Heather's Videos

August 1, 2021 5:03 pm

Heather started playing with the PBS Kids Scratch Jr. app in July. It's a visual programming tool which lets you do things with characters from PBS shows or create all your own stuff.

You might think this was something I proposed or encouraged, but I haven't had any involvement with it. She figured it out all by herself and wrote, produced, and voiced these videos (and several others). She's since gone on to creating (really simple) games--jump over the spikes; swipe the monsters with your sword, etc. It's pretty impressive.

These three videos are inspired by the TV show "Peg + Cat".

This first one, "The Dinosaur Problem" has no audio. But I think she really captures the styles of Peg and Cat. Download here: The-Dinosaur-Problem

"The Cupcake Problem" -- Download here: The-Cupcake-Problem

And, the family favorite, "The Campfire Story." We regularly say to each other "I wonder what it's about" and "nom nom yummy." You'll understand once you've watched it. Download here: The-Campfire-Story

COVID-19: Part 60

3:21 pm
  • Livermore cases: 4,648; eligible vaccination rate: 65.4%
  • Alameda County cases: 91,889; deaths: 1,282; eligible vaccination rate: 71.7%
  • U.S. cases: 34,926,000+; deaths: 610,000+; eligible vaccination rate: 58.1%

Things have been trending poorly in several parts of the country. Nationwide we are back to the case rates we saw in early February, except in early February we were trending strongly downward and currently we're trending strongly upward--so more like what we saw in early November.

The latest data suggests that the delta variant has an r0 between 5 and 10; compared to the original strain at ~3. It's just spreading like crazy. It's also showing to be significantly more spreadable by vaccinated persons than either the original strain or alpha variant were. So while the original strain could have been effectively controlled with a vaccination rate of ~65%, the delta variant will need a vaccination rate of ~85%. Which it looks like we're just never going to get to.

It's pretty depressing that we're going to watch tens of thousands more people die for no reason other than weaponized ignorance and selfishness. Get vaccinated, wear a mask while community infection rates are high, and this could be effectively over.

California, and Alameda County, haven't re-introduced any mandatory mitigation measures despite that if we were still using the rules in place as of 2 months ago pretty much the entire state would be "purple" and there would be mask mandates and business restrictions.

It would be easy to wash one's hands and say, "those refusing a free vaccination have only themselves to blame," but children under 12 are still not eligible to be vaccinated. High community infection rates means there's a continuing risk that a vaccinated person will catch the virus and then infect unvaccinated children even if those kids are being kept out of high risk situations. While the vaccinated person is significantly protected we'll still end up killing thousands of children for no reason.

At work, the Lab was going to relax their on-site mask requirement, but canceled due to the much higher spread rate of the delta variant and the disappointingly low self-reported vaccination rate among employees. We still haven't begun working on site as a regular thing, so I continue working from my closet just about every day.

New Floors!

July 5, 2021 11:50 am

After almost 9 years, the task to replace the worn-out carpet in the living room & hallway as well as the peeling-up roll-vinyl in the kitchen finally found itself at the top of our priority list for home improvement projects. We also did the hall bathroom and the laundry room.

After several weeks of research we narrowed down the product line to a Luxury Vinyl Plank product in a faux-wood finish. It looks good, has a nice non-plastic feel to it, and is supposed to be super durable.

In terms of color we would have liked something light, but warm. Apparently warm is not fashionable at the moment and "greige" (grey/beige) is. So we considered a bunch of options looking for something with a grain we liked, a beveling we liked, and a color we could live with. We saw some really nice colors in the showroom only to discover that in our own lighting they looked very different.

We eventually picked a Shaw Floors product which is branded as "Invincible H2O - Charleston Place Plus - Coastal Path" by Carpet One. It's marketed as waterproof and virtually indestructible. It's warrantied against tears, rips, gouges, stains, cracking--pretty much everything for as long as we own it.

But enough of the text, on to the pictures!


As they began ripping up the carpet in the living room and hallway, we discovered that underneath was old hardwood in a nice honey stain. It was in not terrible shape, but not great either. Out it came so the floor could be leveled properly for the LVP. And $1000 worth of OSB later, the subfloor was ready to go.

I was still working out of my closet and the hall bathroom was torn apart, so we all did a lot of climbing in and out of our bedroom window to get around the house.


The bathroom needs to be finished by having the pedestal to the sink reinstalled and the transitions from LVP to carpet need to be finished, presumably that will get done next week.

A whole lot of stuff got stashed in the garage and our bedroom during the project. And since the house was already torn apart, and it was very apparent how filthy the carpets were, I rented a carpet cleaner on Friday and spent Saturday getting everything nice and clean.

Now we just have to put the whole house back together.

Gilroy Gardens

11:41 am

With at least the adults vaccinated and pretty much everything being outside we decided to take a trip down to Gilroy Gardens. We figured a Thursday (June 24) would probably not be super busy and then it turned out that the high was only ~77F. So it turned out to be an extremely pleasant day. Not too crowded; nice and cool.

We got there right at the open and managed to get on the paddle boats before the line got long:

Then it was over to the cars:

We wandered throughout the entire park, including a few hidden paths we've never seen before. We got the girls to go on the Timber Twister roller coaster which they both vowed never to do again. We ate ice cream and churros and soft pretzels--and ridiculously expensive pizza for lunch.

And back to the cars for one last ride before heading home:

Season passes at Gilroy Gardens are about the cost of 2 trips, so we were considering whether to make it a staple of our summer or not. After having gone through the whole park and seeing that the girls' interest in the attractions is beginning to wane somewhat we decided it would be a one-time trip this year. So instead of getting season passes, the girls got the sparkly narwhals they were goo-gahing over (which were not as ridiculously expensive as we thought they'd be). We don't know how or why, but our family has a thing for narwhals.

COVID-19: Part 59

June 15, 2021 6:25 pm
  • Out-of-Quarantine Day 1
  • Days spent in Quarantine: 455
  • Livermore cases: 4,345
  • Alameda County cases: 85,865; deaths: 1,225*
  • * The number of Alameda County deaths is lower than the previous posts. It seems to have been revised downward, but I have no details about that revision.
  • U.S. cases: 33,303,000+; deaths: 597,000+

The Alameda County Public Health Department is currently reporting that 59.8% of eligible Livermore residents are fully vaccinated and 72.1% are at least partially vaccinated!

The CDC is currently reporting that 51.4% of the eligible U.S. population is fully vaccinated and 61.5% is at least partially vaccinated!

Today California lifts most remaining public-health-related restrictions throughout the state. No more capacity limits or distancing requirements.

Mask requirements are still in effect for all persons in higher-risk locations like healthcare facilities and mass transit. Fully vaccinated persons no longer need to wear masks when indoors (businesses may still enforce their own rules, but may not prohibit wearing masks). Unvaccinated persons are required to continue to wear masks indoors. However, I don't think it likely we'll see much adherence to that since just saying, "I'm vaccinated" is enough to meet the state's enforcement guidelines. Mass gathering events also have some additional restrictions.

Hopefully the rates of vaccination and immunity acquired via prior infection are enough to keep things under control so life can go back to normal.

Normal, for those of us that made it through unscathed. Our family is healthy. Our extended family is healthy. 582,000-720,000 people died in the past 16 months in excess of the expected number of deaths during that time frame (according to the CDC data). The Imperial College London's paper from March 2020 warning that without mitigation measures the U.S. could lose 2.2 million people doesn't seem impossible.

We still have a disturbingly large swath of the country insisting none of this is real. The virus isn't real, but if it is it's just like the flu so it doesn't matter; the vaccine is a secret conspiracy to inject them with microchips; being asked to wear masks is just like the holocaust, the whole thing is a liberal plot to destroy democracy (somehow, there's not logic involved). None of those statements are exaggeration on my part. There are people making those claims on a regular basis. Some guy in Georgia shot and killed a cashier at a grocery store yesterday because he was asked to wear a mask. It's so messed up.

In other news, in contrast to the stock market collapsing back at the beginning, the stock market has been just constantly climbing since March 2020. It's up 79% since then, which is ridiculous.

I'm still working from my closet. The Lab is formulating a plan for returning on site. Last I heard they'll be phasing people in throughout the summer. The blanket telecommuting agreement has been extended through September.


I've just been taken some time to read through my early blog posts in this series. Man that's a wild ride. I think I'll get those printed into a little book.