spring in the quarantine
Thursday, March 26 2020
This morning I had a meeting via Google Hangouts involving me from my laboratory, Alex from his attic office in Tivoli, and the Ukranian outsourcers in their various remote offices near Kharkiv (not far from the Russian border). Alex noted afterwards that Roman (one of the Ukranians) didn't look too good. He'd also been doing an unhealthy amount of dry coughing. Ukraine is nowhere near as advanced in this pandemic as southern New York, but it's everywhere, and what starts as one or two afflicted rises to thousands in weeks. And, at least among our outsourcers, social distancing is already company policy.
At least in contrast to yesterday, today I felt great. There would be no hacking up of blood or runaway hypochondria. Happily, Gretchen wasn't showing any signs of infection either. But it's too early to tell with coronavirus, so we maintained in-house social distancing.
My good mood was further enhanced by the glorious spring day that unfolded, with clear sunny skies and temperatures reaching into the upper 50s.
Meanwhile the environment and non-human animals within seemed excited for spring. This morning I heard the season's first phœbe flycatcher, and I even saw a butterly fluttering about. (It was small and orange and might technically have been a skipper.) Where might a butterfly have come from so quickly after the passing of winter? Do they hibernate in adult form?
For a time, Gretchen even sat out on a chaise lounge in the driveway while the dogs sunned themselves nearby. Meanwhile, Spectrum (what used to be called Time Warner) has been stringing cable up Dug Hill Road. Before long we will have a true broadband option and will finally be able to kick our low-speed (if fairly reliable) DSL to the curb. Today one of the Spectrum guys parked his truck in our driveway while he did some work on the pole, something that for some reason didn't alarm the dogs. The guy actually strapped on a tree-climbing harness and boot spikes and climbed the pole using human strength alone, something I'd never seen a utility employee do. He might've been the cause of our landline and DSL eventually failing and staying down for the night, something that forced me to use my cellphone for updates on the pandemic.
Without a connection to the world, I tinkered with my Weathertron, building out a web front-end for the graphical display of the data it collects. This was by far the easiest part of the entire Weathertron project, since I could just reused the graphical systems I'd already implemented for my surveillance robots, making their backends read from a MySQL table instead of from raw sensor data in real time. My Weathertron has been very reliable since I fixed a few bugs in both the Arduino and Raspberry Pi code and implemented ways for the master to reset the slave and the slave to reset the master on occasions when either a communication fails to be acknowledged (by the slave) or a long time has passed since a communication was attempted (by the master).
As I did these things, I watched the 2017 movie entitled The Circle, the story (based on a novel, parts of which I've heard read in podcasts) of a massive Facebook-style internet company with a horrifying view of personal privacy. It was not very good. The ratcheting-up of the depiction of the company's privacy-obliterating intentions came too abruptly and cartoonishly, and we aren't given enough reason to hate the character played by Tom Hanks (the CEO of The Circle) by the time he is given his ultimate comeuppance. Maybe the problem is that Tom Hanks can't really play a villain.
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