g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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11/22/2004 - 11/28/2004
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10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
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 1/19/2004 -  1/25/2004
 1/12/2004 -  1/18/2004
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12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
12/22/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/15/2003 - 12/21/2003
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11/24/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/17/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/10/2003 - 11/16/2003
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10/27/2003 -  11/2/2003
10/20/2003 - 10/26/2003
10/13/2003 - 10/19/2003
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  9/8/2003 -  9/14/2003
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 8/18/2003 -  8/24/2003
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 7/28/2003 -   8/3/2003
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 5/26/2003 -   6/1/2003
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 1/27/2003 -   2/2/2003
 1/20/2003 -  1/26/2003
 1/13/2003 -  1/19/2003
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12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
 12/9/2002 - 12/15/2002
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11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
 11/4/2002 - 11/10/2002
10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
 10/7/2002 - 10/13/2002
 9/30/2002 -  10/6/2002
 9/23/2002 -  9/29/2002
 9/16/2002 -  9/22/2002
  9/9/2002 -  9/15/2002
  9/2/2002 -   9/8/2002
 8/26/2002 -   9/1/2002
 8/19/2002 -  8/25/2002
 8/12/2002 -  8/18/2002
  8/5/2002 -  8/11/2002
 7/29/2002 -   8/4/2002
 7/22/2002 -  7/28/2002
 7/15/2002 -  7/21/2002
  7/8/2002 -  7/14/2002
  7/1/2002 -   7/7/2002
 6/24/2002 -  6/30/2002
 6/17/2002 -  6/23/2002
 6/10/2002 -  6/16/2002
  6/3/2002 -   6/9/2002
 5/27/2002 -   6/2/2002
 5/20/2002 -  5/26/2002
 5/13/2002 -  5/19/2002
  5/6/2002 -  5/12/2002
 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
 4/22/2002 -  4/28/2002
 4/15/2002 -  4/21/2002
  4/8/2002 -  4/14/2002
  4/1/2002 -   4/7/2002
 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
  3/4/2002 -  3/10/2002
 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
 2/18/2002 -  2/24/2002
 2/11/2002 -  2/17/2002
  2/4/2002 -  2/10/2002
 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Saturday, August 2, 2003
00:59 - Thy pain, it is felt
http://www.penny-arcade.com/images/2003/20030801l.gif

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Courtesy of Marcus.




00:41 - Taking shape

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Today we made some real progress on the front yard.

The limestone boulders and the gravel have already been put down; today, the job was to put in some living matter. Because with just the rocks and gravel (and before that, the rocks and the expanse of weed cloth), it looked like we'd just been raking and managed to dig up some monstrous submerged lawnmower-crackers.

Now there's a line of azalea bushes around the rear edge of the gravel area, and a crepe myrtle tree (trained up on a stake, so instead of being a big shrub with branches sticking up from the ground, the branches start about six feet up, ending in big clusters of white flowers). And a park bench. The plants aren't planted yet, but the effect is an astonishing improvement: we can now tell what it's supposed to look like. Instead of a freakish half-complete afterthought of a landscaping job, like the pepperoni dream of a concrete-obsessed 60s architect, like the petrified bowel movement of a badly impacted dragon, it now resembles nothing so much as a park.

Pictures tomorrow.

Because now I've actually also started to make progress on networking. The AirPort Base Station is mounted on the wall in the downstairs bathroom (if anyone asks, we'll tell them it's an air freshener-- makes it smell like apples), and it's hooked up to cables trained through a pipe embedded in the wall so there's no visible sign of supporting architecture. Except that just before installation, Capri managed to get hold of the clear plastic mounting frame and gnaw it from its original totally unrecognizable shape into a different totally unrecognizable shape. It still fits, but it's a lot uglier now if you take the base station down off the wall.

So now the downstairs iMac and my iBook can freely roam, and they're sharing the copious bandwidth of a 56K modem mostly occupied by game traffic. Woop-de-frickin-hey. But it means I can make some real headway on the book; the first couple of meaty chapters are done, and now it's into the cruising phase. Or so goes the theory.

Anyway, that means I should be able to add some pictures to this post as soon as my camera recharges; actually I guess there's no technical reason I have to have the net up before I can post pictures, and it's more just a psychological thing: if the net isn't available, I feel as though computing is hardly worth the bother. I just wait till work and do it there.

At least it'll be worth it. Today's efforts could indeed have been less strenuous; we got the tree and the azaleas at a wholesale nursery on Southwest Expressway, and in order to get them home we slid them upright into the back of Kris' truck. (The myrtle was in a 24" box.) And then we took off. And not three hundred feet down the road, the myrtle pitched over backwards.

Well, durr, I thought. I shoulda seen that coming.

So after some experimentation with lever positions and stress points and having it lie sideways and drag on the pavement, I decided that the only way to get the thing home would be to prop it back up vertical, lie down in the truck bed among the azaleas, hunker down so as to avoid the roving eyes of cops, and keep a firm hand clenched around the tree. Lance (whom, by the way, I wouldn't describe as a partner, but rather as a good friend) would drive, keeping it under 30 mph if possible, and I would hold the thing up as best I could.

And we made it. Turned out the big problem wasn't so much sharp acceleration (though sharp acceleration wasn't exactly a picnic) as constant velocity; the tree acted as a giant sail, and at any speed above about 20, the tree leaned back against my arm like a slat on an aboveground swimming pool that's about to give way. And the trip was long-- far longer than I would have imagined the span from Bascom/Meridian to the Camden area to ever be. By the time we arrived, the top of the myrtle barely having cleared the bottoms of countless corridors of shade trees and power lines, my body was contorted into a position I hadn't imagined I would ever have found comfortable. I'd had to brace my leg against the liftgate, strut my right arm against the tree, and prop myself up with the left one. After a few minutes of sitting in this position, which to an outside observer would have looked quite a sight-- a pickup truck with its hazards on, picking its way gingerly down Meridian with a bed full of big-leafed bushes and a tall flowery tree sticking up from behind the cab, with a pasty white arm protruding from within the bushes and jammed against its trunk-- I realized that I was okay if I stayed in that position, because my limbs were mostly locked into place and devoid of blood. But if I tried to stand up or reattain any kind of bodily symmetry, I was in for a significant amount of pain as the fluids of my joints flowed back into their accustomed positions. "Just keep going," I kept bawling into the open sliding window of the cab. And we did. The best bet was to just get it over with as quickly as possible. I wouldn't be able to take over a driving shift, no sirree. So it took the better part of an hour, but we made it-- the tree vertical and intact, and with most of its blossoms still attached.

And boy howdy do I have a sunburn now.

So tomorrow we try to make some progress on the kitchen cabinetry, and maybe the crown molding for my bedroom, and/or the pilings for the deck. Technically we should be doing the line of trees for the backyard before we put the deck in, but, well... I think we may want to look into alternate methods of delivery before we go buying any more trees.

Just sayin', is all.

Thursday, July 31, 2003
18:24 - Progress?

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Just got word that the SBC guys finally sent some trucks out this morning, and were set up most of the day; they had a whole assembly line going. The goal was to locate the junction box and see what they would have to do in order to connect it with the trench we dug through our flowerbed.

They found the box, buried six feet underneath the sidewalk two houses over, 100 feet from where the trench ends.

They're going to have to get the buried-services-locator guys to come out and slop paint around again, but that shouldn't take more than a day; then they get to dig up the sidewalk over the junction box, sink a water-borer down into the pit, and then dig a Chunnel for the hundred-foot run to the endpoint. It must be something to see, this high-pressure water excavation thingy boring its horizontal way underneath huge expanses of pavement. But I assume they've done it before, so it'll happen and it'll be done right. Sometime in the next couple of days, if nothing more goes amiss.

We're assured that we've done our part, though. It's now in the hands of the Phone Company Gods.


13:08 - Dowd for a day
http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2003/07/Culturalcrosspollination.shtml

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Just look what Den Beste said today:

...Dogs reproduce by fission.

He said it! He did! Right there in black and white! I agree with Philip Shropshire-- who could possibly take this man seriously?!

... Hee. I kid. I couldn't resist; I am weak.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003
12:01 - Notworking

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Just a little status report on our ever-lengthening efforts to get a partial T1 into the house.

(And before anyone asks what the hell we're going to all this trouble for, we need symmetrical bandwidth and the ability to host our own servers. We don't get DSL here-- the CO five hundred feet away was installed in the longlongago for a subdivision that was never actually built, so it's "dark"-- and Comcast cable service isn't symmetric and doesn't allow hosting or fixed IPs. This is our only option.)

In mid-June, I signed the contract with the connectivity provider, who I must note has been exemplary with service since day one, as I would expect from a business-grade networking provider. The trouble is that he has to order the line through Pac Bell/SBC, then XO has to do the provisioning. And SBC in particular is a huge faceless monopolistic bureaucracy. It's like having desktop support administered by the DMV. It's like-- well, hell, it's the phone company. All the jokes have already been written.

So anyway, mid-June, and they send out the order. They promise, by the way, that they will have the T1 installed by July 1. Over the ensuing three weeks, however, it transpires from a series of calls to the provider, who tries desperately to get a human voice on the line from within the SBC monolith and not just a terse computerized status message, that the SBC site surveyors have tried on three separate occasions to come to my house and reconnoiter-- only on all three occasions to go to the wrong address. At one point they misread 1787 as 1878. At another, they mistook Spagthorpe Pines Ct. for Spagthorpe Avenue. (Names and numbers have been changed to protect the-- heh-- innocent.) A third time they got the street number and the street wrong. Each time we deluged them with e-mails and phone calls correcting them, and each time it sent the job back to the end of the Holy Favor Queue, so it meant it cost us another full week each time the site-surveyor guy had to stand in the forecourt of a strip mall somewhere making a bewildered cell-phone call to the mothership about how there wasn't any damn house anywhere in sight.

So that was some time ago, ages ago, ancient history. It's a whole new chapter now.

See, the guy finally came out. He looked up and down our front yard, rubbed his chin, and announced that he had no idea where SBC's junction box was. There was no access hatch. There was one labeled "Pacific Bell", but inside there was only TV cable-- the box had been co-opted by Comcast in their recent upgrade pass (for which, by the way, I am massively grateful). Our phone line was buried. Bare. No conduit. Just the bare two lines, dropped in a trench and covered over. We couldn't even try to dig it up, because of all the gas and electrical and sewer and other lines running through our flower bed.

Why not just do without a phone? I asked. You know-- use the two existing phone lines, the existing four wires, to carry the T1. We could put in a new phone line at our leisure. But no-- proceeedure. They'd have to shut off the phone line, verify its being shut off, then put in the work orders to get the T1 provisioned; that would take another week or two, and meanwhile we'd have no phone or network. And while the whole point of this exercise is ostensibly so we can have Internet connectivity at home, we're currently using the phone line as a 24-hour dialup so friends can come over and play MMORPGs all night long. So scratch that.

So we had to dig a new trench and lay new conduit. Which we did. Or, more correctly, we had a guy do it for us. It was the guy who had come out from the City of San Jose when we called the 1-800-POO-GAS-10-10-987-12500DOWNTHECENTER call-before-you-dig number, to mark the sidewalk where the buried lines were. (You call the number, an automated signal is sent out over the Sub-Etha, and hundreds of scuttling bureaucrats come swooping by in vans with cans of orange and red paint, marking where the water and cable and electrical and other lines all go, and then vanish into the night.) So the city guy came back and offered to dig the trench for us. "Times are tough," he said. He was out of work, having previously been a contractor for the phone company. His clothes and car weren't as nice as those worn by the SBC site-surveyor, but he got a whole helluva lot more of my respect. Especially considering how hot a day it was, and how he did the whole job by hand. By choice.

So now there's a trench running through our flowerbed, a four-inch gully cut across our concrete walkway that goes around the side of the house (the ground underneath was apparently once the parking lot for the power substation next door, so it's clay and sand that's packed super-hard-- or, as we like to call it in the parlance, concrete; so no digging the dirt out from under the walkway), and a conduit endpoint sticking up out of the ground next to the input box at the side of the house. The other end of the conduit is in a hole next to the sidewalk, and there's a rope running the length of the conduit, the better to pull the phone line through when the time comes.

Which, we now learn, is an indeterminate time away.

We called the SBC guy back (I wouldn't let him leave, the day he came out and rubbed his chin, without leaving an accurate human name and cell-phone number), and let him know that the trench was ready. So he told us he'd get back to us. And get back to us he did-- yesterday.

I don't know whether he had to go to the house to find this out, or if he just made the proclamation from his truck on the freeway somewhere; but his new insight is that well, fine, we have a trench now-- but SBC still has no idea where the buried junction box is. But-- oh, and here's the best part-- their suspicion is that it's buried directly under the sidewalk.

They have to find out for sure. So SBC Man waits three days for the time-sensitive task to ferment properly, then sends out the work order to have some "exploratory digging" done-- apparently they couldn't have done this any earlier, like at the same time we were getting the trench dug-- and see if they can't find that box. For all we know, we might have put the trench ten feet away from the box. But hell, it's in their court now; all we had to do was get the line to the curb. Now it's up to them. And they have to pay for it. (I've even heard stories about the phone company coming out to install a line, tearing up the sidewalk and a slice of the road, laying the line, repaving the sidewalk and the road, and being done before the sun set. This was the provider's SBC liaison guy whose story it was.) Theoretically my work is done.

Except that if the box does turn out to be under the sidewalk, they'll have to get a permit from the city to dig up the sidewalk. Which means another week or two. And we won't know until tomorrow whether we'll have to do that. But after that they have to recondition the line, because in the 13 years since the neighborhood was built, apparently all of Western technology was invented, and the pavement and technology were all laid down together under the assumption that 1950s equipment would suffice us for the next century at least, or until the nukes flew and leveled the cul-de-sac and allowed us all to start afresh without any of those pesky flower gardens or homeowners to get in the way.

Fine. I'm resigned to the idea of not having any net at home for another couple of months. The provider called me here at work a few minutes ago for a status report and to ask me how things were coming on my end, and I had great fun telling him. I'm past the phase of being angry or frustrated, and am now just enjoying making up new adjectives to use over the phone. Again, the provider guy is being superlatively helpful and sympathetic-- there's just nothing he can do. The moment there is, you can bet, that damn line will be hooked up and we'll be sailing happily away into the bitstream. But for now, we wait. And I try to write desultory book chapters on a machine with no access to Software Update.

I'm sure CapLion will tell me that if I lived in New York, this would all have been taken care of with a tip of the hat by smiling Maytag repairmen six weeks ago. I have to imagine that if we were ordering the T1 from SBC directly, instead of getting it relabeled through a provider, there wouldn't have been any of that "escalation to the manager level" or "not being able to find the address for three weeks"; you'd think, being the phone company, they might even have been able to call the number and ask where the house was, or even look in their database and see where the line was hooked up. But I'm sure that this is all just atonement for some non-specific sin I've committed, and as long as I suffer it in silence (except for long-winded typing) I'll have redeemed myself like Douglas Adams' England.

That's my theory, anyway. And until I come up with a better one, it's what I'll stick to.

Fingers crossed for the damn box being accessible without having to dig up the sidewalk.


11:23 - The Adult Swim guys are such Mac geeks

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I first suspected it when they talked about "a few good iPods" to house adoptable tracks from the vast Turner Music Warehouse.

I further lifted my eyebrows when they paid homage to Steves Jobs and Wozniak in one of their tributes to inspirational and helpful people on whom they've relied.

Two nights ago, a photo flashed on-screen during one of the packaging spots, of three writers sitting around a table. Two of them had PowerBook G4s.

And last night, they showed several successive screenfuls of "things they like"-- you know, raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, that sort of thing-- and buried in the middle of one of the small-fonted columns was "The New G5".

What devious, cunning individuals. Apparently they were at San Diego Comic-Con this year; now I wish I'd gone.

I bet they do those packaging cards all by themselves in iMovie.

Monday, July 28, 2003
16:23 - Woody Allen, please call your agent
http://www.achewood.com/index.php?date=07282003

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Don't get me wrong, I have the requisite gleeful surreptitious Achewood habit. But:



Uh-huh. Didn't Lileks say that France's opinion of America comes from the 1968 issue of Playboy, and Rachel Lucas observe that most Germans' impression of the US is informed primarily by Baywatch?

Beef, heal thyself.

Jeff Goldblum. Cripes. And what appears to be a CRT monitor. If Onstad is playing this straight, which I suppose I have no reason to believe he is, it means his last Mac contact was circa 1997.

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