Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 348

Diane read Torah today at Shir Shabbat and I led the service and managed the Zoom session. The last few times we’ve been in those roles, we’ve connected from different rooms, but today, we decided to share one computer. It worked pretty well, except that I had to keep turning mute on and off in the Zoom app and also advance pages in the Kindle app and the screen-sharing toolbar in Zoom kept blocking the page number field in Kindle. Eventually, I figured out that I could move the Zoom toolbar to the bottom of the screen, and that helped, but it was still clumsy.

After the service, I figured out a better way – I used Keyboard Maestro to build an automation so I could hit Command-Shift-A in Kindle and send it to Zoom to toggle the mute state. It’ll be a while before we’re leading services and reading Torah again, but it should help – and it was nice to be together during the service!

Dinner tonight was a little bit of an experiment – we had planned to make Delicata, Radicchio, and Black Rice Salad, but there was no delicata squash to be found. Google suggested substituting a sweet potato – it worked pretty well (and not having to scoop out the seeds sped the process).

After dinner, we went out for a quick walk; the full moon was low on the horizon and it was breathtaking. Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought to bring any camera other than my iPhone, and there was just no way to get enough moon in the frame to get a decent picture. But after we got home, I took out the Lumix FZ1000M2 with its zoom lens and took a few shots, even though the moon was much higher and not nearly as glorious. I tried using exposure bracketing and letting Photoshop merge the images – the result was better than I’d hoped for with hand-held photos.

Maybe I can plan better next time!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 347

I thought I was going to avoid doing anything medically-related today, but CVS called our landline and reminded me that the prescriptions my oral surgeon had sent in for next week’s procedure were ready. I knew that they’d keep calling over and over until I got them, so we walked there. We needed a walk anyway, or so our devices claimed.

Our neighbor’s tulips are getting nicer every day.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 346

It was another Toastmasters-heavy day today – the Silver Tongued Cats contest was this morning (I won Table Topics, so now I’ll be competing at two different Area contests), and then I filled a mystery role at the contest for the club I mentored, Toastrix.

And after that, I went to the oral surgeon to schedule my extraction and implant, have a CAT scan, and give them another shot at my wallet.

Tonight is Purim, so I’m going to post this installment early – we are supposed to celebrate so much that we can’t tell Mordecai and Haman apart, and that might make it difficult to deal with WordPress.

Instead of a gragger, which wouldn’t work well on Zoom, we were encouraged to make “Boo!” signs – here’s ours:

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 345

I visited the oral surgeon today to discuss options for treating my failed molar. I could go into the details, but I suspect you want to read them even less than I want to write them – I have a pretty solid treatment plan, but the date isn’t set yet. At least they take Apple Pay, so I can get 2% back!

One good thing about visiting the oral surgeon today was that his office is an easy walk from home, and today was a wonderful day for a walk. I stopped to enjoy the flowers at the medical complex across the street, too.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 344

It was another quiet day today – the most productive thing I did was to create a draft service order for next Saturday’s Shir Shabbat service and share it with my lay cantor.

We did take our usual walks, though, and flowers are continuing to brighten them, like this ice plant a few blocks away.

 

As I was getting ready to write this post, the news broke about Fry’s Electronics closing permanently. I guess I can stop waiting for Randy Fry to respond to my Open Letter from 2005.

I can’t really say that I’ll miss Fry’s because they’ve been basically useless for a couple of years – the last time I went into their Campbell store was probably in 2019, and there was almost nothing there (I guess I could have found printer paper, but I didn’t need any that day). They closed the Campbell store a few months ago and I haven’t noticed its absence.

Still, it’s sad to see them go – I did have some good shopping experiences at Fry’s. Fry’s customers often gave great advice, and seeing many “previously loved” return tags on a particular item was a good way of choosing something else.

I never did take advantage of their biggest sale, though – their 25-cent hot dogs did not appeal to me at all!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 343

It’s beginning to look more and more like spring – one of my ex-colleagues from IBM Almaden lives nearby, and he and his wife were outside working on their yard when Diane and I walked past.

We had a nice, properly-distanced chat – he got his first COVID-19 vaccination recently at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds; his wife isn’t quite eligible yet, but she’s looking forward to it.

They had a couple of California poppies growing by their driveway, the first ones I’ve seen this year. I always like the poppies – we went to the Antelope Valley State Poppy Reserve to see them in 2019 during the superbloom, and they were a high point of early Spring walks at Almaden every year. So I was happy to see this one today.

 

Every spring, Toastmasters has a cycle of speech contests – there are two different contests. One is always the International Speech Contest, which culminates in the World Championship of Public Speaking at the Toastmasters International Convention; the other is different each year – this year, my District chose Table Topics (impromptu speeches) as the second contest.

Tonight was the club contest for the Silicon Valley Storytellers and I competed in both contests – I won the International contest, so I’ll be representing the Storytellers at the Area Contest in two weeks. I finished third in Table Topics, but I have another chance to advance at the Silver Tongued Cats contest on Thursday.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 342

One of our neighbors has a number of raised beds in their front yard. During the summer, they are mostly devoted to fruit and veggies, but during the winter, they grow flowers, like these – it’s worth making sure our walk goes past their house!

 

What else did I do today? I started writing code to generate an easier-to-read weather update to send to Pushover each morning, which is forcing me to learn about Pillow. I could go into more detail, but it’s not terribly interesting – perhaps it’ll be worth writing about when I’m finished.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 341

The biggest excitement today was cleaning up some of the code I’m passing along for Toastmasters. I have to wonder what, if anything, I was thinking in one place – the original code looked like this:

foo = ‘  this  that the   other thing’.split() 

The string was actually about 18 words long, with lots of extra spaces. It extended way past the right side of the screen, so the .split() was invisible. And I couldn’t figure out how foo became an array instead of a string for a couple of minutes until I realized what I’d done: written code that was not only inefficient but also hard to understand (I’m sure I cut-and-pasted the string in from somewhere – at least I hope I did).

I got the value of foo and put it into the statement, like so:

foo = [‘this’, ‘that’, ‘the’, ‘other’, ‘thing’] 

I had to break it into three lines to make sure each piece was visible, but that was easy enough – and now the code is obvious and faster.

Sometimes I wonder….

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 340

We took a photo walk today so I could try playing with my camera in preparation for Africa; naturally, all I photographed was flowers. But I liked the results, so here you are.

Tulip

Beyond that, it was a busy day, mostly taken up with two meetings about Toastmasters (one to help with District alignment, one to prepare for a club contest on Monday). I have a bit of programming to do in the near future as part of my turnover process.

And I did my part to help Santa Clara County’s statistics – I took a COVID-19 test yesterday and it came back negative. The test was painless and easy; figuring out the traffic pattern in the parking garage was the biggest hassle!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 339

It was a beautiful day today, sunny and in the 60s (sorry, friends and family suffering from winter storms).

I stepped in at the last moment to be Table Topics Master at my morning Toastmasters meeting. The meeting theme was “Life’s Purpose”; I tried to come up with questions befitting the theme, with only moderate success, but people answered them anyway.

We watched the landing of Perseverance on NASA’s YouTube feed – it made me feel good for the rest of the day!

No photography experiments today, hardly any cooking, but a good deal of walking. And we ate the orange – it was flavorful and juicy.

Quiet days are nice, even if they don’t provoke a lot of writing.