Ugh. Pandemic. Didn’t see that one coming last year.
We’re fortunate to have found many silver linings in the experience. The pandemic has also been difficult, and some of the policy decisions still make my blood boil.
Overall, I think the last year represents a catastrophic failing of public health. Medical science did great; public health not so much.
For example, a human challenge trial is where you quickly determine efficacy for a vaccine by deliberately infecting a small number of volunteers with the virus. I volunteered to participate in one, along with ~39k others around the world. That we didn’t run human challenge trials over the summer, which could’ve enabled mass vaccinations as early as August or September, represents a catastrophic failing of medical ethics.
Much, if not most, of the virus’ spread is caused by asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic transmission. At-home rapid antigen tests, which work much like a pregnancy test, can be used to significantly curtail the disease. They’ve been approved in Europe for months. That rapid antigen tests aren’t widely available in the United States represents a catastrophic failing of our regulatory state.
It’s hard to say what the next few months will bring.
The best case outcome is effective mass vaccination. Vaccine clinics would be open 24/7, everyone would receive a first dose first, and access would be prioritized based on risk.
A worse outcome is a slow, bungled mass vaccination. Vaccine clinics would only open during business hours (and closed during the holidays), second doses would sit in storage for weeks, and access would be prioritized based on union membership.
A horrible outcome is a 1.5x more infectious COVID strain that causes a massive, uncontrollable fourth wave of infections (here’s a follow-up analysis). I really hope this doesn’t happen.
We had a great summer.
One of the highlights was our regular neighborhood happy hour. Every Thursday afternoon, many of our neighbors would gather in the cul-de-sac (socially distanced, of course) and shoot the shit for an hour or two. When Leah and I moved to Tualatin, we felt culturally isolated: hip urban millennials in a conservative backwater. I’m happy to report that, even though we live in suburbia, our neighbors are great people and we enjoy hanging out with them.
We also took advantage this summer of our close proximity to the Tualatin River. At least a couple times a week, we pumped up our SUPs and relaxed for a few hours on the water. The kids loved swimming with their friends. To cap it off, for our 7th anniversary, Leah packed up some Burmese food and we had a dinner picnic on the water.
In August, we packed up a r-pod for a 10 day RV extravaganza. After a couple of days at the beach, we drove east to meet up with the Kistners in Coeur d’Alene. We had a great time biking the Route of the Hiawatha, swimming in the camp pool, and eating yummy food. Then, for the last night on the way home, we boondocked on a sheep farm. Ava and Charlie had a great time feeding and milking the sheep.
To wrap up the awesome summer, Willa joined our family. She’s a total joy and loves exploring, going on long walks, and meeting strangers. It’s funny how people can change. Leah and I never considered ourselves to be dog people; here we are now, with a puppy we love.
Justin and I finally picked a name in January: Upfocus. After spending the year iterating on the product and signing up some customers, we’re headed towards a public launch next month.
Overall, I’m still achieving the goals I set out for myself. Although we’ve set and missed various milestones along the way, we’re making steady incremental progress and enjoying the journey. The question for the coming year is whether we can find traction…
According to Goodreads, I read 32 books over the year (not quite hitting my original goal of 35). Of this set, my favorites were:
- Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America. If you live in a blue state, Dignity is required reading to better understand America. Both the words and pictures are deeply moving.
- The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World. An engaging, eye-opening read. Truman might be the most underrated president ever.
- Three wonderful collections of sci-fi short stories: Exhalation, Stories of Your Life and Others, and The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories.
A special shout-out to Erik Larson this year. His tellings of history are reliably enjoyable, let it be the rise of Hitler, Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister, or America’s entry into World War 1.
According to Strava, I ran 774.6 miles in 126 runs (average of 6.15 miles per run). Funny enough, this is pretty close to what I did last year (775 miles in 121 runs). In the last several weeks, I’ve dialed down to ~2 runs/week as I rack up the miles on my treadmill desk.
According to TripIt, I traveled 6,108 miles in 12 days on 3 trips. The big one was Mexico City in the Before Times. I also visited Justin once, and skied with Albert and Will in Utah just before everything hit the fan.
Like everyone else, my main hope for the foreseeable future is the continued health of my family.