Things have been very quiet as of late. Despite the access to multiple high-dollar, fancy cameras, I haven’t shot a picture with one in several weeks. I get up, spend a little time with the girls, go to work, come home, spend a little more time with the girls, and as soon as Finn goes to bed I just want to curl up and sleep. The sub-freezing temperatures we’ve been experiencing through January haven’t helped at all, because the house is so damn cold. I don’t want to attempt any projects in the basement or garage, and the first floor is just breezy enough to warrant a warm blanket.
Looking back through the archives here, I notice that this is a pretty average pattern for us; low temperatures and/or January seasonal blues tend to slow things down around here. I like to think I’d be more motivated in a warmer house, but I think the lack of light and gray malaise of late January has a seasonal, smothering effect on creativity for me.
However, I have started forcing myself to lay down at 11pm instead of staying up later, the positive net effect of which I can feel already. It used to be that I would stay up to “get things done” but in actuality I was just continuing a sleep habit carried over from college which wasn’t doing me any good. I’m feeling rested and fresher this week, and I like it.
Last night I did get some things accomplished: I cloned a brand new 1TB drive for my laptop to swap with the tiny stock drive, making photo storage a possibility again. I’ll be cloning another drive for a friend, who’s been having space issues of her own, and swapping out both drives at the same time, if all goes well. I’ll use some of that consulting money for a TV of some kind for our bedroom, which will be a nice treat. And speaking of TVs, I called Verizon to inform them they’ve been charging us for a set-top box we don’t possess for the past year and a half; apparently when the service guy came to replace it way back when, he never took it off our bill. So next month’s cable bill will be about 1/8th of its normal size. Huzzah!
I had the unfortunate experience of dropping my phone in the parking lot of the train station this morning, and not realizing it until I was pulling in to Union Station. I hurried to my desk at work and fired up my iPad, where I found I had to download an app and log in to see all my iOS devices. My phone wasn’t responding so I set up a lost message on the display and called Jen to look in the car. As she was on the phone with me a nice man called her to say he’d found it, and we made a plan to pick it up this evening at the same station.
I hate losing things about as much as I hate being late. Having the ability to log in and see immediately where my devices are is a huge relief (I’ve used it one other time when my phone fell out of my pocket in a movie theater) and also a little creepy. Recent news has been abuzz with the revelation that the NSA has been tracking users through their Facebook app usage; I have no idea what kind of a footprint I’ve been leaving, but I’m sure they know my routine by now.
It’s about 10° outside today, which means we’re all in our PJs at 4PM. I have had no motivation to do anything today other than straighten up the house, swap my AppleTV out with a new Roku, and help Finn put her final Christmas LEGO set together. She’s now got about eight vehicles, two horses, and a bakery, as well as five of the LEGO Friends characters, and she’s quickly become a pro at assembling the kits.
Down in the basement, I have a new IPA kit fermenting happily; it’s called Sinistral Warrior and it contains the most hops I’ve ever added to a batch of beer (6oz.). It smells delicious down there, which means it’ll be a long six weeks until it’s ready. The pumpkin I brewed a month ago is doing well but needs a kick in the butt for flavoring; I’m thinking Mr. Scout’s method of rum-soaked vanilla beans along with some pumpkin pie spice will help liven it up (it’s heavy on pumpkin but low on flavor). I also know what the next batch will be– a session beer, something lighter and flavorful with a lower ABV. I happened to run into the father of one of Finn’s friends on the train before Christmas, and he expressed an interest in learning how to brew, so I set him up with a beginners’ kit for his Christmas list, and we have tentative plans to get together in the next week or so to get him started.
Elsewhere, there was a shooting at the Columbia Mall this morning, and three people are reported dead. I’m glad we habitually don’t get moving until the afternoon, and that we had nothing to go out for today.
I took an early train into work today to make sure I’d get a parking spot close to the platform, and got into work by 8:15. By noon Jen texted me to say snow was drifting on the front steps and that Frederick Road wasn’t plowed, so I ran to catch the 12:20 before MARC shut everything down. I’m now sitting at my desk with a warm heater by my feet, enjoying a liberal work policy, the convenience of telecommuting, and a low stress level. What a difference a year makes.
I haven’t updated much here lately, due to the fact that there hasn’t been much time. Last weekend Finn and I made the Christmas pilgrimage to upstate New York, leaving Mama behind to try and catch up on a backlog of work and proposals. The girl and I had a great time, but we were both exhausted upon our return. I think it’s taken up until today for me to get caught up on sleep. The girls were able to deconstruct the christmas tree and haul the carcass out to the curb the other day, so this may mark the first time the county will have hauled it away as opposed to me throwing it next to the garage and dragging it to the dump in March. This weekend is earmarked for grocery shopping, cleaning, catching up on house maintenance, and two playoff games on Sunday.
I read up on some reviews of the new Mac Pro the other day, and an alternative solution to our storage problem presented itself: a Drobo is basically a 5-bay networked carriage for hard drives, which comes in at a much lower price point than a used Mac Pro on Craigslist. I’m ready to ditch the G5 in our basement, which has been balky and only offers two drive bays; Drobo offers Plex and FireFly compatibility so we can share our media to the AppleTV and to my shiny new Christmas present, a Roku3. Sometime in the spring, I’m going to pull the trigger and consolidate everything.
Life with the iPad has been tricky but workable; I’ve left my laptop home for the last week and a half, and there doesn’t seem to be too much I can’t accomplish on the iPad. Reading books is much nicer than the first gen Kindle. Netflix and Amazon Instant Video are slick; the fact that Spotify is now streaming to mobile devices for free is awesome. I’ve got a great VNC client for remoting to client machines, and Mint’s app is a bit oblique but usable. My big beef is with Yahoo for not offering a full-size Flickr app for the iPad, which feels like I’m still looking at tintypes by candlelight. WTF, Yahoo?
The biggest issue I have now is what my new photo workflow should be. I’m not taking a ton of pictures, but I’d like to take and post more as the weather warms up. With my laptop at home, there’s no easy way to edit and post DSLR pictures until I get home unless I do it on a work machine, which I’m trying to avoid.
I’ve had The Bones of What You Believe by CVRCHES and Days Are Gone by Haim on infinite repeat the last three weeks; obviously my tastes are changing again, in the absence of any good new rock or ambient albums.