Thanksgiving 2020: A Pandemic Holiday

Happy Thanksgiving

If I had to pick out one theme for our four days of Thanksgiving celebration, I couldn’t do much better than my child repeating “I can’t wait one more second” at decreasing intervals for hours. It really encapsulates the impatience, the demandingness, and the frequency of repetition that truly has driven me to the brink over this alleged holiday. 

When I heard my coworkers talking today about their “calm,” “relaxing,” “chill” long weekends spent watching movies, having a weekend away, maybe going out for walks or otherwise leisurely enjoying the weather, I felt like I had entered some strange parallel universe. Could they truly be talking about the same weekend I had just endured? “Frustrating,” “trying,” and “high-stress” would more accurately reflect my experience. Certainly I returned to work more exhausted, run-down, and hopeless than when I left for the long weekend — and that’s saying something, given how I was doing before. Continue Reading >>

Thanksgiving 2020 Pictures

Thanksgiving Dinner 2020
The tail end of our Thanksgiving dinner: The three of us in person and my parents on Zoom. I wouldn’t say a combined Zoom meal worked real well. You just can’t have a real conversation. But we still enjoyed the pie.
Ferguson Family Board Game Testing
We’re (okay, honestly I’m the most excited about this I think) creating our own board game. I’m putting way too much time into it for something that’s never going to go anywhere.
Benji's First D&D Adventure 2
On Saturday we created D&D characters and Ian DM’d our first adventure. It went surprisingly well. The hardest part was that Benji was so excited he couldn’t sit still, so I had him take breaks to run laps around the house.
Benji's First D&D Adventure 1
Benji is extremely excited to play D&D. He really wants a pet xorn or flumph. Preferably both.
Christmas Tree Farm 2020
A pandemic Christmas picture.
Christmas Tree Acquistion 2020
Sunday morning we acquired our Christmas tree. The u-cut lot was totally bare, so we had to settle for a pre-cut tree. It fit in our car, though! (If I look a little frayed, well, that’s accurate.)

Pandemic Presents Only Choices With Consequences

One of the things I find most fascinating (and personally relevant) about this pandemic is how each individual judges their risk of contracting COVID-19. As a rule, human beings are terrible judges of risk in today’s world. Our risk assessment ability evolved at a time when risks were pretty straightforward: Is the tiger chasing me? RUN AWAY NOW or die. We’re not well equipped to decide whether flying on an airplane, eating Thanksgiving with family members, or going for a walk with a friend could infect us with an invisible disease that can take up to two weeks to manifest itself — if it manifests any symptoms at all. Continue Reading >>

EIAE Update: One-Year Surgery Anniversary

Okay, actually my surgery was on November 22, 2019. Needless to say, I am so, so glad I got the surgery done long enough before the pandemic started that I even had the two-month follow-up appointment before everything went sideways. Actually, my follow-up was on January 18, 2020 — the same day COVID-19 Patient Zero came into the US, passing through the same airport I did.

Before we jump into how it’s gone, I want to call out once again that without my family, this wouldn’t have happened. Thank you again to my family for making it possible for me to have this done. Continue Reading >>

Autumn in the Northwest

A few pictures from the rare times we get out of the house in these predominantly dark, gloomy, wet months. Unfortunately the only camera I carry these days is the little one on my phone; fortunately, it’s higher-resolution and smarter at things like HDR than the DSLR gathering dust in my closet. (In fairness, the DSLR is much better at real camera tasks like manual focus, shutter speed, ISO settings, etc; I just don’t take pictures like that so much these days, alas.)

Seward Park
Don’t get the impression that we enjoy mostly sunshine between October and December; instead, get the impression that we take pictures of that rare event when it happens.
Seward Park Cedar
A lovely old cedar tree at Seward Park gave me tree envy.
High Bridge Road Just After Sunrise
Rode down High Bridge Road not long after the sun came up and enjoyed the quiet pastoral scene.
Snow Geese Snoqualmie Valley 2
Snow geese visit for just a few weeks a year on their annual southward migration. I felt lucky to see them close enough that I also heard the wind in their feathers as they landed.

Layoffs Get Me Thinking

Throughout the entire pandemic, executives from the CEO on down to my boss have assured us that they planned no layoffs for our company. Our clients are advisory firms that mostly charge based on assets under management (AUM). Although millions of people are experiencing desperate financial straits, the fortunate tiny percentage of people who have investment accounts have (after a not-unexpected plummet early in the pandemic) enjoyed shockingly good market returns, which means their assets have grown — and, accordingly, so have their AUM-based advisory fees. When financial advisors make money, they can pay the annual subscription cost for my company’s software. Which all means that I get to keep exchanging my writing ability for a steady paycheck. Continue Reading >>

Halloween 2020

I’m a little late posting it — we’ve had a few distractions! — but last Saturday Benji dressed up as an orange crayon for Halloween. As usual, Deborah made the finishing touches, in this case the Crayola label and “totally not a safety cone” crayon-tip hat.

Halloween 2020

Although we knew a number of people who went socially-distanced trick-or-treating or did a socially-distanced church “Harvest Festival” scavenger hunt, we opted to stay away from other people. Instead, my parents decorated their house as a haunted house strewn with little trails of candies for Benji to follow from room to room. They really did a great job, with spooky music, things that dropped down on you, spider webs, fog, and dim lights. Needless to say, Benji loved it and can hardly wait for next Halloween to do it again. Continue Reading >>