What do you do when your car locks itself in the garage? (201.0)

Saturday afternoon, while I was watching football with a dog on my lap, my watch announced that my car was unlocked and its trunk was open. The Car-Net app is set to display such alerts. The car was in the garage, though, so I didn't worry too much about it.

I hadn't tried driving anywhere since then, until this afternoon, when I needed to head to WVBR briefly. I hit the code on the garage door keypad, and it stopped a couple of inches up! Oops! The car's hatch door was in fact open, and there's so little spare space in the garage -- which I finally cleared enough out of last month to fit the car in, but only barely -- that the open hatch was stopping the garage door from opening. Something was catching on it. Luckily, garage door openers are designed to stop trying if they hit an obstacle, or there could've been damage to garage door or hatch door or both. I looked to see if the app, which knows the truck is open, can also close it, but it can't. Not enough "give" in the door to pull it forward enough to clear the car hatch.

I figured I would go around to the back door of the garage, climb my way around the limited space around the car to get to the back, and close the hatch. But the back door of the garage is locked! Is there even a key to that? I can't recall one, but it's not the house key or anything else on my daily keyring. I have another keyring with stuff like my parents' housekey on it, which used to live in my car, but I'm not even sure where that is right now.

Eric came by to walk the dogs this afternoon, and I asked him how his lockpick skills are. Sadly, he didn't have a kit with him! I figured at worst, I could call a locksmith to get in that back door.

While he was off with one of the dogs, I Googled closing the hatch remotely, and the consensus on all of the forums seemed to be that you can't close it on some models, even from the button on the driver's door, though you can on others. At this point it occurred to me try the remote that had started the problem! I went back outside and pressed and held the trunk open button on the remote. It looked like it tried to close, but hit the garage door again. Then I realized that was because the garage door was stuck open a couple of inches. It kept returning to that spot whenever I entered the code, rather than staying closed.

But, if I put my foot on the handle as soon as the garage door was closed, it sensed an obstacle and didn't try opening again! Then, hitting the trunk button on the car remote closed the hatch on the car. Finally! Now the garage door opens again. I closed it and locked the car.

Pretty soon I'll spend more time clearing more stuff out of the garage in front of where the car is now, so I can pull the car farther forward and have less risk of this happening again. Also, I'm going to either find the key to that back door, or get it rekeyed! After all, I do need to be able to get in there to get to the car, and open the garage door remotely, in the event of a power failure.

Either that, or I should give up on parking the car in the garage.


What's next? (200.4)

As usual, the week or so of vacation from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day flew by. Work starts tomorrow! But in the meantime I've blown through a lot of "The West Wing." I haven't done the math, but I'm tempted to spread out the rest of the series (I'm now in the middle of the fifth of seven seasons) so I can watch the very end just before President-elect Biden's inauguration on the 20th.

For a chunk of December, I was trying to watch as much as possible before the show left Netflix on December 24th, but then I realized it was moving to HBO Max... and I have access to that. I just picked up where I left off on Christmas weekend.

There are other things I could or maybe even should have watched, but I've really enjoyed revisiting this classic show. There are a handful of episodes I've watched many, many times, but I'm realizing that there's an enormous amount of the series that I almost certainly haven't seen since it first aired. It might be partly because I only ever had the first three seasons on DVD.

This past week I spent two days in a row below 199 pounds for the first time. 198.8 and 198.9. I'm back over 200 today, but that's OK. The trend is heading in the right direction.
  • Current Music
    "Abu el Banat"

Lazy Boxing Day (203.6)

I didn't take any pictures for Instagram, but I just enjoyed a warmed-up Zingerman's cinnamon roll and a Byrne Dairy eggnog latte with whisky in it while watching "Wonder Woman: 1984." Good way to celebrate the Boxing Day holiday.

Someone sent my friend Shelley a huge frisbee-sized ring of cinnamon rolls, and she gave me a hunk of it before I left dinner at her place the other night. I decided Christmas Eve needed some seafood, so I made seafood lasagna and offered to bring it over. Shelley's among the handful of people I've hung out with in person this year, and she's one of the small crew from Thanksgiving dinner at Leslie's last month and then Christmas dinner at Leslie's last night.

Christmas isn't my holiday, so unlike some friends, I didn't miss the opportunity to travel to see family so much as I missed our own annual tradition of movies and hibachi on Christmas. We would absolutely have seen WW84 on the big screen last night.

I don't usually mind the cold (200.5)

A friend's post on Facebook yesterday bemoaning the fact that it was getting dark so early, and wondering whether the Solstice was here yet, made me stop and think about how the daylight affects me, in general and lately.

First, I saw that post just a couple of hours after taking off my jacket after a dog walk and thinking "Wow, it's mid November and I'm already tired of cold." So, I was already in a seasonally sour frame of mind.

But I commented on the friend's post that the short days weren't really bothering me yet. I'm used to leaving work after it's dark all winter, not just because it gets dark so early but because I've never been the go-home-at-4:30 sort (any more than I've ever been the go-to-work-at-8 sort). I'm used to the after-work dog walk being in the dark. So this year, when I have the unusual option (because, like many, I'm working from home almost all the time) of taking a break before sundown to walk the dogs, I don't need to care what time it's getting dark. I'm getting a morning walk before I start work, I'm getting an afternoon walk before it gets dark, I'm sometimes getting to enjoy the sunset as it happens. I'm getting a passable amount of daylight.

I'm already annoyed with the cold, though. It's partly because Carter hates the cold, and really needs a jacket when it's in the low 30s or below, as it's been the last couple of days. I also haven't really yet gotten around to swapping around jackets and coats, so I don't have my earmuffs or gloves in any of the jackets that are by the front door. The jacket I've been putting on to go outside is warm enough, but it's not helping my hands or ears. I need to work on that.

I don't mind cold weather, as long as I can stay toasty most of the time. If I didn't have to walk the dogs, I could get away wtth hardly ever leaving the basement, so it's a good thing I have to walk the dogs, I guess! I just need to spend some time in the next few days rearranging the jackets. Putting away all but one lightweight jacket and most of the sandals by the front door. Getting out the heavier gear with the gloves (now mostly touchscreen-capable gloves) and the earbands to keep my ears warm.

When it's colder I'm also getting in the habit of putting on a fleecey hoodie or a corduroy shirt over my short-sleeve shirt when I'm down in the basement. I've been keeping the house a little warmer than I used to (generally 65 or 66 instead of 63 or 64) since I got the heat pump installed, but it's still feeling a little chilly. Took me a while earlier this fall to realize it's gotta be at least partly because I've lost some of my insulation! I'm at my lowest weight in five years, and I'm in striking distance of my lowest weight in over a decade.

Oh, it's Friday night! (202.6)

I knew today was Friday and that the weekend was ahead. I knew to say "have a good weekend" to the people at the surveillance test site when I stopped in for my biweekly test.

But I was just watching TV and wondering if I should watch another episode of something or go to sleep and I realized it's Friday! It's the weekend!

So I'm watching the season premiere of "S.W.A.T." and I'll go to sleep before 1, which isn't even that late.

I've been catching up on the first round of season premieres that have been running this week, getting used to doing it without cable. The various network apps on the Apple TV are pretty good for watching the shows.

I'm vaguely tempted to try again to set up the digital antenna to try to pull in some live channels from Syracuse (an hour away, too far to get anything without an antenna) so I have a chance of seeing some shows the night they air. Watching "Grey's Anatomy" the next day meant a big reveal was spoiled. That was always one of the handful of shows I virtually always watched night-of.
  • Current Music

Happy Halloween! (204.0)

I was invited to a couple of Halloween parties today, but it didn't seem like the rgiht decision this year, even though I genuinely have faith that the parties were planned with proper precautions in mind. I decided to spend almost the whole day in the house with the pups.

The exception was hopping out to the SPCA this morning to pay a second visit to one of the dogs who needs reminding that new people are OK! I met him last Saturday, and the behavior specialist who's responsible for him agreed that having someone come back would be very good for him.

Another pup I met last week ended up nipping my hand, so isn't allowed visitors for ten days. Once that's over, I'll go back because she agrees that he, too, will benefit from the reinforcement that people are OK. He actually warmed up to me and was cuddly and wanted belly rubs towards the end of last week's visit, which is a good sign.

Also did some baking and cooking today, including turning a pile of fresh apples into apple butter that's a little too thin, oven-braising the pastrami and brisket I made last week to get them tenderer, and starting a batch of dinner rolls for dinner with a friend tomorrow.

Got some candy set up on a set of shelves at the end of the driveway late this afternoon in case of trick-or-treaters, and in fact as I was spreading out the candy, a few kids started coming by. If you hurry, you can check out one of the costumes on my Instagram or Facebook Story! Didn't do much in the way of Halloween decorating, as some houses did.

And, while I was at it, I watched some Sean Connery movies to mark his passing. I had known he was noted for being "antisocial," but I'm not sure I knew until this morning about his repeatedly stated opinion that it's OK to hit women. Yikes. That goes way beyond being "a product of his time."

One I hadn't watched in a long time was "Outland." Actually a good early sci-fi flick that started out as just a period law-man story that got moved to Io. I suddenly remembered in the movie that I used to have a Con-Am ball cap. I wonder where it went.
  • Current Music
    "The Hunt for Red October"

Thank you for donating blood. (202.3)

Giving blood today took longer than usual! Partly because the nurse doing my vitals and such is in training, and partly because the numbers she was getting were wonky.

My blood pressure is on the high side today, though not so high that they wouldn't take my blood. My pulse was also irregular! I've heard that before, and it wasn't irregular enough for them to not take my blood.

What really threw us was the 12.9mg iron level, which IS too low to give blood. I haven't had any cheeseburgers lately, but I sure haven't been starving myself!

She had her manager try again, and she realized my fingers were cold, so we warmed them up before doing another poke. 15.4 that time. That's more like it!

I decided I needed to give blood (I've been eligible since late August) because molecular biologist Jeff McKnight, who learned late last week he had about a week to live at the end of his journey with cancer, made a point of thanking people who donate blood. I wanted to tell him I had given blood in his honor. Jeff died Sunday night, so it was in his memory instead.

In Jeff's words, "Thank you to all who donate blood. Sincerely."

How many 70-something white guys can you put on a stage? (203.2)

I tried watching tonight's debate as part of a livestream with commentary hosted by Ithaca College, but after a few minutes of trying to watch their Zoom webinar on my TV via AirPlay, I gave up and switched to CBS. They had disabled Zoom chat for participants, but they were letting people pose questions in Q&A, and then the panelists were commenting in chat haphazardly. Seemed like it was going to get chaotic fast.

Now enjoying the season finale from last winter of "Ray Donovan," and drinking some whisky. There are a few TV shows I enjoy watching with a drink that fits. Back when "Cane" was on, I drank really good rum with each episode! "Treme" merited Abita beer.

Hadn't heard previously, I don't think, but just went to IMDB and discovered "Ray Donovan" was canceled right after the season ended, so I guess this is the series finale.

Two packages arrived from Amazon today. A second box of granola in less than a week, when I have a monthly Subscribe & Save set up, and was pretty sure I had skipped this month's order knowing that last month's had been delayed. And the free replacement tonic water Amazon shipped three weeks ago when the product I'd ordered a month and a half ago hadn't shown up. The original arrived three days later, and I figured the replacement would eventually.

I feel a little silly ordering cereal and soda from Amazon, but the granola I used to get at my supermarket isn't available any more, and what they do have is either not as good or way more expensive, and this is the cheapest way I've found to get top-notch tonic water. A good gin and tonic needs both good gin and good tonic, right?
  • Current Music
    "Ray Donovan"

"Deadly song" (204.3)

At the end of this morning's Yom Kippur service, the rabbi asked the temple's choir director to speak. She's answering the question I hadn't gotten around to asking: How did we happen to have recordings of what sound like our own choir and our long-ago cantor that could be played during these services? I couldn't imagine they had gotten together in person to record the music.

Apparently she has been casually recording rehearsals for twenty years! One of the things that really made last night's service connect for me was the familiar voice of the old cantor, whose name I think was Abe. Can't recall the rest of his name. Robin, the current cantor, is great, and I'm sure she also has some appeal to a younger generation. But I'm sure she would agree that there was something about Abe's voice, deep and rich, that was just perfect.

Linda, the choir director, talked this morning about how they had had to abruptly stop getting together in person way back on March 13th. In Westchester, the pandemic grew very quickly, and it seemed clear that talking in person, but especially singing, with the potential for virus-laden droplets to fly around, could be hazardous. A church choir in Washington was an early superspreader, with a number of people dying after a choir got together for a rehearsal despite being told not to. She called it "deadly song." Zoom saved religious school sessions and religious services, but anyone who's tried singing "Happy Birthday" on a Zoom call has figured out that you just can't have multiple people singing that way. They also contemplated having the choir members record their singing individually and then have it all edited together, but that's hard to coordinate and time-consuming to edit.

The recordings of the choir, in between parts that Robin is singing, are really making the services work for me! Have to say I'm also happy that Rabbi Seltzer, our own Rabbi Schecter's teacher from decades ago, made a pre-recorded video appearance. He has always been a guest speaker at High Holy Day services, and has filled in occasionally, and it's great to see him. Considering Eddie has been our rabbi for about five decades, Rabbi Seltzer must be actually old. I'm not gonna ask how old.
  • Current Music

Yom Kippur services (206.1)

I hardly ever went to religious services in Ithaca, either as a college student or after I graduated from Cornell. I tried the downtown synagogue briefly, but never really felt like it grabbed me the way the temple I'd gone to as a kid always felt comfortable.

I think there's a lot to say for the unusual circumstance that the rabbi at our synagogue started right after we moved to the community when Jeff and I were little kids. He was a youngster, a brand new rabbi with his first congregation, and in a very real sense he "grew up" with us.

Decades later, he's still the rabbi, and I've been back for services, especially High Holy Day services, numerous times over the years. Rosh Hashanah is the New Year, and is the start of the ten Days of Awe that end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. They're the most important holidays in Judaism, and while I rarely want to spend Yom Kippur, a long day of fasting, with my immediate or extended family, I often make it to a Rosh Hashanah family dinner and, when I'm there, sometimes services as well.

This year being what it is, religious services are largely online, which means I have the opportunity to join my family and the rest of the congregation for streaming services. They're offering both a Zoom link where everyone is muted except the celebrants and a shared screen with perfectly readable prayers and translations, and a YouTube stream where you just see the active celebrants and the shared screen. The prayers and translations and such look like a well designed makeshift prayerbook assembled by someone for exactly this purpose -- a streaming service that every congregation could share without each having to roll their own. The live prayer reading and singing is being interspersed with some recorded choral singing of prayers, and it turns out that's the temple's own choir recorded in past years. How handy that they had those recordings!

I could be watching on my TV using the YouTube feed, but I decided to stick to Zoom so I can see my parents and random other members of the congregation, and so they can see me. As I wrote the last paragraph, my mom texted to say she could see me! So that was worthwhile.

The rabbi's hair is a lot greyer than when we first met. That's OK, so's mine. The cantor who joined the congregation after I moved away is there, and she no longer looks quite as young. Girl, same.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of High Holy Day services, held back in the day in the auditorium of a nearby Catholic college campus (seriously!) because our old temple building didn't have enough room for everyone who came for these annual services. We kids often played outside for chunks of the day, trying not to get our nice clothes dirty or ripped.

I credit belmikey for my habit, which dates back quite a few years, of spending Yom Kippur quietly reflecting without bothering with services, outdoors if possible. I think the weather tomorrow will be perfect for sitting on my deck with the dogs, but this year I have the option to join my family without having to go anywhere.

The online services are strange. Novel. Utterly different from anything of the past. And yet completely familiar and comfortable thanks to my childhood rabbi and his familiar knack for telling stories. I'm glad I came.
  • Current Music
    Kol Nidre