Sunday, April 18, 2010

Despair meets Hope and they find they have a lot in common

I hope your computer speakers are better than mine.


If you don't love it, you probably haven't tried it yet.

If I could get this widget to default to "visualizer," I'd make it a permanent fixture on the blog.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hyatt Newport Beach

One upside of the recession is that the rich people hotels are scrounging for guests with the other bottom feeders. This week the Newport Beach Hyatt was compelled to host a DARPA meeting, filling their over-priced suites with geeks, dweebs, and other ethnic minoritites, while their usual coterie of fat white people waits for their trust funds to replenish.

For me, this means $7 beers, $11/day for spotty internet access, and a level of ass-kissing to which I'm wholey unaccustomed. Frankly, I'd prefer a Holiday Inn, where the internet is free and reliable and where they are so understaffed that the bellboys have better things to do than follow me around asking me how I'm doing.

For me, internet access is like water. At $240/night, the internet should be free and reliable.

On the upside, this is the first hotel I've been to (in the U.S.) to provide a little tube of toothpaste, along with the little bottles of shampoo and conditioner. I guess one of their marketing execs has ridden on an airplane since 2004. Now, if only the rest of them would catch on to this little nicety, I could avoid the painful and embarrassing scrutiny of my toiletries at the airport checkpoint.

Oddly, in Europe, they've provided the little toothpase tubies for years, though usually no soap.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

But what about the basement?

So now you know all about me, but what about Amy's question - "which half of the basement is flooding?" By this, she is asking, is it the nice concrete part or the filthy muddy part?

Well, we've come a long way since Amy saw the basement in November. Here's what it looked like in November (and also for its previous 60 years of its existence):
The good folks who built the house apparently got tired halfway through the basement and decided to leave half of it a muddy mess. We spent most of a year, and all of last summer, me digging and E. and the kids dragging the dirt out in buckets, before we fully understood why the original builders didn't finish the job. After removing a thousand or so buckets of dirt we found immovable ledge (solid bedrock granite, higher than the floor. Here's a picture of the pile of dirt we made in the backyard (it's still there):
We all but lost hope after finding the ledge. We brought in a couple of local ledge removal experts (there are a lot of them in this town), who refused to touch it ("I don't have enough insurance" "You'll bring the house down if you try). Finally, we hooked up with Tom Hill and his Sons, masters of concrete and masonry. Eleven cubic feet of concrete later (for those who don't know, that's A LOT of concrete), we had three 12' x 12' "steps" in the basement, where the muddy ledge used to be:
M. and I built 2' x 20' shelves all along the edge of the giant steps as shown below:
and, Voila!, now we have a basement clean enough for a ping pong table and with lots of shelf space. Behind the shelves, the headroom is a progressively limited, but we have plenty of (dry?) storage for all the crap that used to be all over the basement (thus making more room for the pingpong table):
So, finally, to Amy's question...
We used to have a bipolar basement - one side was nice dry-as-a-bone concrete and the other side was a filthy muddy mess. Now, the water comes in (where apparently it came in all along) but, instead of soaking into the mud, it now runs across the nice new concrete and floods the entire basement.

The best laid plans of mice and men...

p.s. A. beat me at pingpong this week.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And now for something completely similar...


It's really E.'s fault or, more specifically, her professor's. She's taking a class in "modern stuff." For homework she's started a blog and a Wiki, joined Twitter and Facebook, and played Second Life. Plus a few dozen other membership-required site that I don't remember. Of course, I had to join all of these so that we could see how it looks from the outside.

The blog is like a public talk - I get to talk all I want and then take questions, which I may or may not answer directly. Facebook, on the other hand, is more like a cocktail party - everybody's talking at once and I wander from conversation to conversation, perhaps saying nothing.

In "first life" I'm inept at both of them, public speaking and cocktail parties. I'd rather just sit home with E. and the kids, where I don't have to worry about whether or not my shoes match my purse. Maybe I'm no more cut out for the modern stuff than I was for the old stuff.