Studio711

COVID-19: Day 201

Here we are more than six months into the lockdown and 99.94% of Americans haven’t died from the disease… but that’s still over 200,000 dead Americans. If you look at all the US military deaths in every war/skirmish/conflict of since the end of World War 2, whether it was in combat or not, COVID has still killed more people and it’s clearly not done yet. We’ll probably be able to throw World War 1 into that equation before we’re done.

I haven’t written a post for about six weeks, but the story hasn’t changed much. Every time I think about writing a post I realize that I’ve already said that. So today let’s look back at some quotes from previous posts and see how they held up:

One challenge is that new data is arriving all the time as the world’s scientific community joins forces to figure this virus out. (March 6)

This quote came on March 6 which is one week before my lockdown counter started, but it’s still true today. There’s a lot we don’t understand and the scientific community is still learning. This is never going to end. We’re still learning about how the common flu spreads and that’s been around for 100 years. The one thing clear about this virus is that it is the perfect mix of incubation rate and mortality rate to be smack dab in that gray area where people can argue about it while the bodies pile up.

Humans aren’t great at absorbing the implications of math, especially in two ways that make this a tough problem. First, it’s hard to grasp the speed of exponential growth. … The second math complication is that humans don’t process probability well. (March 14)

Yep. If people understood the data, why would they be pushing back so hard against the lockdown guidance? I realize that my simplistic engineering-brain logic is flawed, but I ask myself this question daily.

Do we all agree that it’s bad if this spreads unabated? … Do we all agree that this spreads very quickly when we don’t do anything about it? (March 24)

I don’t have these questions anymore because it’s very clear that we don’t all agree on these fundamental issues.

In the end, my bar is “If everyone did this, would it be ok?” You can twist that in lots of ways to make anything seem permissible or not, but when viewed honestly and for lack of anything better, it feels like a reasonable starting point. (April 6)

That ethical bar of “if everyone did this, would it be ok?” isn’t my own idea but it always stuck with me as a good guideline. Are you going to die from COVID if you attend a party? Probably not, but it’s clearly not good if everyone did that. Unfortunately, Americans (and sinful humans in general) focus on optimizing for personal happiness.

Now that there is a glimmer of hope, people are starting to think about when we can lift the bans. Short summary: don’t hold your breath. Let’s look at the data. We just peaking now. We’re roughly halfway through this. (April 15)

“Halfway through this”. Nope. Not even close. My new guess is that either we start getting back to “normal” next summer or we live in some sort of hybrid situation for a very long time. I do believe that science will solve this eventually, but it remains to be seen how good the vaccines are, how long they last, and how many people will take them.

What’s the right balance point? I think all we know for sure right now is that “it depends”. With this heavy social and political push to end the lockdown, it feels pretty inevitable that we’re going to start growing exponentially again. Very little has changed since the first growth period. Social distancing is the only tool we have to fight this. … I do think we’re going to oscillate back and forth a bit until we find the least amount of lockdown that keeps us at some sustainable balance of infections and economic pain. I don’t think anybody has the answers about what that balance point is yet so we’ll have to fail a few times as we get it figured out. (April 29)

We’ve seen this play out across the country as various states go through waves alternating of infection and lockdown. The waves are getting smaller but they’re still coming. Here in King County we’ve been through two waves but it’s looking like wave 3 is starting.

As if deciding how to handle things inside my own family wasn’t enough of a challenge, I’m also an elder at church which means I’ve been having a lot of difficult meetings to figure out how to minister to our members…. My main challenge in this was separating out valid Christian needs and desires from political anger and frustration. (June 13)

Being part of the leadership at church is the toughest job I’ve ever had at church. I’m asked to guide people away from human weakness and sin while accepting viewpoints that differ from my own but still align with the Bible.

So in conclusion, as I look back over all these posts, I see lots of data that explains the spread of the virus and the impact it’s having on our world, but I think there’s plenty of that available now. These are the key ones that I look at to form my opinions:

I feel like I’ve made all the points I can make with data showing the spread of the virus and why we as Christians are bound to comply with the lockdown, but I know I can’t change the world. So if I post on this again, it will be because I’ve figured out how to post about the impact this pandemic is having on our family without getting too far into the “why” of our choices. If the why isn’t clear yet, more posts aren’t going to change that.

On a more positive note, school has been a bright spot in our life. We struggled with the decision about whether to send Elijah or not, but after watching the school go through months of preparation for this year and reading through the comprehensive plan they created to comply with all the guidelines, we’re happy to see it going smoothly. Not only are people following the rules but they seem to be doing so willingly and with cheer. It has been a very positive experience.

I struggle with how to wrap up these thoughts, but I want to mention that Pastor is going through a new Bible study series on the Psalms. While we haven’t gotten to Psalm 62 yet, it felt like a fitting way to end this post:

My soul, rest quietly in God alone,
for my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress.
I will not be disturbed.
My salvation and my honor depend on God, my strong rock.
My refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all times, you people.
Pour out your hearts before him.
God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:5-8)

Chest of Drawers

Most of my projects wouldn’t qualify as “fine woodworking”. I use screws to put things together and there isn’t much fancy joinery. Last fall, I set out to create an heirloom quality dresser that Elijah could theoretically keep for life.

Marc Spagnuolo is probably the godfather of YouTube woodworking videos. He’s been doing it for a long time and he offers paid videos which walk through complex projects in an incredible level of detail. For example, this project had five and a half hours of video along with a Sketchup model and cut list.

After a wallet-deflating trip to the hardwood dealer to get the supplies, I carefully set off on my adventure, and what an adventure it was. I knew it would be a challenge but it seemed like I had to learn a new skill at every step. I would hem and haw and think about it and the whole project stretched out for month and months.

But I’m happy to report that about a year later, I’ve finally finished! When I look at it, I see a hundred flaws, but I’m still proud of it. The major issue right now is that the finish I used still smells too much to put clothes inside so I’m going to let it sit for about a month to hopefully get the smell completely gone before we start using it. If it still smells then I’ll probably apply a coat of shellac to the drawers at least to seal them a bit more.

Because people have already asked how much this project cost and some have half/mostly joked about me making another one for them, let me share the rough estimates:

  • Wood: $600
  • Finish: $100
  • Drawer Pulls: $50

So we’re at $750 before any labor and it was an enormous amount of labor for a dad/husband hobbyist woodworker. I’m not building another one. This was my marathon and I’m done.

Along the way I also tried shooting some video and I’ll be editing that together. It’s not going to be any kind of viral hit, but I thought it would be fun to put it on an SD card and tape it to the back of the dresser for him to find at some point down the road.

But for now, I’m very excited to move on to new projects!

Running Recap

Back in early July I set a goal of running once a week for three weeks. I did that and kept going at a leisurely “once a week” pace for nine weeks. It was fun to see how rapidly my pace increased. My best two miles was 9:08/mile. That distance and pace aren’t going to win any races but I was proud of it.

The other goal I’ve always had was to finally run that 8 minute mile that our freshman baseball coach tried to make us run. I succeeded in that and ran a 7:45 mile.

So I’m stopping for now. I never enjoyed it and I don’t want to put money into rain/cold running gear or the time into figuring out how to work around the lack of sunshine. I could see starting it up again next summer and maybe even training for a 5k but for now I’m done. I realize this isn’t a dud of a post but I felt guilty quitting without announcing it since I wrote a post before saying that I was starting.

Kudos to all you runners out there. I now have a better understanding of what you do!

Happy Birthday To Me

This is it. The big 4-0. I wasn’t going to post anything because what do you say at this point, but then I remembered when my dad turned 40. He had a birthday right around the same time as Pastor Hintz and they were born in the same year. Dad helped plan a surprise party for Pastor at our house and then when Pastor arrived, it was a double surprise because while he wasn’t looking, a sign was put up that said “Happy birthday Pastor and Dallon“. Kudos to my mom and Mrs. Hintz who I assume were the masterminds behind that idea.