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And hotel rates.

So, last night Spook once again hid somewhere, not in the bedroom. I feel slighted.

I was watching a video on the tablet at 8-something-am when the phone sang to me, a local number so I answered it only to find it was an Indian guy named Raj in DC calling about a contract job with HP. I told him to send me email. He said he already had, but when I looked on my tablet it wasn't there, so I said he should give me half an hour.

I took my time, though, because I wanted to hear KNBR's morning after reports on the Cubs' win. Not a baseball fan, pretty much can't stand watching the game, but we're talking major history, the same way the SF Giants almost made it this season.

Dressed and drugged, Spook came out of hiding for treats. Checked email, and surprise, surprise, it was a job I was qualified for. At HP. In my town. Which probably means the building next to Amazon, but it could also mean the startup they bought right down the block from the PO. Either way, easy commute. So I filled in the questionnaire, attached a resume, and affirmed the hourly rate, which is in my usual price range before Moto.

By now it was too late to hop the Coast Starlight south. But I have no plans for the weekend, so I looked at the nearest stop after Salinas (I can't see taking a weekend in Salinas) which is Paso Robles. Not ideal, but it's scenic in a vineyards-in-the-mountains kind of way. The train trip is convenient, arrive late afternoon, return early the next evening. Looked for hotels. Nothing. All booked, even the local cheap motel. Turns out last weekend was the winery festival, and this weekend is still grape crushing/wine tasting. Not my thing, but vineyards do beautiful fall colors up there. So I unbooked the train trip.

I could do Reno, but it's a late afternoon arrival and an 8 am return, it needs a 3-day weekend. Can't do that because I have a vet appointment and a NOVA class Monday.

Toyed with stops along the San Joaquin route. I've never been in Bakersfield, for instance. But do I want to be? Fresno is a lot closer, but again, why?

Spent all day at home. I did sit on the porch for a few different hours, and enjoyed the summer weather while reading the latest book on the tablet. Inside, Spook let me pet her more than usual. Once again she gave up on the meat stick treat, this time after batting it to the tier she was standing on. It's back up on the top tier.

Lunch was herring in sour cream and Tillamook muenster cheese, which I will not be buying again because the unopened package which has been in the fridge and is well within it's "best by" date had a chunk of mold halfway down which touched every slice. I cut it out but the slices tasted off, so most of them went down the drain.

Watched some DVR. TMZ had some good stuff for a change. While I was on the porch I set the DVR to record the two local college football games. Cal/Oregon and San Jose State vs. San Diego State. I may or may not watch them. Still haven't played the latest Timeless.

Dinner was actual pre-planned cooking. Last night I thawed a pack of three turkey legs which have been in the freezer for months. Put them in a glass baking dish which fit them perfectly, coated them with minced garlic, added rosemary from my garden, fresh basil from the planters on the kitchen table, salt, and thyme. Added about 1/2" of water and into that tossed some dried minced onion. Covered with foil, 350° oven and set the timer for an hour, since online recipes said 1.5-2 hours. At an hour I took them out to turn them over, but they looked done. Got out my instant thermometer and yup, 178° inside (165 is the done mark). Uncovered them and put them back in for 10 minutes to brown, but that was a minor mistake, dried them out a little.  Steamed some sweet corn kernels for a side dish. Yummy stuff!

Plans for tomorrow:
Make plans for tomorrow.

That's Done

Gave my PowerPoint presentation. I signed up for the #7 slot but was #4 because people mostly signed up for later slots. There were 26 slots, allegedly the number of people in the class, but only 15 showed.  To me that says FAIL for the instructor.

I did a perfect presentation, but for some reason he marked me down a notch for font size. Idiot.

A lot of people did lousy PowerPoints, but gave interesting presentations. A woman led a line dancing lesson, obviously she's been teaching for years, but her slides looked like a book on line dancing. Another led the class in Qiquong, but kept forgetting to advance the slides. The best ones for me, as far as PPT goes, was a worker at Happy Hollow telling all about the park, and a volunteer at the Humane Society describing his job of weighing cats. Lots of cute photos. A woman from NYC gave a paranoid presentation on government mind control, and her slides were filled with extra apostrophes and grammatical errors. And WWII era scare tactics about Nazi doctors infiltrating our schools.

The teacher gave each person a certificate and a grade sheet as each finished up. I gave out my Photographer bizcards, and gave away about 10 calendars, half 2016 and half 2015.

Anyhow, when the survey came, I was at Starbucks, and ripped him a new one for his horrible teaching style.

Checked the web site a few minutes ago, I'm enrolled in the Communications Skills class next week, up from #4 in the waitlist. It's in the afternoon, so none of this out of bed at 7:30 idiocy. Except for Monday, because I had to change my 2 pm vet appointment to 9:30 am.

Ingressed before and after Starbucks. I parked in the underground lot, and one of the chargers was available, so I plugged into that. But when I got back on the road, it was clear it had not charged at all.

Home, plugged in the car. In the mail was all election flyers, plus the bill for Kaiser HMO which they were supposed to stop sending because (a) I'm on autopay and (b) I signed up for paperless when I joined.

About the election. Someone I respect said something which has stuck with me. He said he votes no on all propositions and initiatives, because they are the last resort for when our elected officials haven't taken action. Most of them end up costing us in taxes or unintended consequences.

So with that in mind, I narrowed down my ballot to the following:
Skip if you"re not a California voterCollapse )

Caught up on TMZ, PTI and Elementary. Watched the Bears/Packers game, but FFed the last quarter when it was clear that the Bears defense was pooped and so was their O-line. Up till then it was a good defensive ballgame. There was a negative campaign ad by the incumbent Congressman, which bothered me for several reasons. The first is the video quality sucked lemons through a garden hose. And the audio was almost as bad. The second is he had promised to stay above that, because it almost cost him the last election. And the third is he was accusing his opponent of a crime which was actually done by a junior member of his opponent's office staff. Incumbent has been charged with misappropriation of funds, in a similar situation.

Dinner was a beef pot pie, popsicle and walnuts in sweetened condensed milk.  Charged up some new bottles of SodaStream. Diet cola in one, diet lemon-lime in another and plain soda water in the third.

There's a load in the dishwasher.

Took the cat carrier in from the shed, Spook nosed around and inside it, but did not decide to curl up in there. She seemed okay with it being there, though.

Plans for tomorrow:
Unload the dishwasher
Maybe hop on a train. Looks like it will be the last of the summer-like days this year.

Later Than I Wanted

Last night I was in bed before 10, read a couple of chapters in the new book, tried to sleep, failed, got out of bed at 11 and fired up the PC to make sure my credit card payment was in the queue, and did something else important which I forget now.

Back to bed, turned the radio to a talk station way low for the human noise factor (white noise never helps me) and eventually got to sleep. Woke up once in the wee hours to wee, then not again till 6:20, back to sleep but still awake again before the 7:30 alarm.

Did my morning stuff, was on the way to class by 8:10, there about 8:30. First one in the room so I sat in front.

Teacher really ripped though lesson 3, covered a lot of ground, and got some flak at 10 o'clock break that half the class couldn't keep up. It's why experts shouldn't teach basic classes. Also some foreigners talk way to quickly when they use English. Filipinos are among the worst, folks from India top them. Their accents are hard enough to understand, without the speed thing.

He tried to mock them by slowing down to grade school level, but that only lasted a few sentences. He whipped through lesson 4 in record time, and we were done by 11:20. The good news is that let students who don't have access to the app work on their presentations, which are due tomorrow.

The woman sitting next to me said I should do something on how I make my calendars, which was toward the top of my list because I have all the materials already.

Drove downtown, and because it's still broken there was electric car parking in the charger area, so I parked there instead of hunting. Lunchtime that garage gets crowded.

Starbucks - It was a rewards day for me, I got a free frapp. I checked email, nothing interesting there. Ordered some seeds on Etsy. Bought a pair of tickets to see Allegiance in Redwood City Dec. 13th, Janice said she wanted to go too. Fandango, according to Takei's site, was supposed to hold sales till the 26th, so he could release tickets early to those of us on the Facebook page, but they jumped the gun, so he suggested jumping with them.

I started working on the PPT presentation, but after half an hour it was clear I needed to do it on my big PC, not the laptop. So I started to shut down the laptop, and it started a huge-assed update. While I was sitting there watching it crank slowly, the gorgeous woman at the next table asked me to watch her stuff. I said okay. Little did I know that after hitting the loo she was going to get in line and order another drink. Update was done just before she got back.

Both before *$s and after I Ingressed. Turned a lot of neutrals green. Set up links and a field. It won't last. I don't know why I haven't uninstalled it. I'm not interested in the social aspect, I'm not competitive that way.

Home, buried myself in the project. PPT did not make it easy. I had to not use some of the fancy stuff because the program doesn't have basic layout tools like placeholders to show if the image you want to fly into place will line up with the last one. Grid lines seem to be at a fixed size, I couldn't see how to adjust them to match my images. I ended up doing a lot of things one at a time which there should have been a way to do in a block. Problem is, if you insert several pix at a time, it treats them as a single object. No way to ungroup them that I could see. So I had to drag and drop 36 thumbnails into place one at a time for my second slide.

By 7, Spook was clawing at my chair, and it was time to finish up, change her litterbox, have dinner, catch up on DVR, and chill.

The project is done. I also rounded up some of my calendars from this year and the last 3 years. And my new photographer bizcards. Just to brag. I don't want to do that for a living, because it isn't a living.

Plans for tomorrow:
Class at 9. Sign up for a presentation slot somewhere 5th to 9th. Give the folks who are new to PPT some time to work on theirs.
Check my waitlist status for next week's class.
Hang out. Maybe take the train somewhere.
Football (?)

It Gets Easier

Went to bed at about 10, got to sleep in an hour, woke up several times, Spook was hiding in a closet or something, didn't see her till I was on my way out.

Major traffic snarl when I guessed (incorrectly) that it would be faster to take Central Expressway from Fair Oaks to Mathilda. The Fair Oaks entrance is also the Mathilda exit-only, and usually it's 50 mph for the 2 miles, and then up and out to the main street closest to class. But this morning some cretins from some Official Department had coned off that lane about halfway between, for no apparent reason, for about 20 feet. Forced me to merge with rush hour traffic, and then back out again. Boo. Hiss.

Still was a few minutes early.

Class was a hoot. The teacher had handouts for lesson 2, but without warning he picked up where he'd left off in lesson 1. I had left that handout in the car. But he is testing this new class, and read from the material word for word, and the woman next to me had the right stuff on her screen until we both got bored and did our own things. LOL of the day, on the handout "click" was spelled "clock" at least twice.

It was useful. He covered drop-down menus I did not know existed, and on my own I found animation features way better than the older versions had. Although his opening missive was not to use the Internet, we had to use it to get images. PPT 2016 links to Bing, and by default searches for common copyright covered items. It's a pretty good search engine too.

He got through lesson 1 by break, and lesson 2 by 11:40. Some of the class stuck around (we have the room till 12:30) to work on their presentations, since they have the windows10 and PPT2016 right there. I went to the library, and they are still on Win7 and PPT2010, so no good for class.

I have no idea what I am going to do for my presentation. There are too many possibilities.

Home after. TV, the Graham Norton Show is back, yay! Caught up on TMZ, mostly FFed. Facebooked, LinkedIn and job sites, applied for one job. Have not heard about yesterday's phone screen.

UPS said they had a package for me, sometime between 3:30 and 8 pm, and sure enough, it arrived at 7:58 after being on the truck since 7 am. I'd forgotten what it was. The delivery info said LA, but I had not ordered anything from LA. Turns out it was from Montana, & was my professionally printed photographer biz cards. They look great, but frankly I liked the ones I printed myself better. Should have gone for borderless. The new cards are on better stock, though.

Got on the waiting list for next week's class, communications skills. If I get in, I need to postpone Spook's vet appointment Monday afternoon. It's an afternoon class.  I expect the vet will have Tues am openings.

Did some gardening. Plucked some weeds from around the front garden. Planted the third aloe along the carport. It shares an insert with flowering tumbleweed.

Nothing in the mail except the Tuesday grocery clump, and a bunch of political flyers.

Plans for tomorrow:
Check Fathom to see where around here Allegiance will be playing. I think they said sometime in December. Tickets don't go on sale till 10/26.
Starbucks: free drink
Home: work on the presentation
DVR: Timeless

In like Flynn

Assuming Flynn had a hangover, which, being Irish, he likely did.

Last night I had totally forgotten that I'd finished Three Body Problem and opened up the Kindle app in bed, expecting to read for about 5 minutes. A moment of confusion as the style was way different, and the scene was a baseball park in America. All of TBP is set in China or a planet called Trisolaris. Read enough to be reminded that I was on a new book, and it was so absorbing that my lights went out as programmed at 1:30 am before I knew it.

In Times Like These by Nathan Van Coops. It was free. The next two books in the trilogy are not, but they are affordable.

So when the alarm went off at 7:30, I was fast asleep, and it wasn't till 8 when my phone and tablet reminded me that class started at 9...

Record time getting up and showered, dressed and drugged. No time for breakfast. No time to take out the garbage. Got to NOVA at 8:45, plenty of time to sign in, and be told I was now #1 on the wait list. So I waited. Finally at 9:10 they had finalized the list, including people who had called to say they would be late, and I was the only waitlisted person to get in.


Except I was seriously sleep deprived, and while I was not in danger of dozing off (the instructor was very high energy in a good way, and it took some concentration to parse his Filipino accent)  my eyes were burning, and I didn't have any drops with me.

Oh, and I also was wearing the same outfit as yesterday, all black, long sleeves, dress pants.

So about TBP. It ended gracefully. It also ended leaving it open to at least one, maybe two sequels. Or more. I will not be reading further. The basic premises don't fly. The hard science is weak, the math is way over my head. I think the Hugo was deserved, it's a major project and the first person Red China POV alone is a winning proposition.

Okay, back to class. This is a basic Powerpoint class, good for a certificate, and it's practical. The final class on Thursday will be us giving our PPT presentations to the class. Hopefully it will be in a classroom, not in the lab, because the sight lines in the lab suck.

He also teaches intermediate & advanced PPT for adult ed at the local high school evenings.

There are some huge gaps in his not-PPT knowledge. He said once you upgrade to Windows 10 there is no going back. I've gone back three times, it's an easy system restore, which has been a feature for about a decade. He was surprised when I pointed that out, but took my word for it. He made the generous offer, since the NOVA computer room won't have Win10 and Office 2016 for 2 more weeks, that we could come to his adult ed classroom after 5 pm and use machines there. However, he didn't know that right next door at the library there is a bank of free to use PCs. I didn't know if they had Win10 or Office 2016, though. The class lab is up to date.

The first 1/4 of the class was background. The second 1/4 was a tutorial on Win10 for those who have never used it. He did a good job, handled questions well, and didn't get too bogged down in politics. He doesn't seem to understand that Steve Jobs is dead, and Bill Gates hasn't run the company for years.

The next half was a tab-by-tab deep dive into PPT. Very well done, good job of showing how the drop-downs and curser hints work. He used one of the many pre-populated templates as an example, which saved a lot of time. He recommends them as a starting point. And again, he handled q's well, and I was happy to hear him tell a woman who fancies herself as an expert that no, trying to fit every word in the presentation into one slide is not a WIN.

He set some guidelines I liked. Maximum number of bullet points, minimum font size, etc. His slides were pretty good, but his choice of transitions was boring. :-)

Now I am committed to be there at 9 am for the next 3 days. I'll try getting to bed early.

Home, I wanted to take a nap, but needed to be awake for a 4 pm phone screen. So I watched some of the Raider's game on DVR. Lunch was a baloney and salami sandwich on sourdough.

The recycle bins had not been collected, so I filled mine and trucked it out to the curb. Got the mail, which included a check from Discover for $14 which I had not asked for, which was a balance I had sitting there for a couple of months. I haven't used the card since it started charging interest.
The phone screen was not from Planet One, it was a Florida area code, a contractor who does technical screenings for a third party. I wasn't clear whether it was for Planet One or the contract agency. It was a delightful chat, he knew his stuff, and dates back to when the USMC was programming in COBOL. I was able to tell him that the reason for all the blank spaces was a throwback to punch cards. My recruiter had fed me the main q's he would ask, but I just went with the flow.

I emailed the recruiter that I thought it went well, he said the screener would make a recommendation by Tuesday. Not sure if he meant tomorrow or next week.

That done, brought in the recycle bin and took a nap. Slept for about 90 minutes, when I woke up Spook was on the bed near my feet. Not interested in being petted, though.

3-course dinner. Herring in wine with onions, leftover chicken soup from last night and a handful of my first FAILed breaded wings.

As I typed that, Spook got up onto the tree and snagged the meat stick from yesterday.

Tried to watch tonight's football game on DVR but accidentally hit a key which flipped it halfway forward. Went back to the Raider's game from yesterday, but set a 9 pm time limit so I could finish the journal by 10.

Plans for tomorrow:
PPT class
Maybe hear about the job interview

I left my camera home

I thought that by getting to the Thai temple at noon for a 1 pm service there would be parking in the lot behind the monks' houses, but there wasn't. And there wasn't anyone standing there as they usually do to say where the overflow parking was, because they always run a shuttle service. So I drove 1/4 mile up the road and parked in the school lot which usually has the shuttle. I was the 3rd car there.

It was drizzling steadily (it had been raining all the way from Milpitas, and 880 was treacherous in some places because they recently paved it with asphalt, so no grooves to help keep the spray from the tires down), so I dug out the umbrella which I never use and walked back to the temple.

There was a huge crowd. Much bigger than the backyard parking lot could account for. I'm guessing the memo I didn't get was the one saying park at Quarry Lake for the shuttle.

Boss and his wife and daughter were right there in the forecourt as I walked in. Had a good chat, but he went off with a friend to get some persimmons and I didn't see him again. But I saw there was a line for lunch, so I lined up. Wife & kid were at the head of the line, but after I went through the line I lost them too.

Had a nice chat in Tinglish with a woman who was here visiting, going home to Bangkok on December 1. One thing I love about this temple is no one is surprised to hear a white boy speak Thai. Probably 1/3 of the congregation is intermarried. There was a lot of food, and the donation box was there but subtle. It goes to the temple so I put in a 20.

It rained constantly, sometimes a drizzle, but mostly a fairly hard steady rain, once in a while a downpour. It seemed appropriate for a memorial to King Bhumibol, who holds the original patent on cloud seeding. Which is a small example of what a unique monarch he was. But he follows in a tradition of well educated kings, one of his ancestors became a world class astronomer, for instance.

Usually I go to the temple to see the dance recitals and listen to the classical music, they have an outstanding program for the kids. And for the fun of the festivals - all of that is done in the forecourt in front of the temple - but I had never gone inside the temple itself. While I subscribe to most of Buddha's teachings, I'm not much for religion, especially the chanting, bowing and praying hands thing. I don't understand Thai enough, and even if I did, most of the prayers are in Pali, which I don't know at all.

I found a dry spot on the walkway around the temple, under the eaves, along with 25 or so others. At about 12:30 I went around front, took off my shoes, parked my umbrella & hat, and found a folding chair near the back, well behind about a dozen people sitting on the floor in a semi-circle, listening to the abbot. He was not using the mike, and was talking too softly for me to make out more than a few words.

Little by little, minions came in with more folding chairs, and by about 1:05 there were about 200 butts in those seats. I have no idea where they all came from. And for the next 15 minutes, more chairs were scrounged up, some of them had to have the rain wiped from them, and I found myself way in the back of 90 heads. The abbot shifted to the left side, on the right side of the Buddha statue from the statue's POV. He used the mike but he still talked too softly for me to make out much. I just did the wai thing (praying hands) when everyone else did. I did hear him when he said to stand or sit. And when he called the children to sit up front.

There was a lot of chanting, and then a woman got on a mike (I could not see her) and gave an English summary of why we were there, and what the King had meant to her. It was a wonderful impromptu speech, the highlight for me is when she said when she graduated from college, the King handed the diploma to her (and to each of the graduates). It struck a chord, because at my college graduation, the Governor handed me mine.

More chanting, a little more Thai speech from the abbot, then some alms were distributed to the monks (purely ceremonial, not in the quantities they receive at festivals). People were leaving in small doses, and when one of the temple staff took the mike and announced the license plate of the car in the parking lot which had its lights on, I figured the important stuff was over, so I snuck out the side door, found my shoes, hat & umbrella and walked back to the car. It was raining steadily, and by the time I got there I was cold & wet. Since we were wearing black, I was wearing my only black jacket, faux leather which I thought was waterproof, but now I know it isn't. Only one other car was in the lot.

Drove home by a different route, longer but safer. Stopped at my favorite gas station on the way home and put 5 gallons in since I was down below 1/4 tank. The dash said I still had 140 miles of range with what was in the tank, but who knows? It took all my battery just to get to the temple, on the way back it was all gas & hybrid magic.

Home, lodged in my brain was the quote which I thought was JFK but was Shakespeare, and the plan was to create a meme with the king's picture, the quote, and a caption linking the quote to the king. But the web search gave me a photo which melted my heart. It was of the mob along the funeral procession route, and they were all holding up pictures of the king. His picture is on all the paper currency, and has been for almost 70 years. I don't think there is a Thai or tourist who doesn't have a picture of the king. So I did this:

Between facebook bouts, I watched the Bills destroy the 49ers. Colin Kaepernick played well. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the team played like crap. My next meme will be a piece of Swiss cheese wearing a 49er's jersey. The offensive line was constantly being penetrated, the defense let running backs slip past miles further than they should have. By the 4th quarter I was rooting for the other side.

There was one good thing about the game. Sportsmanship. There were few, if any, unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, facemasks, etc. One time when a 49er couldn't quite avoid a slight helmet-to-helmet graze when the Bill with the ball tried to duck a tackle, he went over to the guy and apologized. Players from both teams helped each other up after a play. There was no taunting. No fights.

I had some chips and dip while the game was on, then went to other DVR stuff for dinner. Took a container of chicken soup out and defrosted it. By now I was feeling like if I didn't do something I'd come down with a cold. A shot of Southern Comfort mixed with a shot of Sabra didn't help. Chicken soup did. So did a pair of aspirin.

South Park, and Shark Tank (2 episodes), have been viewed. Raiders' game, NASA Unexplained, TMZ have not.

I tried the meat stick on the top tier of the cat tree again, but Spook couldn't figure out how to grab it. It's still up there. I think she has a vision problem, maybe astigmatism. Something which would explain why something on top of a surface looks like it's below. I'll ask the vet when we see her a week from tomorrow.

Plans for tomorrow:
NOVA, see if I've made it into the class from #2 on the waitlist
4 pm phone screen from Planet Labs


Usually before I pull out of the driveway I pull the voice command lever and tell the GPS where I am heading, and then pull it again to tell the iPod what to play. This morning I knew most of the route I was taking, just needed the GPS for the last mile or so, and the music playing was what I wanted to hear.

When I get close to the point in the route where I need help, I pull the lever and nothing happens. At the next stop light I turn off the car, turn it back on and try again. Still nothing. I make the turn I thought was on the map, but in a mile it's clear it was the wrong turn. I pulled over and asked Google for directions, and sure enough it said to go north, I was going south. Made the next legal U-turn, and arrived at my destination exactly on time instead of 10 minutes early as requested. Felt very guilty about that.

But then it was a 5 minute wait for the receptionist, and another 5 minutes to wait for the couple ahead of me to be processed.

10:10, for a 10:am start time, the presenter was still schmoozing, there were only 6 people in the audience. By the time 10:30 rolled around there were about 20. He started at 10:20.

The first slide was about him. He's a chiropractor. The talk is (allegedly) on how to overcome type 2 diabetes, get completely off of medication, and live a normal healthy life. He asks us why a chiropractor is trying to cure diabetes, and he puts up another slide. It says he is a board certification eligible neurosomething therapist (a chiropractic specialty) and he has a certificate in digestive therapy. He explains he is not a board certified neurosomething therapist because he has been "too busy" to take the test. He's had the classes, though.

Then he reads a case study about his first diabetes case 6 years ago. No names, but he claims the guy would have been an Olympic runner if the 1980 Olympics had not been boycotted. And the guy became a couch potato with Hgl readings of 500 without meds (300 with) but now he's jogging 6 miles a day and his Hgl is 105.

Let's call the chiropractor Q (as in Quack). Q then asks the rhetorical question "who would rather have a natural cure to diabetes than drugs?" He gets no response because Q doesn't understand how to do listen-and-response teaching. He repeats the question, asking for us to answer. I tell him "what do you mean by natural? If you mean jogging 6 miles a day, count me out". He blows that off, and repeats the question. No answers.

Over the next 2 hours, he gave a 5th grader's description of metabolism, except he completely poo-poos the idea that insulin or the pancreas has anything to do with it. His logic is this: How do researchers give diabetes to lab animals? They inject the pancreas with poison. So poisons cause diabetes. And your meds are poisons.

Then his logic then goes: In order to get FDA approval, all drugs need to supply "LD50" data. LD stands for "Lethal Dose". LD50 is the amount of a material, given all at once, which causes the death of 50% (one half) of a group of test animals. The LD50 is one way to measure the short-term poisoning potential (acute toxicity) of a material. Since every drug must run this test, all drugs are lethal, all drugs are toxic.

I challenged the logic of this. He just refuses to get it that requiring a test for toxicity doesn't mean there is an expectation of toxicity. He refuses to believe any drug could have such a high LD50 result as to be non-toxic.

At this point he has completely lost my vote, and it is all that I can do to not stand up, hold up my glass of water and note that even dihydrogen oxide has an LD50 number. Does that make it toxic? Does that mean we have to stop drinking it? But I resist the temptation.

He spent at least half an hour of the talk bashing what he thinks is modern medical practice. When I tell him that my doctor sent me to nutrition classes, and as a result I've been able to reduce my immodium from 4 a day to 0, he says most doctors don't do that. When I tell him my diabetes pharmacist and my doctor have worked together with me for 15 years to find ways to reduce my meds and to check for drug interactions, he says most doctors don't do that. When I tell him that all my medical caregivers tell me to exercise more, he says most doctors don't do that.

If he was a medical doctor, he would know better. But he's a Q.

He ran 15 minutes late, but when he finally wrapped up and asked the waiters to deliver our lunch (salad) I put on my coat, took my folder with all his crapola, including the form he wanted us to leave with him, and left. I'll be shredding it all.

Home, plugged in the car, caught up on email, watched some TV weather reports (tornadoes in Oregon!) facebooked, and went out on the porch to pass the time before my 4:30 coffee meeting w/Janice. Early because at the crack of WTF tomorrow she has to be at SFO for a trip to Kansas homecoming. 

Lunch was shrimp fried rice from frozen with BBQ pork added.

My youngest sister lives close to the storm zone, so I called to check on her. Talked to her husband, who, 6 weeks after femur surgery, is back on the exercise bike, and expects to be racing again soon. Sis says no major storm foo in her neck of the woods, but there is enough neighbor foo to make up for it. For instance, one neighbor which shares a fence line was objecting to her planting rhododendrons on Sis' side of the fence. Apparently the neighbor is running a (possibly illegal) B&B and advertises walking trails, by which the neighbor means paths through Sis' land. Neighbor has a house on maybe an acre, Sis has a house on 40 acres, mostly forest.

Sis had also sent the next episode in her proposed blog for me to edit. She knows she is not a very good writer, but she wants it in her style, so she's not taking any of my suggestions, except for one typo and one grammatical error. I've pointed her to my friend the professional food writer, who is eager to read Sis' blog, but Sis says "but she's a professional". Well, yeah, that's the point.

Off to Mountain View. Mostly not raining, and fairly warm. 70-ish. The outdoor chairs are damp so I sit indoors to wait for J. I skipped a couple of chapters of Three Body Problem because the author's attempt at writing from an alien's POV was unreadable. Got back to Earth, and it got better again. He wildly over-estimates the willingness of research scientists to get plastered. But at least it's entertaining. 50-50 if I'll finish this Hugo winner. I'm a little sad because his previous short stories were brilliant.

J had a lot of news, I had a lot of news. We got to most of it.

Home, plugged the car in. I may need to get some gasoline tomorrow.

Spent a lot of time on the porch. Warm, calm, it had rained a little while I was making dinner (shrimp egg rolls & butterfly shrimp). Lee came by walking her 1-year-old dog, and let him try to play with Spook through the closed window. Spook was very interested. Dog wanted to go inside and play in person.

Watched some football. Colorado beat someone, Stanford held off Notre Dame, Wazoo was playing someone. I think there's a Pac 12 game still in progress.

Plans for tomorrow:
Dress in black
Thai temple by noon for 1 pm services (parking will be a mess). Already plugged in the address in the GPS. I know the way, but usually pass it by because it's set back from the street. I expect tomorrow they will have signs and people out. I may have to park out at the lake. Not taking my camera. Hoping someone will coach me on the routine, I have never been inside the temple, and the only time I've been in any Thai temple was for an abbot's lecture, in 1975. I've been on the grounds of this temple dozens of times, but mostly to take photos of the music & dance performances outside and see friends. Never went inside.

Check NOVA's web site. This morning I had moved up to #2 on the PPT class wait list. Up from #5 on Friday.

Haul out my Python notes, just in case.

Watch football

Take out the garbage.

What I did today

Played with Spook

Much early morning phone activity:
- Fast-talking recruiter with a job in SF he insists doesn't require coding even though the job title does. Above my usual hourly rate. Probably contract-to-hire. And when I saw the name of the company, one of the engineering managers I worked with at my last job is now one of their engineering managers. Instant reference.
- Almost inaudible Indian recruiter's assistant, all he knew was it was a contract with a contract agency for a job at Cisco. I don't think this is going anywhere
- Spook's vet, the appointment time I asked for is booked, we scheduled for another day/time.

Channel surfed without finding anything worth watching on morning TV
Watched 2 recorded episodes of TMZ then deleted the next 5. I don't like the new format.
Spent a lot of time on the porch watching it not rain
Took a break from that to look out the back of the carport to see the dark clouds circling and heading east
In the mail was the massive CA election guide.
Delivered was a set of 4 long-sleeved shirts
Chatted with Lee as Cal made table saw noises as he's finally building a soundproof doghouse. Cal's taste in music, which he plays loudly while working in the yard, is hard to tell. It sounds vaguely country, but I can't make it out. No tunes I am familiar with.
As we chatted it started drizzling so lightly all we noticed was it was cooler and more windy.
Read lots of articles on King Bhumibol (the final "l" is pronounced "n"). I may go to the Thai temple Sunday for services.
One of my sodastream bottles has stopped holding a charge. Ordered another set.
When it was clear we were not getting any serious rain, I drove to Lowe's ISO milkweed and Mexican tarragon. I spent about half an hour perusing every aisle, did not find anything I wanted to add to the garden, and the only help was a bored cashier who had no clue what they stocked. So I went inside to maybe buy some seeds, and saw this abomination:

Complete with Jesus music.
It isn't even Halloween!!!!!

So I parked the cart, turned around and left the store. I won't be returning until 2017.

It drizzled lightly all the time I was there. On the way home my automatic wipers kicked in, but it was only a trace of rain. The nearest NOAA station, which is not all that near, reported 1/3" in 24 hours.

Caught up on PTI and flipped between two college football games until the high pitched twang of one of the commentators refused to be muted.

6:30 walked to the community center for movie night, 1950's Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds, Gig Young vehicle on a not large enough TV with horrible speakers. The company was nice, but I won't be doing that again. Painful to listen to.

Dinner was Mari C Salisbury steak, not their finest offering. Cut red potatoes, and the vegetable was broccoli and it's evil white cousin cauliflower with some yellow cheese-like substance on top. I didn't even want that on my compost pile.

Emailed a short condolence letter to ex-boss, to pass along to his Thai wife, kids and friends.

Plans for tomorrow:
Morning "free" lecture on the "true causes of Type II diabetes" followed by lunch. Salad, it sounds like
Coffee w/Janice a little early, as she is traveling Sunday early
College football

That didn't go as hoped

The afternoon appointment with a NOVA counselor was a mere 15 minutes of what should have been info in training grants, but instead she treated it as if I was a new member, and she didn't have any of the info she was supposed to have on what classes I'd already taken.  So she recommended I take two that I've already taken. And she said I would have to sign up for them online.

Then she took me to get a new ID badge, because I have a new ID number. The woman at that desk is also a counselor, she recognized me, and pointed out that those classes are walk-ins, no online registration required. And she said soto voce that the counselor I talked to is less than adequate. She also explained that the training counselors want to have me already decided on a career, and have researched it, before they see me. And she suggested the not very intuitive caljobs web site as a place to look for schools which partner with NOVA.

I drove over to downtown, played some Ingress, walked to *$s and set up the laptop at an outdoor table. Nice day, temps in the low 70's, pleasant breeze, occasional eye candy.  Logged into caljobs, which pointed me to O*net, which reminded me that with training to update my skills, I could be a computer repair tech. That's how I started in computers, but other than what I taught myself by building my own PCs, my skills are 30 years old. And I need to add Apple to the list. I know PC/linux hardware pretty well, but haven't opened up a Mac server in years. According to O*net, there are 54 openings in my county for those jobs. I doubt it, but it almost topped their list.

Home, I took a couple of eyeglass wipes to the laptop, it had a lot of mocha drops on the screen, and an imprint from the keys because they have fingertip oil on them.

Spent some time on the porch wondering where the hummingbirds were. It has gotten cooler and cloudy and the humidity is palpable. Lee brought her younger dog by on the way to walkies, and it came up the steps and came to me to be petted. Last time it nearly bit my arm off barking. Lee pointed out Spook on the other side of the screen door, and the cat hissing set of the dog barking, until we took the dog back to street level.

I was early for NOVA, and for the first time since I'd been there, the gate to the community garden was open and people were giving some kids a tour. So I took 15 minutes to walk around, looking for ideas. I also chatted with one of the gardeners. Okra thrives in this climate, some plants were 7 feet tall. I don't like okra, but I bet Lee does. There was a huge bush which looked to me like rosemary, but the sign said Mexican Tarragon. Turns out the sign lies. They did have Mexican Taragon, but in a different planter. And then I saw this weird plant:

with this weirder seed "parachute"

One of my online friends recognized it as a kind of milkweed. Monarch butterfly food. I mean to grow some.

While I was in the garden, a recruiter from Adecco called, she interviewed me about a hardware QA job I'd applied for, and we established that my skills are out of date.  Earlier in the day some Indian whom I could not understand called, I had to hang up on him. I saw his email later, but it was for automation.

Delivered was the Thai-English keyboard, which I am using now. Much higher quality printing on the keys than the Logitech. Springier feel too. I am making new and different typos.

It does not have a sleep key, but I have a .bat file on my desktop for that. Also doesn't have volume keys, so I'll have to use the Windows ones.

My day started with news that the King of Thailand died. He would have been 89 in December. Until yesterday he was the longest reigning monarch in the world. More than 70 years. He was an incredible person, doing so many good things for the country and its people. Amazing considering he was born in Boston and schooled in Switzerland, and had to learn Thai for his coronation. He was an excellent jazz musician, played clarinet with Benny Goodman once, wrote more than 100 pop tunes, many of which would be hits in the US if they had been translated to English. Most of them are a blend of Thai popular music and 40's American jazz. He has the international patent on cloud seeding technology, won a gold medal in SE Asian games sailing, was a superb photographer, which is a neat trick because he lost an eye in his teens, racing his car in the Alps. His father died young, 40's, his mother lived to be 103. I guess he split the difference.

He made what I consider many mistakes politically, always blessing the coup leaders, and recently appointing his son as Crown Prince & heir. Recently the laws of ascension were changed to allow a female on the throne, and the Queen, I think, would do a better job than the prince, and any of the younger princesses would as well. The older princess was disowned for a few decades, and while she's been forgiven for marrying a non-Thai commoner, she would not be considered to wear the crown.

The current dictator looked like he was setting up the Crown Prince to become king, but the prince told him to back off. There's a striking parallel between him and Prince Charles, actually. Divorced from a minor princess, married a gold digger commoner. Only the Thai prince's gal is now out because her parents were caught selling access to the Royals through her.

Watched the Chargers try their hardest to blow a big lead and give the game to Denver, but in the end they failed to fail.

Dinner was Marie C herb roasted chicken, with a turnover for dessert.
Spook went all blatant hint on me. While I was in the living room watching the game, she ran into the office and climbed up to the top tier of her tree, circling around sniffing, and then parked herself there, staring at me.

So I got a meat stick treat out of the kitchen and put it in front of her.

As usual, she groomed herself, then jumped one tier down, batted the treat to a lower level, jumped down there, picked it up in her mouth and brought it to the ground, where she devoured it.
Plans for tomorrow:
More career change searchingMovie night at the community center
While I'm there I'll check the notebook in the library for someone to replace the kitchen light fixture.

Nail Day

Was up & out of bed by 8:30, and at the manicure place right at 10. Two of the employees were already working on hair and a pedicure even though 10 is the official start time. I waited for about 10 minutes for someone to show up to do my nails - traffic was bad. And it was - I'd been hearing about it all morning on the radio. It's Yom Kipur, apparently, one would think there would be fewer cars on the road, since driving is forbidden for the orthodox. Or else they are in the "fast" lane.

Nails person speaks excellent English, she said she spent time in a Thai refugee camp, and managed to get here after extensive interviews, she had no documentation. I told her the "lunch" joke, she loved it.

Took my laptop next door to Specialty's and checked LinkedIn and email. At noon I logged into the NOVA site, applied for an in-person "first" interview, with a note I wanted to talk about training grants. It said they would get back to me by 4:30 (I asked for email, not phone).

Home, did some more job hunting, some Facebooking, and email arrived from the printing company, they needed the font and the images. And there was a problem with guides. I phoned, they got me in touch with a layout person, and it turned out they had the fancy font I thought they were asking about, but they didn't know about Microsoft's Arial MT font, which is Arial but with some tweaks for Windows. I told him use plain Arial. Their directions made it sound like the template they sent would embed the images, but it just links to them, so I uploaded all three. The guide thing turned out to be their problem. Their template has a red "safety" border, which is supposed to not print, but somehow it was showing as printable.

Later that same day I received a PDF of the project, and it looked fine. Won't get the cards till the 25th or thereabouts.

At 2:30, NOVA emailed they have set me up with an appointment for tomorrow at 1:15.

It has become overcast and chilly, just the right weather to do some gardening. I took out the tools and put on gloves and harvested all the mint. Some of it had burrowed under the concrete divider and into the neighbor's white pebble non-lawn, so I harvested that too. This year's mint is darker and smaller than last year's, but more aromatic. I shoved it into a tall kitchen bag, and it will sit outside next to the recycle bin until it is dry enough to separate the leaves from the stems.

While I was at it, I chopped off a big branch of the Russian sage which has been growing rampantly, the branch which was overlapping the neighbor's space. It is now planted in the front garden, and with regular watering and maybe more compost, it ought to recover. The bees and hummers love that stuff. The effort knocked the Hgl out of me, it took a turnover to stabilize me, and I also needed to hydrate. DVR time.

DVR playback today was PTI and Who Do You Think You Are? in which we discover actress Cynthia Nixon is descended from an ax murderer, the second woman to ever be incarcerated in Missouri State Prison, and the first to give birth there. The ending is very touching. As usual, superb camera work, and a long trail to follow, proving what a poor tool ancestry.com is.

No actual lunch today, the huge criossant at Specialty's filled me up.

Dinner was a two-fer. One small chicken Alfredo followed by a small spaghetti & meatballs. Who was Alfredo, and was he ever punished for his saucy contribution to high cholesterol cuisine?

Watched DVR again: Below Deck, in which the captain is just a short step away from manipulating three metal balls in his hand. The men on the crew are spending way too much verbiage on which of the women they want to get close to. Meanwhile the head stew's 6' tall female soccer player girlfriend pays a visit and the PDAs are off the chart.

As I was watching, my phone beeped, there was an event at the library I had on my calendar. Stargazing. But it's overcast and chilly, and even though I could have gotten there in time, what's the point?

At 7:59, OnTrac dropped off the Epson ink I ordered very recently. It was due by 8.

Bangkok Post reports that the Royals are all gathering to the royal hospital, and the report they published from the hospital on the King's health looks grim. Dialysis, liver issues, low BP, and while they tactfully say the doctors are treating all the symptoms, they also say his condition is not stable. Dec. 5 is his 89th birthday.

Plans for tomorrow:
1:15 NOVA session with counselor

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October 2016



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