drscott: (ECR)
Stuck in nondanceable illness, coughing and Kleenexing. Camped out in the Normandie room (where club photographs were taken) until the room gets cleaned. I brought the iPad and Bluetooth keyboard intending to write something, now drawing a blank....

Saturday night of Convention is typically a late affair, with leather tip, Honky Tonk Queen contest, etc. I joined Paul at the "social media" tip (formerly Live Journal tip), which was underattended because it was scheduled for 7 PM, dinner time for many. [livejournal.com profile] otterpop58 and [livejournal.com profile] billeyler did a fabulous job of calling for one and two squares. I didn't dance except when dragged in to the last Redwood tip (mostly ringers -- average height of square about 5'7"!) and the last LJ tip. I was Sudafeded enough to do simple Plus, at least....

The cocktail hour before the Honky Tonk Queen contest featured appearances by Andy, Sam, and a handsome visitor they lured in who clearly had no idea what he was in for; [livejournal.com profile] omero_hassan aka Steven; Greg and Darin [not on LJ], and Geo and Patrick. I was warning everyone to stay away from me, but if certain people who could not be dissuaded get colds, it's not my fault.

I conked out around 11 and wandered by the piano in the bar to watch [livejournal.com profile] bearfuz/Chip play showtunes, then went up to bed.

This morning the bronchial crap is worse, and my nose won't stop running despite the Sudafed, so I'm avoiding everyone....
drscott: (ECR)
Mea culpa, I have had hardly any time to post here; moving, housebuying, juggling. But there are lots of topics inappropriate for the public insecurity and ADD of Facebook, and I read here regularly.

We've been in Chicago for three days now; first two days touring, the highlight being a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, which is probably the best sci-tech museum in the world. When last I visited I was about 8, and demanded my mohter buy me a radiometer, one of those blown-glass bulbs with black and white-painted vanes that spins in the sunlight. I still have it 45 years later, though it seems to be not quite as speedy, probably because some air has slowly leaked into the bulb. The museum had changed a lot: a vast new basement has been added for a parking garage and entrance, and most of the exhibits updated. The model plane in a wind tunnel I flew when I was eight is in the same place, replaced by a newer version made of plastic materials that doesn't work nearly as well (but is probably easier to maintain.) Ran into Rover and Cal and friend on our way to the Smart House exhibit, a 2500-sq ft Michelle Kaufmann-designed prefab with automation and eco-features. Nothing I didn't know, though the home automation console software was new to me and that's something we're shortly going to need, though I may stick with the open source stuff that's out there.

The weather has been perfect, cool and low (for Chicago) humidity. The hotel is the Hilton and Towers, which when it was built had 3,000 rooms and was the largest hotel in the world. It's next to Grant Park and we can see a sliver of the park and Lake Michigan out our windows.

Unfortunately I have come down with a cold, and today (first day of Convention) I was out of it. Slept some, hid some, danced not at all. Feeling a little better now, but Paul is downstairs having a great time dancing while I scribble here to avoid the crowds and noise. If the cold progresses as usual, I'll feel better somatically by tomorrow, but have days of fun sniffles and congestion to look forward to. Bad timing, but Convention for me is more about getting back in touch with certain people, so I'm not too put out about it.

The crowd gets older and more tired every year. Love'em all, but convention romances of past years have aged and I don't have much interest in anyone, so there's none of that old maybe-I'll-meet-someone feeling, just comfy old friends and family.
My mother appears to have had a kidney stone Sunday. Off to the ER again in an ambulance. Her doctor seems little concerned about how her dementia is making her medical issues worse; it looks like she isn't drinking enough water, since a few weeks ago she complained of dry mouth. The doctor does not return my brother's phone calls or do anything pro-active; the nurse who had been coming twice weekly was pulled off when her wrist cast was removed, so even though she is not capable of following medication instructions, she's getting no help now, and it's getting worse.

So I think she needs a visit to help her find assisted living, and definitely a new doctor. I'm awaiting a callback from a private home healthcare franchise with an office nearby -- just someone to look in once a week and help her organize her medication should hold her for a few weeks until I can get there.

I've been in Palm Springs since Saturday night looking at houses.Thousands of second homes and vanity mansions sit empty, foreclosures conitnue at a fast clip, and while I think we might see another downward slide in prices for higher-end homes, things are pretty cheap now -- much is available at below cost of construction. We're supposed to see [livejournal.com profile] rootbeer1 and [livejournal.com profile] qbear this weekend; they have been looking similarly though at a lower price range. Paul's thought is to buy a place we'd be happy retiring in (we're tired of moving!), so we've been scoping out larger houses than we'd need as a vacation home -- 4 beds or more. I've toured more than ten houses, and we have two we're going to consider when Paul gets here -- one far south, one in Old Las Palmas. Values are better in Rancho Mirage and points east, but I want to go to the World Gym, since that's where "everybody" goes now, so don't want to be more than 15 minutes away from it.

I haven't had time for much socializing; had dinner at Wangs in the Desert with Eric Jannke, who used to live at Douglass and 20th but ran into a series of reverses that led him to PS to conserve his money (a very common story here.) Had a nice massage yesterday after visiting a high-end architect's house which left me cold -- claimed to have spent $3 million constructing it, but the investor friend of our agent who was along commented he wondered where $1 million of it went. It's all so very Southern Califronia-ish. I keep running into people who say I have great "energy" and I want to check my battery compartment.

Then there's the ipad story; Made a special trip to the Apple store in SF, waited in line, was told I'd get an email telling me to come pick iy up in 2-3 days, which would have been Thursday-Friday before I left. Nothing by Tuesday, so I found the last remaining iPad in the Caochella Valley at Best Buy in Palm Desert and bought it. That evening I got an email from Apple telling me to come pick up my 3G iPad. I don't think not having 3G will be a big issue since I have the iPhone for that, and unless on the road I'll use this iPad mostly to read at home.
You expect that when you move into an older apartment that a few things will need work. My first clue that there would be more than usual wrong came when the renting agent (who lives in this 8-unit building, in the one bedroom directly below us) told me he recommended the owner not let us move in because we would be "difficult tenants." This was after he had told me the walls would be patched and repainted (since they were badly marked.) I had assumed from conditions that the unit had not been painted for 5 years or more, but in later discussions with the owner, he felt aggrieved because it had been painted two years ago and the current tenants had just been very careless. The owner tried to clean and patch-paint himself, removing many of the marks but leaving the place still marked up. We now get along fine with the owner (a plumber originally from Ulster who lives in Marin) but deal as little as possible with the high-strung gay rental agent Brian.

So it appears Brian's informal management of the building and its tenants (he picks who gets in) revolves around causing as little work for him as possible. Most of the tenants in the larger townhouses are young straight techies in groups, and they don't treat it very well or bother to get things fixed. The building was built in 2001 as condos.

Here's the punch list so far:

-- No screens (most SF apartments don't have them)
-- Dirty walls, chipped paint, dirty carpet
-- Kitchen faucet leaks when on
-- Kitchen vent hood light bulbs both broken off in sockets. Owner got one out and appliance repair guy did the other; we replaced bulbs.
-- Water dispenser on fridge didn't work. Appliance repair guy fixed but then left icemaker unfunctional. He returned to straighten a pin in the control board connector.
-- Springs in dishwasher door broken so it free fell; David ordered a new one and took the dishwasher out to replace it (twice.) Still not quite right.
-- The light bulbs (fluorescent mini-floods) in the recessed fixtures throughout are hard to find, so the tenants over time had replaced them with bare compact fluorescents. Had to order 12 new bulbs online (at $7 each) to get a uniform appearance.
-- The entry intercom doesn't work, so everyone buzzes in people without knowing who they are. You get a phone call from the system (Caller ID "L MCAULEY", the owner's name -- I've told him that is easily changed to something more informative, since for days I thought his cellphone was random-dialing us) but the people wanting in can't hear anything you say, so you end up having to let them in if you're expecting anyone.
-- Tub caulk missing in a few spots
-- A missing outlet cover (now replaced)
-- GFI in kitchen trips at random, shutting off power to fridge
-- Washer made horrible buzzing sounds. Owner replaced.
-- The Venetian blinds are nearly all damaged or broken. Owner measured for replacements but nothing has happened so far.
-- Gas fireplace does not work
-- Oven door handle loose

Just a few little problems! I'm debating whether to tell the owner he's being hurt by Brian's "let everything go" style of management, and selection of tenants more likely to cause damage; this place would make more money spiffed up a bit and rented to less casual groups.
We had a fun time at the El Camino Reelers' 25th anniversary fly-in in San Jose the weekend of April 2nd (photos here.) Tuesday we moved. It's been packing and unpacking and dealing with changes pretty much 24/7 for weeks; [livejournal.com profile] excessor covered some things here.

As usual, Paul is my rock (and not in the hard and lumpy or heavy and dragging you to the bottom sense.) We work very well together, and even while moving there were only a few moments when we were tired enough to snap at each other. So my current earworm (lyrics to follow) has nothing to do with him....
[Depeche Mode mode]

On another world by another star
At another place and time
In another state of consciousness
In another state of mind

Everything was almost perfect
Everything fell into place
That you may reach a different verdict
Before the judge dismissed the case
Our Tivo HD died (likely hard disk failure) a few days before the move. Ordered the new Premier series HD and had it delivered that day after the move. Contrary to what Paul wrote, it worked okay, but Comcast wasn't addressing its cablecard correctly, so HBO is still blocked. They're sending a tech tomorrow.

The Ethernet port in the media cabinet at the old place stopped working a year ago, so we said goodbye to some of the nice features (Amazon Unbox downloaded movies, access to media on our PCs, etc.) Well, since I was able to get all the new place's network up (except, mysteriously, in Paul's room), those features are back. David set up his Netflix account to do downloads, and we watched Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (1992) in a very high quality streaming HD from Netflix. The download speed is supposedly 20 mbps.
In a parallel universe
That's happening right now
Things between us must be worse
But it's hard to see just how

And everything could have been perfect
Everything in the right place
Then I wouldn't have to play the suspect
Accused, abandoned and disgraced

I didn't choose, I didn't pull the trigger
It wasn't me, I'm just a plain and simple singer
I heard the sound, I turned my head around
To watch our love shot down
The constant drudgery has worn me down. I am taking a little time here to post since David is trying to crash a Chorus concert. I found my checkbooks finally and can pay the estimated taxes due April 15th. My bedroom/office is the smallest of the three and has no room for my old desk, so I need to buy a new one. We need another CA King bed, Ikea doesn't sell them, and some small cabinets for the bathrooms, which have limited storage. There are unpacked boxes, cardboard, and foam packing sheets everywhere. The washing machine sounds like a turboprop taking off, the refrigerator water dispenser didn't work, the bulbs in the microwave/stove vent hood were burned out and the bulb sockets left in, the spring on the dishwasher door was broken so it falls down hard. All these things are being worked on, and take time. The landlord seems quite willing to help, and he turned up yesterday to measure for new blinds and struggle with the left-in bulb sockets while his kids waited in the car; he's a plumber about my age from Ulster, so we're cousins of some sort.
In another lonely universe
We're laying side by side
Where no one's hurt and no one's cursed
And no one needs to hide

And everything is almost perfect
Everything is almost right
There are never any conflicts
There are never any fights
Paul drove to Palm Springs yesterday to spend time with his friend Jim, in from Connecticut. Today David and I worked out at Golds on Market, then shopped Cliff's Variety for the bulbs we needed. As we moseyed up Castro to the wine store, we ran into Mark-the-masseur and Jason-of-Glee-lipsync-fame, and others. Which reminds me a little of why we moved.

David's leaving in two weeks and will be back in early June. We'd like to have the housewarming before he leaves, but who knows when the house will be ready?
Over the last few years, I've trimmed away at my goatee as gray hairs took it over from both sides, until it had narrowed to a small dark patch. I let it grow in the weeks we've been packing and kept the gray muted with some chemical assistance. How does it look?

Oh, and my hair is really getting thin in the front. I cut it shorter and shorter to compensate.
Had a conversation with [livejournal.com profile] hotelbearsf about this the other day, and it's a topic other friends have brought up. Is it time to buy in Palm Springs?
The real estate world was very different in the Coachella Valley five years ago. Prospective buyers streamed through model homes while real estate agents poked pins onto maps to reflect constant sales — some posting $10,000 price gains by the month. Phones rang incessantly. Common were bidding wars, waiting lists, lotteries and house-flippers, the latter often cashing out six-digit profits.

It was fast and frenzied in 2005 as price seemed to be no object and affordability dissipated, squeezing many families out of the market.

The picture is a stark contrast to today’s market. The data, filtered from the Multiple Listing Service, market activity in key valley areas show that sales are up 25 percent compared to 2008. Overall sales volume is down 15 percent. Of 9,238 total home sales, 8,204 sold for $500,000 or less. The average sales price of homes below $500,000 was $182,369. That was 22 percent less than in 2008, when the average sales price was $236,160.

The sale of homes priced from $500,000 to $750,000 fell 21 percent. Of 9,238 total home sales, 452 homes sold above $750,000. Prices are so low that prospective buyers with cash, a ‘golden’ credit record, resilient investment portfolio and job security are swooping in to snag homes at prices not seen in nearly a decade.
And then there's this, from the Desert Sun:
John Husing is a longtime economist who focuses on Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Husing, ‘The critical question is one that can’t be answered: We don’t know for sure whether banks are going to, at some point, act precipitously against homeowners who are in trouble, but who — up until now — they’ve been allowing to slide.’

‘There are roughly 250,000 Notices of Default on file in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. We know there are more houses that are upside-down than that, so we don’t know if banks are holding off on the trustee’s sale or on evictions, the final act of foreclosure. With inventory on bank-owned homes down 50 percent, the market is acting precisely as predicted: Prices are slowly rising. Volume has made a big jump. Realtors are complaining about lack of supply.’

‘If banks do change their mind, aggressively take people’s houses and dump them on the market, then all bets are off: We could get double-dip recession. My forecast is, that won’t happen.’ Best advice for buyers: ‘If you don’t buy now, you’re nuts.’

My view: government and bank actions have acted to artificially slow the repricing and selling of houses in default, and there's going to be a long period when short sales and foreclosures will put downward pressure on the housing market most places, but especially in speculative second-home communities like Palm Springs. I think it's an okay time to buy carefully, but also think there's a chance of further declines -- prices are after all still much higher than is supportable by local incomes, and any pent-up demand from people wanting to get in at the bottom to speculate is about over.

Some of the places we've looked at in the past, like 48@Arenas and the Montage development in Cathedral City, now show price declines of over 50% from peak.

We'll be going down there to investigate buying a house....
So we spent another week talking to the Dolores Heights Victorian people. They agreed to our price ($7500 vs. their asking of $8900) and we were working through details of how their move-out had changed what had been indicated would be included -- smudged paint, all of the track light lights removed from one bedroom, missing kitchen island chairs -- and had a cashier's check in hand for the lease signing meeting, when they backed out, saying our "demands" were too great and they didn't think we were the people they wanted. Very strange -- suggest you never deal with a certain Dace Dislere as agent. As I wrote to David:
This morning I'm feeling better about not getting Dolores, given Paul's feelings about working longer. Smaller/cheaper/closer will work better for a shortened run in SF with a house in PS as well. They readvertised the place at $8300, down $600; but it doesn't show as well now. I would be surprised if anyone good bites at $7500, and the irony is they will have to do everything we asked to get a renter anyway, and they lose months of rent. Dace blew it by transferring my requests to the owners when we could have resolved them easily between us. And the owners are apparently not being realistic; it might have been worth what they ask furnished as a short-term rental, but the price must be much more reasonable for a longer-term, unfurnished rental.
Now on the track of another, smaller condo unit much closer to the center of the Castro.

BTW, visited a MCM, supposedly fully renovated house near where we are now: pointed out by [livejournal.com profile] foodpoisoningsf, it looked really good in pictures. As usual, it was small (no square footage listed), and the "fully remodeled" kitchen featured standard Euroappliances installed with original crappy plywood cabinets which had been painted over. The granite counters were single-thickness (a sometimes-defensible design decision, but adding to the apparent cheapness of everything). Our cheap cabinet refacing in Sunnyvale looked a lot more expensive. The picture windows were unmodified single-pane. And they committed the cardinal sin (in my livability book) of installing a pedestal sink in the master bathroom. Very disappointing for the price, and not very comfortable, as well as too far to walk.

In other news, we had Trevor [not on LJ] Pendley, friend of David's, as a houseguest over the weekend. We were too caught up in drama to spend much time with him, but we'll see him again. I've been stressed out and too busy to have anything on my mind but finding a place (and my mother's short trip to the hospital again last week.) One of these days I'll get back to writing here more....
Every house I've lived in in California had ants. You'd see them more or less often depending on the season, and they basically made it a bad idea to keep any unsealed food -- on discovery of some dab of peanut butter or cough drops, say, a single scout would leave a trail of scent that brought five more, that brought hundreds more -- and suddenly you notice trails of thousands of ants heading for the new El Dorado of food.

It was an unexpected pleasure to discover this house had NO ANTS when we moved in. But alas, about 14 months later, the little buggers found their way up four stories of dusty new construction and one day I saw a scout in the bathroom. And just a few days later, we had our first attack when they found a sticky sugary slick on the floor where some drink mix had spilled and not been fully scrubbed.

I used to keep the little guys (Argentine Ants) under control by putting bait stakes around the foundation of the house. Hard to do here since there's no soil on three sides of the house. Just killing, cleaning, and removing food sources. Sigh.
According to research published in Insectes Sociaux in 2009, it was discovered that ants from three Argentine ant supercolonies in America, Europe and Japan, that were previously thought to be separate, were in fact most likely to be genetically related. The three colonies in question were one in Europe, stretching 6,000 km (3,700 miles) along the Mediterranean coast, the "Californian large" colony, stretching 900 km (560 miles) along the coast of California, and a third on the west coast of Japan.
Based on a similarity in the chemical profile of hydrocarbons on their cuticles of the ants from each colony, and on the ants non-aggressive and grooming behaviour when interacting, compared to their behaviour when mixing with ants from other super-colonies from the coast of Catalonia in Spain and from Kobe in Japan, researchers concluded that the three colonies studied actually represented a single global super-colony.
The researchers stated that "enormous extent of this population is paralleled only by human society", and had probably been spread and maintained by human travel.[4]
Paul filled in some of what I hadn't taken time to write about here. David and I toured a house for rent (on Burnett near Clayton) that was as close as we'd likely find to what we're looking for, with two flaws: not much closer than we are now, and Chinese owners, proud builder (and owner of a tile company) Uncle and manager Auntie. We tried to deal with them through their niece, Jaime, who spoke English well and had trained to be a real estate agent, though her license was as yet unused.

Good things: Built 2002. 2900 sq ft upstairs, including two car sbs garage, guest room and large bath on first floor; second floor living area, dining room, and kitchen, suitably high-end (Bosch) appliances, though worn from 7 years of heavy family use; third floor, master suit and two smaller bedrooms with a shared bath. Beautiful marble tile with edging and wood floors throught; wonderfully well-built with no trace of settling. Below grade: 1000 sq ft loftlike space with fabulous views of the Castro down Market Street to downtown, with attached deck and small garden (the lower area would be David's place.) And someone had strung white Xmas lights across the back fire escape of the house in the shape of a Martini glass, which would be visible from much of the Castro, which seemed an omen.

Bad things: downstairs were clearly finished after final permitting, saving them about $2K/year in property taxes. Bar in the lower living room had room for a fridge but no dishwasher. Electric wall heaters to avoid inspection. Whole house wired with early Cat-5, but serial phone style, not star configuration, so no way to get Ethernet in all rooms.

Negotiation issues: advertised at $6,000/month, but when we met Jaime and her auntie, it was explained that was a mistake -- $6,000 for just the upper three floors, while they would keep the lower area for themselves (I now suspect they hoped to rent it out as a separate apartment.) I explained we would not find this suitable, and the $7,000 now being quoted seemed unreasonable.

David wanted to take a hard line and not give an inch, because his corporate-style negotiation works that way; you stall and give ground grudgingly. It seemed for awhile this might work since no one else was answering the ad. I told Jaime my style was to find a solution that would be best for all parties, and since in the end they wanted to sell the house when the market improved, I offered to pay $6200, buy the high-end w/d for them, install modern Lutron dimmers (the lighting was good but undimmed anywhere)and get either wired or wireless Internet throughout the house. They came back with $6500. I responded with $6300, then apparently a group of Chinese friends of Auntie's daughter came along, and we were told they were more comfortable with them (and I suspect they were about 8 people, including kids, willing to pay the full $7K). Jaime was on our side and tried hard to get them to reconsider, but familiarity won out.

So that was a lot of work for nothing. In Part 2, more places we have considered....
A few ho-hum photos from a visit to the Asian Art Museum with David a few weeks ago. It's in the old Public Library, and some of the Beaux Arts features are still visible. We only got about halfway through it before running out of time....

Here's the gallery.

Rambus Wins Decision in Trade Fight Against Nvidia Over Chips

2010-01-22 19:43:59.935 GMT
By Susan Decker and William McQuillen
Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Rambus Inc., a designer of high- speed memory chips, won a key decision today in its effort to collect patent royalties from Nvidia Corp. over computer- graphics chips.

A judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington said today that Nvidia is violating three patents owned by Rambus. Judge Theodore Essex’s decision, which is subject to review by the full commission, may result in a ban on imports of Nvidia chips and products that use them, including some computers made by Hewlett-Packard Co.

The revenue machine begins to really gear up now. Not too late to buy a bit of RMBS before the market understand the implications...
After a few weeks away working out in straightish gyms in NY-PA-DC, when I came back I had lost a few pounds of muscle mass. This always happens on long trips, since the workouts tend to be shorter and on unfamiliar equipment where you can't work yourself as hard.

What I didn't expect was to suddenly feel like a D-grade physique. I didn't look all that much different, but at Market Street I was surrounded by lots of nearly perfect specimens with good definition, where back East, while there are plenty of guys with muscle, the climate and diet tend to layer everyone (straight) over with extra fat. So the background against which I compare myself abruptly got more competitive and I felt uglier by comparison. Odd!

That effect faded, so by day 4 after return, I felt more or less B-grade, as usual. And one the guys I occasionally notice, a smaller but perfectly-built Italian fellow, chose today to approach me online and comment that he'd been admiring me for months. That pretty much completed my rehabilitation.
Still coughing, but now it feels like the normal ending of a nasty cold or flu. I never had either, but at least I'm not coughing for no reason -- there's stuff being dislodged (TMI, I know!) I've felt out of it for days -- foggy head, don't care about anything, trying to keep up 2/3 workouts was hard. Now starting to lose conditioning.

Wrapping up the planning for the trip. We get to New York Saturday night. Sunday morning we do the Metropolitan Museum and walk around (if the weather's good.) Sunday afternoon we have a matinee of The 39 Steps. Monday (which turns out to be a bad day to visit, since most shows and museums are closed) we do more sightseeing (Empire State Building, MoMa, Guggenheim) and have The Royal Family in the evening. Tuesday morning we got back the airport and rent a car to drive to Paul's brother's house near New Hope, PA. After spending the next few days immersed in Perrotta family stuff, Paul has his 30th hs reunion, and Monday David comes up to lovely Conshohocken to meet us at the Golds Gym there, where I get passed off and spend the week with him.

I used to visit New York frequently when I lived in Boston, but I always stayed with friends (mostly dead now) in the Village, or Little Italy, or Brooklyn Heights. I've never spent much time walking around midtown, so it should be interesting. And of course Paul has never been there at all!

My first visit was with my mother and stepfather after they picked me up after my first year at MIT and drove south, so it was 1975. We stayed in lovely Fort Lee, New Jersey (near the fabled Meadows of Hack and Sack from The Incubi of Parallel X, for you Theodore Sturgeon fans) at a Howard Johnsons and took the bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. As we left the building, I walked ten feet ahead (as I often did then), and when I passed a tragically drug-addled young lady, she started following me asking if I wanted some company. It was 10:30 AM, and the look on my mother's face was priceless...

Most of my memories of New York are from when it was a scary place. You didn't dare look at anyone on the subway, and all antenna were up when walking at night; you'd cross the street to avoid any group, and keep a safe distance away from anyone. I remember being at the Eagle, and the time I took John Liesch with me from Vancouver and we borrowed a friend's place; I was visited by a certain high school guidance counselor from New Jersey (who came over as soon as I called!) while John went out and couldn't be retrieved until after the bars closed at 4 AM.

Things have vastly changed, but since I haven't been there in 20 years, it will be new to me.
Just saved $300 by rebooking our Millennium Broadway reservation - $100/night off previous sale rate, though this one is nonrefundable. I had heard that it pays to check the week before for more sales, and indeed it did. Though we may spend some of the savings on cab fare to/from Newark, since it looks like we'll have too much luggage to use the express bus option.

The cough subsided yesterday but returned again in the evening, and this morning it's as bad as ever, so I'll check in at the doctor's office (with somebody else) in case there's anything to be done. Still no fever but some odd feelings -- hot and cold, chest fullness, etc. Tuberculosis!

FedEx was supposed to deliver an office chair for David yesterday that they had tried to deliver Saturday, but they never showed. Turns out it hadn't even been put on the truck.

The guys spent 11 working days redoing the flashing around two sides of the roofdeck, hammering up bushels of slate and tearing out stucco wall covering the old flashing, then replacing everything. They finally finished yesterday. We'll see if that fixes the leaks -- about $10,000 worth of work done on a guess, and if that doesn't do it, next stop is tearing out the inside ceilings and insulation to find the real source.

Yes, this is a dull entry. Recycling cardboard, coughing, stopping newspapers and mail, buying new suitcases.... it's a full life.
I've picked up some sort of viral bronchitis, I think. No fever or symptoms other than nagging cough and sense of tiredness; perhaps it's consumption, and my last act scene will be to die gorgeously a la Moulin Rouge. But most likely not.

I've felt the urge to cough for a few days, but only started to feel it last night, when we went to Foggy City's excellent dance with Sandy Bryant. I made it through one Plus tip, but my mind wasn't really working, so I sat out the rest. We haven't been able to dance since Convention -- travel, illness, schedules. I feel less like a square dancer lately, a bit dissociated and finding the crowd less interesting as I have been exploring other outlets. Love'em to death, just have other things on my front burners.

I was worried about the cough because we leave next Saturday for an East Coast Thanksgiving. First we'll spend a few days in Manhattan and see museums and plays. Then we'll pick up a car and drive to PA, where Paul will be attending his 30th reunion with his high school girlfriend Kate. We'll hang out and have Thanksgiving dinner with his brothers (near New Hope, PA), then I'll drop into [livejournal.com profile] zzbear's world for his family's celebration of his 50th birthday (requiring a jacket and tie. I'm from California, can't I wear a Hawaiian shirt and sandals?) not far from there, which should be interesting since I've never met any of them. Then I'll drive back to DC with David while Paul returns the rental car to Newark and flies back to SFO. I'll stick around DC until David's 50th birthday party, and finally come home after a bit over two weeks of traveling. Yikes, I hate traveling!

David, in turn, arrives here Dec. 12th and returns to DC Jan 17th. Further updates as they happen. We'll be leaving him home alone Dec 22-27 while we attend Christmas at my mom's in KC. Lucky Paul, he gets to meet my cousins; but at least there's good BBQ and the new wing of the Nelson Gallery to visit.

I'm tired just writing this. I want to stay home and gracefully degrade, but that may be the virus talking.
From the WSJ's review of a Dickens biography today:
"The Haunted Man," by contrast, is a creepy ghost story in the mold of "A Christmas Carol." A spirit appears to a man plagued by past betrayals and agrees to remove the bad memories—but curses him to similarly "blank" the memory of any person he encounters. Even with their memories erased, though, these people soon burn with a nameless rage, still haunted by a cruel past they cannot now recall. It turns out that only forgiveness, and not forgetting, is the cure for the hard feelings of the wronged. Like "A Christmas Carol," the tale captures both the joy and the poignant pain of the Christmas season—a time when the past always seems particularly present.

Dickens expressed the lesson of "The Haunted Man" this way: "To have all the best of it, you must have the worst also."
Just spent an hour chasing down a charge from Travelocity for "insurance" (next to useless) on our upcoming trip to NYC/PA. I specifically removed the insurance when I ordered the tickets, and I remember being irritated that they were making the add-on the default, but here's $39.90 for it on AmEx...

Spent half an hour on the phone with Travelocity (really an Indian call center.) The first level attempted to deflect saying that since it had been over 30 days since booking, it was too late. The second level was very much slicker, and tried to overwhelm me with detail, the fact I had been sent an email showing the charge (buried far down in the statement), that a policy had ben issued and a number assigned (expensive operation, assigning a number!)

I told the slick gentleman I was not going to waste any more time with him since it would be faster to start a chargeback with AmEx. After I hung up, he called back and said they would reverse the charge and cancel the policy.

So naturally I went to AmEx and had that Indian call center dispute the charge. It would be foolish to believe a company that already shows it is not trustworthy. Despite their gay-positive marketing, then, Travelocity is now off the list of vendors I will use.

My Indians are better than their Indians.

Before I forget, some pictures posted from my phone to Facebook but never here, now here.

[livejournal.com profile] zzbear/David left Monday morning. He surprised me by quickly deciding to return Dec. 12th through Jan 17th, so that thread of the story will continue shortly.

Wednesday Paul's ex Mark and his partner Colin arrived for a visit. They used to have access to the apartment above the Twin Peaks bar overlooking Castro and Market, but Mark's company has given it up and so they stayed with us. We had dinner with them a few nights but otherwise they mostly had their own agenda. Paul gave up the master bedroom suite for them and slept in the guest room, which worked okay. They left this morning, returning to 90+ highs in Palm Springs.

We didn't do anything for Halloween: we weren't invited to any parties and so we hadn't worked up costumes. After the gym we had dinner and watched Watchmen until Mark and Colin returned; about an hour into the movie I'm still wondering how the lesser Watchmen got their superhuman strength, or perhaps that's a detail explained only in the source.
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