29sep03: the lizards of autumn
[traffic, rainbows and fame] Did I say the car was fine? Ignore anything I say about the car until I say "I'm driving it to work." Which, you'll notice, I am not saying now. The commute to work is drop-dead lovely but the peepers are starting to arrive in their motorhomes, rental cars and tour busses. Sometimes I get to just zoom around rte 100, rte 107 and rte 4 but more often than not I'm crawling along at speed-limit-minus-fifteen behind people wondering why their towns look so lame compared to most of Vermont. Hint: it's the trees. I feel like I am in one segment of a great centipede winding its way from work to home and back again. Rarer and rarer are the days when I have the road to myself.

Over at librarian.net I spent the weekend installing and learning Movable Type in order to facilitate switching hosts to one that has perl 5. I got a starter blog all set up, switched the DNS with my registrar and waited..... full propagation can take a week. In the meantime I have to keep both sites up, or be one of those lame-os who acts like the Internet is some big mystery [as opposed to being primarily math, as I see it anyhow] and who loses their website and email once every few months. Today I started getting email from friends telling me that librarian.net was mentioned in the New York Times magazine. But, of course it's in a sidebar that's not online and -- life's little ironies here -- our library's copy was mysteriously delivered without the magazine section. Anyone want to send me a scan?
26sep03: bethel/rutland
Here are those pictures I was talking about. The place I live, the town I live in, and the place I work. All new as of a few weeks ago. We're going to pick the car up today. I'll have more news once I've seen it and driven it.
24sep03: good/bad news
The dealer, the local dealer we took the car to, seem to think that there is nothing wrong with the beast. I am completely exhausted with worrying about the whole thing, so I'm inclined to take their word for it. Just happy I did not bawl out the guy who sold it to me. More pictures of Bethel later today, it's my day off!
22sep03: to tell the truth
Full disclosure: sometimes being me is a pain in the ass. Case in point, the car that I bought and referred to saturday, stopped working. I can turn it on, it starts, then dies immediately. This is a problem. In fact it's many kinds of problems. One is the immediate issue: I have no car. I thought I did, but I don't. The car I am borrowing/renting from my friend will eventually need to be returned and I do not have a good replacement. This will take money and time to fix. Another problem is the hassle factor. As you know, I am more than willing to fight tooth and nail with someone who has wronged me, but I'm not sure what has happened here yet. The car is getting looked at, the dealer who sold it to me has been called, now is the time to wait. Massachusetts has some laws that apply to this type of circumstance but the one I think applies to me means I may have to bring the car back down to Massachusetts by Friday. Suckamo. If I didn't enjoy my job so much, to the point where a day "off" to go to Boston doesn't really sound like fun, maybe I wouldn't begrudge this.

The larger issue is just one of feeling like a dork. I run up against this a lot, actually. No, seriously. Since I spend a lot of time flouting various conventions, it's a matter of personal pride that I can still get by, make a go of it, be happy, and communicate with other people. I don't usually get much grief for the different paths I take because other people figure the ends justify the means, perhaps. Heck it all works, right? And, as a side note, I am particularly susceptible to the grief-giving of others. I take it seriously. So, when I try to do something my own way ["you found this car on the Internet!?"] and it doesn't work out ["well what did you expect!?"], I get hyper-prickly and mad at myself.

I'm sure this will work out okay. At the worst, I am out some money and some time. At the best maybe there's nothing wrong with the car and all this rending of garments is for naught. It irks me, though, that I don't have any idea what a normal response to all of this might be. Should I call up the dealer and yell at him? Get the car towed to MA and start legal proceedings? Take my lumps and move on with my life, chalk it up to a learning experience? Buy a new car and settle down to a life of car payments and high insurance? Toss money at the problem until it goes away?

I honestly have no idea, but I do know one thing. Since this is only a drama that is, at most, 36 hours old, one thing I should try not to do is overthink it, too much.
20sep03: laws cool
I broke the law for hours and hours yesterday, but it wasn't my fault! Well, it mostly was... In any case, here's what happened. I found a car I liked on eBay but the auction ended before I could really deal with it. eBay kind of freaks me out anyhow, it's all about what happens in the last five minutes of the auction. So, the reserve price of the seller had not been met. So, I emailed the guy and offered him a slightly higher price for the Honda wagon and he said sure. The car was in MA. We had to test drive it and, if we liked it, get it home. Now, in Vermont, you have to have the bill of sale, title and everything before they'll register your car. No temporary plates, nothing. Same in MA. So, I had to either drive down to Massachusetts twice, or cross my fingers and hope I could get the car back home without incident. Since most of the roads back to my house are big empty stretches of lovely mountain-lined highway, I figured I'd risk it. I slapped on a spare set of plates, and three hours later made it into the driveway unscathed. That's about as risky as my life gets nowadays.

The car is nice, a little rattley and a little rusty, but has some life left in it and was pretty inexpensive. Anyone want to buy my beater pickup truck? Cheap, really cheap.

I updated the visiting page with some data about my new weekday locale. In case you wanted to, you know, visit. My place in West Topsham is across the street from the Green Mountain State Forest and will be available for guests [with or without us, we're in and out] all during leaf season. Drop a line if you want to see what all the Vermont fuss is about.
17sep03: bethel
Greg asked the lady at the post office in Bethel for the lowest number they had. We are sort of low number snobs. I like having PO Box 14 in Topsham even though I know [as does everyone] that I haven't been there that long. We got 81, which didn't seem so low, until I went in there yesterday. It's the lowest one that isn't one of those horking magazine boxes. Not bad, not bad. We can walk to the post office. Since it's so close, the PO Box is free.

We can also walk to the library [not my library, but a library] and a place to get coffee in the morning. We went in this morning and got some local history [and overheard surfing stories] from the guy who served us fifty cent cups of cofee over a white granite countertop. I have a day off so I'm going to take some pictures of Bethel and maybe the house here if I get a chance. Think I found a car. I'll know Friday.
14sep03: quick, relax!
[progress is slow, byut steady, and fun to watch] I am making pizza crust. Also finishing up some forth grade social studies exercises. Also drinking coffee, watching it rain on the wood outside, learning to use the iPod, cleaning this dirty shack of a house, and typing this. I find that one of the things I really enjoy about working, besides the job itself, is the somewhat artificial restriction on my time that being someplace other than home for 25 hours a week requires. More planning, more lists, more two-birds-one-stone mathematics. Having a second place that is only an hour from the first place also encourages economy of stuff shlepping and personal movement. If you forget a toothbrush in Seattle, you'll buy a new one. If you forget one in Bethel, you make yourself suffer without one until you can get it.

I am actively pursuing car ownership this month. I'm looking for a $2,000-3,000 car that can drive around in the snow, has some life left in it, and preferably is Japanese. Honda maybe? I set my sight on a Honda Accord wagon but they don't show up too often [this is some sort of personality flaw I have "Oh, I'd like the unusual and unattainable one, please."]. If you have a lead on a car in the New England area that fits this description, or have an extra car that you would like to convert into cash, do let me know?
12sep03: second day off
[here's a shot of one of the new shoes] Having a regular job, as opposed to a zillion little freelance gigs, gives your days a bit of a binary quality. You get up and it's either Work or Not Work. Today is Not Work which only means I get to spend some time doing some writing projects, stacking firewood, and stopping by the nice folks at Small Dog to fetch my birthday iPod.

I put up some pictures of my sister's birthday visit, my drive to work and me in a dress.
10sep03: three days in
So the first two days of any work month are dedicated to paying my health insurance. First off, the job is good, scheduling is working, people are nice and I likely won't be chit-chatting too much about specifics because they all know how to use the Internet, because they are librarians. So, health insurance costs two days pay. Rent in Bethel is another three days. Then there's property taxes [1-2 days], insurance on the house and cars [3 days], food [1-2 days] and phone [1 day]. These are all short days because I work half-time.

In any case, the job doesn't boil down to money in any shape or form, it's just that now that I have some coming in, I am tempted to spend forever counting it, Scrooge McDuck style.

What I really want to talk about today is the fabulous dented can store in Bethel! That, and commuting. My commute takes about 35 minutes which is less than I thought it would be. Plus, it's a drop-dead gorgeous drive. This abruptly switches to drop-dead precarious come Winter. The drive is 28 miles and can be completely destroyed by getting stuck behind one school bus, leaf peeper bus, logging truck or out-of-towner. Since this has happened two out of three work days so far, I am tempted to include this data in my trip planning, along the lines of "Well it's a 35 minute trip that always takes an hour so here I am leaving an hour early..." I'm never sure how normal people plan these things, I've never commuted to a job before except by public transporatation.

Once I get back to Topsham where the computer stuff is, I'll offload all the pictures I have been taking out the car window as I drive to and from work. Plus, there is one picture of me in my work dress. You'll be amazed.
06sep03: 35
I am 35. I can now be president of the US, except for a few small problems. In related news, I got a Vermont driver's license and registered to vote in Vermont yesterday. At the same time. I got to take the voter oath right there in the DMV. The nice lady who worked there [everyone at the VT DMV is really friendly and funny, why is this? why is this diferent than every other state in the US?] even let me get my picture taken again when I balked at the first one. I'm not exceptionally vain, but I think avoiding that deer-in-the-headlights look on your license might be a good idea.

Yesterday was a really good day. Spent most of it out of the house with either my sister or Greg. Got myself some snazzy USA-made clogs for work. Had a birthday dinner that couldn't be beat & then retired to the house for movies and cake. Greg made me a card. Strangers, family and not-so-strangers called and wrote to say happy day. Our only birthday rule here is that whosever special day it is, they get to call the shots. Aside from saying, once "Put away that newspaper and come over here" I don't think I had to exercise this power at all.

Sorry for all the short sentences. I've been writing for forth graders this week.
05sep03: happy birthday to me
[gift from mom]
02sep03: up n' coming
If you're so inclined, birthday cards can be sent to: PO Box 14 West Topsham VT 05086. I'm really sort of a big sentimental dope when it comes to birthdays.
01sep03: autumnal-ish
[last summer's butterfly] Suddenly it's gotten really cold out, daytime and nighttime. Not cold like put-on-a-hat cold but cold like wow-you-can-do-work-outside cold. We got up today and had coffee and split cordwood into kindling. Actually, Greg mostly did it and I provided moral support. Don't underestimate the effects of moral support. Yesterday we moved some of the other wood in the shed around to make room for one more cord. We put the woodrack inside the house so on cold days we don't open the door to the barn every time we need to restock the stove. Seemed sort of stupidly counterintuitive to do it any other way, I'm not sure why we never noticed. I feel like I learn a lot of stuff from first principles up here, but then when I know it, I really know it.

Just got word that my caretaker is coming back again this year so all the pieces are in place for the yearly shift. I'll just be shifting one hour south instead of five days West. Still looking for a good car, and a nice pair of work shoes, and a cheap Apple laptop. Not looking for the Next Big Thing. I've started sending most of my junk mail to /dev/null instead of my spambox and if that's not certainty I don't know what is.
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