Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Neuroses of Living Solo

I think I have carpal tunnel syndrome. When I'm in bed, my entire left arm feels like someone's crushing it. Welcome to repetitive stress injuries, Ossy Bossy! So here I am, trying to affect good typing form on my I netvertible in public no less. Still, the people watching from this Au Bon Pan window is exceptional.

I'm trying to get work done here not because I should really try to get my shit finished, but rather to save on electricity. In fact, I'm going to have to sleep relatively early or at least work by candlelight on this tiny thing of a computer. All this reminds me of eight years ago when I first came to Providence from Conn and my roommates hadn't yet moved into the house I was staying at. I was convinced I was going to starve, go bankrupt, or both if I didn't eat anything but cheap pasta and canned tuna. Something about being accountable for an entire apartment seems to engender my most miserly of tendencies.

I say this just as I've sunk cash into a home theater PC, along with a very meticulously selected flat screen TV, which since I've spent time and money into researching and building the damn things I have to be neurotic in making sure they're protected AND making sure they're not gulping my power. So I got one of these things and it better work as advertised. Each day it takes for the thing to arrive I die a little inside, mostly in the form of electricity. In addition, the motherboard I used can't take my TV tuner and the wireless keyboard I got for the HTPC has a defective trackpad, but the cost of returning both would exceed the $30 rebate I'm about to get. I could go on, but writing all this crap down makes me realize how absolutely dumb this is.

In better news, I got up at 9AM today because the FedEx dude came early and delivered my two area rugs that match my placemats. Now I have two giant placemats on the floor. The one in the kitchen actually distracts you long enough so you don't notice that the floor is sloping pretty severely towards the middle from both ends. Anyway, for the most part, the rugs "complete" the rooms, so I'll get pictures up of the kitchen and AV room up soon.

Now here's the part where I try to sound either smart or funny. Let's do funny. Au Bon Pain is playing the We Are The World sequel. This is now the center of Hell. I forgot that Justin Bieber opened this song. Couldn't they get Nicole Richie? Also, damn, this version does not hold up over time, and it's been what, 8 months? How's that for topical humor? It's a good thing I don't do this for a living or else I'd have to go back to graduate school or something.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Episode 8: A New Home

Last night I didn't sleep much. I was up constructing a home theater computer, an endeavor akin to writing a dissertation in that in both, fingers become raw. i was troubleshooting for most of the evening since this was the first PC (second overall) I've built with off-brand parts and leftovers from my main comp. Needless to say, I ran into some problems around 3-4AM when the thing wouldn't post, and then the most expensive part of the machine -- the bluetooth keyboard -- decided that it really preferred typing over being part-mouse.

In part I was awake because I was having materialist fits the night before after failing miserably to buy some furniture on craigslist. I was stood up so to speak by a lady who was selling a TV stand  and didn't show up, and then I couldn't get anyone to help me pick up a coffee table in Lincoln. I had to call her back to cancel the pickup, but accidentally called a woman in Warwick about a TV stand that I had decided I didn't want. Telling her husband the sad story of my supposedly cancelled trip to Lincoln, he offered to deliver it to me. Now I was stuck with furniture I wasn't all that enthused about. I had weird bit of adult-style frustration that I was bending over backwards to save $5 or $10 and had come away with nothing for the effort. Mad at myself for being so frustrated, I figured that I could do one on over the universe and build something instead of waiting for it to give me pressed wood at a killer discount.

With the problems the HTPC was giving me, I didn't get a whole lot of sleep before I had planned to jump on a garage sale around the corner and pick up a coffee table. I was reminded of the time we set up a garage sale for my grandparents in Carson City. Before we knew it, old ladies were waiting like stalkers in their cars parked across the street from my grandparents' house. I decided I was going to be an old lady; I was going to passive-aggressively stare at the people setting up and feel like some sort of hitman, but one that assassinates underpriced housewares.

I did come away with a small coffee table that looked pretty 70s, if placed in the right context (I guess we could say that about a lot of things), and my friend Francisco did thankfully come to help me move the TV stand up the stairs. A few minutes with a hacksaw later, and I had "modded" the TV stand to fit the HTPC and I had a coffee table that looks (to me at least) like I'm in the basement listening to early Chicago. I then very, very slowly moved a good majority of my things from my room to up here, including my bed, from which I am now blogging this very blog blogstastically.

I took my first shower up here tonight too. Remind me to CLR the shower head, lest I keep getting spritzed directly in the left eye every time I turn to grab the soap. National Grid, you done good.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Update on Gas 'Plosion Aversion Calamity Fist Breaker

It's about midnight and I decided to check on the work outside because I heard the beeping-beep-beeps of a truck backing up. "Maybe it's them leaving!" I thought. Well, it turns out that they look pretty much done out there and that they were using a bigger Nat'l Grid truck to compress some asphalt/tarmac where they had dug a hole on the other side of the street. So the truck would drive forward, put the truck in reverse, then drive forward again. Over and over. After each round, the workers would reshape the black rocks into a pile and the truck would go over it again. A Providence Police officer stood by with his hands in his pockets, moving to pick up a shovel leaning on a tree and place it on the wall over on the neighbor's property.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wherein I Shut Down An Entire City Block


So I slept with my phone next to my pillow last night because National Grid had informed me that they would call to announce their arrival to turn on my gas service any time between 8AM and 8PM. Seeing as I've turned into a vampire over the past 8 years, and seeing as how excited I was that I was going to start paying my own gas bill (hooray!), I didn't sleep at all the night before. When the door buzzer bleated at 10:20, I was thankful that they gave me 4 hours of sleep.

I pulled on some clothes over my PJs and answered the door. A thin man with a hard hat and a bright orange vest was happy to see me. And crap, was I excited to see him! But it turned out that he was testing for gas leaks and over my rapid babble-squealing about turning on the hot water heater he said his being here was simply a coincidence. Out of sheer curiosity for how this amazing substance for which I was about to pay a monthly fee was monitored and transported, I followed him to the basement. This all sounds very much like a bad porno...

"These numbers don't move very fast," I said, observing the gas meters, hoping to learn something about the nuts and bolts of natural gas.

"Nope, they don't," the dude said.

"So, how do you know if there's a leak?" I asked.

"Oh, this thing'll tell me," he said as he maneuvered a long wand attached to a box over the pipes.

Beep. Or rather, the box let out a short squeal. "Oh," he said nonchalantly.

"Was that a leak?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, but it's a small one," he replied. "I'm gonna go outside to check if there's a leak outside too."

So after our porno dialog, I left him to catch whatever sleep I could in the living room, phone tucked near me so I wouldn't miss the call. I didn't get much in: a pretty resonant, rhythmic slamming of metal-on-metal scared off any of the melatonin fairies in my head. The dinging and donging went on for about 20 minutes until I decided to check up on my new friend outside. He had been smacking a large pole into the flower beds out front, then probing the holes with his squeak-box. Apparently he smacking the gas pipes under the house, then testing to see if he had made anything leak. I guess that's what you do.

"I did 30 houses today already," he told me. "I do about 75 or so a day, but these things slow me down."

Anyway, he eventually stopped and made a call to the higher-ups to send a team over. I went back inside, satisfied knowing that he'd finished slamming and tried to sleep a bit more. My phone rang. It was National Grid. They were coming in 15 minutes. I told them they had a dude out here already, but he was checking for leaks. At this point, I was less excited and more tired. In the back of my mind, I didn't think this gas thing was going to turn out so easily completed a task.

I met the new guys outside as they were talking to the leak tester. He thought they had responded to the call real fast; they kept saying it wasn't their specific task, but they'd look into it. They eventually made it down to the basement and started to check the meters and heaters. One of them seemed to be a trainee, but was an old hat at gas plumbing. When I first saw them at work, they were painting some kind of substance onto part of the pipe that registered a leak, but told me that they weren't the leak crew and they were going to turn on my gas just to have that task done, then when the leak crew came, they could turn everything off, then on again. "After about 45 minutes, you should have hot water upstairs," they said. A minor hooray.

So I had "breakfast" and Andrew came home and I informed him of all the fun that was going on. I went back to obsessing about big screen LCD screens with low response times and high resolutions until we got a knock on our back door. The third ghost of National Grid future appeared and told me a bunch of stuff I already knew (see how fast a learner I am?) -- that he was part of a crew that was going to replace some pipes and that everything would be fine by early evening. If I could just get people to move their cars, they could get started. Andrew had gone to bed after a night shift at the hospital so I got his keys and drove around the block to park on the other side of the street. As I parked, the Nat'l Grid guy came by the window of the car and said, "Well, could I get you to park around the corner, 'cuz water is on that side" -- he motioned to the opposite side of the street -- "and that means gas is on this side, probably."

It turns out that even if I moved Andrew's car, some random lady had parked in front of our building and we had to try to find the owner before Nat'l Grid could start work. By this point, our loud weird neighbors had decided to park themselves on their stoop and watch the business going on. I went down to the florist down the street (www.anewleafflorist.org) and got a couple houseplants and came home, sat down, and smelled gas.

I scrambled around my room to turn off everything I could. Then I bolted out of the house. As soon as I popped out of the front door, I saw Nat'l Grid had jackhammered into the sidewalk and one of the workers looked at me and said, apropos of nothing really (well in response to me literally jumping out of the door), "We know, that's why we're here. Thank you!"

I left the house in case it blew up. I like to think I was responsible for shutting down a city block, though technically that's not true. But heck, sounds fun, no?



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Towels... FOR WIPING SURFACES!

Let's go at yesterday's post with a little more effort, shall we? Ok, looky here:

See that towel? That's not for wiping your hands -- IT'S FOR WIPING THE COUNTER! The only thing missing from it is a little loop sewn on a corner so I could hang it from a cabinet knob. My mother should be proud.

Next up,
These two towels are different colors. One is for hands and one is for dishes. Can you tell me which one does what? I didn't think so because like many mothers I CAN NOW ARBITRARILY CHOOSE A TOWEL FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE. Actually, I have a dishwasher, so the dish towel will probably get less use. This means that it'll stay cleaner longer. Something must be wrong with me because I'm actually proud of that.

And finally,
Now, you should know better by now. So you've dripped all over the sink after washing your hands and you correctly took the towel you see in this picture to wipe up the counter. Then what do you do? YOU FOLD IT BACK INTO A TRIANGLE. Oh god, this is so much fun.

So I've moved a few things upstairs, but most everything is in a holding pattern until a friend of mine bequeaths to me her stuff. The place is still a tad bit scary when you're alone up there at night, especially without much furniture, but that'll be taken care of as the week goes on. Last night, I was up there until about 1-ish doing some measurements in the front room (eventually an AV room), and I realized as I was going back downstairs that our building has its hallway lights turned off late at night. It's like walking into a pit of despair, but less melodramatic. I might have to set up some adhesive tap lights or something. But then once I get down the stairs, how am I gonna turn them off?

Speaking of purchases, I spent a little too much time last night looking through the Craigslist furniture and free sections. Stuff is not as cheap on CL as one might be led to believe. Even a quick once-over at Overstock.com produced nothing really convincingly cheap in terms of furniture. I just want a dang coffee table man! But, I did find a somewhat ok deal for area rugs -- bamboo area rugs! -- that I'll stick in the kitchen and the front room. By the by, they match my placemats. One man shouldn't be this excited for bamboo area rugs.

I will end this very domestic post with a couple of frustrations. One is that the 30 minutes or so Andrew and I spend trying to light the pilot light to the hot water heater was all for naught because my gas was off. So, I had to make requests for both electric and gas from National Grid who continue to add to the list of things I need to fax them. FAX THEM. Because they don't have walk-in locations. We're up to a W-2, copy of driver's license, and my rental agreement. Then I was told to call back in two hours after I had sent the fax. I was told over the phone that I have to wait 24 hours, then, no, I have to wait for 4 hours and I could call back after hours. I called back after hours and they're closed. Hooray! At least I haven't had to wait too long to be told they're idiots. The end.
See that towel? That's not for wiping your hands. It's for WIPING THE COUNTER! I've turned into my mother.

More later! Better light needed!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A New View

I'll admit it: this post is nearly worthless without pictures. And while you may have thought I'd be showing you something titillating, I'll simply arouse you with some horrible extended metaphors and the fact that I'm in the process of moving to the third floor apartment in the building in which I live currently. The unit is nearly exactly the same, minus a bay window where Andrew and Emily's room is currently and the sloping walls from the roof.

While the previous tenant left behind some quite useful furniture -- a long kitchen bar/table with two very tall stools, an over the toilet hutch, and a few trash cans -- I don't have nearly enough stuff to fully populate this place. Luckily my friend Julia is moving to Minnesota and she's selling me a good portion of the furniture in her old apartment, so that should help. The problem is that the way I have everything laid out, I'll have one completely empty room (the front room), one lightly furnished one (the bedroom), and one that'll probably be overdone (the office). This isn't counting the kitchen, which looks more like a dancefloor now more than anything.

So after I went on a few shopping sprees for the essentials (trivets!), I vigorously swiffer wet-jetted the floor but not without protest from Sean who had been helping me clean the kitchen. As much as I'd like to stop him from going through all the trouble, he's gonna try to bring his parents' steam mop and go over my floors once again. He's crazy. But at least he's cleaning for me! And basically for free!

I'll supply pictures once the place looks more homey. I'll be moving in fully September 1st, hopefully with electricity, cable, and all my bills coming to the new address.

Friday, August 20, 2010

About Kids, For Daniel!

You might have noticed a kind of gigantic banner ad on the NYT recently, hawking the Ralph Lauren kids line. I took the liberty of clicking it for you. I was directed to most overdressed children, playacting to Harry Conick Jr.'s narration of how adventurous and imaginative your kids will become if you clothe them with Ralph Lauren. To that I say, at least to some of you, your kids are only gonna be cute once!

This post is dedicated to my good friend Daniel who should be (fingers crossed) a new dad right about now-ish. I just shouted at him on Facebook chat and I certainly don't expect a reply since I mean, what new dad on Facebook has time to chat?

Me

sweet man

how you holding up?

1:14amDaniel

pretty good. got 9 hours sleep last night, so i'm not too tired. browsing hulu, not interested in anything


And that, dear readers, is what an expectant father thinks about. So no baby yet, but maybe tomorrow.


The internet and babies are, I think, a good combination. Much like how tortillas and beans provide complimentary proteins, the internet and babies provide complimentary (perhaps combinatory) laughing fits. Just think about it, Daniel, you could dress this kid in Ralph Lauren and make him or her an internet star. I think it's nearly equivalent to being the non-famous child of a famous person: a little awkwardly cool. I get the impression that raising a child for the first few days is some combination of fear -- how do we keep this thing alive!? -- and surprise.


Best wishes to Daniel and Nikolin!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Testing Twitterfeed, Littering Bytes on Info Superhighway

Well now, I continue to join all my social networking blog-type thingies into their gestalt form: Voltron.

Chone Figgins

See that unpalatable photograph of what look like oily kidneys? Those, my dear reader, are figs. And while typically I don't take very good foodtographs, this one seems to be the worst one I've ever taken. Look at how the light smacks down on them like vomit, how that blue bowl looks like a bedpan, etc etc. See? I don't want to eat them either after writing that. I have just psyched myself out of eating figs. New York Times food critics: take notice.

Actually I just got up from a 9PM nap; the kind of nap that'll seriously fuck with the rest of your sleeping. I attribute it to $5.99 worth of penne pasta I picked up at Eastside along with my groceries. I briefly considered sleeping outright, but I figured that I'd get up 4 o'clock in the AM, which isn't prime time to get anything done, other than try to go back to sleep at which point I'd get up at 12PM anyway. That is not to say that 12PM is not a good time to wake up, but why sleep for 14 hours? I'm not flying to Australia.

I just ate all those figs I said I was too grossed out to eat. The astute reader will notice now that the power of snack is stronger than the power of the blog. Also I did try to actually sneak in the phrase "the astute reader will have noticed" in an academic paper once, in a footnote. The reader found it and said it was too "blue." Goes to show that only old white guys can sound like old white guys.

Anyway, I leave you with this: Fight Football League. It's Italian (I'm not sure I get the stereotype) and it involves trying to throw a soccer ball into a black box while the opposing team literally tries to punch you in the face. Watch a few minutes of the game clip and don't tell me it doesn't remind you of some kind of old-timey gang fight. Also, it's stupid. The end.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Takeaway: Sleep Earlier

I'm tired and it's 1 AM. This is sort of a new thing for me, since I don't go to sleep tired per se, but surprised that it's not dark out anymore but purple. 1 AM is a good bedtime. At 1 AM, you can sleep for 8 hours and it'll only be 9 AM, aka "the morning." Sleeping at 1 AM and getting up at 9 AM means I get to skip Dianne Rheim's (ok you spell it then) unmelodious voice on the NPR radio alarm, though I think I'll have to listen to The Takeaway and that show is just as annoying. And at 9 AM, I'll have done all the errands I wanted to do by 11 AM.

So why not sleep earlier, you may ask me, and make all those morning dreams come true? I'm distracted. No, that's not true. I enjoy the company of the internet. Last night I learned more about sharks. Friggin' sharks! I also realized that only I send emails out at 1 AM (later really). No one responds that late. I used to tell my students that I was up late (not by choice), but that they could expect an email back as soon as I got it. Not one emailed me late this summer, so yet another thing I can't blame on other people.

So with mounting somnolence, I say g'night dudes!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Mango Was the Brain

I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. The World today. I "got" it. But what I really want to do is play the video game, which looks like a good ole beat-em-up with requisite chipset soundtrack. To be honest, for a movie where music was a key theme, I did not find any one of the songs or musical cues to be memorable. Well, the original ones, at least; I was all over the Zelda and Final Fantasy tunes. Still, don't say you won't catch me pretending to swing my red umbrella around like a katana. And that's my grasp on reality: tenuous.

Anyhoo, things moved relatively well on the apartment front. I'll get a little discount off my rent for paying utilities myself (which as far as we can figure for the building is just electric and cable internet). And I'll be able to start moving stuff in before the end of the month, so that should go smoothly. And as I was yesterday, I am feeding the universe with good karma and hoping my landlord sells his apartment.

To celebrate (not really, I needed to go), I went to Whole Foods and got more fruit, vowing this time that the fruit flies and their little fruit larvae would not see victory this or any other day! So I have a few bags of fruit all lovingly suffocating in the fruit basket (note to self: need one of those). As I was standing at the checkstand, the bagger lady said that she should probably eat more fruit instead of junk food. Her cashier friend said, "Yeah, hmmm." Then they talked about how they were hungry and were missing cookouts today. Later on, an employee came back from lunch at Eastside Market and raved about their chicken wings. "But they don't have core values!" said a deadpan coworker.

I haven't eaten any of my fruit yet. Rest assured, dear reader, that I will eat the living hell out of it. I have to say that living with roommates for the past five years has nary required that I reprimand anyone for eating my fruit. Maybe I give off some kind of "don't eat my fruit" vibe, which may explain why people who don't know me think I'm too serious (I'm serious about my fruit, though). I still remember bringing back a couple kilos of rambutan from Davao and complaining about how much I disliked rambutan, and then sitting down to eat the entire two kilos in the span of two days. If I actually liked the dang fruit, I'd have finished it in a two hours.

There is a place in every real man's heart for fruit. Or, if you're this fictional dude, your heart IS a fruit. As with all fruits (get ready, 'cuz I'm gonna lame out on ya), you have to give hearts time to mature, you have to squeeze them a bit to find out if they're ripe, and you should try to keep the fruit flies away from them. Also, wash them first. No one likes to eat dirty hearts covered in pesticide and e. coli. Only one of those extended metaphors sounds remotely good. But seriously, think of your heart as a fruit.

Did you really think of your heart as a fruit? You're silly. I apologize; this isn't an insult comic blog. Know this, my dear reader, when the zombies come to eat all our brains, they'll find mine totally unpalatable because it tastes like rambutan. And on that, zombies and I clearly have the same taste in fruit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Amazing (Not Permanent) Return of Your Daily Fix

I was going to add some exclamation marks to that title, but why be so ostentatious? To be honest, the reason I'm writing here is to write something at all -- anything -- with the hopes that I'll get into the habit of writing something more important (disastertation). You'll have to excuse me, dear fan, as I try to remember how I made magic here once before -- I did have over 100 views in one month (that weren't me!)

So if I recall correctly (IIRC. That's how real nerds say it), I wrote two kinds of posts. One was your typical ego-driven post that strove to make my neuroses sympathetic. To varying degrees of success, I think that worked. The vast majority of the adventures I posted in those blogs tended to be about me overthinking my immaturity (see, for instance) and for some reason, counting up instead of counting down. I guess I decided to try some new crap, like "sleep" (whatever that is). I think what caught your eye, dear reader, were the more humorous adventures I had, which to be honest, after having wrote about them, I forgot about. And that sentence had the worst syntax ever.

The second kind of post you might have seen here, reader, were those topical ones that were so Law-and-Order-ripped-from-the-headlines that I might have single-handedly cancelled Law and Order with my headline-ripping. After glancing at a few, it seems like I avoided saying anything serious and went for irony, which other sites do so much more better than I do. Again, like the rest of the crap I wrote here, I didn't remember half of the things I wrote about that were trying to be "serious." Goes to show you that you might write to learn, but fuck it if anyone reads it, including yourself.

But I think the common thread here was that this was some strange stream of Oslec consciousness that meandered into some river metaphor for self-referential humor. So in that sense, you can see how my id, ego, and superego make some horrible muck slurry where piranhas and tiger sharks hide to eat up unsuspecting swimmers. I'll let you decide if you're a swimmer. Actually, no, you're a swimmer. In any case, the blog was very "meta" and I guess having written that, it still is.

So let's get started with something that none of you will read fresh, but some of you will read later then remind me what I wrote. Today, I am planning on signing a lease for my first apartment where I am the sole occupant. Considering how I've basically been avoiding people for the past two years, this can only result in more avoiding of people. But, I'll be able to do it in the comfort of a rented living room, which I envision to be only the second-largest black hole in my home.

The deal is a little uncertain. That is, the fellow who owns the unit is trying to sell it and so I would be paying month-to-month. For the past few days I hoped that the Providence condo market would continue to suck so I could have a nice place to live. But today on the way back from a horrible drubbing in basketball at the gym, I decided that I shouldn't wish upon anyone such a negative thing. I hope the place sells. In fact, I will bet with you now that it sells because I'm going to rent it out. In basketball, this is called a "tie." Actually, there aren't ties in basketball, so I think the pretentious types say "two cheers" for whatever it is they can't quite get an extra cheer for.

Now, I'll promise you this. I'll write something here again tomorrow. You silently observe from your comfortable place sometime in the future.

(Hi! I edited this post because some of my grammar was embarrassing me. The rest sucks too, but I don't like you that much.)