Blog

Daily Blog July 28, 2021: Wednesday

Working backward, I started to read Fresh Brewed Murder by a local author and set in a coffee cart in Portland. So far, it is adorable, but I expect it to hit Portland Weird any moment as the murder is somewhere after page 21, where I am now. I like it, and it reminds me of other West Coast writers. The words and story could be Seattle or in foggy San Francisco, but it is set on a rainy July day in Rose City.

I started to read after coming home with Susie in Air Volvo from the Golden Valley Brewery, where I had a steak salad. Mariah matched me and shared a 1/2 Wine Wednesday Bottle of a Malbec from Argentina. Susie had a ham and cheese that was as good as one can make a ham and cheese.

But, before getting home after dinner, Air Volvo signaled a low tire; yes, it monitors pressure on all the tires. I asked Air Volvo to recheck (using the touch screen to recheck), and it discovered the tires are fine. However, temperature changes can trick Air Volvo into a false read–I remember the previous Volvo getting the same warning on a cold day and me soaking wet putting air in the tires. I will be eyeing the tires and will have them checked when Air Volvo visits the Mother Ship in August. I always have my vehicles served and detailed in August, right after Nike bonus checks come out. My cars always seem to detect the bonus, and service lights come on, or they stop running. The cars can smell the bonus.

Dinner was nice, and Susie and I were the only ones with masks on getting into the restaurant. We were sitting outside, so there is no real risk.

The shoe company’s last meeting for me today was an all-employee Zoom meeting with thousands of folks listening to the CEO and some of the other folks that run Nike. Their focus was, as you can guess, the Olympics. So it was mostly a cheering meeting for our last earning (95% improvement!) and for the Olympics, which was nice, but we just re-org’d, and we are all trying to understand the changes.

Before this was more alignment meetings, and I took a short break.

Lunch was lamb kebobs at Gyro House and then a quick trip to Barnes and Nobles for an electronic magazine and another book on New Orleans. I am still considering a trip there, but air-flights are expensive (first class for Susie). Barnes and Nobles still do not have my fav wargaming mags. I asked, and they said the UK mags are just starting to come back. Maybe next month.

While at Gyro House I did get a few more paragraphs done of Howard’s Unlock story. I also corrected some wooden and confused writing. It is always relaxing to tell a story about Howard even if just to myself. I hope to find some time to spend a few hours advancing the story more. I also still have to edit some of his stories. Editing and reworking are never done!

The morning was Zoom meetings. I was trying to write a few slides on some architecture I am suggesting while listening to status and alignment meetings in the morning. I try to help and give some advice and follow along. However, I hate it when I get a question that I missed, and I have to ask them to repeat it. I don’t want to be that guy. I pay attention.

The morning started at 6:45ish as I wanted to get going.

Mister Lincoln flowered again. I love these red roses!

I had a meeting, unexpected, at 9:30 so I am late now writing this.

Later tonight, Emmeline Duncan, the author of Fresh Brewed Murder, tweeted me back after I tweeted that I liked the book so far. She was happy to learn I bought it at Powell’s. She signed it on Saturday! I am following her now and joined her newsletter. It is so exciting to read a murder mystery from a local writer that tweets back!

Getting late so I will stop there.

Daily Blog July 27, 2021: Tuesday

I started this morning at 7ish and read email and Slack messages. I got ready in time for the weekly meeting at 8:00. I then went for another three hours of Zoom meetings on mostly the status and alignment of some software changes.

I then skipped out, I meant to send out an email that I was out for a few hours, but I did not hit send on it (?!). I was done about 10ish with the morning stuff and wanted to walk. But the coughing was driving me crazy. So I instead headed to Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossings Mall in Beaverton. I walked around for a few hours, trying to get the kinks out of my legs and back. I found a few books, A New Orleans Travel book and Fresh Brewed Murder (a new author writing mysteries in Portland, and the book is signed), that I could not resist.

I also wanted to do some research for my stories on Howard, but the book I was looking for, not normal fare for a Kindle, was not on the shelf: 666 Crowley. I wanted to read more about this “wickedest man in the world” and self-proclaimed “Beast 666.” I ordered it when I got home for pick-up. Another excuse to head back to our local Powell’s.

The store had a mix of masked and unmasked customers and staff. Everyone was respectful and kept their distance. It was Tuesday morning, and the store was not busy. Half the folks in the stacks were employees. The online business has been going strong, and the employee I spoke to said they were happy to be busy and seeing healthy sales for the Cedar Hills Crossing store.

I then headed to Pastini, an Italian food chain, but this one is usually perfect. I was in about 11:30ish, and only a few folks were ahead of me. The one waiter, Rachel, was trying to look happy and bright as she had all the tables. There was, as usual, a manager delivering food and one person greeting and handling to-go chaos, which is the new lifeline for the surviving restaurants. I saw another waiter start about noon. I thanked Rachel for her handling all the tables. “Thanks, most people don’t even notice,” was her response before rushing off more orders to the kitchen.

My lunch, only $11 plus $2.50 for extra garlic bread, was a bit salty–there was a lot of pancetta in it. However, it was still good, just more meat than I expect in a Carbonara dish. As usual, I had a Tiramisu packaged for Susie to-go.

I returned home and offered Susie Tiramisu for her breakfast (she was tired and had trouble getting going this Tuesday). Susie had that with coffee, fair-trade liberal coffee where you pay extra to support the rain forests. She continued then to watch game shows and then the Olympics. Finally, I returned to work for a few more hours of Zoom calls. I managed to catch up without much difficulty.

Work finished about 4ish for me, and I made dinner. I defrosted the Angus burgers from Schwann’s and fried them in some butter (a sin). I drained off the fat with a spoon and fried them until a bit brown. I then added a slice of cheddar cheese to melt over the burgers. I steamed some frozen corn, Schwann’s, and served the burger just as it was with corn. It is a very American midwest meal. I wanted something smaller after the Italian for lunch. Susie was happy and even said it was good (high praise from her, the former food service manager, and retired registered dietician).

It is Christmas in July for many sales, so I turned to Once in Royal David’s City in the Methodist Hymnal and thought it would be good for today.

Daily Blog Monday July 26, 2021: Normal Work

Strange to log back on to the shoe company computer at 7ish this morning. I took off the weekend and did not log in on Saturday and Sunday; I am sorry to admit that this was my first free weekend in six weeks. I was rushed as I had a 7:30 meeting, but I was shinny and all clean and ready in time.

I did manage some sleep last night, so it was easier to start today. Unfortunately, the four hours of Zoom meetings in the morning set me back a bit and had me yawning again. But I managed to keep interested and had three days of items to read in email and messages to keep my attention all morning.

Susie had her normal Spa day and was ready and out the door at 9ish. Her toes nails are all nicely painted gold. She is wearing the new Pink Nike sandals she picked up last week with now golden toes. Her driver always takes her to McDonald’s, and she gets her fav Happy Meal with apples.

Returning to Nike items, I discovered last year that I had a mistake in the settings of a tiny part of my retirement paperwork (worth $28), and I finally called to get it fixed between Zoom meetings. As I expected, I need to fill out a paper form. No mail address was provided. I was a bit surprised as I usually just drop this stuff in the mailbox with a stamp.

So when lunch came, I went to the UPS Store in the nearby strip mall and paid them to fax it. They still had limits on the number of people in the store, everyone still kept social distances, and there were screens at the cash registers. I felt OK there. It was $7 to fax it (remember it is for getting a fix on $28 of my retirement savings). Done!

Aloha Teriyaki is next door, and I got a Bento box to-go. A family runs this place. They have a few places to eat in. There is a screen to order food. Only the cook is wearing a mask. They are friendly and happy to see me, even in a mask. The food is always good. I am feeling safe, and everyone is careful.

I return to Air Volvo home with lunch as I wonder about spending seven dollars on fixing the twenty-eight dollar issue.

Work goes on for a while. I take a couple of breaks.  And then more Zoom filled hours of meetings. I stop about 5ish.

Mariah text me, and we agree to head for dinner at the Golden Valley Brewery, but we learned from Mariah, who got there first, that they are now closed on Mondays.  So we headed to The Rock Woodfire Baked Pizzas.

We are met by the manager at the door, who is excited to see us. No, he is really excited. He offers a handshake, but I tell him I am not ready for that. “No problem,” and we elbow bump. The restaurant is nearly empty. The staff I have not seen before and I have been there many times. I food delivery and table clearing people are clearly lost (and without masks). It takes a while to get our order in. The bartender is our waiter, even with three staff clearing and delivering food in a nearly empty place.

We are apparently on a training mission. We help them by being positive and clearly stating our orders. It takes three trips to get the four drinks delivered and three trips also to deliver the food. We clearly know more about The Rock than they do. We manage.

We brought super glue as requested, and I fail at repairing Mariah’s broken sunglasses.

The food was good, the staff managed, and we had a nice time together.

BTW: I was checking my 401K and the market today. My earnings on the 401K have expanded to more than 11% annualized. I was not expecting to break 10% this year, but here we are in July, already headed to another profitable year. My investments are a bit more conservative than I like but mostly follow the markets on cheap expense ratio indexes (Nike forces you into an age-based risk group of investments on your 401K–I did override my age to 35). I still have Nike shares in my 401K, giving me the benefits of Nike’s huge price run-up. Thusly, I have had another good year so far.

It was a sunny no-smoke day, over 90F. No rain. No rain for at least a week, and it will be 100+ on Friday.

I turned to a short hymn in the Methodist Hymnal and thought it would do: Father, We Praise Thee.

Weekend Blog July 24-25: First Weekend in a Month

This is the weekend blog covering Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday was a surprise to me as I awoke a few times, and poof, it was 10ish. I never sleep that late. I had a busy morning. I order bagels delivered. I had lox on my bagel. There is a dozen for next week. I will freeze them today. I then hooked up with Evan to play a few games and get lunch.

Susie got up, and I made her water, coffee, and some breakfast and had the TV running for her. Evan and then I took off and went to a Mexican place, Tapatio and Mexican Restaurant, and then the 649 Taphouse.

I was still tired (and the Margarita at Tapatio) made it just a one-game day. I won Lost Ruins of Arnak by just a few points. We then ordered a tray and a light beer. We just relaxed a bit.

We picked up a McDonald’s Happy Meal for Susie with Apples. Susie had a dinner-lunch while Evan and I took a break. I had a sore foot. I stepped on a gum tree pricker ball from the trees in front of my house on Thursday night, putting out the trash. I know better than to walk without shoes in the dark–but not that night. A little bush surgery and the sticker was out of my foot, and I got off my feet for an hour.

We went to the movie Snake Eyes. My card for Regal theaters had three free movie tickets on it, to my surprise, and thus we just paid for popcorn, candy, and drinks. The staff is unmasked now, but they keep their distance. The crowd was only about ten people.

It is hard to imagine that this is neither a Marvel or DC adventure film. This is the GJ Joe universe. I have always had a weak spot for their cartoons and movies. They are just fun. This was a new idea for GJ Joe movies; this was an origin story of the Ninja Joe Snake Eyes. It was fun and a mix of a Yakuza and a Marvel-style movie, including superpowers granted by an artifact. The main character is too flawed and dishonest in most of the movie, and this drags this to an average at the best movie with excellent sword fights and special effects. Susie liked the girls in the movie and the older matriarch who only fights with a fan but was lost for most of the movie. Ninja’s wear black, making tracking of the protagonists slightly difficult. The acting was better than most of these cookie-cutter toy-to-cartoon-to-movie films.

The new Baroness with shoes, four-inch heels with platforms, steals a few scenes. She is also given the last word in the movie. A sequel is thus born!

Sleep that night, Evan leaving for home after the movie, was hard to come by. I could not sleep, and the pain in my legs and my allergies just made it hard to relax. So I finally took Tylonal at 1:30ish and slept.

I started again at 8ish and got going in time to get Susie to church with me. Before that, I cleaned up and disassembled my 3D printer. I had a misprint on the Saturn V rocket. You must clean up and reset when that happens.

The rocket moved while printing and did not print straight as the previous one. I am not sure if it was the temperature or vibrations.

I discovered the plastic in the tray that holds the resin is damaged. I must have scratched it when cleaning the tray. I have ordered replacements from Hong Kong (free shipping). I also discovered that a resin drip had run under the tray and glued the LCD to the tray. Yikes. I managed to get the plastic to release without damaging the printer LCD. I moved it slowly in many different directions to get the release (the plastic is 95% transparent and made to release UV hardened resin). Previously Corwin ripped the LCD out of the printer, trying to release the tray. I acquire replacement parts and rebuilt the printer. Apparently, Corwin was not the first person to have this issue.

I washed the printer and the tray with alcohol and let it try overnight. The process also involves pour the tank into a filter and recovering the unused resin. I managed to spill it here and there. I had to clean up the floor of the garage. I have recovered 80% or so of the resin.

I will resume printing this week. I can avoid the issue in the tray until I get a fix.

I put on a Disney movie for Susie and rested.

Next, I bought groceries and then went back for rice that I forgot. Then, I made a new recipe for One-Pot Japanese Curry Chicken and Rice. Susie liked it, but the kitchen does like a bomb went off in it. So, I have to clean that up after finishing this.

We watched Independence Day the movie while eating.

Now I have to stop writing and do the dishes!

Daily Blog July 23, 2021: First Day Off in a month

Sorry but this has to be this Saturday morning as I played three games at Richard’s house last night and then finished a 3D printing of a rocket for Space Race. I also started a Saturn V printing after finally angling the print so it would fit my printer.

Working backward, I got home just after midnight. I found my 3D printer was done with the rocket model for the newly arrived Kickstarter version of Space Race. The makers of the game released the 3D printing files for the rocket models. I want to paint the rockets, but getting a spare set makes it less of a risk.

I then carefully dismounted the print for the printer. The resin is toxic, so a mask, eye protection, and gloves are required. I then washed the model with alcohol. As the unhardened resin is toxic, I save the alcohol for next time.

I then cut the supports away; these are generated by the software that turns the design file into a printing file with snippers. These are one of my Xuron tools. They make stuff that always works–recommended.

I then, again with eye protection for UV, use a UV lamp to harden the print. Lightly sand a few spots, and paint it.

After that, I get the Saturn V printing. Ten hours as it takes all the heights.

Richard and I and Shana played Space Race together. This is the newest game in my collection, and it has been hard to learn. However, Richard thinks we will really like it once we get it down. I am hoping so as it was a long wait, and I invested in the full version. In this game, you play different space agencies, and you collect capabilities for your agency while supporting research and compete for breakthroughs. The game is card play building a set of winning cards and some placement of workers. It has nice art and cool rocket models.

Richard and I fought on for two more games. We played 7 Wonders Duel again. I scored better this time, but I missed the purple cards. Next time! This is a nearly pure resource management game with cards, money, and a few markers. It plays fast, and the rules are easy to follow. I did build four of the great wonders!

This version of the 7 Wonders game is the short two-person only version. Last weekend we played the full version with more players. Richard told me he likes the original better. This is fast, but you have to make decisions over and over. I like that.

Lastly, a new game for me. This one is a standalone version of Terraforming Mars: The Ares Expedition, but a different, faster, and less deep coverage of the same material. It was easy to learn, and Richard crushed me, but I did a least scare him in the start as I pulled ahead at first. I would say if you like a quicker game with the same theme, this is a good choice. If you love the original, this might now work for you. I thought it was an amazing rework of the original into a lighter and faster game.

Before this, I went to Wendy’s and got Susie a small chili and a frosty. She was still resting when I left for Richard’s. The traffic was a bit interesting, and it took me 45 minutes to get to Richard’s house. A bit slower.

I had taken the day off from the shoe company. I started on a project, a speaker-building project, but I was shocked to find I am missing some parts. So I decided to get the 3D printer going. I spent the day cleaning and setting up, and printing. It took a while as I had to remember how to do all of this 3D model splitting and update my software.

I could not sleep last night and started my day at 5AM. I did the laundry and picked up the house a bit. Then, I went and took a nap a few times as I was still tired.

I have to rush again this morning; I slept into 10:15ish! That is about all I have time for.