Casey’s 2021 Playlist

Time dilation during the pandemic has been a very real thing for me. 2021 feels like it’s lasted both 4.3 days and 43 thousand years. And somehow this year’s playlist was crafted during that window and yet is only 43 minutes long.

  1. To Live – Norah Jones
  2. Perfect to Me – Anne-Marie
  3. Good as Hell – Lizzo
  4. I’ll Be There – Jess Glynne
  5. Juice – Lizzo
  6. Walk Me Home – Pink
  7. Cups – Anna Kendrick
  8. Farther We Go (A Capella) – Walk off the Earth
  9. Happy Now – Pentatonix
  10. Better Days – Ant Clemons feat. Justin Timberlake
  11. Epiphany – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (from the Soul Soundtrack)
  12. Just Us – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (from the Soul Soundtrack)
  13. Fate – Rui Fujishiro
  14. Happiness Does Not Wait (2021 Version) – Ólafur Arnalds

Every year’s playlist ends with an instrumental track, but this year features 4 of them. Sometimes when I get really stressed out — which has happened a lot during the pandemic — I’ll go into a dark room, sit on the floor, play those 4 tracks, close my eyes, and just breathe.

You can listen to the songs on Spotify. As always, the order of the songs has been carefully curated. You may not be able to listen to them in order with the Spotify free account.

You can find prior year playlists under the mix cd tag (yes, they’ve been going on that long).

Bye ExtraHop, hello Invitae

I’m excited to announce that I am starting a new job with Invitae as a Staff Software Engineer in their Office of the CTO on Monday, Sept 27th. I’ll be helping teams across the engineering organization solve intractable problems, foster the use of software development best practices, assist with designing performant & scalable architectures, and just rolling up my sleeves and helping out. I’m looking forward to a new challenge on a team with a broad mission.

I’m very sad to be leaving the wonderful people at ExtraHop, in particular my amazing Perf & Tools team. It’s been a fun 2.734 years and I got to work on some company-changing projects like Reveal(x) Cloud, ExtraHop’s first SaaS product, which we developed and shipped in just 4 months. I still heartily recommend ExtraHop as a company.

My last day at ExtraHop is this Friday, Sept 10th then I have two weeks of funemployment before starting at Invitae.

Pottery Journal

I’ve been throwing pottery for ~19 years. Since 2006 I’ve kept a journal of my pieces to help me track them through the multi-staged process and remember what I’ve done for each piece.

I started doing this when I was throwing in teaching studios to track pieces going in and out of the kilns. In teaching and community studios everyone’s dry pieces get put in the same rack to get bisque fired. If you didn’t keep a record of what pieces you had getting fired you would lose them! Similarly everyone’s glazed pieces would get put on the same rack before getting glaze fired which could take many weeks and it was easy to forget what you had coming out of the kilns.

I quickly started adding what glazes I used on each pieces as well, so if something came out particularly good, or bad, I could remember what I had done for next time.

Since I’ve become a home potter I’ve also started keeping track of the clays I’m using. This was less of an issue when working with teaching or community studios where they often only have one white/porcelain and one blush.

As an example, here is a small bowl that I threw recently and the markings on the bottom:

The stylized K (actually a K made with a C — KC, get it?) is my potter’s mark so I know that piece is mine. The pot has the year it was made and a number that I increment for every piece in the year. This was the 18th piece I threw in 2021.

Here’s the journal entry for the piece in the 2021 section:

bowl-journal

My handwriting is horrible, but it includes the number (18), a short description (small bowl with foot), the clay (SEA Mix 5), the dates that it went into the bisque (BI), out of the bisque (BO), a missing date for when it went into the glaze fire (GL), and a final date when I got the finished piece back (F). Perhaps most importantly it includes the glazes that I used (Snow with a splash of Mulberry under) and what I thought of it (Lovely!).

Pieces get added to the journal after they’ve been successfully trimmed since that’s when their life really begins.

While the journal is for me, one of the side benefits is that I will often encounter a bowl that I made for someone and turn it over to see when I made it. And while it’s rare, there have been times where I’ve wanted to replicate (or try to replicate, this is pottery, let’s be realistic) the glazing of a piece and I’ve had the records to duplicate it.

I also laugh at myself thinking that sometime in the far future some art historian will be cataloging my pieces and be able to quip with gusto “oh, a 2013 — this was his black on porcelain period”!

Adult Cherry Cokes

I’ve loved the cherry cokes from Sonic Drive-In forever, but sometimes you want something that has a bit of a kick to it for those pandemic Zoom happy hours. My BFF made this upscale, adult version of a cherry coke which I heartily recommend.

Adult Cherry Coke

Mix the liquid ingredients together in a tumbler and then add the ice.

If you want to make it even better, use drive-in ice (for that real Sonic experience) and top with a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry.

While you may be tempted to skimp and use an inexpensive grenadine like Rose’s, don’t. The pomegranate flavor is what really makes this drink so don’t compromise on it. Similarly those bright red “maraschino” cherries from the grocery store aren’t doing you any favors either — go for the real deal.

Saving my risk points for friends

Since being fully vaccinated as of Memorial Day we’ve enjoyed sharing indoor airspace, hugs, and meals with a few vaccinated friends. While many folks are rapidly ramping back to large groups and ambitious travel, we’re saving our risk points for those more intimate encounters with friends.

Daniel and I have been pretty risk adverse during the pandemic — for our health as well as our community’s — and that’s likely to continue for many more months. We’re eating out a bit, but only outdoors. We still wear masks in the grocery store and continue to limit our time indoors in public. And while I would truly love to hop on a plane and go somewhere, we’ll be staying close to home for the next long while.

Why so reserved if we are both fully vaccinated? Because we know that breakthrough infections happen even if those aren’t life threatening (thanks vaccines!) and Delta is on the rise. And while it appears that breakthrough infections are unlikely to result in long COVID, it’s still a bit too early to tell for sure. Most importantly we want to continue spending time with friends and their young kids who are still not eligible to be vaccinated. I simply can’t risk being an asymptomatic carrier for others.

So while it would be awesome to get back into the gym, see Black Widow in the theater, or see the upcoming Acrobatic Conundrum show at SANCA we’re saving our risk points for spending time with close friends over dinner and board games.

Dear brain: the pandemic isn’t over; get your shit together

I received my first COVID shot on Monday and all week I’ve been fighting my stupid brain. I guess I’ve been buckling down for 13 months with the objective of “just need to get vaccinated”. And now that I’ve gotten one single shot my brain is telling me “woohoo, time to live again!”.

But of course I have 5 more weeks and a second dose before I’m fully vaccinated. And even then life doesn’t “return to normal” as I have several friends who won’t be fully vaccinated by then. Not to mention necessary and sensible precautions to help protect others in our community, including the families of our friends with young kids.

The gorgeous, sunny, warm weather this week has only made things worse, oddly.

All week I’ve been simultaneously delighted and distraught.

Beware the blues after your first post-COVID gathering

We’re all anxiously awaiting being vaccinated and finally getting to visit friends in person after more than a year of social distancing. Be prepared for a bit of an emotional rollercoaster — up and down — on that first post-COVID gathering.

A month ago our good friends K & M reached out and asked if Daniel and I were interested in getting together for several days of visiting, food, board games, movies, and visiting after some mutually-agreed-upon quarantining prior. All 4 of us are fully work-from-home and have been following very similar stringent quarantining protocols for the past year which certainly made things simpler.

Daniel and I readily agreed and we had several Zoom visits discussing what “super-quarantining” (my wording) meant to all of us. We then super-quarantined for 2 weeks before Daniel and I drove out to their place for a delightful 5 days. Our car was loaded with food & board games we got to share with others at the same table.

The visit itself was amazing. By the third day I had, surprisingly, stopped even thinking about the pandemic and analyzing every decision to see if it was a safe one. It was like the Before Times!

While I anticipated some initial anxiety on seeing them in-person (OMG: inside with people without masks!?), and the heady high from eating at the same table, I was not prepared for the extreme emotional drop the day after we got home.

And wow was there an emotional drop! We got home on a Wednesday evening and Thursday was the most depressed I’ve been in a very very long time. It wasn’t any one thing — or maybe it was everything? Maybe it was because I was coming back to being stuck in my house and working from my basement for an unknown number of weeks (months?). Maybe it was because I had a taste of the Before Times and the transition back to the now-COVID Times happened in 12 hours instead of 12 months. Regardless, I was not prepared for it and it was a very dark day.

Friday, the day after, was better. Saturday I felt like a new human being. Actually, I felt better than I had in a very long time and that mental state has stuck with me these past few days. It’s as though I finally remembered what hope was. I remembered what life was like before COVID and the knowledge that something like it was in my not-too-distant future.

When you have your first post-COVID gathering, I hope it is joyous and everything that you were missing for months. Plan to give yourself some space and time a few days after for some transient blues.

A privileged pandemic lament

It’s been over a year now and I am really, truly, missing…

  • hugging my best friend
  • touching people
  • time away from my husband
  • partner acrobatics with my friends
  • running on weekends with my friends
  • having a workday without a Zoom call
  • leaving the house to go to work
  • leaving the house without agoraphobia
  • walking downtown among people
  • eating at a restaurant
  • riding the bus
  • traveling: outside the city, the state, the country
  • having the energy to exercise every day
  • having the energy to get out of bed
  • not feeling overwhelmed by every little problem
  • not wearing a mask

Stepping back from Distributed Proofreaders

After almost 14.5 years it’s time for me to step back from volunteering with Distributed Proofreaders. What was once an enjoyable activity has become a stressor that I simply don’t need 11 months into a pandemic.

In many ways DP has been a lifeline to me at various times in my life, giving me something constructive and meaningful I can do. This was true as I was going through my divorce a decade ago, during my sabbatical, and at the beginning of the pandemic. But the bitching and criticism that comes from virtually any change we make to the site recently has become unbearable. Complaints about changes aren’t new — humans are classically change-averse and our community seems to be doubly-so — but during the pandemic they’ve seemed to have increased in both frequency and volume.

Receiving verbal or written recognition of my work is important to me. Indeed, it’s the best, and easiest, way to keep me happy. While I have often received that type of feedback from Linda, the General Manager, and Sharon, a fellow admin and developer, I don’t usually get that from the rest of the community. Instead, I most often get the opposite. That’s very demoralizing after hours and hours of time spent.

Development Contributions

I’ve been a developer at DP for over a decade and the lead developer for the past 5+ years. Looking back I have to say we’ve collectively come a long way. I sat down and made a list of the most notable and memorable software changes that I was involved in and while there were some new features, almost all of the big changes were ensuring that the software could run on modern middleware.

My most enduring legacy at DP is likely to be that the site continues to function at all and that makes me incredibly happy.

New Features & Capabilities

Site Modernization

Middleware Support

Development Improvements

What’s Next

I’m not sure what stepping back means exactly or what’s next for me, but it’s time for a change. I’ve committed to finishing some of the planned maintenance work (assisting with the phpBB forum upgrade and eventual OS upgrade) and updating documentation. Beyond that, I’m not sure, but decidedly less of the forums and less dev work which results in all the despised changes.

I hope to find some other open source software I can contribute to. I thought perhaps I would work with other DP-adjacent open source projects like getting the Auth_phpBB MediaWiki extension updated to support the latest MediaWiki LTS, except that only took me about 12 hours.