One year of COVID down.

Here we go again, this time 943 years.

This time, I got nothin'.

Many of the horrors of the last four years are over and not a few of us are sleeping much better, mostly because we have to spend less time keeping our eyes and sensor networks open to catch the latest way that we or people we care about might have the worth of our lives decreased even more. That's not to say that things are perfect, just a couple of points better for more people. The covid-19 plague is still on, unfortunately. Vaccinations are still extremely difficult to get, government websites (at local, state, and federal levels) for signing up for them are still uniformly shit, and now that variant strains of the virus are making their rounds folks are now doubly watching their backs. Not a few people are concerned that, if they get vaccinated they might not be fully immune to the variants. I must confess, I'm worried about that also. Not out of any malice or mistrust, but simply because I stab myself on those corner cases all the damned time. But first I have to actually get the jab.

I feel like I've lost a year of my life. The covid plague has wrecked the usual patterns of my life and I don't think that it's possible (or even feasible) to pick up the pieces and put them back together. The new normal, as they say, is here and I suppose there's no sense in missing those old patterns. All things being equal it only makes sense to try to build something different while the opportunity is there. If nothing else, having to put some things aside and pick up new ones has been good for me because I needed some change. I hope it's been good for everyone. It's still hard not to look back and feel sad about doing so, though.

Mom's doing a lot better. She did six rounds of chemo in late 2020 and, as I write this anyway, it was up in the air if she'd need one last round to make sure that all of the rogue cells got mopped up. From what I recall her bloodwork numbers were looking significantly better and they're pretty sure that she's in remission. Since going off of chemo she hasn't been excessively tired or in pain, her appetite is much better, and she's far more active than she has been in the last year or so. On the other hand she also lost all of her hair (which is the most commonly known side effect of chemotherapy) near the end of the process, so of course I asked Sean to shave my head in solidarity.

I always thought that having a shaved head would feel painfully uncomfortable. I don't know why, it was always made out to be a bad thing growing up. Instead I barely notice. Once in a while I toss my head to get my hair out of the way, only to remember that I don't have any. In some ways it's been reassuring: I know I'm losing my hair, have for years, and while I can see just how much hairline I've lost the bald spot up on top really isn't that big. I've also got quite a bit of silver hair coming in on the sides that is now visible. To be honest I'd be entirely pleased with getting older if I could get a full Doctor Steven Strange dark-on-top-white-on-the-sides but I don't think I'll be able to keep enough hair that long. Oh, well, that's what cosplay is for. Or would be, if going anywhere was still a thing.

Work has been eating me alive lately. I've been pulling more late-nighters than not for the last couple of weeks and it's been wiping me out. So much so that I haven't had the compute cycles to even read a book at the end of the day, let alone hack around with anything. I have a couple of projects that are in a holding pattern right now, chief among them finishing my Asterisk configuration so that I can play around in the NPSTN network properly. Asterisk's configuration language isn't easy to learn, the boilerplate config files need a certain amount of tinkering (which I haven't had the attention span for lately), and generally I just needed to get away from a screen for a while. When it's done, I'll finish the writeup I've got on my desktop and get it posted. And then maybe work on some of the little hardware projects I have sitting on my desk. I still have to get my new ham radio (yes, I finally have a benchtop radio) set up (which requires desk space), I have to get my (kit) oscilloscope in a casing that isn't a bunch of crappy acrylic plates, I have to get my blue box in a case... as you can probably tell (and will be able to, as other timed posts go up) it's way easier for me to write about the things that are keeping me going, and not the abstracts about day to day life.

The more I think about it, the most rarefied things in life seem. So much of my life in the last year was spent stuck at home working (modulo that trip back to Pittsburgh) that looking back on the last couple of weeks, all I can really come up with is... work, followed by dinner, followed by sleep. Over and over again. Once in a while it's relatively safe enough for me to leave the house and go for a drive, but I don't seem to do it often enough. And I hate forcing blog posts. They never come out right, they suck overall, I hate writing them, and you probably hate reading them. Some days I feel like my social skills are atrophying because I'm not exposed to as many different people as I used to. I've been living in "what next?" mode for so long I'm not sure what to do with myself when I have a spare moment to do any sort of writing. It's an uncomfortable feeling. Maybe I'm just forcing myself to write when I should be doing other things to rest my brain.

Looking at how I've been distracting myself while trying to write this post, maybe that's the case. Just writing this post should not have taken as long as it has (several hours).

I realize this isn't the happiest or even the most coherent birthday post you've ever read, and I'm sorry about that. It has been A Year and we're all doing the best we can with what we've got. So... I don't know. Please stay safe, and be good to each other. Help others if and where you can.