I went on a journey yesterday to find an Irish flag to hang from the mount outside our front door: I’m Irish, my future bride is Irish, and soon our Irish kids will be running free, terrorizing the neighborhood. I thought that it would be an easy thing to find a seasonal flag on St. Patrick’s Day—surely Target or Wal-Mart would have some kind of aisle full of green plastic derby hats and paper shamrocks to decorate your bar, pub, or keg, right? Wrong. There was no recognition of this noble day, this ancient tradition of inebriation, in either store. Aisle upon aisle of sickeningly sweet pastel Easter candy, clouds of perfumed sugar sucking all the oxygen from inside the building, but nary a leprechaun to be found.

Instead of seasonal flags, or even a ‘greatest hits’ compilation of countries, there was the same pathetic collection of cutesy ‘welcome spring’ type flags, the ones which employ every primary color in a headache-inducing pattern loosely resembling a bunny, or a rainbow, or a flower. They were at most 2″ wide, which is about as welcoming as a kick in the groin—I’m looking for something that screams PRIDE, one of those magnificent rippling car sales lot flags that could cover a football field and blot out the sun.

So I consulted the phone book, and found one ‘Irish and Celtic’ store on the other side of town. I talked to a man on the phone with a thicker accent than Shane McGowan, who told me they had a flag for sale that was $25. Excitedly, I drove up there to see Mr. McGowan, figuring they would be beating the people away, this being St. Patrick’s Day, and he being the loveable, toothless frontman of the Pogues. Instead, I found two pimply-faced kids behind the counter and a quiet store—which suddenly made sense: If I were Shane McGowan and I owned a store, I would have been piss-drunk in the pub by 8:30AM and had my kids watching the place too. Handing over my debit card, I got a 3′ x 5′ nylon flag printed with orange and green. I’m not happy about this, and I’m pissed at Shane McGowan. How could a fellow Mick sell me this shite flag? For $25, I was expecting a three-panel flag sewn together, and at least twice the size. How can I be expected to show my Irish pride if I can’t stop traffic with my flag?

Progress. I’ve spent the last couple of days washing, sanding, and mudding the office ceiling, and it’s beginning to come together. I mixed a batch of plaster and replaced the huge swath of water damage from the roof last night, and rembered exactly why I hate working with plaster in the first place. The hole is patched, and the walls look less like an alley in Beirut and more like a flat surface every day. Here are the new pictures.

Date posted: March 18, 2004 | Filed under house, humor | Leave a Comment »

You know you’ve been working in your house an awful lot when you have somebody’s email address written on a chunk of 2X4 in pencil. I did get the ceiling in the office cleaned and primed last night, and began taping the edges in preparation for skimming. So progress is slow, but steady.

Hey, No Copying. Y’know those odd roadside shrines you see to dead people during your travels to and from the 7-11? Usually there’s a cross, and it’s decorated with some plastic flowers or a wreath. Sometimes they get more involved, like custom-carved names, balloons, or pictures, or sometimes the odd motorcycle helmet. Spooky, right? Anyway, I had the idea a long time ago to drive around and take artsy pictures of this strange phenomena, but somebody beat me to it.

Given that gas is getting outrageously expensive in the last few weeks, here’s a tool that might help us commuters.

Date posted: March 17, 2004 | Filed under house, humor, links | Leave a Comment »

My wonderful fianceé did a good turn and helped her mother buy a plane ticket to Florida last week. Considering we live about ten minutes from the dropoff lane of the airport, it makes sense to put her up at our house for an 8:30am departure, and drop her off at the gate. No problem. She arrived yesterday morning and settled in on the couch with five happy cats to keep her company while we went to work.

I returned home with the groceries to find a familiar but unwelcome car parked out front. it turned out that the prodigal daughter knew her mother was staying with us and decided to ‘just drop by’. Given the case history there, Jen and I are about as comfortable having her in our house as we are with elective brain surgery. I invited her to stay for dinner, figuring that it was better to keep her under watch than let her leave with our stereo in her trunk. Jen got home a little while after I did, and when she looked at me, her eyes had the “Oh my (expletive, expletive, expletive) God, who let her in here?” look. Followed closely by a look that spelled H-O-T-W-H-I-T-E-D-E-A-T-H, something that lowers the temperature of surrounding counties by twenty degrees.

We sat and had a peaceful, quiet dinner, and she left after helping her mom do the dishes. As far as we can tell, everything is still where it should be, and no blood was shed. But we decided that’s the last time she sets foot in our house without us being there.

Todd will appreciate this link: Jay-Zeezer: The Black and Blue Album. It’s not too bad, actually.

Monterrey (thx again pop), 3.16.04

Monterrey (thx again pop), 3.16.04

Hello, It’s You. (Part 2.) A few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful woman who
shared a number of things in common with me. We would sit and write
to each other during work, and I found myself constantly waiting for
her next email. She wrote long, insightful messages laced with wit,
hard-knock experience, and cutting sarcasm which intrigued me.

Luckily, she later became my girlfriend, and then my fiancee. Now
that I get to see her every day, and we don’t work for the same
permissive internet startup anymore, our emails have become more
succinct and matter-of-fact. I miss her writing, though, and I often
wish we were back in that VC-funded Eden where lunchbreaks lasted
three hours, candy was free, and we had eight hours a day to write
what we couldn’t say.

She’s been secretly blogging on the down-low for a while now, and
after a tumultuous year with Blogspot, she bought a subscription to
Typepad. She’s been writing there off and on for about a month now,
and recently decided to come out into the open. Please welcome Jen
into our online circle of friends. |

Date posted: March 16, 2004 | Filed under family, links, photo | Leave a Comment »

I hafta admit, I wish I had installed the comments system here a year ago. It’s been really interesting to write about different subjects and see what you’ve responded to over the last month, so I’m doing a little unscientific list:

  • Online Personality Tests – 2 entries out of 3 got comments. (My Theory: everybody got tired of them, or you already got them in your inbox the previous morning)
  • Working on the house – 3/4 (You feel sorry for us, and are secretly happy your houses aren’t broke-down like this one is)
  • Wedding Information – 2/3 (You’re thinking, enough already…am I invited or not, you cheap prick?)
  • Weekend Updates – 2/3 (Because it’s just so much more interesting than the rest of this crap.)
  • Computers – 1/4 (This is you: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)
  • Trucks – 2/2 (Everybody loves trucks.)
  • Booze – 1/1 (Almost as much as they like booze.)
  • NASCAR – 0/1 (But nobody likes NASCAR.)
  • Democrats 2/2 (OK, damn, this got some feathers rustled. Good to see you’re still awake out there.)
  • Frigging AOL – 1/1 (And who doesn’t have a frigging AOL story?)
  • TPS Reports – 1/1 (Or forgotten to put a cover on theirs?)
  • Maryland Ham – 1/1 (Wow. I mean, this one got some people talking. Or maybe it was the beets.)
  • Work changes – 0/3 (You don’t care where we’re employed, as long as we pick up the next round of drinks. Ungrateful bastards.)

So there you have it; that’s what people are talking about.

Pictures. Here’s some shots of the office in progress.

Daily Boardscan. Jen and I have a blue paperweight sitting in the foyer of the house taking up space: a rev C (slot-loading) iMac I bought a few months back in working condition. During the install of OS 10.3, I accidentally kicked the power cord out of the wall and (predictably) it went dark. Upon reboot, the machine made the needed clicks, whirs, and beeps, and showed nothing on the screen. Apparently I had blown the video board in my clumsiness, rendering the machine useless (this unfortunately is not the DVD model with the VGA out port on the back) for anything but anchoring a boat. What I’d like to do is swap it for the rev B grape iMac server, as it’s faster and quieter, but money and time have put those plans on hold. Anyway, after searching in vain for information online about this malady, I found this page with other folks having the same problems.

Music for working by: Chemical Brothers, One Too Many Mornings. Beautiful, driving, relaxed beats.

Date posted: March 15, 2004 | Filed under earworm, geek, house, list | Leave a Comment »

I’ll take this opportunity to bore all three of you loyal readers with the details of my weekend. Yesterday, as mentioned before, I cut the french door down but only fit it in the opening upstairs—hanging a door correctly is one of those jobs that sounds easy in theory but is extremely difficult in practice, something that demands a whole afternoon and a twelve-pack of beer. So instead I cleaned up the blue room and continued replacing the kickplates in the office, getting them all installed by nightfall. Jen and I were wiped out from both fambly and house, so we conked out early, sleeping through a standing invite for dinner with Todd and Heather. (Sorry, guys.)

Today I started in the office by cleaning up the framing for the windows, which had taken some pretty serious damage from the roof leak, plugging the hole, and then stripping the wallpaper from the ceiling. Let me just tell you, folks, there is no greater calling in life than standing on a ladder with scraper in hand, spraying hot water next to a live electrical fixture, all because some idiot decided that covering over cracked plaster with wallpaper was a good idea.

Date posted: March 14, 2004 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

Among other things, I got this installed today. Kickplates are back in the office, and tomorrow I begin fixing the walls.

Date posted: March 13, 2004 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

Anybody who needs a pretty wedding dress to wear for your special day, or just for going to the grocery store, please look here: Ebay item 2896753380.

Here’s something to look at participating in next week: Photo Friday. I haven’t been snapping a lot of shots lately (evidenced by the lack of entries for 2004 over there on the left), but with the advent of spring and an assignment, I think I can get out of the funk and start shooting again…

Music for working by: Boards of Canada, Music Has The Right To Children. Mellow, driving, melodic stuff that won’t distract you.

Huh. Y’know, I feel that I’m a pretty up-to-the-minute guy, but I had no idea that Baltimore had its own Craigslist.

Maybe I’m totally self-absorbed here, but I think that Dave may be calling me out on my link and comment yesterday about voting Democrat. Let me talk a little more about it, and if I’ve missed his point, feel free to comment below and tell me. What I’m asking for is not a simple knee-jerk reaction to the current administration, but a course of direct action against it. Would I enjoy and support a viable three-party system in this country? Sure. (Will I vote for Nader? I don’t think he’s a viable candidate this year.) Do I think that Democrats are just as wishy-washy, underhanded and slimy as Republicans? Of course. But I also think that anybody who believes our current president is doing anything besides promoting the agenda of a few very wealthy organizations is kidding themselves. Say what you will about the previous Democratic administration—they had progressive foreign, economic, and environmental policies, and for all their warts, I believe they made my life better. I don’t see anything like that with the current administration—I see lies, fear, and fascism in the guise of “Homeland Security” and patriotism.

Would I like to see a fresh crop of idealistic public servants reshape our government? Of course. Will that ever happen? Read your history books. In the meantime, I’ll take the next best thing.


Date posted: March 12, 2004 | Filed under friends, house, photography, politics | Leave a Comment »

There had better be a beer or two in my immediate future, because I am in a foul, foul mood.

Required Reading. Vote Democrat.

Crap, Part 2. One of the other joys of being able to field one’s own minor-league kitty softball team is the collective pile of fur they leave behind. Actually, it’s not one big pile—they can’t be bothered to clean up after themselves, of course&#151but an inch-thick layer throughout the entire house. We are constantly running the vacuum cleaner, chasing after dust bunnies the size of grapefruit, but as soon as one clean swath is made on a horizontal surface, it is covered by more fur. (Or, a helpful cat, who will then commence shedding like Pig-Pen from Peanuts.)

So it was inevitable, of course, that our washer drain would become clogged with the winter coats of five nervous cats and begin backing up into the utility sink (let’s all just savor that word for a minute: utility sink. Do you know how great it is to be able to work in the basement and wash one’s hands without having to run back upstairs to the kitchen? I’m in heaven here, people). I busted out the pipe wrench and attempted to pry the cleanout drain cover off a hundred-year-old iron pipe, with predictably negative results, and then tried running a snake down the sink drain. I’m sure that sink snakes work for extremely talented people and drain-cleaning professionals, but for me the process resembled fighting an agitated ball python in a puddle of sewage.

We called in a professional. This morning Mike rang the doorbell as Jen and I were getting ready for the day, and I ran downstairs to let him in the basement to deal with our balky pipes. Within about five minutes the drain machine was turned on and off, and Mike came back upstairs to present me with a bill for $140 and a sheepish smile.

Thankfully, he disposed of the clog, which I’m sure was the size of a bowling ball.

Funny Bunnies. Just click here. You’ll thank me.

Date posted: March 11, 2004 | Filed under house, humor, links, politics | Leave a Comment »

The interface I’ve been building for the last two weeks, which was fine and dandy as of yesterday afternoon at 3:30, has now been scrapped and redesigned by somebody else. Whoopee. To butcher a bastardization of the english language, I feel full of value-add.

(Yeah, smartass, I know it’s incorrect grammar, but I’ve been in meetings where CEOs of multi-million dollar companies have exclaimed, “I like that idea! that’s really value add!” Cretins.)

Date posted: March 10, 2004 | Filed under art/design, humor | Leave a Comment »

that picture of the cameo I promised. Ain't that just beautiful?

that picture of the cameo I promised. Ain’t that just beautiful?

What A Bunch Of Crap. One of the drawbacks to having five cats is the combined, um, output to deal with—we passed a veterinarian’s sign on Saturday which cheerfully reminded us, “YOUR CAT WILL EAT 28 TIMES ITS WEIGHT IN FOOD YEARLY”. We’ve been collecting about three weeks’ worth of output due to inclement weather, and it’s now time to get that out of the basement. Let me explain a little about our trash service: They won’t pick up anything weighing over 20 lbs., which makes most trash cans useless. (One cat will foul 20 lbs. of litter in a week.) Historically, our truck averages a pickup time of about 10:30am or so, which means I usually put the trash out as I leave for work and return to find the cans strewn about our driveway.

This morning, I hauled nine bags out to the curb at 8:30, knowing I’d have plenty of time before it was collected. I left for work an hour later, passing the magnificent pile of cat poo, and drove down Frederick Road looking at…my neighbors’ empty garbage cans.

On a positive note, some good samaritan came by and collected the dead opossum carcass from our front lawn, so I didn’t have to deal with that.

Office Space. The office is now officially wired, which means I can start replacing floorboards and cleaning up the mess I’ve made. One power line, two data lines, one phone line, and one cable line. Halleleujah, amen.

Date posted: March 9, 2004 | Filed under house, humor, photo | Leave a Comment »