COVID-19: Part 35

June 27, 2020 12:03 am
  • Quarantine Day 102
  • Livermore cases: 145
  • Alameda County cases: 5,354; deaths: 129
  • U.S. cases: 2,414,000+; deaths: 124,000+

The latest modeling suggests that with widespread mask use we could basically get on with our lives with minimal interruption. Unfortunately, widespread mask use is not happening. One segment of the population continues to attempt to equate temporary, mandatory mask regulations with tyranny and refuses to cooperate. Predictably, in areas with widespread belief in this insanity the caseloads are setting new records on a daily basis.

I've been reading "What we Owe to Each Other" by T. M. Scanlon, a moral philosopher at Harvard. I'm just over 100 pages in--just about to begin section three of the premises section. His work borrows elements from John Rawls' political philosophy of "Justice as Fairness" and applies it to morality along with other thoughts and ideas. I finished reading Rawls' book earlier this year and I liked his approach. I'm also liking Scanlon's application of the concepts.

On page 106, Scanlon is wrapping up his basis of defining what a "value" is when he turns his attention to what it means to respect the value of human life. He has this to say:

Respecting the value of human life requires us to treat [people] only in ways that would be allowed by principles that they could not reasonably reject insofar as they, too, were seeking principles of mutual governance which other [people] could not reasonably reject.

It takes couple of rounds to parse it out fully, but it's really quite nice (and very Rawls-ian).

Is wearing a piece of cloth across one's mouth and nose in order to mitigate the spread of a deadly virus really a principle that can be reasonably rejected in a world where we presuppose that everyone wants to live peacefully together? I don't see how it could be. Great benefit is had at almost zero cost and trivial inconvenience. Surely compromising a little pride for saving thousands of lives is an acceptable trade off.

Professional philosophy writing is a bit of a slog to get through, but I find it interesting. I'm looking forward to reading more about how Scanlon answers the question of what we owe to each other. But I feel pretty confident that we at least owe each other the level of respect inherent in agreeing to wear a mask during a pandemic the same way we owe each other the level of respect inherent in staying attentive to the road while driving.


Last Sunday was Fathers' Day. We spent the day at home, like every other day for the previous 4 months. We may have gone for a walk in the evening, I can't remember now. Jess and the girls gave me a 55-pound bag of flour imported from Italy. It's supposed to be a specially-selected blend of wheat that will let you get nice, brown, pizza crusts in a residential oven. The temperature is supposed to dip down a little bit this weekend, so I'll have to try it out and see if it's true.

After the girls went to bed I watched "They Shall not Grow Old", which was....gruesome. I can't say it was "enjoyable" because it really shouldn't be for anyone. It is very well made and worth watching though. It did leave me feeling frustrated with how incredible quantities of resources can always be found when nations decide to destroy each other, but outside of that we just write off difficult problems as unsolvable.

We can figure out how to keep 68 million people fighting for over four years, but when it comes time to addressing homelessness or hunger or access to medical care we wring our hands about it being too expensive. It's frustrating.


Tuesday was our 11th anniversary. We spent the day at home (surprise!). We did get takeout for dinner though. Jess wanted a potato-and-bacon pizza that one of the local restaurants makes, so she got one of those and I had a calzone. I made crème brûlée for dessert.

To celebrate, we upgraded our cookware. We bought some fancy All-Clad stainless-steel-with-aluminum-core pots and pans. We bought 8-inch, 10-inch non-stick, and 12-inch frying pans as well as 2-quart and 3-quart sauce pans. In theory they should last pretty much forever.

We also watched "The Dish" which is a loosely-based-on-a-true-story movie describing the role in the Apollo 11 mission of one radio-telescope in Australia. I did appreciate the reminder that there have been times where great national resources were directed to incredible challenges that weren't about killing people. But also saddened that it still seems to require being linked to contests of international dominance.


Last weekend Ivy and Beryl completed their investigation of Hinderstap Manor and learned of the tragedy that befell the family resulting in the mansion being haunted. They helped bring peace to the home and are now on their way south through the Forgotten Lands.

I took the week off from preparing another adventure so this weekend we'll do a non-story-related side game of some kind.

Last night I played through the Spirit Valley adventure with my work friends so their characters are now on their way north towards Englewood and Gambler's Pass.

Painting Miniatures

June 24, 2020 7:17 pm

Now that I have a bunch of miniature creatures for use in our Dragon Strike adventures, I thought I'd give a try to painting them. I was really on the fence, because it could easily devolve into a lot of not fun (I live in a CTRL+Z world). But I figured if I kept my expectations appropriately low then I could probably be happy with the result.

Here are the first 2 that I completed:

Far from perfect, but I'm pretty happy with how they came out. So I'll paint some more and provide a little more fun and detail to our games.

COVID-19: Part 34

June 19, 2020 3:53 pm
  • Quarantine Day 95
  • Livermore cases: 93
  • Alameda County cases: 4,585; deaths: 117
  • U.S. cases: 2,178,000+; deaths: 118,000+

Comparing with my post from last week, Livermore's case load almost doubled. That's not good. Restrictions are starting to relax a little, but too many people think that means they don't have to take any precautions anymore. I don't know what people are thinking. I know many are tired of dealing with it. Unfortunately, viruses don't really care whether you're done dealing with them or not.

California issued a state-wide mandatory mask regulation. As currently written, there's no exemption for children (except under 2 years old); whereas Alameda County's rule recommends them on children but doesn't require them for under 13 years old.

Alameda County issued updated guidelines this week that slightly loosen restrictions again. Outdoor dining will be allowed for restaurants (with strict requirements). Retail is allowed to reopen, but must limit customers to maintain 6-ft distancing. Religious meetings may resume with groups no larger than 100 (no more than 25% building capacity, whichever is fewer) and the county heavily recommends no more than 25 (food and beverage distribution is "discouraged").

We are still otherwise required to limit travel to essential purposes only. Which seems a bit at odds with allowing dining and shopping. So it's not 100% clear what it means since shopping for, say, antiques is now allowed, but clearly not essential in any form. So I guess technically we're still in "quarantine." I guess I'll stop counting it when the "travel limited to essential purposes only" rule is dropped.

Tomorrow, Trump is holding an indoors, large-scale campaign rally. Despite pushing a narrative minimizing the risks of COVID-19, attendees must sign agreement not to sue the campaign for contracting the disease at the event. So that will surely go well.


Last weekend Ivy and Beryl arrived in Addleston after a long trek from Mt. Atheros. They settled in for a rest at the Slash & Burn Tavern and heard a bard sing a song about two mysterious heroes, named Ivy and Beryl, who have been seen around the kingdom helping people, but were struck down by the dragon at Gambler's Pass. I wrote lyrics and meter and performed it. I even wrote modifications so the song will work for my other group when they get there.

After their lunch and entertainment, based on information from the tavern keeper, they moseyed out to Hinderstap Manor to investigate the mysterious tragedy that befell the family living there some 20 years ago.

I had a lot of prep work to do (and still some left) for their adventure into the mansion so last week's adventure ended after they met "Fox" the thief in the gardens and opened the secret passage into the manor house. I'm hoping to finish my preparations tonight so we'll be ready to go tomorrow. It's probably my most ambitious quest yet. And I'll have to top it for the big finale showdown with the dragon in a few more weeks.

My other group was supposed to have another game session last night, but we had to postpone due to scheduling conflicts.


I had to spend some time last night fixing by HomeBoard display. Someone at the National Weather Service pushed out a software change that they probably weren't supposed to because it broke stuff and provided invalid data for some things. I managed to work around the issues and get my display working again in a way that it will still work if they change the data back to the previous form.

Kyle's Birthday 2020

June 14, 2020 12:34 pm

After celebrating Corinne's birthday at the very start of the quarantine I honestly didn't think we'd still be quarantined by the time my birthday rolled around. But here we are.

I started my day by working in my closet. Then lunch in the kitchen and back to my closet for more work. Very exciting.

Once I was done with work, I opened presents:

Here Heather is using her "Poison Rod" to protect me.

The girls gave me new sets of miniatures to use in our Dragon Strike games. Corinne here has her "Fire & Ice staff."

Jess gave me a set of fancy vanilla extracts: Tahitian, Mexican, and Madagascar Bourbon types. I need to come up with a dish to make to let us taste test them.

A careful observer might wonder why the box on the right says "VHS" on it. That's the Stranger Things seasons 1 & 2 sets which are packaged to look like 80s-style tapes.

After presents I picked up some Mexican food for dinner from Anita's Tacqueria. Since no one else likes Mexican food, Jess made pasta for everyone else. After dinner we needed some time to digest before having cake. So I played a video game for a little while.

We didn't have enough candles, so I told Jess to use a binary representation. Since the cake is facing me you have to read the binary backwards. So the right-most candle represents a "one" for 32 then there are 3 "zeroes" for 16, 8, & 4 and finally 2 "ones" for 2 & 1.

After dessert the girls headed off to bed and Jess and I watched the 1971 classic movie The Andromeda Strain.

COVID-19: Part 33

June 11, 2020 2:34 pm
  • Quarantine Day 87
  • Livermore cases: 57
  • Alameda County cases: 4,007; deaths: 107
  • U.S. cases: 1,994,000+; deaths: 112,000+

I guess maybe I should stop titling these posts as "Part X." This is just life and is going to be life for some untold amount of time.

Exactly as the entire medical community predicted and warned, now that states are opening back up the number of daily infections is starting to tick back up in those areas. Modeling is predicting record-setting case loads in a bunch of states sometime between August and October (assuming they continue with their current actions).

And states that were hit hardest in the first wave are still recovering. Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are still listed as over capacity for ICU beds.

On news of a budding second wave, and a statement from the Federal Reserve that the economic recovery was going to be slow, the stock market did an about face from the fairly steady climbing it's been doing for the past month and dropped 6.9% today (1,861 points).


Alameda County updated the shelter-at-home orders starting this week. We now must wear a mask when in public within 30 feet of others with significantly fewer exceptions. However, they slightly loosened the isolation requirements. We can now meet, outdoors only (while maintaining masks/distance), with a defined "social bubble" of up to 12 people. You may not participate in more than one "social bubble" within any 3-week period. [I'm under no delusion that the bulk of the population is going to pay any attention to the details of this plan; but we will.]

So on Monday Jess had a friend & kids come over to hang out and let the kids play together for a couple of hours for the first time in 3 months. The girls really needed some playmates. It will probably be a weekly thing.

Other restrictions were also loosened slightly. More low-risk businesses have been allowed to begin operating. Libraries are allowed to do curbside pickup. Some youth-group activities are allowed to start if they follow the social-bubble rules and appropriate sanitation policies.


Meanwhile, civil unrest has continued on a daily basis across the country. For reasons I could only imagine, multiple senior officials in the Trump administration (and Trump himself) made a point to make statements claiming there is no systemic racism in the country. Given that piles and piles and piles of academic research show quite the opposite I really don't understand what they hoped to achieve with such statements. Obviously it didn't calm the situation any.

At this point there have probably been dozens of statues and monuments all around the country that have been torn down. NASCAR even announced this week that they were banning the Confederate flag from their races and properties which made a bunch of their audience angry.


Last Thursday I hosted another video-based episode of Dragon Strike for my friends. They finished up the Battle for Bree.

On Saturday, Ivy and Beryl escorted the penitent Dark Mage, Tramii, up Mount Atheros to seek out the Mountain Spirit. Heather Leeroy-Jenkins-ed a group of Orcs and Goblins forcing Jess to clean up the mess. In the cave at the summit of the mountain they fought a Yeti and then Tramii faced a series of trials from the Mountain Spirit. She learned about facing her past and changing her future. She left the mountain as Tramii the White Mage with knowledge of magic designed to help and heal rather than injure and destroy.