with minimal experience) to make sure Jamie and tons of othersothers could get the care they needed. That's not nothing.
Austin Water has worked around the clock to restore water - and then drinking water - to the city. Austin Energy did what it could, kept people apprised and got power back when possible. Police, ambulances and firefighters stayed on duty. And I have to assume university staff stuck around to feed the kids on campus. I know there were also people on the UT campus keeping data centers going, keeping the heat on best they could - and power (UT has its own power plant. No fooling. It's at about 24th street).
In my own neighborhood, people offered food, water, and.. maybe most importantly information and tips. They helped each other out in countless ways that will be forgotten, but I was able to keep an eye on my own home and understand where we were at as the storm carried on as those in the know shared information about what to expect, what to do and not to do, how to deal with water heaters, how to care for pipes, etc...
Friday, February 19, 2021
Winter Storm - February 2021 Part 4
|yesterday afternoon, the snow lost its charm|
Well, Jamie finally got to dialysis. You can read her account of the past week here.
With the water main breakages, etc... it's been all sorts of operations that have had to do without, and dialysis centers have been hit pretty hard. She went from last Friday til today (it is Friday) when - normally - she's in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday every week.
They were unable to run her for the full duration, as there are only a few clinics open, and this morning she was sent to the wrong clinic (at 6:00 AM no less) and then traversed the city on a path I would not have recommended with freezing temps and roads, but she made it, safe and sound. Of her usual 2.5 hour run she did get 2 hours, so she should be good for a bit.
Still, these are the 1,000,000 stories of "this went a bit beyond 'we shivered a bit'" that are going to be flooding out of this event.
My colleagues from work are trying to fix things for a bunch of ungrateful college applicants, and we're having trouble on the IT side as - hey, there's no water for cooling our data center (why we aren't in the cloud - do not get me started). There's *massive* spikes for electric consumers who were on flexed rate plans (I saw a story about someone who will pay $3800 for this week's bill alone), and the water damage to property is going to be flat out insane.
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Winter Storm - February 2021 Part 3
|Scout ponders the inevitable slowing of all atomic motion|
If you're on the outside of the freeze occurring in our Southern States - and, in particular, in Texas, it's very hard to explain the insanity of the past week. And, I imagine, you have to do a lot of intentional empathizing to care. Texans have a semi-earned reputation for being natively hateable, and anything bad that befalls them is schadenfreude.
The truth is - we *are* in fact dealing with the results of bad policy, hubris and a lack of foresight. All the stuff you'd expect from the blowhards and braggarts who've run the state for decades.
And it's costing lives. The closest I can compare this to would be - a hurricane or similar event taking out Washington, Oregon and most of California, including LA, but leaving San Diego just fine.
Texas is huge. It takes 12 hours to cross from Texarkansas to El Paso and 13 hours from Texhoma to Brownsville. That's 29 million people. Houston is currently listed as the most diverse city in the country (don't believe it? Go hang around the Univ. of Houston campus), and while it's easy to think of morons like Rick Perry as the face of Texas, it's not the reality on the ground. Good people and many kinds of people live here.
We're in an unprecendented weather event - it's not just been record cold in intensity, it's also record cold in duration. I assume the precipitation is also record level. I've never seen more than a dusting of snow in my decades in this town. If we can't see the grass, we think it's a blizzard.
One common misconception I've seen is that we just need snow plows. Well, what that this were so.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Winter Storm - February 2021 Part 2
|the neighborhood pond is frozen over|
Since I was in college, way, way back in the 1990's, I've heard nothing but how the power grid in Texas was outdated and needed overhauls, improvements and extensions. Some of that has happened, but this being Texas, the loads has been focused on the load the state requires during the summer. Texas summers can see weeks on end with temperatures in the 100's, and if you don't provide AC, we'd all likely die of heat stroke. There's a reason Texas was sparsely inhabited by ingidgenous people and Mexican settlers when Anglos set their sites on Texas in the early 1800's.
Anyhoo... what we haven't worried about a whole lot has been extreme winter weather. Most of the time, we get into March and say "man, it never really got all that cold this winter." I mean, we've had cold winters, and icy spells that kept us off the roads, but it was never a question of "hey, why is almost half the state without power? And why is it different street by street?"
Because, yeah, two streets over in my same subdivision, people had power this whole time. Go figure. And I have no idea why we currently have power and others do not.
Anyway - hearing that Texas has an outdated grid isn't new. Now add in Texas' booming population and energy needs. We've added millions of people every decade for some time. I believe the last two decades saw about 4 million new Texans for a total of, like, 8 million new people. And not a whole lot of new sources of power.
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Winter Storm - February 2021 Part 1
|Scout figures out snow|
We're in the middle of a rough winter storm. Polar vortex nonsense.
Honestly, it's been kind of rough. We lost power Monday at 2:00 AM, it came back on around 11:30 AM Tuesday - so 30-odd hours without heat while the temperatures never got above 25 and dropped to 7 over night. The house has done a better-than-expected job of retaining heat, but entropy is a sonuvabitch.
Mostly yesterday I ate dry and snack foods. I used the Moka Pot sent to me by Steven H for making coffee. We cooked up some chicken sausage for dinner and got in bed at 7:00 under 5 blankets, wearing 4 layers each. We finally decided to go to sleep at 10:00.
Our plan was to lock oursleves in the bedroom with Scout, but she became very scared in the dark so we let her sleep downstairs. I don't think she did sleep, because she's been sleeping today.
The power came back on at 11:30, so I immediately lit our gas fireplace, which wouldn't light before without electricity (lesson learned on that one - light that one if there's a threat of loss of power). One of our pipes had frozen, so I went to work with a hair dryer, and I think I fixed it.
Anyway - we're all right. But with two more storms coming, the roads are bad now and set to get worse. The biggest problem is Jamie's dialysis, but I have high hopes we'll get her there and get it sorted.
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
In a Time of Virus: Hell of a Year for a Fourth of July
That's the same flag people say they would "die" for (I am aware that's a symbolic statement, as much as the flag is a symbol). But it's also the same piece of cloth that I recall people having serious discussions about creating prison time for anyone burning or desecrating (missing that whole First Amendment business, but, then, when haven't we?).
The United States is on fire enough that as other countries have flattened the curve, they've watched the US's nightmare of a response and put us on lists that suggest it may be years before Americans go abroad. And I'm not sure that decision is just about COVID.
Twitter and social media have changed the world. The carefully polished image of America that the post WWII planet received in exports of movies and television has been stripped away to show cops murdering and beating our citizens. Lipitor customers stalk their front stoops with guns and their faces full of an insane combination of utterly unwarranted fear and rage as Black people walk by. Our President gives increasingly unhinged interviews and speeches, and refuses to do a single goddamn thing to slow the course of a pandemic that is going to bury this country for years, or longer if he wins the November election. And all of that flows outward to nations who had their own dalliances with similar maniacs who seemed like a good idea at the time.
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
In a Time of Virus: The Dams Break
It started with protests in several cities in the wake of the George Floyd murder. George Floyd was a Black man apprehended by police under suspicion he'd floated a bogus $20 bill. For this, he was pinned to the ground by his throat beneath the knee of a man with a gun, who was supported by three of his fellow officers, as the suspect begged for air. This went on for almost 9 minutes.
The murder, and it was murder, occurred in broad daylight and on camera, carried out by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A lot of people will try to call what occurred as a police officer pinned a man's neck to the ground with his knee for 9 minutes something else. Maybe they'll say it was unintentional (the video suggests otherwise), or just breaking some eggs to make an omelet. But in the era of cameras everywhere, the past fifteen years taught us how to pay attention to how people are policed and how police do their work. And how police officers do not police each other.
Monday, May 18, 2020
In a Time of Virus: Everything Out of a Can
I don't really know how else to interpret the furious wrath of church ladies in JC Penny tops screaming about wearing life-saving facemasks. People told their lives depend on distance and patience rushed to state capitols with rifles to stand elbow to elbow with strangers, their faces bared to cameras and virus particles, screaming hysterically about their right to... expose themselves and others to illness and death, I guess.
It's now been going on long enough that we're getting reports of these people catching COVID-19, the occasional ironic/ cautionary tale of people's last facebook posts rants about the "hoax" of the virus before the person winds up dead. 70-odd people who went to an "open" rally in Wisconsin are believed to have contracted the virus at the event. And today I saw something about a church in California that held Mother's Day services exposed over 180 people.
Monday, April 27, 2020
In a Time of Virus: Sunlight and Bleach
On Thursday (04/23/20) the President of the United States, who has taken to a podium on a near daily basis for weeks - blathering at length/ incoherently, and showing genuine signs of mental decline (pick your poison as to why) - stood in front of a room of journalists and said scientists should look into shining UV lights or very bright lights on or into people to combat COVID-19. He also said we should be looking at injecting people with disinfectants containing bleach, I believe. That bleach clears the lungs right out. Which, in a way, is true. You'll certainly be beyond caring about your COVID-cough when you are dead because you've got 20 oz of Clorox filling your lungs.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
In a Time of Virus: Within Our Four Walls
But it also meant I got used to the rhythms of working from home long before all this mess started. Waking up, showering and having a ten second commute is not uncharted territory. But, man, the days of just sitting in the same chair all day can get to be a bit much. Especially as it's all-screens all day, tied to video conferencing with colleagues.
Since getting sent home, I have not been getting up early to walk the dog, as my preference is to do it to unwind after work if I've been sitting in my chair all day. Scout is an easy walker, and doesn't pull toward other dogs. She just wants to stay within 4 feet of me as we go about our business. We talk to neighbors from about 15-20 feet away. Sometimes I linger, sometimes I keep on going after waving hello.
Thursday, April 9, 2020
PODCAST: Quarantine Media 01 - "Love is Blind", "Tiger King", "McMillions" and more - w/ Jamie, Maxwell and Ryan
Watched: I mean.. kind of since March 13 - April 5
Format: Netflix, HBO, etc...
Things have gotten really strange as we've sheltered in place in our homes. Life is upside down, and we're all worried for the state of the world. But in a time of existential crisis, it doesn't mean we aren't watching some TV. Maxwell joins us to talk "Tiger King", "Love is Blind", "McMillions" and whatever else we're watching as part of our self-care regimen. Or what our kids are putting on, at least.
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
In a Time of Virus: Days With No Meaning
We all kind of laugh about how days lose all meaning in that period between Christmas and New Year. At least once a day, someone will ask "what day is it?" and sometimes you may have to think about it. With nowhere to be, no one looking for you and the weekends looking like a weekday, it takes no time at all. And while we have weekends, when you're looking at the same walls and people, days do sort of lose their meaning. Last week on Friday, I had to be told at least once it wasn't Thursday.
Monday, March 30, 2020
In a Time of Virus: That First Week in Lockdown
In some ways, this hasn't been entirely different from the nearly two years when I worked from home when I was at Northwestern University. I wake up, I shower, make coffee, eat something and sit down and get to work. I use my office, which is also my "collection room", ie: The Fortress, which I had decommissioned for work when I went back to UT.
When we were sent home from work, the home office was full of "stuff" all over the floor, making the room unusable. We'd recently had a remodel of our bathroom, and to make room for the contractors, I'd cleared things and just dumped them in my office and shut the door. Out of sight, out of mind. Honestly, what I piled in there was sitting on top of things I hadn't yet cleared away from Christmas, waiting for some time when I'd have some downtime and clean up, which I usually do when we're set to have company.
The first weekend, starting on the 13th, we just sort of blanked out. There was a run to HEB Saturday morning, buying food for a full week or more. The store was busy, but not hectic. Jamie and I put on nitrile gloves before going in - and I never saw anyone else with them on. No masks.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
In a Time of Virus: Start of Lockdown
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
In a Time of Virus: Not Seen In Generations
It doesn't need to be the threat of war and violence. We've had plenty of other creeping horrors around mankind in recent and living memory.
But my generation, maybe the one before, maybe those that have come after... we sat in classrooms and heard how the Commies wanted to drop nuclear bombs on us because they hated our Capitalist ways. But mostly that's an existential threat - if it was going to happen, it was going to happen. And I wasn't old enough to be part of the AIDS crisis, but am old enough to get cross-eyed hearing about "dating" apps as someone who came of age just after Magic Johnson taught us suburban kids about how we *all* needed to be careful.
Friday, March 13, 2020
In a Time of Virus: People are Terrible in a Crisis
The plan was not to return to work on Monday (it's Friday, for posterity's sake). I'd received approval from higher-ups to show some caution and work from home until we had the all-clear. In the morning as I readied for work, I was checking a news story about our local K-12 school district closing and telling people to deal with their situation, and half-way down the page it mentioned my employer, the University of Texas at Austin, was also closed.
I checked the emergency page, and it said "all clear", but literally at the same time, my Slack channel for work started popping and I saw that, no, we were closed. An email had come through and we weren't to come to campus today.
Thursday, August 8, 2019
In the wake of two mass shootings
You don't need for me to tell you why those shootings happened, or describe the tragedy of what occurred and what was taken from families, friends and communities. Or that it didn't always used to be this way.
But it sure is now.
The pair of shootings seemed to have stemmed from the politics of the shooters, one far right, the other far left, each running to extremes. At some point those divergent points of view seem so far apart they, in fact, curve back toward the same point. (Look, the El Paso shooter left a manifesto and was taken into custody, and is far less of a mystery to me than the misogynist antifa fan in Ohio who was dead within a minute of opening fire. But "making sense" is not usually something I associate with mass murder). It leaves us with some common traits between the shooters, not the least of which is the ability of anyone off the street to arm themselves like they're storming Baghdad and pop off if they're having a bad day and feel misunderstood.
I'm tired of men who can't handle their shit or that life wasn't what they expected turning their self-loathing on others, their shame metastasizing into a need to prove their place in the world with juvenile fits and the tools of a soldier.
Once again, a lot of politicians made bland statements, the media conglomerates handled it within their brand standards, and the paid spokespeople took to cable. Horrified and mourning people were treated like exotic animals on safari by national news.
I had a whole lot more written, but I deleted it. I'm just done. This is impossible to write.
We're exhausted. Exhausted from knowing something could be done and, for some reason, won't be. And exhausted because every time you open your mouth about how obvious it is that this situation is insane, there's someone there who cares more about middle-school debate club needling and badly reading a single sentence than they care about piles of dead people. And there's no other way of looking at it anymore.
I'm tired of knowing people want to run for office and tell people how to live who don't care if the people they're supposed to represent live at all.
We can do better, if we want to. But I don't see anyone who wants to do better, and I can't begin to understand why.