Thursday, April 30, 2020

Laps of Blogging

I'm kind of proud of my persistence with blogging although I've had trouble keeping the content as short as I intended. I'm a rambler.

Still here, still crossing off days of the week. Grinding away on COVID-19 related work at the hospital. Next week will be another short one so I have something to look forward to.

The skies have been thinly overcast most of the day, but it's still lovely spring Flagstaff weather. Except the ever present wind whispering (roaring) through the pines. I call the April winds in Flagstaff "The Winds of Comedy" because they are so strong you can sometimes lean into them like a Charlie Chaplin silent movie.

The snow line is retreating up the peaks.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Camel Day on Camel

Source: Wikimedia

Guess what day it is? It's Wednesday, and I live on Camel Drive. Now that we are working from home, it's a double camel day, a Bactrian camel.
Source: Wikimedia

Working on a variety of things now but frustrated by a vendor who plans to setup HL7 software interfaces with no specification. It's less common than it used to be but continues to happen. Why do healthcare software companies think you don't need a specification for HL7?

Then there are the opposite type of companies: those who realize there is a lot of money to be made in healthcare IT and get into it with no prior collective knowledge of healthcare. They will have a specification that is incorrect or otherwise not useful. One of the biggest fallacies in software dev/engineering is the belief that a programmer need only know how to program and need not have subject matter expertise to develop software for a particular customer. This is completely false.

If you don't have the knowledge in-house, you will spend years learning how healthcare works before you can competently build anything of significance. It isn't the same to just hire a few people with previous healthcare work to consult (like nurses), though that is better than nothing.

On a positive note, I'm already thinking about my next day off.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Monday on Tuesday

I made a trip to the nursery yesterday with a gift certificate from my girlfriend. I may have gotten a little carried away but this adds a little color and interest to my life.

I took Monday off to recover some morale but it's too soon to say if it worked or not. I'm generally in a good mood today but struggling to get a bunch of computer equipment working that I brought home from the office over the weekend and things are busy.

I'm having cravings for McDonald's again. In the era of quarantine, it's the worst. I've been trying to limit takeout food to once per week. This has resulted in about 8 to 9 pounds of weight loss over the last 5 weeks. I'd love to lose another 5 pounds but it's proving difficult.

Back to short posts for today. I'm too busy.

Monday, April 27, 2020

A Science Fiction Dream

A photo I took of the Orion Nebula last year through a 6 inch Celestron telescope.

I had a strange dream last night that was a continuation of a previous dream from a couple of nights ago. I was in a reality TV show that constructed a ridiculously small rocket to launch our 3 man team into orbit. The capsule was so tight we are all going to be stacked into a pyramid shape with no space to move around. I was going to be on the top of the pyramid with a little pedestal barely big enough for me to lay on with my feet propped up above my head. There were vague plans to rendezvous in orbit with another mission and go on to Mars or somewhere, the dream wasn't specific about that.

All of this was interrupted when we were approaching our launch date at a remote site in an open field with no one else there (which is senseless of course, as dreams often are). It was night and we started seeing strange lights in the sky. It looked like moving beams of rainbow and later clouds of rainbow appearing, shimmering with color, changing into wine-colored mist, and disappearing. We also saw lots of "fast movers." If you have ever looked at the night sky in clear weather,  you can see satellites orbiting the earth. They appear as fast moving stars. There are a surprising lot of them. This was amplified in the dream. They were brighter than any I had seen and the night sky teamed with them, and the numbers grew. Some were in trains like SpaceX's Starlink satellites.

We started to argue. The leader, whose name I think was Peter, still wanted to launch. I said to him, "We can't launch up into that. Why did I ever let you talk me into this?" Soon things in the sky got out of hand and we started to see giant, dark silhouettes crossing the sky, seemingly lower to the ground. I had this thought that it must be some type of alien invasion and then one of the giant dark silhouettes came close enough that I could see it was a huge mass of fish, like from the ocean. There were sharks, whales, dolphins, giant sea bass, swordfish, and many other fish silhouettes, all in fast moving clouds, close to the ground. It was at this time that I noticed our launch site was near the sea. I imagined that aliens were stealing our sea life.

The dream pretty much ended at that point and I know I went off into other dreams later but can't remember them. I have no idea of the meaning of the dream, if it has a meaning, but there were a few things from the weekend. I had seen a YouTube video title "Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind," though I did not watch it. I frequent astronomy sites on all of my social media and there is much discussion and photography of SpaceX's Starlink trains, and I watch videos that discuss the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) somewhat regularly.

Weird night.

I took the day off today as a morale booster. I had a great mountain bike ride from my house up onto Observatory Mesa and out onto a huge prairie with views of the core of the San Francisco Peaks and A1 Mountain. My legs are dead but there was plenty of solitude. I guess this post has gotten a little long.

Don't worry, I had a helmet, I just took it off for a couple of minutes.

After coming back down from the mesa I took urban trail out to Route 66 past this abandoned ranch. I love these native stone masonry structures that are found around the region. They remind me somewhat of similar construction in the Pennsylvania Amish communities, although the rock looks different.

Sunday, April 26, 2020


After I started dating my girlfriend, she invited me to attend her Lutheran church. I grew up in a Pentecostal evangelical denomination of Christianity called the Assembly of God. It was a fundamentalist church and very different from a Lutheran church. Although I have never gone over to atheism, I have not regularly attended church in decades. It's been a significant change for me.

In the time of the Coronavirus disease COVID-19, the services have moved online. Currently they are not live-streaming but instead compile a web page with a series of video and audio recordings as well as scripture to be read. I have persisted with viewing these and it helps to provide some sense of normalcy.

When I was growing up, church was this marathon of religion that lasted for hours on Sunday morning and frequently ran over into the afternoon with prolonged, improvised sermons, altar calls, and much begging for money (beyond the tithe).

In contrast, Lutheran services are calm and run like clockwork. I find the "contemporary" Lutheran service to be extremely easy to attend.  They take almost exactly one hour and the "message," as they call their sermon, is rarely longer than about 10 minutes, usually less. The message is almost uniformly positive. Lutherans do not dwell much on sin, which is a change for me, and I struggle with it. My world view is constructed differently. The core of my personal Christianity is contained in the idea that sins are acts of evil and people must repent for them. Lutherans seem to believe in original sin, but do not place much emphasis on personal acts as individual sins.

I basically like the church although I do not consider myself Lutheran and not currently considering conversion. The return of church to my life is providing rhythm to my weeks and I find that helpful under the current circumstances.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Saturday Cooking, Writing, and Walking

I'm surprised that I have persisted this long in dayblogging, but the lock down means there is a lot of time for contemplation, and it's unusually quiet since I live alone. I have often enjoyed writing through long periods of my life and I seem to take small enjoyment from these short and quickly written posts.

Cooking in the morning: breakfast casserole of my own improvisation.
white rice
diced russet potatoes
sliced mushrooms
diced onions
ground beef
Cayenne powder
fresh ground black pepper
shredded "mexican cheese" (cheddar, monterey jack, quest quesadilla, asadero)

  • Rice steamed in advance and set aside
  • Potatoes pan fried to near done in advance
  • Mushrooms and onions sautéed together in advance
  • Ground beef browned in advance with salt, pepper, light Cayenne powder, and a dash of Worcestershire
  • Everything added together with more salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Eggs whipped and poured on and stir
  • Oven preheated 350 degrees F - bake about 45 minutes
  • About 1/2 tablespoon of butter put on top and cheese sprinkled on  ~5 minutes before the end

The rice was an experiment that I couldn't say entirely paid off. It broke down and contributed to what I will describe as a cake-like consistency similar to a frittata or quiche. Of course, that isn't entirely a bad thing but not what I was looking for. Perhaps it need not have been pre-steamed all the way.

Hiking this afternoon with the lady at Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Area.

Afterwords I had to go into the office and pick up some computer equipment for working from home. I even loaded my ergonomic desk chair into the car. It was weird in there. Somehow you can tell that nobody has been in there for more than a few minutes for several weeks. I'll set it all up when I go back to work on Tuesday. Yes, I'm taking a long weekend. They have asked us to use PTO every pay period to help the company financially but my morale has been lagging anyway due to loneliness. I was already planning to take a day off. Hospitals that are hard hit by COVID-19 are struggling right now, and we are being hit harder than any other hospital in Arizona. It's a humanitarian tragedy but we are doing what we can.

Fear naught.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Friday at Last

I have a screen door on my garage. My youngest cat, Shadow (I know, a stereotypical name for a black cat), figured out how to get through the screen, by sliding under the edge of the "door-within-a-door." This is annoying because the bottom of the screen simply fits into a slot but is not secured in any way to allow it to retract to the side. As a consequence, I have temporarily duct-taped it along the bottom. I will try to come up with some permanent solution that doesn't prevent the door from working.

Now that the weather is finally warm in Flagstaff, I am enjoying working from home a little more, because I have this place I can work and enjoy the fresh air.

This girl is 14 years old today. Ok, we don't know her precise birthdate but this is the estimate.
Griselda (A.K.A. Zelda)
I guess I'm on the topic of cats today, so might as well post this.

Happy Friday to me, and it will be a 3 day weekend. Back to work.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Thursday Crazy

I'm feeling a little crazy today.

I sometimes experience symptoms of autism, something I used to hide very carefully, but now I've reached middle age and care much less how others perceive me. Today it has been raging for some reason and I'm fidgeting in my chair and my hands won't sit still. I'm unsure why it is bad today but the COVID-19 restrictions on movement mean I have been working in my house for weeks now. I also have not been able to spend proper time with my girlfriend, who maintains a separate household. I think both of us are experiencing both work strain and a strain on our relationship. Working from home is ok but there is no sense of normalcy. This situation calls for simple persistence in the face of complex stresses. Keep going.
Pushy cats do not help with the work from home environment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


New house construction has muddied the alley behind my house (not visible but on the left at the end of the alley) accompanied by regular jackhammering. I think they will be finished soon but will move over to the next block to continue filling up the few remaining available lots.

I'm going to start trying to post more regular, daily blogs here to see what it generates. These will no longer be lengthy, carefully composed writings, but just brief notes left behind as a trail of breadcrumbs. I think this will fit in with my new work lifestyle of working from home, which eases the mental transition from work to personal life (or blurs the boundaries). I find myself working on a rolling basis, starting early, finishing late, but interspersed with numerous breaks. I do not think this means I am less productive than I was in the office, but rather it is a resumption of how I used to work when I was younger and just getting started in IT.

I've had to guard against too much sedentary time. The cats seem to feel entitled to supervised outdoor time, the only type I allow, and it has been costing me time for walking myself. The weather has finally gotten nice in Flagstaff, and I am enjoying working out in my garage with the screen door deployed to secure the cats and keep out most insects. We'll wait for the obligatory last snowstorm of the year, which usually comes in May, then we should be ok for a few months.