3.042 picture rail, tv

Thursday 01/13/2022

Did my resistance exercises first thing, yay me. About 9, went out in the car to safeway to replenish two kinds of supplies: sugar for the hummingbirds, and mini-cans (8oz? tins) of soda for me.

I do not understand marketing. Safeway has literally 20 solid feet of 5-level shelving devoted to Coke, and every bit of it is stacked with 12-packs of the 12oz tins. A few kinds of plastic bottles at the end. They have mini-cans of 7Up, of Pepsi, of several other things. Why not a couple of feet of one shelf for mini-cans of Coke?

On return I put up my picture rails. I’ve had them for a couple of weeks. I put in a request to Facilities two weeks ago. Then the covid staff shortages hit. Clearly Facilities wasn’t going to get to it soon, and I have the tools and know-how, so I did it. This is what you see approaching my end of the hall now.

I am going to print more pics from my extensive catalog of fine photographs. The big one top center, you can’t really see in the above shot but it’s a picture of a picnic spread from our 2010 Normandy trip. It has a lot of colors and some deep shadow detail. This print was made on my Epson, but I sent the same JPG to mpix.com and I’m eager to see what they make of it. That print should arrive this weekend.

In the afternoon I had agreed to go with Eva to shop for a TV. She had an old, 32-inch TV standing on a small table 38 inches across. She wasn’t interested in anything larger. I managed to convince her that a 40-inch would fit on her table. Actually a 43-inch would also but she drew the line at 40. She ended up choosing a 40-inch Vizio which I thought would be easy to install, and it kind of was? But it is “smart” — so smart it’s actually hard to use because it keeps making assumptions about what you want and trying to be helpful. Instead of just “show me my Comcast box on HDMI1 and STFU.”

In the evening instead of turning on my TV, I fell into a YouTube rabbit hole of boogie woogie pianists playing on public pianos in railway stations. Yes, it’s a thing, play that one and then pick from the suggestions below, rinse and repeat.


3.041 errand, picture, laundry, noods

Wednesday 01/12/2022

At 7:30 checked with the volunteer dispensing trays to make sure she was ok (she was) then went for the standard walk for the first time in days and days. Felt ok. Stopped at CVS but it was only 8:30 so the pharmacy wasn’t open.

Then did something that’s been on the back burner for months: printing pictures. Two years back I bought a new printer, and I’ve only used it for mundane stuff. But there’s the project of putting up picture shelves outside my door, and populating them with my own photography. Yesterday I saw a recommendation for an online printing service, and I wondered whether they could do as well as my printer can. So I picked a shot from the queue of pictures waiting to be printed. I tweaked the image to my satisfaction and printed it. I was really pleased with the 11×14 print that rolled out of the Epson. Then I sent off the JPG to mpix.com, and was impressed that they had replied, your order has shipped, about 6 hours later.

At noon, started the laundry. Met 6th floor neighbor Eva in the laundry room. She wants to buy a new TV and asked if I would go with her. Doesn’t work today but probably tomorrow. So I may be going to Best Buy again.

While the laundry ran I walked back to CVS to pick up two prescriptions that they have been texting me about every day for a week.

Worked on the VW model again but got frustrated with my aluminum paint which didn’t want to cover engine parts even with a second coat. Went online and ordered different.

Supper tonight was not good. They proudly introduced a complete new menu last week, ironically just as the dining room was shut down. Lots of ethnic days, which have been from not-bad to really good, and today was Japanese day. Unfortunately the bowl of noodles was inedible for me, bland soup, block of noodles glued into a mass, sliced pork that was full of gristle.

I thought, dang, tomorrow I’m going to go out and have good noodles and I looked up Gombei in Menlo Park, where I’ve been eating Japanese noodle soups for decades. Oh so sad, they closed their doors just last November! There is probably someplace as good in the area but I don’t know of it.

3.040 meeting, M1m1

Tuesday 01/11/2022

Once again I felt it incumbent on me to stop by the breakfast service and make sure my lone volunteer was OK. The lone volunteer this day was Carol, President of the RA, who I like & respect a lot. She was doing fine. But another day without exercise. (They haven’t closed the gym, and I really should be taking advantage.)

Next activity was 11am, a zoom meeting of CHM volunteers, mainly to be introduced to the new system of signing up for volunteer shifts, replacing the old system that was called Volgistics. The new system seems adequate, although it has a few glitches.

From lunch on I had no commitments, a big change. Amazing how fast my life can swing from “I’m too busy how can I keep up with all this” to “What am I going to do with myself”. I actually spent some time with the VW model for the first time in many days.

For some time I have been mildly bugged by a flaw in the screen of M1m1, my new and expensive Macbook Pro with the M1 chip. There’s a one-pixel-wide vertical red line, like a fine red silk thread, running vertically about 40% of the way from the left edge. I’ve been reluctant to take it in because I use it constantly. Now I got out the old Chromebook that I took when traveling (both to Greece and to London… oh my that’s 2.5 years ago…) and made sure it worked and let me read email, browse the web, and blog. That took an hour because its software was out of date.

Then off to the Apple Store with M1m1 under my arm. And right back again, because a repair problem has to go through the genius bar, and the earliest appointment I could get was next Saturday.

3.039 meetings, managing, fopal, pandemic news

Monday 01/10/2022

First event of the day was to go down at 7:30 and see the breakfast shift off. It was a bit confusing mainly because of one confused resident who hoped for breakfast but hadn’t placed an order. Kitchen staff dealt with his issue but it took a few minutes. However Lennie, the volunteer, was concerned and later wrote us an email proposing ways to help such residents.

Next up was the monthly Resident Association meeting. I gave a one-sentence Treasurer’s report, then later on the agenda I promoted the tray distribution activity, then Marcia addressed other volunteer concerns.

After the meeting I had time to pass before my scheduled lunch pick-up, so I took a modest walk to Gamble Gardens. Then picked up my lunch and took it to my room to eat. After, off to FOPAL where I found three boxes of computer books, but one was someone’s curated collection of books and conference proceedings from the early 1980s, all on the FORTH language. This is prime stuff for the computer historian or vintage computer fan. Not likely to sell from my usual shelves, but perfect for the Vintage Computer Fest next August.

Despite Rhonda having suggested that if we could avoid going to stores, we should, I went into the grocery store on my way home for drinks and items I keep in my room. Maybe I shouldn’t be so casual.

On my floor two of my neighbors have been sick, but not due to covid. Craig Allen got really sick from RSV. He and DIane had to quarantine a week while waiting for test results. PCR tests are taking 3, 4, or 5 days to come back. Now neighbor Doctor Margaret is in bed with upper respiratory virus, PCR test pending.

On return from FOPAL I found an email storm brewing. A bunch of people were concerned about people not being able to use the online meal ordering system, and had various ideas about how this could be remedied. Marcia and I went down to the kitchens and found today’s supervisor, Nareshni, and went over the issue with her. There are in fact just over 20 residents (of 180) who are using the telephone to place their meal orders, and a very few, maybe 3, who don’t/won’t/can’t do that and get paper printouts of the menus and circle what they want and hand them in. Kitchen staff know them all by name and deal with them routinely.

While we were in the kitchen learning this, the resident members of the Food and Dining committee had published a working plan to provide “buddies” for anyone who has trouble ordering food. So ok, maybe not needed but effective, so nothing for us to do.

At 4:45 we met on Zoom for the monthly 6th floor meeting. This is where I learned that Dr. Margaret was feeling unwell. She joined from her bed and looked very miserable. Nothing new here.

An hour before the meeting came an email: the mass testing of residents, planned for tomorrow, that we had all been urged to sign up for? Canceled due to a great shortage of staff!

During the meeting came another email detailing new Covid impacts: today 6 new employees tested positive. Two cases were cleared, net +4, there are now 11 staff on home isolation. The email said that “In the last few days, an increasing number of staff have been exposed to their children who have contracted Covid, or been exposed to Covid, after returning to school.”

This belatedly explained why the mass testing of residents had to be canceled. It also explains the next email which was from housekeeping: starting this week, we get rooms cleaned only every 2nd week.

The feeling of sliding back two years to early 2020 is really depressing, and is affecting everyone around me. We had this beaten, we were opening up, restrictions lifted — and then boom, everything shut down again.

3.038 work tapering down, shopping, SWBB

Sunday 01/09/2022

I went down to the dining room at 7:30 and was pleased to find Marcia there already, trying out the breakfast gig. As there was a line of 10 or so at the start, I stayed to help for a few minutes but then could leave. Meanwhile, the sign-up sheet for the coming week is filling nicely. I’ll keep an eye on it, but unless there is a seriously unfilled slot I won’t have to work.

After watering the plants and doing the puzzle (at 50 minutes, way over the normal average, which means that my 2022 Sunday average is starting out in a hole compared to 2021) I did not much until 12:30. At that point it was time to go shopping.

I mentioned that Saturday I had diagnosed Jeanne’s TV as kaput, and put her in touch with my next-door neighbor Carolyn who just bought a TV at Best Buy. They had decided to go out together today and buy Jeanne a new TV. This is Carolyn, who is smart, energetic and agile, being nice to Jeanne who is none of those things. Anyway, they invited me along. So I rode along on a trip to Best Buy. The Mountain View B.B. where I’ve shopped often over the years, is gone. We went to one in Redwood City, but they all look the same inside. The store dude was helpful and dealt directly with the two women, never turning to me. Good on him.

They eventually picked a Sony 43-incher which fit nicely into Jeanne’s car. Side story: this 12-year-old Toyota Avalon originally was owned by Robin, who is 93 but could easily be mistaken for a healthy 75. She decided recently to give up driving and sold her car — to her neighbor Jeanne. And now Jeanne doesn’t want to drive (Carolyn drove it today) so I think probably it will get handed on again soon. Anyway it is a boat, and the 43″ TV box fit into its trunk with room to spare.

At 3 it was time for SWBB against Gonzaga. The story here is that Gonzaga was in the Bay Area to play Santa Clara (both in the WCC) and Santa Clara had to opt out for covid reasons. Meanwhile OSU was supposed to play Stanford and had to stay home ditto. So according to Tara at a press conference, she texted the Gonzaga coach, “Want to play?” and they set up this game with like 36 hours notice.

It was only on Stanford’s live stream. I took my laptop to the 11th floor and with some difficulty patched it in to the big TV. A couple other people came to watch as well. Stanford had not much difficulty winning, although again they ran up a big lead in the 3rd quarter and let it dwindle in the 4th. They gotta stop doing that.

On the way back from the store I got to thinking about Carolyn helping Jeanne by driving her car and helping her decide on a TV. I have seen other situations like that, where residents are basically healthy but no longer agile enough, or brave enough, to go out and get some shit done. I’m wondering if there’s room for a… hell, another volunteer organization. There has long existed the Buddies Club, which is people in IL who buddy up to a person in the AL/SN wing and visit them. I’m thinking of the next level up from that, spry, energetic people like Carolyn (or moi), help other IL people do errands outside. The name “Doofers Club” popped into my head, because they would do for others. Or better, help others “do fer” themselves. A good name makes a drab idea compelling. I will try this out on Marcia a/o Patty who will probably convince me it’s dumb.

3.037 less work

Saturday 01/08/2022

Things I did today.

I worked the breakfast meal. Previously we had not planned on having volunteers help dispense trays and breakfast but I wanted to see if it was useful, so at 7:30 I went down and did it for an hour. It is useful. So I will add it that meal to the sign-up sheet that I need to make for next week.

Took a tech squad call to Jeanne’s apartment: her TV had gone black. I’ve never seen this. A Sharp flat-panel, the audio still works, you can hear the Comcast program, but the screen is black. If you press the Menu button on the side, no change, the panel is just black. Advised a new TV.

Took another private call to someone who shall be nameless who called me directly. I got to start refusing these. In this case, the Comcast box was clearly at fault. It kept putting up the XFinity logo and then would go dead. Advised going to Comcast and exchanging it, which unfortunately is not a practical option for this person owing to limited mobility. I did NOT volunteer to do it for her.

Had a quiet hour after lunch. Then went for a walk with Patty, mainly to pump her for suggestions on how to fund my proposal to the RA. She had a suggestion that I had not thought of, which I will go into another time.

Built the sign-up sheet for next week. https://www.slottr.com/CHTD0110

Had a quiet evening at home.

3.036 working

Friday 01/07/2022

Thought I would just log what I did today.

  • 8am messaged Chris, facilities mgr, asking for a short meeting
  • 7:30 handle email from someone who needs to take their name off the sign-up list.
  • 8:10 Carol, pres. of the RA, sends email “big trouble at breakfast” the line got real long and people couldn’t find their trays.
  • 8:20 I go down and check things out. Nobody in line now. But the kitchen staff are not writing the room numbers on the tray tags. This forces elderly people to peer closely at each tag which is machine-printed in pale gray dot matrix.
  • I find the dining supervisor and politely stress how very very helpful it was yesterday when kitchen wrote room #s with sharpie on tags. She understands and will comply.
  • 8:30 Chris replies, 2-2:30.
  • 8:30 I email Marcia, is 2pm ok?
  • 8:31 I go for my walk.
  • 9:30 I stop at Ace Hardware and buy a card with 3 sharpies
  • 9:45 Marcia says 2pm is ok, but she has another meeting at 2:30
  • 9:46 I reply ok meet in the basement at 2
  • 9:50 I put in my orders for lunch and dinner
  • 10:00 I run downstairs and tape the card of sharpies to the podium where the carts are lined up. Now volunteers can write room numbers on tickets if need be.
  • 10:10 I write a diplomatic response to Sue who is bothered by how trays come out in (she thinks) random order (they don’t — quite) and people aren’t social distancing while waiting.
  • 10:34 Jerry writes he has the auditorium camera working and will be in the auditorium to demonstrate at 11am. Jerry only sent it to the AV team.
  • 10:38 I forward that note to the house IT tech Paul in case he can make it.
  • 10:40 print XFinity bill (yeah I know wasted paper)
  • 10:41 Chris says meet in lobby, i pass that on to Marcia
  • 10:48 pay Xfinity bill and file it
  • 10:55 head to auditorium
  • Jerry demonstrates & explains what he’s learned about the camera. Fortunately Paul got my email and arrives in time to hear. Discussion about what we need to do zoom simulcasts
  • 11:30 I move to the dining room and oversee the volunteers distributing trays. The process seems to work well now, the kitchen staff are writing the room numbers on the tickets as we requested and that smooths it all out.
  • 12:30 my lunch comes out of the kitchen and I take it upstairs to eat.
  • I set an alarm for 1:50, then squeeze in some internet and a nap
  • Wake up ahead of alarm. Go downstairs. Marcia joins me, we work out a couple of things.
  • Chris the Facilities manager (a very nice guy) joins us and we learn a number of things:
    • facilities has 5 people sheltering at home hence their problems
    • they will start coming back next week hopefully
    • meantime they do have coverage between 6 and 11pm when the night security guard comes in
    • so no real need for volunteers escorting EMTs
    • Lockouts are not a problem since the renovation was completed, it is no longer physically possible for people to lock themselves out of their doors
  • So basically, the volunteer tasks we thought we had for him, aren’t needed. Yay!
  • As we were dispersing Marcia spotted LaToya, dining supervisor and we got some info from her to squelch various rumors we had been hearing.
  • Back to my room; message light blinking, Mary Ann needs help with online ordering, I call her back and direct her to help
  • 2:35 Called Bert and suggested the Tech Squad that he chairs, should help people learn to do online ordering. He said, normally we fix things, we don’t do training, but since this is very focused and it’s a critical time, ok, and he will say so on tonight’s general meeting.
  • 2:45 called Diane Allen to pursue my other project, funding for the RA. She was very helpful, from her memory as one-time Archivist,
    • The Gift Shop has always been its own thing, formed early on by some residents who thought we should have one, and got permission from the Board (not from the Resident Association, the real Board that governs Channing House)
    • Historically it has always generated income which it has given out on request to various projects, for instance it bought our ping-pong tables (I’ve never seen them) and gives money to the RA on request as I’ve observed.
    • But no formal arrangement or relation exists between the RA and GS.
    • GS has its own Treasurer, a more demanding job than RA Treasurer because they have to calculate and pay sales tax!
    • Mary Beth, present GS manager, has said to Diane that she’d like to have the issue of funds disbursement off her desk and, Diane thinks, has talked to Carol our RA President.
  • Diane and I agreed it made great sense for the GS to be part of the RA, and the GS manager to be an elective office and a member of the Exec Committee. But how to make that happen?
  • Now I need to talk to Carol and to Mary Beth, but this is very hopeful.
  • 3:05 Humming bird feeders are empty. Refill
  • 3:10 I have almost an hour free before the 4pm general meeting chaired by Rhonda to read my email and then some other internet things
  • 3:15 Bert has put out notice of tech help for meal ordering on CHBB already
  • reduce inbox to only 4 items
  • Reading minutes of the floor reps meeting yesterday, find we are in good shape from a marketing perspective,
    • five move-ins scheduled in the next two weeks (if not delayed by Covid considerations) she expects that seven more contracts will be signed by the end of February.
  • Two of those move-ins are on my 6th floor, one across the hall.

Rhonda’s announcements. No new positives to announce. Tested all staff yesterday, responses will come back over the next 2 days. Lee Center residents and all staff will be tested again next week. Voluntary testing will be offered to all Tower residents next week. (I need to sign up. If you test positive you isolate in your room. Staffing: ‘every hour we learn of staff that cannot report to work” because of exposure from family or other causes. Expect to see staff reallocated.

Questions: can we have the grab’n’go back? Closed for infection control. Also takes staff time to prepare sandwiches etc to put in it.

Rhonda: staff shortages mean that the remainder are exhausted — of all the weeks of the pandemic I think this has been one of the hardest.

Much more chit-chat and questions, although everybody remained positive and civil.

  • 5pm, went down to make sure this evening’s tray dispensing volunteers were comfortable. Stayed with them, admiring the competence and good humor of my neighbors, until my tray came out.
  • 6:30 sat down at my little table to eat
  • 7:00 sat down to veg out for a bit and then watch SWBB — playing at home but no audience allowed, so on TV.
  • Oregon played hard but Stanford pulled out to 14 ahead, then they played even the rest of the way, winning by 10.
  • 9:00 going to bed to read for a while.

3.035 working

Thursday 01/06/2022

I did my resistance exercises first thing. Then I sat down and created a signup sheet for the new volunteer job, Dispensing Trays. That’s what it amounts to. The kitchen staff wheel out carts loaded with trays. Each tray has a room number visible on a ticket. People order their meals by phone or online, and they specify what time they expect to pick up, say 11:45am for lunch, or 12:30 or whatever.

The trays come of the kitchen in very approximate order of their requested pickup time. Not organized by floor or name. People trickle in to the foyer of the dining room and the volunteers ask their room number, then go look for that tray on the carts. It may be there, it may not. In the latter case, you make small talk until it shows.

So I set up a sign-up sheet for one-hour slots (11-12, 12-1, 5-6, 6-7) and put it out on the CHBB list. People signed up. But I still feel the need to show up at least some of the time every meal to make sure things are running smoothly. Today and tomorrow there is at least one, often two, staff servers. The big test will be Saturday and Sunday, when there will be just one and that one may be doing desk work in the back. Issues arise that need professional help, people say, “I didn’t order this” or “Where’s my salad” or “could you please get me a vanilla ice cream also?” The volunteers can’t handle such requests. We’ll see.

While Wanda was cleaning my unit I napped in the lounge. Then back down to monitor things in the dinner hours.

3.034 meetings, working

Wednesday 01/05/2022

Spent the first part of the morning preparing to manage resident volunteers again. Late in the day came word that we now have 6 staff members quarantining at home. I reactivated my membership in Slottr.com, the sign-up sheet site we used in 2020. At 10, met with Marcia, and then at 10:30 the two of us with Rhonda, who brought in Gloria, the dining services manager, so we could find out what she needs.

It seems like what she needs mostly is for people to use the online ordering app to place their meal orders, or failing that, to phone their orders in. Following that meeting Marcia sent me her notes and I worked them up into a nice FAQ sheet, and started a separate sheet outlining “how to get fed online”.

Then it was 2pm and time for the Resident Association exec committee meet, one agenda item of which was a plan of mine. But that kind of died for a strange reason: my plan requires the RA to assume a cost obligation of $1200-$2000 per year depending on the options. However, the RA has no predictable income source. They don’t charge dues, and very likely any suggestion of dues would generate a backlash. They don’t get money from the administration.

The financial powerhouse is the Gift Shop. When a resident dies or moves permanently to the Lee center, their relatives have to clean out their apartment, and often they don’t want some (or any) of granny’s stuff. So they donate clothes and furniture and what-not to the Gift Shop. Gift Shop volunteers send what they can’t sell to Goodwill, but they sell the rest, often to staff members. So the Gift Shop has a bank account with what one assumes is a healthy balance.

By some historical accident, the Gift Shop is its own little organization, with no obligations to the RA. It makes generous gifts, money to the in-house Library for example. But they are under no requirement to fund the RA.

So although everybody liked, or at least didn’t disagree with, my proposal, nobody wanted to see the RA take on a financial commitment without an income. So it’s back to me to find funding.

After the meeting I completed my two-page terse & informative summary of how to order food online and sent it out. And quickly had to send it out again because I had screwed up the URL of the site. Well actually not me, I had copied it from an email from another resident who got it wrong, but it’s still my bad for not testing it.

At 5 I joined Marcia in the dining room to scope out what is likely to be the main volunteer job. Last year, we delivered meals direct to rooms. Now people order (online or by phone) and pick up their trays in the dining room. So there are 3 or 4 carts with trays of food and a ticket with the name of a person or couple on each tray. People come in, and we find their tray and hand it to them. It’s a demanding job, you have to recognize the person and find their tray among 20 or 40 other trays. This went smoothly enough tonight because there were three servers there and those guys knew most residents by sight. I know most by sight but not their names, in many cases. Marcia knew all the names at once of course.

Point being, on the weekend there will be no servers, due to staff shortages, and it will all be volunteers. Tomorrow I work on organizing that.

3.033 stuff happening fast

Tuesday 01/04/2022

Rhonda sent an email to me and Marcia saying that there may be need/use for resident volunteers. Remember back in mid-2020 when we had so many staff out for quarantine we organized resident volunteers to deliver meals and do other tasks? That all ended in early 2021, and since then there has been a steady march back toward normal operations — until this week.

Today about 10am came an email saying the dining room would be closed for supper owing to shortage of staff. We could order food to go and pick it up at the dining room door. Later in the day came the announcement that the dining room was closed, all meals to be ordered to go, for at least a month.

We had the writers group meeting at 11am. During it, I confess I was checking my email while someone else read their piece, came an email from Stanford: while “winter sports” games will be played, only friends and families of the student-athletes will be allowed to attend. So there goes my plan to attend the Stanford-Oregon WBB game Friday night.

I went down to FOPAL and completed cleaning up the computer donations, that took from 12:30 to 3pm.

Rhonda held a general meeting by Zoom at 5 and I missed it! Read a book right through it. But she announced we finally, for the first time since 2020, have a covid case among residents, someone in the Lee center. So we are shut down: no gatherings of any kind, all meetings via Zoom or canceled, the planned bus trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium canceled, dining room closed. Things are changing fast, please be patient with staff and be kind to each other.

Oh, and Gretta at CHM emailed to say that the normal all-day Thursday volunteer days would resume, but not all-day any more. We used to work from 10 to 11:30, then go out for lunch, and work again from 1 to 4. Now it will be just the afternoon session, to cut down on exposures. I replied I would skip this week at least as having a lot to do here.

Tomorrow morning Marcia and I will meet to figure out what resident volunteers might do. Not much, really, because the big job we had before, wheeling the carts loaded with meal trays, isn’t happening now. The ordering for takeout process has been in operation for months, quite a few people prefer to do that, and the kitchen staff is used to it. I’ve done it a couple of times just for fun. For people who can’t use the web, there’s an extension to call to give a verbal order, but the web interface is quite convenient. You specify what you want off the menu, and when you want to pick it up, and later you go get the tray. Afterward you bus your compost to the big compost bin in the basement.

So I don’t expect we will be organizing room delivery, at least not on a big scale. There are a few people who get food delivered to them, I hear the cart rolling by at breakfast time. So maybe. TBD.

Tomorrow is all meetings, I have to see Marcia at 10, then the RA exec committee — now via Zoom, the last few months it has been face to face — at 3, and a strategic planning committee at 4.