Matt Hackmann


The thoughts and goings-on of some programmer dude.

The Corona Report Day 230 - Fuck, whut?

I just went back and re-read my previous posts on the COVID pandemic from what seems like an eternity ago. That I at least partially seriously believed I could pump out a pandemic related post per day until the whole thing was over is laughable at this point. At that point, the relevance of masks hadn't been figured out and the global death count was likely lower than where the States is right now. Jesus.

So, yeah. It's been over half a year since my last post and, at this point, living in pandemic world is just normal life. You wear a mask when you go out, you work from from home and don't really see your friends anymore, and you wait and watch with trepidation to see what the next thing that's going to open up will be. As of this writing, the Bay Area has some dining (indoor and out) open as well as theaters and some outdoor rec. This is nice, because it allows Kayla and I some respite from the house once every other week or so. It feels weird at best and wrong at worst to be going out and doing these things, but I feel we're taking the right level of precaution to keep ourselves and others safe. Words I may eat later, but there it is.

But, 2020 has now become a bit of a meme, and if you thought that the Great COVID-19 Pandemic was the only thing going on, you'd be quite wrong. Over the summer, there were the protests (most non-violent, but also the ones that were) over police brutality that finally put some things into perspective for me. The lightning storm I delighted in one morning turned out to be the literal spark that caught the areas around us on fire, including the areas around where Kayla's parents live, so that was a thing that needed to be handled. And, of course, in the middle of all of this, it's an election year, which has been occupying more time in my brain than I'd honestly like it to.

Prior to 2016, I stayed away from politics as much as I possibly could. I even laid out my grand vision for "not voting is a vote" to somebody on a date that year which, in retrospect, looks mighty ignorant on my part. But after watching those in power demonstrate that they are actually an evil movie villain and the people who blindingly worship said people, I feel a real and genuine fear. Around the last presidential election, I got into a spirited debate with one of my best friends about what a corrupt president could actually do, myself taking the side of "checks and balances will keep the ship sailing in mostly the correct direction." Over the last four years, I've watched those checks and balances be side stepped or strong armed into doing the bidding of an individual and then that individual creating social unrest among those who worship him based on the color of his flag. It's basically destroyed what trust I had in our government's core structure and I yearn for what we had before or, at least, what I perceived we had. But, I'm afraid it's going to take a very very long time to weed through that. And god knows what's going to happen on election day and the days immediately following...

In lighter news, I'm getting married. That's kind of a big deal. Of course, planning a wedding in the middle of a big 'ol pandemic is an interesting thing. We've met very few folks face to face, missed out on any wedding fairs, and are basically laying out concrete plans knowing that everything might backslide and we'll have an event nobody can attend. Still, you get an appreciation for the art of pulling together such an event and it makes me realize what an ungrateful asshole I probably came off as to the various weddings I've attended... But, our wedding will be great. Outside of legally binding myself to the person I love most in the world, it'll be cutely decorated with a million DIY projects we're currently pulling together and, of course, a full bar. There won't be too many guests, which is good because pandemic, but it'll be a great group of people and I'm excited to party with them and celebrate a life milestone that, for a while, I didn't think I'd actually achieve.

It seems my glass of gin and tonic has emptied and, so too, the words that I'm going to write in this post. It's really hard to summarize all the things that have happened between now and my early April posts because it's a fluid future we're moving through. I think once we get past Tuesday and whatever shenanigans come from that, I'll be a little better. Depending on how it goes, of course.

Worse comes to worse, Animal Crossing is still there for me.

The Corona Report - 'Sweet Jesus, that was two weeks ago'

For as slow as time has felt lately, I was genuinely surprised to see that the last time I wrote one of these posts was, indeed, in the vicinity of two weeks ago. Feels like not that long ago but also like a lifetime or two ago.

As I type this, I wrap up week three of working at home. I've more or less settled into a simple routine. It follows such:

  1. Around 7-8a, begin the process of waking up. I like to wake up with cuddles, but to each their own.
  2. Once awoken and cuddled, Animal Crossing commences in bed for a brief period. I'll talk more about the game later, but this is mostly to assess the situation at Nook's: hot item, turnip prices, the usual.
  3. Showers and teeth and whatever generally happen afterwards and then breakfast. This week, I've been binging on sugary cereal. Honestly, a big mistake, because I could eat an entire box in a sitting...
  4. Once that ritual is done, I make a coffee and we "go to work"... about fifteen feet from where everything else has taken place. We generally try to start working around 8:30a, but it's pretty easy to be lazy when you don't have to contend with a morning commute. This week especially, since Kayla's on spring break, I've been started more around 9a...
  5. "At work", I just work. Honestly, even though I'm at my own desk in my own house, when I'm in work mode, it feels like I'm "at" work. If I've not said it before, I'm damn lucky that my job is almost entirely unaffected by this work from home world we currently live in. The lack of in person face time with my coworkers is a massive bummer, but I still get to chat with them online. This is something I'm comfortable with as I've fostered many long distance friendships entirely over chatroom.
  6. Around noon, we generally break for lunch. Lately, I've been blowing through some homemade pizza dough I've had in the freezer for a few months. Not only is a tiny pizza for lunch cute as shit, it's also delicious. I can put whatever leftover toppings on that I want. Barbecue chicken, ranch dressing, fancy cheese, carnitas, taco sauce. I've not had a dud yet. To go with food, Kayla and I have taken to watching an episode or two of a show or, since it came out, yet more Animal Crossing.
  7. By 1p, it's back to work until 3:30-4p. A coworker of mine has setup a recurring 3p meeting for our team to talk about whatever, a digital replacement for yelling over the desk divider. I've come to enjoy that as it adds a little bit of spice and levity to the isolation.
  8. After work, we try to get in some sort of outside time. Walks, bike rides, running after Kayla while she bike rides, these have all been done. I'm super comfortable with walking, so if I'm off on my own, I try to push the mileage and speed up. It's cathartic and adds in that nice break that otherwise would have been the commute back from the office.

After that, it's more or less business as usual. Make dinner, play Animal Crossing, watch a show, play Animal Crossing, eat ice cream and probably play Animal Crossing at the same time.

...gonna have to write about Animal Crossing in my next post, methinks...

Really, that just reads as any old day, as far as a weekday goes. The only real difference is lack of travel and location. And I like it that way; helps keep my context of what needs to be done properly framed.

We have also formed a little bit of routine for the weekend. Generally on Saturday, we'll make a run to the store for groceries, per usual. The stock levels in stores has mostly levelled out, though TP still proves to be elusive. Actually being in the stores is a little weird, being much emptier than usual and, thus, quieter. Makes it a little eerie, especially with people largely avoiding each other and walking around with masks (which only feels weird being America; I got pretty used to seeing the masks in my trips to Japan). We also use this time out to "eat out", meaning grab take out from some fast food type establishment. It's the only real outing we have during the week as far as going to social centers is concerned.

Outside activity is generally on the plate for the weekend, as well. I guess we've gone on a hike once... okay, I think that may have been it. And I swear, it was much harder social distancing on that hike than it's been at any store due to the amount of people. Even the house park has seen a massive uptick in folks wandering around, that I've noticed. It's good to see.

Yeah, that was a long ass post. This is pretty much going to be my life for the weeks to come as I don't see people being allowed to re-emerge for another couple months. And then we'll probably have to do it again when the second wave of infections starts..., I miss Disneyland...

The Corona Report - Day 3

Day 3 and I'm not entirely certain what's to be said, at least as far as our exciting pandemic is concerned. The entire state is now in the same kind of lock down that we in the Bay Area have been experiencing, but that really means very little for us.

I've often avoided working from home with the excuse that I'm in a better headspace in the office. This is partially true and partially a ruse to "work from home"... and have extended drinking lunches with friends. Except, the headspace thing may not even be true. In having had to work from home the last few days and taking the time to have a proper computer setup with lots of monitors, and overly expensive clacky keyboard, and all the ammenities, I've come to a realization. I can't work from a laptop. It's one screen. One tiny screen. Who even does that... for reals?

Tomorrow I'm planning an adventure back into the real world to grab machine screws so I can wall mount my TV in the living room. I'm a little excited, because that'll free up space on top of the TV stand to:

  1. Put my turntable, which has been largely inaccessible for the last few years. I look forward to cooking the sweet sounds of scratchy vinyl.
  2. My Switch can also go on top of the TV stand which means easier access for docking/undocking.

Speaking of the Switch, the years and years of being without a new Animal Crossing game is finally coming to an end. As I understand, it's currently live for the states but I'm here typing this post instead of playing because my girlfriend pressured me to (hi, Kayla. I love you. I see you reading this as I type it). I also love Animal Crossing and I think during this time of weirdness, it'll provide a nice comfort. Also, who doesn't want to do crappy labor for Tom Nook to pay off exorbitant real estate debt in glorious HD?

With that, I think I'll gonna finagle my Switch out of it's tight space and zone out on that for a bit.

The Corona Report - Day 2

It rained a little bit today. Not enough to be calming, but too much to not be annoying and literally rain on Kayla and I's "walk home from work", an idea we're gonnna try out to separate the line between the working day and home time. I was a bit sad about that, really...

Another thing I'm sad/worried about and alluded to in the last post is the stock market. I guess it's more the ecomonics of everything: supply chains, companies we rely on having enough cash to keep not only their services afloat, but also their employees. I'm not terribly worried about my own job, but there's a lot of blue collar folks that are going to be hard hit. Some companies are being cool, paying some amount of wages while folks are unable to work. But, that can't last forever. Unemployment is going to be through the roof and social services are ill equipped (where they exist) to handle something of that magnitude. It really sounds like Depression 2.0, and if I hadn't mentioned it before, that's what worries me the most. I have every hope and some amount of confidence that we as a people will learn some important lessons, make some important changes, and in ten years will be better off as a whole.

But, it's gonna be a few years of suck until we get there.

In other news, Nikka makes a whiskey that's aged on coffee beans or something. Has a mildly peaty aftertaste. I'm enjoying that right now as I curse at the band-aid on my finger I'm trying to type through. Stupid me sliced through some nail and finger as I was trying to look cool in front of my girlfriend. I feel as if my knifesmanship is the only reason she continues to date me and now I've gone and ruined everything. At least I can still flippy dippy sauteeing food in a pan. Oh, I guess also my rippin' pecs.

Speaking of which, figuring out how to keep on the exercise train while not at the office where I usually do exercise requires a little more diligence. Some folks at the work started a new daily challenge that I'm going to be involved in, and I guess technically my Disney half-marathon isn't officially cancelled yet. Ultimately, I have to hold myself to getting some activity in. I know it'll be a good way to keep my spirits up; it got me out of depression once, maybe it'll keep me from going there again.

And if that doesn't work, there's always the Auralnauts Star Wars parodies!

The Corona Report - Day 1

Oh hey, look at that. The world is flying apart at the seams!

So yeah, coronavirus and/or COVID-19 and/or SARS-CoV-2 is a thing that is currently happening. For my child who may read this later while writing a report on the Great Pandemic of 2020, this is an upper respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan, China potentially from some highly unsanitary meat market. Lots of theories flying around about that and the secretive state that is the PRC, but we won't speculate on that here. Time will or won't tell what comes of that later.

Nah, this is just me jotting down my thoughts on a daily basis as to what I'm doing and how what may be one of the most unprecedented calamities to befall mankind (outside of war) is affecting me. Or not, because sometimes I'd rather just ignore the world.

At this point in time, the Bay Area is nearing 24 hours of "shelter in place". In a lot of ways, it's akin to when you know a giant winter storm is going to roll through and you don't expect to get to the store for several days. We expect to not really be able to go out and do anything, and indeed, measures have been put into place to encourage staying at home, or at least make it highly inconvenient to leave. Restaurants are take-out/deliver only, schools are closed, work offices are "closed", grocery stores are operating on non-standard hours. The difference between this and a snow storm is that a snow storm is an actual physical thing keeping you away from doing stuff. You can see it, you can't really get around it. Where we are now is a little more bizarre in that the virus can't be seen, you don't know who has it, and you don't even know if it will really affect one's self. It's such a curious thing to have this feeling that the world is stopped, but then go outside and the air be crisp, the sky blue, and the sun shining as if it was a happy day on the cusp of spring.

This all hit me as Kayla and I were taking a walk around the neighborhood today, escaping temporarily from our work-from-home office. The only thing that makes this extraordinary is largely a state of mind. And also, perhaps a little like a storm but in other ways not, we don't really know when this will all let up. Is there a day that the powers that be will declare everything is safe now to go back out? Will it be a rush on every restaurant and bar? Will it be a trickle of folks taking trepodatious steps back out into the world that will slowly ramp back up into whatever normal we had before?

I don't know. And I don't believe anybody really knows. This has literally never happened before and, whatever may have been close, wasn't done in a world where people can continue to almost lead normal lives at home via the Internet. In a lot of ways, this whole situation keeps reminding me of the depression (especially with the way the markets are, but more on that later). There was a day where everything changed and it had large effects for a damn long time. But, when did those people find out that everything was fucked up? We can know it now nearly instantly, but back then did people know when something was up when stores started drying up simply because trucks stopped coming in? Did they know why? How did that all propogate? Radio? Probably...

Whatever, I'm just rambling at this point. Maybe I'll ramble more tomorrow.

Maybe I can buy toilet paper tomorrow...

I'm not optimisic.