Pandemic Journal, Day 394

Tonight was the Toastmasters District 101 Division B contest. I was a contestant in the Table Topics (impromptu speaking) contest, having won at the club and Area levels. I had been the last speaker in each of the previous contests, but this time I drew the first slot – it made a difference in the way I experienced the contest.

I enjoyed being able to see and hear the other contestants instead of being sent to a lonely breakout room to wait my turn. But being the first speaker meant that the judges heard five speeches after mine – so they had to judge my speech on its own, while they could judge the others relative to the previous speeches.

We were all given the same prompt: “John Wooden said, ‘ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.’” I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I do remember closing with the advice to be nice to people on the way up, because you’ll meet them on the way down.

I was surprised when the results were announced – I won. And my fellow club member, Gordon, won the International Speech Contest at this level, so we’ll both be competing at the District level the weekend of May 15.

Our club meeting is tomorrow morning, less than 10 hours from now – it should be fun!

Pandemic Journal, Day 393

We got our refund from Vueling Airlines today, and thanks to currency fluctuations, we made a small profit ($16.87) on the deal! I hope I don’t have to report it to the IRS.

Diane has been working on a photo book of our 2018 trip to Greece – she’s nearly finished, and asked me to look at it before she places the order. I can’t wait for it to arrive!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 392

Our cars haven’t been moving very much for the last 392 days – my Subaru has only traveled about 2500 miles since I last had it serviced in November, 2019.

I had planned to take it to the Subaru dealer for its last pre-paid service appointment in March, 2020, but that didn’t happen. And the plan expired soon afterwards, which freed me to take it to my favorite mechanic, Auto-Tec, instead of going to the dealer.

I finally did it today. I knew it would take an hour or so, and since it was a beautiful day, I planned to walk around their neighborhood while I waited. It’s not the most exciting area to walk in, but I did find one very colorful house on my way.

I was Tale Topics Master at the Silicon Valley Storytellers meeting this evening. The theme of the meeting was “Metamorphosis”, so I used the opening of Kafka’s Metamorphosis to create my first two prompts: “tell us a story about a dream” and “tell us a story about a bug”. After that, I went further afield, probably to the relief of those I called on!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 391

This afternoon, we spent a fascinating hour at the Tenement Museum (via Zoom, of course) as one of the events in anticipation of the Shir Hadash Gala. We learned about the Rogarshevsky family‘s life at 97 Orchard Street in the early 20th Century, including a look at their record in the 1910 Census. The museum offers nine virtual tours, including this one, for $10 each, with live guides; there are also several free online exhibits.

I also helped Diane get some of her photos from our Costa Rica/Panama trip into the proper format for her digital scrapbooking. It was easy to export the photos from the Apple Photos app into a folder so she could upload them to Forever, but for some reason, the titles and descriptions she’d added to the pictures she’d taken on her Olympus TG-4 camera didn’t get exported – instead, the description of each exported photo said “OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA”, which was useless.

If we had exported the “unmodified original” of the photos, the export could create a XMP sidecar file which contains the real title and description, but the photo wouldn’t include the editing Diane had done to the picture. Very frustrating.

Fortunately, there was an answer: osxphotos from Rhett Turnbull. I could use that program to export the edited versions of the photos and have it use exiftool to put the correct title and description into the exported photos. It took a little fiddling to find the right command:

osxphotos export --exiftool --convert-to-jpeg --skip-original-if-edited \
  --skip-bursts --skip-live --skip-raw --jpeg-ext jpg \
  --directory '{}' --edited-suffix '' \
  --from-date 2020-02-01T00:00:00 --to-date 2020-02-15T23:59:59 \

but it worked. Thanks, Rhett, and thanks, as always, to Phil Harvey for exiftool!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 390

We got back to our normal Shabbat morning routine with a quick walk, Torah Study, and Shir Shabbat.

After lunch, we talked to our son and made tentative plans for a visit to see him in Boston in a few months, and very tentative plans for him to join us in Hawaii in the fall (with a probable stop here).

And we are giving serious thought to a winter trip to Japan with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, replacing the trip we were supposed to be taking with them this summer to Sicily and Malta, which was a replacement for the trip we originally had planned to take with them to Japan and Korea last April.

We also set up our Seabourn accounts for the Antarctica trip later this year.

I think we’re getting interested in traveling again.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 389

Our new washer and dryer were delivered today, bright and early. I had planned ahead and turned off the valves for the washer last night to make sure we could drain as much water as possible – that turned out to be a surprisingly good decision.

After the installer had put everything in its place and hooked it all up, he turned on the cold water valve and noticed it was damp – there was a teeny tiny leak. So he couldn’t officially install the washer – but since everything was connected, he left it in place and strongly suggested we get the valve replaced. When I called the plumber to make an appointment, they told me that I was lucky that the installer hadn’t discovered the problem earlier or he wouldn’t have connected the washer at all!

The new washer, like the old one, is a front-loader and wants High Efficiency detergent. The old washer’s manual suggested using HE detergent but said “if you can’t find it, use regular” – the new washer’s manual says “you MUST use HE detergent”. I thought I’d been buying HE detergent all along, but when we went to do our first load of laundry, I discovered that the last time I stocked up, I had bought regular – so we made an emergency run to CVS for HE. I’m sure we could get away with using the regular detergent but I didn’t want to start on the wrong foot.

After all of that, actually doing the laundry was blessedly uneventful.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 388

Our Sunday routine is, well, routine. We go to Downtown Los Gatos, park in the underground garage, and walk to the Farmers’ Market, do our shopping, and then take a longer walk. The route to the Farmers’ Market takes us by Travel Advisors of Los Gatos, and I usually glance at their windows as we zip by.

Two weeks ago, though, I saw something that made me stop:

Travel Agent Ad

Silver Mountain Vineyards was the first wine club we ever joined, and we’ve been faithful members for more than a decade. They’d offered a few previous cruises, but the time or the itinerary wasn’t right – but this one looked promising.

We talked about it, talked to the agent, and I did a little web research. This afternoon, we went back to Downtown Los Gatos and gave our travel credit card the most exercise it’s had in at least 388 days. The payment is fully refundable until mid-August in case things change, but I am hopeful!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 387

Last week, both of us had our annual Medicare wellness visits (you can’t call them “physicals” or Medicare won’t pay!) and the doctor ordered fasting blood tests for each of us. Diane also needed an ultrasound, which also required fasting, so we scheduled them all for this morning.

We got to the lab a few minutes early for our blood tests and they took us immediately; we drove home and I had breakfast, while Diane continued fasting. Then I drove her to yet another Stanford Medical facility for her ultrasound. It had been at least a year since we’d driven on that particular part of Winchester Boulevard, and there had been a lot of construction, including a brand new Dunkin’ Donuts just a block from the ultrasound place.

They said Diane’s exam would take about 45 minutes; I sat around and read for a while, but it was too nice a day to stay inside and I left for a short walk.

There were a lot of cars in the drive-thru line for the Dunkin’ Donuts – it wrapped almost all the way around the building. I thought about going in – but then my phone rang. It was Diane – she was finished and famished. I turned around to pick her up and take her home for lox and bagels – I’ll need some other excuse for donuts.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 386

I worked at the IBM Almaden Research Center for over 20 years. In that time, I probably drove Camden Avenue between Almaden Expressway and Harry Road at least a thousand times, stopping only at the stop signs. I knew there were parks and trails along the road, but I was too busy to check them out.

Today, we decided to explore that area, so we drove to the Camden Avenue trailhead for the Los Alamitos Trail. It was a bright, sunny day; we left the paved trail for the shady dirt trails alongside and started wandering.

There were flowers to see and the creek was flowing – it was a pleasant walk, especially in the shade.

I was surprised to discover that part of the walk went through “Singer Park” – there were no signs, but it was labeled as such on both Google and Apple Maps. I guess I should have stopped there years ago!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 385

Probably the most exciting thing we did today was go to Office Depot to have our COVID-19 vaccination record cards laminated for free, as suggested by this New York Times article.

Except that they didn’t actually laminate the cards – instead, they made a photocopy of the important side and laminated the copy. I guess that will be good enough if we have to show our cards for anything.

I’ve also scanned our cards and put them in 1Password so that they’re on our phones – that’s probably more useful.