Frostpunk

I picked up this game a while ago based on Syncaine’s recommendation / praise.  I played about 2 hours, couldn’t make heads or tails of the systems, and moved to something else.  I knew that it was a mash of crisis simulator / city builder, and what better time to play that than now!?

Premise is simple – its the 1800’s, the world is frozen over, and you’re leading a small group on rebuilding a single city.  Steampunk + extreme cold = wordplay.  The actual gameplay is a spreadsheet manager, where your pivot table keeps messing up.  But it looks pretty.

Where normal city builders have you starting small, and the only real chance at failure is a lack of funds, Frostpunk has you in a continual downward spiral of not having enough resources.   While doing A, B suffers and vice versa.  You end up doing a bit of A, moving to B before it gets critical, then back to A before that gets critical.  When you think you have a handle on it, the game throws in something to mix it up.  Either it gets so cold no one can work, a bunch of injured people show up, the population demands resources, or a long list of other items.

Resources are managed through an underlying source of heat.  The generator in the middle of the map provides heat for those nearby, and humans can’t work if it’s too cold.  There are many ways to improve this – either more heaters, hubs, insulation, overdrives.  They all consume coal, which you need to harvest.  Building / research material is a combination of wood and steel, also things to harvest.  Food you need to hunt (and a TON of it), then cook it.  You need people to do all of this, and you rarely have enough of them.

One add-on here is automatons. These robots can replace humans gathers, work 24/7, and don’t need heat.  Making them requires a core, which is a very rare resource.  If you get enough of them, and the right buildings, you can basically huddle down the humans permanently.

These things are painful, yes, but they are not game breaking.  If 90% of your population died, that wouldn’t be game over.  Instead there are two larger metrics – Hope and Discontent.  The former is how people feel about their chances of success, and there are a ton of variable to make it move.  Discontent is how upset people are with the current state – too cold, not enough food, bad laws, criminals and the like.  If Hope reaches 0 or Discontent reaches max, you lose.

Every in-game 18 hours, you can pass a new law.  Either these are Adaptation laws (thin the food, make children work, bury the dead) which have very long term consequences, or they are Faith / Order laws which primarily govern Hope / Discontent.  This part gets neat, and quickly.  You may think you are a good leader, and would try to help everyone.  But when you don’t have enoguh food for half the population and a group of 30 show up at your door… do you have everyone starve to death?  Do you make people work a 24 hour shift so that there’s heat for everyone through the night?  Do you triage the sick, so that only those with a strong chance survive and the rest pass?

Or maybe discontent is so high that you need to pass laws on protestors, and publicly execute someone.  Maybe you become a prophet for the city and simply avoid discontent altogether, as anyone who doesn’t follow you is exiled.  Are there bad choices when it comes to survival?

So that’s the real goal of the game – letting you try your hand at managing a non-stop crisis.

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The gameplay itself is generally solid.  The graphics represent the activities going on, people picking up wood, or heading out to hunt.  You get heat and religion overlays.  You get to see where people are working.  You’re presented with generally enough data to show what’s going on at any given point.  What you don’t see are the things that are about to happen.  If you’re in the day, maybe that part of the city is warm enough, but at night it will freeze the bones of someone.  Maybe half the people in a building are sick, dropping productivity.  And when people get sick, that has a cascade effect on others… production slows, other people get sick, and then woosh.

The game does a decent job at explaining what a Law will do, in the immediate sense, but doesn’t really go into the long term effects.  Child daycare may seem a great idea, but then you realize they eat all your food, live in the least insulated buildings, and don’t produce anything – ever.  Like a near permanent hole in the dam.

The game also doesn’t do a very good job explaining what the buildings do, or how it impacts the long term city viability.  Hunting huts never require heat, but you’d never know until you turned heat off for them.  Cooking huts require TONS of heat.  Mines can be rotated before building to make them much more accessible.  Roads… holy crap it took me forever to realize how to build them.  What’s the difference between a Coal Mine and a Coal Thumper?  Is a Wall Drill better than a Sawmill?  How does exploration work?

It is hard to articulate how important these items matter.  If you’re going into this cold (heh), you can’t make educated decisions.  You will fail, multiple times.  The initial 3 days have cascading effects for the rest of the game.  Passing laws before you need them has by far the largest of all consequences.  Ignoring research + related buildings focuses your resources on much better things.  Building “permanent” hot zones for residents, and working “hot zones” for gathers has a major impact on coal management.

From a gameplay perspective, it is incredibly frustrating not to have that balance ahead of time, or the information at hand.  From a simulation perspective, it makes total sense.  People managing a crisis rarely have all the facts at hand.  You can only prepare so much for a crisis, and once it hits, you realize how everything is so interconnected.   You’re going to have protestors who are thinking about themselves rather than the city.  You’re going to see really hard decisions made, based on the goals of the person making those decisions.

My first successful playthrough (I failed a half dozen times before) had over 600 citizens, 1 death, laws focused on hope (extended shifts, child shelters, amputation, soup), and a faith-based hope system, without New Faith (where hope is replaced with devotion).  I won’t lie, the mechanics and planning required to get to this point where substantial.  At the end of the scenario (~12 hours), you get a video of your city building over time.  When it was over, I felt relief and some measure of pride.  I did it, the way I wanted to.

Coping with Chaos

Blapril is around, and I was totally in the dark, for reason explained later.  What was initially seen as a long weekend has moved into purgatory.  First world problems abound here, where mental stress is taking a toll.  (I say this, because there are people arguing to get haircuts… which is just, wow.)  The good news of living in Canada is that there is a heck of a lot of financial support for those who are struggling – far from perfect, but it’s there.

Dealing with this is a personal thing and depends a whole lot on your social context.  I come from a lower-middle class background, where money was tight.  I’ve had to make interesting decisions on food vs having a roof.  From that, I don’t put a lot of value in material things (acquiring them), and tend to maintain the heck out of them and try to repair rather than replace.  I brown-bag my lunch, make my own coffee, that sort of stuff.  The majority of my expenses relate to social settings – like having a beer after a hockey game.  My household budget is a tight spreadsheet.  Organized without being anal about it.

My day-job is a non-stop sequence of meetings, often conflicting.  I wake up in the morning, review my calendar, mentally prep for each, then just cascade through them.  It’s highly structured, and I have more work than time.  If you’ve read the 7 habits of highly effective people, that would describe my ability to get through a day.  I’ve further taught myself to speed read, and all this online gaming and blogging has a neat benefit of a crazy high words-per-minute typing ability. Within those work hours, I’m a highly regimented and effective person.

Outside of work, there’s the eternal list of to-dos.  For the winter, it’s hockey (2 kids + me) about 10 times a week – which is close to 25 hours if you include travel/prep.  There’s other kids activities, social events, prepping food, chores, projects, and piles upon piles of things.  When you’re in it, it seems normal.  Looking back, the reality is that there was perhaps 2 nights a week where things were open – and we worked to fill them.  Having an entire day off, that was like a vacation!

Today, work is pretty much the same, except my commute time is measured in seconds instead of minutes.  I need to switch from work to home mode, multiple times.  Up until this last weekend, it was close to 7 days a week of work.  Trying to help kids with their own work is crazy, and my wife is doing an amazing job at that (on top of her work as a teacher).  Time outside of work is harder to juggle, since I’ve now got no extra activities, and limited options for the social stuff.  I’ve had to include a new workout regime to compensate for the lack of sports (that’s working out rather well, if I havent’ had a 12 hour work day).  We take more time to prep meals, often eating much later.  Time just seems to be flying.  Most nights past 9, I’m on some game trying to ramp the brain down from the day’s events.

My mental stress is not due to finances.  There are no health issues.  Food is still relatively easy to access.  It’s not due to boredom.  It’s not cause my wife cuts my hair (which is pretty sweet, and my mustache is kick butt). It’s due to having an even busier schedule than before, and a lack of previous social outlets.  It’s managing other people’s stress in the house, and helping them cope.  The super mega great news on that front is that I love my wife and kids, and being locked up with them is cool.  Getting to spend more time with them is a damn perk.

There are days that are tougher than others.  Where work just drains me completely.  I let the wife and kids know (they aren’t mind readers, at least I hope not), and they 100% respect that and let me recharge.  I get back into it.  I’m conscious that my situation is likely the best of nearly all possible variables.  I’d sure as heck like to get out of this house and have a pint on a patio, but all things considered, I’m in a really good spot.

 

 

Jurassic Park Was Prescient

The first Jurassic Park had a really cool hook.  It was a new idea, what with opening a park with giant monsters that would love nothing more than to eat things a 1/10th their size.  What could go wrong?  Turns out, people.  Chaos ensues, the dream dies.

Then the sequel jolts that idea back.  And the plot point for each successive entry is “it won’t happen again THIS TIME“, which of course it does.  Watching those films, you’d have to wonder why anyone would even remotely think it was viable to run a park like this.  What would drive people to invest money on what is near certainly going to be a death machine?

Turns out I was wrong.  The prospect of money is more important than being alive.  Turns out people need haircuts more than they need their aunt to live.

Man am I happy to be Canadian.  Too cold for dinosaurs.

Living With Less

Canada isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly showing some nice colors during this mess.  For a long while we even had cooperation between the opposing political parties, pushing to get things through.  Then, as politicians are naturally invested in taking credit and shifting blame, one in particular started taking a combative approach.  It’s interesting since that party at the national level was getting good cred for making politics work, so this is a weird turn.  Even in Ontario, our premier seems to have learned that lesson.  Despised to an insane level, COVID appears to have broken his shell and make him actually appear human.

The problems for each are similar, and they’ve all had to take really hard decisions these past weeks.  There’s no perfect answer, and a lot of people are negatively impacted.  There are a couple good programs at the federal level – CERB gives $500 a week to individuals, and CEBA gives businesses loans and covers salary payments.

(The US in comparison is giving $1200 total to individuals, and their business bail-out… well if people actually understood it, that’s what they’d be protesting.)

I don’t want to sugar coat all the bad stuff up here.  The nursing homes are really badly hit.  The oil industry has pretty much been hit it’s death blow.  Many businesses based on physical presence (tourism for many) are never going to be able to make up lost time.  A lot of people who invested for their retirement…they’ve seen a lot of it go away.

But in all there is some silver lining.  Through hardships, people reconsider their priorities.  A lot of folks are in their house 24/7 with people they barely saw prior.  The “need” to work crazy hours is being critiqued.  Discovering the joys of home cooking rather than eating out every day.  Talking to your wife and kids and realizing how cool they are.  Being able to survive, even thrive, without all the daily incidentals we were growing used to.

COVID isn’t gone, it’s that social distancing is dramatically reducing the number of people catching it.  Getting back to “normal” is something that will take a very long time so as not to cause additional flare ups.  Mass gatherings of people are going to be highly scrutinized – sporting events, cruise ships, buffets, things of that sort.  The question really becomes – are people going to miss those things enough to want to go through the hassle of attending them?  Some for sure, yet dollars to donuts that this crisis is going to have much larger social implications.

And hopefully everyone comes out of this with a new found respect for health care workers and our teachers.  There are plenty of other folks that help make society run, but these two rarely get any recognition.

Echo Chambers

Right, so off the edge a bit here.  The insanity of the news cycle is really getting to me.

 

Men in Black has one particular quote that has struck me for a long time.

A person is smart, people are dumb.

We’ve all been teenagers, and peer pressure certainly was a driver for some dumb stuff.  I figured this would stop applying once people get educated and mature. Not so much.

This behavior isn’t always bad.  Think of a comedy club.  It’s a whole lot easier to laugh if other people are laughing.  Or a concert, where you will sing along if other people are as well.   Heck, any professional sport event fits this (football in Europe is notorious for this).

The anti-vax movement is a solid example of dumb.  This really sucks because the people in the movement already have their vaccines – they are putting their kids at risk.  The large bursts of whooping cough in these groups is both preventable and infuriating.  The sort of good news out of this is that during the COVID pandemic, you don’t find too many of them making headlines.  The ones you do end up being religious nuts who end up dying.

There’s the never ending ‘pills and herbs’ groups that are sold to cure everything.  Canada has some interesting laws to prevent this model from working as compared to other countries, but it’s still impressive to see folks hawking snake oil cures.  Clearly people are desperate and looking for any option.  Hot Dog Water is the natural conclusion to this madness.

I had a born again friend try to convince me that the world was 5,000 years old and presented me ‘scientific material’ to prove his point.  Event horizons were used to explain light from stars that were far away.  At the time I was studying computer engineering in university, and first year physics was enough to debunk nearly every argument.  But I had that information, he didn’t.

The 5G conspiracy is the new one, where people are burning towers cause they think it’s the cause of COVID.   Just… wow.

The Need

There’s no way to avoid these groups from forming.  Some of them start off as jokes (Birds aren’t real) and develop a cult following.  Some start off as small ideas and then blow up to crazy levels as people make more and more outlandish justifications.  Obfuscation is a main tool to keep people hooked, where the reasoning behind the actions are so complex that people just give up and accept the answer.

Yet all these people involved have a fundamental need to know.  Maybe they have a basic question and a rat hole develops that they can’t get out of.  Maybe they have a fundamental need to belong and stay with the group that shares one fundamental thing in common and just ‘learn to accept’ the other stuff.  Maybe a life event occurs and the group that provides the most support is also the most fringe.  That need will never go away.

The Echo

Ignore social media for a minute and let’s say you’ve found like minded people.  To get more information about the movement, you need access to the mouthpiece’s information.  That occurs through local events (rallies) or through distributed media.  It’s a slow burn, with ferverous spikes when people meet.  Since those events are relatively spread out, the people are interacting with other people in other times.  Cults saw this as bad, and the worst prevent socializing with people outside the group (Scientology much?)  If you can talk to other people, you’re exposed to other ideas, and that generally means you ask more questions.  Questions are good for the person – bad for the nut movement.

Add in social media now.  It’s a 24×7 surround sound box of nutjob videos, podcasts, and streams.  Social media algorithms make recommendations that just drag you farther down the rabbit hole.  If you find a ‘5G causes COVID’ video, it’s not because you were looking for it – it’s because an IT system recommended it to you.  And if you view it, the other recommended videos will be in a similar vein.

There are plenty of reports and studies on the far-right movements that took wind in the last 5 years.  Nearly all of them fueled by smart people taking advantage of social media.  Think about it for a second.  Of the people you meet every day, the amount you consider ‘special’ should be relatively small.  But there’s enough of them out there to make people some money.  Using tools like Facebook or Twitter to focus your message on these people is much more effective that say, auto-dialers or mail outs.  And once you have their attention, it costs pennies to drive out new material to keep them coming back.

The telltale sign of this behavior is the hypocrisy of the group.  Rather than operate on a set of ethics and rules, they work on social order.  It’s an Us vs Them mentality.  The Us part can do whatever we want, and often the ‘leader’ is allowed extraordinary leeway. Megachurches around the world ask for tithes so their leaders can buy jets.   But the people outside the church are all greedy.  My leader is a king, but their leader is a dictator.  Uh huh.

The Cure

There is only ever one cure, and it’s sunshine.  People get educated.  People use researched facts.  People stand up to scrutiny.  People need to meet other people and share their ideas.

My born-again friend from earlier realized that he had lost his entire circle of friends.  The ‘church’ he was with restricted him from doing almost everything he enjoyed doing.  When his kids started asking questions as to why their family was different than others, that’s when it started to click.  He made a choice to step away from that cliff.  He still practices, just with a more open minded group.

Instead of focusing on the group, we need to focus on the people.  It’s not possible to destroy an idea with facts, the people in that group are immune to facts.  But you can focus on the person, and their needs and values.  There’s enough converted white nationalists to prove that model works.

A person needs to feel valued and that they belong.  A person is smart.

 

 

The Load

I’ve been in what’s affectionately called a “war room” since Monday.  It’s a permanent conference call to monitor and address issues.  If you’ve never done one, then I hope it stays that way.

My part to play in this is the technical aspect, enabling contact points to a service line.  Also, ensuring that service line has the tools in place to connect. I am simplifying it at the higher level.  In more practical terms it means shipping thousands of devices to people’s homes (since that’s where they work from now), ensuring they all have the right features  and configurations, and that the “pathways” to connect function under load.  I don’t manage how many people, or what those people do.  Thankfully.

On Monday, my part saw 7 million people try to consume the service.  Based on standard volumes, that’s a near 5000% increase.  If my normal day was a bathtub, Monday was 5 Olympic swimming pools.  A few red lights went off and we were able to sort them out with some very smart people around the line.  The good news is that at the technical level, the system generally worked as expected.  The bad news is that there were wayyyyy more people calling than people able to take calls.  The next good news bit is that my clients had enabled other options than a phone line, and those services worked as expected.

It’s been 3 weeks of crazy days to prep for this, and it’s great to see that part work.  It’s an astounding amount of work in a short period of time, and I’m quite aware that this has taken a major toll on people’s health.  I know I’ve been having trouble just putting sentences together.  But that is a minor hiccup compared to what the people calling in need to deal with.  It’s been motivating to know that the end result is going to help millions of people in a time of crisis, more than enough to have people push well beyond what they thought they could do.

After having done this 3 times now in the past 8 years, I’m starting to wonder if I’m just a glutton for punishment, or a bad luck charm.  Few people ever see 1 event like this in their entire career.  Not out of the woods yet.  Still… it’s time for some rest.

Baking as Stress Relief

I have fairly vivid memories of being a kid and sitting and watching my great grandmother baking.  We’d be at the cottage, go out and pick wild berries and she’d end up baking us a pie.  I’d have aunts baking patés.  Tarts.  Sugar pies.  Pêtes de soeurs.  Cookies as far as the eye could see.  My fascination with Lemon Meringue Pies.

When I grew up, I inherited my grandmother’s baking recipes – thousands of them.  Some slow efforts to get through that. I still have a Christmas habit of baking gingerbread cookies, and giving baking gifts to friends.

I bake when I’m stressed.  I know it’s a coping mechanism. The eating part is certainly fun, but it’s the act of making that’s cathartic.  I didn’t really clue into why at first.  Now I think I get it.

Baking is as much science as it is art.  You need the right quality ingredients, in the proper amounts.  Day of year makes a difference, as humidity can make a heck of a difference, so weight is often better for dry ingredients.  You need to mix them in the right order, in the right fashion or you’ll get different results.  Just dumping it all into a pot gives you lumps.  The actual baking part needs a good oven, with even heat distribution (oh boy does convection make a difference).  An extra minute of baking can make a soft cookie get a crunch.

The art part is the difference between a baker and a grandmother.  I have recipes that have no weights, just ingredients.  Others that ask for a fistful of something.  And let’s be honest here, there’s the love factor that goes into this that just changes the overall recipe.  Cripes, I’ve done the exact same recipe when I was in a good mood and a bad mood and got completely different results.  Just the other day, my bread didn’t rise a damn inch.

The main stress relief factor is time.  It’s not possible to rush baking. You can’t put 5 people in a kitchen and go 5 times as fast.  The oven is only so big.  Cooking at a higher temp will burn the sugar.  If I want to make Ginger Snaps, I know it’s going to take me 90 minutes from start to end.  That’s 90 minutes of zen.  90 minutes + where the house just smells amazing.  90 minutes where I’m not being bothered with anything else.

That’s likely why more people are baking now.  Sure, it’s harder to just go and pick up bread, but people have oodles of time to bake.  Even those working from home likely have 2 hours that is free from not commuting.  I’ve been doing 12 hour days for what seems 3 weeks now, still find some time to get it done (heck, making time).  I don’t have hockey 6 times a week.  Kid activities are cancelled.  All I have is time, and some simple ingredients.

Time to bake some love.

Building a New Routine

I’m used to working from home, at least in the concept of only me being at home.  The schedule works out, I’m on calls most of the day, and work gets done.  The office life is good too, as there’s a lot of social and serendipitous discussion.  I get a more horizontal view of everything that way, and the social links are great.  Each has an advantage.

Working from home with 2 kids and my wife is a different challenge.  If I was working “normal” hours, then it would be challenging but doable.  Now though, it’s 7 days a week of work.  It’s not balanced at all, and the kids need something to keep them from going crazy.  Wife too!

The 4 of us sat down on a Sunday and mapped out the weekday activities for the kids.  They are both in school, so they are used to 1hr blocks of activity.  They get math, language, art, science, social studies, and reading throughout the week.  There are free periods, lunch and breaks too.  So from 9am til about 3:30pm they are in school.  That works most of the time, but they still need some direction/help as well as the social aspects.  My wife works next to them, and she’s in a better situation to answer than I, but it’s still hard for her to get work done with interruptions.  Trying to sort that out.

Thankfully we had invested in learning material a ways back, and there are plenty of online tools we can use too.  They are both pretty good with computers, what with Google Classroom being used already.  I’m quite proud of them playing their part in this new normal.  We try to fit in some video chats with their friends/family every day so that they get some social bits still working.

Wife’s schedule is still being sorted out.  She’s a teacher, and personally calling each family to make sure they are OK and have what need to connect for learning tools.  At 15m per call…that takes days to get through.  After that, then it gets into building new plans for the classrooms.  There’s no real chance school comes back before the summer break… so as much prep work they can do now, the better off in the fall.  (Side note – hopefully this shakes up the teaching profession to the reality of 2020 kids.)

My routine is almost hermit like.  My first call only starts at 8:30, so I have time to take a coffee and catch up on the emails I’ve missed since the night before.  I’m on 6-10 calls a day, up til 4 or 5.  Then it’s catching up on the admin side of work, and emails / IM.  My last check in is around 10pm.  Then the groundhog day starts over.  I have a home gym, and can work out over lunch.  I make/help out with supper.  Then a few hours at night with the kids, before they head to bed.  I’m managing, but it’s not sustainable.

And on April 6th, I expect that in Canada most of my work is going to take the largest beating in history.  We’re already beating records left right and centre.  I’m betting on a 5000% increase on normal volume, since we were just short of 3500% on Monday.

Long story short, kids are doing better than expected, wife is adapting, and I’m surviving.  I have another 2 weeks of insane chaos to get through, and then things should “stabilize” in the sense of not having a new crisis develop.  Fingers crossed.

Stay sane folks!

Empathy for the Extraverts

Blogging moved down in priority these last few weeks.  I know it’s a good outlet, so I am getting back into that habit now.

Start with some interesting stats.  I work in an essential field, and it provides national services, which enable critical functions.  One of those functions’ peak consumption went from a value of 150,000 to 1.7m on Monday.  The expectation is that on April 6, that number will triple.  I’ve gone through crisis management in the past, the longest period was 6 months of pretty much 24/7 workload.  This is different – the impacts of not delivering are personal and in nearly all facets, of higher criticality.  tldr: appreciate the people that let you keep some sense of normal.  Garbage pickup, cellular networks, internet, health care, grocery clerks, and more.

Introvert Heaven

I’m a natural introvert, and I’ve learned how to manage that aspect in order to be social.  Quarantine is an introvert’s heaven, pretty much what they dream of.  You can work from home and provide a lot of value, manage your schedule, stay away from people, self-resource.  All great stuff.  Many introverts can fill in the social needs through calls/text/chat/video.  Not to say this isn’t a hard situation, but introverts certainly are best tooled to manage this.

Extrovert Troubles

In the general sense, extroverts need to be around other people.  They often struggle with working from home, so that isolation is really hitting them hard. Really hard.  Some of my friends are showing signs of depression now, and we’re barely 2 weeks into this mess.  There’s a loss of self-worth when the social aspect goes away.  Combined with the added stress of the world right now (health & finance)… it is really bad.

We’re taking all these large steps so that people do more than simply survive this period.

Simple Steps

In short, introverts need to teach extroverts some coping mechanisms.   There are dozens of things that we do that extroverts need to start doing.  Not all of it, but with enough options they’re bound to find something that works for them.  Maybe they pick up art, learn a new instrument or language.  Maybe they start writing.  Maybe they get board games going over video chat.  They need to find meaning and purpose in their days.

Introverts also need to come out of their shells and reach out.  Every day.  Make a point of having contact with other people (at least voice) multiple times a day.  Set up regular events with friends and family to have joint chats.  Let the other person talk as much as they need to.  Figure out if there’s a local / neighborhood “caremongering” group you can help with.  Even the tiniest of stones causes ripples felt miles away.

The Long Haul

Aside from the US president (which you know, wow), the world has accepted that we’re in this for a while.  A solid 6 weeks of lockdown, if things work out.  Aside from going to work, most people have never done something for 6 weeks straight.  This is the new normal.

To end, here’s a link to the John Hopkins Medical University’s COVD-19 global tracker.  One of the best sources of analytics possible.

It’s Only Crazy If You Let It

These past few weeks have been a rollercoaster of activities.  Hockey was full steam, across two teams.  More family activities now that Spring is here.  And work.  It’s end of our fiscal, a new financial model is being deployed, new authorities being granted – mostly a lot of paperwork and meetings.

But this health stuff.  Jeebers.  A lot of people at work were not paying attention, and this seems to have caught more than a few unawares.  The job I have supports key pieces that let a ton of people work remotely.  Snowdays, strikes, things of that nature usually push us to capacity.  But they are generally pretty rare, and localized.

Right now in Canada, we have an entire province on lockdown, and quite a few big cities.  So nearbouts 90% of my userbase, and pretty much my entire team.  Where we’d see spikes to say 30,000 – now we’re looking more like 300,000.  Fine enough.  Most of the pieces were built to work on agnostic networks (anywhere, anyplace, anytime).  Some require bums-in-seats to work, which is going to cause a lot of headaches.  Some support emergency health services… so that’s clearly top of pile.

Managing the regular workload + end of year workload + COVID19 prep work is bonkers.  Individual people are generally pretty good about it, but people, people suck.  One bad grape can ruin an entire bunch with stupid conspiracy theories, or irrational behaviors.

I have my own opinions about it, but the gist is that the people in charge of this here globe of ours are not dumb.  WHO is made of some of the brightest minds on the planet.  Governments are consulting like crazy, and not making decisions lightly.  (They may be lead by morons, but that’s over a beer or two.)  Everyone is acutely aware of the impacts of shutting down trade for a month.  Impacts that will be felt for 10+ years.  Making those calls is not easy, and it’s not simple.

For the next few weeks I’ll continue to work from home, same with the team.  Kids will be around for an extra break (some homeschooling will be needed).  And with every group activity cancelled and gathering spot closed, it’s going to be a lot of “back to basics” around the house.  Entirely manageable, and I’m quite looking forward to spending more time with the family.

Stay healthy.