1.055 SWBB, photos, grief

Sunday, 1/26/2020

For morning coffee I again walked to the old P.A. Cafe, getting very slightly wet from a light shower. Rather than walk back through slightly heavier rain, I took a Lyft.

For a couple of hours I worked on organizing and filing a month’s worth of pictures from my iPhone. Then I realized, the SWBB game is at 12 and it’s now 11:15. Headed out for Maples.

The Cardinal dispatched Utah fairly easily. There was a fairly dramatic period in the third quarter, when a decent lead got pumped up a lot by a sequence involving our freshman sharp-shooter, Hannah Jump. (In December 2018, blog Day 33, I went with others to see her play as a high school senior.) She has an amazingly quick release from the three-point line and is usually very accurate. So with Stanford up 10 points, we have this sequence (from the official play-by-play) as Hanna’s teammates kept feeding her the ball:

  • 3:35, Hanna Jump missed 3-point
  • 3:31 Hanna Jump missed 3-point
  • 3:10 Hanna Jump missed 3-point
  • 2:40 Hanna Jump made 3-point
  • 2:19 Utah player made 3-point
  • 2:00 Nadia Fingall (Stanford) made 3-point
  • 1:00 Hanna Jump made 3-point
  • 0:33 Hanna Jump made 3-point

So over three minutes, Hanna took six shots, making three. At the end of the quarter, Stanford’s lead had doubled.

Back home I finished up fiddling with those pictures. I went down to supper and as has happened before I didn’t like the look of anything on offer, and went back to my room for a beer and a sandwich.

I want to mention that today, for the first time in weeks, I was bothered by grief. It started when I was walking to coffee, and noticed a Daphne growing in a front yard. This brought back our, or more correctly Marian’s Daphne plant. Daphne is a pretty little bush with highly fragrant flowers. Ours started out as a porch plant in a pot, but a couple of years back, Marian moved it to the back yard. She was very protective of it, and very particular about how it should be watered. She thought it was prone to root-rot, so it couldn’t be served by the drip irrigation. It had to be watered by hand, a specific amount, and only if its soil measured dry. I followed these instructions to the letter after I took over plant care in 2018. I presume the plant is still there at the back of 2340 Tasso.

Anyway, there was a Daphne looking just like ours, and somehow that just started a train of feelings. Later, walking into the basketball game, the daphne combined with memory of Marian’s love for SWBB and for a few minutes I was as near to crying as I’ve been in months.


Day 363, Movie, plant stand, mess

Sunday, 12/1/2019

I’m confused with my day numbering. But no, today is the 363rd day since Marian died. I numbered the day following, Day 1. Tomorrow is the 364th complete day since she died, and the anniversary of her death.

Coincidentally, it will be my birthday. A coincidence I’ve not drawn attention to. We never made much of birthdays anyway, but if I needed a reason to not celebrate mine, there we are.

Today I went for coffee at the old spot, the Palo Alto Cafe, still the nicest venue for sitting and sipping.

At 11 I headed out to meet Dennis at the Pruneyard for a movie, Ford v. Ferrari. Generally it was pretty good. The in-car racing sequences would be more effective in an iMax theater (I’m not sure there is an iMax version, but there should be). And there were a couple of times when drivers going 200mph down the Mulsanne straight turned to glare at each other, and I was annoyed. Driving 200mph you do not turn your head and look sideways to lock eyes with a competitor, not for a second. But, OK in all.

In the afternoon, I went to the resident shop and brought up the plant stand, and put it on my balcony and put a couple of pots on it. It’s going to do very well. After I move back to #621 in February I overhaul of plant collection, repot a couple of them, maybe add a couple, organized around the plant stand.

After moving the stand I observed that the tile floor of the shop was a bit sticky and although the color wasn’t noticeable, there was an obvious ring where the bottom had been. I had taken some care while spraying, holding newspaper behind to catch the overspray, but the green mist of paint had settled out on the floor. Well, I had a can of Goof-Off and a roll of paper towels, so I got down and started cleaning.

The Goof-Off (a pungent liquid in a squeeze can) produced an odd, and embarrassing, effect. I say the green mist wasn’t obvious, but as soon as a towel dampened with solvent hit the tile, all the microscopic mist dots melted and ran together to make a very visible light green smear, which quickly dried, so it had to be wiped. So I ended up using up most of the can and the roll of towels. In hindsight, I should have laid newspaper all over the floor. Of course. Duh.

I spent yet more time going through previous posts, tagging them and sometimes extracting paragraphs of text to use in the wrap-up I plan to do. Later in the week, I guess.

Day 362, Docent, plant stand, SWBB

Saturday, 11/30/2019

Had breakfast in the dining room. Two of three central elevators are still out, so I’m getting lots of stairsteps. The plant stand that I’ve been working on is still on the balcony waiting to have the top half primed and painted, but the weather has turned cold. Too cold, really, for spray painting. Well, heck I have access to the resident workshop. So I carry the stand, and my paint cans and some latex gloves, down to the basement via the freight elevator. I prime the top half and leave it to dry.

At 11 I leave for the museum. Steve is not overjoyed to see me; for some reason he likes to not split docent duties, he says, but then he graciously concedes there are quite a few people and we should. At 5 to the hour there is a group of 15 or so already, so he starts out. I wait, chatting to the gathering crowd, until 5 after, but even with that delay my group keeps catching up to Steve’s. I have to fill and stall, and then finally I leapfrog him; and then I have to rush so I don’t slow his group down. It’s a mess, and I don’t feel I did a good job at all. I apologize to Steve, who is very nice about everything. But I don’t think my group of 20+ got the best experience.

At supper I sit alone at a table for four; then Helene comes to join me and we talk a bit. At 7:30 I settle down to listen to SWBB, the championship game of their tournament in Victoria, against Mississipi State. I’ve seen the MS Bulldogs play, in fact I remember a couple of years ago cheering for them at the Final Four in Knoxville, when they upset UConn in semi. They are known for rebounding, but tonight Stanford out-rebounds them by a lot, takes a good lead, gives most of it up, but holds on to win by a few. A very exciting game to listen to.

Day 358, laundry, plant stand, meeting

Tuesday, 11/26/2019

First thing in the morning I ran my laundry. While that was working, I unpacked and tasted a new low-carb meal replacement product that had come in the mail yesterday. Then I wrote a review of it on Reddit.

I’ve been following this little niche industry of meal replacements since Soylent was first introduced back in 2015. For quite a while, they were all distributed as powders to which you add water, sometimes also oil. To make a meal you mix up a scoop of powder, maybe a drizzle of oil, and water in a shaker. About 2017 if I recall right, Soylent introduced a “ready to drink” (RTD) product, a premixed liquid meal in a bottle. Some others have since added RTD lines.

A niche within a niche is the “Keto” meal replacements. These are extremely low-carb, one or two grams of net (i.e. non-fiber) carbohydrates per meal. If such foods comprise your entire nutrition, your metabolism enters a state of “nutritional ketosis” in which your cells extract energy from ketones rather than glucose. This is a medical treatment for some types of seizure disorders, and a dietary fad among some people. There are three companies doing keto meal replacements, and until now all had shipped only powders. But one, Sated.com, has been working on an RTD product forever, a lengthy kickstarter campaign which I’d subscribed to, and finally they shipped. So I was pleased to try the stuff and report on it.

That done, I walked to the hardware store and bought a can of green Rustoleum paint, and painted the bottom half of the iron plant stand. The next step is to put it back right way up and finish priming and painting the top half, which I had thought to do today. However, the green paint was still a bit tacky after lunch so I just left it to harden.

I spent a couple of hours after lunch working through this blog from day 1. I’m up to about day 90 now, and rather astonished at how much I got done this past spring. What I’m doing is adding “Tags” to each post, “Grief”, “Movie”, etc etc, so in principle I could quickly find various topics. However it is mostly a disciplined re-read and review of the year. I’m also copying out what seem like significant paragraphs. Somehow I’ll use all this to compose a year-end statement of some sort. This weekend, hopefully.

At 4:30 it was time of the monthly A/V committee meeting, where we review the requests for events for the next month, and assign people to run the sound and video. There is an official “event request form” where anybody putting on an event specifies the date and time and what kind of mics and so on they will need. Ian makes it all into a spreadsheet, typically 25 events or so; there’s a talk or a concert or a movie every other day or more. I ended up signed up to run A/V or three events toward the end of the month.


Day 355, plant stand, rugs, walk

So I did take the old indoor/outdoor thermometer apart. The flaky Set button consisted of the visible plastic button, from which a plastic peg sticks out and presses on a tiny metal dome. The metal dome or dimple, when pressed, goes “poink” and inverts itself to make contact with a solder pad on the circuit board. I polished that pad with a bit of paper towel (paper is a good mild abrasive). Then I taped a wad of four layers of printer paper on the back of the circuit board, covering the metal dimple, effectively making the plastic peg press harder on the dimple.

Old: 71.3/67.1; New: 73/69. Note the new one has the date, day of week, humidity, and the phase of the moon, too.

And that worked, I was able to set the time on the clock. So now I have two gray plastic tombstones that display the indoor and outdoor temps. Interestingly, they disagree. The newer, larger, smarter one reads 2 or 3 degrees F higher than the older, smaller, dumber one, for both inside and outside. Which is right, if either? And how can I tell?

Saturday, 11/23/2019

IMG_4455After breakfast in the dining room I put on “work pants” i.e. my oldest pair of jeans, and finished the job of de-scuzzing the plant stand, mostly using a wire brush on my drill, and steel wool on my finger for the small curly bits. Then I primed the bottom half.

And no, I did not leave the primer can on the balcony rail where the afternoon breeze could knock it down into the parking lot. Thought of that.

Tomorrow or more likely Tuesday I will spray that half with the black semigloss. Wednesday I’ll invert it and paint the upper half. (Edit: later I decided, no, it definitely wants to be dark green. Have to buy a spray can of that.)

Wondered what to do next. Well, I want to go to a photo store on Santa Cruz ave. in Menlo Park to buy 11×17 printer paper. And I want to browse area rugs at Macy’s. So why don’t I walk to those things.

I started by walking the few blocks to the Saturday Farmer’s Market and buying a nice raisin snail from one of the bakers. Walked on to Stanford Shopping Center where I looked at rugs at Anthropologie, Urban Outfitter, and Macy’s. Boring. Bought an orange juice at Jamba Juice and then hiked on to Menlo Park. Walking along El Camino I suddenly realized I was beside a rug store! Went in and looked at lots more rugs. Didn’t see any I liked but I looked up one maker, Nourison, on the phone and this one popped up, which of course they didn’t have in stock.

Walking up Santa Cruz ave I saw another rug store which I gave a cursory browse, and later two more, but didn’t have the energy to browse their wares. Bought the printer paper so now I can actually try printing 11×17 on the new printer, and caught a Lyft back to CH.

At supper, Pru suggested what I thought was a brilliant idea: that the Tech Squad have a regular open walk-in clinic hour that people could bring their laptops or ipads to and ask questions. Forwarded the suggestion to Craig and Bert.

Shopped online for area rugs. The best of a couple hundred was this one which I think is really nice. Also expensive. Problem is, as of now there are only 2 of the 8×10 in stock, so it is almost certain there’s no local retailer where I could feel it. And I really don’t want to buy a rug unless I have put my hand on it to feel.


Day 349, return, plant stand, laundry

Saturday, 11/16/2019

Went for another walk with Dennis, starting at 7:30. Whitney and Ted came along. We all strode along to the Pacific Grove city limit and back, about 3 miles. I had already packed up so I checked out and drove home, back to CH by 11.

Later in the day I spent half an hour cleaning one more tier of the plant stand (three to go before I can paint it), and then did the laundry.


Day 343, plant stand, house concert

Sunday, 11/10/2019

Walked to Verve or coffee. Afterward, walked by the hardware store to pick up some abrasives and cleaner for the plant stand.

Around 9:30 I drove down to FOPAL to see what kind of mess my section was in after the Saturday sale day. Actually it was quite neat; I think some of the sale-day volunteers must tidy up the shelves. I could see where books had been sold, and not always where I had expected sales. For example I had had four books on various aspects of digital signal processing, and three were now gone. I had about 18 inches of various editions and volumes of Don Knuth’s Art of Computer Programming (with a post-it label calling it out as “Knuth Korner”), and it looked like none had been taken.

I spent an hour starting cleaning the iron plant stand. I cleaned the top tier and sprayed it with rusty-metal primer.

At 12:45 I started to a house concert in Castro Valley. The location was one where I’d attended house concerts at least three times, probably four, over the past decade, with Marian. The host recognized me when I came in. The performer was “Mark Hummel and the Deep Basement Shakers”. Mark Hummel has himself introduced as “Emmy Nominated Mark Hummel”; he specializes in blues harmonica. At one point the lady in front of me went to the bathroom, giving me the opportunity to get a brief video. Here’s 40 seconds of Hummel on a solo.

I stuffed myself on the snacks everyone brought. The drive out and back was unremarkable. Generally a nice experience.

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 337, A/V, welding, novel, photos

Monday, 11/4/2019

Went for a run in the morning. Did not remember to wear a sweatshirt, but the temperature was just high enough — and with the time change, there was enough sun shining on my back — that I didn’t miss it.

Next up was my first assignment running the audio/visual for a performance, in this case a talk by George Marotta. This was nominally a “Book Talk” and a review of Dereliction of Duty by General (Ret.) H.R. McMaster. But George, who was in Viet Nam in 1957 working for the US Aid program, just in time for the Tet Offensive, talked a lot about his own experiences. For example, while working in the State Department under Robert McNamara, George was responsible for administering the program run by the Rand Corporation, including working with a Rand employee named Daniel Ellsberg. He reminisced about how McNamara was insistent that Rand was to keep very good records, which they did, and those documents ultimately were published by Ellsberg as The Pentagon Papers.

Anyway, I got the screen and projector and mics all set up and the presentation went off quite smoothly.

A few days ago, I noticed an object on the balcony outside the common lounge on this 4th floor: a wrought-iron plant stand. It has 6 pot shelves arranged in a climbing spiral around a central pole, the whole being 4’8″ high and a bit under 2′ wide. It’s dirty, rusty, and has two broken welds that make it unstable. I asked around and eventually found the lady who said she owned it, who said I was welcome to it if I wanted to fix it up.

Yesterday I used Yelp to find a local welding shop. Today I brought the car around front, lowered the rear seat, and brought out the stand, which fit in the Prius just fine. And off to Mountain View to a modest little hole in the wall where the guy said, sure, I can fix that, tomorrow morning ok? Which fits my schedule perfectly.

Back to CH where I spent an hour making progress with the novel. Added 700 words, mostly well-chosen.

Then I spent an hour going through my collection of pictures and picking out candidates that have enough pixels, and enough photographic quality, that they are worth trying to print at 11×14 or 11×17, with my new printer. Way back in April (Day 149, for one) I started the project of printing my best images for framing. I’ve got a half-dozen of those framed here in the closet now. Just after the estate sale, I found a box of 11×14 frames in the garage — something that Deborah had brought in to sell, I suppose, and left — and appropriated them. Now I have a printer that can do 11×14 or 11×17, and I have some 11×14 photo paper. My eventual aim is to have a photo wall, outside my 6th floor apartment. Each occupant “owns” the hallway wall outside their apartment. People put up all sorts of art. I’ve got it in mind to put up printed photos, a rotating collection of 4 or 6 at a time.

Tomorrow is a busy, busy day. And so to bed.


Day 280, coffee, drawers, show

Sunday, 9/9/2019

Harriet had texted suggesting coffee, and we met at 8:30 at the Midtown coffee shop. Nice lengthy chat.

Back at C.H. I pondered what to do for the next couple of hours, and decided to execute the plan to varnish the bathroom drawers. I took them to the basement workshop, did the sanding, put on a coat of varathane.

Back in my room, I noticed it was past 11:30 and about time for Dennis to arrive for our outing, and exactly at that moment my phone rang. Together we drove up to Foster City for lunch at BJ’s Brew Pub, and from there to the Hillbarn Theater for Anything Goes.

This was an excellent production. I totally fell in love with the lead actress, Caitlin McGinty playing Reno Sweeney. She apparently starred in  Beach Blanket Babylon for three years and is now a realtor(!) but she nailed this performance. Oddly I can’t find a personal web presence for her. Neither actresses nor realtors are usually shy about having their own page.

In the evening I watched Guardians of the Galaxy on Comcast on-demand. I keep seeing references to this and thought I should really see it. I remember a year or so ago, I started to watch it on TV and when the blue-skin villain came on ranting about destroying civilizations, I didn’t see it as over-the-top meta-humor (which apparently some do) but as just tone-deaf boring use of a worn-out trope by bad screenwriters; and turned it off ten minutes in.

This time I stuck with it. It has some charm but really it is not good SF. And the special effects space battles are way too long and confusing to watch. Who’s who and which way are they shooting? And they take a cheap way out of one of the only real emotional conflicts, the battle between the green sister and the blue sister. That should have been resolved in some constructive way. (For that matter, why is only one of the daughters of a blue-skin villain blue? The mother of the green-skin one has some ‘splainin’ to do, I think.)

I’d give the flick a C+ at best.