Hard Week

April 30, 2020 by Adam in Family

It's been a rough week.

Things with Ben escalated to the point where Joanna took him to the ED last night and he'll likely be sent to Portland once a bed opens up in a juvenile mental health facility.  Joanna came home briefly for dinner, then returned to bring sushi and some books for Ben.  I think the pandemic has been especially hard on Ben as he hasn't had much peer interaction, counseling is done remotely, and his DBT classes were canceled.  

Interacting with the healthcare system is equally weird.  Joanna had to get her temperature checked before going into the hospital and Ben got a COVID-19 test, which I'm guessing they do for anyone being admitted these days.  Joanna said the hospital was pretty empty - I think most everyone is just staying away.

It's hard to know what else to talk about - sort of an "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" sort of thing.  I'm trudging through work.  Emma and Duncan are getting good grades at school.  Sam is back at work.  I saw mom and she had me plant a couple roses, take out her garbage, and replace her water filter.  I'm trying to encourage her to hire a landscaper as weeds have turned her yard into a jungle.

After dinner last night I watched some Saturday Night Live clips on YouTube - watching a comedian doing skits with their cat at home was weirdly helpful.

Board Games and Hiking In the Woods

April 27, 2020 by Adam in Family

Life continues to be somewhat rough, a weird mix of ordinary and stressful.  We played a board game each day, winning with Pandemic and starting in on Aeon's End: Legacy.  The latter took a lot of time to setup, but Joanna waded through the rules and was fairly optimistic at the end.

We also went out to Mount Pisgah and roamed around, finding a big frog hiding in the reeds near the pond. There's something about being in nature to raise the spirits.

Emma's trying to walk 100 miles by the end of her PE class, so we were exercising in the basement and going for walks.  I secretly enjoy the extra activity as I was spending too much time at home even before the pandemic.

Our new kitten is doing his best raising our spirits.  He seems to like me most of all, much to Emma and Joanna's disappointment, and he'll climb on to my lap whenever I'm sitting down and has a nice little nap.

Mocha Friday

April 24, 2020 by Adam in Family

It sure felt like a global pandemic and world-wide economic collapse was going on this week.  I decided it's probably okay if I occasionally felt stressed out about it.  Fortunately somewhere in the middle my brain took a turn and I'm feeling fairly cheeful again today.  We have food and shelter and lots of good things going on in our lives.

I heard briefly from Sam that he continues to improve, his cough getting better every day.  It sounds like the governor is going to open up hospitals and dentist offices for non-emergency procedures.  Hopefully that means Emma's braces can get adjusted in a few weeks, though I imagine they'll be swamped for awhile.  The kids are struggling through school, Ben especially.  Joanna talked to the teachers and I think there's an understanding that essentially everyone will pass if they show up and give it a shot.

Joanna's been going out shopping regularly, stripping off clothes and showering each time she comes home.  Her mask making continues, delivering them to people and organizations as she finishes them off.  I think it helps to have something to do.

I'm slowly getting more comfortable with my new team, at least enough to point out problems and offer solutions.  I'm still going slow, but I think they're just appreciative for the help.

Looking forward to the weekend and hanging out with Emma.  Hopefully we'll have better luck at Pandemic: Legacy this weekend.

Giant Robots

April 24, 2020 by Adam in Adam's Games

It's been a bit of a hard week on everyone.  Starting school has been hard on the kids and my adjustment to the new team has been occasionally rough.  My allergies have flared up a few times, which Joanna has kindly wiped down and vaccuumed everything in hopes it's not kitty related.

The last few nights I've been playing an old game I got involving giant robots - Titanfall 2.  There's apparently a whole multiplayer thing, but the single player game was short and satisfying.  Driving giant robots around to blow things up is quite cathartic.


April 21, 2020 by Adam in Family

Joanna and the kids drove to Washington last Saturday, returning with a very cute kitty named Data that theoretically I'm less alergic to.  I still get a little wheasy, but I'm hoping my immune system settles down - something similar happened with Leia, our first cat.  Leia isn't especially happy having a little kitty around, but Data seems pretty cheerful and is only slightly mischevious.  Hopefully everything settles down soon.

It was a pretty quiet weekend.  Emma and I hung out quite a bit.  She'd play Stardew Valley and make domino models with Onshape, a CAD program she's using for her computer class.  

Sunday we played Pandemic again and lost fairly decisively.  Monday I got my new 2K monitor, which seems a little brighter than I'm used to.  I loaded the new raytracing version of Minecraft and let Duncan ooh and aah over how it looks.

The kids are doing their best during the lockdown, though some better than others.  I think everyone hopes that school returns again in the fall.

The New Normal Mocha

April 17, 2020 by Adam in Family

We're all well-fed and generally functional.  The kids have had a sometimes-okay and sometimes-rough first week of real school.  Duncan is going with the flow, comfortable doing online classes and hanging out with friends over the Internet as he always does.  Emma's been a little more nervous, but is getting into the swing of things.  Mostly I want to make sure she does okay on her AP tests and it looks like the SATs may become irrelevant faster than it otherwise would.  Ben's been having a harder time getting used to the change and Joanna's parked a chair next to Ben's computer desk so she can monitor work is actually being accomplished.

As for me, I started in on a new project and I'm getting used to their way of doing things.  Some of it is pretty cool and some of it seems more tedious than I want it to be.  I'm sure I'll get through the next three months just fine before returning to Leading Wisely world.

I also finished the new VR-only Half Life game last night.  It was pretty darn good, with lots of great world interaction, amazing sights, and a satisfying ending that reversed eight years between the last Half-Life game.  Not sure what I'll end up playing next.

Joanna and I had a nice date night on Friday, doing our usual takeout and puzzles.  She's made at least 32 masks for various organizations and people at this point.  I think it helps to feel that she's contributing rather than sitting around watching Netflix.

The weather continues to be amazing and beautiful, with the cherry tree blooming and birds and wildlife roaming about.  It helps to know that the world continues even if people aren't always around to enjoy it.

Ben's Birthday

April 15, 2020 by Adam in Ben

With Ben's birthday yesterday, we have reached peak teenagers and begun the downhill 15 year-long slide of the number of teenagers we'll have in the house.  Six more years to go.

Ben had a good time yesterday - I picked up Emma and the two of them played with his new manual typewriter, whacking on the keys and composing funny business memos.

Dinner was sushi takeout followed by a vast amount of presents and a hearty cake.  It was a fine celebration.


April 13, 2020 by Adam in Family

I had a lovely three day weekend, starting with a lazy Friday morning hearty breakfast, followed by a gardening effort of planting seedlings and repotting tomatoes.  Emma magically appeared and we had a lazy afternoon of video games and hanging out.

Saturday we spent checking things off our fun list, starting with a hearty breakfast of dutch babies, followed by rewatching Master and Commander with Emma.  After a quick lunch, Joanna, Ben, Emma, and I sat down to try our hand at Pandemic: Legacy.  Fortunately we beat back the diseases another month and hope to play again next weekend.  The day wrapped up with pizza and science YouTube videos, the end to a perfect day.

Joanna had organized Easter goodies weeks ago and the kids were met with chocolate bunnies at breakfast.  Later Joanna and I began the assembling of plastic eggs, putting in chocolate, money, and puns on little slips of paper we printed out.  The kids were all very excited, despite being teens or nearly teens.  They were also remarkably polite, leaving eggs for their siblings to find.  Joanna recorded the whole thing for posterity.

Pandemic Pal

April 10, 2020 by Adam in Joanna

Joanna has consistently been great in disasters.

A couple years ago when the fires were raging and smoke filled the air, she got the kids masks and improvised extra filtration with box fans and air filters for ducts.  For the pandemic she bought masks and stocked necessities well before the hording hit.

For the last couple days she's been working with locals to make masks and mask protectors that extend the lifespan of existing masks.  They're all quite colorful and she's been playing around with different designs.

One of the cool things she got in her scavanging was a 3d printed "bias maker."  Apparently it's used to take a relatively thin bit of cloth into a four-ply bit of bias tape that you can iron and sew.  That's what she's using to make the straps and reinforcement on the masks, which turn out pretty professional looking.

Escaping to the Apocalypse

April 10, 2020 by Adam in Adam's Games

I continue to enjoy Half-Life: Alyx.  My favorite parts are when things are going badly, I'm scrounging for ammunition, and alien creatures are closing in from all sides.  The puzzles are generally interesting and do a good job requiring you to use your hands and think in three dimensions.  The writing, voice acting, and visuals are the best I've seen in a VR game.  Getting the time to play is occasionally a challenge as it requires clearing the living room and standing on tired legs, but the results are usually worth it.

Odds and Ends

April 08, 2020 by Adam in Family

Life in the End Times continues.  My sinuses have been bugging me lately, I think due to allergies getting pretty bad.  The weather has been warm and lovely, but with it comes the inevitable annoying pollen.

Sam's been sporting a fever again, though his thermometer just broke.  Whatever he's got is certainly annoying.  Not sure if he'll try and get retested.

The kids are all slowly figuring out how to do school remotely.  Emma and I went for a walk yesterday and she says it's good to get her brain doing something meaningful again.  I think she's been watching a little too much television, even for her.

My old friend Jason Kronholm texted me out of the blue.  We're on for playing Magic online tomorrow night.

Tonight Joanna and I are going out on a date, likely takeout and puzzles in the basement.  I've got Friday off as an official work holiday, so hopefully I can turn that into some quality hangout time with the fam.

Lurching Towards the New Normal

April 06, 2020 by Adam in Family

It was generally a pretty good weekend for all.  I picked up a nervous Emma Friday afternoon, worried about the upcoming school term and just the general weirdness of life.  When I took her back to her mom's house, she'd settled down considerably.  She had a Chromebook to do schoolwork on and a plan for the upcoming week.  Plus we played lots of video games and board games, went for walks, and hung out as a family.  Emma and Ben hung out quite a bit, playing "Corona Cars," a car racing game, and watching Polygon YouTube videos.  Joanna, Ben, Emma, and I all played Pandemic: Legacy together, losing for the first time but learning from the experience.

I checked in with the family in various ways.  Jenny's ankle is still sprained and Jordan is playing chauffeur.  Mom's illness continues to linger, though she's always cheerful.  Sam is itching to get back to work, on antibiotics for pneumonia, and feeling much better.  Supposedly his work is finally requiring everyone wear masks and they're giving everyone a $2 per hour raise for the duration.

As for Joanna and I, we're hanging in there.  I still have the tail end of this annoying cough.  Joanna's been worn out all weekend, with three Zoom meetings on Sunday.  Hopefully I can get my old car today.

We did have someone break into our unlocked car, though nothing too important seemed to have been stolen.  Joanna did notice her snacks were taken, which made her sad.

Mocha Friday

April 03, 2020 by Adam in Family

I'm taking the day off today, delayed twice since my original plan to take the day off to hang out with kids over spring break.  In about an hour I'll go get Emma, who I've been trying to stay away from as I recover from whatever I've got right now.

On a somewhat related note, Sam's COVID-19 test came back negative.  He thinks he got pneumonia somehow and I think is heading back to work on Monday.  It makes me wonder if maybe I have something entirely unrelated.  I guess I need to assume the worst when it comes to protecting myself and others.

The Nissan dealership called and said they found a replacement part and that my car is running.  I responded asking them to call me to coordinate the transfer as I'm trying to keep everyone safe.  Maybe on Monday I can call the dealership and drop off the loaner vehicle and just wear masks.  It'll be nice to have at least one of the hassles in my life resolved.

My new computer is doing its job well and I've been greatly enjoying my foray into the VR world that is Half Life: Alyx.  I swapped out my old computer with Duncan's and am working on turning Duncan's computer into Emma's new computer at Jamie's house so she can do distance learning there.

As for us and our health, I think all is generally well.  Joanna is feeling mostly better.  I have a lingering occasional cough, but it doesn't bother me much.  I'm itching to putter in the garden and get outside.  Work is going well and I finally made circles appear on a map before handing the secret project over to Jacquie to hopefully make it slightly prettier.

Joanna's KLCC Interview

April 01, 2020 by Adam in Joanna

Joanna was interviewed by KLCC about self-quarantining.

Bartlett:  “So before we got sick, I would fall asleep at night, coming up with all of these elaborate plans of how we could isolate different members of our household, depending on who got sick first. Because the advice is that the infected person has their own bedroom and bathroom, and is isolated from the rest of the house, and I was like, “Oh we have that  plastic sheeting, and we could put it up in the hallway, kids rooms, or we could…”…and none of that happened because by the time my husband and I realized we were getting sick, we had been contagious for I don’t know how long, and both the kids have shown some symptoms, my 14-year-old has just had a little bit of a cough, but not too bad. And so I went, “Ah….well, too late for that.”

So I would say, I suppose, don’t torture yourself about…I suppose if somebody gets like, suddenly ill with a high fever, and it’s really obvious, sure, totally isolate that person if you can. But you know, you do the best that you can.

And take care of yourself and your family members, treat yourself and others kindly, do as much self-care whatever that happens to mean to you.  And call your doctor, call the Lane County Public Health hotline and talk to a nurse, and stay home.  If you think you’re ill at all, just stay home, it’s not worth it to be going out and potentially spreading the virus.

Bull: You’re not tested, how come?

Bartlett:   It wasn’t given to me as an option, there aren’t enough tests available, my understanding is that they’re only testing people who’ve been admitted to the hospital.  Both of my friends who went to the ER, neither of them were tested.

Bull: Would it be helpful were it possible to be tested at this point?

Bartlett:  It’d be incredibly helpful. Because right now we are assuming that we do have COVID-19, and so we’re quarantining our whole family.  And one of our kids is with her mom, with her other parent, at the moment.  And she would usually be coming over to our house, and she’s not right now until we’re better. So we’re not getting to see one of our kids because we don’t know. And we want everyone to be safe and healthy.  And also while right now we’re assuming do have COVID-19 and acting as if we do, once we feel better, we can’t necessarily assume that we have had it. So it’s a bit of a weird place to be.

This is not a fun illness to have.  We’ve been very fortunate in that we have a mild case, we don’t need medical care, we don’t need hospitalization.  And it’s still been hard and kinda scary, not being able to breathe easily, getting out of breath like walking the stairs or having a conversation or singing a song, does not feel good. Having that chest tightness, and pain, along with the fatigue and the nausea and the headaches. And my sense of smell is apparently broken.  I can still smell things, they just smell wrong. This is not something I’d would want anybody else to have. And so we need to take it seriously, and stay home and not spread it.

Bull:  You’re a grief recovery specialist, Joanna.  How has that helped you in adapting to your current situation?

Bartlett:  Well, what we’re all experiencing right now is grief.  The definition of grief that I work with, that the Grief Recovery Institute works with, is that grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss.  And grief are the conflicting feelings that we feel when a familiar pattern of behavior changes or ends.  And we are all in an unfamiliar pattern of behavior right now, a lot of things have changed or ended for pretty much all of us. Whether that is…that we have lost our jobs, or we have financial losses, or we have a loss of health, we have a loss of sense of safety, and for some of us that will also be the traditional losses that we think of, such as loss of life, of our loved ones…perhaps dying from this. And that’s loss and that’s grief. And that’s what we’re experiencing right now.

And so what’s helpful for me, is that I know this, that I can name it. When you can name what you’re experiencing, it can be very helpful in understanding what’s happening and moving through it. And for me, it allows me to be kinder to myself, it allows me to be more compassionate with myself.  And when you’re kinder and more compassionate with yourself, then you can be kinder and compassionate with other people around you. Because you understand that they’re going through grief as well. And this is a hard time for all of us.

Bull: You’ve also used music to reach out to people.  Is it therapeutic to play music during this uncertain time?

Bartlett:  Definitely.  I used to play music, I had aspirations of being a folk rock star when I was in my 20s that didn’t quite work out.  And so I love playing music, and it’s a helpful thing for me emotionally. And so I decided to just start doing little Facebook Live (streaming videos), you know, me and my bedroom, or on the front porch, or where ever, just to share music.  Because it is really helpful for me, and I got some really nice feedback from a few friends of mine, saying “Oh, I love it when you do this.” 

So I’ve been doing it as much as I can. And also because this illness has been affecting my lungs, it’s leaving me short of breath.  I’ve been…it seems a little counterintuitive, I’ve been wanting to do things using my lungs.  But when I’ve been up for it, it to me feels like a good exercise for my lungs.  And it’s a bit of that, “Oh, I’m just going to keep on going anyway.”


Bull: When this pandemic finally ends, what’s the first thing you’d like to do?

Bartlett: I think I want to hug all the people who have been helping me. Like my neighbor across the street, I want to give her a big hug.  I want to be able to see the people I haven’t been able to see, I want to be able to on walks with my friends in the neighborhoods, or go for hikes.  That kind of thing, when the physical distancing things have been lifted, when the pandemic is over.

And I suppose the last thing I‘d say is that let other people help you, ask for help when you need help.  Get grocery delivery, get meal delivery, whether you are getting it from a company…we had Friendly Street Market deliver our groceries yesterday.  Or whether it’s…if you’re reaching out to friends and asking for help…I do not like asking people for help. I’m very independent, stubbornly independent. And it’s hard for me to ask for help.  And yet it’s been necessary and it’s actually been really heartwarming and healing, to know that people care about me and want to help. 

BB:  Joanna Bartlett, thank you very much for your time and I wish the best for you and your family in recovering from this pandemic.

Bartlett:  Thank you.

Half-Life: Alyx

April 01, 2020 by Adam in Adam's Games

Last night I left our battered world, torn apart by disease and chaos to step into a virtual world, torn apart by alien invasions and chaos.  The first Half-Life game in nearly a decade came out, exclusively for VR.  I donned my headset and immersed myself back into that world.

Though I limited myself to an hour or two of play, it's fairly amazing so far.  The physics are spot-on - I pushed a bike around and the wheels spun as expected before wobbling over.  My one great moment was when I dropped something important under some shelves and used a broom handle to flick it out.

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