Election 2020?

It is currently 9 PM on Wednesday, November 4, after election day 2020. And I still have no idea what the results are, and I expect that I’m fairly alone in that regard, at this point*.

I guess I should explain.

I’m sure everyone’s been extremely on edge this year, and particularly this election, for many reasons… I think it’s not a stretch to say this is the most consequential election of our lifetimes (2020’s gotta one-up everything, including 2016).

But recently, particularly when the news of RBG’s death broke, and then more recently when ACB was confirmed to SCOTUS in her place, I’ve had what I’d probably describe as crippling anxiety, mostly characterized by an inability to work or do anything but sit around scrolling through page after page of doom.

That was despite my (failed) attempt at isolating myself from the news around the time of ACB’s confirmation… I’d avoided news sites, but enough crept through that I still got enough context when she was actually confirmed, which sent me in another downhill spiral for the rest of the night, generally gave me horrible insomnia, and bled into my mood the following day or two.

For the election itself, I decided I needed something much stronger, especially since the issues with mail-in voting meant we weren’t likely to have results on November 3 (with the senate taking even longer than that**). Much like the 2016 election, when I decided I needed to go to bed after results started coming in so I could wake up to the reality of President-Elect Trump rather than seeing it happen, I thought it would be better for my mental health if I could just receive the final results (good or bad) all at once.

So, starting yesterday at around noon, I cut myself off from anything that could possibly spoil any part of the election results or developments relating to them***. This started off fairly simply and obviously (avoid Reddit and The New York Times), but I realized it would need to be even more comprehensive, since reading anything on Twitter (election-related or not) shows a sidebar with “current news”, accessing YouTube to watch any video will show news-related suggestions on the front page, and well-meaning friends might reach out over Hangouts or Discord if the result went badly. I was even afraid (in the event of a bad result) that the ACLU would email me some words of encouragement (“We’ll continue the fight!”), so I also ditched my inbox. And a fear over the resulting ads (targeted or not) meant I didn’t want to visit even any webpage that could have even remotely political advertisements. Even things like checking stock prices (or accessing any website that includes any form of stock prices or indexes) might offer a clue to the results.

So almost cold turkey it was. In a lot of ways, it’s a repeat of my week in the cabin, with no internet access, with the biggest difference being a few “safe” websites (pretty much only Kingdom of Loathing and its forums, which seem to generally avoid any sort of politics) that I allowed myself to visit.

This is all made possible by the fact that Salesforce granted election day as a company holiday this year, and I also took today (Wednesday) off ala 2016 when I booked it preemptively in case things went south. (And then I was so glad to have the day to angst with Yubin and Max at their apartment when they did.) I’m pretty sure that any meetings at work today would have been full of election news.

So… did it work? I think it did. I slept pretty well last night (despite waking up from more than one “Trump wins!” dream). I’ve had a generally anxiety-free day and a half of playing video games and dealing with photos and having relatively normal vacation days (much like the cabin days, which were amazing) instead of doomscrolling. I’m ready to wake up tomorrow morning, pull open The New York Times, and start the process of either acceptance or celebration.

And so I sit, and wait, and hope. It’s lonely, but still worth it.

We’ll see how I feel tomorrow morning.

*Fairly alone, because I know several of my friends are doing a similar thing. I just don’t know how many of them have broken their internet/news hiatus by this point… I’ll find that out tomorrow morning too, I suppose. If this is something you can at all do given your job, I highly recommend it.

**The presidency isn’t the only thing that matters. Even if we get a Biden win, a Republican senate majority will ensure that the next 2 (or 4) years are as full of partisan gridlock as Obama’s last years were. Any hope of making real progress on climate change, or tax policy, or border policy, or true Coronavirus action, or the shitshow of SCOTUS rulings that are sure to follow depends on the senate.

***In addition to the results themselves, I’ve also been extremely anxious recently over all the news around voter suppression and potential armed conflicts and more in the aftermath of the results, and particularly Trump’s frequent statements that he might not accept the results. I figured I’d give that some time to settle down, as well, so I could learn (for example) that Sacramento was literally burnt down in armed riots or something rather than watching the developments leading up to it. I’ve watched enough depressing developments this year to last me a lifetime.

Edit: Well I was unpleasantly surprised this morning. But I think avoiding all of the obsessive result refreshing over the past 36 hours or so was still well worth it. Hopefully we’ll know results by the end of the week, although the senate appears pretty shot at this point.

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.

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.

Games Games Games

As mentioned in the last post, I have four standing gaming sessions a week (if you include the work one). If anything, this pandemic has been better for playing board games with friends, albeit virtually, than life beforehand. Maybe that’s part of the reason I never feel like I have time to do anything, but at least the relaxingness is good?

We started out at the beginning with our old favorite BrettspielWelt. The last time we used it (years ago) it was a downloaded java client that was reasonable. Now it’s a more web-based interface that is mostly clunky to use, although it seems to be decent enough.

But then someone (Austin?) suggested moving to Tabletop Simulator instead, and that has been a much better experience. Greg describes it as a physics engine that happens to play board games, which makes for amusing interactions sometimes, but there’s nothing like flipping the table when you lose a game. It also fixes a lot of the tedium of playing normal board games, even for non-scripted games, by simplifying things like shuffling.

The Fairfax group has started a weekly Jackbox games session, thanks to Tim, and that’s been a blast. Drawful 2 is one of our favorites, and we’ve gotten maybe a little too good at drawing some of the prompts.


Work introduced me to the joys of Codenames online and Broken Picturephone (AKA Eat Poop You Cat), and that has been pretty spectacular too.

Lastly, we’ve been (more recently) playing board games with Mark and Sharon (AKA my San Francisco crowd) via Board Game Arena. It generally feels like a much better version of BrettspielWelt, with (somewhat) more usable interfaces and clearer game instructions. Its main downside seems to be that a lot of the popular games and critical features (like multiple players from the same IP address, AKA in the same household) are gated behind a paywall. Fortunately Mark’s membership takes care of that for us, so it’s a pretty seamless experience.

I’ve also been taking my first forays into tabletop RPGs with Patrick and David (from high school), somewhat via Roll 20 but mostly just via Google Meet. Patrick DMed a great introductory game for us with the Lasers & Feelings system, which was simple enough for me as a beginning, and also let David’s experience with other RPGs guide us through. We’re looking at starting another campaign soon, but in the meantime, I’ve been putting them through more Jackbox.

In addition to *all* of that, thanks to Tabletop Simulator requiring me to actually make a Steam account, I’ve also started playing some of my old backlog of Humble Bundle (and other) games. I finished up West of Loathing in a few days, had a period of Cities Skylines destressing, and found a great way to “cheat” in Cook Serve Delicious 2 to get huge perfect days and unlock content (serve only sliced turkey breast or brisket, plus one side, with max prep stations). I’ve also been dabbling again in some older games like Mini Metro, World of Goo, A Virus Named Tom, and Girls Like Robots.

More recently, I’ve been playing Overcooked 2 with Austin where we’re nearing our goal of 3-starring every level in the game and all its expansions.

So I guess the nice thing about this whole pandemic, at least, has been keeping in regular contact with many people who are not physically close, since (other than timezones) it makes no difference whether someone is physically in the same city as you. Having regular contact with (old) San Francisco people, high school people, old Tartan people, the Fairfax group, and other Pittsburgh friends that have moved away has been pretty great. I think I’d still gladly give it up for the world to not be so screwed up, but hey, silver linings?

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.