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

writing.

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

meetings.

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.

 

1.050 FOPAL, writing

Tuesday 1/21/2020

My plan today was to go down to FOPAL mid-day and see how the carpet tile laying was going, and to help moving stuff around if needed. After a relaxing morning reading the internet, I did that. The carpet men had started on the sorting room and would clearly be at it for several hours. I chatted with long-time volunteers Frank and Matthew, but then went home again.

I ate lunch at my desk and added 1100 words to the novel, which gave me a lot of satisfaction.

About 2pm I went back to FOPAL. For an hour we stood around and then, out of boredom, I took on the job that I’d told myself I wouldn’t do: breaking down the mountain of cardboard boxes outside the entrance. People bring books in all sorts of boxes, almost never the banker’s boxes that we use. So we toss the boxes in a heap beside the entry stairs, and people who want a box are free to take one. However, the mountain is unsightly, and the bottom layers had been rained on. So I started breaking them down and putting them in the big dumpster-size recycle bin. It took less than an hour to clear the pile, which was satisfying in its own way.

The carpet guys finished up the sorting room near 4pm. Then I assisted Frank and Matthew in moving a lot of stuff, including 30 boxes of books, back into it. My back was a bit sore after that, so I headed home for “two ibuprofen and a nap”, only I didn’t take the nap, as it was supper time.

 

1.041 coffee, FOPAL, event, SWBB

Sunday, 1/12/2020

Found a new coffee shop! I was walking toward Verve and happened to take Ramona street, where I noticed Bistro Maxine as I walked past. Hmm. Looks pleasant; lots of room inside; they have an espresso machine. So I had my morning coffee there. It was pleasant. On the plus side, they serve a small glass of orange juice which is freshly pressed (Palo Alto Cafe has fresh pressed juice but only in a big 12-ounce mug). Downside, their array of pastries is limited to regular and chocolate croissants, but they were well-made.

On return I went direct to the 11th and was delighted to find the big rolling TV was now present. I plugged it in and arranged the lectern and mics, then called George who came right up. His laptop connected perfectly. He went away to finish his presentation (“I have too many slides”) while I got my morning exercise by moving chairs around to seat about 35 people facing the screen.

I went to lunch at 12 and from there direct to FOPAL to tidy up my section again. Much lighter crowd on Sunday. Then back for a blog post and a nap, and then to the desk and added 500 words to the novel. Here’s what makes fiction so hard. You have to keep inventing stuff. My characters, who are kids, need to overhear a conversation. They have to go somewhere to hear it. Why do they go there? Think, think. OK, somebody sends them on an errand. Great, who, and what errand? OK, I decide one of the adults will send them to fetch something, from the shop down the street. Fetch what, and why do they need it? I think of the reason the thing is wanted, and now I can write three lines of dialog to get them going to the shop. That only took ten minutes. So it happens to be evening, a shop in a very small place, sort of a village. What does the shop look like? I have to say at least a couple of words. Who is tending it? What is that person’s name? Not to mention, how do they speak, what do they say. I’m inventing a whole world here, this is in a nature preserve 400 years from now. So, somewhat to my surprise, the shop is empty, but when they call out, they hear footsteps and somebody comes down the stairs at the back. Even more to my surprise, my imagination offers up an image of a young girl about their age. Go, imagination! How do kids in this world greet each other? My imagination has gone back to sleep, so I get to spend another ten minutes figuring out 5 lines of dialog to complete the transaction. Now they can finally step out of the shop and hear voices raised in argument down the way, and we are set up for them to overhear what I need them to overhear. Tomorrow I get to figure out what those words are.

George’s talk went well, except that more people came than I had put up chairs for. I and another person kept dragging chairs over and adding them to rows. (George, by the way, is a retired professor emeritus and fellow of the Hoover Institute.) Afterward, I put away all the A/V gear, then went to my room and watched the Stanford women play at Cal on the TV. Cal put on a better show at home (of course), keeping it reasonably close for a while, but Stanford took over in the fourth and won easily. Now they are off for the toughest road trip of the year: #5-ranked Stanford to play #2-ranked Oregon and #3-ranked OSU. The PAC-12 is loaded this year, with four teams in the top 10 (UCLA at #8) and ASU at #18. Actually ASU will move up and Oregon down, because Friday ASU edged Oregon. Anyway, games among three highly-ranked teams any two of which could end up in the final four.

 

1.028 Fopal, beer

Monday, 12/30/2019

Went for a run in the morning. My body wasn’t feeling quite top-hole, and I walked a couple of blocks in the middle that I normally run.

IMG_4500Then to FOPAL where I found fourteen boxes of books waiting. Sorters been busy over the holidays. So I spent a couple of hours culling them and pricing the best, and ended up shelving maybe 40 books, sending 9 boxes to the bargain room.

And a couple of hours of sorting after, brought me to 1pm and I clocked out.

Now I was determined to find my favorite beer, Rogue Brewing’s Dead Guy Ale. A couple months ago I used their “beer finder” web page to find a six-pack at my local Target store, of all unlikely places. But I checked twice lately and Target seems to have forgotten about Rogue entirely.

Now the beer finder pointed me to Total Wines and More on Rengstorff. That turned out to be a large and well-stocked wine place, reminding me of the old Beltramo’s in Menlo Park. And with some hunting (there were four aisles of craft beers!) I found my Dead Guy and brought some home.

Late in the afternoon I added a couple hundred words to the novel.

1.023 christmas lunch, writing, lane

Wednesday, 12/25/2019

In the morning I puttered around learning more about Affinity Photo. Lunch had been arranged by Patty, me and three women, Patty, Marion and Miriam. Marion worked for IBM in San Francisco for about a month early in the 1960s. She was hired as a systems engineer trainee but didn’t like the gung-ho atmosphere of the sales division, so quickly moved to working as a programmer at Standard Oil, and later at other companies, and wound up in teaching and management at CSU. Miriam retired from a career managing a department at Stanford.

In the afternoon I spent an hour tearing apart those two chapters of the novel and revising them. More to do.

As on all major holidays, the dining room is closed in the evening. I picked up a brown bag with a sandwich and fruit salad after breakfast. Before I sat down for supper, I checked the weather radar–no green pixels nearby for a while–and walked out to stroll Christmas Tree Lane, the two-block stretch where all the houses decorate for the season. Lots of other people were out walking as well.

xmaslane

I was a bit disappointed by the Lane. The displays weren’t as elaborate as I sort-of remember from previous years. It all seemed kind of perfunctory.

Another impression surprised me, though. There were lots of family groups strolling the dark sidewalks, all talking among themselves of course, and what was surprising that among all the groups, only one was speaking English. Indians and various European languages, but only as was leaving did I hear English.

1.015 coffee, deskwork, movie

Tuesday, 12/17/2019

Met with Harriet at the PA Cafe to chat, mostly to hear about her trip in the Hurtigruten up the coast of Norway to Tromso to see Northern Lights.

Back home I tackled a stack of stuff on my desk. Paid a couple of bills. Called the bill-pay outfit to ask about Anthem (see 1.012). That service rep had no clue, “Call Anthem”. The Anthem rep couldn’t say what Bill Pay might be expecting, but said she uses a like service to pay her insurance, and notes that there is an option to simply define the name and address of the payee. She was right, and I recalled doing that at one time. So I did that, defined Anthem’s payment address to Bill Pay and ordered it to pay this payment of $20 right away. Hopefully it will go through.

Cleaned up several other minor paperwork items as well. After lunch, I actually did some writing on the novel. Not adding a lot, but expanding one key conversation to set up a plot point. Well, not nothing.

I had a ticket for Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old, in 3D at the Century in San Mateo. Figured I would have supper somewhere near the theater, and so should leave about 5. When will I ever learn? Of course it took an hour to go the 10 miles from Palo Alto up 101 to San Mateo, so by the time I was at the theater it was 6:15 and no time for a restaurant meal. Fortunately the theater actually had fresh Pizza Hut pizzas, so that’s what I ate, sitting in the fine reclining lounge seat. As this was a “special event” there were no previews to watch, either. Not that I missed them.

I respected the movie for the fine technical work that went into it, converting shaky old 1915-era film to watchable, color, 3D images. And if you didn’t know a lot about the Great War, it would have provided a good historical intro, with a lot of realism of life in the muddy trenches, surrounded by corpses and rats. They had a voice-over script of the actual voices of veterans, describing their experiences, and selected the images to illustrate what the men were saying.

For my taste, it was a shallow introduction, mostly because I’ve been steeped in the week-by-week review of all fronts of the war in the Great War YouTube series. The movie was limited strictly to the British experience — reasonable, since the source material was all from the British War Museum — in France. Also, for narrative structure, they talked about joining up, then training, then life in the trenches, then one long sequence describing a typical battle, then the end of the war and going home.

What was lost compared to the video series was the understanding that the war was fought on multiple fronts, east, west, and south, by soldiers from a dozen nations; and that the British (and every other country’s men) didn’t fight just one great battle, but multiple battles large and small, back and forth over the same terrain over the span of the four years. Well. Not sure what they could have actually shown, and stayed in a two-hour film.

One silly little thing that stood out in all the lingering close-ups of the British soldiers? My gosh but the common Brit of that era had awful teeth! It was so noticeable that their teeth were in really bad shape, showed in every smile and grin.

 

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.

 

 

1.007 FOPAL, writing

Monday, 12/9/2019

I started the day with a run, out the door at 7:20, a bit earlier than usual, so that I could be back and showered and dressed in time for the monthly Residents’ meeting. Nothing too exciting there.

Immediately after I went to FOPAL to manage my Computer section, and found only one box of books waiting by it. However the yield from the one box was unusually good; I priced and shelved about 8 books, and found two high-value ones. Then I did sorting until 1pm.

Back home I had a nap, then spent another hour working on my year-end summary essay. Hopefully can finish that tomorrow.

About 4:30 Patty called, asking me to join a dinner party, which I was happy to do. Patty and Mildred and Craig and Diane and one other person whose name I didn’t get in the first place, so don’t have to confess to forgetting it.

 

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 onĀ 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 345, paperwork, novel, supper

Tuesday, 11/12/2019

Went for a run. Then took care of some admin. First, scheduled a payment to the BofA credit card. It will go through tomorrow, so from Thursday on it will have a zero balance and I will close it out.

About two weeks ago–I don’t see any mention of it here–I went to the MyMedicare site and did plan comparisons on my health plans. I found that the Anthem/Blue Cross prescription drug plan appeared to be a significantly better deal than the Humana one I’d been using since 2007, so I opted for that. Soon after I got a letter from Medicare saying my application should be processed in ten days, and if I hadn’t heard, to contact the provider. It has been more than ten days, so I did.

Annoyances: I tried to use the Chat facility on the Anthem site. It kept showing me that some person had connected, enter a message, then that they had disconnected, then went back to showing me “a representative will be with you shortly.” Tried two browsers. So called the number shown. Very short menu: 1 to buy a new plan, 2 for an existing plan, 3 for a provider. OK, 2. Thank you, as a member, please call the customer service number on the back of your membership card, goodbye. But… but… OK, try again, this time select 1. Lady takes my name, address, date of birth; says, well you have called the medicare purchase line, but I see you in our system (oh good) let me transfer you to the medicare service line. Which works but of course, that lady also has to take my name, address, date of birth because heaven forfend the info should transfer along with me.

Anyway, yes, my application is in the system, a membership card was mailed to me on 11/5, and a welcome packet should arrive separately but soon. So all good.

After lunch I added 1300 words to the novel.

At 4:30 it was time to attend the 4th floor meeting. Each floor has regular meetings to cover whatever domestic items come up. There’s an elected floor rep who chairs the meeting. (I first attended a 6th floor meeting back on day 156, after I’d signed the contract but before I moved in.) Fourth floor meeting was to be followed by 4th floor eating dinner together, they’d reserved a large table. But Craig, the 6th floor rep had also reserved a table for a 6th-floor-in-exile get-together dinner, so I ate with them.