Pandemic Diary #88 – the end? (24 Jan 2022)

i’m starting to approach the end of the pandemic i feel…

i went out to a restaurant earlier this week and ate and haven’t bothered testing after. today was in a zoom call in a (mostly empty) classroom and took off my mask just to be viewed more clearly. i don’t really think too much about COVID when i’m thinking about traveling anymore, nor quarantining for a week. i still took two tests spaced apart.

i still appreciate not getting colds, so i will probably keep masking for a while. i worry about my parents. but i rarely look at case counts anymore. i checked wastewater levels and they’re going down.

i still won’t likely go clubbing for a while. but it no longer feels like a scary lethal disease. i don’t hesitate to just drop into stores whenever, or feel a heightened awareness of how close people are to me. i go to the climbing gym and will stick around even if it’s pretty crowded. for sure there’s no sense that perhaps packages or takeout food will be contaminated.

i think if i have forgotten a mask, i still wouldn’t go into a store or climbing. but my roommates certainly will. perhaps just force of habit at this point.

i’m in fact planning on having regular house parties with food. i’m not sure exactly how that will work, perhaps i’ll just have randomized testing. but i miss randomly meeting people and having interesting conversations and dreaming big. doing something to actively counteract the shrinking size of social circles and the migration of hanging out to the internet.

it’s weird to reflect on how this really prolonged the student stage of my life and exacerbated / amplified existing trends of being “behind” in my life (is that a thing?). i spent a whole two years prioritizing family, and now back in boston it feels like i’m still in year 4 of my PhD, but really i’m in year 6 (!). trying to close out my PhD also feels like admitting defeat of making something of use out of my PhD. impacting the world. having some grand vision of the future to get other people to buy into. a sense of excitement and opening of doors and possibilities, replaced by a sense of moving on.

perhaps appropriate given it’s lunar new years. let go of past self, welcome in a new self for this year. as my roommate put it: being brave enough to pursue the things that made me happy and make me laugh inside

creating a (semi-custom) avatar for livestreams (e.g. chibi avatars) using posenet demo

Example avatar

blah blah background info

This past weekend I looked into how to create an avatar, like the chibi ones that people use for livestreams, per the following instructions:

Become a grass virtual Youtuber and stream yourself. Demonstrate that you can control the model. The stream should have a minimum length of 2 minutes.

I did this as part of MIT mystery hunt 2023, specifically the scavenger hunt. I put way too much time into it in some sense, but also the point of mystery hunt is to make friends and have fun for me, and this scavenger hunt certainly helped a lot with this.


They have a great demo where you can actually just drag-and-drop a SVG in to change your avatar!

And they provide several SVG examples here:

Unfortunately, whenever I ungrouped to edit the illustration, and then regrouped again in Inkscape, the file did not work. So all I could do was change the entire objects to the same color and call it a day.

Some details of inner workings

You can see the posenet tracking here:

Screenshot of Posenet close up — on the left, note the feature tracking in red, as well as the cyan tracking of the eyes and other points

And if you open the example SVG files, they look like this:

Under the hood: What the SVG file looks like

Further details

I haven’t run it, but the code is open-source and available here:

I think shared my screen with OBS Studio — I just did screen share of my entire desktop, (which sort of defeats the purpose of a virtual avatar…) but obviously you can crop and resize with obs studio so that you are not in the image.

Or have more time than 30 minutes and actually install and run the software… 🙂 I’ll update if I ever do that. Or if I ever figure out how to edit the file in inkscape to create a truly custom avatar…

gas meter / electricity monitoring research

one day i want to get realtime data about our gas usage (to e.g. know how much our bad insulation, which we can’t fix due to renting, costs us)

American Meter Company AC-250 250 C.F.H. @ 1/2” diff

ITRON INC 100G DLT datalogging ERT ERG-5007-001 | 240V 3W type c1sr 30TA 1.0kh CA 0.5 FM2S 60Hz (edited) ~250

related on savings: todo: check on hepa rebate