COVID-19: Part 30

May 28, 2020 4:13 pm
  • Quarantine Day 73
  • Another 2.1 million first-time unemployment claims.
  • Livermore cases: 50
  • Alameda County cases: 3,007; deaths: 93
  • U.S. cases: 1,698,000+; deaths: 100,400+

The CDC has now recorded over 100,000 U.S. deaths due to COVID-19.

Trump posted some factually false information on Twitter and Twitter marked it with a "Fact Check" link. Which made Trump absolutely lose his mind claiming Twitter is taking away his freedom of speech. A hard argument to make since Twitter explicitly didn't remove the false information, just added a mark next to it.

But Trump is turning this into a rallying cry for his base about how the "big bad tech companies" keep "suppressing conservative viewpoints." By which he means calling out lies and banning bigotry on their private platforms.

It's funny how the conservative position is that private businesses shouldn't have to sell a cake to someone if they don't like the genders of the people ordering it, but other private businesses should be required to allow users to spread lies and bigotry. So Trump decided the best way to preserve his not-under-attack-freedom-of-speech by signing an executive order with the goal of infringing the freedom-of-speech for private businesses who don't like spreading his drivel. It surely won't go anywhere, but it makes his base happy that he's "sticking it to those liberals."

This is generally the same group of people that are also now losing their minds that some stores are requiring face masks and refusing service to persons not wearing one even in areas that do not have temporary, mandatory-face-mask laws in effect. This is also, somehow, an attack on their fundamental freedoms. Because, again, apparently private businesses should be allowed to discriminate so long as only other people are being inconvenienced by it. The hypocrisy drives me nuts.

They're also losing their minds in the places with temporary, mandatory-face-masks laws in effect, but at least there it is a government restriction they're mad about. It's still extremely stupid to be trying to equate a piece of cloth that helps slow the spread of a deadly disease with being put in internment camps, but that's what they're claiming.

I'm so sick of the proud ignorance that's gained such a stronghold in the country. It's not anything new, Asimov was complaining about it in 1980, "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'" But it sure feels like within the last 10 years it's really stood up and said, "We're ignorant, proud of it, and there's nothing you can do about it."


Dragon Strike update: Last weekend Jess and Heather played through Gambler's Pass, ending up fallen into the Red River when the dragon burned down the bridge they were standing on. They woke up in Emrin, rescued by townspeople. After recovering they attempted to deliver the package they've been carrying to Reginald only to find him murdered. They helped the captain of the guard investigate the crime and identified a suspect who disappeared in a flash of light and a puff of smoke. This weekend they need to head out to the cemetery to try to find and apprehend the suspect.

On Monday I made a citrus chiffon cake which came out really well. I didn't take a picture though and it's almost gone now. It was also really hot this week. 105F on Tuesday, 101F on Wednesday, but now it's cooling down for the weekend.

COVID-19: Part 29

May 22, 2020 3:54 pm
  • Quarantine Day 67
  • Another 2.4 million first-time unemployment claims last week
  • Livermore cases: 45 (unchanged since last week!)
  • Alameda County cases: 2,630; deaths: 89
  • U.S. cases: 1,571,000+; deaths: 94,100+

Alameda County updated their shelter-at-home restrictions on Monday. Outdoor recreational facilities without shared equipment (e.g., tennis courts) may re-open so long as social distancing within the venue is practiced. There were probably additional changes I didn't catch. It also issued extensive documentation on allowed "highly regulated vehicle-based gatherings" designed to allow schools to hold some type of graduation ceremony. For such events, people have to stay in their cars, cars have to be separated, no food may be distributed, etc.

Trump continues to purge "disloyals" from the executive branch. This time it was the Inspector General for the State Department. He was supposedly working on an investigation of the Secretary of State for unprofessional conduct. The Secretary of State (according to the White House) asked that Trump fire the inspector and Trump did without explanation. Always nice to be able to fire the people whose job it is to provide oversight of your actions.

Trump got "caught" wearing a mask this week. He explicitly tried to hide it from the press, but someone got a picture of him wearing it anyway. Looking competent is apparently something to be avoided.

Last weekend, some morons in Livermore held a protest downtown about reopening business. Many downtown businesses condemned the group. What really gets me is these are not groups saying, "We can reopen responsibly. We can act appropriate and safely to get back to work with minimal risk." No, instead they're out in groups with no face masks and no social distancing. So the message they're really sending is, "We're too stupid to do what's right on our own, so you better keep enforcing shelter-at-home orders."

Heather (Ivy) and Jess (Beryl) completed the Spirit Valley quest in their Dragon Strike campaign. And my friends got halfway through The Battle for Bree last night. Tomorrow Ivy and Beryl will have to traverse Gambler's Pass on their way to Emrin to deliver Eliza's package to her brother. The name for the pass comes from the risks one must take when making the journey. Bandits, rock falls, avalanches, monsters, and the dreaded dragon, Darkfyre, are all possible dangers of the narrow path through the mountain and the rope bridge over the Red River.

Today is Heather's last day of school work. She has a five-minute one-on-one meeting with her teacher next week. And the following week they'll have a class "party" via video conference.

COVID-19: Part 28

May 15, 2020 2:42 pm
  • Quarantine Day 60
  • April unemployment report: 14.7%. Highest since Great Depression (reflects conditions in middle of April, so reality is almost certainly worse)
  • Another 3+ million first-time unemployment claims for each of the past 2 weeks
  • Livermore cases: 45
  • Alameda County cases: 2,233; deaths: 81
  • U.S. cases: 1,412,000+; deaths: 85,900+

States around the country have started trying to open back up. Some with better plans and statistics than others, so we'll see how things go. Alameda County has not loosened any further restrictions since the change that was effective May 4.

The Lab is still running in a limited capacity with high-priority projects getting on-site staffing as needed. At this point I expect to be working out of my closet throughout the summer.

Our relief/stimulus payment finally came through. Since I'm still working and getting paid it wasn't something we were desperately waiting on, but if we had been the time it took would have been stressful.

Heather completed an art project for school that included describing what she's looking forward to in the summer. It was mainly variations on not being stuck at home anymore.

Most of my free time has been spent generating new quests for our Dragon Strike campaign. I've put together a story arc and at least vaguely sketched out ideas for the quests that will fill in that story arc. I'm not going to prep too much detail ahead of time, there's no telling when Heather will tire of the game. It takes me a few hours to fully design each quest. So I spend much of my weeknights writing the quest we'll play that weekend.

Last weekend Heather and Jess won The Battle for Bree in which they had to hold the city against a horde of monsters until reinforcements could arrive. Yes, yes, it was basically Helm's Deep, leave me alone, I'm not a story writer. But, I do have some somewhat original stories coming up.

Tonight will be the second quest for the on-line campaign with friends. They will have to rescue Kili and Fili from the collapsing mine. I will probably have to split up The Battle for Bree with them because it took significantly longer with Heather and Jess than my play testing suggested it would.

Retail spending reports for April came out today. A 16.4% drop in retail spending compared to March. Clothing sales down 78.8%.

COVID-19: Part 27

May 4, 2020 8:41 pm
  • Quarantine Day 49
  • Last week S.F. Bay Area counties issued an extension and revisions to shelter-at-home order. New order in place through May 31.
  • An additional 3.8 million first-time-unemployment filings last week. Totaling over 30 million in six weeks.
  • First-quarter GDP growth was -4.8% which only included ~2 weeks of shutdowns in any part of the country.
  • Oil futures have "recovered" to ~$15/barrel.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up about 5,000 points from it's low in late March.
  • Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to order to opening of meat packing facilities. Many of these facilities had closed due to widespread infection and climbing fatalities among their employees.
  • Boeing announces a layoff of ~16,000 employees, marking what is probably the first of many massive downsizing actions that will occur. Boeing was already in a bad place due to the grounding of their 737-Max planes last year.
  • Today, California Governor Newsom announced that additional retail will be allowed to open soon so long as protective measures are followed. However, presumably our country restrictions will still be in effect.
  • Livermore cases: 41
  • Alameda County cases: 1,722; deaths: 62
  • U.S. cases: 1,152,000+; deaths: 67,400+

The updated shelter-at-home directive eases restrictions in these areas:

  • Construction if new safety protocol is followed.
  • All real estate transactions; with restrictions on open houses and tours.
  • Childcare, camps, educational, and recreational programs for children with parents working outside the home.
  • Businesses that usually and will continue to operate outdoors (landscaping, agriculture, etc.)
  • Sports fields and similar no-shared-equipment facilities can reopen.

Jess had to go pick up another dose of her migraine medication two weeks ago that I forgot to mention. The medical center is now taking temperatures as part of their screening process before allowing people into the building.

The remote that I "fixed" with conductive paint no longer works at all. I don't know what happened, maybe some paint dripped somewhere and it shorted out the circuit board. So I hard to order a replacement.

I ran an on-line MathCounts session last week. The kids that actually enjoy math did show up and it went pretty well. We'll do another one this week.

Armed protesters stormed the Michigan state capitol which apparently has no consequences at all. They went it yelling and waving their guns around while screaming at guards. That's apparently totally cool.

The Governor of Maryland detailed a story in which they, on behalf of the state, had to obtain test kits secretly from South Korea and under guard to prevent the federal government from taking them.

On Friday I ran a webcam enabled game of modified Dragon Strike with some friends that went pretty well. They played the first adventure in my custom made campaign.

Then on Saturday I ran the second adventure in the campaign for Jess, Heather, and Corinne. They had to rescue the dwarves Fili and Kili (courtesy of The Hobbit) from a collapsed mine.

And then on Sunday I filled in the details for the third adventure so it will be ready to go. Needs a little more polish, but it's just about done. I also baked some ciabatta and a loaf of banana bread.

Jess has been out to Safeway and Target in the last week. She found toilet paper at Target. Safeway is still out.

She also picked up pizza from Papa John's on Saturday, which was the first non-home-prepared food we've had since early March.