Gee, five, and one black cat.

Sunday, October 26th, 2003

Sammy came in and asked, “how’s your new computer working?”
I motioned toward the screen and pressed F9.

“Good God,” she said, as the screen became a gallery of dozens of tiny windows.

My new G5 showed up at 7 pm on Friday. Switching over was a snap. No, it didn’t come with Panther installed, but about an hour later, it was. Yes, I certainly have been and remain a Mac enthusiast, but “enthusiast” doesn’t quite contain my reactions to the new operating system. It does the job, it stays out of my way, it’s robust, it’s fun, and it didn’t break anything I’ve used so far, including some fairly obscure television stuff.

Who could ask for more? It’s my first reaction that the new finder, combined with the Exposé window scurrying thing represents a fundamentally new and sensible way of dealing with gazillions of files, chunks of words, networked machines, and miscellaneous content.

Very nice, youall.

It’s a rainy fall sunday morning in Atlanta–perfect for playing with a new machine, and there’s something nice about waking up and finding that every computer in the house has already recognized that it’s no longer Daylight Savings Time. My Sony DV deck is supposed to set its time automatically (and thus also recognize the change), but it never has.

Technology: great when it works, annoying when it doesn’t.

Office upgrade.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

No, I’m not talking about any product to come out of Microsoft, I’m talking about the convergence of hardware and software that will, UPS and FedEx willing, transform my workspace in the next 24 hours.

And yet, in some ways, it won’t transform things at all.

There is a new Mac G5 (yes, dual processors, 2 ghz) headed this way, along with some additional RAM and a stylish new Sony 17 inch LCD display to join the old reliable Apple 17 inch display in desk harmony. When it comes in the door tomorrow I will once again be able to render frames of television at outlandish speeds, to make design decisions in a blur, to check my email so fast that I won’t even realize it’s happened.

(Well, wait, I can render frames of fine tv pretty darn fast now, but…)

And in order to make way for this honkin’ new machine, I cleaned up, well, half of my office today. The other half, the north side, is a sad collection of stacks and piles that is headed for the trash and the storage shed and various containers and nooks and crannies. It’s really amazing what detritus is accumulated when I’m not looking—and I spose that’s most of the time.

Do I really need Adobe manuals from the mid-nineties? How about that Lisa manual? (Well, that’s just a souvenir.) How about that Duet, or that Dekocast? (Don’t ask.) It’s hard for me to throw stuff out, but it gives me a good feeling afterwards, for sure.

But it’s not just a hardware transition we’re talking about here. It’s entirely possible that the new machine will come with the much-vaunted new version of the Mac operating system—10.3—a.k.a. ‘Panther.’ And if it doesn’t, I know some folks who will be camping out at the Apple store for their big software release event thingie, and la Pantera will thus be installed on all our machines soon enough. So windows will be scurrying and users will be switching and, ah, I hear there’s a performance boost, too.

The nice thing out this transition is if it works as advertised, I’ll be able to just copy over a couple of key directories from the old machine and within a few minutes, boot into a familiar world that will be way, way faster.

And quieter too, I think.

Is this the last entry from El Mercurio? Could be. At least it’ll probably be under that name. Brother James gets this machine, drive wiped and personality eliminated. Then it’s up to him to use a dual processor 800 mhz machine for good, not evil.

But as for me, gCinco arrives tomorrow.

Out of doors.

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

It’s just too darn hard to stay inside on a day like today, so I’m out here in the back yard amidst the half-raked leaves, listing to the wind through the trees and the quiet, distant sounds of our Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

It occured to me that folks stumbling on a site called Positively Atlanta Georgia will probably be expecting something about Atlanta, and in fact might be baffled on encountering entries about the Oregon coast and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan…but that’s how our life works. Those far-off places are, in a sense, extensions of the 150 yards or so within our wifi (okay, Airport) connection.

But we’ve returned from our most recent west coast wander, and we’re doing the day-to-day tasks in our real and virtual worlds (cleaning, backup, billpaying) that release a certain satisfaction upon their completion. And fortunately for me, some of these can be done in the back yard on a day where it’s a pleasure to live in Atlantatown…mid 70s, low humidity, nice breezes, fall in the air, an environment way removed from the more mosquito and humidity-filled place I find outside our back door in the summertime.

Several of the neighborhoods are doing fall festivals of one sort or another, and I think our Halloween ritual of visiting our niece’s environs to experience trick-or-treat will be just the treat for both of us. We don’t live in a place that experiences this holiday to the Nth degree, but there’s certainly a southern tradition of dressing up (and in some places around here, cross-dressing up that we get a good hit of entertainment just by bystanding (innocently.)

An incredibly tiny ant has just made his way across the first Titanium laptop he’s conquered in his miniature life (I’ll wager) and a leaf or two drops in my lap to remind me that I’m only about half-done with the raking…so maybe I oughta hit the save button and de-leaf a bit more.

Hope you enjoy your Wednesday afternoon.

Sunday roast.

Sunday, October 19th, 2003

We got a organic-y whole turkey from Whole Foods this morning on the theory that its roasting would warm up the house–probably a good idea since we awoke to a Sunday in Atlanta that was chilly, to say the least.

It’s autumn! It’s cool! And we’re back on the east coast.

Got in last night from Hartsfield–or is that Hartsfield-Jackson?–brother James was pulling up (thanks!) just as we finished picking up our bags. Returned to a house that featured a big pile of mail, which we might get to sorting today–we’re trying to have a quiet, low-key Sunday.

And perhaps a slightly warmer one, now that the oven is on, bird inside.

Furnace? Oh yes, we have one of those. Two of those, actually, one downstairs and one up–but for some reason, we celebrate the “good sleeping weather” in late fall and early spring and try not to fire it up until we see our breath–inside. Yes, I’m cheap.

We had a great visit–the last leg of our multistop west coast trip–with Leslie and Christopher in sunny (for the most part) San Diego–they took us (at night) a block down their street to see yet another incarnation of the Pacific Ocean–glowing iTrip blue with Red Tide…an incredible experience, watching the edges of the wave-crests bloom with light in the darkness. We also wandered around the Cabrillo National Monument, surprisingly high above San Diego Bay, and had a drink or two at the Hotel del Coronado; later, waiting for our return flight, I read the hotel was being sold from some rich guys to some other rich guys on the very day we were there.

So we saw the Pacific from high and low on the west coast…in bright sun, under that darn marine layer, in driving rain, on the rocks, off the beach, you name it. Nice trip.

Now, back to it, whatever “it” is.

Leaving the Depoe.

Wednesday, October 15th, 2003

Well, it’s been a short visit, but the rains parted and the sun came out and the Oregon Coast is nothing if not attractive, especially late in the year when the tourists have gone and it’s not too cold and rainy.

We’re here, not far south of the 45th parallel, in Depoe Bay, Oregon.

Well, actually it was cold and rainy this morning when we started our day at a B&B in Astoria, Oregon, perched astride the mouth of the Columbia–which is one wide darn river as it dumps into the Pacific. We drove down from Seattle yesterday and enjoyed the views of the coast, and when we got to Astoria (yes, John Jacob Astor had something to do with that name) the evening light made the riverside and the low bridge across the wide river just sparkle.

We climbed the Astoria Column (should I be linking to all of these?) and watched the sun set over the city, and then enjoyed a seafood dinner down in town.

Today, we awoke to rain and more rain, and we drove through it down the coast, through towns with familiar names (Seaside, Tillamook) and came to rest here, in a small house-turned-office next to the What-Not Shop, the library and workshop of one of Sammy’s Mesoamerican colleagues. His brother owns the shop, and his family grew up in this part of Oregon, but until now, I had only seen him in Oaxaca.

So here we lunched with that selfsame Mesoamericanist, talking the peculiar mix of gossip, planning, and anthropology that seems to be the main sustenance of these folks.

Outside the restaurant, in the sun, the waves crashed and the wet rocks glistened, oblivious to the talk of people who lived long ago, people who walked mountain ridges in southern Mexico.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Southern California.

Yes, again!

Dim summed.

Sunday, October 12th, 2003

Hello from Seattle, where it’s been (surprise!) blustery and rainy, although today the sun has come out in well-defined, discrete, miserly chunks. This portion of our western trip has been a fine family visit so far, with lots of time and attention spent with our very vocal 2.5 year old nephew.

This sunday morning we’ve read the New York Times and taken a walk and yes, sipped some Starbucks Kenyan (Karny’s favorite), and we’re about to head out for some Dim Sum, which we remember as a favorite of our niece (back in Atlanta), who as a wee one loved that it was just like fast food–you sit down and they pull up tableside with a cart and there’s all this food!

I’ve done a goodly amount of preventative maintenance on Karny’s powerbook and consulted with Gordy on how to program his car’s scanner radio to just get the Mountain Rescue frequencies, skipping the Weather band–and those of us under 80 went to the family gym, where there was lots of treadmilling and swimming and playing in the day care.

In the meantime, reports from back east are that my father’s procedure–one of those balloon angioplasty things on his coronary artery–have gone well and he’s back a home, taking it easy.

That’s a relief.

Lunchtime. Enjoy your sunday.


Tuesday, October 7th, 2003

We’ve finally leveled off at 35,000 feet and it’s been a bit choppy so far–that’s the bad news, but the good news is we’re going to arrive into Los Angeles 15 or 20 minutes early–late afternoon, Pacific time, the day before Sammy’s birthday.

Yes, we’re traveling again. After a summer that started with Sammy working in Mexico for a month and a half, we took a nice jaunt up north–it seems like just the other day–in early September, to visit Nancy, Alan, and Kate–and Anne, Bill, and family–in Ann Arbor, then on to the Upper Peninsula, then west to the Keewanau peninsula extending out into Lake Superior to visit Sammy’s field school instructor (and archaeocolleague), then down through Wisconsin, stopping for a quick hello to the Mulveys in Milwaukee, an after-dinner chat in Chicago with newly-minted rootless camper-wanderers Robert and Mary Jo (and Robert’s parents), and stopped off for a day at Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana before getting the little white Civic back into our driveway.

Then, there was the 72 hour trip with all my immediate Atlanta family winging westward to San Diego, for the wedding of Leslie and Christopher, performed by a captain in San Diego harbor. That was two weekends ago.

Last weekend, well, all Sam and I did was drive up on Sunday into the northwest corner of the state–actually, we poked up into Tennessee and took a hard left and came down into Alabama, to see an archaeological site–Russell Cave National Monument nestled right there where the three states joined. Two huge caves going back into a hillside, and plenty of evidence that this is where a good number of folks lived several hundred years ago. And in one of the caves, a river runs through it…and when you have a rain-filled spring as we did in the southeast this year, the waters rush through, rise instantly, and fill up the sunken areas around the caves…and eventually drain out to the Tennessee River a dozen miles or so away.

But that was last weekend. Now, we’re fairly comfortable in exit row seats on a westbound 757, heading for a state that is voting today–right now!–on whether to recall their governor and possibly replace him with an action film star. It’s the start of an eleven day trip that’ll take us up to Seattle to see Sammy’s brother, parents, and family, and down to San Diego to see Leslie and Christopher once more, and we’ll toss Portland, the Oregon coast, and a coast drive from LA down to SD in for good measure.

Tonight, we’ll end up, I hope, in a nice room in Santa Monica, not far from the ocean, an easy walk to a sushi dinner and a chance to sync up with Pacific time, and the state of mind that goes with that.

And right now, at 4 pm eastern, the bumps and chops continue, intensifying a bit, making me glad that we gobbled a quick lunch on the way out the door instead of opting to pay (pay!) eight bucks for a lunch–the new face of a Delta coach cross-country flight. (“It’s a test,” the flight attendant told me, encouraging me to fill out the comment card so that Delta management will know what I think. Can’t I just send them a link to my blog?) Eight bucks for lunch, five bucks for the movie…miscellanous junk fees tacked on to our $175 roundtrip tickets, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money. On the other hand, the sandwiches (made by Atlanta Bread Company) look like a real cut above air fare. And I can see the business travelers–and there are a lot of ’em on this flight–don’t blink at shelling out eight bucks.

And I didn’t blink at shelling out $4.30 (airport prices) for a large Mocha Frappuccino at le Starbucks.

But we’re in a crammed narrowbody plane being shown a movie on painfully misadjusted TV screens (low enough, by the way, for me to whack my head on at least once per flight), in seats that twenty years ago would have been substantially wider. And yes, the tickets would have probably cost more than $175. And there would have been food. Not necessarily great food, but free food.

I guess I’ve been thinking about costs and distances and what is “fast” at a certain point in our shared history. Last night we watched Ken Burns’ documentary on the first cross-continent drive, a 1903 muddy, dusty, mechanically cantankerous ordeal that followed two guys (and later, a dog) 67 days or so to get from San Francisco to New York in an open 2-cylinder automobile–a Winton? a Wilton?–that was made in Cleveland. (Ah, proud Ohio auto builders.) Now we’re leaping across the mountains again (having done this same trip, essentially, just two weeks ago) in four hours and change. Fast. Cheap (certainly by 1903 standards.) And there’s a movie, and if you have five bucks in your wallet, you can hear it.

Damaged goods.

Friday, October 3rd, 2003

This ‘lago’ person brings up a couple of funny points, fresh, as it were, from todays headlines. It’s amazing what I’ll do to save a buck or two when I ‘m willing to have a $3000 G5 (well, almost) and that iPod thingie (functioning at this moment as a CPR device for my ailing G4).

I’ll spend money on Starbucks and fret about $20 difference in airfare. We’ll keep the furnace off a few more days (I think it’s 64 degrees in here) and save a few bucks on our gas bill.

So go figure.

It’s a Friday before another few days of travel, and the list of things to get done is beginning to pile up. Some of it is actual television work, to my amazement. And some of it is, well, more fun….like crafting painful CSS and excruciating standards-based design.

I know (damnit!) this is going to come in handy some day on a project. Keep reassuring me. Learning new things=good.

Meanwhile, I’m feeding my brain caffeine so it’ll route around damage.

And speaking of damage, my father’s going in for a coronary catheterization on the 15th, since the chest pains he’s been “walking through” for more than a year are probably more serious than he thought. And you wonder where I get this stubborness from.

Near a finish line.

Thursday, October 2nd, 2003

It’s a brisk fall afternoon in Atlanta town, at a time when I’m doing logistics for our next trip–out west to see family and friends.

Those of you following along at home may well be saying “hey, wait, they were out west last weekend,” and yes, that’s true, but that was of course for the (surprise!) wedding of Leslie and Christopher–a delightful (but fast) weekend jaunt that included a ceremony on a boat in the harbor, travels to the zoo, and lots of food and drink.
Then, dazed, we returned to hereabouts and one of the things I have been meaning to finish was the configuration and design and general CSS-ization of Nancy’s weblog and, of course, this one.

Which of course I’ve done, because you’re reading this. Is it complete? Not really. Can it be tweaked? Oh yeah, most assuredly. Is there time? Amazingly, not really.

Part of it is the technology involved. I’m very happy with the Movable Type engine we’ve installed here to manage weblogs–yet the latest and greatest use of perl and cgi and the delights of Mac OS X (although yeah, Movable Type runs on just about any webserver with enough tender loving care.) It does–will do when we’re done messing with it–a wonderful job of treating all these individual chunks of words as if they were–amazing!–database entries, and completely independednt of the typefeces, column widths, and all those other typographical niceties.

And I’ve only been talking to Nancy about this since, what, May?

But that’s how it is when setting up these websites is not what you do for a living. It’s just (I’m reminding myself of this all over again) fun.

And with this system now online, (with only about a thousand last minute adjustments still to be made), perhaps I can dash off more smaller entries, and bring you up to date on things like the aforementioned wedding, our next trip, and the various other chunks of life I’ve always been happy to share.

But until then…maybe some sleep is in order.