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RICK / Somerville, MA, USA

April 2nd, 2020

Dear Future Rick,

I’m writing this letter in the middle of quarantine. Sitting at the kitchen table, I’ve spent most of the day inside, often looking out the window as storm clouds roll over Somerville. Governor Baker just extended the stay-at-home advisory until May 4th. If I had to bet, it will most likely be longer. Shouldn’t be an issue however, as my roommate Franciscó and I made a fortuitous trip to Costco in February. My parents thought I was crazy when I returned home with $400 worth of Bush’s Baked beans, Kirkland snow peas, Honey Bunches of Oats, flax seed, granola, Madras Lentils, 6 lbs of frozen chicken tenderloins, and a bag of frozen Normandy vegetables. Oh, how the tables have turned. Life during COVID19. The only time I did leave the house today was early in the afternoon when I biked through the rain from Inman Square to Alewife. For weeks I’ve been working with a group of 3D printing companies trying to address the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage during the coronavirus COVID19 outbreak. How does one help you ask? Well, the CEO of the 3D printing startup I’m currently working for, put me in charge of managing our response to the outbreak and helping as many people as possible. We looked at test swabs, ventilator splitters, and whole bunch of crazy ideas. Having found this group of rogue 3D printer aficionados who recently formed a non-profit organization called MasksOn, I was called upon today to help assemble masks for doctors in the Boston area. I wore my 3M respirator and snow gloves- the only gloves I could find- and biked over. Entering into the abandoned halls of the Alewife Center, I saw rows upon rows filled with Head Sea Vu Dry Full snorkeling masks. The team had figured out that 3D printing an adapter that connects the snorkeling mask to an ISO-certified filter could help make a reusable mask that protects doctors from contracting the virus and were running tests with clinicians to prove this out. After taking full stock of inventory, I fit tested a couple of iterations of the adapter and found one version best suitable for our needs. My routine these days has been very interesting. Wake up and open up the windows around the house. Text my loved ones a “I love you.” Turn on the Roku, flip past the latest episode of Tiger King, and open up a 30-minute Vinyasa Flow Youtube video. Roll out the mat and take deep breaths. Cool air running into the house is very similar to me focusing on the yoga mat. The house and I are taking deep breaths together. Out with the old air, in with the new. Once yoga is done, jump in the bathroom, shower, brush teeth, make breakfast, and cozy around a hot cup of coffee. Jump on a Google Hangout Coffee Hour with our startup. Usually there is talk about a new recipe someone’s tried or someone transforming their stairwell into a makeshift gym. After the call usually there is a mix of work-from-home activities and working out. Since most gyms in the area are closed, my preferred jog is over the Longfellow Bridge, through the Esplanade, back over the Mass Ave bridge, and back to Somerville. I had moved to Boston partially out of love for this jogging path, perhaps the most iconic route in America. Having made the conscious choice to move to Boston and start a new life here eight months ago, I had no idea that I was also signing up to be a resident during the middle of a pandemic. Running through the empty streets, by deserted buildings, and glancing over occasionally as the Red Line hums over the Longfellow bridge with ghostly passengers, the city has taken an apocalyptic appearance. Passing by the Hatch where I had first kissed my girlfriend, and running on past beautiful memories, I finally see the strong pillars of MIT standing at the end of the jog as a reminder that no problem is too difficult to be solved by crafty engineering. In the evenings, when work has come to a standstill, my roommate Franciscó and I will sit in the living room, open up the laptop to Chess.com and play whomever is online. For a while our rating had steadily surpassed 1300, but today we saw an opening that was fairly unique. White moves e4. Black moves e5. White moves knight Nf3. Black moves knight Nc6. But here’s the thing. White doesn’t pin the bishop to the knight. White plays Bishop Bc5. We were black and we were thrown off. This is called the Italian game. It was popularized by Gioachino Greco in the 17th century. Unfortunately, we lost 3 times. So now I’m watching Youtube videos on the Italian game openings and defenses. Then there is social media: Log onto Twitter. Yell into the void. Log onto Facebook. Talk to my old graduate school classmate about PhD life. Log onto Instagram. Watch the stories of other friends who seem to be thriving. Call my parents and sister. Hope they are doing fine. Tell them I love them. Sleep. The days are all blending together. How is Monday any different from Sunday? It’s so interesting how much we despise a daily regiment when we subscribe to one but miss it when it's gone. Life during COVID19. Until this sentence is read again, Rick

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