A hybrid in the USA

After a long process of planning and applications, I officially moved to the United Stated back in June! The final bits of the process came together much faster than I expected, and I ended up getting my status and moving all within a month.

With so little prep and a move at the beginning of Summer it made the logistics rather difficult. I had Uhaul cancel on me twice before I booked a private trailer to move down my stuff. As luck would have it, the trailer then broke down on the side of the road late in the evening and had to be towed the last stretch.

Lots of elements ended up being much easier than I expected (getting my car imported and my new Driver’s License were both very easy) and other aspects ended up being much more difficult than it feels like they should be (trying to open an investment account required two hour-long phone calls and an in-person visit to a branch since they couldn’t verify my identity).

Even though it’s been a bit now, I still feel like I’m settling in.


I’m not sure if I’ve had COVID, but I strongly suspect I got it around late-April/early-May in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. I ended up sick for a couple weeks in a time where testing wasn’t available, and then recovered.

Ever since then, I’ve had less energy than before. It’s affected my life in a major way and made it hard to do side projects, enjoy going outside or really doing anything. Before the pandemic I would get up early, drive to work, work my 8.5 hour day, drive home and work on projects like HAM radio, photography, urban exploring or even knitting and crafts.

Post-COVID, I roll out of bed half an hour before my first meeting, work through my day, and when 5 comes I can barely keep awake. I find myself needing a nap or spending the evening half asleep. I have had barely enough energy to do my job, and none extra. Now, almost a year later, this is just now starting to get better.

I have friends also going through shades of this same experience. COVID long-hauler syndrome is a very real thing, and I feel like it’s going to affect me for years to come. Whenever I see people feeling like it’s OK if people under 55 get COVID because they’re likely to survive, it makes me angry. Just because you survive doesn’t mean you life is severely and meaningfully altered.

When I saw I HATE EVERYTHING’s excellent I HATE ANXIETY 2020 video, it spoke to me a lot and I think really sums up the effect this is having on people well. If you’ve not yet, I recommend watching it.

I Miss IRC

This may be in the realm of “old hybrid yell at cloud,” but it’s something that I started to feel more strongly after having to deal with a bunch of different messaging clients over the last few weeks. Using Slack, Telegram, Discord and Microsoft Teams reminded me that a lot of the frustration I was feeling I didn’t experience back in the days of Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

The underlying technology of IRC was pretty minimal. You had IRC servers (which might be networked together to provide multiple servers for backup or to optimize by geographic region), IRC clients that would connect to the servers to send and receive messages, and IRC services which provided functionality on top of the base IRC specification.

IRC worked in a very similar way to most chat services you’re familiar with today; in fact, Slack started out as an IRC-compatible service you could connect a compliant IRC client to to chat within Slack organizations.

IRC had a lot of IRC clients, build on different styles of interaction. There were classic terminal-based clients, web-based clients and GUI clients that wouldn’t be confusing to someone who was used to using Slack, complete with Channels that start with # and user DMs that use @.

Starting an IRC server and logging it is really cheap, a $5/mth DigitalOcean VPS will happily run a IRC server and handle a couple hundred users. Functionality wise it wouldn’t be different than what Slack or Microsoft Teams offer. In a way, they’ve managed to take something really basic, make it prettier, and then charge way more for it.

For me, I dislike all the added complexity of integrations and the noisy visual style of Slack and Teams and would be happy with a simpler client, but I doubt we’ll go back to IRC again. In the world of overly-complex and noisy chat tools the prize would have to go to Discord. It’s interface and way of presenting content takes a lot of effort to fine-tune to the point where it’s anywhere near useful. It seems the developers felt that people would want to be hyper-aware of EVERY SINGLE MESSAGE anyone ever sent. A slimmer and more basic UI would make my Discord experience infinitely better.

If you’re someone who’s never gotten to experience IRC. Anthrochat is still up and running, and I’d recommend it as a good way to try out IRC and see how a similar networked chat tool can operate. It’s not got a lot of traffic these days (less than 50 users last I checked), so it’s hard to say how long it will remain online, so enjoy the bit of history while you can.