This Day In History: 08/22

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

I managed to pass exams in Lower Theory, History, and Upper Theory (Counterpoint is not yet posted). Only half of the new grad students passed the History exam, but the other exams seemed to go better overall. This will free up a good block of my time for interesting classes, since I have a pretty good feeling about the Counterpoint exam.

Virginia Tech had eleven general-purpose practice rooms. Six had sufficiently-functional pianos, and another one eternally smelled of the Steak Escape special sauce spilled behind the upright. It was definitely an eye-opener this morning when I discovered two full floors of nothing but practice rooms and music lockers here at FSU. Almost every room I peeked in had its own upright (complete with a stool chained to the piano).

I also picked up my Florida driver's license this morning. Compared with Virginia's, the somber green and white design is butt-ugly.

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Thursday, August 22, 2002

I met with Dr. Spencer this afternoon to review my teaching duties. I'll be helping with MUT1001 which is the entry-level theory course for new students who didn't do so hot on their entrance exams. It covers the first six chapters of the textbook, much like Theory for Non-majors. Besides teaching on Wednesday and Friday, I'll be helping with drilling, and improving the existing software to track student progress. It sounds ilke a really interesting assignment, and I'm looking forward to working with Dr. Spencer.

I've continued work on my thesis which is coming along slowly but surely. I still haven't gotten into the school mindset of structured composition but I'm getting there. I'll post the work-in-progress MIDI as usual soon.

There's a party at Mike's tonight, 9:30. Come on out, if you know where it is.

The concrete fetish man
Jacksonville reporter gets hit by drunk heckler (WMV)

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Monday, August 22, 2005

I sore on a stack of Bibles that I wouldn't t'ache today's update to talk about my weekend of moving and it pains me to go back on that, but I figured that at least I could mention how stiff I am so you'd know that I wasn't just pulling your muscle. I'll spare you the whole soredid tale, but if anyone has some pain-relieving bruise I could quaff, I could leave this world of hurt.

I'll give you a moment to cauterize that horrible introductory paragraph from your brain before continuing.

On Saturday, four of us split an apartment of two into two Apartments of One1, near my old stomping grounds in Alexandria. One of them moved up to an efficiency on Seminary Road and the other moved into the Hamlets, by William Ramsey Elementary where I went to Kindergarten. The apartments were all overhauled and renamed with yuppy-friendly names like Brookdale, Hillwood, and Creekruncliffsloperidge (Indian name), but to me they'll always be the Hamlets. It's just like College Park in Blacksburg -- you might rename it to The Village to attract more non-college kids, but we all see those loud keggers on the third floor through your gauzy veil of obfuscation.

On Sunday, there was more miscellaneous moving and assembling, as well as a trip to Ikea to pick up the one critical piece of the Ikea bed which is sold separately. It was called a Dokka, which is Ikean for "midbeam". My move-o-meter is exhausted for at least a month, so if any of you reader-clowns are going back to college or are planning on getting evicted, I will eloquently decline to help you.

There's a massive bruise on my right forearm, about halfway between my wrist and elbow. People at work today are either going to think I was giving myself hickies, or I'm really bad at shooting up intravenous drugs, and I'm not sure which story I should lean towards. Because I lack the energy to write my original article for today, I'll leave you with a list of three people I knew who used to live in the Hamlets:

  • Ali Tagoe: A guy I knew in junior high who was often forced to endure childish jokes involving his last name and food delivery. I think his mom was very strict because he wasn't allowed to come over a lot. Once I called his house and said "Is Ali there?" and his mom read me the riot act. Apparently, that's not how you're supposed to use the telephone. She told me to hang up and call again, this time saying, "Hello, this is Brian. May I please speak with Ali?"
  • Ian: A close friend I had in eighth grade, after which he moved to Pennsylvania. We used to bike through the woods near Holmes Run to this abandoned dirtbike track and get all muddy jumping over all the brooks, hills, dales, runs, and creeks. During summer vacation, he would call every day and just sit on the phone all day long while he did stuff. Since this was before the advent of cordless phones and call-waiting, it was mind-numbingly dull, so I finally had my sister tell him I had gone on a month-long vacation with another friend, James Houck.
  • Pat Skelly: She was the big, scary lunch lady at James K. Polk Elementary. She could walk out of the kitchen and the entire cafeteria would go radio-silent. Then she'd menacingly point at the table which was making too much noise and proclaim, "Table Two is SILENT," which meant that people at table two were no longer allowed to talk for the rest of the lunch period. She babysat my sister and I one summer -- the two of us would wander off to the Mark Winkler Botanical Preserve and play in the radioactive creek while she watched Perry Mason all day long. This familiarity meant that the following year, we could sit at the special cafeteria table and could talk all we wanted. We were so cool.

    Incidentally, after she left, the new lunch lady could not control the cafeteria in the least bit. They had to buy a Yacker Tracker to hang on the wall which monitored noise levels. The light would go from green to yellow to red and then a high-pitched siren would go off if things got too loud. This didn't work because everyone hated the new lady (she looked funny, which gave justifiable cause for elementary school hatred) so we all just tried to make the siren go off as often as possible.
Two bigots, a small hippie, and a side of fries, please

Yesterday's search terms:
flowchart of mcdonald's chicken nuggets, grape stomping photos, sleeping booty, naked sushi picture, dave mcgarry dreams of you, broom lion mpeg fun

1: Legality of this phrase is dependent upon my successful negotiations with the U.S. Army.

tagged as memories | permalink | 6 comments

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Two for Newsday Tuesday

Fugitive Closes Down Virginia Tech Campus

A dangerous escaped convict holed up near the campus of Virginia Tech yesterday, forcing campus officials to cancel all classes on the first day of school, disappointing thousands of bright-eyed freshmen who actually expected to get something out of the first day of class other than a mimeographed syllabus and a disinterested professor.

According to reports by the locals, the man was completely naked, with an impressive set of lamb-chops adorning each side of his face, and vaguely resembled Jake Gyllenhaal in his role of "Teenage Yeti". Police disagreed with these reports, saying that he wore a tie-dyed shirt and khakis and they feared he would blend in with students on campus. Apparently the campus has now been overrun with dirty hippies who have infiltrated buildings other than the old Drama Building and send organized crime / communist messages throughout the populace with Hackey Sack Morse code.

Luckily, the suspect was apprehended during the afternoon without further incident. As punishment, he was made to stand next to a sign for a collection of Alphabet Flash Cards (although this reporter is not quite sure how he ties into the term, "Kleenex").

NORAD Reports Unidentified Life Form on Radar

The North American Aerospace Defense Command detected unusual activity yesterday when a small unidentified peanut-like organism appeared on several of its radars. The creature seems to be a humanoid (meaning it will drop either [Silk Cloth] or [Wool Cloth] when pickpocketed) and even did a short ceremonial dance when it realized there were observers. Senior scientists were quick to note the similarity to the familiar seahorse, but caution the public against presuming anything so soon. NORAD predicts the life form will enter the Earth's atmosphere on March 27, 2007 which, coincidentally, is also the birthdate of Mariah Carey, Quentin Tarantino, Randall Cunningham, and the actress who played "Baby" in Dirty Dancing. Nobody puts Baby on the radar.

Help our cat or we'll shoot this fireman
Attack of the Mannequins
Man sues because he decided to be in gay porn

tagged as newsday | permalink | 6 comments

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quick Sketch Day

what I've been up to this week

Sunday, 2:30 PM: Sat down to do some work from home but found that the VPN server was down. Took a trip into the office and stayed there until late. Had leftover shrimp lo mein and beef with mushrooms for dinner.


Sunday, 10:30 PM: It was so pleasant out that I decided to open all the windows and air out my house (no doubt, the scent of manliness and success permeated the premises).


Sunday, 1:00 AM: The "perpetually running free until picked up by animal control then running free again" Alaskan Husky from two doors down, who I have named Miguel, got in a fight with a skunk in my driveway. The stench wafted through all the open windows in my house.


Monday, 5:30 AM: Got in the car to drive to Baileys Crossroad before HOV restrictions closed off the main road for rush hour and found that it reeked of skunk. Plus, the first song that came on the radio was TATU.


Monday: Spent all morning manually implementing fixes on set of servers strategically placed directly next to an air-conditioner vent, which made the ambient temperature hover near fifty and the noise level somewhere between lawnmower and jet engine on the classic Decibel illustration chart.


Monday, 10:30 PM: Returned to the office at 1, worked until 6, ate some Shells and Cheese, and then worked until 10. Decided to open the windows again to air out the skunkiness.


Tuesday Night: Thunderstorms roll in, forcing me to wake up and shut all the windows. Multiple inches of rain received.


Tuesday, 5:30 AM: Car still smells like skunk. Drove through the rain back to Baileys Crossroad (sixty miles round trip). Sat outside the lab for a half hour because the official lab-opener didn't show up.


Tuesday: Spent the day working on three separate issues, running between three separate banks of computers, only two of which were near the phones. Around 11, three more members of the team showed up, and had to be escorted around the secret computers with evidence of alien existence under a ridiculously restrictive escort policy.


Tuesday, 4:45 PM: Finally left the lab and went to my parents' house to wait for rush hour to end. Stole food from their freezer for dinner lunch breakfast.


Tuesday, 7:00 PM: Left Alexandria in the skunk car just as a massive thunderstorm swept through the area. My car failed inspection last May so the inspectors could charge me $40 for a new pair of wipers. They don't work -- they skip across the windshield with a dubba-dubba-dubba sound.


Tuesday, 7:40 PM: Arrived home to find that Booty had eaten Amber, fearing that my extended absence meant that she would never be fed again. Did some more work and went to bed.


How not to transport your boyfriend
Staff steals millions and blows it on lotto tickets
Diplomat retires over Arab remark

tagged as programming, day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Foraging

I front-loaded this two-week pay period with additional hours working last weekend, which allowed me to take today off without using up any leave. Front-loading is a highly recommended practice since it results in free vacation days, and since rear-loading just sounds dirty.

I'll be spending today watching the second season of Dexter and working on a top secret website project codenamed BUVite. Rather than toss out a Fragments column today, I decided that I would post a list of some recent search-engine queries that brought people here, and then satisfy their needs as best as I could.

  • Jonathan Ke fish lips

  • Jim Henson's Chun King Ad: Actually it was Stan Freberg who theorized that ancient Chinese people eat hot dogs every day. You can listen to this here (500KB MP3).

  • warez mexico: This might be the most common search term in my history -- apparently pirated software is big south of the border. However, in the URI! Zone, this term refers to the listserv flame war that started when Dave McGarry was forced into hard labour by the Mexican police.

  • blog kathy biddick: You can find Kathy's blog in the sidebar. She hasn't updated in years though.

  • plant terrariums, mikado: I suppose that if Gilbert and Sullivan wrote about terrariums in their opera, the song might have come out like this:
      Behold the Lord High Plant Terrarium
      It's made for leaves not water like aquariums
      You plant the seeds and they shall germinate
      And keep the aphids, please do not exterminate!

  • Describe Mendelssohn, Concerto for Violin in E minor 1st Movement: Bendy.

  • Hot Alyssa Milano Pics:

  • simple intersting short news about tatu: They're still bad.

  • shawna johnson gymnastics pics: For the record, I did gymnastics in elementary school with Shawna, not Shawn.

  • mike monday stella attar jump: You can download it here (3MB MP3)

  • swallowing pencils and pooping diamonds: WHAT

  • Whatever happened to Dr. Callender?: He's still at FSU.

  • stuffonmybaby:

  • step-by-step instructions on how to pee in a cup for women:
    1. Depants.
    2. Hover over cup.
    3. Pee.
  • Ignore that logo under the tape
    Woman bash serial bottom pincher
    San Marcos Officer Gets Death Threats For 'It's Just a Dog' Comment

    tagged as website, searches | permalink | 8 comments

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Weekend Wrap-up

    On Friday evening, we met up with one of Rebecca's coworkers from the physical therapy clinic for dinner in Leesburg at the Doner Bistro. A doner is like an unfried calzone filled with shredded meat and coated in enough cucumber sauce that the entire affair is a squeezed frog every time you take a bite. I had a bacon beer with my meal and we watched a torrential downpour introduce itself to a BMW-with-open-sunroof at the fancy restaurant across the street. We followed dinner up with dessert at Milwaukee Custard, also in Leesburg at a shopping center with one of every yuppy essential from Petsmart to Pei Wei.

    I spent much of Saturday correcting my MIDI setup, and was able to reduce the input delay on my keyboard from half a second to a few milliseconds. Though it's still slightly jarring, it no longer feels like I am composing from the future, so I'll be more compelled to write Museday features on Tuesdays. We had dinner at Yamazato Sushi in Alexandria and then went to Jack's house for a guest-hosted game of poker (once you have kids, it's easier to let people host things at your house). Rebecca walked away with first place and $40, while Tom walked away with a fiver and five ones, essentially enacting a no interest exchange of the ten dollar bill he had arrived with.

    Sunday was a quiet day, with Rebecca preparing for first lectures by watching videos about cadavers. I tried using the Wii Fit again, and finally noticed the option for setting the weight of my clothes away from the default of 2 pounds -- does anyone actually work out in 2 pounds of clothing? My clothes barely weigh two pounds at low tide. Because of the clothes differential, Wii Fit decided that I had gotten fat since the previous day, and asked if my weight gain was due to overeating or other catastrophes. Since "heavy clothing" was not an option, I went with "I don't know" and received a lecture about metabolism. It finally let me continue with the workout, and I was able to do two situps before summer had changed into autumn and it was time for dinner.

    We closed the evening out with The Wire and Peking pork chops, simmered all day in the slow cooker.

    Utah researcher helps artist make bulletproof skin
    ORLY Airport tests virtual boarding agents
    Chipotle Changes Menu After Secret Ingredient Revealed

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Memory Day: Thirteen Years Ago Today

    August 22, 1999 was the Sunday before the first day of classes in my fourth year at Virginia Tech. I had just finished a week of band camp and had moved into East Ambler Johnston with Kelley Corbett and his eight hundred towels. I had a 19 credit schedule lined up that included Physics, Intro to Human-Computer Interaction, Conducting, Counterpoint, Trumpet lessons, Composition lessons, Flute lessons, and Marching Band.

    The pictures on the right were taken at the End-of-Band-Camp festivities with a brand new 2 megapixel camera. You can also date the images by the classy shadow-bevel effect, which meant that I was still using Paint Shop Pro for all of my graphics needs.

    Sunday the 22nd opened at a band fraternity party (Kappa Kappa Psi). As section leaders, Pat Brown and I had decided to get as many freshman trumpet players involved socially as possible. Although most parties cover their expenses by selling cups, this particular one was ticket-based, which meant that we could get the whole trumpet section in for the price of one ticket and the time it took to photocopy it sixty-three times.

    I was also taking freshmen under my wing by giving them rides to and from the party, and on this particular day, I took a little freshman girl named Anna Spellerberg home from the KKP party (pictured, above right with the pineapple). As everyone who knows her today can attest, Anna is very shy. I was only able to glean a few details of her life during the 10 minute car ride home, namely that she had a boyfriend back home named Ben who she met at her neighbourhood pool and who was coming down to visit in a couple weekends, she wanted to major in something wildlife-related so she could be outside all of the time and liked animals like her dog, Kelsey, she was the third of five sisters, she was worried about getting cut from band because she went to a private school called O'Connell with a really weak band program, she lived in the "Wellness Hall" where alcohol was frowned upon but not because she didn't like alcohol, but it was just that she didn't want it around where she lived, and she wasn't sure about her new roommate yet.

    East AJ welcomed everyone back to campus with an 8 AM fire alarm that Sunday, but it didn't bother me since college-me was prone to doing things like waking up at 6 AM to do laundry without fighting over the machines. For lunch that day, I went to Owens with Nikki Giraldi, Shac, and Shac's new roommate, Brian, who didn't say a single word the entire time.

    After a brief stop to say hi to a new freshman, Andrea, that went to my high school, the rest of the day was consumed with band, band, and band. We played at something called a "VT spirit rally", and the fact that I remember nothing about it means that it was probably a horrible idea that we never tried ever again.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Aziz Ansari: Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening:
    This is an above-average stand-up show that you will enjoy if you like any of Aziz's TV roles. The last ten minutes is a weird, forgettable "in-character" sketch, but otherwise, I laughed throughout (Free on Netflix)

    Final Grade: B

    Invisible Empire / Crescent Moon by KT Tunstall:
    Each of KT Tunstall's successive albums gets a little more mellow. I wasn't a big fan of Tiger Suit, but could appreciate the quality. The same applies here -- this album is great background music and the singing is still top-notch, but there's no catchy hooks or much energy at all.

    Final Grade: C+

    Pursuit of Nappyness by Nappy Roots:
    I picked up this album because I liked the Nappy Roots contributions on Mark Ronson's albums. It immediately passes one of the BU-tests I was worried I would have to retire: there's more than 60 minutes of music involved. All of the songs are catchy and fun, and filled with surprisingly positive themes for hip-hop -- I don't recall any ho shooting at all.

    Final Grade: B

    Weeds, Season Seven:
    I stopped watching and buying Weeds after season six, which involved the gang driving across the country in search of something -- anything -- interesting to latch the plot upon. During our Netflix trial month, I started watching again for free on the treadmill. The first half of this season is forgettable, but it gathers some momentum around the halfway point that made me think it might return to its original S1 - S3 high point. I'm finishing off the eighth and final season for completeness, but still probably wouldn't purchase this with real money.

    Final Grade: C+

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, August 22, 2014

    Random Picture Day

    A neutered HOA is the best kind of HOA.

    tagged as media | permalink | 3 comments

    Monday, August 22, 2016

    Hiking to Quandary Peak

    Quandary Peak near Breckenridge is considered to be one of the easier "14er" mountains in Colorado (any mountain with a max elevation over 14,000 feet). It has a very simple elevation grade -- you just continuously walk uphill until you can't go any further.

    We woke up at 4:30 with special parfaits from our innkeepers (since we'd be missing the breakfast portion of the B&B experience) and started the hike at 5:40. We needed flashlights for the first half hour, but the sun rose soon after.

    It took us 3.5 hours to make it 3.3 miles up to the summit, an experience of endless boulder fields and low oxygen that probably nearly killed me several times while Rebecca charged ahead with her boundless yoga energy. We borrowed a cardboard sign from someone else for this picture because we came unprepared.

    We saw a nice variety of birds (including ptarmigans) and mammals. There were 2 mountain goats atop the summit, but luckily they were far enough away to enjoy without worries of goring or being butted off the world. We also saw many pika, chipmunks, and squirrels.

    Our descent took 2.5 hours and the daily thunderstorms started brewing as we reached the bottom, meaning that most of the people who started after us probably had to turn back before reaching the summit.

    This evening, we're going to CB & Potts for burgers and good Colorado beers, and then to a tourist shop so Rebecca can buy a Quandary Peak sticker for her water bottle. A 14er bagged!

    For more technical details about our hike, see Wednesday's post, Hiking to Quandary Peak - The Dirty Details.

    tagged as travel | permalink | 1 comment

    Wednesday, August 22, 2018

    Memory Day: 1990 - 1991

    It's been over a year since this BU origin story series atrophied into nonexistence, so I thought I'd try to revive it. I'm switching to school years instead of real years, since that's how my memories are chunked together until I left grad school.

    In the 1990 - 1991 school year, I was an 11-year-old 7th grader. Francis C. Hammond was a Junior High School with grades from 7 to 9 (so I was there at the same time as my 9th grade sister) and while everyone else in the 7th grade was a hormonal mess, I was much younger and just wanted to play games all the time. I didn't understand or subscribe to being cool (as evinced by the fact that I was that kid who ran through the halls between classes) although I was plenty arrogant and a know-it-all. This wasn't helped by the fact that I was the only trumpet player in the 32-member band program which added even more unnecessary spotlight on me.

    I had a pretty typical class schedule, with band being my single elective in the year:

    • Ms. Landrum had neat, cursive handwriting and laughed when I volunteered to bring the film projector down from the A/V room. I did it anyways even though it weighed more than me.
    • Gym was notable because we had a bowling alley across the street and actually bowled during the Bowling unit. I had a custom-engraved 6 pound Mickey Mouse bowling ball (which I finally gave to the son of the neighbours across the street, two eras of neighbours ago) because all of the others were too big for me.
    • I spent most of Life Science drawing fantasy sketches with pen and ink, but also managed to squeeze in the science project, Global Warming - How Will It Affect the Agricultural World?, in which I briefly talked about statistical signifiance using words that only my dad would have used, and I finally concluded that global warming would have more of a negative effect than a positive one.
    • My band director was Mr. Randall, who also took me aside and gave me free private lessons in the early morning until I could finally hit the G above treble clef in "Somewhere Out There" from An American Tail.
    • I brought large quantities of Quaker Chewy granola bars (from the Price Club) to math class and handed them out so kids would like me more.
    • Mrs. Hamberger's English class was unmemorable, although she got in a car accident halfway through the year and was replaced by a sub.

    When not playing cutting-edge new PC games like The Secret of Monkey Island or King's Quest V, I was busy stalking my second crush, the girl a grade higher that also played computer games, in cringe-inducing ways such as leaving notes in her locker, biking past her house all the time, and walking home near (but not next to) her like a moth near a porch light. Not surprisingly, none of these embarrassing actions led to romance.

    Other posts in this series: 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1990 - 1991 | 1991 - 1992 | 1992 - 1993

    tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

    Monday, August 22, 2022

    Pandemic Retrospective, Part II of IV

    March - October 2020

    I presume that my pandemic origin story is similar to that of many other privileged Northern Virginia residents with a comfortable middle-class life. I kept tabs on the early warnings in January while believing that COVID-19 would have zero impact on me personally, just like SARS and the bird flu pandemic long ago. I was annoyed in February when I needed masks for a dusty under-the-house construction project and they were all marked up at a premium. In early March, Maia and I had our final weekly father-daughter dinner at Fire Works Pizza, which ended with total strangers at Cascades Overlook freely sharing used marshmallow roasting sticks to make s'mores around the fire. It was superbly normal even while global tension was growing like boiling water around a frog.

    On March 12th, I was in the office for my weekly meeting and, for the first time, felt a little uneasy about everyone's close proximity. I always sat along the edge of the meeting room anyhow since I rarely had an important speaking role, but the menacing undercurrent of the news by then made me decide to stop office visits for just a couple weeks.

    Our offices shut down the very next day, rendering my decision moot. That morning, I went to Costco for St. Patrick's Day corned beef to find a line wrapped around the building and overseen by Loudoun County Sheriffs. This was when it sank in that what was coming was not a drill. (Tragic conclusion to the corned beef tangent: I snagged the last two corned beef packages from our disheveled Safeway and, of course, one was rancid when I opened it and the other tasted like a Teva sandal).

    The next few weeks were characterized by unease (never fear) about what we didn't know as we tried to figure out how to keep everyone safe. I remember hitting the grocery store in a mask and rubber gloves right as it opened at 5 AM to avoid as many people as possible. I remember being the subject of heated glares or nervous avoidance from older white patrons -- reactions that I had never before experienced as a Korean in Virginia. I remember diligently tailoring the available CDC guidance to our risk profile as a family with a toddler and four older parents: I did mask regularly, but I wiped our groceries down exactly one time before dismissing it as too much effort. (I always saw "one-way aisles" as useless theatrics, like having to take your Kindle out of your carry-on at the airport).

    An early relationship discord in the pandemic was a mismatch in how much Rebecca and I wanted to alter our behaviours to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19. Our circle of friends had widely varying levels of YOLO, with some changing nothing about their day-to-day life and others avoiding emailing in case the virus could turn into an attachment. (If this were a scale from 0 to 100, I was probably a 75 and Rebecca was a 45). As someone who essentially freebases the Internet at all times through an IV, I felt like I had a better grasp of the global scope of what we were facing, while Rebecca had stronger firsthand knowledge of how the virus was spreading within our community. With continued, sometimes tense, communication and sharing of news sources, we worked towards a unified front (somewhere around 60) for the rest of the year.

    Life continued and we slowly adapted. With Maia's Just for Twos program at the local community center shut down, we juggled legitimate worries about stunting her ability to socialize with more selfish worries about having to entertain her ourselves all day long. Life became an ongoing cycle of "doing things until they're worn out". We took a few big trips away from home (Hopkins Ordinary in Sperryville, Weather Lea Farm in Lovettsville, and a beach house in the Outer Banks) before realizing that travel was just a cat-and-mouse game of avoiding risky conditions until we could shelter in-place in a slightly nicer locale than our house. We reconnected with old friends and joined the Jackbox Games craze for about two weeks until everyone in the world got tired of being on Zoom. Most frightening of all, we ordered metric tons of food from local restaurants until we actually reached the point where restaurant food was no longer exciting or enticing.

    It wasn't all bad. I secretly left a bag of limes on the porch of a friend bemoaning the bareness of their mixed drink shelf. I finished a decade-long effort to write a comprehensive wiki for a lesser-known fantasy book series and worked with the author to overhaul her website that hadn't been renovated since SARS was a hot topic. We started getting (and continue to get) groceries delivered from Giant, mourning only when the order of 50 pork sausages gets substituted with 50 beef sausages which no one in the family can even pretend to like. Maia watched Frozen for the first time and the next five thousand times. We received the board game, Patchwork, as a gift and played it ad nauseum until we were finally able to fill the entire game board with quilt patches.

    We made a quarantine pod with our local friends who had a slightly stricter risk profile than we did and, by 2021, had gotten their kids hooked on Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We continued to reach out to friends and family for socially-responsible visits, either eight feet apart on our new screen porch (which luckily finished construction in March) or in the basement with masks on and windows open. We will never know for sure whether our efforts at COVID-19 prevention were of any value -- there are no visible counters to show us how many people avoided getting sick because of us -- so we'll never truly know if it was worth it. However, I feel like we did the best we could with the knowledge we had as science frantically tried to carve out the optimal path.

    The switch to 100% remote work didn't really affect me because I had been advocating for and trending towards fully remote work for my entire career. (In 2004, one of my earliest performance managers told me that I needed to be in the office more so the bosses would know that I was productive and sign off on my promotions). However, it was a dramatic change to be at home and ALWAYS surrounded by my family. I had no commute to unwind in and my social energy drained faster than the quality of the final season of LOST. As an introvert, this pushed me into a weird survival mode where I was constantly socially overloaded and did whatever I could to reach the end of the day.

    In retrospect, my foundational failing was treating the pandemic as a temporary sprint without pacing myself and reserving energy to continue growing as a person if it should last longer than expected. As the months piled up, my social receptors shut down. I found it very difficult to retain new information and would often forget stories told by friends or conflate them with stories from completely different people. I never knew what day it was, beyond weekday or weekend. I struggled to engage with people, even my immediate family, and would often run the clock out on individual days by focusing on heavily logistical tasks: washing dishes in the sink, picking up toys around the house, or moving Maia towards bedtime so I could finally, gratefully, sit still, quietly without listening or talking. I was constantly justifying the need to get to tomorrow by robbing myself of the ability to enjoy today.

    Other posts in this series: Part I: Introduction | Part II: March - October 2020 | Part III: November 2020 - January 2022 | Part IV: February 2022 - Today, and Conclusion

    tagged as deep thoughts | permalink | 1 comment

     

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