Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Steady vaccine progress

Bloomberg reports an acceleration in doses administered as the winter travel conditions of mid-February abated:

The biggest gains came through this past weekend with a blockbuster three days of peak doses reported—2.2 million doses delivered on Friday and 2.4 million each on Saturday and Sunday. The push drove the seven-day average back to 1.6 million doses per day.

On Monday, the CDC reported 1.7 million doses administered.

Closer to home, it's beginning to seem almost routine to meet a neighbor and have them tell us that they've received one or even two doses. (Near my home, we have a lot of elderly neighbors, we are still among the young people in our area.)

Case loads still seem extremely high, but perhaps we don't expect those to drop immediately, as the vaccines continue to go to those who are most at risk of death, not those who are most commonly infected.

So hopefully we will soon begin to see an impact as hospitalization rates start to drop?

And then, since death rates are a 6-week trailing data point beyond hospitalization rates, we might see death rates start to drop by mid-April?

Something to hope for as the daffodils pop and the redbuds begin to send out their beautiful little pink flowers.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Steady Vaccine Progress

As California passes the 8 million doses administered mark, the SF Chronicle posted this short table:

Vaccinations in the Bay Area
County	        Doses administered	Doses per 100,000
Napa	        42,854	            30,693
Marin	        76,672	            29,496
Sonoma	        127,381	            25,488
Contra Costa	290,359	            25,420
San Mateo       191,486	            24,952
San Francisco   199,987	            22,857
Alameda	        364,416	            21,996
Santa Clara     404,238	            20,972
Solano	        85,493	            19,350

Since both the current vaccines are 2-dose regimens, this translates to about 8-12% of the population is fully vaccinated, with another 4% or so having received their first dose.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Vaccine administration does appear to be speeding up

AIUI, over the past week the USA has averaged 1.25 million doses administered per day.

But yesterday there were 1.6 million doses administered.

Also, yesterday the doses were about evenly split between first dose and second dose, which is I guess exactly as it should be once the large scale rollouts are all underway.

Meanwhile, here in California, the state is administering just under 200,000 doses a day, and today it should surpass 8 million doses administered, which means (more or less) that 10% of the state's population has been vaccinated.

That's still agonizingly slow; somehow the state has to get much closer to 500,000 doses a day, and soon.

Before it's too late (if it isn't already).

500,000 doses a day would still mean six more months to vaccinate the state.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The impact of the Remote Work switch reaches far beyond the engineers no longer at their desks

Eater San Francisco is running a long article that explores all the enormous shifts and changes that are underway: 10,000 Salesforce Employees Never Have to Buy Lunch Downtown Again.

As the article describes, this isn't just "ping-pong tables and snacks;" it stretches much farther and will re-shape the city and, eventually, the entire Bay Area.

“People would take a little detour after they got off the bus and come and get coffee before they went into their office,” describes Crabbe. “It wasn’t solely Salesforce. There’s a whole economic ecosystem there with all of the companies in that area. There are banks, lawyers, architects, all kinds of people. … And there are people who live down there. The East Cut is a neighborhood. For me, that’s the most heartbreaking thing: We don’t get to see our regulars taking their kids to the rooftop park. We really miss that community. And yes, a lot of it was commuters, but not all of it.”

I haven't been back to the East Cut, where I spent 50 hours a week for 3.5 years, for nearly a year now, and I can only imagine how much it has changed. But people still live there; they can tell us what it's like now:

“It’s completely desolate,” says Keeling. “In the surrounding neighborhood, as well as the park itself, there’s nothing going on. ... It’s going to decimate food retail and other food businesses.” Observing the “gargantuan” tech offices, he fears empty towers and vacant storefronts, juxtaposed with all of the people who need homes in San Francisco. “Looking at all those empty towers, it’s staggering. You have these oversized shafts of glass and steel with no one inside them. It’s eerie.”

And it's not just the East Cut. The entire city will be re-formed, as Eater SF describe in a related article: Off the Grid Is Unlikely to Relaunch Any of Its Food Truck Events in 2021

Apart from its marquee weekend events, the company has focused almost all of its efforts on food truck hubs providing lunch for office workers in San Francisco’s downtown areas — over time, those proved to be much more reliable sources of business for the trucks that participated, Cohen says: “About 75 percent of our public market spaces were serving business lunch needs more so than suburban market needs.”

With office workers continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future, those markets were essentially dead in the water. And because Off the Grid is such a power player within the Bay Area mobile food landscape, its virtual disappearance from the scene has had massive ripple effects for local food trucks and pop-up vendors, many of whom were forced to rebuild their entire business model from scratch in order to survive.

Some of this business will indeed re-form, since people need to eat, after all.

But when people are spread out all over the place, where do the food trucks go to find their audience? Some areas are still being active:

it’s likely that the company will look to launch additional locations in more residential areas once we head into the spring and summer — not “markets,” but “food spots,” like the ones currently running in Alameda, Serramonte, and SFO, that function only as takeout pickup locations for a small number of trucks. One advantage of these more modest locations is that participating trucks only have to pay a flat fee, instead of giving the 10 percent cut of their sales that Off the Grid typically charges on top of the fee.

It isn't just food trucks and Michael Mina restaurants that are affected, of course; these are just some of the core topics that Eater SF pay attention to. But the same sorts of transformations are affected every other part of life in San Francisco, and every other part of life throughout the Bay Area.

At some point, a new normal will emerge. San Francisco will surely remain one of the great tourist destinations of the world, with its year-round climate, its spectacular scenery, and its easy access to the rest of the West Coast.

And I don't believe, in my inner heart, that Remote Work is really viable as a long-term approach. Sure, there have been a few successes, such as GitLab, GitHub, Atlassian, Red Hat, etc.

But software development, in the large, which is what the companies in San Francisco do, whether they be straight-up tech companies like Facebook or Twitter, or financial companies such as Charles Schwab or BlackRock, or even entertainment companies such as Lucasfilms or Pixar, is fundamentally and crucially a social activity, requiring enormous interactivity among its participants.

We may be (slowly) improving at holding 15-person Zoom meetings from our bedrooms, but the productivity levels are far from what you achieve with a handful of engineers, a couple boxes of pizza, and a whiteboard that fills the entire wall.

A colleague of mine said to me the other day: "I feel completely adrift; I don't understand how to be effective. In the office, when I got stuck, I'd just get up, stretch my legs, walk around, and ask people questions. Before long, I figured out what was blocking me, and I was back in gear again. Now, I just stay stuck."

How do you form teams, and launch projects? How do you make new connections in other parts of your company? How do you identify and recruit new employees? How do you run a college intern program? All of these activities have for many decades depended on large groups of talented individuals gathering in shared spaces to collaborate.

Some of this never actually changed during 2020: friends I know who worked at early-stage startups say that these companies mostly continued as they were, with a small unfurnished space in some non-descript office building, a bunch of folding tables and Office Depot chairs, and extension cords littering every inch of the floor. That activity will surely continue, but the vast majority of the people in tech industry don't work in those startups, they work in the mega-corps.

We're all trying to re-learn all the skills that we've developed over years of experience, all the techniques that we acquired at school, but this is slow, slow going (and the schools are all closed, too!)

The world is changing, but it will take us a long time to get back to the level of dynamism and activity that we were at in 2019.

And, for now, the hub of that innovation and creativity sits empty and idle, while people are practicing getting onto their conference calls and declaring that "I'm not a cat".

Monday, February 15, 2021

Gears 5: a very short review

Gears 5 is a very fun shoot-em-up game, with lots of squishy alien baddies to vanquish, and all sorts of different sci-fi action in the process.

Unfortunately (for me), Gears 5 is really a multi-player tactical game, to be played online with your friends; the "campaign mode" is pretty much just a multi-hour tutorial on how the combat mechanics work.

There's an "open world" of sorts, but really it's not very open, it's just a pretty landscape that you can zoom around in while you stop off at various locations for various missions. Stories, background, NPCs, locations; Gears 5 doesn't bother with that, it's all about Vanquish The Baddies!!

Very fun, just not what I was looking for right now.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Jewels of Paradise: a very short review

When I finish a book, it's typical that I either:

  • like the book, and have a reasonable understanding of why I like it,
  • or, dislike the book, and have a reasonable understanding of why I dislike it

But with Donna Leon's The Jewels of Paradise, I find myself in a funny sort of different state: I really liked the book, but I find it a bit challenging to say why.

The Jewels of Paradise is a nicely-constructed dual-timeline who-done-it, with our heroine, in the current timeline, attempting to solve a mystery that happened 300 years ago.

For a who-done-it, it's a bit low key, for she spends most of her time in the library reading books, and when she isn't reading books she's having a coffee and trading emails with her sister. There's a bit of intrigue about a mysterious fellow who tails her as she walks around Venice, and some more intrigue about a sharp-dressing lawyer who may be trying to play all sides off against each other.

But don't expect a lot of action and thrills and chills in The Jewels of Paradise; about as close as we get to that comes at the conclusion of one of her carefully-worded emails:

She pushed the "send" key, thinking that a person could get to enjoy this James Bond stuff, locked up everything, and went home.

In the end, it is the contemplation of the similarities and contrasts between present-day times versus how things were in the late 17th century that are the most interesting parts of the book. Some things are the same, others are different, but in the end people are people and isn't that really what a who-done-it is all about?

After all the emotion and tumult of the last few months, it was lovely to spend some quiet wintertime hours sitting in my rocking chair, reading a book about a woman who likes to read books.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Praxis Fiber Workshop

In the world of Fiber Art, this is big news!

  • Praxis Fiber Workshop welcomes the TC2!
    The new Digital Weaving Lab at the Praxis Fiber Workshop at Ohio, USA recently welcomed the TC2 loom. And what’s more exciting is that Cathryn Amidei, who’s been associated with Digital Weaving Norway for ages now, is at the helm of affairs…as the Director! She tells us all about the Centre, its Digital Weaving Lab and the plans that are in the pipeline.
  • Director
    Cathryn has been engaged with Jacquard weaving for 15+ years. She has travelled extensively, studying and teaching on the TC2. She spent a year living in Norway working and walking at Tronrud Engineering Headquarters: the Digital Weaving Norway production facility.
  • Cool Cleveland! Praxis Fiber Workshop
    Praxis Fiber Workshop is dedicated to supporting the textile arts, especially the ancient art of weaving. But its new exhibit, Digital Garden, brings that art into the contemporary age, with a display of digital weavings. Curated by gallery director Connie Fu and digital weaving lab director Cathryn Amidei, supported by Kayli Salzano, the show features the work of seven artists including Amidei, Jovencio de la Paz, Gabrielle Duggan, Marianne Fairbanks, Robin Kang, Janice Lessman-Moss and Robert Mertens.

    The exhibit heralds the debut of the new Praxis Digital Weaving Lab.
  • Contact
    The longer I work in this media, the more finely tuned I become to the nature of the matrix and the materials. The materials of the threads, their origins and their dispositions are familiar to me. I am drawn to them, they surround me in many variations. It is also true that the longer I work, the more I explore and thus, the more I see that I do not know. Each piece I make includes those tiny incremental steps forward from the piece before, as well as the hidden processes, the invisible hours and motions and states of mind and body during execution.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

This is, understandably, quite controversial

I imagine that conversations like this are happening all over the country right now: An inside look at how one Bay Area school district is preparing to reopen March 8

The district announced last month a framework to reopen March 8 if three key components fall into place: if public health conditions allow, if a program to test all teachers and students is launched and if an agreement is approved with the teachers union.

In the Golden State, with 6 million public school students, the California Teachers Association has said it wants all educators vaccinated before returning to the classroom; many local unions have also adopted this sentiment.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has said he will not force schools to reopen. Instead, he wants to give them an incentive, proposing a $2 billion “Safe Schools for All” plan, which has been met with criticism from superintendents, unions and lawmakers. It would give schools extra funding for COVID-19 testing and other safety measures if they resume in-person classes. Schools that reopen sooner would get more money.

"Our goal is to open a hybrid TK-5 program that consists of part-time in-class instruction and part-time on-line instruction," district spokeswoman Susan Davis said. "In adherence to county and state public health mandates, our plan is to divide our classes into small cohorts of students and maintain social distancing and mask-wearing for all staff and students. We have also put considerable effort into upgrading our ventilation systems."

"We've all been operating under the assumption we needed to be fewer than 7 cases per 100,000 residents in the county to reopen, but some significant adjustments in the guidance that came to us on Jan. 14 from the governor's office and from the state department of public health are aimed at allowing schools to reopen when the case rate is 25 per 100,000," Pasquale Scuderi, the district superintendent, said in a Jan. 26 video.

I guess one good thing is that, at this point, everybody's at least talking about what the right answer is.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Early vaccination results from Israel are very promising

Take a look at this story that ran on the BBC today: Covid: Israel's vaccine rollout linked to infection fall. There is some remarkably good news from Israel, which have already succeeded in vaccinating half (!!) of their population.

Israel's vaccination programme is showing signs of working to drive down infections and illness in the over-60s.

The fall appears to be most pronounced in older people and areas furthest ahead in their immunisation efforts.

This suggests it is the vaccine, and not just the country's current lockdown, taking effect.

There are lots of details in the linked article.

Vaccine Confusion

On the up side, California has now administered more doses than we've had positive tests: 3.4 million doses have been administered as of Jan 30; 3.3 million positive tests as of Jan 30.

On the down side, it's just so slow.

It took 3 months for California to administer 3 million doses. There are 40 million people in California.

Can we include more vaccines? It seems like America should be pushing for approval of (at least) the vaccines from:

  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Novavax
  • Astra Zeneca

And what about others, such as the Bayer/CureVac mRNA vaccine, or the vaccine developed by Baylor College of Medicine?

Friday, January 29, 2021

Vaccine Confusion

The California Vaccine Dashboard says that Alameda County is currently administering about 8,000 doses per day.

Since both the current vaccines require 2 doses, this means the county is effectively vaccinating 4,000 people per day.

Since Alameda County population is approximately 1.6 million, this means that it will take 400 days to vaccinate 100% of the population, which means we might get there by March 1, 2022.

That's still a long ways away.

On the other hand, the state dashboards also show that Alameda County is currently experiencing about 500 new COVID-19 cases per day.

So for every new case of COVID-19, eight other people are getting protected.

That's something to be happy about.

But 8,000 doses administered a day. It. Just. Seems. To. Be. Taking. So. Long.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

More vaccine confusion

The California Vaccines Dashboard doesn't make it super easy to see the progress of vaccination as, say, a graph showing the numbers day-by-day would.

But just by eyeballing the numbers each day, it seems to me that California is currently administering 120,000+ doses per day, which is double the 60,000 daily doses that the state was administering just a week ago.

Clearly the state can't double its dose delivery every week.

But if we could just double the dose delivery one or two more times, so that we were up to, say, 400,000 doses per day, we'd be able to vaccinate the state by June.

Meanwhile, a question: as of today, the state has had 3,153,186 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and has administered 2,587,736 vaccination doses. When will doses administered exceed confirmed cases? Will it be in January?

My prediction is that it will occur on Feb 2, and that on that day we'll see 3,250,000 confirmed cases, and 3,300,000 doses administered.

The Corner Refuge Island comes to the Island

Over the past decade, the city of Alameda has been working steadily to improve its bike-friendliness.

Bike-friendly cities are not unusual in California; the college towns of Davis and Santa Barbara are perhaps the best known , but there are lots of others.

But here's a fascinating article about the latest steps being taken closer to (my) home: Eyes on the Street: Alameda’s First Fully Protected Intersection.

Alameda will soon join the ranks of cities with a fully built out, Dutch-style protected intersection. Construction is well underway at Otis and Grand, a previously notorious junction.

A big part of the new design is the use of a Corner Refuge Island, which is certainly not new to Alameda. Refuge Islands have been popping up all over The Island City over the past few years, most notably along the state beach but in many other locations as well.

The StreetsBlog page points to a City of Alameda page where most of the details are spelled out: Otis Drive Traffic Safety Improvements.

The StreetsBlog page also embeds a very clear video explaining the concept, from Nick Falbo's ProtectedIntersection.com

We had only been living in Northern California for a few years when Critical Mass began. At the time, there was an often-tense mixture of consciousness raising and confrontational agitation for change. I have close friends who participated in Critical Mass, for many good reasons, even though they later abandoned that effort.

It seems in a way a shame that it has taken three decades to get from the point where people had to stage protests and demonstrations in order to get attention to these problems, but on the other hand taking the positive perspective: look how far things have come in just three decades!

Now the announcement of significant traffic pattern changes to favor a bicycle-friendly and pedestrian-friendly way of life is barely noticed, receiving more nods of acceptance and understanding than frowns of antagonism.

The particular section of the city is about out of my regular bicycle range from my house, but someday I will make a trip over there and enjoy using the Corner Refuge Island myself.

This is going to be a big winter storm

The weather predictions (yeah, I know) are suggesting that, essentially, the entire Sierra Nevada range, from Donner Pass all the way down to almost as far south as Kernville, is going to get at least four feet of snow over the next 96 hours, with the heart of the Sierras getting significantly more than that.

And most of the Central Coast, from Big Sur down to Los Padres, should see from seven to ten inches of rain during that same period of time.

Stay safe, everyone, and let's let Mother Nature fill up the reservoirs for next spring.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Stormy Weather: a very short review

As was the case with the other Jiles novels I have read, Stormy Weather is a novel of strong women in hard times.

In this case, our heroine is Jeanine Stoddard, who had the bad luck to become a teenager just as the Great Depression arrived. Soon her family have become migrants, traveling from town to town as their father tries to find work.

They lose jobs, lose housing, lose belongings, make do with less and then still less, and then things start to get really bad, until Stormy Weather reaches a point where so many heart-breaking tragedies have been visted upon the Stoddards that I actually put the book down for a while to rest.

And then I picked it back up, and I am so glad I did.

Jeanine and her sisters don't just endure hardships, they triumph over them. She looks adversity in the mouth, gives it a swift punch in the chops, and somehow finds a way through it.

It's interesting to read a book about the Great Depression during the pandemic years of 2020-2021. And it's particularly interesting when it's an extremely well-written book, such as Stormy Weather. We, in our modern times, know only a little about the Great Depression. It wasn't so long ago, but it is now long enough in the past that most of us don't hear about the Great Depression from our grandparents or some other relatives who lived through it firsthand. Rather, people like me learn about the Great Depression from authors like Agee, or Steinbeck, or Dos Passos.

Perhaps Jiles is not yet ready to be classed among these, but Stormy Weather is beautiful and vivid in its own plain-spoken, blunt, direct manner:

So they began to make their lives there, throughout the fall and winter of 1937. They tried to piece their lives together the way people draw maps of remembered places; they get things wrong and out of proportion, they erase and redraw again. From the radio they heard of people dying in the dust storms just to the north of them, in Oklahoma and the Panhandle. That Gloria Vanderbilt was reduced to dressmaking for a living. Of the faraway rich with more money than there ever was in the world while men starved and had no work and women starved and worked both, of strikes at the textile mills in Rhode Island and all the people going to California to pick peas or whatever there was to pick. But the Hamilton clock seemed to tell only of their own long hours of labor against the dust and the drought. They were in the midst of the Dirty Thirties, and that decade's modish obsession with important people in far places, with gangsters and movie stars and oil barons and swing bands. It was easy to feel themselves invisible and empty of significance, to forget that behind every human life is an immense chain of happenstance that includes the gravest concerns; murder and theft and betrayal, great love; lives spent in burning spiritual devotion and others in miserly denial; that despite the supposed conformity of country places there might be an oil field worker who kept a trunk of fossil fish or a man with a desparate stutter who dreamed of being a radio announcer, a dwarf with a rivet gun or an old main on a rooftop with a telescope, spending her finest hours observing the harmonics of the planetary dance.

I'm sure it is easy, if you set out to write a book about the Great Depression, to want to write about "important people in far places," and to forget that the Depression was really about people who were "invisible and empty of significance."

Jiles is fully aware that the way you tell the stories of great events, such as the Civil War (Enemy Women) or the opening of the western frontier (News of the World) or the Great Depression (Stormy Weather), is to tell the stories of the ordinary people who inhabited these places and times. As she reveals in an afterword, the ordinary people in Stormy Weather, like those in Enemy Women and News of the World, were in fact her own ancestors, and the strength and honesty of her writing comes directly from the strength and honesty of these people, doing what they had to in the situations in which they found themselves.

And, somehow, though hard work, patience, effort, and a fair bit of that thing we call luck, such people find joy, as they always do:

This turned the conversation toward marriage in general. They waited out the dust storm that was hammering against the steel sides of the drive shed by giving their opinions on marriage during a time of Depression and drought and dust storms. And a very short man said that no matter what happened in the world people got married. It didn't have anything to do with what the weather was like or if you had any money or not, people just went and got married. Another man said that a war was coming and here this boy was in the service, that was something you had to keep in mind. He could get sent to some aerodrome in a foreign country. But the short man said it didn't matter about wars, either. It was the damnedest thing. He didn't know what would matter, anywise.

And, for me, this is what made Stormy Weather a near-perfect book for me to read during the dark days of the winter of 2020.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Vaccine confusion -- 5 years until Californians are vaccinated?

Dr. Erica Pan of the California Department of Public Health says that the state is only receiving about 50,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine a day: Vaccinating Californians 65 and older could take until June, likely delaying rollout to other groups.

The current pace could change if the federal government speeds up shipments beyond the current rate of 300,000 to 500,000 doses each week, Pan said.

There are 40 million people in California.

Each person needs 2 doses of vaccine.

At 50,000 doses a day, it will take 1,600 days to vaccinate all of California.

That's 5 years.

Oh, dear.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The port of Long Beach is full?

I wandered into this interesting story on the FreightWaves.com site: Inside California’s colossal container-ship traffic jam.

It sounds like there's a two part problem: lots of cargo wants to arrive in the port, and onshore cargo processing is significantly slowed down by COVID impacts in Southern California.

In an alert to customers this week, carrier Hapag-Lloyd reported, “All terminals [at Los Angeles/Long Beach] continue to be congested due to the spike in import volumes and [this] is expected to last until February.

“Terminals are working with limited labor and split shifts,” it said, asserting that this is related to COVID. “This labor shortage affects all terminals’ TAT [turnaround time] for truckers, inter-terminal transfers and the number of daily appointments available for gate transactions and delays our vessel operations.”

Monday, January 18, 2021

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and One Night in Miami: two very short reviews

Over my holidays, I watched two very interesting movies.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, airing on Netflix, is set in the 1920's, and tells the story of a day when Ma Rainey and her band spent the day at a recording studio in Chicago, recording their newest album.

Ma Rainey herself was a famous blues singer and her records from the 1920's are justly treasured. The movie, though, is not really about music, and not really very much about Rainey herself. The primary plot arc of the movie involves one of her band members, a young musician with ambition, hopes, and dreams to become a star entertainer on his own.

The movie is an adaptation of a famous stage play by August Wilson, and the movie makers decided to use a very "stage-like" production, so you really feel like you're sitting in the theater watching the play in person. At times that is distracting but overall the result is tremendous.

One Night in Miami, airing on Amazon, is set in the 1960's, and tells an imagined story of what might have happened later at night after Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight world champion in boxing.

After the match, instead of drinking and dancing all night long, Clay convinces his guests, NFL superstar Jim Brown and singer Sam Cooke, to join him as he makes a trip to a nearby hotel room to visit Malcom X. As the movie portrays it, this was the night that Clay agreed to follow Malcom X and join the Nation of Islam church; soon afterward he would change his name to Muhammad Ali.

Although the lead characters of the movie are athletes and entertainers, the movie has very little singing and very little sports. It's really a movie that, for large long parts, is four guys sitting around in a quiet hotel room at night, talking about their lives and about what lies ahead.

But those discussions are as gripping and mesmerizing as you can possibly imagine. Brown and Cooke are both struggling to understand why Clay has made this decision, and the resulting conversations are deep and heartfelt.

We're only just a few weeks into 2021, but one thing I can already say is that you should not be lacking for fine cinema entertainment. Both these movies are very much worth your time.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

I wonder if the Lavarand at Cloudflare HQ is still running

As I approach the one year anniversary of when I stopped going into San Francisco every weekday, I find myself wondering what has changed about SoMa, and what is still the same.

For example, one of my regular mid-day walks used to take me past the Cloudflare HQ down by the ballpark, where I would walk past their lobby Lavarand installation.

I believe it wasn't just for show, though certainly it was an interesting piece of art, so I assume that it's still running.

Anybody happen to know?

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Why are the US not taking advantage of the AstraZenica/Oxford COVID vaccine?

It is proving extremely effective in the UK, and is cheap and much easier to distribute and administer than the alternatives.

I am confused by this.

Good news for bad times

In these awful dreadful days, let me shine a bit of light: the best financial reporter in the world, belay that, one of the best writers on ANY subject in the world right now, the wonderful Matt Levine, has returned from paternity leave and is publishing again!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Perhaps the U.S. is listening to the wise Canadians

CNN are reporting that, on January 20th, the US will switch to the First Doses First allocation policy.

May it be so.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

If I ever do get around to reading Dorothy Sayers...

... I suspect I ought to read her with Bill Peschel as a guide: The Wimsey Annotations

Actually, maybe this is a good goal for 2021: read some Sayers!

Tirimo's Complete Beethoven Piano Works

Ah, there is no better way to start a New Year than with new music!

Actually, rather old music in this case, though newly-recorded: Complete Piano Works

I can't possibly tell you everything about this boxed set -- there are 16 CDs after all!

Tirimo, on the other hand, is probably known to all, though I am just learning about him. He is a Cypriot who spent much of his youth training in Italy, as I understand it.

The recordings are beautiful.

It will be just fine to give my old Brendel sonatas set a rest for a while, and spend some quality hours with Mr. Tirimo and his beautiful renditions of the most beautiful music ever written (sorry messrs Bach, Mozart, etc., but I'm with Schroeder on this one :) ).

Monday, January 4, 2021

Solutions and Other Problems: a very short review

What seems like an eternity ago, but was actually just 12 years ago, I was utterly enthralled by Allie Brosh's blog-turned-Internet-comic-strip-turned-(eventually)-book, Hyperbole and a Half.

I read it eagerly, re-read it even more eagerly, raved about it to colleagues, friends, family, went back months later to re-read parts even again. And when it became a book, read that, too.

I couldn't wait for her to write more.

Then: nothing.

Years passed, a decade passed, I had completely forgotten about her work when up popped a notice somewhere saying that I could order her new book: Solutions and Other Problems.

So, naturally, I did. And, just at the holidays, it arrived.

Putting aside at least half a dozen other books that were ahead of it on the stack, I flew through Solutions and Other Problems like someone possessed.

So, what can I tell you?

Firstly, this is a heavy book.

I mean literally it is heavy! It is over 500 pages, printed on beautiful heavy glossy paper, to highlight Brosh's continually fascinating artwork, and the book must weigh at least 3 pounds.

But also, and more importantly, this is a heavy book.

A quick survey of some of the topics covered by the stories in Solutions and Other Problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stalking
  • Loneliness
  • Self-image
  • Divorce
  • Death

Uh, yeah, really.

The thing is, I can't really think of anyone else who could pull this off like Brosh does. When I search for words to describe what she's done in her art, I come up with words like: clarity, honesty, truth, vision, insight.

This is probably not the sort of book to read on a dark, gray, rainy day.

Or maybe it is? After all, I did, and I loved it!

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Yellowstone (Series): a very short review

I was sufficiently intrigued by Yellowstone to give it a try. It's a big-budget epic about the Modern West, with Kevin Costner leading a star-studded cast. It took a long time to finally watch it, though, because although I put it on my queue in April 2020, Netflix kept reporting "Very Long Wait". Disk One eventually did arrive, though.

Anyway, we made it through most of Episode One and gave up. It's a strange marriage of the lyricism of Longmire, the soap opera grandness of Dallas, and the grittiness of Justified, with NONE of the charms of any of those wonderful shows.

There. Now you know what you need to know.