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COVID-19: Part 2

On Friday I woke up to the news that someone in our division had tested positive. The company notified everyone who was likely to have been in close proximity to him. It was in another building so it’s highly unlikely that I crossed paths with him, but it does make the “everyone work from home” recommendation seem like more of an obvious good move.

The first couple days of working from home were less productive than normal, but I think our team is getting settled in. I was asked to collect some best practices and set expectations about how we will interact and stay in our highly-collaborative mode even though we’re separated. Thankfully, collaboration tools have gotten a lot better in recent years, and while there are a lot of things I’d change about Microsoft Teams, it really is an excellent service.

Over the weekend, life continued to be pretty normal. We met up with Tyla’s family on Saturday to celebrate Logan’s birthday and then we went to Pizza Coop for dinner. I wasn’t sure what to expect there, but it felt like a very normal Saturday evening crowd. Church was well-attended on Sunday as well. The grocery stores are well-stocked, and other than news stories and less traffic than normal, there’s very little to indicate that anything odd is going on.

But it’s that normalcy that feels the strangest. Major snowstorms and power outages have a visible component and it’s easy for me to understand what I can do to help keep my family safe. But in this case, it’s a silent virus floating around. Could we do everything as normal and not be affected? Have we already come in contact with it and not caught it? Are we on the brink of exponential growth in the infection rate? None of these things are knowable or measurable. Life goes on except that every time someone coughs, heads snap in their direction and people scoot away.

It remains to be seen whether our current efforts will be effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but I’m also interested to see what effect our improved hygiene has on standard illnesses like colds and the flu. Will those numbers be noticeably lower because we’re all washing our hands more often and staying home even when we have a little cough? I’d like to think that improved hygiene will be something we all take away from this, but the reality is that we’ll probably revert to our old ways a few months after this scare is over and we’re on to the election coverage.

COVID-19

This blog serves a few purposes, but one of the major ones is being a (public) journal. It’s interesting, for example, to look back at my thoughts right after the planes crashed on September 11. The spread of COVID-19 feels like one of those events that we’ll remember for a long time so it felt worthy of at least one post, but this probably won’t be the last one.

First of all, I feel like me calling it COVID-19 instead of “the coronavirus” is similar to my failed stand on calling drones by their proper name of “quadcopters.”

With that out of the way, let’s talk about how we got to this point. Right around the end of last year, it was becoming clear that something was happening in Wuhan, China. As I traveled to Israel around the end of January, there were a few thousand cases in China, and while I was in Israel, the first case was identified in Everett, WA.

From that point, it has continued to spread more throughout China and around the world. While the flu has hospitalized 3-4 times as many people as COVID-19 so far this year, there are two things that make COVID-19 scarier:

  1. The transmission rate appears to be a bit higher than the flu with around 2.2 people catching it for every 1 person who gets it.
  2. The death rate is much higher. COVID-19 is killing around 3.4% of the people who catch it and the flu only kills about 0.1%.

That’s what we know today. One challenge is that new data is arriving all the time as the world’s scientific community joins forces to figure this virus out. The numbers above might be totally wrong because we still don’t have a good idea of how many people have caught it. There are some theories that say 40-70% of people have already been exposed to the virus while others are saying that only a tiny fraction of people have been exposed. Or if we ignore that question, it makes sense that the virus is more fatal to the elderly and immuno-compromised, but why are kids getting infected at an extremely low rate? Is it because there’s something special about the virus? Do they have an immunity? Or are they always so sniffly and coughy that we don’t notice?

If COVID-19 really would take out 2% of the population and if we can’t stop it, that translates to 10s of millions of people dead. That could decrease dramatically if we take drastic measures and quarantine everyone. But every day you do that spreads panic and destroys the economy, so nobody wants to make that call. But if you want it to be effective, it needs to happen early or else it doesn’t help as much. There’s just not enough information to know what is the right decision.

As of Wednesday, the county where we live (King County) recommended that employers make it easy for employees to work from home if possible. My company quickly followed up with an email to all employees in this region asking us to default to working from home for the next three weeks. Our school district also closed for at least the next two weeks. Elijah goes to school farther north so those schools aren’t closed yet, but it’s not hard to imagine that they will follow in this path.

As I mentioned early, we’re the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States so the responses here are the most drastic in the country. The first deaths were literally a few miles from my house. As I drive home, there are news crews reporting in front of the school right across the street from my house.

Thankfully at this point businesses are still open and the supply chain is still flowing. Grocery store shelves are full (as long as you’re not looking for toilet paper or hand sanitizer) and gas stations have plenty of fuel. Driving around feels weird because traffic is so light with many people staying home, but everything else is fairly normal. It’s different from the shortages and quiet that you get when there is a snowstorm or power outage.

We ended up visiting the doctor today for a cough that Elijah’s had for weeks which morphed into a fever yesterday. Thankfully the fever disappeared quickly but the doctor still wanted to check him for pneumonia which can hit kids quickly. Both the nurse and the doctor wore face masks and plastic face shields. The appointment basically just confirmed that Elijah doesn’t have pneumonia or the flu and we can just watch it for a while. Oh and if you’re curious, our doctor is still flying out for a trip on Friday and has no concerns about doing so.

The news is flooded with stories ranging from speculation to useful facts as every website tries to get as much click-bait out there as possible. This is big money. My recommendation is to stick to sources like the CDC and WHO or simple, fact-based info like this handy dashboard from Johns Hopkins. Otherwise it’s easy to get sucked into a vortex of anxiety reading article after article about the unknowns and what-ifs.

I admit to getting sucked into that vortex as I think about how to care for my family through this situation. But the other night after one of those sessions of reading a few too many random articles, I laid in bed listening to the frogs croaking. They have no idea what’s going on, nor would they care if they did. I was reminded of the words of Matthew 6:

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

1000 Beers

In early 2013, I signed up for Untappd and rated my first beer in the app: Fat Tire. Since then, I’ve rode the wave of the growing craft beer scene and continued to sample new beers whenever I have the chance. Recently, I tried my 1000th different beer, so I thought I’d share some thoughts and stats from my tour de beer.

Other than the first year when I was just getting into this, I average about one new beer every three days. 2019 was more like 2 every three days as I got closer and closer to the 1000 mark.

December is the month when I try the most new beers which makes sense because I have family members who enjoy craft beer too so we regularly bring new beer to family gatherings.

Dad jumped on the app early on and then Luke joined too. Logan joined later but he’s off to a good start. (Many other friends and family members have joined as well but this chart just shows the top users that I know.)

Ben (blue), Luke (purple), Dad (red), Logan (green)

Untappd has added more and more stops along their scoring slider but I stick to the whole numbers. I devote three values to fairly good beers and only two to the beers I don’t like as much.

5. Excellent beer. Search this out!
4. Great beer. Pick this anytime without regret.
3. Good beer. I would pay money to drink this.
2. Meh. If you hand me this, I’ll drink it but I won’t pay money for it.
1. If you had me this beer, I’ll decline.
0. Gross. I’ll pour this out.

Only a few beers have ever gotten a 0. One is Bud Light Lime and another is some disgusting jalapeno beer that I had at the beer festival. I couldn’t even get through my taster of it.

Overall my ratings follow a pretty normal distribution, skewed slightly toward the higher end which makes sense because I generally drink beers that I think I’ll like.

I started off enjoying mostly ambers and ESBs, but I’ve developed a strong taste for IPAs. Those dominate my fridge these days with New England style IPAs being my absolute favorite. Here is a breakdown of the different styles of beer (where I’ve had at least 10 of them) and the average rating for each one. Inside each category, I generally find both a 1 and a 5. It’s possible to make any style terrible or great.

StyleCountAverage Rating
IPA5463.46
Extra Special123.42
Blonde Ale173.29
Pale Ale1053.27
Pale Wheat Ale142.98
Pilsner322.91
Red Ale482.78
Lager572.19
Stout132.15

My average ratings have increased slightly over the years as I hone in more on the types that I enjoy.

Some people seem a bit skeptical when I rate a beer but countless times I’ve rated a beer and then looked it up to find that I’ve already had the beer… and I gave it the same rating years earlier. The first 100 ratings might be a little wonky as I figured it out, but since then I think I’ve been very consistent.

Finally, let’s look at my favorite and least favorite breweries. For this list I filtered to places where I’ve tried at least 5 different beers. Kevin has the well-deserved top spot!

BreweryAverage RatingCount
GBC – The Good Brewing Company4.3437
Full Sail Brewing Company3.888
Sumerian Brewing Co.3.758
Firestone Walker Brewing Company3.7113
Hop Valley Brewing Company3.6411
Georgetown Brewing Company3.577
10 Barrel Brewing Company3.5019
Lagunitas Brewing Company3.5010
Founders Brewing Co.3.508
Fish Brewing Company3.506

And here are the breweries that consistently make beer that I don’t like:

BreweryAverage RatingCount
Pyramid Breweries2.4212
Elysian Brewing2.1811
BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse2.147
Blue Moon Brewing Company2.086
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)2.0525

This has been an unexpectedly fun hobby. I keep saying that once I get to X different beers, I’m going to stop and just start ordering the ones I love. Maybe I’ll slow down a bit but I really enjoy trying new beers. Cheers!

Fantasy Football 2019 – Season Wrapup

It felt like the Seahawks played a pretty solid game in Philadelphia and they were almost certainly helped out by in-game injuries to key Eagles players. Next week they’ll have an even tougher opponent in Lambeau, but according to the projections, neither of those teams have a great shot at beating the 49ers. Over in the AFC it’s looking like the Ravens will be Super Bowl bound, but it’s the NFL and anything can happen… unless it really is all rigged in which case only the scripted story can happen.

I looked through the stats from this year and found it interesting that Tim dominated the league while only making about a half does changes to his team! I made a lot more transactions (2nd most behind Logan) and got the most points in the league from my signings after the daft:

  • Tim had 2027.1 points from his draft team
  • Ben got 856.51 from post draft acquisitions

After dominating the league last year, Mahomes was solid again this year with 339.04 points but Lamar Jackson crushed everyone with 487.68 which is a whopping 74.48 more than second place! However, that second place scorer is Christian McCaffrey and it’s rare that we get anything other than a QB in our top spots. To find the next non-QB, you have to go down to Michael Thomas in 15th with 300.10 points. You can find the full list here.

Here is wall of glory for our league. Congratulations to Tim for not only taking his first victory, but making his first appearance in the top 3 since 2014 when he finished 3rd. And honorable mention goes to Tyler who has been in the championship game both years in the league!

1st Place2nd Place3rd Place
2019Beer-meKrazy KanuckGoat Ropers
2018RAAAWWWRRRRR!!!Krazy KanuckGoat Ropers
2017Goat RopersKool Aid KidHelmetheads
2016Goat RoperscmdLimeRAAAWWWRRRRR!!!
2015cmdLimeGoat RopersKool Aid Kid
2014cmdLimeTheMountainsBeer-me
2013Goat RopersRAAAWWWRRRRR!!!EndOverEnd
2012Kool Aid KidGoat RopersRAAAWWWRRRRR!!!
2011RAAAWWWRRRRR!!!We Like SportzKool Aid Kid
2010HelmetheadsThe ShockersKool Aid Kid
2009HelmetheadsEnd Over EndiSetty
2008Kool Aid KidTimoteoThe Mountains
2007The MountainsKool Aid KidHelmetheads

And finally, I pulled the full finishing order for every year and calculated some stats for each manager. It’s a little goofy with some people who joined the league for a year or two and left but I’ll leave them in there.

SeasonsWin %Avg RankWorst RankBest RankPlayoff %
Micah10.862.00221.00
Logan100.613.30710.70
Tyler20.612.00221.00
Ben130.593.46810.85
Ryan10.578.00880.00
Austin60.543.83810.67
Tim130.514.62810.54
Andy120.494.33710.42
Luke130.494.77910.46
Dad130.455.54820.38
Jim110.414.91810.36
Nick20.395.00550.00
Ed30.346.67850.33
Kyle40.326.751030.25

I hope to see you all back next year! But if you want out, please let me know as soon as you can because I’ll want to find a replacement.

2019 Year In Review

I feel like I start these off every year by talking about how fast the year went. I still think back to those days in my early 20s when I lived alone and would actually get bored sometimes on the weekends. I can’t remember the last time I was bored. There’s a never ending list to keep me going.

However, since I realize that going full speed all the time isn’t great, I have made a conscious effort to spend more time sitting at the piano every day. Not only is it learning a skill but it’s very relaxing and enjoyable. I’m so thankful that back in 2007, I bought a digital piano (Korg C303) instead of an acoustic one. While it’s not a perfect replacement, there’s no way I could have played so much this year without the ability to plug in headphones. My biggest accomplishment on the piano was learning how to play the first movement of Bach’s Italian Concerto. It was far from concert perfection, but given how far out of my reach it was, I was happy to get it polished to the point that I did.

Elijah started taking lessons too. A piano teacher comes to his school and pull kids out of class for 30 minutes each week for a private lesson. It’s extremely convenient and Elijah is really taking to it well. As with most kids, it’s still difficult to get him to practice every day, but I think he’s having more fun now that he sees the results and can play a few Christmas songs. For his first recital he played Away in the Manger and it went great. I’ll play it with him as a duet in church on Sunday as well.

If you had asked me a year and a half ago where Elijah was going to first grade, I would have said Woodmoor. It’s less than a half mile walk for the two schools that Elijah would use through 7th grade. The proximity to the schools was one of the factors in us buying this house. It’s incredibly convenient and most of our neighbors go there. But… last fall on the marriage retreat, a Pastor suggested that we check out the Missouri synod school up in Lake Stevens. I didn’t even realize there was one and that’s probably because it’s a solid 30-40 minute drive from our house. Elijah repeatedly told us “I want to go to a school where they teach me about Jesus.” After visiting the school and praying a lot about it, we decided to give it a try, and we sure are glad we did! The drive has been even harder than we thought it would be but Tyla is doing a wonderful job with that. She’s also able to volunteer at the school with things like art class, field trips and class parties. So even though we’re probably the family who lives the farthest away, we are feeling like we’re getting connected with their community.

This was the first year that Elijah really started playing organized sports. I thought I’d sign him up for tee ball and was surprised to find out that I had missed that by two years! He went straight into the machine-pitch baseball league. As one of the youngest players on the team, it was a struggle for him to figure out hitting and stay focused, but he loved seeing his teammates regularly and forming a bond with them. He decided he wanted to try it again this year so we’ll see how season #2 goes. This fall he has been in a basketball league too. It’s a fantastic program that is run like a basketball camp that meets once a week in the evenings for 1.5 hours. So the time commitment is much lower than baseball, but he’s constantly learning instead of sitting around during a game wondering if he’ll get the ball or get off the bench. I wish we could find a program like that for every sport that he likes!

Work has been busy for me but also rewarding. There are two patent applications sitting at the patent office right now with my name on them. I met with a lawyer and drew up a patent this spring and then in the fall I was added to the list of names on a patent for a project that I worked on a couple years ago. It will be fun to see if either of those get accepted in a few years.

Tyla and I both lost a grandparent this year. Tyla’s grandma on her mom’s side and my grandma on my dad’s side both passed away. We were thankful that both had a strong faith in Jesus as their Savior so we know we’ll see them in heaven, and we were also thankful that we were able to travel (alone) for the funerals. We were each able to catch up with our respective families.

We took a long summer vacation this year that started all the way out in Maine with a return to Camp Ticawa! We are so thankful to the Abendroths for letting us invade their family time and making us feel so welcome. Elijah fit right in with all the kids and we had a wonderful time. After spending about a week there, we flew to Indiana for a week with my family. So we went from spending lots of time in the lake to spending lots of time in the pool! This trip was extra special as we flew Don out to spend a few days with us as a retirement present for him.

I feel like I haven’t done as many woodworking projects this year, but it’s still a good-sized list: custom thermostat plate, Washington ornaments, mobile strawberry tower, Ticawa sign, loft for Elijah’s bed, Modern Rogue sign, name puzzle, and spaceship. I purchased a CNC machine right around the end of last year and I got a lot more comfortable with it over the year. I have a never-ending list of ideas that i want to try on that machine! Right now I’m working on my hardest project yet which is a dresser out of walnut and cherry. The plans come from Marc Spanguolo in the Wood Whisperer Guild. The plans come with hours of detailed videos showing every step so I’m just plodding along and learning a lot of new woodworking skills. It feels kind of similar to learning that Bach piece on the piano in that this is way over my head but I think if I just keep at it, I’ll be proud of it in the end.

After being the trustee (property maintenance) at church for 7 of the previous 8 years, this year I switched to being an elder. My responsibilities are assisting Pastor with his duties and ensuring that he stays true to the teachings of God’s Word. In addition to the regular monthly council meetings, Pastor has been meeting with the elders twice a month to study through the Grace Abounds book by Daniel Deutschlander. If you already share my faith or if you’re curious to learn more about it, you’d be hard pressed to find a more thorough and pleasant to read explanation than this book.

The final thing I’ll mention from this year is that you may have noticed a decreased presence from me on this site and on social media. I’m getting more and more “itchy” when I think about all the information that our family puts out in the internet. So I made quite a few changes:

  • I unfollowed literally everyone on Facebook (unfollowed, not unfriended.) I no longer feel the urge to check Facebook 5 times a day to see if there is anything new there. When I want to see what someone is up to, I type in their name and go look at their page.
  • I deleted almost all of my comments, likes, photos and posts from Facebook. It would probably have been easier to delete my account but I still find it useful for messaging and events.
  • I’ve been archiving many of my old Instagram posts. That’s a slow process because it’s very manual. The Facebook change was faster because there are some plugins for Chrome that help automate it.
  • I flipped my Instagram account to private and dropped the random followers that I don’t know. My woodworking account is still public though.
  • I post a lot less to Instagram too. I use the Stories feature for random stuff because it disappears in 24 hours and I try to think of the photos that I post as more of a portfolio of pictures or events that I think are extra special.
  • I set almost every pre-2014 post on this site to private. They still exist so if you’re looking for something specific, I can quickly find it and flip it back to public. I’ll probably keep doing that and decreasing the amount of archive that I leave public.

In the past I’ve felt like it was fun to have such a detailed digital record of my life, but now it feels dirty to know how many companies are collecting all that info and using it for their own gain. I’m still a digital packrat at home, but I’m starting to circle the wagons a bit in public.

So now we’re on the verge of 2020… the year I turn the big four oh. I’m thankful for everything that God has provided in 2019 and look forward to seeing how he blesses and challenges us in 2020!

Previous Year In Review Posts: 200320042005200620072008200920102011201220132014201520162017, 2018