Categories
Drivel Politics

COVID-19 and Me, Part 2

July 4, 2020

Hi, friends. I wrote a long blog article a few weeks back about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected me and my neighborhood. If you haven’t already read it, I invite you to go check it out.

It’s now late June, and things feel a little more normal now. But, as before, there have been a few things I wanted to jot down for posterity. I hope the day will come that we mostly forget what it was like in the early days of the pandemic, so maybe all this will help jog my memory. I don’t know whether people like to read these longer format posts or would prefer more shorter posts. But I’ve got a lot on my mind to share with you.

First, let’s talk about masks. I had no idea it would be like this, but wearing of face coverings has become something of a controversial issue, even political. Over the course of the pandemic so far, we’ve had a weird and confusing mix of orders from government leaders. President Trump said we should all be wearing masks, but then he has refused to do so personally. Governor Polis has been ardently pro-mask, but has left most specific rules up to local governments around the state, to account for the fact that things in small rural towns are very different than things in the center of Denver. Lastly, Mayor Hancock has been pro-mask and has issued the most restrictive orders about wearing them.

We’ve had a mix of directives from the state and city level, sometimes contradicting each other, and changing over time. But right now, here in Denver, it’s the law to wear a face covering inside a business or in line to get into a business, and also at bus stops and on buses. Of people out and about, walking around the city, some wear face coverings and some don’t. Thanks to people mostly wearing masks earlier in the pandemic, the wave of hospitalizations was suppressed, as intended. We avoided overloading hospitals, which was the whole goal of social distancing and face coverings. So I think some people have gotten lazy and stopped wearing face coverings as much on the streets. And maybe that’s not a big deal, since it seems more health professionals are saying the chances of infection are much lower outdoors and in cases where you just pass by someone momentarily.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Brooke and I went down to the town of Elizabeth. Her parents lived there a few years as her mother was dying, and she is now buried in the town cemetery there. So we took the opportunity to get out of town and go see her grave site. It was like stepping into another world, even though Elizabeth is only a 45 minute drive from Denver. Of all the people I saw in town, at the restaurant where we got food, and at the adjacent supermarket, I only saw a single person wearing a face covering other than us. It was the cook at the restaurant. Even though they had a sign asking people to wear masks, the woman taking orders and handling the cash register wasn’t wearing one. But I was even more surprised that not a single person going into or coming out of the supermarket had any kind of face covering. This was during the period where the state orders were that everyone had to wear masks in supermarkets. But many localities refused to enforce that rule, and so people didn’t follow it. It seemed foolish to me, especially on a holiday weekend when there were tourists coming to town (like us).

One precaution that went into effect early on was that face coverings became required in common areas of my condo building. There are signs at every entrance, in very plain language. Masks or face coverings are mandatory in this building. Residents, construction workers, delivery workers, etc. have all complied, which is nice. Also, since the elevators are only about 6′ wide, it’s almost impossible to maintain 6′ distance from other people in the elevator car. So people stopped sharing the elevator with others they don’t live with. A couple weeks later, the management company put up signs to that effect, which is good. It hasn’t been a hassle, and has encouraged me to use the stairs more, which is good.

Another impact of the pandemic is that my gaming group has gone virtual. Early on, before social distancing was mandatory, I asked people what they thought we should do – continue to meet in person or try to play online. About a third of the group said we should continue to meet in person; ironically, the one player who works in the health care field voted for this. About a third said we should switch to online. And a third were on the fence. I’m the ringleader of this gaming group, and I was torn. But then I thought through the implications of meeting in person. One of the gamers has an 82-year-old mother whom he sees weekly, and it would be really dumb if one of us gave her son the virus and then he gave it to Mom, and she died just because we didn’t want to use Zoom for our games. That’s when I decided we’re going virtual. I learned how to use a couple virtual table top (VTT) tools, and moved my own game onto one called Roll20; we use Discord for voice and text chat. Another game uses Fantasy Grounds. But now that we’ve been doing it a couple months, the technical kinks are mostly worked out.

I would still much prefer us to meet in person, since the online experience just isn’t as fun. It’s not as immersive, and doesn’t feel as social. There’s something special about sitting around a big table with other players, sharing munchies or supper, and playing a game in person. But until it’s safe to do that again, virtual games are just the way it is.

I already mentioned the first protest of the Spring 2020 protest series, when people who were fed up with the pandemic restrictions executed “Operation Gridlock” to drive around the state capitol and block traffic on April 19. We later learned that the protest was part of a multi-state political action, and that many of the people supposedly protesting Colorado’s anti-virus policies flew and drove in from surrounding states.

But that protest quickly faded from the limelight as restrictions started being lifted and much bigger issues took over. The protests most will remember from 2020 were the ones centered on the Capitol Building triggered by the police killing of George Floyd. There were protests around the world, but the Denver ones were a nightly occurrence starting May 28. Participation escalated over the first few nights, and it soon became clear that there were two groups of people involved – the protesters and the rioters. I’m particularly proud of the local political leaders and press for recognizing that the bulk of the protests – conducted partially as a Black Lives Matter action – were totally peaceful. The second group – the rioters – took over after the main protests dispersed each night. They’re the ones who broke windows and lit dumpsters and buildings on fire.

That Saturday, the Denver Police Department made the strange decision to “push” the crowd off Colfax down into the residential area to the south, which is where I live. Brooke and I were at my place watching a movie, when we heard a big commotion outside. The protesters/rioters/whatever came down the street behind my building, chanting and shouting. Lots of people came out to their windows and cheered them on, as they passed by. They then stopped at the Governor’s Mansion and shouted there a while before moving on. The governor doesn’t actually live there. He could, but he doesn’t. This governor has his own mansion somewhere near Boulder, and he lives there with his family. No need to relocate from Boulder Denver for 4 years, I guess, especially when you’ve got school aged kids.

Categories
Consumer Experiences Politics

Vote

I think I’ve worked for about a dozen companies in my lifetime, and my new employer is the first one of those that gave me Election Day off work as a paid holiday.

Categories
Politics

I will vote by mail

I’m gonna do as President Trump does, not as he says***. I hope you’re able to join me and vote by mail.

*** Years from now, that reference probably won’t make any sense. If you’re in the future, here’s the short explanation. For some reason, among the other really dumb things Trump has said lately is that nobody should vote by mail, because of voter fraud. There are two ironies here. First, Trump himself votes by mail (as he is now a resident of Florida). Second, the Republican Party is encouraging voters to please vote for him by mail. The third irony is that voting by mail has better security than voting in person, but I wouldn’t dare bring fact-based thinking into a discussion of President Trump.

Categories
Computers Consumer Experiences Drivel Politics

goodbye and good riddance, Facebook, Inc.

It’s done. I just deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts. It was fun for a few years, but the relationship turned sour after one of us started lying to the other, then pretended to take steps to improve but just kept lying.

Top 18 Bollywood Celebrities to Follow on Snapchat - Brandsynario

Separation took a few months of planning and preparation. Here’s the blog post I wrote about this process several months ago:

And now here is the result:

For those who want to get in touch, here is my contact info:

So what am I doing now for social media? Over the past 9 months or so, I’ve gravitated to a mix of Reddit, Twitter, my blog, and MeWe.

  • Reddit is great for complex discussions – not perfect, but way better than Facebook
  • Twitter is great for sharing quick thoughts that I used to put in Facebook posts
  • My old WordPress blog is great for sharing longer essays, recipes, etc.
  • And MeWe is a good way to meet other people with shared interests
Categories
Consumer Experiences Drivel Food Politics Uncategorized

mile high composting and voting

Since this past spring, I’ve been working to arrange composting at my condominium complex. And this week it starts to pay off.

Denver Compost Collective is an organization that collects food waste from apartment dwellers and takes it to their large scale composting facility. Then they give the resulting “black gold” to a local urban farm/food charity. The city has been encouraging composting the past few years, but if you don’t have a big garden, it’s tough to do. So this group fills that gap.

Here is me with my new bucket. I’ll fill it up throughout the week with food scraps (no meat or dairy) and then put it in my building’s parking garage for DCC to pick up Monday morning. They weigh each bucket, dump it into a bigger container on their truck, rinse the bucket out, and put it back in the garage.

In other news, I voted today. The ballot and issues were so easy this time I decided to do it while enjoying some quasi-legal recreational drugs. It’s great to live in Denver.

Saturday, maybe Casa Bonita. Seriously.

Categories
Politics

the president is meant to have less power

Here’s a good article that explains in relatively simple terms how the founding fathers really viewed executive power given by the US Constitution to the President of the United States.

There are no food pictures so i know this will only appeal to people interested in weird quirks of history.

www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/executive-power-doesnt-mean-much/590461/

Categories
Politics

I voted. Again.

Today I voted again. Denver had our 2019 city election on May 7, 2019, but several races were so close that we had to do a runoff. So we have another election scheduled for June 4. But we all vote by mail here, so you can send in your ballot whenever you want.

The mayor’s race, the clerk & recorder’s race, and city council members for 5 different districts (I’m in District 10) had to be redone because so many people ran the first time around that nobody got a majority of the votes. And we also have Initiated Ordinance 302, about whether or not the city government should be allowed to approve a proposal for Denver to host a future Olympics Games without a general election on the matter.

I originally thought maybe I’d just sit this one out, but last night I decided I should vote after all. So today I dropped off my ballot. Wanna know how I voted? Probably not.

Categories
Computers Politics

Colorado Department of Transportation cyberattack, and Doritos

CDOT, the Colorado Department of Transportation, was the victim of a cyberattack that cost millions of dollars last year. They refused to pay the ransom requested, and instead had their technical people working “20 hour shifts” to try to dig them out of the mess, which apparently took about a month.

First off, anyone who’s managed knowledge workers knows working 20 hours straight is stupid. After somewhere between 8 and 15 hours, computer programmers start to make enough mistakes that it takes more time to fix those mistakes than is gained by working extra hours. Like the Pony Express knew, you gotta rest your programmers to keep your overall speed up.

Second, Kevin Klein, Colorado’s director of homeland security and emergency management, said at a recent conference, “We switched from Doritos and Mountain Dew to actual food.” As far as I can tell, he’s serious that the CDOT employees who were working 20 hour days, were living on junk food. That’s another management mistake that shows why I’d never work for the government. The Pony Express also knew that you’ve gotta keep your ponies nourished. Software engineers are the same way. Yeah, you can live for a few days on junk food. But if you know you need lots of work from your employees over the long haul, feed them well. The best software managers I’ve worked for know this and have been quick to bring in food when the team’s in “crunch mode”.

You can read more in this article:

Note that Governor Hickenlooper eventually declared a state of emergency due to this cyberattack, which enabled them to get help from other government agencies. That allowed the CDOT engineers to stop working 20 hour days and start eating real food again.

Categories
Drivel Politics

my plan for breaking up with Facebook and Instagram

(originally posted 5/14/2019, updated 6/20/2019, updated again 12/29/2019)

I normally don’t make New Years resolutions. I figure if a change is worth making, why not start right now, instead of waiting until some arbitrary date on the calendar? Besides, most New Years resolutions are broken anyhow, and if I’m going to make a change in my life, why do it in a way that’s expected to fail? I guess I’m superstitious like that. But this year, I made one. I just didn’t tell many people. My resolution was to break up with Facebook and Instagram.

Anyone reading this probably already knows a dozen reasons to leave Facebook. For me personally, there are two main reasons. First, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram is dishonest, and I can’t justify being an enabler anymore. Second, I’m disappointed with how far they’ve let – and even encouraged – online communities to devolve. I’m not gonna go into the reasons in any more depth. The internet has a steady stream of news articles about why.

So, what next? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I get out of Facebook. When I first signed up in September 2007, the site didn’t do much. But now it serves a lot of purposes. The company’s key to success has been being the “one stop shop” for a lot of different features. It’s convenient to have these things all in one place, but it’s not really essential. Here are the different benefits I feel like I’ve gotten:

  • a way to stay in touch with friends and family
  • a way to share experiences and information with others online who have the same hobbies and interests – games, sports, travel, food, etc.
  • a way to read about important local, regional, national, and international news, and opinions from experts
  • a way to share my own opinions and experiences to whoever is interested
  • a way to schedule and plan events with friends and family

That’s a lot of benefits all under one roof. So how am I approaching getting rid of all that? Well, I’m learning about what other services exist that help with each of these things. In fact, I started reading about alternatives back in October 2018, and have been trying several of them since then. My hope is that by using other online services, I can fill each of those gaps to some degree. For example, there’s no need to rely on Facebook for the daily news, even though a lot of people use it for that. There are a dozen other ways to learn about important news from a variety of perspectives.

What do I expect to miss?

Facebook has spent billions of dollars refining their service to keep me and you engaged as long as possible. They have used every trick in the book and invented several news ones to get people to keep reading for longer and longer amounts of time. So I don’t expect that whatever set of replacement services I put together will “engage” me to the same degree. And actually, that’s a good thing. I spend too much time on social media as it is. So I’m hoping that this change increases the amount of free time I spend on more productive things.

I think I’ll make a new set of online acquaintances, most likely. And I’ll go back to getting news from better quality news sources. I hope to read books more and read Facebook less.

My check lists

As I said, I’ve already been working at this for several months. Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:

  • Read a whole bunch about how to do this – see the bibliography below, if you’re curious
  • Unfriended about 200 Facebook “friends” who really weren’t friends
  • Deleted all my weird fun Facebook pages (I made up a fake band, a fake Russian fake US patriot site, and a few others)
  • Imported all my Facebook photos into Apple Photos, mirrored to Amazon Photos
  • Revamped and upgraded my blog site, Todd Bradley’s Galaxy: http://toddbradley.com
  • Set up accounts on MeWe and Mastodon social media networks
  • Became a paying subscriber to Medium and Reddit, sources of news and smart (as well as some dumb) essays
  • Changed my Facebook privacy so my posts are only visible by Friends instead of Public
  • Exported all my posts and media from Facebook and downloaded the files to my home computer for safe keeping
  • Signed up for Signal and Feedly

Coming up next:

  • DONE Tell my friends and family about this grand scheme
  • DONE Encourage people to subscribe to my blog if they want to stay in touch
  • DONE Consider Tumblr as a microblogging platform, since nobody uses it for porn anymore
  • ABANDONED Link WordPress to Facebook so when I publish a new WordPress post, Facebook friends see an excerpt
  • DONE Let all my friends and family know other ways to contact me – phone, text, email, etc.
  • DONE Delete Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger apps from my phone and iPad
  • ABANDONED Maybe write some software to import my 12 years of Facebook posts into my blog

Bibliography:

Tools:

Categories
Drivel Politics

A true story of three piglets, a rooster, and their love of cheese

a short story by Todd Bradley

Once upon a time, there were two piglets playing in the tall grass under a tree on a hill not far from Farmer Joe’s house. One piglet was named Verne, and the other was Flick.

“Look, Flick,” said Verne, pointing to the sky. “The full moon is coming up.”

Flick turned to look up. “It’s so beautiful! I hope it comes closer. Chip, the rooster of the yard, told me the moon is made of Gouda cheese. And I love cheese!”

“I love cheese, too,” replied Verne. “Really, who doesn’t? But I’ve got some bad news, Flick. The moon is not made of cheese. It’s just made of rocks and dirt.”

“What? Why do you hate cheese?” asked Flick, quite disturbed by this turn of events. “It’s so soft and melts in your mouth. Yum.”

“I don’t hate cheese. I’m just saying that the moon is made of rocks. People went there in a rocket long ago, and they even brought some rocks back. It’s a fact you can look up in a book if you want.” Verne had even seen an old movie of the moon landing on TV. The people dug up some rocks and took them back inside their rocket, but they could not eat the rocks, so they had to return to earth before supper time.

Flick continued, “But Chip told me the moon is cheese. And why would a rooster lie? Roosters likes cheese, too!”

“I don’t know, Flick, maybe what Chip meant was that he simply wishes the moon was made of cheese?” Verne, being a piglet, couldn’t think of any good reason for the rooster to make up a story about the moon being cheese.

“Fuck you, Verne. I thought you liked cheese like the rest of us. Fuck you!”

Verne’s eyes got big. The piglet was shocked by Flick’s sudden anger and foul language. At that moment, another piglet walked up, named Spork.

“Hi everyone. What’s going on here on the hill?” asked Spork.

Flick tried to explain. “Verne here hates cheese. Must be a member of the Anti-Gouda Brigade.” Flick and Spork both looked Verne over. They hadn’t noticed it before, but now Verne did look like the kind of piglet that would hate cheese, and maybe all dairy products, for that matter.

“Whoa, wait a minute. I do like cheese. I just don’t think the moon is made of it. See the difference?”

Flick and Spork looked at each other. Spork spoke first, “Nope, if you don’t want the moon to be made of cheese, you’re a cheese hater. Anti-Gouda!”

“Cheese hater! Cheese hater!” Flick shouted all over the barnyard.

Spork joined in, pointing at Verne. “Cheese hater! Cheese hater!” Verne wandered off to the barn, wondering why his friends preferred to call him names rather than taking the time to understand his point.

Spork and Flick high-fived each other. Their friendship grew that day. Later, when they saw Verne eating some cheese in the hay, they felt vindicated. Clearly it was they who convinced Verne that cheese was so delicious. Clearly this proves the moon is made of Gouda.