Day 312, and reviewing the trip

So, how was your trip, Dave? Well, not too bad all told. Betty and Jerry, neighbors at Channing House who took either the same or a similar tour last year, raved about it. Me? Well… I’m glad I went, especially glad to have seen Santorini and Crete. Santorini is spectacular to look at, although I would certainly not want to live there, or spend another day there for that matter. Crete was a surprise, a really attractive and scenic countryside, pleasant towns, and a functioning economy–as opposed to an economy based 90% on hotels and tourist shops, as at Santorini or the other islands. The other islands, Mykonos, Paros, Delos, are, frankly, bleak, windy deserts. Their villages are photogenic for sure, but only a hopeless romantic would dream of living in one.

Just for the record, according to the Health app in the phone, I walked an average of 4.3 miles per day, 51.4 miles total in 12 days. All the Road Scholar systems worked well; I can’t imagine a more competent, patient, charming group leader than Anastasia; and the other members were compatible and friendly.

I didn’t enjoy seeing the ancient ruins as much as I had anticipated. It’s interesting to think about people 3500 years ago (1500BCE, at Knossos and Phaistos, even earlier on Delos) building elaborate homes and having elaborate trading systems and rich religious beliefs. But on the spot, there’s just waist-high stone walls and a few fallen columns, and it’s hard to feel the history.

So how did it feel, traveling alone?

This was my first voyage as a lone bachelor. I can only think of three times I traveled alone, after I was married. In 1991 I attended Clarion West, an intensive residential writers workshop, hoping to find that I could write science fiction. I drove alone in our camper van to Seattle and lived in a dorm at Seattle University for—was it really six weeks? At the end Marian flew up to join me, and from there we went on a couple of weeks tour into Wyoming and the Tetons.

The other times were bike tours. I signed up for a ten-day, supported bike tour of Oregon. We drove the van to Corvallis for the start, then Marian went to a motel on the coast while I rode with the group, camping each night. A few years later I tried to do an unsupported solo bike tour around the wine country. Four days in I strained my knee and had to call Marian to come fetch me.

Those are the only times I remember being separated from her, phoning in every other night or so. All my other travels have been as half of a couple. The common theme is that these three were challenges I set for myself, really to test myself: could I become a fiction writer? could I handle an extended bike ride, with or without support? Marian supported me in these, but wasn’t interested in taking part herself.

Anyway, here I was this month, alone on another tour. I suppose it was again a challenge, to see if it would be enjoyable, or even tolerable, to travel alone.

Did I miss Marian, or miss having a travel companion in general? An emphatic yes to both. Several times I caught myself imagining sharing the experience with her, and getting emotional.

Also (and this was the big lesson I took away from that solo bike tour as well) having new experiences (good or bad) is richer, more real, more significant and memorable, when you share the experience with someone else. Being part of a tour group is a help. At meals we could talk about the wacky traffic in the narrow village streets, or the fact that Greek hotels, even the upscale ones, don’t supply washcloths. Sharing such observations validates them and resolves one’s feelings about them. This was an emotional support that Marian and I gave each other, minute by minute, through hundreds of travel days. Being in a group of friendly strangers was not the same as that, but better than being alone. A journal (i.e. this blog) is another partial substitute for a companion.

But also, as I realized a few days in, Marian’n’Dave was a bolder, more adventurous traveler than Dave is alone. Partly that was because Marian was more disciplined than I about traveling. She was on a trip, and she would by god make the most of it; where I am shamefully willing to back away from the effort to go out and explore this town, or attend that concert, or go find a meal in a strange restaurant. I have to fight the tendency to just wimp out and go sit in the hotel room.

Partly, it was that a couple can encourage each other, spot possibilities and explore trade-offs of different plans, more efficiently than a single person can do. Dave’n’Marian were quite a bit smarter, more flexible, and more observant traveler than Dave alone is.

Thursday, 10/10/2019

I slept for 10 hours, from 6:30pm to 4:30am. Then I got up, made coffee, and spent two hours cleaning up the accumulation of papers on my desk, and another hour reading the paper, before time for breakfast downstairs.

I had debated whether to go and work at Yosemite today as scheduled, but I felt dandy at 9am so I headed down to the garage… and found that I had left the front door of the car ajar, and the battery was dead. Now what? I checked with the front desk and no, Facilities doesn’t have any way to boost your car; call triple-A. Which I did. The truck arrived around 10. It was too big to fit down the ramp to the garage, but no problem, they had a portable booster pack. I escorted them through the front door and down the many basement hallways to the garage. In five minutes the car was running.

So off to Yosemite for a day’s work. The 1401 restoration crew were all there, scanning old ALDs (logic diagrams) for use in maintenance.

On return I wrote up this blog. After supper I shall for the first time in two-plus weeks, turn on the TV and see what has been recorded in my absence.


Day 297, en route to Athens

Wednesday, 9/25/2019

Of course I couldn’t manage to stay asleep until the alarm went off. I got up at 2:40. At 2:55 I got a text saying the Uber I’d scheduled for 3:15 was five minutes away. So I headed out — and then immediately headed back, because I was briskly walking to the elevator without my bag. Sheesh.


driver was clearly a refugee from the 1960s, long hair and mumbled to himself all the way to the airport. Well, not mumbled, but talked a monologue about politics most of which I couldn’t get over the road noise. At SFO, surprise, the

doors to the security line

and gates don’t even open until 4am! So much for being two hours early for  flights. Mine nominally boards at 5:40. And nobody manning any of the Delta, or other, desks.

A few dozen people around the security entrance were occupying every available seating space. I found part of a bench down a hall, and had time to pull out the Chromebook and try it using, for the first time, a different wifi. Seems fine if a little slower than normal. (Chromebooks seriously need an internet link to be fully usable.)

I’m not TSA precheck for this trip. Although both Road Scholar and KLM know my number, that somehow didn’t get passed to Delta for my online check-in. So I had to do the full thing, take off shoes and belt and put laptop in a tray. I didn’t care on this trip, since it would only have saved me time on this one boarding. For the return flight, I would need Global Whatsis, the international version, which I only just learned about this month.

departing SFO at dawn

The first leg,

SFO-JFK, was as nominal and routine as a flight can be. Boarded on time. I’d deliberately selected a seat at the way-way-back, row 42, because I didn’t care how long it took to get off the plane and two, I thought they would board the back rows earlier than the front ones. Nope. I can’t figure out what Delta’s algorithm was, but the biggest group (after three different classes of Privileged Folk) was Main 1, and they mostly sat in the middle. I was Main 3, last group. So I was a tiny bit apprehensive that my bag would not actually fit under the seat. But it did, just. We had a tail-wind and the pilot proudly announced we were 25 minutes ahead of schedule on arrival.

I won’t say the five hours flew by but at least they passed quietly. I had a couple of short naps, even. And listened to a lot of podcasts and music. After landing I had to go from C65 to B38, nominally all the international terminal, but in actuality requiring a shuttle bus ride. As I was striding along from the bus into the B-gates terminal it occurred to me that I was striding, carrying my bag, moving right along. Marian and I took several flights in 2016-17 when her mobility was increasingly impaired, and using wheelchair assists to get from gate to gate, and always trying to plot the shortest walking route. Today I consciously savored the feeling of being freely mobile, realizing that it is not a given, wondering how long I’ll have it.

Anyway that got me to B38 with a bottle of OJ and two hours to kill before the

flight to Athens.

Which is a bit delayed. The Aux power unit (APU) on the aircraft needs service, with the result that the plane has no air conditioning and “it’s about 95 degrees on board” according to the flight officer who came up to the desk to explain the delay. 15-30 minute delay in boarding — they say. So not an on time departure. Wonder when it will go?

Answer: it pushed back an hour late.

Depart JFK at sunset

And that was Wednesday.


Day 293, docent, quiet afternoon

Saturday, 9/21/2019

Today I was scheduled to lead a private tour, that is, one requested by some group, not a regularly-scheduled one. The group was from the Buddhist temple of Palo Alto. The leader was disappointed there was only the one docent. I signed up for this some time ago, because I like private tours: I can go slower and run over the 1-hour limit on the scheduled tours. But the leader complained, with justice, that he had phoned Poppy the person who schedules these a week ago, to warn her that he would have a full group of 38 people, and requested two docents. Somehow that message wasn’t effective, or at least, Poppy didn’t do anything to recruit another docent, like sending out an email, that I recall.

Wait, let me check. Yes, in an email on Monday the 16th, she requested a docent for a private tour on Wednesday. In that email, she also listed three other private tours, Thursday, Friday, and then this one on Saturday with the note, “1 more docent needed.” But that didn’t draw any response, not surprisingly since it was the fourth request down in a long email. Pretty clearly the Museum is either short of docents, or long on private tours. And they have recently reduced the paid staff, including the woman who was in charge of recruiting docents.

Anyway, we proceeded, and I held the attention of most of them, there were still at least 30 with me at the end. So it worked out.

Back home I ate lunch in the dining room, and later supper, and this may be the first time ever I ate all three meals there. I’ll note that the chef is really trying. The entrees tonight were 1, Salmon Teriyaki, 2, Duck meat (breasts and thighs, your choice) in gravy, and Pepper Steak. There was a vegetarian dish as well, and green beans and bok choi. The salmon was perfect;  the duck was nice, I passed on the steak. And Saturdays are do-it-yourself Sundae days, two drums of ice cream with scoops and ad-lib toppings on the side.

After lunch I spent an hour working in my Lisp textbook; otherwise I pretty well wasted the afternoon.

Oh. On the “should contact Katie” issue. Actually not just Katie but I’ve not contacted her mother or sister either.  So yesterday I sent a cheerful email giving my updated postal address, to anybody in my contacts list I thought might ever want to send me a card or something. I was careful to include Katie’s mother, sister, and friend/caretaker Michelle. Figuring that, maybe they’d take the excuse to write back. But so far, a couple of other people did, but not any of them.


Day 252, desk work, Lamplighters, Lisp

Sunday, 8/11/2019

Walked up to Verve for coffee. On return, I made a list of things that had been kicking around in the back of my mind as needing-to-do. Note this is something of a change from the first few months. From Day 1 to around Day 200, I was making detailed to-do lists almost compulsively. I knew I was being a little bit compulsive about them; see remarks earlier, on anxiety owing to not having Marian as my co-pilot. On the other hand, there was actually a metric shit-ton of stuff that I needed to do back then. For the last month-plus, I’ve been able to rely on the Google calendar to keep track of where I need to be and when; and I’ve been able to handle the routine busy-work of life pretty much ad-hoc.

But things had stacked up a bit and would come to mind when I awoke at 3am or 4am, and make it hard to go back to sleep. So I made the list and tackled it.

One item, which I should have thought of much, much earlier, was to order new checks. The current checkbooks, one from the credit union and for Schwab, have Marian’s name and the Tasso address. In the “stationery and postage” drawer I found boxes with about ten books of checks for each account. I got online with SFCU; their site makes it easy, even pleasant, to order new checks, customizing the names and addresses simply. Schwab should have been as easy, and may actually be, however it was a “service temporarily unavailable, try again” from them. C.H. very conveniently provides a box for documents to be shredded on each floor, so I put the extra checkbooks in there.

Another was to follow up on the travel insurance for the canceled Road Scholar trip. Remember how I realized too late that I wanted to reschedule that trip, so it had to be treated as a cancellation and a rebooking, and RoadScholar kept half the fee as a penalty. I’d bought travel insurance, and submitted a claim to get that $3500 back, weeks ago. What has happened? I didn’t know, and this would inevitably pop up in my mind at the afore-mentioned 3am awakenings. So. Follow the link from the email, and… my claim is “being processed”. At least it hasn’t been rejected.

I paid a couple of bills. Later, in the afternoon, I made a small spreadsheet listing all the charges shown on the Channing House invoices I’ve received so far, and all the payments I’ve made. I’m scheduled to talk to Terri in accounting about this tomorrow, and now I have my numbers all lined up so I can explain what bothers me. More on that after I see her.

Another item is my drawers. No, not my drawers, my closets’ drawers. They are old, they are of wood which is unlined, unsealed, and unfinished, and they have a persistent musty odor of oldness. I’ve been pondering what to do about this, and I finally figured out that what I might do is to access the C.H. Resident’s workshop, and use a power sander to sand the interiors (hopefully removing the odor) and spray them with either a sealer or a varnish. To get access, one calls Bert, the guy who seems to be in charge of everything technical around here. So I did and we have a date to meet Monday. I guess he’ll evaluate whether I’m safe with power tools?

At 12:30 I headed out. I stopped first at the FOPAL sale for five minutes, just to make sure my section was still in order, and it was. Then I continued down to the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts to see the Lamplighters’ production of

HMS Pinafore.

I had bought two tickets for this a week ago, and invited Dennis to join me, but he wasn’t free. So then I asked sister-in-law Jean to join me and she was happy to.

Must say, HMS Pinafore is a very very silly play. I mean seriously. The resolution at the end, which gets everybody married happily, also implies that all three of the happy couples have an age difference of at least 18 years, more like 20. But the production was smooth and the soprano playing Josephine was especially good. The MVCPA auditorium is a handsome place but I didn’t think the acoustics were good, at least, not at the back of the balcony where we were. The orchestra seemed thin and distant. It was a very good thing that they projected the song lyrics above the stage. When you knew what the singers were saying, it was perfectly clear, but a couple of times I deliberately did not read the lyrics ahead and I could not follow all the words. (Worth noting that the Lamplighters are old-school, they don’t use mics or amplification for voices.)

Jean then was pleased to treat me to pizza at a local restaurant; we exchanged stories of our aches and pains, and that was the afternoon.

Yesterday and today I worked at getting set up to learn me some


It’s a different programming language, second oldest only to Fortran, and a different paradigm from the procedural languages in which I’ve written so many KLoC (thousand lines of code). What started this was linking to a list of influential books for programmers by the great Alan Kay. The first book he praised was the Lisp 1.5 Programmer’s Guide, which was formative in his education. That book, although still in print from MIT Press, is out of date for the current form of the language, but I thought, ok, how about I get into this a little bit, read an online tutorial, do a little fun programming.

Which of course, was the opening of a deep, dark internet rabbit-hole. Over several hours of browsing I’ve located some good resources, skimmed some tutorials, and installed three different Lisp implementations. One thing I can conclude is that, unlike Python, Ruby, C or practically any other modern language, the available Lisp implementations are absolutely shit-awful as learning environments. Gracious, but they are beginner-hostile. I’ve used many interpreters (helped write one), and never saw such an impenetrable thicket for the starting user. I have now found a just-tolerable interactive development environment (the free version of LispWorks), but its Mac OS version is so out of date, it makes Mac OS pop up that dialog about “won’t work with future versions, contact the developer” — which tells you they haven’t built a new version in over five years.

Anyway, after several hours of very testy and frustrating hours of exploring I believe I am set up to start walking through a tutorial (of which I’ve found several decent ones) and executing code.


Day 229, tree guy, shopping, painting, I suck at games

Friday, 7/19/2019

Went for a run. Felt fine. Didn’t have time to end the run with a stop at a coffee shop because I had to be at Tasso street before 10am. Which I was. Looking inside, it seems only the most basic prep work has been done. Plastic drop clothes taped down to the floors and over wood not to be painted. A start made at removing the wallpaper in the kitchen, and kitchen cabinet doors removed.

The tree guy,

Diego, took my notes and wrote up an estimate. To keep the oak branches off the roof, he recommended removing one large branch entirely. This is a branch about 12 inches in diameter at the big end and stretching easily 50 feet out over the house to the garage. However he pointed out there are plenty of big branches above it and the tree would look more balanced with it gone.

Since the tree is shared with next door, I went next door and got Jean, the lady of the house to come out and consult. She agreed to removing the big branch. She also dropped the small bombshell that they may be moving out and selling, too. They have bought a larger house deeper into Old Palo Alto, at Tennyson and Webster. Holy crap that must have cost them a bundle! She’s not sure what they will do with this house, but she was interested in meeting “your realtor”, so an opportunity for Chuck.

There’s a scheduling problem, however: the tree company doesn’t have any open slots for this 2-day job until mid-August, by when I sincerely hope the house will be sold. Possibly they can get me one day sooner, we’ll see.

I spent some time composing two long texts to Chuck detailing these items. Then I drove down to


where I can buy my antacid Ranitidine (generic Zantac) cheaper. Target’s pharmacy is a CVS outlet, but everything there costs half what it does at CVS on University Avenue.

I also bought a bathmat. I’ve been wanting something to step on getting out of the shower; I’d been using a small hand towel which seems tacky as well as not very effective. I picked a cheapish one in a light beige which, when I got it back and dropped it on the floor, proved to be a perfect match to the color of the bathroom floor tile. Yay me.

From there I drove to Nordstrom’s in Stanford Shopping Center. I’m determined to get myself a

new blazer

and one or two pairs of “nice” pants. What I learned from trying on several blazers is that my size is 42 Short. Size 42 is just right to enclose my thorax and the sleeve length is right, but the hem hangs down below my butt cheeks and looks wrong. So, 42S would probably be perfect. I could be sure of that if Nordstrom had had any 42S blazers in stock, but they didn’t.

The only thing left on my to-do list for day was laundry, so I headed back to do that. I talked briefly to Craig in the hall about the puzzle of what’s happened to my Dean Linsky

oil painting

of Yosemite Valley. Just after moving in, it was hung opposite the 6th floor lounge. Since, several people have commented on it favorably. A week ago, when Angela inventoried my room in the pre-move planning, we discussed the painting and I thought had agreed it would be moved into my temporary quarters when I moved.

Two days ago I noticed it was not on the wall any more, along with quite a bit of other art, so I queried Angela, stopping in at her office in the basement. She disclaimed any knowledge, “We haven’t started moving any art; see your floor rep, Mister Allen must have moved it.”

I bumped into Craig in the hall yesterday and he assured me in rather vague terms, that the painting had been stored in a safe place. He didn’t say where. I emailed Angela to say this, and she responded rather firmly that since she didn’t know anything about it, the painting was not Channing House’s responsibility.

Tonight I ate dinner with Craig, Diane and Patti, and afterward got clarification from Craig. When he said the art was safe, he was not speaking from his own knowledge, he was just reassuring me of his confidence that the move process would be done right. He doesn’t have any personal knowledge of where the art has gone. So it wasn’t Angela’s crew it must have been Gentle Transitions? I will take this up with Angela Monday.

Meanwhile I tried a new

computer game.

I’d like to have a really deep, absorbing game to play, maybe for a couple of hours a day off and on. The one I’m trying is called The Long Dark, and by all accounts it is very deep in the sense of needing many, many hours to play through to any conclusion, and to have a vast terrain for the player to explore. Just the ticket, right? So I bought it when it was on sale at Steam (the online gaming store) and I had browsed a couple of tutorials so I knew the general objectives (don’t freeze to death or be eaten by wolves) and game play (wander through a post-apocalyptic frozen waste, searching for the things that will keep you warm and defended from wolves). Now I fired it up and tried it.

And failed utterly. This is really kind of funny. The game opens with you in a small office with a window opening onto a hangar in which a seaplane is visible. It’s cold and your first objective in this ultra-beginner tutorial phase, is to light a fire. Well, I managed that. I found the matches on the desk. I found some firewood. I found some newsprint. Now I had what the game requires so I could click on a little stove and say “Light Fire” and oh boy, a fire started, casting nice bars of orange light and warming my player character up. Freezing avoided. Next objective, “Explore the Hangar”. To do that, all you have to do is open the door from the office to the hangar. But it won’t open.

In the course of all this I was somewhat distressed by the slow, laggy response of the game to my mouse moves. When I got my monster 27in iMac I expected its graphics and CPU would be up to serious game play. So I’d started the game at full screen, 5000+pixel width image and all graphics options to High. But it was clearly struggling at those settings. So I cut the game back to a 3000×2000 window and reduced all the options (textures, shadows, etc) to Medium. Much better. Now I could get around the office smoothly and I looked at everything. Picked up everything pick-uppable. No kind of key or anything else that might work to open the office door.

I can’t get out of the first location in the game! This is so basic, that I looked at two different walk-through tutorials and they don’t even mention opening the office door as any kind of challenge. They just say, “now explore the hangar, look for this, that, etc.” But I can’t! I feel like such a flop. I suck at games. (Looking at another walkthrough video, I don’t think I want to play Long Dark anyway. But I should be able to get to the second step of the tutorial. Geez.)




Day 217, half-busy Sunday

Sunday, 7/7/2019

As usual I wasn’t able to sleep past 6:15, but happily the Sunday paper was already under the door, half an hour ahead of the usual time. I made a cuppa and did the big crossword. Then I put the old subwoofer on the seat of the desk chair, and rolled the chair down the hall, into the elevator, through the maze to the garage and into the car.

I dropped the two items off at the Tasso street house, then went on to the old coffee shop in Midtown. I got there just as the cinnamon rolls were coming out of the oven.


There’s a nice Sunday morning, coffee and a cinnamon roll warm from the oven.

My plan was to go to Target to buy the stool mentioned yesterday, but I expected Target wouldn’t be open until, what, ten or so? But I got out Maps and checked and, hey! Target had just opened, at 8am! So off I went to Target in Mountain View, and by 9am I was back to C.H. with the stool in its flat box.

Now I started my laundry going, and then assembled the new stool and tried it out.

IMG_3828It is the correct height, and later in the day I spent about 3 hours all told sitting at the computer, and it was comfortable.

So by lunch time I had delivered items to Tasso, bought a stool, assembled it, and finished my laundry. I was going to the elevator in a happy glow of accomplishment and fell in with Craig and Diane on their way to lunch, and they invited me to sit with them. Nancy and Tom joined us later.

In the afternoon I finished editing chapter 8 and then edited chapter 9 of the book. One more chapter and I can generate a new PDF. After a few quality checks, I will be able to start the print-ready process through Kindle Direct, so that might happen next week.

I spent some time watching tutorial videos for my new favorite photo software, Affinity, and spent a little time with a game before retiring to the living room to watch TV.


Day 216, Museum, FOPAL, stool

Saturday, 7/6/2019

Breakfasted in the dining room. Began editing a chapter of the book, which happened to be the chapter on death and bereavement. Since I last worked on it I have some personal experience in that line, and while the advice I’d written before has held up pretty well in the light of new experience, it needs a little tweaking.

I put on my fire-engine red Museum Docent shirt and headed out about 10, stopping first at FOPAL to clean up the computer section. I ran out of time for that, left it, and continued on to the Museum to lead the 12pm tour. About 20 people, it went well.

I changed shirts then, I’d brought another so as to preserve my red one and not have to wash it again before the next use, and returned to FOPAL to price the books I’d selected earlier. Then back home.

During all this the Estate Sale was happening at Tasso street. I’d emailed a neighbor and now he sent me a couple of pictures of people coming out of the house carrying things they’d bought.

I chilled in my recliner for part of the afternoon, and happened on a thread in a forum about choosing the best chair for long sessions in front of a computer. This is a subject I’ve been thinking about. The old chair I’ve used for years is still functional but unfortunately my new L-shaped desk is a bit higher than the old one. I sat on a pile of books to verify that I need something around 23-24 inches high, but the old chair doesn’t get to 20.

target_stoolThe internet thread pointed to a lot of different chairs, but then somebody pointed out that a simple bar-stool with a swiveling top is as good as anything. Hmmm. They actually linked to one sold at Target, and a little poking around there turned up this one. Not only is it just the height I want, it is a lovely match to all my other new furniture. I am determined to go and buy this at Target tomorrow.

I texted Deborah about 6pm, she said the sale was going well, most of the furniture gone. I said I’d decided not to keep my subwoofer and my desk chair, could I drop them by in the morning? She said, sure.

In the evening cleaned out my collection of DVDs; there are quite a few movies I don’t expect to watch again and I will give them either to the C.H. library or to FOPAL. Finishing up watching on Amazon Prime, a 1980 BBC production of The Taming of the Shrew with John Cleese as Petruchio. It’s the Shakespeare play I know best, having acted in a production of it at USF in the dark ages around 1968. In retrospect it’s a horrible play, wrong in so many ways. Cleese is perfect in the role; I do not like the Kate, one Sarah Badel. Anyway, that’s the evening.

Day 209, Dennis, bookcase, concert

Saturday, 6/29/2019

I started out the day with the plan to go to Cost Plus and buy that damn bookcase. I was getting ready to do that when Dennis called and suggested I give him a tour of C.H. Sure, when? and we settled on 11:30. That left a small window between 10am when Cost Plus opened, and 11:30. Could I go get the bookcase? Probably. Could I assemble it? Probably not (but almost did).

I was at Cost Plus when they opened, and quickly obtained the large and heavy flat pack, about 6 foot long, 18×8 inches around, and over 100 pounds. It fit easily in the Prius, but was far too heavy for me to tote alone. On the way back I stopped at T-Mobile and returned the micro-cell thingy. Back at C.H. I went to the basement office of facilities and the on-duty guy was happy to get a dolly and help me run the big box up to my room. It was now 10:45, and I had a go at assembling the thing, but it was still half-assembled on the floor when Dennis called to say he was here and had his visitor’s badge.

So I showed him around, he was favorably impressed, then we decided to have lunch. At first I was going to eat in the dining room but the offering really disappointed me. A vegetarian Rueben sandwich or an uninspired looking pasta dish. I said, let’s go out instead, and we bailed. We ended up at Joe and The Juice which was ok.

Back home I finished the bookcase and now could unpack all the decorative stuff that had been in boxes in the bedroom. No packing boxes left! Here’s how it looks.


The only disappointment is that the shelves are just too close together to let some books stand up. The tall books on top are my growing collection of print editions of online comics.

I had an early supper as soon as the dining room opened, and then headed out to attend one of Palo Alto’s open air free concerts on California Avenue. Unfortunately there was a major league soccer match at Stanford Stadium at the same time and I got caught in some nasty traffic. But I got there in time. The main act was “Fleetwood Mask”, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band. They were just OK and I didn’t stay for their whole set.

The in-house email list had alerted us that there would be a fireworks display after the soccer match. I was sitting watching TV when the artillery barrage sounds of it began coming in my open balcony door. I’m on the opposite side of the building. I kept thinking, I should go take a look, but then thinking, nah, it’s almost over. But it went on and on. I finally went to the common dining room which is on the West side and watched the last several minutes. (It must have run 15 minutes in all.)


Day 206, many errands, FOPAL

Wednesday, 6/26/2019

I started the day with a run. At several points my pace was interrupted by texts from Chuck. Lawyer Lady’s agent had texted him, quote,

Chuck, I just received this text from [Lawyer Lady], “Lyn, I am so sorry about the delay. I am in negotiations (complex license). As for Tasso, I would love to buy it but I cannot swing it at the [our counter offer] price.” Chuck, this was my first communication with [Lawyer Lady] since last Friday. I think it is best for your seller to move ahead without us. Again, my deepest apologies, Lyn.

In further exchanges — Chuck likes long text conversations — Chuck noted that right at the start, Lyn had given him a “qualification document” showing that this buyer was qualified to finance the price we set in our counter. So “cannot swing it” really means, either “don’t want it” or “I want to dicker”.  I texted to Chuck, and suggested he quote it to the agent,

We are not interested. We would accept her PROMPT acceptance of our original counter. Otherwise we are done with this negotiation.

We agreed he’d give them a deadline of Thursday noon, after which he would inform the escrow company that we are “out of contract”. I am not sure what happens then to the deposit she placed to open the escrow. Probably goes back to her, although I think we would be justified in keeping some of it, after the amount of jerking us around she’s done.

Back at the barn I assembled some stuff and headed out for a day of going and doing.

First stop was the Wheeler Accountants office in San Jose, to turn in the thick packet of documentation I have assembled so they can compute the actual value of Marian’s estate, and thus how much of her estate tax exemption transfers to me.

Next was a visit to Yamagami’s nursery in Cupertino. My aim is to replace a pot that broke on moving day. It was one of a pair of elegant high-fired pots. Actually I want to replace both, because the remaining one is only 9 inches wide and the plants really need 11-inch pots. I don’t know where Marian bought them but I was hoping, Yamagami’s. They do have a very large selection of pots, many more than any other nursery I know, but nothing like these. However, I bought a pair of I think rather pretty glazed pots.

I used the phone to find the nearest US Post Office, just a mile away, and went there to drop off the DVR for return to AT&T.

Next up, the grocery store next to FOPAL to lay in my favorite no-cal drinks and some snacks for the room. Then, about 11:30, I went into FOPAL and spent 4.5 nonstop hours, cleaning up the Computer section and sorting.

At this point I am not ashamed to say I felt a little bit tired. I headed home but via the T-Mobile store where I meant to return my micro-cell. We always had lousy T-Mobile reception at Tasso street, one or two bars in the living room and “No Service” at the back. That was only an annoyance until Marian got sick and we needed to make lots of phone calls. T-Mobile very nicely gave me the micro-cell, a box that hooks to the wi-fi and acts like a local cell tower. Four bars in every room, it was wonderful!

Now at Channing House I have an acceptable 3 bars everywhere, so I don’t need the micro-cell box. However, the nice young lady wouldn’t take it because I “didn’t have all the parts”. She particularly noted I didn’t have the original yellow CAT-5 cable that came with it. On the way home I remembered there is also a little antenna dongle that I hadn’t brought either. So now I have that to do over.

Anyway, home to chillax and have some dinner and maybe watch the Democratic Debate.

Oh, that revealed a weakness in the voice search for the X1 box. When I said “find debate” all it could find was the PBS show, “The Debate”. When I said “find democratic” all it found was some Netflix show called “Democrats”. Only when I said “find democratic debate” did it find “National Democratic Presidential Debate”. Why couldn’t it find that title for the first two searches? (It’s definitely artificial but I don’t know if it’s intelligent.)

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?