1.246 reading, talk, model

Monday 8/3/2020

This will be short, because there isn’t much to tell (quarantime is starting to fold in on itself). Went for a run, which felt fine. I think that spell of weakness a week ago may have been because I had no food before starting out: a “bonk” as we used to say in cycling. I had part of my breakfast shake before leaving today and all was well.

At 11 my neighbor Peter gave a book talk on his autobiography, Painted Pebbles. He read a few dramatic passages remembering the days of Nazi occupation of Hungary, and of the Hungarian Revolution.

The rest of the day was alternate reading and working on the model, mainly trying to finish painting the body. Many frustrations and do-overs. It is really difficult to get a clean, blemish-free coat of paint. To do it right I need a bigger shop with a proper ventilated spray booth to control dust, and a better quality air-brush/spray gun.

That’s about it. Tomorrow I will have to do something different.

1.245 more pork, airbrush

Sunday 8/2/2020

For breakfast I had the leftover pulled pork from last night, reheated. Very nice. Then at dinner-time, came a nice dish of… pulled pork! with sweet potatoes and a salad. Well, I like pulled pork. The CH kitchens didn’t provide BBQ sauce, but a little drizzle of sriracha fixed that.

Over the day I spent, must have been three hours fighting that nasty little airbrush. I took it all apart and found it had old paint from the first time I tried to use it. The product came with zero instructions on how to disassemble or properly clean it. In the course of cleaning it, however, I almost ruined it. The base/handle incorporates a battery, and a motor that pumps air out the top. Turns out, the air inlet is the USB charging port on the side. So I was holding it over the sink, using the air pressure to blow out the spray pipe while running water into the feed cup. Water ran down the side, and got sucked in through the charging port. Soon it stopped working because the handle was full of water. Then I spent a lot of time trying to get it to dry itself out, which it finally did.

Despite this and other problems, I did manage to apply decent coats of two different colors to the car body.

Comparing to my color reference picture. Close enough. My recollection of my actual ’53 is that the light blue was more gray. But that could be because it was 10 years old and dirty when I owned it.
Staring to remove the latex “frisket” masking that protected the “chrome” parts.

What’s left is to get a coat of clear acrylic on it. I applied this to the Chevy model with a brush and it came out ok. But I could try to use the Abominable Airbrush one more time before I junk it.

1.244 pulled pork, airbrush

Saturday 8/1/2020

Took it easy as is my wont on Saturdays. Felt fine, except for the gouty toe, which made walking a bit difficult. In the middle of the day it was quite swollen. I took a picture but it isn’t that different from yesterday’s picture, except the toe is more of a cherry red.

Supper today was BBQ from Armadillo Willy’s, via DoorDash. This was a plan suggested by Patty, who shared in the meal–to the extent that sharing is allowed. Which means, she and I waited together for the driver, split up the meal into separate bags, and went off to dine alone. Anyway it was very good and a nice change.

I finished the chassis and undercarriage of the Ford model, and finally got to everything set to begin painting color on the body. I have been looking forward to this, but unfortunately I looks like I made a stupid mistake. I tried to go cheap on buying an airbrush. I bought a small one, quite a clever design that incorporates its own air compressor into its handle, and all for a third what an airbrush plus external compressor costs. I should have known, you can’t go cheap on tools. Trying to save money on a tool is usually a sure way to waste money; I know that.

The little brush doesn’t deliver enough paint nor spray a wide enough pattern. It takes for bleepin’ ever to build up an opaque coat of color and the narrow pattern makes it very difficult to get a uniform coat. I painted the hood, a separate part, and stopped.

So I spent a lot of the evening reading “10 best airbrushes for model makers” type websites, of which there are several, and looking at youtube videos on using an airbrush. Actually from some of the videos I learned a couple things and I am going to disassemble my cheap brush. It may be better than I think, although I doubt it.

1.243 health items, weekly news

Friday 7/31/2020

I went for a run this morning and it felt completely normal throughout. However as I walked the last block to CH I noticed a general mild feeling of weakness. No nausea or giddyness, just general feebleness. I went upstairs and checked my vitals and was relieved to find temp 98.1, BP slightly high at 140/114, pulse slightly low at 62. I’m always on the lookout for signs my artificial aortic valve is breaking down, but that BP and pulse is the exact opposite of what you’d expect if the valve were failing; it would cause a high pulse and low BP. So I had what I meant to be a bit of a nap, but turned into an hour slumber, and then felt normal again.

Except for a toe. One toe had felt sore last night and this morning and, hello, it was showing gout. Is this not a classical presentation of gout? Rubor, dolor, little bit of calor. I’ve had a few episodes of gout before. Welp, guess I have another. By evening it was cooling off a bit. All the news that fits…

Did not do much except read, and a bit on the model. Rhonda’s 4pm Covid conference had some interesting news items. One, owing to the severe staff crunch, with 26 employees quarantined at home pending tests, with the head chef doing prep work, the food services manager running the dishwashers, and the housekeeping staff delivering meals, they are reassessing some things. They have stopped trying to spray-sterilize the many incoming packages, partly because of staff time, partly because the spray disinfectant, the same as they use on the elevators, hand-rails, etc., is in short supply, and partly because current advice is that the chance of virus transmission by packages is low.

And they are planning to re-open the garages for full access! Another week of limited return times, and then we’ll be able to bring our cars back in any time.

Another interesting, and reassuring, item was about our policies with respect to those staff members who can’t work. I’ll quote Rhonda’s remarks as received in email later,

Within hours of receiving a positive test result, Kim Kurtis (our Human Resources Director) and Paola Robles (our Human Resources Assistant) goes to every department for impromptu staff meetings. They… answer questions from staff and address their fears. They offer support services which have included hotel stays for those who do not want to risk exposure to their families, to Instacart deliveries for an employee who was too ill to shop for their family. … And, they check in on employees while they are out to see if there are any additional ways we can support them.
You may also like to know that Channing House has always had a generous policy for Paid Time Off (PTO). We always required that anyone with a fever, or various other symptoms, stay home. Our generous PTO policy supports that expectation. Our COVID PTO policy enhances that with the ability to use more PTO than an employee has earned. Which means that the employee continues to be paid while they cannot come to work when it’s related to COVID.

It is really nice to know we take care of our staff in this way.

1.242 linens, model

Thursday 7/30/2020

Did the morning aerobics. Soon after, found the weekly sack of fresh linens outside my door. Last Thursday was when Marta cleaned the place professionally. This week I’m on my own. In hopes of another professional cleaning next Thursday, I only swept the kitchen/living room floor, and changed the bed. Given the situation with Housekeeping staff having to deliver food, probably next Thursday I will have to get out my little vacuum and spray bottle of cleaner and do it right.

Off and on through the day I worked on the model, where I achieved a bit of a coup. The model has a detailed front end including steering knuckles/kingpins, and a detailed little tie-rod between them. The kingpins are set up so they could pivot, giving steerable front wheels. However, the connection between the tie-rod and the steering knuckles was designed to be cemented solid. A pin on the knuckle went into a hole in the end of the tie-rod, and if you didn’t cement it, the tie-rod would just fall off. So close to articulated steering, but not there. Assembled to instructions, the wheels would be fixed.

So I cut off the pins that came up from the steering knuckles. I took a tiny little drill bit and drilled a hole through the end of each steering knuckle, where the pin used to be. And I made little bitty rings of brass wire to link the tie-rod ends to the knuckles. Viola, articulated front steering. I’m rather pleased with this so I am including two pictures.

The front wheel attaches on that stub axle.

Not much else to say about this day. Well, one thing. I have Marian’s retirement clock on my desk. It’s a nice, heavy, gold thing that sat on our mantel for years. It’s very accurate, and runs for about a year on a single “N” cell. This morning during aerobics I noticed it had stopped. Time for a new battery. How to get one? I didn’t want to start yet another Amazon order for one stinking $3 pack of 2 batteries. I could fill out a form for “essentials”, and the staff will shop it next Tuesday, but I don’t want to give the staff any more to do in this crunch time.

Bleep it, I said, I’m going to walk to CVS and buy it. I put on my hat and got about halfway over to the CVS on University when my conscience got to me. Yes the risk is minimal but is it really essential to take it? Once again, do I want to risk being the one who brings the virus into Channing House?

Nope. So I turned around and walked back. And in about 2 minutes I had found TheBatterySupplier.com, a wonderful website that sells batteries of all kinds and doesn’t charge shipping. In five minutes I had placed an order for a 2-pack of N cells. It may take a week to get them, but whatever. I have five other clocks in the apartment (microwave, dvr, house phone, iPhone, wristwatch).

1.241 outing, model, reading

Wednesday 7/29/2020

Yeah, another day of gripping excitement. Well, a gentle pinch of excitement. Went for a run, and shortly after returning I got the car out of the garage and went for a drive just for fun. I thought about going down to the Baylands for a walk but instead went up 84 to Skyline and back down Page Mill.

Tsk tsk shooting a picture while driving…

Very few cars on the road, but quite a few cyclists. I remember the pleasures of cycling Skyline and Page Mill. Put the car safely away at 1:30. Maybe Saturday I’ll go to the Baylands.

Worked an hour on the car model. Although this model has better plastic details than the prior one, its instruction sheet is not as good. I’ve found a couple of mistakes in it, and today I had to spend ten minutes trying to make sense of a graphic where the drawing doesn’t match the plastic parts at all.

On my balcony, the dragon-wing begonias are begoing bonkers.

At 5:30 comes an email: a special Zoom meeting is called for 6:45 tonight “for an important COVID update”. Uh-oh. Will it be the first infection among us Independent Livers?

Turns out an employee in food services tested positive, and had been in close contact with others, so 20 food service employees are on furlough pending tests. In the meantime, the remaining food staff are confined to the kitchen where they prepare food and load carts wearing PPE including face shields. And delivery to the rooms is being done by whatever staff are available, primarily housekeeping and office staff. So in-room housekeeping services are again on hold.

Rhonda emphasized we are all to practice safety more than ever, and emphasized specifically that we are not to eat with persons from another household. I had a tentative date to go out for pizza on Saturday with another resident. While the meeting was in progress I sent an email canceling that.

Still reading Journal of the Plague Year and it is interesting how they tried to contain it with some measures that are familiar to us now. Defoe quotes at length from the orders of the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London. Among the rules,

…all plays, bear-baitings, games, singing of ballads, or such-like causes of assemblies of people be utterly prohibited … all public feasting,… and dinners at taverns, ale-houses, and other places of common entertainment…

Just the same, like parts of the USA, they couldn’t bring themselves to close the bars, only ruling

no company or person be suffered to remain or come into any tavern, ale-house, or coffee-house to drink after nine of the clock in the evening…

One striking measure of control was locking people into their houses. There was a system of watchmen and inspectors, who could go into any house to examine a sick person, and if the inspector decided this was a case of the plague they would lock up the house with everyone who lived there inside it, and set a 24-hour watch outside to make sure nobody left the place. You got out of such confinement only by dying, or by having an inspector come in and verify there was no remaining sickness. Defoe admits

many people perished in these miserable confinements which, ’tis reasonable to believe, would not have been distempered if they had had liberty, though the plague was in the house.

and says that

it would fill a little volume to set down the arts used by the people of such houses to shut the eyes of the watchmen who were employed, to deceive them, and to escape or break out from them.

Yeah, you think? We are more sensible, we confine the healthy people. Plus, we have internet. In 1650, if you are quarantined, the only “media” is your window to the street.

1.240 stir fever

Tuesday 7/28/2020

This is the first day of the pandemic where I’ve been seriously bored and antsy to be out and doing, with nothing to do. I wrote to Frank at FOPAL hoping he’d come up with something I could work on out in the courtyard. Maybe tomorrow.

I read my essay on “Every day (I update this blog)” to the CH Writers and people seemed to like it. Maybe a few new followers, but probably not. People around here don’t follow blogs they way I do, as far as I can tell. In the essay I referred to Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year (which anyone can download here). Some parallels emerge at once, and some differences.

One difference was how slowly Defoe’s plague moved, owing I suppose to how limited was the ability to travel in 1664. In autumn they get rumors it is in Holland, then in the spring shows up in the parish of St. Giles, and takes months to work its way across London. People didn’t move that far from their neighborhoods, I guess. Or maybe it had to do with the mode of transmission: the Great Plague of London was the bubonic form, transmitted by fleas, not through the air in droplets. That means that to spread the disease requires an infected person to carry their fleas to a new location, or to infect the fleas in another location, which is not as convenient as just sneezing or singing near another person. Of course, once the fleas of a household were infected, all the people who slept or spent time in that house would be infected.

One striking parallel was the immediate rise of quack remedies and their opportunistic purveyors:

it is incredible and scarce to be imagined, how the posts of houses and corners of streets were plastered over with doctors’ bills and papers of ignorant fellows, quacking and tampering in physic, and inviting the people to come to them for remedies, which was generally set off with such flourishes as these, viz.: ‘Infallible preventive pills against the plague.’ … ‘Anti-pestilential pills.’ ‘Incomparable drink against the plague, never found out before.’ ‘An universal remedy for the plague.’ ‘The only true plague water.’ ‘The royal antidote against all kinds of infection’

We’d like to think we’re smarter now than 450 years ago, wouldn’t we? Chloroquine, anyone? Bleach?

There were “astrologers” and others publishing all sorts of prophecies of doom.

Some endeavours were used to suppress the printing of such books as terrified the people, and to frighten the dispersers of them, some of whom were taken up; but nothing was done in it, as I am informed, the Government being unwilling to exasperate the people,


I omitted to mention that yesterday and the day before I received rejections from agents, and another today. Still about half of the 30 submissions still open. I was impressed at first that agents were replying fairly promptly, within a week or two; but now it has been more like six weeks. Of course a few of them just say, if you don’t hear back in twelve weeks, it means no.

A couple of the rejections read as if the agent had actually read the sample prose; others are less specific and might just mean they didn’t go past the submission letter itself. I haven’t much hope of an acceptance, but it would be really nice to have at least one agent ask to read the entire MS.

I was reminded of Pelajis the other day when I read Fried Rice Comic. I keep up a bit with the world of web comics, which is a new creative/publishing genre, barely twenty years old. (So far as I know, the longest continuous running web comic is Schlock Mercenary which started in 2000. There are a few others nearly as old, and many nearing the ten-year mark.) I follow several of web comics with enjoyment. There’s a huge range of artistic and narrative styles, all very different from the old syndicated newspaper comics.

Anyway, the annual Eisner Awards are the Oscars or Emmys of the world of comics and comic books, and since 2017 they have included an award for Best Web Comic, and this year that award went to Fried Rice Comic. If you haven’t read any web comics, read a few pages of that. Lovely, delicate watercolor illustrations, pleasant characters… and nothing happens!! Fifty damn pages (and it only updates once a week, so that’s a year’s worth) and nothing has happened except they go to church and later have a quiet little party.

So my test readers told me that in Pelajis not enough happens. Lemme tell ya, there’s more action on one damn chapter of Pelajis than in a whole year of the Eisner-winning Best Goddam Web Comic of 2020. Also, more jokes. Go figure.

1.239 model, opinion

Monday 7/27/2020

After my run I alternated between reading and working on the model car: paint a bit, read a while to let the paint dry or the cement set, and repeat. Eventually I finished the engine.

Late in the day a combination of a note from Scott, and a blog I had read earlier, combined to lead me to write a little screed to the CHOpinion mailing list, on the facts around the Federal response to the Portland protests. I also completed my essay about blogging every day and sent that to the writer’s list. So I did quite a bit of writing, although not in this blog.

Here are some views of the V8 engine. For starters, here’s the real thing.

Here’s the model a little closer up.

1.238 gardening, writing

Sunday 7/25/2020

Nice ordinary Sunday morning. Watering the plants, I thought about going to the nursery. I want to add a couple of plants, and repot another, and need potting soil and stuff. Common sense says do it Monday so I can put the car away the same day. But it was 9am on a lovely Sunday morning, so heck, I decided to go.

I haven’t mentioned the rigamarole of getting the car out. In order to completely isolate the COVID area from the rest of the facility, they had to close off the basement passage that I used to take to reach the car in the Lee Center garage. There’s also a ground-level door to a stairway to the garage, but for security, that door has to be kept locked. So to get the car, I go first to the front desk and ask for a Lee garage key. The receptionist notes my room number in a log and hands me a yardstick with a single key in a ring at the end. I take this and follow blue tape arrows through the dining room (chairs and tables all piled up for storage because we don’t eat there any more), across the back patio, and use the key to unlock the stairway door. Inside that door I hang the yardstick and key on a hook on the wall (somebody from Facilities comes around periodically and moves the keys back to the desk) and go down the stairs to the garage.

When I put the car away in the garage on Monday, I will exit that garage through a different door, one that opens to the street, so I can come around and reenter the building through our “single point of entry” and wash my hands and have my temperature checked.

Well, off to the nursery. It was busy, though not crowded, and almost everybody had masks on. I frowned at one guy who didn’t, but later he had one on. Earlier he had chin-strapped it to talk on the phone. Why do people think they can’t talk on the phone through a mask?

I bought a bag of soil, a couple of plants, a couple of pots and trotted on home where I gardened for an hour. I had to get rid of a healthy plant, a Heuchera. It was growing well but it was infested with tiny little white flies. It had annoyed me anyway, so I didn’t mourn when it went to the trash. I now have three fuchsias of different varieties in largish pots and look forward to seeing how they do. According to the little info card on one of them, it grows to 10 feet. I figure I will just keep cutting it back, holding it to about 3 foot max. Maybe that will kill it, but I bet it will be just fine.

The cue for the upcoming CH Writers’ meet is “every day” — whatever that phrase means to you. Hah! What does “every day” mean to me, aside from natural body functions (which was the first thing to pop into my mind, gotta be real), is this blog. I have written a nice little essay about why I started it, and why I decided to do a personal journal as a public blog. Why not a private journal, a text file that only I would ever see? (Like a normal person.)

For entertainment I watched Josie and the Pussycats oh yes I did. One of the bloggers that I follow had recommended it and it was on my TV box free, so sure. It was worth every penny, silly but fun.

1.237 walk, WBB, model

Saturday 7/25/2020

You know it’s a boring day if you have to put “walk” to fill out the title. Pleasant Saturday morning. Headed out for a walk about 9am. Went over to Midtown and had a cappucino and almond croissant, num num. To make up on calories, I skipped all carbs at lunch and ate only the salmon entree. (Salmon steak for lunch; I was thinking pretty well of the CH kitchen.)

Today was the tip-off of the WNBA season, which is being conducted entirely in a “Wubble” (Women’s bubble) with all teams sequestered in a single campus, three games a day. I had recorded the first game, which was the one in which Oregon alum Sabrina Ionescu, the all-everything college player of the year, made her professional debut. So nice that she’s graduated and I don’t have to root against her any more. She did well, but frankly the game wasn’t that interesting. I probably won’t watch many more of them.

I worked on the model for a couple of hours. I am at a very slow part where I have many tiny parts to assemble to the engine block. I cut them off the sprue and began. Each part needs to be carefully cleaned of flashing and then painted one of gloss black, flat black, aluminum or rust. Most need two coats of paint, with half an hour to dry between coats. And then fitted to the block. Always dry-fit first before applying cement, because things never fit quite right and need to be sanded or shaped somehow to fit snug.

Note the oil filter at the bottom?

I had a wee problem with that. When I went to find that on the sprue and clip it out, it wasn’t there. Apparently I cut it out earlier and lost it? Anyway it was nowhere to be found. Maybe it got vacuumed up by Marta Thursday. Anyway, I found a piece of sprue that was about the right diameter, and I sculpted an approximation of the original shape. Painted and with the decal it looks ok. (The decal is exactly right, it says “strato star” above a “V8” and I have a pic of a restored original car that has an oil filter just like it) .

Supper time and CH kitchen lost all cred; the entree was a grilled tuna steak that was dry and had a really foul odor. I dumped it and had a PBJ instead. (Finishing off a jar of rhubarb jam from niece Laurel.)