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Lessons du Jour

Escape by Voice Vote (

It’s a grey, dreary, day. Minivans hydroplane eerily well. The Republican apologists for our disastrously unilateral dive into Iraq won’t even go on record supporting it.

Had a great walk with Jack and Jessica this morning. While unpacking photos in Philadelphia, I came across pictures of a Thanksgiving trip we took together when we were dating, 6 years ago. We look noticeably younger in these pictures than we do today.

“You don’t get two bowls of sugar”

Had a great, great evening. Left work, sprinted (well, as much as one can sprint in a minivan) to Coolidge Corner, then into Harvard Square, where I had the pleasure of dining alone. I rarely, if ever, do this, and not having to consult with anyone about where to go, how quickly or slowly to meander there, where to make pit stops, was a nice change. Stopped at Wordsworth to pick up something to read, and got a copy of Dave Eggers’ newish magazine, The Believer. Had a really stellar vegetarian thali at Bombay Club, served on metal cups and plates just like we’d used in Nepal, and as I was sitting and reading the article on Jerry Lewis, a newly seated table began discussing one of its member’s recent semester in Nepal. Ah, synchronicity.

Met Jason Haas at Tealuxe, where the evening’s conversation began. Topics covered: David Foster Wallace, Jason’s 10 desert-island-movies, thoughts on our career choices, whether or not America is becoming a victim of its own success both economically and calorically, the Coen Brothers, Achewood and why it’s funny, politicians and why they’re not so funny, the boardgame Diplomacy, improv comedy… After Tealuxe, we went to sit for an hour or two at Cafe Pamplona, a teeny hole in the wall where the waiter chided us for having two sugar bowls on the table, and called us “computer people” in a strangely perjorative way. Decent hot chocolate, though. Topics covered: Jason’s interest in film school, my own ramblings about Jonathan Lethem, writings about interesting things, my time so far in Philly and why it’s odd that I’m not socially jonesing more… Then out for a brisk walk detouring across the river and back to the HOOPTY MOBILE.

The conversations Jason and I have move and shift and circle back on themselves; we crack each other up, and I always leave evenings together psyched for more and thinking that Jason’s one of the best people I know.

After running him home in the mom-mobile, though, it’s another short night’s sleep for me, so I’m off to it, chocolate in my bloodstream or no.


Got into Boston late last night, and went to pick up my rental car. I’d asked for an Economy car, and got quoted a price of about $25/day, which sounded reasonable.

Given the unfortunate happenings the last time I rented a vehicle, I took the “full” insurance coverage, which is a whopping $47/day. Between that, taxes, Convention Center fees, a full tank of gas… what was a $25/day rental became a $330 rental. And they were out of economy cars, so for an economy price, I got a Dodge Caravan. Stylin’.

Stayed up late finishing Fortress of Solitude, which was as good or better, I think, than Motherless Brooklyn. Yawned my way awake this morning, walked down the street to take Jessica‘s Jack out for a walk in the cool, rainy day. Realized that when all else fails, owning a dog will definitely encourage more physical activity than I’ve been getting recently. Felt good.

Cruised into work in the Caravan, wondering whether I’ll ever feel at home in a big family mobile… not, honestly, that I think I’ll ever get a minivan. But will I still feel like driving fast when I’m 50? Or listening to the same thumpa-thumpa-thumpa driving music? Are my changing tastes something to watch, actively shape, anticipate, fear? All of the above?

cutting losses

After several months of trying out Vonage’s VoIP service, we’re punting and going back to paying through the bunghole for regular POTS.

It’s galling, because I’ve got several friends using it quite happily, so I know that it’s possible to use it relatively seamlessly and get decent service. Given enough debugging time, I’m sure I could figure out where the problem lies… but it’s been two months.

First speakeasy sold us service which flaked out because we turned out to be 17,000 feet from the CO. By rumor, our upstairs neighbors had good DSL service from Verizon, so we switched to that. James Earl Jones provided mostly decent service, but it was slow, which made the VoIP pop and sputter occasionally, and had several nasty hour-long outages at the wrong times.

Ah, said the Verizon tech. You’re at 18,000 feet from the CO, your service is just going to be spotty.

One call to RoadRunner, and we’ve got a spankingly fast cable modem, 3 times the speed of the DSL line, and everything seems peachy. Phone calls work great. That was Saturday and Sunday.

This morning, circa 10 a.m., making phone calls on the VoIP box has started causing our connection via cable modem to drop, first the upstream side, and 30 seconds later, the downstream side. Hang up the phone, everything pops back to life.

A friend said it could be the model of cable modem, but frankly, I’ve reached (and perhaps more importantly, my boss and my lady friend have reached) the limit on how much debugging time getting cheap phone service is worth to me.

Still, it’s a drag to know success is possible and to turn from it.

Summer in November

Friends said that we shouldn’t have allowed the term to be “Global Warming,” which sounds vaguely comfortable, in a just-in-from-skiing kind of way, but instead have forced the meme to become “Global Climate Change” or “Global The Weather’s Screwy” or, best of all, “Climastrophe.”

Regardless, today’s bizarrely misplaced sunny-and-70-degrees was just awesome to be out and about in. Kate and I saw Jennie E-P for a long, lingering lunch sitting out in a Bryn Mawr soccer field, talking about mutual friends, Jennie’s pregnancy, geopolitics, autism… it was a blast. Then it was off to Home Depot for more house things. (I’m really hoping that our landlords will contribute some part of the nearly $290 we’ve spent over the last weekend… you have no idea how much under-counter fluourescent lights cost, added up.)

Kate ducked down to Delaware to visit her friend Ramona, while I stayed behind, supposedly to continue working on apartment things. Lo and behold, work rang with something crucial, so now two hours later, I’m drilling holes for surround-speaker stands and figuring out what tasks I need to do before I reward myself with leftover pumpkin and/or apple pie, from my mom’s visit.

Mom’s apple pie. Good lord, I’m eating a cliche, and it’s very tasty with ice cream.