Pandemic Journal, Day 681

As I wrote last Friday, I wanted a second opinion about the problems we’ve been having with our heating system. Our trainer suggested the company he’d used, A-1 Heating and Cooling, and they sent out a tech today, Steve.

He spent a long time in the attic, and when he came down, he had pictures and options for us. He showed video of the furnace lighting up and belching flames – it’s called “rollout,” caused by too much gas, and it’s not a good thing. There’s a rollout safety switch that senses it and turns off the gas; a bit later, the furnace tries to light again and there’s less gas, so it works. But it’s not safe. He reduced the gas pressure temporarily to avoid rollout, but that’s not a real fix.

He also found condensation that had leaked out of poorly sealed PVC pipes and was accumulating.

The good news is that he didn’t propose replacing the furnace, just the gas valve and resealing the pipes – it’ll cost about 15% of what it would cost to replace the furnace. So we said “yes”.

I didn’t get a chance to take a walk today, so I have no new photos; instead, I found a photo I took on this date in 2019, when we were at the Angkor Thom Temple in Siem Riep, Cambodia. Our guide posed us so we could hold up one of the faces carved into the walls of the temple.

Pandemic Journal, Day 680

I was putting stuff away before our house cleaner’s visit this morning when Diane called me over to the patio door and showed me a dead squirrel on the deck. When our house cleaner arrived, I told her about the squirrel so she wouldn’t be surprised if she went outside, and then we left to run our normal Tuesday errands.

While we were out, I called County Vector Control; they told me that they didn’t deal with dead animals and suggested I call the City of San Jose’s Animal Control department (they serve Los Gatos, too). After fighting my way through their voice menus, I was connected to a dispatcher who told me that they didn’t deal with squirrels, and that all I had to do was wrap up the corpse and put it in the garbage.

When we got home, we left our masks on and donned gloves; then I got out the long-handled shovel and some plastic bags. The squirrel’s corpse was quite stiff, so it was easy to pick it up and put it in a bag, which Diane put in two more layers of bags; we tossed the masks and gloves into the outer bag, and put the whole thing in the garbage bin.

The day got brighter after that – Diane got her second hepatitis A shot at Costco, and as long as we were there, I picked up a discounted Microsoft 365 renewal, eight bottles of wine, and quite a bit more.

There was yet more shopping to be done, so we walked to Safeway to pick up some yogurt in smaller-than-Costco quantities. On the way home, we walked past these roses – as I said, the day got brighter as it went on!

I also received a “Certificate of Proficiency” from Toastmasters International for completing the “Engaging Humor” path with the speech I gave last night, so now I’m officially a proficient humorist, or maybe just a proficient engager. I’d put it on my résumé but I don’t have one any more.

Pandemic Journal, Day 679

The place I go for my allergy desensitization shots closes on Mondays from noon to 2. That’s never been a problem for me – I usually go after they reopen, but today I wanted a bigger block of time to work on my speech for tonight’s Storytellers meeting, so Diane and I hurried through lunch so I could get there before they took their break. I was in the car at 11:41, and Google told me that I should arrive a couple of minutes before noon.

Google was wrong. I pulled into the parking lot right at 12, and by the time I walked up to the door, it was locked. I could see a nurse sitting at the desk and looked imploringly at her; she opened the door and said that I’d have to come back after 2. I thought about claiming that my watch was running slow and asking for leniency, but I didn’t think that argument would work anymore – especially since she could see I was wearing an Apple watch.
The drive home was a lot faster, of course.

Pandemic Journal, Day 678

The Fitness app on my phone offers a monthly challenge. I didn’t realize it was there until about a year ago, but now I make a point of looking at it and trying to win. This month’s challenge is to walk 196.7 miles during the month (an average of 6.35 miles per day), so I’ve been extra diligent about taking long walks instead of just burning calories at the gym. So far, I have 171.1 miles logged.

On Sunday, we normally take a 3-mile walk as part of our trip to the Farmers’ Market, and we usually try for at least one more long walk during the day. Today was no exception, and it was a great day to be outside.

Our second walk was in search of light miso paste. Our usual supermarket hasn’t had any for several weeks, so we tried Nob Hill, a little over a mile from home. I was unsurprised to discover that they didn’t have it either. As we walked home empty-handed, Diane suddenly pointed at something off to my right – she’d seen a monarch butterfly crossing the street. That got me to stop looking at my phone, but not for long.

I switched to the Camera app and started hunting – I took lots of useless photos, but eventually I caught the butterfly with its wings open.

And then it flew away.

Pandemic Journal, Day 677

It was a quiet Shabbat.

I was asked to make sure the Zoom room was open for Torah Study, but our transitional Rabbi had gotten the necessary information and had it open before I logged in (though I still helped a bit in admitting people).

Shir Shabbat services had a typical level of technology problems, but that didn’t stop them from being enjoyable and meaningful.

And we took a few walks and made meals, as usual.

I did try to get another HVAC company to look at the furnace, but he’s a one-man shop in Sunnyvale and Los Gatos is out of his service area. It’s a shame, because he gets wonderful reviews (and he did make a suggestion for a possible zero-cost DIY fix that I will look at). I’ve got another couple of calls out for Monday.