Pandemic Journal, Day 470

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Nature abhors a vacuum.

In our family, that truth has a corollary: we abhor an empty flat surface. And that works well enough most of the time.

But we’re about to do something we haven’t done for a very long time – host a visitor for a few days. A visitor who isn’t even related to either of us. And who probably doesn’t have to see everything that’s found its way to a formerly-empty flat surface.

So we’ve begun a clearing and organizing project. And by “we”, I mostly mean Diane so far – she has taken on the challenge of getting all of the travel souvenirs we’ve accumulated in the past few years off of flat surfaces and into folders, envelopes, and files. With labels.

It’s a lot of work! And it required finding an unused empty flat surface to use as a staging area – about the only thing available was our bed!

Of course, that particular flat surface has to be cleared at night, but we’re motivated to deal with it instead of postponing the task (which is how we filled up all the other flat surfaces).

My turn is coming, of course. I’m lucky, though – there’s less material of sentimental value in my stacks of stuff. Anybody interested in a partially completed Immunization Consent Form?

Pandemic Journal, Day 469

I’m not sure if I’m happy or annoyed that both Toastmasters and Shir Hadash observe the same fiscal year, but it does mean that I’ve been busy today getting ready for the transitions which will happen on Thursday.

I got a request from the Toastmasters District Director to help the Webmaster team redo the email forwarding for the new year, so I sent a note with instructions (and an offer to help if needed).

At the club level, I made sure the new Treasurer, VP Public Relations, and President have the information they’ll need to deal with our web host, and I pulled together the paperwork to give to the new Treasurer (my term as Treasurer ended last year, but I never got a chance to give the stuff to this year’s Treasurer – I’m sure she didn’t miss having to keep track of it for a year).

And on the Shir Hadash side of things, I started organizing the first Ritual Committee meeting of the new year, as well as sending the High Holiday Honors information to our Interim Rabbi so he’d know what we’d done in years past.

Despite spending most of the day glued to the screen, we did manage to get a couple of walks in, so here’s Lily Du Jour:

Pandemic Journal, Day 468

We tried another new recipe today – a Greek Salad Sandwich. We made it with Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pita Bread instead of the suggested English muffin; it was worth repeating (though I might try a different pita next time – the Joe’s pita was very thin and the sandwich leaked a lot). It’s not a big meal, but it was surprisingly satisfying.

Greek Salad Sandwich
Tonight was the Silicon Valley Storytellers 8th Anniversary Meeting. It’s the club’s custom to finish every year with a Story Slam, where members compete for prizes by telling 3-5 minute stories that incorporate the meeting theme. This year’s theme was “Infinity”.

I signed up as a speaker weeks ago and promptly forgot about it – I had photos to edit, recipes to try, and newspapers to read. But it came back to me on Sunday morning when I looked at the week’s calendar. I didn’t really have a story dealing with infinity, but I did come up with a title: “All the Time in the World”.

And that made me think of friends and family who died early; friends who nearly died but didn’t; and people who fled one danger only to die in a different way (like the Paraguayan President’s sister-in-law, who came to the US to get a Covid vaccination but stayed in the condo that collapsed last week). And that gave me a foundational phrase for the speech: “they had all the time in the world…until they didn’t.”

This morning, I looked in the Virginia Death Records for two of the people I wanted to talk about. Carol was my age; she died at age 13 from familial dysautonomia. The other was my cousin Ruby, who taught me to play bridge when I was very little and died suddenly at age 67 – the same age I am today.

I also talked about a classmate’s husband who keeled over at our most recent high school reunion – I called 911 while people gave him CPR and used a defilibrator to get his heart beating again before the paramedics arrived. He survived and recovered, and I expect to see him in October for our next reunion.

And then, just before the meeting started, I glanced at Facebook and found out that there had been a 4.2 earthquake just a few minutes before – and that gave me my ending.

The club voted on the three top speeches – mine was one of them, and the prize was an Amazon gift card.

Last night, I nearly withdrew from the contest because I didn’t have a coherent story in mind; I’m glad I didn’t. I may not have had all the time in the world, but I had enough!

Pandemic Journal, Day 467

This afternoon, we went to Shir Hadash’s first in-person masks-optional no-reservations-required-if-you’re-vaccinated social event since last March – an outdoor Klezmer concert by Jeannette Lewicki, Sheldon Brown, and Richard Saunders (from the San Francisco Klezmer Experience).

About 100 people were there enjoying the music – some (not us) even danced to tunes like “Zemer Atik”.

The “stage” was the patio in front of the Sanctuary and the audience sat in the parking lot.

It was a great way to spend Sunday afternoon.

Pandemic Journal, Day 466

Lance Milbrand is a videographer whose videos have been featured as part of the CBS Sunday Morning “Moment in Nature” segment, most recently with a video of Muir Woods. He’s also a member of the Silver Tongued Cats Toastmasters.

I helped him with an email problem a few weeks ago – somehow, Verizon had set up one of his email accounts as a POP account so he could only access it on his phone, not his computer – I walked him through converting to IMAP so he could use it both places. In return, he offered to help me with photography issues, and said I really needed to learn about tone curves.

I haven’t taken him up on his offer yet. This morning, though, I was thinking about the Moon photos I posted last night and how they weren’t quite what I remember seeing – and the words “tone curve” came to mind.

I sat down with Lightroom today and started with the same photo I used last night – 1/2500 second, so it was quite dim. This time, I played with the tone curve right after cropping the photo and boosting the exposure – I made Lightroom map the small part of the luminance range that was actually in the photo to the full 0-255 range. I still had to do more fiddling to get to the image I wanted, but it’s much closer to what I remembered seeing – and I didn’t have to go to Photoshop to remove speckles from the dark sky!


Thanks, Lance – now I can declare victory on one project!

Pandemic Journal, Day 465

We made our first visit to Costco in a very long time this morning so that Diane could get her Hepatitis A vaccination (I decided to wait until after I’ve finished with at least the first round of my new medications – and maybe I’ll find the missing vaccination card and not have to do it at all!).

While she was waiting at the pharmacy, I wandered through the warehouse picking up the other items we needed. It seemed strange to find that they had ample supplies of toilet paper, facial tissue, and paper towels – and there were even a few food samples on offer (in wrapped paper bags, not open on a tray). The selection of SD cards was more limited than before the pandemic, which was disappointing (I didn’t want to buy 256GB cards with Nintendo characters on them). And we wound up not visiting the wine isle after all; by the time Diane had gotten her shot (every step of the process seemed to need a long wait), we were ready to go home.

Last night, when I saw the Strawberry Supermoon, I knew I had to take a photo of it. I don’t have a tripod, so I had to do a hand-held exposure. At first, I left the camera on automatic, and it decided to take a 1.3-second shot – the Moon got completely burnt out, but you can see the power lines in the photo! (All photos in this post have been cropped, of course.)

1.3 seconds of the Moon

I put the camera in manual mode and set it for 1/2500 and got this photo – not bad, but much dimmer than the real thing (I tried slightly faster shutter speeds and got significantly blurrier images).

Moon at 1/2500 second

I brought it into Lightroom and bumped the exposure by 4.1 f-stops, put the contrast all the way up, reduced the highlights, boosted the shadows, reduced the whites and the blacks, and used the dehaze filter at full power to get this photo, which I put on Facebook last night:

Manipulating the brightness

But bumping the exposure and especially the shadows had brought out all sorts of random photons that the camera had seen in the black part of the sky; the speckled effect was interesting, but not quite what I wanted. So this evening, I went into Photoshop and got rid of everything but the Moon itself – and that’s the photo at the top of this post.

My cousin raised an interesting question of Facebook after I posted the photo with the speckles – was it still a photo of the Moon after I did the manipulation, or was it “my personal computer art work”? I think it’s a photo – but I did definitely have to give the camera some help!

Shabbat Shalom!

Pandemic Journal, Day 464

It was another busy medical day today. Our chiropractor returned from vacation, so we made sure to get to his office early to avoid having a long wait, and it worked.

I had an appointment with my allergist at 11am and got there right on the dot. They’re still adapting to their new electronic medical record system, I guess, because I didn’t get called by the receptionist until 11:30 and didn’t get to see the nurse until 11:55am – and the doctor was still working with the previous patient. But when he finally got to me, he spent a long time with me (close to an hour). He looked at my CT scan and wasn’t surprised by what he saw – infection, fluid where there should be air, and other issues; he even showed me what he was seeing.

At the end of the appointment, I had prescriptions for prednisone, an antibiotic (Biaxin), and an antihistamine (Atarax) to help me sleep when the prednisone kicks in. Somewhat to my surprise, CVS was able to fill them all by dinnertime tonight, so I’ve already started on my new regimen – it’s complicated enough that I made a spreadsheet to keep track. And I decided I’d best put off my Hepatitis A vaccination until after I finish the prednisone (and maybe the Biaxin, too – I’ll be taking it for a full month).

If I’m testy for the next couple of weeks, I’m blaming the medications!

Artichoke Thistles

Pandemic Journal, Day 463

Diane and I want to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A before we go to Africa this fall. She definitely needs the first shot soon (and the second shot after we return); I’d rather avoid unnecessary shots.

I’ve made two trips to regions which have a high Hepatitis A risk – Brazil in 1993 and China in 2005. There was no vaccine available in 1993, so I went to the Santa Clara County Travel Clinic and got a gamma globulin injection; I also avoided uncooked fruit and vegetables like the plague, even though they looked delicious and I was staying at a five-star hotel.

In 2005, I think I got the Hepatitis A vaccine before my trip, probably at the Travel Clinic, but I can’t find any record of it. I can see the immunization record card in my mind’s eye, but I can’t find the real thing (nor a copy of it). My doctor’s office shows me getting a dose of the vaccine in 2006, after the China trip, which would give me lifetime immunity if it was my second dose but is useless to me if it wasn’t.

The Travel Clinic has been closed since March of last year, so I can’t check to see if they still have my records, so I guess I’ll get the shot anyway. Costco offers the vaccine at a reasonable price, so we’re planning to make our first post-pandemic in-person visit to Costco this week. I expect we’ll visit the wine aisle as long as we’re there, too!

Sunset cloudscape

The weather today was very pleasant, though we’re in for a hot weekend. I enjoyed the cloudscape on our evening walk, too.

Pandemic Journal, Day 462

SPOILER ALERT — If you are only part-way through the first season of Ted Lasso, stop reading and come back when you’ve finished the season.

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, which was named after Richmond, England, so I had a little bit of extra affinity with AFC Richmond while watching Ted Lasso, and I was sorry when they lost the last match and were relegated. I’m looking forward to the next season to see if they can get back to the top rung.

I also play trivia in Learned League – I’ve spent the last 10 seasons in Rundle A (the top level of five). Yesterday was the last day of the season; I was sitting in 24th place and looking at relegation. I could avoid it if I had a better result than the person ahead of me – so naturally, I wanted to win. I was disappointed to only get 4 of 6 questions right, but I had hope – and when I woke up this morning and checked the results, I was happy to find that I’d won. So had the guy above me, so I got relegated anyway.

But there was something curious about my win – my opponent had NO correct answers, after getting all six right the day before. A zero match day is very unusual in an A Rundle – it usually happens if someone is expelled for cheating, withdraws, or dies. And when I looked on the Memorial Wall, my opponent was newly listed there.

Being relegated was much less important after seeing that news.

Pandemic Journal, Day 461

I had fewer emails today touting Prime Day bargains than I’ve gotten in previous years, but the ones I got were effective. I bought an additional Amcrest webcam for about half the price of the ones I bought at the peak of the pandemic; I also bought a 60-watt Anker power brick for my laptop to take on trips, since it’s significantly smaller than the Apple brick.

I was tempted to buy other power supplies, but when I looked through the gadget bags, I realized two important things:

1) I didn’t need another power supply
2) I didn’t need the Motorola G6 phone I’d gotten to use as a Google Fi hotspot, especially since Motorola had stopped providing updates for it, even security updates.

I found a place to send the phone – 911 Cell Phone Bank; they’ll either provide it to someone as a no-cost emergency-only phone (all cellphones can call 911, even without a SIM) or recycle it. They even paid the postage to send it to them!

I’ve been noticing an interesting batch of flowers every time I’ve driven past Lester Square (a small strip mall near our house) so I walked over there today for a photo. I may have been a day or two too late to get them at their peak, but it was a lot cooler today than over the weekend – much more pleasant for walking than it was a couple of days ago.

Pandemic Journal, Day 460

We had a quiet Father’s Day, starting with our usual Sunday trip to the Farmers’ Market. Summer fruits and vegetables are in abundance – we bought our first corn and blackberries of the season and enjoyed them today, along with our usual salmon. I made steaks on the Traeger, too, but they came from Lunardi’s.

It was the first Farmers’ Market since California loosened the Covid restrictions – not only were masks not required (or even requested), they’d gotten rid of the 6-foot markings on the lines where people wait for vendors. It was still a little less crowded than it would have been before Covid, and people did still queue up instead of milling around in front of the booths, but it felt odd!

This evening, we watched Rod MacDonald’s concert on Facebook – it was a nice way to enjoy the holiday. The concert is available here; you don’t have to log into Facebook to watch. Skip ahead by 6 minutes to get to the actual start of the concert.

Pandemic Journal, Day 459

We started the day with a walk in the cool of the morning and ended with a walk in the cool of the evening (“cool” is a relative term). In between, we were mostly dealing with travel.

This morning, we drove into Los Gatos to meet with Michael Hyman at Travel Advisors of Los Gatos – he’s the agent for our late-year Antarctica trip, and it was time to make the final payment. We also wanted to discuss travel insurance (no decisions yet – we are torn between a comprehensive policy or one which only covers health issues, and since we haven’t bought airfare yet, we still have options) and he had books to loan us and photos to look at for our upcoming Iceland trip.

This afternoon, we heard from our other travel agent about two of next year’s cruises – her company had gone through major reorganization during the pandemic, and our cruises had been assigned to a different agent on the other side of the country. We’d like her to continue to be our agent, and she’d like the business – but the other agent has to agree to release the reservation, and that hadn’t happened, so she asked us to call Celebrity to see if we could ask for the change. Calling on a Federal Holiday (happy Juneteenth National Independence Day!) didn’t seem to be a great idea, so I’ll do it on Monday.

We also watched a short video from our other other travel agent about next year’s Porto trip. And we watched the final episode of Life at the Waterhole in preparation for the upcoming South Africa trip that he’s organized.

And while I was catching up on the Summer Reading issue of the New York Times Book Review, I saw a review of How Iceland Changed the World. It looked very interesting – and I was able to borrow the ebook from the San Francisco Public Library. It’s a fun read – I’m not sure that it’s going to materially improve my knowledge of the island when we go there in a few months with National Trust Tours, but I’m enjoying it.

Pandemic Journal, Day 458

Another hot day – not as hot as yesterday, but it didn’t get as cool overnight as it did Wednesday night, so we had to use the air conditioning earlier in the day. And, even though we raised the thermostat setting to 78 from 4-9pm, the A/C turned on several times during that period. It’s supposed to be a little cooler tomorrow; I hope so!

One of the projects that Toastmasters offers these days is “Create a Podcast”. You have to create at least an hour of content – each episode has to be at least 10 minutes long. I haven’t tackled that project yet, but one of my fellow club members, Priya, interviewed me for the first episode of her podcast. She took me to lunch today to thank me – it was the first time we’d met in person! She’s continuing to create episodes of the podcast even after finishing the project, so I think it was a success for her.

Despite the weather, Diane and I took our usual walks today – early in the morning and just before sundown. We took a little bit of a detour this morning to walk the length of Jacaranda Way (two blocks) and find out if there were any jacarandas there. There were two – here’s a photo of the nicer one.

Shabbat Shalom!

Pandemic Journal, Day 457

It was hot today – the official San Jose temperature topped out at 95, but the thermometer outside our house went well over 100. I took a walk right after my Toastmasters meeting, where I saw this industrious bee.

We turned off our air conditioning at 4pm to honor the California ISO’s Flex Alert (after cooling the house to 70!), and it was tolerable inside until we could open up again about 10pm. We had Kimchi Tuna Salad for dinner – it didn’t require heating up anything, and it used up the rest of the kimchi before it could go bad!

Pandemic Journal, Day 456

Tonight was my first Shir Hadash Board meeting – my term starts July 1, but this was the orientation for incoming members. It was also the first Board meeting to be held on-campus in 15 months – and it was inside, in the Oneg Room. There was even food!

It was almost surreal to be in a room with so many other people for more than an hour. Surreal, but very pleasant.

My laptop even took its first trip anywhere tonight – when I put it in the laptop sleeve I’d bought on our Galapagos trip in 2018, I was surprised by how much room there was. Then I remembered that I’d bought the sleeve for my old 15” MacBook Pro – I replaced that computer with a 13” MacBook Air right after we started shelter-in-place last April, so of course there was plenty of room in the sleeve! There are rumors that Apple will ship a 16” laptop with Apple Silicon soon – I hope it will fit in the sleeve, too.

Pandemic Journal, Day 455

Today was the day that California officially reopened completely – the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” was retired and its page redirects to the “Reopening California” page. Masks are only required for vaccinated people in a few circumstances (including health care), capacity limits are gone, physical distancing is gone.

But businesses aren’t all jumping in with both feet, at least not the two I visited today. Lunardi’s had new signage: masks aren’t required of vaccinated customers, but they did request them – and we complied. And I gave other customers more room than I would have given them before the pandemic. Chipotle still had signs on the door requiring masks, so I put mine on before going in.

I know that the science says that vaccinated people are at very low risk of catching or transmitting COVID, but it’s going to take a while before I feel perfectly comfortable going maskless inside a busy store.

Pandemic Journal, Day 454

Not much to write about today – the new air purifier arrived, but I won’t use it tonight because we’ll have our windows open to cool down the house. Given the weather forecast, I will be using it overnight soon, though!

Pandemic Journal, Day 453

We stopped at Lunardi’s this morning to pick up a couple of things (it’s nice being able to go to the grocery store more than once a week again, though I want to avoid going as often as we did before the pandemic). While we ware there, I suddenly started to smell something (probably the inside of my mask).

When we got home, I could smell things fairly clearly – for about an hour. Then it went away. I’m guessing that the antihistamine I’ve been taking the last few days kicked in for a little bit and shrank a polyp – it’s an encouraging sign.

I also ordered an air purifier for our bedroom in hopes that it will help reduce the allergen load in there – we ordered a Blueair 311, which should be here tomorrow. Blueair’s model numbers are weird – the 211 is a bigger unit than the 311, which is bigger than the 411.

And Diane ordered a new camera for our upcoming trips, an Olympus TG-6 to replace her TG-4. The new camera is supposed to do much better in low light; they’ve also revamped the user interface, which is always a scary prospect.


Pandemic Journal, Day 452

We attended services this morning via Zoom – it was fine, but not like being there in person.

Photo of Zambezi Queen

I have a credit card which offers 3% back on travel and restaurants (4.5% if you redeem through their travel portal). It has had a quiet pandemic. But things are looking up for it.

Our Africa trip that didn’t happen last year has been rescheduled for a few months from now, so we had to pay for it and buy the airfare; I also bought the airfare for my upcoming 50th High School Reunion.

My card is exhausted from all the sudden activity – I will have to feed it before asking it to take on the Antarctica trip we also have planned!

Pandemic Journal, Day 451

Tonight was Board Installation Shabbat at Shir Hadash. I’d been looking forward to the service since accepting the position of Ritual Committee Chair, and I expected to attend in the usual way – on Zoom. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, tonight’s service took place on campus (outside), with a relay on Zoom. It was wonderful seeing people in person again, even without the bottom halves of their faces being visible – there were hugs and handshakes, too.

We always start services by singing “Hinei Ma Tov” (from Psalm 133), but the music that we sing changes from week to week. Tonight, the music was Elana Arian’s version – the English lyrics are:

  How good it is (How good it is)
  How sweet it is (How sweet it is)
  To be together on this day.

And it was SO good and sweet and pleasant to be with other people, singing together (quietly, with masks) on this day.

Shabbat Shalom!

Pandemic Journal, Day 450

We spent quite a bit of the day dealing with medical providers. Both Diane and I needed to get some images to bring to doctors who aren’t in the Stanford network – she’d found the right form on Stanford’s website, but it wasn’t clear where we’d have to go to pick up the images. Calling the phone number on the form and trying the obvious menu choice (“Medical Records”) was a dead end, but I kept going and found a way to leave a message. A few minutes later, the image librarian at San Jose called and said we could drive over and pick up a disk with Diane’s images.

I’m still waiting to get my images – it turns out that they aren’t kept in Stanford’s central records, but I’ve been trading phone messages with the ENT’s nurse, and I should have them tomorrow.

My allergist also wanted me to get a blood test and some chest X-rays, and I was able to do that late in the afternoon, going to both places just before they closed for the day. So I’m all set on that front.

This evening, we gave Quinoa and Kale Tabbouleh a second chance. We’d made it back in July and weren’t thrilled, but we had kale to use up and this seemed like a good option. This time, I added a little more pepper and we put some mandarin orange slices on at the end – that made the dish more colorful and definitely tastier.

We also tried a new-to-us cocktail recipe from the New York Times, a Watermelon Margarita, using Trader Joe’s Watermelon Juice instead of doing the work ourselves. It was quite tasty and not too alcoholic – it’ll be better on a hotter day, though!

Pandemic Journal, Day 449

The last time I visited the ENT, he recommended endoscopic sinus and turbinate reduction surgery to try to improve my sense of smell – he described it as “putting a Roto-Rooter up your nose”. That seemed drastic.

Since he’d also talked about allergies as being a probable cause of the sinusitis and nasal polyps he saw, I asked for a referral to an allergist before making a decision on surgery, and I visited him today.

I probably could have chosen a better day – the practice had just started using a new system for electronic medical records yesterday, and EVERY person I interacted with greeted me with “sorry, it’s our second day on the new system.” But we persevered and the session was worth the effort. It turns out that I am VERY allergic to dust mites and feathers (the doctor described it as “off the charts”), so we will be taking steps to reduce my exposure to them at home. They gave me a brochure about dust mites with lots of useful information on what steps to take – I was not surprised to find that it also had ads for allergen-proof pillow cases and the like!

The doctor wants me to get some bloodwork and imaging done before suggesting any other treatment. My next appointment is a couple of weeks away – by that time, I hope they’ve figured out how to use their new system!

Of course, Diane and I also took a couple of walks today – on the walk this morning, we saw a hummingbird enjoying some lantana.

If I’d had the big camera, I would have been able to zoom in more…but I might well have missed the hummingbird completely. Life is a series of compromises!

Pandemic Journal, Day 448

One year ago today I set a new personal record for a continuous span of days with blog entries. That day, I wrote about buying 3 kilos of coffee from Doka Estate in Costa Rica and wondering if I’d still be blogging every day when I finished it. I finished that 3 kilos a long time ago – these days, I’m buying 5 half-kilo bags from them every few weeks, and I’m still blogging every day.

There’s only one week left until California discontinues its “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” and relaxes almost all of the restrictions on businesses and masks – when that happens, I guess I’m going to need a new name for the daily entry! And who knows…I might even miss some days!

Pandemic Journal, Day 447

When I awoke this morning, I was in the middle of a dream. I was back at IBM – in a meeting, of course – trying to get funding for a project. I wasn’t having a lot of success – the person I was trying to convince went on and on about why it couldn’t be done (a far too-familiar occurrence).

I was happy when the alarm went off.

I culled, edited, and titled all of the photos we took in 2020 after returning from the Panama Canal. I started with 78 photos and kept 34 of them; I found one I hadn’t already put in the blog, showing a jacaranda that was blossoming last June (it is just starting to blossom again now).

A jacaranda

And Apple announced the next version of their operating systems for Mac, iPad, and iPhone, but didn’t announce any new hardware, so I won’t need any new funding…for now.

Pandemic Journal, Day 446

We had a very quiet day today – a quick trip to the Farmers’ Market, then Diane chaired the Shir Hadash Book Group while I read the newspapers.

After lunch, we watched an episode of All Creatures Great and Small and the last 30 seconds of CBS Sunday Morning, which was a video of Muir Woods that was created by Lance Milbrand from my Toastmasters club (you can find a longer version here).

We also participated in the talkback for Shylock – they did a good job of including both the in-theatre and on-Zoom audiences in the Q&A. Those of us on Zoom were having a lively discussion before the in-theatre session was ready for us!

Muir Woods was a regular stop when we were coming out here for visits, but we haven’t been very often since moving to the Bay Area – the last time seems to have been in 2009! We need to go back soon!

Forest Floor

Pandemic Journal, Day 445

Last year, I celebrated our anniversary by figuring out a better way to handle the laundry. I had high hopes of doing better this year.

Fortunately, we had more options this year. We started, as usual for a Saturday, with a walk and services at Shir Hadash (still on Zoom, though we expect to attend next Friday night’s service in person).

In the afternoon, we saw Shylock from Tabard Theatre (co-produced by Silicon Valley Shakespeare). We could have attended in person, but we chose to stay home and watch their livestream. It’s an interesting play – one actor, Doug Brook, performing as a Jewish actor playing Shylock in Merchant of Venice as an utter villain and defending his work in a talkback after the rest of the run was cancelled due to protests. It was a very interesting performance and play, and I’m looking forward to joining the talkback online tomorrow afternoon. The play continues until June 20.

This evening, we tried out a new restaurant near us, La Pesca Blue, which replaced a Mooyah Burgers location which didn’t survive the pandemic. La Pesca Blue is an enormous step up in quality – I had their fish and chips, and Diane had a Pear and Gorgonzola salad with grilled salmon. Both were quite tasty; we had frozen margaritas to go with them, which more than satisfied our dessert needs! We’ll be back.

Pandemic Journal, Day 444

I needed to send a message to Diane this morning – my hands were busy, so I used Siri on my watch to do the job. But I was surprised when I saw its response to my request.

Yes, even though the top of the screen says “OK, I’ll send this”, the only option you can choose is “Don’t Send”! I waited a few seconds and nothing happened. I finally pressed the button on the watch and said “Send it,” and the message got sent. I don’t understand how they came up with this design – it’s confusing.

On a brighter note, we put in a persimmon tree 7 years ago. They told us it would take a few years to start fruiting – today, Diane noticed fruit on it for the first time ever! There are still many months until it’ll be ready to be harvested, but I’m hopeful.

Shabbat Shalom!

Pandemic Journal, Day 443

After my Toastmasters meeting this morning, I spent much of the rest of the day working on photos – I have finished sorting through my 2021 photos and now they’re all geotagged and titled.

I’m now doing a final round of cleanup on the photos from 2000-2009; if you ignore the photos from Jeff’s Bar Mitzvah, all of the photos are geotagged and all but a few from my trip to the Summer Palace in Beijing are titled, and I hope to finish those tomorrow – the one just below is the Long Corridor (perhaps that shouldn’t have taken a lot of research to figure out!).

Long Corridor at Summer Palace, Beijing

I haven’t done the sorting to pick out the photos that I want to keep on my phone yet, though there are so few photos (comparatively) from those years that it may not be worth bothering.

Pandemic Journal, Day 442

I was sitting on the couch watching TV today when my watch buzzed with a message. It was the California Franchise Tax Board (the state IRS) telling me that there was a “new notice or document available in your myFTB account.”

Needless to say, this distracted me, but I decided to finish watching anyway. After the show ended, I logged in – but I couldn’t find any new notices.

I did, though, notice that I hadn’t scheduled estimated tax payments for 2021 – needless to say, I fixed that right away! And I fixed it for the IRS, too. The first payments are due in two weeks, so this was a timely, if inadvertent, reminder.

This evening, I went back to the myFTB site to make sure the payments were truly scheduled (they were) and found a new notice in my account. It wasn’t for anything significant, but I was glad to finally see it!

A rose

Pandemic Journal, Day 441

Apparently the Repels-All has helped with the critter situation in our raised beds – there was no new damage today.

Brilliant Mind Cover

This evening, we saw “A Brilliant Mind” from Marin Theatre Company. The play was mostly filmed in advance, but there was a live actor being seamlessly brought in for certain segments (monologues) via YouTube, and there was a little bit of interaction between the audience and that actor. We couldn’t stick around for the talkback, unfortunately – it would have been interesting to find out how they put it all together.

The play itself was a story of a Palestinian immigrant family coping with the death of their father – there were generational conflicts, issues of gender, and what happens when your family “doesn’t fit”. I enjoyed it – it’s playing through June 13th.