1.164 Thursday washday

Thursday 5/14/2020

Half-way through Veronica’s 7:15 cardio class, her video froze. OK, only half a cardio. No matter, I’ll get my exercise cleaning house. Yes, by 9 my bag of fresh linen was outside the door, and I launched into the apartment-cleaning routine. All the wood surfaces, dust with nice lemony Pledge. Carefully moving my little birds and other keepsakes aside, not flinging them to oblivion with the dusting rag. Then start on the hard surfaces with spray cleaner: kitchenette counter and sink and microwave. Then the bathroom. All around the bathroom, the mirrors, inside and outside of the shower. Then make up the bed with the new sheets.

In the living room where there is a hard floor and area rugs, move all furniture onto the rugs. Sweep. Then “swiff” with the wet mop thingy. (Last week I forgot to sweep and the swiffer pad clogged up too fast.) Move all the furniture off the carpets onto the hard flor. Get out the vacuum and vacuum two area rugs and the bedroom carpet. And done! 90 minutes, about. Who needs cardio class?

In the afternoon we will have a floor meeting via Zoom. I told our floor leader, Jerry, I want to talk about hanging my two oil paintings near the lounge. His wife Betty expanded that topic to the general question of what to hang in the lounge, but to decide that we need to decide how to decorate the lounge. We have a $20K budget for redecorating the lounge, as part of the renovation project, but The Covid got in the way. We can’t redecorate because the in-house facilities guys are all busy and outside contractors are not allowed in the building. So likely nothing will be decided.

…and I was right, nothing was decided. Nobody wants to hang any paintings until they decide on a color scheme for the lounge, which can’t happen until the quarantine is over, so — a year from now? I pointed out that it is easy to move paintings around; if they decide to go with yellow, for instance, they can then go around and grab any piece that fits with yellow and move it. But no. And one person thought my painting “Leap #2” looks “kinda weird”. Just for reference,


I thought it would be a wonderful thing to have hanging opposite the elevators so anybody entering the floor would see it and be cheered up. But I also said (to myself) that if there was one veto, I wouldn’t push it. And there was. So pretty soon I will have it hung in the hall outside my unit. I “own” that wall. Downside, almost nobody comes down here but me. And one other neighbor. Not the one who didn’t like it.

In the daily COVID-19 status email, CEO Rhonda clarified some of our rather touch restrictions.

A gathering is defined as a meeting of people that do not live in the same household. Gatherings are strictly prohibited, especially for people who live in Retirement Communities. Santa Clara County Public Health issued a memo specific to this in April. This directive gives the Retirement Community the authority to prohibit the resident from entering the building upon his/her return from a Gathering. Or, to require a 14-day isolation.

Channing House has strictly followed the directives from the County for Gatherings. If you have a meeting of people that does not fall under one of the exceptions for a Gathering, you will be required to isolate for 14-days.

I know that the Hartzells, a couple I’ve talked to several times, came back from a family birthday party, and are now in 14-day confinement. Rhonda goes on:

You are no doubt seeing the lifting of restrictions occurring around us as retail stores are opened in limited fashion. But, congregate living will continue to follow a different set of rules because the risks are much greater if any one of us were to be exposed to COVID-19 and bring it into the building.

As a reminder, the lifting of restrictions will not mean that there is a lower risk of contracting COVID-19. The lifting of the restrictions means that the healthcare system is better prepared for an influx of positive cases.

My emphasis. I haven’t seen this spelled out elsewhere.

1.162 Coffee and supper out

Wednesday 5/13/2020

This morning, instead of a run, I walked to the old Palo Alto Cafe in Midtown, to meet Harriet for coffee. This was the first time I had a cappuccino in — six weeks?. We sat a few feet apart in outdoor chairs and chatted. Then I walked back.

Hey, iPhone Health app? You are so busted. Google maps knows that it is 1.8 miles there and back again, so 3.6 miles walking. You only show 2.8. Unfair!

Anyway I was back in time to take the car out. I drove up 101 a few miles, turned around, came back. Traffic on 101 is running at 70+ in the slow lane.

Did some more coding, and writing about the coding. Nobody wants to see that.

In the afternoon, I called in my order to the Peninsula Creamery: grilled cheese sandwich and a chocolate chocolate shake (i.e. made with chocolate ice cream, not with vanilla plus choc. syrup). Patti and Gwen went in Gwen’s car (she is parking it outside, it isn’t quarantined in the garage) to pick up the orders. At 6:10 we three were seated with appropriate spacing around the dining table in the 6th floor dining room. As with last week’s pizza, it was a nice change to eat a meal while talking to other people.

Oh, I should mention, I killed another game off my bundle of games. Hollow Knight is one of those games where you control a little avatar guy running and  leaping through a complicated dungeon world, slashing at everything, defeating monsters small and large, and collecting tokens of various sorts. I got about 5 minutes into it and I needed to make my little guy leap from a cliff to a floating platform to another floating platform, to another cliff edge. I tried about 25 times to master the timing of the first leap, from cliff to platform, and I kind of got that but could not master the skill of then, continuously (because if you stop to think about it, you’re toast) leap to the next platform. Right. Escape key, quit, go into steam, “manage this game> uninstall”, byeeeee.

I watched 15 minutes of a YT walkthrough of it by a skilled player. If you have the twitchy reflexes to handle this sort of thing, it might actually be fun.

1.161 lost tuesday

Tuesday 5/12/2020

Oh damn it happened. I didn’t do a blog post last night. Now it’s Wednesday afternoon and I cannot remember what I did yesterday. Seriously. Like I was in a coma from Sunday to now. Wait… (Checks the “sent” folder of emails) … ok, I remember something.

One, I polled the 6th floor residents to see if anyone wanted to do any shopping this week. Nobody did.

Two, I got called by a resident who wanted help with her TV. She called me directly, which is a kind of a no-no. The appropriate thing is to call the Tech Squad hotline and Bert would assign a squad member to help. I didn’t think fast enough. I asked a couple of polite questions and then I was committed.

The lady was set up some time ago by somebody with a very large, at least 60-inch, LG TV and a Bose sound-bar. She drives it with one of the old, small Xfinity boxes and the old-style remote. Her problem was that the TV only showed snow. She said she had been “on the phone with XFinity for hours and they were useless.”

Indeed they are if they couldn’t figure out what a screen full of snow means. I knew from 30 seconds into the call what was wrong. I’ve seen it once or twice before, here. Somehow they manage to switch the input-select of the TV away from “Cable” onto some other source. HDMI-3 or something. Or in this case, to “Live TV”, which is how the menu on the LG screen described it when I hit the “input select” button on the remote. I.E. it was switched to “antenna”. There was nothing connected to the antenna socket, hence: snow. And if the XFinity call center couldn’t suss that one out, they were really bad.

There is a vicious button on the top corner of both the old and new Xfinity remotes, “TV Input” which — if the remote and the cable box have been properly paired with the TV — will call up the TV’s input source list. Unfortunately, many of our residents have no idea what that means, so they ignore it, and then they end up with this problem, a blank screen. It bugs me, too, because it is really easy to hit by accident; and once you hit it, the remote can’t be used to tell the TV to dismiss the damn menu. I have to go pick up the TV remote where it is gathering dust in the corner, and use it to dismiss the source menu.

Anyway, I figured it would not be possible to talk her through the fix on the phone, so I broke all the quarantine rules and went to her apartment and stood in the doorway and used her remote to pick “cable” from the TV’s menu, and instantly there was CNN or whatever. She was awestruck at my technical mastery.

Oh, and the Bose sound-bar? Not working. I strongly suspect it is powered off. I asked if she had the remote for it. She didn’t think so, or if she ever had one, didn’t know where it was. So I set the TV to use its internal speaker.

So that was Tuesday, pretty much.

Oh, one more thing! I ordered some stuff from Amazon that I will discuss after it arrives. Quarantine time-filler stuff.

1.160 coding and youtube

Monday 5/11/2020

Went for the usual run, which felt just fine. Spent several hours coding, working through most of chapter 11 of Crafting Interpreters. Author doing some really clever stuff. I enjoyed translating it.

I didn’t mention yesterday, that I finished the game HiveSwap. Well, I say finished it; I mean, finished with it. I got to another point where I was stuck, so I turned again to the YT video play-through and watched up to the point where I was stuck and a little more to see what I had missed. Then I did go back and play through that puzzle (and one more achievement that the video guy had missed, ha ha). Then I realized that the video play-through had only about 20 minutes to run, so the game was nearly done. Heck with it, I just watched the rest of the video. Glad I did, because it turns out, the game so far was only chapter one of a much longer story. It ends on a cliff-hanger with Jodie and Xephros riding away from the evil Heiress on a Lusus and…never mind.

Since they produced this game back in 2017 and haven’t added another chapter since, it probably won’t ever be finished. Too bad. It had nice characters, a good script, clever art. But I can’t recommend it even as a freebie, because it isn’t finished.

I am getting a lot of entertainment from Youtube videos. There is such an endless range of subjects and personalities. You want something that will chill you right out and leave you calm? No, not meditation. Spend half an hour watching this guy restore a painting. I watch a guy designing and building a computer from scratch. I watch a woman rebuilding a Toyota MR2. I watch a machinist adapt a piece of equipment. People doing stuff, skillfully, that’s what I like. It’s soothing.




1.159 walk, new phone

Sunday, 5/10/20 <- nice sequence

Sunday. Mother’s day. Apparently I missed out on something, because I had declined breakfasts on my meal request sheet. Or maybe it was just the women? Anyway, I saw comments on the local bulletin board thanking Sodexo for the lovely Mother’s Day  breakfasts, with, it seems, a small bottle of sparkling wine, and orange juice for making Mimosas, and flowers.

Actually later, with my lunch tray, I got the little bottle of sparkling wine also, which I sipped after supper.

Per this blog in late March last year, I started the process of recycling three old Macs which eventually resulted in my having three Apple store coupons worth in total about $700. Today I spent two of them, which covered all but $20 of a new iPhone SE and a wireless charging stand. I like the idea of the charging stand. I’ll put it on my night table where I usually lay the phone, and it can be charging all night. It’ll be handy to have it charged every morning.

The phone will be a minimal upgrade from my 7S one. Same size and color and shape, but a somewhat upgraded camera and a faster processor. Eventually I’ll take the old one down and swap it for the 5S that I loaned to Jean, and then recycle that one. In that sweet bye-and-bye when I can take the car out and drive around.

I wanted to go for a walk but I’m bored with just going out for a loop. I need a destination, which in the past would have been a coffee shop or some other kind of public sitting space. OK, today I opened maps and picked a park, Greer Park, a bit over a mile away. Walked there, found a nice tree to sit under, and sat for a while.


Then got up and walked back. Phone said I’d walked just over 4 miles. But at least I had “been someplace” definite.



1.158 laundry and tv

Saturday, 5/9/2020

Two weeks have breezed by and it’s time to do the laundry again. We have a nice magnetic sign-up board in the 6th floor laundry room, with little magnetic chess pawns with our names on them. Yesterday I claimed the first slots on Saturday, 6-8 and 8-10. It takes 45 minutes for one load,  45 minutes for the next, and another 40 minutes of drying, so you can’t fit two full loads into a single, 2-hour slot. Especially if you are going to forget to set a timer on your phone to remind you to cycle the laundry.

The rest of the day I did some programming, and watched a lot of YT videos. After supper I turned on the TV and for some reason, it had no sound. I never did quite figure out why, because in the course of investigating, I made a discovery.

When I set the TV up with a sound bar (about a year ago now, I can’t be bothered to go find the blog post) I ran into a problem. The sound bar takes its input either as digital-optical, which would be the preferred way, or by HDMI pass-through from the TV, or by a plain old stereo wire with a mini-plug. I couldn’t get either of the two hi-tech ways to work. The TV dates to 2011 and its optical output is an old style. And the HDMI thing didn’t work for some reason. Anyway, I settled for plain old stereo which sounded fine anyway.

(Parenthetically, this was one of the reasons I shopped a lot for a new TV, back last summer. I figured a new one would have working digital audio out. Later I reset all the color controls and the picture now is so good, I can’t justify a new one.)

So tonight I’m fiddling with the XFinity DVR settings trying to figure out why no sound is coming out and I see a settings option that alerts me to the fact that the DVR itself has optical audio out. Huh. I have an optical cable right here in this drawer. I hook up the DVR to the sound bar and sound comes out. Well, well.

Later I turn the TV off and discover a problem with this new setup. The DVR never really turns off. The TV shuts off, but the DVR keeps going — and putting out sound. I have to get the control for the sound bar and mute it separately. That wasn’t a problem when the sound bar was fed by the TV. (Another problem: once in a while I like to hook up the MacBook to the TV to stream something on a big screen. When I do that, there won’t be any audio from the sound bar. The sound bar is listening to the DVR, not the TV. But I can leave the old stereo wire hooked up and switch back to it.)


1.157 small time stuff

Friday 5/8/2020

Went for a run but an odd coincidence made me shorten it. Once again I had left the building without my mask. Well, it was early and nobody was around. There’s a point where I cross a pedestrian bridge over a creek. Approaching this I found myself catching up with a man walking slowly, also without a mask. He was slow, but fast enough that I could not pass him before the entry to the bridge. So I’d have to follow him over the narrow bridge, in his breath-wake. Nunh-unh. So I turned away and took a shorter route home.

One nice thing today was that for the first time in weeks, I heard construction workers below me on the 5th floor. So they are back on the job.

I did some programming. I played HiveSwap for half an hour, until I got stuck again; then I watched more of the YT play-through to see what arbitrary clue I had missed.

The weather was warmish, up to 80 in the afternoon, and for the first time this year I was comfortable sitting out on my balcony.

I tried watching a play streamed by the UK National Theater, By Jeeves. It was by Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Weber based on PG Wodehouse. That’s a pile of talent, and should make it good, but it wasn’t. If I’d seen it in a theater, I’d’ve left at intermission. I left the stream earlier.

And that was the day.

1.156 thursday washday

Thursday 5/7/2020

Did the 7:15 aerobics class. Then, after a bit of sitting around catching up with the internet, I started the Thursday apartment cleaning. Dust. Wipe down kitchen, and then all the surfaces in the bathroom. At the start of the DIY Housekeeping thing, they gave me a vacuum, a swiffer, and a big spray bottle of a cleaning solution, Peroxy, “hydrogen peroxide based cleaner”. It’s odorless, clear, and very effective. Light spray on any hard surface; wipe it around with a damp rag; wipe it off with a dry rag; it sparkles. Go over all the wood surfaces with a dry rag and Pledge.

Then move all furniture onto the carpets and Swiff the hard floors. Then move all the furniture off the carpets and vacuum. Then change the bed linen and done.

My shower has clear glass doors. Back on Tasso street I kept a squeegee in the shower and squeeged (is that a word?) the inside of the glass before getting out. It helped a lot to keep the water spots from building up on the glass. I decide to do that here also. I order a squeegee and a suction-cup hook from Ace Hardware up the street. After lunch I go up and pick it up.

Got an email from SFJazz: all concerts through August canceled. Damn. I had booked two shows that I was really looking forward to. Now I have to decide whether to return the tickets for credit or donate them. I split the difference, claiming credit for one show, donating the other.



1.155 shopping, pizza

Wednesday 5/6/2020

Started with a run. I found myself awake at 5:50, so I ended up starting my run at 7am.

At 9 am I got notification that my grocery shopper had started working. She arrived with the stuff just before 11am. I hastily put the bags in my room and headed for the basement, because today was car freedom day, when we are allowed to take our cars out of the garage. I took the Prius out for a 20-minute run, just to warm it up and charge the battery, then back to the garage.

Back upstairs I broke down the grocery order. I had filled out order forms for the 7 customers (6 plus me). I put them around the big table in the 6th floor dining room and put the items next to their forms. At this point I noticed (rather belatedly) that the case of Anchor Steam I had ordered was on the bill, but not present.  I texted the “runner” and yes, it was still in her car. We arranged for her to circle back with it later.

Then I wrote down the prices of everything and added up the individual bills, and delivered everything to the recipients. By which time my lunch tray arrived at my door, and almost at once I got the text from the runner, she was outside with muh beerz.

After lunch I placed an order for pizza delivery. I had agreed with Patty to share a pizza tonight. We did that last Wednesday, when she ordered. Rather than split that, we agreed I would order this week.

What a busy morning. Think I need a nap.

Supper was nice. Patty and I sat on opposite sofas in the lounge and talked while gorging on pizza. First time I’ve eaten a meal in the company of another person in … six weeks?

Bag balm! Stuff fucking works! Once or twice a day I put a little dab on the back of each hand and rub it around and up my forearms, and it moisturizes nicely. All the dryness I was having from washing so often, is gone. Also, remarkably, the little patch of psoriasis I’ve had for years on the back of one hand, is staying softer and smoother than it has in a long time. I’m getting to like the smell of creosote.

1.154 bills, shopping, computer

Tuesday 5/5/2020

Started the day with Victoria’s step-aerobics at 7:15. This time there were four attendees, up from one (1) last Thursday. It’s a gentle workout, but it is a workout.

Did a little desk work, paying an insurance bill, and entering the end of month values for my various Schwab accounts in the spreadsheet. I note that I created this spreadsheet back on Day 31, early January 2019. This gives me an overview of the state of the Nest Egg. The total as of 3/30, was down %20 for the year. In April it recovered some, and is now down only %13 on the year.

Through the day I was fielding emails about our weekly 6th floor shopping. I ended up with a list of nearly 20 items — after everybody said “nah, nothing this week” and then had second thoughts next day. This week I am trying Errand.com for shopping instead of InstaCart. The actual shopping will happen tomorrow. Tomorrow is a big day for other reasons. (Not really.)

Did three computery things in the day. An hour on the Affinity photo book (dodging and burning, three different ways, including one I’d never heard of); proofed three pages for Distributed Proofreaders; and did some study in Crafting Interpreters. The latter got my nickers in a serious twist, because I strongly disagree with the way the author is presenting the information.

I was listening to a podcast where they were going on about the movie, His Girl Friday. I think I’ll try watching that on Prime Video tonight.