Life and the Universe and Everything

Well, it’s 2022. That means that my photo journal and photo stats pages have been updated.

It’s been an odd year, with a summer of “things are starting to get normal again” promptly followed by a return to the usual pandemic mess, but with a few small changes: we’re allowing ourselves grocery store trips again, and trips to see the niblings and in-laws are facilitated by at-home COVID tests (and both being triple-vaxxed).


The end of the year was also marked by some new electronics, that are rare enough that they’re noteworthy. I bought a new laptop from Dell as a pre-Black Friday special for use when I eventually return to business travel (because our work laptops are now so locked down that we can’t run anything on them but work stuff) and was forced to buy a new phone because T-Mobile is phasing out 2G and my old flip phone would soon stop working. Both of these purchases are interesting for very different reasons.

As far as the laptop goes, I intentionally picked the slowest shipping possible (even though I qualified for free 2-day shipping) so it wouldn’t arrive while we were traveling for Thanksgiving. (I generally try not to buy things before we’ll be traveling, but in this case, the deal was limited in its time window.) And of course Dell promptly shipped the laptop the same day and it arrived exactly while we were gone, AND it didn’t require signature confirmation (for an $800 laptop!). I had to have a friend retrieve it for us.

I really wish that companies would have options for “don’t deliver before this date” delivery options, especially around holidays. This happened a few years back with my camera order for Black Friday as well, but Amazon support was much more helpful (mostly because they were actually working over the holidays and were able to tell the FedEx to hold off delivery for a few days… no such ability with Dell, who shipped the laptop late in the day and then had no support the next few days because of the holidays).

The phone was interesting mostly because I just wanted another flip phone… but the cheapest option they had was $126. The moto g pure was available for $186, and I figured the extra $60 was worth it just so I could have the camera and not have to carry my work iPhone around for photos all the time. So… I now have an Android phone, and it has been an adventure because its UI (and the entire OS’ general philosophy) is so different from Apple’s. I don’t think I like Android, but I’ll deal with it because, hey, $60 camera. :)

(It’s also interesting because the phone plan I’m on is so old it doesn’t have data, so I now have a smartphone with no data. But that’s really not much different than the iPod touch I used to carry around with me anyway, so that’s fine.)

Otherwise, that’s really been it? Here’s hoping that 2022 actually starts to represent a return to normalcy.

Adirondacks, Schitt’s Creek

We did another cabin trip! This one was a far one, to a little cottage in the town of Keene, New York in the Adirondacks.

There was the usual hiking and lounging around the place.

We also got to see Mark on our drive back, which was nice.

But I spent most of the week at the cottage bingeing Schitt’s Creek, which I think is my all-time favorite show now. It’s been sitting and simmering for a bit over half a week, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that it

  • Has some of the most consistent characters I’ve seen in any show… there’s very visible character growth through the seasons, but the characters never act in a way that seems “off”… every change makes sense and feels earned
  • Starts consistently good, instead of having a first few seasons that are easily skipped (such as Parks and Rec or Star Trek The Next Generation)… I think the cast is a large part of this, because it feels like they all come in the right way and changes are character growth rather than the actor growing into the role
  • Has the best pacing I think I’ve ever seen in a show… it never tries to do too much within an episode or season, and gives events the time they need to sit and simmer
  • Left me an emotional wreck starting in the fourth season, and especially into the later part of season 5 and season 6, but did an amazing job interspacing levity with its emotional moments so it didn’t get overwhelming
  • Doesn’t really feel like it has “filler” or bad episodes, because there’s always some important development or insight happening in every episode… I think the only one I can think of is “Roadkill”, and I wouldn’t even call that episode “bad”
  • Had I think the all-time best final episode of any show I’ve ever seen… it gives closure in the right ways and (as noted above) everything feels like it’s happening at the right time with no sudden unexpected storylines to tie up
  • Ends at the right time, instead of dragging on into bizarre later seasons like we see with House or much of Glee or getting cancelled prematurely like many other series, which overall makes for an extremely satisfying watch
  • Does such a good job of developing all of its characters and giving them important moments… for example, I think Maybe This Time is a great example of how to properly tie in music and performance into a show, because that entire scene is such a great epiphany for the character… it reminds me of how Glee actually did a good job tying its music into the plots in most of its first season
  • Is amazing because it gave us A Little Bit Alexis and the beautiful cover of The Best

I’m so glad I was able to consume the entire show in one go instead of having to wait for it week by week. At some point I’ll need to find some time to rewatch the entire thing again.

Life, Cabin, People, and thou

life‘s photo journal and stats have been updated. Given the lack of a trip in the past four months, we are of course the lowest photo count since 2002 with 300 photos, and the fourth lowest count for a four month period ever. It’s also the first period without Keith pictures since since 2009, which also makes sense because we’ve been meeting everyone virtually. We’re still about 400 photos off from the next 25k photos that would trigger another photo stats dump (including May photos so far), but I’m actually hopeful we’ll hit that in the next 4 months, because…

We’ve started the first stages of seeing people again. Rock band is scheduled in just over a week with the fully-vaccinated Max, and we’re looking at hosting a (very) small (and still outdoor) Memorial Day gathering with friends we know are vaccinated. Now that we’re two weeks after the second dose, I’ve also felt a serious sense of relief (or at least lack of anxiety) about going into buildings again — we’ve been to the bakery twice for donuts, I didn’t feel weird being in a fairly crowded car rental building, there was a Costco trip that felt fine to me, and we’re going to start going into the grocery store again. We’ll see if that sense keeps up given the ever-increasing threat of variants, but after a year of worrying, it’s really nice to be able to start letting down my guard a bit.

Speaking of doing things… we went on a trip to a cabin again, booked as a covid-safe vacation before we had any idea of when vaccination would be a thing. Whereas the last trip was to Blue Knob, this time we went to Cook Forest, and stayed at MacBeth’s Cabins right on the Clarion river. (And there are 200 photos from this trip alone, so the next four month period already has 2/3 the photo count of the previous four months.)


I must be getting old and curmudgeonly or something, because the biggest thing I was looking forward to was the lack of internet and cell service, and the cabin absolutely did not disappoint in that regard. I got to spend a week lounging around, reading and relaxing, without any of the modern obligationsdisruptions getting in the way. (Incidentally, the lack of internet might also be why I like cruise ships.)

Compared to the last cabin, this one was much better situated, but also less “nice”: the kitchen was smaller, the bathroom was less nice, and the heating and cooling situation was questionable, with a gas space heater (that said “do not use in bedrooms or bathrooms” on the side) between the beds. Still, it was definitely nice enough to return, especially with how great its location (and the hiking around it) was. Even if normal trips become a thing again later this year (or next year), a cabin feels like it’ll always be a good choice.

Photo Stats (Pandemic Edition)

I took the last week off work and mostly spent it in a cabin in the middle of Blue Knob State Park, disconnected from the internet and the world. And it was really, really nice, especially given we hadn’t really been anywhere but home since early March.

In any case, photos still aren’t really happening, but it’s been almost two years since the last photo stats compilation, so I figured I’d do one even though I haven’t hit the next 25k milestone (475,000) yet (only at 470,682). October 2020 is also my 20th year of taking digital photos, so it’s also somewhat appropriate to do now.

As always, first is the (full) table of photos by camera. My Work iPhone has pretty much become my primary camera now because it’s more convenient to carry. I also haven’t used my D90 since I last went rock climbing (in November 2018, before the last stats), so I’m going to mark it as retired for now.

Intel Pocket PC camera October 6, 2000 – September 18, 2003 1077 days; 2.95 years 15,829 photos $200 14.7 photos per day 1.26¢ per photo
Olympus C3000 Zoom September 28, 2001 – December 5, 2003 798 days; 2.186 years 10,647 photos $450 13.3 photos per day 4.23¢ per photo
Kodak Easyshare DX6490 December 8, 2003 – March 17, 2006 830 days; 2.274 years 49,413 photos $500 59.5 photos per day 1.01¢ per photo
Nikon D50 March 22, 2006 – November 15, 2009 1334 days; 3.655 years 105,067 photos $570 78.8 photos per day 0.54¢ per photo
+$250 repair cost 0.78¢ per photo
106,916 shutter releases $570 80.15 shutter releases per day 0.533¢ per shutter release
+$250 repair cost 0.77¢ per shutter release
Samsung SL30 July 27, 2009 – December 1, 2016 2684 days; 7.35 years 21,616 photos $70 8.05 photos per day 0.32¢ per photo
Nikon D90 February 26, 2010 – November 30, 2018 3199 days; 8.76 years 208,699 photos $780 65.24 photos per day 0.37¢ per photo
289,872 shutter releases 90.61 shutter releases per day 0.27¢ per shutter release
iPhone 5 June 23, 2013 – December 23, 2014 548 days; 1.5 years 130 photos $0
(Provided by work)
0.24 photos per day 0.00¢ per photo
149 shutter releases 0.27 shutter releases per day 0.00¢ per shutter release
iPhone 6 Plus January 8, 2015 – January 11, 2018 1099 days; 3.01 years 4883 photos $0
(Provided by work)
4.44 photos per day 0.00¢ per photo
23,352 shutter releases 21.25 shutter releases per day 0.00¢ per shutter release
Nikon D7100
(Current)
December 2, 2015 – October 22, 2020 1786 days; 4.89 years 31,807 photos $620 17.81 photos per day 1.95¢ per photo
87,751 shutter releases 49.13 shutter releases per day 0.71¢ per shutter release
iPod Touch 6
(Current)
December 2, 2017 – May 24, 2019 538 days; 1.47 years 5021 photos $160 9.33 photos per day 3.18¢ per photo
57,515 shutter releases 106.91 shutter releases per day 0.28¢ per shutter release
iPhone 8 Plus
(Current)
March 8, 2018 – October 22, 2020 959 days; 2.62 years 17,410 photos $0
(Provided by work)
18.15 photos per day 0.00¢ per photo
249,007 shutter releases 259.65 shutter releases per day 0.00¢ per shutter release

I added the 0th photo to the 25k photo table. We haven’t hit 475k yet, but we’re now on 692 days with another 5k-ish photos to go before hitting 475k. I blame the quarantine.

0 25,000 50,000 75,000 100,000 125,000
October 6, 2000 January 12, 2004 October 20, 2004 April 10, 2006 April 20, 2007 December 4, 2007
1193 days 282 days 537 days 375 days 228 days
125,000 150,000 175,000 200,000 225,000 250,000
December 4, 2007 February 7, 2009 July 4, 2009 April 14, 2010 September 4, 2010 June 23, 2011
431 days 147 days 284 days 143 days 292 days
250,000 275,000 300,000 325,000 350,000 375,000
June 23, 2011 December 23, 2011 August 24, 2012 June 2, 2013 February 17, 2014 March 21, 2015
183 days 245 days 282 days 260 days 397 days
375,000 400,000 425,000 450,000
March 21, 2015 November 13, 2015 April 29, 2017 December 2, 2018
237 days 533 days 582 days

And it’s graph time. First, number of photos taken by month, log scale y-axis:

Same thing but with a linear y-axis (second graph is since 2010):

Total number of photos taken through time (second graph is since 2010):

And amount of time between 1000 photos (second graph is since 2010, starting at 187,000):

The pandemic is really causing craziness, which I suppose shouldn’t too unsurprising. We have a bit of a photo spike in Feburary (Thailand for dad’s funeral) followed by a plummet as everything shut down.

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.