Where to even start…

I feel like I owe the internet an update, but what could I possibly say to cover the craziness that has been the past two months?

This Coronavirus thing was a thing. I had a Thailand trip planned for 3 weeks in February for my dad’s funeral, and spent the week leading up to the trip worried… not because I thought I was at risk of catching it, but because the US had just banned travel from China, and I was concerned about being stuck in Thailand (#2 in the world at the time, after China) for an indefinite period of time.

Bought a couple travel-sized containers of hand sanitizer and some travel alcohol wipes, and dutifully went on the trip, flying through what (at the time) was one of the most affected countries in the world (Japan) to what was the second most affected country in the world (Thailand).

The trip itself was good. I didn’t get sick, and it was nice to see my relatives again (for the first time in years), and it was also a good break from work. The funeral itself was also really nice.

The time to return home came basically just as cases around the world were becoming a huge issue. Flew home through Japan (now the #2 most affected place) and through the bay area (the #2 most affected place in the US) to Phoenix, where the plan was to stick around for a week, head to San Francisco for a week for the Architecture Summit, come home to Pittsburgh for another three weeks, then return to San Francisco for release planning.

It was that week that Seattle got really bad, and SF started having more serious issues. I ended up cancelling my SF trip on Thursday evening (the last chance for refunds on hotels and such, since I was supposed to fly out Sunday), and got an email Sunday morning that Salesforce was now prohibiting even domestic travel for work, so it turned out I made the right decision after all. (I was thinking that three days in a conference room with hundreds of people from around the country eating at a shared buffet was not a great idea given the outbreaks.)

One of my coworkers wasn’t quite as lucky: He was stopped at the airport before boarding his flight by the company travel managers. But I dutifully cancelled my other planned trip and spent another week in Phoenix, which also ended up having the nice side effect of being 13 days from my Thailand flight, pretty much ensuring that I hadn’t caught anything in Thailand or on the international flights.

The Southwest flight home was great — the flight attendants came around at the beginning of the flight with a trash bag for everyone’s alcohol wipes, and I was mostly relieved when the day arrived that they hadn’t banned domestic travel, sticking me in Phoenix (after having already been away from home for 5 weeks). Got home Thursday evening in time for board games. Was feeling pretty tired from flying (and stressing), but got some nice gaming in, and made arrangements for games the following week. Also did some stocking up on groceries.

Russell came the following Sunday to work for a week, and there was rock band and beat saber and generally nice socialness. The shit really hit the fan that week, culminating Wednesday night when the US finally started reacting to the ever-increasing cases and locking down cities. We cancelled board games, and then other board games, and started isolating ourselves preemptively. The grocery stores got crazy busy, and Aldi’s was sold out of meat, bread, most kinds of fruit, and toilet paper, kleenex, and paper towels.

Pittsburgh really started being affected this week, starting out with “stay at home” recommendations followed by recommended shutdowns of businesses, followed by restaurants changing to carryout only, followed by (tonight) statewide closure of non-essential businesses.

There’s now 18 cases in the county, including some that are community spread. We’ve been pretty much locked at home since last Thursday, although we make time every day to go on a walk outside (keeping 6 feet away from anyone else).

I’ve been cooking basically daily (multiple times a day, sometimes) for the first time in probably a decade, and working through my 2-week stockpile of food. We’ll need another grocery store trip probably next week, and I’ll try to find a time when not many other people are shopping, if there even is such a time anymore. We have had two restaurant meals (both takeout, of course) since Thursday.

Not much of my work situation has changed, because I’m permanently WFH anyway, but all of my coworkers are having fun figuring out their desk and computer setups and how to handle the different video conferencing systems we have.

My social life has been replaced with video calls and attempts at online board gaming, that we hope to expand in the near future. In theory, the lack of other things to do should mean more time to do computer things (like sort through Thailand photos), but I’ve also been in this weird miasma of worry about the world that makes it hard to actually get anything done other than work. (Sometimes it makes it hard to even get work done.)

We’re supposed to go to a wedding in May, and I’m supposed to go to Origins in June. I have no idea if they’re still on, or if they are, if I’d even be interested in going anymore. I guess we’ll see what things are looking like in a month or two.

This post was supposed to have a bunch of photos from my trip, but those photos are still sitting on my hard drive, unsorted and unedited. Maybe next post.

All I can say is… I hope this huge mess that is the world right now drives the right kinds of changes. Health insurance, and healthcare in general, can’t be tied to work. We need better societal safety nets when people can’t work or lose their jobs through events that are no fault of their own. We need to recognize that the workers that are so often put down as “unskilled” or “replaceable” are also the ones who are the most important right now.

I’m one of the fortunate people since the next few months will be, at worst, a slight inconvenience for me… but there’s too many people in this country (and around the world) for which this will mean a potential loss of their homes and not being able to eat. And that’s really not okay.

Life (phew)

Well, it’s been over three months since I last updated. I guess I’m getting pretty bad at this blogging thing.

Life has been pretty crazy, mainly because work has been crazy, lately. So rather than go over all that stuff, here’s some photos from my recent San Francisco and Phoenix trips.

Salesforce had an Architecture Summit where all the company’s architects gathered together for three days to hear about current projects in the company and generally network and mingle. It was the first conference I’d ever been to, and it was exhausting, but overall a very worthwhile experience.

It was particularly memorable because of the food: Catered breakfast and lunch, plus two snack breaks, a day… and then organized dinners besides.


Oh yeah. My team had a presentation, too.

Afterward it was off to Phoenix for a week, with even more food.

Also saw Cirque de Soleil Amaluna with my parents. It was impressive.

Other than that, life has been board game-y. Photos of those are on my photos site, which I guess is the only thing I really keep up to date anymore.

Hopefully it won’t be another three months before the next post. :)

Craziness! (San Francisco, Carnival, cards, life)

I’m, uh… really rather behind here. Which is matching the rest of my life pretty well, so I guess that’s not a huge surprise. Life’s photojournal and stats pages have finally been updated, a bit later than usual, mostly because I’ve been super behind in photo sorting and tagging recently.

Anyway, lots of things have been happening lately. Let’s see how many I can remember…

We’re in something like year six of four weddings per year, except last year which only had three. But this year felt like it had to make up for last year by having six weddings. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, for travel), two of them are on exactly the same dates as two others, so we’re only going to four. But one of those is in Hawaii, a week before I have to be in SF for work again, which is in turn a week before another wedding in Chicago. Which is a week before another wedding in San Francisco. It’s going to be an insane travel time.

Speaking of insane travel, I was in San Francisco for work in April, and it was a nice time.



But I had to rush back, without the usual Phoenix stopover, because the following week was Carnival! We had fewer guests in our house this year than last (two kids and three adults, compared to last year’s two kids and six adults), which I think was a lot more manageable. Carnival itself, however, made up for the relative calm at home by being both a reunion year and being the KGB 30 celebration, which meant there were lots (and lots) of events to worry about.


After the craziness of that stuff died down, work started picking up again. I officially got a promotion to Architect, which is insane and also means I’m dealing with things across four different teams now. Which I’d been unofficially doing anyway, but somehow it just feels a lot more serious now or something.

I also bought more Dragon Ball Z card game cards. Lots and lots of cards. 12,460 cards, give or take a couple booster packs. So, with that, there’s been a lot of pack opening and card sorting and things that I generally find relaxing and soothing. Which is nice, except it means I’ve been neglecting other personal projects like photos. Still have over half of it left to open, but I don’t have to deal with it all now.

In more recent things, winter seems to have finally ended, and Brian hosted a rose wine party to celebrate. We drank a lot of wine, but I guess we were also a reasonably large group, so it’s not too crazy.

Here’s hoping I can catch up on photos and things before the insanity of weddings begins…

Life, Sleep, and Games

Life goes, and feels like it’s mostly been consumed by work lately. It’s not that work has gotten particularly busier or more difficult than usual, but I’ve found myself having a really stressful time with it anyway. I think a lot of it is probably due to my increased (really, changed) responsibilities and I start overseeing different areas and products from a technical standpoint more than actually embedding within a team and generating code output. When I do end up coding, it’s usually been for either weird things that no one else wants to touch, or cleanup work that is pretty mind-numbing.
I guess we’ll see how things are looking and feeling after this release is over, but it’s been utterly bizarre to no longer be writing code every day, and having solid meeting days become a more frequent occurrence.

In other (perhaps related) news, I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately. I’m not entirely sure why, since I have no trouble falling asleep during the day if I want to take a nap. But at night, as I lay in bed, it seems there’s just endless thoughts and ideas and concerns that fill my head all at the same time, and I can’t clear my head enough to actually doze off. Often, when I do sleep, I find myself waking up randomly in the middle of the night and then unable to fall back asleep for hours, if at all.
This is a pretty recent problem, and it seems to coincide pretty well with my generally feeling increased stress levels at work, so we’ll see if things get better once we finish this release.

In non-work news, and in terms of things consuming most of my non-work time, I’ve been working on a game. This isn’t particularly new news, given I’ve been working on this game since something like February of this year, but it’s recently become a bit more of a time sink as it’s finished to the point of being playable and I’ve started hiring artists and putting polish onto it. It’s not something I feel comfortable sharing with the world at large yet, but I’ve learned a lot of really interesting things from doing it.

My main takeaways are that I’m really, really appreciating having a well-paying day job, and that I really wish I had any artistic talent whatsoever so I could try my hand at doing at least some of this myself. Also I wish I was filthy rich so I could just finance a bunch of awesome artists to create art unrelated to anything I was doing, because that stuff is hard, yo.
It really feels to me like pretty much anyone can code (especially given how important it’s become, in a lot of ways, now), but very few people can art well, which is only amplified by the fact that the engine I’m using (RenPy) makes it extremely easy for anyone to write a game with basically zero coding ability. The people that seem to make the best games on it seem to be people that can draw sprites and backgrounds and CGs, rather than people that can code.

In other, unrelated news, my second daily photo project ended yesterday. It had long since run its course, and I often found myself going downstairs and taking pictures of the stove or something. Still, I managed to do a daily photo for over a year, which is a pretty nice thing.

This has become a wall of text, so here’s some photos.



Blargh (politics, work, life)

It’s been a horrific week, both in politics and in work, but at least I’m home.

On the politics front, it goes without saying that this administration has been absolutely insane, hypocritical, dysfunctional, and ruthless in its actions regardless of (or perhaps in spite of) facts, reason, and the law.
I’ve been donating $300 a month to the ACLU, and will likely raise it next month, as well as making sporadic donations to the EFF and maintaining an NYT subscription. If you have the financial means to help, I encourage you to make some donations as well, particularly to the ACLU, which has already played a role in part of the immigration ban being stayed.
Also consider some more locally-impacting charities that will directly help your area. Here again is my list of charities (as well as suggestions by friends).

Seen on Facebook (via Greg): John McCain, Dick Cheney, Michael Moore, and the Pope are all on the same side right now.
I guess that’s how you know your administration is batshit insane. :\

On the work front, we’ve had a rather disastrous release filled with e-releases and customer cases… and the release isn’t even half deployed yet. I feel really bad for my manager, who has to deal with all this as well as pressure from upper management… and particularly bad because a lot of the issues that came up came up in features I built and designed. To be fair, the features themselves are working exactly as expected, and we put in existing toggles for customers that have problems. But due to either oversights or underestimates on the sheer magnitude of impacted customers, we’re having to pull out or tweak the features anyway.
Le sigh.

Things are depressing so here are some photos.


The new Apple store in Chandler is really pretty. (Also the outside of the store has no indication in any way that it’s an Apple store, but I guess it’s pretty obvious from the interior.)

I guess they have to clean escalators somehow…

Ikea is doing that “kids draw things and we make them into stuffed animals” thing again.

Pretty.

I also brought back a lot of TCGs (including my entire collection of Pokemon cards and X-Files cards, and my remaining WoW cards) and have been sorting them and generally assembling decks. I now have assembled WoW “booster” packs to do a booster draft (limited card selection to 4 different classes so drafting won’t be insane) and assembled two X-Files TCG decks, and will be making Pokemon and Case Closed decks as the next thing. Yay for TCGs?

Edit: Woke up feeling unhappy this morning, and I wanted to use up my company match for their FY, so gave another $1500 to the ACLU. Take that, Trump.