Two weeks ago it was uncertain how this covid thing would play out. I don't think much has changed. I get the feeling we'll look back on this as either the biggest overreaction since terrorism or the epic disaster we absolutely could have avoided.
Leaders have struggled with messaging - even when it's something simple like "be careful but don't panic".
But the feeling of this crisis(?) has been very mixed. Sports and entertainment have shut down and workplaces have taken some pretty drastic measures, yet nothing feels especially disrupted. And then you look at China and Korea and think that the US surely can do almost as well at surviving this.
Of course, this is the era of facebook and the gram. It's like a perverted version of "if it bleeds, it leads" where everyone's feed has to be as dramatic as possible and it also has to be about you, even if your crisis is nothing more than people stockpiling bottled water and toilet paper. Case in point: back in January people seemed convinced that the Iran thing would be a world war. If there's an up side, it's been the memes.
Covid has been pervasive enough that it's occupied most of everyone's waking hours, but it's not so bad that it can't be the subject of some light gallows humor.
Certainly most folks being sent home from work has affected the post volume.
The majority of social commentary has been shaming hoarders.
Infection rates seem to typically resemble a normal curve and by all accounts we're not very far up it. If the increased social awareness means this thing fizzles, the true lasting impact seems to be the financial one.
After my earlier discussion of inverses, we've experienced a couple of covid- and oil-attributed wall street plunges.
Self-quarantine: video games
The socially responsible thing to do, naturally, is self-sequester and play video games (ensuring one's character has proper PPE).
The PUBG squad has had some good runs but not yet tried out the panzerfaust.
Me and J finished our second character (Zane, Moze) TVHM main quests. I really dig the Zane shield build. Adding cold/freeze status to critical hits makes him excellent at controlling the chaos.
The quarantine/gaming situation looked grim for a brief few days: my rig began bootlooping at the BIOS splash screen (is this POST nowadays?). Here's how it went down.
Boot would pass the video card banner and then move to the BIOS splash where it would reset, even while mashing Del, End, or whatever else.
1. Disconnected hard drives, yanked gaming mouse.
2. Pulled RAM and CMOS battery - RAM sometimes breaks things and the power interruption will clear any corrupted flash.
3. Connected the BIOS reset jumper (while powered down).
4. Later than I should have, I dug out my old PC speaker, re-soldered the pins, and plugged that in.
Single beep as it was resetting. No angry error code beeps (typically associated with bad RAM, CPU, HDD, etc.).
5. Downloaded Q-Flash utility to update BIOS, but this requires catching a keypress during startup which I had not been able to do.
Video card seems okay.
BIOS doesn't seem to have any issues with peripherals - typically it'll throw beep codes for CPU or RAM issues.
Reset seems to be happening before the BIOS does much of anything (e.g. check to be reflashed).
Either the BIOS is supremely boned, or the power supply is maxed. Weird, the power supply should be good quality (EVGA), not old (few years), and there have otherwise been no major changes (just added an SSD at xmas, nothing else).
6. Dug out the multimeter and probed various pins for loaded voltage drops on a disconnected VGA 12v and the back side of the main power connector to the mobo.
Voltages appeared normal (12.1v, 8.0v, etc.).
7. More and more googling, of course Gigabyte was completely worthless on this. The bottom right of the boot screen had some numbers that seemed to be status (error?) indicators. The computer would reset on "99". Apparently these show device initialization, 99 is SuperIO.
Thank you, youtubeer.
Checking my otherwise stripped-down setup (no HDD, no sound card, no mouse), indeed my USB extension was still plugged in and on the other end was the flash hub. Disconnecting this, everything went back to functional. Wow.
Birthday photos. I've gone no UV filter and am not looking back.
The last week of February was one to remember. Or forget.
This coronavirus thing has been a weird mix of sensationalist news/stocks, people quietly buying out canned food and masks, and a completely unchanged day-to-day.
When life gives you Corona, make quarantinis
We had made a date for the next installment of Pandemic Legacy S1 with Seryan (portmanteau) about a month ago.
Not willing to tempt fate, we decided it'd be best to innoculate ourselves using a combination of homeopathic remedies.
The recipe was straightforward; most of the creativity went into the garnish since everyone knows that homeopathy is far more effective when combined with a placebo. Infusing vodka with jalapeno and garlic was actually very quick (~6 hours) and potent (chili emoji).
Mission accomplished, we caught neither Coronavirus nor any of our Pandemic diseases; Disco Fever, Snout Fever, Skull Shivers, and The Blue Thing.
The largest sell-off in history
The office/gchat/internet discussions about this week's market turmoil have been - like the covid thing - grim but fascinating. I've occasionally stopped by /r/WallStreetBets over the years. They're a hilarious, weird crowd that's now coping with mainstream exposure about as well as they've coped with TSLA. Depressingly, (aggressively-filtered) information on that sub seems closer to reality than the few times I've caught clips of Cramer while stopping by the break room.
Time to Bull up, my Boomer coworkers just panic sold
All of my boomer [ed. boomer now means non-millennial/gen-z] colleagues are full [coronavirus] panic. They are getting all into the money market, out of the s&p. Had a coworker that isn’t a boomer ask if they should pull out of spy and get short, they know nothing about the market.
I immediately got out of all of my Twitter, spy, and penn puts. Time to bull up. [Bears] are dead, but are too stupid to know it.
EDIT: Just heard a rumor that the Pope has the coronavirus. Now I have no fucking clue what to believe. Still holding 3/20 330 and just reloaded on 2/28 301P.
Disclaimer, i have no fucking idea what I'm doing, but i know that volatility makes money.
Edit 2: this aged just super fucking poorly.
Haha, from self-assuredness to reality in minutes. Thank you, Cunningham's Law. Some replies:
Selling begets selling. We’re trading fear, not stocks this week.
Boomers account for 55% of the US GDP. All their money is in the market. If you think a Boomer selling is a sign to become a bull, I've got some calls to sell you REALLY CHEAP.
A bunch of gen-X and boomers at my work started talking about the markets. A lot. They are all selling. I've been here over a year now, all I've ever heard them talk about was DIY projects and sports before now. Shit is getting real
Keep in mind, >90% of stocks are owned by the wealthiest 10% of households. That means, all of these chimpunk investor motherfuckers who are panic selling and talking about things at, "work" are only going to effect 10% of the total market by volume. So say 100% of them they all move 100% of their assets into, "something else," - well that would only be a 10% drop.
But they could be triggering the AI trading algorithms. The market is nearing consciousness. Skynet will be online before you know it and taking your tendies.
This is WSB. We're all nearing retirement. Either from work or from life.
On the other hand, the 'boomer' crowd is quick to tell you, "yes but the market always trends up in the long run so it's better just to hold". This almost feels like sock puppetry from the investment firms that make money off of investor inactivity. I ask, but why not sell now and buy back in? This is met with confusion.
Base case: you buy in to a position with $5,000 and will eventually sell at retirement or whatever where the price has doubled.
More realistically, the market has corrections, the economy has recessions. When you're talking 401k, this will happen several times before you cash out. You can ride the drop and cash out for the same amount of money. Indeed, the value grew dispite the downturns.
But when the price drops, you have the opportunity to sell and buy back in for more shares. You don't have to guess the top and bottom to still emerge from the dip with more money in the same investment. In this simple example it's a 10% difference at retirement, all for saying, "After 12 years of growth, covid might cause SPY to drop for at least a week."
So under normal circumstances I'd say that actively managing investments when you already have a day job is only worthwhile if you enjoy that sort of thing. I'd just rather the "long run" line be used with the explicit caveat that it's a convenience or risk decision, rather than the best strategy. In the case of this week, just as it made sense to make some moves when the corporate tax rate was cut, it makes sense to at least back out of SPY for a hot second.
In the longer term, we're looking at a pandemic that hopefully will be quickly controlled with only mild disruption to supply chains. But then we're still holding over a decade of growth, unstustainable tax policy, and the potential for a president who - politics notwithstanding - will be unfriendly to Wall Street.
And it should be pointed out that at some point, "the market will always grow in the long run" may cease being true - at least through the lens of individual investments that are capped at around 60 years. Personally, I may see the Dow hit 30k in my lifetime, but I would bet on war, resource shortages, and/or global warming having a heavy impact starting in twenty years or so.
Indeed, back in December I went a little bit more into bonds since a recession *should be* on the horizon. Amana growth, global technology (PRGTX), and semiconductors (SMH, not shown) have been pretty amazing for the last decade or so. FIVG has me determined to never invest in another meme stock, although CHAD may convince me otherwise.
I may buy back into those ETFs/funds, but for the moment my portfolio is down at the Winchester waiting for this to blow over. I couldn't resist doing a little inverse investment. SQQQ was doing well for a bit, but it may have been the wrong index choice. I might might take an L on these, but I at least have covid and investment/pandemic fear on my side - also apparently super Tuesday is going to tank the market.
GBES and beyond
The Gentlemen's Beer Exploration Society checked out:
Burgeon: neat place that feels like a brewery for Patagonia-types. I was not thrilled by their hazy-heavy tap list.
Pizza Port: always good, but feels a bit weird to be at a Pizza Port so far from the beach.
Culver: neat place, decent lineup.
Christyne (also portmanteau) hung out for a weekend. We stopped by Hamiltons and went to the zoo.
There was some split screen Borderlands. I started an Amara character and was happy to see cutscenes are all skippable and we might have started on TVHM(?). Amara's skill tree seemed pretty vanilla-siren, I've had a lot more fun with Fl4k and Zane.
Speaking of Borderlands
J and me are nearing the (increased) level cap for our second characters. There's still plenty of plot in our TVHM playthrough and we'll probably run through the Casino DLC at 53.
My Zane build was maxing out movement speed (which yields a damage boost) and kill skills that were also activated by using his class skill. It worked really well for standard difficulty (on-level, low mayhem). I was worthless in the Tina/Brick portion of the game at level-3 and mayhem 3. I switched up to the shield build and am doing decent damage with much higher survivability.
The Valentine's Day event was a lot like the Halloween event but with less-tedious challenges and a very cool reward weapon.
My Crimson Flower playthrough is coming along. Madness difficulty isn't quite Fates-level, but some battles have required a few tries. As masochistic as that might sound, the deep payoff in Fire Emblem is trying different tactics to pick the lock of a particularly tough scenario. The most sigificant things I've noticed about this playthrough:
XP gains really are nerfed.
With a maxed-out professor level, you end up needing to explore each weekend so that you can get motivation refilled for the next day of instruction. This means 2-3 weekends of exploration and then one battle weekend before the monthly mission. I'm worried my team will end up very skillful and very underleveled.
Enemies that act on the turn they spawn makes turning back time (or having a very good memory) critical.
While progression is throttled in the first playthrough, having max levels of various things in NG+ means it's easy to burn through your cash.
The toughest part of madness is the prevalence of enemies with Pass. Back line beware!
Just when I thought I'd experienced most of what PUBG had to offer (except for the feeling of being good), the crew finally got to drive around Sanhok in the APC. I found a flare gun at Back Boat (north side of Ha Tinh) and fired it off at the edge of the bubble, crucially when the HUD said an APC was available.
Turns out the strategy is just that: drive around. You can't shoot out of the APC and except for concentrated full-team fire, it's more or less invincible. We roamed the Sanhok hills well into late-circle, and rarely was a shot fired our way. Occasionally we parked at the edge and exited on the safe side to take some shots behind the cover afforded by the armored beast. For as well as things went leading up to the final circle, it ended poorly. Somehow the rest of my team managed to get themselves killed outside the vehicle. I decided that trying to res them (even behind the APC) as a sure way to catch a nade, so I made a poor attempt to run over the (only?) remaining opponent. He blasted the APC with an AR and frag and got it down to about 1/4 armor. Hoping to time my exit/assault with him reloading, I charged.
I was on single-fire. Because I'm stupid and had been sitting in an APC for 15 minutes with no HUD.
I did have a few pretty good runs in Karakin. The lack of terrain and non-bullet-drop range on that map is great for terrible players such as myself. It's a shame you can't queue just for this map.
Fully. Kitted. Aug. Oh yes. Was like a laser.
We've had some fun with the house on the cliff by Mansion. It's actually ended poorly each time we posted up there, but as they say...
... the real chicken dinners are the friends you made along the way.
The original Lolbaters crew has picked up Wolcen. It's a Diablo-like clickfest with pretty visuals and a story that is serious business.
Gameplay is extremely straightforward - inventory, attacks, specials, beast mode. The deepest part is the substantial skill tree. Still, the skills seem more around min-maxing damage modifiers than creating play styles beyond tank/rogue/mage.
One neat mechanic is the rage/willpower bar. You either build up rage (yellow) by attacking or using certain specials or you build up willpower (purple) by doing nothing or using certain specials. Specials have a rage or willpower cost (and cooldown) so effectively managing/bouncing this meter lets you pretty much ignore your basic attack.
It's not bad, but it doesn't feel like it has the tactical depth of a team brawler. You end up sprinting through these beautifully-crafted areas simply because you're driving toward the objective marker slashing through enemies on the way.
My host supports push-button SSL! Actually that shouldn't have an exclamation mark, but last time I checked it appeared to require an upcharge. Either they added free Let's Encrypt support or it was always there but visually behind the paid service, but it's there now. The paid service seems geared toward people depending on SSL for ecommerce as it has comes with insurance.
Image search has some pretty craptastic images for encryption.