1.288 meetings, flying

Monday 9/14/2020

Got out of bed with the firm determination that I was going for a run, or at least for a walk. But the AQI was 190 which really isn’t healthy (somebody told me that it was over 500 in Portland?) so reluctantly gave that idea up. Forecast is for improvement.

At 9:30 I was called for my COVID test; it’s the week for the 4th and 6th floors. The last two have not been as deep-probing as the first one.

10:30 brought the Resident Association meeting. Again Marcia presented the 11th floor sitters concept and encouraged people to make use of it. At 2pm I went up to 11 to meet with and orient the lady who had signed up for the first gig. She was very good natured about it, but nobody showed up to make use of the floor so she had, as predicted, a boring time. I had really hoped for a better response; maybe it will build with time.

I have orders out to two EBay sellers and to a hobby store for various kinds of paint. The hobby store had not shipped after ten days. Last week in response to a query via their customer service page, they assured me they would ship “tomorrow” which would have been Thursday. Nothing. So Sunday I sent a customer service form saying if they didn’t ship on Monday 9/14, to cancel the order and refund. So this morning I had an email, they had canceled the order and refunded my PayPal. Fine, but what about the three items I had ordered? I found two of them on Amazon and one other on EBay and submitted two more orders. I can’t start my next car model until all this stuff arrives.

Meantime I play with the virtual airplane. Today I was checking out the three different independent user forum sites for X-Plane. At one of them there is what claims to be a novice pilot training course, based on the Cessna that is the basic X-Plane vehicle. I was hoping for such a thing and there it is. I’m not sure if it will be good enough to really pursue, but certainly in the first two lessons I learned a heck of a lot about features of the X-Plane software I had no idea existed.

Another thing I ordered that took for-bleedin’-ever to arrive was a simple doormat. Ordered on Amazon but fulfilled by, I dunno, Fred’s Garden Supply or something. They took a week to actually ship, and then UPS took five days to get the package from Illinois to California. I need a simple doormat to put where I come in from the balcony, because I am always tracking in flower petals or potting soil or whatever. It finally arrived; opened the box; Yuck that is an ugly doormat. Is that what I ordered? Check Amazon, yes, but what I saw online had muted colors, browns and grays, and the actual thing is kind of pumpkin orange and rust. I hate it.

Well, tomorrow’s another day. Hopefully.

1.287 laundry, blah

Sunday 9/13/2020

AQI “unhealthy” so no walk. Did the usual plant watering and hummingbird replenishment. Repotted the plant that was overgrowing its pot into the larger pot I bought yesterday. It is almost too big for that pot, really.

I had planned to do laundry on Monday but Monday might be busy, and today certainly wasn’t. So I did my laundry. Played X-Plane. My plan, as before, was to take off from Thun field and land there again. It took an hour. I kept circling, looking for the airport and missing it, or finding I was too close and too high to land, so fly over it and out and turn and try again. But I am learning about how the airplane handles. I finally managed it, and actually landed. Not on the strip, but at least on the grass parallel to it.

I had paid $20 to stream Hershey Felder portraying George Gershwin. I hooked the laptop by HDMI to the TV and watched that. It was nice.

For my evening’s entertainment I watched The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. What a hash Jackson made of a simple book. It could have been an excellent single film but… who knows. Jackson got ego disease, or some studio flung money at him, whatever, he had to make it a trilogy.

1.286 errands, car, meeting

Saturday 9/12/2020

Started a to-do list while brushing my teeth and it just kept getting longer as I thought of things, but finally I finished it.

Started by walking to the bank and depositing a check. I didn’t even mention that I’d done a group instacart buy on Thursday. I did, and one person paid her share by check, so I had that to deposit. From there I walked by CVS on University, and in, looking for two things. One: toothpaste. Easy. Two: flatware.

I’m quite sure that last year, just after I moved in to CH, I went into CVS and bought two each knife, fork, and spoon, decent stainless utensils. Now I need more, owing to a silly problem. Our meals are delivered to our rooms on trays. Twice a day someone from the Food Services comes by collecting the used trays. And it is all too easy to leave a knife or fork or spoon on the tray, and the kitchen person doesn’t notice. In this way I have lost one of each utensil, so I am down to one each.

Today, CVS didn’t have any such thing. Well, maybe it was Walgreens. Except the Walgreens just up the block… doesn’t exist any more. They pulled out recently; the space is for rent.

From there I walked through the farmers’ market, buying some grapes and a delicious raisin snail which I couldn’t eat until I was back in my room, not wanting to pull my mask down.

I headed off in the car (its first drive in 10 days or so) to Summerwinds nursery because I have a plant that needs a bigger pot. Got a pot. On the way back I stopped at Walgreens in Midtown: no flatware for sale. Maybe at the hardware? I stopped at Ace Hardware and looked. Nope, they don’t carry flatware.

The garage clicker they gave us a few weeks ago didn’t work. I had to make a three-point turn in the garage ramp and go around to the parking lot. Turned in the clicker, hopefully I’ll get another soon, but not likely on the weekend.

At 3:30 I was to meet with Marcia on the 11th floor and discuss the Safety Sitters program that we hope will kick off Monday. Since announcing it in Rhonda’s Friday meeting, Marcia has had comments from several people who use the piano on the 11th floor for practice. Someone was practicing as we sat there and talked, and it was absolutely no problem for us or for the pianist. So that’s a non-issue; however we moved the three tables people can use, so that they weren’t as close to the piano. Other issues: Housekeeping had supplied a nice basket with paper towels and a big squirt bottle full of disinfectant, but when I tried it out, the plunger on the squirt didn’t work right. I took it back to my room and fixed it. Marcia had prepared a sign to put in a sign holder, but discovered the holder was for landscape oriented paper, and she’d printed it portrait mode. All squared away quickly.

Put in another hour with X-plane in the midst of this. At the end discovered that it supports a virtual “log book”. So in future I will start recording my “cockpit time” in my “log”.

After supper I picked up a package that had arrived. It was a box of Queal. I honestly don’t remember why I ordered some flavors of Queal. There must have been a special offer. Ordered 8/26, arrived from Belgium 9/12. Anyway it can now go into my breakfast rotation with two other meal replacements.

1.285 AQI, meetings, closet

Friday 9/11/2020

The AQI at 7am was somewhere between “pea soup” and “viscous”, so no run today. I had just a trace of vertigo early, and by noon felt normal. While showering I remembered that this is the day when Valet Custom Cabinets is to come and finish my closets. They are working as I write this at 5pm, I will add some pictures when they are gone.

I spent a little time trying to see if I could log on to Wells Fargo under the Resident Association bank account, and change the address for statements. No. So I emailed the former and previous treasurers asking if they knew how. The Previous then logged in via his personal WFB ID (!) and changed the address. But it is not good that the RA account is somehow entangled with his ID.

Then I messaged Kim Krebs asking if perhaps, I and the former Treasurer (who currently still holds signature authority) could visit WFB and get signature authority transferred. Would that be an “essential” gathering, like medical appointments? And soon back came word, yes, it’s ok. So I’ll try to set that up for next week, and maybe deal with the online access at the same time. Stupid bank account has so little activity it is silly to put so much time into it.

I did X-plane for an hour and got myself into a fine sweat. I took off from Thun field, thinking to fly a pattern and land again, and then I couldn’t find the field again! I was flying around like an idiot looking for the field. I felt like some kind of aviation pioneer, lost in Kansas and running low on fuel. I finally spotted a small strip, I think around Eatonville, and landed there. On the ground, I realized that the built-in map in the simulator has a trace of one’s flight path! So I could see exactly where I’d been, so I found my way back to Thun field — and crashed on final approach. Well, how many hours do you need to qualify IRL? A hundred? Because I have about 1.5 in now.

It was the time of week when we turn over the sign-up sheets for meal delivery, that is, make a new one for two weeks out; Marcia fills in the names of people who have requested a regular slot; then I set the next week and that second week’s sign-ups as the targets of the URLS (https://rlink.shop/MDTHISWEEK and …MDNEXTWEEK) and put out an announcement on the BB that the new sheets are up. So I did that bit of clerical work.

Valet arrived late, at 2:30, and are banging away 3 hours later. Apparently the manager didn’t tell this crew that we have cement walls here, and they are having a bit of trouble setting screws to mount the tracks for the sliding doors.

Rhonda’s 4pm meeting this week started with Marcia explaining the new 11 floor safety sitters gig and the new emergency preparedness sheet. (She had put copies of that material in everybody’s mail cubbies just before the meeting.)

The other news was that a staff member came down with Symptoms yesterday, went to their clinic, tested positive. So late last night Rhonda and staff were figuring out who had contact with this person. Fortunately, no residents had; however, eight staff members had, and are now quarantined at home. One now quarantining was handling appointments for the just-opened beauty shop (collective groan from the audience) so that’s closed again. It would have been closed anyway, since it is outdoors and the AQI is at “asphyxiate”.

With the lowering of Santa Clara County from Purple to Red virus status, they “have received numerous new directives from various agencies” and are trying to evaluate them. Next week there will be news of some restrictions easing. Perhaps the gym will open; however, the pool will not.

I fill two hummingbird feeders each morning. Today the swarm of 8-10 birds had them both empty at 4pm. I brought them in. Now there is constant coming and going of hummers zipping in and out of my balcony, checking for feeders. See you tomorrow, birds.

Here are the closets in their original state: rather crude woodwork (those are the drawers that, a year ago, I sanded and varnished on the inside to kill a musty smell and reduce splinters), and heavy doors that always cover half the width.

And here they are remodeled. Tri-fold doors so only 1/3 is out of reach. Nice finished woodwork with drawers that have soft-close mechanisms.

1.284 vertigo, busyness

Thursday 9/10/2020

Got up to find I had a mild amount of vertigo. Not enough to be wobbling when I walk, just enough that it is very uncomfortable to bend down and stand up again. Crap. Skipped the aerobics class on this account.

Wrote emails to people to get ready for the announcement Friday of the Safety Sitters. Also to the former treasurers to see if they have received the Wells Fargo statement for the RA account, as I haven’t. One had.

The sky today is light yellow-gray, better than yesterday’s deep ominous orange. Thanks to the smoke the temperature is actually cool, under 70, although the AQI is “unhealthy”.

There’s a bag of linens outside my door; I guess this is the alternate week when I change my own bed. I will deal with that after lunch when hopefully I will feel better.

I more or less vegetated in my chair most of the day. Well, I practiced landings in X-plane for a while, crashing 3 out of 5 tries. It’s the last 100 feet of altitude and 300 feet to the runway where I just can’t keep it all together.

I got an invitation from friends to come for an outdoor cocktails and snacks and had to turn it down. There would have been more than two “households” and there would be refreshments, meaning masks off, and I would have had to isolate in my room for a week after.

By evening my vertigo was just annoying. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll feel normal enough to take a run or at least a walk, and change my linens.

1.283 sky, meetings

Wednesday 8/9/2020

Went for a run at 7:15, under a gray sky and sub-70º temp, probably due to smoke. On the morning news they talked about smoke from fires in Oregon as well as Northern California combining. And indeed at 10am the sky was like Mordor. I had to stop my busyness and grab a camera.

This is 10am, mind you. Not dawn or sunset. The sky to the North is darker.

I first tried to take this with the iPhone, but its pinhead computer is just smart enough to say, “That’s a landscape with a horizon, so that part is a sky. I know what skies look like and clearly the white balance is wrong, so I’ll just adjust it.” And it shows on the screen a gray overcast sky. Fortunately the Nikon is not so independent and is willing to record the light that is hitting its sensor and leave it the heck alone.

I realized about that time that I had been continually busy and wanted to note, on what. After my run I cleared email and found one from Grace, on the 4th floor, complaining about no newspaper, and for the second time in two weeks. I called the newspaper volunteer for this morning, who had nothing to suggest, she delivered everything she had. So I wrote an apology to Grace, and then an email to the five paper volunteers thanking them for their work and oh BTW could you take special pains to make sure that #431 gets her paper.

In the Python subreddit yesterday I had posted a suggestion; this morning someone had replied, and to verify that I was right about something I had to do 45 minutes of Python coding to show that doing something one way was 150 times faster than the other way.

Those things plus taking a picture of the orange sky, and writing the above, brought me to 10:40.

I flew X-plane for an hour, doing some of their training exercises. I flew five landings, and virtually walked away from three of them. I did one “pattern”, taking off and going around and landing, and managed not to crash. It’s quite challenging. The virtual Cessna seems to like to wander left and right rather than flying straight ahead and I’m not very good at getting it back onto line with the runway, for example. I don’t know if the real plane is like that, or maybe I am unconsciously putting small control movements into the joystick? Maybe I can get it to set the joystick to be less sensitive, or to have bigger “dead zones” at the center of motion.

After lunch I joined the RA Executive committee meeting. No real news. Following that was a presentation by a resident, Larry Basso, a long-time endocrinologist, still teaches at Stanford, presenting on (of course) Coronavirus.

1.282 x-plane, meeting, screwing

Tuesday 8/8/2020

In a complete turnaround from yesterday, thanks largely to an overcast of smoke, the temperature at noon was barely 75. The forecast 90 didn’t show up; late in the day we reached 85.

After doing the zoom aerobics class I had nothing to do until the 11am writers’ meeting. I opened up the X-plane demo again and noticed it had a huge long list of airports you could start a flight from. Hmmm, I thought, and typed “thun” into the search field and, yep, Pierce Co. Thun Field was a choice. What do I know about Thun Field? It has been there at least since the 1950s. When I was in high school, on a couple of occasions I went there to see drag races, which were held on its runway. And drove by it often as it lies alongside the main road from Graham to Puyallup. (snicker, “main” road)

I selected it, and there I was in the Cessna, on the one-lane asphalt strip. Scenery was not like totally exact — no Douglas Fir trees to be seen — but I took off — this was the second time for a takeoff, the prior one was yesterday when the game coached me through taking off — and shortly there I was, flying SE toward Mt. Rainier in the distance, with pretty good detail in the scenery below. OK, sold. I went and bought the full product. I anticipate zooming over my childhood home, Laurel’s house, etc.

Marcia and I want to launch another volunteer service, the 11th floor safety sitters (see Day 1.272). Our proposal was approved, and we were told to work with A.J. who is a nice young man recently hired to assist residents in planning events. So today he was back to work from the long weekend and we met at 2pm. He basically ok’d all our plans. The new service will be announced Friday at Rhonda’s meeting, and actually start on Monday the 14th.

I walked to, and into the hardware store to buy 4 nuts. I wanted to make a place on the side of the spray booth where the airbrush can hang securely without spilling any paint from its cup. I had some screws that would do but no nuts. Not the kind of thing you can order online and pick up, four 8-32 nuts please. Actually now that I think of it, I wonder if there are nice assortments on Amazon. Well, I did it, went in, to the back where the array of drawers of small parts are, got my nuts, bought them. I don’t have an spraying to do right away but I am all set up.

1.281 more hot airbrushing

Monday 9/7/2020

Only “moderate” air quality and an early-morning temperature of 74º persuaded me to walk my normal jogging route. Still, thanks to the temperature, I managed to work up a sweat.

Following house recommendations I kept my curtains closed, which makes for a lot of gloom. I had a second go at the airbrush with much better success. It came with two sets of orifices, 0.04mm and 0.15mm. The 0.04 was installed out of the box, and it was that one that was so hard to use. I switched to the 0.15, and with properly thinned paint, it sprayed a nice, even pattern. I’m sure I can use that to apply smooth primers, color coats, and clear coats to a model.

I checked in with the meal delivery volunteers both at lunch and dinner to make sure they understood we have to use the freight elevator. One lady at dinner decided that she could not hack the heavy fire doors and she got a serious “danger” vibe (“I can sense danger, you know”) from the freight elevator, so she just said, “Sorry, I’m using the regular elevator and if the power goes out, too bad.” OK then.

Managed to get X-Plane properly installed and tried it out. The demo is quite impressive. I haven’t made up my mind if I would get $60 worth of entertainment out of it.

Marcia sent along an instruction sheet for using the house emergency radios that another resident had made, with a rather crude diagram. I was able to find online a Motorola manual for our (long discontinued) model of radio, as a PDF. From it I pulled a nicer diagram of the radio. I couldn’t actually get into the PDF, so I just zoomed it up to fill the screen of the laptop and took two screen shots, one of the top half and one of the bottom. Took those into a graphics program and rejoined them and tidied it up and put it into the document in place of the bad one. No big deal really (casually blows dust off fingernails).

Tomorrow is the writers’ group and I feel I have to produce something after dodging for the last 3 sessions. The cue is “September”. Here’s my piece. Short, but it makes up for it by being heavily over-written.

September, for me, is not a month, which is an arbitrary numbering of days, but rather an odor. The odor that means September and the onset of a new season can snag my nose in the first week of the formal month or as late as October. It always comes as a surprise, although as clear, as sudden, and almost as shocking as a fire alarm.

I used to encounter it first while cycling, long ago on my Schwinn after school, in middle age cycling for exercise around the Stanford “loop”. Now that I no longer bike, it has to come when walking or driving slow with the windows down. In any case, I will be out of doors, passing a place that has a ditch with standing water, and brown, dying vegetation, and there it comes: sharp, chemical, complex as brandy, the scent of leaves beginning to compost themselves — the aroma of autumn. It legitimizes the bureaucratic numerology of the calendar and makes autumn official.

1.280 airbrush, heat

Sunday 9/6/2020

Slow Sunday morning. No exercise because of smoky air combined with high temp (97º in the afternoon). I set to work to try out the airbrush, which is a pretty thing.

I ran into some problems with it. Connected to the compressor, it sprays a nice even pattern when loaded with water, at least when I hold it so I can see the mist coming out. But my first trials with real paint were not successful: no paint, intermittent paint, spattery patterns, various problems. I worked some of them by thinning the paint, adjusting the air pressure, etc. Fiddle fiddle. Sprayed a lot of scrap paper. I think I have it working but I need more trials tomorrow.

Rest of the day was pure boring, took a couple of naps just to kill time. And played Vendetta. And read. The X-plane user forum has no solution to the fact that it won’t launch; I’m going to delete it and re-download and install; if that doesn’t do it, I’ll give up. Unusual for highly-touted product (and not freeware, either, although I haven’t paid for it yet) to just not work on a major platform and nobody has a clue.

1.279 party, pizza, airbrush

Saturday 9/5/2020

Pleasant early morning. The air was still cool-ish, around 70, at 9am, despite dire warnings of very hot heat to come this weekend (eventually it got up toward 90 in late afternoon). So I took a walk to Midtown, had coke and a cookie, and walked back.

The joystick I ordered from eBay arrived yesterday. I spent an hour trying it out with Vendetta, tinkering with the settings. I’m sure I remember being quite competent at killing ‘bots with it just a few years ago, but I seem to be back at the lower slopes of the learning curve now.

Then I thought, oh right, I downloaded a flight simulator, X-Plane. Since the new MS Flight Simulator isn’t available to me. So let’s try that with the joystick. Splat. Try to launch it; it crashes because it can’t find libfmod.dylib. What is this, the 90s? Search around. That’s part of some sound package called FMod. Why don’t they say they have a dependency? Fmod.com wants me to register before I download. Thank you I don’t care to register, especially when I doubt I need your whole package, only one stupid library. Find an X-Plane user forum and post a question.

In other news, the airbrush arrived in yesterday’s mail. Today arrived the compressor, a cute little thing half the size of a shoebox, and my cute wittle spray booth. It unfolds from a flat case like origami to make an open front box a bit bigger than a breadbox, with a filter and a fan at the back and a nice little turntable. Tomorrow I will read the manuals for all three products and I will be all set to start spray painting models.

One of my 6th floor neighbors, Patty, had a birthday, and our floor rep Jerry declared a zoom party for her. Thankfully we didn’t try to sing the song. Just chatted for an hour. Coincidentally Patty and I had agreed to go out for pizza tonight. I had the pizza delivered; we met it at the front door and walked three blocks to a park, and ate well-separated by the length of a park bench.