social distance skeleton crew, day three
Wednesday, March 18 2020
Ramona came with me to work today on this third day of this week's skeleton crew. The day was unusually hectic, with municipalities in the process of closing down while also wanting us to hurry up and process their taxes at a much faster pace than usual. And, compounding issues, the taxes my tool had to import today were a series of edge cases, most of which failed in different ways, some of which I'd never seen before.
At 11:00am, I took Ramona for our customary big walk of the day, heading first to the edge of the solar panel farm and then through the woods back to the complex. On the trail through the woods, I saw something I'd never seen back there: a human being. It was actually two human beings, an adult man and a toddler child. Evidently they were out for a stroll in a place they assumed would be free of other coronavirus-spewing humans. Ramona was as surprised as I was to see other humans on that trail, and initially she froze in alarm. And then she let out a muffled "wuff!" "It's okay!" I assured her, multiple times. The man gave me a curt hello, obviously disappointed to have encountered another human in a place where he himself had probably never seen anything but squirrels, birds, and deer. He'd probably been going crazy back at his house, suddenly in charge of a restless toddler with "nothing to do" because of the social-distancing closing of some daycare center.
I'd taken 120 mg of semi-recreational pseudoephedrine this morning, and it provided a mild pick-me-up throughout the day. But on the drive home (a good seven hours later) its effects were still manifesting, and not in a good way. I felt anxious, uncomfortable, and worried I might soon be having enough of a panic attack that I might need to pull over. This feeling intensified when a big black vehicle began riding my ass as US 209 necked down from four lanes to two. Then some moron in front of me was driving about 50 mph in a 55 mph zone, preventing all possible means of escape. Maybe I shouldn't be taking drugs semi-recreationally when hospitals are about to become useless.
By the time I got home I was feeling much more like normal. I think part of what had happened was a reaction to the latest news of the coronavirus. It's looking more and more to me like society is going to be a very different place soon, and even though my job is secure and even the income from our rental properties mostly untroubled, it seems unlikely anyone is going to get through what is coming unscathed.
Back at the house, I immediately detached my weathertron weather station from the greenhouse and implemented a number of features. The Arduino slave apparently can crash, so I needed a way for the Raspberry Pi to perform a hardware rest on the Arduino using one of its GPIO pins. I also wanted to add a DHT22 humidity sensor (something I tried a week or so ago with a DHT11 sensor that seemed defective). All of these upgrades seemed to work nicely.
Meanwhile Gretchen had worked her first shift at the bookstore under new social distancing rules forbidding browsing. Customers were expected to know what books they wanted on arrival. Amazingly, despite these restrictions, the store had a day that would've been respectable on a weekend before the pandemic. Evidently all the people holed-up in their houses (or their AirBnBs; there are supposedly lots of coronavirus refugees up from New York City) are desperate for reading materials.
Me behind the solar panel farm today.
Ramona runs up to find me; I was on the ground face-down enjoying the sun when I took this picture.
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