4.117 writers, concert

Tuesday 03/28/2023

Tried to do the gym round this morning, but another resident was hogging the machines so I only got half done. I thought I had the right time to go down there but I don’t know.

I again hadn’t written anything for the writer’s meeting. The cue was “my last act, or how I want to be remembered,” and it produced some nice work from my colleagues in the group. I’ll put some excerpts at the end.

I spent some time polishing the body of the stingray, and helping a neighbor learn to use the Dashlane password manager.

At 6:30 I walked with a couple of others three blocks to the Methodist church for an organ concert. This was a big deal. The performer was Anna Lapwood who isn’t even 30 yet, but has a string of musical achievements as long as your arm. She’s a perky blond with the mannerisms of a schoolgirl but she ran a very large organ console like a boss. Here’s a terrible picture from my spot in the front right corner pew.

I had never been in the Methodist church although the outside of the building is a familiar landmark in Palo Alto, a huge 1960s neo-Gothic thing in pink cement. You can kind of get the idea of its style from this interior shot. It has not one but two large organs, and she was using them both, so she could play a riff on the big one in front and then echo it from the one in back. She played a couple of classical pieces, but she did several pieces of film music, including three segments from the sound track to Interstellar. I’m kind of sorry I never saw that film, now.

Here’s a poem by Nancy Flowers. She is riffing on the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, the wise ones being those who make their lamp oil last until the bridegroom arrives.

A Wise Virgin

A knock. I open wide to greet: Death, quiet
On my doorstep, hand extended,“Now.”
Where can I run to? Homo fuge! Flight!
No. All my days were hedged against tonight,
Lamps trimmed to meet this bridegroom and know how
To give him yes with incandescent will.

Nice, huh? Here’s a very different one by Connie Crawford.

It is inevitable

The extra key
to the safe deposit box
is on a key ring
somebody has made gaudy
by china beads and sequins.

At the bank,
when her signature
has been duly inscribed
as Box Holder Number Two,
I give the key ring to my daughter.
Then we cheerfully
go out to lunch
at the Fish Market.

It is inevitable
that one day she’ll take
this jingling trinket
from her drawer,
and, in another mood,
whatever it may be,
she’ll remember me.

4.116 fopal, model, tech

Monday 03/27/2023

Went for the standard walk. Then drove down to FOPAL where for the first time in my memory, there were no, zero, boxes of computer books waiting to be priced. The sorters have been working through a couple of big donations, but apparently the donors were not computer people even a little bit. So I sorted for a couple of hours.

Worked on the stingray, putting the final coat of gloss clear on the body. Here it is.

And here is an example of detail work. Can you guess what this object, about 1/4-inch on a side, is? It’s the coolant overflow bottle obviously. I painted it ivory-white (the only off-white I had) to make it look like plastic, then painted gloss black on the bracket and the cap. Then dug out a bottle of yellow-green which was the same paint I used on the 1953 Chevy which was the first model I did, back in 2020. Painted that around the bottom half to make it look like it is half full of coolant.

At 6pm I went down and set up for Jeff Irish’s talk, and was all set by 6:30 which was an hour early. But finally it was time, and the whole event went off very nicely indeed. No glitches. 20 people on zoom, about 80 or 90 in the room. Now I am basking in the glow of a successful A/V event.

4.115 docent

Sunday 03/26/2023

Killed time in the morning until 10:45 when I left for the museum. I stopped on the way to buy gasoline. This was the first fill-up since January! Enough of my driving has been on the battery that I averaged over 80mpg for that tank (and that two months). (So why do I want a new car?)

Led a tour of about 9 people — started out as 6 but picked up and lost some on the way. Included Michael, who is going to start the docent training that has just been announced and had an assignment to take a docent tour. I don’t think mine is typical, and also being very well-honed after my having given it for several years, is pretty slick.

Did a little work on the stingray in the afternoon, including putting on the 2nd and 3rd coats of clear spray. The body is just about finished, except for polishing.

Jeff Irish stopped by to try out his slides for his talk Monday. Who the what now? OK, one of my 6th floor neighbors and a good friend is Patty Irish. Her son Jeff, I would guess is in his 50s? (Hmmm, Patty is well into her 80s, so although Jeff looks to my eye about 50-ish, he is probably older.) He settled in Japan many years ago, married a Japanese woman, has two kids just entering adolescence. I wrote about having dinner with Patty and the granddaughter Akane.

Akane came a few days early so she could do shopping for high school stuff, and to give Grandma Patty the chance to shower gifts on her, like a new MacBook. Jeff and the son Rintaro arrived today. Jeff is to give a talk here tomorrow night. Patty has been very concerned about wanting this talk to come off well. She insisted that I do the A/V setup for it. I feel a heavy responsibility. So I was glad to plug his USB stick into the Mac I used for screen media and load the rather long Powerpoint package. It opened just fine in Keynote on the Mac, we paged through it, and I saved it on the hard drive and give him the stick back. We talked about what microphones we use etc, and he seemed reassured that this was going to go alright.

4.114 fopal, tech, play


Since the day was uncommitted on my calendar, except for a play at 8pm, and since Janette, who runs the FOPAL crew had put out a call for more sorters because of several large donations, I went down to FOPAL early, about 9, and worked a couple of hours.

After lunch I took a tech squad call to Jean W., and failed. Mac Mail on her Macbook showed no contents in either the junk or spam folders, but Mail on her iPhone did show stuff. Why? I poked around and confessed to being stumped.

I worked a bit on the stingray. It progresses.

At 7:15 I drove down to the Pear theater to see their production of Richard II. I did not stay after intermission. They were doing the script right, had all the lines with good understanding and expression. Several of their lines drew laughs from a part of the audience over on the other side (it’s done in the round), although I didn’t get the joke Must have been somebody’s relatives. Anyway, it’s just not an interesting play to me, and I couldn’t see sitting through another hour.

4.113 pics, tech, managing

Friday 03/24/2023

Went for the walk this morning, it was fine. Spent a few hours setting up my new gallery. Took down the display of New Zealand mountains that had been there for a couple of months. Printed, framed and put up 10 action shots of SWBB players over the years. It took a few hours over the last few days to go through my archives and select the cream, about 30 shots worth printing. The criteria: well composed, convey a clear story, and are real suspended action, with people’s feet off the ground. OK, like this,

Candice Wiggins grabs a rebound

Eight, mostly like that, printed on 11×14 or 11×17 paper. So I’ll leave those up for a couple of months at least. Actually there are another eight that are as good, maybe I will gradually rotate some others through.

Pam has been having problems installing a new HP printer. I had taken a look and been baffled. I couldn’t figure out how, using its little tiny LCD screen, to get past its “please install HP Smart software to complete setup” and get into the settings and learn its MAC address, which we need to let it use our network. Bert said he could, so the two of us met at Pam’s unit and Bert cracked it. I’m not sure what he actually did, but he got to the settings, and after half an hour we had it working.

At 2pm it was time for the monthly meeting of the A/V team. I had us meet in the Training room where I could easily put my laptop on the big screen on the wall, and we went over the interface to zoom for our hybrid meetings, talking especially about recording meetings in the cloud and then transferring them to Vimeo.

Had supper with the Allens and Lenny. Did a little on the stingray after.

4.112 yosemite

Thursday 03/23/2023

Spent the day at the Yosemite warehouse of CHM. Helped to clean up and put away a number of artifacts that were brought out for a researcher. Bringing things out for her had caused Aurora (curator) to notice two boxes in which there were dozens of items stored in manila folders, but the artifact object id numbers weren’t written on the folders, so I did that.

I wanted to look something up about an object in the database. Using the laptop provided for volunteer use, I logged in to Windows with my assigned volunteer id and password. That worked. Then the database was acting flaky, as it often does, so I rebooted the laptop. When I went to log in to Windows again, it said my password was incorrect. And that was that, I couldn’t get to the database to check anything about the objects I was documenting. At lunch, Greta (other curator at the Shustek center) said she had not been able to get anything done all morning due to computer problems, either. The CHM systems are a bit of a mess sometimes.

Aurora’s main concern was that, in recent heavy rains, a roof drain in one corner of the giant warehouse had blocked up, and rain pooled on the roof, and began leaking down onto a corner of the pallet racking, soaking several boxes of stored objects. So a couple dozen things were spread out on tables being dried, inspected, and repacked.

Maybe the computer and network problems were due to water, also.

Total side-track:

  • pallet: a wooden platform used for storing and moving goods or freight
  • pallette: a flat board used by an artist to hold and mix paints, or the selection of colors on such a board
  • palate: the roof of the mouth, or the sense of taste

English is tough stuff.

4.111 laundry, hobbies, socializing

Wednesday 03/22/2023

First activity today was the laundry. Every other Wednesday my pile of tighty whities hits bottom and I know it’s time. This time I had to run three loads: the usual whites-with-bleach, shirts and socks, and then my bathrobe. The one I sit around in every morning for an hour or more, sipping coffee. It had started to smell just a bit. I like to wash it every couple of years whether it needs it or not, and it did.

Worked on some hobbies, a little bit on the stingray, more on pictures. From 2007 through about 2017, I was trying to take decent action pics of the SWBB players. I have quite a lot of these images on the computer, all nicely organized in folders, games within years, like 2012/2012-10-15 USC and so forth. It took a few hours to flip through all of them and pull out 20 or so really striking shots. I plan to print off maybe 8 or 9 to put on my outside gallery shelves.

At 4:30 I went down and set up a mic on a stand in the dining room, for use by the committee who put on a monthly Birthday Dinner.

At 5 we had a sixth floor meeting mostly to discuss our upcoming responsibility: the April TGIF party. Each floor is supposed to host a TGIF, in turn by months. Actually we were supposed to do one in December but that was when our current Covid outbreak started and it was canceled. So all that was accomplished today was to form a committee, which I am not on thank goodness.

Then at 5:45 Patty and her granddaughter who is visiting her, drove to Mike’s in Midtown for supper. Patty’s son Jeff married a Japanese woman and lives in Japan. The daughter, Akane, is 13, very pleasant and poised. Her father and brother will arrive on Sunday.

Back by 7, I went in to put away the Birthday mic, but David M had already picked it up. He was doing AV for tonight’s lecture. Unfortunately he had run into a problem with the overhead camera operated by the Zoom Room software. He went looking for me but I was out. Fortunately he had found David G. who fixed the camera problem by… wait for it… unplugging the cable and plugging it back in. That’s what I call tech support.

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.