All posts by nouyang

Pandemic Diary #39 – 12 Mar

it’s so weirrrdd to think about in the future when we will look back at this as such a weird phase in our lives, just a set of memories of life lived and past

yesterday had the insane news that parents will get first vaccine dose next week

i actually just kinda cried a bit it was such a feeling of relief, my heart was thinking i will maybe get the vaccine in august, and hopefully my parents in may. this is so sudden and soon. I had read the vaccination plan and between 65+ and the 16-65 age group, there were three other groups (eg grocery store workers). i didn’t realize just how much the threat of them falling sick and being of the 1% that dies was weighing on me. (dear stars maybe we can stop wiping down our groceries, waiting three days to open mail, and eat takeout freely).


I have pondered why I don’t ask for pay (yes, my parents own their home so I can be the proverbial millenial living with their parents during the pandemic). Is it because I am being too meek, downtrodden, etc.? But it doesn’t quite feel like that.

I think the reason is pride. That I’m tired of working hard to please people for what in the end feels like no good reason. That at least this way I get some say in what I do. That I don’t feel beholden to anyone. I should definitely prioritize more of my own fun projects though. I have to remember that I am living this life for myself.


reading the moment of lift – something that keeps going through my head. at one point she adds up the excess time of household chores done by women vs men, and it totals up to enough time to get a master’s degree.


was going to boycott kroger, but the most reasonable option next is target, however it’s unreasonable to spend a 40 minute round trip instead of a 10 minute round trip. instead idea was to put a tip in an envelope. totally failed at that.


was not in the least vegetarian this year. console myself with the fact that i did zero flying, which is also good for the environment, albeit bad for airline employees.

Pandemic Diary #38 – 7 Mar

ergh

internships

pondering that this grasping robotics startup I know is hiring at $20-$25 an hour… that’s lower than I had at fitbit as an undergrad without negotiating. they seemed to want me full-time but also declined to write me a rec letter for things… so.

in any case, the path to my goal may have to be riskier than job-seeking. I doubt my salary could be higher than 120k ish (which by god that is absurdly high, i’m sure the complaint reeks of absurdity to some people. but in terms of making up the gender pay gap, I’m not sure is doing much)

old paper old label is getting some press i guess – talking to some media people. not sure how to describe my feelings. on the one hand, okay great, publicity never hurts when i’m still building my career. win-win right? but on the hand, it feels unjust somehow. i was paid, i guess, for most of it maybe. but it does feel like i got used for this paper, mit gets publicity, my pi gets to use it for grants, and here i am unemployed. this feels exactly like when harvard didn’t even contact me and put out some stupid newsletter saying oh hey look at these harvard students who got fellowships. and meanwhile i don’t have an advisor and am fighting like heck to stay in grad school.

thanks.

then again maybe it’s all in my head. jobs really depend on who else is applying or skill, but also fit of character, whether the project has stability, location, etc. all these things. taking a chance on people… i’m a chance i guess. “when there’s fresh grads in line”

somehow, it’s always the unjustness of a situation. like if everyone else had to teach. then great, i will teach. but this sense of compounding injustice from the start… it can be hard to bear. maybe i’m okay now being explicit about the challenges i overcame in my applications. but probably it just makes me even riskier rather than appear strong. i’ve had making that mistake cost me tens of thousands of dollars before.

it’s hard to tell how far i’ve come, and be grateful about that, mostly because i avoid thinking about the past because it feels so awful. living in the present.

maybe write a tool to compare job openings vs job applicants now and projected into the future (based on graduation rates). would that actually help me have insight into where to apply? i’m guessing that a lot depends on how good the other people are at advertising. or maybe just make a tool to aggregate university job listings?

Pandemic Diary #37 – 6 Mar

feeling glum

maybe the lack of ambition is itself making me glum?

language learning blog was like “set ambitious goals” and I set my3000 char goal, which I’m making steady progress toward, but is a little unlikely to happen given my priorities right now. maybe do same for what actually matters. new ambition: write two paper drafts in two months. ignore that they’re not ML

what are possibilities? i only knew what ML ones were. with ES I could have worked on ML. Why didn’t I? my excuse at the time was that I had teaching and contract work, which is all true.

feeling glum about getting an internship. need to apply anyway.

maybe i just need to reframe…

Pandemic Diary #35 – 21 Feb

the ridiculousness of academia – where my time is simultaneously worth $100+/hr as a contractor, $40/hr as a teaching assistant, and $0/hr as a PhD student (and without health insurance to boot).

https://www.physics.harvard.edu/event/monday-colloquium-xiaoxing-xi-temple-university

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVXbiJifWzE

There’s no way this is worth it salary-wise. Consider that I’d have to earn $200k for the next 5 years in order to average $100k for 10 years. (how long will the tech bubble last anyway?)

Other things to balance: staying in one place. I’ve never been good at that. The pandemic is helping oddly enough. Most years I move at least once a year…

Pandemic Diary #36 – 4 Mar

COVID

In the US, looks like vaccine rollout building up steam. Hear reports about vaccines being available for everyone by the end of May. (In the backdrop of reports of rich countries hoarding vaccines)

Dispatches from UN Wire

Pandemic unlikely to end in 2021, WHO official says Global coronavirus case numbers increased last week after six consecutive weeks of decline as infections climbed in the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia and the eastern Mediterranean, the World Health Organization reports. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that countries should not rely solely on vaccinations to control the spread of the virus,

Politics

Still?!

Yes, trying to get parents to spend more time on local issues we can actually affect. Fair Fight action:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vReh8YOEK1QGhXHikE-xIM-sFuqZReVMwBUg8ehuRME9qv4ZZ-t–fNcoudgHzhkYT8yIzE38IbUaxg/pub

The bill now heads to the state Senate, where a committee voted Monday to end no-excuse absentee voting, which would require most voters to cast ballots in person. That legislation could receive a vote in the full Senate within days.

Space

Mars looks pretty! The landing was so spectacular – I’m still so proud of the achievements of scientists and engineers the world over!!

Getting a building size object to belly flop was great.

Computer Travails

Had quite the scare the other day, where suddenly all USB-C ports on my laptop stopped working, which in this case meant my laptop stopped charging. Pretty anxiety-inducing to just watch the battery go down and not be able to charge it.

Apparently Lenovo had some issue where laptops would stop charging through usb-c port! I feel a little vindicated about my horrible issues with my old laptop. Which caused me to get new one under all the warranties (I’m sure for naught), and also as new (under Lenovo sale – the specs are awful, 128 GB hd / 8 GB ram, and I’ve just been tacking on components over time. Not sure how cost-effective it has been in the end, definitely not time-effective). I updated the firmware (surprisingly easy, download the .iso file from lenovo, extract into a .img, burn with e.g. etcher.io onto a USB, then boot from that USB).

I did investigate whether I can update through the new fwupdmgr but alas it was not to be. Otherwise the commands would have been:

sudo fwupdmgr get-devices
for d in system-manufacturer system-product-name bios-release-date bios-version
 do
 echo "${d^} : " $(sudo dmidecode -s $d)
 done
sudo fwupdmgr refresh --force
sudo fwupdmgr update

For my curiosity, X1 Yoga v2 before:

├─System Firmware:
│ Device ID: 123fd4143619569d8ddb6ea47d1d3911eb5ef07a
│ Current version: G5ET93WW (2.53 )
│ Vendor: LENOVO
│ Update Error: UEFI Capsule updates not available or enabled
│ GUID: 230c8b18-8d9b-53ec-838b-6cfc0383493a ← main-system-firmware
│ Device Flags: • Internal device
│ • Requires AC power
│ • Needs a reboot after installation
System-manufacturer : LENOVO
System-product-name : 20JDCTOIWW
Bios-release-date : 10/15/2018
Bios-version : NINET43W (1.30)

X1 Yoga v2 after:

System-manufacturer :  LENOVO
System-product-name :  20JDCTO1WW
Bios-release-date :  11/03/2020
Bios-version :  N1NET52W (1.39 )

L390 before:

System-manufacturer : LENOVO
System-product-name : 20NT000GUS
Bios-release-date : 08/12/2019
Bios-version : R10ET39W (1.24 )

L390 after:

System-manufacturer : LENOVO
System-product-name : 20NT000GUS
Bios-release-date : 01/13/2021
Bios-version : R10ET48W (1.33 )

W530 –
System-manufacturer : LENOVO
System-product-name : 2447L81
Bios-release-date : 05/24/2013
Bios-version : G5ET93WW (2.53 )

Trustworthy W530… firmware from 2013 still going strong.

Canonical Naming

This is definitely coming up as I start applying to things… I kind of lost my chance to standardize my name after the beginning of Harvard. I wonder why I didn’t go with Rui. I s’pose my email address was chosen already. Maybe I just felt that Rui was too hard to pronounce. Now I have a pretty bad situation where I have a PI at MIT who knows me by one name… a PI at another school who knows me by another… and my website lists a third, since I don’t want certain people to be aware of this whole situation… I can’t say the confusion is likely to help me. I could trash one of the names now that I’m barely affiliated with Harvard it feels like. But it feels utterly wrong to go by Nancy there.

Hearing my parents speak about (trans)gender issues, I guess I always charitably thought my travails had nothing to do with my really strange choices around how to present myself. But maybe people in cities are probably pretty open-minded since they have to deal with so many strangers all the time, vs in the suburbs I just deal with the same few people all the time. eh.

Definitely still in denial, but tbh going by a totally new name makes it kinda hard. Oh well! Maybe I’m doomed to making small money in random jobs and a life of instability. Like, trying to keep perspective, but not sure which direction y’know?

Perspective

On the one hand, well, I managed to reach basically 30 without dying, which I didn’t expect. Hearing about someone I lived on a hall with in undergrad had gotten a nice career in NY, married, bought a house, move to the burbs, had a kid, and then committed suicide early on in the pandemic. Who had issues with depression I never knew about.

Life is unfair. So, practice being grateful every day.

‘specially the subject matter I’m working on. Now that I’m on health insurance, I should certainly see a therapist regularly. I don’t even know that I really believe it’ll help. I in fact think it will be really mentally exhausting. But it’s on the to-do list, y’know?

Choices

I made my choices this year feeling like I would not want to grow old and feel like I didn’t put the time in to do the right thing, with regards to the pandemic and the elections. But here I am on the other side and it still keeps going. Republicans are making it harder to vote, now that they’ve gotten it into their minds that fewer voters is better (which, what the hell? win on platform not attacking one of the pillars of democracy). Although in context I guess technically our country was founded like this from the beginning. And of course, on the other activist side, the pandemic just keeps going.

So was it worth it? I went to these fancy schools, but was it worth it? Would I be happier now if I just had boatload of money? Some days it sure feels like it. My friends my age are buying houses, I’m living with my parents, unemployed, constantly worrying about health insurance.

(I guess I have been rejected out of hand for an internship, so feeling a little low today. I know it should be rather an indicator that I’m applying to things at the right level. But it still hurts!)

Actually come to think of it, I’ve yet to receive a paper rejection, hah! Guess I’m not submitting enough papers. (Underlying it still, the feeling of not being a real Computer Scientist, despite now having my master’s degree in it. Since I haven’t done True Computer Science research according to my quals committee).

Grad students

Well I started writing this and accidentally turned it into a full email. So I’ll just copy it below.

Hi all,Some interesting very recent developments over at MIT I thought worthwhile to share to this list:

 We will soon have guaranteed transitional funding for all students across MIT who wish to leave an unhealthy advising relationship.
They describe it here at this link. Announced Feb 19 / goes into effect Mar 8, and I think they didn’t start petition until maybe 6 months ago, so super fast in institutional terms (cough thanks Harvard for taking two YEARS to get us a one-year contract).

More about RISE:

Reject Injustice through Student Empowerment (RISE) is a united effort of MIT grad students led by Graduate Students for a Healthy MIT, Black Graduate Student Association, and Graduate Student Council Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee.  Another to keep an eye on, FAARM, a policy-oriented approach which aims to use federal funding as a nation-wide lever to improve grad student mental health. Harvard Grad Council (which covers all grad students, not just SEAS) has actually already endorsed this.

FAARM objective: Mobilize the federal research funding agencies (FRFAs) and other leaders in U.S. R&D and higher education toimprove the advising and mentorship provided to graduate students.

You can sign up for their mailing list for progress updates, they also have a cool one-page summary over at their website.

Anyway, in other ways we’ve beaten MIT to the punch, we already have a grad student union. Our first contract (which Harvard appears to have signed in part when they realized COVID was going to be a big deal) was only a year-long contract and ends June 30, so we get to negotiate a new one again.
https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2021/2/13/grad-student-union-second-contract/
I am unfortunately not technically a grad student right now (I’m just doing my research toward graduating unpaid, lol 🙃), so you should join the union on my behalf! http://harvardgradunion.org/join/

Next post will be a little graphic of my goals – what will it take for me to be happy with having been unemployed for a year?

Wait I guess technically I’ve only been unemployed for 3 months right now, so maybe more like… unemployed for half a year, living at home for 1.5 years. (oh god) (remember to be grateful)

depressing things (research but NSFW)

all the trigger warnings

no seriously

i guess the only the most egregious / likely to win cases get prosecuted. but still depressing


https://sherloc.unodc.org/cld/case-law-doc/traffickingpersonscrimetype/usa/2015/case_0715.html?lng=en&tmpl=htms

Case 0715 United States of America Sentence Date: 2015-07-01

[] admitted that although he never personally recruited, groomed, or coerced any of the victims, he benefited financially from the sex trafficking operation. …. [] would charge the pimps and sex trafficking co-conspirators higher rates than other motel guests, … learned that members of the sex trafficking conspiracy physically assaulted women they prostituted, including one instance in which a co-conspirator brutally beat one woman with a large piece of wood while she screamed for help, leaving her with multiple lacerations and what appeared to be a broken arm … [] also saw the damage that a co-conspirator caused to a motel room during a beating, including a broken toilet, a damaged sink, and blood on the walls …. [] agreed not to call the police after the co-conspirator paid him for the damage to the room.

Who came in to clean up the blood…?


From human trafficking textbook: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Wendy_Stickle_Human_Trafficking?id=RLacDwAAQBAJ

“The spread of HIV/AIDS … offers another significant example of how demand influences the portrait of human trafficking. In those regions where HIV/AIDS is still widespread, the demand for younger and younger girls continues to grow.”


From trafficking conference presentation: https://www.traffickingconference.com/

Nazmia Comrie et al.: Hospitality Trafficking: King Case (Florida, 2007)

– Eastern European students on J-1 visas exploited in five-star Hilton resort in Florida Panhandle
– Students had been promised jobs at Disney World
– Instead taken to North Florida and worked as maids in Hilton resort for $2 to $3 an hour
– Perpetrators were Russian organized crime operating with U.S. citizen front man
– Students “recycled” every three to four months
– Hilton places all legal blame on its subcontractor


Then there’s the RM reviews which are also quite awful. One from 2014 was like… “The girl wasn’t enthusiastic about it, and I only got a HJ (handjob) from her. Not recommend.” — and the review indicated he didn’t even pay a tip.

The filthy entitlement of it.


The remaining parts below are less graphic and more just depressing.

I’ve been trying to read up more on labor trafficking cases, since y gut instinct is they might be understudied. https://humantraffickinghotline.org/sites/default/files/Labor%20Trafficking%20Cases%20by%20Industry%20in%20the%20US%20Fact%20Sheet%20FINAL_1.pdf


https://www.urban.org/research/publication/understanding-organization-operation-and-victimization-process-labor-trafficking-united-states Case studies

workers who were paid through a subcontractor often didn’t realize that something was wrong until they received their first paycheck and saw deductions for housing, food, transportation, and in some case medical insurance, and were often left with so little that their earnings would barely make a dent in their debt back home.

also, in many cases, victims had accrued a debt back home (e.g.,bank loans, property collateral)to come to the United States and would face a host of consequences if they were deported and unable to pay that debt back. >>> I’m sure this makes it harder to prosecute..

rather, law enforcement arrived at the traffickers’ household and chose to believe the perpetrators instead of the… The security people show up and of course they’re under orders. … They can stay on the street, but they can’t step over the curb into the curtilage of the residence. So they only stood at the curb … essentially believed everything that he [the trafficker] was telling them. And then they go back in [the] house,and it was that night that he lost his temper and started beating the crap out of her and wound up breaking her finger. … I was like, “Did you ever think about calling the sheriff’s office?” And then he goes. . . “We have to have the homeowner’s permission.” No, you don’t. >>> Well, just, depressing.

of these victims, 46 percent were single and 45 percent were married. Sixty-four percent of the victims had children. >>> Definitely changed my perspective of who is trafficking

With the exception of one worker who was an American citizen, the farm workers were Mexican citizens who entered the country legally in 2019 as H-2A visa holders on a contract to work at Windy Prairie Farm. Plaintiffs’ attorneys said the workers routinely worked long hours but were paid little or nothing and were never reimbursed for pre-employment travel or related expenses. … including allegations that he threatened to strangle the person who complained to the DOL. https://www.theindianalawyer.com/articles/farmworkers-awarded-460k-in-wage-theft-labor-trafficking-judgment >>> The extent that a lot of legal visas are used surprised me. One case read “oh, the visa renewal was denied due to low wages specified. then law enforcement went in, investigated, and arrested the workers”…

had no previous encounters with law enforcement in their home countries or in the United States and were law-abiding individuals. Thus, the threat and fear of deportation, or the mere mention of law enforcement or ties to law enforcement, were enough to keep victims from running away or seeking help. >>> this rings true… what is the case for law enforcement to become known in their communities as positive forces?


It’s kind of tiring to deal with this stuff and then on the other hand read about cases that get dismissed by judges who I assume, charitably, don’t deal with this day-in and day-out and can’t see the patterns.


The following bits are a bit more scattered, I really just wanted to vent above. Now just jotting some general thoughts that are criss-crossing my mind.

A lot of the more egregious examples are made possible because of poverty. I guess honestly in my heart I feel the solution to these extremes is figuring out how to get people out of poverty. Reading about all the people involved fighting so hard just makes it so tiring to think about. But if the economic factors can be fixed… I think witnessing and reflecting China’s growth in my pretty short lifetime really drives that optimism. From hand-pulled rickshaws to gleaming metropolis. Plenty of issues but the sheer economic growth and increased standard of living in the last 15-20 years (from when I spent summers with my grandma in elementary school, to visiting post-undergrad undergraduate) is insane.

When I feed the hungry, they call me a saint. When I ask why people are hungry, they call me a Communist

Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian archbishop, as quoted in Peace Behind Bars : A Peacemaking Priest’s Journal from Jail (1995) by John Dear, p. 65; this is a translation of “Quando dou comida aos pobres chamam-me de santo. Quando pergunto por que eles são pobres chamam-me de comunista.” https://quotes.yourdictionary.com/author/quote/549026

An interested podcast this week (quite short) on this, as part of Black History Month. I really liked the insight.

Peter says that Lewis’s insight [dual-sector model of development] changed our understanding of the ways that poor countries can raise living standards for their citizens

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/16/968412484/unsung-economists-arthur-lewis.

There’s also a brief phrase that resonates with my experience. Not quite same in transcript, recommend listen.

HENRY: Between 1978 and 2014, when China was going through the most miraculous period of economic growth in history

Also reflecting on my changing views on Africa. I forgot that as a kid, Africa seemed like this continent beset by never-ending amounts of civil wars and then the HIV/AIDS epidemic. To where it is now, a promising candidate for growth. As opposed to the stasis and decay of the last years in the United States, looking at Africa now feels optimistic.

Infrastructure a bigger problem than corruption. The need for agriculture tech vs. current sustenance farming. The hope for the model that drove economic growth in China (cheap labor for manufacturing), interrupted by automation (robotics allowing for manufacturing to return to US / may skip Africa).

Pandemic Diary #34 – 17 Feb

Although overall my mood is okay, compared to the bottoms of 2016, as the 1 year anniversary of moving out comes up, with no end in sight still, I’ve definitely felt a little mopey. I want my parents to get the vaccine, and I want to be paid.

It weighs on my mind that I sit in a room of presumably well paid corporate people, while being unpaid, and because i was the one who brought up oh maybe there are some ethical considerations here, now I am the one who is tasked with writing about it. I guess I have been paid with (access to) data. But the irony is the data is about Asian massage parlors* . So here I am, unpaid while the men in the room are paid, being asked to spend my time writing about the ethics of studying a topic that ultimately involves the power imbalance between men and women.

* which let me tell you, the amount of entitlement in that dataset really makes you feel as you are treading through the muck of civilization

Am I being paid enough for this? Somehow I have both had the privilege to choose my position of continuing my PhD, without being paid, yet also I feel the situation is unjust in some way that’s hard to put my finger on. There is no funding on this topic in academia, compared to e.g. supporting entire labs studying haptics in robotic touch. I don’t ask for industry levels of pay. I would just like to be paid enough to feel comfortable renting a room in Boston.

I don’t know, life is absurd sometimes. It’s no use being too mad about it all the time. Too close scrutiny about power imbalances may just ingrain those power imbalances. Best to just make sure I can rapidly exit this situation in less than 1.5 years.

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?

Chinese

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.

Exercise

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

Birds

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.

Adulting

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.

Pandemic Diary #32 – 09 Feb 2021- 100,000 American deaths from COVID in ~January. And impeachment trial video evidence of Trump inciting a riot

a little braindump

COVID

January plus two days, officially.

100,000 deaths in a month +2 days.

I’m so tired. Safe healthy and mostly sane. Chinese/Lunar New Year’s coming up, so guess we’ll have to go in person for that. (No apps for shopping at the Asian stores. And, it feels so weird to say, hey, here’s $100 that you need way more than me, so that you can go in and risk being sick instead of me). That’s changed – I don’t really hesitate to order even trivial things online anymore.

This pandemic really brings out the judgmental side of me.

Academics

COVID and STEM persistence – I made my choices. Should be grateful, and probably shouldn’t feel miserably like a failure. Hard to do so when working for free and living with my parents.

Cats, Birds, and Books

Bought some sunflower seeds today, refilled the bird feeder. Sat outside for a while just listening to bird calls and looking at the sonograms on BirdNet app. Red shouldered hawks, American Robin, Eastern Towhee, Canada goose. Red bellied woodpeckers (!), tufted titmouse, carolina wren from earlier this week.

Sun sets an hour later here than in Boston. Much warmer. Spring is in the air. Spotted a few leaves peaking out of the rose bushes.

I went through another 4 Discworld books. Going to miss this series. Definitely a comfort food.

Side projects

Need to get back into making cards – postcard stamps have arrived from USPS. Am excited.

Lunar New Year: Year of the Ox

Locale

Keep eying an Airbnb. But it is so easy to stay home (but maybe that’s a problem? too comfortable). Live somewhere a little more rural, a few more stars in the sky, with some chickens.

Impeachment

impeachment #2 video evidence @ NPR