2.001 a new cycle begins

Update: I failed to mention that in the middle of the day on this day, came another of those emails,

This is to notify you that we have two additional staff members who have tested positive for Covid-19. Anyone who has been identified as having had close or general contact with these individuals has been notified. …This brings our total Covid-positive staff members to 7. We currently have no Covid-positive residents.

Also, another item I forgot for the year-end wrap-up post: the little patch of psoriasis that has decorated my right hand for most of this century, finally disappeared. Just went away, replaced by normal looking skin. This is only “anecdata” but… it began to improve when I began dosing it with Bag Balm. Years of dabbing on steroid cream did nothing. Two months of Bag Balm, and it was fading out.

Wednesday 12/02/2020

I received a couple of nice birthday emails, which I appreciated. I have never paid much attention to my birthday as a marker, milestone, or celebration. And especially not since 2 December 2018 was the morning that Marian died and dropped me into… whatever this life has become. I didn’t choose it; the event chose itself as “Day 1” of my “transition to codger-dom”, and that has been its meaning for me in the two years since. Maybe after a few more years, assuming I have them, I’ll want to pay more attention to the annual change of my nominal age number. Today I’m officially 78. Meh. Talk to me when I’m officially 80, or 90.

After walking (only) the jogging route I settled down to doing stuff. Paid a bill. Dealt with some emails to Marcia about volunteers. Swept the dead flowers off the balcony and cleaned out a stack of recycle stuff. And the big project, annual charitable donations.

Last year I discovered Charity Navigator, a site that keeps track of almost every charity, with detailed info on their effectiveness. Using Charity Navigator I had set up a list of a couple of dozen charities that I wanted to support, and was able to donate to all of them in one operation, with a nice printout I can use with my income tax. I spent an hour going over the list from last year and donating, more to some, the same to others. And there; my giving is done. Well not quite, there are a couple that I do separately, like the Insight Meditation Center, the Internet Archive, and Wikipedia. But mostly done.

Between everything else and a well-placed nap, there was no time to work on the model. For entertainment I listened to a live stream from Club Fox, a concert by GG Amos, a blues guitarist from San Francisco.

1.365 year end wrap up

Tuesday 12/01/2020

Started to do Veronica’s aerobics but it was just a recording so I gave myself a pass. Which is stupid but somehow it feels fake to be following the directions of a recording. Went for a walk instead. Between that longer walk and a shorter one in the evening, I topped 4 miles for the day.

Worked on the model car, and solved the spark plug wire issue. I held each of the four plugs in the tip of a pair of hemostats and used sandpaper to reduce the tip of the little black “L” shape. Then I used a large sewing needle to stretch the tip of the tubing (yes it is that small) and worked the stretched tip onto the sparkplug. So now I have four spark plugs with wires hanging from them. I will later glue them in place and run the wires to the distributor. I have to look into where the coil sits and run a wire from the distributor to the coil.

Nothing much else for the day. So, let me take a minute to look back on the preceding 365 days.

In January, I was still doing volunteer work at CHM 2-3 days a week, and FOPAL another 2. On February 1, I moved from my temporary unit #435 back to my refurbished permanent home #621. A week later I bought the large painting, Leap #2, which hangs in the hall outside my unit now.

A week after that I headed out for ten days in London, a trip that I planned, booked, and executed myself, and which went very well indeed.

Those events seem much more than a year ago to me now! A couple of weeks after I got back from London, the first of the pandemic restrictions clamped down. The volunteer activities ended, giving me four days of the week to fill. Socialization ended with the closure of the dining room. And there really isn’t much to say about the rest of the year! Well, in late September I had my aortic dissection, from which I have pretty well recovered. That’s about it.

Looking ahead, I expect sometime in January or February they will administer vaccine to us elders, and after everyone in the building has received both shots, some of the restrictions will be lifted. I’ll feel empowered to resume volunteer work outside. We’ll start eating in the dining room again. and so on.

In the meantime, the pandemic continues, and likely worsens over the next months, as the post-Thanksgiving spike is over-topped by a post-Christmas spike.

1.364 jogging, meetings, model

Monday 11/30/2020

Wearing sneakers with street clothes because it was 41ºF I headed out at 8am and jogged 2/3 of my route. I could have jogged more, I think, but didn’t. So anyway.

At 10am I met with Marcia to discuss two issues. One, we’ve had some mixups in the meal delivery and we need to clarify some things to the volunteers. She took that on. Two, what about a resident’s no-gathering pledge for the holidays. I took that on, and realized what we needed was a poll. Quickly worked out you can do a poll using Google Docs. Set that up and sent the email with link to Marcia for comment.

At three I met in the lobby with my neighbor Eva, about her Mac. It’s a 2012 Macbook Pro and it is just dog slow. Almost anything you do turns on the “spinning beachball” cursor. I immediately assumed it was a problem with the hard drive, but when I ran “Disk First Aid” the disk utility didn’t report any issues, which was a surprise.

She has many GB of photos and no real backup, so I encouraged her in the idea of buying a new machine. I walked her through store.apple.com for buying what I recommended, the new Air, but she prefers to have another MacBook Pro, so we walked through the buying choices for that. Over to her to execute.

Did some work on the MG model. I have gotten to the point in assembling the motor, that it is time to worry about spark plug wires. This is a 1/16 kit, so the engine is big enough to make that realistic, where it isn’t really in the usual 1/24-scale kit.

The kit supplies four tiny spark plugs (actually, black L-shaped pieces which kinda sorta look like the right-angle rubber boots that I see in photos of real MG engines) and a tiny distributor with four poky little nubs. And a piece of a very fine (maybe 0.5mm?) plastic tubing. I think the idea is to slip the tubing over the nubs, but it is too small. Except maybe I can stretch it with some kind of very fine, pointy tool.

By the way, that picture shows a major mistake. The rocker cover is on backwards. The big shiny oil filler cap should be at the rear of the engine, not the front. Unfortunately I did such a good job of cementing it in place that I can’t now pop it off and reverse it. Yes, I tried, several times.

1.363 Dish walk, covid, moon

Sunday 11/29/2020

Determined to get out and have a scenic walk, and mindful that scenic walk places fill up early on weekends, I left at 8:30am and found an open parking space at the Dish Walk. Since the last time I was there (sometime in April? I can’t be bothered to look it up) it has been reorganized for one-way traffic, anti-clock-wise. So where my habit would be to walk straight up the hill and around to the dish, now I have to walk North and then East and then South past the Dish. Which is fine; and there is certainly a lot less exposure when you don’t have a flow of people coming toward you, breathing.

The Dish walk has a lot of elevation change; at least five times you go steeply down 100 feet or so, and then climb up 150, and again and again. But my body did it all and although I was definitely slowest, being passed by many other people, I felt like a healthy person all the way.

I was back home by 11:30, with 4.1 miles for the day. Mid-day I got an email from Channing House with this paragraph,

We are sad to report that we have another Covid-positive staff member. Persons with direct contact to this staff member have been, or are being, notified. If you do not receive a notification, you have had no known contact with this staff member. This case is not related to our current 4 positive staff members. This is a separate exposure that occurred outside of Channing House.

For the first time these past few days the pandemic has seemed more real, more personally threatening, than before. Coming back from the Dish walk I was tempted to stop at the California Avenue Farmer’s Market, just for fun, just to get some kind of pastry and stock up on grapes. But no; even the small risk of exposure there is not justified by those transient pleasures.

The rest of the day was the usual quiet activities. About 4pm, while talking to Dennis on the phone, I noticed a near-full moon rising and grabbed a picture.

1.362 Grumpy Saturday

Saturday 11/28/2020

About 10am I head out in the car, intending to walk in the Baylands. However many others, on a brilliantly clear holiday weekend, had started earlier, and there was nowhere to park. I drove around a bit in an unfocused fashion but couldn’t settle on anyplace I wanted to walk, so finally headed home, having had a drive, not a walk.

I worked on the model a little, and that was about it for the day.

Tomorrow I must do better for myself.

1.361 numbers, model, pandemic

Friday 11/27/2020

Something was not right with the numbers. Very not-right.

This blog starts (click the link “It started here”, above) on 2 December, 2019, the day my wife Marian died. For the first year I headed each post with “Day n“. But that wouldn’t be sustainable for the second year; who wants to read “Day 492” and so on? So I started the second year heading each post with a year and a day, like 1.361.

But now I was closing in on 2 December, and the day number should have been around 359, 360, and it wasn’t. I had screwed up somewhere. I went back and found that I had dropped ten days out after my ten-day hospital hiatus. Also I had two consecutive day numbers 331. And maybe other mistakes. So I just finished the tedious task of renumbering all the posts from 1.310. Now they are accurate, and 1.365 will fall on December 1st.

Nobody cares, except me.

On the jogging route this morning I jogged maybe 1/4 of the total distance? Quite a bit, and it felt fine. I’m just screwing around; Monday maybe I will start jogging and keep jogging either to the end or until my body says “enough”.

I put in some time on the MG model. In the afternoon, the package of clear gloss spray cans arrived so tomorrow I will experiment with them. Unfortunately they say two things: not recommended under 50ºF, and use in a well-ventilated space. I can certainly vouch for the second one; I sprayed a patch of paper just to verify it was gloss clear paint and I can still smell the fruity volatile chemicals an hour later. Tomorrow’s outdoor temperature should get above 50ºF, but I won’t try spraying until it is at least 60ºF.

Rhonda’s Friday meeting was similar to last week’s. The pandemic is raging, the news is grim, and we are restricting everything. Besides four staff people who are tested positive and are quarantining at home (all with symptoms), we have “at least three” who are in 14-day isolation because someone in their household was exposed. So, we are short of staff. Nevertheless, we have no residents with COVID.

To keep it that way, if anybody attends an indoor gathering of any kind, or an outdoor gathering with three or more households, or travels by train, plane, or bus — they isolate for 14 days. (I wonder does “travel” include local, like if I were to take CalTrain to the city.)

Most staff have taken a pledge to not attend multi-family gatherings this holiday season. There is an unusual tree sculpture celebrating this, which I had not properly appreciated. I will take a picture of it tomorrow.

1.360 thanksgiving

Thursday 11/26/2020

For the first time ever, I got a breakfast tray, which was ok. It did not as I thought, include mimosa makings. Sparkling cider did come with lunch, though. I called a few relatives, then went for a medium walk. Lunch was pretty decent, for a tray eaten alone.

White meat, dressing, quinoa salad, pecan pie, sparkling cider.

About 3pm my evening sack supper was dropped off, and the most impressive thing was in it.

Every sack, apparently, contained a card hand-signed by all the dining staff! That’s 200-odd cards; they must have been signing for a week. Very touching and impressive.

I put in a couple of half-hour sessions on the MG, completing its fully articulated front steering linkage. I put on a couple of the wheels I’ve been chrome-plating, loosely, just for show.


Wednesday 10/25/2020

Went for a walk around the jogging route, a brisk walk but did not actually jog any part of it. Can’t say why, exactly; just not motivated.

At 11am it was time for the first Stanford Women’s Basketball Game of the season. They provided a decent video stream. The team looked excellent, including a couple of freshmen who were just awesome. Next day their second game of the season was canceled, when UOP found they had a positive test.

Speaking of positive tests, about 2pm I received a CH email saying,

we have two additional staff members who have tested positive for Covid-19. We have not identified any residents who have had close contact with these individuals. This brings our total Covid-positive staff members to 4. We currently have no Covid-positive residents.

The virus is knocking at our doors.

1.358 blood, belt

Tuesday 11/24/2020

After the aerobics class I killed a bit of time and then left for a PAMF office in Sunnyvale. Pre-pandemic, if your doctor had ordered blood tests, you just picked a time and waltzed off to the downtown Palo Alto office, or (in our case preferably) the smaller Los Altos office, off El Camino just south of San Antonio.

No more. Now you make an appointment for your lab work, and despite my entering my zip code insistently, the only choices it gave me were the Sunnyvale office, 9 miles away, or San Jose, 20 miles. So I had opted for Sunnyvale and off I went.

I was standing in line waiting to check in and I hear the receptionists asking people “Are you fasting?” Oh hell. I bet one of the tests requires fasting. I debate whether to lie or not. I tell the truth, so only two of the three ordered tests can be done. The one that requires fasting is the blood lipids one and I really don’t give a damn about it. I may or may not make another appointment.

Anyway, they were operating very smoothly and rapidly, and although there were 6 or 7 people in line ahead of me, I was out and on my way home in 20 minutes, max.

About the only thing I did the rest of the day, aside from a little work on the model, was to shorten my belt. I favor these Perry Ellis reversible belts. The blank end of the belt fits into the swiveling end of the buckle with a couple of set screws. With my new weight, which hasn’t changed by more than 0.4 pounds in a month, I had been cinching the belt up to like the 9th or 10th hole. So now I pulled it apart and cut 4 inches out of the blind end, and fitted it back into the buckle. Now it is snug in the 3rd hole.

1.357 actual jogging, meeting, pandemic

Monday 10/23/2020

I went out in regular clothes, but wearing my sneakers. I went the jogging route, alternating one block of easy jogging, with two blocks of brisk walking. It felt fine. This is major progress, I feel.

On the other hand, several times today when I got up from sitting, my right hip was very painful, enough that I had to walk very carefully for several steps, until it would settle down. It didn’t hurt at all during the run/walk, nor on yesterday’s strenuous walk. So, WTF, hip?

I did a little work on the MG model. At 2pm I was invited to a Zoom meeting by the volunteers who want to re-start the gift shop. The Channing House gift shop used to be open a couple hours a day most days, selling notions, computer paper, and consignment clothes and art objects donated by residents. It was closed early in the pandemic.

Now some volunteers want to restart it, as a weekly “pop-up” market. There is apparently a backlog of merchandise, much of it good for Christmas sales. Mary Beth, who is spearheading this, pictures setting up two or three rolling carts of stuff and moving them to the auditorium. People would be allowed in, appropriately spaced out, to look (but not touch) and select things to buy. After discussion she is preparing a proposal to submit to Rhonda and Angela.

The only reason I was invited was that they figure to use a Slottr sign-up sheet such as I make for the other volunteer activities, to schedule volunteers to run the pop-up store.

In pandemic news, the upgrade process is just at a key point, where people who were displaced from the Fifth floor back in February are moving back. Regular readers will remember that I moved back to the refurbished Sixth floor in January; immediately after, all Fifth floor residents moved out to vacant apartments so it could be refurbished. Now it’s done, and they should be moved back, but as noted a couple of days ago: employees of the moving subcontractors are calling in sick because they have heard that we had two staff members test positive. Rhonda wrote in an email today,

We continuously advise them of the protocols that we have in place for their safety. And, that the General Contact Advisories mean that these people were in the same building but unlikely to be in the same vicinity. But, the teams are scared. As a result, we are severely short-staffed on the moving teams.

The result is that CH staff is now doubling as movers and move managers, in order to get the Fifth floor residents back home on schedule. This means that

Facilities team’s plate is especially full right now. Perhaps more full than it’s ever been. They are move managers, movers, and maintenance people. Please hold any requests that are not a safety issue.

The staff has really been stressed for nearly a year and they have rolled with a lot of punches, but this… I don’t know. We might get some burnout happening.