I said before that I’d like a lampshade-style iMac, but Apple just announced the new iMac G5, which is not much bigger than a standard flat-panel monitor. I think Mrs. Lockard would find working on this machine a lot easier than her current laptop. And for $1,300, the baseline 17″ model is not a bad deal at all.
Also: Skype (VoIP software for computers) is now available, in beta, for OSX. I’ve used the alternative, a SIP-based phone made by Cisco, and while it was very cool (think of this idea: carry a phone with you wherever you go. Find an outlet and an RJ45 jack, plug it in, and call England for nothing more than the monthly fee—in my case, something like $10) it wasn’t as simple as being able to do it from my laptop, which would be sweet. If you can get past the cellphone-like lag time, it’s *almost* as good as the real deal.
Dumb House News. There is now a working light in our linen closet. I have still to do the finish sanding, but it should be ready for shelving in the next few weeks, after the bathtub access hatch is finished off. Rejoice!
I’m bored, bummed, and in a bad mood. Happy monday. In happier news, the hospital is kicking Mrs. Lockard to the curb today or tomorrow, which is a step in the right direction. She looks a million times better than last week (I spent saturday night with her.)
My Airport Extreme Base Station showed up on Saturday when nobody was at work. Thanks, guys. No word on when it will make a return appearance.
The two second-floor bedroom windows are scraped, glazed, primed and painted with gloss white. I’m going to have to hit them a second time before replacing the storm windows, but the house is looking less and less like it’s abandoned. I would have worked more yesterday but between the lack of sleep and high humidity, I made like a potato and sat on the couch for most of the evening.
Jen reminded me the other day that this is the year anniversary of our move to the new house. To celebrate, I’m going to share some information with you about greenhouses that I collected last night while trying to hunt down replacement sheeting plastic. Here’s a link to 3 mil greenhouse plastic sold by the roll, which would be cheap and easy to install for the winter. Here’s another link for 4-year 6 mil plastic. Then I got to thinking about overwintering our plants and retaining the heat, so I looked into dual-wall polycarbonate sheeting | link 2 , which would take a lot more work to install (and a lot more money to buy and ship.) All this leads me to the subject of sustainable growing, something I’d love to be able to accomplish—install solar panels, collect energy, and heat the greenhouse without using outside electricity. I found a few articles on sustainable greenhouse farming. And, of course, some articles from the fringe. All of this is food for thought.
Parking Lot. Nate hosted a showing of Heavy Metal Parking Lot in his cube yesterday, and I spent the rest of the day reliving my high school days curled in the fetal position under my desk. No, I didn’t wear acid-washed jeans or Scorpions concert T-shirts, but I lived in a town full of metal-lovin’ burnouts just like the folks in this movie. Seeing the crowds of shirtless, scraggly delinquents leaning against their Novas chugging Natural Light brought me back to the confusing, illogical years between sophomore and senior year. (We had moved from a very WASPish town in Conneticut to a blue-collar town over the border in New York. The distance between the two towns, geographically only miles, could have been universes in my experience.) This was a town which, before the current boom in building, was still in the sticks, scant years beyond rolling pastureland. A town where, after the roller rink was closed (mercifully only a year or two before we moved there), the evening’s entertainment consisted of drinking and driving to the 7-11 for more beer, then hanging out in the parking lot and waiting to hear about the nearest kegger. Where the local Barney Fifes were during all this, I’ll never know.
As the member of a small, persecuted minority, I lived a pretty quiet existence, preferring to live in the fringes than invite ridicule, scorn, and pain upon my skinny body. I remember overhearing earnest, serious discussions at the lunch table over who was more “Metal”—arguing the merits of guitar speed or vocalist (usually Hammett vs. Tipton or Halford vs. Ozzy, ending with a sentence like, “Duuude, Priest RUUUUUULLEES!” punctuated with the Holy Metal Horn Salute); being threatened with bodily harm because of the Police and R.E.M. stickers on my binder cover; laughing under my breath at the gaggle of burnouts huffing Marlboros under the roofed “smoking lounge” outside the band room door; and, upon spying a magazine titled “Metal and Leather”, featuring the singer of Judas Priest, knowing the score with that dude immediately.
I can now look back on those days and laugh, because not only were most of the burnouts skinnier and in worse shape than I, but because I’ve run into some of them since those days and they haven’t changed. I’ve been through Glen Burnie—where several of the HMPL subjects called home—and they still have that same Monte Carlo. Up on blocks in their parents’ front yard. My irrational fear of them was unfounded—it would have been easier for some of them to finish a full year of school than to beat my ass. (Understand: I was 125 lbs. fully clothed in high school, so the spectre of iminent beat-down hung heavy over my head at all times.) Luckily, I got out of there and went to art school, where that group of antisocial wackos got switched with a whole new bunch. But that’s a different story. Interesting side notes: the ‘featured subjects’ in HMPL are from the suburban towns in and around Baltimore, and the only thing worse than a burnout with a proto-Brooklyn accent is a burnout with a heavy Maryland accent. Words cannot describe.
I took the Base Station back apart yesterday when I had a minute to spare, and got it down to its base guts: screws, motherboard, WaveLan card, wiring, case. I put it all back together and plugged it in for one final try, and seemed to work fine. Later, when I got it home and ran it for more than a half hour, it died, leading me to believe that the capacitors are, in fact, toast. (I was attempting to prove the Second Dugan Law Of Fixing Stuff, which goes like this: If you can take it apart and put it back together, there’s about a 60% chance it’ll work again, because something came loose. This is highly unscientific, of course.) I’m going to order the capacitor fix kit online and attempt to get it running again.
Phase Two. This afternoon I’m going to begin the next part of the housepainting project, which involves lots of ladderwork, removal of storm windows, hours of fun with window glazing, cursing, beer, primer and paint, more beer, and replacement of the storm windows. Today I’m going to pull as many of the storms off the front of the house as possible, mark them, and get ready for Saturday. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to this job (this involves something like 25 full-size windows, not counting the atrium) but I’ll be very happy when it’s done.
I posted my 100-disc CD changer on Craigslist this morning after several abortive attempts through the Pennysaver. (Lots of calls from sleepy-sounding methheads asking what color it is. Go away, freak-boy.) Selling this will hopefully finance some other minor electronic purchases that I’d like to make.
Question. Jen and I were talking last night about TV theme songs, and she brought up the album that got made back in the 90’s where rock stars remade a bunch of their favorite tunes. We then tried to think of the song we’d cover if our respective Imaginary Rock Bands hadn’t broken up (over creative differences, naturally.) She mentioned Electro-Woman and Dyno-Girl. I voted for the Fat Albert theme and the Underdog song, only to find they were both covered already. What TV theme would you cover if your IRB was still together?
We here on the East coast are a bit behind the times where some things are concerned. Five years ago, when I used to hear about newfangled technologies and web services, I thought “Gee, that’s a swell idea, but it’ll take fifteen years to reach us here in Baltimore.” Webvan, Pets.com—great ideas, but not available in this backwater city.
So imagine my surprise when I found out that Peapod, which is owned by the Giant grocery chain, is now offering online shopping and delivery service in the Baltimore area. That’s right, for a minimum order of $50, you can have somebody drop off the milk, eggs, bread, and TP to your house when you’re there, or even when you’re not. I’d like to test it out sometime soon to see how well it works. Then maybe we might set up a bimonthly dropoff of the staples just so we can save the time and hassle of picking them up.
In other consumer news, I broke down today and bought a refurbished Airport Extreme Base Station to replace the first unit that died with the liquor return money we got from our wedding supplier. (Gotta love wholesalers, baby!) After doing a pile of research on the other alternatives out there, I decided to give the big A another shot.
It’s about quarter to eleven. I’m sitting in front of my computer drinking a cold Corona, nibbling on some corn chips, and I’m thankful for the Corona, the chips, and the ability to use the toilet when I want to.
I spent the last 24 hours with Mrs. Lockard in Georgetown, pulling a 24-hour shift while everybody else rested. Her family has been staying in the room as on-call nurses, providing companionship, making sure she gets immediate attention and getting the correct information from the various doctors who visit. My wife inherited a familiar stubborn streak from her parents, and comes by it honestly: Mrs. Lockard would hoist herself out of bed and crawl to the bathroom without aid, so somebody has to be there to keep an eye on her. Besides leveling her immune system, the chemo did a number on her memory recall, so she doesn’t remember what the doctors have told her from one minute to the next. So Jen started keeping The Book. The Book sees everything—from the embarassing to the important. It’s a record of her progress, of her climb out of the gutter and into the big ball return of life. Years from now, when this experience is a memory, the family will know how many times she ate popsicles and what color they were; how many bowel movements on a given day; or what goofy shit she said while hallucinating the first week. There are funny notes to each other in The Book, as well as lusty 4am ramblings about the primary care doctor. (He is pretty hot; I’d believe all this care was purely philanthropic if I didn’t actually witness the Lockard women ovulating when he enters the room.)
I saw a lot of Mrs Lockard this weekend (more than I wanted to, frankly—those gowns tend to fall open in the back) and I was nervous going into Saturday night. I’m not a fan of hospitals, doctors, needles, or machines that beep at four in the morning. I’ve only been there for a six-hour shift before this weekend, while others have put full weeks in at the hospital. So I feel unworthy to have been present for two huge leaps in her progress: I would much rather have one of her sisters been present for the first triumphant trip to the bathroom. Or Jen to have been there for the look on her mother’s face when they brought her first solid food in a month. I haven’t put the time in, and I know they could use those boosts more then me.
So I’m going to enjoy my chips and salsa, drink my Corona, and enjoy a trip to the bathroom this evening. If any of the family is reading this, know this: she had a good day.
Having found the use of my 2nd-gen Kodak DC-3400 rough going, Jen left it at home to sit on the shelf. I decided that she’d take the G3 and I’d soldier on with the Kodak until we can muster the cash for a second prosumer-level camera. One drawback to this camera is its voracious battery appetite, which means that I need to invest in better rechargable batteries or buy stock in Duracell.
By the way, Avoid the Ritz Camera on Rt. 40 in Ellicott City, where they overexposed three of four rolls Jen dropped off there, effectively ruining 72 beautiful photographs of Italy she took. Worse, the bitch behind the counter claimed that Jen’s camera was bad (a nearly new Nikon N-65), we’d run them through the X-ray machine (we hadn’t), and the film was bad (all four rolls were from the same pack, bought three days before we boarded the plane.) At no time did she offer a refund or try to make us happy. Fuck Ritz Camera.
Success? After one solid year of the run-around by BG&E, it appears our problems are solved. I got a turn-off notice for an unpaid bill of $250, and called to straighten it out. After one call to their bill pay computer (which helpfully told me the balance due was $350, I called the CSR back and had her hunt the problem down. As it turned out, I have a credit of $350 on the other account—the one I kept telling them about. Oh, and the bills still weren’t merged. Of course, now that I’ve jinxed myself, I’ll probably wind up owing them money again, or the electricity will get shut off.
That’s Wrong. Did anybody happen to see the Olympics last night where they were showing Women’s Gymnastics? There was some Russian chick there who was absolutely frightening: She was about two feet taller and 50 lbs. lighter than the other women on her team, and it looked like she was going to snap in half. I had to turn my head when she landed her vault routine, because I thought she was going to break. Have a Big Mac or three, honey. (I realize I’m not the best person to be telling somebody else to gain weight, but I’m not an Olympic athlete.)