Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Five

Today was a typical Thursday (even pre-lockdown) with two Toastmasters meetings. I have to admit that not having to drive to them, especially the one in Santa Clara, is a great time-saver, but it sure would be nice to see people in person again!

Beyond that, I finally got around to acting on a recent discovery about MacBook Pros that strongly suggested charging them from the right side ports to avoid confusing a heat sensor and causing bad things to happen. I haven’t actually seen the bad things, but thought it best to be prudent. So I moved my Henge Stone dock from the left side to the right.

But before I could do that, I had to find a longer Ethernet cable, AND I had to move my scanner closer to the computer because my longest USB cable was a foot too short for the new position of the dock. And as long as I was doing THAT, I decided it was worth plugging the USB-C cable into the monitor and getting more ports on the left side of the computer.

But I finally got it all accomplished, and now when I scan, I won’t have to walk halfway across the room. I guess that’s progress.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Four

I started using DoorDash just before the pandemic – mostly because I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card and they included a $60 credit to sugarcoat an increase in the annual fee, and I didn’t want to leave $60 on the table. So we tried it one day for lunch and it worked quite well (at least it did for us – I know the restaurant had to pay, but we wouldn’t have gone there that day anyway, so I think they came out ahead, too).

Once the lockdown hit, we started using DoorDash more often – we’re still not heavy users, but it’s definitely in rotation, especially for restaurants which are more than a couple of miles away (or which consistently miss their pickup times).

Now we’ve moved further into the 21st Century and made our first Instacart order. Actually, I didn’t know I was using Instacart until well into the process – I was trying to order things from Costco for “2-day” delivery with limited success, and they suggested using their site instead. The prices were slightly higher than 2-day delivery or going to the warehouse, but still good, and when I checked out, I discovered that they were just front-ending Instacart.

I’d requested delivery between 2-4pm; at a few minutes after 1, my phone buzzed telling me that my shopper had started. A few minutes later, I got another message: “They have toilet paper available – would you like me to add it to your cart?” I was impressed (but sadly, they didn’t have the brand I wanted).

And at 2:10, I got a message telling me that the shopper was at my door and needed to scan my ID because I’d ordered wine – she was able to do it from a few feet away and we were both wearing masks, so it seemed safe enough. I thanked her and went back inside so she could put the order on the porch safely – and that was it.

I might use Instacart to avoid Costco even after things get back to normal!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Three

It’s Tuesday, so we went shopping – first walking to Trader Joe’s for “light” shopping (chocolate mostly, but we did pick up some veggies and frozen fish), then driving to Lunardi’s for the “real” shopping for the week. We avoided acquiring any more bags at either store by having the cashiers put our food back into the cart and then packing it into our reusable bags out in the parking lot – I felt like I beat the system!

Between the shopping trips, we watched a “RED Talk” from Rensselaer about some of the work they are doing on COVID-19 research (much in cooperation with Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York). It was interesting and occasionally encouraging.

And now we’re watching some of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain ’s Ukulele Lockdown videos – some are just performances, others are live-streamed instructional playalongs – and all are a lot of fun. I almost wish I could play!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Two

Diane upgraded her phone today from an iPhone SE to an iPhone SE – the new one has four times as much storage, so she should be able to stop thinking about running out of space on the phone for a while. It’s also slightly physically bigger, which was NOT a selling point, and it’s significantly faster and has a better camera (her photo of the day on Facebook was taken with the new phone).

I permanently retired my Apple Time Capsule today – it’s 9 years old and has never been terribly useful; periodically, Time Machine would say something like “I can’t verify your most recent backup so I’m going to throw away all of your backups – OK?”. And even when it was working, trying to do a restore over the network was painfully slow (I’m not a super fan of the Time Machine user interface, either).

I wanted to thoroughly erase the disk on the Time Capsule before getting rid of the device; Apple offered a choice of how many passes of writing random data I wanted to make: 1, 3, 7, or 35. I picked 35 (better to be safe, right?) and it’s been erasing itself for a week and a half.

Yesterday, I (finally) got curious about why there was a choice and found the Wikipedia article on the Gutmann Method (the 35-pass erasure algorithm, which clearly explained that I wasted a lot of time – one pass would probably suffice, and three would certainly have been enough!

In the meantime, I now have two computers without a backup strategy – one is this new laptop (which doesn’t have any “real” data yet that isn’t on one of the other machines) and the other is the Plex server. So I ordered a 4TB drive from Office Depot this morning and walked over to pick it up this afternoon; it’ll go on the Plex server. I’ll probably get another one for this laptop, but I need to figure out my cabling needs, too – the laptop only has two USB-C ports, and I’m beginning to think I need a dock for it!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-One

We left early (or so we thought) for the Farmers’ Market, but when we got there, the line for the fish lady extended well into the park, about ten customers deep – and the line for the good strawberry vendor was close to a block long! We waited for fish, then quickly picked up some falafel and blueberries and left the market.

I spent most of the afternoon culling photos, mostly from Hong Kong. The next batch will start with our son’s fifth-grade “graduation” to middle school – today, we noticed several houses with signs marking their children’s fifth-grade promotion since they won’t have a ceremony.

And this evening, we watched a strange Israeli-French movie, Jellyfish. I’m not sure I can describe it – I knew it was going to be strange, but it exceeded my expectations. We borrowed it from the Jewish Community Library – you can see it on Amazon Prime.