Today 20March2023

When did I miss March? How can it be more than half over? With Susie’s sudden bleeding, ER trip, and my colonoscopy, I feel like I missed March. Yet, I seem to have advanced to Sweet-16 for college basketball.

Today the light Oregon mist returns, not rain, just endless sprinkles. The frogs and toads are singing loudly and likely making more. Last night, I had no vehicle behind Air Volvo, so I stopped for a tiny frog crossing our street and made a wide turn to get into the driveway to avoid yet another hopping diminutive amphibian. Nice to see the season move to Spring today.

The day started with me waking at 4 and then 5 and then 6 and finally getting up and starting my Monday early. Mondays are work-from-home work days at the shoe company. I had a Zoom stand-up, an Agile methodology ceremony, that we did remotely and all on Zoom (sitting). I spent the morning reading emails, reviewing Slack Channel updates, and reading the news on CNN, BBC, and the New York Times (I have a subscription). This caught me up on what was happening at work and in the world.

Banks are still coming unglues, and folks are wondering if they should panic. No. This is the usual story of less-than-talented wealthy people taking risks that they do not completely understand and complaining when they lose money. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) also seems to have been some of the causes. The last resort bonds of the now defunct Credit Suisse bank, a new property for UBS now, AT1, were not paid in the settlement. Apparently, folks (hedge funds) were buying the bonds up at a deep discount expecting to get a payoff when the bank collapsed, but no money this time. Many rich folks are yelling about SVB and now Credit Suisse and how the bondholders of AT1 should be paid. The central banks are not paying the carpet baggers. Makes me smile.

I saw the Fed Ex truck turn around and got a message I had a delivery. Nothing. I checked the photo. My package was delivered next door–growl. I went next door and got my package from their porch. The box, with my name and correct address, was my new electronic parts. I was hoping the 4″ speakers would work for my next project, but luckily I have 3″ speakers on the way.

Now that I had my delivery. I headed to Susie’s place in Air Volvo after having a breakfast of liberal coffee (it tastes better today–defaulting bank bonds go with Equal Exchange coffee), some leftover Irish soda bread, and a banana. Susie had finished her breakfast and napped in her assigned recliner in the shared space in the living room. Judge Judy was on the TV. We called Leta, but she was driving, so we waited ten minutes for her to call us back. We watched a 2017 episode of the show. Leta called, now home, and she and Susie had a pleasant chat. They can see each other as we use FaceTime on my iPhone. It was cold and clear in Michigan, she told us. We covered our gray-on-gray wet weather. But, as always happens on a workday, I could only stay a short while and left with a kiss and a promise to return on Tuesday.

The trip back to the house was uneventful. Once at the Volvo Cave, I reheated my boiled dinner; I still had corned beef left with the fixings. So I ate that while at my office in the house. Work went on slowly, and I had a meeting at 3PM that went over. The day finally ended at 4-5.

I decided to make no-seafood jambalaya from a box. First, I chopped up my nearly expired kielbasa from Olympic Provisions, some of their ham, and some corned beef (I made a large brisket on St. Patrick’s Day). I fry this in some oil in the big pan until brown and starting to stick a bit. I then added some garlic (the Pope), and after that cooked a bit, I added a can of fire-toasted stewed tomatoes. I prefer the Mexican-style strewed tomato with green peppers and spices, but these are good too. Next, I stir in the seasoned rice from the box. Next, I add two cups of boiling water from the kettle. I bring that to a boil (that takes no time) and then cook for twenty minutes on low.

It was great, not missing the shrimp, and I watched the latest Mandalorian episode while overeating. The next episode had two parts, and I was surprised and unhappy with it–no spoilers. This new season is strange.

After that, I headed to Wildwood Taphouse. I went the way of the gas station, filling the empty tank (over 17.3 gallons–fumes) as I was holding out for gas under $4 here ($4.09, remember no sales tax). There I bought the gas and then realized I had forgotten my phone, and returned home for it. I still decided to head to Wildwood Taphouse and discovered the excellent people paid $50 ahead on my tab. Thus I am drinking for free.

I am writing the blog and just finished my first small glass of something dark and bitter, like my previous week.



Today 19March2023

The morning started with me moaning as the alarm on my phone rang at 7:00; ugh. I was finally moving around 8ish–enjoying my covers until then. I was up and writing and having breakfast after unloading and loading the dishwasher. And despite the good efforts of bug-man, the ants were back in the kitchen–the invaders were executed without delay. Breakfast was leftover boiled dinner and a slice of corned beef. A bit heavy, but so good. The Saturday blog is always long, and I hate to rush it (over 1,400 words), so I wrote for hours. I finally showered, dressed, and made a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. Which was a bit much with breakfast. Next, I boarded Air Volvo and made the trip to Susie’s place in Portland (Tigard) at 9925 SW 82nd. Ave. Portland (Tigard), OR 97223; phone (503) 246-4116.

Susie was long finished with a late breakfast, skipping lunch as usual and resting in her recliner in the shared space that is the living room. There was a Hallmark movie on. Susie and I called Leta, Susie’s mother, from the recliner using my iPhone and FaceTime to see each other. Leta had just made cookies for a church event, a concert for an Opera Ph.D. student at Grace UMC in Lansing, Michigan, giving her final event for her Ph.D. Grace UMC uses MSU students for its music program and often supports students in various points of their process–such as the final concert for a degree. Leta said her cookies were perfect but would have to be delivered while MSU played in the finals today. Leta loves basketball and March Madness (MSU won tonight).

After the call, with hopefulness for an MSU victory, Anassa, the nursing aide for the weekends, took Susie to her room and arranged Susie in her bed. Susie listened with me sitting next to her to Peter, Paul, and Mary on Alexa (we have the music, everything). Susie listened and sang along, with me singing a bit here and there (though I would suspect many would call it more controlled croaking–I am terrible). I also bought some electronic components on AdaFruit’s website (I need their excellent low-voltage mics) while sitting beside Susie using my Apple laptop. I also bid on a ruined tube radio on eBay for another project (others want a radio, and I can continue to improve my design and software).

Susie was uncomfortable and was rolled on her side, and she napped now. I continued to read stuff on my laptop and stayed busy. By 3:30, I was getting sleepy, so I kissed Susie goodbye and left her in Louis’, the early evening nursing aide–he lives there too, hands.

I heard a friend was in the ER (no details here) and was concerned. I thus missed David and Michelle’s text that they were headed to see Susie. I spotted it and turned around.

Susie was surprised to have guests again, and Jennifer (helping her husband Louis) got Susie in her wheelchair. David and Michelle visited and brought a nice happy flower. We had a wonderful visit and chatted about many things. Susie was thrilled to have guests. We talked, by iPhone, with Cat, their daughter living in NYC. The Smiths and Natash and Jason will be in NYC in the first week of April.

After that, we headed out, and I drove across Beaverton, without incident, to Nonna Emilia for dinner. I waited thirty minutes for a seat in the bar (lucky I checked in as they apparently called my name instead of calling me) and had a great dinner of homemade sausages with green peppers and onions–going old school. A salad and pasta made it all great. I had coffee with dinner after having Lambrusco wine (extra sweet and cheap, so 1980s) and a shot of amaretto for dessert.

I wrote the blog after dinner.

Thanks for reading.

Today 18March2023: Saturday, more typical

Saturday ended with me pulling into the driveway in Air Volvo. I took my meds and finished the small portion of hash I had made that morning to have some food to go with my meds. After that, I went right to bed after midnight. The day had been more typical of my current life options, a relief.

I had dropped Kathleen at her house on the easter edge of Portland in Milwaukie. My trip from her home to the Volvo Cave was uneventful, and I used the usual roads, with the traffic speeding at 70+ and slow at 55- making for some exciting lane changes. And it sounds cliché, but the minivans are in the right lane going slow while pickups and more sporting cars are flying by in the left. I only see this at night in the Portland area.

The weather today, not what was in the forecast, was dry and sunny in the seventies (according to a wildly inaccurate reading in Air Volvo). A near-perfect day with the daffodils almost ready. My tulips, still an undiscovered country for the squirrels, are a week away, at least.

The flooding in my backyard continued through the day as one of my neighbors was likely pumping out the water under their house. The pond was headed to a lake but was nearly gone when I returned home late, the flow finally stopping. The backyard has rocks and a French Drain (i.e., a shallow open ditch, if you like, lined with stones), and thus the water will flow to the next house and through the backyards until reading the creek. Unfortunately, my neighbors have built structures in the path of the water and get unhappy when Oregon does wet.

Somedays, I get an irate neighbor who explains that their stuff is getting water. I show them my little flooded corner, three or more inches deep with water with nothing built on it, and tell them, “the water must flow.” I try to say it like I am in the Dune movie or story (“The spice must flow!“). I remind them that their land has a drainage right-of-way in the deed. I strongly suggest they learn to live with the water and let it flow. I did try to plant cranberries in my flooded corner once–the heat burned them up. I might try again.

Continuing the narrative backward, I was in Portland at Richard’s house to play board games. It was just the three of us (me, Richard, and Kathleen) who took on the Kickstarter game On Mars. This is not a favorite for Kathleen or me as the game is loaded with a dozen scoring systems, all different. It also provides five or more (I lost count) resource types that all work and score (!) differently. Thus you need some stuff you can build on mars (represented on the play map), but you need the tech to do them and the blueprints. Then you need to run your factories. Then the workers, yes, worker placement, too, are required. Then the game is bifurcated by you either running in-orbit options or being on Mars and doing work available only on the planet. There is a rocket taxi you have to time right to travel between. The game is an excellently combined stew of about a dozen worker placements, card systems, and resource management–but a bit heavy and hard to learn. In other words, an overbuilt Kickstarter game like TimeMachine, Lisboa, and Scythe.

Richard’s score buried us. Kathleen understood the scientist mechanic and crushed me as I purchased no scientists, but Richard, who tracks this, said it was my best score. It took us the whole evening to play, and we left near 11PM (having started about 6:30).

On Mars theme is that we are different groups (players) trying to help build a station on mars, thus the name. The player wins who runs the group that best supports and expands the stations and technology. The end of the game happens with the various events caused by the players thematically finishing the station.

Richard wants to play the On Mars add-on (more Kickstarter) with the Martians fighting back, Saturday’s game being a practice to relearn the game. Next Saturday, we, Kathleen not available, will try On Mars again, but with Martians.

Before this, I was at the Aloha, Oregon, taphouse, and food joint, The 649. Evan joined me there, and we had a few drinks while playing a game of Vindication. I have described this game often in this blog, so just a short note. This worker placement and resource management game has a randomly discovered board and wildly different resources collected and constantly interacting to build a Eurogame-styled engine. The theme is that you are a scumbag thrown overboard for your sins, washed up on a beach, and found by your first companion. You will try to vindicate yourself and gain honor. The player with the most honor wins.

We had to revise our play after I discovered we had been too loose with a few things, and Evan chafes from missing his favorite choices. Richard has bought into Vindication, and he and I relearned the rules together and discovered some restrictions I was not using. I also have reset back to the basic game except using the promos in my set of cards (Richard plays only the original set of cards–no promos, and it is interesting to play his game as I feel like I am in a time machine).

I won by twenty points and went with my primary approach to the game. Each companion has some superpowers, so I try to get four or so; usually, one or two of the companions will have something great. Next, I now (having been crushed by Richard in a game) always get Knowledge and Strength companions. The Knowledge attribute in the game can be used to improve Potential to Influence and to make other greater attributes for the acquisitions of Relics, for example. The Strength attribute allows you to increase your speed for a bucket of honor points, and this upgrade can be done multiple times with just one visit. I Vindicate soon in the game and then can generate the Inpiration attribute without a companion. On other things, I never fight a Monster without Conviction, and I use the empowered draw to avoid cursed items (I have all those promo black cards now).

I played carefully and stuck to my usual approach. The board was never thoroughly explored when the game ended when I took another scoring token. I won, as I said.

Before heading to The 649, Evan and I met at Susie’s place in Portland (Tigard) at 9925 SW 82nd. Ave. Portland (Tigard), OR 97223; phone (503) 246-4116. Susie was just finishing eating as I got there a bit late, approaching noon on the clock. We then headed to Metzger Park next door, as it was a lovely day. We stopped at the first bench, sitting in the warm and bright sunlight, and called Susie’s mother, Leta, on my iPhone using FaceTime. They had a friendly chat.

I forgot to take a photo today, sorry.

Susie was getting cold, even with the blanket we got from Air Volvo, and soon we were back in the hummingbird house. Susie was placed in her bed to keep her arm safe and to ensure she did not fall from her rocking chair, the usual choice. We cannot afford another injury and more bleeding! I put on Disney’s Princess and the Frog, one of my favorites. I was the only one who stayed awake. I love the music.

I left with a kiss to head to The 649 (already mentioned), with Susie being sleepy but sad to see me go. Susie was slow, and her voice harder to follow. Susie was exhausted Saturday.

Moving the narrative to the start of the day, I started Saturday at about 8ish, still sleeping later from last week’s time change, and spent the morning writing the blog and making breakfast. First, I chopped up 1/2 a green pepper and 1/2 of the onion I had left from previous cooking. Next, I sliced up a couple of boiled potatoes from yesterday’s boiled dinner and cut up two slices (including the end piece) of corned beef. I fried this in a pan with just a dash of oil and made hash for breakfast (and later a snack, as I mentioned)–no spices or salt. I got busy writing and almost burned my breakfast, but I managed to save it, and the slightly over-browned onions worked.

The writing and cooking made me a bit late, but Susie was running late, too–so it worked out.

Before boarding Air Volvo, I discovered the pond forming (as described before) in the backyard and, just wearing my robe and slippers, went out to investigate. I found the pond was expanding, and the stream that was coming downhill from a neighbor. I was initially worried, but after forming a lovely pond, the water flowed downhill to the next yard. The water must flow!

I dressed and did the usual things, including finishing some laundry I started on Friday.

I am trying to find a normal again after the messy week. I am trying to slow down a bit.

Thanks for reading.

Story 17March2023: St. Patrick’s Day 2023 and BTW

St. Patrick’s Day was also a back-to-work day for me. I started with the alarm waking me at 7ish and getting started with coffee, Equal Exchange, made in my French Press. I also had a banana and some slices of Irish Soda Bread I made the day before from a King Arthur Flour mix. I cut a few extra pieces and put them in plastic bags to take to the hummingbird house.

My first meeting was a staff meeting. As much is going on in the project, the meeting ran long. The status meetings have now halted, so I had no meetings until the afternoon. I was busy reading emails, news, and Slack channel updates to get caught up again.

This is Susie’s flower at the house. She looks for it every year.

I skipped excises and got dressed later in the morning after showering. I collected the bedding and got that in the washing machine–Friday is laundry day. I noticed light flooding in the backyard–one of my neighbors is pumping out their crawl space, the only reason to see this, into the French Drain in the back. This is new, and soon a small pond forms in my backyard. The birds like it. Yes, there are droughts, and here in the Pacific Coast areas, we have more water than we need.

Dressed, dishes were done, laundry started, and Zoom meetings attended–it was time to see Mrs. Wild. Air Volvo had no trouble reaching the hummingbird house on a perfect 63F (17.2C) sunny and dry day. One huge truck roars its engine from behind me, passes me on the right, then drives through a red light. I could not reach the speed limit as the cars were all going slow, which upset the truck’s driver. Unfortunately, there are no cameras at that intersection.

Reaching Susie’s place, I gave the soda bread to Jennifer, the live-in and weekday nursing aide, and discussed cooking corn beef for St. Patrick’s Day. This was a new experience for Jennifer. Susie waited for me to finish talking to Jennifer and was thrilled to see me. She agreed to head outside to the park. Susie was already in a green sweatshirt, and we decided that just a blanket would be enough.

The parking spots for the park had just been recovered with crushed stone, and the stone had not settled yet into the mud. I had to push Susie through the broken rocks, which was more accessible today, but I had to pop the wheels onto the park cement walkway as the light gravel settled, leaving me a slight 1/4-inch stop to jump. After seeing me pop the wheels, the park guy put lighter gravel there. I suspect he will get replacement fine gravel there in a few weeks once the heavy crushed stone settles more.

We stopped at the first bench because it was unused, and the warm sun covered the area. We called Susie’s mother on my iPhone using FaceTime so they could see each other. Susie and Leta chat pleasantly (I added a few comments here and there). The wind was not as cold or pronounced on Friday, making the park pleasant.

There were dog walkers and folks playing basketball. A mother and her small daughter were trying out using the tennis courts (not in use) for a game of frisbee. I noticed quite a few cedars are cut; apparently, they are dying, but many are still healthy, yet it is sad to see them go.

Soon Susie was getting cold, and I had to return to work at the house office, so we headed back into the hummingbird house that adjoins Metzger Park. Susie was sad to have me leave, but I went with a kiss and a promise to return on Saturday to watch a movie together (and to see the park as the forecast was wrong, and it is, at the time of the writing, another sunny day on Saturday).

I returned by way of Safeway. I picked up a corn beef brisket, cabbage, carrots, and other items. I started the boiling process for the corned beef and put a frozen pizza in the oven. I was ravenous. I had a Zoom meeting and ate a rushed lunch. I followed along as it was Friday; there are few crises of the moment on Friday, remarkably light when we are not running data conversions (they start again soon). I continued heading back to the kitchen, mopping up spilled water when I ignored the boiling pot during the meeting; oops.

By 5:30, I was baking the corned beef, fatty side up, and adding the cabbage to the hot water. Dinner was excellent, with the beef being less oily and ready for sandwiches and other uses.

After eating food and working for the first time in a week, I was tired. So I rested for a while. I did wash the heavy blanket too from the bed. After that, I read and nodded off.

It was too early to sleep, and soon I was back up, did more laundry, and returned to my electronics. My speaker set worked, but I needed to attach a microcontroller to complete my design. The whole is the set of electronics to do everything but the radio. I was considering using an AdaFruit Gemma. I had a few, and they were cheap and run in C. Unfortunately, I forgot I had trouble attaching to them from my Apple M1 laptop and re-experienced that frustration again. So I returned to my original plan: Arduino Pro.

I returned to the paper box and mounted stand-offs (I have a nice kit of brass ones) for the power board. The board provides regulated 5V from a LiPo battery and charges from a micro-B USB cable. I will let that run when plugged in to always have a charge in the LiPo; the radio that will match this design will thus work without power and will always be charging. I have to use a hard switch from the power board. I ran lines from the powerboard through the power switch (for power) to a mainframe board, a solder version of a breadboard (supplied as a gift for larger orders from AdaFruit). One side of the mainframe is 5V from the powerboard and ground. The other power is regulated 3.3V from the Arduino Pro (3.3V version) with a shared ground.

I made stand-offs for the Arduino, and as this is the thru-hole version, soldered it into the speaker box. Power from 5V and then lines out to create the 3.3V rail on the mainframe. Next, I attached a potentiometer (a nob) to read the settings with the Arduino using a 10K (I am testing whether I can use this or need a lower resistance version for 3.3V). I also attached the needle meter to the Arduino, and it read the hard code setting I put in the initial program for the Arduino–the RC filter is working!

I tested it all, attached all the boards to stand-ons, and grouped the wires to reduce the rat nest look. It tested out, and I used it to play music from my Apple. Perfect. I can use a standard audio jack to connect to these new speakers.

I need to write and upload the code to the Arduino Pro to read the nob and move the needle to match. Later I will control the needle by listening to a mic to make it bounce with the sound, but I have to buy a new mic breakout from AdaFruit in NYC.

With that success, I went to bed, after remaking the bed, and read until I started to fall asleep.

Thanks for reading.



Story 16March2023

Today would be Grandma Wild’s 111 birthday.

(picture is from 2006 at First Congregational Church, Laingsburg, Michigan, Lee (Bell) Wild)

Here is a scanned 1965 Christmas photo with Linda (my younger sister and best sister) with Great Granddad Ed holding her, a young Lee holding me, Great Grandma Ruby standing over us all, and dad, Bob Wild, dressed as Santa. Linda and Ed have the same birthday and enjoyed joint parties for years.

The day started with me getting going at 8AM, waking just a few times and late. I was still exhausted last night. I felt better, but I was determined to go slow. I made a breakfast of liberal Fair Exchange brand coffee in my French Press with a banana and two corn muffins I made the day before. I spent the whole morning writing as I started over once. I had trouble finding my voice today, and my spelling and punctuation were terrible this morning.

After 11AM, I boarded Air Volvo to see Susie at the hummingbird house. The traffic on a Thursday was the worst I have seen this week. I managed to get there after noon, and Susie was delighted to see me.

We headed outside in the sunny and dry Metzger Park, which was unexpected in March in Oregon. Usually, the grey is so bad it seems like twilight all day, and the rain is constant–not this year. The park was lovely, and we called Leta from there. Leta has finished her repairs to her house; no more mice and raccoons. She hopes it will be warmer now that the insulation is replaced in the ceiling. Leta was excited to see Susie outside and enjoy the sunny Oregon day (with an icy wind).

Next, coming back inside, we watched the movie Tourist as Jolie got the last word. It is a fun movie and has some unexpected turns. Jolie is just perfect throughout the whole film. Susie stayed awake the entire time.

At 3:45 or so, I was ready to return home. Susie had missed me yesterday and was not prepared for me to head home, but she relented. No tears today, but concern. I promised a short visit on Friday (back to work for me). I tucked Susie in and got her safe (crash pad in place), and left with a kiss.

I stopped by the hobby shop, gray undercoat paint, and the cleaners to pick up my now-shortened pants. I arrived after 4PM. The mail contained a $1 refund of an overpayment to an Rx we used to use when Susie was at Forest Grove. I hate it when they send me checks back–such a waste when they should bill me correctly the first time.

Next, I headed to BJ’s Brewhouse and had a steak to celebrate my feeling better. There I wrote this blog.

Thanks for reading.