Emma and I are preparing to fly to DC tomorrow for Jon Stewart’s (and/or Stephen Colbert’s) rally. We got a cheap flight on Southwest so our travel costs are just under $200, plus it looks like about $24 for rail transit from BWI to DC.

Longest Bike Ride Ever

Yesterday, to celebrate Independence Day (observed), we went to Crane Beach up in Ipswich. Avoiding the hottest part of the day, we went mid-afternoon and stayed until early evening. It was a good day to be at the beach, but the ocean water there, Brrrr! still cold.

The rest of the family drove the van up, but crazy me, I rode my bike. It should have been 34 miles, but I took an unintended, extended tour of Lynn, and made it 37 miles. Thanks to an anonymous biker and a resident of Lynnfield St. for setting me back on my intended path.

That makes it, I’m pretty certain, the longest ride I’ve done in one “sitting.”

Goodbye, Marion…

Today, we said goodbye to Marion:

We adopted Marion back in October of 1991, and we’ve shared two homes and eighteen and a half years together. Marion was there to greet each of our three children when they arrived home from the hospital. She was pretty successful in ignoring them for most of the past thirteen years, but of late she had decided that Emma was calm enough and had a big enough lap to be worthy of sitting on. Occasionally, Clara qualified as well. Even sometimes Tyler, though not as often.

We will miss Marion’s gentle spirit. We will remember her younger days of playing fetch and volleyball. She was a good kitty. We know that she’s in a better place now, without the pain and suffering of her last few weeks. We love you, Marion, and we miss you.


Went to watch a “Piano Drop” this evening at MIT Baker House. A semi-regular (based on availability of irreparable pianos) event, though none occurred during my four years there. I brought Clara and Tyler with me, thinking it would be a hoot for them. There were plenty of people there, news crews included, and a helicopter overhead for good measure.

Well, after all the build-up, it was honestly something of a disappointment (and it pains me to say so). They had two pianos, so it should have been spectacular — a grand piano on the ground, with an upright dropped on top of it from six stories up. In theory, practice should be more like theory. But in practice, it rarely is.

Here’s video from the original event, back in 1972. Thank goodness for the internet and YouTube, or I’d never have known what it’s supposed to look like.

A good part of the problem is that after 1984, they moved Amherst Alley (the street behind Baker House that runs parallel to Memorial Drive) away from the building. Subsequent drops (as far as I know) have been done on the Memorial Drive side, in other words, onto the ground instead of a hard surface. Ah well.

iPad, therefore iAm

I ordered an iPad the first day that Apple was taking orders. I thought (still think…) it will make a great internet appliance for my elderly mom, who has no real experience with computers. Some of those characteristics that are perceived as negatives for techies I think will be positives for her. It has a great web browser, for an almost full internet experience (I will have to steer her away from addictinggames.com, of course), a perfectly good email application, and there are already a bunch of apps for news, which she is feeling out of touch with. Having played with it for a day and a half (on and off), I am pretty impressed. On the down side, it feels a little heavy (compared to my iPod touch. What was I expecting?), and it won’t sync wirelessly, which is a shame, because she and my dad live downstairs, and that would make it just that much easier. On the plus side, it doesn’t multi-task ;-). The touchscreen is much easier to adapt to than a mouse. It just feels much simpler than a PC/Mac, which for my use case is a decided plus. I am now waiting for the keyboard dock, which should make it more comfortable to sit and type at before I give it to her, but I have added some music, photos, contacts, apps, etc. The on-screen keyboard is definitely usable, but the lack of tactile feedback is noticeable. We shall see…

Here are the obligatory, goofy un-boxing photos:

House Update

Over the winter, we had our old two-level back porch torn down and replaced. The old porches were getting a bit soft in the wood, and of course required regular maintenance (mostly painting). We also wanted to make them larger and hence more usable, in addition to creating a third level deck to complement the doors we added to our attic finishing project that until now led to the steeply pitched porch roof.


The decking is ipe wood, a hardwood that is very durable and insect resistant. The railings are mahogany, and the rest of the framing is PT lumber. Our hope is that this will make for a low maintenance addition to our home that is very usable.

One unforeseen effect is that with the decking spaced as decking normally is, rain now comes through the second floor and drips down onto the first floor porch. The previous flooring had been painted and installed with no spacing, so the rain ran off the end instead. Of course, the second floor is actually roofed, so it’s just wind-blown rain, but inevitably when it rains, we get more rain on the first floor porch now than we used to.

The deck on the third floor is a nice new addition. Up there, with the greater exposure to the sun, we had composite decking installed. One fun thing we were able to do is make the deck two-tone. The railings are the same mahogany as the other levels.

Our contractor was going to install the very pedestrian lattice for the skirt, but I prefer the look of the previous vertical slats, so I will be working on that later this spring.

Basement Project

We had our favorite contractor do a quick “facelift” of our basement. Removed one partition wall, added a new one and a small, additional partition to create a laundry area for the first floor apartment. Hopefully, we can create an inviting space for the kids to be able to play down there without a complete remodel. The ceiling, walls, and floor were painted to clean and brighten up the space. Then with the help of Susan’s sister, Nancy and niece Melissa, we added some color to the walls.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, this is a bit late. Here’s a poem I wrote for our family football pool mailing list, as I’ve been in the habit of writing one for the weekly mailing. Usually, they are football related, and they are always written under pressure of time. So don’t judge too harshly 🙂

Pause for a minute to reflect, on the men and women we elect,
On the soldiers who our freedoms protect, and all who warrant our respect.
And be thankful.

Think, if you will of all we expect, the greed that can our souls infect,
When we our blessings do neglect, and God’s great offered peace reject.
And be thankful.

So on this holiday connect, with family and friend and seek to perfect,
Creation; and in joy bedecked, let the Hallelujahs go unchecked.
And be thankful!

The House

In the fourteen years we’ve spent in our house, we’ve been blessed to have only four tenants, all of whom have been really great. But I am enjoying our current tenants the most, because they are… My parents! With their health on the decline, the upkeep of their own house became more and more overwhelming. So after fourteen years of our asking them, they finally acquiesced and moved in downstairs about a month ago.

Their house is now on the market, so if you know anyone looking for a lovely, small home in southern Connecticut, with a bigger-than-average yard, and a finished basement with an awesome workshop, let me know.

It’s been a while

I’m not much of a blogger. Having the summer trip provided me with an endless supply of material to write about. But (my) ordinary life hardly seems worth writing about. Another roadblock for me was that I wanted to “preserve” the trip blog as a sort of whole. And in fits and starts, I have, I think, accomplished that. There is now a Trip Diary page which lists the posts related to our Big Trip in chronological order. The blog format is nice if you’re “following along” in that the most recent entries appear at the top. However, if I were to tell someone today that we had a great trip this past summer and that they can read about it on our website, the standard blog ordering (reverse chronological) is less than ideal. So with some help from the WordPress community, I was able to code up a page that presented the trip log entries in Forward chronological order, as a diary would be. Which I think you will agree is much more friendly for the newcomer.