Pandemic Journal, Day 655

It was Diane’s birthday today. We went to the gym early this morning, came home, talked with Jeff, had lunch, and were almost ready to clean up when there was a knock at the door. It was our mail carrier – she’d just delivered the mail and happened to notice a leak near the porch, where the water line emerges from the ground and wanted me to know about it, which was a good thing because we hadn’t seen it when we got home an hour earlier.

She even gave me the name of a plumber who was on her route in case I needed one – and I did, because our usual plumber was on vacation. I called CMS Plumbing who told me they could have someone out in a few hours, which seemed pretty good for New Year’s Eve. And then a few minutes later, they called back and said the tech had finished his previous job early and he could be at our house in 20 minutes – and he was.

The problem turned out to be fairly simple – we’d had to have a new pressure regulator installed in January, and that plumber had put the Teflon tape at the joints on wrong, so it wore out over time and allowed water to start leaking. Today’s plumber (John) took everything apart, cleaned it, put on new tape, and put it back together – no leaks. From detection to repair was less than two hours, and we probably only lost a gallon or two of water during that time, so I think we got off easy.

I made one of Diane’s favorites for dinner tonight (it’s one of my favorites, too, so it wasn’t exactly a grand gesture :-)), Sesame Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna. And then we watched Don’t Look Up; it wasn’t the most romantic movie I could have suggested. Or the funniest. Or the most thought-provoking. But it was entertaining and interesting; it definitely reminded me of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves and of the Golgafrinchan B Ark in Douglas Adams’s The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Shabbat Shalom!

Pandemic Journal, Day 654

We made up for yesterday’s non-walk by doing the full 10K Year-Round Event in Los Gatos this morning. The route had changed in the two decades since the last time we did it – the second half of the route went along the Los Gatos Creek Trail instead of going through the residential areas west of Santa Cruz Avenue, so it was a good thing we took a map instead of relying on memory.

I didn’t get around to labeling and recabling the Mac mini, but I did ship its failed hard drive back to Western Digital for replacement. I wanted to erase it before shipping, but it was going to take the better part of a day to do so, so I settled for reformatting it as exFAT and writing junk to it, then re-reformating it as APFS. If I’d had an OS/2 machine around, I would have formatted it as HPFS and really confused anyone trying to extract data from it!

This evening, Diane and I split an experimental seasonal beer that we’d bought from Trader Joe’s. I finished my half; she gave up after a couple of sips, and I didn’t find it necessary to finish hers. It wasn’t unpleasant – in fact, it tasted quite a lot like a peppermint patty – but I’d rather have a beer that tastes like beer or a candy that tastes like candy than a combination of the two.

Pandemic Journal, Day 653

We’d planned to take a walk with the Striders this afternoon, but it was pouring down rain when the time came to leave our nice warm house – and even though we had the proper clothing, we didn’t have the proper attitude and stayed home.

I decided that it’d be a good idea to use that time to keep working on photos, but when I sat down at the computer (an M1 Mac mini) and started typing, nothing happened. I tried to log in remotely and failed at that, so I held the power button down to force a restart.

No chime. Nothing on the screen. But the white light was on at the front of the machine, so I knew it had power.

I tried a few times without success; I couldn’t get the computer to boot to the recovery system, either. It was time for a web search, which brought me to r/applehelp – and that took me to Apple’s instructions on reviving a Mac with Apple Silicon.

I had to install the Apple Configurator on my laptop (luckily, I have multiple machines!), and then I followed the instructions – it took several tries to get the Configurator to see the mini, but eventually, I got there and started the “revive”. Half an hour later, I got an error message: “The System cannot be restored on this device. The device is not connected.” And sure enough, it had vanished from the Configurator.

It was time for professional help – Apple’s chat support person set up a phone call with a tech, who very patiently worked with me to figure out what was happening. The first step was to disconnect everything I didn’t need from the computer and try to boot it – and it worked, though I had problems with the wireless keyboard and trackpad. I found a wired keyboard and mouse and kept going – she had me reconnect devices one at a time and reboot – more than an hour later, we found the culprit: my Time Machine drive, a Western Digital 4TB My Passport.

It probably would have taken less time to find the problem if my cabling were better organized and better labeled – I found cables which were plugged into the computer or the hub or the monitor which had nothing attached to the other end! Cleaning up the cables and labeling them is a project for tomorrow. As is returning the bad drive to Western Digital for replacement under warranty.

Maybe having backups is overrated.

Pandemic Journal, Day 652

Our non-induction cookware has been sitting for a while in the living room waiting for me to take it to Goodwill. I planned to take it after the holidays, or maybe after Omicron, or maybe the next time I was going to the Indian grocery across the street from Goodwill – but definitely RealSoonNow. Today, though, our house cleaner arrived before we’d left the house and asked why it was there (in her way 😄); when I explained my plan, she said that she knew people who could use it, so I took it out to her car – it’s nice to know that the cookware will be used again soon.

After that, we took a nice long walk on the Los Gatos Trail and stopped at Books, Inc. in The Pruneyard, where we picked up a 2022 calendar, some holiday cards, and a copy of Secret San Jose.

Last week, I’d opened a new jar of Laxmi Garlic Ginger paste and found some weird black stuff near the top and on the inside of the lid. I probably could have just scraped it off and used the rest of the jar, but it made me nervous, so I tossed it and sent a note to their customer service department. They asked for a photo of the lid and my address – today, a package arrived containing a BIG jar of Garlic Ginger paste and a jar of salted roasted Chana (which I think are chickpeas). It’s nice to have a company respond so well!

And the cooktop seems to be happy again – no error messages. Huzzah!

Pandemic Journal, Day 651

Tonight, I fell out of love – at least a little bit. Dinner tonight called for pasta, so I filled the pot with water, put it on the cooktop, hit “power” and “speed boost”, and then turned to weigh the pasta.

I expected to hear noises from the pot as the water bubbled and boiled – instead, I heard the cooktop beep as it turned itself off. And when I looked at it, there was an “E” on the display for the element I wanted to use. Trying it again didn’t help.

I brought up the “Home Control” app to see if it would tell me what was wrong – it said there was an error and that I should look for more information. Thanks!

Fortunately, the only thing I needed the cooktop for was the water, so I moved the pot to another element, which worked fine.

After dinner, I pulled out the manual and found the section about “fixing malfunctions”. It said that I should remove power for 30 seconds and try again – so I did, and everything seems to be working again, just as it had been at lunchtime.

Modern technology is wonderful until it isn’t.