Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 290

It was Diane’s birthday today – we celebrated by mostly staying at home (we did go grocery shopping and took a walk). We had a nice call with our son in Boston and a good Trivial Zoom this evening (alcohol was consumed), then we watched the CNN New Year’s Eve special and watched 2020 end on the East Coast.

Happy New Year!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 289

We made another new recipe from the Mercury News tonight, Pomegranate Chicken. I was afraid we were making far too much food, but it looks like we hit our goal of having just enough leftovers for one meal. We may try boneless, skinless thighs next time in the hope that the glaze will actually penetrate the meat.

Other than that, I spent the entire day working on the Toastmasters handover, in particular the scripts I mentioned yesterday to make it easy for people to build their own copy of the website and tooling. There were, of course, a few glitches along the way.

The biggest mistake I made was making the virtual machine’s disk too small and filling it up several hours into the process. I should have just deleted that virtual machine and started again, but I didn’t – instead, I enlarged the disk but somehow didn’t enlarge the filesystem, so it filled up again after several more hours of work. I learned my lesson and rebuilt the machine from scratch (it really didn’t take very long!).

I’m also having a strange problem with networking on the virtual machine – Ubuntu assigns a private IPv6 address to the machine, causing it to be unable to get to to install Python software. If I take the interface down and up, the private address goes away and all is well. I can’t figure out how to keep the private address from being created in the first place, but at least I’ve got an easy workaround.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 288

I spent a few hours working with the person who’s volunteering to take over the back end of the District 101 website; he is primarily a Windows user, so he has had to set up a Linux environment from scratch.

Today, we wanted to get the actual website and development environment onto his machine; fortunately, I’d written scripts to do that the last time I got some help, two years ago. Unfortunately, I hadn’t looked at the scripts since then, and Things Have Changed.

Most of the changes were easy to fix (I’d hard-coded “Python3.7” in several places, which was a bad idea), but one threw me for a loop. As part of the install, I clone the actual WordPress directory from; I decided that it was unnecessary and possibly harmful to bring over the cache directory, so I added –exclude ‘cache/”˜ to the rsync command I use to do the cloning. That worked fine two years ago, but in the meantime, the theme we use on the site (Divi) added a cache directory to its codebase; when I cloned the site, that directory didn’t get brought over.

There’s more to be done…tomorrow.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 287

When I visited the ophthalmologist a few days ago, he strongly suggested I get new glasses because my prescription had changed more than 0.25 diopters in both eyes. I thought about going to Costco in the hopes it would save me some money, and I might have done that in a normal year – but this year, staying out of Costco is high on my priority list. I’ve gotten glasses online with fair success – but I’ve only been willing to do that for special-purpose glasses for golf or sitting at the computer. So this afternoon, I returned to the ophthalmologist to visit the optician there.

I was still interested in saving money, so I brought my current backup glasses to see if the frame could be reused. I never found the answer to that question – the optician explained that I could get a brand new frame for no co-pay with my VSP benefits; I ordered the new frame. The old frame (and lenses) will go to the Lions’ Club so someone will be able to use them – just not me.

Both Diane and I decided we like our new Macs, so we sent our old ones back to Apple for trade-in. For the first time in more than a decade, we don’t have any “Pro” Macs in the house – but we do have two Airs and two Minis.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 286

This blog runs on a Linux server on Linode (referral link). I use the server for a few other purposes, too; one of its tasks is to send us selected items from the paper every morning. It usually runs smoothly, but this morning, we didn’t get the email from the server, nor any error messages. I logged onto the server and ran the summary program at the console; it seemed to work but at the very end, I got a message: “Killed”.

I knew I hadn’t written any such message into my program, so I started digging. I didn’t have to dig far – as soon as I looked at the system log, I saw messages from the “oom-killer” program, followed by a message: “Out of memory: Killed process”¦”.

I ran top and found that my memory was almost all in use, as was my swapfile. I rebooted, and things seemed better – but I did some more web searching and found out how to check the size of the swapfile – it was only 256MB on a 1GB image, far less than recommended.

I stopped the machine and reallocated space to give me a 2GB swapfile; I hope that solves the problem. As of this minute, the system is using 416MB of the swapfile, but there’s also nearly 400MB free main memory – I hope it knows what it’s doing, because I don’t!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 285

This morning, Rabbi Aron led Shir Shabbat services. That’s not unusual, but today’s service marked the last Shabbat service she’ll lead as the Senior Rabbi at Shir Hadash – she retires on Thursday and becomes Rabbi Emerita on Friday.

She’s told the story of the first Shabbat service she led at Shir Hadash, which ended with her and the Temple secretary driving all over town trying to find a place for a homeless man to stay for the night. Her last service will come with its own story – it got Zoom-bombed by at least half-a-dozen vandals! She closed the room and reopened it and we were very careful about only letting known people into the service the second time around (a couple of us volunteered to co-host so she could actually lead the service) and there were no further incidents.

This evening, we watched City Lights’ production of Mark Anderson Philips’s one-man version of A Christmas Carol – it was very good (if you want to see it, go to before January 3). But I got distracted by a stuck pixel at the bottom of the TV screen – I wondered if it might have been an artifact in the recording, but it stayed on after the show. Then I wondered if the TV might be giving up the ghost (and providing me an excuse to upgrade), so I moved the cursor to bring up a browser…and the “stuck pixel” turned out to be the tip of the cursor that had been sitting at the bottom of the screen the whole time. So much for that reason to upgrade!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 284

I woke up today realizing that I had two problems that I could solve if I just spent a little time learning how to make images in Python:

  • Creating a graphic for the daily Pushover weather notification that I send to Diane and me; right now, it’s just plain text and it’s difficult to pick out the important information. Pushover doesn’t support HTML or formatted text, but it does allow adding an image to the notification.
  • Printing labels on the Brother PT-2730 on Big Sur, as I mentioned yesterday.

The second problem was smaller, so I attacked it first. It was easy to create a PNG file from the text for a label and print it; the hard part was figuring out how to print it to a label of the proper length, and the documentation is, shall we say, very limited. Trial-and-error was my friend.

A few dozen trials, and most of my tape supply, later, I have a working program that lets me print labels in any font on my machine (figuring out how to specify the font by name and variation instead of filename and index was not easy). It’s on GitHub in case it’s of use to anyone else.

Creating the graphic for the weather notification will happen some other time.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 283

I hit my first significant incompatibility with Big Sur and my new Mac mini today. For many years, I’ve had a Brother PT-2730 label maker attached to a Mac in the office; by using Brother’s P-Touch Editor, I could create labels in any font I wanted. The software wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to use, but since I was only writing a few words at a time, it sufficed.

But when I migrated to Big Sur, the software crashed as soon as I tried to type anything. And Brother doesn’t seem to plan to support it on Big Sur; they have a new version of the editor on the Mac App Store, but it explicitly does not allow printing to older label makers like mine (I tried).

The obvious solution (at least from Brother’s viewpoint) would have me buy a new label maker that is supported – but that seems silly.

The next most obvious solution would be to install the Windows version of the editor on Diane’s Windows laptop, plug the printer into that machine, and declare victory. But that would require fiddling with Windows.

I was able to print directly to the label printer from Microsoft Word, but I haven’t found a way to print a label with an arbitrary length from Word. I’m looking for code that will do it from the command line, but haven’t found it yet.

Maybe using Windows for printing labels isn’t a totally horrible idea after all.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 282

We made cookies this morning according to the Doubletree recipe (except that we left out the walnuts – we were giving them away to neighbors and weren’t sure of nut allergies). It was messy, but the results were good!

We sent the ZVOX speaker I mentioned on December 13 back to ZVOX today. It definitely did clarify voices, but it was at the expense of stereo and a good bit of naturalness of the sound. I can get close to the same level of clarity by adjusting the graphic equalizer on the Denon receiver, and that means one fewer box and one fewer remote control to deal with, which seems like a fair trade for now.

This afternoon, I heard a “tink…tink…tink” sound from an external hard drive on Diane’s machine. Fortunately, it was only a backup/Time Machine drive, so there was no real loss of data, but I would like to get her machine up on Time Machine again real soon, so I think I’m in the market for another external drive (this one was at least five years old, so it’s not surprising that it failed).

After that, I decided to clean up the wiring around my computer in my office – that was several hours ago, and some things still don’t work. Maybe tomorrow will be better….

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 281

I set up the speaker system I mentioned yesterday; it’s a Cambridge Soundworks “Microworks”. I wouldn’t exactly call it “micro”, but it works. Unfortunately, it also uses a lot of power (85 watts) and suffers from a good bit of hum, so I’ll probably get some small desktop speakers instead, with a switch and volume control that I can reach easily instead of having to go under the desk.

I had my first meeting with the new District Web team this afternoon – I’d been trying to get a replacement as Webmaster for a couple of years, but I hadn’t ever set a date certain for my departure, so nothing happened. In October, I told the District Director that I needed to be replaced by the end of 2020, and it’s happening! I will be helping tie up loose ends for a month or two, I’m sure, but the direction is clear.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 280

UPS delivered the Mac mini this afternoon!

Setting it up was a little more trouble than I expected – I had to dig out a wired keyboard and touchpad (an old Cirque Smart Cat) to be able to pair it with the Apple wireless keyboard and Magic Trackpad I really want to use.

Then I realized that a Mac mini doesn’t include a microphone or a decent speaker – the webcam I’m using has a microphone, so that’s OK, but I’m going to have to figure out what to do about a speaker. I have an old Cambridge Soundworks system that I can use, but it includes a very large woofer that I’ll have to put somewhere, and the tweeters will take up some precious desk space, too. Or I could use headphones.

It’s going to take a while to figure out how to set things up properly – right now, there are wires all over the desk, some of which are probably unnecessary. I haven’t quite gotten comfortable with the placement of the monitor, keyboard, and touchpad yet – I’m sitting closer to the monitor than I did before, and it’s a big monitor.

It’ll all work out, right?

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 279

It was nice not to be waiting for any deliveries today; I did a bit more consolidation, pruning, and labeling of photos from 2002, which will make the eventual migration to the new machine a few seconds faster.

This morning was a special occasion – my first cousin, Sharon, turned 75 yesterday and her children arranged a surprise Zoom birthday party for her. It had been a long time since we’d talked, and it was good to see other family members, too.

This evening, we attended a Sheloshim service for Rabbi Aron’s mother who died a bit over a week ago; that was a reminder of the other end of the cycle.

The waiting resumes tomorrow.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 278

UPS sent me a message this morning saying that my new Mac mini was “out for delivery” today, much to my surprise. After Shir Shabbat services, we went outside and found a box from Apple on the porch – it was the box I need to use when I send my old computer to them for trade-in. And it came by FedEx, not UPS. Maybe Monday….

Our neighbors Bones and Skully have reappeared after their vacation – good thing they have heavy sweaters because it’s quite chilly outside tonight!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 277

I had hopes of getting my new Mac mini today; UPS sent me an email telling me to expect it between 4:15 and 8:15pm; Apple sent me a text telling me “Today’s the day.”

It’s 9:17pm, and I’m beginning to suspect that today isn’t the day.

If the computer had arrived, I wouldn’t have been able to set it up in place of the system it’s replacing because I’m leading services over Zoom tomorrow, and rearranging everything would not have been a good idea – but it would have been nice to have had the option.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 276

I had hopes of getting my new Mac mini today, but it must have missed the flight from Louisville to Oakland overnight – UPS now tells me it’ll be here tomorrow.

FedEx finally delivered our bagels from New Yorker Bagels a day late; we had to replan our menu for the week because of the delay! They also delivered the box to send Diane’s old laptop back to Apple – we’ve got two weeks to send it, which should give her a chance to really try out the new one first. And we’re still waiting for them to deliver a wine shipment that was supposed to have arrived on Tuesday (good thing we have other sources for wine!).

Our plumber came in the late afternoon and cleared out the drain pipes – he said it looked like an accumulation of grease over the years and suggested a way to avoid having it recur: clean the sink with Comet once a week, fill the basin with water, and then let it all gush out at once to dislodge the grease before it can pile up. Sounds easy enough….

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 275

Today got off to a good start – I got two notifications from UPS:

  • my new Mac mini had finally departed from Hong Kong (where it had spent three days lazing about)
  • Diane’s new MacBook Air was going to be delivered today

The doorbell rang at 10:30; it was the UPS driver with Diane’s computer, and we spent much of the day migrating the data and apps from her old computer to the new one and cleaning up the small problems that happened along the way (BackBlaze is still confused). It is significantly faster than her old laptop, and, as advertised, silent.

Lunch was another new recipe from the Merc, Soy, Balsamic, and Sriracha Chicken Stir-Fry, which called for blanching the vegetables and meat, something I’d never done before. The preparation was fairly easy, and the results were quite tasty, but while I was cleaning up afterwards, the sink started to back up. Running the garbage disposer didn’t help much – in fact, the water started backing up into the other basin in the sink.

I went online and found instructions on how to clear a blocked disposer, but that wasn’t the problem. I considered trying to take off the trap under the sink to see if I could fix it – and then I had a sudden bout of sanity and called our plumber instead. He asked me to go outside and see if I could find a cleanout (I couldn’t), but I happened to look in the utility sink in the garage and saw that it was nearly filled with dirty water.

Clearly, something is clogged up downstream of the kitchen sink – the plumber will be paying us a visit soon.

But that wasn’t even the most distressing thing that happened today – one of our trivia friends has tested positive for COVID-19, thanks to a co-worker who didn’t follow anything approaching reasonable mask practices, coughed all over the office kitchen, and was carrying the virus. So far, she says she’s feeling OK, and we hope it continues that way.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 274

Today marked my third visit to the ophthalmologist this year – happily, this was a planned visit for a refraction, not an emergency trip. He didn’t even dilate my eyes, which made for a much more pleasant experience for the rest of the day. My prescription changed more than usual in the past year – even the astigmatism correction changed – but I didn’t want to wait around for the optician, so I’ll have to go back or try somewhere else. I hear good things about Costco Optical, but I’m not sure I want to be in a Costco for the next few months!

This afternoon, we walked to Starbucks for our annual December mochas; I ordered in advance on the app, of course, but we had to wait ten minutes after the “promised” time to receive the drinks. They weren’t terribly impressive, nor very hot – I could have gone back to complain, but I didn’t bother. Buying the two mochas brought my Starbucks card down below the $10 level that qualifies me to have the balance refunded, but to do so online requires having the account number and the PIN – I can get the account number from the Starbucks app, but the PIN is on the original card, which is long gone. I’m sure I’ll visit a Starbucks once we start traveling again, so I guess I’ll leave it alone for now.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 273

We finished watching The Queen’s Gambit this evening – I highly recommend it.

I’ve started exporting my selected and cleaned-up photos from Lightroom back to Apple Photos, and all seemed to go well until I realized that many of the photos had lost their GPS information in the process. After doing some research, I found this post which explained the problem – I had marked the area around our house as “private” in Lightroom; that tells Lightroom to delete the GPS information for any photo in that area when it exports it. Perfect for photos I plan to put on Facebook or my blog, not so good for my own copies!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 272

A couple of weeks ago, the “Sound Advice” column in the Merc mentioned a sale on a ZVOX Dialogue-Clarifying Sound Bar. This wasn’t the first time the column has touted a ZVOX speaker or headphone, but this was the first time we bit. The dialog in Ted Lasso was sufficiently muddy and accented to be hard to understand with our normal audio system – we actually resorted to subtitles for a couple of episodes – and there have been other programs where we’d have liked clearer voices.

The speaker is intended as a replacement for your existing audio, not an addition; it connects up to the TV through an optical cable, and the instructions tell you to turn off the TV speakers. We haven’t used our TV’s speakers in many years – all of our program sources go through our Denon AVR-2112CI receiver, with the audio coming from the receiver and the video going to the TV, and I didn’t want to lose that option.

It took a little while, but I eventually found the option on the Denon to tell it to send the audio on the HDMI cable to the TV, and then the ZVOX speaker picked up the signal – and indeed, voices are clearer. It seems like the ZVOX punches up the “voice range” (300-3000 Hz) and cuts the bass and treble. It probably does other processing, too – the audio sounds a bit funky, but it’s definitely easier to understand voices.

Switching between the two audio paths was a pain – I had to go into the menu on the receiver, then pick System Setup/HDMI Setup/HDMI Audio Out – many keystrokes required on the remote. Every time.

But then I realized I had a better solution; my home automation solution, Indigo, supports user-written plugins, and someone going by the handle of “Perry the Cynic” had written a plugin to support Denon receivers. And that plugin lets you send arbitrary commands to the receiver. A little more research led me to a document with all of the possible commands, which let me figure out how to tell the receiver to switch the audio output between the TV and the receiver. And I was even able to set things up so that I can tell my Amazon Echo to “turn ZVOX off” (or on) to switch the audio. And I didn’t have to write a single line of code to do it.

Now I want to see if I can get a similar effect to the one produced by the ZVOX by fiddling with the graphic equalizer on the receiver; it would be nice to have one fewer box around.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 271

Most years, the Shir Hadash Men’s Club has a Latke Dinner and Comedy Film Night; each attendee is asked to bring 8 or so latkes so that people can try different ones. I’ve always taken the easy way out and brought Trader Joe’s latkes – they get eaten, but if we were voting on “best latke”, they’d finish in the middle of the pack.

Tonight, though, we made latkes from scratch, using a recipe from Wise Sons Deli. It was my idea, so I did the grating and frying; Diane put the rest of the recipe together. We were afraid that the latkes wouldn’t be enough of a meal, so we also had the rest of the Fast Tandoori Chicken from Thursday.

It was messy, but tasty. I was happy that the oil didn’t spatter all over when I put the batter in the cast iron pan. And it was a good thing that we had the chicken, too.

Tomorrow will be healthier, but this was fun!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 270

According to Wikipedia, the average human gestation period is 270 days. It feels like today, day 270, was a day of deliverance – with the Supreme Court swatting aside the Texas suit and the FDA giving emergency approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It’s not delivery day yet on either front, but today was a huge step in the right direction.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 269

It was another big Toastmasters day – after my club’s meeting, I visited Toastrix (at Citrix) for the first time in a month or so. They seem to be doing well and are adding members, which is good. Their whole company switched from GoToMeeting to Microsoft Teams, so I also had my first experience with Teams; other than being unable to change backgrounds mid-meeting, it seemed very Zoom-like.

My Mac mini has shipped – so far, it’s travelled from Shenzen to Hong Kong. The estimated delivery is Wednesday, so I guess I should prepare backups and get ready for its arrival.

Happy Chanukah!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 268

Another quiet day; I finally caught up on my blog reading from the past two weeks and beat my email inbox down to zero, at least briefly.

We voyaged to the wilds of San Mateo County this afternoon to pick up an order of spices from the Penzeys store in Menlo Park. It was odd seeing outdoor dining and beauty salons still open there – we did not indulge.

The real reason for the trip was to return a batch of books and a DVD to the Jewish Community Library at the JCC in Palo Alto – we handed them to the security guard at the entrance to the parking lot, and we trust they will eventually make their way to the Library itself.

Progress comes in small steps.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 267

Today was a very quiet day; probably the most exciting thing I did was replace the light covers on our range hood (and, while I was at it, I put LED bulbs in to replace the incandescents without waiting for them to burn out; I think the old bulbs have been there for at least a decade, so I don’t feel too guilty about not getting every last second out of them).

And I wrote another product review – this time for the electric blanket we bought from Costco last month, which has unusual controls (they are only illuminated for a few seconds when you turn on or adjust the blanket – that’s a problem for some people, but doesn’t bother us).

Perhaps tomorrow will be more interesting.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 266

I’m a member of Office Depot’s rewards program. I had a reward that was going to expire at the end of November, and didn’t really need any office supplies, but they had paper towels available, so I used my reward to buy a package.

Naturally, they wanted a review (and offered $2 in rewards for writing one), so I obliged:

They’re paper towels – and they were in stock!

What can you say about a package of paper towels? That they were the brand I prefer. And available. That they fit on my dispenser. And in my kitchen. And they’re mine.

(With apologies to Erich Segal)

I’m not sure that the review will be helpful for someone trying to decide between brands of paper towels, but that was not a requirement.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 265

Two months ago, I mentioned that I’d spent a couple of hours on hold with Grohe to get them to replace the pull-out spray head on our kitchen faucet, which I was supposed to receive at the end of October.

October came and went; I contacted Grohe again (this time by e-mail!) and got a reply a few days later, telling me that the part would be shipped in late November. They missed that deadline, too, but not by much – they shipped it on December 1 and I got it yesterday.

This morning, when I was ready to install it, I discovered two little doohickeys in the box with no explanation or instructions.

The white one looked like what was in the old spray head, but I couldn’t figure out how to install it, so I Googled and discovered that they were flow restrictors. I didn’t find instructions on how to install them, so I installed the spray head without one.

Boy, what a difference, especially when it comes to dislodging stuck-on food from a pan! And it’s easy to turn down the water for normal use, so I don’t even feel guilty about having a higher maximum flow available than I am probably legally entitled to have.

I still can’t figure out how to put in the restrictor so that it would stay in, but I don’t feel compelled to find the answer.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 264

Like nearly every Saturday, we spent the day “at” Shir Hadash. But today was unlike every other Saturday, because this evening was the tribute to our Rabbi, Melanie Aron. She’s retiring at the end of the year, though we are fortunate that she’s staying in the area and will become our Rabbi Emerita.

If there hadn’t been a pandemic, the event would have been in person at the synagogue and there might have been issues with the Fire Marshal (and there are plans to have an in-person event when conditions allow), but as it was, we all gathered around our screens and celebrated that way. And because we were online, distance was not a barrier – members who had moved away were able to attend. And the acoustics were great (especially for the pre-recorded musical numbers – our former custodian knocked it out of the park with “L’chi Lach”)!

There were interviews, non-stop tributes in the chat, music, and even a surprise sign event – Diane made our sign and we held it up on cue.

Next week, there will be “Drive By Goodbyes” to Rabbi Aron – it’ll be good to see her in person, but tonight was special.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 263

Lunch today was another experiment, Delicata, Radicchio, and Black Rice Salad from last Sunday’s Mercury News. We couldn’t find Delicata squash, though, so we substituted Kabocha, which meant we had to do more work because it doesn’t have edible skin. And the black rice we chose took nearly an hour to cook (something I didn’t realize until we were actually making the food!). But the final product was tasty, and we were able to eat it outside on a beautiful late fall day.

This evening was the beginning of the official goodbye for Shir Hadash’s Senior Rabbi, Melanie Aron. She’s been with the congregation for 30 years, and she’s made an enormous impact on the community, the congregation, and us. Fortunately, she will be staying here and will become our Rabbi Emerita on January 1st, so we won’t be losing her completely!

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 262

I had big plans for today. I was going to attend two Toastmasters meetings, get caught up on Quicken, read the Economist, and continue my streak of closing all three rings on my Apple Watch. And maybe finally get around to restringing the blinds in the bathroom, too!

How’d I do on reaching my goals? I got to one Toastmasters meeting and just closed the final ring on my watch a minute ago (at nearly 10pm). I spent a lot of time reading a thread on Twitter where a lawyer dissected the filings in 45’s latest suit in Wisconsin (for some reason, Screen Time isn’t nagging me properly on my phone, so I can get lost in Twitter and Facebook more than I want to allow). I checked the temperature in our ovens against the new thermometer – the ovens run a good bit cooler than they claim, as I suspected.

And that was about it for productivity today. Good thing I’m retired!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 261

We bought our Ring Doorbell about four years ago. It’s never had the promised “six month” battery life, which didn’t surprise me at all, but over the years, it’s gotten shorter and shorter. I had to charge it today, less than a month after the last time. That’s annoying, but it won’t be a real problem until we start to travel again (I don’t want the battery to die while we’re traveling) – so I need to replace it before that happens.

The obvious replacement is another Ring Doorbell; the 2020 model is only $100, but it, too, has a non-replaceable battery. The Ring Doorbell 3 has a removable battery, but it costs $200, which is quite a premium for convenience and possibly longer life.

I could also try to move my existing Ring to the side of the door where my old doorbell is and power it that way – it feels like the video would be of people’s sides rather than their face, but maybe that would be OK. And maybe it would connect faster – as it is, I rarely can connect to the doorbell before the person ringing it gives up!

Are any of you using other video doorbells that you like?

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 260

We do most of our charitable giving every year in December – and today was “Giving Tuesday” and several of the charities we support had one-day-only matching campaigns, so we sat down this afternoon to make some donations.

It took a couple of hours, between the emails and paper mails that we’d been waiting to handle – by the time we were finished, we were achy from sitting so long! The next step is submitting eligible contributions to the IBM Matching Grants program; at least they got rid of the paper forms a few years ago!

But today wasn’t just about donations. A few days ago I bought an All-Clad skillet; it arrived on Saturday, but I didn’t get around to opening the box until this morning.

I’ve already used it twice, making Pan Seared Lingcod for lunch and Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes for dinner. It cooks differently than our Anolon pan – it seemed to get hotter (the cherry tomatoes cooked in 5 minutes instead of 10, which threw off my timing for the rest of the recipe, though some of that might have to do with using a bigger burner than usual). And I’ll have to get used to heating the pan before putting the oil in it, which also will change the timings for the rest of the recipe.

So far, so good!