Megan's Family Visits

August 7, 2021 7:17 pm

Megan and Chad drove their family across the country in what I can only assume was their own personal version of "Organ Trail" (the zombie-apocalypse-parody game of Oregon Trail--traverse the country, avoid the infected swarms).

I took Wednesday off of work and we met up with them in Fairfield. This would have been before Jess ended up in the ER that evening, see the previous post for that story.

We did the self-guided tour of the Jelly Belly factory:

After the tour we went to Fentons in Vacaville for lunch. It was not apparent to us before ordering our ice cream that their sundaes are massive. So we ended up with a lot of ice cream, but we made a valiant effort to eat what we could. So note, Fentons sundaes are to be shared by at least two people.

After lunch we spent a little time at Nut Tree Plaza in the shopping center where Fentons is. They have a little train to ride, a carousel, a playground, and a real old-fashioned, injury-inducing, merry-go-round. On the carousel, Corinne's wildest dream of riding a flamingo came true:

The high temperature in Fairfield was forecast for 83F, which would be fairly pleasant. I made a mistake in assuming that Vacaville (10 miles north) would be about the same. But Vacaville was 99F and so hanging out at Nut Tree Plaza lost its charm fairly quickly. Once we'd had our fill of the heat we headed back to Livermore and Megan's family headed back to Elk Grove.

COVID-19: Part 61

6:37 pm
  • Livermore cases: 4,901; eligible vaccination rate: 65.9%
  • Alameda County cases: 95,120; deaths: 1,242; eligible vaccination rate: 72.3%
  • U.S. cases: 35,665,000+; deaths: 614,000+; eligible vaccination rate: 58.6%

The situation continues to deteriorate across the country, but public health departments have finally started responding. Alameda County now has a mask requirement for all persons in public buildings. California has issued a requirement that all healthcare workers be fully vaccinated by mid-October (receive their final shot by Sep 30). Several large employers of various types around the country are announcing vaccination requirements for employees.

The federal government announced that federal employees must attest to their vaccination status. Those not attesting to being vaccinated will be required to wear masks, physically distance from others, be subject weekly or twice weekly testing, and have travel restrictions. It was indicated this requirement would be extended to contract organizations at some point, which would mean the Lab would need to comply. Hopefully they go one step further and require proof rather than attestation or have steep penalties attached to lying about it.

The Lab announced that they're getting a round of Pfizer vaccines to administer next week.

Jess was experiencing abdominal pain on Wednesday evening and we ended up going to the ER. Well she did. Only patients were allowed in because they were swamped with COVID patients. I sat outside for awhile and eventually went home and picked her up later. She got cycled back to the general waiting room in between seeing the doctor and having tests done since they didn't have enough space to just stay in the treatment area.

The hospital was straight out of a disaster movie. Entrances were barricaded and taped off, temporary tents and construction lighting were all over the outside, all the personnel were wearing multiple layers of PPE (e.g., masks + face shields), and signs everywhere about restricted access. They had a separate entrance near the ER set up to take people through some tents to an imaging area without passing through the waiting room. I took a couple of pictures, but didn't want to be an annoyance to anyone, so I didn't take pictures where anyone was hanging out.

Jess was there for about 4 hours; thankfully they got her test results rapidly. They gave her a prescription for some pain killers for a presumed kidney stone (it didn't show up on the CT) and she came home.

It's not clear why it's such a difficult message to get across: too many people needing medical care at the same time will overwhelm the medical system causing lower quality outcomes for all patients. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, physically distance. It's not a hard concept. But I guess until the medical system for a region truly does fail under the load many people just won't pay any attention.

The U.S. is back well above 100,000 new cases per day now after getting down below 10,000 in mid-June.

School is starting all around the country over the next few weeks. Over the past several months, some states passed absolutely bonkers laws that prohibit schools from requiring masks for their students. Thankfully California, on the other hand, has mandated that all students, teachers, faculty, etc. in K-12 are required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status per the guidance issued by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

There hasn't been a single day since early March 2020 for which fewer than 100 deaths due to COVID-19 were reported in the country, thankfully we're not at the 4,000+ per day we saw in January, but we are at ~600 per day and trending up. 600 completely preventable deaths a day. It's sad and frustrating that there is so much disinformation and derision for something with such obvious and devastating impact.

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: 1,232; 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.