Pandemic Journal, Day 532

Today was an unusual day – there was nothing on the calendar. True, we planned to visit the chiropractor and go grocery shopping, but other than that, the day was blessedly unscheduled. And my email was fairly quiet. And I didn’t even get any offers to extend my car warranty!

So I spent much of the day working on Iceland photos and completed culling, editing, and labeling two days worth of photos (August 1 (Grimsey and Siglufjörður) and August 2 (Námaskar∂ / Hverir, Dimmuborgir, and Go∂afoss).

Quiet is nice!

Pandemic Journal, Day 531

Diane spent the afternoon on her Windows computer working on the photobook she’s making for our trip to Costa Rica and Panama last year – which made it the perfect time for me to upgrade our home automation software.

I use Indigo on my Mac; it is relatively easy to deal with and has an active user community which makes plugins for various devices, such as the Amazon Echo. The latest release of Indigo added built-in support for the Echo; the old user-contributed plugin still works, but there won’t be any further updates or fixes, so I knew I’d want to migrate when I upgraded Indigo itself.

A normal Indigo migration takes less than an hour – they’ve been very good about not making changes that break plugins (unlike Home Assistant, one of the reasons I switched). This one took about four hours, much of which was spent deleting and redefining the devices that I control from the Echo – one at a time, of course.

As long as I was updating things, I took the opportunity to remove plugins I was no longer using and tried to do other cleanup; somehow, everything still seems to be working!

I’m not sure I like all of the decisions I made during the migration. For example, I changed from using the Sonos skill (which requires saying “Alexa, pause (or resume) Sonos”) to exposing the Sonos as a device on Indigo (so I can say “Alexa, turn Sonos on (or off)”). Making the change removes my ability to change the station or volume on the Sonos by voice, but I don’t think I ever did that anyway!

Pandemic Journal, Day 530

Another quiet day today; the air was noticeably better than yesterday, and it wasn’t quite as hot. Or so I think; I was at Shir Hadash for a meeting during the hottest part of the afternoon and by the time I left, it was just “toasty” outside.

We tried a new recipe tonight for the first time in a few weeks, One-Pot Tomato-Basil Pasta from the Mercury News. It was published right after the shelter-in-place order came down last March, but it was still new to us. I had to cut the recipe in half, but I used the full allotment of diced tomatoes (one can), so that was the dominant flavor. One lesson learned: I should have shaken up the linguini so that there weren’t lots of parallel strands next to each other; it would have reduced the sticking.

And the developer of osxphotos fixed both of the bugs I reported yesterday – he’s quick!

Pandemic Journal, Day 529

One of the surprise meetings I had at Shir Hadash on Wednesday had to do with this morning’s Shabbat service. Our Interim Rabbi had been scheduled to lead it, but his departure had already happened, and our other clergy were very busy preparing for S’lichot Services tonight and the rest of the High Holidays.

I volunteered to lead the service, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to put together a good d’var Torah on my own; the Cantor pointed me at a couple of candidates, and I chose to “adapt” (read verbatim) one that Rabbi Jethro Berkman wrote for T’ It’s titled “Cultivating a Culture of Giving” and it resonated with me. It even encouraged me to use Maimonides’ Eight Levels of Giving as the little bit of Torah to be read right after the blessing for the study of Torah.

There had been a few changes in our procedure since the last time I led a service on Zoom; in particular, we’ve stopped using screen-sharing to display the prayerbook and weekly notes to the attendees. That reduced the amount of app-juggling I had to do substantially, and it also meant people could see one another throughout the service.

By the time the service was over, it was hot and fairly polluted outside, so we spent the rest of the day at home. The developer of osxphotos had sent me a fix for the bug I reported last week and wanted me to test it – it works, but I stumbled on another very weird problem in the course of testing the fix and reported it. It’s not one that I’ll run into in practice, but someone will!

Pandemic Journal, Day 528

Today’s highlight was Silicon Valley Shakespeare’s presentation of “Folktales from Around the World”, a charming and magical retelling of six folktales from, well, around the world. There are two more performances, tomorrow at 8 and Sunday at 3 – it’s a YouTube livestream, so no travel is necessary.

Beyond that, we mostly hunkered down to stay out of the heat and poor air – AirNow shows us at the boundary between orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) and red (Unhealthy for Everyone), so we might run the air conditioner tonight instead of taking advantage of the slightly cooler air outside.

I finished editing another day’s worth of Iceland trip photos – now that we’re off the ship, it’s probably safe to post this one of Diane looking at one of the Zodiacs aboard Le Champlain. A crew member shooed us away seconds after I took the photo, so I guess we must have missed a “Crew Only” sign somewhere!