Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 380

I have the bad habit of checking my email almost as soon as I get up. Mostly, I just look at the subject lines and delete obviously useless stuff, but once in a while, there’s an email that grabs my attention.

That was the case this morning with email from Vueling Airlines, telling me about a schedule change to our flight from Barcelona to Porto in August. It was a flight we had no intention of taking.

Last year, I’d been able to get refunds for almost all of the flights and cruises we’d had planned; the only exception was our flight on Vueling. They would only allow me to reschedule for another day, up to a year later, so I did that, hoping that they’d allow me to postpone again and use the credit in 2022.

Today’s mail said that they’d rescheduled my placeholder flight to be about six hours later. But because they’d moved it more than five hours, I now had the option of requesting a refund.

I took the option. The website offered Flight Credit with a 10% bonus, good for three years. When I declined that, they gave me a US phone number to call to get an actual refund. After listening to yet another recording offering me the Flight Credit, I was connected to an agent in Barcelona who (after offering me credit again) actually started the refund process. It’s more complicated than it should be because my credit card number got changed since I bought the flights, but I have hope!

We celebrated by getting our hair cut professionally for the first time in more than a year – I guess I should give the Wahl Peanut a really good cleaning and put it away.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 379

It’s been two weeks since we got our second doses of the Moderna vaccine, so we are now officially Fully Vaccinated. Diane celebrated by going to the doctor for her annual Medicare checkup, which she’d scheduled long before we knew when we were going to be vaccinated. It was uneventful.

As was the rest of the day; I’ve started the final round of cleanup on photos from 2005, so I’m reliving my trip to China with the Technology Council. Sixteen years ago today, I was watching the China National Acrobatic Troupe perform; today, I watched Ted Lasso. Time marches on!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 378

I finished with my photos from 2004 today. I started the day with 1,373 photos from that year in Apple Photos and ended with what I think are the best 373 – the other 1,000 live on in backups, but I doubt I’ll ever try to restore them.

Dinner tonight was a Pesach version of a favorite recipe, Panko Crusted Halibut. I used Kosher-for-Passover “Panko Crumbs” – they were made of potato flakes, potato flour, and some flavorings. I had accidentally bought barbecue-flavored crumbs; perhaps the plain version would have been better, but I doubt it. Oh, well!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 377

I finally got back to working on photos today – I want to replace the photos in the Apple Photos library with the good ones I intend to keep, properly labeled and geolocated.

I got as far as my trip to Japan with the Technology Council of the IBM Academy of Technology in 2004; not only did I have my own photos in the collection, I had photos from two friends who were there, too. I’d already made one pass over the photos, but this time I was more selective. I also did more research on some of the photos from the day at the Toshugu Shrine in Nikko to figure out what buildings were in the photos – Google Image Search and Wikimedia Commons are powerful tools.

Needless to say, I didn’t finish. Tomorrow is another opportunity.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 376

Tonight was the first night of Passover; naturally, we attended a Seder with our friends. It was slightly too soon to be able to get together safely, even though many of us had been vaccinated, so we did it on Zoom.

!בשנה הבאה באופן אישי

Next year in person!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 375

Today was the final day of the season for Learned League. In some ways, it’s been my best season since I joined back in 2016 – I got 78% of the questions right versus my lifetime 68.9% and there were 7 days out of 25 where I got all 6 questions right. On the other hand, I wound up with a tie on 5 of those 7 days, which was frustrating, and ended up with 10 ties (a personal record).

Oh, well, there’s always next season!

The birds have started returning to the creek near us – ducks are there almost every time we walk by, and yesterday, there was a beautiful egret. It wasn’t there today, though, but I hope to see it again soon.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 374

The Insteon outdoor on/off outlet I mentioned on Monday arrived this afternoon, and I wasted no time in adding it to Indigo and Alexa so I can control it easily.

I had hoped to put the outlet inside the box containing the landscape lighting equipment, replacing the mechanical timer, but the only way to get it in there needed me to contort the 110-volt supply cable in ways that made me uneasy, so I gave up and mounted the outlet on top of the box. “Mounted” is a somewhat generous description, but I think it’s sufficiently stable to get by.

And now I can say, “Alexa, turn on garden” and the lights come on; they also come on automatically around sunset and turn off at 10:30pm.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 373

We had planned to go visit more appliance stores today, but a couple of friends strongly suggested we check Costco to see what kind of washers and dryers they had. I hadn’t considered Costco, expecting them to only offer huge machines (or multi-packs), but when I looked at the website, I found that they had a highly-rated compact offering from Samsung – the washer was a front loader and no deeper than the one we’re replacing, a critical consideration.

And then I got an email from IBM Retiree Benefits Discount Programs with lots of offers, including one from Samsung – and they had the same washer and dryer I wanted at an even better price than Costco. I leapt into action, only to discover that Samsung’s free installation offer didn’t apply in my zip code. So I’ve ordered from Costco, with projected delivery and installation in two weeks. In the meantime, we’ll try to baby our existing washer along.

We had Soy, Balsamic, and Sriracha Chicken Stir-Fry for dinner tonight. I ended up with some burnt-on residue that I couldn’t get off with my usual methods, but a web search took me to, which suggested using a credit card to scrape off the residue.

I didn’t have any spare credit cards, but I did have an old Best Western loyalty card, and it did the trick, though it is much the worse for wear now.

I’m still a Best Western member, of course – in fact, the reason I had the spare card was that they upgraded me (and about 5,000 other members) to their top tier in 2018 in recognition of having been a member of their program since they started it in 1988, and they sent me a new card. I haven’t stayed at a Best Western since getting the new card, but I’m glad I kept the old one!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 372

I checked with some appliance repair people and got unanimous recommendations to replace, rather than repair, the washing machine. They thought the problem was the main bearing, and that was a multi-hundred-dollar fix. So we went to Home Depot and Best Buy to look at what they had on the floor. Home Depot wasn’t very useful – the guy had to search their website to tell me anything about the machines they had available, and I can do that myself! Best Buy was more informative – the salespeople seemed knowledgable and were able to answer questions. We couldn’t find any front-loaders that would fit in the space we have available, so I have more web searching to do – “compact” washers will fit, but they are significantly smaller than what we have now. We don’t have our ducks in a row yet, but we made progress.

Diane’s Windows update remained stuck at 61% overnight, so I searched some more and found this page, which offered a batch file to fix things. Unfortunately, the file wasn’t downloadable, and the version on the web page was one long line, but I used it, as well as some other suggestions to delete Conexant audio drivers as part of the upgrade, and eventually succeeded in getting her machine upgraded.

The recipe for success was a multi-step process, which I document here in hopes of helping other seekers:

Step 1. Open Windows Update and suspend updates for 7 days.

Step 2. Open a Command Prompt in Administrator mode, then issue these commands (leave the command prompt window open – you’ll come back to it):

net stop wuauserv
net stop CryptSvc
net stop bits

If wuauserv doesn’t stop for some reason, reboot and try again, starting with step 1.

Step 3. Open Device Manager, go to “Sound, video, and game controllers” and uninstall Conexant SmartAudio HD. Be sure to check the box to delete the drivers from the system. Do not reboot – rebooting reinstalls the drivers.

Step 4. Go back to the command prompt and issue these commands:

cd C:\Windows\System32
rename CatRoot CatRoot.old
rename catroot2 catroot2.old
cd C:\Windows
rename SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old

If you already have any of the “.old” directories, you can delete them and do the rename.

Step 5. Now, restart the services you stopped:

net start bits
net start CryptSvc
net start wuauserv

Step 6. Go back to the Windows Update window and resume updates. Windows should be able to update successfully to the new version.

Step 7. Reboot when requested – after rebooting, you should be running the new release of Windows.

Step 8. Open Command Prompt as Administrator and delete the ‘.old’ directories you created in Step 4.

You may want to open Storage Settings and delete the old version of Windows once you’re up and running – in our case, we got back nearly 30GB by doing so.


Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 371

Today has not been a good day for technology here.

Diane’s Windows machine wants to upgrade to the “2H20 Feature Release” of Windows 10, but Windows Update gets to 61% and stops cold – I’ve found lots of suggestions, but no guaranteed solutions. I’m trying one of the more promising suggestions (requiring deleting a secret Windows directory) and it’s busily downloading.

Our garden lights didn’t come on when they were supposed to. They are on a mechanical timer – turning the timer through a full day’s cycle made the lights come on, but that shouldn’t be necessary. I’d already ordered an Insteon outdoor outlet to replace the timer so I can actually control the lights – this confirmed my decision.

And our old reliable Maytag Neptune washer started making horrible noises; we were able to coax it through washing the clothes it had already gotten wet, but I think we’re in the market for a replacement. Wirecutter and Consumer Reports both like the LG WM4000, and the reviews on the Home Depot site are overwhelmingly favorable, but there are a lot of disgruntled customer reviews on the Consumer Reports site. Anybody have any experience with recent LGs?

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 370

We were season subscribers to San Jose Rep right up until the end; one of the plays which we were supposed to see in its final year was The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) by the Reduced Shakespeare Company. That show didn’t happen, of course, but we were able to see the play at the Marin Theatre Company a few months later, in December 2014. We enjoyed it and even went back to MTC to see Anne Boleyn a few months later – but the trip to Mill Valley was too much to make MTC a regular stop for us.

We stayed on their email list, though, and a couple of weeks ago, they sent the announcement of this year’s season. They hope to be in the theatre again late in 2021, but in the meantime, they’re streaming – which means distance is no obstacle. And the first play this season is by a favorite playwright, Lauren Gunderson – it’s The Catastrophist, based on the life and works of Dr. Nathan Wolfe, a virologist and her husband. We signed up for the virtual season and watched the play tonight – it was excellent. As the ad says, it’s “built of and for this moment in time” – it takes advantage of being on screen instead of grudgingly accepting the situation.

They have one or two more plays planned as part of the virtual season – I’m looking forward to seeing them.

And it’s not too late to see The Catastrophist yourself – it’s available by itself for $30 or as part of the virtual season, which costs $50. Details here – I recommend it!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 369

Diane has been “away” all day at a Forever “Pixels 2 Pages” event. In a normal year, she would have gone to a hotel and spent all day on her computer with her friends, learning about ways to use the software. This year, of course, she stayed home and spent all day on her computer with her friends, learning about ways to use the software – at least we were able to eat together!

This afternoon was the Toastmasters Area B2 Speech Contest. The Table Topics prompt was “what have you learned about yourself during the pandemic?” – unfortunately, the contest wasn’t recorded, so I don’t know exactly how I responded, but I won, so I’ll be competing at Division level next month. One of my competitors is the person who put together Diane’s event (and who’ll be hosting us for Zoom Seder next week) – it’s a small world!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 368

I was less than surprised to get an email from Celebrity Cruises this morning telling me that they’d decided to use the Celebrity Millennium for Caribbean sailings this summer instead of waiting to see if the Canadian Government would open up their ports. And therefore, they were cancelling all Alaskan sailings for this year, including ours.

When Celebrity first announced that Canada was suspending port access for this year, we tried to postpone this trip to 2022 – none of us were ready to get onto a big ship yet – but they weren’t willing to make any changes then. Today’s note gave us three choices: postpone, take a credit, or get a refund. We told our travel agent to postpone, and she has already rebooked us to the cruise we wanted for 2022; by that time, sailing on a big ship should be significantly less worrisome.

We still have two trips for this year that haven’t been postponed yet – and Iceland has just reopened their borders to fully vaccinated people, so there’s a chance that that trip may really happen. But I’m not buying any airplane tickets yet!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 367

I made one final editing pass in Lightroom over my photos from last year’s trip to Costa Rica and Panama, making sure they were the ones I wanted to keep and that they all had titles. Then I went to Apple Photos and deleted all the photos from the trip there.

After that, I exported the edited photos from Lightroom to my disk as TIFFs, then used the Mac’s sips command to convert them to HEICs to put back into Apple Photos:

for file in *.tif 
  do sips "$file" -s format heic --out "${file%%.tif}".heic

Using TIFFs as the intermediate format instead of JPEGs is probably overkill, but with a fast processor, it doesn’t matter and makes me feel better.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 366

I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue the daily journal after we got our second vaccinations and after the one-year mark, but I guess I am, at least until we reach “fully immunized” status or we spend a night away from home – at that point, I think the name would really need to change.

We planned a very easy day today to allow for side effects from the second vaccination – so easy, we didn’t even plan to cook. But we were lucky and had very few side effects. We were both very tired last night and went to sleep early; Diane’s arm is still sore, and she was tired until lunchtime; my arm was a little sore and I had a bit of a headache, but a couple of ibuprofen tablets took care of that.

We felt good enough to go out for our usual walks this afternoon, and we even cooked one of our quarantine favorites, Blistered Broccoli Pasta with Walnuts, Pecorino, and Mint for dinner.

So far, so good.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 365

We had two projects come to fruition today!

The first was in our backyard; our landscaper installed lighting to highlight the fruit trees and other plants, as well as lighting up the area around the grill so I can cook better at night.

And the other was in our arms – we got our second Moderna jabs this afternoon at Valley Medical Center. The process was significantly easier and faster this time (except for finding a parking spot!) – I don’t think we had to wait more than five minutes total between arriving and getting jabbed. We had to wait around for 30 minutes afterwards, of course, but we knew to expect that.

It’s hard to believe that, exactly one year ago, we were hunkering down waiting for the official Shelter-in-Place order to go into effect the next day. Life seems brighter now, even if we still aren’t going anywhere in the near future!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 364

One of our favorite ways to travel is on a river cruise – the ships are small, you’re always within sight of land, the food is good, and the ports are interesting. Our favorite river cruises have been on AmaWaterways in Europe and Southeast Asia, and we’ve got three trips planned with them through 2023. And we’ve got a favorite travel agent for Ama cruises – Dave Natale, aka River Cruise King.

Dave sends out a lot of information, which is a good thing. Lately, he’s branched out and is producing video talks on YouTube, like this one – they’re interesting and informative, but they overlap with his other communications, and it’s hard to skim a video to find the new information.

YouTube automatically subtitles videos, and it’s easy to download the subtitles along with the video using a program like Downie or youtube-dl. I wanted to extract the text from the subtitle file so I could read it. The subtitle file is in XML, but I’d already had to figure out how to convert the subtitles from their native form into SRT (SubRip Subtitle) so I could use them on Plex – an SRT file looks like this:

00:00:13,200 --> 00:00:14,559
[Music]hi everybody

00:00:14,559 --> 00:00:17,199
hi everybodyit's friday so that means it's time for

00:00:17,199 --> 00:00:17,840
it's friday so that means it's time foranother

It’s easy to extract just the text (it’s every fourth line), but there’s a lot of overlap from line to line, which made it hard to read. So I wrote a very simple, stupid, and probably inefficient program to eliminate the overlap and create a spreadsheet with two columns, like this:

Time Text
00:00:13 [Music]hi everybody
00:00:14 it’s friday so that means it’s time for
00:00:17 another
00:00:17 round table talk with the river cruise
00:00:20 king

Then it’s easy to open up the spreadsheet, read the text, and know exactly where to start watching the video for the parts that are the most interesting to us.

Dave’s latest video is 42 minutes long – it took less time than that to write and debug the program!

I’ve been told that patience is a virtue, but I’m still waiting to have that proven to me.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 363

We took our usual trip to the Farmers’ Market, followed by our usual walk. I saw an interesting flower on the way back to the car – I liked the way the petals spiraled around the center.

The phone was much less happy the first time I tried to take a photo of that flower – the exposure and colors were WAY off:

And here are the histograms of the two photos:

I don’t know what happened, but the bad photo is missing data for about the top 20% of the intensity, and there was no way to recover it. Good thing I could take another one right away!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 362

When I opened the Facebook app this morning, I was greeted by a message from Facebook telling me one of my photos from January 29, 2019, had been flagged as a possible violation of community standards for showing violent or graphic content. The message didn’t actually show me the photo, of course – that would be too easy.

I clicked the button and saw this image:

Facebook offered to delete the image or I could “disagree” with the decision and leave the image up. I chose to leave it up and went on with my day (well, to be honest, I looked to see if I’d gotten any comments or likes on yesterday’s blog post).

This afternoon, I wanted to find the post that Facebook had flagged and look at it in context. I couldn’t find it on my timeline. I couldn’t find the message from Facebook, either. I looked in the Photos app on my phone and found the image – it was one of a dozen or so that Sokun, our guide in Cambodia, had sent me to distribute to our tour group. I looked in the tour group’s Facebook group, and saw that I’d uploaded all of Sokun’s images there so everyone else could download them at their leisure – and, a mere 26 months later, Facebook’s scanners had found this one and flagged it.

I eventually found the message from Facebook – it was in the “Support Inbox” in the Help and Support section of the settings dropdown – not exactly an obvious location.

I think I’ll leave the image where it is and see if it gets flagged again.

Edited to add: I’d forgotten that the group had been made public after the trip so we could let family and friends see photos, so I’m a bit less surprised that Facebook scanned it. I also decided that anyone on the tour had had ample time to download the guide’s photos by now, so I deleted the post with those photos, including the one Facebook didn’t like.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 361

There are times I think the universe is out to help me. I’ve stumbled across answers to problems I hadn’t yet encountered twice in the last two days.

I happened to read a conversation a couple of days ago on Twitter between two people I worked with at IBM that mentioned a “zero-width non-joiner” – an invisible character that you could add to a word to keep it from being recognized as, say, a link or a special word on Facebook. Yesterday, a friend commented on my trip to India Cash and Carry, saying she really liked garlic ginger paste, which she abbreviated to “GG”, which Facebook turned bright pink. If you clicked the “GG”, you saw an animation. I was going to reply, but I didn’t want my GG to turn pink, so I cut-and-pasted in a zero-width non-joiner, and Facebook left my typing alone. Solution, meet problem!

And today, the Los Gatos Weekly Times had an article about David Kinch’s new cookbook, in which they mentioned a few of his cooking tips, notably “how not to toast pine nuts” (bake them in the oven, don’t toast them in a pan). I was planning to make a Pasta with Mint, Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella for lunch; the recipe calls for toasting pine nuts in a pan, and I hadn’t been happy with the way they turned out. Today, I followed Kinch’s advice and the pine nuts toasted much more evenly and browned without burning. Solution, meet problem!

We saw the first ice cream truck of the year during this afternoon’s walk – he was prowling the neighborhood, but I think to no avail.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 360

We started our Passover shopping today with a trip to Mollie Stone’s in Palo Alto. I was surprised to discover that the whole wheat matzo we like…well, tolerate…had gotten a lot more expensive and was now in a much smaller box (10.5 ounces instead of 16); I hope we bought enough, because Lunardi’s isn’t carrying it this year. They also don’t seem to have Manischewitz Dark Chocolate Peppermint patties, either, but Mollie Stone’s did, so I’m happy.

My oral surgeon’s office called to see how I’m doing and told me to discontinue using hydrogen peroxide and salt rinses and to start brushing the implant site with a manual toothbrush. And to use heat on the site, since it’s still aching a bit – but they said that wasn’t unusual, which made me feel better.

President Biden’s speech made me feel better, too – I don’t think he used the phrase “very beautiful” even once! We’re not out of the woods yet, but if we can avoid another surge, there’s hope!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 359

It’s a good thing Santa Clara County entered the Red Tier last week, because it was too rainy this morning for us to work out at the JCC’s outdoor pavilion. Instead, our trainer met us in the Yoga Studio and we worked there – it’s not really a Yoga room at this point, since there’s a TRX taking up a large part of the floor.

I made pretzels today – it’s almost to the point that I seem to know what I’m doing!

While the pretzels were chilling, we visited India Cash and Carry to pick up some ingredients for Slow Cooker Spiced Lentils with Veggies – we were out of curry leaves, and I wanted to try the black mustard seeds the recipe calls for instead of the brown mustard seeds I had bought at Lunardi’s when I couldn’t find the black ones. I could have bought a full pound of generic black mustard seeds for $2, but I decided to splurge and bought 7 ounces of the name brand for $2.49! I also bought ginger garlic paste – there were at least three different brands to choose from, none of which were familiar, so I took the one in the smallest jar!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 358

Breakfast this morning was not up to its usual standard. The food was fine (a Minneola tangelo and Cheerios with milk, same as always), but when it came time to make coffee, things went awry. I use a Javapresse manual coffee grinder which I bought almost four years ago. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and nearly idiot-proof.

This morning, though, it felt funny, and it took a very long time to grind the coffee. And what I got was not my usual drip grind – the coffee was ground extremely finely and the water took a very long time to drip through it and into the cup. It took so long that the coffee wasn’t even close to hot by the time I’d finished making it (and I wasn’t awake enough to think about nuking it to warm it up).

I took it apart, cleaned it, and reassembled it (they provide a video, which is good, because I wasn’t sure where the spring and washer I circled in the photo were supposed to go), and it should work better tomorrow morning.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 357

I paid a painless visit to the oral surgeon’s office today – I had to get an itemized bill to submit for reimbursement, and walking there also let us make progress on our daily exercise goals. And I took a photo of one of their potted plants to use as clickbait on Facebook.

This afternoon, I did our taxes; it was mildly tedious and the result was unsurprising. I think that’s a good thing, right?

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 356

Spring is definitely approaching – our plum tree has a few blossoms, and they’re attracting a little interest from the bees. We planted this tree a few years ago – it has not done well, but we are still hoping for the best!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 355

The post-operative instructions from the oral surgeon said to stay at home and rest on the first day after surgery (yesterday). Today’s instructions allowed for “light activities but avoid strenuous physical activity”, so Diane and I took three walks and I managed to close the Move ring on my watch while doing so.

There’s been virtually no pain, soreness, or swelling so far; I have been following the guidelines and taking lots of ibuprofen and using an ice pack off and on all day. They suggest I discontinue the ice pack tomorrow, but I’m supposed to stay on the ibuprofen for a bit longer, just in case.

And I still have my sense of smell – I wondered if it might vanish again overnight, but so far, so good.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 354

I’ve never had a terribly acute sense of smell – when we’ve been out on walks, Diane would often stop and smell the roses (literally!). She’d ask me if I smelled them, and if I put my nose right next to the rose and breathed deeply, I could usually get a bit of an aroma, so I’d say, “yes”, but I didn’t really get much out of the experience.

A few weeks ago, I needed to refill the garden mint jar. We’d just bought a bagful from Penzeys, and when I opened it, Diane immediately said that it reminded her of our visit a few years ago to Celestial Seasonings in Boulder when we entered the Mint Room and both of us were nearly knocked down by the aroma. That wasn’t the case this time – I didn’t smell anything.

And, thinking back, I realized that I hadn’t smelled much of anything for several weeks before that – one Sunday, I was making lentils in the Crock-Pot and I wasn’t sure anything was happening until I looked and saw water on the lid, but Diane said she could smell it. And I wasn’t noticing anything when I ground my coffee in the morning, either.

I could still taste what I ate and kept my usual appetite – but I couldn’t smell anything. It didn’t match the descriptions I’d read from people who’d lost their sense of smell, but I certainly wasn’t getting the full experience.

This morning after breakfast, it was time to run the dishes. I put in the detergent pod, and suddenly realized that I could smell it quite distinctly! And it wasn’t just the detergent – everything had its aroma back!

And things taste much better now, too – the tastes are much more distinct than they were yesterday.

I don’t know why I lost my sense of smell, or even when it happened. I did stop taking Flonase after I noticed the change, but that was weeks ago. And a quick search for “anosmia” and “tooth extraction” only showed me articles about losing the sense of smell after an extraction, not about regaining it.

Rose season is still a few weeks away – I wonder if it’ll be different this year.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 353

Today was the big day – I was Jokemaster at the Silver Tongued Cats this morning, and I came up with a terrible joke in honor of the date. I will spare you.

After that, I took a brief walk before Diane drove me to Los Gatos Oral and Facial Surgery for my tooth extraction and implant operation.

They were ready for me as soon as I walked in – I paid the bill, and we moved on to the rest of the procedure. The dental assistant got my signature on the last form, verified that I wanted “medium sedation”, and hooked me up to the oxygen monitor, EKG, and IV. Dr. Walker came in, said “hello”, verified that he was going to extract the proper tooth (again – which made me happy), and that’s all I remember until we were in the car on the way to Jamba Juice after the procedure.

I must have been somewhat communicative and conscious in the office, because they made an appointment in six weeks to evaluate the implant to see if it’s ready to have my regular dentist make a crown for it – either that, or they just made a good guess and assumed I’d change the time if needed.

So far, I haven’t had any pain from the procedure – I followed their instructions and took two generic Norco tablets in the first couple of hours I was home, and then one every four hours thereafter. I’m going to have another one just before bedtime – tomorrow, I’m supposed to switch to heavy doses of ibuprofen, which is also supposed to reduce swelling (so far, that hasn’t been a problem either). I’ve also been following the instructions to use an icepack every other half-hour, and that will continue for another couple of days.

My string of closing all three rings on my Apple Watch ended today, of course; it was nice to have a lazy day, but I’d rather have done it voluntarily!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 352

My blog runs on a virtual machine on Linode; it’s been very reliable and having a virtual machine lets me do other things than just run the blog. And for $5/month, it’s cheaper than most WordPress hosting sites (though I did have to set up the whole stack myself).

This morning, I got a note from Linode telling me that they will be migrating the virtual machine to a new physical server in a couple of weeks and encouraging me to back it up before that happens, just in case, along with a pointer to their “Reboot Survival Guide”.

One of the steps in the Survival Guide suggests making a backup of all your MySQL databases – they suggest putting the backup into a file whose name includes the date of the backup. The thing that caught my eye was how they suggested getting the date – I’ve always used this formatting string: %Y-%m-%d, which would generate ”˜2021-03-03’, a nice, sortable format. But they suggested using %F to do the same thing – much less typing required.

I’d never seen the %F directive before – I tried it on my Mac, and it worked. I tried it on my Linode, and of course it worked there. It even worked in Python 2 and Python 3 on both systems. But when I tried it in Python 2 on our Windows machine, it wasn’t recognized. I installed Python 3 on the Windows machine, and it worked there.

I guess I should still use %Y-%m-%d if I need to write a truly portable program in Python 2. But the odds of my having to do that are very low, and typing %F is much easier!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 351

Sometimes, it’s not worth fully automating a process. I checked all of the photos I’d taken on the Ecuador trip, and realized that there were fewer than a dozen photos with the wrong white balance – and most of those aren’t worth keeping. I can fix the remaining ones individually when I edit them in much less time than it would take me to come up with a bullet-proof program to fix them!

That was the big accomplishment for today. I’ll take it.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 350

I spoke with the President of the Silicon Valley Storytellers today; she wants to start a blog and was curious about my process. I’m not sure I actually have a process, but we talked about what I do anyway. :-)

I also made a start at figuring out how to bulk-fix the white balance on the photos I took in Quito in June, 2018. I had accidentally set the camera to “incandescent” white balance, which gave the photos I took outside a very strong blue tint, like so:

Fortunately, I had also set the camera to capture RAW as well as JPEG images, and the RAW images can have their white balance reset quite easily in any photo editor – the problem is that I have to do them one at a time.

Enter exiftool, the Swiss Army knife of photo metadata manipulation. It’s easy to reset the white balance in all of the photos which have a problem with one command, something like this:

exiftool -ext rw2 -if '$wbredlevel eq 352 and $wbbluelevel eq 877' -wbredlevel=639 -wbbluelevel=477 .

which will take any raw photo in the current directory with a white balance that matches the camera’s “incandescent” settings and change the white balance to “daylight” settings. The result is something like this:

but when I use the Finder to show the files in the directory, the thumbnails there are still blue-tinted, because the Finder uses the “preview” JPEG that the camera added to the RAW file when it created the photo, and that JPEG’s white balance seems to be immutable. So the Finder window looks like this:

which still makes it difficult to figure out which photos to keep and which to toss.

I’m still working on that!