Day 62, “Yosemite”, Insurance

Thursday, 1/30/2019

I spent the bulk of the day at “Yosemite”, the CHM’s big storage space on Yosemite avenue in Milpitas. With six other regular volunteers I worked on “palletizing” a number of machines. These are smaller units that were stored at floor level. Aurora, the curator, wants to move them to one of the higher racks with the fork-lift. To do that, each unit has to be gotten onto a pallet and strapped down with “cordlash”, a high-strength fabric strap.

Allen, Steve, and Dave Bennet move a piece of a PDP-11/70 onto a pallet

Palletizing is heavy work, especially when you consider the volunteers are as old or older than the historic  machines they’re moving.

Vacuuming degraded foam

One persistent problem is plastic foam. Designers liked to incorporate foam into these machines for sound deadening or air filtration. Unfortunately after 40+ years, the foam degrades to a crispy, dusty texture that fragments at a touch into a sticky snow that coats the inside of the machine and encourages corrosion. Foul stuff! I spotted black snow in one machine and traced it to air filters that had not been removed when the machine was initially archived several years earlier.

At lunch I mentioned having visited the Hiller aviation museum and it turned out four of the eight people at the table had been there, some several times.


Back home there was one piece of mail on the doormat: an envelope from The Prudential. Thinking it would be an ad, I almost tossed it, but when I opened it found a check for $5000 — the payment for Marian’s IBM life insurance. I’m not sure how it came about that she had this policy. Maybe it was a perk they offered in the years before I was hired; or maybe it was an optional payroll deduction thing. I certainly wasn’t offered life insurance, that I recall.

At any rate, this check is one of the last pieces of bureaucracy related to her death. The books aren’t quite closed; I had an email from the financial advisors, saying they are preparing the paperwork to merge her IRA accounts into mine, and would get it to me soon.

This was a bit of a surprise. I had assumed that on her death, her IRA would have to be closed and the long-deferred federal tax on it paid. If I understand the email, though (and I’ve asked for a clarification) it looks as if her IRA will simply be merged with mine, and the money will continue to be tax-deferred. That’ll be a nice perk for a widower! Possibly with more net value than the old life insurance.


Stanford women played at Cal. I lost track of the time and didn’t start the audio stream of the game until just into the fourth quarter, when the score was tied 69-all. (Which reminds me of the old joke about the couple who arrive late at a baseball game, to find the score 0-0 in the ninth. “Oh good,” says the wife, “we didn’t miss anything!”)

In the next few minutes Stanford got down by 5, then came back to lead by 1 point. With seven seconds left, Cal’s Aja Jones drove the lane and made a layup on the buzzer; Cal wins by one point. The announcer on the Stanford audio stream was going nuts, talking about the best basketball game he’d seen all season. Cal plays at Stanford Saturday afternoon; I’m looking forward to attending that game.

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