New Split Keyboard
Following up from last week's post, I ended up getting a Kinesis Freestyle Pro. I opted for Cherry MX Red switches, which are quieter and less tactile than the MX Brown switches I had on my previous mechanical keyboard.
In short, I love this keyboard. I thought it'd take some ramp-up time to get used to the split design, but aside from my muscle memory wanting to use my right hand for the “B” key, I immediately took to this keyboard's split layout. I'd been skeptical of the linear key switches, because they're mostly marketed for “gaming”. However, I really enjoy typing on them: you still get the longer key travel and improved feel of mechanical switches, without the (in my opinion) distracting “click clack” sounds of tactile switches.
Having more space between my hands, and allowing my arms to rest at a natural spacing and angle makes a noticeable difference to the amount of strain I place on my wrists. An ergonomic keyboard isn't a panacea for wrist/RSI related pain, but it sure seems to help in my case.
I still have aspirations to build my own keyboard at some point, but the Kinesis suits my ergonomic needs excellently for the time being.
Using the Twitter Mobile Web App
I've been experiencing a bit of Twitter fatigue over the past couple weeks. In general, I try not to be on Twitter too much, but occasionally my usage becomes… problematic. With *gestures wildly* going on right now, I decided I needed to take a break from the firehose.
So, I deleted the Twitter app for 2 weeks. During the first week of this, I didn't check Twitter on my phone at all. During the second week, I experimented with the Twitter mobile web app – if you perform the “Add Website to Home Screen” action on iOS in Safari, you can install the PWA.
Twitter's mobile web experience is surprisingly good! More importantly, it's not too good. It still has enough additional friction (weirdness navigating between tweets, clunkiness in the bottom tab, etc.) that I didn't use it as much as the native app – but that was the point. It feels a little like putting your phone into grayscale mode to make using it less engaging. Turning down the interactivity a bit and increasing friction by a small, but noticeable amount, can help disrupt bad habits.
Today, I reinstalled the app to post a picture of the cake I made for Father's day:
Turned out well! pic.twitter.com/JY6HMlajAt— Ben Congdon (@BenRCongdon) June 22, 2020
So, I'm back. But, using the second-class mobile web experience was a nice experiment.
This week, King County (Seattle) moved to “Phase 2” of Washington's reopening plan. Technically, we were in “Phase 1.5” for the last few weeks, which in effect was pretty similar to the changes that “Phase 2” should have brought. Now, hairdressers, gyms, libraries, and restaurants can all reopen in a limited fashion subject to a number of capacity restrictions.
Anecdotally, the traffic around our neighborhood is increasing to almost-but-not-quite pre-pandemic levels. There are definitely more people outside; restaurants and bars are starting to get more crowded. I'd guess that many businesses aren't strictly following Phase 2 guidelines based on what I've seen, as unfortunately it seems that most of the regulations are on the “honor system”.
It's a positive development, though, and suggests that the Summer might not be a total loss. I don't think my lifestyle (w.r.t. work) is going to change for… months, but it's good to see that the community is starting to come out of lockdown. Hopefully the number of COVID cases remains low.
Stonks are Weird
I read several articles this week about the curious case of Hertz, which issued new stock despite it declaring bankrupcy, apparently due to Reddit retail investors coordinating their efforts on /r/wallstreetbets. My favorite writeup was Alex Danco's Never Hertz to Ask. There are some serious gems in this article:
There is a third kind of bubble, and it’s happening spectacularly right now. If the first kind of bubble is “everyone thinks the future will be the same”, and the second kind is “everyone thinks the future will be different”, the third kind is “everyone thinks the future doesn’t matter.”
The groundwork for this strange show has been built up over a few years, but when the pandemic hit, all hell broke loose. A perfect storm of events come together: first, generational volatility in the stock market as everyone tried to get in front of (and then out from) a global pandemic; second, everyone getting quarantined at home and desperate to feel something, and third: no sports.
… Just to restate how funny this is: Hertz is granted permission, by their own bankruptcy judge, to sell stock in their company which has already declared bankruptcy, because due to weird mojo in the universe, there’s a small army of reddit trolls playing chicken with each other and it just might save the company. Financial Twitter goes crazy, and (of course!) people start bidding up stocks of other bankrupt companies. It was a great day to be online.
I highly recommend reading the full article. And, if you're interested in learning more, Matt Levine's Bloomberg article was also a fun read.
Many have rightfully bemoaned the fact that the stock market seems to be disconnected from the reality of the COVID-induced recession. There are likely a variety of reasons why stocks have been performing well despite alarming global economic headwinds, but this is one of the funnier reasons. This type of investing seems closer to gambling than “investing”, and can have pretty devastating consequences when bets turn sour. I wouldn't be surprised if some of this trading activity gets regulated in the aftermath of this Hertz debacle.