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.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Global warming, my arse.

If global warming were real then why is it still raining?

As near as I can tell from the TV, people with glasses believe in global warming and people without glassses still believe in God. You don't need a PhD and a pocket protector to see that my basement is still flooding. If those activist scientists were correct it would be warm and sunny.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Twit for Tat

I have nothing to say. Either nothing interesting has happened to me for a week or, whatever it is, I don't want to publish it to the world. But I have to say something, lest my blog readship dwindle. I'm having a competition with Ashton Kutcher to see who can get the most blog readers. He's winning to date, but I've neearly doubled my readership this month alone.

Here's a picture of me with Ashton at the Emmy's last year:

I wonder if his basement is flooding today like mine and, if so, what he's planning to do about it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I've never been to Amsterdam. It sounds marvelously decadent, though. I thought I might go for EFTF this Spring, perhaps even take along my marvelously decadent wife for a third (or fourth, depending on whether you count the first one) honeymoon.

Alas, DARPA, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to schedule a Program Review for that same week, in lovely Newport Beach, CA. Decadent? I suppose, but not particularly interesting.