Day 68, a damn good day’s work

Couldn’t exercise this morning because the car-detailing crew showed up promptly at 8 to start on the Prius. So I settled in to gettin’ shit done in the APR. First up, a few financial details. Brokerage statements are in for the various accounts, so I could update the portfolio spreadsheet that I had created, following Marian’s design on Day 31. The news is good; the total is about 7% up from year-end 2018.

Next I tackled a heap of my personal memorabilia that had accumulated in a binder and a big plastic envelope for years. I really didn’t know what I would find. There were a few keepers.

IBM History

One was a letter I had written to my mother from San Francisco at the end of 1966. At the time I was working for the phone company, and I detailed how in the new year I was to start a “ten-week course” to become a full-fledged “inside wireman”. What I hadn’t known then was that the ten-week course would be the most boring, leaden, plodding thing imaginable, taught by a crusty old guy who was marking time to his retirement and who had no real insight into the complicated systems he was supposed to teach. Before two weeks had passed I was looking for new work, and stumbled hopefully into the local IBM branch office. Because IBM was just in transition from older systems to the new 360 line, they needed people, and hired me.

The sent me to Rochester, Minnesota to be trained on the older electro-mechanical systems. Another keeper was a hand-written letter by me to my sister, dated April 24, 1967. (Of course in the present era, this would have been an email and probably lost forever.) In it I wrote in part,

We took a quiz on the 514-519 machines today after closing up the local night club the night before. (Shame on us.) I got a 90, top grade in the class. Also showed expertise in lab sessions, so should get a B. … Tomorrow begins 6 days instruction on another machine (085) followed by an 18-day course in tab machines…

When I give tours at the CHM, I point out those machines, the 085 sorter and the 403 “tabulator”, as historic, and try to explain how they were the essence of “business data processing” for fifty years.

Niece stuff

Most of the rest of the pile I discarded. However, I gave each letter a cursory glance, and noticed in several of them between 1961 and 1963, my mother mentioned my niece Laurel. She was living with my parents, her grandparents, during that time. Some of the mentions touched on things that were probably significant to her. So I set those letters aside, and put them in an envelope to mail on to her. I figure I can trash things about me that I don’t care to remember, but I didn’t want to make that call on her behalf. Not sure it’s really doing her any favor, as some of the topics may be painful memories. Hope it was the right thing to do.

Anyway at the end I had reduced a large pile to a wispy handful which I distributed into the pages of a family album, and there: done. All the Cortesi family history reduced to one smallish box.

I was on such a roll I tried to tie up more loose ends. I emailed my sister-in-law suggesting we meet to go over the pile of Lacrampe family history that I hope she’ll take over from me.

I called IBM benefits, the ones who wouldn’t talk to me about Marian’s account, even to say if it was closed, until I proved I was her executor. This time the phone rep didn’t have anything to say about that; either she didn’t know that rule or else the account had been marked for me as executor. Anyway, all is well there. That was the last loose end of red tape needing to be tied up. Marian is quits with the world.

Finally I followed up on that painting I discussed on Day 46. On Day 54 I mentioned my impatience with the one gallery who wouldn’t return my calls or emails, and said I would contact another. Well, two emails to them had gone unanswered now. So this time I emailed the artist himself, reminding him of the painting, how he had toured Yosemite valley with us before making it, and asking if he had any idea how I should go about consigning one of his works. Hopefully he will be able to light a fire under one gallery or the other.


The detail guys didn’t finish until 12:30. I decided that, since I didn’t have any boxes, and since it was just before the biweekly sale so FOPAL would be jammed with stuff, I wouldn’t take any books down this time. I’ll take 3 boxes next week, maybe. Anyway so I will go to FOPAL on foot, a 40 minute walk, then take a Lyft home.


Which I did. Sorted. Appropriated a couple of New York Times crossword puzzle books that came in. Had an early supper, then out again at 7:15 to a play at the Bus Barn in Los Altos. Review tomorrow.





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