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.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty

We got out early enough this morning to take a long walk before Torah Study and Shir Shabbat services – both were live events, which was a very nice change of pace.

I spent most of the afternoon working on photos – I’m almost finished with April, 2001 (I finished editing a trip to Israel, Hursley, and Paris and I’m halfway through a ten-day trip to Hong Kong). So many duplicates….

Dinner was takeout from Manresa – it makes a nice change from my cooking!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Thirty-Nine

It was a much less busy day today than yesterday – no need to call Apple, Chase, or anyone!

We got a shipping notice for Diane’s new iPhone SE; unlike all of the other Apple products we’ve ordered in the past few years, the origin of the shipment isn’t Shanghai – it’s Rialto, California. But at this point, all that FedEx shows is “Shipment Information Sent to FedEx”, so the phone could be almost anywhere.

I got back to editing and culling photos; I only got through a few days’ worth from 2001, but I found an amazing number of true duplicates, as well as lots of near-duplicates. Culling is fun!

We watched the final installment of From the Files of Denmark Metro live – there was a little chatter in the chat window, but nothing like the feedback you get in person. It’s a fun little comedy – worth the hour or so, especially if you like Shakespeare. Episode Three hasn’t been posted as I type this, but it will be up soon.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Thirty-Eight

A couple of days ago, a notification flitted across my phone’s screen: “$99 charge from Apple on your Chase Sapphire Reserve card”. At least that’s what I thought it said – it vanished quickly and I couldn’t get it back.

This morning, I looked at the credit card online and, sure enough, there was a $99 charge from “APPLE.COM/US” – but neither Diane nor I could figure out what it could be. And neither of us had any email from Apple about a $99 charge, and looking at our Apple accounts didn’t enlighten us.

This afternoon, I chatted with Apple Support about the charge – the rep couldn’t figure it out, either, and told me to call their account support team. After 20 minutes or so on hold (props to Apple for giving me a choice of what kind of hold music to play and offering silence as an option), I was talking with a rep who looked at all of our accounts and didn’t see any $99 transactions. He told me to call Chase.

I didn’t want to call Chase – their website has been warning about LONG hold times – but I had no alternative. After going through the automated attendant and refusing to take the hint to go online, I had to wait at least 5 seconds before being connected to a human being – outrageous! She transferred me to the fraud team, and now I have a new card on its way to me.

I don’t understand how someone could fraudulently create a charge claiming to be Apple and get away with it (and the cash), but I guess it’s not my problem any more.

In more cheerful news, we watched the first two episodes of City Lights Theatre’s production of “From the Files of Denmark Metro”, a comedy/mystery set around the events in Hamlet – all of the actors are safely sheltered in their own homes and interacting over the Internet. It’s funny, and they’ve come up with some interesting ways of dealing with props. The final episode will be live tomorrow night on Facebook (you can watch the first two episodes on YouTube and they’ll add the final one to that page, too). Recommended.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Thirty-Seven

We talked to Jeff this morning and played online trivia (courtesy of the Santa Clara City Library) with some of our usual trivia team tonight. Those were the high points of the day.

We also got Diane’s car smogged so we could renew the registration; it was pretty painless and nearly contact-free (I almost picked up the pen attached to the request form but realized what I was doing and used my own pen instead). And we got to walk while the car was being checked.

Today makes thirty-seven consecutive days I’ve posted to this blog; I thought that might be my record but it’s not even close – I hit 83 consecutive days in 2000 (it would have been 95 days if I hadn’t joined in the “Day without Weblogs” effort for World AIDS Day that year).

I intend to blog (even if there’s not much to say) daily during the Shelter-in-Place order here; I hope I don’t break my record!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Thirty-Six

If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium shopping day – we made our weekly trip to Lunardi’s mid-afternoon, when it was reasonably uncrowded. More customers were wearing masks than last week, but there were still a few going around with bare faces.

And since it was Tuesday, it was also Xfinity day – this week, I returned the cable modem I’d picked up last Tuesday, still shrink-wrapped. I was hoping to return it via UPS, but couldn’t print a label because Xfinity’s website didn’t show it as a device on my account (maybe because I never activated it); in the event, I think I spent less time interacting with the greeter at Xfinity who took the modem and came back a minute later to hand me a receipt than I would have had to spend at UPS getting them to package up the modem.

And since it was Tuesday, it also was pick-up-a-take-and-bake-pizza day; once more, we got it at Tony & Alba’s, again with nearly no interaction.

And since it was Tuesday, we had our Trivial Zoom session; Khartoum’s quizmaster sends us old trivia scripts each week and we go through them. It’s not quite the same as being there, but the beer is cheaper.