Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 383

According to the Torah (Exodus 13:6-7), Passover (especially the requirement to eat only unleavened bread) is seven days long, and that has always been the case in Israel. But in the rest of the world, Jews added a day to Passover (and other holidays, with the notable exception of Yom Kippur) to be sure their observance completely encompassed the “proper” days as determined by observing the Moon in the land of Israel – and this custom continued long after the calendar was mathematically fixed so that there could be no doubt about the “proper” days.

In 1846, the Reform movement of Judaism (which includes our congregation, Shir Hadash) decided that there was no need to add the extra day and reverted to the Biblical definition of the holiday – seven days. And so Passover ended for us at sundown this evening, allowing Shir Hadash to kick off this year’s Gala celebrations with a Zoom make-your-own Pizza party.

Of course, we weren’t left on our own; Cucina Bambini provided the instructions and instructor, Ryan. He took us through the process and made suggestions about changes to make if we had more time (such as letting the dough rise longer), but even with the short schedule, the pizza was pretty tasty. We couldn’t quite finish what we made, but I’m sure it’ll be just fine as leftovers.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 382

I felt guilty for not having a photo with yesterday’s blog entry – but I hadn’t taken any photos, nor edited any, and what I wrote didn’t really call for a photo anyway. So I guess it’s no surprise that I woke this morning with an idea: we should go to a botanical garden!

We’re members of the San Francisco Botanical Garden, so we’ve been there many times, though not in the last year. I wasn’t sure how crowded Golden Gate Park would be on Good Friday (we try not to go on weekends because parking is a hassle) – and then I had another idea: visit the UCSC Arboretum and Botanical Garden instead, since we’d never been there and Santa Cruz is a lot closer than San Francisco.

Our first stop was the South African Garden (we still hope to go to South Africa this year, though we have a backup plan for 2022). I bought my new camera for our South Africa trip, so it seemed only appropriate to give it a real workout in the garden!

I had the camera set almost wide-open at F4.0, which meant I didn’t have a lot of depth of field. I liked that when it blurred the background, but not so much when I couldn’t get the whole flower I was shooting into focus, like the next picture.

Our next stop was the New Zealand Garden (we hope to be there in 2022!). Most of the flowers we saw there were California Poppies (it’s that time of year!), but I really liked this Electric Pink Cordyline.

There was a good bit of art in the New Zealand Garden, like “Sun Catchers”.

The California Garden was next, complete with California Poppies just under the welcome sign.

I also liked the Del Norte County Irises.

I enjoyed the Purple Ice Plant in the Succulent Garden.

Our final stop was the Australian Garden.

Although the parking lot was fairly full, we had no problems avoiding other visitors (we masked up anyway, of course). We didn’t run into any human workers, but I did find this busy bee near the exit.

I don’t know what gave me the idea of visiting the gardens, but I’m glad we went!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 381

PG&E outdid themselves today. We’d gotten a letter from them last week telling us that they would be doing maintenance on power lines near us today and that we’d be without power between 9am and 3pm. They didn’t turn off the power until nearly 9:45, and it was back on before 1pm – it was out long enough for our UPSes to give up, but not long enough to affect any food or for the house to get uncomfortably warm. I’m glad they’re doing maintenance, and I’m glad they could beat their schedule!

It’s still Passover, which means we’re modifying recipes to avoid obvious chametz. Tonight, that meant using rice chips instead of pita chips in Spiced Chickpea Salad With Tahini and Pita Chips; if I hadn’t known about the substitution, I don’t think I would have realized there was anything different.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 380

I have the bad habit of checking my email almost as soon as I get up. Mostly, I just look at the subject lines and delete obviously useless stuff, but once in a while, there’s an email that grabs my attention.

That was the case this morning with email from Vueling Airlines, telling me about a schedule change to our flight from Barcelona to Porto in August. It was a flight we had no intention of taking.

Last year, I’d been able to get refunds for almost all of the flights and cruises we’d had planned; the only exception was our flight on Vueling. They would only allow me to reschedule for another day, up to a year later, so I did that, hoping that they’d allow me to postpone again and use the credit in 2022.

Today’s mail said that they’d rescheduled my placeholder flight to be about six hours later. But because they’d moved it more than five hours, I now had the option of requesting a refund.

I took the option. The website offered Flight Credit with a 10% bonus, good for three years. When I declined that, they gave me a US phone number to call to get an actual refund. After listening to yet another recording offering me the Flight Credit, I was connected to an agent in Barcelona who (after offering me credit again) actually started the refund process. It’s more complicated than it should be because my credit card number got changed since I bought the flights, but I have hope!

We celebrated by getting our hair cut professionally for the first time in more than a year – I guess I should give the Wahl Peanut a really good cleaning and put it away.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 379

It’s been two weeks since we got our second doses of the Moderna vaccine, so we are now officially Fully Vaccinated. Diane celebrated by going to the doctor for her annual Medicare checkup, which she’d scheduled long before we knew when we were going to be vaccinated. It was uneventful.

As was the rest of the day; I’ve started the final round of cleanup on photos from 2005, so I’m reliving my trip to China with the Technology Council. Sixteen years ago today, I was watching the China National Acrobatic Troupe perform; today, I watched Ted Lasso. Time marches on!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 378

I finished with my photos from 2004 today. I started the day with 1,373 photos from that year in Apple Photos and ended with what I think are the best 373 – the other 1,000 live on in backups, but I doubt I’ll ever try to restore them.

Dinner tonight was a Pesach version of a favorite recipe, Panko Crusted Halibut. I used Kosher-for-Passover “Panko Crumbs” – they were made of potato flakes, potato flour, and some flavorings. I had accidentally bought barbecue-flavored crumbs; perhaps the plain version would have been better, but I doubt it. Oh, well!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 377

I finally got back to working on photos today – I want to replace the photos in the Apple Photos library with the good ones I intend to keep, properly labeled and geolocated.

I got as far as my trip to Japan with the Technology Council of the IBM Academy of Technology in 2004; not only did I have my own photos in the collection, I had photos from two friends who were there, too. I’d already made one pass over the photos, but this time I was more selective. I also did more research on some of the photos from the day at the Toshugu Shrine in Nikko to figure out what buildings were in the photos – Google Image Search and Wikimedia Commons are powerful tools.

Needless to say, I didn’t finish. Tomorrow is another opportunity.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 376

Tonight was the first night of Passover; naturally, we attended a Seder with our friends. It was slightly too soon to be able to get together safely, even though many of us had been vaccinated, so we did it on Zoom.

! בשנה הבאה באופן אישי

Next year in person!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 375

Today was the final day of the season for Learned League. In some ways, it’s been my best season since I joined back in 2016 – I got 78% of the questions right versus my lifetime 68.9% and there were 7 days out of 25 where I got all 6 questions right. On the other hand, I wound up with a tie on 5 of those 7 days, which was frustrating, and ended up with 10 ties (a personal record).

Oh, well, there’s always next season!

The birds have started returning to the creek near us – ducks are there almost every time we walk by, and yesterday, there was a beautiful egret. It wasn’t there today, though, but I hope to see it again soon.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 374

The Insteon outdoor on/off outlet I mentioned on Monday arrived this afternoon, and I wasted no time in adding it to Indigo and Alexa so I can control it easily.

I had hoped to put the outlet inside the box containing the landscape lighting equipment, replacing the mechanical timer, but the only way to get it in there needed me to contort the 110-volt supply cable in ways that made me uneasy, so I gave up and mounted the outlet on top of the box. “Mounted” is a somewhat generous description, but I think it’s sufficiently stable to get by.

And now I can say, “Alexa, turn on garden” and the lights come on; they also come on automatically around sunset and turn off at 10:30pm.