Journal of my COVID-19 Plague Year

Pfizer Pain

Can’t remember if I already blogged this but I got 2nd Pfizer vaccine on Saturday. Initial response was sore arm, passed by Monday. But. . .vaccination seems to have set triggered lower back and left leg nerve pain. Since Monday, I’ve just been on fire. It’s super distracting and so far not getting better. Not fun.

We did the Mate’s birthday dinner Tuesday outdoor at the Raymond, and tonight another friend’s birthday tonight at Luggage Room. It’s nice to be able to see people again. Planning to visit the (fully vaccinated!) parents later this month.

Launches resume this month, too. I’m planning to go unless my leg keeps misbehaving. I’m planning on flying the Nike Smoke finally.

April 5 update: the leg pain is shingles. The rash appeared on the 3rd. Still a big ouch.


Yesterday I got my second Pfizer dose at The Forum megapod. Very fast. We were in and out in 19 minutes. Arm is sore and some of my various aches and pains are worse than usual. I think Pfizer is a pain amplifier.

Planning on heading out to visit parents at the end of April. We’re all vaccinated now. I was actually the last one in the family.

I couldn’t face staring at this computer all day again so I spent the day doing chores and other puttering instead. I hope to still get Jed’s book out the door this week. I’m waiting on others now to finish.

Suddenly busy social life–brunch with David and Monique at the Ath yesterday morning; birthday dinner for the Mate on Tuesday evening at the Raymond; another birthday dinner for Sifling on Friday. All outdoors–we’re not willing to do indoor dining yet. A few more weeks maybe.

Running on Empty

Back on March 6th, I wanted to write about the ever-changing vaccination rules, but two weeks later this seems unimportant. The Biden administration has used the Defense Production Act to accelerate manufacturing HUGELY, and we’re back to having a backlog of doses vs capacity to inject them. Cali’s over 14 million first doses, and the infection rate here is still declining (though other states are not so well off).

Things feel over here, but it’s not. There’s still a possibility of another wave; lots of stuff is still very restricted (we’re in the Red tier, which means 25% capacity on indoor stuff, etc.) But it really does feel like the pandemic’s ending. We’ll see if it actually is.

I’ve been putting all my “free” time into finishing the two book manuscripts. I plan to get Jed’s electrical manuscript out on the 30th. I’ve got two more things to do on the Magic manuscript, but we’ve got the students doing all the notes. Hopefully we’ll get it out to the press at the end of April.

We’ve gotten the third iteration of plans for Area 52 this morning. I need to get the house blog going but I haven’t had time (and i find this web stuff infuriating anyway). But last trip up Lia found a good spot for conventional septic (right behind the garage, unfortunately), so that’s a big advance. Here’s what iteration 3 looks like. We’ll have the great room slightly expanded south, and an entrance/mudroom added on the west end.

My Huntington long-term fellows group held a Zoom reunion last week. It was very fun. Two babies born in the pandemic, and unfortunately two assaults on two of our Asian fellows. Anti-Asian violence is way up right now due to the horrid ex-president’s white supremacy. There was also a massacre of 8 people in a set of massage parlors in Georgia last week by a white guy. WTF is wrong with people. Anyway, I feel like I have to participate with this group more somehow.

I found a cool thing in No Man’s Sky last night. Hadn’t logged in for a month. It’s the grave of a great sea monster, supposedly.

Things changing fast now

LA County reaches the Red Tier tomorrow. ROC will resume launches in April. Vaccination delivery is soaring. . .it’s almost amazing.

We spent the weekend in Mammoth, drove back today. Found a good septic spot Friday, skiied Saturday, hauled back to ‘Dena today. Was a good weekend all around. Now I have way too much to do to make it through the next 3 weeks of March.

Today’s my One Year Anniversary

Of Pandemic Lockdown.

This is the day I returned from Friday Harbor, Washington, in 2020, and began my 14 day quarantine from JPL due to travel restrictions then in place. We were all booted out on mandatory “work from home” by the time my quarantine expired.

I’ve been there twice since.

(Sigh. This was supposed to post on March 7th.)

First long power outage of my Powerwall era

So SCE had a scheduled outage starting last night, and supposedly ending at 8AM this morning. Power actually restored 16 hours, 17 minutes later. Finally got to see how the Powerwalls + Solar PV + solar thermal worked.

Ended the day with no issues, Powerwalls fully charged, PV generated 25 kWh, thermal collector got the tank over 115F without help from the (offline) electric heaters, and I even squeezed a couple of kWh into the Model 3. Not bad for a February day.

Holy Crap!

Today we did release the EDL video. It’s amazing.

There’s a high-res, no commentary version too.


I’m glad for them this all went so perfectly. They really worked hard to pull this off in an absolute shit year.

A ying and yang week

Haven’t blogged yet even though the last couple of weeks have been pretty eventful. My personal website is currently bollixed and I’ve spent my little free time trying to fix it without success. My last post disappeared in the process, and I don’t even remember what it was about. Oh well.

The good news this week. The Mate and I watched the successful arrival of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on Mars Wednesday. Seems to have worked perfectly. The totemic image will be this one, taken by a camera on the descent stage at 2m altitude above a bit of Jezero crater. There will be video of the final phase of the descent next week–maybe tomorrow.

NASA/JPL-Caltech image PIA24428.

MRO got its shot too. Still amazes me that this is possible.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona image PIA24270

In the good news/bad news category, there’s the pandemic. Today’s the day the US hits a half-million dead. It’s state failure of an extraordinary kind–at least, it is if you believe the state has any role in maintaining public health, which apparently many Americans do not. They are scary. But the New York Times gives an extraordinary event an excellent image.

New York Times print edition cover for 21 February 2021.

I said this was a good news/bad news thing and put the bad first. The good is that the infection rate is plummeting. Lots of thoughts about why here.

LA Times Coronavirus tracking page. Data for LA County.

California has administered a little over 7 million vaccine doses, reaching about 13% of the population. It’s also ahead of the the other large states in vaccination rate, though not by a huge amount. The state claims its capacity to administer vaccines exceeds its allocation, though it’s only actually administering 78-80% of what it receives each week. Some of the smaller states and territories are ~20% vaccinated now. Snippet of stats:

NY Times vaccination tracking page. First column is % having received first shot, 2nd is % having received 2nd shot.

My parents received their first shots (in New Hampshire) on Feb. 5. Second is scheduled for March 5th. Apparently the Kid Brother is already fully vaccinated due to being a State Dept visa processing contractor. No sign of the Mate and I getting it, though. State doesn’t expect to reach the 50+ age group for another month. For us it will be a race between getting it from JPL, which is now authorized but has no allocation of vaccines yet, or from the county or CVS. . .or even our primary care doctors.

The unalloyed bad news this week was from Texas. There was a big ice and snow storm that crushed ERCOT, leaving millions of people in the dark. Power is still out for people after 6 days. The right-wing press immediately blamed wind turbines for the failure but it was actually natural gas pipelines freezing, shutting down all the gas plants. Their water facilities also failed. Oops!

Their unregulated power market is passing the cost onto consumers already, with people paying thousands of dollars for a week of electricity (if they have it.) I’d say it’s crazy, but of course it’s what you get in an unregulated market. The utility owners didn’t winterize the system because that would reduce their profits; when the system “fails”, they pass that cost onto consumers too.

What I’m trying to say is that their system actually is working as designed.

On the new house front, we’re going to revisit septic analysis and try a couple of more sites. We met up on the lot with architect Josh and builder Bud on Friday to talk siting and digging. I need to start a new house blog. Right now I need to get on with the book writing. The end is in sight for both of them.

Pandemic progress and Not

I spend so much time in front of my computers now I find it harder and harder to spend *even more* time in front of it to blog or, for that matter, to play World of Warcraft. But here goes.

Data for LA County, January 31, 2021.

LA County is finally seeing its cases drop. Deaths should turn down next week–there’s a consistent 3 week lag between cases and deaths. Last week Newsom released the state-wide stay-home order and we’re back under the 4 tier system. Mammoth reopened rentals instantly. Our Mammoth place booked for all of February already.

Vaccination rates were improving last week finally. The state overthought the ethical priorities and underthought the logistics of large-scale distribution, IMHO. And had no help from the Feds.

From the LA County vaccination dashboard.

Meanwhile the MAGAt fuckwits and antivaxxers have started trying to shut down the vaccination sites. LAPD let them shut down the big Dodger Stadium site over the weekend. Given the willingness of LAPD to brutalize Black Lives Matter protesters just a few months ago. . .I was pissed. We watched John Ford’s Grapes of Wrath last week. In the movie the police and sheriffs were part of the growers’ system of oppression. Nothing’s changed in nearly a century.

We had to cancel last week’s Mammoth trip to do the soil sampling in Swall Meadows due to snow–3 feet in Swall Meadows, 10 feet on the mountain. Courtney the Lost Girl went with friends and the mountain was a mob scene. Hour long lift lines, etc. Glad I missed it. We’ll leave this Wednesday and do the sampling on the new property Friday, Feb. 5. Escrow closes on the 11th so we’re cutting it a bit tight but that’s life.

My 3D printer has stopped working. It can’t find the 3rd calibration point (back right). It finds the first two no problem, but it sees nothing on the 3rd. It’s. . .bizarre. I’ve no idea what to do.

The Pronterface portrait of calibration point #3. Nothing where a target should be even though the probe is passing directly over the target. . .

The Bernie meme went on and on and on. . .here’s one last one. Jamie Lee Curtis tweeted it so I guess it’s ok to put here! His staff set up a merch store instantly and donated the profits to a Vermont charity. Good on them.