New Year’s, Life, Expenditures

life’s photo journal and stats have been updated. The 594 photos this four-month period is the lowest for any four-month period since April 2002, my Freshman year of high school (when I wasn’t carrying my camera around regularly), and is lower than the previous four months this year by 9 photos.

None of this should be too surprising, given we’ve basically been at home since March and the extent of our real-life social contact has been either brief tea-and-conversation hangouts on the porch, or walks.

In any case, work starts up again tomorrow, and it was a nice break, all things considered. Christmas featured a group Google Meet call, New Year’s featured online board games and virtual champagne toasting, and I hit all of my (honestly, fairly lofty) personal project goals for the break.

Since it’s January, I also compared 2020’s overall expenses to 2019’s. Thanks to the pandemic, my overall spending is down 22 percent, mostly in food (much more cooking at home; down 34%), travel (we had one vacation which involved a car rental and cabin instead of flying and hotels; down 98%), and entertainment expenses (we didn’t host any games or events and didn’t go anywhere with people; down 72%).

The only thing keeping the overall year-to-year drop from being less extreme was that our mortgage payments and utilities went up a bit, and account for most of my spending (70% of my [lowered] yearly expenditures this year, compared to 49% of last year’s). Like last year, the next biggest expense was food (relatively stable at 15% of yearly expenditures this year, compared to 17% last year).

Anyway. Things are uneventful. Here’s hoping the vaccine distribution really picks up this year and we can start seeing people again in the first half of the year.

Hope everyone’s doing well out there.

Star Trek and Christmas

After finishing all of Voyager a couple years back, and then all of The Next Generation earlier this year, we’ve started on Enterprise.

We’re now most of the way through the second season, and although I really like the less-polished more-modern crew, I feel like there’ve been a lot of opportunities that the writers have squandered, lately.

In particular, we just finished a couple of episodes (The Crossing and Horizon) where they had such a great opportunity to show that human biases aren’t always right when encountering new species, and you can’t just go imposing your will and ideals somewhere else. And in both cases the plots took the more stereotypical turn of “Of course human intuition about danger was right” and “Of course making changes that no one asked for ends up saving everyone’s lives”. It’s honestly disappointing, for stories that had so much great potential.

Speaking of disappointing… Christmas this year is feeling very different. Without the usual pomp and circumstance, it’s been feeling like a rather sad week. Even though I’ve known for months that we wouldn’t be travelling this year, the reality is finally setting in now that it’s three days before Christmas and we’re still at home.

So 2020 goes, I suppose.

Thanksgiving

There was a Thanksgiving! We successfully Thanksgivinged!

Which mostly means we made turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing on our own for the first time. They came out pretty well, actually. (Highly recommend the substitution of chicken broth and olive oil for butter and milk in the potatoes… healthier, and also gives them a nice savoryness.)


Life otherwise goes. I’m just waiting for the huge surge of cases we’re going to see in two weeks from all the people who didn’t have responsible Thanksgivings like we did, and wondering how I’m going to do the next grocery trip.

Life

life’s photo stats and photo journal have been updated, a couple days early.

It should be no surprise that the past 4 months have been largely uneventful, with only 603 photos taken (!!) and only 9 of the stat-tracked people having received updates (all of them, of course, local to Pittsburgh). I suppose the next four months won’t be much different, since I’m not going to be doing any travelling or seeing people outside of the city for a while.

Anyway, here’s some random photos of things.





The world is a mess and politics is a mess and the country is a mess and I just want things to be better.

Life Continues

I’m super behind on pretty much everything, whether it’s my ever-growing list of TODOs at work, my (still) unprocessed Thailand photos (from February!), any attempt to make progress on any of my personal endeavors, keeping the house in some form resembling clean and tidy, or even just updating this blog/journal/whatever it is.

The world increasingly feels like it’s falling apart around me. Everywhere (including Pennsylvania) seems to have decided the pandemic is over by sheer force of will, and cases in the US are pretty much continuing to increase from their previous peak. Restaurants and bars and gyms are open again. Masks have bizarrely become a political issue. The police seem to be going on ever-increasing rampages with impunity. The federal government is increasingly incompetent (if that’s possible) at handling the crisis. State governments are unable or unwilling to fill that role anymore.

The easiest thing has been to hide away every night and do mindless things like watch YouTube videos (I recommend the Taskmaster series, which is hilarious, and was recommended to me by at least three separate friends) or participate in the (fortunately) large number of virtual game nights (including the work one, I have four recurring sessions a week now)… even Beat Saber feels like too much effort most days, now.

I can’t manage more than short bursts of actual brain-y time at work. It took me 2 hours to diagram out a basic OIDC flow (which I should know like the back of my hand) because I just couldn’t focus. Salesforce has been doing a great job at helping their employees through this mess, but my obligations to literally dozens of people still feels insurmountable at times. There’s an increased meeting load, which doesn’t help. Maybe that’s why I’m so behind on everything.

I cancelled my dentist appointment, because it felt too high risk to me. Maybe I shouldn’t have. Maybe the next chance won’t be for a year or more. Maybe I should start using mouthwash or something else to try and handle things myself until then. Maybe losing teeth is the tradeoff for being safe.

I’m increasingly worried with each passing week that I’ll get sick, despite all the precautions I can take, because there are enough other people that just don’t care anymore. I’m increasingly worried that I’ll have serious complications, as someone who is in the at-risk category with respiratory illnesses. And I don’t know what else I can do about it, other than ask others to bear the risk of required activities like grocery store visits in my place, which feels like it’d be utterly barbaric of me.

I want to give up and say screw it and treat getting sick as an inevitability so I can stop worrying about it, but I think I’m too afraid of what that could mean.

But if Pennsylvania is bad, Arizona is totally exploding. I’m worried about my mom. I’m worried about her anyway, given she’s by herself now and isolating. There’s nothing I can do about that, and maybe that’s the worst part. Travelling isn’t safe. Driving isn’t practical. I have too many responsibilities otherwise, anyway. Or something like that.

I hope I come back to this entry early next year or something and read it and appreciate how much things have improved and started to maintain some semblance of normalcy again — maybe a vaccine will actually be close — but I’m increasingly worried about how long this will keep dragging on thanks to incompetence and others’ selfishness.

So life goes, I guess.