Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Fifty-One

The morning started with a thud – I must have enjoyed the food from La Esquina too much, because my weight was up four pounds overnight! Too much chips and salsa, probably – I’ll stay away from the leftover chips for a while and see what happens.

Diane got bad news from Apple, too – they’d looked at her old iPhone SE and set its trade-in value at zero because the camera didn’t work well. She wasn’t surprised; this was the fourth camera for this particular phone. The first one failed while we were in Amsterdam, where they couldn’t help her because it was a US phone but Apple fixed it as soon as we got home; she’d paid for two more replacements because the camera kept developing funny spots, and it was doing it again when she sent the phone away. I just hope the new iPhone SE behaves better.

I had to do some plumbing repair, but it was easier than I’d feared. One of our toilets started running yesterday – the flapper wouldn’t seal. I turned it off and let the water leak out of the tank, then took out the flapper, assuming I’d need to go to the hardware store and replace it. But I noticed it was caked with green deposits (probably copper, at least I hope so); I scraped them off and put it back, and it seems to be behaving, so I get to stay away from the hardware store a little longer – these days, I really don’t want to go somewhere for only one thing!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Fifty

Happy Cinco de Mayo! We celebrated by trying a new-to-us Mexican restaurant, La Esquina, about ten minutes from home. They just started using DoorDash, but I ordered the old-fashioned way – by phone – and had to go pick up the food myself. I had two reasons for avoiding DoorDash: giving the restaurant more of my money and being able to get margaritas, which weren’t on the DoorDash menu.

There were a lot of people waiting for their food inside the restaurant (I guess because it’s Cinco de Mayo), but I heard my name being called just as I got to the door and was in and out in just a couple of minutes. The food was very good; the margaritas were only OK. I’d get food from them again – but next time, I might make the drinks at home.

I had to leave our Trivial Zoom session to get the food; while I was waiting, I tried to connect from my phone. It was hard to hear, so I put the phone up to my ear – I am told that the visual was somewhat off-putting!

It was shopping day and the last day of Safeway’s sale on Talenti gelato, so we stocked up – you may not be able to tell in the photo, but we have ten pints in our freezer (some partially used). I’d’ve bought more, but we couldn’t find Belgian Chocolate or Deep Dark Chocolate. Such is life.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Nine

A few years ago, we planted some strawberries in one of our EarthBoxes. We didn’t get much of a crop, but what we did get was tasty. I never got around to replanting that box – and every year since, we’ve gotten strawberries (even though the soil level in the box keeps going down).

Today, we harvested the first three strawberries from that box for this year, and there are lots of green berries that should be ready soon. I don’t know how long we can keep going before we have to do something (and I don’t know how to replenish the soil in an EarthBox without digging everything up), but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

We watched Young Frankenstein this afternoon – it was in a 9-movie Mel Brooks Blu-Ray set that I’d bought on sale for $25 from Amazon in June, 2013 and never opened! It was as funny as I remembered, but I do have to say it wasn’t quite as deep as the National Theatre productions of Frankenstein that we saw over the weekend. Some day, I should watch the original movie.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Eight

After last week’s experience at the Farmers’ Market, we took “leaving early” more seriously and were out of the house just a few minutes after 8. Not all of the vendors were completely set up when we arrived, but the fishmonger was ready – there were only four people in line, and she had plenty of all kinds of fish.

I was planning to buy tuna (which had run out last week while we were on line), but was pleasantly surprised to find fresh local king salmon available, so I bought that instead, and we had it for lunch – yummy! I also bought fresh local lingcod for tomorrow or Tuesday.

After yesterday’s TV binge, we didn’t even turn the TV on today – instead, Diane worked on a project for Temple and I worked on things for Toastmasters (so we still got lots of screen time, just smaller screens).

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Seven

Frankenstein and the Creature

We don’t binge-watch TV. I think we may have watched as many as three episodes of The Good Place at a time when Jeff first introduced it to us, but that was our limit.

Today, however, we watched both versions of the National Theatre’s production of Frankenstein – one with Benedict Cumberbach as the Creature and Jonny Lee Miller as Frankenstein, and the other with the roles reversed. They’re available on YouTube until May 7th, and I recommend both. If you have to choose one, I’d take the one where Jonny Lee Miller is the Creature – it was just a little bit tighter.

We also attended Shir Hadash’s Zoom Torah Study and watched last night’s Shabbat message and last night’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

And we even started listening to the selections in the NYT’s “Five Minutes to Make You Love Opera” playlist.

I had hoped to watch Young Frankenstein tonight, too, but we ran out of time. Maybe tomorrow.

Lest I make us sound like total couch potatoes, I should note that we did manage to hit our step and calorie goals for the day – it was a nice day to wander through the neighborhood!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Six

It was another beautiful day. We dropped off Diane’s old iPhone at the UPS store so it could go to a farm upstate (or something like that), then drove into the mountains to pick up our Wine Club shipment from Burrell School Winery. The pickup was hands-free and properly distant, but Dave, the owner, did suggest we take a stroll through the rose garden and vineyards. The roses were lovely.

And we enjoyed seeing the vines – the fruit hasn’t set yet, but that should happen later this month.

Life goes on!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Five

Today was a typical Thursday (even pre-lockdown) with two Toastmasters meetings. I have to admit that not having to drive to them, especially the one in Santa Clara, is a great time-saver, but it sure would be nice to see people in person again!

Beyond that, I finally got around to acting on a recent discovery about MacBook Pros that strongly suggested charging them from the right side ports to avoid confusing a heat sensor and causing bad things to happen. I haven’t actually seen the bad things, but thought it best to be prudent. So I moved my Henge Stone dock from the left side to the right.

But before I could do that, I had to find a longer Ethernet cable, AND I had to move my scanner closer to the computer because my longest USB cable was a foot too short for the new position of the dock. And as long as I was doing THAT, I decided it was worth plugging the USB-C cable into the monitor and getting more ports on the left side of the computer.

But I finally got it all accomplished, and now when I scan, I won’t have to walk halfway across the room. I guess that’s progress.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Four

I started using DoorDash just before the pandemic – mostly because I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card and they included a $60 credit to sugarcoat an increase in the annual fee, and I didn’t want to leave $60 on the table. So we tried it one day for lunch and it worked quite well (at least it did for us – I know the restaurant had to pay, but we wouldn’t have gone there that day anyway, so I think they came out ahead, too).

Once the lockdown hit, we started using DoorDash more often – we’re still not heavy users, but it’s definitely in rotation, especially for restaurants which are more than a couple of miles away (or which consistently miss their pickup times).

Now we’ve moved further into the 21st Century and made our first Instacart order. Actually, I didn’t know I was using Instacart until well into the process – I was trying to order things from Costco for “2-day” delivery with limited success, and they suggested using their sameday.costco.com site instead. The prices were slightly higher than 2-day delivery or going to the warehouse, but still good, and when I checked out, I discovered that they were just front-ending Instacart.

I’d requested delivery between 2-4pm; at a few minutes after 1, my phone buzzed telling me that my shopper had started. A few minutes later, I got another message: “They have toilet paper available – would you like me to add it to your cart?” I was impressed (but sadly, they didn’t have the brand I wanted).

And at 2:10, I got a message telling me that the shopper was at my door and needed to scan my ID because I’d ordered wine – she was able to do it from a few feet away and we were both wearing masks, so it seemed safe enough. I thanked her and went back inside so she could put the order on the porch safely – and that was it.

I might use Instacart to avoid Costco even after things get back to normal!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Three

It’s Tuesday, so we went shopping – first walking to Trader Joe’s for “light” shopping (chocolate mostly, but we did pick up some veggies and frozen fish), then driving to Lunardi’s for the “real” shopping for the week. We avoided acquiring any more bags at either store by having the cashiers put our food back into the cart and then packing it into our reusable bags out in the parking lot – I felt like I beat the system!

Between the shopping trips, we watched a “RED Talk” from Rensselaer about some of the work they are doing on COVID-19 research (much in cooperation with Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York). It was interesting and occasionally encouraging.

And now we’re watching some of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain ’s Ukulele Lockdown videos – some are just performances, others are live-streamed instructional playalongs – and all are a lot of fun. I almost wish I could play!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day Forty-Two

Diane upgraded her phone today from an iPhone SE to an iPhone SE – the new one has four times as much storage, so she should be able to stop thinking about running out of space on the phone for a while. It’s also slightly physically bigger, which was NOT a selling point, and it’s significantly faster and has a better camera (her photo of the day on Facebook was taken with the new phone).

I permanently retired my Apple Time Capsule today – it’s 9 years old and has never been terribly useful; periodically, Time Machine would say something like “I can’t verify your most recent backup so I’m going to throw away all of your backups – OK?”. And even when it was working, trying to do a restore over the network was painfully slow (I’m not a super fan of the Time Machine user interface, either).

I wanted to thoroughly erase the disk on the Time Capsule before getting rid of the device; Apple offered a choice of how many passes of writing random data I wanted to make: 1, 3, 7, or 35. I picked 35 (better to be safe, right?) and it’s been erasing itself for a week and a half.

Yesterday, I (finally) got curious about why there was a choice and found the Wikipedia article on the Gutmann Method (the 35-pass erasure algorithm, which clearly explained that I wasted a lot of time – one pass would probably suffice, and three would certainly have been enough!

In the meantime, I now have two computers without a backup strategy – one is this new laptop (which doesn’t have any “real” data yet that isn’t on one of the other machines) and the other is the Plex server. So I ordered a 4TB drive from Office Depot this morning and walked over to pick it up this afternoon; it’ll go on the Plex server. I’ll probably get another one for this laptop, but I need to figure out my cabling needs, too – the laptop only has two USB-C ports, and I’m beginning to think I need a dock for it!