2:19, time for a nonsense poem

Tra-la-la, Fiddle-dee-dee
I’m not a mouse, and a mouse is not me
Though taoists would say
we’re one and the same
I beg to differ
and so I proclaim
Tra-la-la and fiddle-dee-dee
I’m not a mouse, and a mouse is not me

Microsoft and Apple Keyboards

I took my new Apple keyboard to work… I may keep it there for a while, since I like the feel of it.
I don’t really need it at home, since I mostly use my laptop, which has a similar keyboard built-in.

Here it is at work, side-by-side with my Microsoft ergonomic keyboard that I’ve been using for the past several years. I think I’ll take the Microsoft one home and clean it out, it has around 6 years of arm hair and crumbs in it. Should make for some good stomach-churning photos. =)

Apple Goodies

Today I got iLife ’08, iWork ’08, and the new Apple Keyboard.

The keyboard is nice, similar to the MacBook keyboard, but with a rougher surface on the keys that feels nice.

The keys have a nice smooth action and the design is sleek. My only complaint so far is that the spacebar makes a different sound than the rest of the keys, and it’s slightly annoying in comparison. But all in all, a solid keyboard.

Travels in Maine

Friday evening, Sarah came by, and after a lot of nervous dithering on my part (I felt like I was forgetting something important) we set off for Maine.

Along the way to Belfast, we stopped over briefly at Mike’s to drop off some things – I’ve been trying to somewhat optimize my posessions, so a lot of stuff has to go, and I figured Mike could make use of some of it, so I went down the list, and anything he wanted I put in my trunk. It was nice to drop them off, one batch of stuff gone.

It was late, so we didn’t stop at Mike’s for long, just said hi to Mike, Alice, and their Mom, they gave me a bag of fresh catnip for Trouble, then we were on our way again.

We got to Judy’s house pretty late, and fell asleep.

The next day, we all gathered: Judy, Dan, Ted (Judy’s Brother), Mary (Ted’s girlfriend), Sarah and me. We went to a train museum, which it turns out is just down the road from Judy’s. I’ve walked by it before, but didn’t realize it was a museum, just thought it was a train depot of some sort. The place is run by a retired train engineer, part of a family of train engineers, with trains in his blod, and trains in his heart. Over the years, since he was a teenager, any time he saw something interesting heading for the scrapheap, he would rescue it. So over time, he has built up a collection of parts, train cars, and even buildings.

more photos of the train museum

He can recount the history of each item in his museum. He points out the window to a large flagpole-like pole. “That obelisk I got for a case of beer. They were gonna tear it up, but I said if they took it down carefully and let me have it, I’d bring them a case of beer, and they were all to happy to.”

He talks about the decline of railroading in Maine, and it is more than just history, it is his life. It reminds me of the Fisher King, this man’s life is so intertwined in the railroad, that it’s almost as if when he dies, the railroad dies with him. But then another member of the train group came by, a younger guy with a rotund figure, and led us on a tour of the train cars. A new generation, just as excited about trains.

After the trains, we went to the co-op for lunch. The food there was yummy, and they were having a “customer appreciation day”, so there were tents in the parking lot with vendors giving out samples, local groups, and a used book tent. I bought 4 books for a quarter each. We sat on folding chairs and listened as David (my step-brother), Ezra Rugg (who I knew when I was little) and another guy played jazz.

It was sunny out, but dark clouds loomed on the horizon. Everyone watched as they got closer and closer, commenting on the approach, but just sitting and waiting. Then it turned to a heavy downpour. People scrambled for cover under the tents, and the wind got so strong people had to hold on to the tents to keep them from blowing away. The rain and wind was intense, but blew by quickly. 10 or 15 minutes later, it was sunny again.

After that we headed off for afternoon naps. I don’t normally take naps, but it was nice and relaxing (except for the times when the phone rang and I had to run downstairs)

That evening, we went to Havana restaurant in Bar Harbor, where Dan was playing jazz. There was a bit of a wait, we bided the time watching the bartender crank out mojitos assembly-line style, and a little girl dance while her parents drank. We finally got a seat, and the food was great. I got the filet mignon, and it was both melt-in-your-mouth delicious and well-presented.

We got back to Judy’s around midnight, so it was off to sleep again.

On Sunday, we went to a bakery for breakfast, then to Mildred’s house for cake. After that, Judy, Sarah and I went out to Ripley to see what was left of the old farmhouse.

Like some kind of fairy tale, it was surrounded by a wall of bamboo which seemed impenetrable, until we discovered that bamboo is really easy to get through, you just plow right through and it snaps down in front of you.

more pictures of the house

There wasn’t much left of the house. The roof had fallen in, and only my room and parts of a few other rooms remained.

After poking around in the rubble for a while, we headed down the road to Wally Warren’s place.

He had expanded since the last time I’d been there, in 2004 he added a house, and now has running water and electricity, new features to Wally World.

Wally’s an interesting guy, and fun to listen to, and his art is fantastic. Having been at it for years, nearly every surface of his cabin, house, and yard is covered in some kind of art.

Then it was back to Judy’s, and then home to my house. Sarah slept on the ride home, which is good, since once we got to my place, she had to drive another hour to get to her house.

All in all, it was a fun trip, but woo, a lot of driving. All told, I drove around 17 hours that weekend.


I’m getting tired of my neck hurting all the time. For a while it was kind of cute, but now the novelty has worn off, and I think I’m ready to stop experiencing it.

There are several potential culprits, all relating, of course, to ergonomics.

* Although my computer set up at work is pretty ergonomic, it could probably be tweaked.
* My steering wheel and seat don’t feel optimal in my car. My neck and shoulders get sore after long drives.
* I spend a lot of time sitting on a bar stool at my kitchen counter using my laptop. This is ergonomically wrong in a number of ways.
* My pillow isn’t very good. I’ve tried a couple others, but haven’t found a great one yet. Also, my mattress is a bit saggy in the middle.

I’ll have to play around with tweaking each of those items, see if I can’t eliminate the soreness in my neck.

Taxonomy of Possessions

What with all this cleaning and organizing going on, I was thinking of taxonomy of possessions.


item that has no worth or value, but has somehow eluded being thrown out.
Examples: expired coupon, old catalog.


item that may have no intrinsic value, and might not be used often if ever, but serves as a mnemonic link to a specific person, event, or time period.
Examples: concert ticket, handmade mug.


item that does not come into common use, but has the potential to be useful at some point.
Examples: drill press, necktie.


item that is used perhaps frequently, perhaps uncommonly, but belongs to a grouping of similar items.
Examples: book, DVD.


item used on a regular basis.
Examples: laptop computer, toothbrush.

So looking at those, Junk can obviously be tossed.

Artifacts are a bit trickier, since my memory can be swiss-cheesey sometimes, a symbol or reminder of some sort might be the only trigger that will remind me an event even happened. Probably the best thing to do with artifacts is to digitize paper ones, and dispose of the originals, or at least consolidate them into scrapbooks. Non-paper artifacts are tougher to deal with.

Potential also covers old stuff which I don’t use anymore, but keep around in case I *might* use it for some project in the future. My old gadgets fall into this potential category. The best thing for potential items is an honest assessment of if they will really be used. I can look at old PDAs, MP3 players, laptops, and cameras and say “you know, really, I’m not going to use these for anything.” If that’s the case, it’s time to give them away or sell them on eBay. Or, if they are of kinda questionable quality, like the old rusty outdoor grill or the weird voicemail system, throw ’em out.

Collection items are a matter of preference. I happen to like to have shelves full of books, DVDs, and video games. Do I need them? Not really. But every once and a while I like to return to them, and it’s sort of comforting to know they are there, since some aren’t easily available anymore. Kinda like my own personal library. I think financial records also fall into this category.

Useful items, obviously, are for keeping. As zen-like as one may be, one would find it difficult to brush one’s teeth without toothbrush or toothpaste.

Please Destroy the Environment

We were in the process of throwing junk into the dumpster, when it occurred to us that some items might not be allowed, so we checked the list. CRTs they would take, but might charge extra for. Ok. Paints and household cleaners were not allowed.

Hmm. So that leaves us with around 8 cans of paint and a large container of scented Tide, which I bought accidentally (I usually get unscented) and the scent makes me nauseous.

I guess since Tide goes down the drain during normal use, it’s safe to pour down the drain, probably in small doses so as not to overflow the drain with suds.

I called up the Worcester Department of Works to find out how to dispose of paint.

Latex paint: use newspapers or a drying agent (commercial paint drying powder, or kitty litter) to dry the paint, then dispose of the cans in standard Worcester bags. Ok. Not so bad.

Oil paint: this is considered hazardous waste, so cannot be disposed of.


Well, you can dispose of it, but only once a year. This year it was July 2nd. So if you miss that one day, you have to wait a whole year to get another shot at it. And that day is not advertised, so unless you know to ask, and know WHO to ask, you wouldn’t even know when your one shot at it was.

So I can’t dispose of it in a rented dumpster, and the City won’t take it. I look on Lowe’s site – they sell oil-based paint, but don’t offer any disposal method.

So essentially, the only options seems to be: dispose of the paint illegally, or hire a hazmat team for who knows how much money to dispose of it.

Now, I *think* all the paint we have is latex, so it’s probably not an issue, but look at the message being sent here.

Oil-based paint is, I gather, a toxic substance harmful to the environment. But rather than make it EASY to dispose of it in an ecologically responsible manner, the government makes is nearly impossible to dispose of, and private companies have no incentive to dispose of it, even if they sell it.

It’s no wonder people dump waste material like this illegally – they are essentially given no choice.

Full to the brim

We originally got the dumpster for 2 weeks, but it only took 3 days to completely fill it.

If it wasn’t so expensive ($400) I’d say we should get a dumpster more often.

I have a pile of stuff in the living room that I need to go through and give away/sell.

Item #1 up for grabs:

Nomad II MG MP3 Player. Once considered high-end, now considered a toy. I it has 64MB of built-in storage, and you can put a 128MB SmartMedia card in it, for a grand total of 192MB of storage.

Not much, but enough to fit 4 or 5 albums on it, more if you compress them at lower quality. A good first MP3 player for a kid, perhaps.

It looks cool, and lights up blue. Ooo, blue lights. Sexy.

I have the MP3 player, docking station, and probably all the manuals and original packaging.

Anyway, let me know if you want it.


I’m tired and my back hurts.

My back probably hurts from lifting something incorrectly yesterday. I tried to be careful to lift with my legs, but might have lifted something with my back without noticing.

Not sure why I’m so tired… I went to bed around 12:30, then woke up at 4 feeling woozy and dehydrated. I drank some water and went back to bed, and got up at 8:15 and stumbled off to work.

Now that all the big stuff is in the dumpster (except my filing cabinets, which will go tonight) I think I will start in on sorting through stuff to give away or sell. I have a ton of old gadgets, some worthless, some decent, almost all should be in working condition, and for a lot of them I have all the original packaging. Yeah, I’m a packrat.

This weekend I’m going to Maine with Sarah to visit my mom for her birthday. We’re leaving Friday night, and Adam is talking about having the dumpster taken back this weekend, so that only gives me tonight and tomorrow night to purge any larger items.

So watch this space for stuff I’m giving away or selling cheap!
First come, first served!