1.217 walk, model, upset tummy

Last night I watched the 2005 War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise and little Dakota Fanning. I loved the special effects. So much wanton destruction, whee! Li’l Dakota got to scream and scream, and Tom got to jut his jaw. Fun.

Sunday 7/5/2020

Breakfast was the second sample of the KetoComplete, and later I posted my report. People’s taste buds are sure different. In my report on the unflavored, I said it tasted of basically nothing, like diluted unsweetened Cream of Wheat. Today there was a post by a different reviewer who said it tasted to him like “mixed hay and vomit”. He is tasting some ingredient I don’t; I wonder what?

I went for a moderate walk, around over to Midtown where I had a cup of coffee sitting outside well distanced. There were perhaps five other people spread out around the outdoor seating. The contrast to the Sunday crowd back in normal times is strong.

I did some work on the car model; it is getting close to the end now. Looking at it I think I will give myself a C+ grade at best for workmanship.

An hour after downing the Channing House lunch I had some cramps, and then felt increasingly unwell into the evening, finally resolved with some diarrhea. By ten I felt fine again. Will I report this as a “symptom” on tomorrow’s automated health report? Nope.

1.216 busy Fourth

Saturday 7/4/2020

I’m always surprised by how much I get done early. It seemed like this morning was full of doin’s. Wrote a very long blog post for yesterday. Worked on the model car. Clear coat is finished, I hope. Ran through my talk for Monday, incorporating some changes that I thought up while obsessing about it at 3am. Scheduled my zoom meeting with FOPAL people for Tuesday, and in order to have a meeting over 40 minutes, I had to sign up for a Zoom “pro” membership, so got that done. Mixed up the KetoComplete Strawberry to taste tomorrow morning.

And that got me to 11am. And I hadn’t given a thought to it being a national holiday. Years past, the only thing better than the 4th falling on a Saturday, would be it falling on a Friday to make a longer weekend. This year… meh.

After lunch I met on-zoom with Pam, who is going to be the host for my book talk. We finalized the arrangements. Later in the day she issued the zoom invite.

At 2:30, Food Services came around door to door with what apparently is a CH tradition: root beer floats. A solo cup with a scoop of ice cream and a cold bottle of root beer.

About 3:30 I went for a walk. I walked toward some of the local parks, anticipating that I would see some people picnicking. Nope. Seems we in Palo Alto take the quarantine seriously.

I tried to install the rear window “glass” in the model car. It didn’t fit. Definitely made wrong. So was the windshield, but I was able to adapt that by breaking it in half and gluing in the halves separately. Gave up on the rear. It looks better without. Glued the interior into the body. Tomorrow, more assembly.

1.215 m.r. review, model

Friday 7/3/2020

Started with a run, fine. I continue to be thankful that, although when I walk normally, I get occasional little tweaks of pain from my left knee, it gives no problem at all when jogging. Fingers crossed.

Yesterday I received in the mail a long-awaited package. Well, three packages. But one was long-awaited.

Long digression

For years now, since the original Soylent kickstarter campaign of 2014, I have used meal replacements. I ran a meal-replacement blog in 2016-17, and published youtube reviews of such products. I gave up blogging and reviewing at the start of 2019 as part of my codger transition, but I continue to use the products. Currently I have one shake for breakfast. That’s more convenient (and healthier) than the CH breakfasts.

A minority interest within that minority interest is the tiny world of Keto meal replacements. One of the earliest, which started very soon after Soylent went live, is Keto Chow. It’s made by the Bairs, a charming family in Utah. Chris Bair started it as a hobby and after a year or so, it had grown enough that he quit his day job as a sysadmin and became CEO of a thriving small company, with offices, a warehouse and a dozen employees, selling a line of meal replacements that fit into the extreme-low-carb regimen of a ketogenic diet. And they are doing just fine in the pandemic, thank you. I am not on a keto diet, but I’ve been using Keto Chow shakes this year because of their wide range of flavors and easy ordering.

There are a couple of others in this tiny commercial niche. Super Body Fuel, a San Francisco outfit that was started by another amateur about the same time as Chris Bair, sells a Keto version of their product along with ones with a conventional proportion of carbs. I have a bag of their Keto Fuel powder in my cupboard now.

One more: KetoGenesis is a UK product, another small startup that was inspired by Soylent. Its founder is Joe Barrow. He, and Chris Bair, and “axcho” of SBF, are all active on the Reddit forums, and I corresponded with them a few times when I was running my meal replacement blog. Which explains why a few weeks ago, I was invited to join a Beta test of Joe’s newest product. And that requires another explanation.

Any nutritionally complete meal has some combination of the macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat; plus a long list of needed micronutrients (vitamins, electrolytes, minerals). The typical modern diet has from 25-40% calories from carbs, 15-30% calories from protein, the balance calories from fat. The Keto (aka Atkins, aka Paleo) diet runs the fraction of calories from carbs as close to zero as possible. Since you can’t process more than 100g or so of protein per day (unless you are an endurance athlete in training) that means that from 60-90% of the calories in a Keto meal come from the fat component.

All three companies took the same approach to packaging. They each formulated their powder to contain the protein, the flavoring, and all the micronutrients, but no fat at all. A meal’s worth of Keto Chow is about 45g of powder and totals by itself, about 200 calories. The user adds the amount of fat they want to bring that to their calorie target, say 400 or 500 calories total.

This design has a couple of advantages. The user has their choice of fat type — I use either avocado oil or melted butter — and can tailor the calorie content precisely to their planned diet. The product weighs less, so shipping is cheaper, and lacking fat, it is more stable and has longer shelf life. To include fat in a powder product, the fat has to be dried with a “carrier”, typically corn starch or maltodextrin. But the carrier is a carbohydrate, and adds unwanted carbs and calories to a “keto” meal.

On the down side, there’s more trouble preparing a shake and an extra cost. So there is a demand for a “fat-included” Keto meal shake, one where everything is in a single powder ready to mix. And that’s what Joe’s Genesis Foods wants to beta-test.

End of digression

So in the mail was a package from England with four packets of KetoComplete.

This is fortuitous timing because I have in stock a sample of Keto Chow Strawberry to compare. And I have keto Chocolates and Vanillas from Super Body Fuel, Keto Chow, and Sated, so I can do a 4-way comparison test of those two flavors. Excuse me, flavours. I had nothing to compare the UnflavoUred one with, so yesterday I mixed that one up, and this day I posted my review of it. That occupied a couple of hours.

One of the other packages was some brushes I’d been waiting for and I spent an hour experimenting with painting clear coat on the hood and roof of the car model. Extraordinarily frustrating. New brush released tiny hairs which I had to pick out. Dust grains, invisible while the paint is wet, look like gravel when it dries.

Talked to the lady who will run the zoom meeting for my book talk on Monday. We will have a bit of rehearsal on Saturday.

1.214 oh what did I do

Thursday 7/2/2020

The perpetual cry of the blogger who put off the blog post too long. What did I do yesterday? Well, I did the aerobics at 7:30. And I cleaned house. This is maybe the last time I’ll do it myself. Starting next Thursday a housekeeper should come to do it. But as yet that’s only on alternate weeks. Can I stand to use the same bed linen two weeks in a row? (Why not, I think we often went that long and longer before.)

While I was in the midst of this, Harriet stopped by to loan me a book. She came in her car, with her two dachshunds, and we took a walk up the street and around the park at Waverly and Homer. Which, she reminded me, is about where the Palo Alto Medical Facility used to stand! Although I am sure I visited there in the 70s and 80s, I don’t actually remember doing so. And I remember that the building used to kind of dominate downtown, and then PAMF moved to their larger campus on El Camino and the old building came down and was replaced by housing and a park.

I practiced my talk one more time and corresponded with various people by email. And that was another day..

1.213 book talk, webcam

Wednesday 7/1/2020

Went for an early run; it felt fine. On the way back in I noticed Jerry’s door was open, and I stopped to talk and borrow his webcam. Next week I have to conduct a zoom meeting for some FOPAL people, to hand off the online sign-up stuff I’ve been doing. The principal person uses Windows, so I need to be sharing the screen of a Windows machine to show how stuff looks.

The only Windows machine available to me is the one in the 10th floor public computer room. It doesn’t have a web-cam, and didn’t seem to have a speaker, either. So I took Jerry’s USB webcam up there and futzed around with the Win box. I managed to persuade it that, yes, it really did know about the speaker in the Acer monitor, and could use that for audio output. It had no problem picking up on the webcam and its mic, so I was able to open a Zoom meeting and walked through what I wanted to demo, and test screen sharing.

In the afternoon I finished putting together my book talk and ran through it for time. I have about 35 minutes of material, which is fine; I will go that far and just take questions as long as anybody wants to talk.

Evening I followed a suggestion of Craig’s, and looked at Eureka on Amazon Prime. It’s a kind of fun sci-fi about mishaps and misdeeds in a small town in Washington state where the gummint has sequestered all their smartest scientists. It’s well-produced with lots of CGI effects and some fun characters. One appeal for me is that it is mostly shot in some town in what looks like the Olympic Peninsula. Lots of drippy fir trees and moss.

1.211 book talk, FOPAL, rejection

Monday 6/29/2020

Went for a run, starting early, 7am, so as to be back in plenty of time for the arrival of the breakfast cart at 8:15. This was one of two days this week (Friday the other) where I opted to take the in-house breakfast, because French Toast. Actually I’m kind of sorry because Sunday I mixed up 4 shakers of meal replacements in all new flavors to me and I was looking forward to trying one. Tomorrow, then. Good to have things to anticipate.

On the run I was starting to practice my book talk which is just a week away. In the afternoon I spent about 3 hours working on that, writing it and accumulating images and graphs and stuff to put on the Zoom screen. At least another day of work on that.

I also worked on the FOPAL sale sign-up sheets, responding to emails. That takes a lot of time, crafting emails. I try to make sure I am saying what I mean to say, and not too much and blah blah, and end up spending 20 minutes or more on a short email.

Rejection number five came in this afternoon. I guess I’m pleased that agents do reply faster than I had been warned. Well, not so much faster, this one was almost two weeks out. Anyway better a slow acceptance, or something.

1.210 walk, shortcut, rejection

Sunday 6/28/2020

Nice Sunday morning, splendid weather. When watering the plants I dropped my moisture meter and it broke. Oh no, I will have to judge the plants by sticking my finger into the soil. Heck no, by noon I had ordered another. This one was made in China, as I suspect all of them are. Little green box with a meter, and a ten-inch metal probe. I opened it up to see if there was anything fixable, but no. It consists of a cheap microammeter, wired through a single resistor to the bimetallic point of the probe. Moisture creates a tiny current between dissimilar metals; that makes the needle swing — but mine couldn’t swing any more.

On Amazon you can see that there are at least 4 merchants selling the identical green plastic meter on a probe. There must be one Chinese factory cranking them out for middle-men to rebrand with their own decal.

Had a nice chat with Dennis, then headed out for a 3-mile walk. In the afternoon I played with Shortcuts some more. I succeeded in making a Shortcut that worked. Here’s the link, open that from an iPhone or iPad and you will be told you’re not allowed to open it. Because to use other people’s shortcuts you have to first go to Settings, Shortcuts, and enable “untrusted Shortcuts”. But if you do that you are shown the contents of the Shortcut and asked if you want to save it in your Gallery. You have no reason whatever to do that.

Every Channing House unit has a house phone extension. Anybody can call me by dialing 312. But to call from outside, you have to know that to dial an extension between 300 and 599, you use 650-324-7xxx while if the extension is above that range, you use 650-470-5xxx. Easy, huh? Not! So this app takes any extension, converts it to an outside number, and if you say OK, calls it.

What I eventually want to do is to have a shortcut that will let me enter a person’s name or room number, and have it dialed. That will mean accessing the Resident Directory which is in a web page. Shortcuts can be used to scrape web pages. But there are several barriers, first that you need a userid and password to get into intranet.channinghouse.org. Second that the directory isn’t available on that page in JSON format which is what Shortcuts let you scrape. So. Nerd nerd nerd, nerd nerd.

Late in the day I got another agent rejection.

1.209 apricots, visiting, model

Saturday 6/27/2020

Per the elevator sign (the day’s events as posted in the elevators and also emailed every night), the garage will be open for returning cars this afternoon. So as I stood looking out at a lovely morning I was thinking, oh, where could I go in the car? I was also looking at my plants and thinking how I want to get some larger fuchsia plants (and dang is that a hard word to spell). And that led to thinking how I really would like to find some larger, good-looking, flowerpots. Well, clearly a visit to a nursery was in order.

First, though, I remembered that Saturday is Farmer’s Market day in downtown Palo Alto, and that is a permitted activity, so I put on my mask and a Panama hat and took my shopping bag and went off there. And to my delight, I found Blenheim apricots were in season. The market is in COVID mode now, meaning there are no tasting samples, and you are no longer allowed to touch the wares. You have to stand back of a tape and ask the vendor to bag it up for you. So I ended up with a couple of pounds of apricots because that was what the vendor put in the bag. Oh well; there was a fair mix of ripe ones and green ones, so I can get them all et before they rot.

Back at the apartment I put my ‘cots away except for about three of the ripest which I ate because they needed eating. Then I thought, if I’m going to get the car out, I should go visit Jean, and I can take her some apricots too. So I did that: drove down to Mountain View and socialized with sister in law Jean for a while. She’s doing fine; healthy and a bit bored but like me, she really doesn’t need a lot of society, and she reports several local or church people stop by often.

Then back up El Camino and San Antonio to Summerwinds nursery. No fuchsias. No nice pots. Jean had suggested the Allied Arts place in Menlo Park where there might be artisanal pottery. It was still early so I drove up there — and let me just say how very enjoyable it is to just drive around freely in my car like old times. But Allied Arts doesn’t seem to have anywhere near as much artisanry as it used to. I’ve not been there in lots of years, but I remember it as having quite a few little artist shops. Now, practically none. There was a wedding party, lots of people in sharp clothes with masks on. But no nice pots.

Back home I had lunch, then went out and moved the car from the street into the garage during the 1:30-2pm open hours. I worked a bit on the car model. The clear plastic windscreen does not fit well. I tortured it a bit and made it work. I’m not at all happy with the paint job. I experimented with brushing on the clear acrylic on some scrap parts and left them to dry.

Got an email: they are reviving the “first monday book talk” series, now on Zoom. Back in January I was scheduled to discuss my To Thrive Beyond Belief in this series in April, but the virus killed the series. So now it looks like I will be doing it by Zoom a week from Monday. I have a week to remember what I had planned to say.

Now to watch a movie.

1.208 Productive Friday

Friday 6/26/2020

Started the day with a run; it was ok. Then I launched into the FOPAL project, preparing sign-up sheets for the August sale. Here’s my test sheet. Up to 16 people can sign up for either one-hour slot. I signed up a bunch of made-up names to fill the first slot.

It’s a fairly good system; I can export the signed up names and email from any sheet to an Excel spreadsheet for printing; I can send an email blast to everyone signed up to a sheet. Anyway I made up a total of six real sheets with the proper start and end times and days and so on, and sent an email to the people who care to check them out. Not good timing, some may not see it until Monday. Anyway, about 3 hours of work well done, I thought.

Middle of that, Bert, who runs the Tech Squad, sent me an email; a woman named Lynn needs help with her mac. I called her up and was able to coach her through a few things and she felt much better, or so she said.

So, wow, justifying my existence again.

Rhonda’s weekly general meeting didn’t have any big news this time. The next general COVID testing of IL residents will be July 15th. Oh, and on Wednesday I had suggested to Kim that it would be nice to get some guidance on things like the many open-air restaurants opening up? Rhonda ended her talk with a little homily on how, despite how various things are opening up, the virus hasn’t gone away. Just because the county says you may do something does not mean it is safe to do it. She specifically mentioned getting your hair cut; apparently some people have been driving over the line to San Mateo county where salons are open.

She contrasted these businesses to our staff. We have a full-time infection control and safety officer who is constantly monitoring and counseling staff; all our staff get their temperatures checked and are sent home if they have any symptom whatever. Do you really think that the people serving at a restaurant or salon, or the other customers, are as scrupulous about symptom control as our staff is?

While she didn’t actually say “don’t do it,” she did say, “I know I won’t be eating in a restaurant or getting my hair styled for the foreseeable future.” So I know what to say in case Patty suggests dinner out again.

I have three movies off HBO waiting to be watched on the DVR. And the latest episode of Alone, love that series, and something else.