4.110 managing, meeting

Tuesday 03/21/2023

Did the machine round in the gym. Well, most of it. There were a couple of other people and traffic backed up so I skipped most of my second set.

First task today was to enter all the A/V-related events from the draft April Calendar that we discussed yesterday, into the spreadsheet of A/V events that my committee shares. Then schedule the Zoom Room software for the events that have a zoom component. Then send an email to the group saying I’d done these things.

The writers meeting was next. The topic was “seasons and how they affect you” and I hadn’t even thought about writing anything. Others waxed eloquent on the change of the seasons.

3pm I met with Kass in the auditorium to get her squared away on how she would present some PDF slides before a movie she is running tonight. Think I’ll go check if she’s ok. Back in a flash…

Yup, proving the saying “there’s always something”, there was a problem. But David G was already there advising Kass, so I wasn’t needed. Fuck this shit.

4.109 meeting, fopal

Monday 03/20/2023

First up was the Event Coordinators meeting. This is a monthly meeting where everyone who sponsors or organizes events comes and we finalize the calendar for the next month. Lectures, concerts, bus trips, it never stops.

Rather than walk first thing, I lounged around until the meeting, then after I walked to FOPAL instead of driving. There I processed 7 boxes of books. Took a Lyft back home.

4.108 coding, swbb

Sunday 03/19/2023

Spent most of the day in a happy haze coding a program. I really enjoy coding. About eight hours work over three days, not quite 400 lines (200 non-comment) and it was working just fine at 3pm.

Back in 1984-85 I wrote a book, Dr. Dobb’s Z80 Toolbook, about assembly language programming for the Z80. For that, I invented my own simple markup syntax. Remember, HTML wasn’t invented until 1992. Basically I re-invented Markdown, or would that be pre-invented it? I used curly braces, for instance {iloudi} meant “loud” in italics, and so forth. At the time, I had written a program in Pascal to convert the files into source for a word processor app, but that code is long gone.

So I still have the source files for this book (they are now living on their, like, 4th or 5th successive computer) and I conceived a desire to re-read it. But I didn’t want to read the marked up text, I wanted to see it formatted. So I need to convert my marked-up source to HTML. Obviously that meant, write a quick program to do it. And I did, in Python, and it was fun.

Not so fun: at 5:30 I joined our little car pool and off to see 1-seeded Stanford play 8-seed Ole Miss. And the women played like shit and lost. Trailed the whole game, committed a mess of turnovers, couldn’t hit easy buckets. Tied the game with less than a minute to go, and had the ball, but turned it over yet again. Then they had to foul, and the Rebels made their free throws and it was over.

I am seriously thinking of not renewing my season tickets next year. Or maybe renewing them but not going to all the games, for sure. It just isn’t fun any more. Tara has said she’ll retire “when it stops being fun,” and that’s good advice.

4.107 board, coding

Saturday 03/18/2023

First thing, well, 8:15, I went down to meet with Martha and David G, to go and attend the Channing House Board Retreat. This was a day at which the staff reported on various things to the Board members. It was held at the Mitchell Park Community Center, a library and event place in Palo Alto. Catered, of course, so there were lots of delicious pastries and coffee in the morning, and a nice lunch at noon.

Besides the actual 10 or 12 Board members, there were all the elected offices of the Resident Association. And because a lot of the reported items had to do with trying to implement the Strategic Plan, Martha and I were included as members of the Strategic Planning committee which took up some of my time last year. David G. was there because he is a member of the Financial Planning committee which is an adjunct of the Board. Plus about 5 staff members, about 25 people in the room.

The elements of the Strategic Plan included points like “be a workplace of choice” and “improve memory care.” A lot of the first hours were on what they have been doing in these areas. I left my packet in the car so I don’t remember all the details, but they are doing many things to retain and hire staff in a very difficult hiring climate. And the memory care is a very elaborate program based in part on the “Best Friends Approach“. This has involved lots of staff training over months, and special training to on-board new hires.

A lot of this was pretty boring, but the final presentation, where Rhonda went over not just those areas but the “improving wellness” and “improving independent living experience”, was better. Unfortunately she asked us to keep the future plans confidential. so I won’t put them in here. But some major changes are likely to come in several areas.

One area she went over was, why is Channing House not a certified Medicare provider? We are not; we don’t (can’t) bill Medicare for anything. It’s because there would be small benefit to residents, and a huge increase in oversight, inspections, and paperwork, much of it duplicating the inspections and oversight already required by the California DPH and the California OSHPD, a parallel state agency.

Why little benefit? Medicare pays for skilled nursing only as rehab following a three-day hospital stay. Stay less than 3 days? No coverage. If you do qualify, Medicare then covers the first 20 days in full, followed by a max of 80 days at $200/day. (When Rhonda read this, a board member who is an MD laughed and said he had never heard of any patient who got more than two weeks covered.)

Point being, Channing House’s SNF provides custodial care. People who need it, often go into it directly, not from the hospital, and some can stay for a year or two. So any Medicare payment for nursing costs would be small or zero. (Treatment beyond the nursing care is provided by outside doctors or specialists who do bill Medicare.)

The issues of being a health-care provider are ridiculously complicated and Martha and I agreed on the way home that the staff are doing good work in a very difficult environment, and Rhonda is a jewel.

4.106 basketball

Friday 03/17/2023

Went for a walk but cut it short just because.

Worked on a little Python project that I thought up. At 3pm I left for Stanford to watch the women pretty much romp over a 16-seed. Watched part of the second game but left when it was clear Gonzaga would lose.

4.105 shustek

Thursday 03/16/2023

Tidied the apartment for Wanda to clean. Then headed out to the Shustek center for a day of artifact work. Except it wasn’t artifacts today. They have received a 47-box donation of the papers of Alexander “Sandy” Fraser, a noted computer scientist. Doctorate from Cambridge, worked on early computer software at the British firms ICL and Ferranti. In 1969 he moved to the USA, to Bell Labs, and continued in various positions at AT&T until he retired in 2000 as AT&T Chief Scientist. Author of many many papers and recipient of many prestigious awards.

So my work today was to make a start at getting these papers out of the boxes that the donor (his wife and son) had packed them in, and get them into archival folders in archival boxes with proper labels. It was fun, not a very demanding job but satisfying. Got through the first 10 or so boxes. Probably I will see those boxes off and on for weeks.

4.104 hair, fopal, meetings, talk

Wednesday 03/15/2023

First thing today was a haircut. Eight weeks since the last one, just about the right duration. Then, to fill the morning, I went down to FOPAL intending to sort books, but there were three boxes of computer books already, so I processed them.

At 1pm it was time for the monthly zoom meeting of FOPAL volunteers. The sale last weekend was very well attended and brought in $18,000, back to pre-pandemic levels.

I have decided that the next set of pictures I will put in my hallway gallery will be basketball action shots. From 2000 to about 2015 I took a lot of such pictures. So I started going through the digital files looking for ones worth printing. That took me up to 4pm when there was a zoom meeting, another one with the people from Pine Park Health. They’ve signed up enough people here that they are sure to have a person here at least half a day per week. This was to introduce the actual NPC (nurse practitioner certified) who would be the regular person. I forget his name but he seemed very personable, 40-something and bearded.

At 7:30 I went down to a lecture on Impressionist painting and gardens, which go together since most of the impressionists liked painting gardens, and the new style of painting came at the same time as a new fashion in flower gardens in France. My question, which I did not ask because the lecture had already run long and it wasn’t really relevant, was — how did the women stand to wear all those clothes?

4.103 meeting, tech, model

Tuesday 03/14/2023

Gym machine round. Then followed up on an open A/V issue (more managing). There has been for some years, a monthly event, the First Monday Book Talk, where a speaker talks about (duh) a book, preferably one they have written. Preferably the speaker is a resident. I gave a book talk back in July 2020 (thank you blog).

The guy who has managed this event, finding the speakers mainly, is George, and George, now 96, decided he can’t do it any more, and at the last book talk (4.095) I read out his request for somebody to take over. Well, the person who was the speaker at that talk, Gigi, decided to take on that job.

Gigi is enthusiastic and I am glad she is going to do this job, but I also want to be sure that she does what George never did, which is to properly reserve the time and venue for her event and fill out our Event Planning Form in good time before the event. So I got hold of her this morning and we arranged to meet at 1pm in the lobby.

Then it was time for the writers meeting. The prompt was “inheritance” and I had written a thing, which I will put some of at the end here. I told them I had some qualms about this after I wrote it, because it felt like over-sharing personal info. Was that TMI? I asked. No, they assured me, your light tone kept it from being cringy.

I spent an hour with Gigi teaching her how to reserve the auditorium and fill out the EPF and distribute it.

In the afternoon I put in a couple of hours finishing up the chrome trim on the sting ray.

OK here’s my bit on inheritance.


My parents were far from wealthy and I inherited nothing from them — except my genes. As I’ve aged, the shortcomings of that estate have become more apparent. To begin, there is my hair, or rather, my scalp. It is commonly said that a man inherits his hair pattern from his maternal grandfather. That’s certainly true in my case. Behold Mr. Samuel F. Neill.

The genetic bequeathment that has governed much of my life since age 60, I have reason to suspect I got from my father. That is the general poor quality of my vascular tissue. I’ve got really crap arteries. Where most people’s circulatory systems are, metaphorically, polished steel, or at least nice PVC plastic, mine is made metaphorically, of terra cotta and old boots.
This first manifested around age 60, when my primary care doctor, who was also a cardiologist, noted a heart murmur. My aortic valve wasn’t closing properly; it was “regurgitating”, which is how cardiologists talk about what plumbers call “back flow”. We followed it for a couple of years; then had some diagnostic scans.
Most people with this symptom turn out to have either an infection, or a build up of calcium collecting on the valve’s triple leaflets. My leaflets were fine; but they couldn’t close properly because the aortic annulus, the ring of muscle that frames the valve, was stretching wider. Cardiologists give this the fancy Greekism of “aortic ectasia”. I was just ectastic to learn that.
This is when I got to meet Dr. Vinny, Vincent Gaudiani, who is somewhat famous in local medical circles. He’s had his hands on more hearts than practically anybody. I believe he is still practicing now, twenty years after he rebuilt my aortic valve.
I remember very clearly when Dr. Gaudiani visited me, a day post-op. He wanted to talk about my vascular tissue. He explained how he had reconstructed the valve and also replaced the ascending aorta up to the arch with Dacron. Rolling his finger against his thumb he said the tissue he removed was “very poor quality, soft, almost Marfan-like.”
Marfan syndrome is a genetic aberration that affects connective tissue throughout the body. (Do feel free to read the very informative Wikipedia article.) I don’t have any of the external signs of Marfan, like unusually long fingers or toes, but I do have bunions, flat feet, and hammer toes, which can be associated with it.
But the main issue is the crappy arteries, which next manifested twenty years after my conversation with Dr. Vinny, in late 2020, when my descending aorta, the part Dr. Vinny hadn’t replaced, “dissected”, which is to say, split from its lining. Picture the lining of a jacket sleeve that comes unstitched from the shell. I got to meet a new surgeon, Dr. Amelia Watkins, who was delighted at the chance to install a set of wire stents all up the aorta. All fixed up!
A year later the porcine aortic valve Dr. Vinny had installed finally reached its best-by date and had to be replaced. I knew in 2000, when I opted for a tissue valve, it would need replacement some day, and at the time I confidently said, “By the time I need it, they’ll be able to replace it laparoscopically” — and by golly I was right! The new valve was dropped in a procedure so simple, it could have been done out-patient.
How long can this trashy patchwork keep going? My father, who again, I strongly suspect had the same issues, reached age 95, and died of general systemic failure, nothing cardiac. So who knows? I honestly don’t worry about it.

4.102 fan, meeting, fopal, model

Monday 03/13/2023

Today was the day scheduled for my living room air handler to be repaired. What? This is a grille in the ceiling that distributes warm or cool air. It has a fan that had begun to make a tiny little squeak, like a very small mouse a long way off. Today the facilities guys came to replace the fan motor. It took them a couple of hours from 8:30.

Meanwhile it was time for the Resident Association meeting at 9, this month zoom only on account of covid cases.

I thought I mentioned, but don’t see, that a tech issue is pending. It has been a year since we bought our own zoom account for the A/V team. We’ve used it a lot but rarely has zoom attendance topped 50 people. The renewal notice mentioned that we will pay $800 for the large-meeting extension, allowing more than 100 attendees. So there was a question, should I renew that part of it, or just the $150 regular account? Well, today, the zoom-only RA meeting topped out at 113 participants. So that answers that question. As long as the Covid is around, causing occasional shut-downs, we need the extension.

Following that I went down to FOPAL and did the usual post-sale work: look at every book on the shelf, and any that had gone unsold through 4 sale weekends, either lower the price, or send to the bargain room. That, plus pricing another couple of boxes, took two hours.

Lazed around the apartment for the afternoon. Did a little work on the ‘vette. This is putting chrome surrounds on windows. There are two basic ways. You can paint on “chrome” paint. This is not satisfactory for a couple of reasons. The paint doesn’t really have a chrome shine, and it is just about impossible, for me anyway, to paint a straight narrow line.

So the other method is metal foil. I’ve tried proper metal foil such as is used by artisans embossing foil into book covers and such. It is incredibly thin and very hard to work with. Although I may give it another go. However the third route is Bare Metal, it’s a heavier foil that is easier to work with. Here’s me putting some Bare Metal around the windshield frame.

Cut a 3/16 strip, peel from backing, and place in position
Emboss and burnish
into details with toothpick or fingernail
Trim with tip of a new very sharp X-acto blade
Take deep breath, cut next piece. Note blobby look of vent-window, which is painted chrome.

4.101 sunday

Sunday 03/12/2023

Ran down to FOPAL to tidy my shelves for the 2nd day of the sale weekend. Drove there through fairly heavy rain as one of a series of showers passed over.

Attended to an A/V issue. Jan, who runs the hearing support group, emailed that he wants their next meeting to be zoom-only, owing to the current Covid outbreak. Ian, who was scheduled to do A/V for that meeting, is not an experienced zoom host. So I had to get hold of Jan, to find out if he has a presenter, and if they will show slides, and such, and talked to Ian about running a zoom meeting. Back and forth. Managing.

Did a little work on the ‘vette, mainly, putting what is supposed to be chrome paint on the frames of just the little triangular vent windows. Not at all happy with the result.