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Slough Slew Slue

Up with the alarm, had some stuff to do on the tablet before getting up. Spook was miffed that I did not immediately get up & give her treats, and curled up in the doggie bed until I was dressed. It's a good size for her, and she prefers it to the cheap big ones I got at Grocery Outlet. Which also sells the doggie beds. But she has used them all.

On the road on time, called AG, but he has a cold and was going to take the day off to heal. He only got out of bed to take his son to school.

3-ring circus at work. Threatening to be 5 rings. Finished the long boring tests for Boss and put together a 3-slide summary. Will find out tomorrow how off it was. New pre-release app, proposed to be the final version. Some improvements, but not all.

Need to sync with Boss tomorrow, because I'm getting swamped. But with the new release she will probably run out of time. :-(

And I need to do some tests over there. Not thrilled about that.

Lunch was turkey tetrazini & cookies.

Break time I made a chocolate soda. Very cute Howard West girl in the house.

Aircon is almost where it should be, except when I close my door at break time it gets a little too warm. But I can hear the air coming in the vent.

5:30, straight to nail place, but they were booked.

Home, delivered was the paper plates, which were ordered 2 days after the paper bowls, which have not arrived. Guess which one I am running out of?

Need to change the litterbox soon.

7-ish, drove to Alviso slough, aka Marine Park. Lots of photographers for the meetup, all shooting into the sun.

I was not impressed. Some had sun filters. hand-held rectangular ones. Real photographers shell out the $90 for real on-lens filters. Most had tripods.

I've been there many times before. Got some spider web shots,

and the obligatory sunset shots. And an Amtrak train came through, I was close enough for a mediocre picture. I was hoping for another one, but it didn't come through until I was leaving.

Home, dinner was Boston Market beef & noodles with added swiss & parmesan. And ice cream.

Did I mention my A1C results came through? 7.1, my lowest reading in years. Maybe ever. It lies. I have not been doing that good a job at staying away from snacks.

But I'll take it.

Kind of disappointed that doc hasn't emailed to say yay.

Will process the photos and get the bunch online tomorrow.

Plans for tomorrow:
Nails (?)

Too Late

I think CalTrain has Howeird Radar. As soon as it see me coming, the train I want leaves the station - as I watch from down the block.

Up early this morning. Spook was sprawled on the floor in front of the doggie bed. Go figure.

Out a little early. AG didn't call. I didn't call him because it was too early. Summer he leaves later because his kid is in summer school on a later schedule. And engineers rarely need to be at work before 10.

Work was a summer festival. After having nothing to do all morning, after lunch Boss gave me a project which I got completely wrong, so she gave me the same project, this time supplying a workable outline. That took up the center 1/3 of my workspace. The other 2/3 were activated a few minutes later when she sent a new version of pre-release app for me to test on two machines - the one on my left and the one on my right.

And then next door engineer brought in a new machine to test which he had promised months ago. And he also needed me to do a different test on the machine on the right, using the pre-release app. That will be tomorrow.

HVAC is finally working. 106° on the wall outside, 72 inside. Yay!

Lunch, BTW, was small turkey pot pie. Another winner. And cookies.

5:30, off to MV Caltrain. Easy to find parking after business hours. But as soon as I was parked, the train pulled in. The machine to buy a parking ticket was on the other end of the platform. Turns out the train had overshot the stop by about 4 car lengths, and had to back up before it could let people off. But as soon as I had my parking paid for, it left. I was on the other side of the tracks.

Luckily, the express was coming in 10 minutes. Two stops later I was in Redwood City. I could have had dinner, but wasn't hungry. I did stop in at my favorite pastry place, but they had no chocolate cakes. That was an excuse, I just wasn't hungry. There was chocolate-shelled tiramisu, chocolate dipped eclairs and mini cream puffs. And chocolate cupcakes.

It was a lovely afternoon, so I sat outside on the pedestrians-only street, watching an amazing array of eye candy going in and out of the cineplex. High school girls were wearing butt-revealing short shorts and shoulderless tops. Very sexy, very not interested. Luckily there were women of legal age wearing similar things. And stretch pants.

Did a Facebook Live session for about 4 minutes. I need to trim my nose hairs.

At 7:15 I was at the theater for the storytelling event, but I was the only one, so I went for a walk and came back at 7:25 and there still was no audience, so I walked back to the train station, just in time to see the train leaving from a block away. Next one was 45 minutes later. :-(

Found a Starbucks, got a small mocha and a slice of banana bread, walked to the train platform, had a seat, and knocked over the mocha after one sip.

Took the train back to MV, found my car, drove home.

Delivered was all the insulins, and a receipt for $1,553.24. $518 a month. Not so bad figured that way. It's about one 3-day-week's take-home pay, that way.

With Corporate coverage it would have been $40.

Also delivered was a mighty package of kitty meat stick treats. Just in time - I put out the last one from the previous pack tonight.

It was 10 pm before I made dinner - falafel and hummus with cole slaw and the last of the kosher dill spears. Lime soda. Ice cream.

Watched the news on Tivo, which was deleted early because there are just so many times I need to see the same clips from the same brush fire, and there are zero times I need a local yokel telling me the alleged significance of a campaign staff meeting with a pretty lawyer.

Except for the fires, the only actual news was a shooting in San Jose, for which they had no details except someone was shot.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work (it's going to be busy)
Nails (fingers only this time. I may get them colorized)
If there's time, show up at a photo meetup at Alviso Slough. I've taken all the photos there I need, but maybe I'll meet some people.

A Somewhat Toxic Day

Morning started with Spook enjoying the new doggie bed next to the hampers in the bedroom. At night she was in the bigger-than-before BnB. All three of her beds have been replaced by larger ones, she has outgrown the originals.

And she is no longer a kitten - I pulled out the vacuum cleaner, and when I was vacuuming in her direction, she came up to it and batted at it. She used to run away, whining. Finally got round to sucking up all the fallen leaves from the hanging plants in the kitchen, which were added to when I put up the new curtains and re-hung the plants.

Spook has been more feisty lately, and I'm crediting the catnip which I added to her grasses bowl. Seeds are now sprouts, most of the grass has been eaten, I put in more grass seeds this morning.

Took a tour of the gardens, and pulled out four of the new plants - including one star jasmine - which have been totally fried. I don't understand it, they were in deeply dug holes, with lots of compost. Meanwhile, the one star jasmine in a clay pot a few feet away is thriving. It had been almost dead until I started to over-water it. The two shrubs out front also look toasted, but there is still enough green to hope. I think the front garden needs more cover plants, but those tend to fry first. I don't know why the catmints in the rose garden is doing so well when it doesn't last in the other sites.

Also used the wheelbarrow to cart the three paw paw saplings to the porch. Too much sun in front of the shed. Hauling them up the steps nearly knocked me out. I keep telling myself to make time nightly for the exercycle, then never do.

Played online, ordered some paper bowls online. I used to get them in a stack of 300 at Costco, along with plates, but they stopped carrying the small bowls I prefer. Haven't been to Costco in maybe a year. The only thing there which is still a bargain is lox, I think. But since I haven't been, I haven't checked. And I'm not curious enough to go look (my card is still good for entry, just not for buying).

Ordered €200 from BofA. $240 + shipping, about $12 more than the published rate. I'll pick it up at the nearest branch to home, probably next Saturday.

Drove to SJ at 1, arrived in 10 minutes, found a parking spot a block away from SJ Stage. Waited outside till 2:45, but most of the audience waited till the last minute, which is probably why the show started 10 minutes late. The Toxic Avenger, written by the same duo who wrote Memphis. It's mostly a rock musical, no rap (thank goodness!), some hip hop, a couple of traditional musicals ballads.

All but one in the cast are Equity, so I did not join the almost universal standing ovation. They did an excellent job, but that's why they get the big bucks. Everyone was miked, volume was way too loud, and it was a flat speaker system so the audio did not move around the stage with the performers. One giant technical WTF - they had a huge high res screen suspended at the arch, and the images were high quality and there were some cute blood spatter effects in appropriate places. But there was a big black rectangular scrim cut into the screen at about eyeball height, 1/3 of the way from the right. I am guessing they used this to let the actors/techs see the stage from behind the screen. But boy was it annoying. And wasted. With minimal lighting it could have been used to show action behind the screen.

The show was okay, but it didn't hold my attention as much as it should have. They went with a minimal cast, two guys playing all 467 character parts, many of them as women - not in drag, but in fairly convincing female costumes. The show is fairly true to the movies, except for cast size.

After the show I walked the few blocks to Psycho Donuts, my car was parked halfway between. I hadn't eaten since morning. Short show - 2 hours including intermission.

About half of the audience was a gay couples group. One of my friends from El Capitan was there with his husband (who introduced himself while I was outside waiting - took me by surprise, I had no idea Frank was married).

Which raises a point about Pride™®©. "Hi, I'm Frank's husband" I took at face value. Ditto the two married women sitting next to me. It's old hat now. No cause for parades. Used to be, sure. But as far as I'm concerned it's no big deal to be a homosexual in public anymore. These days it's more dangerous to be black in public. I wonder if that will ever become old hat.

Home, ate one donut on the way, the other two as I was firing up the laptop to check for updates. I used to keep it in the hatchback, but it gets way too hot there these days.

Took a nap. Spook took one in the doggie bed.

Up at 7, beef pot pie & cole slaw for dinner, ice cream dessert. Mourning the fact that the nap took precedence over buying halvah.

Watched most of the pilot for Agents of SHIELD. Insert extra dots as the mood takes you. Very sexy women characters. Very dull men characters.

Plans for tomorrow:

MV Caltrain to Redwood City
Dragon Theater's 360 Storytelling:
"A gathering, but without computers, smart phones, what-have-you. And you all tell stories. It’s just that simple, really. Your story can start anywhere, go anywhere. It may be a memory, something you’ve done, someplace you’ve gone. You have six minutes–or 360 seconds–to bring your story full circle."
Six minutes is a long time for a monologue.

2nd Satyrday - Full Moon

Just saw that on my calendar - went outside to check, and yes, the moon is very bright. But my car wasn't plugged in. I would have had no battery tomorrow morning had I not gone out the see the full moon.
Slept in slightly - only till 9:40, Spook woke me up around 7:30 wanting treats. Did not happen.

At about 10:30 I was off to Kaiser big clinic, quite a wait for the blood test. And my co-pay, which used to be 0 and then $25 is now $35. This time I only needed one test, so kind of a waste. The whole panel costs the same. 11 pm no test results yet - of all the tests I get, A1C is the only one which is rarely reported same-day. While I was there, nipped into the pharmacy an got a couple of boxes of BD alcohol swabs. They stopped making them for a while, but the generic brands are too thin, and wrapped cheaply - tend to dry out randomly. The BD box design has changed slightly.

Next stop was O'Reilly auto parts, for two jugs of windshield washer fluid. I ran out last night, thought I had a jug in the shed, but didn't.

Home, plugged in the car.

Lunch was a cold plate of most of the usual things, but no HB egg, I had none. And diet cola instead of milk, for no good reason.

Watched another episode of the Graham Norton show. Two, actually. No matter who his guests are, the show is entertaining. The first one was all B-level stars, the most famous being one of the Hobbits who somehow landed the role of Dr. Watson on Sherlock, though he looks nothing at all like the original character. The second show was a lot more interesting, Mark Walhberg/Sienna Miller/Tom Holland/Woody Harrelson/Andy Serkis/Alison Moyet. Holland is the new Spiderman. Peter Parker. They did not ask where he parked his peter. I had no idea who Moyet is, she was the musical alleged talent. Harrelson I am not a fan of, on or off the screen. Serkis, OTOH, is amazing. Fun hearing old, tired Mark not giving advice to newbie Tom. Miller was slightly amusing and totally blonde.

4:30, off to MV to meet Janice for coffee. She agreed to drive me to/from SFO next month and I'll do the same for her in September. That was the only loose end I still had from my trip, except for Euros. BofA has a better exchange rate than the airport kiosks, but their online order form is down at the moment.

After coffee, I did 2 week's worth of shopping at the new Safeway next door (Rengsdorff & Middlefield). With a cart, it was easy to see that the way they had packed all that stuff into that small number of square feet is they made the aisles narrower - and the carts too. Two carts can just pass by in an aisle, but only because the carts are smaller.

Good customer service. One of the deli people helped me get some cole slaw when two others were being way too kind to a woman who could not make up her mind whether to buy a whole salmon fillet or the same amount in smaller pieces. Same price. Learn to use a knife, lady. And at checkout when I said I did not find magic shell ice cream topping, one of the helpers ran to get a bottle of it for me. Cashier had never heard of the stuff.

Janice's $10 off coupon came in handy.

The main purchase was frozen meals for lunch & dinner, but also got some on-sale stuff, like laundry detergent pods, Spook treats, Limes (big ones, best I have seen this year), Breyer's lactose-free chocolate ice cream, which is the same price as Lactaid's, but twice the size. And so on. Marie C stuff was all on sale, as was the small Stouffer's.

Home, put it all away.

Dinner was BBQ brisket sliders, I think they are made by the same company which makes the White Castle sliders. Same packaging, same cooking instructions, same bland taste. Cole slaw on the side. Lactaid mint chip ice cream with magic shell topping for dessert.

Watched the final Graham show of the season, a whopper: Dame Judi Dench/Steve Carell/Kristen Wiig/Jamie Foxx/HAIM (a 3-girl family band with no songwriting talent but great legs). Dench and Foxx make a lovely couple. And how ironic that it was him telling the "I am sooo old" anecdotes.

Moon seen, car plugged in, and here I am.

It got up to 99° while I was at Kaiser this morning, but cooled down to the low 80's by Starbucks time.

Plans for tomorrow:
Relax a bit, read more of the wonderful short stories of Fredric Brown. Amazing and seemingly limitless imagination, fluid writing style.
2 pm showing in SJ of The Toxic Avenger

Gnats Update

I keep remembering to post about this when I sit down to write here, and forget every time. But not this time. The gnats in the kitchen problem has been taken care of. Two no-pest strips in strategic locations, and throwing out the table scraps container did the trick over the course of a week. Sadly, none of my sundews or butterworts, carnivorous plants which handled the gnat issue last year, caught any.
It was not a good day today. Taking an almost-full vial of my high-test insulin out of the fridge, I dropped it and it broke. That's about $120. I have two left, and just ordered a 3-month supply. I shot up my usual 50 units before breakfast (banana, HB egg & Kind bar) but by about 11 am I was in the throes of an overdose - Hgl meter said 51, one of my lowest ever readings. It triggered a massive optical migraine and a headache. Luckily I had M&Ms in my cooler, and those helped. By 11:45 I was able to stumble across the street to the break room and make an egg cream and grab more M&Ms, and relax.

Meanwhile, the two projects I am working on were both being a PIA. The automation suite kept losing track of the machine it was testing, and it's a 5-minute process to correct that - when it works, which it only does about 1/4 of the time. And the link which one of the managers sent which was supposed to be to a firmware update for another unit turned out to be a cut and paste error - it was a link to something else he had put earlier in the same message. And he apparently was not online today to fix that.

And it's only a 3-day week, so I only get 3-day pay next week. Today's direct deposit was for last week's full week.

And then Kaiser called with 2 messages from the online pharmacy. When I called back, there was a half-hour wait, but they give the option of them calling me back without losing my place in line. So half an hour later (about 5 pm) I get the callback, which is a robot, and though I pressed the button for "returning a call" it gave me a rep who had no idea I was returning a call. He also had no clue why they had placed a hold on my order, so I told him they were calling to confirm the exorbitant price, but he thought it was a declined credit card, which it was not. Finally he opened my order and read my note to not hold up the order by calling me about the price. People need to learn how to read. He put a rush on the order, but that probably won't make a diff because this is stuff shipped in cold packs, which they rush anyway, especially in summer.

Oh, the two messages were because I ordered two items. At the same time. But each one triggered the high price alarm.

By the end of the day the automation was finally working - with a different unit of the same device. And my blood sugar was probably higher than it needed to be.

Home, traffic was way too heavy for a 3-day-week Friday in the heart of go-to-the-beach season. 101 at Ellis was not so bad, though. But I made the mistake of getting off at the IFH, which was a long wait for traffic and finally a detour.

Gave Spook her treats, got undressed and in bed and crashed for about 15 minutes, then relaxed in bed with the tablet for 2 hours.

Up and dressed, put up the new curtains, watered all the gardens, dinner was Boston Market pot roast & mashed with a chocolate coke float for dessert. Also finished the last of the halvah.  Refilled the hummer feeders. Added a teesny bit of red food coloring.

Instead of the usual TV, fired up the NVidia, logged in with my test account, and played 360° 4K videos and 4K@60fps videos which is what I'm testing at work. The NVidia Shield handled them perfectly, full 4K right from the start (most other devices need to start at a lower resolution and work their way up 1 or 2 notches). The 360° skydiving one is a hoot - you can look all the way around right and left, and about 180° up and down. The roller coaster lets you see the people next to you left & right.

Online project - I updated all my credit & debit card accounts with my travel plans. I have very few Euros left over from my Belgium/France trip, ought to be able to solve that with a cash machine in HEL airport. Just checked, I have no paper Euros, only about 10 coins, mostly small denominations. Hmmm.

Bought a ticket to Sunday's matinée of Toxic Avengers - the musical. They were very close to sold out.

Plans for tomorrow:
Sleep in
Kaiser Santa Clara A1C test
Coffee w/Janice followed by shopping at the new Safeway next door.
Arab market for halvah
Put more olives in the marinade containers

It's Late For Two Good Reasons

As planned, I went to The Pear to see their play As You Will. And as planned, I parked at a charger in front of the Google building nearby. The back of the Google lot borders The Pear's lot.

I set up my laptop in the break room of the Google Pear building. It had been in the hatchback all day, with a shade over it, but the shade is black, and it got up to 110° in the sun today, so the machine was so hot it wouldn't turn on for about 5 minutes. The heat also depleted the mouse's battery. Have I mentioned how much I HATE laptop touchpads?

This was about 5:35, and a little before 6:30 people started coming through the break room in droves. Shuttle buses were unloading more every 5 minutes. Aha! I remembered that there is a cafeteria in the building, Pear Republic, so I closed up the laptop and headed in there. Like all Google cafeterias, no intelligent planning had gone into the traffic patterns. Unlike most Google cafeterias, there were plenty of seats, and it was spread out enough that you can get close enough to see the food before you committed to standing in line. And like all Google cafeterias, lost of eye candy. Unlike daytime, there were lots of families and way too many screaming/crying children.

There was more than the usual amount of edibles, and not a lot of kale. The kale & asparagus salad was about all, and it was untouched.

So I had some roast pork in some kind of fruit-based sauce, green peas and onions, barley, and the salad bar.

While I was in the Pear break room I got an answer to my FB message from Mary B., and yes, she is the person in my letters. But she didn't remember me at all. PC is part of her past which she would rather forget, it seems. Strange but true, the majority of  volunteers feel that way. I'm a bit heartbroken.

7:20 I was done, unplugged the car and drove around the block to the theater. Plenty of seats available for this locally written, unknown show, on a holiday week Thursday night. Maybe 1/3 full by curtain time.

The only thing I did not like about the play was the play. It was hyped as being Shakespeare quotes used to make a new play. And it was, sort of. Most of the famous quotes were shoehorned into place, a very large number of them were taken from the British historical plays I am not familiar with, and the theme of this new play was mostly based on them. The acting is superb. The directing is even moreso. A huge part of the humor came not from the lines but from the sight gags. It's not quite there yet, but will be by closing night, timing is similar to Noises Off. Eight players perform 15 roles. All the players are also the stage crew. Minimal costume pieces serve well in most cases to differentiate characters. There was only one missed costume change I noticed, and it almost worked. The "set" is a bare wooden floor sometimes lit by a rose window "special", and four small square wooden, wheeled platforms with solid-topped tubes of varying heights. They are pulled ll over the set by ropes, and make way too much noise. The theater is arranged as theater-in-the-rectangle. All 4 sides have audience.

The front of the house is also super. It's a new building, and two unisex restrooms are clean, and work, unlike in The Pear's old haunts. In the lobby, wine is for sale at one station, cookies and other hand-made sweets at another, and the ticket/check-in station is another. It was personed by Diane Tasca, the theater's founder and soon to be retired artistic director.

Work was busy. I had three projects going at once, and had pulled another table over to make my work space a rectangular U. On the left is a 60-inch TV which got a firmware upgrade and pre-release app testing, on the right is a 32-inch TV which was used to double-check the 60-incher, and in front of me a non-Android 40-inch TV which can display 4KHDR and was hooked up to an STB and a Macbook for automation testing.

Lunch was a small Marie C chicken pot pie. It was an experiment, and it worked. And fudge mint cookies. There was some walk-by eye candy, including a student group here for mentoring, featuring one stand-out 18-going-on-21 redhead.

Break time was half an hour late, I was so busy, I just had a chocolate pudding cup and relaxed. Found Spook on the webcams, in the bay window and then by her food & water.  There was one especially athletic looking young woman employee who came through.

The three HVAC guys are still at it. They have finished the occupied rooms and are now in the ceilings of the three usually-locked conference rooms. It got too warm in my room by EOD but it was measuring 106 on the wall outside 76 inside. So not too bad.

Home, delivered was the $200 of insulin pens. No wonder it was so cheap - there was only a 20-day supply. I'll save those for Helsinki and order the syringe vials for the rest of the 3 months. I have 2 1k ml vials of that left. At 150 units a day, 10 units per ml, that's a  13-day supply. Helsinki is a month from today.

And I'll order more regular. That comes in smaller vials, 100 ml and I use 300 units a day.  So about 3 1/3 days per vial.

A posting by my Googler PC alumni friend reminded me I wanted to look up her husband's obit. It was very well written, lots of memories. Tragic story, he had a heart attack running on the trail by his workplace. 40 years old. He was Thai, but was born in the US, grew up in LA. I didn't know that. It was less than a year ago.

Also delivered was a set of curtains for the bay windows. I had removed the top tier so the hanging plants would get more light, but now they get too much, and so does the kitchen in the afternoon/early evening. I'll install them tomorrow, probably.

Plans for tomorrow:

Virtual Monday

It didn't feel like a work day when I got up this morning, but I managed to get out a little early. There was speed limit+ traffic on 101 except for the stupid bottleneck where 85 dumps into 101 - one lane on the left and two on the right, where I needed to merge right from the diamond lane across 5 lanes to my exit.

Still, at work 15 minutes early,  while chatting with AG about his Friday phone interview with Apple. It did not sound like a fit. One interviewer was all about stupid math puzzles, another wanted him to write some complex code on the spot which has no practical application in automation scripting. And one asked why he was wanting to leave Amazon for Apple - the answer was he wasn't, the interview had been set up by a recruiter headhunting him.

Break room had bananas and Kind bars, and a few oreos, but no eggs. Diet Cokes were there but not as cold as usual.

And much to my surprise, the three HVAC techs who swore on Friday they would be done by Monday were still working. By the end of the day they had apparently recharged the HVAC unit with refrigerant and had it running. 100° on the outside wall, 67° in my room, so it must have been working. They still have some thermostats to install and ceiling vents to align, but I think they will be done with the ground floor tomorrow. Not sure if they will be doing the unoccupied upstairs as well.

There was lots to do test wise. Got new firmware for a unit which needs a pair of upgrades, but  it didn't work. Wasted a lot of time trying, may waste some more tomorrow. Boss came in for sync after lunch (Thai ginger beef & mint fudge cookies) with an assignment to run some automation suites on one of the more stable units. It is not looking good. May ask for help tomorrow - she said she would be visiting again with some other goodies.

And she's lining up training for us on the pre-release app.

And there was a bug reported on one of the prototype boards, one which isn't working at all, so I ran it on a related machine and did not see the issue.

And she wants to get me another prototype (we've been asking the mfg for months) to test. I may need to add a table to my empire.

Break time - there is a new re-stocker person who has a very attractive figure. Nice hair, too. And there was one pretty visitor as well.  It was just the 3 of us.

Home, in the mail was USPS' new slick magazine for stamp collectors. Very well done, but it's only for current and future stamps, nothing truly collectible.

Last night I replaced Spook's beds in the bedroom and office, and after a brief sprawl across the office one, she has instead been using them as barricades, hunkering down behind them. Right now she is parked on the runner carpet just outside the office door, keeping an eye on me.

Late last night I gave in to curiosity and pawed through the box of letters-to-me from my Peace Corps/Israel days. Either I filed them in order as I received them (possible) or grouped them by sender/date some time later (plausible),  but it made for interesting revelations. By far the most mail from other PCVs was from Bev in Satun, who arrived on site about the same time I arrived in Haad Yai, her group a year after mine. Satun is on the other side of the peninsula from Haad Yai, at the time a tedious 5-hour bus ride (no trains) through hills, flood zones and nothing much scenic. I remember when she first arrived two or three of us went to her house to paint the inside. I have photos.

Either Steve or Ed. Don't remember.

Bev on the left, Joe (?) on the right.

I did not find Bev attractive at all, but she was being driven insane by this far-from-everyone/everything assignment, so she wrote to me a lot. I'm pretty sure I was her nearest PC neighbor.

So I looked through her letters, and the first one I found was one of the last, as I was considering either (a) staying on another year in Haad Yai, (b) leaving for Israel to play Uncle Howard or (c) moving on to another volunteer or UN post elsewhere. This is what she wrote:
“I met Mary Badovinac, and you really should stay, she’s transferring to university of Songkhla in March or May. I didn’t get much time to talk to her, but she’s lovely to look at, and seems fairly intelligent.” Songkhla is the provincial capitol of the province Haad Yai is in.

Mary's transfer was an extension for another year, which came with a free home leave, and she never returned to Thailand to claim it. 

She had warned me she might hook up with her boyfriend again, but I really expected her back. In that shoebox there are no letters from her. I have since found her on Facebook and LinkedIn, sent her an FB message, but she rarely is on there.

Also in the letter box were several from a librarian PCV in Thonburi, which is now part of Bangkok. She seemed to have a thing for me, so I looked her bio up on the Friends of Thailand pages. Turns out she had been one of the first ever PCVs, Group 6 in Tanganyika, and this was her second rodeo. She was 18 years older than me. Probably still is. Found her on FB, in upstate NY, with a hyphenated surname. 

Enough already.

Plans for tomorrow:
Maybe What You Will at The Pear theater.  Hang out at the Google building next door.
Which is Thai for "all done, all ship-shape". 79 letters entered into the PC. Most by dictation, several scanned in when I finally bought a typewriter which could make a good impression. And then a handful when that went into storage as I got ready to leave Thailand, an event delayed 2 months when PC lost my final check - the one I needed to use for a trip to Singapore for camera gear and back (I had already sold my old cameras to buy food & pay the hotel).

There should have been about 4-8 more. No letters from January or February 1977, which would have mentioned a couple of women I was starting to get involved with, both of whom returned home to their fiancés. In another box is letters written to me. Two of them from one of those women, one was thanking me for wining and dining her in Bangkok, the other I probably did not receive until a year after she wrote it, letting me know she had re-connected with fiancé, had an apartment in the Haight, was going to school and not sure what she was going to do from there. A few years later we got together, she had married and had a new surname, but was divorced and working for HP, as I was. She was kind of insane, we never got intimate, and I lost track of her. I just found her on LinkedIn and pinged her.

As usual, my letters were to the people I was writing to, so there is a lot of embarrassing teasing of sisters, arguing with Dad and urging Mom to fight for the promotion she deserved. And a lot of my explanations of Thai politics, especially the coup, which may be completely wrong.

Also done are the heron photos, in two sets:

1/4 resolution, full-frame, complete set
full resolution, tightly cropped, only the ones needing cropping

In addition to the egrets, there was one interloper:

A black crowned night heron. According to Dr. James: They frequently hang out near egret nesting trees and nab chicks when they fall out of the nest.

And here's one of the babies being fed:

And that was pretty much my day, except for a lox omelet for breakfast, two PB&J sandwiches for lunch and some falafel, cole slaw & marinated artichoke hearts for dinner. And a quick trip to Grocery Outlet for bigger pet beds for Spook. I had ordered one from Amazon last night, but GO has cheaper ones. Also picked up more Thai ginger beef lunches. They did not have any edible Kind bars, Famous Amos or boxes of PayDay bars.

Bombs have been going off all day, close by, and there was an illegal fireworks show just past the back of the mobile home park. No police activity at all. Great America should have started an hour ago, but I didn't hear a thing. The new condos block the view too.

About those letters to me - I obviously have sorted them in the past, they are mostly grouped by author, and mostly in chronological order within each group. A couple bear closer inspection, especially one from a woman whose handwriting I can hardly read, because it is HUGE and stylized. She did type one letter. The name looks like Stacy, which doesn't ring a bell. There are also a couple from females written in Thai script, which I can't read. And a postcard in Hebrew script from one of my Ulpan teachers, which I also can't read.

The photo group host sent a list of his models for July, none of whom I am interested in. There is one in August I may be, but it's too soon after Helsinki.

Plans for tomorrow:
Maybe sync w/Boss
Maybe do some actual planning for Helsinki

OCR OCD And today was for the birds

Started in on the letters early, using Omnipage, which oddly is now a product of Nuance, which also bought Dragon Naturally Speaking, which I believe was developed by IBM. I am very impressed with how fast it is. It scans a page in about 10-15 seconds, much faster than I could dictate, and while I do have to make corrections on almost every line, especially where there were folds in the paper, most of them are single characters or gratuitous single quotes, and most are easily caught with spell check in Word.

I have the routine down, to eliminate massive formatting issues (Omnipage is too smart - it adds page breaks where it thinks there should be some, and in Word these are difficult to correct if you are out of eye of newt):
1. Scan each page
2. Run auto-OCR on all the pages in the letter (this is a 1-step process)
3. Save as a text file
4. Open the text file with Word
5. Select all, and click the "normal" formatting button
6. Save as a docx file
7. Edit as needed
8. Cut and paste the "Love, Me" line (handwritten and not OCR-able) and the return address from another text file
9. Save
10. Delete the .txt file from step 3.

Around 10 or so, garbage and green bin were collected, so I parked them in their places on the driveway.

At about noon-thirty it was time to drive to MV and the protected block of (aptly-named) Shorebird Drive which used to be a combination of start-ups and SGI spin-offs, but is now all Google. Took my lightweight Tamron 28-300, plugged in my GPS tagger and searched for herons (egrets, if you want to be technical, but egret is French for heron, sort of, and I like the word heron better).

Today was a non-work day for Google, but there still were cars on the parking lot. I plugged mine into a charger, turned around, and there was the street I was looking for. 

There were white birds everywhere. And then there was this guy, sitting on a heron nest, but not looking like either a snowy or great white:

Will have a pointer to lots more photos Real Soon Now, but for now, one which needed no cropping:

Got some mediocre shots of babies being fed (steep angles) and then everything went quiet, so I drove down the block to Starbucks, updated my laptop, Facebooked and mochaed, then went back for another round of herons.

Glad I did, because this time a nest with kiddies feeding was right at the edge of the tree canopy. And there is an adorable shot of a fledgling on the ground hiding amongst the catmints.

From there, since it was so close, Shoreline Park, which was way less crowded than I expected. Mostly relaxed, walking around with the camera. Got this shot of a peregrine falcon up on the mast of the boathouse, lined it up 4th of July style:

Home, recycle bin had been collected, someone had already wheeled that back onto the driveway. Probably my neighbors in #8, to make room for their weekly car shuffle.

In the mailbox was the annual tax assessment for the house. Looks like I'll be paying less this year.

More letters. Break for dinner - smoked turkey drumstick & mixed veggies & ice cream. There were 3 scoops left in the box, I only ate 2.

And more letters.

The last two described the 1976 coup, which I actually saw as it happened, on TV sets in Chinatown electronics stores. But I didn't know what I was watching. My letters do not mention the fact that I was en route to the university where the most bloodshed occurred, on my way to their museum to see the letter which the King had sent asking for a teacher for his children, and cough drops, to a British merchant marine captain. When I saw the TV live stream, I reversed direction.

And there was a lot in those letters about trying to land a UN job, or have my PCV role converted to a UN position. And plans to tour Jugoslavia. None of that happened.

Watched an episode of Glow on Netflix. There is some fine acting, and some downright horrible acting. The script is a mess. It is allegedly offered in HDR, but I'm not seeing any evidence it was shot in HDR.  Sydelle Noel stands out, she can actually act.  Alison Brie, whose character is the person the story is about, is lame. And the character she plays is even lamer. There are one or two actresses who seem to be diamonds in the rough, or more accurately, hiding their talents under a bushel.

Plans for tomorrow:
More letters. I may finish the project.
I used to love fireworks shows. Now I just don't care.
My house is still the only one on the block flying the flag. I mostly fly it to add color, and so I can see where my driveway is.


Better Latent Than Never

as we say in the darkroom.

Starting this later than usual because CD, which is OCD without the Obsessive part. I spent most of the day entering those letters from Thailand, with occasional breaks for food, chores and just to take a break. At about 3 I took a nap, and Spook joined me.

While the sun was still behind the house I camped out on the front porch with a soda and popcorn. Lunch was the well-marinated beef slices wokked with that oily biryani rice aka Kao Mok. I used some tricks to de-oil it somewhat, but was only partially successful. The beef was superb, though. A week in white wine, oregano, garlic and meat tenderizer will do that.

While it was too hot I put all the bee's friend remnants from the #1 compost bin into the green recycle bin, decided that was enough stupid, and set the bin in front of the shed to receive other donations later.

Before sunset, I cut back the huge salvia plant, and put those bits into the bin, and rolled it out the the curb. I had a chat with across-the-street neighbor Marge, who said one of our neighbors accused her of spreading something in the street which caused his side of the street to all have ant and flea infestations. She says he thinks he wakes up with his face covered in ants. I've read somewhere that this last one is a common paranoia. But her dragging anything across the street it ridiculous - she's 86, tiny, and has been under a nurse's care most of last month.

Back to my side of the street, I dumped the non-rooting salvia and rose cuttings into the bin, and pulled out from the front garden a few hanks of dead poppy plants, and binned them.

And watered all around.

Compost bin #1 had a few inches of actual compost at the bottom, which I spread out on the retaining wall, and watered down. I should add some bricks at the front to keep it in place, and use it as a container garden. Or not.

Took out the recyles, and the garbage, and cut up the many cardboard boxes from the week's deliveries, taped them into a bundle, and set them beside the recycle bin.

Back to the letters, and suddenly, after mostly handwritten or typed on a worn machine with a threadbare ribbon, there is a letter done on a clear electric typewriter with solid impressions and a new ribbon. My 1975 tax refund paid for a nice SCM electric. My memory is flawed, I thought I had bought that soon after arriving in Bangkok. Turns out to be about the last thing I bought before leaving Bangkok for my second assignment in the south.

And instead of having to dictate the letters, these scan in well with my OCR software, and just need some formatting and corrections where the folds in the paper obscure the words. I still need to read the whole letter, but only once. Much faster and painless.

I'm now at the end of May 1976, and my move from Bangkok to Haad Yai. Many letters covered the politics which ripped my Bangkok assignment out from under me. There was also a lot of talk of trying to transfer to another country. One letter hinted at the huge anger I had that Peace Corps made no attempt to keep me in Bangkok, where I had a vibrant theater life, onstage and as a techie. But I don't say it outright.

Dinner was Boston Market beef & pasta & ice cream.

Egg cream chaser.

Plans for tomorrow:
Take my camera to MV, park the car at one of the charging stations near Shorebird Rd., and walk my camera down the block where the egrets are nesting. According to the Google pages on it, there ought to be great whites and egret fledglings finding their wings about now. Hatching is most likely a month in the past. 
Maybe hang out at Shoreline Park for a bit.

Home, more letters. I will probably stop with Thailand, since the ones from Israel are not as memorable. And off-topic.


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