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The End of April

Started: 2020-05-03 22:39:14

Submitted: 2020-05-04 01:00:51

Visibility: World-readable

Another milestone in the never-ending COVID-19 saga

This week brought the end of April, the second full month that COVID-19 took over my life.

The month of March felt like an eternity. Time in April feels like it's compressed and dilated at the same time, like the dolly-in, pan-out Vertigo effect that stretches and compresses the space behind the subject while keeping the subject the same size. Nothing has changed since the month began, so it feels like no time at all has passed; but each day feels interminable as I sit down at my desk and unlock my computer and try to figure out what I'm going to do. Even the project I've been working on keeps getting pushed back, and I keep treading water trying to write the code that's going to replace the hacky code in my experimental directory to manage part of the production automation, but I have trouble conjuring the focus I need to actually make progress.

(It's hard to conjure much focus when there are people in the world -- both in my company and elsewhere -- who are actually making a difference to help out with COVID-19 but I'm writing daemons to copy files so my service can balance load in order to provide web site analytics so that people buy more ads. Everything I'm doing is so far removed from anything that anyone cares about -- especially now, in a global pandemic -- that it feels basically meaningless.)

Willow at the desk
Willow at the desk

My anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted from the ever-tightening noose of closures and restrictions to worrying that we'll be locked down indefinitely. I'm simultaneously worried that some states are opening too soon and also that Washington and California will stay locked down too long. I've been stuck in my house, exiled from the office, unable to go much further than my own neighborhood for nearly two months. We've halted the spread of COVID-19, but it's here now: In Washington daily new cases and daily fatalities are declining but they sort of appear to be plateauing at a level that's lower than the peak but still concerning. It's not at all clear how these new cases are emerging: are they mostly essential workers? (I also want to know: How much can we reduce transmission if everyone wears masks everywhere? How much risk is there to transmission outside in parks?)

Meanwhile Governor Inslee has extended our lockdown until the end of May. I don't see any evidence that we have enough testing or contact tracing to be able to hunt down new cases, and I'm not optimistic that we'll figure it out in May if we couldn't get our act together in April. The goalposts keep getting moved and it's not inspiring confidence. I'm going to give state and local governments credit for moving fairly quickly to stop the spread of the virus but now they seem to be stuck.

I'm still actively looking for a job that will let me move back to the Bay Area. I have some credible leads, but it's still too early to tell how this will all go. In an effort to prepare for moving I've launched a project to inventory all of our books. So far I have inventoried 785 books on our shelves, with 857 books listed in our database (in Librarything) that I haven't quite located yet. Many of those books are children's books; I'm not yet sure how far I'm going to dive into that rabbit hole. Others are books we've miscategorized or are otherwise misrepresented in our database. (It also turns out it's been about six years since I last printed labels for my books, and I bought a bunch of books since then, so I spent a non-trivial amount of time finding reasonable Library of Congress classification numbers for my book, and then printing labels for my books and sticking them to the books.)

We have now officially reached the "hurry up and wait" stage of the pandemic, and I'm eager to see what's next.