1. I plugged the TV into the coax cable in the corner of the room on a whim. We have been visited by the Cable Fairy. Life is good.
  2. The cats have been released into the General Population; it’s a bit like the yard at Attica right now, but there have been no stabbings, uprisings, or riots yet.
  3. We have (really, Jen has) emptied about twenty boxes so far, and there seems to be no difference in the amount of stuff laying around here.
  4. BGE hasn’t come back to finish the panel yet. Seems there’s no difference between small contractors and large ones.
  5. We collectively have enough Tupperware to build a raft and float ourselves to the South Pacific.
Date posted: August 30, 2003 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

NPR has an audio commentary by Jean Shepherd, the author and narrator of A Christmas Story, on his experience at the March on Washington forty years ago.

Yesterday Jen spent the entire day at the house unpacking boxes, washing dishes (yes, we have no dishwasher, one of the things besides CAC that I’ll miss about 620) and making the kitchen liveable. Luckily, the kitchen has a relatively fresh coat of white paint, so it’s sunny and bright in there. The fridge is a smaller apartment-type version, but it holds a remarkable amount of stuff, and it’s pretty new. Plus, it has an icemaker—something we didn’t have in either of our previous houses. It looks great in there so far.

Meanwhile, BG&E was at the house all day ripping out two fuse panels (one for the house and one for the doctor’s office) and consolidating them into one brand-new 220 panel, which makes me feel about a million times better. We had a wonderful fellow named Ben knee-deep in old wiring and 60’s-era Stab-Lok fuses (a competitor to the modern fuse system, long since defunct, and notoriously tempermental) until 8:30 last night. They’re coming back tonight to finish consolidating the meters and mark the panel (and they’ll need some serious help with that, let me tell you.)

As for the phone, the good doctor had four lines coming in to the house; we know that one was the house line, one was the fax, and the other two were business. There’s a mixture of four-prong Bell Systems era boxes, some new RJ-11 jacks, and other mystery equipment scattered around the house, as well as a couple of narrow steel telecom boxes for splitting off the lines in front and back. We had no dialtone in the house until I found the two most modern interface boxes and tried the fax line—naturally, the phone company activated the line used least in the house. So there’s phone service… in the basement. Verizon wants $90 for installation of the first jack and $50 for each additional; I’m going to visit the Home Depot and spend that $50 on some new jacks, 100′ of wire, and an analog phone, and try to get a dialtone in the kitchen tonight. DSL is due to be installed next week, so I have to make some arrangements to get a wire and plug to the dining room, where we’re temporarily setting up the office.

As for me, I’m feeling better about this thing than I was yesterday; there are still moments of outright panic (last night, on my way to the bathroom, the first conscious thought I had was, What the hell have I done?) but I find that when I think of each individual problem separately and not as a whole thundering herd of pain bearing down on us, it feels better. The house hasn’t fallen down yet, it’s in relatively good shape, and it was made well. It will wait for us to get to each issue, one at a time.

And I have to think of all the good things that have happened so far, all the omens pointing to a happy future, and all the bits of luck we’ve had so far—they are many, and appreciated. Great friends, lucky breaks, good neighbors, fantastic help, and small miracles.

Date posted: August 28, 2003 | Filed under history, house | Leave a Comment »

To our moving peeps: Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you.

I’ve spent a total of two nights at the new house. It’s cool and quiet and peaceful (or maybe that’s exhaustion talking) and doesn’t make lots of squeaking noise like 620 did. Our stuff is piled in the doctor’s offices waiting to be sorted through, moved around and unpacked; Jen’s at home right now washing our dishes and sorting through the kitchen gear. Our list of stuff to do is growing by the minute, but for the next week or so, I’m going to quietly enjoy the relief of having the worst part of the move over with.

It didn’t take a 20′ truck to move all our stuff—it took two of them. it’s back at the rental place, and it was fun to drive, but I’m glad that’s over with. Jen’s couch and furniture made it to the dump via her neighbor Henry, which was fantastic good luck. We have plants in two locations waiting to come home, and the balance of Jen’s plants still to move.

This morning Jen woke me with a gentle hand on my arm and we laid in bed talking until I started forming coherent sentences. We drove to the coffee shop down the street, where the guy behind the counter welcomed us back. Returning to the house, we sat out on the back porch and ate breakfast, watching the squirrels chase the birds, feeling the breeze across our faces, and enjoying the morning.

I’m scared out of my mind, but I’m finding peace in small places.

Date posted: August 27, 2003 | Filed under friends, house | Leave a Comment »

I’m sitting in the basement of my old house (the one I don’t own anymore) and writing this on my sleeping bag. The upstairs bedrooms are empty. The living room is dark and quiet. The kitchen is a mess of empty boxes, garbage bags, phone cords, and paperwork—the stack of operating instructions for all the appliances in here—and stuff waiting to go in boxes. The basement is empty except for my tools, bikes, and the IKEA TV stand we forgot to throw on the truck today.

The move itself was a great success. We got the truck out front by 8:30 and within 15 minutes about ten friends showed up to help; With their combined effort we had the truck packed by 11:30 and parked at Jen’s by 1. To everybody who showed up to help, THANK YOU. You’re the best.

Not having anything else to do this afternoon, Jen and I wandered around Columbia and got some dinner. We’re both in limbo, waiting for the signing on the new house tomorrow, and it’s nerve-wracking and frustrating all at the same time. I’m personally cycling through the emotions of terror, sadness, fear, elation, and worry in fifteen-minute increments. Currently, I’m excited to finally get into this new house. Check back with me tomorrow, however; I may be back to terror.

A couple of good things to look forward to, though; The pile of brush and wood blocking the left side of the driveway is gone (thank you). There’s a coffee shop right down the road in town, next to an Italian restaurant, and across from the old 812 Club (now called something like the Ship’s Inn or some such nautical theme) with a decent crabcake and outside seating. There’s a beautiful huge baseball diamond behind the school across the street, perfect for a frisbee dog. There’s the Catonsville Library across and down the street, which should have good historical information on our house and neighborhoood. And there’s the magnolia tree growing slowly in the front yard of the house—a good omen.

Date posted: August 24, 2003 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

I’m surrounded by boxes. It’s pretty crazy in here right now. I’ve been packing for two weeks, and I’m still not done.

Proof that there is still hope for sanity in the real world: Al Franken won the steel cage match with Bill O’Reilly. I love the judge’s quote at the end of the article:

“It is ironic that a media company, which should be protecting the First Amendment, is seeking to undermine it,” Chin said.

Proof that what goes around, comes around. Don’t let that door to Hell hit you in the ass, Father.

Date posted: August 23, 2003 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

Last night I was lucky to meet one of the sellers of our new house, and she was really sweet. Jen and I have a ton of questions to ask her about the history of the house, and she was delighted to hear that—it seemed to make her very happy. We were also able to meet the next-door neighbor, who is an attorney and retired judge of Catonsville (gulp) but who seems extremely amiable and friendly. (He took me aside, pointed about halfway up the driveway of the new house, and said, completely deadpan, “this is where my property line ends…” before smiling and slapping me on the back. It took me a few minutes to breathe again, but after he said, “just kidding!” I was able to relax. I have some kind of genetic fear of lawyers.)

Luckily, after mixing and laying about 240 lbs. of concrete on the sidewalks of the house I don’t own, the insurance company agreed to cover the place. Whew. Also, the sellers are kind enough to leave us with a beautiful oak desk, a church pew, a handmade rug, and the exam table from the doctor’s office—after I explained that we have a friend who knows a tattoo artist who’s interested in it.

Meanwhile, we close on my house tonight, and I officially become a tenant for the next three days.

It’s looking like this may be one of the last times I see broadband connectivity for the next three or four days, so if you need to get in touch with me, use my cellphone number. If you don’t have that, you’ll have to wait until Wednesday or so. Wish us luck!

Date posted: August 22, 2003 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

This morning, among the seventeen things I needed to get done before I left the house, I noticed that the muffler on the Scout was hanging mighty low. I dropped down to inspect it, and found to my amusement that the other muffler has rusted through, so both straightpipes have failed in the exact same spot, a week apart from each other. So now the Scout is officially the Loudest Thing In Six Counties. I can’t move into the new house fast enough, people.

Meanwhile, I got a call from my mechanic the other day to let me know that they’re getting to the Tortoise hopefully today; that should be a funny phone call. I’m half expecting that he’s going to tell me to simply take it out behind the barn and shoot it.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: August 21, 2003 | Filed under house, Scout | Leave a Comment »

This evening I dropped Todd back at his house, and he and Heather fixed me a plate for dinner; their neighbors Mike and Meg stopped over with their daughter Catie as well. We sat out on the porch and chatted, and while Catie was busy playing I chanced to snap a few pictures of her. Thanks for dinner, guys!

catie, 8.20.03

catie, 8.20.03

Renie sucessfully kicked me into upgrading the truck. Thanks in advance for the sleep I’ll enjoy tonight, sis.

Today I’m making a bunch of calls to the various utilities I have to disconnect service and begin new service at the new house; this should be a wonderful symphony of phone menu systems and hold music.

I’m going to finally cut the cord and donate two computers to AmVets—the first two computers I ever bought, as a matter of fact. The first is Norman, a Mac IIcx I bought in the summer of 1995 for the astounding price of $400. Norman was a great old brick for a number of years, and helped me get online and into the computer age; I upgraded him several times until I just couldn’t use him anymore. The second is G-Force, a 7100/80 I bought new (the only machine I ever bought new) from MacWarehouse in 1998 on clearance. G-Force got me through the beginnings of web design, Director classes, and the first freelance gigs I got, as well as being the test machine for MKLinux, when I saw the writing on the wall and began to upgrade my skills. Goodbye friends, and good luck out there.

How about we schedule a meeting, and forget to tell people about it? Great. Sounds like a great idea. Yeeeeaaaahhh.

Date posted: August 20, 2003 | Filed under friends, geek, house, photo | Leave a Comment »

Well, there has been a total of one comment about the glasses so far. Which means one of several things:

  1. They look totally ridiculous and everybody has decided to ignore the subject to spare my fragile ego.
  2. Nobody gives a crap about how goofy I look, so it doesn’t matter anyway.
  3. Aliens are scrambling the brainwaves of everybody I come in contact with, like in that Rowdy Roddy Piper movie They Live, so that they can’t see how stupid I actually look.
  4. All of you are only inches away from punching me in my self-absorbed face.

Thankfully, no one has slapped the books out of my hands, stuffed me in a locker, given me a wedgie, or called me a nerd, so my irrational flashbacks to junior high school are only that—flashbacks.

I am kind of freaking out about the truck I’ve rented for this move, thinking that there’s no way the piles and piles of shit stacked in my living room are going to fit in a 15-foot box. I have to make the command decision tomorrow on whether or not to upgrade. Meanwhile, I can’t sleep and everything on TV is a rerun. Thank God for preseason football, or I’d be drinking myself into a stupor every night.

I like reading other people’s blogs because they offer opinions and commentary on things I’ve thought about, but often how they’re written is better than I could have done. This one has a helpful—and important—reminder for men, from a woman’s perspective.

Adrienne, will you marry me?

This evening I stopped over to the new house to take a peek at the massive, crumbling mansion that’s been growing steadily more decrepit in my imagination. Remarkably, it looks a heck of a lot better than I was thinking it did. I think getting out and walking the grounds was good for my mental health. Jen and I also wandered through the neighborhood until it got dark; we had the good luck to meet our neighbor, who is a nice older fellow, and scope out some of the other houses around our block. The night was cool, the crickets were out, the moon was high, and it was the perfect evening for ice cream. We walked down to the local stand and treated ourselves to two chocolate cones.

I’m going to enjoy this new neighborhood.

Date posted: August 19, 2003 | Filed under house, humor | Leave a Comment »

I paid something like $375 for a pair of glasses about a year and a half ago; they were round frames, somewhat smaller than their predecessors, with thin lenses and UV/antiglare coatings. Expensive, yes, and pretty durable—I’m somewhat of a Sumo wrestler when it comes to glasses—but not without their flaws. About six months ago, scratches started to appear in the antiglare coating, spreading across each lens until they looked like I was peering through handfuls of cat hair. This weekend, coupon in hand, Jen and I ventured to the Lenscrafters to find a new pair.

What I’ve walked out with will shock all those who know me; I have gone totally Euro-trash. Jen calls it the “hipster-doofus” look; you might choose to call it the “fey hairdresser” look. (I hope not.) Thus ends my streak of wearing metal framed eyeglasses (ever since the fifth grade, when genetics cruelly kicked me in the ass) and the end of a twelve-year stint with the round pseudo-Lennon look. At some point in the next week I’ll take a picture of myself to show you. Maybe.

Funniest. Review. Ever.

In a remarkable display of stuffing an entire corporation’s head into the sand, Palm has now renamed itself PalmOne and split the OS and hardware divisions into two companies. Memo to the CEO: Make me a small cellphone that syncs via Bluetooth to my laptop and doesn’t weigh 4 pounds or cost $600, and maybe I’ll buy another one of your products. Until then, enjoy watching your valuation tank.

Date posted: August 18, 2003 | Filed under geek, general, humor | Leave a Comment »