Renie got into town last night after Jen and I put up the Bat-Signal last week. We asked her to come down and help de-paper the hallway so that we can clean it up and get it painted, which will push us even closer to our goal of getting the upstairs finished before Christmas. In a strange bit of serendipity, we also got a call from our friend Martha, asking if we’d like to stop over on Thursday for some fresh Maine lobster brought down by her parents.

A bit of personal history: When I was still in college, I did some contracting work for a friend, and I was introduced to her neighbor across the street, who also needed work done on her house. For the next three years, I worked steadily from house to house in the neighborhood, doing everything from simple interior painting to a complete bathroom renovation. During that time, I got to know Martha and her family, who happen to be some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure to meet.

We arrived to find the house full of people, conversation, and the smell of good food. Introducing Renie around to some of the people I knew, we caught up with Martha’s folks until it was time to sit. And what a feast it was: bowls of fresh lobster with butter, salad, roast beef for the non-seafood types, and plenty of wine to go around. Jen got in from the paper show a little later and we fed her the first real lobster she’s had, which got a hearty thumbs-up. Afterward, we closed out the evening with apertifs, dessert, and helped clean up after ourselves. All in all, it was a great way to start the weekend (early.)

Listen to Morrissey. Morrissey speaks. and his current album isn’t too bad either.

Date posted: October 29, 2004 | Filed under friends | Leave a Comment »

While putting the third coat of white paint over our urine-yellow dining room ceiling, I got a call on my cellphone from Nate.

“Bill. Why aren’t you outside? Go outside and look up.”

So I wandered outside and got to see the moon at about 4/5 of the eclipse. I hooked the camera up on the intervalometer to do some time-lapse shots, but it quickly snuck out of the frame after about 15 minutes.

This morning, there was a knock on the door, so I answered it in my P.J.’s. A man standing on the doorstep asked if “I wanted to get rid of the old International in the driveway.” I told him no, and that was that. I suppose it’s a good thing, then, that I ordered a canvas cover for the old girl, which should be in early next week.

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

Date posted: October 28, 2004 | Filed under photo, Scout | Leave a Comment »

Portishead, Roseland NYC Live. Good creepy, funky scary stuff, just in time for Halloween. Unfortunately, they look to be defunct, and there’s no word on new releases from the band.

In other music news, Greg over at Airbag calls this one right on the nose; The U2 iPod looks like the A-Team van. Yuck.

Time Keeps on Slipping. or: I Hate Steve Miller. The Internet is broke today. I mean, it’s slow. Slow like molasses, slower than a dead snail. Things seem to be moving slowly all over the place today—for example, at the MVA emissions testing facility, which is conveniently located somewhere just west of Idaho. The employees seemed to be happy to let me sit in line for a half-hour while people behind me jockeyed their cars through the lanes and got done ahead of me (I was boxed in), while the disinterested ‘technician’ on my lane stood in front of his computer—a keyboard no more complicated than a Speak ‘N’ Spell—and stared out at the woods behind my car. (An aside: the Maryland emissions testing program, while a good and noble and green idea, does nothing but concentrate massive quantities of carbon monoxide over the testing station while we citizens wait hours for our turn in line. Imagine the helpful, friendly folks at your department of motor vehicles operating mechanical equipment and driving your car.) So I spent 45 minutes chewing on my steering wheel waiting for Employee Moron #17 to hook a gizmo to my gas cap, charge me $35, and drive my car through the garage at light speed.

Oh, I passed.

Date posted: October 27, 2004 | Filed under humor, music | Leave a Comment »

I want this BAD. It’s way too much money, and it’s so perfect for my everyday life, but I can’t justify it (I’d rather have a year-old refurbished TiBook instead.) More info over at Gizmodo.

Tireder Than I Used To Be. Our linen closet is moving closer towards completion, and small things around the house are getting done. The cabinet still needs shelves, the access door needs to be cut down and hung, and the kickplates need to be painted. That’s all fine, and I can accomplish that. Last night, though, I had a bit of a meltdown at 11pm trying to patch part of the dining room wall. During the upstairs renovation I had to pull the kickplate in order to run cable, and as with any plaster and lathe house (especially one as poorly plastered as ours) some of the wall comes out as well. While trying to pull out some of the ring shank nails left over from the crappy paneling job, I yanked six inches of plaster off the wall. By that point, my knees and legs were sore, my patience was gone, and I was running on determination. After sending the hammer on a little trip and banging the paint cans closed, I sat on the couch and shut my brain off in front of The Family Guy. It was the first time since we moved into the house where I felt defeated by it, like it had actually called me out in the playground at lunchtime and kicked the snot out of me in front of the whole third grade.

Of course, being the stubborn Mick that I am, I’m ready to go back at it this evening, but last night was the first time the sheer size of the house got to me. We have about ten open projects right now, all in various states of completion (or not, as the case may be) which await things beyond our control: warm weather, completion of another project, the Bag of Money, etc. and the disarray is getting to both of us a lot more than I thought it was.

Date posted: October 26, 2004 | Filed under apple, geek, house | Leave a Comment »

This morning, friends, I am feeling like I went ten rounds with Hulk Hogan. As blogged elsewhere, Todd held the first annual Bamboopalooza on Saturday, and by the time I got there (about twenty minutes late), ¾ of the stand was laying on the grass, ready to be cut up. We spent a good portion of the day cutting everything down to manageable sizes, and then lit into the stray shoots which were escaping into virgin territory. Heather made us a tasty lunch and gave us beer, which made the work go faster. By the end of the day, we had collected about thirty yard bags of bamboo, cut back some of the encroaching oak trees, and killed a twelve-pack.

Sunday Jen was feeling better so we got our grocery shopping finished early and picked up supplies for the day’s activities. I continued working on the linen closet, getting everything primed, painted, and cleaned, while Jen made food for the coming week. We also enjoyed a drop-in from the Cauzzis, who were getting their snack on over at the Han Ah Reum. All this food talk made working hard—by six o’clock the combined aroma of Shiner stew and bolognese sauce for lasagna had me gnawing on the drywall. After slurping down a bowl of stew, I continued working until I realized it was eleven o’clock and had to stop before the neighbors started throwing dishes at our windows. (P.S. Shiner is making a killer Hefeweizen this year—we highly recommend it. Also, if Shiner made a T-Shirt with the old-time logo on it, I’d buy that puppy in a second. Alas, all their merchandise is standard beer fare.)

Unanswerable Question Of The Day. Why does Windows Media Player suck so damned bad?

Ha ha SOX!

This morning, while sipping coffee through slitted eyes, I noticed a pair of bluejays anxiously pecking at the bird feeder, which made the two of us smile.

Date posted: October 25, 2004 | Filed under friends, house, humor | Leave a Comment »

I looked at the Thing last night, and while I could visualize Jen and I cruising down the highway next spring with the top off, a song playing on the radio, and a bag of beach gear in the back seat, I couldn’t get past the beginnings of rust around the interior of the tub. Overall, it was in really nice shape- the doors (mostly) closed, the outer fenders were in decent shape (and replacements can be had for less than $100) and the interior was intact. One thing that was leaning me towards the VW was the ease of repair on both the engine and the body—I’d be more comfortable taking a cutting torch to the Thing than the Scout, with replacement parts being so cheap. However, common sense prevailed, and again, I thought about the truck in the driveway, all the miles and stories we’ve shared so far, and how she deserves to be rebuilt. So I’m putting $200 into a car cover for the winter and ending the insane search for instant gratification—I’m fully aware that’s what I’m seeking here—in favor of saving the money for a new Fiberglas tub and about ten years of restoration work.

Friday Link Fun: Found last night: the Baltimore County Legacy Website, featuring some excellent pictures of Catonsville, and Jen’s old apartment house, back in The Day. | While doing an image search for a ’69 Mustang (Todd’s mechanic is selling one) I ran across Cars In Barns, a site dedicated to pictures of “that junk heap behind the barn,” which sometimes turns out to be a Shelby Mustang or a SuperBird. Pull up a chair, get out a few hankies, and browse.

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

Date posted: October 22, 2004 | Filed under history, links, Scout | Leave a Comment »

I went to a clients’ house last night to install an AirPort card in both an eMac and a slot-loading iMac, thinking the whole thing would be cut and dry. I was supposed to be there Tuesday, but the negative battery terminal in the Jeep decided it was time to rot itself into oblivion that evening in the parking lot of the Panera, stranding me in front of my dinner and the Classified section of the Sun. More on that later.

As it turns out, the iMac is AirPort-ready but needs an additional $29 adapter to use the wireless card. Strike one. The eMac has a handy door on the front where you remove a bezel with two screws and slide the card in. Easy, right? Well, no, not really. For some reason the card just wouldn’t fit in all the way, and no amount of pushing and prodding would help. Normally breaking down the case to guide it in would be easy, but Apple built it with allen-head bolts to keep schoolkids from taking it apart, and I didn’t have my set with me. Strike two.

Song Of The Day: Don’t Get Your Hopes Up, Dntel. Fitting, perhaps, because I’m looking at a VW Thing for sale tonight in Pasadena, which I found in the aforementioned paper. For some reason, I’m in look-at-used-cars-mode right now. I think it’s partially because the Scout is on life-support mode and I’d like to have a running convertible before springtime next year, and partially because I’m a stupid dumbass who feels the need to spend money he doesn’t have. One bright spot: whereas a new fiberglas door on the Scout would cost somewhere around $850, a new steel door for a Thing lists for $40. (Hell, a new VW engine lists for $1300.)

Heh, heh. Sorry, Yankees fans.

Date posted: October 21, 2004 | Filed under apple, geek, music | Leave a Comment »

  1. Anytime they try to sell a DVD by saying, “Now the adventure will live forever,” you know the movie tanked (*ahem* Van Helsing *cough*) and the DVD is nothing but filler. Also, isn’t Hugh Jackman looking more and more like Travolta every day?
  2. I’m no expert, but anytime you cover over your disgusting bathtub or shower with another bathtub, you should be aware that your whole bathroom is eventually going to rot out the bottom of your house (*cough* Bath Fitter *ahem*.)
  3. The ongoing Stewart vs. Crossfire battle is funny, sad stuff (I can’t call it “news”, because a comedian challenged a “news show” to actually serve the public and present honest debate. I can’t call it “truth”, because truth is at the center of the argument. And I can’t call it “comedy”, unless it’s in the blackest sense, because it’s a depressing commentary on our current political system.) Stewart’s points were dead-on, and the haircuts backed away from each of them like he was holding Kryptonite.
Date posted: October 20, 2004 | Filed under humor | Leave a Comment »

So this afternoon I left the house for work late, waiting for two very nice men to come drill holes in the doors and walls and put little electrical gizmos throughout the house. Because of the recent spate of breakins around us, Jen and I took the plunge to have an alarm system installed. After having put it off after the first incident, we decided that twice was too much. We didn’t go crazy with all the bells and whistles, because the shark-filled moat, hunter-killer robots and tear gas dispensers were all expensive. (Prospective thieves, beware: we did have the electrified dartguns installed, and they’re aimed at belt-buckle height.) The keypad is nice, the units are small and unobtrusive, and the siren is loud enough to peel paint from the walls. At some point I’m going to have to replace our basement windows, which date to the house’s construction, with thicker, modern versions, or glass-block. I’m going to have to beef up the physical security around our first-floor windows, and reinforce the doors, and do lots of other things I don’t want to have to do. I told Jen a long time ago that living in a house where you need bars on the windows is not living, and I refuse to do that. I guess I’m just pissed that we need to have this in our house at all—not that it’s any better anywhere else—but if people would just keep away from our stuff, and take care of their own stuff, none of this would be necessary.

Date posted: October 19, 2004 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

Pledge week on NPR. Ugghhh.

The medicine cabinet is finished on both sides and just about ready for a coat of paint. I followed the pattern throughout the rest of the house and milled down a smaller-scale version of the framing on the bathroom side. The next step is to build a beadboard-faced door and install that on the bathroom side with a latch. Then the whole thing gets a sanding, priming, and then we’re ready to paint.

Seen on a bumper sticker on the way to work this morning:

We are making enemies faster than we can kill them.

Amen, brother.

Close…But No Scout. I took a drive to Sterling this Saturday to look at a Scout for sale, in the hopes that the tub would be good enough for donor status. On further inspection, the A and B pillars were perfect, the hood and front fenders were almost stock, and the top was sprinkled with surface rust. The rear quarters, however, didn’t hold a magnet, and a very rudimetary bondo sanding job was visible under the paint. The tailcaps were completely shot, although he had a pair of clean replacements to go along with the truck. She started up and ran well, and I considered the deal for a long time before deciding to pass. With all the work needed to clean up the rear of the tub, I’d rather buy a fiberglas tub and never have to worry about rust again. So, the search continues.

So I focused my sorrows on something else: Three more storm windows were installed, the east side windows got their final coat of paint, and ½ of the medicine cabinet is fabricated and ready for installation. I’m hoping to finish the inside and put the door on this week—then we can paint and the linen closet will be complete.

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

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