#Ramblings

You Need To Pay Better

So the good news is that things are stating to get better. The pandemic is starting to abate now that vaccines are widely available in the United States. Hopefully they will continue to be effective against the new strains that are emerging, and all evidence suggests that they are. Hopefully things will continue to improve around the world as well. Also equally good news is, with the pandemic abating, we can start to return to a more normal state. But many of us are emerging into a new world, one where it is basically impossible to buy a house because demand for houses is outpacing supply and where the costs of many things are going up due to scarcity. One of the interesting things I have noticed is that some businesses, and this seems to be predominantly fast food and restaurants, are having a hard time hiring people. Some have even shut down because they can’t find employees. What is happening here?

We Want To Build!

Yesterday, Marc Andreessen, one of the more influential Silicon Valley investors, dropped an essay on the Andreessen-Horowitz blog called It’s Time To Build. I read it with a sense of bemusement because, like most things that come out of wealthy elites, and especially wealthy coastal elites (and especially wealthy Silicon Valley elites), it is filled with the myopia that can only come from spending far too much time in a bubble disconnected from what’s going on in the rest of the world. In short, the main thesis of his essay is that we’ve stopped building “things,” which, in this context is housing and medical devices but can more broadly be interpreted as a loss of civilizational inertia, because we stopped “wanting them.”

Mourning

There was a great article that was recently posted by the Harvard Business Review that I think bears some very important consideration by everyone. Stress is easy to identify, and we are all certainly stressed. The predictability of our daily lives has been interrupted. Many of us have lost jobs, faced furloughs or pay cuts. Our kids are home from school. We’re worried about our families catching this disease, and ourselves as well. We’re all stuck together in this purgatory of waiting for this crisis to play itself out with no idea of what kind of world waits for us on the other side. We know that this will end - all pandemics eventually do - but we’re going to emerge from our shelters into a changed world. My wife and I have spent the last couple of weekends cleaning out closets. It kind of feels like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic at times, but it also keeps my mind occupied for the most part and keeps it from going into pretty dark places. And hey, my closet is now the cleanest it’s been since we moved. But every so often my mind ends up going there anyways. Such as from seeing a pile of T-shirts.

Some Thoughts On COVID-19

If you ask people over a certain age, they can always tell you where they were when they found out about 9/11. I was a sophomore at Auburn, and my first class that day was at like 1pm, so I enjoyed the great collegiate tradition of sleeping in. Usually when I wake up the first thing I do is check my email. It’s still the first thing I do. That morning my inbox was full with messages on the fraternity mailing list, with things like “pray, a lot of people are dying today.” I turned on the TV just minutes before the first tower collapsed. Stayed glued to the TV the rest of the day. News coverage was on every channel, even Discovery Channel. Class was cancelled. I went and filled up my car in case I needed to drive the 250 miles back home to Tennessee. That evening I was in the SGA office in Foy Student Union folding thousands of little yellow ribbons for a very hastily organized memorial service on Samford lawn a few days later. We listened to President Bush’s speech on a small boombox in the office. I feel like I have been living that day over and over again for the last two weeks.

Some Work From Home Tips For Your COVID-19 Isolation

I’ve been working from home occasionally for probably close to ten years now, and full-time for the last few months. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many more people are now getting to enjoy (I guess?) the privilege of working from their homes during the crisis. If there is one thing that I hope comes out of this whole miserable period it is the understanding that there are a lot of people out there have jobs that really don’t need physical presence in an office building. And if they don’t need to be in an office, maybe they don’t need to live in an expensive city either. This could be the beginning of a whole new boom for small and mid-sized cities with affordable costs of living. Maybe you can afford a house after all! And maybe companies don’t need to lease out an expensive building in an expensive city, fill it to the brim with people in open floor plans or (even worse) hot-desking to do the work they need to do. It’s an even bigger win for disabled and non-neurotypical people who often struggle to work in the modern knowledge workforce despite their skills. For people with autism, ADHD, and other related conditions, modern open offices or cubicles are a difficult work environment whereas the home environment may offer much more safety and control. If this is your first time doing this, it may seem a bit odd, even naughty, to be working without commuting to an office building. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of things I have observed over the years of working from home to help you get a feel for what this is like.

A Fresh New Look

Welcome to the new, freshly redesigned robpeck.com! It’s amazing how you can become used to a design. It becomes like a warm coat. You love the predictability, you spent a lot of time getting the fonts right, getting the layour right, and everything is just perfect. That was the case with this site, that was pretty much exactly how it was way back when I migrated the site from Wordpress to Jekyll in 2013. To put that into perspective, my daughter was not even a year old yet. Barack Obama was just one year into his second term, the iPhone 5S had just dropped a month earlier, the first 4K TVs were shown off at CES. A long time has passed. And then the years pass. New devices and browsers appear. New technologies become available, and cruft builds up. In this case, a simple task of “I need to add a box to the site so that people will quit trying to use the comments for tech support and go to Github instead” became a full scale burn it down and start again redesign. So, aside from the new design, what else has changed?

Just Take The Train

I love flying. Always have. Ever since my first flight as a kid, there was just something magical about getting into a giant metal bird and taking to the sky. I say was because it seems like, especially over the last decade or so, we have gone out of our way to make flying as miserable an experience as possible. The “golden age” of air travel is long behind us and flying is now just a completely miserable experience. And it pains me to say that because I used to love flying. I loved airports, watching planes, feeling the potential of all the places you could go. But now, it is just an objectively awful experience.

The 2018 MacBook Pro Sucks

I’ve been an Apple fan for a long time. My first laptop was a Powerbook 5300cs, purchased secondhand at the Auburn University Surplus Auction. I’ve been using Apple equipment exclusively since 2007. My desktops and laptops are all Apple, I use AppleTVs exclusively for streaming, I carry iPhones and iPads. If it has a shiny Apple logo on it, I’ve probably bought one. So it pains me to write this post, but… The 2018 MacBook Pro sucks. There. I said it.