Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 221

There’s an old joke about the lobbyist and the legislator. The lobbyist takes the legislator out for dinner and drinks and asks “if I made a million-dollar campaign contribution, would you back my bill?” The legislator says “Of course!” Then the lobbyist asks “what about if I only contributed a thousand bucks?” The legislator replies “What kind of public servant do you take me for?” and the lobbyist answers “We’ve already established that; now we’re just haggling over the price.”

I switched my cell service from Google Fi to T-Mobile a bit over a month ago because it was cheaper (Google Fi was $20/month plus $10/gigabyte plus tax; T-Mobile is $30/month flat rate). I didn’t consciously change my data usage, but now that I don’t pay by the gigabyte, I find that I am using a lot more data than I did on Google Fi – and I’ve started noticing that I’m pulling the phone out and looking at it while I’m out walking, which I wasn’t doing before the switch.

I used 2.45 GB during my last full month on Google Fi; I used 4.69 GB during my first month on T-Mobile, and I’ve used 1.88 GB in just 5 days so far during this billing cycle!

I guess my price is $10/gigabyte.

Shabbat Shalom!

  1. This is, of course, the clean and election-season-inspired version of the joke. For a discussion of the origin of the more common version, visit Quote Investigator.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 220

We were supposed to go to Berlin this morning – that is, we were supposed to go on a virtual tour of the Hannah Arendt exhibit at the German Historical Museum with a group from the Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community. But a few minutes before the scheduled time, the guide had to cancel because of Internet problems in Berlin, so we had the morning off.

And if it weren’t for the pandemic, we would have been in Cape Town for a Wine Tour before our big Africa cruise and photo safari.

But with the world as it is, I did the most useful thing I could – I text-banked for MJ Hagar and Joe Biden in Texas. I was given three hundred names at a time to contact (this is all done through the computer and a system called ThruText – my own phone number was never exposed); generally, fewer than 10 responded in any way.

Most of those responses were “STOP” or words to that effect – at which point I entered the person into the system’s opt-out list to ensure they never heard from us again (sometimes with a polite apology, sometimes not, depending on the nature of their response).

There were lots of “wrong number” replies – those got the appropriate response. And there were a few “I’m with Trump” (or equivalent) answers; they got a polite “thanks, have a nice day” (one person responded to that with “you have a blessed day, too”, which I appreciated).

And then there were a few people who had already voted – our goal is to get them to tell their friends or even to volunteer. I don’t think I got any volunteers, but one response made me very happy:

I’ve got all my family registered & voting. 17 of them w only one lone trump supporter. Got my grandsons to change their voter registrations & DLs 2 months ago. My husband & I voted from out of state by mail in & express mailed our ballots a week ago. My daughters & I just raised $65k for Emily’s list. I appreciate your volunteer efforts.

There wasn’t a canned response for that, but I did manage to type “Thank YOU!” just before the texting window for the day closed.

It was pretty easy – with a lot of time waiting for responses or more names to become available. The campaign has a Slack site to help volunteers be more effective and to answer questions about how to reply to “unusual” responses from voters.

If you want to help out, signup here. You have to read through a short presentation and take a brief quiz before being given contacts – but it’s worth it.

12 days left until voting ends. Vote Biden/Harris!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 218

A couple of years ago, the readers of the San Jose Mercury News voted the interchange between I-880 and US-101 the worst interchange in the Bay Area. It has many horrible features, but the worst of all, in my humble opinion, is the entry from Old Bayshore Highway to I-880 Southbound, just a few hundred feet from the exit to US-101 Northbound. Getting onto the freeway there is daunting at best; I try to avoid it if at all possible.

But today, we braved that route joyfully – we were on our way home (via the library) from dropping our ballots at the Registrar of Voters’ office. We’ve done our civic duty – now to see how else we can make a difference!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 217

I made one more attempt to play the failing Looney Tunes Platinum Collection disc from the library – I cleaned the disc VERY carefully and even reset the Blu-Ray player to factory defaults. Still no dice. I’ve sent them a note saying there’s a problem and will return the set tomorrow.

I also expect to vote tomorrow – I did a lot of research today on the measures I was unsure of and have come to decisions on all of them. I want to sleep on it before filling out the ballot, though, because there were a couple of close decisions.

For those who are curious, I’m planning to vote Biden for President, Eshoo for Congress, Ravel for State Senate, Low for State House, Owens and Ristow for Town Council (4-year terms), and Stephenson for Town Council (2-year term). I’m planning to vote FOR Propositions 15, 16, 17, 18, and 25 and Measures A, B, L, and RR. I haven’t decided whether to vote in the election for Superior Court Office 24 – the judge currently in the seat is running unopposed, so it really doesn’t matter whether I vote or not! Ballotpedia has a link to his website, but when I go there, I see a “this domain for sale” page, so I don’t think he’s terribly worried about this election either.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 216

We spent a lot of time in front of the TV today! We attended a concert in the park in Westchester County and a shiva minyan for the mother of one of the auxiliary rabbis at Shir Hadash.

But the most important thing we saw was interviews with all of the candidates for Los Gatos Town Council, which helped us narrow the field. We still have to make final decisions on the state propositions, Town Council candidates, and local measures – but at least the top of the ballot is easy!

I also reworked the website for the Silver Tongued Cats to put more information on the site. I liked the theme I used there (Colinear) so much I’m using it here, too – did you notice?

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 215

It was the first day of Torah Study for 5781; we are studying the Haftarot this year. Rabbi Aron gave us an introduction to the Haftarot in general (for example, the large range of regional variations in the choice of Haftarah for a particular Shabbat), but we didn’t actually get to this week’s Haftarah! Maybe next week….

Yesterday, the Los Gatos Public Library told me that their copy of Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 3 had gone missing, so I turned to the San Jose Public Library. They didn’t have the Golden Collection, but they said they had the Platinum Collection: Volume 2, which had “Duck! Rabbit! Duck!”, and they emailed me today to come get it.

I inserted Disc 2, which had the cartoon I wanted to see. I was greeted with the unstoppable “this is culturally wrong but worth watching anyway” disclaimer and then the main menu. I selected a cartoon; the screen went black…and that was it.

I even upgraded the firmware in my Blu-Ray player – it didn’t help. I can play some of the features on Disc 2; I can play Disc 1 just fine. But not the cartoons on Disc 2.

A friend had offered to loan me his copy of the Golden Collection, but I thought I’d see if I could find the cartoon online. YouTube has excerpts, but not the whole thing – but a wider search paid off.

If I wanted to see it again, I’d buy the Blu-Ray from Amazon (it’s only $10), but the mandatory ads and disclaimers are awfully discouraging.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 214

I went back to the eye doctor for my 3-week followup for my vitreous detachment; nothing had changed, which made both of us happy.

We tried a new recipe for dinner for the first time in a while – Sheet-Pan Salmon and Broccoli With Sesame and Ginger from the New York Times. Fresh local wild king salmon season is over, but it would have been wasted in this recipe; we made it with wild coho from Lunardi’s. I was in a hurry and didn’t realize until I was typing this entry that I hadn’t rescaled the recipe for two portions instead of four, so I made twice as much glaze as I probably needed – I had enough that it puddled in the pan! Fortunately, I’d put parchment paper under the food, so clean up was easy anyway.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 213

I was booked for a speech at the Silver Tongued Cats Toastmasters club today; it had to be humorous, include stories, and have a message. I decided to talk about my baking experiences (especially last week’s pretzel production), and it went over well. We continue to consume the pretzels, too – we’re more than halfway through the batch. I guess they’re good!

We watched the West Wing not-a-reunion benefit for When We All Vote and really enjoyed it. The appearances by Michelle Obama, President Clinton, and others during the act breaks were good, too. You need to subscribe to HBO Max to watch it, but they offer a 7-day free trial.

Santa Clara County entered the Orange Tier on Tuesday, and indoor restaurant dining was officially allowed yesterday (with significant capacity restrictions, of course). Restaurants are emailing to let us know that they’re open again; I wish them well, but I don’t expect to be dining inside for at least the rest of the year (we haven’t even taken advantage of patio dining at restaurants, and I don’t feel the urge for that, either).