Locking Down Pittsburgh

I feel like I should be writing in here more given the historicness of everything happening right now. But mostly I’m just tired and want things to stop being so terrible. And it’s only like week three or whatever.

In no particular order, recent things: Consistently passing Expert+ on Beat Saber, started playing board games online via Tabletop Simulator, been consistently getting out of the house for at least a 30 minute walk every day, been cooking frequently and succeeding at only making one grocery trip every 1.5-2 weeks, been feeling utterly weird at work despite always being WFH and therefore theoretically unaffected by any of the office closures and such, tried 2-player Letter Jam and it was terrible, been even more bewildered at how people can still think Trump and Republicans have people (much less the “common” working person)’s interests at heart, been photographing signs for various closures and interesting things as a result of Coronavirus/COVID-19.

So because I am bad at writing, here’s some of the photos I’ve been taking from the past week or so.

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.