Last night, we took the step we have been fearing/looking forward to for so long: Both platoons of cats were moved into their new digs. My cats had been wandering around my suddenly empty and echo-ey house for the past three days by themselves; I packed them into pet carriers and loaded them into the truck (the tortoise is still at the shop). Firing up the now muffler-less Scout, both of their pupils got HUGE and their gentle meowing became yowls which roughly translated into


I didn’t think anything was louder than the truck until I heard Teller’s screams of fear going through the Harbor tunnel. Jen called while I was on the road; instead of answering, I held the phone up to the carrier and let him howl into the handset like an escaped mental patient.

Jen’s cats had a shorter ride, but are handling the new situation in roughly the same way. Both groups are prowling around their respective prison camps wondering when they can catch the bus back home; both Penn and Pique are pretty chill about the whole thing, while Geneva, Sage, and Teller are planning to break the pet carrier, fashion shivs, and stage a prison riot. Luckily they all have light, fans, and windows to sit in and get used to their new surroundings.

I sat out on the back porch and talked with my mom last night, and the air was cool and quiet. It’s so much more peaceful there than in the city. I wasn’t worried about the tools in the Scout getting stolen, or the plants on the side of the driveway walking off, or any of the other hundreds of small nagging city fears I’m used to. I finally feel peaceful there, even though the list of stuff to accomplish is about thirty feet long, the laundry and boxes are piling up, and the lawn is getting shaggier.

Now, on that last note, one of my daily reads, What do I know, had a post a few months back about manual mowers and how much the writer enjoyed his old-school mowing. From that site I found a link in the comments to another site,, which features lots of environmentally-friendly products for working in the outdoors. (We have a greenhouse and the sellers left us two rainbarrels, and this coming spring I intend to install them back under the downspouts to collect water for gardening.)

Why the hubbub? Well, we don’t have a mower, and I’ve got to make arrangements for one sometime real soon. I’m considering this manual mower because I could use the exercise, it’s inexpensive, it’s environmentally friendly (I was considering an electric mower as well) and I could use the exercise. To be decided…

For all my tri-state peeps out there: Todd sent me this link this morning. Wave your ADIDAS in the air if you know Carvel.

Date posted: April 29, 2003 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

backyard, mid-august 2002

backyard, mid-august 2002

Jen and I had a very, very good weekend.

The backyard is further along; the brick is down, the sand is in, the planters are full awaiting plants, and there are a number of hearty survivors from last year poking their heads above the soil: sage, tarragon, lavender, zinnias, and both crepe myrtles.

Jen was kind enough to pick up two rolls of 620 film I had developed from the antique cameras I bought last year; the results were mixed, mostly because of my limited skill in composing pictures. One roll was four for twelve and the other was seven for twelve. One of the shots is above: the south planter before we had to tear it up. The results are remarkable when you consider that the glass in these lenses was ground fifty years ago and made for much grainier stock film. The trick seems to be not to attempt any interior shots, period.

There is a new radio station here in Baltimore, a relic of a lost age, attempting to fill a void that is perhaps larger than the universe itself: a free-form college radio station spinning a mixture of eclectic and non-mainstream music (I have to use these dopey adjectives because the “alternative” moniker, as you know, has been co-opted by the Man.) This morning, flipping through the stations, I settled on the new single by Radiohead, and that was followed immediately by “Fight Test” by the Flaming Lips. God help you, WTMD; you’re a rookie welterweight stepping into a ring full of old, bloated Rocky Balboas. I hope you stick around for a while. And I’ll be pledging money to keep you going.

Apple has released the new iTunes, with a pay-for-music service integrated into the player, so people like me who don’t want to use file-swapping can actually pay a reasonable price for the songs we like on demand. Right on. Funny how the music business couldn’t figure out how to do this themselves.

Jason hooked me up with Dreamweaver MX, which is a fancy upgrade from 4.0 for OSX. Very nice; let’s see how it fits in with my workflow.

Date posted: April 28, 2003 | Filed under house, photo, photography | Leave a Comment »

Last night I went through my four-drawer file cabinet in the basement. Exciting, right? Well, if you’re anything like me, you keep the most bizarre epherma for the most inane reasons imaginable. And that tendency seems to get worse if it has anything to do with art or technology. You can learn a lot about me by what I threw away this morning:

  • Two spare Mac disk drives
  • A copy of Adobe Illustrator 5.5 on floppy disk
  • The original 700 MB disk from my 7100
  • Roughly 200 blank and filled 3.5MB floppy disks
  • ATM reciepts from 1995, 1996, and 1997 (separated by year in envelopes)
  • 15 issues of MacWorld from 1999-2001
  • An LP of Donny Osmond’s Disco Train
  • An LP of XTC’s Skylarking
  • 50+ assorted B/W prints from college (embarassing, mostly)
  • Five linoleum cuts dating back to college
  • Three years of collected illustration clippings (other folks’, as reference)
  • Four 500MB external SCSI hard drives (going to Goodwill)
  • One SCSI scanner (also going to Goodwill)
  • 20+ RAM chips, totaling about 10MB, dating back to my Mac IIcx
  • Assorted illustration, design, and web client files from 1997-2000
  • 20+ Print sample books from three years ago
  • A copy of WordPerfect for the Mac, version 2.0, from 1994 (four floppies)
  • Two boxes filled with business cards from jobs I had in 1996 and 1999

Naturally, because I am a geek, I backed up all the floppies that had good stuff on them to CD before I pitched them. I found copies of the promos I built in 1996 to get illustration work, funny sound samples from my sister, old writing from a class I took at Hopkins in 1997, and about a billion different extentions, updaters, and utilities.

Date posted: April 28, 2003 | Filed under geek, history | Leave a Comment »

I shot an email off to my buddy Pat a few days ago, hoping his address still worked, and forgot about it. Pat has been out on the West Coast for the past eight years or so, and I’ve seen him once since we graduated college together. This morning, sipping my coffee, I got an email from him, some of which I’ve included here:

guess what ?
i am moveing to maine
me and my sister and her husband bought a hundred year old house !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and i am also going to look for wooden boat building work
thats my big news
house needs new wireing and a new roof
among other things
rockland maine
you can have california
what are you up to

So my good buddy (and roommate for four years) will be back on the East Coast. Somehow, I thought he’d get to Cali and settle right down, or perhaps move northward up the coast to Oregon, but it sounds like it didn’t fit him well. Welcome back, brutha!

In other news, another old friend dropped me a line earlier this week, inviting me out to go fishing with him; if my schedule wasn’t so hectic, I’d take him up on it, but it looks like beers after work will have to do.

Jen and I are so gonna go see this movie. I hope we have time to do it this week…

Date posted: April 25, 2003 | Filed under friends | Leave a Comment »

diving, 4.11.03

diving, 4.11.03

That’s me!

Date posted: April 24, 2003 | Filed under photo | Leave a Comment »

I’m always amazed at how many things I need my left hand to do- open a can of Coke, wash my hair, take off a sweater, button-fly jeans, work a stick shift, uncork wine…

There’s a new beta of Safari out there, and the Apple Software Updater helpfully uploaded and installed it on my system; unfortunately the style sheets on my log pages are now kaput. Anybody else having this problem, or is it just me?

Date posted: April 23, 2003 | Filed under apple | Leave a Comment »

So I’ve been using X-acto knives since I was about fourteen or so. My Dad got me into balsa wood airplanes by giving me a Spad biplane kit, his fifties vintage X-acto set and a stern lecture on how to handle knives—this was not long after slicing my thumb open with a dull Swiss Army knife attempting to earn a merit badge for the Cub Scouts. I’ve cut thousands of sheets of paper, probably been through at least five 100-count boxes of replacement blades, and made four airplanes since that hot July afternoon in 1985. So you would think I’d know not to stick myself with a number 10 blade as deeply and as quickly as I did this morning. Apply pressure, jump in the car, sign in to the ER and wait. After a few shots of Lidocaine, the young attending sewed up the wide gash with five deft stitches, gave me a pressure bandage, and stuck me with a tetanus shot in the arm.

If I think real hard, I can count a few recent stitches for a crooked laceration on my knee, some in the back of my head when I was six and fell on the big rock in the backyard, and some for a deep cut on my elbow. I don’t count all the times I should have been stitched up—the wide gash under my eye from crashing into my friend Steve playing volleyball (we were seventeen, sucking down beers at my friend Jon’s house on the back lawn, his mom was in Israel, and we had three days of co-ed summer bliss ahead—there was NO way I was screwing that up); the long, deep gash on my forearm from sliding my bike down a wet crosswalk on the way to work in ’95; and several puncture wounds during the long summer years of contracting after college. Tetanus? Feh.

Huh. I just realized that I posted the same picture twice. Sorry folks.

Date posted: April 22, 2003 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

Because the camera is currently in Florida (I am a very nice guy and sent it along on a company trip), I of course saw two things that inspired me to shoot this morning: the 95 overpass against a really deep slice of blue sky, and a broke-down AMC Pacer by the side of the road.

Jen and I woke on Sunday, had breakfast, and journeyed to the Home Depot for supplies. We came home, donned our gloves, and began Backyard Patio: The Sequel. In about four hours we mixed, poured and set about 200 bricks back over the hole from the sewer repair. With three bags of cement, we got all the floor brick back down, the wall to the south planter rebuilt, and had just enough to complete the whole job. Sometimes things work out just right. We celebrated with an Easter dinner of steak and blue cheese, fresh green beans and a tasty Malbec from Argentina. I’d show you pictures of my backyard (as if you haven’t seen enough of those) but my camera… You get the idea.

There are days when software works right, and there are days when it doesn’t. Today, ImageReady is being a buggy pile of crap, and it’s adding hours on to a job that should only take minutes. Arrrrggghh! Days like this only exacerbate my potty mouth. Sorry, everybody.

Date posted: April 21, 2003 | Filed under house, photo, projects | Leave a Comment »

Over the last couple of years, I’ve heard about the superior quality of Nikon digital cameras, and when I was in the market for a new camera, they were my first choice. Having tried several of their cameras, I was quick to recommend one to my Dad, who bought a Coolpix 955 and loves it. Recently, I was corralled by the COO of my company, who took me to Best Buy to pick up a camera in time for a business trip the next day. I hadn’t had time to do the research, but I pointed to the Coolpix 4500 and recommended it based on the performance of previous models. Little did I know what a mistake that was.

The camera worked fine on idiot mode out of the box, but it turned out that the camera interface had been radically altered from the 9XX series so that most of the advanced features were accessible only by finger-numbing button combinations. The “icons” on the camera only serve to frustrate and obfuscate what should be an intuitive operation: manually adjusting the shutter speed and aperture settings. Now, I’m a pretty smart guy, so I figured I’d read the manual to learn how to operate the camera. Problem is, I don’t speak Spanish, which is the only language the manual came in. No big deal, you say: Just order an English manual, Bill. Well, I did. Two months ago. Apparently their printer was wiped out in a hurricane, or ran out of ink or something, because the frickin’ manual is still on backorder. And I don’t get word one from Nikon about that via email—we’re sorry; the manual you ordered hasn’t come in yet… Now, usually this isn’t a problem, because you can find a PDF of the manual on the manufacturer’s site somewhere, right? Wrong. Nikon doesn’t make their manuals downloadable to the public, or they don’t believe in PDFs or something, because I can’t get one online and the dipshits at the call center can’t email me one. (They can’t even bother to put the bong down to talk to me, from what it sounds like over the phone.)

So goodbye, Nikon. You lost me somewhere at Guía de usario de la cámera, and I’m on backorder from here on out. I recommended to my company that we sell this brick of a camera on Ebay and move to Canon, whose cameras work as advertised, who ship their cameras with the correct manuals, and who take the time to capitalize the C and S in Customer Service.

Date posted: April 18, 2003 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »

  • Bring cash. Lots and lots of cash.
  • There are two types of tourists in the Bahamas: twenty-something single folk with stripper boobs, perma-tan and shoes more expensive than your car, accompanied by sketchy-looking guys who fit the “mini-truck” owning demographic, and
    fifty-something folks who just brought the 45-foot ketch in from Grand Bahama.

  • The good folks who live year-round on the islands, while surrounded by some of the lushest, most pristine ecology in the world, treat it like toilet paper in a public restroom.
  • Kalik beer is weaker than Corona with less taste.
  • Be prepared for Key Lime Pie. The other dessert selections will not be available.
  • Embrace your love of butter and deep-fried food. Or bring lots of Balance Bars.
  • No amount of Kalik will make me like Jimmy Buffet.
  • Reggae sounds good when it’s performed live by the guy who stumbles around Main Street talking to himself.
  • One hundred foot visibility at fifty feet underwater is breathtaking.
  • Putting on a wet wetsuit after lunch in five-foot swells is breathtaking in a different sense of the word.
  • Landing your plane in the water every day has got to be one of the coolest jobs ever.
  • Conch fritters are suspiciously close to the consistency of beef jerky.

My first dive was in 25 feet of water at a shallow area called Rainbow Reef, which is swarming with schools of juvenile fish. I made a leap of faith into the water with 50+ pounds of gear strapped to my back, and followed the group down underwater. All worries vanished as I got closer to the reef and took in the sight of hundreds of fish swaying gently in the current, dappled with light through the wave patterns above. Swimming up the reef, we found a barracuda nestled in a low spot, his belly full; a sleeping nurse shark who did not like flash bulbs; a green moray eel sitting idly in his hole, tasting the water around him like a man puffing on a pipe; and an agitated soldierfish who did not appreciate my proximity to his algae farm.

Date posted: April 16, 2003 | Filed under travel, Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »