Day 326, Yosemite, not choir, another play, some mail

Thursday, 10/24/2019

Today I had in my calendar to attend a meeting of FOPAL volunteers at the Mitchell Park Library center. Except when I got there, no meeting. Got into Gmail on the phone, retrieved the e-vite, and of course: it’s the 31st, not the 24th. Bad enough when I forget to look at the calendar; now I’m putting the wrong dates in the calendar.

Anyway, on to the Yosemite warehouse for a partial day of working with artifacts. Then back to CH, arriving around 4:45. This is a problem for the following reason. When I attended the first Chorus rehearsal the other day, Mary the leader handed out a rehearsal schedule, with rehearsals at 4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next two months. Thursday is the only day of the week when CHM volunteers gather in the east bay to do collections work. I would have to leave every session an hour early, to get back to CH for a 4pm rehearsal.

I’m debating this, but I think on the whole I would rather be futzing around with old computers than singing in the back row of the chorus. Certainly my contribution to the former is a lot more substantial than the latter.

Waiting for me was the online links to all the tickets for the Stanford Women’s Basketball season. The Stanford ticket office does this in a rather lame way, sending you a list of 34 separate links, 17 to PDFs of individual print-at-home tickets, and 17 to PDFs of print-at-home parking passes (I paid the extra to park in the lot next to Maples Pavilion). I sat in my office printing 34 individual sheets of paper and organizing them into a packet, and sniffling quietly because this was a job Marian had always happily dived into, delighted to be setting up for a new basketball season.

By the time that was done it was supper time and I just didn’t feel like going to the dining room, so I had a PBJ and grapes in my room.

At 7pm was a theatrical presentation. Diane Tasca is large in local theatrical circles, formerly artistic director at the Pear Theater and often seen on stage at local shows. Today she and a partner presented a two-person play, “Love Letters”, in which the actors read out the letters written between a boy and a girl over their lives from grade school up. While the actors were doing a good job, the portraits the letters paint of the people, especially the girl, made me dislike them — the characters, not the actors. So I left at intermission.

Waiting in my mailbox were two interesting letters. One is from a bankruptcy court, setting out the details of the settlements from the bankruptcy of the San Jose Repertory theater company several years ago. The letter was addressed to Marian at the Tasso address, I presume because our season tickets to SJ Rep were in her name. The letter contains eight double-sided pages listing at least 150 names with amounts of $200-$500 owed. However, I’ve been over the list twice now and can’t find Marian’s or my name in it. So why did we get a copy?

The other interesting letter was hand-written, but I think I’ll write about it another time.

Day 233, bball camp, book

Tuesday, 7/23/2019

I started the day by driving to the YMCA, doing 15 minutes on the treadmill and my round of strength exercises. Back home I did a bit of office work, filing some things and trying to make sense of my Channing House billings. I can’t get a clear picture of how much I am paying per month. When I first signed up, they received my initial buy-in by electronic funds transfer from my Schwab account. Twice in the three months since, they have again tapped that account, but not for the whole amount of a monthly rental, but rather a bit less than half that. I don’t know why. This month, they didn’t. I don’t know why. I have been paying the amount due on the bottom line of the monthly invoice by EFT from my SFCU (Stanford Credit Union) account and I guess the numbers are working out because they haven’t called me up to say “you’re in arrears”. But I would like to set up a single, monthly, auto-pay order at SFCU. Only I don’t know how much that should be, given they might choose to pay themselves some of it from my Schwab account.

I keep thinking things will clarify with the next month’s invoice. But I guess I will have to make an appointment with somebody in the accounts office.

About 11:30 I took a Lyft to the Stanford campus where I was to assist in registration for Tara’s basketball camp. This time I was assigned to the “A-to-E” registration table along with Nancy. It was fairly complicated as each camper got a name sticker and checked off on a list, then they (or their mom usually) paid some money into their “camp store” account, so they could buy souvenirs and snacks without having to have money in their dorm rooms. Then they got their lanyard and key to their dorm room. We divided this work among us and managed not to mess anything up or distress any campers, so that’s a win.

We were all done by 2:30. I bummed a ride back to CH with Nancy, who had just bought a  new Lexus and was happy to show it off to me.

Now I sat down with the paper copy of the book and kept reading, finding several more (very minor) typos. I have a few more chapters to go. Then I’ll make a new text PDF and update the Kindle Direct page with it, and officially “publish” it on Amazon. I’ll have to go back and re-publish the Leanpub version also. With that out of the way, I will start on another project, probably in early August, about the time the house is finally ready to sell.

Day 205, Basketball camp, laundry

Tuesday, 6/25/2019

As planned I headed out at 7:15. I decided to take a Lyft rather than cope with the parking. Met Lily and the rest of the usual SWBB fan crew and had a quick breakfast at Jimmy V’s, the cafe next to Maples. For the opening of the one-day camp I was assigned to the “trainer table”. The actual trainer wasn’t there, I was supposed to take notes for her. Each camper whose mom had noted any kind of physical restriction–almost always exercise induced asthma–on the application, was redirected from the sign-in table to me. I was supposed to ask if she felt ok, had any needed meds or inhalers, and remind her to call Katelin, the trainer, if she had any problem whatever. As there were only about 5 campers out of the 100 affected, I didn’t have much to do.

All were checked in by 9:30. Then, it turned out, there was nothing for volunteers to do until 12:30, when check-in for the “elite” camp began. The elite camp is a four-day residential camp.

I walked across to the location for that operation so I knew where it was; then I decided to fill the time with acquiring a few things I’ve been meaning to buy. The first was an antacid, Ranitidine, that I take daily. I called a Lyft to CVS on University avenue. I was about to buy two 90-cap boxes when it occurred to me the price seemed high. Hey, it’s the 21st Century. I got out my phone and in under a minute found that the same 90-pill bottles were literally one-third the price at Target. OK, Target would probably also have the other things I want, too.

So I walked home, got in the car, drove to Tar-zhaay in Mountain View. It took a while but I found what I wanted there, including: three teaspoons, forks, and knives. I could have taken these and more from Tasso street, but I didn’t want to break into the 12-setting set there. (One supposes that a good 12-place set of stainless flatware will sell for more than a 9-place? OK, probably not much.)

From there I drove back to Stanford and parked in the underground Wilbur garage, and walked to the elite camp check-in place. Here I was assigned to the group selling parking passes. Parents who want to spend any time watching their kids need a parking day-pass, and we sold them for $5. We also told parents where to park etc.

During this period, Chuck texted from Tasso street where he was getting a painter’s estimate on the house. He will also get an estimate on replacing the linoleum in the kitchen.

About 3pm that was all over and I drove myself back for the day’s last adventure: Laundry! My first laundry at Channing House. The 6th floor washer and dryer are heavy-duty Speed Queen models that worked fine. There’s an iron and ironing board and I ironed my Docent shirt and pants.

Exciting times in Palo Alto, huh?

Day 120, day of doing stuff

Monday, 4/1/2019

Monday tends to be a “day of doin’ stuff” because I think of things I need or want to do over the weekend, and write them down on a list on the kitchen windowsill to tackle on Monday. I think I will just describe all those things.

First up, a run. That went and felt well, which was good news. The slight arrhythmias that I’d noticed, and were the reason for wearing a Zio-patch last week, were more noticeable over the weekend. As usual, I don’t feel them at all when exercising, and in fact didn’t notice them anytime today. But it is a relief that a heart symptom is not exercise-related.

Next, started


the towel and bed linen. It’s been two weeks (which I know because tomorrow is the day for the cleaning lady) so it’s time for that. With the bed stripped, decided to rotate the mattress. Funny story here. When Sheri the estate sale lady was here, she and I and Chuck were talking about estate sales, and she mentioned that you could sell a bed, but by law you can’t sell a used mattress. “So you strip the bed and leave your McCroskey mattress on it and say, well, you can have that with the bed if you want it.”

I goggled at her and said, “How did you know?” Chuck was puzzled; he’d never heard of McCroskey mattresses. Sheri laughed and said she hadn’t known, it was just the kind of expensive mattress people in Palo Alto often had. Guilty as charged, I guess.

Anyway, that conversation reminded me that you are supposed to turn your McCroskey every three months, which Marian had marked on the calendar and insisted on. I’d skipped the last turn, which came up in December, on the general principal of ISMISEP. But if it was a sales asset, I might as well take care of it, so I heaved the heavy thing around 180 degrees. This might have been the turn interval at which you are supposed to flip it over, but that’s way too much work.

With the laundry in process I watered the plants. That takes only a few minutes; so I turned to the first real task, working out the IBM

SHAP issue.

One problem is the number of agencies involved. My pension is paid out of Via Benefits, who administer the IBM benefits program. But the SHAP is administered and paid out of Acclaris, who apparently manage that particular piece of IBM’s benefits. But I needed first to know if I was in fact eligible. I called Via customer support; the very pleasant rep put me on hold for several minutes while she consulted, and finally said I had to call IBM directly, and gave me that number.

So I called IBM and that customer service rep looked up my and Marian’s accounts and said yes, as a survivor I was eligible for SHAP. But she couldn’t advise on how to fill out the SHAP form, which I some questions about. So now I called the Acclaris help line and that person (again, very sympathetic and helpful) talked me through it. I must say that the phone reps for all three agencies came across very well.

Now I filled out the SHAP form, and made a copy of the completed form to use for reference next year, assuming this one is accepted (we’ve had them bounced before for some minor omission), and put it in an envelope with stamp and address. Phew.

By now the bed linen was dry so I made the bed, then turned to two more items,

two “nudges”.

I sent a short, polite email to Kim at C.H. asking how the process was going. She replied a couple of hours later that she should have an update “in a couple of days”. I sent a ditto to Howard at the financial advisors. They had advised a meeting with the attorney who prepared our Trust documents, and had sent an email to said attorney on March 20th, and I’d heard nothing since. Howard replied later suggesting that I contact her directly, so I sent an email to the attorney.

Now it was early afternoon and everything on the to-do list had a line through it, so I drove down to FOPAL and spent an hour culling and pricing books for the Computer section. Came home and made some supper and sat down to watch

Stanford playing Notre Dame

in the Elite Eight game.

Very much against my expectations, Stanford started well, stifling the Irish offense and holding a small lead in the first half. Alas, Notre Dame found how to break through the Stanford defense in the third quarter and went on a run to take a ten-point lead that Stanford couldn’t close. So Alanna Smith’s college career ends (as does Shannon Coffee’s). Next year’s SWBB team will be quite different but likely even more exciting with a great recruiting class.

It pleases me that I remain interested in the team. Following SWBB turns out not to be one of the things, like TV cooking shows, that I enjoyed primarily because Marian liked them and I enjoyed sharing her enjoyment. My emotional involvement in the Cardinal is not as deep as hers, but I do still like watching them.


Day 118, museum, basketball

Saturday, 3/30/2019

Started an easy Saturday morning by writing the blog post for yesterday, during which I worked out the long (long) list of things that are pending some action by C.H. and the unknowns around them. Helps to have the known unknowns, spelled out.

Then after a shower and shave, did some desk work, paying a couple of bills. I do love the bill pay system that Marian built on the Credit Union’s bill-pay site. All the usual recipients are in there. All I have to do is click on one, enter the amount to be paid, click on a calendar to say when the money should be delivered, click OK a couple more times, done.

Then I spent a fraught half hour trying to work out this annoying bit of IBM retirement red tape called a SHAP (Special Health Assistance Provision). Once a year Marian would submit a form and get back up to $900 reimbursement for Medicare Part B payments that were not otherwise covered in her IBM pension. Am I eligible for SHAP? How much am I paying for Medicare Part B? To the second question I got an answer at; indeed I am, and over $200/month. As to the first, I’m not at all sure; and if I am, there are several ambiguous fields on the form that might want Marian’s info as the eligible retiree, or mine as the survivor. It’s tempting to say “fuck this” and forget the $900, but, well. On Monday I will call the IBM benefits line and try to clarify.

At 1pm I drove to the museum and led a tour, about 15 people, went OK. Back home just in time for the start of Stanford Women’s sweet-sixteen game. They won but it was agony watching. The same shooting slump that affected the game against BYU last Monday continued. They hit one of twenty three-point shots. They stayed slightly ahead thanks to superior defense and rebounding, but allowed Mississippi State to hang around, even get to within five points in the last two minutes, before closing the game. On Monday they play Notre Dame who just had a very high-scoring game against a good opponent. If they play as in the last two games they will get slaughtered.

Feeling unexercised I walked the mile to California Avenue and fed myself a small pizza and a beer for supper; and back to burn off some of the accumulated TV.

Day 114, mental exam, slides, art

Stanford gave its fans two agonizing quarters, seeming to be unable to penetrate the BYU zone defense while hitting exactly one of their first 12 three-point shots. Then in the third quarter they found their defense and offense at once, and put on a 17-2 run to take over the game. On to Chicago to play Missouri State and then, hopefully, Notre Dame.

Tuesday, 3/26/2019

First up today was an appointment with Dr. Melissa Frederick, the C.H. medical director. She’s a cheerful, young (by my standards) woman, very pleasant to talk to. This turned out to be mostly a brief test of my mental acuity. For example, in the next one minute, name as many words as you can think of, that start with the letter ‘F’. I thought that was quite a challenge; I could only think of 15. Turns out, eleven was enough. Phew.

Later I got an email saying I had passed. So, ok. Now only waiting for approval of my financial documents.

Back home I waited to see if Tyra, Chris’s designer niece, would call as I’d scheduled at 12. Meanwhile I finished inspecting the Japan slide group, and started scanning them. One more session will finish that job. When Tyra hadn’t called at 2, I figured, ok, so much for that. Then it occurred to me to wonder if I really sent that email. Um… no. Still in “drafts” 😳. So I changed it to say, call me Wednesday between 11-12 and actually clicked Send. Tyra responded shortly after.

Bored, I started walking around the house collecting all the art works I want to take along, and identifying those I could. One is a print we bought in San Juan Island around 2000. We liked it as an excellent rendering of the look of the Puget Sound as we often saw it from the Washington State Ferry boats.IMG_3651The name “Spaulding” is on the bottom margin. A little googling found a married couple of printmakers of that name, on San Juan. I emailed them enclosing a snap like the above, asking to verify it was theirs. (Note from November: they never replied.)

I also cleared out another couple of shelves of storage from the shop.

Day 111, basketball

Saturday, 3/23/2019

In the morning I started reviewing

one more group of slides.

Two days ago I scanned the last ones that I had set aside in the review of all un-scanned groups. Finishing that, and feeling quite emotional about the looming prospect of carrying out the dumping of all slides, I took a last look through the existing folders of scans. There I discovered that one group, group “501 Japan 2002”, 250-odd slides from a memorable ElderHostel tour of Osaka and Tokyo, had only a few scanned images, and they weren’t properly named with the group and picture numbers. Clearly that group had not been as carefully reviewed and scanned as other major trips. I speculate the few images in it were perhaps selected quickly to illustrate a blog post or something. I don’t remember the thought process applied back in 2003 or 4, but the existence of a folder named “gp501 Japan” suggested that the group had been done, and clearly it had not.

So I started to inspect the group 501 slides and got through 30 or so, selecting a few to be scanned. I’ll finish that tomorrow and probably have all the actual scanning done next week.

I took one more whack at trying to get

the sound bar

to accept input from the HDMI and the optical ports on the TV, but nope. The optical just doesn’t work, and I’ve tried two different optical cables. The HDMI works, but only if I feed the DVR cable into the sound bar and thence on to the TV, so the sound bar sits in the middle. That would be fine if the DVR was the only program source, but there is also a DVD/Blu-ray Player; and I anticipate adding a Roku box. So all sources have to feed into the TV so I can select among them with a remote; and TV audio out to the sound bar. What works is to feed the sound bar with the TV’s analog output. Stereo audio on a mini-jack, so primitive. Actually it sounds fine.

Meanwhile I pulled out all five speakers and the heavy receiver, and made a pile of them with the receiver’s remote and manual, in the spare room. Probably will end up in a landfill. Well, no; it’s too bulky; I’ll have to take it to Green Citizen or such for recycling. Which brought me to noon and time for


the NCAA first round games at Maples Pavilion. I bought my tickets the only way I could, from Stanford’s website as soon as they were available, and the best I could get was front row of the upper level. At the game I found several friends and fellow season-ticket holders sitting in much better seats in lower levels. I think probably that when I was cleaning up all Marian’s email subscriptions, I un-subscribed to the season ticket holder list, with the result that I didn’t get notified of a better way to buy.

Then Dennis, who was on campus to see a water polo game earlier, texted that he was in the building, and I found him in a very nice seat in the middle where the chairs have padding and back support. How did he get that nice seat? He just walked up to the ticket window before game time and said, gimme what you got. Umph.

BYU beat Auburn fairly easily. Stanford romped over UC Davis, opening the game with a 17-2 run and ending 30 points up. The next game will be Monday evening. I expect Stanford will beat the BYU team I saw today, although not as easily as UC Davis.

Home again, I opened the windows to spring-like air. Now at 7:30 it is beginning to feel chilly.

Day 98, yet more Vegas

Met Harriet and Linda for tacos, and went into the arena. Oregon, a very powerful team this year (undefeated season, I think) had a lot of trouble with UCLA, and the game went to overtime. UCLA could have won it, almost did, but their coach Cory Close incurred a technical foul in the last minute, giving Oregon two free throws that turned the course of the game. At any rate, the Oregon players had a long and difficult game, which will hopefully slow them down for the championship game. Stanford had a somewhat easier time with UW, and Tara did a lot more substitutions than normal, presumably to keep her team fresh.

Sunday, 3/10/2019

Daylight savings started today. As a result I got to the terminal to print my Southwest boarding pass about 40 minutes after the 24-hour window opened. But still, boarding number A44, two positions better than the outbound trip, so other people must have slept in also.

I went to to set up a recording of tonight’s game, which I had neglected to do before leaving home. This used to be a snap, log in to directv, go to “Guide”, scroll the listing to the right channel, click record. Well, it still kind of works that way but since AT&T took over DirecTV, they have insisted on integrating the two websites, so now I have to navigate through layers of AT&T website to get to the same place. Despite being signed in with my AT&T login, it still cannot comprehend anything other than that I would want to buy a DirecTV subscription. Actually controlling or using my account… well, never mind. I got it done.

One benefit of the move to an ILF is that I will almost certainly not have AT&T as my internet provider, and not have DirecTV as my TV provider. Probably ComCast excuse me XFinity for both, I think that’s what C.H. has as the in-house system. I’ve been a DirecTV subscriber for … twenty years? Must be. Certainly since the 1990s sometime. XFinity will not be an improvement customer-service-wise, by all accounts, but I won’t have to deal with it directly.

I recall that while showing me around C.H. Craig mentioned that he was part of a resident committee that did tech support for other residents, and pretty clearly suggested I could be, too. Well, maybe so. Could be an aid in integrating to that community. I can start with figuring out the TV and internet for my own unit and go from there.

Harriet texts that she and Linda can meet me at noon. I’d suggested a visit to the Springs Reserve, so we’ll probably do that.

OK we spent a couple hours walking through this pleasant municipal thing, with its Butterfly experience, botanical garden with lots of cacti, etc. Then back to the hotel where I had a short nap and then it was game time.

Stanford started out well, taking a quick 6-point lead, and maintaining a lead of 6-10 points into the fourth quarter. Then Oregon caught up and the game was tied with 3 minutes to play, when Stanford got a couple of crucial baskets. In the final minute, Oregon had to start fouling; Stanford hit all their free throws, and the game ended with a Stanford win: champions of the PAC-12.

Had a late supper with Harriet and Linda then back to the room to get a good night’s sleep before an early departure tomorrow.

Day 97 more Vegas

Well that evening had some surprising turns. I met with fans Harriet and Linda for supper at Puck’s, then into the arena for the Stanford-Cal game. This was a close affair for 35 minutes, Stanford starting cold, catching up to have a narrow lead. With 5:00 to play, defensive sub Shannon, whose role had been to help contain Cal’s all-star center Christine Anigwe, stepped back and splashed a three. On the next three possessions point  guard Keana hit a three, a three, and a layup, an 11-0 run to blow the game open.

I expected the second game, Oregon State vs UW, to be an easy win for the Beavers. And my streak of absolutely wrong predictions continued. OSU did have a ten point lead at the half, so I left, and followed the game back in my room, on the play-by-play scroll on the ESPN score page (Excalibur not offering the PAC-12 network on their TV system). UW caught up, then took a small lead. The game was tied with 0:05 left to play. A UW player snapped off a three from NBA distance, and it went down. Some UW players thought the game was over and rushed the court, resulting in a technical foul with the clock at 0:01. That gave OSU two free throws and possession of the ball. They made the free throws; then inbounded the ball with 0:01 seconds to play and did get a shot off, but it fell short, so UW won by 1 point.

So on Saturday it will be Stanford-UW at 8:30, preceded by Oregon-UCLA at 6pm. Everyone expected an Oregon-Stanford final, and that is how it is shaping up — but I am done making predictions during the tournament.

14,343 steps. Can’t say Vegas doesn’t give you exercise.

Saturday, 3/9/2019

Started the day with coffee and scone at the in-house Starbuck’s. Then I went out to try riding the Deuce, the shuttle bus that runs up and down The Strip. Went south first, to the famous Welcome sign where tourists were queuing up with the aid of an Elvis impersonator to take selfies.


Of course there is an Elvis impersonator. Then I rode back up to the north and got off to walk through Bellagio. This is the approach to Bellagio.Italian Lakes: Days 10-12 Como on Lake Como

OK, not really, that was the approach the the actual Bellagio on Lake Como, two years ago. The Vegas Bellagio is a huge casino/hotel whose decor is themed around polished marble and terrazzo floors and semi-classical decor. It’s actually nicer to walk through than either Excalibur or the MGM Grand, mostly owing to higher ceilings and wider aisles. But it’s still a casino.

Rode a bit further then the bus hung a right and left the Strip. Not sure why, but I got off. Then I couldn’t see an obvious bus stop for the return direction (I suspect the route does some kind of loop at this point so the return route was a different street?) so I just called a Lyft. I opted for a shared Lyft, with the result that there was another couple to drop off at a completely different resort off the Strip, so I got a bit more of a tour.

Now it is barely noon with hours to kill. I decided to just laze the rest of the day in the room, catching up on podcasts and youtube subscriptions that I’ve fallen behind on. That’s fine for today, but Lordy what will I do with myself tomorrow?

Game results in next post.


Day 96, second day in Vegas

Friday, 3/8/2019

Goodness but I do not like Vegas. Being in casinos is simply unpleasant owing to the visual overload, the constant noise, and the pervasive smell of tobacco. Outside is a bit better. I went for a walk this morning, to find The Park. It’s an outdoor plaza with plants behind New York New York. And it has music playing. Not as loud as inside a casino, but inescapable.

I rode the tram, surely the most useless mass-transit system ever. One way, it runs from Excalibur to Mandalay Bay. The return goes from Mandalay Bay to Luxor, to Excalibur. In other words, to get from Excalibur to Luxor, you ride to Mandalay Bay, get off, wait for the next train, get on, ride back to Luxor. Which I did, and walked around inside Luxor for a few minutes, then walked on sidewalks back to Excalibur.

Finally it came time for the first session. UCLA quickly took a 15-point lead over ASU so I left at half-time and came back to the room (9,457 steps so far) which had been made up. Following the notice about saving water, I had hung my used towels neatly on the rods. And of course they had been replaced with new ones anyway.

Now to plan the rest of the day. I expect the next game, Arizona-Oregon, to quickly turn into a rout because Oregon is just that good (but I’ve been wrong a lot so far). The game I really want to see, Stanford-Cal, doesn’t start until 6pm. I think I will hang here in the room, following the UA-UO game on the internet, until 4pm. Then go and have an early supper at (probably) Wolfgang Puck’s where I had supper last night, before the 6pm session. I will publish this now and finish the thrilling chronicle of events in tomorrow’s post.