1.184 car, model, meeting, TV

Wednesday 5/3/2020

Started with a run. Then about 10 took the car out. Well, I lie. At about 10 I made my way to the garage ready to take the car out, but the Prius said, “Key not detected”. So back through four doors, up the elevator, to my room, take the car key off the desk, and about 10:10 I took the car out. Just drove around the back roads, up Page Mill, along Altamont, back on Foothill. It was a brilliant warm day and there were several bicyclists along the route, and in fact I was recognizing parts of the streets as ones I had last been on, cycling, maybe 5 or more years ago. When I cycled.

Worked a bit on the car model. The next phase is to assemble the interior. It’s quite detailed. Here’s the dashboard, for example, and a real one for comparison.

OMG I just noticed the handle of the parking brake in the real one. I don’t think that’s in the model.

So I clipped all the interior parts off the sprues and sanded off the flashings and then contemplated. There is a heckuva lot of detail to paint. Which is in a way, wasted effort. This model doesn’t have opening doors. Opening hood, but not doors. So whatever detail I render on the interior will only be seen through the little windows, i.e. not very well. So I was thinking how I could paint the dash and then rub the paint off the little radio buttons so they would be white against the paint like the real ones, and then thought, oh really? Why? Well.

Also thought about paint colors, and then spent 40 minutes or so at various websites assembling an order with suitable light and dark grays to paint the upholstery and the top of the dash. Oh, and while there I found a pre-mixed acrylic in a green that is acceptably close to the body color. So I won’t have to mix.

Three PM was the Residents’ Association Executive Committee meeting. I’m the treasurer as I mentioned a few weeks ago. The topic was changing the wording of the Handbook describing how to use the in-house email bulletin board. There are two, CHBB for general interest, and CHOpinion which is supposedly were anything that might offend anyone goes. There have been a few Incidents in which people Offended. So we approved more explicit wording on what’s acceptable and recommended use of CHBB.

Spent most of the time talking about what a couple of members said was widespread feeling of not enough communication. Pre-virus there were monthly R.A. meetings in the auditorium, attended by pretty much all 240 residents. There is now Rhonda’s Friday afternoon Zoom call, but that gets at most 150 people signed in. There is at least a quarter of the residents who are just not capable of attending an online meeting — where they were capable of getting themselves to the auditorium and feeling like participants. What to do? Not at all clear. We can’t have physical meetings of any size, so what can we do for that minority who can’t do online?

On Reddit, saw a thread on “what TV series should everyone have watched” and made a list of ones that sounded good. Then searched my Xfinity system. Several are Netflix: Avatar: the Last Airbender, Black Mirror, Bojack Horseman (which I’d never heard of), Derry Girls. A couple are on HBO: Chernobyl, True Detective, The Wire. I could re-watch all of Orphan Black on BBC; I loved that series the first time around. I can access Mr. Robot but I gave up on it after two episodes when it ran the first time. BlackAdder is on Amazon Prime along with The Expanse, the latter has been in my Prime watch list for months now. Also on Prime is a movie, Cas & Dylan, which stars Tatiana Maslany, the wonderful actress who played eight different clones of herself on Orphan Black.

I watched one and a half episodes of BlackAdder tonight. It is a very silly show. Sometimes I am tempted to upgrade my Xfinity to add HBO, SHO and Netflix. And then I think, I don’t watch the ones I can access now, so really?

1.183 writers, model

Last night’s demonstration of a couple of hundred people blocked 101 for a while, shot off some fireworks, and ended peacefully. Also, I don’t know it happened, but I had that post ready to go at 7pm and never published it. So it went up 24 hours late.

Tuesday 6/2/2020

Did Veronica’s aerobics at 7:15. We had 3 this time, that’s a 50% increase. Later I went for a mile and a half walk, deposited a check. At 11am was the Writer’s Group. The “cue” for this week, James Russel Lowell’s line What is so rare as a day in June, did nothing for me. So I had nothing to read. But before I actually had to admit that, Zoom froze, so I just turned it off.

Spent a few hours finishing up the engine of the Chevy model.

On the right side, I would love to work out some way to create spark plug wires from that teeny little distributor to the six spark plug holes. But jeez, that would take jeweler-level skills. Anyway, on to the interior.

I didn’t touch the novel, although it was on my mind. I’m doubting myself. Damn it, it’s good. But reader reactions have been lukewarm at best. !2-year-old me would have loved it.

1.182 novel, model, mob?

Monday 6/1/2020

Went for a run early. Felt fine. Mid-morning, spent 2 hours adding about 1500 words to the novel, a couple of new scenes. They may add a bit more feel of “stuff happening”. What’s frustrating to me is, there are 39 short chapters in this book and something happens in every one. But not exciting things or violent things. No explosions. I guess that’s it. Over the past decade, writers in the MG and YA fields have so raised the bar of intensity that a quiet story about people doing interesting things in an interesting and exotic place, just isn’t intense enough.

Worked on the car model for another couple of hours. That’s very absorbing and satisfying if a little frustrating. I am far from having the engine complete.

About 3pm a voice-mail and duplicate email from Rhonda arrived, detailing our “Social Unrest and Mobs Emergency Response Plan”. Netting it out, since there have been violent demonstrations in several Bay Area cities and curfews are in place, we should know what our plan is should a mob arrive at Channing House. Our risk is that our ground floor is all glass windows. If a mob comes near, there will be an announcement, and the ground floor and basement will be evacuated, including all staff moving to the second floor. Residents are to shelter in their rooms until an all-clear is announced.

So that was the plan. Now at 6pm comes this:

We have just been notified of protestors heading to downtown Palo Alto on University Ave. The protestors are approximately 150-200. Highway 101 is closed. At this time, we ask you to please shelter in place in your apartment for the rest of the night.  We are evacuating the lobby areas due to the vulnerability of the glass windows. Please do not come down to the lobby for meetings or to get your mail. Please cancel any activity you had planned on the lobby floor.

I have not been paying a lot of attention to the protests. Guess I should watch CNN more?

1.181 walk, model, gaming

Sunday 5/31/2020

Read the funnies, did the puzzle. Went for a walk before lunch, a bit less than 3 miles. I was curious to verify there really was a pedestrian bridge over 101 to IKEA and Target and Home Depot on the other side. Yes there is, pretty much a straight shot from here: Channing, Newell, there you are. Apple Maps doesn’t know about it, and Google Maps has it in the wrong place. No point in actually crossing 101, as I wouldn’t have gone into any of the stores over there anyway.

After lunch I spent a couple of hours working on the car model, very carefully beginning to paint parts of it. Another couple of hours, maybe more, and I’ll have the engine assembly complete. No rush. It’s very absorbing.

Last night I looked at a couple of more games from that large bundle of weeks back. One got a very cursory inspection: Prison Architect. Truth in advertising; it puts you in the situation of designing a prison. Your first task in the tutorial is to design a new execution wing. Right. Escape key, quit to desktop, byeeeee.

The other was Psychonauts. The Wikipedia article describes it well. This one might actually be fun. I spent only 20 minutes in the tutorial (mostly watching the lengthy intro scenes) and quickly ran into a dead end, but I think I’ll give it some more tries.

Oh, the pizza dinner I shared with Gwen and Patty in the lobby last night? We knew we were pushing the boundaries on social distancing, and we provoked a reaction. Today there was a new letter “clarifying” the rules on gatherings in the lobby. Notably, masks have to be on at all times. So, no food, as that requires removing one’s mask. OK, fair enough. If three people are talking, and one is an asymptomatic carrier, talking over a shared pizza is a great way to spread the virus. Where the same length of chat with masks on, wouldn’t be quite so effective. Yeah. Oh well.


Saturday 5/30/2020

Almost half way through the year. Mind you, this blog’s “year” starts on December 2.

Little catchup. A few weeks back, while surfing the internet looking for visual references for the 1951 Chevy, I stumbled on an eBay sale of an old plastic model of a 1951 Chevy, still in a sealed box. I was the only bidder, and it arrived yesterday.

The copyright date on the box is 2004, so it isn’t really an antique. It’s by the same company as made the new one I have started assembling. I’m very interested to find out if the parts are any better molded. There’s nothing wrong with the new one, but injection molds do age with time. But I don’t want to mix them up. So I broke the 15-year-old plastic wrap and took a very cursory look and put it away for now.

I went out about 8:30 to deposit some checks, and thought I’d stop in at the Farmer’s Market which just reopened. Figured I’d be there when it opened at 9am, when it isn’t crowded.

Yeah, right. The line was 2 and a half blocks long. The market’s up ahead, the line goes down past our classic Post Office and around the corner.

Middle of the day I watched the streamed launch of the SpaceX Dragon capsule to the space station.

SpaceX, one of Elon Musk’s companies, is the real deal. They are the outfit that returns the big first-stage rocket for a soft, upright landing on a barge. They did that today, too. This soft vertical touch-down is thrilling to me; it is exactly like something out of 1950s science fiction.

Somewhere in the morning I put in an hour on the novel. I found a place to add one small thing, so a little more “stuff” happening.

Evening, I ordered pizza and Patty and Gwen and I had supper in the lobby. Along with the mail I picked up two of the many packages I’ve been waiting for. One was the model paints including “rust” and “semigloss black”. So now I can resume with painting the engine.

1.179 crows, frittering

Tuesday last I posted a picture of three giant crow sculptures on a nearby house. I have learned since the story behind them. Well, it doesn’t really explain them but it tells about how they were brought here. “It’s art, ok?”

Friday 5/29/2020

I went for a run this morning, which felt particularly good. I’ve commented before on how, for no obvious reason, some runs seem very effortful and some easy. This was easy.

And that was about the end of productive work for the day. I just frittered the time away. That was one of my mother’s expressions, frittering time away. Hah, well, not unique to her, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary it is from the 18th century. Thank you, internet.

One useful moment: one of our residents, Ilsabe (Ilsa-bee) had put in a tech call. I know Ilsabe from before I moved here. She uses my realtor Chuck as a financial advisor, so when Chuck heard I was thinking about CH, he referred me to her. Initially I was thinking about taking one of the one-room units, and she has one of those, so she very kindly showed me around her place and talked about CH. Eventually I took the two-room unit I have now.

Anyway, Ilsabe wanted to join the Current Events weekly (Zoom) meeting yesterday, and while she did get in she got no sound. Lennie tried to help her by phone with no result. During that, something she clicked on, guh knows what, told her her computer, a new Macbook Air, wasn’t suitable. So I was called in as a “mac expert”. I talked to Lennie and we had an idea. As of last Friday’s Rhonda meeting we can have “gatherings” of up to 3 people, but only in the main lobby. So how about we three gather in the lobby with our laptops and work this out?

That worked quite well. We, well Lennie mostly, walked Ilsabe through reinstalling Zoom and joining a meeting in progress (one of Victoria’s fitness classes was on), and she had sound. So she’s pretty confident she can join the next Current Events meet.

The rest of the day was fritter, fritter, fritter. I don’t know where the time went. Or care. But I am disappointed with myself.

At 4pm it was time for CEO Rhonda’s weekly general meeting. Over 100 people dial in for these, most on their phones. I guess a few use the computer. Rhonda talked about how frustrating it is to read about “reopening” and “recovery” when in fact the pandemic hasn’t gone away, and per the Cal and SCC Depts of Health we in a retirement community are in an ongoing “medical emergency.”

They have finalized their testing plans: the 25 residents in SN will be tested monthly. 100 staff members who contact those in SN will be tested every 2 weeks. Remaining staff (including Sodexo food service) will be tested monthly. Assisted and Independent residents are on their own; if you want to be tested get authorization from your PCP and go to any of the SCC testing centers.

She and staff have reviewed the CDC guidance on books, papers, etc. You may have heard those were not considered a vector? Wrong. Communication through the air is primary but all surfaces can carry the virus and the CDC says “objects that cannot easily be disinfected, such as books, should not be shared.” So she strongly urges that the informal swapping of papers and books (that we all knew was going on) be stopped.

They are formulating a plan for setting up a meeting area where residents can meet with families. More news next week.

They are formulating a plan to have garage-return hours five days a week instead of just Wednesday, details next week.

We were recently fully audited by a disease-control expert from our licensing agency and got their highest rating of “no deficiencies found”. That’s a real achievement. That, and having zero infections.

The management staff have taken on the extra duty of being “phone buddies”; each has a list of 16 or so residents they should call weekly, and are calling a few each day. Expect a call from your phone buddy soon. I’m conflicted about this. I really am not suffering for loneliness. While I don’t mind chatting briefly with somebody, I kind of hate to take up a hard-working staff member’s time. We’ll see when I get my call.

1.178 shopping, cleaning, museum, Cubberly, cheat mode

Thursday 5/28/2020

Did Veronica’s 7:15 cardio zoom. After a pleasant interlude of internetting I started the process of cleaning. About 9:30 my InstaCart shopper began shopping, and about 10:45 she arrived. I distributed the stuff to my two neighbors and my own refrigerator (I’ve got Sriracha now, as any well-equipped home should), and then got back to cleaning. Finished all that by lunch.

Along the way I had a phone conversation with Marc Lacrampe. No big news, just keeping in touch.

In the afternoon I did a little proofing at PGDP. About 1 an email arrived from the Computer History Museum. “Sadly we don’t see any way of reopening before July 6, etc.” Not a problem for me, as I won’t be back there before CV day (Covid Vaccine).

Later an email came from Jannette who runs FOPAL, detailing how they plan to go about reopening in a month or two. See CV, above.

About 4, came an email from Gretta and Aurora, curators at the Museum, inviting their usual volunteers to participate in a project. They’ve been going through the catalog trying to sort out and add consistency to the categorizations people have used for our 100,000 artifacts over the years. They’d put together a long (22pg) document listing all the topic words and phrases they’d found, with their proposed definitions, and invited us to edit it based on our industry experience.

Oooooh a chance to edit a bunch of technical definitions? Count me in! So I worked on that from 4pm until supper arrived at 6:15.

In the midst of that came the usual, daily, COVID-19 update email from the City of Palo Alto. Usually pretty boring stuff, but this time something caught my eye. The City has renegotiated their lease on the Cubberly community center. Cubberly is an old high (or middle?) school that was closed many years ago by the PA school district. The City leased most of it and rents out many of the old classrooms, offices, and portables to community and nonprofit outfits. Prominent among whom is FOPAL! So here’s what I saw today from the City:

the City will continue to lease the athletic fields, gyms, pavilion, and theatre from the school district. The school district has a need to take back the remaining buildings on their property and have requested that the City and its tenants vacate these spaces. This will impact community groups with leases on spaces owned by the school district.

Well, that’s a bit of a shock. I may have misunderstood the scope, but I’m thinking this means that FOPAL is going to be kicked out of its two portable buildings and its four classroom spaces. So much for reopening.

Finally, I found a cheat. I have several free iPhone games. Just nice mindless entertainment apps, which are free to download. They’re annoying, however, because between every game or every round, they show an ad for some other app.

Yesterday when I was killing time on car freedom day, I was down in the valley of Foothills Park, where there’s no cell coverage. I was playing one of those games and… it didn’t show ads between each game. Hmmm. So tonight I just switched on Airplane mode and… my free games can’t show any ads! Hahahahahahahahah!

1.177 shopping

Wednesday 5/27/2020

Went for a run. Put together an InstaCart shopping order, mainly for me, plus 2 other neighbors. What do I need? I realized I was lacking Sriracha Sauce, which would spice up some of the dinner entrees. Also some chardonnay.

Did a little writing. That was it.

1.176 warm day, boogie, novel

Tuesday 5/26/2020

Started the day with Veronica’s morning cardio. It’s a nice 30-minute warm-up at the very convenient time of 7:15. Today there were 2 other people zoomed in. Then I read the internet for a bit. And decided if I was going to have a walk, I better take it before the predicted heat moved in. So I put on my panama hat and went out. My destination was to find a sculpture I’ve noted a number of times from the car, these crows.

Why would you, having a modest Eichler on University Ave, in between much larger houses, decide to put three 8-foot-tall crows on your lawn?

Anyway, walk complete, I found myself back in my room at… 10:30am. Time passes rather slowly.

I spent a pleasant hour and a half auditioning videos for a little side project. Back in March, when SFJAZZ announced they were canceling the 2020 Boogie Woogie Festival, I was looking at videos of people playing that style, and wanted to share. So I sent out a post to the house BB titled “Hump Day Boogie Woogie” with a video of one of my favorite players. Several people said they enjoyed that so I started doing it every Wednesday. There are a lot of boogie woogie videos on the net. But they aren’t all good. Some don’t have good audio, or good video. So I have to be a little bit selective in what single video to share. Plus I like to listen. So I put on my noise-canceling headphones and auditioned a dozen or so to select the next couple of weeks’ posts.

There are at least a dozen videos of people performing the Bumble Boogie, the boogie-woogie version of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee. You know who does the absolute best version? With the cleanest technique, the most panache, and the most solid left-hand beat?

You’d never guess. The dude rocks!

Later I spent an hour on the novel, editing the first few chapters, tweaking a bit of dialog here and there, but not finding anywhere to insert more action.

Afternoon I sat out for an hour on my balcony. The thermometer said 93º but, thanks to my Eastern exposure I was in the shade with a pleasant breeze and it was nice.

Evening, I finished watching The Titan Games. I still like that show, the inventive challenges, the serious athleticism (the ripped bods). I recommended to my neighbor Patty at our cocktail hour the other evening. She wrote today saying she tried it but “not my thing, sorry”. Well, tastes differ.

1.175 A holiday

Monday 5/25/2020

Memorial day, although that has never had much significance to me. Other than nephew Dennis, who served in the Marines in Viet Nam, I have no connection to the war experiences being commemorated.

I started with a run. Then a little this, a little that. One little was an hour reviewing the chapter by chapter synopsis of the novel that I prepared a couple months ago while ramping up to submit to agents. Trying to think where among these points I could add a couple of different incidents of action or crisis — the primary criticism I’ve had is, not enough stuff happens.

I watched some videos about building model car kits. That was helpful. I learned a couple of new things, and was reminded of a couple of mistakes not to make. Also realized another few things, tools, paints, that I should have, so ended up putting seven small items into my Amazon shopping cart. When I checked out, Amazon broke it into three different orders. I already have two hobby-related Amazon USPS orders being tracked, plus two from eBay. Plus my Peet’s coffee subscription is due to ship. So in the next week I should be getting at least one package a day for several days.

In the evening I found two, 2-hour shows on my DVR, The first episodes of each of Titan Games and Naked and Afraid XL. I watched an hour of each.