I received a medium-sized box in the mail this afternoon with a new Rickshaw messenger bag inside. Ever since pressing the “BUY” button last Wednesday I was nervous that I’d ordered the wrong size, especially after my blunder buying a large Timbuk2 messenger bag on eBay (large is huge, what I really wanted was a medium) now that I have a 13″ MacBook Pro for work.
The verdict: I think this is going to be perfect. It’s just big enough for the laptop, a Moleskine or two, my iPad, and the few other things I carry on a daily basis. It looks like it’ll also hold a DSLR lens-down without a problem, and the fit is just snug enough that a camera won’t bounce around in the bottom. I chose waxed black canvas on the outside (for a nice weathered look in the future) and what they call Saffron–a shade darker than primary yellow–on the inside. Because it was 40% off, I splurged on a waterproof liner (hidden between the outer and inner layer), the smaller interior organizer, and a laptop case. I passed outside clips, because I never use those on my Timbuk2 bags, and I hate having lots of dangly nylon straps swinging around everywhere. I like the way they integrated the strap with outer flaps so that the bag doesn’t fold in on itself when filled with weight; everything feels sturdy and solid. The shoulder strap is a little lighter than Timbuk2’s but I like the buckle mechanism better on the Rickshaw.
Plus, it’s custom-made in San Francisco.
At work, I inherited a gaggle of older Canon point-and-shoot cameras from the middle aughts, which are mostly useless for serious work. Recently I read a news item about CHDK and the gears started whirring. CHDK is an open-source project to extend the abilities of older Canon gear by loading new software via firmware update, including RAW support, scripting, motion detection, and manual control. I’d read about it a long time ago when I was still using my Canon G3 regularly, but was sad to find I that camera’s wasn’t supported. A quick scan of the list showed me I’ve got three viable cameras, so I followed the directions, had to use a workaround, and loaded one up. Within minutes I’d shot a RAW image and was editing it within Photoshop. It’s a wee bit clunky, but just to have RAW support and a way to script event triggers opens up some interesting possibilities. I’ve got a vague plan for a large box kite carrying a camera rig for the beach this year; we’ll see if I can pull it off in time.
I used a different utility, called Stick, to format the card and install the latest version of CHDK as bootable firmware, and it works flawlessly in the camera. More experimentation to follow.
Ever since we moved into the Lockardugan Estates, we’ve been playing catch-up on 50 years of poor decisions. The most visible of these is the condition of our yard, which has only barely been held at bay by a combination of mowing, judicious tree pruning, and brush removal. It’s a lot of work to stay on top of, especially in the thick of summer, when time is short and commitments pile up. It may also be the reason our neighbors seem to cut a wide swath around us; I don’t think it’s paranoia talking when I say that we’re rooted at the fringes of our local society.
Saturday morning I loaded the Scout up with a pile of brush and bags of leaves from the driveway and hauled it down to the dump. Every winter the trees in our yard drop tons of dead wood, littering the lawn, and I spend time on free days picking it all up and hauling it to the driveway for collection. We have been contacting tree removal companies for the past three weeks in the hopes that someone will give us an affordable quote to make a handful of them disappear, but so far we’ve gotten no callbacks. We’re trying very hard not to take it personally, as we did with the lawn service who didn’t return three phone calls.
On my way back I did a quick recon of area yard sales and ran into a guy who has an Early Bronco a few blocks over, and had a nice chat with him. Then I returned home for a snack and hauled the wheelbarrow across the street to pitch in at the church playground, where they put me to work hauling mulch from a pile way in the back to the various trails and areas throughout the woods on their property. By the time noon rolled around my back was sore but we’d cleaned up a huge section of land.
Returning home, I raked leaves for a couple of hours, cleaning out the back porch, driveway, hedges, and flowerbeds, which changed the outward appearance from “abandoned” to somewhere around “squatting”. The kid we hired to mow the lawn did show up on Wednesday, and did mow, but inexplicably left the median strip out front alone. After I texted him he came right back out and hit it, so hopefully this year I’ll have a regular assist on the grunt work so that I can start making progress on larger projects–new front stairs and maybe even a new walkway. Maybe when the front of the house gets cleaned up, people will start calling us back.
Even though it was gray and rainy, I left work today feeling energized. During the course of the day, I organized my own schedule, engaged a freelance artist I hired on a project I concepted and wrote, art directed a designer I hired on two internal projects, and sat in on a conference with the president of the institution. I began sketching a brand strategy for our mapping products, coordinating a video project with a multimedia firm in London, and was consulted on a Director-level hire by two different people.
It’s amazing the difference a couple of months can make.
15 years ago, I bought a Cannondale mountain bike with some of the first real money I was making at Johns Hopkins. At that time I was riding to and from work every day and hitting the trails on the weekends, so it was a worthwhile purchase. One thing that always bugged me about the bike was the size of the handlebars, which I corrected by chopping 2″ off each end with a hacksaw. The other was the length of the stem, which was excessively long and meant I was always leaning way out over the front wheel. I finally changed that this weekend, with the purchase of a shorter stem, and replaced the old one in about 15 minutes. What a difference.
Now, we have to hunt down a bike for Jen to ride and find a wheel-mounted bike carrier on Craigslist for our summer vacation.
I’ve been using a large Timbuk2 messenger bag to commute to work for the past month, which has been workable but not optimal. I had one of their medium bags for about ten years but it inexplicably vanished a while ago; I was heartbroken because it had been around the world with me and was just getting broken in. Timbuk2’s version of “large” is big enough to carry whole people, and when I’m just carrying a dainty 13″ MacBook Pro and my coffee, it’s a lot of bag for a tiny load. So I’ve been eying used bags on eBay and new bags from Chrome, Timbuk2 and Rickshaw for the past couple of weeks. I randomly signed up for Rickshaw’s email list on Saturday, and today in my inbox I got a one-day offer for 40% off the bag I’ve been wanting. Sold! They tell me it should be here in about two weeks due to high demand, but I can be patient.
We got a flyer in our mailbox from a local kid looking to mow lawns for college money, and I decided to call him up to see what he’d quote for our lawn. After some missed connections, he finally stopped over and quoted us an exceptionally low price, so I hired him on for next Wednesday. If I don’t have to mow the bulk of the lawn and can just deal with edging and actual housework, the weekly cost will be more than worth it. Now, if we could just get a tree service to call us back…