Monthly Archives: January 2005

A Few Feet

8:30 a.m. The temperature outside is 18.7F. By my measurements, we’ve got exactly one foot of fresh snow on the back porch since I shoveled it off last night at around 5:15 p.m. On the front porch, we have well over a foot. And it’s still coming down – we’re close to a band that could be dumping as much as four inches every half hour! Insanity! Becky is making cran-apple pancakes for breakfast, and then later we’re going to venture out to see more of the snow. For now, we have some photos shot from inside the building|http://gallery.prwdot.org/blizzard_200501:

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Well over a foot of snow on the front porch!|ppp

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Outside on the back porch and a view of the Home Style Laundry parking lot.|ppp

10:00 a.m. Outside temperature is 18.5F. Becky and I just got back inside from a little jaunt around the block. We cleared pretty much all of the snow off of our front porch. It wasn’t too difficult because the snow is very light and fluffy. Then Becky tried out her cross-country skis. The conditions weren’t quite right, because the snow was just too cold and not slick enough for her to glide. But we went around the block just the same. We entered the building via the Home Style Laundry parking lot, and had to climb over/through a massive drift of snow left by the laundry’s snowplow. I was sinking in nearly to my waist! The gallery|http://gallery.prwdot.org/blizzard_200501 is updated with more pics.

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Becky shovels off the front porch.|ppp

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Becky parks on the side of Cabot Street, in front of the laundry’s parking lot.|ppp

11 a.m. We’re watching Return of the King|http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0167260/, the extended edition, including the drinking contest between Gimli and Legolas. 🙂 The snow’s piled up on top of our basement windows, so we can’t see what exactly is going on outside, but it sounded like someone has come to plow our parking lot. We talked to Corey|http://corey.prwdot.org/ online. He came back from Sunday River|http://www.sundayriver.com/ last night and is venturing out this morning to the local Arlington Dunkin Donuts|http://www.dunkindonuts.com/. (Update: He just got back. They were closed. 🙁 ) We talked to Becky’s dad on the phone. He and Dianne are in Baltimore, coming back from a trip to Florida. Sounds like they’ll be staying there over night since the Boston area airports are closed.

Snippet from movie watching. Gandalf: “We have just passed into the realm of Gondor!” Becky, to the movie: “How can you tell? Did the roads get worse?” “Is it like when you are driving back from New Hampshire into Massachusetts?”

4:00 p.m. We finished watching Return of the King, and shortly thereafter we heard the sound of a plow outside! One of our landlord’s sons was out plowing the lot with a Bobcat. We went outside and helped shovel out snow from around the cars, as much as possible so that we can get our cars out if necessary. The snow has pretty much stopped, but from what we hear, most of Beverly’s side roads are not passable… including ours. So we’ll be holed up here for the foreseeable future!

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Here’s what our living room windows look like from outside|ppp

6:46 pm Becky’s Turn to Update! We just got back from a nice drive around town. The roads weren’t too awful… The main streets had been plowed, but there was still a layer of snow on the ground. Hopefully the sand/salt trucks will be out soon.

The good news is… I only had to hop out of the car and push once!

Area Bloggers Other area folk update on the snow: Arthur|http://kizoku.blogspot.com/2005/01/for-those-keeping-score.htmlhttp://kizoku.blogspot.com/2005/01/for-those-keeping-score.html, James|http://drjames.blogspot.com/2005/01/whitewashed.html (both in Beverly), Chris|http://amusings.journalspace.com/ (in Groveland), Jeremy and Angela|http://thebiggspicture.org/2005/01/blizzard-of-05.html (in Hyannis), Nikkiana|http://everytomorrow.org/archives/2005/01/23/randomess/ (near Concord, NH).

Turbo Cracks

For the past few years, I’ve used Turbo Tax to do our annual federal and state income taxes. It’s pretty easy to use and I have not had any trouble with it. This year, I got a mailing that offered Turbo Tax at a discount, along with a few chintzy free software packages and free shipping thrown in, so I figured I would take them up on the offer. Couldn’t hurt to have it delivered directly to my house to avoid having to make a trip just to buy the software. Or could it? Well, it seems that I made a mistake when I placed my order.

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Apparently I ordered “Turbo Cracks” when I meant to order “Turbo Tax”. Thanks Intuit, this is going to be very helpful for getting my taxes done. Really brilliant idea to send your CD-ROMs in a soft-sided envelope with no protection whatsoever. I could blame the USPS for damaging it in transit, but instead I’ll blame you for not using sturdier, more protective packaging. Now the question is, do I forgive you, and just go out and purchase a copy of Turbo Tax locally, or do I spite you and purchase Tax Cut|http://www.hrblock.com/taxes/products/product.jsp?productId=34 instead. It looks to be a better deal anyway, so maybe that’s what I’ll do. Bah.

Weekend Chill

When I got up this morning at 7:30, the temperature on our outside thermometer read -4.0F. At 8:30, it’s reading +2.7F. That’s without wind chill factored in, of course. Inside, it’s a little over +60F, which feels quite chilly. Our hot water baseboard heat doesn’t work all that well when it gets really cold outside, which is a sad irony. We have to get our landlord to send someone over to bleed the excess air out of the system when it gets like this. We can’t do it ourselves because that part is in a locked closet. sigh

We were just watching the NECN|http://www.boston.com/news/necn/ forecast, and they showed a snow forecast map for tonight – Beverly is in the colored band that is forecast to get 24+ inches of snow! It’s almost as much as last year’s nor’easter|http://prwdot.org/archives/001506.html. We’ll keep you posted on how it turns out. 🙂 Hopefully we won’t be getting any WIDESPREAD UNPLOWABLE GIANT BLOCKS OF GRANITE|http://www.boston-online.com/common/004451.html

Update At Noon As of noon, the outside temperature has reached 14.7 degrees. Light flakes of snow have started to fall in Beverly.

Update At 2:30 PM The outside temperature is 16 degrees. There is still some light snow falling, but this is just ‘ocean effect’ snow, and not part of the actual impending storm. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning|http://www.crh.noaa.gov/data/forecasts/showsigwx.php?warnzone=MAZ007&warncounty=MAC009&local_place1=Beverly&product1=BLIZZARD+WARNING for most of eastern Mass, in effect from 5 p.m. today to 6 p.m. tomorrow. Here’s what we can expect in Beverly, according to the NWS:

qqq|THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM WILL OCCUR TONIGHT AND MUCH OF SUNDAY MORNING. SNOW WILL LIKELY FALL AT THE RATE OF 3 INCHES PER HOUR FOR SEVERAL HOURS OVERNIGHT. … ALONG THE COAST…WIND GUSTS BETWEEN 60 AND 70 MPH ARE EXPECTED LATE TONIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING. … THE WINDS LIKELY WILL ALSO TRIGGER SCATTERED POWER OUTAGES NEAR THE COAST…AND TO A LESSER EXTENT INLAND. THE SNOW WILL LIKELY BE OF A SOMEWHAT WETTER CONSISTENCY…AND THUS CREATE THE RISK FOR EVEN MORE WIDESPREAD POWER OUTAGES. … IN ADDITION…THE COLD TEMPERATURES AND STRONG WINDS WILL CAUSE WIND CHILLS BETWEEN 10 AND 20 BELOW LATE TONIGHT. THIS WILL ADD TO THE DANGER FOR ANY ONE WHO VENTURES OUTDOORS TONIGHT. … TOTAL ACCUMULATIONS WILL BE ON THE ORDER OF 20 TO 30 INCHES…WITH AMOUNTS AS HIGH AS 3 FEET POSSIBLE.|qqq

There’s just something about the NWS writing their warnings in ALL CAPS that makes it seem just that much more dramatic. We have plans to go out to dinner and a movie with some friends tonight, and at the moment I don’t think we’ll be calling it off. After all, we’re supposed to be hardy New Englanders – what’s a few feet of snow between friends?

Update at 9:30 PM The temperature outside is 23.5F. There are 3.5 inches of fresh snow on our back door step, and I had shoveled away about 2.0 inches previously today, so that’s about 5.5 inches total thus far. The snow is supposed to continue late into the day tomorrow. Here’s an update from the NWS:

qqq|Amounts as high as 3 feet possible. The most vulnerable locations for 30 inches or more of snow are Essex… Plymouth… Norfolk and Barnstable counties in Massachusetts and Providence County in Rhode Island.|qqq

Essex County – that’s us! Our friends chickened out and didn’t want to drive all the way to Danvers to see a movie, so instead we all watched Spy Game|http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0266987/ on DVD here and had dinner at Siam Delight|http://www.nvo.com/siamdelight. It’s all good.

Rooted

My root canal this morning went pretty well. If you want the enthralling details, I present to you a run-down of what they did, along with relative pain rankings, “N” being no pain, and a scale of “!” ( for a bit of wincing pain ) to “!!!!!” ( for excruciating, unbearable pain). Continue reading

Mac Mini and iPod Shuffle

Last week when Apple released some new products at the MacWorld Expo, I briefly mentioned them in a blog post, but didn’t make much commentary. I usually find that I don’t have the time to write a well-thought-out commentary on such things, and I’m particularly unmotivated to do so when other people have already said what I’m thinking, only better. So I just refer you to John Gruber|http://daringfireball.net/‘s excellent article, Small, Cheap, and Without a Display|http://daringfireball.net/2005/01/small_cheap_no_display.

Beyond that, my personal opinions:

I like the Mac Mini. The base model is almost three times faster than the fastest Mac I own (a PowerMac G4 450 MHz), has superior graphics and networking capabilities, and has a miniscule form factor. If I was in the market for a new machine, that would be my choice. I don’t need the speed of a G5, nor the expandability that a tower offers. With USB and FireWire Connectivity, I’d be pretty much good to go. I’d probably want to upgrade the memory, which officially has to be done by an Apple authorized repair center, but can most likely be unofficially done by customers, as long as they are comfortable with taking machines apart. Having already disassembled many regular Macs, as well as my own PowerBook, I’d probably be comfortable enough doing it.

I think the iPod shuffle is cool. It’s not for me, because I could never stand not having a display to look at, or not having the ability to navigate to exactly the song I want to listen to. But I think it might be the right thing for some people… and, hopefully, lots of people.

Root Access

At my regularly scheduled dental exam last week, my dentist told me that I had several cavities. 🙁 I’ve had several cavities filled in recent years, so this wasn’t a huge surprise. But one of the cavities was larger, and he said that it might require a root canal. gasp

Well, today I went in to get one of the small cavities filled and have the larger cavity examined. The dentist found that it did, in fact require a root canal. So this Wednesday morning, I’m headed to the dentist to get a root canal|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_canal. From the fairly extensive reading I have already done on the subject, the procedure is apparently nowhere near as bad as the reputation it has garnered over the years. I won’t bore you with the medical details of the procedure; you can read about it at the link above. Suffice to say, as long as I’ve got a few good shots of novocaine in my jaw, it is supposed to be no worse then getting a regular cavity filled.

Other than the root canal, there aren’t any other good options – I could have the tooth pulled, but that would introduce a host of other issues, or I could just do nothing at all, in which case the tooth would infect the surrounding tissues and I would be in really bad shape. So a root canal it is. The procedure on Wednesday is the first of three parts, where the root canal itself is cleaned out and filled temporarily. The second and third procedures will be scheduled later, where a permanent filling, post, and crown are put into place on the tooth.

The cost of the procedure, I think, will be the post painful part. Usually when I am finished with a dentist appointment, I stand at the counter and settle the bill with the account manager. This time, however, the account manager led me to a desk with chairs around the corner from the main reception area. She sat me down and then broke the news to me. Yikes. I’m not going to say how much, but it is definitely a pricey procedure. Thankfully, I was able to set up a payment plan which will enable me to get the procedure right away, but allow me to break up the big payment into smaller, more manageable, and interest-free payments.

[ To answer the questions you may have: 1) yes, I brush my teeth daily 2) yes, I floss… every so often 3) yes, I will be doing both 1 and 2 even more frequently now than I have in the past 4) yes, the dentist will also be filling in a gap in my molars which was causing junk to build up, and which I could not have easily cleaned out on my own ]

Gobs of food

Everyone at the office ordered out for Chinese on Friday, from China Corner in Peabody. I got the roast pork lo mein lunch special, which came with a generous helping of pork fried rice and a spring roll. This massive serving of food, which I estimated weighed about 1.5 pounds, cost only $4.50 and was quite delicious. I believe China Corner nearly beats out Taco Bell at the price per pound game.

Is that my espresso machine?

Last night, Becky and I had planned to see In Good Company|http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0385267/ using the $5.50 Loews movie vouchers I can get at work. Everything was looking great until I got to the counter and found out that I couldn’t use them. Why? Apparently, I had been duped by the Loews website. They indicated that the release date was December 31, 2004, well beyond the 10-days-old requirement for using the vouchers. However, this was the limited release date, and the movie had, in fact, been released nationwide just a few days ago. Drat.

So, we instead went to see another movie we’d been wanting to see for a while, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou|http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362270/. This fabulous, hilarious film starred Bill Murray as the revenge-driven sea explorer Steve Zissou, searching for a mythical jaguar shark that killed his friend, Esteban. From Jeff Goldblum’s performance as the eccentric millionaire sea explorer Alistair Hennessey, to Willem Dafoe’s pouty German underling Klaus Daimler, the movie was a riot. Becky and I were cracking up in almost every scene at the absurdity of the movie’s plot and characters, from the “research dolphins” which apparently can neither hear nor understand the crew’s commands, to the eight unpaid research interns from the “University of North Alaska”… simply a great film.

For those who are familiar with Buckaroo Banzai|http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086856/, there are a few significant links between the movies, one of which is the presence of Jeff Goldblum as an eccentric outsider. The other one I’ll let you discover for yourself… it’s a real treat. 🙂 I don’t know of any other direct links, but in general I couldn’t help but think about how similar (and wonderful) the two movies were. I already own B.B. on DVD, and L.A. will certainly be going on my wishlist as well.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou gets four flippers up from The Woods!