I’ve been quarantining in Las Vegas for four months now, so I thought that it would be fun to write about how I’ve used that time so far, especially because I’ve done a few projects that wouldn’t have gotten done if I weren’t here for so long. Presented in roughly chronological order:
1. Rewrote lots of CruiseSheet
I’m not sure how other people do it, but when I create a new project I tend to just jump in and start making it. That means that some of what I start out with wasn’t exactly suited for what the end result was, so I get a little bit of accumulated kludge. I had noticed that it seemed like the number of available cruises would slowly decrease over time, which didn’t seem to reflect reality, so I took a deep dive on the data import section and found the error. While I was under the hood I also fixed a bunch of other minor things that had been bothering me for a while.
2. Got back on a perfect gym / eating schedule
My general rule is that I keep perfect habits while at home in Vegas, but allow myself considerable culinary leeway when traveling. It just feels wrong, for example, to go to Budapest and not eat the amazing $12 three course lunches. And on cruises I’ve eaten up to 16 lobster tails in a sitting. The problem is that the amount of time I had been spending traveling had increased a lot over the preceding few years. My weight had gotten up to 165 which is the max I let myself get to before cutting down, so it was convenient timing.
I typically eat just one Chipotle meal per day, sometimes some fruit for dessert, and work out every other day like clockwork. Once a week or so I’ll have a different meal with my wife. This is a really easy way to lose weight in a healthy manner, and I’ve lost 12 pounds. I don’t want to get under 150, so soon I’ll increase my food again. This was a fun experiment because I always think it’s not that hard to lose weight, but have never really had a reason to do it all at once. Usually if I get up around 165 I just regulate my food down a little bit.
3. Started coaching 5 new people
Before coronavirus I had stopped taking new coaching clients for around a year because it was hard to schedule with all of my travel. I also really prefer to have the first few calls in Vegas because it’s my favorite work environment and those calls require really intense focus. For months I had been thinking about adding new people, but finally decided to when I got stuck in Vegas. This batch has been a really great group of people, so I’m now very glad that I took them on.
4. Bought a 3D Printer and learned how to do 3D CAD modeling
This is another thing I had been wanting to do for a while that finally made sense when I knew I’d be in the same place for a while. For the first month or so I printed something every single day, usually something I had designed myself. Now I print every week or two, but it’s an amazing superpower to know that I can summon objects into existence within a few hours of conceiving of them.
One day I was burning a stick of incense in my office and found myself annoyed at how I have to fish the unburnt tail of the stick out of the holder after it finishes burning, so I thought about it and designed an incense burner that automatically ejects the stick using gravity. That’s my favorite thing I’ve designed and printed so far. I also made custom tea containers that fit exactly within my Kanpai titanium thermos, so I can now carry about 50% more tea when I travel.
5. Helped my mom move from California to Texas
I’ve never been so grateful to be stuck in a car for 28 hours! This was the first time I got to leave my house in a month and I really enjoyed the trip. My flight home happened to be the slowest travel day of the entire pandemic and I had an entire Southwest 737 to myself. That was a truly surreal experience.
6. Boat upgrades and Lake Mead exploration
I’ve done a bunch of work on the boat while being here. The biggest things have been replacing the alternator (first real mechanical project I’ve ever done), replacing the fridge that I had previously broken, changing the lights to LED, replacing all four batteries and fixing the previous owner’s poor wiring, and finding a good place to mount the barbecue grill. We’ve also spent a lot of time exploring new areas of the lake instead of just going back to our favorite place every time, and have found some incredible new spots that really change our experience out there.
7. Fixed my motorcycle and moved it to my brother’s house
My motorcycle, last ridden in San Francisco years ago, had been sitting in Todd’s garage here in Vegas. He sold the house but the tenant remained the same and he let me keep the motorcycle in the garage for years. My brother is an ex motorcycle mechanic and had space in his garage so we took it out of storage and fixed the sticking clutch so that it could be driven to his house and stored there. This had been bothering me for years, so it felt great to take care of it.
8. Installed a sauna in the house
My condo has a storage room near my front door that I have been filling ever since moving in. Most of the stuff in the back didn’t really need to be there anymore, but there was no way to easily access it. So my wife and I took everything out, found better places to store it, and installed a sauna in the space. I was originally going to build my own Finnish sauna there, but decided to buy a premade one first to see if I even liked going to the sauna before committing that level of effort. So far I like it and am hoping that the purported health benefits are real, but I’m skeptical.
I also custom programmed an arduino and light strip to make a James Turrell style light show during the sauna and plan on modifying the electronics to be controlled by my home automation system.
9. Replaced my dining room with a Chinese-style tea room
When I bought my condo it had two breakfast nooks, which is unusual for a small condo. One I built into a Japanese style two-mat tatami tea room. The other I used as a dining room, but since I eat Chipotle at my desk every day I never actually used that room. I’ve been wanting to do something different with it for ages, so I finally converted it into a Chinese style tearoom with a table. Now I have a relatively authentic Chinese tearoom and Japanese tearoom in my house. I may build a custom table for the Chinese one since it’s very hard to find a shallow table that’s the right height.
10. Moved Sett to a new server
Sett has run on its original AWS server for nearly a decade now. I had become afraid to upgrade any packages on the server for fear that it would break Sett, and I was paying more than $100/mo to run the server despite it being old, slow, and underutilized. I finally bit the bullet and spent about half a week moving the site to my own server and upgrading all of its dependencies. This went relatively smoothly except for a few parts. I also fixed a number of bugs (and still have a few left) and deleted over 100k spam accounts. I’m toying with the idea of removing crufty Sett features and then working on it again to make it even better. Going through the old code and fixing stuff made me warm up to Sett again.
11. Fixed my email spam system
I host my own email on my own server and at some point I realized that the spam system wasn’t actually learning when I reclassified messages as spam or not-spam. It still worked reasonably well without that so I’d only dedicate a few minutes at a time to try to track down the problem, and inevitably I would think, “Well… it’s not so bad…” and give up. I finally committed to fixing it no matter what and it took a few hours. The problem was a small typo, but it was hard to track it down.
12. Built the mega bed
I’ve always had either a full or queen sized bed, and always thought that it was big enough. However, over the past year or two I noticed that if I slept in the same bed as my wife for too many nights in a row I would begin to feel tired. One night apart and I would be back to my normal self. We had begun alternating sleeping together and sleeping in the guest room so that I could be well rested.
I toyed with the idea of getting a king-sized bed, but we have a really excellent queen sized mattress that I didn’t want to give up or spend the money to replace it. I finally came up with the idea to rotate the queen mattress 90 degrees and use it at the head of the bed. I could then cut a cheaper Amazon mattress to make a section for our feet. I also rotated the mattress frame to sit at the feet and built an extension for the head. I’m not sure how clear that description is, but the end result is that we have an 80×80 bed (4″ wider than king!). I even found an oversized king down comforter and duvet, and standard king sheets stretch to fit the mattress (and to hold the two pieces together). The end result is amazing and I doubt anyone would realize it’s not just one huge mattress. I’ve never slept better.
I’m really glad to have gotten all of these things done in the past 4 months. It’s fun to look back at them since the beginning of quarantine feels like ages ago. I’m definitely running out of projects I’ve been wanting to do for a while, so we’ll see what comes next!
I think there’s a relatively good chance this post will be a little bit messed up, since I’m just now fixing Sett. Apologies in advance if you get multiple notifications for it, no notifications, broken links, etc. I expect to have Sett running better than ever within a week.
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