Day 264, FOPAL, Road Scholar

Friday, 8/23/2019

Wasn’t feeling totally pip-pip in the morning, even a little diarrhea (so–what was in that fancy meal last night?) so while I started out for a run, I turned it into a brisk walk for the latter half.

I had to skip my usual Wednesday stint at FOPAL this week, so instead I went there today, working from 10 to 2pm. Quite a few nice new books in the Computer donations, for a change; ones I could price at $10 and above. Then I sorted like a champ for three hours.

Back home, I made new shelf labels for the Computer section. When I took it over, I arranged it into interest groups, and made labels for the edges of the shelves. The hope is that somebody scanning the shelves will see “A.I. and Machine Learning” and think, oh, right, I’m interested in that, and browse the 20 or so books in that group. Where if books were sorted by author, or just unsorted as before, they might never find the book they are willing to buy.

The shelf labels I made two months ago are looking a little tatty, and also I thought they could be bolder, so I made new ones, scaled up a couple of points and in bold italic. When next I go down there (Monday?) I will put them up.

Before going in to supper, I checked my mailbox and found an envelope from Aon, the trip insurance provider for Road Scholar. In it, a denial of my claim for that rescheduled trip. I think they’re wrong, and I will try one time to get it reversed. Betty and Jerry invited me to sit with them, and we had a nice chat. I’m not happy with the old closets in my unit, even after sanding and sealing the drawers. So I asked about what they’d done. They told me a lot, and then we went up and they showed me what they’d done. Basically they had the old drawer and clothes rod structures completely gutted, and replaced them with a system of suspended hangars and drawers they’d bought through The Container Store. It isn’t quite what I would want, but I get the deal now. However, chances are this can’t be done during the coming upgrade. Next January I will probably pay for a remodel of my closets.


Day 220, moving, canceling, FOPAL

Wednesday, 7/10/2019

Today was the day scheduled for my relocation meeting. Angela, the boss of all the renovation logistics, and Gloria, the rep for Gentle Transitions, the moving company that executes the move-outs and move-backs, came and spent two hours going over my apartment and its contents in detail.

They had a floor plan of 621 and of 435, my temp location, on magnetic boards, and lots of little magnetic furniture tiles, and first built a detailed plan of my current arrangement. Then we went down to 435 and with my input, worked out where to put my furniture there. All recorded by arranging the pieces on the magnetic boards, and then photographing the final arrangements.

It was made easier because the two units are quite similar; 435 has one less closet than 621, but fortunately I don’t make much use of two of the three closets I have. So Gloria planned out which items from what closets and cupboards and drawers, would go to which others. Same for the bathroom, as the 621 bathroom has a few more drawers than 435 does. It took the full two hours, but is done. 435 is not as nice a place as 621 for sure, but it will do for six months.

Before they arrived I came to a decision and executed it, possibly to my cost. Before I knew the dates of the move, I had booked a tour with a departure date of 9/6. Then Angela told me that 9/6 was my move-out day, with no flexibility. I was anticipating moving out to a guest unit on 9/5, and returning 16 days later to my new apartment. That was barely acceptable but now I’m seriously worried about the house sale maybe not getting completed in August and running into September. It shouldn’t, but I don’t like the chance that I could be away and unable to sign stuff, and texting Chuck at all hours.

So I decided rather precipitously to change the date. I called Road Scholar and they agreed to change to the same tour but with a 9/25 departure date. Same price, but, sadly, since I am now less than 60 days from the original departure, they can only give me half credit for the fee. Fortunately I had bought all-reasons travel insurance as well, so I can get back the other half from the insurance company. So I was trying to arrange that while simultaneously talking to Angela and Gloria, and it was kind of stressful.

When the move conference was over I gobbled some lunch and headed out to FOPAL. This is the last day for arranging one’s section before the sale this weekend. I processed five boxes of computer books, sent four boxes to the bargain room (the bargain room guy, Frank, says there’s no room on the shelves there, either, but he’ll deal with it) and priced one box. But rather than shelve them, I set the box in the vast mound of boxes for all sections labeled “Hold”. Then I spent two hours sorting and boxing, and came home quite tired.

For supper I headed to the open table where Rosina usually sits. Ed and Colin joined me. During the conversation (much of it about Colin’s boyhood in South Africa before WWII, as Colin is rather chatty) it emerged that Rosina during her career in education traveled the world setting up links between classes in, she says, 104 countries, so that the classes can meet over Skype and converse.

Like I said, I’m surrounded by over-achievers. It’s quite shocking to me what an ageist I am. I just never expect an old person to be a distinguished anything. Old people don’t matter, as a matter of mental habit. It’s just like racism: automatically assuming less, or discounting the value, of a person based on physical appearance. Gray racism. I think it’s one factor in why I am having trouble remembering names to go with faces. Not the only factor; I’ve always been bad at remembering names. But to some extent, my brain doesn’t like to pay attention to old wrinkly faces, or distinguish between them. Of course the irony is, I’m one of them. Which I only remember when looking in the mirror.



Day 188, scary purchase, transistor, dvr

Saturday, 6/8/2019

One week from right now (9am) I will be preparing for the moving van to arrive. But this morning I did something scarier: committed to a tour in September. I’ve been talking for a while about taking some kind of cruise or tour, probably with Road Scholar, in September, after I’ve been moved to my temporary flat. Where to? people asked, and I casually said, oh, maybe the Greek Islands.

So yesterday I opened up the Road Scholar website and browsed around, and continued doing that this morning, and finally settled on this one: “Island Hopping in the Aegean“. It seemed the best combination of places, dates, and especially price, because single-occupancy wasn’t a huge penalty over double. It took a while to muster the courage to click through the purchase process, and I hesitated a long time before committing and am still spooked by it. But it’s done. Unless I decide to bail in the next couple of weeks, I’m at least financially committed to spending September 6-20 cruising in a small ship around some Greek islands.

It would have been so comfortable to have just said, “nah, I’ll think about it later” and clicked away. I could feel the pull of mental and emotional inertia, like the gravity of a black hole…  Some of the impetus to go through with it was that I spent some time yesterday and this morning reading through our New Zealand travel blog. Just ten years ago we did those six weeks in a van around both islands. Funny, an ongoing theme in those blog posts is the constant hunt for internet connectivity. I bet that isn’t such a problem today.

Spent a bit more time completing the documentation package for Katie the Tax. Then left for the Museum, stopping on the way to mail my estimated tax payments. I have to thank the Channing House email list for that. Although I had the envelopes and vouchers ready to go in the “Current Tax Year” pendaflex, with a post-it on them saying “mail before June 15”, I might well have forgotten. But there was an email earlier in the week reminding everyone that the deadline was coming. OMyGod yes! I thought. And wrote the checks and stamped the envelopes.

I wanted to put a return address on them but realized that my return address stamp, which I’ve been using since the 1980s, has the wrong (old) address. So I hand-wrote the 850 Webster return address, and then went online and ordered return address stickers.

At the museum I led a tour for, initially, 25 people, but several dropped off so I ended with about 15. Only notable thing was that someone swiped my transistors! I had two TO-5 transistors in a little plastic box, which I let the group hand around, it makes the comparison to the vacuum tube (which they have handled at a prior stop) much clearer. Today, the little box didn’t come back to me, and when I asked the group at the next stop, nobody had any idea. Bummer.

I went out for supper, then while watching Jeopardy I made a list of all the shows I’ve got subscribed on the DVR. Planning to subscribe to the same ones, or most of them, on the new XFinity DVR after moving in.



Day 94, packing, real estate, FOPAL

I omitted to mention yesterday that when I was at the gym, I was accosted by a man about my own age who I kind of recognized. He identified himself as Mike F., an old IBM colleague who worked with Marian for many years. He very kindly expressed condolences and commented on how everyone knew Marian as “really, really smart” and  “a programmer’s programmer”. That was nice.

Wednesday 3/6/2019

Since Chuck and his contractor will be here at 10, there isn’t time for a run — I tell myself. That isn’t strictly true; if I got off my butt and out the door at 8 there’d be time. Or I can take a run after they leave; how’s that for a concept? I’ll consider it. Right now it’s 8:20, and I’m dressed and finished with one of the two “things” on my schedule for today,


which brought up a couple of emotional reactions. Tomorrow morning I will leave for a long weekend in Vegas (baby), to watch the PAC-12 WBB tournament. Eleven games in four days, whee! Probably won’t watch all, or at least will probably walk out early from ones that turn into a runaway. But today I wanted to make sure I had everything ready.

Packing for one is stupidly easy. Everything fits in a nice little carry-on bag that fits under the seat, so I don’t even have to worry about space in the overhead. Which is a good thing, because I’m flying SouthWest, and I didn’t check in until half an hour after the 24-hour check-in window opened, so I’m number A46, the 50th or 60th person (allowing for gold members, servicemen, women with babies, etc) to board the plane. Don’t care, it’s a 90-minute flight and my bag fits under the seat hahaha.

Inevitably I contrast this to prior trips, where the two of us used at least a roller bag, two for a longer trip, plus a computer bag for our two laptops. We’d check the bag, especially in recent years where we had to go to the desk to check in in order to get the wheelchair Marian needed to travel to the gate. Now, in a moment of release (similar to what I felt back in the first week when I realized I could again walk to Sunday coffee), I realized that I can just print my boarding pass at home, pick up my bag, and bop on over to the security line without a pause. That’s nice.

Prior to that realization I had another moment, not exactly of grief but of combined relief and pity. I went to the “travel drawer” (oh jeez, yet another drawer I need to clean out) to get one of the small mesh bags we used to pack toiletries. The one I picked up had something in it: oh, Marian’s first-aid supplies.

For most of this millennium, she suffered from fragile skin: her skin would split or tear seemingly under a hard look, or at least any small collision with a corner of anything. So she always had to be ready with bandaids, tape, gauze, to patch a split. She handled this as she did all her other maladies, with intelligence and calm practicality. Your skin breaks; you swear quietly, patch it, and carry on. So one of the toiletry bags had this double-handful of assorted patching materials. I was so pleased to be able to throw all that out on her behalf. At least that isn’t an issue any more. As I finished writing that I saw Chuck pulling up so time for

Real estate talk.

Chuck brought his favorite contractor, Vassily, and we looked long at the kitchen and talked about how one could — or mostly how one could not — upgrade it. It bugs Chuck and his designer Amy that there is a door between the kitchen and the refrigerator:


It hasn’t been a functional problem for 45 years. The annoyance of having to open that door to reach the fridge, and close it to reach the pantry that’s behind it, was so slight it never occurred to us to do anything about it. Turns out that was smart, because in Vassily’s opinion, it can’t be done. One, the wall in which that door sits is a bearing wall for the sloping roof above and it would be hard to remove it. Two, if you keep the wall but do other work, because there is a furnace beyond it, the city will make you upgrade that door to a “20-minute fire door” which would mean replacing the frame and the door. If you keep the wall and try to put the fridge in the kitchen it replaces some of the counter, and anyway the counters are 24″ or less deep, so the refrigerator sticks out and you have a problem opening it. You could maybe put the fridge next to the stove where the pantry is, but then you lose all the shelf space in the pantry, plus, having a fridge abutting a stove is kind of weird.

I really don’t care; as I said several times (as much to myself as to them) “I won’t be living here, so I don’t care what you do.” But the decision to do such work does impact me, as I went over with Chuck after Vassily left. If they do remodeling, it can’t start until I move out, and then it will take at least a month (probably more, because that’s how this shit always goes) to finish. And that delays the selling of the house by that much.

We talked about the implications of that. If I move into C.H. they will charge 10% on the unpaid balance of the entry fee, which would come to circa $4000/month until the house closes escrow and I can pay the balance off. But Chuck says, if the upgrade work adds $100K to your sale price, you come out ahead.

Another option that we talked about is that I could go ahead and move out and take a temporary spot in another ILF (one with a month-to-month contract and no entry fee). Again that would cost circa $4000/month until such time as C.H. has an opening, but the work on the house and its sale could proceed.

Against that idea is my reluctance to change my address twice. But then I had the thought that perhaps I could change my postal address to C.H. right now. I need to ask Kim Krebs about that. She said that as soon as I paid my application fee (last Monday) I would be a “member” in the sense that I would get their newsletter and could attend any of their events. Maybe I could start converting all my various accounts to that as my postal address now. In which case I would not have to change addresses twice — only move all my earthly goods twice.

With this possibility in mind I asked Chuck to get me a referral to his favorite estate sale manager. I’d like to get a handle on that situation. Anyway, it’s all very complicated. And so off to FOPAL with three boxes of books.

next day… forgot to hit “Publish” on this. Also, forgot to note that since the FOPAL book sale is coming up this weekend, the sorting room is really crowded, so the three boxes of books stayed in the back of the car for next time.

Day 90, Shustek and old movies

Thursday, 2/28/2019

Toddled off to the Shustek center for a day of archival work. I and Toni worked together to photograph items that had been cataloged. Three years ago when we were doing this work the photo setup was a couple of (in my opinion) lousy little HP pocket cameras, and the day’s pictures had to be uploaded for later processing. Now we have a fairly decent Canon connected to a laptop so the pictures go directly into the database.

We caught up, clearing the shelves of a backlog of “To Photo” items. Like the FOPAL work this is good exercise: I was on my feet, moving items on and off the table and composing the images, for about five hours all told, and when I got home I could feel it. But before I ate I sat down and scanned old slides for an hour. Got to keep that project moving.

I’ve accumulated a bunch of famous movies on the DVR which is getting under 40% available. So tonight I swore to get rid of some. It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World lasted only ten minutes. I stuck with Casino Royale for nearly an hour but finally lost interest. Two down.

Got an email from SouthWest reminding me of my reservation for a flight to Vegas for the PAC-12 women’s basketball tournament. This will be my first solo travel in, practically, ever(*). I’m nervous! Which is nuts; traveling by myself has to be easier than the last half-dozen flights I’ve taken, when Marian’s mobility and stamina were greatly limited, having to book wheelchair assistance, always checking the location of the elevators so as to avoid stairs, always looking to minimize walking distance between gates. And I booked those flights, and we executed all those travel plans, with confidence and panache.

So here’s another difference in my new bachelor life. Planning and carrying out travel as a couple, was easier (at least in anticipation) than it is solo. I need to think about what the difference really is.

At least partly it’s that I had the confidence of knowing Marian agreed in the plans. It’s like what I wrote about on Day 83: having made plans as a couple, the plans feel solid. When I make the plan by myself, for myself, I get the feeling I’m over my head and probably messing it up. I don’t know any cure for this but experience: go out and do it and verify that I haven’t screwed it up.

(*) The last solo trip I can think of is when in 1980 I drove to Seattle to attend the Clarion West writer’s workshop. After the ten(?) day workshop Marian flew up to join me and we drove back together.


Day 46, taxes and books and a painting

After yesterday’s writing, I packed up two boxes of books to take to FOPAL on Wednesday. This consisted mostly of bird books and birding-related books. I had no idea we had so many books about birds and birding. Marian had accumulated them over the years; I recognized only a couple. I’ve no intention of ever spotting another bird; that was her hobby that I supported but didn’t really enjoy. So losing those books is another shard of the prior life, but not one that caused much emotion. Well, a little — when I riffled the page of her most-used birding guide and saw all the check marks and notes in her handwriting of what species we’d seen and where.

Another half-box was the books by and about Arthur Ransome that I mentioned back on Day 35. I received the two additional, $1 books that I ordered then. Now I arrayed them all on the table and sat down with eBay to see what prices such books were getting. And quickly realized that my collection was still incomplete, there was one more novel and at least two more popular biographies that I didn’t have. So much for selling a complete bookshelf. I put the books in the box for FOPAL.

Except for one. Most of the books are paperback, but one is cloth-bound, and on looking inside I realized it was a first edition, or at least a first American printing, dated 1942. Similar Ransome hardbacks are on eBay for $50 and up, so I took some pictures and put it up on eBay. We’ll see.

Got an email from Craig wondering if I wanted to visit Channing house or not. Very timely, given how I’d just put my ILF decision back on track, so in a quick exchange we agreed to meet Saturday afternoon.

The rest of the afternoon, I added yet another feature to my program, and to my delight, the new feature worked exactly right first try. So that wrapped day 45 nicely.

Wednesday, 1/16/2019

Went for a run, it was OK. Back  home did some desk stuff. Paid a credit card bill. Created the folder to hold all the tax info for 2018, using the 2017 folder as a model. Key item here is to download the PDF copies of a total of eight form 1099-Rs, from all the various accounts we have that generate those (two Social Security, two pension, four brokerage). Made a checklist of all the tasks to do going forward with the taxes. That doesn’t really get busy until February.

Booked myself to attend the PAC-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament, in Las Vegas March 7-10. Bought one reserved seat, booked a hotel room, booked the flights. This will be the first time I’ve traveled anywhere as a bachelor, and indeed the first flight since… I think since October 2017 when we returned from NYC. Hopefully the gummint shutdown will be over by March?

In the mail: the official document from the Neptune Society, stating that Marian was “respectfully delivered to the sea” on January 10th. I have to say, the Neptune Society has been a class act the whole way, supportive, responsive, professional. I’m glad we signed with them all those years ago.

One of the items I want to get rid of is this painting:4337722_orig

We commissioned this; it was actually painted for us; we met with Dean Linsky (click the link to see his website) in Yosemite Valley in 2004 and walked around with him pointing out features we liked. A couple of months later the painting arrived, and it has been on our wall ever since.

Looking forward I don’t want to try to house it in a small apartment. Linsky’s work is marketed mostly through New Masters Gallery in Carmel. I’d like to consign it there for sale, but I’ve been having a hard time getting any info out of them by email. So today I called up and spoke directly to the gallery owner, Bill Hill. I have to say, Bill’s telephone manners are abrupt. Although his gallery has been in business for years, he’s clearly not a salesman type. I emphasized how I would have to depend on his expertise to know what the painting would go for, and at his request sent a cell-phone shot of it again by email. Maybe this time he’ll look at it.

Anyway, off to FOPAL, taking two boxes of books. And home for a quiet evening.