1.031 healthy, FOPAL

Thursday, 1/2/2020

I expected to wake up feeling ratty with the cold of yesterday, but in fact, and to my surprise, I felt fine. I did a few exercises, had breakfast downstairs, and then went to FOPAL for a usual four-hour stint of computer books and sorting.

In the afternoon I finished my bi-weekly laundry, and that’s pretty much all there was to this day.




Day 360, Thanksgiving

Thursday, 11/28/2019

Showered shaved and put on nicer than usual clothes. Had breakfast downstairs, then was faced with quite a long gap of time until 4pm when I should leave for Denise and Jason’s for dinner. So I thought, heck, I’ll take the Dish Walk. Been a while (Day 167) since I did that. I assumed that many people would have the same idea, so the tiny parking area at the trailhead would have been full since 7am, so I took a Lyft there. There were a whole lot of people on the trail, from family groups ambling, to gorgeous sweaty athletes racing along in running shorts. I did the full 3 mile loop and now it was 11am.

What to do for some lunch, I wondered. I had the notion that the CH dining room was going to be closed. I was sure that we had instructions that, if we needed supper we should pick up a bag lunch between 8 and 10am. So I had myself Lyfted down to California avenue, thinking I’d lunch at one of the many restaurants along there. Hah! Not one was open, it was a ghost town. I knew there was a MacD’s not too far along El Camino, but really. So I took a Lyft home.

And found that not only was the CH dining room open for lunch, it was a full Thanksgiving menu with choices of sliced ham, turkey, something else, pumpkin or pecan pie for dessert, etc. And the place was jammed; apparently a lot of residents were having their relatives in for this fancy lunch. I had completely misunderstood the schedule; the staff will indeed be off, but only for the evening. So I had some turkey and gravy for lunch.

At 4pm I drove to Denise’s place (the bride and groom of two weeks ago) where they had cooked a turkey for Dennis and Toni (her father and mother) and very kindly included Uncle Dave. That was nice.



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 353, Anthem, Exercise, Fopal, Lecture

Wednesday, 11/20/2019

I wrote a few days back that the in-house exercise class–actually called “Strength and Balance” class–happened at the wrong time of the day. It’s at 9:15am MWF. In order to participate, I have to change my other regular habits. I decided to try it out today. It wouldn’t be practical to go for a run and be back for exercise at 9:15. Would it? So no run. But what about breakfast? I don’t want to go down to the dining room in my exercise shorts and t-shirt. So eat in my room. But then I’m all fed and coffee’d and newspaper’d by 7:30, with 2 hours to kill. It just upsets everything. Well.

Today I passed the time after breakfast and before exercise, trying to register with my new drug insurance provider, Anthem. I’d tried a few days ago and failed. I would enter my Anthem account number, first and last name, birthdate. It would recognize me, to the extent that it wanted to do 2FA by sending a text to my phone “***-***-1986” as it coyly said. Fine, do it. Then it would put up a cute error message, “Hmmm, that didn’t work for some reason. Try again later, or call support at…”

Today I tried it some more with the same result. So I called support. The person there, who had a very thick Latino accent, was able to find my information, and said well, it is having a problem with 2FA, I’ll turn off 2FA for this account and you can try again. Which I did, and was able to get to the point of providing a username and a password. Then it told me to go ahead and log in with this new id.

When I tried to do so, it put up an overlay message “Getting your information”; then wiped that and displayed a familiar cutesy message, “Hmmm, that didn’t work for some reason…”

So I called support again. This person was able to “find my information,” but she had the sense to ask, When does your coverage begin? Um, January first? Oh, well, you can’t use the website until you are within 30 days of your coverage starting.

Oh. Do you suppose the website might fucking SAY THAT instead of “for some reason”? No, I didn’t swear at the lady. Anyway, it was now 9:15.

Exercise class was impressive. There’s at least 40 people there. Most in street clothes; I think I was the only one in shorts, other than Clark, the staff fitness person who leads it. He does a good job. He leads through a rapid sequence of a variety of exercises, some I found quite challenging. Not because they demanded a lot of strength, but because they involved coordination. OK, sit forward and upright on a chair. Lift your right knee, swing the leg out to 45 degrees; bring it back, repeat on the left side. Keep doing this, left, right, steadily, but now put both arms out straight and make circles. And so on. There were some strength exercises using thera-bands, and various other things, 45 minutes worth, which got me breathing and lightly perspiring.

I had a shower (quite a few people in the class were exercising as hard as I was, in street clothes, and I wondered about that) and then drove up the hardware store to get batteries so I can set up a new indoor/outdoor thermometer I’ve bought. I had a smoothie for lunch at Whole Foods. Then I went to FOPAL; yes, I was just there yesterday, but that was really Monday’s session delayed to Tuesday, and this was my regular Wednesday sorting session. And it’s quite a bit more actual bending and lifting exercise than the class was.

In the evening I attended a lecture here, a local artist presenting on “Who Shot Vincent?” He reviewed the brief,  tragic career of Van Gogh, showed lots of his pictures and discussed the development of his technique over the single decade of his painting career, and at the end presented the evidence that Vincent probably did not commit suicide but was shot accidentally by some teenagers goofing off.


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 348, walk, art, wedding

Oh, from the dinner last night, kids with phones.


Friday, 11/15/2019

Met Dennis at 6:45 to take a walk, his preferred daily exercise, and very sensible, too. We walked along the public trail/bikepath from the hotel, near the wharf, as far as the Aquarium and back, about 2.5 miles.

I then drove down to Carmel and spent an hour and a half walking around looking in art galleries. At the New Masters gallery I hoped to see a Linsky, as they represent him, but nope. I saw lots of splashy abstracts, lots of incredibly detailed photo-realistic still lifes, some plein-air California landscapes although none as nice as Linsky’s. Nothing I felt really attracted to.

I took the 17-mile drive back to Monterey, stopping several times to try to capture waves as they swelled up massively,


And then broke explosively.


Ansel Adams I ain’t, but it’s fun to try. (Here’s Adams’ version) Just as I was walking out of the garage at the hotel, I got a text from Dennis suggesting lunch. We ate at a place that emulates an English pub. He reminisced about a pub he found tucked away under one of the Thames bridges. I said I’d look for it on my trip.

Back at the hotel I dressed in my finery, i.e. my nice new blazer and slacks, and a white turtleneck. Walked to the wedding venue, The Barns. Was early. Here’s Judge Loftus checking out the microphone.


I didn’t try to take a picture during the ceremony, and was pleased to see only a couple of other people were holding up their cell phones. There will certainly be enough pics; there was both a professional photographer and a professional videographer around the whole time. Denise, the bride, was walking across the venue before the ceremony, a bit to the right of the above picture, and you can see how low the sun was. The pro photographer was trailing behind and I thought, oh, it’s lighting up her hair, and I said to him loudly, Get that back-light! He hadn’t noticed but that made him look, he lifted his camera just as she turned to look back,18848861_401 and I think he got an excellent shot. So, Denise: if there is a spectacular pic of you with the sun behind making you look like Cate Blanchett as Galadriel only with smaller ears? You can thank me for that.

So there was a nice short ceremony, the bride and groom read vows they had written for each other, very nice, very touching things and well-phrased, too; and that was that. Well, not quite; then came about 90 minutes of standing around under the pine trees drinking and talking. Or in my case, not talking. There was really nobody to talk to. I got a case of the shy’s, and just couldn’t seem to insert myself into any of the circles. In the old days, in similar situations, I would get first embarrassed, then resentful, and then leave. But I’m older and know myself better now. I just wandered around trying to look engaged and was a little bored.

I missed an opportunity at one point. There was a pair of women, one dressed a little butch so I presumed they were probably partners, and I noticed that they were not talking to anybody but each other. I have no idea who they were, presumably friends of the bride? but they reminded me of me and Marian at some parties in the past, neither one of us knowing anybody. I kept circling past them on my lonely orbit, thinking, alright, go up to them and say, ‘so are you friends of Denise, or Jason?’ and start talking. But every time I circled past them, they seemed to turn toward each other and talk more animatedly. I should have imposed, but I was afraid they were seeing me as the creepy old uncle wanting to hit on them, so I let it slide.

Eventually we went in to the Barn and had a nice supper. I had some conversation with the people next to me and across, so that was alright. Lots of toasts, nice things said. When the dancing started, I felt I could bail, and did.

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 315, walk, tech call, tv

Sunday, 10/13/2019

Started with the usual crossword puzzle and coffee at Mme. Collette’s. Then, it only being 9am I thought I would go for a walk around the Dish. That early on a Sunday, surely there would be parking up there, right? Nunh-unh, all the local walkers had already filled up the limited parking by the trail entrance. Plan B, I went down to the Baylands and did a walk there. There were lots of water-birds, including three different pods of white pelicans. Lots of ducks. Marian used to like to use her binoculars and pick out the different species of duck; and she doted on the white pelicans. I didn’t have binoculars with me, so I couldn’t tell a shoveler from a mallard. Actually I think I could have recognized the mallards, and there weren’t any.

I went the three miles from Byxbee park around to the foot of San Antonio road, but rather than close the loop with two miles on pavement, I just called a Lyft to get back to the parking lot where I’d left the car. Back at CH I had a snack lunch in my room and a nap; then went out again. First to FOPAL where the sale weekend was winding down.

Then down to sister-in-law Jean’s to help her with a software problem. She uses the Photos app to manage her huge collection of images, and she had somehow lost a bunch of them. I personally detest the Photos app because it takes possession of your images and stores them in its own proprietary “Library” files. Contrast that to comparable image managers like Adobe Bridge or Lightroom, which leave the images safe in the hands of the OS’s file system, each image a file that you can copy, back up, open with another app, etc. Those managers have their own catalogs, but they don’t hide the images in massive opaque globs where the only access to the image is through Photos itself.

But there it was: Jean had a Library of hundreds images taken in her work in the local diocese and sometime in the past month, most of the images in it had disappeared. Photos helpfully displayed the image names still, but only little blank rectangles to show they weren’t there.

Fortunately when I helped her set up her system, back in 2015 after her husband died, I set up a backup drive for use by the Mac’s Time Machine backup system. So now we just started the cool “Time Machine” effect and went back a week and restored that Library, all 27GB of it. One file, 27 gigabytes, contents only accessible through Photos. Unfortunately that version was still missing the images. So we restored a copy from two weeks back. Nope. Each restore cycle taking about 10 minutes for Time Machine to copy the file and then Photos to “recover” its catalog data, whatever that meant. Finally went back a month, and that version, when restored, was 51GB. That’s promising, we said; and when Photos had finished munging it, yes, there were all her pictures up through that backup date. She hadn’t lost a lot of work. So that made me a hero, yay me. I had gone into this assuming it was likely user error (e.g. she meant to delete one picture but accidentally selected a bunch of them), but now I think it equally likely that Photos has a bug where its database gets corrupted. Well.

Back home again, I had a nice supper sitting with Craig, Diane and Patti. Then watched more TV. Before heading off to Greece I had set up the DVR to record three new series that sounded good. One was Carol’s Second Act, Patricia Heaton as an older woman trying to have a second career as an intern. I gave up on this halfway through the second episode. The writing is pretty bad and the jokes are labored.

One was Stumptown, and this I’m kind of enjoying after two episodes. It’s basically a noir detective show, could be from the pen of Raymond Chandler or Mickey Spillane, except that the broke detective with the complicated past, the alcohol problem, and the propensity for getting beaten up, is a handsome woman, and instead of New York or L.A. the setting is Portland, Oregon.

Third is In a Man’s World, where women, with the help of Hollywood makeup artists, go undercover as men, to prove that they were unfairly held back. The first episode was entertaining, although it’s not clear what Emily proves, in the end.

Plus, a new season of Mom has started, and a new season of Bitchin’ Rides, and I have at least three eps of Austin City Limits, and … life is rich, I guess.


Day 290, haircut, book, FOPAL, A/V

Wednesday, 9/18/2019

This morning I was scheduled for a haircut at 9am, so, as with the prior morning’s 9am flu shot, I wasn’t able to go for a run and instead did exercises in my room. Then out to have Chris cut my hair as she’s been doing since the 1970s (when I had a lot more hair to cut). Back to C.H. for an hour working on the novel. Then to FOPAL where I found seven or eight boxes of books waiting for the Computer section, and spent three hours in total culling, pricing and shelving.

Got back to C.H. just in time for a 4:15 appointment with Ian to be shown the A/V equipment, which is quite extensive. I learned where pretty much everything is. Since there was a lecture at 7, I ate a quick supper then joined Bert, who was doing the A/V for the lecture, and shadowed him — learning several things about the systems that Ian hadn’t thought to tell me.

In fact we the A/V team had a fairly public screw-up. The speaker, a very affable and easy-going (fortunately) Stanford history prof, wanted to start his show with a short video from Vimeo. The prof was supposed to have arrived well in advance of the 7pm start so we could set him up. You need to get the lapel mic and transmitter on him, and you need to connect his laptop to our video projector, and get it ready to show the video, followed by a smooth transition to his power-point slides. On a laptop you’ve not seen before.

He didn’t arrive until 6:55, when a fair number of people had already filtered in and sat down. So we had to set up his stuff with lots of people watching and under time pressure. We set up the video easily enough, although this was one of the new Macbooks that has no old-school USB, and no HDMI, just a selection of identical USB-3s (“lightning” connectors). Bert had a dongle for this that broke out an HDMI and an old-style USB from a lightning port. Right away the Mac found the HDMI, and here my experience with Macs was a help, Bert is a Windows guy and didn’t know how to make the Mac mirror the displays instead of treating the external projector as a second screen. That set, we verified the power point (actual Power Point, not Mac Keynote) worked. And cued up the video full-screen ready to start.

UN-fortunately in the rush, neither Bert nor I thought to check whether we were getting any audio. And we weren’t. Without audio, the video wasn’t much help, so the speaker just said, forget it, let’s go to the slides. I still don’t know what the problem was, although I’m pretty sure we could have worked it out had the guy actually showed up when asked.

I think Friday I’ll take my laptop down and see if I can make things work.

Day 284, Yosemite, traffic, tech call

Thursday, 9/12/2019

Did some exercises, had breakfast, and off to Milpitas for a day’s work cataloging. Just toward the end of it I did a stupid thing with the database that will take Aurora, the curator, at least an hour of time to fix. Agghhh.

Left Milpitas at ten to four and thanks to traffic backups on 101 and Middlefield, didn’t shut down at C.H. until 5pm, about twice the normal time.

In the morning I’d had an email from Bert, the tech squad leader, referring me to a problem Bob S. was having with Apple Mail. I googled it; it’s not a common problem, but one that other people have had, so I emailed some suggestions (forgetting his problem was with email). Anyway that hadn’t helped and I futzed around with his computer for a while and declared myself stumped. I recommended the Genius Bar at the Apple store, and fortunately he had taken the Mini there before so he thought that was an OK idea.