Tuesday, February 16, 2021

It does not sound fun to start something with a pandemic. It sounds better to start something in a pandemic. And this personal blog is one of those.

This is the 2nd year in the COVID era. It has been almost one full year since we - my wife and I - started working from home. Many things happened along the way, even without considering many COVID-related events.

And that was why I wanted to write.

I thought about writing on Facebook. The issue was that I do not often read long posts on Facebook. And I do not want to write something that I myself do not want to read. There used to be a "Notes" section on Facebook that I actually enjoyed reading because when I opened a note, I mentally prepared for a long story1. But that "Notes" section is no more. I do not know exactly why they removed that feature. My best guess is that not many people used it. I do not miss it, but I miss the old notes I was tagged. Also, with Facebook, while I understand the visibility setting for posts and notes, the fact that it cannot be reached from search engines troubles me.

I thought about writing on my old website2 which used Google Sites. It is easy to write simple pages there but it is just not a good platform to write a blog. As a developer, I also want a bit more control and customization.

That is why this new website came to life, in the middle of a pandemic.

It is hard to summarize an entire year living through this pandemic in the US. So I do not attempt to summarize it. But this is definitely a sad year. I am not talking about daily COVID-19 death rate in the US because although I knew it was bad, especially after my friend had to go to ICU because of it, we did not experience it firsthand. What I felt most was the lost of my grandfathers-in-law. We could not go back to Vietnam to see them because of travel restrictions, even though we registered to go back for months. And during those months, it was sad knowing that they were getting weaker and that nothing we could do, even just to visit them.

And it is just amazing how we adapted. Changing to living and working inside all year long. Seeing friends only once or twice; even avoiding people when we went outside. And staying at home together all year long without much trouble. It was really difficult for my wife to find a job after she graduated this summer. But she managed to land a great position, and seemed to enjoy working from home. I also prefer working from home to my 1-hour commute with Los Angeles traffic, but I still think it is better to have a working environment. When I lived near USC campus, I went to our lab at 8am and back home at 6pm. I cannot say much on my own productivity during this time compared to normal time because I do not know how to measure it. If you are a PhD student, you probably understand this.

We have just started a new lunar new year. Most people here, who know about lunar new year, would say it is the year of ox. But for Vietnamese people, it is the year of buffalo. I do not care much about that animal, except when it is a horse. But I do feel a new year has come. My wife took 2 days off. We bought many flowers, including peach flowers. We cooked many traditional dishes. We called our family many times than normal. And I started something.

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  1. I prepared, but whether a note is interesting enough for me to read is a different story.

  2. Still my main website as of February 16, 2021.