How I’ve been spending my time

A hummingbird in flight at some sage

Two Bit Circus closed its doors due to COVID-19 in mid-March and laid off all salaried staff a week later. I’ve interviewed with a couple engineering firms in the meantime; they mostly see me as a resource for building quick-turn physical prototypes… in person. If you’d like to work with me, check out my resume and portfolio. I’ve been quite busy and thought I’d share what I’ve been working on even if it’s not my traditional style of projects.

For the last 5 weeks, I’ve been doing Unity’s Create with Code Live. This is a class that Unity would normally charge for, but they made it free during the crisis. I didn’t know anything about the game engine but it’s what we use at Two Bit Circus for almost every game we develop. I know about the electronics/physical side of things so I wanted some insight into the software side. I join a live session every day at 9AM. The live tutorials seem much better for learning tips for and quirks of using the GUI, something you wouldn’t normally get from a written tutorial. The consistent start time has been very beneficial for getting my day started every day. I like that the class is focused on scripting and not necessarily using magical features of the GUI. I do need a personal project to help me retain what I’m learning; I hope Tilt Five publishes their SDK so I can start playing with that before my hardware arrives.

Front of a small house with pink accents

I moved! Just not very far. Right at the end of March I shuttled all of my stuff across the street using my neighbor’s car. I now live in a 1911 house in the rear of a two home lot. It’s owned by a friend of ours and adjoins the art park where we host events (we provide the electricity and scheduling). At one point my place was used as a community classroom and had ethernet ports on every wall, which is weird for a place that isn’t built with 2×4 construction; the bedroom walls are rough-sawn planks stood vertically. My friend Dan is currently redoing the duplex I used to live in.

Borrowing Kevin’s car (he lives in the other house on the property) is just one example of how supportive my neighbors have been during this crisis. It’s good to see them even at a distance. They’ve picked up odds and ends for me since I don’t drive. I don’t get restaurant delivery so my contact with the outside world has been minimal. The only business I’ve been inside of in the last month is the post office to mail board games I’ve sold on eBay. If USPS hadn’t reduced the openings on all of their collection boxes, I wouldn’t have to take the risk. I’ve been getting my groceries delivered by Vons for the past 11 years. I never liked going to grocery stores which is why I started back in the day. Now service is worse with way fewer items due to the influx of new customers, but I’m still getting most of what I need.

a stack of ikea boxes

The new house is slightly bigger than my old place. The old place had more (and more sensible) built-in storage. I’ve been purchasing new furnishings to help fix that. A giant IKEA order has been occupying me.

a kitchen cabinet and overhead light

I got a cheap lower kitchen cabinet to use as a prep station and to store all of my kitchen tools and cookware. I also replaced the bare-bulbed fixture above it with an LED task light.

a bathroom vanity

I bought a bathroom vanity since there wasn’t one before and hung that. I still plan on growing this neckbeard all through quarantine though. I’ve also been doing a lot of maintenance like replacing a cracked toilet seat, labeling the breaker panel, fixing a sagging towel bar and dangling curtain rods, pulling the burglar bars off the windows, stripping the old phone system and KVM cables from under the house. I’m currently working on assembling a wardrobe that I designed using IKEA’s modular PAX system.

framed art hanging on walls meeting in a corner

I think by the end of this week I’ll be truly moved in (because new things will stop arriving). I did get everything put away and all my art hung within two weeks of moving (a new record, but not for someone with so much free time). I had accumulated most of the art while living 5 years in the old place and pieced it together as I went. In the new place, I had a clean slate and it was quite daunting. I managed to group things by theme and it’s all hung at a 57″ datum. Pictured above is just one corner of one room, but it’s hanging throughout.

The new place has a lot of natural light, but the layout makes for different living. I can fit a real dining table and my desk doesn’t need to be in the living room. But I can’t fit my projection screen for the first time in 14 years since every wall seems to have an opening in the middle of it. Last year I helped install lovely mini-split heat pumps in the duplex. Now I’m back to a small window A/C.

a chicken coop with its walls removed

One of the main benefits of the new house is the outdoor space. There’s a big patio between the two buildings with a large communal table. That’s shaded 2PM and on. There’s additional space even further behind the house with room for fruit trees or raised beds. The place came with a lot of detritus. The sort of stuff that a non-profit arts center accumulates from the “generous”. I spent an hour yesterday putting hundreds of pounds of rebar on the curb for the scavengers, with desk legs, and galvanized fencing. We cleared out the chicken coop and returned it to its initial shade structure shape. There’s a garage that really needs to be sorted but I’m not going to get to that until I’m fully settled.

mulched bbq area

I’ve been doing a lot of weeding and mulching as well. We get our mulch for free from chip drop. It’s not the best but it comes as a full truck’s worth. I’ve got my bird feeder hung and the humming birds seem to love everything from the sage to the rock purslane. I still need to transfer my succulents from my old picture window.

By this point I would have had a house warming party but now I’ve got time to really get everything into great shape (like removing this chicken coop sized pile of paneling). This autonomy over my living situation I’m sure is one of the main ways i’m capable of coping with the current world.

I have stayed fairly social. I see the couple neighbors every other day from a safe distance. We’ve had six virtual Hacker Drinkups so far. Unlike the physical ones in Los Angeles, all our former regulars have shown up despite living in Oxford, Boston, Seattle, Portland, Oakland, San Diego, and Hollywood. I’ve also been running a Friday happy hour for former Two Bit Circus employees from the last six years; many have expressed sadness in not being able to do a proper send-off. I’ve been seeing my parents and siblings on a weekly video conference on Sunday mornings. Everyone’s health has been good so far. My friends that were frequent EDM festival goers have been maintaining a calendar of DJ live streams and hosting video conferences which has been fun since it’s something I wasn’t attending that I now get to participate in. I’ve been FaceTiming friends a couple times a week (people I would normally grab coffee with) which is where I’ve been sharing most of my successes. The random dormant Slacks my friends had gathered in are now the forefront of activity; usually for coordinating Animal Crossing trades.

Our weekly board game nights are now online. I will probably write more about the resources that are out there in the future. We’ve been using Board Game Arena. It features several games we play in real life and has built in rules unlike many of the sandbox systems. I haven’t restarted the game night that I would host fortnightly at Two Bit Circus yet.

I’ve been using Airtable to track parts I’ve ordered to signal when a specific project has been unblocked. This has been good for keeping me feeling successful daily. I only have to think about the problems I can solve and not waste energy on ones I don’t have control of.

That’s all for now. I hope you’re doing well <3.

April 2020 Highland Park, CA


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