1.236 tech support, model

Friday 7/24/2020

Went for a run, starting early so as to be back before the promised 8:30am power shutoff. In fact the shutoff didn’t happen until 9:20, and was over and power restored by 9:40. So that was easier than planned. They did establish that the freight elevator worked off the emergency power supply. That’s important because the freight elevator opens to the outside; it can be entered from the back parking lot. So it could be used by emergency responders.

Also the test established that, on the upgraded floors like mine, the wi-fi also works off the emergency power system, and kept on right through the outage.


Speaking of upgraded floors, there was news on the upgrade project in Rhonda’s weekly call. Currently the 5th floor is being worked on, with move-ins to be done by 10/31. That will leave two undone floors, 3 and 4. By the original floor-by-floor schedule they wouldn’t have been completed before end 2021. But staff have brainstormed a plan by which those two floors can be done in tandem, completing in July next year. This means finding 30-some temporary units but this can be done, by offering inducements to some people who have bought in, but not moved in. This so-called “loan back” program means they are loaning back the unit they would have occupied in exchange for some kind of financial break.

Hopefully mid-year next year will bring lots to celebrate, starting with a return to normal operations.


Right after Rhonda’s meeting I met with Michele in the lobby and we had a long conversation with a very patient and helpful Apple support agent. With his guidance I was able to find the massive file, a 192 gigabyte “log” file kept by the Mail app. It was a hidden file, not revealed in a normal Finder display. Moved it out of the Mail folder to the desktop, started up Mail, all looked normal so it didn’t miss that file. Deleted the file and presto, we had 192GB free space. I personally don’t use Apple’s Mail app, and I’m glad. But it is essential to many of my neighbors with Macs.


Another snippet from Rhonda’s meeting:

We are currently required to complete 4 daily and weekly reports to 3 different reporting agencies. We are required to report PPE inventory, number of COVID-tests administered and the related results, number of COVID positive residents and/or staff, and number of persons of interest or PUIs (PUIs are people who may have symptoms or may have had exposure to COVID). Of course, each agency asks for the same information in a different format or for a different time period.

Also, a staff member who had not been at work in the past 3 weeks, apparently self-quarantined for symptoms? has tested positive. So several more staff who had contact with that person are also now self-quarantining, putting a strain on the staff to cover for all the absences.


I started assembling the engine of the model. The detailing is very nice. On the cylinder heads for the flathead V8, the individual spark plugs are present. By leaving those bits unpainted, I get white spark plugs. I have to think if I can get little spark plug leads to them.

1.235 tech support mostly

Thursday 7/23/2020

After the aerobics class I was doing my usual morning internetting when the phone rang. It was Michele, who lives on the 9th floor and who I have helped with Mac problems before. Her Mac was giving an odd error message about its disk being nearly full, please do something. Michele is pretty much the opposite of technical, so was flummoxed. We agreed to meet in the lobby at 10 to look at the problem.

Which was a real problem. Over the course of half an hour playing with her pretty little rose-gold Macbook Air, I learned quite a bit. For instance, although I had often selected About This Mac from the Apple menu, I had never noticed that the little window it opens had anything other than info on the model and the level of the OS. It has tabs! And one of them is Storage! And it presents a nice bar graph to summarize how storage is used. Here’s the graph from Michele’s machine.

Almost all of the 250GB drive is in use. The little colored slivers on the left represent System, Photos, Mail (the largest blue one) and so on. But 209GB is in use for “Other”. There in the lobby, and later alone, I researched the heck out of this. There are a lot of web pages out there telling you how to manage storage, but none of them matched up with Michele’s situation.

I learned how to get the Finder to show me a list of all files in the Mac, sorted by size. None of those files were larger than the 2GB in the mail folder. A couple of websites pointed to Time Machine as a possibility. Apparently it sometimes keeps local “snapshots” of backups. So I got Michele to meet me again in the lobby and I checked her machine and no, Time Machine wasn’t even running, there were no snapshots. You use a command in the terminal window to verify that. I felt very sophisticated opening the terminal window and running the tmutil command, heh heh. So now I will meet Michele tomorrow at 5:30 and she will call Apple support and I will translate geek for her.

It was second-Thursday, and Marta came by at 2 and made my unit spic’n’span. So that was pretty much the day.

Tomorrow, Friday, there is to be a scheduled power shutdown, apparently having to do with an elevator test. So power will be off from 8:30 am until maybe 11am. I imagine they will come back sooner than that. Anyway, if I go for a run I will probably have to climb six flights of stairs when I come back. Well, so?

1.234 groceries, model

Wednesday 7/22/2020

Went for a run first thing; it felt kind of effortful. Some days…

First excitement of the day was that InstaCart shopped my grocery order at 10am. This was stuff for me and stuff for the Allens. Nobody else on the 6th floor wanted to buy stuff. I think people are going out to stores on their own. Anyway, the shopper arrived at 11:40. I took it all upstairs, separated out the Allen’s in a bag, and dropped it off with them.

The modeling tools I had ordered finally arrived. This would be Amazon’s replacement for the order that got lost. The same tools that I ordered again from the manufacturer yesterday. Those will arrive next week. Who knows, the original Amazon order might emerge from limbo someday, too. Then I’ll have three scribers. Anyway.

So I broke open the 1953 Ford model kit and took a look. I am quite pleased. It is more detailed and intricate than the 1952 Chevy kit in several ways. One way, is that the chrome spears on the side are provided as separate, chrome pieces. On the Chevy the comparable side-spears were just molded into the body and you had to paint them silver.

Another feature is a sheet of very nice decals, including tiny details like the little fender and trunk badges and the script “Fleetline” and so on.

After supper I sat down and finished the Coke machine, a little white paint, silver paint, black paint, and decals.

All the screening Covid tests (53 residents, 49 staff) are back, negative.

1.233 nursery, gardening, jeans

Tuesday 7/21/2020

Today was the first day it was practical to re-execute my trip over the hill to Half Moon Bay to look for plants and pots. Doing so meant blowing off the CH Writers’ group, but I had nothing prepared and wasn’t that interested in the subject anyway. So off I went.

I found one acceptable large pot. And I found two plants. One is a nice Daphne. We had a daphne in the back yard on Tasso Street, so I know it can be healthy and bloom in shady conditions, so it should be fine on my east-facing balcony. The other is a thyme-leafed Fuchsia, so called because its leaves are very small. Although I’ve seen thyme plants and their leaves are smaller still. Anyway, happily blooming away with lots of little red flowers.

So back home for an intense hour of gardening. I killed one of the chinese whatsis plants, I don’t know what they are, anyway they haven’t done well, just hanging on. The shock of being out of doors after years in our living room was too much. I kept the larger one, but the runty one I put out of its misery so I could re-use its pot.

I filled up four small plastic bags with used soil and broken plant bits. Well, I can’t put a new plant in the soil used by a plant that wasn’t healthy, can I? But gardening on a balcony is different from gardening in a… garden. Can’t just scatter the dirt. Gotta sweep it up and bag it up. And I took the pot into the shower and scrubbed it. Anyway, that’s all done.

Fuchsia Thymifolia in scrubbed-out pot
Daphne in new pot, also bags of trash.

I put the daphne back against the inner wall. It won’t get direct sunlight at all. Or maybe ten minutes just after dawn. So it should be comfortable.

I ordered a pair of Levi’s on 7/11. The order stayed in “processing” state until 7/18, when it went to “shipped” and finally showed up this evening. My efforts to control my weight have been effective; over the last month I’ve come down from 174+/-2 to 172+/-2 pounds. And my I had to keep hitching up my 36-waist jeans so this was a 35-waist. And it fits fine. So yay me.

1.232 sinus tickle, coding

Monday 7/20/2020

Went for a run which felt fine. Back in plenty of time for the 9-10am window when the 6th floor was to be called for COVID testing. In fact they worked from the other end of the floor so I was the last in about 10am. The test kit this time was different, the nurse said. “It’s uncomfortable.” Instead of long Q-tip things, there were long plastic rods. She had to probe both sides and it wasn’t that big a deal, although it is always astonishing how far back my nasal passages go.

There is a mystery with two Amazon orders. On separate days I put in two orders, which then were combined and re-split. The first order was for three wee little bottles of model paint plus two model-making tools. The next day I put in an order for 4 different New York Times crossword puzzle books.

When I began getting follow-up emails, it seemed Amazon had decided to ship two bottles of paint and two crossword books in one package, which finally did arrive three days after it was ordered.

The other package, two books, two tools, and a single paint bottle, didn’t ship for three days, and then its tracking info seemed to stall out in USPS Milpitas. Today I checked the status and Amazon’s order status page says “This order may have been lost”. Da fuq? And I was offered a button to click for “request a replacement”. Which I clicked but now it isn’t clear if that actually “took”? So I ordered the two tools from a completely different source (we’re talking 2x$9, they’re just like little steel dental picks). I want them because they are meant for use in the initial prep of a plastic model, prior to painting, and I want to use them in starting the 53 Ford model.

I spent three hours documenting and revising my playing cards software module. Fascinating how programming work can eat up time.

Oh, Men in Black yesterday? Was off Comedy Central, not HBO, so had lots of commercials. I stuck with it for an hour, admiring the special effects and Tommy Lee Jones wonderful screen presence, then went to bed.

1.231 “Pirates”, coding

Sunday 7/19/2020

Read the paper, had my brekkie, watered the plants, did the crossword, talked to Dennis. Told him I was heading out for a walk, but then realized, if I go now for any decent length of walk, I won’t be back when the lunch cart comes around.

So spent the time to lunch completing the coding of that old project. What I had done was to try to create an abstract “deck of cards” that could be shuffled, dealt into “hands”, put back in the deck etc. Written as a Python module that could be used by any kind of card game. Then as proof of concept, I started coding a simple Klondike solitaire using my deck. That’s what I got working yesterday and today. It has a very lame user interface, just ascii characters to show the tableau and the foundations etc. But after picking off 3 or 4 bugs, it plays the game. So that was fun. Not sure what to do with it next, if anything.

After lunch I went for that walk of a bit over 2 miles. Then it was time to watch The Limelighters’ production of Pirates of Penzance now streaming free for a week. After supper I started watching Men In Black recorded off the HBO. Will I stick with it to the end?

1.230 laundry, market, coding

Saturday 7/18/2020

So today I did my laundry. I hadn’t gotten my preferred 6-10am laundry slot (there’s a magnetic board we put markers on to claim time slots, and a neighbor grabbed the best slots a week ago) so had to do it 10-12. I started the first load then grabbed a shopping bag and a hat and headed out for the five-minute walk to the farmer’s market. I only bought a pound of ripe apricots.

With the laundry done and put away, it was almost time for the garage to be opened for returning cars. Mine spent the prior night on the street, because of driving down to FOPAL yesterday. Now I put it away. Next on the program was a nap, and I tried to take one on my balcony. However, being on the sixth floor, I can hear sounds from blocks away, and somebody was remodeling a house in the next block. Later I spent a couple of hours working on an old software project, one I’d set aside back in 2017.

One more shipment came in, an order of a few colors of model paint colors from eBay, but not the order from Amazon. I’m waiting on that, which should have come yesterday, to start work on the next car model.

1.229 FOPAL work

Friday 7/17/2020

Went for a run first thing; it felt good. Watered the plants. Refilled the hummingbird feeder. Little buzzers are emptying it in 6 days, average. That’s what, 50 hummingbird weights in sugar water, say 10 hummingbird weights consumed per day. By one, or perhaps two, birds. Slurp slurp.

First order of business, however, was catching up with the FOPAL decision to not have an August sale after all. It occurred to me, hey, those signup sheets are still open. I went through all 6 of them and changed them to stop accepting results, supposedly at 9am. By 9:30, 3 of them had “closed” status but 3 didn’t. Little bug in Slottr, there.

Also in Nancy’s “sorry, changing to september” letter that I forwarded to all signed-up people last night, she indicated that the signups would be preserved. Um, easier said than done. I looked but couldn’t find any way to reschedule a “slot” to a different date. One can only delete a slot (losing any signups) and enter a new one. There’s a work-around, to export all the existing signups to a spreadsheet and manually reenter them. So I wrote to Slottr support asking for guidance on that.

Then bugged Frank to tell me when he’d be at FOPAL so I could go down and finish working those boxes of Computer books.

Then wrote a note to the CH bulletin board advising Mac users about the latest update. MacOS keeps suggesting politely but insistently that we should upgrade to Catalina. I don’t want our in-house Mac users (of whom there are many) to attempt that, because if there is any problem, which is possible with an OS version change, they’d be on their own. However, MacOS also offers other updates the same way. So I sent a graphic:

Don’t click on the one thing, do click on the other to install a Security update and a new version of Safari. Should be clear enough, right?

Updated the status of all my pending online orders. Somehow I have ten things on the way to me, mostly from Amazon but also eBay and Peet’s coffee. Shopaholic much? It looks like three will arrive today, maybe four. (In the end three things arrived: one small order, a larger order, and half of each of two orders that Amazon had split and recombined, who knows why.)

And that got me to 11am and feeling like I’d had a full day.

After lunch I got the car out and drove to FOPAL where I processed the last four boxes of computer books. Back home, I listened to Rhonda’s Friday meeting. There was little news this time. All covid tests are coming back negative. The program for allowing family visits is working well. There have been quite a few calls from people interested in moving in, which is not what Kim in marketing had expected. The 5th floor upgrade is moving along, with planned move-in for October. Generally a feeling that we are getting on top of this pandemic thing and starting to cruise.

One of the orders that arrived today was my final order of model cars, an order I placed nearly 2 weeks ago.

So now I have 4 models to choose among. There are great reference pictures online for both Chryslers. They are very collectible. Examples: 1955 300, 1956 300B. One thing I learned from these pictures: the original Hemi engines were not painted red! They were painted gold.

Both cars were successful as stock racers. The 1955 in particular was the star of the Mexican Road Race, which brings up the idea of dressing the model in racing colors:

That would be a lot of work, and I’m not sure my skills are up to it.

1.228 not much

Thursday 7/16/2020

Victoria was late starting her Zoom session for aerobics. She comes up from Hollister–which is a hell of a commute–and today for the first time in Shelter Days, there was heavy traffic.

This was a pretty blank day. Took two naps, that’s how boring it was. I was curious whether, with the new, every-other-week cleaning schedule, I would still get the usual weekly delivery of fresh towels and sheets. And I did, so whee, excitement, I got to change the bed.

I spent some time casually looking into something that caught my attention recently: Prius camping. There is a little subculture of people who live in their Priuses, and a slightly larger subculture of people who use the Prius for camping. I’ve figured all along that when we all get busted out of house arrest, it would be time for a road trip. I’d thought of that in terms of staying in motels. As I noted last year, camping was one of the things I figured never to do again. But camping in the Prius…hmmm.

One more car model came in the mail, the 1/16 scale MG-TC.

The box is much larger than the box for the 1/25 scale Ford. I’m not going to do this one next; I expect it to be of very high quality and detail (if those spoke wheels in the picture are really that good, wow) and I want to do it justice, so I’ll do at least one other, first.

Then about 8pm came news from FOPAL: they have decided that they can’t run a sale August 8-9 after all; the recent increase in ‘rona cases makes it irresponsible. So now we get to test the feature of Slottr, that lets you send an email to everyone who has signed up. Tomorrow.

1.227 not nurseries, FOPAL, new model

Wednesday 7/15/2020

After my run and checking email I got in the car (parked on the street) and headed over the hill to the coast. I had just stopped at the first of three nurseries outside of Half Moon Bay when my phone rang: it was Nancy, of FOPAL. Today was the day the sign-up sheets should be open for signing up, and it seemed they weren’t, or at least one wasn’t.

I couldn’t do anything from there, so I started back, taking another call from her as I drove, tsk tsk. By the time I was back to the apartment, Nancy and Frank had worked out the issue, whatever it was, I really don’t know. Anyway by 11 all the sign up sheets were functioning, much to my relief. I had picked this sign-up sheet website to use and it was very distressing that it failed as soon as it was being used. Thus I didn’t get to look for plants or pots. Maybe Saturday?

Nothing much the rest of the day, except for putting the car in the garage at 2pm. With the mail one of the models I ordered came in, the 53 Ford Victoria. It includes a period Coke machine model.

According to the side of the box, it has even more detail than the 52 Chevy (peeking out above).

Observe that engine, a flat-head V-8? I know it very, very well. There was a period when mine had a head-gasket leak. With John Snow’s help I changed the head gasket, which promptly failed. We took the head off and I had it milled (I forget what I used for transportation with the car down) and John reinstalled it. I bought a torque wrench to make sure we did it right. But it failed again. I remember that John got angry at this, elbowed me away, and changed the gasket for a third time in a couple of hours, working in a complete rage. I think that third time was what worked.

I eventually more or less abandoned that car in Seattle, selling it to Tom Attwood for $100 (or maybe less?) before moving back to San Francisco. Will this be the model I do next? Must wait until three more kits come in.