Matt Hackmann

MattHackmann

The thoughts and goings-on of some programmer dude.

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...

...man, 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.

With Retrospective Regularity

In what's become the only reliable thing on this blog (outside of my making statements like this), I wrote a letter to myself last year, as I do. Here's most of that letter, with some rather... personal thoughts redacted.

Dear FutureMe,

Well, hey there. That was one hell of a message you wrote two years ago. This one might be a little different. More uplifting? Sure. Let's go.

Work seems to be the thing I talk about first, so let's start there. In 2018 you finally left LinkedIn forever (probably) and SurveyMonkey, while seemingly a step down in engineering prestige, has a lot of great potential for personal growth. I expect by the time you're reading this, you'll have joined the Wrench or possible web platform teams. But, no reason to think you'll have left. Hopefully that stock will have gone somewhere...

Love life! Dating PERSON A right now, and have been in continuous contact with her for a bit over a month now. This is the first time I think I can see an actual relationship forming in the future, though I have a couple hangups (redact from the blog if you want):

1) The adopted teenager thing raises an eyebrow. I respect the shit out of her for doing that, but not sure how I am with it. Somewhat conversely, if she's against having her own kids, that'd be a relationship ending event.

2) [REDACTED]

If I had to make a prediction for one year from now... well, there's no reason to believe that anything will be called off at this point. Unless the speed at which this relationship is going becomes an issue. /shrug

In terms of personal achievements for 2019, I'd really love to get my pilots license. We'll see how that goes. Definitely want to put more time into the YouTube channel and I want to have the NES boombox finished and hopefully garnering some views from HaD and maybe even Kotaku and other outlets. That'll be the thing I need to get some viewership, I think. Hopefully the thought of not disappointing a bunch of subscribers will drive me to do more.

Okay, that's that. Nothing more to talk about... I am curious about where one other thing will be in a year's time. My money is on "nooooope".

I was a chatty one that year. Per usual, I spent most of it talking about my love life, because compared to all the other normal Hakk shit I do, that's always been the nut I couldn't crack and the only thing people seem to want to know about when meeting up after a time (looking at you, Hackmann Family Reunion 2019). Okay, let's knock out the bullet points.

WORK

More or less accurate. Still at SurveyMonkey, still really enjoying it. I've not actually bounced to the UI patterns infrastructure team (aka Wrench), or any inftrastructure team. Still on growth and feel like this might be the most comfortable yet fulfilling job I've had. It's firmly within my wheelhouse of knowledge in terms of technicals, I get to flex a little on design and product, yet there's still opportunity to grow. I like it. I like it a lot.

LOVE LIFE

I'm not entirely sure where to start here, really. I think when I'd written this, I'd seen PERSON A... twice? Which is an awful not many dates to be saying "oh, hey. we'll totes be together a year from now". My guess is that I was high on the idea that I'd hit that elusive second date and was still talking to said date. But, yeah, those hangups... The one not redacted I stand by, though I don't like the way I worded it. The one redacted... honestly, embarrassed that I wrote it at all. I suppose the short story shorter is, PERSON A broke things off with me about a month after this letter. Then PERSON B came and went. PERSON C, however...

Towards the end of summer when I realized things with PERSON B weren't actually going to pan out but it wasn't officially dead yet, I was about ready to swear off the dating apps again for a while. I'd still sift through my twice daily email of OkCupid "matches", maybe handing a like out here, reading a profile there, and on rare occasion, making contact (nobody ever messaged me first, unless it was a bot). It was all crickets, mostly, and I was tired of being disheartened by it. I don't recall if it was one of these email suggestions or random perusal, but I read the profile of somebody who seemed interesting and theoretically had personality overlap with me. I fired off some stupid quippy message about a picture on her profile and moved on; this was usually where communications stopped. Surprisingly, she took the bait and responded, the beginning of a little back and forth. Given that I was starting a two week vacation to the midwest, I expected the lead to fizzle out before I could get back for an actual date. But, we texted the entire time, eventually met up, went to Disneyland on a random whim, and - fast forward some months later - now live together in a new house (and have been to Disneyland three more times). There's a hell of a lot of things glossed over in that sentence, but suffice to say... I feel like the search is over. It's a little mind boggling how aligned we are on so many things and how fast we clicked; it's the kind of stuff one might scoff at in some romcom. Despite the speed by which they went by, the last few months have felt like years and I'm excited for our future together.

PILOT'S LICENSE

Nope! I was hot on that for a couple months, started reading the Pilot's Handbook, and it fizzled out. Not sure I really care anymore at this point, at least not for a PPL and small prop craft. What I really want to do is get IFR certified and takeoff/land small jets that otherwise fly themselves. It's a weird desire.

YOUTUBE/HAKK'S LAB

Surprised I hadn't pivoted at the point of writing this letter, but I did make and release another Hakk's lab video last April. However, it was about burning an NES SimCity repro cartridge and not the NES (or SNES, as I probably meant it) boombox. But, I did get my wish and got featured on Hackaday and a nice 100% bump in subscribes (up to a whole 250 as of this writing). That boombox thing has made significant progress and will definitely be the next video I publish... once I finish unpacking this house and get to a point where I can make things again. Pretty excited for that.

THAT OTHER THING

Second time running I've left a cryptic note like this. I'm not 100% sure of what it's about, but if it is what I think it is, I was and continue to be wrong on that front. It trods on.

So, that's my reflection of both 2018's thoughts and 2019's actual happenings in a very short nutshell. It started off pretty mundane (with the exception of starting a whole bunch of exercise and losing a quarter of my person in weight, which was not talked about) and ended more spectacularly than I could have imagined. If 2019 was one for the books, 2020 is going to be one for the Library of Congress' Film Archives!