February 8th, 2014


Hum, sans hoes

Slept better than usual, wanted to just stay in bed all day. But Domino was yowling at me in her scratchy "where are you?" "Feed me NOW" voice. She is perfectly capable of a kitty meow, but rarely uses it. Annoying.

Was out the door by 9, I think. Rain, blustery wind, dark skies. Like we had changed planets from last week. We don't need the rain. The mountains need snow, and all this wet stuff falling in the Bay and in the industrialized strip between SF and SJ is wasted. It would be more valuable bypassing us and falling on the Sierras where the reservoirs and river heads are. </rant>

Work started with boss pointing out that the 50+ test cases I entered in the database were all tagged the same way, and needed to be tagged with their sub-features. I had not sen the sub features because I expected them to start with the name of the feature, but they weren't. So that took a while.

After I finished that there was nothing much to do, so I emailed the team that I was running some errands and then having a later lunch. First errand was in the parking lot, updating the firmware for the in-dash unit. As advertised it took 11 minutes. I was hoping the update would allow the unit to read an SD card so I could upload the map info to it, but it didn't. However it did solve a problem I've had since May where the very fancy rear view camera acted like a dumb as a rock $15 model. Now it acts like the $150 model I bought - in addition to looking straight back, it now can show me approaching traffic in a split screen left and right, another view paints guides for parking in reverse and it can also look straight down for children's toys, children or terrorists. But I repeat myself.

Next errand was Costco where I paid $150 to have them scan the 500 slides I'd boxed last night. Boxes 1 and 10 are a mixture of slides I missed from the 1970s, the other boxes are from a trip made in 1989, which I hope has some significant views of intercropping in the south.
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When I left Thailand I had not idea if the farmers had bought into the plan. I was only there for a year. That was 1977. When I returned in 1989, I was jazzed to see most of the south's young rubber fields looked like my slide show.

Next stop was UPS, dropping off the Linksys router. They never got back to me with an RMA, but it didn't cost much to ship back, and it also didn;t cost that much for the router, so if they don't give me a refund I'm not out that much. And I can challenge the charge on the credit card.

UPS HQ is right near my favorite Chinese soup place, Chef Lee's, and it was an ugly day made for a big bowl of soup. House Special Wor Won Ton. Chicken broth with bits of pork, beef, shrimp, bok choi, slices of other veggies. They make the best in the area. When I worked nearby I went there for lunch a lot, and they were always almost empty, but today it was packed at 2 pm. Good to see. Nice folks, good food. I've had other dishes there, but that soup is my fave.

Back to work, had a chat with a couple of support engineers about 4K video, and also chatted with Automation Guy who had some Americana questions.

My weekly report did not take long. I spent a lot of hours on projects, but they could be summarized in very few lines.

Thought about going to Mathilda Starbucks and getting gasoline after, but it was an awful rainy windy day and I felt like home would be a better choice.

Dinner while watching 2 week old Elementary which keeps getting better. Reheated the chicken satay and peanut sauce (mixed some extra yellow curry paste in & chunky PNB) but I forgot what a microwave does to that stuff and ended up with brown spicy pasty powdery stuff. Also threw 4 of the beef wellingtons into the nuke, and they were delicious.

Sliced up a banana and topped it with chocolate ice cream and sprinkles.

Domino got another 1/3 can of kitty crack, we have now changed to Ocean Whitefish & Tuna which she seems to like better than the salmon.

Online, looked up the problem I was having with the SD card, and found it had to be formatted FAT32. Did that, took it out to the car and it uploaded info about the map. Ran Garmin's update app against it, and was told the map is up to date. Bummer because even though it claims to be 2013, it was published in 2012 and the info on it is from 2010. I am constantly running into exits which aren't there, and it can't find half the places I am looking for. To make life more frustrating, the firmware update erased all my saved locations. There apparently was no way to back those up or restore them. Grrr. All the portable Garmins can do this, which is why I got this unit in the first place - only Kenwood uses Garmin.

My favorite photo meetup send email about a model I really wanted to shoot, but it's on the same day as a book convention I have a ticket for. Another shoot I was attracted to is Sunday, but I have tickets to a show. The morel they are shooting tomorrow is pug ugly, they bring her in because she does Goth things I am not interested in photographing.

Plans for tomorrow:
Maybe 10 am library talk on electric vehicles.

National Ineptitude Day

The day started out fine, with me rushing to make it to the library by 10 for a talk/showcase of all-electric cars. There was a line to get in the front door. Huh? Turns out the library opens at 10, the talks started at 10:30. The format was a multiple panels thing, which was done somewhat ineptly. They had four panels of 5 people each, each person was given a chance to pour their heart and soul out about their particular EV. So instead of finishing at 11:30 it took 2 hours. It would have worked a lot better (for me) if, instead of using every volunteer, they had designated one person per model.

There were two glaring common denominators to the panelists:
1. They were all over 40
2. They all owned a house (which gave them the opportunity to go solar and get paid to charge the car)

I'm now in that demographic, and my days of driving to Seattle or LA are done, so I'm in that demographic, except my roof won't support solar panels and part of the lease requires me to stay on the grid (the park provides our electricity & gas feeds).

Two of the women on the panel were so jazzed about their cars that they are now working for the dealership selling them. Both were at the point of "retire or 3rd career?"

I just bought my Corolla in May, but maybe it's time to look into an EV. After the talk we went to the parking lot where all the panelists had their cars on display, plus a couple of models which had been parked by dealers but not represented by a human. Talking with the folks and looking at the cars, the Nissan Leaf looks like a good fit for me. Hybrids don't have enough trunk room because they have two engines and a battery pack and a gas tank. But pure electrical cars only have the smaller electric engine and the battery pack is in a less obnoxious location. There were a couple of Rav4s, but they are too big and ugly as a brick. Some of the other models are more like enclosed golf carts. I was telling one guy that I needed something my baritone horn would fit in, and he plays bass so he knows that's not a problem.

The initial price might be a show-stopper, but my Corolla is new enough to get almost as much back as I paid for it. Maybe more because they gave me a generous trade-in. Hmmm.

While at the talk, I used Great Clips' app to "check in". By the time I got there, it had expired. But it didn't matter because checking in does nothing for you. You still have to wait in the order that you physically arrived. Inept. Which for me was 25 minutes. Very inept. More inept was the trainee at the check-in. Okay, Plan B was to chill out at Starbucks in the Safeway next door but inept cashier was arguing (politely) about a customer trying to use a Safeway coupon. As it turns out, they don't accept Starbucks apps, they are on Safeway's register system. Customer decided to pay for an armful of groceries there. I walked out.

This store has a set of tables and chairs with umbrellas, which kept them dry. They are tolerant of homeless folks parking there all day, and there was some interesting chat by a woman telling a friend all about her morning appointment with the psychologist. When she was done I wandered back to wait another 10 minutes for the haircut. The list got confused because one guy came in with his son, and the trainee couldn't understand that he woud skip his turn so he could watch the kid, and then get cut by the same barber.

Next stop was Kaiser, to pick up some insulin and test strips and load up on B&D alcohol swabs. But there was a long, slow line and I needed to pee, which reminded me I was due for my quarterly lab tests, and one of them was pee-in-the-cup. The lab was almost empty, now serving 41 and I was 43. That all went well, but the line at the pharmacy was a prime example of inept layout and staffing. Huge banners all over proclaim that they will ship your prescription for free if you order online, but it ignores three things:
They won't ship insulin
They won't ship OTC items
It can take 2 weeks to get the stuff they do ship

Half an hour later I had my items, and went to the Starbucks across the street, where they were very ept, and there was a place to sit and read (the tables are too small for a laptop and mouse), and there was some eye candy from Kaiser but more from the Korean supermarket.

Weather was still blustery and intermittently raining, so I went home. Pulling out of the parking lot, I tried to use the split screen in the backup camera, and found that the Kenwood had forgotten it could do that. When I got home I re-updated the firmware, which seemed to fix it, but it forgot after 5 minutes.

While I was messing with it, I went back inside, went online and found instructions on Garmin's site on how to upload points of interest (POI) from files I'd backed up on the PC. Followed the directions, but instead of adding POIs it erased the entire map and all its built-in POIs. I tried to do and "update maps" but it insisted I had the latest map. 

I emailed support, but they will probably want me to buy a map SD card for $100. Meanwhile, one more reason to get a Leaf. It has a really nice GPS, and the woman who became a salesperson played classical music on its sound system,and it sounded great.

One other chore I did was once again unfurl the flags. The American flag keeps winding itself around the pole, and the Thai flag makes one loop before it is stable. Tomorrow I'll that the pole down and store it and the flags until the weather calms down. I shouldn't be flying them in the rain, anyway.

Dinner was in two parts. A snack of roasted corn chowder, and later ravioli in Alfredo sauce with mixed veggies.

Plans for tomorrow:
Nothing in the morning
noon-ish, slog to the light rail and take it downtown, meet Janice to see an all-female cast production of 1776. I frankly did not like the two productions I've seen, and probably will like this one even less, but the level of talent is amazing, I have been on stage one place or another with more than half the cast.