Day 364, men’s group, FOPAL

Monday, 12/2/2019

Started the day with a run. Felt fine. At 10am the Channing House Men’s Group had a meeting, to welcome and introduce a new resident, David Thornton. That makes a total of five Daves in the house, me, Dave Torin, David Morrison, David Golden, and this guy. Who has the mild manner of a minister, which he was for a few years out of Yale Divinity School. Then for three decades he had various positions with the YMCA, including the last 15 years as CEO of the Santa Clara Valley group of Y’s.

From there I went to FOPAL where there was only a couple of boxes of computer books and, even more astonishing, a vast reduction in the mountain of boxes waiting to be sorted. Somebody (notably I believe, Frank McConnel) has been doing a heroic amount of sorting. I took it on myself to pull out and sort all remaining non-standard boxes, i.e. moving boxes and shopping bags and such, leaving only firmly-packed (hence stackable) banker’s boxes. Those, I stacked neatly in 3, 5-high stacks, or 15 boxes. I estimate there is room now for about 45 boxes which would bring the mountain back to where it was a month ago. Then I got out the house vacuum and vacuumed the carpet. The whole sorting room looked neater than I have ever seen it in a year.

Coming in, I bumped into Chris of the facilities group in the hallway and asked him to take a look at the radiator in the bedroom of my temp unit, which doesn’t produce any heat. Later that evening Luis came by and worked on it, replacing the thermostat for that room. The thermostats in these un-upgraded units are interesting antiques. There is an air compressor in the basement, and an air feed to the thermostat. The thermostat unit itself has several cams and levers that operate a small valve that controls the amount of air being sent through the wall to the valve on the radiator. The radiator valve controls the hot water flow based on air pressure from the thermostat. Real antiques. I can see why the floor by floor upgrade includes a complete replacement of the HVAC system.


Day 346, haircut, papers

Wednesday, 11/13/2019

I didn’t think anything was planned for today but just had an uneasy feeling I should check the calendar and, hah!, I am having a haircut at 10am. So glad I checked.

So I drove up to Ladera center to have Chris cut my hair. And for the first time in weeks, I had little flashes of memories of Marian (who always enjoyed seeing Chris, and had her hair cut there and her nails done just a couple weeks before she died); and pulses of grief. It is so unpredictable, these bursts of sadness and pity. It’s also too bad that my strongest memories of her are the most recent ones, when she was in failing health. I don’t get flashbacks to times she was healthy. I guess those are too far back.

Now I had to kill time until my next event, a meeting at 1pm, so I drove to IKEA to check their selection of area rugs. Someone around here told me they had a good selection. I beg to differ, boring, drab, frankly ugly stuff.

At 1pm I met with Patty to have her sign my Channing House Communications Representative form. CH has this program: a resident can designate another resident to be their communications rep, if they have some medical problem and are away. The comm. rep. answers any questions about the resident’s health status. I’ve seen this in operation a couple of times already: a resident has some issue, goes away to the hospital for a week, people want to know what’s up, how are they, when are they back. They ask the front desk, for example. Their designated communications rep answers such questions, so the person who is away being treated, only has to talk to one person.

There is a form, actually two forms. One is signed by the resident (me) and the person who agrees to be communications rep (Patty), and the original goes to the front desk, so they know who to refer questions to. The other form is a release form that authorizes Channing House (i.e. the front desk) to give out information on whether the resident is hospitalized or what. Not their condition, just the fact that they are hospitalized, which by HIPAA they couldn’t do without authorization.

So Patty agreed to be my rep should I need one. I gave her the info on my medical agents, Dennis and Darlene, so she could talk to them. In the event I am hospitalized, she might find out first and tell them; or if not, she could find out from them what would be valid to say to other residents about my condition.

From that meeting I went quickly to FOPAL where I cleaned up the Computer section. Six boxes of intake, of which maybe 20 books to keep and shelve, 4 boxes on to the bargain room. I wanted to get this done because I’m away for the rest of the week. I would normally have stayed and done sorting until 4pm but today I had to cut that short after about 20 minutes to come back and attend,

A social event put on by the 2nd floor. The 2nd floor only became apartments 3 and a half years ago, after the completion of the new wing containing the Russell Lee nursing center. Previously the 2nd floor was the assisted living space; then it was converted into 20 rather nice (as I would find out) apartments. The 2nd floor people decided to hold a tea party for new residents and I was invited, along with at least 8 others who’ve come in this year. (At the Residents Association meeting Monday it was announced that all available units have been sold, so I guess I was fortunate in my timing. There will be another 20 units freed up in two years when the renovation is over.)

Anyway the 2nd floor had catered soft drinks, cookies, coffee, and some rather nice brownies and provided printed name tags, and 30 people stood around and chatted for an hour. One new couple, Frances and John, both worked in the Apollo Guidance computer program, working directly for Margaret Hamilton. Then, five 2nd floor people had open house, so we could visit and admire their units, which are indeed spiffy. They have full kitchens and generally are snazzier than the older units. I expect my upgraded unit when I get back to it, will be as nice. No cooktop, but I don’t care.

I had had enough snacks there that I skipped supper.








Day 345, paperwork, novel, supper

Tuesday, 11/12/2019

Went for a run. Then took care of some admin. First, scheduled a payment to the BofA credit card. It will go through tomorrow, so from Thursday on it will have a zero balance and I will close it out.

About two weeks ago–I don’t see any mention of it here–I went to the MyMedicare site and did plan comparisons on my health plans. I found that the Anthem/Blue Cross prescription drug plan appeared to be a significantly better deal than the Humana one I’d been using since 2007, so I opted for that. Soon after I got a letter from Medicare saying my application should be processed in ten days, and if I hadn’t heard, to contact the provider. It has been more than ten days, so I did.

Annoyances: I tried to use the Chat facility on the Anthem site. It kept showing me that some person had connected, enter a message, then that they had disconnected, then went back to showing me “a representative will be with you shortly.” Tried two browsers. So called the number shown. Very short menu: 1 to buy a new plan, 2 for an existing plan, 3 for a provider. OK, 2. Thank you, as a member, please call the customer service number on the back of your membership card, goodbye. But… but… OK, try again, this time select 1. Lady takes my name, address, date of birth; says, well you have called the medicare purchase line, but I see you in our system (oh good) let me transfer you to the medicare service line. Which works but of course, that lady also has to take my name, address, date of birth because heaven forfend the info should transfer along with me.

Anyway, yes, my application is in the system, a membership card was mailed to me on 11/5, and a welcome packet should arrive separately but soon. So all good.

After lunch I added 1300 words to the novel.

At 4:30 it was time to attend the 4th floor meeting. Each floor has regular meetings to cover whatever domestic items come up. There’s an elected floor rep who chairs the meeting. (I first attended a 6th floor meeting back on day 156, after I’d signed the contract but before I moved in.) Fourth floor meeting was to be followed by 4th floor eating dinner together, they’d reserved a large table. But Craig, the 6th floor rep had also reserved a table for a 6th-floor-in-exile get-together dinner, so I ate with them.

Day 338, plant stand, Jean, move, SWBB

Tuesday, 11/5/2019

I had breakfast in the dining room (Tuesday is Belgian waffle day, and when I start getting excited about that? Just shoot me.) and left at 9:15 for the welding shop where I picked up the mended plant stand.

Then to sister in law Jean’s place to supervise updating the phone I lent her months ago. She admits to not using it much, but she’s a photographer and I talked about iPhone photos, and demonstrated using air drop to move pictures to her desktop Mac. That impressed her, so maybe she’ll start carrying it more. Jean is amazing in many ways, at age 90-something still living alone, firing on all cylinders mentally, and has even had a remission of a sciatica-like pain that troubled her all last year.

On the way back to CH I stopped at the hardware store and bought: a 9×12 plastic drop cloth, a wire brush for the drill, and spray cans of rusty-metal primer and satin black. I parked out front to unload the plant stand and bring it up to my balcony. Then took the car around to the garage, and brought up my drill case and the hardware stuff. Then spent an hour beginning the process of cleaning the stand.

This is going to be a long job. Where it isn’t rusty it is caked with gummy dirt. The drill-powered wire brush is effective for the flat bits, but it has many curly bits where the drill brush can’t go, and I will need to use sandpaper or steel wool or something. The rotating wire brush cut through the dirt and black paint to reveal that the stand at one time was painted pale green, or else had a pale green primer coat. Standing in the hardware store I debated whether to use a black finish coat or a green one. Now I need to rethink that.

At 3pm was the monthly Renovation Upgrade Status Meeting. At this one, we 6th floor people got our move-back dates  (January 20-31st) and the 5th floor got their schedule for move-out dates.

Going in to dinner, Dave Golden (the other, other Dave) asked if I was going to SWBB tonight, and offered to drive, so fine. He has a 2016 Camry hybrid. Every time I ride in a newer car, I get antsy to upgrade my 2012. Those newer widgets…

Stanford played Eastern Washington. It’s a division 1 school playing in the Big Sky conference, but they were completely outclassed. Stanford’s defense just shut them out; they scored 15 points in the entire first half, and ended up shooting 11%. Stanford’s freshman “big”, 6-5 Ashton Prechtel, not only had a couple of blocks but also stepped back and shot three, three-pointers. It’s gonna be a fun season.



Day 324, in-house activities

Tuesday, 10/22/2019

Lots of in-Channing-House activities today. I started with a 9am meeting with Patty. She is a former board member and the person who thought up the Heritage Circle, a separate fund, managed by the CH board, that acts as a granting agency to fund projects suggested by residents. The Heritage Circle has funded things like upgrades to the library, a program of day-trips to various attractions, and such. They solicit funds from members.

I started thinking about the Heritage Circle because it is also time to donate to the Appreciation Fund. That’s another thing entirely. There is absolutely no personal tipping allowed from residents to staff. However, residents subscribe to the Appreciation Fund annually, the value of which is equally divided across all staff, so like a year-end bonus. I made out a check to that for $500, because I’ve only been here half a year. For a full year, I expect to give $1000, which at ~$3/day seems little enough for the cheerful service I get in the dining room, from the front desk, and from the facilities guys.

But that brought the Heritage Fund to mind, so I asked Patty about that, thinking she would just tell me how to make out a check, but instead she wanted to meet and explain about the fund, how it is run, what it does. Which she did. So I wrote a check and now am a member of the Heritage Circle.

At 11am, tickets for Eric Johnson at SFJazz went on sale, and I bought one. Then I did some actual writing, yay. First was to write a detailed email to the bulletin board, telling MacOS users how to avoid the automatic upgrade to 10.15 “Catalina”. The internet’s opinion is that it has several annoying bugs and one should wait for the .1 or .2 release; plus also, it is the threatened future release under which all 32-bit apps will no longer run.

Second, I wrote a couple of key scenes for my novel. Back on Sunday, sitting in the classical music concert that I went to as a result of forgetting about the Boogie Woogie one, anyway, sitting there I was pummeling my brain trying to think of the phrase I wanted. And I did. Think up how the people in my future would phrase the idea that all genetically modified organisms must have some crippling flaw so they can’t spread into the environment. Since this is like a fundamental rule of that society (the violation of which is the main plot device), they would not have some labored way of saying it; they’d have a short phrase. And I finally thought it up: “All new things must have a lack.” That’s the snappy sound-bite they teach kids, like “Do unto others…” in our world.

Knowing that, I could write one scene where that gets said, and start another where it will get expounded and expanded on. Painless exposition.

Three PM brought the monthly Tech Squad meeting. My MacOS email was appreciated. Some other issues were discussed.

At 5:30 I met with Mary Ann who had put in a tech squad call about her comcast DVR on Monday, a call which had been assigned to me. We spent an hour, almost, going over all the features of the remote and the various DVR menus, and she gained a lot of confidence in using the device. Hopefully she will remember the simple two-step process that gets you to a reboot of the DVR, in case it gets wedged the way she described on Monday.


Day 285, paperwork, activities

Friday, 9/13/2019

Despite a forecast of high hot heat — and it did top 100 on my balcony later in the day, as reported by my totally accurate indoor/outdoor thermometer — I went for a run. I was out before 7:30 and back before 8:30 and it was very comfortable. Next I went to the Financial Advisors’ office to sign a bunch of papers. When we met on Monday we decided to put 1/3 of the house money with one of their favorite brokers, Kahn Bros., and 1/3 with another, Robotti. This requires opening two new Schwab accounts.

My IRA account has been managed by Kahn Bros. since forever, but you can’t just randomly add money to an IRA. So I have to create a new account to receive the money to be managed by Kahn. We had not had money managed by Robotti before, so that meant setting up yet another new account for them to run. Each of the brokers that my F.A.s use follows the Benjamin Graham “Value Investing” paradigm, but each has different methods and favors different parts of the market.

Anyway the Schwab paperwork to create an account takes at least four signatures and a couple of “initial here” items, and each brokerage has a disclosure agreement that takes a couple more. Then, the package needs to include proof that I’m the trustee of the family trust. The “Statement of Trust” document that the F.A.s had on file was out of date, superceded by the revisions following Marian’s death. So I went home and scanned the relevant pages of the current documents to PDF and emailed them. This was all managed and handled by the supremely competent and cheerful Cindy, who is the soul of that office.

Paperwork done, I put in an hour or so working on the novel. I’m in an easy part, basically doing a careful edit and slight modification of the parts I’ve already written. Removing one particular SF gizmo that I decided I didn’t like, while inserting a couple of clues that will be relevant to the ending I’ve outlined. And generally tidying up. I’m also reading Show Don’t Tell, one of the most practical and useful books on writing fiction I’ve read (and I’ve read a few). That motivates some of the edits I’m making.

About 2pm I started getting phone messages and emails from C.H. staff alerting us that the “chiller” that cools the ground and 3rd to 6th floors had broken down. We were advised to hydrate and if we felt any distress, to go to an upper floor lounge. Then there was a knock on the door, one of the nurses from the nursing wing was checking on each apartment on the floor to make sure we were OK. Actually I was quite comfortable. I had closed the drapes earlier and I don’t think the temperature got above 77 in my unit.

Today was the much-advertised Activity Fair, at which all the volunteer organizations have tables and try to get new members. I was interested in the A/V committee, who mainly provide people to run the sound (and video when necessary) in the auditorium. I’m supposed to get an email scheduling a training session.

I was accosted by the Chorus group who want me to come sing with them. Dubious, but I may try it. And I was hit on by Betty of the Writing group. They do a weekly thing where they send out a “prompt” — a sentence or something — and everyone writes something based on it, and they meet to read their creations. Hmmm. And by the editors of Scribble and Sketch, the in-house magazine, wanting contributions. Hmmm.

Because of the A/C breakdown, the Activity Fair in the Auditorium was managing attendance. They were monitoring the temp and if it got over 85, they’d have to cancel it. Meantime you had to wait at the door for someone to come out before going in, to keep the crowd small.

By 5pm the A/C was back online. At six I went down and didn’t like the look of the menu so I went out in the car to find supper. I was thinking of the restaurants at the Town and Country shopping center, but on the way I noticed Whole Foods, and said bleep that, I’ll just get a smoothie. And did.


Day 278, move, museum, echo

Friday, 9/6/2019

The day I’ve been anticipating almost since moving in 10 weeks ago has arrived. Angela, at the head of a five-person crew from Gentle Transitions, arrived on the dot of 8am. I showed them about the computer desk and we chatted about a few other things. I grabbed the shopping bag in which I had my day’s necessities, and we went off to a guest room on the first floor, where she took my #621 key (little does she know that I have another one stashed in my desk mwahaha), gave me a brown-bag snack pack, and left me to pass the day.

I putzed around reading until 11ish, then went off to the Stanford campus where two exhibits had just opened. One was works by Jim Campbell at the Anderson gallery. Campbell uses LEDs to make moving images. He hides the LEDs inside plastic beads or behind little metal shades, and animates them with (I presume) a microcomputer to make shifting abstract color blurs or moving images. The one I liked best was this very large one.

It’s large, at least 10 by 10 by 6 feet, with the LEDs in a cloud of little plastic balls, so it strongly suggests looking up through a depth of water, and the swimming forms pass across it at random times and directions.

Next door at the Cantor a chummy volunteer docent at the door talked me into joining the museum. I am now a member and got a thick book about Rodin as a prize. I had come to see an exhibit of the sketch books of Richard Diebenkorn. It turned out to be a very small exhibit, one painting and an interactive video table on which you could page through about 20 pages of sketchbooks. I’m afraid I just don’t get Diebenkorn. “And this is good… why?” was my mental refrain. Oh well.

I had lunch in the nice Cantor cafeteria, benefiting from my 10% member discount, yay. Then back to my purgatorio guest room to kill another hour and a half until it was time to go to PAMF and have a stress echo. I had last done one of these in 2007, it turned out. One walks on a treadmill at increasing speeds and slopes, while wired to the max for ECGs. Then when you reach your personal “Very Hard” effort level, which I did just into the fourth level, you lie down quickly and the echo tech takes pictures of your heart action. The only uncomfortable parts were, (a), patches of my chest hair had to be shaved to get good wire adhesion and (b), you have to “take a deep breath and hold” several times when you are panting from your run. But the two techs, one on the echo and one managing the treadmill, were both charming, and in general I think I aced the test.

Now a couple more hours of waiting and finally, Angela appeared to take me to my new room. The movers had done a really excellent job. They had gotten everything, every little object, and put it right back where it was, or as near as it could be given a slightly different room layout. All my plants were on the balcony, and they’d noticed the little sender for my indoor/outdoor thermometer. My Comcast modem and DVR and TV were all set up and working. They’d booted up my iMac and done a test print on my printer. I had forgotten to put away my coffee cup, and left it on the coffee table when I walked out in the morning. The cup, now washed clean, was in the same place on the coffee table in the new room. To the greatest extent possible they made the transition to a new room as seamless as it could be. Really nice job, folks.



Day 277, Shustek, move prep

Thursday, 9/5/2019

Today I did a set of exercises, then had a hearty breakfast here, and headed out to Shustek for a day of cataloging.

On return I did a few little chores to prep for tomorrow’s move. At 8am tomorrow, Angela The Move Boss comes with the moving crew. Per her email, I get 15 minutes to give the movers any last minute instructions. Then I must Go Away for the day. I will have the use of one of the guest apartments if I want it. (Most evacuees spend the night in a guest apartment, and go to their new quarters next day. Because my possessions are relatively few, Angela plans to do my move in one day.)

In the evening she will meet me at my new digs, #435, and exchange keys with me. I should find everything from #621 properly arranged in the new space.

The only special instructions I want to give the movers is on how to move my L-shaped computer desk. It needs to be split, so the two halves are moved independently. If they try to move it as a unit — well, per the Amazon reviews, it won’t stand up to the torque. Like most furniture these days, it is assembled with bolts threading into metal inserts that are pressed into the vinyl-clad chipboard. The bolts that hold the pie-shaped corner piece will pull out under stress. So the movers have to unfasten eight hex-head bolts to separate the two halves. It shouldn’t be beyond them, but just to make sure, I put bits of green masking tape on the underside and drew arrows pointing to the heads of the 8 bolts. And taped the hex wrench to the top.

With the mail today came my zero-g deck chair, which took only a couple of minutes to set up and should do well.

I ate dinner alone, reading email on my phone. I just felt like that.

Day 268, fever, lunch, tech squad, financials

Tuesday 8/27/2019

I had a tossy-turny night, awake for a couple hours from 1am to 3 or so. But then slept right up to 6:10 and really didn’t feel much like getting out of bed. My arm is mildly sore around the vaccine site, nothing serious, but I just didn’t feel 100%. Took my temp: 99.1º, or a full degree above my usual 98.0. So, shingles-shot fever? I decide to take it easy for the day.

In case I had something contagious I got a banana and a bagel from the to-go refrigerator and ate in my room. I canceled my lunch date with Scott. I generally puttered around, although I put in an hour at the main computer starting to organize my notes for the rewrite of my YA novel. Feeling somewhat better around 12, I went to the dining room for soup and bread — they have been setting out really good, dark-brown bread at lunch times, and two slices of that and a bowl of the day’s soup is a good lunch.

At 2:30 there was a meeting of the Tech Squad. The main topic was a presentation from the two principal founders of a startup, (Website clearly not finished as of now.) They have an app that will supposedly allow re-use of the numbered parking spaces here, for staff and visitors. If I’m going out for the day, I would use the app to say my space is available. I could charge for it, or not. Someone needing to park, staff or visitor, could reserve the use of my spot. Bert pushed them pretty hard on the fact that there are many, many parking-space air-b&b-like apps. But it appears the facilities team is willing to give it a trial.

At 4pm it was the semi-annual Board of Directors Financial Committee update. The auditorium was set up for max capacity, where they open the folding doors into the dining room, and probably 120 or so residents turned up to hear a presentation on the financials for the 2018-19 fiscal year and the status of the current year. Bottom line, CH has plenty of funds, but the operating budget is losing around $1M a year (on a $20M budget) mostly owing to the fact that 20 units have been taken “off-line” to use for temporary locations during the Upgrade. When that finishes in two more years, a return to profitability is expected.

This was followed by a soiree in the courtyard. I sampled a couple of the foods on offer, did not take a glass of wine even though it was free, and went on back to my room where I dined simply on cherries and a PBJ. However by 9pm my temperature was back to normal (for me) of 98.1. So hopefully tomorrow will be ok.


Day 262, escrow, focus group

Wednesday, 8/21/2019

Started the day with a run; routine. At 10am the Drapery Lady came, as planned, to offer me a choice of materials. I don’t know her name; but she’s the contractor for all the drapery replacements that happen during the upgrade (which must be a fairly juicy contract for her). The point of discussion was my side window, which currently has a rather tatty and partly broken venetian blind and also drapes. She suggested, and I agreed, that both be done away with, and instead I will have a pull-down roller blind made of a beige fabric that allows 10% light penetration. It’s a modern version of the old roller blind. The works are in a neat case at the top of the window, and I think there’s a track down the sides.

I went down to the shop to collect the three drawers I’d varnished, but I decided that the inside bottom surfaces needed one more coat, which I applied, and then left them there.

At 12 I went down and ate a quick lunch, then drove to the Chicago Title office, on El Camino in San Carlos. There I met with Chuck and Andrew, and a very pleasant lady named Victoria walked me through signing about 15 different documents, the key one being my authorizing a transfer of the property deed. Well, the most interesting one was a detailed breakdown of the costs in escrow, with the bottom line of how much will be transferred into my Schwab account on, probably, the 27th.

Back at C.H. I participated in a Fitness Focus Group, a group of residents who’d volunteered to help the staff decide what to do about the gym and the various exercise programs. There was a lot of discussion and the staff people got some useful and constructive ideas. One from me, but I mostly kept quiet. There will be upgrades to the gym and some new equipment purchased. What, exactly, remains to be seen.

A lot of the cost of these things comes from the Heritage Circle, which is a voluntary fund raised and managed by residents. Building improvements, like better windows, new flooring, lighting, cabinets, etc., are paid by Channing House. But apparently things like a new stationary bike are bought with Heritage Circle funds. I haven’t been asked to donate into the Heritage fund but I imagine I will have that opportunity.

Ate supper alone. Back upstairs to research workout tutorials. I am going to begin developing a morning strength routine on my own.