A Verbal Ramble

I started writing this post yesterday. It sat here overnight, a blank page. The only way to cure that is to write something on it. I’ve got several things on my mind that I could write about. I’m working on a couple of programming projects. I need to revise my short story for the anthology that my writing group at the library publishes every year. And then there is the story that I’ve been writing at my other writers group since March or so.

But I don’t really want to say much about those topics. They are better served by spending time working on them than talking about them. I could talk about my friend that has embarked on a career as a full time writer. I have to admit I am a bit envious of her. On the other hand, she had already published two books and has finished two more books and four novellas in the two months that she has been writing full time. Granted both of the books that she finished were already works in progress when she started writing full time.

But that’s really her story to tell. My story is that I am working hard to learn how to write stories that sell. I am continuing to be productive at my day job although I am not as excited about it as I used to be. That is primarily because I’ve let myself become burned out on it. I’m actively working on overcoming burn out and reclaiming some of the joy that I used to get from my job.

I’m looking forward to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. I would love to get out and do things again but between me and my wife’s health issues, I don’t think it’s wise to get out until its completely under control.

One of the things I’m looking forward to is traveling to see some of my relatives that are getting on in years. I’m not expecting any of them to die any time real soon but I’d like to visit with them while they are still feeling like company.

I’d also like to visit some of the places where I grew up. I haven’t been back to many of them since I was in my twenties. That’s something around forty years. I’ve taken Google Maps tours of many of the places so I’m well aware that they have changed considerably. The pandemic will have a hand in changing them even more.

In the mean time, everyone take care of themselves and their loved ones. Wash your hands, stay home if you can, wear a mask if you must go out, and maintain social distance. We’ll get through this together.

Comparing Writing to Programming

I was thinking about what to write about this week when it occurred to me to compare writing to programming. There are a number of similarities and differences between them both superficial and fundamental. I will discuss both.

At the most obvious level, both writing and programming involve placing symbols (letters, numbers, punctuation, etc.), either on paper or typing them into a computer. Sometimes you may spend some amount of time planning before you begin but often you just start, knowing that you are going to have to come back later and refine the product.

They both involve placing those symbols within a structure, either words, sentences, and paragraphs for example in the case of writing, or expressions, blocks, functions, and data structures in the case of programming.

Both writing and programming are done for an audience. Writing is done predominantly for human readers, in particular those that are self selected by their expectations of the content of the work. Programming is done predominantly for future programmers to understand how the compiled program works and, equally import, for a computer to translate into a program that can be executed to render some sort of useful computation. The reason that I say programming is predominantly for programmers is that if it were for a machine you might as well enter the primitive machine instructions by hand. Note that one of the programmers that you are writing for is your future self, long after you have forgotten the details of the program that you yourself wrote.

Another similarity between programming and writing is that they both are best done when the writer or programmer is in a state of flow. Flow is a concept that was written about by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It is a state of mind where people are so involved in what they are doing that nothing else seems to matter. For the writer, the words seem to flow onto the page effortlessly. For the programmer, the code appears on the page as if it was already there, waiting to be discovered.

I have experienced this state of flow both while writing and programming. It is one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had. It is the reason that I continue to write and program. But it is not always easy to attain. Csikszentmihalyi has studied the state for years and gives advice on how to attain it in his books but it is sometimes elusive.

The product of writing and programming are somewhat different. A program is a utilitarian artifact, a tool useful to accomplish some task that would be difficult or even impossible without it. At the same time, it is an expression of the programmer’s understanding of the process that comprises the program. When it is well constructed it has an aesthetic appeal that goes beyond it’s function.

A piece of prose has a similar aesthetic but it may lack the utilitarian aspect that one finds associated with a program. That is not to say that some prose is not useful, just that it is not necessary to be useful to be successful as prose.

I have made a lot of generalizations here. I must note that not all successful programs or pieces of prose fall strictly into the categories that I have described here. For instance, many programs are written strictly for their function without consideration of the aesthetic aspect they might embody. This is the nature of the economic pressures of commercial programming. It is often the case that attention to the aesthetic aspects of programming yields a product that works better, is easier to maintain, and consequently enjoys a longer span of usefulness.

Similarly, not all pieces of prose are expected to be aesthetic masterpieces. The instruction manual of a kitchen appliance is not expected to be read for its artistic merit. It is expected to be understandable and organized in a fashion that renders it easy to find the information that one is seeking. For that matter, not all fictional writing need rank high in the aesthetic ranks to be entertaining and worthwhile to read.

I will assert that learning to seek that flow state when writing or programming can result in a better product when you are finished. It will also result in a much enhanced creative experience while your are producing it.

Which brings me to this final point. It is important to chose what you do with your life carefully. Time is the one thing that you have an unknown but limited supply of. It is important to do everything possible to make what you do both enjoyable and useful.

Be safe, wash your hands often, stay home if you can and wear a mask if you must go out, and maintain social distance when possible.

Essays

I’ve followed the career of Paul Graham for a large part of my career. He was a Lisp hacker from MIT that started a company that had a web site that would allow you to create your own custom web site strictly by filling out forms on the web. You didn’t need to learn HTML or CSS. You just had to pick options off of lists and fill in boxes with the text you wanted to display as your content.

Paul eventually sold the company to Yahoo! and started an angel investment company called Y Combinator. His idea of an angel investment company was somewhat unique. They held events that they called Demo Days where potential startup founders would pitch their ideas to Paul and his partners. They would pick the best of the lot and then put them through a sort of startup boot camp where they would attempt to teach them things that would help them succeed with their new company.

The interesting thing was, most of the Y Combinator graduates went on to run successful startup companies. One of the insights that Paul brought to the table was that you shouldn’t select startups based solely on their ideas. Rather, you should select them based on their founders. He observed that good founders would eventually stumble across some product or another that would succeed whereas founders that only had a good idea were out of luck when that one idea fizzled out as it so often does.

The reason I know so much about what Paul Graham observed about picking winning startups is because I read his essays. After becoming a very successful serial startup founder, he discovered that he liked writing essays. He published a book of his essays, Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age. But even after that, he continued to write and post essays on his website.

His essays are all very well written, very well reasoned, and highly polished. He spends days, sometimes weeks, writing them and tweaking them until they feel right to him. He contends that the difference between essayists and journalists is primarily that journalists work under a deadline.

I find myself attempting to write essays under a self imposed deadline. Maybe they would be better if I put off posting them until they just felt write. Perhaps I should get people to review them and comment on them before I post them. But somehow, that’s not how this site works.

I will continue to write my posts off the cuff, posting them after a light proofreading. That is the style of this blog. Maybe I will write essays Paul’s way sometime in the future. I doubt it. If I don’t set deadlines for myself, I never get anything done. If that makes me a journalist instead of an essayist, I’ll take that.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Wash your hands, wear a mask, and maintain social distance.

My Obsession

I remember when I first discovered computers. It was exciting to learn how such simple circuits could do such complicated things. I wanted to learn everything I could about them. More importantly, I wanted to own one so that I could experiment with it and learn all the ins and outs of how it worked.

The problem was, I was young and didn’t have much spare income. Computers, it seemed to me, were always priced just slightly beyond my means. At first, the inexpensive computers that were selling for $100 – $250 were tantalizingly close to being affordable. But soon, bigger and better computers came on the market and they started out in the $500 range. For a while there it seemed like the capabilities of personal computers grew exponentially but their entry level price stayed at a fixed price of about $2000.

So, instead of buying a computer, I joined the Army to learn about computers and how to fix them. I told the recruiter that I was interested in enlisting for the computer job that had the longest school. I correctly assumed that they wouldn’t want to spend any more time than absolutely necessary on training so the longer the school, the more it would cover.

Consequently, I learned everything that there was to know about how computers were built, programmed, and troubleshot. I learned how the hardware worked and how to fix it when it didn’t work. I learned how to write programs and debug them when they didn’t work. And most important of all, I got to work with computers every day.

You have to understand that this was before computers were everywhere. Phones were wired to a particular place and had little or no digital components. TVs were big analog radios that used a tube for a display component. Cars didn’t have computers in them. In short, if you wanted to work with computers, you either had to go to college to learn to program business applications on mainframes or find some cutting edge device, like a missile, that used a computer to control the launch circuitry.

I enjoyed my time in the Army, at least the part of it that had to do with computers. I can’t say I enjoyed the marching, and the physical training, and all of the combat related stuff. But I was willing to put up with it to get to work with computers.

When I got out of the Army, the Personal Computer revolution was in full swing. I found a job right off the bat and all my study and experience paid off. I was so well trained that one of the first jobs that I applied for had me interview both as a technician and a programmer. I later learned that the software manager had called the hardware manager to ask if he was going to hire me. If he wasn’t the software manager was going to make me an offer.

I eventually got my own computer. In fact, I have seldom had fewer than two or three computers. Right now, in this room, I have four computers, a Storage Area Network that has a small linux computer for a controller, my iPhone, an iPad, my work PC, not to mention a workbench full of computers that aren’t even powered on right now.

Throughout my career as a computer scientist one thing has remained constant. I am constantly learning more about computers. I am obsessed by them. I want to learn about advances in hardware and software. I am always looking for new computer languages to learn. It has kept me relevant far longer than most of my contemporaries who have long since taken positions in management.

I’m happy to have remained a programmer. I balk at the title Software Engineer. We don’t know enough about building robust computer systems yet for their to be a clear computer engineering discipline. There are some early attempts to codify the profession but a good programmer is still more of an artist than an engineer.

Be safe, wear a mask when you go out, wash your hands frequently, and take care of yourself and each other.

A Short Return to Pandemic Posting

I made a commitment to myself in December to write a blog post every week of 2020. I’m a little late sometimes but I’ve managed to keep that commitment so far. When the pandemic hit, I posted a number of pieces about the quarantine and the fear and grief that it engendered. And then, I decided to try to move on and post more upbeat topics.

Here it is, the first week in July, the second half of the year. If we had behaved like responsible adults, the pandemic would have been under control by now. But instead, encouraged by our irresponsible leaders, too many people have gotten out without observing the simple precautions of keeping their distance and wearing a face covering. The result being, predictably, that the virus has taken another turn toward exponential growth.

At this point, I find that the only thing I can do is to stay home as much as possible (bi-weekly trips through the pharmacy drive through are my main outings), maintain social distance and wear a mask when I do go out, and wash my hands frequently.

Oh, and there’s one more thing I can do. I can encourage people to exercise their right to vote. Apply for an absentee ballot if you can, vote in person if you must, but make your voice heard. Let your elected leaders know how you feel about the way they handled this situation. Your vote is the only way some of them will pay any attention to you.

Next week, I’ll try to get back to the upbeat, move on with my life kind of post. That is unless the aliens invade or fire rains from the sky or who knows what unexpected crisis rears it’s ugly head.

Take care of yourself and those you love. There’s no replacing you or them.

Choosing a Computer Language

One of my favorite books is Gödel, Escher, and Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter. It is a book about self reference in mathematics, art, and music. It is also about the challenge of creating a General Artificial Intelligence, although I don’t think Hofstadter ever explicitly says that. I had read portions of it several times before I managed to make it all the way through it from start to finish. That was partially because I was impatient and easily distracted but mostly because it was such rich fare. I would read a chapter or two and have to go think about it for a while and absorb it.

One of the things I learned from the book was Gödel’s theorem. Paraphrased it says that a sufficiently complex formal system can either be consistent or complete. I took that to mean a given programming language, which by definition is internally consistent, can not express all programs. This convinced me that there would never be a computer language that would be so good that we wouldn’t need any other.

Since then I have spent a lot of time learning new computer languages. I have tried to understand what kinds of processes they expressed well and what lay beyond their ability to express. Consequently when I sit down to start a new programming project, the first question that I ask is which language should I implement it in?

Some people will tell you that all sufficiently complex languages can be expressed as a Turing machine. This quality of a language is known in Computer Science as one that is Turing complete. The problem with such an assertion is that the Turing machine is so primitive that no one would ever write a complex modern application using only the operations provided by a Turing machine. Instead, they would write it in terms of more complex abstractions built on top of the Turing machine. It is these more complex abstractions that run afoul of Gödel’s theorem, i.e. being sufficiently complex.

This brings me to the point I was going to make about choosing a language. I often find that I can try to fit a square peg in a round hole by choosing a language that I am familiar with but that doesn’t support the abstractions of the domain that I am trying to model. Or, I can learn a language more suited to the domain. Or, I can use a language that is good at extension to support new domains.

Lisp is a language that falls into the latter category. From it’s conception it has lent itself to the creation of so called Domain Specific Languages (DSL). This is usually attributed to its simple syntax, the fact that Lisp programs are represented in the same fashion as Lisp data (a feature know as homoiconicity), and the availability of a macro facility that makes it easy to create new idioms within the language. The latter aspect, Lisp’s macro facility is at the heart of its extensibility. It is also one of the harder aspects of the language to master.

So, I find myself waffling between Java, a language that I have lots of experience with but that is very verbose and labor intensive to write, and one of the various dialects of Lisp that are much more concise, support incremental development, and have macro facilities that allow me to adapt them to the domain of my app.

One might think the choice would be obvious but it isn’t. Java has a very attractive aspect that it offers. There are libraries available to do just about anything you might imagine written in Java. This means that when you are writing an application in Java, you often find yourself spending your time first looking for a library that provides some functionality you require and then writing code to adapt that library to the rest of your application.

But wait, there is another way. Java compiles to an intermediate byte code that is implemented by the runtime on all the machines that run Java. This byte code interpreter is often referred to as the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Other languages can be written so that they compile to byte code that runs on the JVM. These other languages then can make use of all the Java libraries that are available to native Java programs. Clojure, a modern implementation of Lisp, is one such language.

Now you must be thinking, “So what’s the issue here? Obviously Clojure is the language of choice here.” And you would be echoing what I keep trying to tell myself. The problem is, that Clojure is a very opinionated language. And while I agree with most of those opinions, the predominant one being the immutability of most data structures, the bad habits of my earlier career in programming make it difficult for me to embrace immutability and develop my apps in Clojure.

More precisely, when I am doing the exploratory part of developing my app, I spend a lot of time coming to terms with Clojure’s well intentioned restrictions. When I reach my frustration limit, I find myself going back to Common Lisp, the first Lisp that I learned, and trying to use it to prototype my ideas with the intent of porting my code back to Clojure when it is sufficiently mature.

Common Lisp has its own problems, chief among them, it is so big. I often find myself implementing some piece of functionality only to discover that there is a native implementation of the same functionality in the core implementation of Common Lisp. Not only that but there are a number (not quite as many as with Java but still quite a few) of libraries that also have better thought out and tested implementations of the functionality that I have produced on my own.

This sounds like a case of an embarrassment of riches and in fact it is. But it produces a kind of cognitive inertia that makes it difficult to get a project off the ground in the first place. I have managed to overcome that inertia to some extent and have found a collection of appropriate libraries to get me started on my latest app using Common Lisp.

Whether I wil be tempted to back port it to Clojure depends on how well it performs in Common Lisp. Steel Banks Common Lisp (SBCL) has a facility for compiling Lisp apps to native executables. That may end up being the way that I eventually ship the completed app and will make it so that I don’t need to put the effort into backporting.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for listening. I hope I’ve expressed the issues that I’ve been struggling with clearly enough.

Stay safe in these dangerous times. Wash your hands, maintain social distance, stay home as much as you can, and wear a mask if you do go out. Tell your loved ones that you love them. I’ll talk to you again next week.

Practice What You Aspire To

I came to an interesting realization today. I have been writing a journal entry of at least seven hundred and fifty words every day for over ten years. It has helped me to become a better writer. It has helped me develop confidence in myself as a writer. In that time, I have also completed the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge of writing fifty thousand words in twenty eight days five times. I have also written a short story for the three annual anthologies published by the Downtown Writers Group of the Huntsville Madison County Library.

With all of that writing, the bulk of it has been the journaling. Writing a journal is not writing fiction. There comes a time when one needs to shift one’s focus to practicing the activity that one aspires to, in my case, writing fiction. That is not to say that I intend to quit journaling. It helps clear my mind and gives me a place to think about important things such as how I’m going to become the fiction writer that I aspire to become. What it does mean is that I need to make time daily to write fiction.

If you want to learn to do something well, you’ve got to practice. Furthermore, you’ve got to be careful that what you practice is what you want to do well. I don’t know why I came to this realization so abruptly. It was accompanied by a couple of well thought out journal entries where I wrote about what my goals were and how I intended to achieve them.

I’m sure that this burst of clarity will be followed by intermittent periods of struggle. The difference will be that I now have an inkling of where I am going and what it will take to get there. My practice will count for more because it will be deliberately tuned to achieving my ultimate goals.

I have to give a tip of the hat to my writing colleague, Laura Winter. She has recently taken the plunge, quit her day job, and embarked on a career as a full time author. She also has a side gig as a life coach. Her writing on her blog and the conversations that we have at our weekly “Write In” meeting have helped me come to terms with my path toward becoming a publishing author.

In as much as honing my authorial skills are a prime focus for me, I have another project that I’m working on. It involves some programming, some community development, and a lot of research. I will be writing about it here as it becomes more clearly defined. I don’t intend to let it obstruct my fiction writing though. In fact, it is a tool to help me keep track of the myriad details involved in writing a novel length piece of fiction.

Many people are saying we should be opening up the economy again. I understand that many people who don’t have jobs where they can work from home are struggling to make ends meet. It is clear to me though, that in spite of pronouncements by politicians, the pandemic is far from over.

Be safe. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay home unless you absolutely have to go out. Maintain social distance when you do go out. Keep your bubble of frequent contacts small. Take care of your self and your loved ones.

Creativity is Hard

I finally came to a conclusion the other day. There is no process that is ever going to make creating easy. The fundamental problem is that whether you sit down and write a detailed outline or you just sit down and start writing prose, you have to imagine the story that you are going to write.

If you go the planning route, you still have to imagine what is going to happen in the story. You may put off some of the details until you start expanding on the outline in the first draft but you are going to have to create them at some point.

If you are a “pantser” (writing by the seat of your pants), you are probably going to wander around while discovering where the story happens and who the characters are. This will result in inevitable sections of the draft being cut from the first draft because they don’t really advance the story very well. Your reader is probably not going to be as interested in all the backstory you wrote while getting to know your protagonist as you are.

That’s not to say it is a total waste of time to do that exploration. If it helps you get a better picture of who that character is, the rest of the story will probably benefit from it. And I have a strict policy of not deleting those scenes entirely when I edit them out. They might come in handy in a different story sometime.

The same problem can arise when you are expanding your well planned outline. You may be writing along and discover that the plot you had planned so meticulously just isn’t working out when you actually write the story. The good thing is that there is less actual writing effort lost when you have to go back and rework your outline. There is still the effort that you put into coming up with the plot to begin with though.

I often write with Scrivener. The thing I like about it is that I can take a snapshot of my work, give it a label, and come back to it any time I like. I might find that the scene that I edited out of the beginning of the story actually has a place in the later part of it.

I talk as if I know what I’m talking about and I do to some extent. But the truth is, I’m still learning. I see myself improving but it is slow, hard work. But taking note of the things that I learn, as I learn them, is a good way to remind myself of them later when I get stuck.

Take care of yourself. Drink plenty of water, get lots of rest, wash your hands frequently, and keep social distance or at least wear a mask.

Tool Building vs. Tool Use: Maintaining Balance

I have been revisiting an idea I had for an application that I imagine I would like to use myself. I realized that I needed to survey the market to see if someone had written an app close enough in function to render my idea redundant. What I discovered was that the scope of the domain was much broader than I had any inkling of. I also discovered that it was largely considered a distraction by professional writers.

What I’m talking about is an app to help with world building. I had also considered that it would be useful as an aid to help prevent continuity lapses on the part of the writer. I have often named a character early in a draft only to refer to them with a different similar name later in the story. I’ve also lost track of what time of day it was in my story only to find that I had jumped from morning back to midnight in a couple of paragraphs.

I’m not really envisioning an outlining tool here. Rather I’m thinking of a loosely structured database, an oracle that can either answer my questions as a writer or remind me that I haven’t made that particular decision yet and offer to store whatever determination I decided was appropriate for future reference.

I thought it would be useful for such things as keeping track of who was where when, how far apart these places were from each other, the genealogy of the characters, and the timeline of the story.

This is motivated by the fact that my memory is not as good as it used to be and I don’t expect will be getting better the older I get. I’m by no means senile but I do suffer from that frustrating phenomenon where I know something but the harder I try to bring it to mind the more elusive it becomes. In particular, I have trouble thinking of proper names or other nouns. It is so prevalent that I have started calling it “nounemia”.

The fragile balance that must be struck by such a tool is to allow the writer to easily make note of facts as they are thought of without creating an opportunity to procrastinate. Many writers, myself included, have a tendency to be easily distracted and procrastinate when they are supposed to be writing. It typically happens when I want to look up some detail when I’m writing. Instead of placing a marker in the manuscript so I can come back to it and look the detail up when I finish writing for the day, I open a browser window and make my query of the great oracle Google.

Without exception, one thing leads to another and a query to find out if a 9mm was invented in 1926 ends up with me reading about Babylonian cuneiform writing a half an hour later.

The key to this problem is maintaining a balance. Scheduling time for world building and research and having the discipline to make a note of topics requiring research while you are writing without stopping the flow of words to look up the incidental fact when what you are supposed to be doing is getting the draft of the story down.

When I embarked on my survey of the existing world building tools I discovered that there were a number of things that were similar to the tool that I had in mind but none of them hit the sweet spot that I had imagined. I will continue my search and I’ll enlist the comments of my writer friends as to what, if any, tools they would like to see to help in their world building activity.

But in the final analysis I will build the tool that I want to use with the hope that others will find it useful in their writing. And I will have a second distraction to balance in addition to time spent on world building. That is I will be constantly tweaking my world building program. I will have to balance that with writing the story in the first place.

The Phases of Quarantine

So now we get to the part of quarantine where everyone is starting to get into the swing of the way this new life is going to go. We have gone through the phase where we couldn’t concentrate on our daily tasks from obsessing about the virus and whether our attempts to avoid it were going to be successful. We’ve made it through the first wave of cabin fever where we have discovered that, either we are more disciplined than we had feared, or we discover that when it comes to social distancing we can’t avoid a cheat here and there.

I’ve been pretty good. I have managed to restrict all of my trips to essential ones. We paid for year long free grocery delivery so the only reason I’ve had to go to the grocery is to get prescriptions from the pharmacy. It’s the one item they won’t allow third party shoppers to deliver.

I had to make a trip to Lowes. My toilet seat broke at the hinge where it attaches to the toilet. I bought a sturdier one. I also bought a set screw so that I could reattach the kitchen faucet. While I was there I bought sunflower seeds for the birds and the squirrels. And I had to buy some tomato plants or there won’t be any tomatoes later this summer. While no one of these purchases necessarily constituted an essential trip, taken together I think that they did. They made our lives considerably more pleasant anyway.

And then there is the stage that we are coming into now where it is becoming obvious that we are going to be practicing most of these preventative practices to some degree or another for the foreseeable future. I plan to wear a mask when I go out, stay home as much as I possibly can, and continue to work as long as possible, being thankful that I have a job in the first place.

As for my writing, I’m going to start scheduling my time more carefully so that I can write more while continuing to work full time at my day job. Maybe in a couple of years when the market has recovered and I’ve saved some more, I can start thinking about retiring from the day job and writing full time. Or maybe not. In either case, I will keep working to grow as a writer.

In this latest phase, we are forming into small pods of people whom we are willing to accept into our quarenteam. These are people that we trust to take the virus seriously and isolate from everyone not on our team. It has turned out a lot like the situation that one faces with venereal disease. When you sleep with someone you are sleeping with everyone they have slept with and all the people that those people have slept with, etc. It makes monogamy start to make more sense.

In the same way, when you add exposure to one more person to your team, you inherit exposures of everyone they have been exposed to. It’s actually quite scary, but at this point we have to take calculated risks. We have to have human contact. Zoom and texting and telephone calls can go a long way to treating our need for human company. But the closest friends are different. You have to find a way to see them, keeping social distance, of course. But sitting in the same physical space is important to the mental health of everyone involved.

That’s not to say that you should see them every day. It is a special dispensation that you ration like your last bottle of German sherry that you can’t find anywhere in the area. You use the quarantine experience to sharpen your appreciation for the things in life that it denies to you. You grow closer to the people near to you and try to be kinder than you’ve ever been before.

And in the end, you turn the quarantine into an opportunity to become a better person. As the world seems to fall apart in a chaotic mess around you, you focus inward and contemplate your strengths and weaknesses. You resolve to maintain this self awareness after the chaos starts to resolve into a new stability.

Wash your hands, wear a mask when you go out, stay at home as much as possible, tell those that you love that you love them, and be well.