1.057 papers, jacket, writing, meetings

Tuesday, 1/28/2020

First thing today was to clean up my desk. The form for my “annual review” at my financial advisors’ has been leering at me for a week. This is the four-page form they send out with dozens of questions about one’s financial doings this year. Most of which are not applicable to me (“Have you acted as director of any corporation this year?” etc.) but others have the bracing effect of reminding you of things you normally don’t think about (“Current umbrella liability coverage: $______” and “Auto maintenance expense: $_______” and so on).

So an hour on that and a couple of other items. Then out for a bracing walk, stopping first at

the Apple store

on University. I am thinking about upgrading from my faithful iPhone 7 to the new model, but had some questions. Like, for years now I’ve been used to using the Home button for multiple purposes. The new phones don’t have a Home button! Agh! How do I do all the things I use the Home button for? So a cheerful 20-sumpin sales guy showed me all that. (The button is replaced in the UI by various swipes from one edge or another. Not an improvement in my mind, but whatever…).

Also I wouldn’t have to buy it at the T-Mobile store, they could do T-Mobile activation there. That’s important because I’ve been sitting on a few hundred dollars in Apple store credit from returning old macs last spring, and I couldn’t use them through T-Mobile.

The remaining question is, do I upgrade before the London trip, or after? Losing or having an old iPhone stolen on the trip would be a little less annoying than with a new one. Which reminds me: another reason to talk to T-Mobile is, to refresh my memory on their theft-replacement policy, which I sort of remember they have but not in detail.

Next stop on my walk was at

the seamstress shop

to pick up my black jacket with its new zipper. The zipper that failed on my trip to SF a few days ago (Day 1.043). Jacquie’s Sew and Sew had done their usual nice work.

Home then for lunch, a nap, and a quick spell of


I didn’t mention it but I had added a whole scene to the novel on Monday. Since then I’d realized that I would have to have some characters, who were now separated from the main group, rejoin them, and had to change things around to make that happen. Did that and then had to stop again. I’m heading for a point where the miscreants are going to be caught and exposed for, um, miscreating? At which point their needs to be some kind of Authority to step in and impose penalties. But thus far in building this world, I haven’t even considered what kind of governance and police it might have. It just hasn’t come up. But I need to know for the upcoming climax.

Which means I have to invent a governance a/o authority structure that fits consistently with what I’ve got so far, and probably go back and insert at least one passing reference to it earlier. Who runs this place? It’s not a simple question! Right down to what uniforms they wear, how do they talk, what measures can they take. And again, consistent with the facts as I’ve invented them so far, and with the tone and style of this invented culture.

This is one reason that SF is harder than regular fiction. Regular fiction you can just grab standard police and government tropes off the rack, as it were. I’m still thinking about this. Meanwhile, it was 3pm and time for


First was the Tech Squad. Rhonda, the CEO of Channing House, was invited to describe the IT budget for the next year. It’s roughly $300K, of which $100K is just for upgrading the wireless service in the 5th and 4th floors as they are upgraded. Apparently they’ve been doing this upgrade two floors at a time. When I move back to 6 (two days now!) I will be using the new ClearPass system where all my devices can talk to each other and the internet via one system.

There was discussion of when CH would be replacing its IT director who left a few weeks ago. “We’re interviewing” was the answer, and got into some details on how the interviews were done, by whom, do they ask technical questions, etc. Rhonda was very patient with a roomful of geeks who all think they know how this stuff should be done.

After Rhonda was excused we moved on to other topics, such as the frequent complaints from residents that their email from Channing House was going into their spam folders. Conclusion: everybody uses different kinds of mail (Outlook, Thunderbird, Gmail, Apple Mail…) with different rules, and few are technical enough to understand mitigations, so the tech squad won’t help. Other than to advise them to add senders to their contacts list.

That meeting wound up at 4:10, just time to go up a floor for the A/V committee meeting. The upgraded A/V equipment in the auditorium should be ready for the next Resident’s meeting but there won’t be time to train us in its use, so the vendors will be running it for that meeting. Assignments were given out for February’s events, and I begged off doing any as I’ll be gone for the middle of the month.

That was about it for the day.


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.

1.014 FOPAL, tech call

It turned out in hindsight that the Cardinal did something special beating Ohio State last night. A week earlier, Ohio State had won over the #2 ranked team, Louisville, behind a breakout performance by a highly touted freshman player. In last night’s game, said phenom had zero (0) points. So Stanford (i.e. Tara) had prepared a perfect game plan for this threat and the team executed it, and easily won over a team that had beaten #2. So maybe we deserve our current #1 ranking in the polls.

Monday, 12/16/2019

Went for a run in 50º weather and felt good. That was a pleasure because last week I hadn’t felt all that great, just a bit off, but now all was fine.

Drove to FOPAL for the post-sale cleanup. Counted my section, 406 books before, 330 after, so 76 sold. Purged about 4 boxes of books that had been sitting around for 3 sales or more. Only one box of new donations waiting, shelved three books. Did sorting for two hours.

Back at CH I took on a tech squad call. Judy, like a lot of people around here, gets her email “@yahoo.com”, but actually reads the mail in the Mail app on her iMac. For some reason recently, Mail could no longer pull mail from Yahoo, and Judy was cut off. Mail (which I don’t use) apparently calls on the “Internet Accounts” panel of the Settings app. I’d never paid any attention to that panel, either. Anyway, what Judy sees is, the Settings app popped up in front of the Mail app, asking for her Yahoo password, which she had, it seems, forgotten. Peter worked on this the day before and got nowhere. Craig asked me to look at it, suggesting that I try to work through Yahoo instead of Mail.

That was a good suggestion. As soon as I went to yahoo.com in her Safari browser and clicked Log In, Safari happily offered to fill in her user id, and then offered to fill in the password for that user. Perfect. So we still didn’t know the password, but we were logged in. Go to “account management” and change the password to a new one. Fortunately Yahoo, unlike some sites, did not ask for the old password when taking a new one! With a new password set and tested, I could go back to Settings and put it into Internet Accounts. When I restarted Mail it immediately pulled in several days of mail. Yay!

Ate dinner at a table with one of the several other Davids in this place, and Colin and two guys whose names I should know but don’t.



1.008 mostly writing

Had breakfast in the dining hall and then spent several hours finishing up the year-end essay. I want to go over it one more time, then will post it as a “page” of the site.

Later in the day I worked with ACDSee Photo Manager for Mac, and satisfied myself it would do everything that I have used Adobe Bridge for. It lets me organize image files in folders, retaining the Mac OS file structure; and I can edit image metadata with it. That was important for organizing our many scanned slides. They don’t automatically have a GPS location like iPhone pictures. Just the same, because they’ve all been keyworded by me, I could search for, e.g., “Toronto” and find all images taken there. Or all images created in 1993, or that are pictures of a bridge, etc.

I did all that keywording and searching with Adobe Bridge, but I can’t get an updated version since I dropped my Adobe subscription; and the old (pre-subscription era) version I’ve been using is a 32-bit app which won’t run in the next Mac OS. Hence the search for a replacement, and ACDSee’s product worked, had a usable interface, and could do the metadata management and searching. It has some added functions Bridge didn’t have as well. So I paid $80 to have a legit copy that I can use forever, and suck it, Adobe. With that and Affinity Photo I have good replacements for all Adobe stuff.

On the way to supper I was invited by Carolyn to sit with her, shortly joined by John and then by Lennie. We all had some degree of computer backgrounds (John especially from many years at DEC and then Google). Carolyn wrote a book about Silicon Valley and during the writing of it, interviewed Steve Jobs.



1.006 blog tidy, year summary

Sunday, 12/8/2019

An uncommitted Sunday, per my Google Calendar. What shall I do? I think that I will use this day to get caught up on computer-based things. One, finish reviewing the first year of this blog, and tidy up the use of tags. Two, use the tag system to get a numerical summary of my activities. Three, start drafting an essay on my experience of this transitional year. Four, research a replacement for the Adobe Bridge app (since I’ve found an adequate replacement for Photoshop in Affinity). Five, explore the use of a different browser, the Brave browser, to possibly replace Chrome. Eventually I’ll report on the last two items to the tech squad.

By lunch I have finished the review and tagging. By 2pm I have cleaned up the tag usage and can offer the following

authoritative summary of activities

for this first year of Codger-dom. First, regarding difficult emotions,

  • Days on which I reported feelings of Grief: 46 (most, but not all, in the first half).
  • Days on which I reported feelings of Anxiety: 13 (all in the first half).

More detail on those emotions in the essay, later.

One goal I set for myself was to get the F out of the house and attend performances of various kinds, and visit museums and galleries. At this I succeeded, reporting

  • Days I attended a musical concert: 14.
  • Days I attended another kind of performance: 33. This includes theatrical performances, lectures, baseball games, and a day at the Scottish Games.
  • Days I visited some type of art museum or gallery: 14. Includes two visits to SFMOMA, and a morning wandering around Carmel looking at galleries.
  • Days I viewed a movie: 12. Four were at home on TV, the others in theaters.

I used volunteer work as a way to structure the week and see other people. In the year I counted

  • Days of artifact conservation at the Computer History Museum: 43.
  • Days when I led tours at the CHM: 58. Wow, more than one a week.
  • Days that I put in hours at Friends of the PA Library: 84. Once a week in the first few months, but after I was asked to manage the Computer section, twice a week.

I gratefully noted meeting with a friend or friends on 36 days (thanks, Scott!) and with family members on 35 days (thanks, Dennis, Jean, and Darlene!).

Meanwhile I did amuse myself with some hobbies, reporting

  • 23 days when I did some creative writing, mostly on my novel in progress.
  • 36 days when I did some kind of handicraft work, restoring tables or a plant-stand or repairing something.

I was away from home traveling for 21 days, in two trips, one to Las Vegas, one to Greece.

On 18 days I reported some kind of medical/dental item, an appointment or procedure, mostly routine.

On 65 days I reported something to do with selling my house: meeting with agents or contractors or paying bills or signing papers or making phone calls. Thankfully that is all over and done!

And I went for a morning run on 104 days. That’s twice a week, less than my goal; but I also reported “Exercise” on 58 other days. (A regular exercise routine is an ongoing issue.)

As planned, I got 500 words or so into my wrap-up essay, then spent an hour looking at alternatives to Adobe Bridge. And now at 5pm I am settling down for a quiet watch of some youtube videos. A new episode of Project Binkie is in!







Day 358, laundry, plant stand, meeting

Tuesday, 11/26/2019

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

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

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

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

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

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


Day 355, plant stand, rugs, walk

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

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

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

Saturday, 11/23/2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Day 344, residents meeting, tech, FOPAL

Monday, 11/11/2019

I wanted to attend the monthly residents’ association meeting at 9am, so ate a regular breakfast. These meetings are a reminder that CH is a functioning community with a degree of self-governance. The long-range financial and other decisions are made by a Board, and day to day administration is by a CEO and paid staff; however the residents association has some discretion and input, and the meeting is run formally with a (fairly lengthy) agenda, committee reports, etc. As I’ve frequently noted before, the residents here ain’t no dummies, but retired professionals, most with all of their wits about them.

Following the meeting I met up with Susan who wanted help with her Mac. She has a wee little Macbook 13in, connected to a bit (23in?) monitor. She wanted to not be prompted to log in every time it came out of sleep, and a couple of other tweaks.

Next I went to FOPAL to do the post-sale triage of my Computer section. Before the sale it had 409 books, after it had 299, net 110 books sold. I looked through all the remaining and sent another 70 or so off to the bargain room because they’d sat too long without selling. Reduced the prices on some others. Priced and shelved two boxes of new. Did a little sorting.

In the late afternoon and evening I did more research for a possible London outing. The dates will be Feb 14-23. I made a list of 20 or so museums and galleries I might visit. Since several of them justify a full day of exploration,  obviously I won’t get to all of them. At least the biggest are open every day; the days of museums being closed on Mondays are gone.


Day 337, A/V, welding, novel, photos

Monday, 11/4/2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Day 336, coffee, FOPAL, tickets, dinner, plan

Sunday, 11/3/2019

“Fall back” day. Did my usual Sunday morning thing, doing the NYT crossword at home, then going out for coffee. Today I took the car and went to good old Palo Alto Cafe in Midtown. Then, because I have something else to do tomorrow that will interfere with my usual Monday FOPAL stint, I drove on down Middlefield to FOPAL and did the Computer section pricing and shelving. The shelves are pretty full, although I think I will add more on Wednesday. Then we shut down shelving for the upcoming Sale Weekend.

Interesting internet curiosity going on. My favorite tool for book pricing (and others’) is, or was, BookscoutPro.com. This odd little site does (or did) only one thing: given a list of ISBNs, it would present the range of prices for those books, gathered from Amazon and Ebay. It had a brutally simple UI, was blazing fast, and told us just what we needed to know to price used books. And last week it stopped responding. Its server still answers to pings, but it doesn’t respond to HTTP requests any more. Frank, our internet (among other things) expert thinks it was a one-man operation and the one man has either died or lost interest. He and I discussed how we might go about getting the source code of the site and running it ourselves, or recreating its function.

I spent 90 minutes culling, pricing, and shelving, including taking a pre-sale count. Then I spent another 90 minutes sorting. Sorting, by myself, is a highly satisfying occupation. I just blitzed through about 8 boxes of books, creating a nice clear space in the sorting room. Then I bought a few groceries and headed home.

About 2pm I got a call from George, who is giving a talk on Monday. The A/V committee assigned me to run this show and I had emailed him about the details of his laptop earlier. Now he very sensibly wanted to do a trial now, since he  had another commitment that ran right up to his scheduled start time. Excellent idea. We met in the auditorium where I turned on the projector and we connected his laptop. All fine.

And only as I wrote this, I remembered: did I turn off the projector? I zipped down to the auditorium and no, I hadn’t. It’s an expensive projector but it wasn’t shining its light. Hopefully with no input it wasn’t burning itself out over the last 8 hours or so.

Then there was an email from Patty, to a list of several SWBB fans, wondering about the coming game with USF next Saturday. It is to be played at the Chase Center in SF, and we started an email discussion on logistics, is it practical to take Caltrain, etc. (Answer: no.) In the midst of this, it occurred to me, I need a ticket for this. It’s not part of the home season pass of course. Tickets via Ticketmaster, $50. Turns out the event is a double header, women at 3pm, USF men vs. Princeton at 6, one ticket for both events. With the result that many of the good seats have already been bought by (presumably) men’s fans. And parking is $30. Well, got that all bought.

Went down to supper by the stairs, meeting David and Helen on the way. Then Patty said we should sit together. So nice supper with four other people. David worked at SRI and knew Doug Englebart.

After supper I thought about my oft-stated idea of spending a week in London, visiting museums and seeing shows. Quick check of Road Scholar, they have nothing like that. Given I know London fairly well, I don’t need excursions to the well-known places. So, plan it myself? How hard can it be?

First thing is, when? I look at the Google Calendar. Lots of conflicts with SWBB and other pre-purchased tickets. Also, January is when the move back to the 6th floor should happen. However, there’s a nice gap in mid-February, the 9th to the 20th, with no serious conflicts. So I open booking.com and look for hotels. There are several attractive places in Chiswick and around Hyde Park where I can stay for 10 nights for less than £1000. I find officiallondontheater.com, ticket brokerage. Lots of shows one could see with prices around £30-£50. And of course there are the museums, I would use TripAdvisor to refresh my memory of those. But it should not be difficult, the work of a couple afternoons, to plan a 9- or 10-day stay with one museum and one performance a day. So we will see.