When I was a fifth-grader in New Jersey, I lived in a big postwar development where all the houses were close, but not too close together. The streets were lined in a grid and well lit; you could always find your way back home by counting back down to fifth street, where I lived. On Halloween, my mother let me and my friend Brad wander the whole neighborhood by ourselves until the homeowners got tired and put the almost-empty bowl on the porch with a “take one” sign. For a kid who grew up pretty close to home (not by choice) this was a night of pure freedom—we ranged out as far as we could imagine, almost all the way up to the Krauzer’s at the far end of the neighborhood (which was considered a Voyage To The End Of The Universe during the summertime.) We avoided gangs of bigger kids looking to terrorize us smaller ones by jumping into bushes or falling quietly into groups of larger kids. Brad’s older brother Todd had warned us that he and his friends would be out looking for us with shaving cream and eggs. We walked the first few blocks in constant neck-jerking fear, but soon succumbed to the pleasures of free candy and no parental supervision, filling our pillowcases and itching at our costumes, and the night seemed to last forever.
I just read that Jam Master Jay was shot and killed in Queens last night. Everybody wave your Adidas in the air.
I also got an email the other day from our friend Paul, who has been quietly reminding me how bad the trucks I lust after are bad for the environment and for the other drivers on the road. Paul, I’m working on a reply—hang tight.
Jen and I went to the AIGA Baltimore’s Pulp, Ink & Hops show last night, where they get you drunk and give you lots of paper samples. This year we departed from SOP and picked up only a few samples while drinking the same amount. It was good to catch up with a bunch of people we haven’t seen since, well, the last PI&H show.
And what must be one of the most absurd things I’ve read in a long time, the Boy Scouts are gonna kick this guy out unless he renounces his atheism. You know what I say about the Boy Scouts? The hell with them. I don’t think religion, or lack thereof, should have anything to do with whether or not you’re a Boy Scout. Whatever happened to common sense? Seems to me they should give out a merit badge for that, too. Tell me what you think.
Currently, the Taurus is in the shop for various ailments; among other things, the idle is either racing or DOA with about a second of reaction time in the middle. The coolant system is on its fourth hemorrhage now, after a new radiator, set of hoses, thermostat and gallons of antifreeze. The Saturn is acting up as well—Jen called via cellphone this morning to have me on standby for a search and rescue mission. Today I started the Scout and had it three quarters of the way down Fleet Street when it decided to stall. Luckily I had some forward momentum and was able to point it towards the corner of the curb, but horsing a ton and a half of iron to the side of the road when the power steering pump has shut down is a bit like trying to make a left turn in a commuter train- it just ain’t happening. Once I had her warmed up to 100% she was fine, but it seems that none of the vehicles in the Dugan-Lockard Collective like this rainy weather one bit.
OK, this is kind of cool, and brought to you by the Mormons. The 1880 US Census data is now online; you can research ancestors based on a number of different criteria such as birth and death records, country and state, and their relatives. I looked up my namesake, William Dugan the First, and found a number of different records matching the criteria. I have to check with the Third and find out where and when the First was born, and perhaps I can provide some data to the family. (via megnut)
There is a significant interest, after a meeting yesterday, in moving the 3-D development at work away from Discreet’s 3Dsmax to Alias/Wavefront’s Maya. As a recent learner of 3Dsmax, I have to say that I was impressed with Maya and excited to use the software. As a longtime Mac user and supporter, I definitely have to vote in favor of Maya, because there’s an OSX version that looks good. Keep your fingers crossed.
I burned a ton of CD’s last night in an attempt to get backed up files off all the various machines laying around the house. Let it not be said I am a careless person—I think I now have about four backups of the freelance work I did back in the Greycube days. Speaking of, I’ll be getting a final-final payout from Greycube this week from Dan; with that, the enterprise will officially be over.
I heard this on NPR a few weeks ago and was fascinated, now I’m finally linking to the story. NPR has done a fantastic job of programming, and it’s nice to see their site is not a bastard stepchild.
BMWFilms sent me a notice that Hostage, their first in the 2002 series of movies, has been released; It’s directed by John Woo and it’s very good. As much as I like the backstory beginning, I love the original car focus of the first series—I realize they are advertising their whole line of cars, but I don’t think the Driver would be tooling around in a Z4 convertible. The 7-series was a much better choice of vehicle. It’s also good to see they have lots of hidden features like last year.
Use this for your enjoyment the next time you get one of those annoying phone calls just as you’re about to take the first bite of dinner.
With the exception of a section 3′ by 7′ wide, I bought, cut and installed all the decking in the backyard. Before I can screw it in place, I have to spec out the lighting and run the cabling; then it should be a straightforward installation of all the planks. We’re almost there!
Knocking around my brain: Land Rovers. If I can’t find a decent Scout in this area, maybe I can find a Land Rover Series II in decent shape somewhere. The purchase is way off in the distance (much as I’ve given up on another Scout this year) but it’s good to educate oneself , especially with foreign-made trucks.
I found this article on the Baltimore Business Journal about the web design industry in Baltimore; I thought it was interesting from a developer’s perspective. I was interested (but not surprised) to hear that a few of the other interactive shops in town had closed down besides GR8.
I got my CD-burner in the mail today via FedEx, and so far I’ve made a backup of my freelance directory; I’m in the middle of burning all the stuff off my old internal hard drive so I can use it for music storage. It’s a bus-powered FireWire 8x8x24, it’s small, and it does a pretty good job. I’m happy.
They got the asshole responsible for the sniper attacks last night; turns out he was sleeping in his car in a gas station around the corner from where Jen works. (That was where he was ticketed by the cops on October 8.) Thank god that area didn’t fit his MO, and that Jen doesn’t loiter long outside in that area.
It’s another dreary, wet day in Baltimore. It’s also freezing as hell outside- there’s some kind of front in over us right now that is bringing frigid air all the way from the steppes of Russia; I woke up this morning with two cats glued to my body, drowsy from the heat of the wool blanket.
I suppose I should be thankful though, because along with my CD-burner (classified as a business expense) I’ve also made a long-awaited upgrade to my kitchen; I threw out the 1980’s era microwave (lined with solid steel, finished in that lovely fake wood vinyl stuff they pasted on all appliances during the Reagan era) which had been, over time, cooking my reproductive organs from across the room. I threw it in the back of the Scout and heaved it into the Dumpster behind our office building, on top of a pile of old office chair boxes, never to smoke up my kitchen again. I then went and picked out a lovely new white microwave from the Sam’s Club.
For the last few days, I’ve been setting up an outdoor work area in the backyard while I build the stairs. This includes plugging in the 13-year-old black-and-white TV my parents bought me when I first came to college and tuning in to The West Wing while I run the circular saw. (My neighbors love me.) In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been this idiotic nut running around shooting random people in the southern DC suburbs, which is far enough away that I’m not afraid to visit the Home Depot after work every day, but close enough that every dumbass local newscaster is having a brain hemorrhage attempting to channel Dan Rather.
Baltimore is a quiet, relatively peaceful blue-collar city where housing is cheap and the commute isn’t too bad. So we get the third-rate newscasters, who attempt to put a serious spin on the spiraling murder rate between cheerful program shills for “Crossing Jordan”.
Which is why I wince when the talking heads come on and fill up a half an hour of my time with in-studio and remote broadcasts dissecting what little information the PG County sheriff is releasing, injecting the most banal pop-psychology drivel imaginable into news items the size of walnut shells. Imagine Anna Nicole Smith giving a stream-of-consciousness dissertation on the socio-economic impact of the Gulf War and you understand my pain.
So it was with interest that I read the Baltimore City Paper’s interview with Michael Moore, who coined the phrase “Sniper Porn”:
“You have to ask yourself…after the first 15 minutes of sniper coverage on the 6 o’clock news, ‘Am I learning anything here? Does this help me or my family? And if not, why I am still watching it?’ Because at a certain point it becomes pornography—sniper porn.”
I found a really good website, run by the EFF and a consortium of law schools: chillingeffects.org. Very good information about interent copyright law. Metafilter had this interesting link to some demographic information based on census data and purchase records: You are Where You Live. For the record, I don’t use call answering, I hate Face The Nation, and I certainly do not have a subscription to Elle.
I’m sitting in a coffee shop up in Guilford reading an announcement about a free wireless network inside the store. It gives me the net id but tells me to call a number to set everything up…unfortunately my cellphone doesn’t have coverage in here. Grrr.
All attempts to get Win98/WinNT to see or use the Laserwriter have failed; I think the final solution is simply to buy a centronics to parallel connector, hook it directly into the SMC hub and use the built-in printer server.
I bit the bullet and ordered a FireWire CDR/W from SmartDisk yesterday; it’s an 8/8/24, but it’s bus-powered and has a much greater transfer rate than USB. This will be the final step in my upgrade of the home network system, and allow me to once again back up native Mac files to a Mac disk, clear a ton of crap off the NT server, and generally clean things up. And, it was $99.
Here’s a real nice website with a bunch of good info: WebmasterBase.com.
My Scout is a funny collection of quirks, oddities, safety hazards, and well-designed parts all moving together in a strange harmony. Generally, the gas/oil gauge remains dark when I turn the lights on; the bulbs work, but there’s a funky connection in the 24-year-old wiring. As of a month ago, the right turn signal would light but not blink, although the relay for the hazards blinked all four turn lights. I drove it yesterday, after it sat idle in front of the house for two weeks, and coming home last night the heat blew steady and warm, all the dash lights were on, and both turn signals lit and blinked. I know it misses me, and wishes I would stop the rust that’s eating away at the door pillars, and it broke my heart to know that I can’t find anyone in the are who will take the job on. I love that truck.
I have a guy coming out on Friday morning to look at and estimate on how much it will cost to tear out and replace my front door and transom window, a job I’ve been waiting to do for the five years I’ve been in the house. I can’t tell you how much I want to do this.
I found this article written by Joe Galloway about his experience in Vietnam, after watching We Were Soldiers. Interesting to hear the story from his perspective, and it’s interesting to know that some of the reality made it into the movie.
Tonight in the backyard I got the rest of the step supports built, and I put another vertical post in under the stair platform. I wasn’t able to get the stairs started because I bought 2×10’s instead of 2×12’s, but I marked out the pattern on the 2×10 to verify, and all looks good. So tomorrow afternoon it’s back to the store for more lumber, and I’ll begin cutting each stair riser when I get home. After that section is done, I can finish the framework and then start laying the planking down. I will post photos when there’s a little more to see.
After the last three days, I am beat. I got certified to scuba dive on Sunday, after spending a total of about five hours in a Pennsylvania quarry attempting to stay warm. We did a bunch of different skills, and finished off the day on Sunday with an eight-minute trip down the quarry wall at fifteen feet and back. It is another world down there, beautiful, mysterious, and exciting, and I hope I can dive somewhere with better visibility and more exotic marine life.
I also got four supports for the step built Sunday afternoon, in a last gasp of energy. The backyard is coming together slowly—I can see the end nearing slowly. A week of good honest work out there and I think I can get a lot of it completed.
The leaves are falling on my street. The trees planted on either side tend to drop about a month before the rest of the state, and every year it makes me a little sad in advance. Our little block looks much cheerier when the leaves are still green.
Jen lives in Catonsville, a commuter suburb of Baltimore, and as a resident, she gets the Pennysaver. She has actually made a habit of grabbing it on her way in and saving it for me, bless her heart, because I am one of those guys who loves to peer through the tag sale and Cragar van rim ads for that single gem, that nugget, that super deal. Browsing through this last week’s issue, I found an ad for a Laserwriter Pro 630, the printer I’ve been nosing through eBay for these past six months. I drove down to Crofton last night in the rain and traffic and looked at the printer, which occupied the corner of a neat upstairs office in a trim suburban house. The guy was real nice, obviously didn’t know what he had, but seemed interested in buying a Mac for himself; we talked for a bit, and I left $125 lighter, taking a chance on the unit because I hadn’t seen a test print (I forgot to bring an AAUI connector) but knowing I’d probably be able to fix anything that was broken. I got it home, connected it to my hub, and ran a test print. The engine has a total of 2,764 prints on it—this on a machine rated for 450,000 prints on one engine.
This last week’s New Yorker had a great book review article which made me stop and think, and bookmark a certain paragraph. David Owen reviews Measuring America, by Andro Linklater, which reviews how the shaping of the New Frontier, among other things, shaped our current measuring system, and illustrates why we are the only country not to adopt the metric system:
“The units in which American building materials are measured are idiosyncratic in the extreme—they include gauges, penny sizes, nominal dimensions, and a host of other anachronistic absurdities—but the over-all system works well, in part because it arose organically from human activity instead of being imposed from above by theoreticians. The standard metric measuring tape was clearly not designed by anyone who regularly worked with wood: a millimetre is smaller than the tip of a builder’s pencil and narrower than the blade of a saw, and the closely packed, uniform gradations on the tape are hard to make out at a glance except in bundles of five. In contrast, a customary American tape—with its easily distinguishable divisions of sixteenths, eighths, quarters, halves, inches, feet, and sixteen-inch framing intervals—is harmoniously suited to the way in which it is used.”
What struck me was the point that the system arose from human activity and not from theory. Many times I’ve had an design idea that I would like to incorporate into a site, only to test it and find that it was annoying or unusable. Simple things in my house, such as placement of appliances, have evolved over time to coalesce into usable patterns and methods (especially for me, someone who remembers visually.)