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First full day of tourist trolley

Up many times in the night because I took the diuretic in the evening, and it doesn't kick in quickly like it used to.

8:30 the contract recruiter phoned, I was in the shower. Called him back, he was asking for something I'd already sent in for the background check. I yelled at him, gave him the name of the on-boarder to whom I had sent it, and hung up.

Out of bed around 9. Fired up the laptop and forwarded the on-boarder's last email to the recruiter. They need to coordinate.

No breakfast.

Walked to the maritime museum, which is basically across the street from the hotel. Looked for but did not find the trolley stop. Called them, they said the stop was several blocks south. Long walk. Found their booth, exchanged my printout for a pair of tickets, a schedule and a sticker for my shirt. Waited at least 20 minutes for the next one - they are supposed to run every 20 minutes and this stop had no place to sit.

This was the 3rd stop in the tour, the trolleys only run one direction, which kinda sucks. It means you have to take the whole trip over again to get to your stop.

It's a long trip, well worth the price.

As planned I did the whole ride, then got off at a place I had never been to - gaslight district, Found a BofA ATM to deposit a check, then a Thai place right away. Service was slow, Pot Thai was poorly done but with a lot of shrimp, they tried to give me chopsticks, so total FAIL. The Thai iced tea was mixed, not enough sweetened condensed milk, the mango was tiny and the sticky rice was the cheap purple kind. The only good part is they spoke Thai.

Took some photos and got back on for another round. I could see the maritime museum from the Little Italy stop, so I got off there and walked back to the hotel.

Bought some diet Coke & peanut M&Ms in the hotel store.

Looked for places online for dinner. Not a lot nearby. Walked to the Fish Market, had a whole Maine lobster. What was I thinking? Should have had something local. Once again it was rubbery except for the claws. Why is it that only the Chinese supermarket knows how to steam a lobster?

Strawberry cheesecake for dessert was meh. There were no real chocolate desserts. WTF?

Long walk home, listened to a bit of the Bob Hope memorial audio. Took pix of the Kissing statue. Rip-off of a Pulitzer prize winning Life magazine cover photo.

Long walk back to the hotel, sciatica made itself known along with some minor injury on the side of my left foot.

Streamed for about 15 minutes but it was all trolls, so I quit.

Plans for tomorrow:
Trolley to Coronado
Walk to the beach
Hang out till it's time to get the last trolley to Little Italy
Dinner in Little Italy
Try streaming again

If it's Monday, this must be San Diego

Long boring day, for the most part. Up at 8, dressed and had the hotel continental breakfast. It was okay - banana, bagel, cream cheese, OJ. Plenty of small pastries to not eat. Ditto cereals. No waffles.

Back to the room, looked for things to watch on TV, didn't find much except ads. Broke out the laptop and entered yesterday's journal.

Checked out at about 11:30, walked the wrong way for half a block before realizing I'd come in last night through a different entrance. Saw the street signs for the station and got there no problem. There were several classroom field trips, and one adult tour group going my way.

Breakfast was too filling to want lunch, there was plenty in the station. But there was also a very comfortable Amtrak waiting area, so after sitting outside in the courtyard which was set up for Santa, I waited in the waiting area analyzing eye candy. There was a lot of it, especially employees. Sexist hiring practices FTW.

Got bored and decided that since I had a lot of time I may as well walk to the Amtrak platform all the way at the end of the station and up a steep long ramp. Slowly. I was the only one there except for a couple of staffers.

The sign said track 11, and kept announcing a later train parked on track 12 - the tracks share a platform. I waited with a woman who was also early for the San Diego train. At the last minute, they opened the doors to the other train and without making any announcement it turned out to be my train. I got what I thought was a good seat but it turned out the be backward facing and only half a window with an annoying curtain in the way.

The window was clean but didn't stay that way.

Facing backward kills a lot of photo ops. I missed a lot.

They delivered a snack pack and a tiny diet cola for free - part of being in business class. The seats seem to be the same as coach.

Spectacular sunset, but windows too dirty for my Nikon, got some shots with the Pixel.

On time arrival downtown, Google maps charted me a course to the hotel, and got everything right except the entrance. San Diego made it more difficult early in the walk by removing all the street signs for the street I needed to turn onto. Construction on all 4 corners. The street I was on was clearly marked. Google showed me where I was, though.

Checked in, got the wifi code. Elevator needs you to tag your room key, but it doesn't say that and neither did the guy at check-in. A fellow passenger clued me in.

Unpacked, logged in on the phone & laptop, searched for a Thai place, but the one back by the station was the closest and it was nearly empty at 6. But I like the sign out on their patio.

The name of the place made me LOL. Aharn. It means "food" in Thai.

There's a Claim Jumper in the hotel, and I used to like going there in Seattle. So that's where I had dinner. Expensive but I'm on vacation. They messed up almost everything. Almost seated me in front of the patio door. Assigned me the bearded man waiter instead of the hot blonde woman who was serving the table next to me. I ordered a small steak covered in caramelized onions with a side  of crab cake. They gave me a choice of soup or salad, I got the salad which was came sort of chopped.

Two crab cakes showed up as an appetizer instead of a single one on the side. The onions were overcooked and chopped. the steak was well done instead of medium. There was a baked potato with a pound of sour cream which I had not ordered. When I told them I did not want it, they said they would just throw it away. The right answer would have been "what can we get you instead?".

Mud pie for dessert was some bland ice cream, not coffee or chocolate as the menu described.

They did get the diet cola right.

Tip was 10%. Not the 15-20 they suggested.

Back to the room, streamed for an hour. The usual suspects did not stay long.

In email was my job offer letter countersigned by the agency's CEO. No start date mentioned, whew. Also got email from a cretin at the background check company saying they were still working on it, when it has already cleared.

Wyndham Hotel: power outlets everywhere. Big desk, small TV, the big WTF is the closet is in the bathroom. There is an ironing board and iron in the closet and a handy outlet meant for a hair dryer nearby.

Soda machine is by the elevator, so is the ice machine. $2 for a 20 oz. Pepsi product. Not bad. But it only takes cash.

Plans for tomorrow:
Take the camera out to ride the hop on hop off trolley. Maybe hop off somewhere.

Catchup Sunday

LJ login on my laptop was from before they changed their password rules, so no I have a new one.

Got up at 6 am Sunday expecting to take till 8 to get out of the house. Threw some extra kibble into Spot's dish (to add to the programmed drops). But I was out at 7, walking to light rail the train was at and out of the station while I was 2 blocks away. No problemo, I was way early, another train in half an hour.

But the reader board said it was 8:25, and kept changing between the next train being in 45 minutes and 26 minutes. Not a good look for VTA.

Next train did show up in 26, long boring ride on a cloudy dark Sunday morning to the all-trains station at Diridon. Walked the whole width of the station, bought a diet coke and a bag of potato chips for breakfast, sat in the waiting room and finished the chips, but the coke lasted me much of the train ride.

Coast Starlight was a couple of minutes late, which is pretty good for a ride coming from Seattle.

My roomette was way at the front, which meant a 5-minute winding walk to the dining and  lounge cars.

Dirty windows in the roomette and dirty highly reflective windows in the "lounge" car did not make for good photography. You would think they would fix the observation car windows after 30 years. They have stopped calling it the observation car and it is now intended for people using the snack bar down below it.

No parlor car anymore. Business class instead. Parlor car was mostly useless anyway, except it  had the wifi router. Now the train has free but password required wifi which works well except in the deadlands by Vandenberg AFB.

Winter sunset was way before we got near the ocean, so nothing to see at all for the last 5 hours.

Lunch was with a mechanical engineer and a couple from OSU baseball. Dinner was with the same engineer, a young wife whose husband was away for work and kids staying with grandparents. And a Canadian guy who looked 18 but said he was 30, whose wallet was stolen in Oakland. No details. Our own undocumented alien. He thinks he can make a living selling photos of people on the beach in LA. Good luck with that.

The two women sharing the room across the hall kept the door open and the curtains closed, and yapped on the phone much of the trip in German. Annoying. One guy up two rooms kept his door open as he made marketing calls.

No ice. No apple juice, just orange. They used to have those available in the corner of the roomette area.

At SLO they also announced dinner would be early because we expected to be way early into LA. But gthat was a crock because even if we got in an hour early, that wouldbe 8 pm, plenty of tme for the crew to clean ujp after a 7 pm dinner.

We were  in SLO a long time, I did not have a schedule but I don't think we arrived early. A few minutes out of SLO we stopped for a mechanical issue, and it was slow all the way to Santa Barbara. From there it was slow until they announced there was a problem with the way the signals were programmed, slowing and stopping them for no reason. They were contacting the UP dispatcher about that. Soon after that we were sidetracked for about 15 minutes waiting for a northbound train.

So much for the excuses for an early dinner. I was in the last feeding, 5:30 pm.

Lunch was a burger, dinner was a small but excellent steak and a delicious crab cake. No dessert because no ice cream and nothing on the menu appealed to me. Lunch time I tried the chocolate "pudding" but it was actually a very dense cake-like object which did not survive being frozen.

Arrived half an hour early at LA, long long walk to the front doors, where two policemen looked at my Google map and showed me where my hotel was IRL. A yellow vest had pointed me in the opposite direction. 5 minute walk past a lot of homeless people and through a cloud of marijuana smoke to the hotel. No problem checking in.

Good wifi. No power outlets. Had to move the night stand to plug in the phone & tablet. Soda machine out of order, down one floor bought two diet cokes, but the machine was stocked with caffeine free despite the caffeinated label on the machine.

I was actually able to stream on twitch for an hour.

Plans for Monday:
hotel free breakfast
noon checkout
hang around Union Station till my3 pm train

Kinda quiet day, mostly

Up at the 7:30 alarm because tomorrow it will be 6:00

Did not do much productive - watched a lot of TV and Tivo, played online, lunch was bacon & criossant while watching my favorite storm chaser on Twitch.

Watered all the indoor plants, topped off both cats' food & water and changed Spook's litterbox cartridge. (I did Spot's the other day)

Bit the bullet and cut back the roses. It took an hour. It filled the garden clips recycle bin.

Watched enough of the start of the Army-Navy game on tivo to confirm Trump was there & set to flip the coin.

MV Starbucks, was early early but Janice was already there chatting with one of her AA friends. Gorgeous platinum blonde. Janice never lets me get close to her AA friends because she knows I will drive them to drink.

Home, found my mini-pack to keep my camera gear in during the trip. Put the meds in a zip-lock bag, and also zipped up three snack bags of cookies.

Dinner was hot dogs boiled with macaroni. Hot dogs on whole wheat bread with Dijon and sauerkraut. A big kosher dill on the side. Dessert was the last piece of apple cobbler. Watched the coin toss, Trump did okay. FFed through most of the game, it was boring. Dept. of Defense for sure. Army won. The black Knights? Gag me. The Khaki Daze. The cadets wear battleship gray. The Navy cadets wear black. Go figure.

Streamed for about an hour, maybe less. Disabled the PC's auto-start feature, I won't have time tomorrow morning to go online.

Plans for tomorrow:
up at 6
Out by 8
Light rail by 8:30
Amtrack by 10 am
LA ~ 9 pm
Hotel near train station

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

I finally got my butt up to Redwood City and the Nissan dealership. A Leaf expert named Stan went over all the financial possibilities for leasing, suggested the SV model (middle of 3) because it has a better display & audio. The numbers on the web site are a lie - $299 a month is for the basic model with $10k down. That's a huge chunk for a lease. It would come in around the same as I am paying for the Ford on the SV model with $6500 down. One of the disadvantages of leasing is at the end of the lease you don't have a trade-in. You need cash.

The monthly rate for buying the car is 1/3 higher.

He can get me the color I want on a day's notice and can send a shuttle to pick me up from the local Ford dealership, and I expect also from the Caltrain station.

Where we left it is after I'm back from vacation I'll give him a call and we'll figure out a deal.

As I was leaving, the irony struck me of being at a Japanese car maker on Pearl Harbor Day.

The rest of the day was lazy. I put 3 gallons of gas in the car at almost $4/gal. It was below 1/4 tank, now it is about half.

Lunch was a croissant with goat milk cream cheese and lox. On the Tivo was Below Deck, in which two new crew come on board, three episodes of Mysteries at the Museum, PTI and some bad college football. And another 5-minute useless Oak Island teaser.

Streamed for about an hour in the late afternoon, two Thai speakers came in, both in the US but one from Thailand and one from Laos. They liked the same Thai pop singers I do.

Will stream some more from 9-11 tonight.

Dinner was trout - pan fried in butter with garlic, home-grown basil, oregano and mint. Pretty yummy. Plus mixed veggies. Mint chip ice cream for dessert.

Plans for tomorrow:
Check the light rail schedule for Sunday
Coffee with Janice
Finish packing

Oils well that endz well

It was a frustrating day. But things mostly turned out okay.

Eventually up at 9, I may have woken up when the lights went on at 7:30 but the alarm was at 9. Climbed out of the tablet's Internet rabbit hole by 10:30 and climbed down the one on the PC. Had to phone the background check cretins because they emailed that Modis, my Google contract agency, had told them I was employed by them from 2008-2018, which is impossible because Modis did not exist in 2008. Looking at my resume, I started an Adecco contract at Sony in 2008 and Adecco spun off its technical division and named it Modis. That contract was only about a year, at which time Sony forced us all to use a different agency.

I'm pretty sure the background check "researcher" misread the report.

Email from my contract contact said if I sent her job numbers she would tell me if they were Google or not. I found four, she didn't find one of them, two were Google and the 4th was Apple, which meant they left out the iOS requirement from the job description. So no help at all there.

Lunch was seaweed and a Kind bar and some peanut butter.

Watched the current Doctor Who. They continue to produce the shows on the cheap. This one was basically a rip-off of Steven King's It complete with a Pennywise character named Ribbons. With added mystery portal. I planned on quitting after one more, then found out the next one is the season finale. Seems like a short season, I should check.

Checked. Only 10 episodes this season. 12-13 most others. The new Doctor is not the problem, the new regime is.

It was too late to go to BB&B - rush hour traffic - so for Soda Stream syrup I went to Target. FAIL. The display was a mess, about 40 bottles of energy drink taking up the slots for the other flavors. No diet orange, only one diet cola and one caffeine free diet cola. Lots of grapefruit (yuk).  They did have a sale on 5 pairs of the kind of socks I like, and I got the last two plastic quart bottles of 2% milk. Bought 3 DiGiorno "personal" pizzas on sale. Rye bread, gallon ziplock bags, ice cream and cat treat meat sticks.

Next stop was the nearby BofA except there is a fence all around it. That's the main Sunnyvale branch. The city probably approved a sale of the land to high priced apartment/condo developers. I had to go to the one nearer my house. It's on the other side of town, so not on my way home normally.

Home, put stuff away. Packed for the trip - all the clothing is packed except an extra pair of jeans which I probably can do without. Most everything else will wait till Saturday. Got my passport card out of the lock box and into my wallet, in case the foo by the border clears up enough to make it practical to duck into Tijuana.

Got a call from the Ford dealer who said I would owe whatever monthly payments are due on the car if I turn it in early, and I can turn it in to my local dealership if I want. So there is no sense in turning it in early, if I lease something else I'll be paying for two cars anyway.

Watched some of the football game. Email from the new contract company with an offer letter to sign, so I guess the background check came through after all. Neat trick - they let me upload my signature png file. The other forms wanted a mouse signature which is ugly.

Versacheck working with Quicken meant I could upgrade to 2019. It's ugly. It's also faster. But I need to buy the $80 upgrade to Versacheck if I want to design my own checks. What a rip-off.

Streamed from 9-11. Some interesting conversations, then it went quiet at 10 till 11.

Dinner was a personal pizza and dessert was warmed up apple cobbler.

Message from my doctor said the lab tests showed no infection.

Plans for tomorrow:
Redwood City Nissan
Maybe check out the Amtrak parking lot. I'm thinking of taking light rail to the station despite the long-ish walk. There's a park and ride lot, but it's 5 miles away and I don't think I can park there all week.
Still have some Tivo to watch. And I should see if my Netflix tester account still works.

A Day With Lots of Reservations

Turned off the 7:30 alarm and slept till 9. This morning was fill the pill boxes day. Breakfast was some pre-cooked bacon and a criossant.

Fixed a couple of annoying home automation issues. My Nest thermostat was appearing twice, once linked directly to Google Home from Nest, once from Iris hub to Nest. Alexa didn't know what to do with that. Google said it was applying my commands to two devices. And a couple of devices needed to be assigned to a room. And the all-lights-on-at-sunset command had not been enabled.

FFed through two more BS episodes of Oak Island. They found an iron rod which some child they hired at a university claims is from the Roman era. I don't buy that for two reasons. One is is is too small to be a crossbow bolt, and the Romans were never anywhere near Oak Island in the period the child claimed. It's disgusting how the Oak Island searchers jump on every little discovery as if it was legit. So far they have found nothing of value.

Reserved a hotel in San Diego for 4 nights. The last day I need to be at the train station by 5:30 am. Got a decent price on a Wyndham hotel by the waterfront park.

Doctor appt at 3, she checked me thoroughly, nothing obviously wrong, urine sample was inconclusive, she will have them culture it, results expected Friday. She thinks sleep apnea is causing the headaches, or maybe residual concussion effects from when I hit my head. She suggested Flonase for the sleep apnea (because CPAP and nasal washes don't work for me), and increasing my diuretic for the weight gain. And exercise. I picked up generic Flonase at the pharmacy downstairs.

Stopped off at one of my old nail places, got them done but the woman did not get it that I wanted the bad job removed and clear polish instead of the cloudy stuff on there now. So I may take time in San Diego to get that done. Got a short time to chat with the Thai hairdresser.

Home, nothing in the mailbox because of Bush league politics.

6:10 walked to the community center to hear a spiel from a non-profit which leads walking tours for seniors at nearby parks and rec areas. Wasted time, they only do the walks M-F during normal business hours, and they charge per walk.

Home, dinner was chicken soup and matzo balls. Apple crumble for dessert.

Watched PTI and the Dr. Who from 2 weeks ago about witch trials. Horribly written, several certificates issued by Overactors Anonymous, gaps in the plot you can drive a truck through, and minimal special effects. Shot on location in a bog somewhere.

Logged onto TripAdvisor and booked a 2-day Hop-on Hop-off Trolley ticket for my first two full days in San Diego. I'll take the full route and then pick one or two places to get off and see an attraction. They stop running at 5 pm, so I have to be careful not to get stranded like I did in Tallinn.

Did some research and it is whale season, booked a whale watching trip for my last full day - afternoon sailing so hope to get sunset shots if the weather cooperates.

Plugged all the info into Google Keep, and also have it all printed out.

Streamed from about 8:45 till midnight. The Twitch server died a couple of minutes before, actually. Lots of chatters from 10 on.

Spot was out of the room for most of the evening, but was put back in when he picked a fight with Spook. :-(

Plans for tomorrow:
Try to wake up before 9
BB&B, sodastream syrups
Hang up the shirts & pants
Charge & update the laptop (I'll take it with me to SD, would have left it home for Grand Canyon)
Nissan dealership???
Call Ford again and try to get an answer about $$$ for turning the car in early
Start packing

Two Years Behind The Mast

Up on time, out late because I took time off to play with Spot. And finally paired the kitchen light. I think I can now unplug the Samsung hub.

And I did.

Quiet day at work. Played with the norway box, watched I Can See Your Voice: Thailand and saw several bugs I filed against a Taiwan box a year ago are now fixed. Gave the box to NNP at Boss' request and late in the day did a brain dump.

Parted friends with the team, Boss gave me a card-sized envelope which I figured had a YouTube or Google movies gift card, so did not open it till I got home.** Gave her my badge and 2 security keys.

Truly bad traffic, happy to be home and not have to commute for a while.

Let Spot out and changed his litterbox, but he picked a fight with Spook so back into his room he went. I looked in the closet and he had pulled a dress jacket and pants off their hanger, and made a nest in there with one of his fuzzy toys. I cleaned that up, but I see he's got the closet door open again.

Dinner was a Costco lamb shank, Italian style, not as good as Greek but okay, mixed veggies and a croissant. Apple crumble for dessert. Watched PTI and two phony episodes of Oak Island. What a crock that show is. Way too much money being thrown at complete amateurs.

**Opened the envelope, it did have a cute going away card, and a piece of paper. Unfolded the paper and it was a ticket to see Hello Dolly in Downtown SF on a Thursday night in Feb.  Very expensive ticket. But I'll be working evenings, and even if I wasn't, SF on a week night is not an option for me. I'll hold onto it just in case things change, but will send it back with thanks in time for her to get a refund or find someone else to go.

Streamed for an hour, not much chatting until the last minute. Egg nog.

Plans for tomorrow:
Watch the Spacex launch
Doctor at 3
Put away the laundry
Maybe start packing for the trip


Spent more time in traffic this evening than normal, topped by a crash blocking the last leg of my ride home.

Then there was about 90 minutes filling out 2,487 online forms for the new job, much of which was a repeat of the 2 hours I spent over the weekend filling out the background check forms. It is an insane amount of paperwork for a near minimum wage job.

Looks like I'll be a vendor not a contractor this time.

Managed to pair the light switch in Spot's room with the new hub, and get Google home to recognize it. Also paired the already configured logitech remote control to Google Home, so I can have it turn to the channel I want after it turns on the home theater.

The only resistant item is the kitchen light switch which is built into the wall. It refuses to pair. Something about needing to remove it from the Z-wave group first, but I thought I'd already done that.

Filled in my final Google time sheet. It covers today and tomorrow.

Lunch was beef portobello and a piece of my apple cobbler crumble. I need to try that again, the cobbler part didn't rise enough.

Dinner was chicken soup from a year ago and a pair of matzo balls.

Watched PTI and then stumbled across the 49ers coach's press conference, followed by Richard Sherman's. Coach doesn't understand that he needs to change.

Streamed for about an hour, it was very quiet. Chatter from Costa Rica.

Just installed Versacheck, which actually works on blank check paper with Quicken. Which means i can upgrade to Quicken 2019 if I want. And nuke Check Designer. Need to do some work customizing the checks.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work -hand in my badge
Nails (?)

Not the adventures I was planning

Up at 9, out to Lowe's around 10. Picked up the 6 (I had ordered 7, their site said they had a dozen) Iris outlet switches, and bought one older style one so I'd have the 7 I needed.

Home, paired the first one and set it up in the bedroom. The second one wouldn't pair. They had given me 2 iris hub-compatible units and four tp-link wi-fi-compatible units. The items are in different colored boxes, have different SKU #s and different descriptions.

Back to Lowe's for a refund on 4 ,and to get three more of the right ones, plus an outdoor heavy duty GE one, because when I pulled the one off the car charger, it had fried the connector.

Spent the early afternoon pairing them all, setting them in place, and creating routines for the motion sensors.

The built-in kitchen light switch is not Iris compatible. Bummer.

The iris app is a PIA, way more difficult to use than the Samsung. So far, though, the motion sensors have stayed online. Later in the week I need to see if the Logitech remote which triggers my home theater routines will work without the Samsung hub. The main thing was the motion sensors, so I'm mostly happy.

Watched the Seahawks dismantle the 49ers up in Seattle.

Looked again, did not see any bowl invites for the UW football team. Boo hiss.

Used my apple peeler and (separate) slicer, and made an apple cobbler crumble. It tastes very good. I made a cobbler, and when it had 10 minutes left to bake, I poured on crumble topping and baked it the rest of the way. Peeling was interesting, the apples I bought at GO were asymmetrical.

Watched 1/3 of an episode of Mysteries at the Museum. Streamed from 9-11 instead of watching Dr. Who. I'm now 2 episodes behind.
And I don't care.

Decided against the Nissan visit - it dawned on me I will not be working most of the week, I can go on a weekday. Less busy than a weekend.

Played the tank game, streamed it (I think), won twice, lost 4 times. That's only level 1.

Dinner was the last of the latest thawed container of chopped liver, on rye, with onions. Apple cobbler crumble for dessert.

Lunch was battered fish, so I still haven't cooked up any of the trout from Costco. It's waiting patiently in the freezer.

Spot was free all day, he curled up on my arm while I watched TV but was otherwise under foot and a brat, so he's back in his room.

Took out the garbage. There were a lot of boxes to break down and bundle. 2 weeks' worth. Did 2 loads of laundry. Found the missing sock.

Plans for tomorrow:
Identify a new nails place
End of day send out my bye-bye message
Fill in a 2-day timesheet.


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