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.

COVID-19: Part 26

April 27, 2020 7:51 pm
  • Quarantine Day 42 (A true "quarantine"!)
  • S.F. Bay Area Health Departments issued a press release that the shelter-at-home order will be extended through May with some easing, which is what I expected we'd hear. Details to come later in week.
  • The Congressional Budget Office released a report last week with economic projections:
    • Federal deficit for 2020 fiscal year: $3.7 trillion.
    • Federal debt will exceed 100% GDP by end of year.
    • Unemployment expected to exceed 9% until 2022.
    • 10-year Treasury bond yields expected to remain below 1% until 2022.
  • Livermore cases: 35
  • Alameda County: cases: 1,451; deaths: 51
  • U.S. cases: 957,000+; deaths: 53,900+

On Saturday we played through my first custom quest of a continuing campaign in Dragon Strike. I made some rule modifications that will allow Heather and Jess to have characters that level up at the end of each quest. So it's a little more continuous and interesting. But it also means I have to come up with quests. Which is a fair bit of work.

I don't pretend to be any master story teller, so I'm shamelessly borrowing heavily from any source I can come up with. The first quest was "The Plague of Bree" (yes, "Bree" is from LoTR). In the prologue our heroes awaken at home in Bree and need to get bread from the bakery. On their way through town they find villagers fallen ill and in need of help. The apothecary asks for their help in obtaining the herb Athelas (yes, from LoTR) from the forest to heal the townspeople. The baker gives them bread which heals 2 HP when eaten.

The main quest takes place in the forest where the heroes have to search for Athelas while avoiding or defeating enemies. A friendly Ranger explains to them where to look for the herb and helps protect them.

Our heroes Ivy (Heather) and Beryl (Jess) found a Ring of Protection in a chest at the bottom of the river, defeated 3 monsters, retrieved the Athelas and saved the townspeople. Where will they go next week?


On Sunday I repaired the TV/Receiver remote by taking it apart and, after cleaning, applying some conductive paint to the backs of the buttons that weren't working properly. Good as new now.

I made another batch of pizza dough. Two for the freezer and 1 for dinner.

Tonight I used up my last packet of Taco Bell fire sauce. Sad day.

Some states have started easing suppression measures. With no federal leadership everyone is pretty much making it up as they go along. So there's a ton of variety in rules and processes. It will be interesting to see over the next 6 weeks how things start to shake out from place to place.

COVID-19: Part 25

April 24, 2020 3:27 pm
  • Quarantine Day 39
  • Another 4.4 million first-time unemployment claims last week. Which means the overall unemployment rate right now is probably above 20%.
  • Congress adds another ~$500 billion in relief/stimulus spending. Plans expected for another, larger round in the coming weeks.
  • In a nice contrast to the stupidity of the protests, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll reports that ~80% of Americans support the shelter-at-home orders.
  • Livermore cases: 34
  • Alameda County cases: 1,354; deaths: 47
  • U.S. cases: 865,000+; deaths: 48,800+

Scrolling through Reddit yesterday I saw a headline that the FDA was warning people not to inject themselves with disinfectant. I thought that was a bit strange, but it must have been prompted by some idiot on YouTube. And I was right, except instead of "YouTube" it was "White House Press Room" and instead of "some idiot" it was "President of the United States" (not that those two things are mutually exclusive). I can't even begin to comprehend the level of Dunning-Kruger-powered ignorance it takes to say this:

And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning.

Donald Trump, April 24, 2020

He also suggested that we should bathe people in ultraviolet light and also get it inside their bodies (somehow) to kill the virus:

So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too.

Donald Trump, April 24, 2020

Honestly, I can't even react to this level of stupid. Surely this is the kind of stuff kids learn by like 12? That taking disinfectant internally is a bad idea because it kills your cells just as well as anything else? That UV light kills cells too, hence sun burns? Sure, lets put a light down into the lungs and blast everything with UV. Maybe we kill the virus, but it won't matter because you'll be dead too.

Would an adult please stop letting him say this stuff? Someone is going to kill themselves or their family members following his advice.

So now every organization out there that produces or sells disinfectant, bleach, or UV lights is putting out press releases saying, "DO NOT DO WHAT TRUMP SAID. YOU WILL DIE."


It's finally Friday again. My replacement pieces for Dragon Strike have arrived (the figurines and instruction booklet, but the dice are still in transit). Heather has been asking to play again all week, so I'll have to prep another adventure.

I might try taking the game to the next level and plan out a multi-session campaign through which she can take a character that "levels up" over time. I have some ideas, so we'll see.

COVID-19: Part 24

April 22, 2020 3:44 pm
  • Quarantine Day 37
  • Trump declares, via Tweet, that all immigration is halted. No one in the administration knows what he's talking about. Which is to say, business as usual.
  • Attorney General Barr threatens states with legal action for continuing suppression measures. This despite Trump having told governors that they're on their own to figure everything out.
  • The National Institutes of Health recommend against using the drug that Trump has been touting as a miracle cure.
  • The National Security Advisor is now pushing the completely unsupported claims that the WHO is a Chinese propaganda puppet. Trump paid no attention when the WHO warned us in January, so his failure to act must be their fault.
  • Livermore cases: 33
  • Alameda County cases: 1,235; deaths: 44
  • U.S. Cases: 802,000+; deaths: 44,500+

I mentioned in previous posts about the protests against the shelter-at-home orders. One might think that these protestors are upset because of things like, "I need to work to put food on the table." I'd be entirely sympathetic to people who are trying to make it known that their families are starving and that they need help.

That's not who's protesting.

These are people protesting because they can't go play golf or get a haircut or a massage--insisting that temporary inconvenience is oppression. They're selfish, self centered, and willfully ignorant. And the messaging is all being pushed through intentional disinformation/astroturfing campaigns and encouraged by Trump. It disgusts me.

Yesterday I came across this concerning article from last week: (Title: In Pursuit of PPE, Date: April 17, 2020, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2010025). It describes the extreme lengths some hospitals are resorting to in order to obtain PPE. In this case moving equipment in trucks labeled as food supplies and then needing Congressional involvement to stop the FBI from seizing the shipment and giving it to DHS.

Normally I wouldn't put much stock in an internet anecdote like this, but it's through the New England Journal of Medicine so it gets a huge credibility boost. Presumably they have some vetting on at least the authors if not the information they're providing. And that makes it quite concerning. If the federal government has been actively hijacking equipment purchased by hospitals there are serious problems afoot.