1.051 hair, docent

Wednesday, 1/22/2020

I blew off going for a run today, tsk. At 9:30 I left for my haircut appointment, the usual. Although my hair is increasingly thin, it still looks better after Chris has cut it.

I thought I had the rest of the day open because FOPAL is out of commission; and had a serious plan to do some writing. But while at the hair salon, I got an email from the Museum. There’d been a late cancellation and nobody was covering the 12:00 tour, could anybody step up at the last minute? Yeah, ok. So I signed up to do that. Went back to CH, changed into my docent clothes, went to the museum and led a tour.


1.033 Docent, wipers

Saturday, 1/4/2020

Today’s main thing was to lead the noon tour at the Museum. That went well, started with 30 or so and had most? well, more than 20, at the end.

Driving down, I noticed (for probably the tenth time) that when cleaning the windshield, the wipers left streaks. Time to replace. So I used my phone to find the nearest auto parts store on the way back. Here’s an annoyance: apparently it is not a thing to stock wiper refills any more. I seem to recollect that the normal thing used to be, you go into the auto store and work out via their confusing documentation, which plastic tube of thin rubber inserts would fit your wiper arms. Then with needle-nose pliers and only a little swearing, hardly ever any blood, you would replace the rubber insert in each wiper arm.

Not any more. Now your only option (at least, at this store) is to buy two replacement wiper arms for roughly $25 each, and replace the entire arms and what can you do with the old ones? They are mixed plastic and metal, not recyclable, they have to go to the landfill. A colossal waste of resources.

Anyway. Streak-free wiping now.

At supper, I got to the counter in the dining room and, I dunno, I just wasn’t hungry or something. Although they had three decent entrees (two were salmon and duck, geez whaddaya want?) but they just didn’t attract me. I went back to my room and had a cheese and salami sandwich and a beer. Sometimes you just don’t want duck. Odd.

A year ago this day I sent the email to Craig that started the chain of events that resulted in me being here at Channing House. That post mentions “grief blips”. I had a couple of minor grief blips day before yesterday, just walking along. Nothing worth mentioning really.

1.018 Laundry, Docent

Friday, 12/20/2019

I had booked a slot in the laundry calendar for 7am, so I could start my first load right after I got up, at 6:30. By 9am I had it all done and folded, and my red CHM Docent shirt ironed and ready to put on.

Left at 11am for the museum where my 12 o’clock tour had about 18 people to start, and most, say 14, stuck with me to the end. It’s interesting how some people are just hanging on my every word and enjoying my little witticisms, and others are listening but orbiting around, looking at the exhibits and circling back. I think as a guest, I tend to be that type.

I did something the afternoon but can’t recall it now, next morning. Alas, a significant act lost to history. Oh, one thing was, I wrote up how I’d replaced Chrome with the Brave browser, and sent it to two other tech gurus, Craig and Bert.

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 361, Docent, SWBB, rug

Friday, 11/29/2019

Went for a run in the morning. The outside temp was 45F (the two thermometers were only a degree apart, 44 vs. 45) so I wore a knitted watch cap as well as a sweatshirt (my classic SGI employee freebie sweatshirt from about 1997) and it was fine.

I spent a couple of hours then continuing the review of blog posts for this year. At 11, I drove to the museum and led the noon tour. I had expected that on a holiday weekend Friday, there would be a lot of people, but in fact I had a group of only about 12 to start. But a bunch more joined on the way, so at one point it was a crowed of 30 or more, which thinned out at the end to 20 again. One older lady told me afterward “You were great!” Awww.

Before leaving I had checked my personal schedule and tomorrow is basically open, except for maybe listening to a SWBB game from their tournament in Victoria, BC. I also checked the volunteer schedule to make sure today’s shot was the noon tour, and noticed that only Steve is signed up for noon Saturday. Which, again, will probably be heavy. So I signed up for that as well. I’ll go down there, if there isn’t a big crowd, I’ll come home.

In Channing House news, the third elevator is again on the blink. One supposes they are having trouble getting service on the holiday weekend? Anyway, there’s only one elevator in the central bank, although we are allowed to use the freight elevators at either end of the building. I’ve been taking the stairs always when going down from 4, and tonight after supper I climbed up as well.

I listened to the SWBB game (as I did last night after coming home). Last night they had a hard time just edging out a win from California Baptist (who?), who shouldn’t have caused such a problem. Tonight they played Syracuse, a matchup of The Orange against The Cardinal (and I love “autumn” colors), and won much more easily. Wins do come more easy when a freshman, Hannah Jump, goes unconscious and hits eight threes in the game. It turns out she is not the first to do that, and in fact Bonny Samuelson once hit nine in a game. During the postgame interview it emerged that the Samuelson sisters, Bonnie and Carlie, had been special idols for Hannah when she was growing up. Awwww.

3137947_image_1010I talked about rug shopping Day 355. Yesterday at Denise’s, I admired their area rug and Denise said, oh yeah, we got that on Amazon. Huh. So today I did some rug shopping on Amazon and… I would say things look bad for local rug shops. There are just a ton of nice looking area rugs at very reasonable prices on Amazon. With free shipping for Prime. I noted several that would do me nicely, would give just the needed patch of color on my new dark gray-brown floor. So I noted URLs to those, to be revisited in January after I move back to my proper unit. And now I can stop shopping and thinking about rugs. Nice!

Day 341, Docent, printing

Friday, 11/8/2019

Went for a run. Do not remember (now, 24 hours later) what I did between then and 11am when I left for the Museum to do the 12pm tour. There was a Go Language conference on the upper floors, and those people had filled the parking lot, but in fact museum attendance proper on the ground floor was very light. My tour group was just six people. But they stuck with me the whole way.

Back at the “land-locked cruise ship” I took a short nap and then (anything to avoid actually writing) made some notes on the next phase of the novel, then spent an hour printing big pictures on my new printer. It does very nice, 11×14 prints. It would do 11×17 if I only had any paper that size.

That was about it; for supper I took one of my cans of beer to drink, big whoop.


Day 339, FOPAL, Docent, papers

Wednesday, 11/5/2019

Today I had a docent tour to run starting at 11:30, but it is also Wednesday before book sale at FOPAL, the day that section managers should have their sections in final shape for the sale. I could do that before or after the museum; I opted for before. So I had breakfast at CH. Carrying my red docent shirt for later, I headed out for FOPAL at 8am.

There were only two boxes of boooks waiting for me, and I ended up shelving only 8 additional. Then I did an hour of sorting which brought me to 10am. I took a break and had coffee and a scone at the local Peet’s Coffee before heading to the museum.

There I met a group of 22 undergrads from the University of Toronto. They are so cute, just adorable. Lucky for them, Pat, docent of the 1401 lab, was available and offered to do them a 1401 demo. So I gave them a short tour and turned them over to him. They had a good experience, I think. The professor said they were going to the Intel museum that afternoon. I didn’t know there was such a thing, but I bet they didn’t get as good a show there.

Stopped at the car wash to get the car cleaned up on the way home. Looking forward to driving at least one other person to the SWBB game in the city on Saturday. I’d have paid for an external detail job if it could be done in a reasonable amount of time, but the lady at the entrance barely spoke english and seemed to think they didn’t do polishing. Which they certainly do, but I asked a more informed employee while my car was going through the regular wash. Detailing would be near $200 and take half a day. I seem to recall they once did a quick polish operation in less time, but that was probably long ago. Anyway, if I’m going to spend $200 on a polish, I’ll do it at a “real” detailing shop, not a shed attached to the car wash.

In the afternoon I spent an hour answering an email from Katie The Tax Accountant regarding the ongoing effort to complete an IRS form 7-oh-whatever, to recover I forget what part of Marian’s estate tax exemption. Lots of small questions to finish the job, like “Did Marian have an interest in any other trust?” and so forth. All easy to answer except one.

Back in August they said they would file for an extension past the 9-month cutoff for this filing. I said fine. This email asks, did I receive approval of the extension from the IRS? Um, no. The email makes reference to maybe having given the IRS my old address. Despite the fact that in the email exchange of August, I gave them the Channing House address. (OK, I probably never logged into the tax accountant’s website and updated my info there.)

Two days ago I got an email from Richard, the gardener, saying his invoice for August work had been returned by the PO, and could he have my current address. So very possibly the PO is no longer forwarding mail to the Tasso address. However, they were doing so very reliably, back in September and October.

So I sent off my detailed reply to all Katie’s questions, but with a bad feeling that maybe the extension had been botched; that the whole exercise would be a failure; and I would end up paying for a lot of accountant hours with no benefit. The benefit had never been that clear to me anyway, but whatever.


Day 333, meeting, tour, supper

Thursday, 10/31/2019

Did some exercises before breakfast. I really haven’t got a satisfactory solution for the exercise situation. I feel I need more guidance and motivation for that, since I don’t go to the Y any more. However, the C.H. “strength and balance” classes are at 11:45 on MWF and that schedule just does not suit me. I want my physical exercise done in the morning, not impinging on my midday like that. Wouldn’t have to be 6:30am, but at least 9am.

Went to the quarterly meeting of FOPAL section managers and sorters. Had a talk about emergency response from the guy who manages the Cubberly complex where FOPAL is. Basically, after an earthquake, move out to one of the athletic fields, don’t cluster in the parking lot getting in the way of emergency vehicles. In other news, Janet is organizing additional shifts of volunteer sorters to try to make headway against the backlog. And our favorite website for pricing info, bookscoutPro, appears to be down permanently. It’s much more tedious to use BookFinder, etc.

After that I went to the museum to lead a tour for a group of 19 Google software developers. They seemed to enjoy it.

Back home, got a call from Mary Beth, would I join her and her husband Bruce and new resident Ann for dinner. Sure!


Day 328, laundry, docent, new printer

Saturday, 10/26/2019

The laundry room on each floor has a sign-up calendar, and I’d reserved the first slot on Saturday. Since I had to be out by 9, I got up at 6:30 and immediately started my two loads. I had it all wrapped up after breakfast, around 9am, including ironing my red CHM Docent shirt.

For some reason my newspaper wasn’t delivered this morning. I noted non-delivery at the Mercury website, and a copy was left at the front desk for me in the middle of the day sometime.

After lunch I went to the Museum and led the 2pm tour. About ten people, several of whom hung on my every word.

When I got back I had a voice mail from the front desk, you have a newspaper waiting, and a large box, it looks like a printer. And it was, my new Epson. Setting it up was interesting. It came with ten bottles of ink, two each of Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Photo Black, the same colors as the cartridges used in my old printer, but now in plastic bottles holding, oh, about six ounces probably.

The setup process involves charging the five ink tanks by carefully tipping each color bottle into its tank, waiting about 30 seconds while it goes glug glug glug, well, more of an alto tone, glig glig glig, and the color creeps up the side of the translucent tank. Then the printer takes seven minutes to initialize itself, and prints an ink jet alignment page. The pattern was perfect the first time. Nice. After it has done all that, you again uncap each bottle and pour the last ounce into the tank to take up the space used by the charging and testing. The second set of five bottles get stored for, well, in my case probably a year or so? Until I deplete the reservoirs.

Now I have to get find a new home for my old printer, which works fine. I will advertise it on the CH bulletin board mailing list, but not today I think. There are a lot of messages on the CHBB list about emergency preparedness and what to do if the power goes off, so I think I’ll wait until Monday.

After that excitement I flogged myself to the keyboard and wrote a key scene in the novel, an conversation full of important information for the characters and for the reader to know. This is the delicate problem of exposition: you want the readers to understand some important facts, preferably not by just telling  them, but having it arise in conversation between characters. But if these are important facts about this world, won’t the characters already know them? In which case, why would they talk about them? (Also known as the “As you know, Bob…” ploy, from the clumsy way that old SF pulp fiction would do it: “As you know, Bob, the Jovian Mind Eaters can only be blocked by an adamantium shield…”) Properly, you establish that one character isn’t in the picture, and you have the others fill him in. That’s what I did, hopefully in believable dialogue that sounds like actual people (or in my case, actual children) talking to each other. That done, I can resume moving the narrative along.

The other night I mentioned receiving a hand-written letter. It was slightly upsetting and I am still thinking about how I want to respond. Maybe next week my thoughts will resolve.


Day 318, tech squad, hair, docent, FOPAL

Wednesday, 10/16/2019

First thing was to be an appointment for a haircut at 9am. But at 7am I found an email from last night asking me to look into somebody’s problem with their Comcast TV; they weren’t able to watch the debate because inexplicably their TV had decided it wasn’t authorized for CNN, which is in our building’s contract basic package.

I passed this off to Craig, who said he had seen that problem. Then went and got my hair done, and then down to the museum to lead some Apple employees on a tour. Here I tried something new, that I’d been thinking about doing. I explained I would give them a 45-minute survey of the major technical developments,  along with pointing out the different galleries, and then they would be free to explore on their own, except that if they wanted, I would lead them back to look at some specific objects that I like.

The idea was I could include more stuff than the usual “keep it under an hour” tour allows. I’d do a cut-down version of my usual survey, then stroll back to look at the Xerox Alto, the Apollo Guidance Computer, maybe the SAGE system. Great idea, and I may try it again, but this time it definitely didn’t work. They all opted for independent exploration (or more likely, a quick exit) and nobody followed me as I headed back.

Something ridiculous also happened. I had mixed up a 500-calorie meal replacement shake and put it in an insulated shaker cup, which I’d never used before. The plan was to have it for lunch after the tour. But when I parked at the museum I discovered that I had not properly sealed the new shaker top, and it had emptied itself onto the passenger seat, out of sight because it was covered by my shopping bag of museum stuff. About 12 ounces of high-protein drink, half still on the leather seat, the other half down under it on the carpet.

I went across the street to the 7-11 and bought a roll of paper towels and some wipes, and got a lot of it up. Fortunately it was “pumpkin spice” flavor and now the car has a delicate cinnamon aroma. But I suspect soon I will be paying somebody to steam clean my carpets.

In the afternoon I went to my usual 2-4pm sorting job at FOPAL, which makes three times this week. Not what I want to do on a regular basis.