Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Reason the World will Pull Through The Coronavirus Pandemic


That's a great little article, the best I've read yet about why this is spreading so rapidly, and why every single day that we all stay home reduces the spread of this coronavirus pandemic, by allowing those infected to get sick and those asymptomatic to pass through their contagiousness into being not contagious or less contagious.

Secondly, the Colorado Department of Public Health has a great website they update every afternoon with data on the Covid-19 cases. You should check it out here: https://covid19.colorado.gov/case-data This graph is the most hopeful to me, as a younger person.
Image from: https://covid19.colorado.gov/case-data on March 31st, 2020
No one under 40 has died in Colorado yet. Plus, as you go down the age spectrum younger people are being hospitalized at much lower rates. Granted, if you are 70+ it's about as terrifying as playing Russian Roulette. And again, since I know so many older people I am sure that I will know someone that passes away from this virus and I definitely don't want it to be because I passed it on.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Colorado Startup Life: Week 81

March 22 to 28. I'm optimistic, because I have to be. I think about death and injuries a lot. This was the second week I spent working from home. Unfortunately I don't think my productivity was as good as last week. It's harder to know what's going on. Where as normally when two people talk in the office, another two might be nearby and join in the conversation and then each person goes off and tell another person what's happening, so now eight people know. However, when everything is being forced to happen remote, two people talk and make a plan, and that's kind of it. Those incidental conversations aren't really happening as much. So if you want to know what's going on, you have to dig and pry a little more than normal.

On the flip side, wow am I in a fortunate situation! We're set up to work from home quite well. Because of a couple government contracts we count as essential, and I'm excited about that for probably different reasons than you might expect. It's not about the revenue that is coming in or the fact that we're still testing our product, it's that I have something to do right now that gives me purpose. I'm spending plenty of time reading news articles about the Covid-19 pandemic, plenty of time watching The Office, and it's nice to be able to sink my brain into a cool project right now that still adds value. I told my boss this past week, even if we do get shut down, I want to keep working on this stuff because it gives me something to do. I've even offered to take a pay cut or forgo my salary for awhile. I'm confident that if my company survives the next five years, I won't have any basic financial worries.

If you haven't read the book "Drive" by Daniel Pink I recommend it. In fact, I might reread it while I'm homebound. So often in life the focus is on more money, but he points out that after our basic needs are satisfied, we are looking for autonomy to do our jobs as we see fit, mastery of our profession, and purpose to make the world better in some way. I'm in a good spot financially being a saver and working for the last ten years, and so I really don't want to lose the purpose aspect of my career right now. I have plenty of autonomy and mastery, but if we had to shut down and I was not allowed to work, oh that would be tough for me now.

Running was good, 43 miles I think? I ended on Saturday with an 11 mile long run, my longest pure run in over a year. My ankle is sore right now as I write this. The 22nd, Sunday, I spent 8 hours and did 14.5 miles on skis with M for this 25th birthday. Conditions were not great so we turned around at 11,100 feet of elevation. I think I'm going to try and hover around the 40-45 miles per week mark for the next month or so and hopefully my ankle will rise to the challenge and not be sore as frequently as it was this week.

Predictions for the coming week: The USA passes 250,000 Covid-19 cases on Friday, and 5,000 deaths on Thursday. But honestly my predictions have been too optimistic and so there is a good chance we pass those milestones before then.

Tears for my Friends

I write this as tears stream down my face. I went on Facebook for the first time in March (it's the 28th) and asked how my friends were affected by this pandemic. People are laid off, people have babies due, small businesses are shut down. I cried. I'm so fortunate. I've been working from home the last two weeks, and we're basically productive. We're an essential business due to some government contracts, and our IT department (two guys) saw this coming weeks ago and prepared us to work from home. It's been rather smooth for a transition. Of course I want to get back in the office, but we're managing.

For those that don't really know me, I've broken or fractured seven bones. I've had a pulmonary embolism. I'm currently in mental heath therapy, for the second time in my life. I've almost died on mountains three times. I'm thankful to be alive, every day. Today I ran 11 miles for the first time in over a year, since I broke my ankle, and my ankle is very sore, but bearable. Plus, I've had a pulse oxygen level of 59% and been coherent and felt fine (at 23,400 feet on Mt. Everest). I'm going to survive this pandemic because I'm kind of hard to kill... but I'm not sure everyone I know will.

Love is a strong word, and it might have burned me today (long story), so I'll say care. My friends, I care for you. Even if we haven't talked in years (HS friends especially) I still think about you. I have the best life in the world, seriously. I hope you think the same about your life, but honestly mine is better. God loves me so much. The stock market has been crashing and I bought both GM and FedEx on their lowest price days in over five years. I'm going to be fine. I don't know how I can help, but if I can, let me know.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Colorado Startup Life: Weeks 79 and 80

Wow! has the wold changed in the last two weeks?! If you haven't seen the 2011 movie Contagion, go watch it, because we're heading in that direction, albeit with a virus that is fortunately only 10% as deadly as the one in the movie (3% vs 30%).

Week 79, March 8th to 14th, was pretty good. We basically shipped our fourth product to a customer. Our products are expensive and complex, so the fact that we've shipped four is pretty good. Although, the highlight of the week was taking Wednesday off to climb Mt. Antero with the woman who will be known as A1. She's a nurse and so has a crazy schedule, so we were the only two people at all on Mt. Antero Wednesday the 18th. We made the summit, and it was a very good 13 hour mountain day.

Friday the 13th was basically my last day in the office for some time. This whole Covid-19 thing has upended the world, as it should. 90% of my company is working from home now, we need a few people to build products and a few people to test them, otherwise, everyone else is at home.

Week 80, March 15th to 21st, my first week working fully from home was an adventure. For starters, I'm still working on developing a routine. Instead of wake up, get dressed, head to work, maybe via Starbucks, and then eat breakfast at work and get into the day, suddenly, there's no 7:30 AM morning meeting to try to make it to the office to hear. Starbucks seems like a risk (even though I went twice this week, and bought some stock). Our formal office hours are 9-4... and typically I'm in the office well before 9, although, when working from home by myself, in a pandemic, it's easy to read all of the European updates from overnight, and not get into my work computer until 9. On the other hand, one day I did have the work computer open at 6 AM because I couldn't sleep, and work is a great distraction from the ever rising death count. I'm getting better at working from home. Honestly, it wasn't an unproductive week. I didn't get as much done as maybe my average week, but I have definitely had less productive weeks. In short, I'm still figuring it out.

In big news, I ran, hiked and backcountry skied 41 miles this week! That's my biggest week in a long time. Plus it was fairly consistent. Being shut in all day makes me so look forward to getting out and running. It's a risk, running through a tunnel with low airflow or within four feet of another person, and I'm very aware that going on a run might be how I catch Covid-19.

I'll try saying this more, but to be clear, I'm trying hard to be optimistic about any aspect of this pandemic I can. Why? Because it's bad. This will definitely kill more Americans than September 11th, and most likely kill more than the resulting wars did too. We're at 414 deaths as I write this but by the end of this week I would be surprised if it's less than 2,000.When I think of at risk groups, people with lung issues, general health issues, etc. I am 99% sure that I will know someone that dies from this. Who will that person be? I don't know. I think of the last five churches I attended in Clinton, Sheboygan Falls, Dubuque, Independence, and now Longmont, and there are so many people that have health issues. I only touched four door handles this week (yes the whole seven days) other than my own door and car, Starbucks twice, and two at Fedex. I'm not taking this thing as no big deal. I like to think I have a healthy level of paranoia. Boulder County where I live has 37 confirmed cases, up from 11 on Friday. Many more people will die, because we aren't really testing everyone to know who is carrying it. And ultimately that's why I'm staying home so much. I don't want to be an "innocent" carrier of this thing to the many at risk people I know. Considering my pulmonary embolism in 2018, who knows, this thing could kill me. If that happens don't let my sister spend more than 20% of the money she gets on a new car.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Ahead of the Curve (Flattening it)

For the last 6 days Colorado steadily reported 23-38 new Covid-19 coronavirus cases per day. Today there were 61 new cases, a big jump.

This is my preferred webpage for tracking cases in Colorado: https://covid19.colorado.gov/state-recovery-assistance 

So far only about 10% of people tested for the virus in Colorado are showing up positive. This is a win, people are being cautious, getting tested, and we're getting lots of negative tests. The median time to onset of new symptoms is five days, with 97.5% of all cases showing symptoms in 11.5 days. The test takes three days to show positive or negative.

Colorado went into mild lockdown on Monday, so really, it will be Tuesday, March, 24th before we know if we've gotten a hold of this thing in Colorado, meaning slowed the exponential growth of infected people.

I'm optimistic. Colorado's first case was an out of state skier who had recently traveled to Italy. So we were close behind the big hubs like Seattle and San Francisco and New York to start the social distancing, but fortunately we have a more spaced out population, so it appears to have not infected thousands, like it has in New York. Because we are a tourist hub, it makes sense that we would be quickly infected.

As a quick anecdote, I went to Fedex today to pick up a package, and aside from the door handle, I only touched the box I was picking up. I didn't sign myself, or share the driver's license, and I stayed well away from most people. The woman who helped me was cautious as well as we talked about the pandemic.

Maybe it's just my little corner of Colorado, but people seem to be appropriately cautious. I stepped off the sidewalk to pass someone today and she said, "thank you". I think we're ahead of the curve. Yes our growth is exponential still, but barely. We need to lock down even tighter the next two weeks to really confirm that we're there, but I do think that is happening.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Worst Case Scenario (Covid-19)

I have Internet access at home on my computer, for the first time since April 2011. After experimenting with no Internet at home in April and May 2011 when I moved to Iowa, I realized that the lifestyle is for me. Using my cell phone is enough access. However, blogging is something I really prefer to do on a keyboard, not a cell phone. So, for the next few weeks, and let's be honest, months probably, I'm probably going to blog a lot more than I have the last few years. In large part because the world is not ending, but it feels a bit like it is ending.

Before we get into how bad it might get, let's talk about best case scenarios. Let's say that no one has any contact with anyone outside of their immediate family for the next two weeks. That means that asymptomatic infected people will become symptomatic and go to the hospital if needed, there will be very few new infections, and we will have peaked in maybe three weeks from now. Hospitals will probably manage with the staff and equipment they have, thousands will die, but mostly older patients with co-morbidity. Shortly after peaking testing will catch up and infected people will be quarantined more specifically, instead of 80+% of people as we are today. We'll get a good idea of really how widespread and contagious the disease is, and then we will have nice summer.

Ok, now let's walk through how bad it might get. If people don't quit interacting with others, more people are going to be affected. A contagious person can infect others for up to 14 days before showing symptoms. 14 days! That means everyone I've interacted with, even shared a door handle with in the last 14 days might have infected me. Fortunately, I'm not one for a lot of contact with others in general and as I retrace my steps the last few weeks I've only sat in a restaurant twice, a week ago and four days ago. Although I have been to Starbucks twice this week. To add more to the story, the median incubation period before showing symptoms is 5-5.2 days, and 97.5% of infected,  people show symptoms within 11-11.5 days, depending on the study you read. (Both published in the last four days.)

What that means... Colorado essentially went into mild lock down on Monday, it's going to be two weeks before we know if we made a dent in this pandemic or not. Moderate lock down is next, and I think severe lock down is a real possibility. Fortunately, Colorado cases have been increasing at a linear rate, not exponential, so there is hope we have already gotten ahead of the curve.  https://covid19.colorado.gov/state-recovery-assistance

Jumping two steps ahead, based on the 2011 movie Contagion, and what is happening in Italy now, I think it is entirely possible that the National Guard or Reserves (or plain regular Army) will be  stationed outside of grocery stores to take temperatures and limit the number of people inside. While restaurants are open now, I'm guessing they will be called on to close. I don't think there will be widespread looting, or riots, because it's not "that" deadly. Which brings my next point.

I know many people in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and a few in their 90s. This virus is killing something like 3% up to 10+% of people in those age ranges. I am 99% sure t hat before this thing is over, someone I know will die from it. The last three church congregations I have been a part of have all been older, with lots of people over 60. It's a statistics problem. If enough people get sick, and enough older people, someone I know will die.

So let's say that this virus kills 4% of everyone it affects. Let's also say that when the hospitals get overwhelmed, the death rate will double, like it has already in Italy, because of a lack of ventilators. So let's say that 8% of the USA dies, and everyone gets infected, that's about 26 million Americans that might die. That's how bad it could get. Let's say it takes a year for that to happen, that's huge absolutely huge, but not the end of the world. Sure, it's very possibly the end of the world if you are over 60.

Point being, Jesus loves you. Hang in there.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Covid-19 Coronavirus is bad.

We need to practice extreme social distancing, now! Estimates keep saying the death tole is going to be around 1%, but we're still seeing 3-4% in most of the surveyed populations. I read today that it can stay in the air as an aerosol for up to half an hour, like seeing your breathe on a cold day. Another thing that concerns me is that you can have it and be contagious for up to 10-14 days without showing any symptoms, while spreading it to other people. All of those numbers, two weeks of asymptomatic contagiousness, a 3% death rate, possible airborne transmission... 3% of the world is approximately 220 million people.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Colorado Startup Life: Week 78

Another good week. I'd be lying if I said it was great, maybe more of an average week, but it was good. Where to start...

So I'm in therapy, the counseling kind, and I'm telling lots of people because we're pretty terrible not only in the USA, but most of the world to admit when we're mentally struggling. It's already helped a lot. It's nice to have an outside perspective to frame things in my life differently than anyone in my life frames them. I can be super hard on myself, and while others see that and try to comfort me, it's just not the same as someone totally removed from all of the situations to more objectively give a perspective.

Work was good. It was the first week without the coworker I used to work closely with. So I took on some of her tasks. While I do enjoy them, especially as something new and different to do, instead of designing yet another little bracket, it's stressful because I don't really like feeling indispensable. I like feeling valuable for sure, but at the moment I feel like I'm holding a few pieces together and I'd really like to implement some processes to clarify communication without a step that just says "Isaiah"... so I can take more vacation. Of course, my feelings are not the facts, and if I get hit by a bus today my coworkers will all very quickly figure out how to fill my shoes. I'm pretty sure actually that I've documented things fairly well. Of course understanding feelings versus reality is a big part of the reason I'm in therapy, and I've got a fair amount left to work on.

I only ran once, for eight miles. I spent a lot of time recovering from the 31 mile 10,500 feet of elevation double Boulder skyline traverse last weekend.

Saturday I skied with A and R who I met way back in 2015 in Italy at an ultramarathon, and we all reconnected and are living out here now and all have ski passes to Arapahoe Basin. We had a lot of good conversation, I may have a little bit of a vulnerability hangover from all the conversation.

I hope you had a good week too. Also, if you haven't seen the 2011 movie "Contagion" I highly recommend it. It puts this little Covid-19 corona virus in perspective.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Speaking a Love Language

Yesterday, I had a realization. A, R and I were driving back from Arapahoe Basin and discussing love languages and R mentioned a scenario that I had not thought of, but resonated with me.  I realized that instead of a binary wanted action or unwanted action, it's more of a four choice system.
Speaking Someone's Love Language
It's not just feeling loved or neglected, it's also feeling heard or ignored. In other words, relationships require even more communication.

My main love language is acts of service, which I've been thinking about a lot lately, mostly in regards to work. Anyway, an act of service was recently done for me and while it needed to be done, and I had no plans to do it, it's actually stressed me out a lot because I don't have all the answers to wrap it up and really finish it. This it outside of work by the way. In other words, it was the right language for me, but it was something I am not ready to deal with, even if it's only 30 minutes of work, it's a hassle. Feeling ignored might not be the best word, but it's close to how I feel.

Another personal example, words of affirmation and gifts are so low on my desired languages that honestly just don't spend your time on those if you want to show me you care. Those are things I don't want, and by not spending your time on those things I feel heard.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Colorado Startup Life: Week 77

What an incredible week! I have the best life in the world. I hope that you think that about your own life, but mine is really great. And honestly, I think it will simply get better.

I ran and backcountry skied I think 42 miles or so over the week, with 31 of them being a double traverse of the Boulder Skyline Saturday with my friend M, and also J and T joined for a single traverse each and W was so generous to crew for us for 12 hours. We started at the Mt. Sanitas trailhead, did that, then went up Flagstaff, then up over Green, Bear and South Boulder peak and down to the Mesa Trailhead. After 25 minutes of eating chips and guacamole, we headed back up the not easy Shadow Canyon trail. My GPS died at 28.5 miles in 10:23 total time and 10,500 feet of vertical ascent.

My quads are shot today. I'm walking around stiff and sore... but no pain! At one point running down the snow on the northwest side of Green Mountain I rolled my left ankle, and instead of it being a two week setback as it was in 2019 every time I rolled it, it was almost no problem. Today, my left ankle is barely any more sore than my right, and not nearly as sore as my quads, which is a huge step forward in the ski injury recovery!

On the work front a coworker I worked closely with had her last day on Friday, and I will be taking up part of her role, which is a stressful. However, on Monday I had my first therapy session. I frequently blame myself for group problems that I feel I may have been able to change and improve. My therapist had an exercise for this sort of thing. Basically, I'm lying to myself that I "control" the situation. (For those that are new to my blog, I despise the word control, we rarely have control of anything, more accurately we have varying degrees of influence, so I much prefer the word influence.) So I was asked to identify the lie that I was telling myself, which is that I could have changed the situation. I'm just one small part of the puzzle, the organization. It's not all up to me. Very little is up to me really. We have many different people involved in different aspects of this particular situation, and I certainly don't "control" it. Which has already helped me feel better.

That all being said, I do actually think it's for the best, my coworker leaving at this time. It has already forced me to grow and learn exactly what she did. Several weeks ago I had a fear that it was all in her head, and that we had terrible records, but as I have dove into the documentation (her documentation), we're going to be alright. As her leaving has already forced me to grow, I am confident that it will force others to step up and grow and take on additional responsibility as well. Specifically, understanding the details of how we get from A to B, so that we can then teach new people how we do that, and fewer things will fall through the cracks. That is for the best, because in different ways, we all leaned on her, not exactly understanding 100% what she did. Frankly, she wasn't very good at describing what she did, so it was hard for the rest of us to understand what she did. Now that I've learned more about her role, I'll sum up her role in one word: communication. In other words, while I viewed it all being in her head, that's simply because she communicated with the largest number of people about our product, at least of the people in her department. You see, while we may have only a short description of a product that seems poorly documented, the details are documented in 15 different locations, and the communication happened in person, so there wasn't a clear (but complex) digital trail all of the time.

Going forward, I expect more documentation, or more specifically, links to the documentation and clarification of that communication and documentation process. In short, when a company is 25 people, it's easy to talk to everyone and know what's going on. When it's 65 people it's not automatic, and if people aren't trying to pay attention they will feel, and be, out of the loop. Again, we're going to learn and grow from this, and ultimately I do feel it is for the best, but bare with me if I am stressed in the coming weeks as I take on parts of her role, because I will have to drop parts of what I used to do the last 17 months. I joined a startup knowing it would have difficult times like this, and while it stresses me out, it's fascinating! There is so much learning to be had here. Learning that might possibly have never happened for me at a big company.

In other news, I've said before and I'll say again, I think the meaning of life is relationships. I'm in the process of developing or deepening a number of relationships. Some are directly related to the work stress above, where we are getting to know each other due to the challenges we are facing. Some are in parallel to the work stress where the relationship is separate but influenced by those events, even if we never discuss those challenges. Still a third group is entirely outside of anything work related, but I'm allowing those people to see me in a vulnerable light, and that builds trust. I'm quite excited for 2020!