Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March miscellany

For the past few weeks, I've been too busy, too tired, or too lazy to keep up. It's true that time is relative, and the less you have remaining the faster it passes. To me, time seems to be approaching the speed of light—or, more precisely, free time.

I spent several hours writing a review of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson, then realized that I didn't like my approach or what I had written. This weekend I went back to the drawing (or writing) board and started a new version.

I've read about two-thirds of A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson and about half of Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. Both make me wish I had more time for reading. It's turning into a stolen pleasure.

The past weekend J. and I attended the annual Puppet Bike party. Friday's crowd, drawn by one of the bands, was a bit rowdy, but Saturday attracted more typical puppet people. Unfortunately, we had to leave at 11 o'clock because the life of a developer revolves around deployments, which invariably are timed inconveniently. If you want to enjoy life: (1) don't become a developer or (2) rise through the ranks like wildfire so you can schedule deployments at odd hours for other people while you take your ease elsewhere. It's unfortunate because neither of us has seen much of the puppets since they took their show to Andersonville. I did note on the map at the Peter Jones Gallery that the puppets would be welcomed in Hyde Park, at least by me.

Worn out and broke, this weekend we ate at Bonjour and watched competing entertainment—The Weakest Link on TV and Hodge in person trying to outsmart the Panic Mouse (see video). The poor economy has returned many of us to a life of simple pleasures—which is what mine has mostly been anyway.

Not long after I had returned from my Sunday morning trip to Bonjour, I noticed emergency accumulating at the Shoreland, followed by an evacuation of the resident students. At about the same time, a thick fog rolled in, so I could see little but a few of the brighter lights flashing. The Chicago Breaking News site was worthless, and, as I told S., the whole thing made me unaccountably nervous and tense. No one was hurt, however, and I was able to get q quick nap in only after I learned 50 minutes later, just as the vehicles started to leave and, coincidentally, the fog to break up, that there had been raised levels of carbon monoxide in the basement. I didn't make it back to Bonjour, and I didn't finish the Benjamin Franklin review. Increasingly, I let my nerves get the better of me—a trait I may have picked up from my mother. And there is much to be nervous about these days.

For months I've been saying to myself that I need to back up my e-mail to my older computer, a 2001 Titanium PowerBook G4. On Sunday night I finally got around to it. I plugged the TiBook in and turned it on—and nothing happened. I played with a different power cord and with having the battery in and out—same results. The next evening at the Apple Store my Genius had no better luck and apologized for being full of bad news: (1) she couldn't find a spare battery to test, (2) she couldn't diagnose the problem, and (3) even if she could, they no longer carry the parts with which to fix a hardware problem on such an old computer (at my age, my body is in a similar predicament—beyond repair). She offered to wipe the hard drive or, alternatively, I could take it out ("It's really easy"), put it in a case, and connect it to a computer via USB cable as a second or backup hard drive. I could also follow the excellent recommendations from my fellow McEditors and have it looked at by a repair place that carries older parts. I may go that route, if I ever get the energy.

The news on Monday was not all bad, depending on my perspective. At noon I took my paperwork to H&R Block ("I got people") and, after an hour or so, learned that I have more than $2,000 in refunds coming. While it's good to have a chunk of change returned to me, on the flip side the reason for it is the loss on my investments. I'd rather have all that money back, if out of reach, and owe a bit. If wishes were horses, however, we'd all have a ride.

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