Saturday, July 02, 2005

It's quiet so I can work

Let's see: everyone else in the house is gone for the day or the weekend. The cats are all fed and are either outside in the sun or flopped around on beds in the house, asleep and storing up evil. The new computer is purring happily to itself with its incredibly quiet little fans that I paid extra for and I have all the files slurped up from the other computers so I can actually turn them off, making it even quieter. I even found a box of the videotapes in the garage so I can slot something that I can have on in the background. (Most of the books and all of the videotapes are still boxed up, patiently waiting for the day when the new house is finished and they can break free and take over the world.)

I'm finally able to get writing done without interruption. Well, after I get the new installation of Word configured (grrrr!). But, at least, it's nice and quiet. ~sigh~


House and garden... well, in reverse order

Every time I post something about how the garden is doing, I have a sense of "And the garden is doing amazingly!" It just keeps getting prettier and I keep thinking that it couldn't be better than this!… whatever "this" is at the moment. I guess I shall have to accept that it's as good as it's gotten so far and that it's going to keep getting better for another month or two. Here's the latest example:

The fir trees in the back deck have 8-sided planters around them, which we've filled with alternating colors of impatiens.

This is a closer shot of one of the fir trees and the planters full of impatiens.

This barrel's full of marigolds... well, and dahlias and lobelia and other things, too, but lots and lots of marigolds!

Another of the flower barrels on the back deck. This one has a lot of everything in it. If you look closely, you may spot a flower or two from the fuchsia, which is being buried alive by other flowers. I thought the fuchsias would be taller or that the other flowers wouldn't be so vigorous. Next year, the fuchsias are going to go into baskets where they won't be eaten up by the rest of the plants.

The petunias really went to town in this barrel for some reason. The deep purple ones have a high, sweet, clear scent to them.

This barrel has lots of pink petunias in it, too, so here's a shot of the other side of the barrel just to show them off.

The hanging planters are doing well, too! As you can see, there are windchimes everywhere, which make for a pleasant constant chiming.

This is the barrel that you can see most easily from the kitchen. The lobelia and verbena are probably going to end up close to the ground by the end of summer. Scrumptious!
All four of the flower barrels have big healthy dahlias that are sending out masses of orange flowers with red splashes and at least half a dozen other flowers as well. The new house is going to have something like this along the front; it's just too pretty to not do something like this.

The new house is looking good, too. When we stopped in Friday evening, the first floor was getting plywood and the second floor was getting decked in.

The base of the stairs is now in. You can get up the stairs and see the decking. coming down is actually a bit hard as there is nothing to hold on to and the stairs are very thin. It's like walking down a ladder without hanging on to the sides--not a lot of fun.

This shows the music room from the top of the stairs... except it's no longer the music room; it's going to be the sewing room. The piano's going to go into the great room. The upstairs sewing room will still be a sewing room, but it'll allow for things to be spread out a bit and there won't be a lot of walking up and down the stairs (hard on the knees) to get to the sewing room when the mood strikes.

With the second floor deck and the stairs in place, I can now look out from the level that my office window will be at. I can see the city and even the mountains in the distance. Hot damn!


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The house bulletin

We stopped at the building site yesterday and the framing is about half done for the first floor. The second floor hasn't been done yet. The house is clipping along nicely.

The front of the house has taken shape now. They've poured the front porch and you can see the general lines of the first floor.

The garage is your basic two-car garage, although this architect's plans always are a little narrow in the garage. Oh, well, it'll work fine.

There's also a keyhole part of the garage on the right that would fit another car (no) or a storage area while we move and then ultimately a place for me to work on stained glass and things like that.

This is a shot looking across the kitchen towards the dining room. (I'm sure that this will all become clearer when we've got more walls and so on.)

The dining area has a great view out to the back yard. Figure on lots of flowering things like rock rose and lavender on the hill behind us.

Okay, now this shot is really going to be a lot clearer with more definition. You're seeing the fireplace area in the great room. I know, I know, it's a bunch of 2x4s and plywood at the moment; trust me, it'll look gorgeous.

We also had a chance to meet the folks who are building essentially the same house not far from us. We were looking at their house (which is about 6-8 weeks ahead of ours in the construction. They've got their drywall up now and it's really clear what the house will look like when it's done. It was veryexciting to see that. I mean, we'd been feeling really buoyed to look at our framing and get an idea of what's going where, but seeing the drywall and the rooms made it seem that much more real. It was hard to leave their house because it just felt so good. As it happened, as we were getting into the car, they drove up. We got back out of the car and hallooed and introduced ourselves.

We spent a couple hours talking to them about our houses, our housebuilding experiences to that point (pretty good), what we do, and all sorts of things. The time just flew by. They're wonderful people! I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

This week, we've picked lighting fixtures, carpet, and outside paint colors. It's a lot of work. Oy. With any kind of luck, I'll get writing done this weekend.

The new computer is up and running and 80% populated with software and files. There are pieces here and there that I need to duplicate from other systems, but it's mostly big file slurps and we're okay other than that. The old #1 computer dies with a blue-screen-of-death about once every 3-4 hours on average at this point, which makes sucking tens of gigs of info from its hard disks a slow process, but it's working well enough for me to complete this and then give it the brain transplant it's been deserving for so long (mwahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa!).


A cool cemetery

The Hope Cemetery in Barre, NH, is a fascinating place. For a sampling of some of the amazing marble carvings there, try their website, but you should definitely plan a stop if you're going to be in the neighborhood.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Bush Speech Drinking Game

This little nugget comes from an article on from William Rivers Pitt:

Tonight should be interesting. If I were still in college, I'd propose creating a drinking game based on this speech. Drink a beer after every lie. Drink a beer every time Bush says "freedom," or talks about September 11 as if those attacks had anything to do with Iraq. Drink two beers after every wildly unrealistic assessment that has no basis in fact. Drink a beer and a shot every time he says "Nukular." Two beers, a shot and a kick to the head every time he thanks the troops around him for the sacrifices "we" know must be made. Anyone still standing after ten minutes wins a Kewpie doll.

It's probably a good thing I graduated.


Tom Lehrer videos!!!

Elisabeth emailed me a few days ago with links to a 13-minute Tom Lehrer video, which includes several songs I'd never heard before, and an animated version of "The Elements". Tom Lehrer was a major deformative influence on my life and I love seeing footage of him. has a number of interesting facts about him, including some great quotes such as the following:
The nature of forbidden words has certainly changed. For example, when I was in college, there were certain words you couldn't say in front of a girl. Now you can say them, but you can't say 'girl.'


Sunday, June 26, 2005

TV trivia and quotes

A blog that I'm rather fond of, Divorcing Rick, has just posted a really wonderful TV trivia quiz. There are a number of delightfully obscure trivia questions that only a confirmed tube-a-holic is going to answer. (I, who consider myself a fair toober, was only able to answer mebbe 1 out of 3.) There are some delicious quotes, too, including this one from David Frost:
Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home.
Pop in there and try your hand at it.


Once again, the week got away from me

It's been a busy week yet again, so here's a huge, gi-normous post about all the news that's fit to blog.

The new house is moving forward, though it's being a bit of a pill here and there. The framing has started going up (which is good) but there are errors in the framing (which is way bad). There was a sliding glass door framed into the bedroom (which doesn't have a sliding glass door) and a full window on a wall with only a transom and a few other problems. I recognize that this is a typical problem, but it's annoying and it doesn't make me feel as comfortable as I'd like with the building process. Regular, even daily checks of the building site are probably going to be necessary to avoid serious screw-ups. Yes, that is a good idea in any case, but it's just One More Thing.

This past week saw us at the first of several swing dancing classes. The instructor is a great guy with a wonderful teaching style. We're learning East Coast swing. The joke is that we'd actually intended to sign up for social ballroom dancing, but we got the wrong course listing and kept thinking "Swing dance, swing dance." Well, it's not like it's a hardship, and ballroom dancing can happen this fall.

On the way back to the car, we looked around the neighborhood. I had occasion to pick up several alternative papers and a guide to the Oregon Country Fair (which happens in a couple weeks) at a local bookstore. We then walked back to the car. There were three people in their early 20s on bicycles near the car chatting with a fourth, slightly older, person of Indian extraction (he turned out to be from Bombay) who was parked roughly next to us. We excused ourselves through the bicyclers, who were very polite, and were getting into the car. One of the bicyclers was a woman we've seen around town--she's very visible, having a fair number of facial piercings and some humungous blonde dreadlocks--but the one guy in the group had a face full of piercings and of tribal tattoos. The Indian gentleman was talking to the lot of them about tattoos and piercings and so on. We started the car but stayed for a couple minutes listening to the conversation, which was very interesting.

The bicyclers left. We had the windows rolled down and we asked the Indian gentlemen--whose name was Ahmed--"Did you sign up for that conversation or did it just happen to you?" Ahmed smiled and said that he'd love to know where you go to sign up for conversations. We started talking about the young man's facial tattoos, which were really, uh, vigorous, and Ahmed observed that it was interesting that he'd made such a commitment. Yes, that it was. We talked about tattoos and piercings and so on. Ahmed was a bit surprised to find someone looking as straight and middle-aged as I knowledgeable about tattoos and piercings, let alone the possessor of same. Ahmed turned out to be a photography student from NYC who was travelling around the country doing a documentary on an unspecified subject.

We talked for a long time in the parking lot. Ahmed said he's currently living in a trailer in the woods near Roseburg. He asked about things to see in Oregon. Well, he sure came to the right place for that! We told him about the Eugene Saturday Market and what a wonderful place to experience Eugene, old hippies, and really neat crafts all at once. We also told him about the joys and wonders of the Oregon Country Fair and some of its history (Ahmed was very interested in that). Other places we pointed Ahmed were:

  • The Oregon Dunes on the coast near Coos Bay

  • Sisters, Oregon, and the incredible drive through the lava fields and the look of the Three Sisters themselves.

  • The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland (and while he was in the neighborhood, we said, be sure to stop in at Stovepipe Antiques in Grant's Pass)

  • Ahmed said he was heading up to Portland that evening, so we also recommended that he stop at the Portland Rose Garden. He'd be amazed, we told him, at how many different smells a rose can have.

    Ahmed also told us that right after the 2000 election, he'd driven around on what he called his "Red Tour," visiting a number of red states. He says that when he was in New Harmony, IN, he stopped in a local café for breakfast and ended up getting run out of town at gunpoint. While this doesn't sound all that unusual to have happen to a non-white person driving through a small Midwestern town, it's particularly ironic because New Harmony is the former home of not one but two different utopian spiritual communities aimed at creating a more perfect society through free education, abolition of social classes and personal wealth, and general equality. I guess the spiritualists must've moved on quite some time ago.

    As the conversation progressed, I ended up giving Ahmed all the newspapers and guides I'd collected earlier so he'd have a better idea of the things he might see and do in the neighborhood. He also asked for a phone number in case he got lost, so I gave him a card. With luck, we'll hear from him again--he was a nice guy.

    Something else that was really nice this week was that I finally got my copy of BBS: A Documentary, a documentary on the history of bulletin board systems put together by Jason Scott. Jason stopped in Fort Wayne when we were still stuck there and interviewed me on film for a few hours. Some quantity of my footage appears on the DVDs of the documentary (which is 5-1/2 hours plus 80 minutes of bonus footage on the DVDs). I haven't seen any of it yet, so I have thought that I could be saying to everyone "Go see it!" and then discover that I'm a complete goof in the selected footage. Oh, well, in for a lamb, in for a sheep, as they say. Go look at it and I'll risk it. :)

    The new computer is working out nicely. I'm loading everything on it and getting it ready to rock and roll. It's really pleasant to consider that I'm going to be able to get my older computers reformatted and reloaded soon as well as clearing up some duplicated files on disks. With 600+ gigabytes of hard disk on the new computer, I'll be able to slurp up all the files on the other computers and sift them while I'm flushing and reformatting everything else. Mind ewe, there will be other things I need to do as well during this time, but it's a great procrastinating sorta thing to do in the background.

    Finally, speaking of the joys and wonders of Midwest recidivism, I wanted to proffer the following two pieces of Midwest... stupidity seems to be the best word for it. First, the folks on the Kansas school board are still getting sidetracked by creationist jackasses who are pushing for the co-equal teaching of "intelligent design" (the very concept of which already excludes most of the people propounding it). This so begged for broadside that it was only a matter of time before something showed up in my email. The following is a response that seems to bear up under scrutiny. After all, if you're going to teach one lunatic fringe's ideas alongside actual theory--ever notice that these twerps don't understand what a theory really is in scientific terms? they keep thinking it means "hypothesis"--there's no justification to not teach every other lunatic fringe creation concept. Like this one:

    I've been following the debacle in Kansas over the teaching of "Intelligent Design" and the resultant vilification of "EVILoution" (sic). I just received this in my mail and I am finally getting a laugh over the Kansas situation. For anybody else tired of the New 'Merkun Taliban, it's worth a peek just for the, umm... scientific graphs and the responses to the letter from members of the Kansas School Board.

    And yeah, I believe that my Most Blessed Invisible Pink Unicorn could kick the Flying Spaghetti Monster's noodly ass.

    Yeah, smite me, pasta-boy. I dare you.

    Secondly, a judge in Indianapolis has taken it upon himself to decree that two parents who are divorcing aren't allowed to teach their child Wicca. While it's not uncommon for differences in religion and religious upbringing to be used as a football in divorce cases, this case is somewhat different: both parents are Wiccan, both are continuing to practice Wicca, and both want their son to be brought up with Wiccan beliefs. The judge, without so much as a by-your-leave, decided that the child should not be exposed to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." That was mighty big of Hizzoner, I must say. The opinions quoted in the newspaper report suggest that getting this one overturned shouldn't be too hard--it's not Hizzoner's right to determine what a religion is. But geeeeeeze this guy is clearly a world-class horse's petoot!!

    That's all for now. I'm running off to the store to get fud for dinner.