sometimes things happen fast

I guess there’s not really any need to document the progress of COVID-19 and various government and business and populace response to it in general. The situation here in the St. Louis suburbs is about the same as in many places, give or take minor variations in timing and in strength of response.

There was no official word from my company until literally just now, after I started writing this post: “The office will remain open and we are preforming business as usual until further notice.  We are constantly monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and will send an email if anything changes. We ask that you stay home if you are sick and communicate with your supervisor.”

I find this pretty frustrating. I don’t believe our business has any actual barriers to working from home. We already have four remote employees on three continents. But maybe now that something’s been said, I won’t have an anxiety attack once or twice every workday like I was for a while. It’s very weird here at the office complex and surrounding plaza; the parking garage is more than half empty, the restaurants are grim and mostly empty and smell strongly of bleach. “Business as usual” seems very unusual right now.

And yes, I feel weird about having an album called Shelter In Place. I was thinking of environmental-related threats and the general political climate. I thought about pulling it from my Bandcamp, but I don’t think I will.

In the music world, I recorded a bit more for the castle album, rejected one, and really like where the others are going. I’ve got a patch idea I’m eager to try, with multiple FM oscillators playing off each other.

In gaming, I’ve gradually worn my Steam Controller’s left stick down to a lopsided lump and replaced it with an XBox One S controller. The feel is a bit different, with longer throw on the trigger buttons, but my hands are getting used to it. Unfortunately in Dirt Rally 2.0 I’m stuck in the Elite class for career championships — due to a lucky win in the H1 class in Pro — and subsequently coming in 25th place out of 30 didn’t bounce me back down to Pro. So I’m kind of avoiding that mode and trying to fill in other driving modes instead. I might wind up walking away from the game for a while to go with Project Cars 2 or something, despite its flaws.

I also started playing Black Mesa, now that it’s officially finished. This is probably my the 4th or 5th play through one variation or other of Half-Life 1, including an earlier and much less finished iteration of Black Mesa. The initiatory tram ride felt a little wrong, with different music and a different voice, but it’s nice having more up to date graphics, additional dialog etc. With the graphics settings I’ve been using, the flashlight has problems with shadows and sometimes is utterly useless, but at least it can be turned on continuously.

In an interlude between Expanse novels at the point where the TV show has covered and where it hasn’t gone yet, I’ve inserted a couple of other books. One of them was Racing the Beam, a book about Atari VCS/2600 development from the perspective of “platform studies” and how various platforms affect creative arts. The VCS was really a super-primitive machine, designed mainly to play Pong and Tank and similar simple two-person games which is what people imagined games would be, with a lot of cost-cutting that probably multiplied development costs considerably. The variety of games that were accomplished on it, and the precedents set for video game genres, are really a testament to the ingenuity of programmers that Atari wanted to keep anonymous and relatively unrewarded (leading to the creation of Activision, who really pushed the envelope).

Now I’m reading Two Cheers for Anarchism, a social science professor’s “fragments” of thought on anarchism. He doesn’t avoid criticizing its shortcomings and pointing out the inherent paradoxes, while also praising its good points, and it’s been an interesting read so far.