Sunday, May 31, 2020

#StayHome Days 70-73 The best of times and the worst of times

We are still very content staying home. We walk around the neighborhood for exercise, and I hike up and down the stairs when my fitbit buzzes at me to move. 

Sign of the times - face mask at the ready

My Book
I'm working diligently on my Google Photos book. I hit a roadblock one day. The one where I think I can't do this, there's too much, it's too hard, I'll never get it done, I should write better, who am I to write this book, I should give up and wait for someone else to do it. But I persevered, first I took the evening off and drank more wine 🍷, the next day I kept my nose to the grindstone and succeeded at not drinking any wine, just to prove I could, and I focused on just one chapter - the Sharing chapter. 
I think this will be a good book.

I am so lucky that I live in the best restaurant in town. Jim is still making delicious, healthy meals every day. In addition to being a computer geek, he is a cooking geek. He uses a Sous Vide to cook the steak. That's a device where you seal the steak in a plastic bag and immerse it in water. The Sous Vide device gets the water to the specified heat and you program it for the proper temperature to make the steak rare, medium, well-done - however you like it. It cooks the steak perfectly, through and through. Not rare in the middle and well-done on the outside. It takes a bit of time because it's low and slow, a couple hours maybe, but it's no work - he sets it and forgets it till it dings that it's done. Then he takes it out to his Kamado Joe grill with special charred wood instead of charcoal to finish it off. He also has an Instant Pot, and an Air Fryer, but they weren't used for this meal.


We did give Jim a break one day, we broke down and ordered pizza online, oops Jim slipped and clicked on the chocolate lava cake as well. The Dominos website shows you when the pizza goes into the oven, when it comes out, and when it's in the car for delivery. We ordered at 5:42 and it was promised by 6pm. That seems awfully fast. We figured it would probably be more like one hour. Jim started getting irritable when we passed the hour point and still hadn't heard anything. It was delivered at 6:50, and it wasn't very hot. But, the air fryer fixed that. I think Jim prefers to cook instead of going thru the aggravation. I do like the thin and crispy crust Pacific Veggie pizza though. I didn't like the chocolate lava cake at all. 😋

Space Launch
For being stuck at home and having nothing going on in our lives, it was amazing how exhausted I felt by the end of the day Saturday with all that was going on in the news. First - the good stuff - Spacex and Nasa's first manned rocket launch in over 9 years. It was so emotional - both Jim and I were crying as we watched that massive rocket rise up above the flame, take to the sky ... and make it. Then the unimaginable feat of the Rocket coming back to earth and sticking the landing on a drone ship named "Of course I still love you". 
Memories flooded thru me. I remember being a 10 year old girl huddled around the TV with my parents in 1962 as the United States launched a man into orbit, then again in 1969 when we put a man on the moon. The wonder of it all, the feeling of invincibility, the proud knowledge that I lived in a country that could do this! Also the memory, in 1983, huddled around a TV at work to watch the Challenger launch with a teacher on board, and the horror of watching it blow up. My last space launch memory is in 1998 when Jim and I went to Cape Canaveral with our friends Chris and Richard to watch John Glenn go back into space on STS-95 when he was 77 years old. It was another tear-filled moment as we watched the rocket lift, then waited a few seconds to hear, and feel, the thunderous roaring sound. Our hearts were in our throats with the fear of seeing it blow up, then exuberation as it made it to orbit perfectly. 
All of these feelings combined as we watched the launch on TV this Saturday. Jim and I cried and cheered and poured some champagne.

Then ...
then ... with the TV still on, we started watching news of the riots in the streets protesting the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The video, played over and over again, of a police officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd's neck as he says, "I can't breathe." Reports say that the officer kept kneeling on his neck even after he became non-responsive. What? How is that possible? If it was necessary to take such extreme measures to subdue someone (and by all reports it was not) wouldn't any normal person be poised to let go as soon as possible? Reports are that the officer kept kneeling on him for nearly 3 minutes after he became non-responsive. 3 minutes is an eternity. How is that not cold-blooded murder? 
Then the protests began in Minneapolis, at first peaceful, then turning ugly, breaking windows, setting cars on fire. So horrible. Then came New York, Chicago, Los Angeles. Wow, this is historic. It's encouraging to see that many, if not most of the protesters are white. Could it be possible that this is a turning point in the country's history? We're on such a razor's edge though. Seeing protesters turn angry and facing rows of police with full military weapons, how does it not turn into a war? On the TV Saturday, the coverage was on protests in Miami. Crowds started at the Friendship tower downtown and walked thru the streets toward I-95. Then they streamed onto I-95 (the primary freeway in S Florida) and stopped traffic. What a sight. Many people in their cars, rather than being upset and trying to get through, got out of their cars and joined the protesters. Another very emotional sight. All very peaceful as far as we could see.

Bad News
5/27 Wednesday US Cases 1.73 million Deaths 102,000
5/28 Thursday US Cases 1.76 million Deaths 102,379
5/29 Friday US cases 1.78 million Deaths 104,000
5/30 Saturday US cases 1.81 Deaths: 105,000
More bad news: Riots in Minneapolis after police murder a black man: 'A riot is the language of the unheard': MLK's powerful quote resonates amid George Floyd protests

Good news
We have liftoff! Heart-stopping, Tear-jerking liftoff. And, even better was that the reusable Dragon Rocket stuck the landing on the drone barge.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

#StayHome days 67-69 Rain Rain Rain

Well, if it's gotta rain, it may as well do it when we're stuck at home. I was beginning to think about building an arc, or at least getting the kayaks out and ready. I think it rained for 5 days straight. And, I mean rain - not just drizzle but downpour.

Other than curtailing our daily walks, our life didn't change much although the rain may have enhanced the general melancholy feeling. 

On Sunday we had a Members only zoom meeting instead of our YouTube show - I asked 6 people to teach one of their favorite features of Google Photos - it was great. I'm quite proud that we have so many members of Geeks on Tour who are technology teachers themselves. They look to us to show them how it's done! I wanted them to know that the feeling is mutual - I learn from them too. 

Whether it's a show, or a member meeting on Sunday, I always feel justified in taking the rest of the day off. We have our traditional glass of champagne to celebrate our online session whether it went well or it bombed, then I can read or watch a movie, go for a walk, or just browse the web - whatever I feel like. 

Memorial Day
This was memorial day weekend - the start of summer. Fort Lauderdale beaches are still closed due to the virus and as I mentioned, it was raining. Not a very start-of-summer like day. Memorial Day always makes Jim think about the Pumpernickel. That was his family restaurant, a Jewish style deli run by a good catholic family, on the Jersey shore. 

He has many stories of those years when he worked so hard from Memorial Day to Labor Day, then closed up shop for the rest of the year. I've always thought that was the perfect lifestyle, so I love hearing his stories. This time his brain was cogitating on how he would handle business during a pandemic. He said, 
"I think we'd be alright. We already had a lot of takeout business, so we would just emphasize it. There was a big window on the parking lot side of the building that could easily be turned into a drive-up window, and we had a large patio with outside seating that we could promote." 

Chalk up another new experience that I'm sure will be mainstream even after this is all over - we had our first TeleMedicine doctor visit. It was just a routine checkup - "How are you? Any complaints? Are you social distancing?" Instead of driving for 20-30 minutes, sitting in a waiting room for 15-30, visit for 15-30 and driving home - a minimum hour and a half - it was just sit down at our computers and have the 15 minute visit. We did miss having breakfast at the Pomperdale's deli that is next door however.

More work on my book
I'm writing the sharing chapter this week. How to share your photos and videos with friends, family, or everyone. I'm tempted to say how glad I am that I've procrastinated so long because an important change to sharing just happened last week, so that will be in my book. But I can't celebrate to hard because you know as soon as the book is in print, there will be other changes. I've decided to deal with that in a couple of different ways

  1. Each chapter will have an associated Google Photos album. At the beginning of each chapter in the book, I'll have a QR code that can be scanned, and a short link that can be typed in, that takes the reader to that album. An album can contain text, diagrams, photos, and most importantly, videos - my tutorial videos. These will supplement the written content and, since it's just a Google Photos album, I can change it so easily. New videos to show new features. I especially like the concept that I'll be using Google Photos to teach Google Photos!
  2. For Geeks on Tour members, I will have the eBook available online. I'm experimenting with how to make the eBook available in such a way that I can make real-time additions and corrections and allow for comments and questions. I would probably use Google Drive to accomplish this.
Zoom call with Ann 
Another Zoom call - this one wasn't planned, it started out as a regular phone call but as we continued to talk, we decided to "meet." So I told her the meeting ID that we've set up for meetings with friends, and there we were!

Bad news
5/24 Sunday US cases-1.68 million. Deaths 98,011
5/25 Monday US cases- 1.69 million. Deaths 98,468
5/26 Tuesday US cases-1.71 million. Deaths 100,000 

Good News
Fort Lauderdale beaches opened up on Tuesday, meaning we will be able to go Kayak Diving as soon as the weather cooperates and we can gather enough energy!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

#StayHome days 64-66 Happy Hours

Thursday started early, at 7am, for our zoom meeting with Early Bird Toastmasters. I so love that the virtual meetings allow us to have people from near and far. That includes Jose from Madrid, Spain! What a rich experience.

We ordered groceries from Publix (delivered by Instacart) at 11 and they were delivered to our door at 1. Got grapefruit juice to go with the vodka we already had. Yum. Is anyone else drinking too much in these quarantine times?

Last week's happy hour with Kim and Don was so successful, we decided to try it with other friends. On Friday we had happy hour with Chris and Richard who live here in the same county, and while we were on the call we decided to see if we could add our mutual friend Debby who is out in California. It only took her a few minutes to get back to her computer and join us. How great is that?! The 5 of us haven't seen each other in about a year and a half. It took a pandemic to get us to try this!

Saturday we tried it again and had happy hour with Melinda and Laird in Nevada. Melinda and I have been good friends, like sisters, since 1979, but unless we are together in person, we rarely talk. Melinda is the only friend I know who dislikes the phone more than I do. She was with us for our New Zealand adventure last February and I don't think we've spoken even once since. So, I was shocked and surprised when she agreed to try a Zoom call and clicked the link at the given time, and there we all were. The experience is so much richer with the video, she even took us around her paddock with all her "critters!" 

Bad news

Thursday US Covid-19 cases 1.61 million, deaths 95,087
Friday cases 1.63 million, Deaths 96,276
Saturday Cases 1 66 million, Deaths 97,494

Good news

For the 5th time in 2 months we've ordered toilet paper in our grocery delivery. For the first time, today, it was in stock and delivered! We were down to our last roll.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

#StayHome days 59 - 63

Damn! How time is speeding by. With no travel to delineate time by location, I have no frame of reference. Just all of a sudden it's the end of the week. We did our YouTube show on Sunday, so that means that Saturday was preparing, Sunday was delivering, and Monday/Tuesday was writing notes and recapping. We also did our "Backstage" zoom meeting with Geeks on Tour members after the show. These are so cool. Our episode was back to basics with Google Photos. We had over 200 viewers at one point during the live show - that's a record for us. And, within 4 hours, the video had over 1,000 views. That's really a record. I still wonder if there was some kind of anomaly in that count. We usually have 300 or so in that amount of time, and many of our shows only have 400 views even a week later. I know Google Photos is popular, but ?? Here is Episode 191 on YouTube.

I love guacamole, and the avocados that Jim got from the Walmart order were perfect by Monday and Tuesday. And, the one thing we will always go to Walmart for is chips. Their hint of lime chips are the best. What a treat.

That's about it for the week. We've gone for our walk around the neighborhood most every day. We've also had a Zoom meeting just about every day, and I'm continuing to make progress on my Google Photos book. I'm especially excited about coming up with a strategy for adding videos and other dynamic info to the book. I'm making a Google Photos album for each chapter. The album will contain tutorial videos and text slides. Using Google Photos to teach Google Photos! Brilliant.

Bad news

Saturday Cases 1.5 million deaths 89,420
Sunday Cases 1.5 million 89,754
Monday cases 1.54 million deaths 90,694
Tuesday cases 1.56 million deaths 92,258
Wednesday cases 1.58 m deaths 93,806

Good News

Loved this story from NPR about how well different types of people got along when they were forced to be together at Hotel Corona Rough Translation NPR

And, you gotta check out this way of virtual travel. Control where you go virtually in Farrell islands tourism

Saturday, May 16, 2020

#StayHome Days 54-58 I feel busier than ever

I'm working in earnest on my Google Photos book this week. I've changed the introduction chapter 3 times! But I think I'm relatively settled on the chapter topics. Now I'm getting down to the details of writing and reviewing. Reviewing everything in the old version so as to delete what isn't valid any more, and writing about all the new features and changes in general. We skipped our YouTube show last week so we better do it this week. I've set the title to "What is Google Photos and how to use it" so I can stay on topic. Here is the link to the youtube show. Speaking of YouTube, our channel passed 6,000 subscribers this week. 

Venture out

I had a mammogram a while ago, and the results were inconclusive, so I had to schedule a follow up ultrasound. I postponed it once do to Covid-19 shutdown, but I didn't want to put it off too long. I know too many women who have had breast cancer and early detection is most important. I heard back in 2 days and it's still inconclusive - they believe it's just a benign cyst. So I'm scheduled again in 6 months. Any time I venture out of the house in this dark time, it's an experience. This office set up chairs outside, only 2 people in the waiting room. Everyone was wearing a mask.


It's a simple enough thing to do. We have a beautiful neighborhood with a road that goes around in a circle. The circle is just over a mile so it's a perfect walk. Why don't we do it every day? I can tell you that I was proud of us for walking twice on Tuesday. But then I have to admit that the second time was to get ice cream at the convenience store an extra block away. 

My Yeti

I think I mentioned in here that our Toastmasters club had a special meeting called "Tall Tales" last week. Making stuff up is not easy for me and I really wanted to do it. I was inspired by last week's speakers so I told my tale this week. Since we're on Zoom, the meetings are recorded and you can see my speech here. It's just over 7 minutes.


I'm done. I watched the final episode of Homeland. Wow. I really did like that show, and the ending was superb. I won't talk about it in case it would be a spoiler for you. But I'll just say it's worth it.

Phone battery running down

It's amazing how much I use my phone. It does everything for me. No, I don't talk on the phone. I can go days without a call, but I run all my streaming video from the phone, cast to the TV. I play music with it. I still take some photos, and I read my kindle books. I keep my todo lists with it and send and read email and Facebook. I definitely take it with me when we walk - I want credit for those steps! Unless my hands are on the computer keyboard they're on the phone. It's kind of like a TV remote - I am controlling what I see on TV with it most all the time.

Bad news

Mon Covid-19 cases 1.38 million Deaths 81,378
Tue Covid-19 cases 1.4 million deaths 83,019
Wed Covid-19 cases 1.42 million deaths 84,705
Thurs Covid-19 cases 1.44 million deaths 86,248
Fri Covid-19 cases 1.47 million Deaths 88,031
My God! 88 thousand deaths in this country in 2 months. I cannot wrap my head around that. For comparison - 2,400 died at Pearl Harbor, 58,000 Americans died in all the years of the VietNam war. Yankee Stadium holds 50,000. And, this may not be even close to over. We are SOO lucky that we are financially able to stay home, and we have work to keep us busy here. 

Less bad news

We've been getting our groceries delivered from Publix, but they've been out of toilet paper for 2 months now, so Jim thought he'd check out Walmart. They have a process where you can order and then go pick it up and they had toilet paper in stock! That was Tuesday, the pickup was scheduled for Friday. Jim got a message Friday morning that they were out of toilet paper.