March 2020

The half-life of Ai Shinozaki


Corona-chan kind of stole her thunder last week, but as of her birthday on February 26th, Ai Shinozaki has spent 14 of her 28 years deftly using bikinis and lingerie to turn boys into men.

Unrelated, Interspecies Reviewers first does some LARPing, and then shows what a real succubus can do to a man. We thought Crim was an angel, but it turns out he’s actually a Kewpie.

Okay, it’s kind of related.

What isn’t related is that we’re probably going to reschedule the upcoming Japan trip. Our flight into Haneda hasn’t been canceled yet (although lots of Narita flights have, likely because most of the passengers were going on to China or S. Korea), and our hotel has slashed their prices in half, but as I mentioned earlier, a lot of things are closing or already closed, and my sister’s doctor is telling her “not just no, but hell no” (recent recovery from bacterial pneumonia…).

What’s completely unrelated is that I just got a Naganadel in a wonder trade on Pokemon Home. Not obviously hacked like the level 100 6IV Reshiram that showed up a few days ago, at least, and it’s one of the few things that people are willing to trade a MewTwo for.

Now back to Ai-chan.

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Gigantamax Gardevoir revealed


Now that’s what I call evolution! Although, technically I suppose it’s Gainax rather than Gigantamax…

Related, on a whim I watched the new all-CGI Netflix Pokémon movie while on the elliptical, and while it’s shallow and cliché and poorly acted and basically impenetrable to anyone not well-acquainted with the anime, what really rankles is that they completely failed to make Misty cute. Most of the other females were at least presentable, but damn, the character designer must dislike her.

The Witcher series, on the other hand, is quite good. I bounced on the most recent game, and I’ve never read any of the books, but one of the random people still on Tumblr that I follow is obsessed with it, and it sounded like it had potential.

Mary-Sue Who


If even half of what I’ve heard about the recent Revelations (“chapter six”) in Doctor Who is true, no one can ever claim that she hasn’t been rewritten to be the specialist snowflake ever. Also, I have no desire to find out if it’s true; I didn’t make it through the first episode, and it sounds like the only possibly-interesting thing they did was briefly bring back Captain Jack.

Pixiv: set them free!


Today’s easy-to-assemble Pixiv tag is 剥ぎ取りたいブラ, “bra I want to tear off”. To be followed by “cops I want to be arrested by”, “lawyers I want to defend me”, and “prison guards who won’t make me cry like a little girl”.

Work-safety is, of course, dubious.

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Fly the cough-free skies!


I had to make a short trip to Ohio on Friday to attend a relative’s funeral. Security at SFO was pre-9/11 in its simplicity: empty your pockets, keep your coat, belt, and shoes on, keep your laptop in your bag, and walk through the metal detector. They didn’t even have bins out to put your stuff in. Coming back from DAY today, they wanted laptops and coats in bins, but belts and shoes stayed on.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in an airport or on a plane before where no one had a cough, sneeze, or sniffle. The closest thing to a cough was the guy next to me who wolfed down his Wolfgang Puck pizza too quickly and had a short bout of reflux. Lots of hand sanitizer and wipes, very few masks on non-Asians.

The small regional planes (no such thing as a direct flight to Dayton any more) were pretty full, but the long Chicago flights were no more than 2/3 full, for which my elbows and knees were grateful.

“Hey, Google, make my commute faster”


What’s the quickest way to improve the horrible Silicon Valley traffic? Have Google tell all employees to work from home.

Yeah, I can see that…


Even worse, she’s gone viral.

Prepper cosplay


Ten days ago, panic-buying hadn’t reached my neighborhood; the only things out of stock were hand sanitizer and masks (most of which weren’t the antiviral kind). Last night, both CVS and Safeway had empty shelves where the bottled water and toilet paper would be, and half-empty shelves of rice and beans.

But everything else was still in stock. Propane, candles, coffee, canned foods, kleenex (even the “anti-viral” kind), tampons, cereal, beer, bandaids, vitamins, aspirin, cold medicine, soap, bleach, cough drops, etc, etc.

Um, if all you’re buying is water, toilet paper, and rice, you’re preparing for a very peculiar apocalypse. What, you’re gonna sit on the porch in the dark boiling bottled water over a toilet-paper stove to cook your rice as the zombies roam the neighborhood looking for brains? Relax, you’ve just proven that you’re safe from them.

Vaguely related, don’t ask me to explain how a search for “propane” on Amazon returned Black Scorpion: The Series on Prime Video…

When Apple stops supporting your Mac…


…sure enough, it becomes a door stop.

Eggos. WTF, America?


Went out for butter and eggs (one package of each). All of the normal dry pasta and noodles were gone (organic, vegan, gluten-free, and instant options were in plentiful supply). Naturally, this meant that all the spaghetti sauce and half of the canned tomatoes were gone, too. And since yesterday, there was a big run on Campbells Chunky soups, but nobody was buying Progresso.

But they also cleaned out the large tubs of yogurt, normal/large eggs (I had to buy extra-large), and frozen vegetables.

And the frozen waffles. Eggo brand only, not the store brand or any of the “specialty” (fad-diet) stuff.

Surrounded by overstuffed shopping carts, I did what any sensible man would do: bought two boxes of frozen pizzas and two six-packs of Diet Pepsi. Because they were both on 2 for $X deals.

Update

Forgot to mention it earlier, but there was only one person in the store wearing a mask. Unfortunately it was a hardware-store mask that’s only good for sawdust, and since she hadn’t pinched the nosepiece, it wouldn’t have even blocked that.

3D Cheesecake 25


The everybody-telecommute edition.

In other news, we’re fully rebooked for November in Japan, and ended up gaining a day in Tokyo. I’ve penciled in a day trip to Kamakura and Enoshima.

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Agnes-chan doesn’t have the same ring to it…


Masks and hand sanitizer were clearly not being applied to the right body parts here.

On the subject of media-induced panic buying, my neighbor reported last night that the local Safeway has started closing three hours early so they can stock the shelves in peace, and not have roving hordes of zombies circling the aisles, waiting to pounce on pallets before they can be unloaded.

Also, she said that there’s no bread, eggs, or milk on the shelves, but tons of fruit, vegetables, cheese, frozen dinners, breakfast cereal, Easter candy, soda, etc, and people have bought out all the canned goods not marked organic, vegan, or Progresso. She did manage to find an overlooked display shelf with small jars of Jif peanut butter, which she considered a real score.

I didn’t ask how many of them she bought. 😁

Even though I’ve been emptying my pantry, freezer, and fridge for a while as part of my diet plan (“nothing snackable or bingeable in the house”), once I bought butter and eggs, I still had enough stuff in stock that I don’t really need to shop for a few weeks except for a bit of variety. About the only thing I don’t have the mats for right now is homemade pizza, and it sounds like cheese and pepperoni are still on the shelves if I get the urge any time soon.

I have plenty of flour/yeast/etc to load up the bread machine, if I want zombie-free sandwich loaves or pizza dough for the next few weeks.

If the world doesn’t end in a week, my regular monthly subscriptions from Amazon will arrive, which will restock my supply of k-cups and splenda-sweetened canned fruit. At least, they haven’t canceled or rescheduled on me. Yet.

In other news, in the latest debate Joe Biden has pledged to beat SARS and Bernie Sanders is leading the fight against Ebola. Apparently Joe’s cognivirus is contagious.

Civilization is saved!


Eggos are back on the shelves after last night’s restocking!

There was actually some bread left in stock this afternoon, but I have a bread machine, and it makes a better product. I really only went out for pizza cheese and pepperoni, having decided to treat myself after the adorable news that all of Silicon Valley is under a shelter-in-place order as of midnight tonight.

This actually has some impact on me, even though I don’t live in any of the affected counties, since I was planning to go to the office tomorrow for unrelated reasons.

Got bread?


Corona-chan’s Vortex Of Panic™ has no power over me. I have a Zojirushi bread machine and I’m not afraid to use it!

Not shown in use (you’re welcome): Toto Washlet electronic bidet seat, my other weapon against out-of-stock staple goods. One bulk pack of toilet paper lasts me a very long time now.

I wanted one of these after my first trip to Japan in 2007, but it took quite a few years for Toto to build up their US distribution, and I refused to go with off-brand or imported conversion kits. If I’m going to place electricity and water in close proximity to my genitals, I insist on the best.

“Don’t look, Ethel!”


In a week of remarkably stupid things, this may set the record:

Krugman: Only Pelosi and Fed chairman can save the economy

Please, for the sake of your sanity, do not click the link. If Nancy Pelosi were truly our only hope, the World As We Know It would be lost forever.

Evening update

Monterey County joined the ranks of the sheltered-in-place today. I didn’t notice until just now, since I never check local news. It had no effect on the pizza guy I generously tipped (who was in mask and gloves; food-service grade, but better than just grabbing a sawdust mask at Home Depot…); quick delivery, although I expect he’ll get busier over the next three weeks, unless they rescind it early.

The FAQ that went along with this order stresses that people should buy groceries and supplies in normal amounts, since all the stores are staying open and receiving regular stock. I suspect that will continue to fall on deaf ears.

Random pic dump


This blog post brought to you by a crack team of CNN reporters:

And by Spring Cleaning in the age of shelter-in-place:

Evening update!

CA Governor Gavin “shit-stained sanctuary city” Newsom has ordered everyone in California to stay home until further notice. Unless your job is servicing politicians, in which case, break out your kneepads and suck it up.

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Pixiv Champloo 10


That last themed post produced a surprisingly high rate of day-to-day repetition in my Pixiv recommendations, so here’s a random sampling to stir things up.

Day 3 of the Zombie Apocalypse Lockdown ended with The Return Of The Porch Cat; he’d been gone for over a week, leading me to think he’d either been moved indoors at his other home(s) or gotten himself hurt. Nope, I found him on top of the grill outside the front door, looking for skritches and food, in that order. He received both, and if he’s out there again this morning, I may just spend the day sitting out there with him.

It’s either that or clean the house, watch movies, and catch pokémon.

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Times of the signs…


There were bouncers at Costco this morning, enforcing a voluntary occupancy limit. The line to get in extended all the way around the front past the car service center, in the rain. I took one look, said “screw it”, and drove to Safeway, which was decently stocked except for the usual lack of paper goods, water, pasta, and rice. I didn’t need anything but a bit of variety, so I had no difficulty finding everything I wanted. In particular, more food for the Porch Cat; in his absence, my stock had run low, and he’s my only social contact this week.

At the (self-serve) checkout, I bought this:

Personally, I’m not even pretending any more.

In other news, Nextdoor is full of scary tales of people cruising the nearby neighborhoods looking for unlocked cars and houses, trying to pop the emergency catch on garage doors to break in, and showing up in hazmat gear pretending to check your house for Corona-chan before robbing you.

I don’t believe a word of it. This is gutter-trash social media bullshit at its “finest”.

Pokéman…


Ash Ketchum discovers the hidden cost of catching them all:

Microsoft Type 1 virus!


Critical security bug in the font-handling in Windows 7 and above, but they’re only going to patch supported versions, so if you’re still running 7 or 8 and aren’t an Enterprise customer with an extended support contract, you’re pretty well fucked. Don’t ever open downloaded documents again, in any format.

The specific issue is in support for the long-abandoned Type 1 Multiple Master format from Adobe. This format predates Unicode font support, which tells you how long it’s been gathering dust with nobody supporting the code (except for some export tools to generate a standard family of Type 1 fonts by twiddling the available knobs).

Pantry, fridge, and freezer…


On a whim, I went south of town to the Nob Hill grocery this afternoon, which had (gasp) pasta in stock, and not just that frou-frou organic gluten-free spinach crap. I passed on the boxes of lasagna noodles, though, because if I made my lasagna, I would eat the entire thing before it had time to cool; it’s that kind of week.

They also had 5-pound bags of rice, and plenty of packages of curry roux, which will come in handy given the promise of thunderstorms all week long. I’ll likely make dry curry rather than the usual sauce-y stuff. (I didn’t need another bag of rice, but I might as well extend my supplies until at least mid-June)

Their selection of onions and peppers was better than either of the nearby Safeways. No raw chicken, but plenty of beef and pork in various cuts, and about two dozen cooked rotisserie chickens. Also plenty of lunch meat, cheese, and bread, which I didn’t need.

I did round out my stock of canned tomato products, and bought two packages of Italian sausage to throw in the freezer with the ground beef and pork I already had. Half of the Costco strip steaks in the fridge will get grilled tomorrow, and the other half vacuum-sealed and frozen, to be cooked sous vide sometime.

They even had significant quantities of milk (limit 2/customer), but the only non-organic whole milk was in gallon jugs, and I only use the stuff for cooking. I’ve got some ultra-pasteurized and a big can of dry whole milk in the pantry, though, so I’d rather wait for the next truck than buy too much fresh and have it go to waste.

I resisted the twin siren calls of Honeycomb and Reese’s Easter Eggs. I can only spend so much time on the elliptical.

Amazon has confirmed shipment of my monthly order of canned fruit and coffee, and I’ve got a big bag of Costco oranges to work through.

Now all I need is a new job! (yes, I was laid off over the phone last Monday; I’d speculate on how a public company plans to get by with only one senior system administrator who didn’t know it was coming, but I signed the non-disparagement agreement…)

(And in case you’re wondering, it’s actually improved my mood considerably. I’ve been on call 24x7 without a break for more than 13 years, and I’ve never had an honest-to-gosh forget-your-laptop vacation. I have plenty of cash in the bank and no debt but the mortgage, and once the severance check arrives, I’m good through at least September.)

NHK Dry Curry recipe after the jump (the link went stale):

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3D Cheesecake 26


What better way to practice “social distancing” than with pictures of women who wouldn’t give you the time of day?

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Random updates…


Got a scam text this morning telling me my Netflix billing failed, and I should visit a site in Germany to update it. Did not click.

Porch Cat turned up his nose at wet food for breakfast, the surest sign that I’m not the only one feeding him. He came around to the back door while I was grilling steaks and tried to get into the house, so I took the bag of treats to the front door to remind him of the correct location for handouts and skritches.

Got three emails from Etrade this morning informing me that all of the RSUs that matured on the 15th failed to process their sell-to-cover orders, and that I’d have to wire them the money. Called in and discovered that even people who weren’t laid off a week ago were subjected to this screwup, and that Ooma is frantically trying to fix it (while working from home, and by the way, “you’re welcome for the VPN license upgrade I installed a few hours before The Call”).

Interspecies Reviewers kept it up until the end. 8/10, would visit again.

Amazon is delivering the coffee and half my fruit a day early, with the rest coming tomorrow or Thursday. Related, here are their shelter-in-place recommendations:

The Tokyo Olympics are apparently off for this year, according to spokesman Dick Pound. Pro tip: do not search for “Dick Pound Olympics” to find updates to this story.

Opportunistic Wannabe Dictator Nancy Pelosi was thwarted, for now, in her attempt to lard up the Corona-chan stimulus bill with ballot-box-stuffing and other delights.

In pantry news, I found an unexpired Costco 6-pack of Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate brownie mix. Apparently I hid it from myself when I started my diet. Now I need to hide it from myself again…

In gaming news, someone found The Missing Link:

Dear Amazon Japan,


It’s great that you’ve been reaching out to international customers by making amazon.co.jp more approachable to people who don’t speak the language.

But it kinda sucks that you auto-translate about half of the product titles into Machine Engrish with no way to view the actual title without switching site navigation back into Japanese.

And your latest “feature”, attempting to auto-translate search strings into Japanese and search for that instead fails spectacularly on the simple case where someone cuts and pastes actual Japanese text into the search box.

For instance, while I can read Japanese, I leave the UI in English because I read my mostly-native language faster. So you can imagine my surprise when I pasted in “異種族レビュアーズ” and got zero search results, despite it still claiming to have searched for “異種族レビュ アーズ”. I had to find the plaintext undo button to get it to search for Japanese text as Japanese text.

After that, all sorts of results showed up, including the fact that Amazon Video is still streaming Interspecies Reviewers in Japan, and that there are manga spinoffs “Ecstacy Days” and “Marionette Crisis”. Also that the Bluray releases have been pushed back; I imagine a lot of things are being deferred thanks to Corona-chan.

Handling leftover steamed rice…


If you have a Japanese-style rice cooker (like my Zojirushi 5.5-cup Induction Pressure Rice Cooker, or something less shockingly expensive), or have leftover steamed rice from a restaurant that’s still open for takeout or delivery, do not refrigerate it.

Spread it out on a plate until it cools to room temperature, then freeze it in single-serving portions. You could, for instance, spread it out in a gallon freezer bag, use a chopstick or the back of a knife to separate it into portions, and then lay it flat in the freezer. Later, break off as much as you need and microwave it, covered.

If you freeze steamed rice, it will reheat as steamed rice. If you toss it in the fridge, then in a few hours the texture will change so that it’s only useful for making fried rice. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (and simple recipes are easily found online), but it may come as a bit of a shock if you thought you could just reheat it.

This message brought to you by the guy who lives alone and just made four cups of steamed rice, then stirred a bunch into a bowl of dry curry for an extremely filling meal.

Pixiv: Maid in Japan


I’d do a lot more Spring Cleaning if I had an army of cute maids. Even if I had to stay six feet away from them at all times, just the sight would raise my… spirits.

Cleaning isn’t the only option I have while effectively under house arrest, but I haven’t yet mustered up the enthusiasm to process vacation pictures, scan ancient medium-format negatives, sew a quilt, braid sword cords, update my CNC software and start cutting something useful (long list), trim the bamboo, fix some bugs in my published code, finish building the larger CNC mill that’s been taking up space in my living room for several years, etc, etc.

I’d love to get an electrician in to install two GFCI outlets (more Washlets!) and replace the old bathroom fan/lights with something made this century, but the ones allowed to remain open are pretty busy covering necessary maintenance. Lowes is open, so I could acquire the necessary tools and parts, but as with most things not involving my sex life, I prefer to pay professionals.

California isn’t quite under martial law, although sending your troops to shut down gun shops “to prevent panic buying” (San Jose, apparently unaware of the 10-day waiting period, one-gun-a-month limit, and draconian ammo purchase laws statewide) and ordering power and water cut off to any business that tries to stay open without approval (Los Angeles, second only to San Francisco in filth and disease) suggests that “slippery slope” is just a euphemism for bending everyone over and greasing them up. If in a few weeks we reach the point where Trump says “end the shutdown” and some state and local officials refuse, they’re going to be quite surprised to discover who the National Guard actually reports to.

Fortunately, I brought enough for everyone:

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Random pic dump


Today looks like a good day to take a long walk outdoors while maintaining Minimum Safe Distance from the neighbors.

Maybe spend an hour or two sitting out front with the Porch Cat.

Despite increasingly frantic media spin and censorship, polls suggest that people are starting to notice that Trump is the grown-up in the room, and that Biden isn’t having a few senior moments, he’s having a few non-senior moments. The one thing we can be sure of is that if the Democrats take the White House, he won’t be the one in charge.

Talked to my landscaper yesterday, pointing out that after the repair he recently did on the sprinkler system leak (aka “front-door fountain”), he didn’t plug the controller back in, so it hasn’t been watering anything for two weeks. Not a huge issue given the current rain, but this is California, and soon the rain will stop for six months.

This also reminded me that I really, really need to cut out all the dead culms in the backyard bamboo. I don’t let his team do it, because of the time The New Guy topped it like a hedge.

China announced that they’re beating Corona-chan like a rented mule, reporting zero new infections, and as a show of confidence, reopened 600 movie theaters.

Then immediately ordered them closed again. And the test kits they sold to other countries turned out to be worthless crap. And then we found out that when they were still claiming it wasn’t a serious problem the first time, they were ordering everyone in Australia working for Chinese companies to buy all the masks and other supplies they could get their hands on and ship them over, fast.

Streaming video providers are reducing quality to save bandwidth, and cloud providers are running short of capacity. Good thing no one relies on this stuff to make a living…

Inhuman interest news, Scoldilocks first announced that she’d caught a bad case of Irrelevancy, then announced that she’d beaten Corona-chan in a three-round cage match. With luck, this means that she can be bled for antibodies, making her useful to society for the first time in her life.

The same people who banned single-use bags, utensils, and straws are now graciously and temporarily allowing them to be used again, due to the clear benefit they provide in reducing transmission of disease. However, manufacturers and distributors of said products are not necessarily considered essential businesses, and may not be allowed to operate during shutdown-all-the-things.

Democrat mayors and governors across the country have given up pretending to pay lip service to the Second Amendment and revoked it by declaration. In response to this, outraged gun owners have behaved like sensible adults and filed lawsuits.

As reliable (non-Chinese) data becomes more solid, it’s beginning to look like killing the patient to save it was perhaps not the optimal strategy.

Important reminder: prices are signals, and raising the price of something in response to increased demand is not necessarily the result of naked greed and despicable opportunism. If stores had simply adopted a reverse discount for buying bulk, there would never have been a run on toilet paper (“raise your hand if ewwwww”). While they were a bit late to the game, I do admire Costco’s prominent no-refunds signs for anyone trying to build TP forts and water-jug bunkers.

I eagerly await the end of shelter-in-place, not because I have a great desire to get out there and socialize, but because it’s kinda hard to interview for new jobs when nobody knows whether they need caravan guards or IT staff.

On that note, I take great comfort in the thought that while I will have no difficulty finding a new job, the company that kicked me to the curb in the middle of the Zombie Apocalypse will never find another first-rate problem-solver with over 30 years of experience who’ll fix their servers during vacation from a hotel halfway around the world.

Where are all the dead homeless?


It’s been bothering me for a while now, and I haven’t found an honest number, or a journalist looking for it. WierdDave over at Ace’s place asked the same question last night, and nobody had an answer for him.

We know that San Francisco has a large number of people with poor nutrition and hygiene, no healthcare, a variety of conditions that can compromise their immune systems, unsafe and unsanitary living conditions, and a habit of disposing of their waste in the middle of the sidewalk.

And the ones who aren’t hipster techbros are long-term homeless who are older and physically debilitated by illness and addiction. Corona-chan has been out there for months now, with one of the major worldwide vectors being travel for the Chinese New Year, and SF has a rather substantial Chinatown.

So why aren’t the homeless dropping like flies?

Unrelated, It’s a Trap!, with bonus hilarious typo.

Cheesecake in the time of Corona


If hand-washing helps keep Corona-chan at bay, then surely prolonged bathing will provide even more benefit…

[soundtrack]

Related, I was wrong when I thought last week’s episode was the end of Interspecies Reviewers. Episode 12 not only lets Our Horndogs boldly go where they’ve been before, but includes not only the long-overdue demon shop review, but a bonus bathing scene featuring Death Abyss herself. 9/10, would contract again.

And hey, if you’re working from home due to Zombie Apocalypse, then everything’s Safe For Work, right?

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Well, somebody’s getting new work…


For the past week or so, the local Safeway has had 6-foot-distance lines at the registers, made with painter’s tape. Today someone was pulling those up and laying down big red professionally-printed floor markers indicating where to stand, as well as little posters explaining the CDC distancing guidelines.

In addition, the glove-wearing cashier and bagger wouldn’t touch reusable bags brought in by customers, and would only bag your purchases if you paid for paper bags (naturally, the state didn’t suspend the law mandating a minimum ten-cent price per bag).

Most of the store had stabilized, with only specific brands being low or out of stock, with the usual exceptions of TP, pasta, rice, flour, yeast, and beans, which were mostly gone. Actually, yeast seems to be one of the most persistently absent items now; I have half a pound in the freezer, so I don’t need any, but either it’s being snatched up like toilet paper, or the turnover is normally so low that it’s taking a while to refill the distribution pipeline.

Or it’s being diverted primarily to commercial bakeries. Which is a distinct possibility, because they had a double-shitload of bread in stock, enough that it looked like a white-bread-themed holiday was coming up. (“Dough Is Risen!”)

I just grabbed a half-price rotisserie chicken and some celery. Most other people seemed to be in normal-shopping mode as well, although the young asian couple wearing bandanas as masks saying something about “the last time we’ll be able to buy groceries” was mildly concerning. I choose to believe they’re just too busy providing essential services to get out much during the reduced shopping hours…

In other news, my severance was direct-deposited as promised today, which even after 41% withholding is still eight (California!) mortgage payments. No sign of Cobra paperwork yet, which is the only monthly expense I can’t predict (for those outside the US, that’s “18 months continuation of your former employer’s health plan, but you pay their part as well as yours”). My regular coverage expired today, but fortunately I had just gotten a three-month refill on my prescriptions before the axe fell.