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A long summer

Well, I just got my car back after close to three weeks of the rental car (which wasn’t bad, in retrospect). I’ve never put 1500 miles on a rental car before, though. The only problems with my car now are that the trunk doesn’t always latch on the first try and the steering wheel is off by about 30 degrees to the left, so when you hold it straight, you veer into the left lane. Not good. I expect they will fix it pretty quickly — Progressive has been good to work with. Very little hassle. It’s nice to be back in my car and driving stick again.

In other news, my grandfather fell into some very bad health last week. He’s back out of it, but no longer recognizes any of us. I’m very close to him and this has been very difficult. I spent about 10 hours with him at the hospital over two days as he was coming out of it, but before he was active again. He’s 97 and has lived a long and eventful life but this last phase is very rough for us. I shall write more about him soon.

Wedding is in 19 days. Things are coming together and I’m trying not to stress too much over it. I’ve never been involved in a project of this scale between two people before.

Today was pretty representative of this summer: get up with a headache for some reason, take a shower, go to shave and — oh, that’s right — Michelle’s parents’ dog ate my aftershave. Make it through, go in a billion different directions at work today, get the car and drive home holding the steering wheel at an angle. On the upside, now for some delicious pasta and hanging out with Michelle.

Post-September will be a breath of fresh air.

R-134a, pronounced “success”

So I just had a minor milestone when it comes to car upkeep. Like a lot of people, I don’t know much about what actually goes on under the hood of a car — it’s kind of a “closed box” system to me. I’m fairly self-conscious about it, since I deal with pretty complicated computer systems and other things like that but couldn’t point out 90% of the parts in the engine compartment. I fully intend on someday having the space to get under my car(s) and really understand what’s happening, but seeing as I have a pretty good track record of living on narrow, one-way city streets, it’s not going to be anytime soon. So for now, I feel in tune with my car and what it does, but I can’t generally fix things that go wrong.

Until now. I just successfully recharged the air conditioner in my Jetta. Following JP’s advice (someone who knows a thing or two about ACs, having rebuilt his apartment unit), I bought a small can of R-134a with a hose kit that lets you recharge the system yourself. For the past three summers, my AC proceeds to stop actually blowing cold, conditioned air right about when the four-letter months hit and the ice cream carts come to town. A couple times in a row, I’ve taken it to a mechanic (when I had one I knew in NY state) or the dealer to have it recharged. It would seem that I have a small leak that can’t be located, so every summer I have less than the optimal 24 ounces of refrigerant in the system and things go kaput. As I understand it, the refrigerant is what the compressor gremlins need to drink in order to productively pedal their bicycle-mounted cooling and conditioning fans. I think.

I recommend this book if you’ve got a Jetta. It’s got good pictures and it’s meant for folks who would replace or rebuild most anything in the car, including taking the engine out. It helped me get over my fear of becoming blind and handless, since the warning on the can did a good job of putting me on that path.

Baby steps.

Getting our ducks in a row

All possessions are, in theory, safe from the elements. Essentially, they were moved from this to this with more than a little bit of this. This seems like years ago at this point.

This past week has easily been the worst of my life, if not Michelle’s as well (her take is here). It punctuated periods of boredom and reflection on loss with those of intense stress, physical pain and exhaustion, steep payout of absurd sums of money for cardboard boxes, internet access, vehicles, and a remote climate controlled shed (however, yes, the accompanying image constitutes an official endorsement — though we will wait until our stuff is back out before having the final word). We’re going on four figures at this point, not counting the loss of our security deposit. I intend to blog this in a series, but as these things tend to go, that may not happen. Regardless, I can’t do it now, so it will have to wait for future bloggums or personal recount.

Hope everyone else stayed dry and is having a relaxing Fourth. If you want to help, the biggest assistance as of now would be help packing our stuff back into a truck tomorrow afternoon — but we’ve got professional movers to help Wednesday morning when we get into our new place. Same neighborhood, new elevation. I can feel the ensuing party coming on even now.

Flooding again

More coming again soon, I hope, but for now we’re flooding again. Pictures being cataloged here.

The gnomes have been busy…

I realized I haven’t specifically written about my latest side project, Code Sorcery Workshop. I’ve been working on building some Mac desktop software, starting with a del.icio.us posting program, Pukka.

It’s been a fun way to combine my interest in coding, software engineering, blogging, business, creativity, site design, and UI and artwork — I’ve done 100% of it myself, not counting the wonderful user feedback that I’ve been getting. I’m close to version 1.0, which I hope to charge for in some capacity, so check it out if you’re on a Mac and use del.icio.us!

It’s been really fun to talk to people about it, starting at South By Southwest. As I was telling Luis the other day, you think talking to people about your work is going to be difficult, at least for me when I’m used to working “heads down” with the tech, but it really snowballs once you get started.

This has been a fun ride and I’m looking forward to keeping it going. I think it would be really excellent to be able to develop the larger projects that I have in mind.

And the funny Easter image award goes to…

Hands down:

www.hawkwings.net/2006/04/15/hawk-wings-easter-message/

Excellent.

Humor + explosions

Firstly, this is definitely not funny and is tragic. At a Tim Hortons no less… wha?

But it did remind me of a hi-larious episode several years back when I still lived in Troy. I just told it to Michelle, but then did some research and it turns out it’s not quite what I remembered (fancy that) and that the tale grew in the telling (to put it in someone else’s words). I shall present it in my form, then a link to What Really Happened™.

1. RPI student goes to McDonald’s restroom (not really funny, depending).
2. Student finds abandoned electric razor (mildly funny).
3. Student begins shaving (hi-larious).
4. Razor explodes (funny), injuring student (not funny at all).

Turns out that actually, he took the razor home first (still very funny) and used it there, where it exploded (still funny) and badly injured both he and his wife (definitely not funny).

USA Today article on exploding Capital District razors

Perhaps the word I should use it absurd rather than funny. I would wager that 90% of what I find as funny is only in fact absurd, yet funny to me.

Express written permission

Ok, I know, lame title. However I was in the Express again today, where they quoted my jaywalking experience. Perhaps this was due to my DCist mention? Thanks, Tom!

I’m not sure how they found me last time, but regardless, it makes DC feel all the smaller and me all the more welcome. It’s only a mention of a blog, which I don’t put a lot of effort into (no offense, dear reader), but it gives me a warm fuzzy anyway.

I guess anyone who has a mildly negative (in the case of yesterday) or wildly negative (i.e. apartment flooding) experience just wants to share and get some sympathy or at least a nod in agreement. So, to whomever at the Express is reading, thanks :-)

(Or, as Joshua and JP put it, maybe they just like the domain name.)

Copy of the full version here [14MB PDF].

Pedestrian criminality is all the rage

So I recently got a ticket. On foot.

Don't Walk

It was a such a beautiful day out that I shed my jacket and was wandering across 17th St. into Farragut Square on the way to work. On the other side, I was approached by a uniformed police officer and told that he’d have to give me a warning, as I crossed when it said “Don’t Walk”. He made no mention of the fact that I also appeared to disregard the crosswalk entirely. I liked this guy’s style.

We were both polite and he was almost self-deprecating in his manner. “They actually have us out giving tickets today for jaywalking, which you just did. But I’ll let you go with a warning.” He took my license, jotted down my info, and we talked about my block and neighborhood, which he used to patrol, and how nice the day was.

As he handed me my ticket, he said, “feel free to throw this away, or use it for toilet paper or something.” We both had a laugh and I went on my way. However I very carefully crossed 18th and 19th Streets in full compliance with the law.

Blew by South By

I’m kind of left in awe of South By Southwest. I think the thing that best sums it up is what Wilson said: that everyone was excited about something. The buzz was palpable, and it was widely distributed.

I roamed the convention center, I attended a panel during every slot, sometimes jumping around to keep my interest piqued, and I definitely participated in the essential nightlife. I drank it in (no pun intended), from eight every morning until past midnight every night. I’m not sure it would have been the same without the posse, but even then, it wouldn’t have been the same without all the great people that I met and got to hang out with.

I talked to folks about EchoDitto and about my side project, handing out popsicle sticks in an attempt at guerilla marketing. I even got photo-sniped. I learned about classic rock-fueled pork recipes and PonyFace69. I learned that some people get excited about Brad’s use of perfectly legitimate legal terminology. And I learned that even a SXSW first-timer can seem to go to all of the coolest stuff and meet all of the coolest people.

I guess my biggest takeaway is that there are a lot of creative and brilliant people out there and that they know how to have a good time. This sounds trite and obvious, and I’m sure some folks are wondering if that takeaway was worth the associated financial costs, but It’s important to me to be reminded of this so that the times that I feel like Bruce Sterling made me feel, I can still find some optimism in things. When the Wisdom of Crowds seems to be rapidly destroying our environment and culture and a whole lot more, it’s reassuring to think about people out there working for change, be it technical, social, or mostly, a mix of the two. Brilliant, creative, excited people. I fit in with them, and we had a raucous time.

It’s a good thing that after the week was through, I was up, and after Bruce spoke, I was f*&@ing blown away. It’s good to have a motivator, to attempt to make things better, and to be reminded of other places where nearly every single aspect of what we do and have in this country seems like a Godsend.

I can’t wait for next year.

(This post was cross-posted to my EchoDitto blog.)