Last day of 2020

I’m neglecting this blog again because. . .life.

The pandemic news is still mostly bad. It’s out of control in most of the US and our lame duck emperor is golfing. Los Angeles County has shut down dining except for takeout and reduced store capacity, but that has (so far) made no difference. The police are finally shutting down underground clubs and parties and stuff but that’s far too late. There’s intentional superspreading events being held (a “Christian” singer has an unmasked concert and protest going on Skid Row, apparently hoping to kill a lot of the homeless population). San Bernadino County has been the worst in the state. LA County has required quarantine for everyone entering the county now–I guess that means our next Mammoth trip will trigger that on return. Here’s the current stats:

https://www.latimes.com/projects/california-coronavirus-cases-tracking-outbreak/

Two vaccines, one from Pfizer and one from Moderna, both using new mRNA methods, started distribution two weeks ago. Turns out the Drumpf administration’s “plan” for distribution was to have the states figure it out. Because Moscow Mitch McConnell prevented another COVID relief bill until this past weekend (signed on 27 December, after benefits had expired), the states had no money for planning distribution or establishing infrastructure. The new law contains $8 billion for this, which is not enough. Larger point being that current vaccination rate is about 1 million per week. At that rate, everyone’s vaccinated in about 6 years. My personal, in-my-head-only, timeline was I might be vaccinated in May. Sure looks like that was unusual optimism.

The God-King has one more hail mary effort in play to overturn the election, when the certification vote is taken in Congress on 6 January. Nobody believes it will work, but it will force the GOP to take a vote they don’t want to. Fuck ’em.

There’s a new, more virulant strain circulating now, apparently. First sequenced in Britain. Would explain why things are so much worse.

Here at home, we’ve been reorganizing and renovating. We finally got the StepKid out of the house (again). He moved to Mammoth. We sold him The Mate’s Truckosaur, so we’re a one-car family. (Go Tesla). I’ve taken over his bedroom and made it my office. New desk installed. New shelves hopefully arrive today. My old office is now guest bedroom. Since we no longer actually go to work, The Mate converted the southwest living room into her office.

Another oddity of the pandemic year is that The Mate has turned against her house. She used to love this place and now wants to leave–i’m wondering if this is just because we can’t leave. She used to travel crazily and this was the refuge; now it’s a trap. I’m not having the same response–when I was in the old office, which is dark and tiny on the north side of the house, I felt trapped. This ex-bedroom is on the east end of the north side and has much better light–so I’m fine now. I miss the folks at work, so I do want to go back, but otherwise I don’t mind the WFH at all.

In any case, we’re buying a lot in Swall Meadows, California. 2 acres, fantastic views east and south, never been built on. Offer accepted this week, so now we’re working on getting a septic system evaluation done. The site has community water and power, including fire hydrants, but not sewage. The Paradise fire burned through five years ago, and destroyed 39 houses there. Most likely, we’ll build in Insulated Concrete Forms so the house is less vulnerable to fire.

I’ve always wanted to build a passive solar house, and I guess this is my chance. It won’t be completely passive. The lot is at 6000 feet in the Sierras, so it’s gonna be cold and need additional heat. But the tools available now should make possible a super-efficient, all electric house that’s actually comfortable. Most likely it’ll be heated floors via heat-pump supplied hydronics for whatever direct solar heating of the slab doesn’t provide. Turns out that air-water heat pumps can deliver heating, cooling, and hot water–big change from the 70s.

Everyone in my extended circle talks about how awful 2020 was. It’s true that the year has been catastrophic for the nation, and for society. It’s really exposed how corrupt and incompetent our leadership is–federal, state, and local. I’ve been horrified at how willing the GOP (and to be fair, many others who aren’t really political) to let mass death happen, and even to actively facilitate it. We’re a failed state, and simply can’t admit it to ourselves.

I started this blog, though, because it’s all been very surreal to me. As The Mate said to me earlier today, it hasn’t been bad *for us*. We still have jobs, work every day, etc. It sucks to not be able to have dinner with friends, but. . .first world problem. We’ll all live (and that’s the point). Many others we know are not so fortunate. We know intellectually that things are bad, but they don’t *feel* bad, mostly.

Anyway, the dumpster fire year of 2020 hasn’t left me unscarred (despite the above). I still have my gall bladder surgery scars from September, and just yesterday got a diagnosis for a basal cell carcinoma on my head. So i get scalp surgery next month. What fun.

https://giphy.com/gifs/trump-dumpster-fire-golfs-Qy7akYYOBxhVF2krsQ

Better luck to us all next year.