Pandemic Journal, Day 686

I’m still trying to clean up the character encoding issues I created (or maybe I just uncovered them) last night. My brain hurts.

But today wasn’t totally without success – I achieved a goal that I thought was completely out of reach.

I use my Apple Watch to keep track of my activity. The watch tracks three dimensions of activity – standing, exercising, and burning calories, and there’s a goal for each dimension. Reaching the goal in all three dimensions gives you a perfect day; reaching the goal for every day from Monday through Sunday gives you a perfect week.

I’ve owned an Apple Watch since July, 2015 – six and a half years, 341 weeks, or 2391 days (not that I’m counting). In that time, I’ve only had 51 perfect weeks, even though I hit each of my daily goals at least two-thirds of the time – consistency is hard!

So I was happy to open up the Fitness app today and see the “Perfect Month” award on the screen. I wonder if there’s a “Perfect Year” award?

Pandemic Journal, Day 685

I upgraded this blog to WordPress 5.9 today, and all of my non-ASCII characters (such as typographical apostrophes or quotes or accented letters) got corrupted in the process. I’ve run into this before and I thought I’d fixed it, but clearly I still have an issue.

I tried to make a brute force “fix” and it made the blog look OK, but when I try to edit a page, I see the weird characters again.

So I shall write no more this evening and attack the problem again tomorrow.

Pandemic Journal, Day 684

I’ve been using CellarTracker to track our wine inventory and make comments on the wines we drink. I’ve been happy with it – it’s a lot easier to use than my previous technique, a spreadsheet. And it’s nice to see comments from other users when we’re considering a new wine.

We keep the “ready” wines in a little wine refrigerator that holds 25 bottles; everything else is in the wine closet. When the refrigerator is empty, I use CellarTracker’s “ready to drink” report to decide what to move to the refrigerator. Unfortunately, the report tells me which wines to move, but not where to find them – that requires following a link to another report for each and every bottle. That’s a pain.

Instead, I’ve been exporting the data about all the wines in inventory to a spreadsheet, then running a small Python program that sorts them and creates a moving list. It’s easy, but a little awkward, because I have to log into the site and do the export from a browser.

Today was wine-moving day, and I decided I could simplify the process. My first thought was to figure out how to read the cookies from the browser and use them with the Python Requests module to get the data. I even found a module that reads the cookies – but it doesn’t work with Safari. There is a program that takes Safari’s binary cookies and creates a plain-text version, but I’d have to parse its output and this way lies madness.

If there were an API to CellarTracker’s data, life would be easy. It’s on their roadmap, and it’s been there for at least ten years. I don’t think it’s their top priority.

But searching for “CellarTracker API Python” led me to the CellarTracker package on GitHub which lets me get the inventory into a Python list. I replaced the code I had to parse the CSV file that I manually downloaded with a call to the package, and I was done!

The wine refrigerator is full again. Life is good.

Pandemic Journal, Day 683

We didn’t take any exciting trips today; instead, I had an exciting upgrade experience. I’d upgraded two of my Macs to Monterey with no significant problems, so I decided to attack the one which runs all of our home automation next.

The upgrade ran smoothly, but then I saw a warning telling me that the Indigo Server would not run in future versions of Mac OS. This didn’t surprise me – it still uses Python 2.7, which reached end-of-life several years ago, and I know Apple plans to remove it from the system. And I know the Indigo people are going to convert to Python 3.

But then I discovered that I couldn’t connect to the server from my phone, and I started to wonder if the future had already arrived. I started trying to research downgrading to Big Sur – it’s possible, but not easy. So I looked on the Indigo Forums and found two pinned posts that I really should have read before I upgraded.

One said that they had a version of Indigo Server that would run under Monterey. I installed that version, and all was well. For now.

The second post says that whatever they did to make Indigo Server work on Monterey doesn’t work in the beta of the next point release (12.3). I turned off auto-upgrades for the system, so I should be safe. For now.

In honor of the sunset of Python 2, I offer this photo of sunset on the Mekong River in Cambodia, three years ago today.

Pandemic Journal, Day 682

Our friend Kevin is a docent at Año Nuevo State Park and offers occasional after-hours guided walks there. We joined his walk this afternoon and had a great time. The weather was wonderful, the company was good, the elephant seals were everywhere, and the rest of the scenery was delightful, too! Even the traffic cooperated; we got to the park more than half-an-hour early.

We started near the Marine Education Center – in this case, the birds were a good omen.

We caught our first glimpse of an elephant seal just a few minutes into the walk, near Cove Beach.

We could see Año Nuevo Island in the distance; it had been used as a lighthouse and had housing on it, but it was abandoned decades ago. Access is now limited to park rangers and researchers.

We walked almost a mile to the Staging Area, where our last two companions joined us, and then we were in the Nature Preserve. A few minutes later, we encountered our first harem of elephant seals.

One of the park rangers met us and showed us a “gift” he’d been left by some of the researchers – a square foot of elephant seal blubber!

Even though the sands were filled with seals, there were birds wandering around, minding their own business.

Also researchers, doing an in-person count of the seals (they’re more accurate than drones, according to the ranger).

There’s lots of bird life just offshore, too.

The seals spray themselves with sand to keep cool (it was about 65F).

It’s mating season – these two seem to have enjoyed some afternoon delight.

The seal pups need their mothers’ milk, like this one.

The males fight – sometimes they injure or kill one another, but sometimes it just seems to be to make sure everyone knows who’s boss. These two spent a while battling one another before eventually swimming away.

Our intrepid researcher had walked all the way around the point to get to this batch of seals.

It was nearly time to go, but we stayed to watch the sun go down.

There weren’t many flowers on our route, but I did find this one near the Staging Area as we headed back to the parking area.

A couple of last photos on our way back to the car, and we were off.

Thanks, Kevin!