Lockdown: Acascuse me, annoying laundry dude

Monday night I slept terribly again. I really need to get a grip on this or it’s going to be a miserable autumn.

I got right to work Tuesday morning, catching up on emails and doing a few quick edits on appeal letters. Corresponded with two of the donors. Played around with the two stories I’m working on. Kind of a routine, uneventful day.

The Amazon fairy brought a Blu-Ray with the entire Pitch Perfect trilogy, so that kept me occupied right after work while I got my laundry ready and did a few chores. It was a bit more than usual, since I used a ton of rags on cleaning out the old fridge and defrosting the new. New, store-bought, microfiber rags I don’t want to just toss even though the ones I used on the old fridge were disgusting. I hosed them out, sun-dried them, and threw them into a separate bag for a separate wash.

Got to bed around nine, an hour later than I planned. I could have made it by eight but after I took care of all the lame chores, I kind of goofed off in my downtime.

Breakfast was my fresh bread with some local peanut butter. I still have some of that expensive stuff I bought for the relative who doesn’t like peanuts. This was that Kona coffee peanut butter and wow. It’s really good. Probably a bit too sweet, but still kind of amazing. I’d feel very confident giving this stuff as gifts for people who like peanut butter. Which my intended recipient does not.

For lunch I made some tuna fish and ate it with the bread. Not exactly sandwiches; more like a spread. The bread’s a little dense for sandwiches, even when I slice it about as thinly as I can.

I had a little before-bed snack of two clementines. They are so good right out of the fridge. I’d never purchased them before my trip to the supermarket a couple of weeks ago, only getting them when people at the office shared them, when they were room temperature. They’re good like that, but wow, they’re delicious cold. I’ve added them to my regular shopping list.

Dinner was a Big Mac combo from McD’s, which I picked up on my way to the laundry. There’s a guy here who, for the past two weeks (yeah, he was here when I was here a couple hours later last week), uses the machines right next to where I’m situated, despite there being three other rows of machines not in use at all. It’s very annoying. Last time, he hung out in front of his machines the entire time they were running (it was a little crowded by the time I had my clothes in the dryer, and the other hangout spots were taken, but still). Anyway geez. How about a little bit of space, potential spreader?

He also slams the washer doors shut, very forcefully, which you would have to do if you were to close them without just turning the latch. Man, I didn’t even know the machines could be slammed shut like that. What an annoying guy. I’ll bet when he’s a passenger in your car, he changes the radio station, puts his feet on your dashboard, and slams the door with obnoxious force when you drop him off.

I was going to add he probably goes through your glove compartment too, but I actually don’t mind that when certain people do it, so I took it off the list. Ali did that the first time I drove her in my car and I found it kind of charming.

She texted me just before I got up to do the laundry, asking me a little about my (suspected, undiagnosed) seasonal depression. Also sent me a nice photo of a sunrise she took on her morning commute. It was sweet.

Sylvia and I texted about the Sun noodle company for some reason. Another coworker texted to ask if I knew about this email we all got, announcing Sylvia’s moving to a completely new position in the company. She wanted to know if I knew about it. I did — it was the thing I said Sylvia and I texted about the other night that I couldn’t share. Very cool, and I’m super happy for my friend.

I had to text Penny to ask for updated contact info for a mutual friend. My friend Lauren had some questions related to the work this mutual friend is an expert on. So the mutual friend and I texted a few times, and Lauren and I texted a few times.

Sharon texted to ask if I’d seen Mulan yet, which I will do someday but probably not soon. The cast is amazing but the reviews just aren’t compelling enough at that price, plus I don’t subscribe to Disney +. We talked about a coworker who might be leaving soon. Ugh. A serious downer. One of my favorite coworkers.

My former HPU classmate and Assets colleague Jill messaged me on FB to ask for some help with a potential grad school project. And Fern messaged me on FB to ask a hypothetical about Olivia Munn and Anna Kendrick. I haven’t responded to that one yet.

I guess, come to think of it, I’d be okay with Ali changing my radio stations and putting her feet on the dashboard too. But not the door-slamming. I hate that.

Haven’t decided yet if I’m going to the beach after the laundry. I’ll decide when I’m done, I think. Not really feeling it this morning, but I might need it.

Don’t forget to reach out if you could use some more connectivity. Leave a comment and I’ll send you contact info.

Lockdown: Heart of darkness

I again slept poorly, but got a decent two hours and twenty minutes just before getting out of bed. Thankfully, getting out of bed was a little later than usual since I took a vacation day Monday. I did a few work emails and read the news while eating a small bunch of grapes. Left the house at about 10:30 for the beach.

I stopped at the neighborhood mom and pop’s for a bottle of water and two Spam musubis (it’s a Hawaii thing), which I consumed in the car as I watched the surf. I got a pretty good parking space, about four back from the one I really wanted but rarely get.

I tried to decide, as I was swimming in the cool ocean on a warm late morning, if I like swimming mid day better than early morning. Couldn’t settle it. They’re so different and they offer such great experiences, although I’ll say getting out there early does take a bit more effort.

I’m trying to figure out what it was, or even if it’s worth figuring out, but I had a feeling all morning that I can only describe as heavy-hearted, like everything I was doing, including taking a day off from work, was avoiding thinking about something terrible or doing something I don’t want to do but have to. There was a little bit of dread mixed in, but most of it was this sick sense of avoidance.

It was constricting, squeezing my heart and guts a little but not a lot, just enough to let me know it was there; I think that’s where I’m getting heavy-hearted from.

I was able to distract myself from the feeling while I swam, and for the half hour or so after I got out of the water, but it crept back up on me as I drove home. I had a small list of things I wanted to do before the dinner hour, but instead I took a nap — not as more avoidance behavior, because believe me, I’m extremely, extremely familiar with that pattern, but just because I was tired and I was on vacation.

I don’t know what I did, but the nap was great. Maybe it was the exertion from physical activity and being out in the sun, or the podcast I played on my phone as I slept, but I think I rested two hours, and when I got up, I felt physically great and emotionally okay.

I have a couple of radios in the house but none of them is plugged in at all times as most people’s radios are. One is a clock radio in case my phone ever stops working; I keep it in my bookshelf but right now it’s behind the bookshelf. Another couple are boom boxes I have in weird storage places. I’m mentioning this because the Las Vegas Raiders were playing the Saints on Monday Night Football at 2:00 our time, but ESPN has the Monday Night games and I don’t have cable.

So I downloaded one of the free radio apps you can put on your phone and streamed the Westwood One radio broadcast from a radio station in Georgia. Radio games are blacked out on your own local stations if you’re trying to listen via a mobile app for some reason. So I put the game on from Columbus, Georga while I did a few house chores.

First I put bread fixings in the bread machine and let that take care of itself. Then I washed out some coffee mugs I found in my recent decluttering. They needed quite a bit of attention, but I got them sparkly, I think. I actually have to wait until daylight Tuesday to be sure, since two of the mugs are black and I need to be very sure they’re as clean as possible. There were gross things in them — dead things. I’ve already given them a good Clorox soaking, but I think I’ll do it again just to be sure.

Then I defrosted my fridge. The dorm fridge I got a couple of months ago, not the one I just cleaned out and unplugged. These things have a tendency to ice over and if you let them go too long you break some of the plastic things attached to the freezer compartment. It’s needed it for a couple of weeks and I knew I was going to do it sometime this week. This seemed like a good day, since I was listening to the game.

I ate some extra sharp white cheddar with some crackers and another small bunch of grapes while I defrosted.

What a great game. The Raiders won in an impressive way, and are undefeated after two games.

I watched the evening news, checked in on a few friends on social media, then browsed some recipes before my late-evening trip to the supermarket. I decided on ingredients for three new (to me) dishes, and then my bread was ready, so I had a couple of thin slices with a little more of the white cheddar.

Grocery run was less stressful than it’s been. I spent a wee bit more than I planned, but okay whatever. It actually felt pretty good to go in with a real list in hand and focus on that. I left room for some me-ness in the exercise: I had “some kind of fruit” on the list along with specific items like Worcestershire sauce and mirin, and of course I picked up a few things not on the list like a bottle of cheap red wine and some angel hair pasta.

There was a little bit of trash talk in the office fantasy league chat, so that was nice. Ali texted me a couple of photos for my opinion; I gave it and then asked her how she’s doing. No response yet but I may not get one. Sent JB a Raiders GIF, to which he responded with “Yeah, baby!”

Sylvia texted to ask about a local chef who died. She was familiar with his blogging; he was a friendly acquaintance of mine from the early Twitter days. We’re friends on social media but we’ve never reeeeally been friends. I won’t speak ill of him, and I have no reason to, but for some reason he didn’t seem to have much use for me. Nice guy, though, and I understand why Twitterlulu (as we once called our collective self) is heartbroken. I know of many instances where he was a great friend to others.

Crush Girl and I texted most of the late afternoon; she was good company while I ate crackers and defrosted, despite her not caring one iota about the Raiders game. Later in the evening, we actually spoke on the phone, as she needed some help with something and she thought it would be easier in actual conversation.

Although I’m not exactly feeling the heavyheartedness I experienced this morning, the memory of it is heavy itself. What was that? It’s playing around on the fringes of my mind even as I convince myself it’s passed.

Ryan emailed me to say my daily invitation to connect with readers of this space hinted at my needing more connection myself. I appreciated his checking on me, and while I welcome whatever connection comes my way, it’s worth pointing out that I consider myself really lucky to be connected already to some really great people. Man, some people during this lockdown are spending all day and all night with spouses, children, roomies, or lovers. I’m blessedly free of constant company and I get to speak with Crush Girl on the phone once in a while.

I do want to be a connection for others who don’t have enough, though. So leave me a comment and I’ll send my contact info. I probably won’t speak with you on the phone unless your name rhymes with Mush Curl, but I’m good for some DMs.

Lockdown: My diet is “die” with a T

It took me a while to kick Sunday into motion, but I did it and I feel pretty okay about it.

Started with the Giants-Bears game, which was fine if not especially memorable. Did some reading on safe weed killers. Ate a bunch of red grapes for breakfast. Window-shopped for animation software.

Followed that with the Chiefs and Chargers. The Chargers have nothing to hang their head about. They played a great game and showed the league what the Niners showed in the Super Bowl: the Chiefs offense can be stopped. It just takes a heck of team to keep it up for a whole four quarters. In this case, it took four quarters and overtime and the Chargers weren’t quite up to that. But hey. It was their QB’s first game ever and he didn’t even know he was starting until just before kickoff.

I did the Sunday NYT crossword in nineteen minutes and change. Ate a slice of pineapple whip pie for lunch. I didn’t mean to; I was just hungry and there it was. Looked at all my fantasy teams. Played stupid phone games.

Then it was the Patriots and Seahawks. Heck of a game. I didn’t sit in front of the TV and soak it in, though. I emptied and (sorta) cleaned the fridge. It’s going to take a few more days; needs a little bit of elbow grease and some drying out. I got it unplugged with the doors wide open right now, with a bottle of bleachy water and some rags nearby.

It was seriously unpleasant for reasons I don’t want to get into, but I promise you they are unlike anything you’ve seen even in the grossest of fridge-cleaning projects. But I got it done. Yay.

Did a few other chores and then the game was over. I dropped half a pie off at Penny’s and went to the office for the software updates, stopping at Grace’s (the plate lunch place, not my friend’s) for a chicken katsu dinner. I was so hungry. Took care of my phone updates while I was at it (the office wifi is great when nobody else is in the office).

Texted a little with Crush Girl too, while I was in the office. Sylvia and I traded a few messages about McD’s — she tried the spicy Chicken McNuggets too.

I’m on vacation Monday. Aside from the beach and some more decluttering, I don’t really have plans. Maybe work on the podcast and tidy up my desk area. I still have to watch Bill and Ted 3, which I am reviewing for the staff newsletter, but I also downloaded both seasons of The Office (the original BBC series) and the whole season of Central Park, which I saw the first episode of on Apple TV+ and found mildly amusing.

Oh, I forgot I have some editing to do for the second issue of Hawaii Stories. I think I’ll take care of that when I get back from the beach. I didn’t go to the grocery store Sunday night as planned. I want to plan a meal or two before I go, so I’ll do that Monday night. Make plans to make something different, so I can shop with more purpose.

I say it every day because I mean it. In March, I set out to log certain things I knew I’d have to keep track of, in order to avoid slipping into my worst tendencies. Except for a few trips to the edge of the abyss, I think I’ve mostly done okay, although my eating choices lately have been for utter crap. And I’m finally getting a little bored.

I keep track of my interpersonal interactions because left to myself, I’m apt to withdraw entirely, which I know is no good for me. Dropping half a pie off at Penny’s is only minimally about getting that thing out of my house so I don’t inhale the entire thing. It’s mostly about being in other people’s lives, and keeping them in mine. So if you need a little of that, hit me up in comments.

Someone else said it, but I repeat it to myself nearly every day: each day you’re not contributing to the health crisis, you’re doing something good for the world. If you have to eat a few pies, scrub a few refrigerators, swim a few miles, or text a total stranger just for some connection, it’s all good. You’re not out there spreading illness, threatening the health and safety of your neighbors. So do what you need to do.

Lockdown: My brain. Is mossy.

I welcomed the start of the weekend but I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. I didn’t have major plans or high ambitions; I just hoped I might make it something different.

Woke up early to get to the beach. Parking was a little tight when I pulled into the drive at about 5:30, but I could tell it was mostly surfers. Got a decent parking spot and looked at social media for a while before jumping into the ocean.

The water was moving. I went in on the Magic Island end and swam west, and I was going a lot faster than my strokes should have taken me. So I went a bit further than usual, turned around and really had to work my way back. There weren’t very many swimmers. I was in the water longer than usual, past forty-five minutes, possibly approaching an hour, ‘though certainly not more than that.

I ran a couple of early-morning errands, then got breakfast from Nico’s. Grilled ahi with rice and a tossed salad, which I ate in the Zippy’s parking lot while waiting for Hawaiian Pie Company to open. I had a pineapple whip pie to pick up.

Read the news. Took a nap. A long nap. Had a slice of pie for lunch. Messed around on my phone. Kinda surfed the over-the-air channels for a while, falling into a little bit of a Wikipedia hole as I read about some of the channels.

For dinner, I made a pot of quinoa with onions, eggs, and that Impossible sausage I need to use up. It was fine. It was even good, and sausage-like enough, although the way I used it probably isn’t playing to its strength. I have two links left so I may fry them up Sunday the normal way and see how they do.

I had half the pot for leftovers, too. Might stir in a can of corn when I heat it up later.

I made plans with Penny (via text) to drop off half the pie for her sometime Sunday, since I’m planning to go to the office and update software on the work laptop. I also gave her a little bit of advice for purchasing a laptop.

Sylvia and I texted quite a bit in the evening. I can’t say what it was about (it’s work-related) but it was pretty cool. Good news at a time when my coworkers and I can really use some.

I’ve fallen into a little bit of a sameness funk, despite more trips to the beach, which are up to three a week. Novelty snacks aren’t doing it for me anymore. I’ve hit a bit of a lull in the decluttering this past week, and I think that’s part of it. Planning to finally empty and clean out the old fridge (and turn it the heck off!) Sunday during the late football game. That’ll feel good, and perhaps get me out of decluttering inertia. I don’t want to break my streak of weeks taking the bin to the curb full to the top.

Media consumption is interesting while I’m consuming it, but it doesn’t make me feel good once I’ve turned it off. I think football’s going to be the same. I’ve been talking to Penny about helping me with a test run of the podcast.

I wonder if channeling some creative energy that way will do it. I’ve just been having second thoughts about how interesting this Plan B is going to be. Since the first ten are for practice anyway, I think I should just jump in and use ten episodes to figure it out.

Stuff to think about.

Connection. If you need some and want to trade texts or DMs, just leave a comment and I’ll send you my contact info.

Lockdown: Now that’s a spicy nugget

I’ve added a new responsibility to my job, and Friday was my first time trying it out. I’m adding content to the company website: some of the stories I write, plus news releases and stuff like that. I have a lot of experience with web content and content management systems, and I stepped confidently into the driver’s seat on this CMS. We run Drupal with all kinds of modifications, which of course is one reason to use Drupal.

For years, I posted content on another of our sites, the alumni site which also runs Drupal, but there’s a third-party overlay that makes it a lot simpler than our main site.

It took me about three hours. I warned my supervisor that the first few were going to take me a lot of time. And it was just a short news release with one photo.

Thursday night I got the best sleep I’ve had in more than a week. Slept terribly (again) the first half of the night, but then got my act together and strapped in and got a good four and a half hours before time to get up. I’m not hopeless.

I knew it, too. Often when I wake up, I guess what time it is or how long I’ve been asleep (the Darth Vader machine keeps track of the night’s accumulated time), and when I woke up it felt like four and a half hours before I checked the display.

I drove to Rainbow’s to pick up breakfast and lunch. A loco moco for breakfast; a “Rainbow Royal” for lunch. It’s just a double cheeseburger deluxe with their special sauce, which I’m pretty sure is TI dressing. It’s a good burger. I need to remind myself sometimes that you don’t have to get a plate lunch at a plate lunch joint.

I was going to skip dinner, mostly because I waited too long to get something started, but I was also a little restless, so I drove to the strip mall hoping Subway might still be open. It wasn’t. Now I was hungry. Hellloooo McD’s drive-through.

I got the new spicy chicken McNuggets combo. The nuggets are good but not really an improvement on the old. I ate only a few fries and threw them out. I just suddenly became very uninterested in food. I think my body was telling me I’d had enough or something.

There wasn’t a lot of messaging Friday. A small amount of G-chatting with Crush Girl. Some office Skyping with Sharon. FB messenging with Allyson; she was doing me a favor at the KCC library.

Went to bed at ten in hopes of getting to the beach Saturday morning.

Leave a comment if you’d like someone to message with. Connectivity is key.

Lockdown: Thursday’s child has far to go

Once upon a time, Thursday was my most productive day of the week. It was true in high school mostly because I was always in the best mood on Thursday. It wasn’t true in college at all, but it was true again when I was teaching. When I worked for the engineers it was mostly true because most of my team (the marketing and publications department) was in Manila, and it was Friday in Manila. Whatever I didn’t get done with them Thursday had to wait until Monday.

In the regular working world I’m now part of, where I’m not working with people who live across the International Date Line, my day is Friday. Thursday tends to be a get-charged-up kind of day in anticipation of kicking butt Friday. It shouldn’t be this way but it is.

My supervisor being off Thursday and Friday surely didn’t help matters, ‘though I do try to be productive when she’s out, just to go against expectations.

So Thursday was mostly a get-the-small-stuff-done kind of day. More edits on that story with the ex-football player. More appeal letter edits. A bit of housekeeping. Some outlining on those two stories I need to finish.

I have to admit I was also tired. After a night of bad sleep, I got up early to hit the beach, and although I didn’t go very hard, I am pretty sure my body was still feeling Monday’s activity, because when I got out of the water I was really weak and tired, not pumped as I usually am.

It still felt good; just tired good, not stoked good.

I was amused by my getting up two hours later than I had been to get into the water at about the same time. No more rushing to Kewalo to snare metered parking.

After work, I watched the conclusion of season two of Halt and Catch Fire. Not how I wanted it to end, but not terrible. I think I’m going to take a break before I watch season three. It’s never been released on DVD, so I’m going to have to download and watch it or stream it. Either way it’s a rental or a purchase through one of the services. Each season was twenty five bucks the last time I checked, and while I consider it worth it, there’s too much stuff I want to see that I’m already paying for with monthly service subscriptions.

I have disc one of season one of Grace and Frankie sitting on my counter right now, in fact.

I picked up breakfast on my way home from the beach. I got a California Love omelette from Egghead. Avocado, bacon, onion, bell pepper, cheddar, and salsa. It was good, possibly very good. Weirdly, all the avocado seemed to be crammed into the back end of the omelette, so I hardly tasted any at all in the first half of the meal and enjoyed the heck out of the second.

I also had an order of “cheese eggs.” Scrambled eggs with Swiss cheese and some country bread. It was good but not nine bucks good.

I kind of burned right through all that food and was pretty hungry at lunch, when I had leftover pasta. I overdid it on the leftovers and was kind of miserable and in pain for some time after, another contributor to my slowness with work. For dinner all I had was a few handsful of chips. Went to bed early but didn’t go to sleep until late, just looking at football news and G-chatting with Jocelyn. We haven’t been conversing much at all lately, mostly because i think she’s suuuuuuuuper busy.

Most of my meals the next few days are coming out of the cabinet, not the fridge. I’m pretty much out of fresh stuff, and I’m determined not to hit the supermarket until Sunday or Monday night. I do have some local free-range eggs ($$$). And some Impossible sausages in my freezer. Gee, I wonder why they are the last to go. I guess I’ll give them a try sometime this weekend.

Gotta get through Friday first, though. And if you need to connect with someone to help you get through, I’m good for some texting or instant messaging. Leave a comment and I’ll send you my contact info.

Thursday, Sylvia and I talked about food. I was so full from leftover pasta that everything she sent me a photo of looked gross to me.

Sharon and I texted about some former coworkers who’ve found some landing spots. It was nice to have some good news in Bloody Wednesday’s aftermath. Most of our friends are still looking, though.

Charles sent me a DM in IG with a photo of a sign in a Chinese-owned takeout spot. Misspelled words. I thanked him even though I’m not sharing bad signage from entrepreneurs who are obviously non-native English-speakers.

Oh, and Paula and I traded a bunch of DMs in IG, speaking of entrepreneurs. Until a couple of weeks ago, she ran my favorite baseball cards shop. She’s retired and we traded some messages about writing well and about going to the beach. I’m pleased to see she’s learning some stand-up paddleboarding.

Crush Girl and I G-chatted a bit too. Idle chitchat, mostly.

Idle chitchat is the stuff of life nowadays. Mundanity is the rule; excitement is usually the bad sort. Kind of like most Thursdays lately.

Lockdown: Boring fantasy football talk

Wednesday was another mostly chill day at work. Moved steadily if not rapidly on my stories; smoothed one story a bit and submitted it for review; edited some appeal letters. In the process I learned the name of the new building at the pharmacy school at UH Hilo (and its correct spelling).

I goofed off a little on my phone after work, then watched episode nine of the second season of Halt and Catch Fire. Dismal. The relationship stuff didn’t go the way I wanted, although I suppose it went the way it had to for compelling future seasons. Good characters for long-lived television series should be flawed in some big ways, but these characters are flawed in ways I can barely suffer. The tech stuff is genius, and when it’s going right, the characters are terrific. Stuff away from the tech just makes me wonder why I spend any time with the characters at all.

Except for the one character played by Kerry Bishé who has to put up with the others. She’s pretty admirable.

I’m playing in six fantasy football leagues this year. The one with my classmates has been going more than twenty years — twenty five seasons over thirty years is pretty close. I’m running the office league, now in its third season. And I signed up for four money leagues at $5 apiece. The Yahoo! money leagues pay the same rates: winning a $5 league gets you $25, while finishing third gets you $5. Winning a $20 league gets you $100, while finishing third gets you $20.

I’m mostly playing in the pro leagues to test the advice of a fantasy advice service I subscribe to. I’ve subscribed for a few years and except for two years ago, I’ve done very well. I generally stick to the advice but trust myself on certain things, and when I’ve deviated from the advice, it’s paid off more often than it hasn’t.

Testing the service four times at $5 each seems like it will give a better evaluation than testing it once with a $20 league, and the likelihood of at least partial success seems greater as well. It’s more work, managing this many teams, so that’s a downside. And I mean work, because the real pleasure in fantasy sports is in the sense of fun and community it delivers, which you don’t feel in a league with a bunch of strangers when $25 is on the line.

Oh, that’s another reason I chose the $5 leagues. The $5000 league (first place payout: $25,000) isn’t going to have any schmoes in it, guys who sign up on a whim and then stop paying attention when they realize a few weeks in that they’ve drafted poorly. It seems a guy like me has a better chance of winning just by staying in the game at the $5 level, where losers are more likely to lose interest.

Only five of the six teams competed — the sixth didn’t draft until opening day, so it begins competition with week two — and four of them won in week one. The one loss was in the classmates league, the one that matters most to me, but it did quite well, so I’m still pleased.

Although it should be said that losing to Reid is never okay.

I decided the McD’s breakfast sandwiches at the laundry were not a late Tuesday dinner but a Wednesday breakfast. For lunch, I had the noodle-veggie soup. It’s nearly two weeks since my last visit to the grocery, so I’m running low on fresh veggies. I was left with a large amount of won bok and some fresh onion. Not quite as nutritious as usual. Still yummy.

I made a pot of angel hair pasta for dinner. I tried a new jarred sauce, a store brand, with red pepper flakes, brown sugar, dried minced garlic, sake, and gorgonzola. Delicious.

Sharon and I texted about some stuff we’re doing in the kitchen. She’s been doing a lot of quarantine baking, and I mean this literally. She went to the mainland to witness her sister’s courthouse wedding, and today’s her last day of quarantine since her return. Crush Girl and I also chatted a bit about food.

I went to bed at nine in hopes of getting up early for the beach.

The director of the CDC says we may have enough vaccine for a return to normal life by the end of the second quarter or early in the third quarter of 2021. A certain elected official, offering no grounds for contradiction, says the director is confused. I don’t know enough to make any kind of prediction, but I think I’d put money on the scientist, while still hoping by some miracle that the elected official knows something the director doesn’t. Whatever the case, I think we’re going to be shut in for quite a while more. If you need someone to connect with, in order to make it through, just reach out. I’m a good ear.

Lockdown: Canoodling

Slept terribly again Monday night despite my body’s being eager and ready for rest. Got plenty of sleep; it just wasn’t the good sleep. Still felt okay, because at least it was bad sleep in a generous amount.

Caught up on emails, finally had that phone call with the donors, worked on more emails, had a Zoom meeting, played around with the two donor stories I’m working on, and that was my work day. A nice, normal, fairly routine, non-stressful day.

The phone interview was with a prominent former reporter with a local paper whose blog I’ve been a fan of for more than ten years. Also with his wife, a professor emerita at UH Manoa. They were such smart, clear communicators, I really enjoyed my conversation with them. I felt smarter after just a twenty-five-minute phone call.

As soon as I was done with work, I got stuff ready for laundry and refilling my drinking water. Took longer than usual for some reason, and I didn’t get to bed until 9:00. Then I slept terribly again and I overslept. Baffling. I know I set my alarm but I never heard it, and overshot it by two hours. No indication on my phone that I set the alarm at all. Maddening.

I was severely tempted to change my plan for the day, but I was already packed up for laundry and I was mentally in the laundry-washing mindspace. I did a little bit of quick math and realized I could get to the laundry just after five. Most Wednesday or Thursday mornings at that hour, the laundry only has a couple of people, the ladies who come in just as I’m finishing up. I figured I could deal with them, and if people started coming in around six, I’d be nearly done anyway.

So I dragged my sorry, oversleeping carcass out of bed. It’s 5:30 and I’m at the laundry now, with breakfast sandwiches for my late Tuesday dinner instead of my usual Big Mac and fries. It’s a good meal but it’s not what I really wanted. I’ll have to make up for it later in the week.

Breakfast was the noodle soup thing. When I was severely underemployed, right after the engineering firm, I had to stretch my lonely dollars. A huge bowl of hot oatmeal for breakfast was a big part of it, something I came to welcome and enjoy over time. I almost always had it with some brown sugar and natural peanut butter, so we’re not talking destitute here; I just needed to be very careful. Six bucks for a jar of natural peanut better went a long way anyway.

The part of the equation I was uncomfortable with with instant ramen. I was going to have to go the cheap route, which is fine; cheap instant ramen is yummy too, if you modify it the way I like. It was just a lot of fat and salt, and while I don’t exactly shy away from either, we’re talking a lot of fat and salt every day.

So over some weeks, I found something that worked for me and is even more frugal than they way I eat instant ramen.

There’s a noodle factory in Kalihi; I’ve been aware of it for as long as I’ve lived here. You can buy fresh Chinese noodles and saimin (it’s a Hawaii thing) for much, much less money than the same stuff costs in the grocery stores. We’re talking two bucks for a pound of Hong Kong style chow mein, which is possibly three times that in the store.

I usually get six meals out of that.

I had a jar of hon-dashi in my cabinet, so I used that for the soup. I cooked a bunch of veggies in the soup first, whatever was on sale. Always either head cabbage or won bok, plus some onion and some dark, leafy green I got for cheap, although some weeks I went without that. Bean sprouts, otherwise. Oh, and if I could get eggs on sale — yes, I resorted to mainland eggs because they are waaaaaay less expensive — I’d add a fresh egg or two. A few months in, I also added a spoonful of miso.

When you have to eat like a poor person but have a little bit of leeway, you can make yourself feel not quite as poor. A huge bowl of fresh veggies with fresh noodles in miso soup? I could eat that every day, and I did. There was enough variety from week to week that I never got tired of it, and the nightly ritual of preparing the meal (I had nothing but time) was a highlight of my existence.

I tried other nearby noodle factories. It’s Hawaii; of course there are a bunch of noodle factories. Young’s on Liliha Street. That one in Chinatown, downstairs from where the dance studio used to be where I once helped a young Chinese woman find her class. There’s some difference, but Oahu Noodle, in my own hood, is the least expensive and the most convenient.

I’ve tried other types of noodles, but I like how quickly the Hong Kong noodles cook, and I like the texture a lot better. I guess I’m consistent that way, considering my preference for angel hair pasta.

I still prepare it once in a while, for a week at a time (you’re buying a pound of noodles; you have to use them before they get slimey), but it’s been a couple of years. The last time I made it, I’d discovered mushroom dashi at the Japanese market. It’s better than hon-dashi. This week I used shrimp dashi, which Foodland Farms had in the Asian aisle. The Japanese markets in town just aren’t convenient, opening too late in the day for me. The one sort of in my hood is a warehouse store and it’s always full of elderly Japanese people (that’s how you know it’s good), and I don’t want any part of that. Don Qi is open all night. I might have considered that when I was still keeping vampire hours. It’s near the beach; maybe I should stop by one early morning.

So, miso from the Korean market (it’s good, but I’m suspicious of all the ingredients) next to the noodle factory. Veggies from wherever. Dashi from Foodland Farms.

I got this mushroom soup base from Amazon this week. Looking forward to trying it when I’ve used up the shrimp dashi.

I keep thinking I should name this dish. I used to prepare it in my rice cooker, so my brain kind of thinks of it as rice cooker noodles, even though I make it on the stovetop now.

Lunch was a couple of burritos. I have one burrito’s worth of filling left and need to use it very soon. Thinking of scrambling some eggs and making a breakfast burrito for dinner Wednesday.

Suzanne texted me to ask me for a book recommendation. I made a few: a Nora Roberts book I actually enjoyed (the one Nora Roberts book I’ve read), a Neil Gaiman, and a Rainbow Rowell.

Sylvia texted me to talk about gourmet popcorn. I’m not a huge fan; she’s a huuuuge fan.

Stay home. Do something fun. Eat something different. Tackle one of those nagging chores you keep putting off. Leave a comment if you’d like some connection, and I’ll send you my contact info.

Lockdown: Sunsoaked

I took a vacation day Monday. I had a fraction of a day to burn before the end of September, so I just took the whole day. I slept in after another night of terrible sleep, took care of a few work emails, then headed for the beach. I haven’t been in the ocean during mid-day hours for a long time, possibly not since the company picnic in April 2019.

Picked up a Zippy’s Surf Pac on the way, and got a decent parking stall on the Kewalo end. I sorta did my usual swim, but the water was really moving, making it pretty tiring. I did the usual distance, a lot more slowly, then floated around for a while, enjoying my freedom.

There were a lot of people lying on the beach by themselves, per the mayor’s orders. Looked like people really tried to keep their distance, which hasn’t been my experience with the early morning swimmers.

Sat in my beach chair in the shade in the park, by the pond on the Kewalo end, for lunch and podcasts. It was really nice too.

I ached all over for the rest of the day, and if I weren’t too local to sunburn, a casual observer might say I looked a little pink.

I watched an episode of Halt and Catch Fire, read the news, did the crossword, played stupid games on my phone, and emptied out a large plastic tub in my decluttering effort. The Beast made me very hot and sweaty, but I also wheeled a full trash bin to the curb and opened up a little bit of space near my desk.

Crush Girl and I chatted most of the evening via G-chat. Jennifer sent me an otter update; I sent her a photo of a Christmas card she sent me maybe eight years ago, by her estimation, unearthed in my decluttering.

I skipped breakfast and the Surf Pac was enormous, so I kind of skipped dinner too. Finished off my potato salad, so I’ll count that as dinner. No snacking.

That’s it. A day of rest well taken. Hit me up in comments if you need someone to connect with. I’ll send contact info and we can text the night away. Or something.

Lockdown: Tsum Tsum dumdum

I’ve missed out on a lot of major-network broadcast TV since I went to over-the-air digital. I purchased an antenna to receive the digital signals, and it helped, but it still left me with just the local Fox and ABC affiliates, plus the local PBS station and a ton of other stuff you wouldn’t guess is out there. And lately I haven’t been getting Fox.

It’s been a pain, since football is on Fox, NBC, CBS, and ESPN.

I thought my antenna just wasn’t good enough, so I looked on Amazon for other options, then did a little web search to see if people out there had reviewed a bunch of the stuff. And of course there are a lot of articles out there. You kind of have to be cautious about review articles for tech stuff, since there are a lot of fake websites in existence just to steer you to specific products, disguised as neutral review sites.

Consumer Reports did a rundown, but I don’t subscribe, so I couldn’t see what it recommended. However, it had a publicly available article about getting the most from your digital over-the-air antenna, and geez. The stuff I don’t know.

The FCC has a map of DTV antenna locations. You put in your zip code and select the local broadcaster whose signal you want to receive, and it shows you on the map where the antenna is. You can set the location pin right at your address and it tells you the bearing you can point your antenna to so it’s looking right at the tower.

I had it pointed roughly in the direction of downtown Honolulu, thinking most of the towers were there. Most of them are, and only a few miles away, which is why I got them okay. The KHON (NBC affiliate) tower, however, is on a mountain above Nanakuli, completely in the opposite direction and sixteen miles away. The FCC website says where I am the signal should be strong, though. So I moved my antenna six feet away from where it was and swung it around so it was facing west instead of east, and *bing*. The late afternoon football game, loud and crystal clear.

Part of me wants to scream at myself, because I had all this good TV at my disposal and didn’t even know. Part of me is like, cool. Digital over-the-air is great — it’s indistinguishable in quality from cable or broadband, as far as I can see. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have never looked more beautiful than on my own TV at home.

And because I’m only a couple of miles from the towers in town, the antenna being pointed in the opposite direction isn’t a problem at all for the other stations.

I watched the early game on CBS, the Patriots and Dolphins. I thought it was a good game, but apparently a lot of people disagree. Then I messed around because the early afternoon game was on Fox and I didn’t figure out the antenna thing until an hour into the late afternoon game. Man, I can’t wait until next Sunday just so I can veg and watch the stupid games because I can.

I also watched episode eight of season two of Halt and Catch Fire. It’s seriously kind of a drag right now, which make sense. It’s a ten-episode season, so this is a good place for things to be nearly as bad as they’re going to get.

I played a ridiculous amount of Tsum Tsum, then got to work on that space in my laundry room. It was hot, sweaty, dirty work, but I got it cleared out and cleaned out, and I was able to move some of the newly-packed storage tubs in there, opening up living space where I hadn’t had any for some time. It’s a huge relief, and it’s a milemarker in this Herculean task of decluttering my space. It’s also going to be where I put my newly empty storage tubs. It pleases me enormously that there are more newly-empty than newy-filled.

Breakfast was my unnamed noodle soup thing, which I know I still haven’t explained in this space. Such a good breakfast. It’s mostly veggies, too. For lunch, I took a little inspiration from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and my friend Jennifer and made a little pizza on a tortilla. I crisped it up in a grill pan, then added some spaghetti sauce, white cheddar, and sliced Portuguese sausage. It was good. Jennifer puts hers in the oven and the tortilla puffs up. It wanted to puff up on the grill pan too, but I cut a few holes in it to keep it crackery.

I kind of thought I would skip dinner, but all that cleaning took a lot out of me, so I had a couple of burritos. In between somewhere I finished off the blondies.

Ali texted me super early with a link to a cute IG post about how to drive a book-lover crazy. Kathy got back to me after hearing the New Order song saying they still sound great. Sharon asked me for a coworker’s chocolate mochi recipe, which I was able to find in my work emails. Not a super busy day with texting, but Sundays seldom are.

It’s nearly midway through September. Six months since this lockdown began, with no end in sight. I’m utterly opposed to social gatherings such as we’re seeing on the news, and I have no words for the people protesting the local governments’ attempts to keep us from spreading the virus. But I get it. It’s been a long six months. Nobody wants to keep this up. It’s easy to feel like life is passing us by and we’re missing out on time with others.

But you know. People keep dying from this thing, and if we can do something to prevent the death, we should. I’m here for it. So if you’re reading this and you need some extra connectivity, believe me: I dig it. Reach out in comments and we can talk each other through it.