Pandemic Diary #33 – 15 Feb 2021 – Chinese Progress, Couch to 5k Progress, Birds

Well, Trump was acquitted even though he incited an insurrectionist riot (and the majority of Americans agree he was guilty). People are not surprised – but I feel that’s a self-defeating attitude! It’s just really uncomfortable since Myanmar actually had a coup in the same space of time basically. I’m not so confident that our institutions are so strong that they will withstand this sustained rot – a coup feels way less an abstract idea and far closer to reality now. As well as the realization that, if there really was a coup, what would I do about it? What could we do about it?


Made Anki set of 3k most common Chinese characters as mentioned before. It’s kind of addicting working through them. (In fact I’ve unfortunately given up on my Chinese diaries due to time spent on them). A nice side effect is that, as I watch dramas or read random Chinese material (or even my video games or phone screens), I can recognize the characters I learned the previous day, which is always great. It really makes the progress feel tangible. Stats from Feb 14th: Mature: 367 (learned and know well), Young and Learning: 775 cards, Unseen 1709 hanzi, and Suspended 149 hanzi (I just skipped the first 149 assuming I knew at least those).

I set a goal of two months. (for learning the 3k characters), currently set at 43 new words (and 50 reviews) a day (though, I’m not sure if that’s an equality or a maximum limit). Started on Jan 23rd so I think I’m actually a bit behind schedule? I should probably bump it up to 50 new cards a day, since actually, I need to aim for 1.5 months encountering words as new, and 2 months encountering them as known.

I’ve totaled 717 minutes in the app already… and I’m sure that’s an undercount, it doesn’t seem to count the time I spend looking up examples in Pleco. (Honestly, I should just sit down again and write a script to scrape examples from CC-EDICT, and do it properly. But just haven’t found the time/energy, and maybe it’s useful to look through the words list anyway).

I’m not entirely sure the corpus this frequency list drew from, some characters seem to be higher in the frequency list than I would expect. But that’s fine.


I had a vague new year’s resolution to start running / exercising. It’s going… okay. I have completed six runs! Technically that is two weeks but I have spent a month. I did three runs (using Zombies 5k app) and then my back seriously hurt, so I took a break and switched apps to something a little more gently paced (Just Run), which is a nice minimalist app. In any case, with the zombies, a large part of it was still dead space for running that I filled with watching TV. So switching to Just Run has worked well, so long as I can hear the prompts. And I use Samsung Health app which automatically detects runs and gives me an estimate of how far I ran (my treadmill’s distance feature is broken). I have special Pants with Pockets ™ for exercising for this reason. It unfortunately does not seem to do well, since it thinks I exercised the same amount (distance wise) on the days I did not run.

Set up with treadmill and old computer monitor, TV, and chromecast. I have a monthly $5 donation to local public radio, which it turns out gives me access to PBS shows! I’m watching one called Scarlett and the Duke, which is kind of like female Sherlock Holmes whodunit style TV.

Unfortunately the episodes are longer than a run, so I keep forgetting where I’m at, especially when I take a week long hiatus from running oops.

I should set a goal for this or else I’ll just slack. I think the issue is the length of time – 2 months. Not sure I want to be at home on a treadmill for two months. But I guess I can always start running outside some day (without a TV show! T__T But maybe with AI powered reading of computer science journal articles…).

Chinese + Exercise..?

In a most questionable purchase, I got a Switch and Ring Fit and Just Dance. I think I don’t regret it. It’s a nice social way to exercise with family when it’s cold or rainy out (we used to go for semi-regular 30 min walks). I’ve also learned a lot of different exercises I didn’t know before.

Ring Fit, with Chinese option


I forget if I mentioned. But got a bird feeder, which attracted no birds for a full month. Then got a suet feeder, had birds the next day, and now have birds all the time, and just a few days ago got the first squirrel.

Academic Mood

Pretty terrible. Should be excited to have data. Topic is depressing to work on alone and unpaid.


Thanks Obama. I have semi-reasonable priced health insurance, based on my estimate of my income this year (min. $12,500 needed to qualify). Nominally $380 a month. Also have dental insurance, which is just $10 a month, and I get two cleanings for $10 each. WAY CHEAPER THAN HARVARD which was $575 a year and then rejected my routine cleaning claim. wtf. I’ve literally wasted hundreds of dollars and could have wasted more, because there is no guidance on health insurance options. (I also though my best option for health insurance was paying Harvard $380 a month. Then turned out as a TA I qualified for way cheaper insurance at $150ish a month. And then turns out I qualify for tax credits and should only have been paying $70 something dollars?

With health insurance, I’m much more likely to go do some preventative maintenance things, which might seem like it costs money. However I’m pretty sure it’s actually way more cost effective: that a thousand dollars spent now saves ten thousand dollars down the line.

Side Work

Completed some side work. Mixed feelings, should be doing research. But side works pays when research doesn’t, and also has set deliverables and end state. The unpredictability of research outcomes is so much more tolerable when paid and have health insurance…

The image carousel is even “responsive” , and the site kindaaa works on mobile. More than it did before I put work into it at least.

That’s all for today folks.