Friday, March 27, 2020

Social Distancing Day 12

Well the world has certainly changed in a week.  The United States now has the highest rate of Covid-10 infections in the world.  Governors have worked closely with public health officials to lay out a consistent message.  Meanwhile the Federal government has continued to muzzle the CDC to ensure that no blame falls on the current administration.  At days end, it still comes down to individuals taking responsibility for their communities and minimizing the risk of transmission by tried and true methods of social distancing and frequent hand washing.

With universities out for the remainder of the year and hiring frozen, an unfortunate demographic of 18-24 year old men and women are caught with no place to be.  Travel home come in close contact with family members who may have pre-existing conditions or otherwise at risk of viral infection.  Go on spring break to the beaches or mountains.  Become social isolated shut-ins.

Our household had a somber spring break.  Rather than the cacophony of cousins romping about Florida, we stayed put.  We went on walks in open spaces and did crafts indoors.  We dusted off video games and board games.

Personally, I have found a way to be productive working remotely.  I have been able to exercise regularly with carefully curated gym equipment accumulated over the years.  We have stocked grocery stores and have been eating at home rather than eating out a few times per week.

It is hard to say what will become of the businesses and restaurants we frequent.  How long can owners pay their staffs in the absence of revenue?  Will monthly subscriptions like gym memberships end?

Friday, March 20, 2020

Social Distancing Day 5

Days 4 and 5 of essentially "shelter in place" are the result of a spring storm dumping 7 inches of slow in my backyard.  The weather has made a difficult situation gloomy.  Fortunately and unfortunately news outlets are keeping people from feeling isolated, but also ramping up fears as counties and states mandate "shelter in place" for non-essential workers.

Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers: Communications. Dams. Chemical. Commercial Facilities. Critical Manufacturing. Dams. Defense Industrial Base. Emergency Services. Energy. Financial. Food & Agriculture. Government Facilities. Healthcare & Public Health. Information Technology. Transportations systems. Water. Nuclear Reactors, Materials, & Waste. Department of Homeland Security logo. CISA Cyber + Infrastructure.

These measures should certainly slow the pace of new infections.  

The question in my mind is how the health threat evolves as restrictions are loosened.  Will a second wave be seen? Will mutations make the virus more/less infectious, more/less deadly? Should we be prepared for long term social distancing until a vaccine and/or treatment is available.

The economic impact will be significant.  Small and medium sized businesses will fold unless they can negotiate better lease terms and stabilize supply chains in the immediate term.  The federal government is pulling out all of the stops in what is a losing battle in the short term and will be very difficult to kick start without dry powder once the dust settles.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Social Distancing Day 3

COVID-19 is sweeping the world and China and Italy have already been overwhelmed by the massive number of individuals requiring hospitalizations.  After being dismissive of these countries' draconian measures to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, individual states and institutions began to take notice.

The NBA and NHL canceled games.  Universities began to cancel the remainder of the school year.  County school districts then set up remote learning to minimize children's interactions with their peers.  Churches began to cancel services.

The Federal government then took the strange step of banning travel from Europe (excluding the UK and Ireland) forcing Americans to pack quickly into plans over a 24 hour period and wait for massive amounts of time in close contact at international airports while inadequate numbers of inadequately trained border patrol attempted to screen patients for symptoms.

In Colorado, my employer instituted social distancing in the work place starting March 16.  This was a few days behind peer organizations.  Governor Polis then announced that all casinos, gyms and theaters would be closed to the public for 30 days and restaurants and bars could no longer provide public seating for 30 days.

It is very difficult to determine the effectiveness of these measures as the United States does not have adequate numbers of test kits or public health infrastructure to monitor an epidemic.  Historically, COVID-19 will play out with X number of individuals being infected, a percentage of that number requiring hospitalization and a percentage of those dying.  However the rate at which X is realized can be manipulated.

Before the chicken pox vaccine, people would have pox parties so that all the kids in the community could "get it over with."  However chicken pox is not life threatening.  It is itchy and miserable.  Additionally, chicken pox as an adult can have more dire health consequences.

Due to the percentage of infected individuals that may require hospitalization, public health officials are striving to spread the pain over months rather than weeks.  The economic impact will be greater, but the number of deaths due to inadequate ventilators will be lower as more of those who require hospitalization can get the care they need.

The media is touting this as the biggest disruption to American lives since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001 when 2,977 victims were realized and more than 6000 others injured.  People were afraid to fly and the world stepped up airline travel security.  18 years later, 4,432 guns were seized in US airports in 2019.

The response to COVID-19 is in a similar vain that people are afraid to travel (or in some cases leave their homes) and the world is stepping up its public health measures.  Global production has declined and private institutions are reducing investment which is driving down the economy.

Food and medical supplies have yet to be disrupted.  However, as an interconnected global economy with increasing numbers of workers in that supply chain being potentially infected and under mandatory or self directed quarantine, food exporters will see waste and food importers will see shortfalls.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Organizing the Closet

I had been putting this off for quite some time, but I finally went through and organized my clothes closet.  I am careful to say organized versus cleaned out my clothes closet.  At first pass, I could only part with one item (a wind breaker that I never really liked and have not worn in 20 years).  The main reason is that I am a pack rat.  Another reason is that most stuff fit (or was close enough to being able to fit).  Finally, I really believe I would purchase the items again even though I do not wear them often.  I have a certainly look in my head that does not always match reality.

  • Crossfit shirts (10) - I wear these all the time and do not skip any
  • Carhartt t-shirts (7) - I wear these all the time and do not skip any
  • T-shirts (11) - I have my favorites, but wear these often
  • Long sleeve t-shirts (9) - I wear these less often, but am going to mix it up
  • Flannel shirts (8) - I have more of these than I need
  • Button down shirts (11) - I have a few, but do not wear them often
  • Running clothing (6) - long sleeve shirts, vest, wind jacket, Golite jacket; rarely wear, I do not run in cold weather very often
  • Cycling clothing (9) - jerseys, long sleeve jerseys, heavyweight jerseys; rarely wear, I do not cycle in cold weather very often
  • Dress shirts (12) - from light to dark, last time I wore one was September of 2018 (Simi's wedding); I want to pare these down, most are from when I was in medical school (1994-1995), a few are more recent but rarely worn
  • Dress pants (1) - only wore once since purchasing around 2006 (fit great)
  • Sport Coats (2) - last time I wore one was when Diya started at WWA (~2012)
  • Suits (5) - Banana Republic tan suit (wore for Deepa's wedding 2014); My Wedding Suit (purchased 2005, wore several times, snug); Goodwill Suit (wore for Nina's wedding 2017); Nick Uncle Custom Suit (wore for Simi's wedding 2018); Nordstrom Suit (wore for Simi's wedding 2018) 
  • Polo shirts (16) - mix of logo'd and non-logo'd, I wear these often enough, but how many is too many
  • Hawaiian shirts (2) - bought one in Puerto Rico (1999), bought one in Hawaii (2019)
  • Sports Jerseys - Rockies Jersey (wear to games), Purdue Jersey (Rarely wear)
  • Indian clothes (6) - My wedding, Priya's wedding, Raj wedding, a few casual
  • Pants (9) - 2 fleece lined, a few Eddie Bauer, Gramicci, Costco; I rarely wear these, but I do like the way they look and would probably purchase again
  • Vests (5) - Leather motorcycle, Hunting, Fleece, Down, ScottVest - rarely wear these
  • Sweatshirt/fleece (6/3) - wear often; how many is too many?
  • Hoodies (7+10) - pull-over and zip up, wear often; how many is too many?
  • Outerwear (4) - bike and track jacket
  • Outerwear (9) - Too many; which ones to part with is a tough question.  Most, I would buy again, but one can only wear so many coats.  (plus 4 windbreakers in the basement)
  • Belts - mix of black and brown in various states of repair
  • Ties - did not evaluate

As I do not have a two story closet, I will at some point need to resort to the guide on the left.

While I certainly accept the wisdom of have you worn it in the past year, I am still somewhat hesitant to part with stuff and I cannot wrap my head around it.

Most commonly, I wear jeans, t-shirt or long sleeve shirt, and a hoodie.  In the winter, I will throw in a sweatshirt or flannel for variety.  In the summer, I may wear a polo shirt.

I make an effort to cycle through, wearing the leftmost article of clothing in the category and after washing, returning it to the category on the rightmost side.  This works well and only rarely do I find myself skipping items.

Formal clothes, sports clothes and outerwear are tough to part with because they are expensive and are typically only worn occasionally.

The final thing that makes this difficult is that I just bought a pair of pants, zipped hoodie and 2 crossfit shirts in the past month.  4 additions without any subtractions.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Las Vegas

We rang in the 2020 New Year with a trip to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

Departing Tuesday night, we arrived at McCarran International Airport, picked up a rental car and started the drive to Kingman, AZ.  On New Year's Eve, the only dinner spot open was the McDonald's on Route 66.  It was a cute town and I learned that Route 66 was established in 1926.  We got a nice room upgrade at the Best Western Plus and were well rested for the drive to the Grand Canyon.

Wednesday we arrived at the Visitor Center around noon and were surprised at how chilly it was at the South Rim.  I guess most weather reports are for the significantly warmer base of the canyon.  We still enjoyed site seeing and the gift shops, we took the 5 minute walk to the scenic overlook and then got on the shuttle to some of the outlying buildings.  It would have been more enjoyable if we dressed better and had a plan.  It was a breathtaking view.  The visitor center featured a lot of exhibits and a movie.

The drive back was tough.  We stopped for dinner at Mr. D's diner in Kingman on Route 66 and it was a nice treat before finishing the drive.  It was late when we arrived at the Hilton Grand Vacations on the North end of the Las Vegas Strip.  We stopped for groceries on the way also as our room featured a full kitchen.  We did get settled in and called it an early night.

We started Thursday off with breakfast in the room followed by enjoying the basketball court and heated pool that were part of the hotel amenities.  The wind made the pool less than perfect, but there were a few other brave kids and adults out and about.  After lunch, we headed onto the strip to see the Bellagio fountain show.  After some site seeing, we met David for dinner at the Royal India Bistro at the Rio before attending the WOW Water Spectacular Show.  At the end of the night, we briefly visited with my sister before heading back to the hotel.  That night I ventured out for some gambling.

Friday was our last day in town.  We packed up and headed for Fremont Street to give ziplining a try.  It was fun, but not worth the $24/person price tag.  After walking around Fremont Street and seeing some of the street performers, we headed back to the Paris hotel to meet my sister for lunch.  The Giada Restaurant is located in the Cromwell Hotel and in addition to a nice atmosphere had a terrific brunch menu as well.  With my wife's diamond status, we were comp'ed $100 and our meal for 4 adults and 2 kids while ringing up at $160, only cost us $60 plus tip.  After lunch the girls explored the strip, while I headed to the Bally's poker room for some cards.

The flight back was as uneventful as the flight out.  The toughest part was the late hour.  We did not make it into the house until 1:30 AM.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Goodbye 2019

It just occurred to me that I failed to do a Goodbye 2018 post.  But for 2019 here goes...

2019 was a good year for the household.  I solidified my career with a year of employment at CDOT.  My wife is continuing her Air Force commitment.  My first born started 7th Grade at D'Evelyn Junior/Senior High School.  My second born started 5th Grade at Woodrow Wilson Academy.  They continued with piano taking lessons at home.  They are also both playing basketball through the Apex Center.  My 5th grader did a science fair project on water quality.

We hosted birthday parties for my second born at Skate City and my first born at Boondocks.

We traveled extensively this year thanks to Southwest Airlines' companion fare.  We were in Memphis in January, Orlando in April, Nashville in May, Seattle in July, Houston in July, Hawaii in November and Las Vegas in December.  In addition, I made a solo trip to Memphis in September.

Professionally, I am feeling good about transportation.  It is not "fun" like oilfield work was and there is a little more bureaucracy than there was at Oracle, but overall, it is a rewarding environment in terms of authority and autonomy. I like the stability of government funding.  Most importantly, I like that it is relatable.  People can understand what I do for a living.

My community involvement has stayed low.  I have avoided taking on new commitments.

In terms of hobbies, I have again embraced Crossfit, doing the 2019 Crossfit Open in March and the 2020 Crossfit Open in October.  I did a charity 5K and a team mountain bike event.  We played golf several times and I have been enjoying my new clubs.

I had a few key coin purchases including an 1829 dime and two 1832 half dimes (they were different varieties).

We got 2 days of skiing in the spring, but have not been yet in the fall.  I did not get out shooting.

I read a few novels this year.  My favorite was Educated by Westover.

In terms of purchases, the best was probably for Crossfit.  I got a Nylon weightlifting belt from Rep Fitness and some Nubz from Jerkfit.  The Roomba was an OK purchase.

We had a few home improvements with 2 bathroom remodels, a new driveway and new fans in the girls bedrooms.  The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl and the Washington Nationals won the World Series.  Matt Frazier and Tia Clair Toomey both repeated by winning the Crossfit Games.

Best wishes for 2020!

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Science Fair Lessons Learned

Science has been glossed over in our elementary school curriculum in favor of spending more time on Math and Reading which is vigorously tested and tied to school funding.  One way to supplement that has been to participate in the science fair.  At WWA, Kindergarten can make a presentation, 1st to 3rd compete in the Lower Division and 4th to 8th compete in the Upper Division.  Upper Division kids are supposed to work independently.

The most popular projects are typically growing plants, physiological response to lack of sleep or video games, geology models, erosion.  Gone are the days of volcano models.

After initial success, the past couple of years have not had the same Science Fair awards in our household.  It has been a combination of running out of ideas and general lack of interest by the children.  We watched a YouTube video last night and the biggest take away is that the project needs to resonate with kids.  The best projects make observations in the student's environment and then develop and execute controlled experiments (varying one thing at a time and measuring the outcome) to understand phenomenon.  Judges are also impressed by projects that have an impact on society or personal health, as well as projects that have significant learning.

Subjective/Qualitative like taste are difficult to include.  It is best to stick to things you can measure.

There is not as much stock put into visual impact and presentation at the middle school level, but I feel like that is important.  The ability to present information or research on a story board or with a powerpoint presentation is a valuable life skill that has come up for me over an over again for me as a student and a professional.  Graphs and charts are compelling to visualize information in a way that data tables are not.  Today, it is very easy to include a looping video as well to add to a story.

As Nisha only has one more opportunity to participate in the science fair at WWA, I am going to keep a running list of phenomenon that could flourish into science fair experiments.

  • Visualize plaque after brushing teeth - Electric or Conventional Toothbrush
  • Dishwasher detergent tabs - Commercial Pods or Homemade
  • Thermos Tech - What keeps food/drinks the warmest or the coolest
  • Growing bulbs/herbs at home, success factors
  • App usage and Mobile Phone Energy consumption - streaming YouTube vs Playing a game vs Google Maps vs Strava vs Talking on the Phone
  • Tic-Tac-Toe:  Outcome if you start in the center, corner or side?

I think to be successful, the observation has to be relevant and background research easy to conduct.  This year pH and Total Dissolved Solids were difficult for my 5th grader to wrap her head around.


Nisha (5th) - Water Quality Testing pH and TDS (no award)
Diya (7th) - no contest held at D'Evelyn


Nisha (4th) - Stain removal using Thieves or All Detergent (no award)
Diya (6th) - Static Cling (no award)


Nisha (3rd) - Apples Turning Yellow (1st place)
Diya (5th) - Egg substitutes (3rd place)


Nisha (2nd) - What is Friction (1st place)
Diya (4th) - Soil vs Dirt (3rd place)


Nisha (1st) - Bacteria growth - Thieves vs Clorox (Grand Prize)
Diya (3rd) - Water Conservation (2nd place)


Nisha (K) - Which magnets are the Strongest
Diya (2nd) - Generating Electricity from Solar and Wind; drill generator; Kill-a-Watt meter


Diya (1st) - Phases of the Moon Model


Diya (K) - No Science Fair for Kindergarten