Pandemic Journal, Day 493

I spent much of today working on code – first for the Shir Hadash High Holy Day Honors process, and then much of this evening helping with code I’d written for Toastmasters.

The High Holy Day Honors process work was actually pretty easy – and in the end, I feel pretty good that the person picking up the load while I’m away will be ok – he talked me out of making any code changes before I left, which was a very good idea, even if those changes would have made the code much cleaner.

The Toastmasters fixes were in some of the ugliest code I’ve written. The code has to parse an HTML page because Toastmasters HQ doesn’t provide any way to download data about what officers have attended training – and they changed the HTML page this year, after leaving it alone for three years. They simplified it substantially, but it still broke my code.

I got my successor on a Zoom call and we set to work – which meant I figured out what was going on and fixed the code while he listened to me think out loud. I made some improvements to my code (I created a class with meaningful names instead of using a list, for example), but it’s still ugly and fragile code, and I’m not sure it’s significantly more understandable than it was before. But it produces the report they need, and that’s something.

Oh, well; everything is working for now on both fronts, and I can go on vacation with a clean conscience.

Pandemic Journal, Day 492

Today’s Toastmasters meeting went off surprisingly smoothly considering we lost one speaker in the middle of the meeting due to a family emergency. Our Table Topics Master had plenty of questions ready, and she used them all!

After the meeting, a few of us met in person at a nearby Panera Bread – we sat outside, and a good (and, I hope, Covid-free) time was had by all.

I visited my allergist today; both he and I were happy about my progress. He’s afraid that my polyps will return now that I’m off the prednisone, so he’s working on backup plans.

And I girded my loins to do battle with British Airways to get a refund for our flights to and from South Africa. I knew they’d try to steer me towards a voucher, and they did – with one button on the first screen of the refund menu. I clicked the button that said “refund my money” and I was done 20 seconds later – no hard sell, and really no problem at all. Of course, I don’t have my money back yet. They said it would take up to a week to be credited to the card, but I can wait.

Pandemic Journal, Day 491

A little over two weeks ago, I fractured a crown – I don’t know what caused it (I wasn’t eating anything particularly tough at the time), but my mouth felt funny and I kept feeling little pieces of something where they shouldn’t have been.

Today, I got the crown replaced – it took a bit longer than expected because it was hard for the dentist to get my mouth numb enough, but she finally succeeded. She discovered a little bit of a cavity under the old crown, so she had to drill that out, too – but the new crown made it unnecessary for her to fill the cavity. I guess that’s a good thing.

I also spent a lot of time doing things for our synagogue – I finally finished the High Holy Day Honors invitations program and sent out the initial batch of invitations. There will be further invitations to send when someone declines an honor, but that process should be easier this year than last year. Last year, I had to specify which invitations should be sent to a new person every time we had changes; this year, I made a simple database with the invitations that have been sent out, and the program knows not to send an invitation to a person if nothing has changed for that slot. Databases are wonderful things sometimes – using sqlite3 for this was easier than creating a flat file and searching it myself.

I finished the invitations just in time to go to the monthly synagogue Board meeting – which ran long. At least there were goodies!

Pandemic Journal, Day 490

When I awoke this morning, I found an email from British Airways telling me that our flight from London to Cape Town on September 12th had been cancelled. They didn’t offer any alternative flights, either.

I checked with other people on our tour, and everyone who was flying BA got the same message, even if they were flying on a different day.

So I reached out to our travel agent to see what was up – he said he was checking with Ama and the other suppliers, but that the trip was still officially on.

A few hours later, we got a note from him saying that Ama was still planning to operate their normal cruises in September, but that they were willing to move our charter to 2022 and what did we think of that? Our answer was “hell, yes, move it!”

And soon thereafter, we got the official notice that the charter will move to August, 2022 – we hope that Covid will be under control there and that the riots in Johannesburg will have ended, too!

I am relieved. I still have to cancel the BA itinerary and get a refund, but that should be straightforward.

We also found out that Iceland is putting their requirement for pre-travel Covid testing, even for vaccinated travelers, back into effect on July 27; our flight arrives in Reykjavik on the 26th, so we shouldn’t need to be tested – but we’re going to get a test anyway to be safe. The test has to happen within 72 hours of arrival, so we can’t do it before Friday; I’ve made an appointment for PCR tests.

And our friend Desi headed home today; her flight to Denver was delayed by 45 minutes, which was a problem, since she only had a 43 minute layover. But her flight from was also delayed, so she made her connection anyway – and so did her luggage.

Travel. It’s always an adventure!

Pandemic Journal, Day 489

Once more, I had a busy day, but not much of what happened is worth writing about. I spent most of the day working on the Shir Hadash High Holy Day Honors – the program will be much better when I finish breaking it! There were also things to fix up in the assignment of honors – but it’ll be done soon. Or else.

Our friend Desi went to the Verizon store to get a new phone, and she’s spent the rest of the day beating it into submission. I’ve been called in for tech support a couple of times (which is why she wanted to get the new phone on this trip), but it’s been fun – and now I know a lot more about Android than I did two days ago. I’m sticking with Apple.

And two of our friends lost their mothers overnight. No matter when it happens, it’s too soon. May their memories be a blessing.

Pandemic Journal, Day 488

Today was a busy, busy day, and it has almost gotten away from me!

We began at the Farmers’ Market, as usual; Desi explored Los Gatos while Diane and I walked.

This afternoon, our trivia team came over to our house to meet Desi – a good time was had by all, or so we were told.

And after that, I got back to work on the Shir Hadash High Holy Day Honors. I think I’ve pretty much beaten the process into submission, but there are still a few questions outstanding. I’ll deal with the tomorrow – it’s late!

Pandemic Journal, Day 487

Sadly, we had to leave Sonoma this morning. Our plan was to have breakfast at Creekside Cafe, go back to the Airbnb and clean up and check out, go to UPS and ship our friend’s wine back home to Illinois, and go home.

Three out of four isn’t bad. Our host told us he didn’t think we could ship wine at the UPS Store, and he was right – the franchise would need a wine shipper’s license, which apparently is expensive. They suggested Buffalo’s Shipping Post in Napa, so we drove over there (a pretty drive!), and they took care of everything. They even had menus on display for local restaurants, so we decided to go to Gott’s Roadside in Napa for lunch before heading home.

Gott’s was busy, but the line moved fairly well. After ordering, they said it’d be 25 minutes or so, and they were right. I had a very nice burger, sweet potato fries, and a small milkshake; Diane had the ahi burger, and our friend had the street corn. Everything was good, but the street corn smelled wonderful – I would think about going to the Palo Alto location to try it while it’s still in season!

After lunch and a brief walk in Napa, we hit the road; we weren’t in a hurry, so I did something I’ve always thought about but never had done in the 37 years we’ve lived here. We stopped at the Vista Point off the Lake Herman Road exit on 680 South and took a look at the ghost fleet. There’s not much of it left (when we first moved here, there were hundreds of ships; now there are fewer than ten), but I was able to get a photo of two of the ships (I didn’t realize there were two ships until I looked at the photo this evening – it looked like one ship with the naked eye).

And then we came home; it was nice to make dinner instead of going out!

Pandemic Journal, Day 486

We were up bright and early this morning so we could have breakfast before a long hard day of wine tasting. Breakfast was at Baker and Cook, very near our Airbnb. All three of us had the same thing – cinnamon french toast with apples, walnuts and pure maple syrup. The portions were generous, but I managed to finish mine!

Our wine tour was with Platypus Wine Tours; there were 10 customers on the bus, along with our guide, Luis. We visited three wineries, Roche, Mayo, and Bennett Valley Cellars, where the winemaker met us and gave us a private tour and tasting. We bought more than enough wine at each stop to have our tasting fees refunded – I think that’s a good investment, right?

Dinner this evening was at The Red Grape just off Sonoma Plaza. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to get in, since their reservations and waitlist had closed early this afternoon, but there was plenty of room when we got there just before 8pm. I wanted something sweet afterwards, so we stopped at La Michoacana and I got a guava paleta (frozen fruit bar).

It was a very nice way to spend Friday. Shabbat Shalom!

Pandemic Journal, Day 485

We drove to Sonoma (actually Boyes Hot Springs) this afternoon for a short stay surrounding a wine tasting tour tomorrow. We’re staying at a very nice Airbnb, Casita Nopal. Our host pointed us at a wonderful Mexican restaurant nearby, El Molino Central, which provided us a delicious dinner to take back to the Airbnb and enjoy with the wine our host put in the room.

After dinner, we drove into Sonoma and had ice cream at Sweet Scoops Homemade Ice Cream on the Plaza. It was excellent, but it was too dark to take a photo (that, and my hands were busy with the ice cream).

Tomorrow, we must rise early and prepare for a day of wineries. Life is rough sometimes.

Pandemic Journal, Day 484

It’s Day Two of our friend’s visit, and we did the Silicon Valley standards.

First, we went to the Winchester Mystery House – the tour was pretty much as I remember it from past visits – no need to stand 6 feet apart, masks optional, corny jokes included.

Then we crossed the street to show off Santana Row and get a snack; I was hoping to find something in the Farmers’ Market, but we settled for Smitten Ice Cream. Darn!

After that, we made a quick visit to Apple Park to see the Visitor Center and Apple Store; I had forgotten that the visitors’ entrance was off Homestead, so I made some unnecessarily daring maneuvers to avoid going into an employee-only entrance to the complex. Fortunately, the Sheriff’s deputy across the street wasn’t interested in correcting my ways. We left with wallets intact…for now.

This evening was my first meeting as Chair of the Shir Hadash Ritual Committee. We had much to talk about and decisions to make; it was a full two hours, but we got a lot done. The Cantor suggested I post the minutes as tonight’s blog entry, but I decided to save that for a day when I really have nothing to write about!