Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Ten

It was Thursday, so I had two Toastmasters meetings. The first was for my home club, Silver Tongued Cats; we held it on Zoom. It was better-attended than last week’s meeting and went more smoothly. Since it was the last Thursday of the month, we followed the meeting with a coffee social, also on Zoom; the discussion was, unsurprisingly, dominated by coronavirus talk.

After that, I prepared slides for the speech I was giving at Toastrix – as a Citrix club, they use GoTo Meeting, which used to be a Citrix product. I’ve used GoTo Meeting for years, and I have to say I greatly prefer Zoom, which I’ve used for two weeks – sometimes, a fresh start really buys you a lot of usability. My talk was “To Cull or Not To Cull”, mostly about my photo library, but also about all the crap I have in my office – I’m trying to shame myself into doing something about the clutter.

After lunch, Diane and I finally took a walk together – we ended up at Lunardi’s, where we filled our bags with a few days’ worth of supplies. There’d been a change in procedures at Lunardi’s – now, they’ll only bag your groceries if they’re putting them in a new bag. Otherwise, you have to bag them yourself, which we did. We were able to keep our bags from touching any surfaces at the store, so I feel like we did the right thing.

Tomorrow is trash day, so we did some yard cleanup and filled our compost cart. Then I made steak for dinner while Diane sautéed kale and bok choi.

After dinner, Diane watched Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell while I edited, geotagged, and culled photos – I’m finished with August, 2000! Less than two decades to go!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Nine

Once more, the day began with a walk; it was surprisingly chilly outside, with occasional rain, but it didn’t deter us from making our usual rounds. I hadn’t planned on going shopping, but we ended up at Whole Foods. There was an employee outside wiping off the handles of the shopping carts; he was wearing gloves (good) but he was just using a cloth towel to wipe them. We chose to shop directly into our bags, and came away with fish, veggies, fruit, lox, steaks, and a little pasta – I might have wanted to buy more, but the bags were heavy enough as it was. They even had toilet paper on the shelf, but we won’t need any for a while.

My main computer at home is a 15” retina MacBook Pro; I added a 27” 4K monitor a few months ago and have been running with the computer in clamshell mode, just using the monitor. But now that I’m doing a lot of video conferences, I found I needed to have the computer open so I could use the camera, so I put the monitor on a spare dictionary to get it high enough that the computer wouldn’t block it – and then realized I needed a taller chair than I’d been using. So I ordered one, a Humanscale Saddle Stool. They build to order, and in normal circumstances, they quote 30-day delivery times; I’m hoping to see it this year.

This evening, I attended the Toastmasters Tall Tales and International Speech Contest from the comfort of my room. While I missed being able to see the contestants speak in person and the chance to talk with my friends, it was nice to have a nice dinner (and wine!) with Diane instead of Subway sandwiches at the contest. And we ended almost on time, which hardly ever happens at a “normal” contest. There weren’t even many technical problems – people are getting used to the technology.

I tried to stay away from the news most of the time, rather than wallowing in Facebook and Twitter (sorry, friends); we did watch last night’s Daily Social Distancing Show, which was newsy enough for me. After that, we watched a few short videos from Paula Poundstone’s blog and Stephen Colbert’s beard video – and that will do it for tonight.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Eight

We took a longer-than-usual walk this morning, going all the way to Office Depot (which looked like it was open, though I didn’t actually go in). On the way home, we walked by the Los Gatos Trader Joe’s, which had a huge line outside – people were six feet apart, and the store was only letting a few people in at a time. Bravo!

When I went out to the grill to cook lunch, I was surprised to find ants all over it – I’d never seen that before, but then again, this is an unusual year. I poured a few liters of boiling water on the grill, and that seemed to get rid of the ants, at least long enough to make lunch.

We took turns walking again while waiting for UPS to deliver my shoes – it’s amazing how long the truck takes to go from “In Your Area” to “Almost There” to “Delivered”! But eventually, the shoes arrived – I’ll unbox them sometime, I guess.

In normal times, tonight would have been trivia night at Khartoum in Campbell; the theme was announced two weeks ago (before their planned St. Patrick’s break) as March Madness and Spring Training (not my strong points). A good part of the group got together on Zoom with appropriate beverages – someone had a trivia game, so we played it for a while. It was good to see everyone, even if only on the screen – we’re going to do it again next week (and maybe bring in our members who’ve left the area).

And so it goes.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Seven

Last night, a nurse made an appeal for N95 masks on our local NextDoor group. We had most of a box left from the fires a couple of years ago, so we donated them to her this morning. And while we were out, we drove to Lunardi’s and picked up food for a few days – I wish I’d bought olive oil, though, because we’re going through it a lot faster than we normally do, and it was on sale!

Our new toaster oven arrived this afternoon (a day early!), courtesy of Amazon and the USPS; UPS was supposed to deliver some shoes, too, but even though the truck drove past our house, it didn’t stop. Fortunately, I’m in no hurry for the shoes.

Because we wanted to have someone at home in the event of a package arriving, Diane and I took separate walks this afternoon; I think that’s the farthest apart we’ve been for more than a week!

I had a Toastmasters meeting this evening with the Silicon Valley Storytellers; it went pretty well, with hardly any technical glitches. People are getting used to using Zoom.

Really not much exciting today – and I don’t mind.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Six

We started the day like any other Sunday, with a quick trip to the Los Gatos Farmers’ Market in hopes of finding fish and a walk along the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Our favorite fish vendor was at the market and had the tuna we liked. I was slightly surprised that she still only takes cash (most of the vendors had signs asking people to use Venmo or other touch-free methods). My purchase was $19.75; I told her to keep the change! This was the first cash I’d spent in at least a week.

The Los Gatos Creek Trail was a little less busy than it would have been on a typical Sunday (though there were occasional clumps of people – we were able to avoid them by waiting or speeding up), and it was good to get some distance underfoot.

A few years ago, we installed can lights in most of our ceilings – at the time, LEDs weren’t available, so halogen bulbs were the preferred choice. One of those bulbs finally gave up the ghost – which means all of them are likely to go soon. I’m out of halogen bulbs, but I did have one LED retrofit can light left, so I’m OK for now, but I need more – the local Home Depot has a good supply, but I don’t want to go into the store, so I ordered six for delivery late this week (I hope).

I had two Zoom meetings in the afternoon – one for Shir Hadash and one for Toastmasters. I haven’t had two conference calls in a row since leaving IBM – at least these were effectively run and produced results!

Dinner was a take-and-bake pesto pizza from Tony & Alba’s. Yummy!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Five

We stayed out of stores today! We had plenty of food on hand that was ready to be cooked, so there was no need to shop.

We did take our usual two walks – I see more and more people on the streets and sidewalks every day, keeping a good distance from each other.

We attended Torah Study via Zoom this morning; I thought it went fairly well (though some people treated us to a view of their ceilings the whole time). Rabbi Aron even broke us into small groups for a short discussion, something which wouldn’t have happened in person – but some of the groups didn’t really have critical mass. Diane and I used separate computers to join – we’re going to see if we can figure out how to set up in one place next week.

In the evening, we watched [Silicon Valley Shakespeare(http://svshakespeare.org)’s broadcast of As You Like It (Act I and Act II); we’d seen that production but probably not that specific performance. Good times!

And we bought virtual tickets for TheatreWorks’s showing of They Promised Her The Moon. It was a play we wanted to see, but the timing wasn’t going to work – now it does.

I also got back to work on culling photos – I am up to August, 2000! It may take a while….

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Four

As usual, we went for a walk this morning (it was a beautiful day, sunny and pleasant). We didn’t plan to do any shopping, but we brought two bags with us anyway – and we filled them at Lunardi’s, where we found plenty of whole wheat spaghetti, something we hadn’t seen for a while. It wasn’t until after we were on the way home that I realized that both brands we bought were from Italy (but I’m sure they’ve been en route long enough to predate the outbreak). We also bought fruit and a jar of garlic.

In our continuing attempt to keep local businesses afloat, we bought a dozen bagels from Saratoga Bagels and a foil cutter and a couple of bottles of wine from BevMo.

Amazon doesn’t have to feel left out, though; I ordered a replacement toaster oven from them for delivery on Tuesday. I was hoping to repair our old one, but the part has been back-ordered since mid-January, and somehow, I don’t think it’s coming any time soon.

After one more walk (successfully avoiding stores), we spent the rest of the day at home. Diane caught up on reading and I caught up on Quicken – I think she had more fun.

Shabbat dinner was salmon and sautéed vegetables, and then we watched the Shabbat Evening service from Shir Hadash. We’re taking a break from the news tonight; Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell will be on the TiVo waiting when we’re ready for them.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Three

We’re not really quarantined (or anything close to it), but we are sheltering in place, so I’ve changed the title for this and subsequent entries.

I had two online Toastmasters meetings today; the first was my home club, Silver Tongued Cats, which usually meets at the JCC. We had pretty good attendance (15 or so people) for our first online meeting – we even had a guest! Technology wasn’t much of a problem (a few teething pains, of course), so I’m hopeful.

The other was a club I’m mentoring at Citrix – they, naturally, used GoToMeeting, which I didn’t find quite as smooth as Zoom, but it worked fine, too. Their attendance was hurt by how many members were handling customer situations, but I think everyone who was able to join gained from the experience.

We did our usual rounds of walking and shopping (actually, we drove to Whole Foods to buy milk – that’s just a little too much to schlep home).

We managed to do some weeding in the xeriscape – it looks better, but I know the weeds are just waiting to return.

TV was the usual – Colbert, Maddow, MSNBC Coronavirus Update, and Whose Line is It Anyway; the last was the funniest.

Things are beginning to feel routine, even if they’re also surreal.

Quarantine Journal, Day Two

I slept surprisingly well; I guess not watching the news or anything like it near bedtime was a good idea, though I did keep reading last week’s Economist (what I read wasn’t coronavirus-heavy).

Another slow morning, but we eventually got out for a walk – we only got as far as Safeway, where we found peppers, cucumbers, rice, and pasta, calling for a quick trip back home.

Lunch was takeout from Sam’s BBQ. The streets were pretty empty as we drove there, but there were a few other customers picking up food, which, I think, is good.

Apple announced a new iPad Pro and a new MacBook Air today – I’ve ordered the Air to replace this old MacBook Pro, even though the screen is significantly smaller. This machine is showing its age (10 years old in April) and can no longer be upgraded, so it’s worth giving the Air a try (especially with the new keyboard). I will have at least 15 days to try it – and probably more than that, since Apple stores are closed indefinitely.

After lunch, we watched last night’s Colbert Late Show, then we took another walk, and then I did a few things at the computer (just like any other day, I guess).

The Census “invitation” came in the mail, so we filled it out – it was very simple, and they had clearly done a lot of work on the UX. Far easier than, say, buying an airline ticket.

Dinner was the chicken we’d bought at Lunardi’s a couple of days ago – lots of leftovers for the next couple of days – and then another walk so we could both hit our goals (yesterday, I didn’t even get my 12 “stand” hours on my Watch!).

Diane watched MSNBC and I worked on culling old photos (from 2000!).

And that was it for today. Tomorrow, I have two Toastmasters meetings, both, of course, online.

Quarantine Journal, Day 1

Monday, Santa Clara County (along with the rest of the Bay Area) announced that everyone would be under a “shelter-in-place” order for the next three weeks. I decided I’d keep a little journal of what we do, and don’t do, and where better to keep it than in public – so here I am. I wish my Google AdWords account was working….but oh, well.

We got the quarantine off to a great start by sleeping late, though I didn’t sleep soundly; perhaps spending the last hour before bed on Twitter wasn’t a good idea!

After a leisurely breakfast, we went out for a walk (specifically allowed by the order) to Lunardi’s to see if we could pick up a few necessities. We mostly walk through our residential area, and traffic is always pretty light – but it was noticably lighter; I think we saw two or three cars on our 1.5-mile walk to the store. There were quite a few people (including families with children) out walking – we gave them plenty of distance.

Lunardi’s was doing a reasonably brisk business, but it wasn’t at all crazy. We didn’t use a cart (next time, I’ll bring two shopping bags) and picked up most of what we wanted – chicken, coffee, yogurt, jelly, and bread – nothing we wouldn’t have bought normally. They didn’t have any red or orange peppers, but there were plenty of other vegetables and fruits available.

Much to my surprise, the beauty supply shop in the same shopping center was open – I would not have thought they qualified as an essential business. I didn’t go in (as usual).

We walked home and settled in for the rest of the day. Lunch was leftover chicken, salad, and some very old whole wheat pasta (“Best Before Feb 2016”, and it wasn’t that great then!). I did some work for Toastmasters (I’m mentoring a corporate club which is trying to figure out how to handle everyone working from home) and finally got around to entering my notes from the last three speeches I gave so I could clean up the area around my computer. I also set up a Kanopy account.

We spent a lot of time in front of the TV or computer – more than usual (I didn’t even get my 12 “active” hours on my watch). We started by watching Monday’s Colbert Late Show with the monologue from the bathtub and then rewatched the Jim Carrey interview. After that, we watched most of the Dropkick Murphys livestream from Boston in honor of St. Patrick’s Day; I’m sure I wouldn’t have done that without the quarantine, but I’m glad I did – it was upbeat music! Both Diane and I made a point of wearing green, though I doubt we had to worry about being pinched if we hadn’t.

Dinner was seared tuna with sesame seeds, an idea I’d gotten last month (was it only last month?) at Azahar Panama in Panama City. It was excellent and easy, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday is usually trivia night at Khartoum, but it would have been cancelled anyway for St. Patrick’s Day; I still missed it.

After dinner, we listened to the CD we’d bought on the cruise last month – the ship musician, Sergey Yurchenko gave a classical piano concert and sold his CD afterwards; we bought a copy but, as usual with such things, hadn’t played it…until yesterday. It brought back good memories. When we bought the CD, Sergey didn’t have change in dollars so he gave us a 5 Euro note instead – it may be a while before we can spend it!

We also watched a DVD we’d been given a while ago but hadn’t opened (there’s a theme here) – Jeff Dunham’s Spark of Insanity. I’d never heard of Jeff Dunham before, but he’s a good ventriloquist. It did seem strange to see such a large crowd gathered! We left half the DVD for later, though it doesn’t seem we’re going to run out of things to watch.