Eleven years ago today, I married this lovely woman. While it hasn’t always been easy, it sure has been interesting. I love you, blondie.
Last night I went downstairs to check on my kegs and found that they were sitting in about 4 inches of Hefeweizen. Careful application of some soapy water revealed the outflow post on the keg is leaking, allowing about two gallons of beer to fill the bottom of the kegerator. I pulled out my beer siphon, hooked up a tube, and cleaned it out manually.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had a flooded kegerator; this same keg was leaking from the main seal a year or two ago, and I fixed that with a new seal and some food-grade grease. It’s just annoying to have taken the time to brew the beer and then have it wasted by mechanical error.
I don’t have many things left over from my time at Cidera other than a damaged liver, some old promotional materials, a suspicious bottle of red wine, a bunch of great friends, and a black Pelican case. (I’m not listing my wife because I’ve never presumed to own her).
The Pelican case has been sitting on my shelf in the basement for years. It was originally bought to carry the roadshow laptop, a bit of paramilitary flavored theater for a serious mission (for some context, my boss was famous for owning a certain yacht): a dog-and-pony presentation given to investors who might possibly provide the next round of seed funding, and a crucial part of the dot-com burn cycle. I was in charge of building the presentation and buying the hardware, and spec’ed out three blindingly fast Thinkpads with three identical Pelican cases. I’ve written about the experience before. After I bailed out I’d forgotten I had one of the cases at home, and wound up with it when Cidera imploded months later.
In 2003, I refitted it to carry my Pismo Powerbook to Bimini with a spare battery and power supply. Specialty replacement foam was expensive, so I found a shop in Federal Hill who sold closed-cell foam and cut it to fit myself. It worked great; I carried it on the dive boat and offloaded pictures from my then-cavernous 256MB CompactFlash cards between dives. Then, it returned to a shelf in the basement.
I’ve been thinking about travel since I joined up with WRI, and the question is not if, but when. Now that I can afford to kit the Pelican out for photo gear the way I want it, I came to realize I didn’t remember what model it is. I called the number on a sticker pasted to the inside of the lid, and talked to a salesman from the company who’d originally sold it. I gave him the case number, he did some research, and he was able to give me the info I needed. Then he chuckled and said, “Ha! It says here Cidera was my account. I must have sold them this case.” I chuckled back at him and said, “I’m the guy you sold it to. Nice to talk to you again!”
My intention was to get a ton of stuff done this weekend: Do my grading, bottle some beer, brew another batch, fix the leaky keg in the kegerator, put the soft top on the Scout, maybe make a recycling run. Of all that, I got my grading 95% complete. The rest of the weekend was kind of a lazy wash.
Our third yard sale morning was somewhat beneficial. Finn and I got up late Saturday morning, wolfed down some breakfast, and hit the east side of town where a couple of community sales were happening. We came upon a man with some hand tools for sale, and I passed up all but three Craftsman metric wrenches because the sockets he had were all duplicates of ones I’ve got. Further down the road we came upon an unused smoker for $20, which I snapped up quickly, and Finn found a tiny luggage key and some good books for herself.
The pickings were pretty slim up the road, so we headed back home and farted around in the yard for a while. Then I stopped over to Finn’s old daycare to finish up training on the website I built for them back in October. After returning home for a shower and a shave, we picked up sushi and beer and went to visit Bear Gebler and his parents to get our baby on. NOM NOM NOM GIVE ME BABY TO HOLD. He was sacked out when we got there, slept through dinner, woke up to pee, had some milk, and promptly passed right back out again. Nice to see you, kid.
Sunday I got up and started work formulating a complicated spreadsheet to sort out my grading, which made no sense until my second cup of coffee. Then I went back and looked over my students’ midterm work and grades, compared it to their final work, factored in attendance and completion, and got my final numbers in order. With a few small exceptions I think it fits with what I was expecting very closely.
I’ve become a shoe guy. There, I’ve said it. I’m not Imelda Marcos with that shit, but I like to have a good classic pair of brown and black shoes for work. I’ve had a brown pair of Dr. Marten 1461’s since 1997 that I’ll never part with. I bought them with my ex at Nordstroms, and spent a lot of money on them, but they’re the original Made in England Docs, and they were made for my feet the day I tried them on. Those are the kind of shoes I like.
I’ve needed a black pair of casual dress shoes for forever; I also need another brown shoe to mix things up. And the trick has been finding something I like. I’ve been buying and returning black semi casual shoes from Zappos since the end of March, with no success. I started with Börn, which looked good online but wore like barges in person. Then a pair of Steve Maddens, which felt like I’d strapped cramped wooden blocks to my feet. Then I tried two styles of pricy Fryes, which looked great but suffered from crepe soles, which are made of snot and apparently turn black with age. For $250, snotty black shoes? No thanks.
With that backstory, we headed down to DSW to return a pair of shoes I’d bought last weekend which turned out to be torturously small in practice (how can that be when I tried them on at 4:30PM?). This was my second attempt at Steve Maddens–never again, no matter how lovely they look. Today I found Penguins, which feel great and look about the way I want them to. Unfortunately, they were out of black. So I got dark brown to replace a pair of $40 Target chukka boots I’ve worn the soles out of. (While I was there I tried a pair of Clark’s desert boots on, and OH MY GOD what crap shoes those were. I felt like I was lacing two sides of misshapen buffalo hide to my feet. What the fuck is that?) I then found another pair of casual dress shoes in the Clearance section for peanuts, so I grabbed those while I was at it; they’re a deep brown and could pass for black until I can find black. Who knew it was so hard to find the right shoe?
I drove up to the mountains of southwest Pennsylvania today to shoot a series of videos for our Forest team at a retreat. I’m exhausted from the work but I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable days I’ve spent at my job in a while. The technical demands of setting up, adjusting, and shooting digital video with sound are difficult, made even more interesting when you add hiking through the woods and unpredictable weather to the mix (it was mostly sunny, but the mixture of clouds and howling wind through the valley made consistent lighting and sound challenging). I got six two-camera interviews in the can, with a small amount of B-roll and some solid ambient sound recording. I met a bunch of people, from new additions to foreign-based members, and learned about the possibility of some overseas travel. After we wrapped for the day, they fed us dinner with an excellent choice of beer and dessert, and then we played an epic game of kickball on the 18th hole fairway.
The door is closed on my final class of this semester at UMBC. My students showed us their work, I shot some photographs of each, and I gave some parting advice to a few people before leaving. Now I have the larger task of sorting out the midterm evaluations and going through final grading. There are a few who will be easy to grade; I had some standout students and some who will simply fail. The tricky part is evaluating the students in the middle, some of whom made great progress in conceptual thinking but still delivered subpar work (or missed today’s deadline).
I took Sunday afternoon to pull the old solid windows out of the traveltop and look at the frames; with the exception of the bottom of the driver’s side lip, it all looked to be in great shape. I sprayed rust converter on everything I saw, let it dry, and then sprayed it with paint before putting the sliders back in.
I couldn’t figure out how to get the new rubber Mike sent me to work, so for now I reused the rubber they came with, and it went in easily.
My final class is scheduled for next Monday, which is both a bummer and a relief. I’ll miss working with my students, but I won’t miss my adjusted schedule at all–and there’s a ton of work coming at WRI. There was also some shuffling around of classes last week, so I won’t be teaching the capstone class they had me scheduled for, but they swapped it out with a second-level typography class that sounds like fun.
We have a new front door as of yesterday! The old red steel door is gone, replaced with a new (faux) 6/6 windowed security door. It’s wonderful how much light comes in through the window now, and every time I came down the stairs this morning I thought the front door was open.
Last night I went out for beers with some designer friends at the Judge’s Bench, as part of a long-delayed effort to get together, and it was a very good time. Five of us met up from different circles around the Baltimore design scene, and it was fun to put history and shared experiences together. It’s funny how much overlap we all have together.
I’m taking a long lunch this afternoon to walk up to the Capitol lawn with a 70-200 lens and a tripod to shoot some pictures: The Arsenal of Democracy Flyover is scheduled for today at noon and I’m right in the sweet spot: They are flying directly down the Mall, over the Capitol, and banking off to the south from there. If I’m on the north side of the lawn, I’ll be in perfect position to get some great shots.