Pandemic Diary #61 – feeling grateful, practicing gratefulness (27 Jul 2021)

officially alive for three decades!
didn’t think I’d make it ten years ago, but here I am. feeling grateful for that.
here with a roof, stable financial situation, and living in peacetime. vaccinated and healthy. grad student living my sailing life. know how to take care of myself, have strong family and friend supports. have an even keel and not locked up.

roommates for 1 month even bought me a captain’s hat. a memorable 30th for sure!!

now just need to hustle! or find it in me to hustle, rather. hold on to wanting to be graduated before my next birthday. i think finally my life in boston is relatively settled and i’m done with major purchases (two lisabo tables, now just some stuff I think will be hard to find used — bamboo area rugs, floor futon / chairs). next time i need to remember mit furniture exchange!

also this adorable cat getting a passport in 1943

Video of fingerprinting:

And this is the result (from twitter mildlyinteresting, but the caption is a bit misleading so cropped it out)

herman the cat’s us coast guard passport, 1943

Pandemic Diary #60 – existing, roommates, watercolor inspiration pins (20 Jul 2021)


skimmed most of destined for war (15 times in history where dominant power challenged by rising one / 11 times ended in war, 4 times didn’t). idea of wargaming = how easy accidents can escalate to war that neither side actually wants. eg forming alliances as mutual deterrent: if they are binding alliances, can actually make it easier to get dragged by “small” situation into war

annapolis book of seamanship (3rd edition): good! practice. practice, practice

listening to: sinica while cleaning. insight: both nations believe they’re exceptional. chinese exceptionalism = think only china could accomplish this / don’t believe model applicable to others. point: china not particularly friendly to similar regimes (eg wariness with Vietnam despite it being a communist regime). often deflect instead of addressing concerns.

roommates: enjoying living with them ! playing card games. don’t wear masks with people I’ll interact with multiple times within a week. but no particular fear going into grocery store, don’t shower getting back. roommates going to labs, going to meet others, but I don’t wear masks with them. feel grateful to be in US / vaccines

worries: delta / other variants contributing to uptick in cases as predicted, despite high vaccine percentages in MA (84% of eligible have first shot) — it’s not 100%. gathering indoors indiscriminately without masks… went to restaurant which was a big tent, but flaps came down due to rain. kept my mask on and didn’t eat. didn’t feel the least bit of pressure but felt a bit bad not contributing to the cheque. (wearing a mask is easy; my choice is, why not?)

watching: 4k walking tours continue. vietnam: an interesting mix, busy city, roads closed off for kids, fleet of rc cars for kids. cross a busy intersection. on the corner, hammer and sickle flags. in the background, mcdonalds. in front, a kid in an rc car towing another on roller skates. on the side, parents remote control driving kids in mini electric cars

worries: exercise levels low. but did get switch to work with monitor (without the dock) — just need a 2A+ power supply on usbc to monitor, then usbc from switch to monitor. (the portable tablet-look alike monitors)

boston: going to a store without a poncho, no car to dash to, just a wet slog on a bike home

art: watercolor

inspiration for the future, when I’m done doing the fill in the blank audobon bird postcards

someone died hitting one of these daymarks in boston harbor a few days ago. 3am at high speed in power boat

ebike great!! range went from 2 miles to 10 miles after I 1. released front brake 2. pumped up tires

improvements needed: folding pedals, rear view mirror, cargo rack?, replace front brake pads (was impossible to tune properly since one side totally gone — right now only have rear brakes, essentially. scary in boston traffic, where i can’t match speeds, as ebike fastest speed + pedaling is still slower than normal bike)

duckietown edx: lack of communication quite confusing. also realized i have no idea how to use software stack on my own!! to run my own software eg SLAM on the robot hardware :'(

Pandemic Diary #59 – windows, culture shock, 4k travel, ebike! (14 Jul 2021)

i was really impressed that i would have two windows in my summer room, didn’t think it mattered much they were facing walls. mostly for light right?

what i didn’t realize is that even the smallest window outside at least has things that change. the monotony of the built environment, the wall.

set up a livestream of the street just barely visible out the corner of the window. then switched to 4k Walks. handheld phone gimbals are $100 now. there’s people all over the world filming themselves taking (often pleasingly cyberpunk rainy) walks through ordinary city life. (the masks help the privacy concerns mildly, but still creepy). on youtube, these 30min to 4 hr long walks. seoul (korea), tehran (istanbul), etc. havana (cuba). ones of places i’ve been to before: kunming, boston ! so i put up on monitor near the window. visit london chinatown, walk around an island trail in korea, … moscow, bangkok, cairo, phillipines. the temples just in the middle of the asian countries which otherwise can seem very generically modern country are nice. it feels a bit travel-y. though, it’s missing the noise, the annoucements, the smells that really help you feel like you are in a foreign place (along with like, bigger than a small rectangle in the corner of my vision).

landed there from looking at webcams, and then videos of “cabview” trains going through fields (or long stretches of boring tunnel…), then monorails in cities. and finally the night walks, … youtube is impressive service. can’t hate it too hard for its monopoly / aggressive ads.

people in a tourist attraction taking selfie, but with a drone. (and surrounding people filming them!). the goregous temples in chiang mai, the temperature chcks going into markets, the hella cute cat chilling in a cardboard box on a storetop counter, double decker bike storage, cat in a parking lot, mystery strangers with shoping bags taking a profile pic against a grungy wall, the BOXIEST car I have ever seen like the window is 90 degree box the headlights are 90 deg box the contour is 90 deg box the door is box in the phillipines, the normal but totally illegible street signs in tehran, cute cat in a parking lot ! , cute dog in store window!

dogs, there’s a scary dog outside my summer house, that dog is muscular AF and barks at me from behind the fence every time i leave my house basically

culture shock in boston. flight was almost normal. no empty seats. gratifyingly everyone wore masks (properly!) except when they were eating. i took a long video of just flying through the takeoff, etc. it’s been very long for someone like me who used to fly so much. is it over yet? i want to live abroad…tar

saw fireworks on the way down and taxiing. stepping into logan. was mostly exhuasted. lyft on takeff was $20, on landing was $70. i was hauling 150 lbs of luggage. brought almost everything, vacuum cleaner (it’s been so useful, room is dusty from disuse, plus i. shed. hair), fan (battery powered??), rice cooker, even brought ramen for my first dinner in boston ! and asian tofu snacks as gifts.

just ended up taking bus at end. and calling lyft from kendall. $10. so much more reasonable… lyft driver tried to straightup just offer me a $50 ride. said that because it was raining it was good times picking people up inside boston. (signs said to not call a ride until the 10 min walk to lyft pickup… in the ten mins it went from 20 to 70 to 80 again, and didn’t come back down for another 30-40 mins before i gave up). bus and train were totally fine. will never call lyft from airport again.

anyway. got home past midnight and had ramen for dinner after showering (covid).

going to the docks the next day. to be on the docks in boston. it felt like i closed my eyes and woke up and a year had passed. (georgia, a dream?). as if i was taking a walk through spring 2020, accidentally tripped and landed on the fast forward button, and by the time i managed to hit play again it was already summer of 2021.

where is the joy in my work? i need to find it again. its buried under so much muck…

culture shock. making an exception for sailing. but for optionally meeting friends, still want to do it outside (why not?). then i might consider unmasking. with roommates, well, i guess folks are vaccinated. it’s nice to relax at home. culture shock, going past the streets full of outdoor dining, people walking around without masks and giving zero berth (at home in the suburbs we literally cross a wide street when we see another family coming). so. many. people. it’s odd. can’t handle meeting a lot of people without feeling anxious. but also miss all the activities i did with my parents. slowly trying to find my rhythm.

working inside all day. not comfortable going to indoor spaces yet. (the university spaces probably aren’t open either?)

have gone into stores every day almost. (minus day or two off for bee sting on underside of foot !). such a change. with parents, initially we spaced out to 3 or 4 weeks per trip. in and out in 30 mins, hit up two or three stores in one go, wipe down groceries / purify, and then shower. now i go in for 2 or 3 items, and wander around… masked and vaccinated. peace of mind. feel a bit strange though.

i think i’ll start on some small plants. fit them in a container for easy transport. maybe with mats or peat, and dense sprouts, so there’s no loose soil floating around waiting to get spilled when I move again in 6 weeks..

(hmm, if I get a bike trailer, could i move by myself?)

eibke – ebike has been amazing. $270 refurbished. thought battery life was shot, miserable ride home from marina with stung foot. collapsed in the parking lot in tears. turns out, i caught the rear fender rubbing. but the disc possibly bent a bit in transport. almost completely undid front brakes (sketchy, will get fixed). pumped up tires. before, barely 1 mile range. now seems great to still be >70% after 4 or 5 miles (with pedaling). pedaling is also possible now. should’ve looked up adjusting brakes at the time, didn’t realize it was so bad (well also was in pain). ebike! dou feng, at first just went out for rides for the heck of it (and to check the range). have no hesitation about 3, 5 mile far out places now. just go out and take a whirl. much bigger difference than i thought, even though max throttle is still less than normal bike speed. but being able to take a break whenever from pedaling, and still keep going, feels great.