2.040 RA meet, walk, dosage rant

Monday 01/11/2021

During the morning news I picked up that today was a “king tide” day, extra high. It was on the news because it (coincidentally?) combined with unusually high onshore waves, and quite a few beachcombers had been caught by these.

Anyway, I recalled going to the Baylands on high tides before and decided I would again. Fortunately on a whim I called Patty to ask if she wanted to go, and she said, “after the 10:30 meeting, right?”. Oh holy fuck, the 10:30 Residents’ Association meeting. At which as RA Treasurer I would be expected to report. And I was ready to bop off for a walk exactly then. This is the kind of mistake I’m supposed to prevent by checking my Google Calendar. Anyway, I said, uh, sure, right after that, and went off to compile my Treasurer’s report. That took all of 5 minutes to do.

Nothing dramatic at the meeting, except that, during the Administration section — the staff, usually CEO Rhonda, is always given the final agenda spot for any announcements they want to make — Yadira (the hero of the vaccine story I told a few days back, remember?) announced that of the three Lee Center residents who were being treated in our Covid isolation wing, one had passed away of the virus or its complications. She went “peacefully, surrounded by relatives and friends, on Zoom,” Yadira said. So that’s now I think 5 deaths we’ve had over the two instances where staff brought the virus into our AL/SNF wing. And another 4 recovered, two in progress.

Now I’m trying to imagine “sitting” at a relative’s bedside via Zoom. I guess the nurse arranges the laptop to show the dying person’s face? Kind of… well, attending a death is never pleasant but this seems kind of weird.

So I left that meeting and we went for a pleasant stroll looking at high water. Not dramatic high water, not overflowing the banks or anything; just that channels through the reeds which are normally little muddy creeks with a trickle of water at the bottom, were today full, no mud showing.

In the afternoon I went over to CVS because they had texted that I had a prescription ready. And here begins a complicated story.

After Dr. Watkins braced my aorta with stents, she gave 3 post-op directions. One, I’m to not lift anything over 20 pounds. Two, use whatever it takes to keep your stool soft and avoid straining on the toilet. And three, get your (systolic) blood pressure under 120. All of these are really aimed at not breaking an aneurysm. I don’t have any aneurysms (swellings off the aortic wall) but if one should form in between annual CT scans, these measures lower the chances of it breaking.

At the hospital I was given a prescription for Metoprolol, 25mg, take 2/day. Soon after my cardiologist Dr. Dibiase (dee bee ah-say) changed it to Metoprolol succinate 50mg, and I thought, also 2/day. Which is what I was taking, one tab morning and night, until I picked up a refill at CVS around Christmas, and noticed that the label clearly read, one per day by mouth.

Well fuckety-doo, I had been doubling the dosage, silly me. So I changed to 1/day in the morning. Over the next couple of weeks I was not pleased with my BP. I was taking it 4 times a day (8am, 1pm after lunch, 6pm after supper, 10pm going to bed) and it was running from an occasional 121 to an occasional 151, average around 135 roughly. (That’s an eyeball average, I haven’t done the arithmetic.)

So I sent a message to the doctor using the Sutter Health website, in it giving a table of about 5 days readings. I received no direct reply. However yesterday I got a text from CVS saying my prescription for “MET” (they only show the first three letters of the drug) was ready, come pick it up. Huh? I have enough Metoprolol for a couple of weeks yet, so this can’t be an automatic refill.

When I picked up the drug at CVS this afternoon I noticed that the bottle was bigger than before, and that the prescription printed on it says, “Take two per day by mouth”. So is this the reply to my message, doubling the dose because of the numbers I reported? Or was the prior prescription in error, and I was right to be taking two per day? Should I inquire about this when I see Dr. Dibiase in a couple of weeks? Or should I just let it go?

To further confuse things, looking back at my spreadsheet, the BP numbers when I was taking 2/day are not a whole lot lower than while I’ve been taking one. Definitely not consistently under 120.

On the bright side, I am not having any side-effects from this beta-blocker. I’ve had a problem with a beta-blocker in the past, made me feel listless and low-energy. Not this one, that I notice. Whether I take 50mg or 100mg.

2.039 lens case, coding

Sunday 01/10/2021

(I just realized that day 3.001 is also going to be a palindrome, 12/02/2021. But that’s 11 months away.)

After the Sunday paper and watering the plants and the crossword it was only 9:20 and I decided to go for a Baylands walk. But I got to the basement and realized I had another chore to do, setting up the volunteer sign-up sheet for next week’s package reception task. So back to the room and do that and then out again 15 minutes later. Walked about 3 miles feeling nominal, so that’s good.

I called the kitchen and canceled my tray lunch, and for lunch had instead the rest of the very good chili from Willies, and one rib. There’s still 4 ribs to consume.

Then I worked on a minor project that I’ve had in mind for some time. The Channing House Xfinity system a plethora of channels and I find myself using the search function often to find them, because the printed channel list that came with the X1 receiver is badly organized and hard to read. I want the channels in a spreadsheet form where I can sort the rows by number or by channel name. But there are several hundred (I can say now, definitively, 454 total) and that’s a lot of tedious data entry.

So I used my OCR software and the scanner in my printer to OCR the Xfinity pamphlet. That got me the list as text, still in a badly organized format. But a little editing to clean it up and then… how to make it a CSV so I could load it in Numbers? I wrote a tiny program in Python to do the job. Nobody cares but I’m going to put the code right here.

Quick and dirty program to convert a file like this (made by OCR of an Xfinity pamphlet)
    2 KTVU (FOX)
    3 KNTV (NBC)
    25,1068 KTLN (INR)
    26,29,1074,1076 Government Access
into a file like this:
    26,"Government Access","LIMITED BASIC"
    29,"Government Access","LIMITED BASIC"
    1074,"Government Access","LIMITED BASIC"
    1076,"Government Access","LIMITED BASIC"
that is, a CSV file in which the first column is a single channel number,
the second is the station name/description, and the third is the package.

A sufficient file path must be the first argument. The output goes to
"output.csv" in the current directory.
import sys
file_path = sys.argv[1]
the_file = open(file_path,mode='r',encoding='Latin 1')
the_data = the_file.read() # slurp it all in
lines = the_data.split('\n') # make a list of the lines
# print(len(lines)) answer was 454
package = ""
output = [] # list of output lines
for line in lines:
    if len(line)==0 : continue # ignore blank line
    if line[0].isalpha():
        # new package name e.g. "PREMIUM CHANNELS"
        package = line
        # a line with channel numbers and name e.g. "25,1068 KTLN (INR)"
        number_group = line.split(' ')[0] # "25,1068"
        channel = line[len(number_group):].strip() # "KTLN (INR)"
        numbers = number_group.split(',') # ["25","1068"]
        for number in numbers: # "1068"
csv_file = open('output.csv',mode='w',encoding='Latin 1')
csv_file.writelines(output) # splurt all the output

(Goodness the WordPress “code” format block is crap.) That’s pretty crude but it did the job, and all 454 rows loaded into Numbers just fine. Next to fiddle with it in spreadsheet land to make it easier to sort.

I wrote about the 500mm telephoto lens on day 2.031. I mentioned that its leather case was dry dirty and cracked. Over the last couple of days I’ve been working “Leather Honey” into it, and putting black shoe polish on the worst of the places where the black has chipped off.

It ain’t great but it’s better than it was. I have the lens on the camera, on the tripod, on the deck waiting for something in the sky to shoot. The moon or something.

2.038 too many ribs

Saturday 01/09/2021

I really did nothing today except read and walk. I took a moderate walk in the morning, circling back hopefully to where the farmers’ market should be, but it still isn’t operating. And a shorter walk in the afternoon.

At 4:15 I went down to the garage and met Patty, and we drove in my car to Armadillo Willy’s to pick up orders for me, Patty, and four other people. When I got my order baby backs home I was amazed at how much meat I had. Plus I had ordered a portion of their chili which proved to be delicious. But by the time I’d eaten three ribs, half the chili, and one of those delicious corn muffins I was full. Now what will I do with the leftovers? I think I will cancel my dinner order for tomorrow, and maybe lunch as well.

2.037 SWBB, nest egg, tech

Friday 01/08/2021

Started the day with a standard walk. That done I sat down with my giant spreadsheet and entered the numbers from the accounts that comprise the Nest Egg. My combined investments ended 2020 just 2.5% down from the end of 2019. So I still have plenty of money.

At 11:30 it was time to watch the Stanford Women take on the Oregon Ducks. This was nominally a home game, but of course the team can’t come home to Santa Clara County. The game was played at an arena in Santa Cruz, CA. The Ducks kept a narrow lead through the first half. In the third quarter (after a no doubt inspiring half-time talk from Tara) the Cardinal pulled themselves together and took a lead of a dozen, and then hung on against Oregon to win by a handful.

At 7pm I got a call from Laurie. A couple of days ago she had put in a request to the tech squad for help with an iPad. I had investigated. Her problem was that sometimes, the iPad would, on its own, change to inverted text, white on black. At least, in the Mail app which was what she mostly used. With some research I learned that an iOS device had several Accessibility options that would give inverted text. I made sure all of them were off. The iPad wasn’t misbehaving then, so we called it a possible fix.

So tonight it had gone back to inverted text. I met Laurie on her 9th floor lounge and spent 15 minutes exploring. Some googling brought up the term “Dark Mode”. Hah. More investigation. Yes, most apps seemed to be in Dark Mode, which involved inverted text. And more googling got me to the Settings for Display & Text, where it turns out the damn thing had an automatic switch to Dark Mode from 7pm to 7am! There didn’t seem to be any way to turn that off, but I could set a different schedule so I set it to go to Dark Mode only between Midnight and 3am. Fixed!

2.036 busy-ish day

Thursday 01/07/2021

Did the aerobics at its new time, 8:15, which was more comfortable, and which attracted a couple more people.

Then did a few things. Paid a bill. Created the next week’s meal delivery volunteer signup sheet, and after Marcia had filled in the regulars, advertised it. And over the afternoon, dealt with five emails from people who had filled in their name in the wrong slot or filled it in twice. Took a long-ish walk. Tidied the apartment in advance of Wanda cleaning it at 2pm.

And went to bed early to make up for last night’s late watching of the government.

2.035 sitting up late

Wednesday 01/06/2021

Went for the usual walk, and another walk later in the day (4.6 miles).

Spent most of the day watching the doings in Washington DC, and then until late watching the Congress continue.

However in the midst of watching a mob in the Capitol, I forgot about the 2pm RA Executive Committee meeting. So that was bad.

This was a day that I had been dissatisfied with the choices for dinner and had scratched it out. Rather than send out, I made an entirely satisfactory meal with bread, mayo, cheese and grapes.

2.034 music, writing

Tuesday 01/05/2021

Did the aerobics. Veronica has agreed to change the schedule of the aerobics class from 7:30 to 8:15. She agreed with Michele and me that it might get more people. I’ll like it because there isn’t really enough time to read the paper and do my puzzles before 7:30.

At 9am it was time for the 3rd and final lecture by Stephanie Trick and her husband, this one on blues and boogie-woogie. It was excellent, and at the end when Stephanie ripped into a couple of boogie numbers, and then finished doing four-hands with Paolo, I was almost crying it was so good.

Next up at 11am was the writers’ group, and I read the the thing I’d put together in some haste last night. It got rave reviews. People really liked it. A couple people took the trouble to compliment me on it later in the day, one in email asking for a copy, and one who passed me in the hall. So I’m going to put it in here.

Remember, the assignment was: a conversation with Janus, the two-faced Roman god of beginnings and endings. From the Wikipedia entry I got the lovely story that Janus was never built a real temple like the other gods. He only had an open courtyard whose gates were always open when Rome was at war (most of the time) and closed when there was peace. And today, nobody knows where the Janus courtyard was. That gave me material for the first few paragraphs, setting the scene. Then I had the problem of, what would an old two-faced god want to talk about? That required more deep research in Wikipedia.

A scene based on several Wikipedia entries

The narrow Roman alley ran in deep shadow between plastered walls, the gloom partly lit by afternoon sun reflecting from the white stone of the upper tier of the Colosseum where it peeped over one tiled rooftop. I had completely lost sight of my group and the cheerful umbrella of our tour leader. I decided to cross the cobbled way to the better lit side, but one step from the curb and I heard the annoyed squawk of a Vespa horn from the left and a yell of “Fouri dai piedi” from the right. I jumped back, tripped, stumbled, staggered, and fetched up against a wooden wall. I leaned on it to regain my balance and the wall began to rotate inward. It was a gate, not a wall, turning on primitive hinge-posts, yet smoothly opening to… what? Well, none of my business. I looked for a handle, a latch; I scrabbled on the heavy timbers to pull the gate closed again; but it continue to swing until it fetched up against an inner wall of smooth stone with a thump.

I was facing a narrow courtyard perhaps 20 meters deep and only a little wider than the gate. The walls and floor were of finely shaped stone blocks. It was open to the sky, and I could see that the stucco walls of apartment houses on each side were blank; no windows looked down into it. The opposite end was closed by… was it another gate? The air was cool and the sounds of the city were muted. I took a few steps into the place, wondering briefly if there might be a bench where I could sit and collect myself.

“Is it war again?” asked a baritone voice.

I jumped and looked around.

“I see no war in Italy tomorrow,” replied a tenor voice.

Both voices seemed to come from the same direction, somewhere near a deep niche in the wall to my right. I came closer and saw the head, well, heads of Janus sculpted in … I drew closer … quite amazing detail. The artfully curled hair; the elaborate beard of the left-looking visage; the beauty of the beardless face on the right. In the blue shadows it was impossible to tell; was that only stone? Hesitantly I reached out to touch the sculpture when the voices spoke again.

“If there is no war…” said the baritone,

“The gate should be closed,” said the tenor.

“It is the law,” they said in chorus.

Both voices had definitely come from the niche before me. I wasn’t quite certain whether stone lips had moved in the shadow.

“I’ll close it, but, forgive me,” I said, “Only when I leave. I’m afraid of being shut in; there’s no handle on the gate.”

“Have no fear,” said the tenor; “I see you leaving soon.”

“You are dressed poorly for a rex sacrorium,” said the baritone, censoriously.

“I am not he; I am only here by accident. I’ll restore your peace in a moment.”

“I prefer the wartime,” said the baritone; “with both gates open and all Rome passing by.”

“You can like war because you only see the fallen bodies,” said the tenor, “I have to see the blows about to fall.”

“It’s all fresh in front of you,” said the other; “All possibilities. You don’t have to watch the decay, the funerals, the grief.”

“This is interesting, but do you never…” I began.

“I see the cruelty, the bad choices, the mistakes as they form,” said the tenor. “I scream ‘Noooo’, and then they are past me, and new ones are growing.”

“So delicate you are,” sniffed the baritone. “I dwell in the aftermath, the damage, the scars, the regret, which stretches forever.”

“But can you never see the moment?” I asked.

“The what?” said the tenor.

“The now?”

“The what?” Said the baritone.

“I understand your real significance,” I said. “You are perfect exemplars of what the Buddha taught.”

“Who?” The voices asked in chorus.

“Well, the Emperor Aurelius, then. He said much the same.”

“I remember Aurelius. The gates were open for most of his time. Parthian war, ah…” rumbled the baritone.

“The point is, the future doesn’t exist…”

“I see it,” snapped the tenor.

“And that makes you a god. But does it make you happier? I think you already said not.”

“The never-ending stupidity, like a cold drizzle in the face…” muttered the tenor.

“It’s worse for mortals,” I said, “We see nothing, and if we hope, we suffer disappointment.”

“The past is reliable,” said the baritone.

“The past cannot be changed.”

“It can be regretted. That is what I do.”

“So, Aurelius (and that other chap you wouldn’t have met) came to the conclusion that to be emotionally attached to either the future or the past, was to be enslaved to a heartless master.”

“Then all are slaves! I see it!” Said the tenor voice.

“Perhaps a few escaped…” said the baritone, uncertainly.

“There is a thing you, god that you are, cannot see, called the present. To live in that, they say, is freedom.”

“You describe a space where what I see coming,” said the tenor, “changes, becomes…”

“Becomes what I see fading,” said the baritone.

I began to walk toward the gate.

“The moment of true action…” said one voice,

“The moment when probabilities resolve to fact…” said the other.

I pulled the gate away from the wall; it came smoothly on its ancient pins.

“We cannot see it!” Said both voices.

I stepped around the gate, pulling it toward its jamb. As it settled into place I might have heard a crack of stone breaking.

2.033 rain, neighbor, writing

Monday 01/04/2021

Checked the radar image on weather underground. Just at 8:30, we were coming out of one band of rain, and the next was well off-shore, so I headed out for the usual walk. At the end of it, I stopped at the CVS on University, because a neighbor had asked for a favor.

They don’t get out that much, and his wife wanted a particular brand of eyewash, “TheraTears Sterilid Eyelid scrub”. Paul hadn’t been able to find it online. In fact it looked as if the version she wanted to replace, was being phased out in favor of an “antimicrobial” version. But he thought CVS might have some on the shelf.

CVS on University didn’t, but while I was in the store, I pulled out my phone and went to cvs.com where you can actually check stock on an item. As I showed Paul later, of the 20 or so stores in range of our zipcode, every one showed “Out of Stock” with a single exception. The CVS in Midtown, a mile down Middlefield, had “Low Stock”. So I finished my walk, got in the car, and drove down to that store. There were two bottles of the stuff on the shelf, next to the new antimicrobial kind, so I grabbed both.

After lunch I began to think about tomorrow’s Writers’ Group. I really should produce something, I’ve skipped a couple. The cue is, “A conversation with the Roman god Janus”. After reading the Wikipedia entry for Janus I put together a nice opening paragraph or two that got me into the conversation, then stuck. Well no problem, I’ll have all morning. But a check of my calendar and, damn, I have the third and last lecture on 20th Century Piano styles by Stephanie Trick from 9 to 10, and the writers’ meet is at 11. So after supper I went back to it, and finished it some kind of fashion. If they like it I’ll post it here tomorrow.

2.032 easy Sunday, COVID

Sunday 01/03/2021

I slept almost to 7am, unusual for me. After reading the paper I decided for once I’d be early enough at the Baylands to park, and was down there looking for parking at 8:35. There were a couple of open spots. That hour, there were more joggers than casual walkers. I walked for an hour.

I returned via California Avenue where I parked such that I could access one of the bakery stands without passing many people. I bought an almond croissant and left to enjoy it at home.

That was about it for the day. At 3pm I watched the Stanford Women have a harder time than they should have had, putting away ASU. They let the Sun Devils come within three points in the third quarter before pulling away again to win by a dozen.

Oh. Yes. There was news, in the form of an email about noon, quote,

This is to notify you that we have three staff members and three Lee Center residents who have tested positive for Covid-19. We are issuing a close contact advisory to Assisted Living and a general exposure notice to Skilled Nursing residents and staff. For Independent Living residents and staff, this is a courtesy notice, as there was no known contact at Channing House with these individuals.

Our Covid-positive residents are being moved to the Covid wing today where they will be under the constant care of our nursing team. Responsible parties for these residents have been contacted.

Almost weekly we get staff with a positive test, but the last three times, the staff person(s) have not had contact with residents. Now, and for the second time, some staff members in the SNF/AL side brought the virus in and given it to residents. The previous time (I think it was August or September?) there were four residents infected, and two died.

The virus is out there in the community at large, and so are our staff, out there circulating in their communities. It isn’t as if they didn’t know; there must have been 25 or 30 staff members (more probably) who have had 10-day home-stay vacations after positive tests. Every staff member has to be aware of, indeed must have worked alongside, somebody who got infected and had to isolate. But they keep coming in, infected.

2.031 model, new lens

Saturday 01/02/2021

I decided to go for a longish walk, wrapping around (as planned last week also) to the farmer’s market for a yummy pastry. I went four miles and ended up at the proper place, but again, no market. It’s the real year, how come no market? Sad.

I finished futzing with the dashboard of the model. Here is how it looks (sorry, a little out of focus) when held in the body where it will live eventually.

That “chrome” paint around the two big dials is crap, I gotta work on that. I had some “transparent red” paint and just two tiny drops on the chrome panel looks perfect, just like red jewel lights on the real thing. What you might ask, is that black hole on the left? I do not know. It’s in the model and the model directions, but every MG TC that I find online (and there are dozens) has a chrome passenger hand-hold at that point. Not a chrome-ringed black circle.

Later in the day I got a package from eBay. A couple weeks ago, trying to photograph Jupiter and Saturn, I was frustrated with my lens. Not enough telephoto. I found a used, Nikon 500mm mirror lens on eBay at a reasonable price and bought it. Here is a picture I took with it just before sundown.

Again, fading light on a hazy day. But hold up your thumb at arm’s length; that’s how big Hoover Tower looks from the roof of Channing House. And The Dish is a couple of miles beyond it.

The Nikon lens came in the original black cylindrical leather case. Unfortunately the leather has badly dried out with lots of fine cracks and some chips out of the edges. Not to worry, I googled “restore cracked leather” and it isn’t that hard to do. I ordered some stuff and will restore this vintage (not that old, maybe 10 years?) leather case. Oh boy another project.