Day 321, real estate, mostly FOPAL

I didn’t mention on Thursday and Friday about real estate worries. Early in the week I got a property tax bill from Santa Clara County for the 2340 Tasso house. Not sure what to do with that. I used the website to inquire: hey guys, I sold this property 27 August and the escrow included a prorated tax payment, what up? They replied that yes, they would send out a new bill to the new owners “in November”. Since the bill is delinquent early in December, I worried on behalf of the new owners, so I wrote to Chuck.

He replied saying I didn’t need to do anything, they’d be fine; but oh by the way, he was getting phone calls from Davey Tree service about an unpaid bill. Eh? I knew I had the invoice for that in my 2340 Sale folder; surely I’d paid it. I look for that amount in the online statements for my two checking accounts. Nope! So I called Davey. Nice phone lady agreed, nope, that had never been paid. Apologized, and mailed a check that day, Friday I think.

Saturday, 10/19/2019

For the first time in maybe years, I slept past 7am. What up, body? Had breakfast in the dining room, and about 9am went to FOPAL, figuring by now there would be some books backed up for the computer section. Indeed there were, six boxes. But also, when I got there, I realized that I had forgotten to do the post-sale inventory. That’s where I go through all the unsold books still on the shelf, and decide for each, whether to leave the price as-is for another month, lower the price, or give up and consign the book to the Bargain Room. I could have done a post-sale count as well, but since my stand-in had not done a pre-sale count, there’d have been no point. Anyway that takes an hour. Then culling the waiting boxes, and pricing and shelving the keepers, takes another two hours, then I did an hour of sorting, before coming home with a glow of accomplishment.

Later in the day I spent an hour implementing an idea I’d had last week. Each time a donor comes in to drop off books, they may or may not request a receipt, and they may or may not ask about sale dates in which case we give them a bookmark with sale dates on it. But they never get anything that would encourage them to volunteer. FOPAL runs on volunteers and always needs more; and that point of contact it seems to me, is the ideal time to try to recruit. So I made up a one-page flier headed “What happens to my books now,” outlining the process, with nice pictures, emphasizing the scope (40,000 books a month! $125,000 a year to the library!) and that it’s all done by volunteers, and you could be one, too!

I thought it was pretty good, so I sent it off to Janette (the one paid staff person who runs the whole zoo). We’ll see if she likes it.


Day 272, docent, vertigo

Saturday, 8/30/2019

When I got up this morning I had light, but definite, vertigo. A few years ago (well, sometime in this century) I had a severe spell of it, barely able to walk while keeping a hand on a wall, nauseated every time I changed posture — it was nasty. It took a week or so to wear off. I don’t welcome it back, even in this mild form. I really only feel it on major changes of posture, especially leaning over or sitting up. Walking is ok.

So I took it easy and was very mindful of my balance while taking a shower. (Some other resident, I saw on the house bulletin board, had fallen in the bathroom and broken a hip.)

The main activity of the day was to lead the noon tour at the Museum. I had a good crowd, 25 or so to start, and kept the attention of most of them to the end. One lady was really on my wavelength, she laughed out loud at every one of my little witticisms, the ones that usually get a smile or no reaction.

In the mail today, the final statement of the escrow. Also the refund from Amy and her staging company for part of the staging fee. Only part, because they did all the planning and loaded their truck before we called off the open house. So I only get back the installation and rental for all the furniture they were going to put in the empty house. I kinda sorta wish we had gone through with the open house because I’d like to have seen what Amy was going to do with it. But on the other hand… no.

Anyway, I have now all the data on the sale and the costs of the sale. Sometime next week I will put together a package on that to give to the tax people next spring. Meantime, the Tasso street house is definitively gone. I was thinking about that, early in the morning before I got up. What exactly is different, versus a month ago? Somehow, even when I had left, I had a mental vector, an internal compass pointing toward that house. Not surprising, having lived there 45 years, that no matter where I was, in the car, in a hotel in some other city, I had a sense of the house “over there”, accessible at need. Now it is unquestionably someone else’s house. I have the mental compass needle but where it points, I would not be welcome. Not a distressing feeling, exactly, but different.

Also in the mail, the final trip information for the upcoming Greek Islands tour, the one that I had to reschedule. And boy am I glad I did. It would have been horribly stressful to depart on that the same day as I’m moving to my temporary apartment. That trip starts with moderately stressful logistics. I’ll have to get a Lyft to SFO around 3am, and take two long flights to get to Athens the next day. Not really looking forward to that, but at least, I can approach it as a single problem, not layered with other concerns.

Day 269, docent disappointment, FOPAL, escrow closes

Wednesday, 8/28/2019

Went for a run in the morning. Initially told myself, “listen to your body”, bearing in mind I was not 100% yesterday. However when I got up, my temperature was 97.7, i.e. the Shingrex Fever is gone. Started easy and thought of cutting off one loop, but finally did the whole usual course and felt ok.

Around 10 I got a call from a lady at Chicago Title; she couldn’t figure out how to do a wire transfer to my Schwab account. I quickly gave her the number of Cindy, the knows-all does-all person at my financial advisor’s office. Shortly after I got copied on an email from Cindy, and soon after that, my Schwab account showed that my “personal value” (sum of all accounts) had increased by 112%. Not a bad gain for one day.

So I definitively am no longer a homeowner. That was one of the first firm decisions I made when, a bit more than a year ago, I started thinking about how I would order my life in the likely event that Marian did not survive. I formally started the process about seven months ago. Now it is finally achieved. I felt a brief flutter of uncertainty, almost a panic, realizing that now I have no other place than this one. The Tasso street house had not been my residence since I drove away from it June 15th. From the end of July, when the estate sale cleared everything out and emptied the place, returning was no longer even an unlikely fallback option. But now, it’s irrevocably gone.

The feeling didn’t last. Thinking about it several hours later, I don’t feel panic or uncertainty; just a bit of the familiar grief at having shed another piece of the old life.

I was scheduled to lead a tour at 11:30, a private tour of 30 Apple employees. Looking forward to talking to techies. And I had been told that semi-famous Apple guy Bud Tribble would be in the group. So I went to the Museum and waited, and waited, and they didn’t show. The desk guy called the contact number; someone answered and said, “I’ll check and call you back,” and didn’t call back. Huh. I left at 12.

I had not intended to go to FOPAL today, thinking a full tour would be enough exertion, but since there was no tour, I went back to CH, changed out of my red docent shirt and went to FOPAL. There I put up new shelf labels in the Computer section that I had made last weekend, using a bigger font so they are easier to read. Went through three boxes of books and kept almost half of them. Then did sorting for three hours. My steps for the day: 12,061, 5.4mi.

After supper there was a jazz concert in the auditorium, a local group, the leader and I think the pianist both friends of C.H. residents. They were ok but I didn’t stay for the whole show.


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.


Day 260, cardiologist, FOPAL, realty, singing, Lisp (sucks)

Monday 8/19/2019

Began the day with a run, which felt fine. Paid a bill or two. At 10:30 left in the car for PAMF for my routine checkup by my cardiologist, Dr. DiBiase. She thinks I’m ok but wants me to do a “stress echo” where you do the echocardiogram while exercising to various levels. Ok. Scheduled that on the way out. She also gave me the name and number of a trainer she recommends. Not sure I want to follow up on that.

DiBiase “challenged” me to do more cardio exercise than 3x morning runs. But she doesn’t know about FOPAL. At the start of my stint there I checked the Health app, and when I was leaving after three hours of toting books and boxes, I checked again. Just over 4,000 steps. I do that twice a week. I think that qualifies.

From FOPAL I went to Chuck’s office. He’d texted me there were a few more forms to sign. Plus, I had prepared a nice letter to the buyers. I included a printed copy of the Tasso street neighborhood directory that Leslie Mahoney prepares each year. That gives them the name, number and email of every resident on that two-block stretch. I recommended that they continue with Richard as gardener. I gave a link to a gallery of pictures of the house at various times. And noted the late news that the Tasso block party will be on 9/28. I gave this document to Chuck, to pass on to their agent. He noted that I’d included my email, and hoped they wouldn’t bug me with a lot of questions. I figure they won’t, but if they do, I can set boundaries.

I am to meet Chuck at the Escrow company office on Wednesday to sign the Grant Deed transfer. That will be my last signing. Not too many days after that the buyers should put their money in, and the transfer will be complete. Can’t wait!

Going in to dinner I was asked to join Marcia and Kent. They own an Adventurewagen like the one we used to own. We were joined by Kathleen and Marianne. After dinner there was an informal sing-along in the lobby. I joined it for about 25 minutes as we worked through a lot of standards on a 12-page booklet of lyrics. It was getting into a lot of songs I didn’t know so I left. In the elevator Bert put the arm on me to join the choir when it starts rehearsing. Yeah, maybe.

I had planned to do laundry tomorrow but checking the sign-up sheet there were no openings. Plus, there was an email asking please please please, will some docents sign up for the Tuesday tours? Oh, well. I signed up for the 2pm one. I want to do more drawer sanding and varnishing. So I did the first of my laundry loads, the bleach load, after supper. I’ll do the second load after supper tomorrow.

While the laundry was running I explored another angle on learning Lisp, based on this blog post, A Road to Common Lisp. I already have two Lisp implementations installed and they work in their ungainly, beginner-hostile way. But he recommends a third, ClozureCL. So why not, it claims to be good for Mac OS. I downloaded it. And it exemplifies everything that is amateurish, clumsy, and annoying about Lisp implementations. It’s like going back to the 1990s, a time when I had to use a lot of UNIX apps that were minimally documented and had to be compiled from source and tinkered with. And the complete opposite of what you expect from today’s slick, well-packaged development environments.

Just an example or two. (Perhaps I should spin this adventure off to its own blog, like my dormant This Page Intentionally blog.) You download the package, a zip file, and you unzip it and you have a directory. In the Terminal app you move into that directory and list files. First problem: there’s no README. Every Unix/Linux app has a README. Oh wait, there’s a folder named doc. List that; aha: doc/README exists. All it contains is the URL of the online manual. About 3,000 words into the manual it actually tells you how to start Lisp. I do, and try a couple of expressions. It’s working so I try to terminate it the way you terminate every damn Unix program on the planet by entering ^d, EOF. Which it ignores. (About 20,000 words further in the manual one finds that there is a Lisp expression you can enter which tells it to “quit on EOF” but that behavior is not the default. Why not?) Well, I want this thing to shut down, what do I tell it? Entering “quit” just produces a syntax error. I try ^C, which throws it into some kind of debugger mode…

[21:56:20 ccl] scripts/ccl64      <--- I launch Lisp
Clozure Common Lisp Version 1.11.5/v1.11.5 (DarwinX8664)
? ^D         <--- it prompts with "?", I hit ^D
? ^D         <--- which it ignores, I hit it again
? ^Csigreturn returned   <--- now I hit ^C and get this
? for help
   (at this point I am in a "kernel debugger")
   (I've no idea why it prompts with [24279], or what
    commands it accepts. So I try ^C again)
[24279] Clozure CL kernel debugger: ^Csigreturn returned
? for help
[24279] Clozure CL kernel debugger: help
[24279] Clozure CL kernel debugger: [24279] Clozure CL kernel debugger: %rsi (arg_z) = 3145728
%rdi (arg_y) = 0
%r8 (arg_x) = 0.000000
%r13 (fn) = 34222
%r15 (save0) = 17591952791858
%r14 (save1) = 125
Unhandled exception 10 at 0x38b7b, context->regs at #x7ffeefbfd540
Exception occurred while executing foreign code
at sprint_function + 27
received signal 10; faulting address: 0xfffffff0
? for help
[24279] Clozure CL kernel debugger: Segmentation fault: 11

Entering the word “help” instead of the “?” it wanted, caused it to display some machine registers (%r8, etc) and then report an “Unhandled exception” and then a Seg fault (invalid memory access) at location negative 16 (0xfffffff0). In other words, the debugger, when given a command it doesn’t understand, crashes. Well, isn’t that special.

Hey, at least I know how to kill it: ^C followed by “help”.

Much further along in the manual is directions on preparing the Mac OS IDE (interactive development environment, some kind of helpful source editor). In fact, “Building the Clozure CL IDE is now a very simple process” it assures me. All I have to do is start Lisp and enter one expression, and it will do a bunch of compiling and produce an IDE that I can run. Let’s try it!

[22:08:29 ccl] scripts/ccl64
Clozure Common Lisp Version 1.11.5/v1.11.5 (DarwinX8664)

? (require :cocoa-application)
sigreturn returned
? for help
[24289] Clozure CL kernel debugger:

When it evaluated that “require” expression, all that happened was — the same as when I entered ^C earlier, “sigreturn” and entry to the “kernel debugger”.

This is the kind of sloppy, amateurish shit that I battled with back in the 80s and 90s. I don’t need it any more, thanks.









Day 254, quiet day

Tuesday, 8/13/2019

Started by driving to the Y for a little exercise. On the way back I stopped at Tasso street, where I found the cleaning crew at work. My only reason was to check on the oval mirrors. Back when we remodeled the bathroom in 1974, the wash basin was built into a custom triangular vanity in the corner. Rather that putting up conventional sheet mirrors making a right-angled box of mirrored wall, we (with some trouble) managed to find large oval mirrors for the two walls above the basin.g901p20220marian201989-m

Here’s a picture from 1989, showing the mirror on the right. There’s a matching one on the left. So during the current work the painters had taken the mirrors down, and I wanted to reassure myself they were still around. They are, stored in the walk-in closet in the back. However the painters removed the hooks they were hung on, and patched the wall. So new hooks have to be put up to re-hang them.

I let Chuck know about this, in case the buyers asked, how are we supposed to comb our hair, then?

The rest of the day was pretty quiet. I spent about three hours collecting links to a variety of online Lisp based ebooks. I sat down with my Lisp IDE and worked through the first chapter of one tutorial, and then of another, trying to judge which was the better. Neither is good, but the worse one, unfortunately, is by a fellow author on the Leanpub platform. Ya know, I’ve written a few user manuals, including tutorials, plus done a little bit of programming, so I can tell when I’m in the hands of somebody who understands the material and knows how to present it. I haven’t found a really good Lisp intro book yet, but so far the Lisp Primer by Colin Allen and Maneesh Dhagat is the least bad one I’ve found.

I also ordered replacement checks from Schwab; their reorder function was back and worked smoothly. And paid a bill and watched some TV. For supper I looked at the offerings in the dining room and decided they were boring, so had a meal replacement shake in my room, capping off a quite hermit-like day.

Day 253, FOPAL, drawer, finance, HOUSE SOLD

Monday, 8/12/2019

Started the day with a run. Then by 9:30 I was at FOPAL to do the post-sale cleanup of my Computer section. This involves looking at every book in the section. If it has been up for three or more sale days, and its last price was $2 or $3, I give up on it and send it to the bargain room. Otherwise I consider reducing the price, pencil in the new price, and reshelve it back to its proper section. I sent three boxes of books away. This took a couple of hours.

I headed back and actually parked in the garage when I remembered that I had meant to go to the house and mark some things so when the guy came to haul the trash away, they wouldn’t go. Oh sigh. Back into the car and started back for Tasso street, when I got a call from Chuck. We talked about the details of prepping for the open house. Everything was going well. I told him about wanting to save a few items and how I would put them in the back of the garage. He said, maybe save the valances, too. All the windows had somewhat old-fashioned wooden valances. The painters had taken them down and tossed them, with the drapes still attached, in the garage. OK.

So I went to the house and moved the valances (but not the drapes; the fabric is old and not worth saving) plus a few other things a new owner might find useful, back of the green tape line in the garage that I had put down to protect stuff I didn’t want sold, a few weeks ago. Eric the painter was just finishing up the job of power-washing the brick walkway.

Back home I had lunch and killed a little time, and then met with Bert to be initiated into the ways of the

Residents’ Shop.

There are actually two shop rooms. One is very well equipped with a band saw, table saw, planer, and lots of other tools. The second, used for messier work, also has tools and a large bench. I had to sign a couple of waivers, so if I cut off a finger, it’s on me not Channing House. The point of all this was so that I can begin the process of refinishing those drawers. Bert has to have a copy of the shop key made for me. When I get it, I will start on that, probably Friday.

Next was to sit down with Terri in


We went over the rather puzzling and confusing sequence of payments from me to Channing House over the prior four months. At times they had drawn money by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from the Schwab account from which they’d drawn my initial buy-in. Other times, I had sent them checks via the SFCU bill-pay mechanism. With the result that we were both out of sync, and sometimes I was ahead by a credit and sometimes behind.

We agreed that in future, they would always draw the full monthly bill by EFT, and I would ensure that there were funds in the Schwab account to cover that. They do the EFT draw on the 10th of the month, and I will plan on that going forward.

In prior days I’d been noticing my

front door

was binding, and not wanting to close. I thought casually that it was just the frame warping or a hinge loose, but today it wouldn’t close at all and I realized the cause was the the hasp (or whatever you call the sticky-outy part of the lock that engages the frame) was jammed half-way and wouldn’t retract. And the knob wouldn’t turn either way. So I notified Facilities and a guy came up around 3 to work on it. He replaced the mechanism so it works, but he also noticed that the hasp didn’t properly engage the striker plate. It was a little too high, and you could see where some prior facilities guy had cut away metal to make the hole taller. He just removed the striker plate. The hasp now engages with the square hole in the metal door frame.

The door will be completely replaced as part of the upgrade, so that temporary fix is good enough.

About 5pm I got a call from Chuck. The agent who had been bugging him to say what our asking price was, wanted to present

a firm offer,

that is, one with no contingencies. Chuck said it was odd that there would be no contingencies since, a, they hadn’t seen the house, and b, they hadn’t received all the 50 pages of disclosure documents (inspections, termite report, seller’s declarations). We discussed the options. I could decline to look at it, saying just come on Friday and present it then. Ended up, Chuck called her back and insisted that he would send her the disclosures and she would return the standard form saying her client had indeed seen them all.

He called back a bit later to say, the buyer (a couple, the husband works at Facebook) had indeed seen the house: they had come to the estate sale last month, and looked it over very carefully then! (Later I texted Deborah about it, and she said, oh yes, I remember, I gave them Chuck’s number.) And now they have seen all the disclosures, they still want to go ahead with no contingencies, they are pre-approved for financing, and they want to close escrow in 15 days (unusually short). And the offer is $2.7M, which is $0.2M above the asking and just about enough that I will come out of escrow with my target net proceeds, or nearly.

Let’s do it! This was 5:30pm. We agreed I’d come to Chuck’s office at 6:15, which I did. We sat around waiting for papers to arrive by email and be printed. The offer had a clerical error and he had to call the other agent and have her send a corrected page. Then I initialed all the pages of the offer (it’s a very lengthy document) and sign it, and that got sent back to the other agent. When she texted that she had received it, we had a contract.

The buyer is obligated to purchase with no contingencies (no additional inspections, no hold-backs for work to be done), and if for any reason they don’t close escrow in the promised 15 days, their initial $81,000 deposit is mine to keep. So that’s a serious deal.

We’re going to go ahead with the cleaning (Chuck has a cleaning company already scheduled for tomorrow) and with the garbage-hauling; and I will let Richard come as scheduled to finish the mulch and tidy the plants on Thursday. But Chuck texted Amy to let her know, do NOT load up your truck with furniture tomorrow as scheduled, the staging is off!

I’d already paid Amy’s company in advance for the staging. Presumably I’ll get that money back, or at least most of it. I can imagine them wanting to keep some for their trouble and time spent planning.

But wow. House is sold! Probably. I won’t actually celebrate until the escrow actually closes. That would be on or before the 28th of this month.

Day 251, clothes, docent, realty

Saturday, 8/10/2019

Wrote the check to pay off Paul the floor guy and mailed it.. Drove next to the Target across the freeway. Why? Because according to the Rogue Brewing website, I can get their Dead Guy Ale (nominated by me as the best beer made on the West Coast) at that store. I’ve found it before at my usual grocery, but the last half-dozen times I’ve looked, they didn’t have it. I don’t drink but about one beer a week, so I wanted to stock the good stuff, and by golly they did have it.

Then went to Jacquie’s Sew and Sew to pick up my modified blazer and trousers. See below for pics. On to the Museum to lead the 12pm tour. From there I drove to the grocery to pick up some no-cal drinks. From that parking lot I could walk to the FOPAL building to see how the sale was going. Quite a few books were already gone from the Computer section. Strangely, somebody had taken it upon themselves to move some books to different areas. I have the section arranged by topics, and somebody had shuffled books from one topic to another shelf. And inserted a bunch of books that were not at all computer-related. Why? No idea.

Back home, I got a call from Bill, who wanted to take a picture of me for the newsletter article that Helene wrote. I said sure, come on up; and then spent the next three minutes rapidly changing my shirt, picking up and tidying the living room, etc. Bill is clearly an experienced photographer (later somebody told me he was formerly a photog for a newspaper) and took a number of shots against different backgrounds and different lighting.

Sat at supper with Craig, Diane, and the other David. Then upstairs to finally try on my new clothes. They look ok. I definitely look best in a turtleneck (to hide my turtle neck) and I really should buy a white or cream-colored one, all my present ones are dark. Anyway here is my new wardrobe extension.

Casual white trousers. Not great, and pants need to be ironed.IMG_3871

Brownish trousers. OK look. They also need ironing. Surprised Jacquie’s didn’t press them before delivery.


Brown trou. with cream-colored shirt. Definitely need a cream or ivory turtleneck.


Blue-gray trousers, open button. Definitely the best combo. The jacket fits fine buttoned, but it still looks better this way.





Day 250, mulch, walk

Friday, 8/9/2019

Went for a run to start the day. It felt fine. I wound it up at the Prolific Oven. I suspect that fine old coffee place is on the way out. 8:30am on a Friday and there were only a few  customers. Three old guys at the outside table. One college-student (or, given my poor age-guessing ability, more likely a college instructor) and me, inside.

Having a good run is always good news. I don’t think I mentioned a few days back that the results of my echocardiogram came in. Modern medical care; I get my results as an email telling me I have a new message at my Sutter Health account. Wait, “modern”? Welcome to the millennium, we’ve been waiting for you… Anyway, it includes “Aortic valve: normally functioning prosthetic.”

I drove to the nursery and bought three bags of mini-fir-bark mulch, and took them to the Tasso house and left them behind the back steps for Richard to spread when he comes next week. I thought briefly of spreading it myself, which is a no-brainer task, but realized I had no garden tools, not even a rake. The sale cleared everything out.

Looking through the windows, it’s clear that Paul is finished with the flooring. All that’s left to do is for the painters to re-install the cabinet doors and paint the exterior trim, and it will be ready for staging. Later in the day I got an invoice for the flooring and tomorrow I’ll mail the check for that.

Also later I got a text from Chuck, indicating that he’d been in contact with some number of foundation contractors and will let me know what comes of that. If he can make that happen in the coming week, my hat will be off to him.

After an hour of fooling around on the computer… OK, I was watching YT videos. Two episodes of the amazing Project Binky (those guys are truly insane, but in a good way) and then, trying to make up my mind if I want to play the game Kenshi, I watched two episodes of a walk-through of it… and a brief nap, I decided to Get Outdoors.

I drove up to Crystal Springs reservoir and walked two miles, one out and one back, on the Sawyer Camp trail, giving me a massive 12,869 steps, 5.7 miles, for the day. It was a sparkly day.


We’ve had just a beautiful summer, never too hot, clear air… I have been intentionally and consciously appreciative of it, almost every day. The walk was an emotional experience. I had forgotten my ear-buds, so I couldn’t listen to a podcast, as is my usual wont when walking. So I had to think, and my thoughts turned to the last weeks of Marian’s life, some of the good moments, like when on her final visit to her doctor, the doctor told her how much she admired Marian, and said, “You’re such a bad-ass!” and they parted with a hug. So it was a rather emotional walk. And no tissues in my pocket.

Day 249, Shustek, real estate

Thursday, 8/8/2019

I headed out to Shustek for a day of cataloging. Steve and I cataloged a NeXT system that was supposed to be “fully functional” according to the donation record. So of course after cataloging the pieces (system unit, monitor, keyboard, mouse) we hooked them all together and powered it up. We could hear fans spinning, and the monitor showed a very dim raster. In which I could read messages about system test complete, booting from SCSI drive 1, waiting for drive to come online… and that was it. The internal drive never came up. Unfortunately this unit was intended for the “study collection” meaning it was meant to be actually used in education classes, could be touched, and so forth. But without some work it isn’t going to fulfill that role.

After lunch we unwrapped something completely different.


It’s basically a tape cassette, kind of like an audio cassette but blown up to the size of a boom-box, and loaded with tape more than an inch wide. It’s made by IBM, with a big IBM logo on one end. What in the heck could it be? We would have been wondering still, except that volunteer Alan, whose mind is a wonderland of computer trivia, said, “Wait wait wait. Wait a minute. Look up ‘Harvest’.” A quick trip to Wikipedia and we found the IBM 7950 “Harvest” system, once a top-secret addition to the early “Stretch” supercomputer, which from 1962 to 1975 did cryptanalysis for the NSA. A major feature of it was a special tape subsystem called “Tractor” which managed a library of these tape cassettes. And here was one of the cassettes! No doubt it has never been erased, and that reel of wide mag tape probably contains all sorts of once-classified data. Which nobody on earth has the equipment to read now.

While this was going on I was exchanging texts with Chuck. An issue hanging on from last month is the foundation inspection that Lawyer Lady had done on one of her last visits. We have been trying to get some info on what this inspection revealed, apparently there were some small(?) issues, although not enough to bother L.L. Chuck suddenly thinks we should get them fixed and have a new inspection done. He spoke to the previous inspector but stopped short of asking for a copy of the report because, he says, if we have it, we must show it to buyers, and if it is “phrased negatively” it could harm the sale. So he is apparently in a delicate dance to get some details and a recommendation of a contractor suitable to do a repair, without actually obtaining a paper that we would be required to disclose.

I am all for doing this repair, which I expect to be in the low thousands, but I am very reluctant to hold off the open house to do it. I asked Chuck to please expedite contacting a contractor and getting an estimate. We’ll see. I can imagine this pushing the open house date back weeks, grrrr.

Came home to do laundry.