Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 339

It was a beautiful day today, sunny and in the 60s (sorry, friends and family suffering from winter storms).

I stepped in at the last moment to be Table Topics Master at my morning Toastmasters meeting. The meeting theme was “Life’s Purpose”; I tried to come up with questions befitting the theme, with only moderate success, but people answered them anyway.

We watched the landing of Perseverance on NASA’s YouTube feed – it made me feel good for the rest of the day!

No photography experiments today, hardly any cooking, but a good deal of walking. And we ate the orange – it was flavorful and juicy.

Quiet days are nice, even if they don’t provoke a lot of writing.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 338

I harvested our orange crop this afternoon – here it is:

Yes, we got exactly ONE orange from our tree this year! We’re waiting for a suitable occasion to eat it.

I don’t know how old the tree is (it was here when we moved in, back in 1984), but even last year, we got more than a dozen oranges. I hope that our new gardener can help nurse it back to life – our lemon tree revived after a couple of bad years, so there’s hope.

I took advantage of having only one orange to play with focus stacking and my new camera. Ctein wrote an explanation of the process in his most recent newsletter (info here), and I thought I’d give it a try. The photo above is the result of letting Photoshop do focus stacking on 19 separate shots of the orange; the photo below is the middle shot of the 19.

The difference isn’t dramatic, but it’s definitely there – it’s clearest at the stem.

If you want to see a better example of focus stacking (and a pro at work), look at Ctein’s photos, like this beautiful picture of a dragonfly.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 337

Making dinner tonight was an interesting experience. I made a familiar recipe, Pan Seared Lingcod. I made it in the All-Clad skillet I bought a few months ago, as usual, but tonight I decided to use our “Mr. Induction” instead of the regular cooktop heating element.

I set Mr. Induction to 800 watts and let it heat the skillet – after a couple of minutes, it was hot enough to make water dance, so I added olive oil. When I use the induction cooktop, the oil seems to get hot faster than it does if I use the stove, so I added the butter just a few seconds later, and that’s when the fireworks started – the oil started popping and spitting. I turned it down to 650 watts, but it didn’t make much difference. I was committed at this point, so I added the fish, garlic, and thyme and made dinner. Oil continued to pop the whole time, and the garlic blackened. The fish, somehow, wasn’t overcooked – but I did give up on making a pan sauce.

I’ve used 800 watts as “medium” in the past, but I guess it was with the 12-inch skillet instead of the 10-inch I used tonight. Or the new brand of butter (Tillamook instead of Challenger) had more water in it. Or I let the skillet heat too long. Or something…ideas are welcome.

The worst part? Our house cleaner had been here this morning, and the stove looked great before I started dinner!

On a brighter note, our neighbor’s annual tulip garden is beginning to bloom – there are only three or four tulips out so far, but it’s a good sign. And since we hadn’t planned on going to Keukenhof this year even before the pandemic, it’s nice to have a local source of lovely tulips!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 336

Last night, our trainer texted me to see if we wanted to postpone today’s session because the weather forecast was threatening rain. We decided against postponing, and it didn’t start raining until 20 minutes into the session, just as had been predicted! It was just a drizzle, though, so it turns out we’d made the right decision after all.

I finished working with the photos from the Costa Rica/Panama trip last year; I guess I should finish the rest of 2020’s photos while I’m at it – there are only 75 (and at least half of them are food). It seems like a plausible prospect…but I’m sure I’ll find a way to avoid it.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 335

Despite being together nearly all the time this year, Diane and I were able to surprise each other with Valentine’s Day cards this morning!

We got up early enough that it was just barely light outside. I took my new camera out and tried to capture the magic of the moment. I thought the scene looked something like this:

but the camera was set to “Auto” and turned it into this:

I’ll have to try again before sunrise gets too early!

We watched the Silicon Valley Shakespeare / South Bay Musical Theatre co-production of Pride and Prejudice this afternoon – it was based on a 1906 stage adaptation and was a lot of fun, and fit the day perfectly.

And I am still resisting touching the code I fixed on Friday.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 334

Soon after I woke up this morning, I thought about ways to make the code I’d rewritten yesterday slightly clearer and cleaner. I resisted.

The rest of the day was pretty quiet; we attended services this morning, talked for an hour with a friend we’d met on the Costa Rica/Panama trip, picked up a wine club shipment at Silver Mountain Winery, walked, and watched some TV before I wrote and edited the photos for today’s installment of the retroblog.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 333

A couple of weeks ago, I made an emergency fix to one of the programs I’d written for Toastmasters. And by “emergency fix”, I mean “kludge”. Unsurprisingly, it broke other parts of the code – I found out about the problem yesterday.

I didn’t think my successor would be able to fix my fix (he’s still learning Python, and this was not very clean code, especially after the fix was in), so I told him I’d do it. Instead of hacking at the code and adding yet more special cases, I refactored it to move all of the access to the WordPress calendar into its own module, preserve only those calendar fields we absolutely need (instead of keeping everything around), and in general, cleaned up the code.

It took longer than I’d like, but I think the code is understandable now. I even added comments in a few places!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 332

The day started with a Toastmasters meeting – one of the speakers had to cancel due to a family emergency, so we finished quite early!

Beyond that, it was a typical day – walking, cooking, eating, editing the retroblog, and watching a little TV. In other words, a day with almost nothing to write about – and yet I’ve written something anyway. Practice makes it all possible!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 331

I’ve been retroblogging our Costa Rica/Panama trip which happened exactly one year ago. Looking at the photos and notes from our trip to Sibö Chocolate made me wonder if I could find their chocolate here in the US.

I found it at Chocosphere near Portland, Oregon – with Valentine’s Day just a few days away, the obvious action was to order a few bars.

They arrived today.

We finished a Cardamom and Coffee bar after lunch today – it brought back nice memories.

It tasted good, too!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 330

I took off the bandage this morning; there was hardly any blood on it. Diane said she thought it didn’t need a new bandage, and the directions from the doctor said a new bandage was “optional”, so I opted out (no photos, sorry not sorry). So far, so good – and thanks to everyone who sent good wishes and prayers! I realize how lucky I am to have caught this one early while it was trivial to take care of.

This morning, my Pushover weather notification had yesterday’s outside temperature instead of today’s. I could see the current temperature on the bedside thermometer display, so I assumed that the Raspberry Pi which gets the temperature and sends it to my Mac had a problem. I was wrong – it was working fine. When I tried to connect to the MQTT broker (Mosquitto) from my desktop Mac, the connection was rejected…but I could connect from the Mac running Mosquitto.

I did a little research and eventually discovered that a recent update to Mosquitto had made it more secure – so that the default behavior was to only allow connections from the machine running Mosquitto. I updated the configuration file to allow connections from anywhere and all was well again. They’d even documented the change as a breaking change but I hadn’t seen it – the update got installed automagically as part of something else. *sigh*