Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Garden, or, Renters Can't be Choosers

So, we have lived in our apartment home in Ann Arbor for eight years now. It's been a bit of an uneasy fit for our family. We've tried to maintain a garden. They throw weedkiller pellets in it. (On the days when we are told the lawn care company is coming to kill weeds, we put up signs begging them not to throw weed killer on our flowers and vegetables; they do so anyway). They throw rock salt in it. Just a week or so ago, they tore out a bunch of sunflowers and put down wood chips, apparently thinking our flowers were weeds.

Originally, it was getting torn up by the snowplow every winter, and because of the poor drainage it was literally being washed away in each heavy rain. Actually, our neighbor's garden was downhill, so it was the recipient of our soil improvements.

So, Grace built a wooden raised bed for the garden. They knocked that apart with the snowplow repeatedly and we eventually gave up trying to repair it.

So, Grace built this raised bed of concrete blocks. Last summer in addition to herbs and small flowers in the bed, we grew beans, using a bamboo teepee that Grace built. Naturally the children love to work in the garden. The bed has been here for over a year.

They even managed to knock the cinder blocks out of position with the snow plow, although it was repairable.

Now they're trying something different. We got a letter saying that our garden, where we grow our flowers and foods, and teach our kids about seeds and plants, does not meet the aesthetic standards of the new apartment complex owners, and so we have to remove our bean trellis and raised bed. Which effectively means we have to demolish our garden, with the flowers starting to bloom and the bean plants getting ready to start climbing the trellis.

There are a few things about the apartment complex and the way it has been managed and maintained that don't meet my aesthetic standards, such as the disintegrating balcony that is unsafe to use, the poor ventilation in the bathroom, the mold in the ceiling, the flooding in the basement, and the wiring that is prone to bursting into flames, not to mention the occasional psychotic neighbor and the leak in my son's bedroom roof that took six months to repair and eventually resulted in the ceiling coming down on top of him. But I guess we're renters, and renters can't be choosers. As long as the outside of the building looks uniform and recently painted, who cares that it is disintegrating? At least management can harass us for whatever minor infractions the neighbors are committing right along with us, and (per our straw poll) not being harassed for.

I'm sure management could get some nice, drunken undergrads in here, and they'd be much happier. Maybe they'd even last a little longer than the last batch who were, I think, evicted in under two months.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Shot Veronica in Her Pajamas. How She Got in Her Pajamas, I'll Never Know

She's as tall as an eight-year old. It's hard to believe she is only four. Until she throws a tantrum, that is.

Woonion '09, Part 2

I took a lot of photos of people, but to be honest, I don't want to upload a whole bunch of shots of people I only knew a little bit. Also, a lot of my friends were actually class of '90 or '91. Here are three of my closer friends from college who were at Wooster with me for the reunion. David Lewellen:

Bill Louth:

And Diane, who carried the '89 banner along with Veronica, seen here in front of the rennovated Kauke Hall:

We stayed in Douglass 105:

Woonion '09, Part 1

I attended the College of Wooster's reunion weekend; I graduated with the class of 1989, twenty years ago. This time I went back with 3 of the 4 kids. Grace had a business meeting she had to attend out of state, so she took Joshua. I brought Isaac, Sam, and Veronica, along with a sitter to help free up some of my time so that I could actually catch up with friends.

Despite the sitter -- I'm not used to working with a sitter -- having the young children with me the whole time was a bit difficult, particularly the long car ride and trying to get them to sleep in the evenings. Veronica loves to be the center of attention, whether you want her to be or not. Sam loves to wander off. It didn't help any that I had to stay up half the night on Thursday night to get ready and to help Grace get ready.

A little bit of alcohol and caffeine were de rigeur -- the caffeine helped me drive there and back safely, and the alcohol helped me get to sleep with 25 international students partying in the lounge next to my room.

Beall Avenue in Wooster is completely torn up and semi-closed to traffic. This is the view across to Lowry Center.

Lowry has not changed much:

The stairwell up to the dining hall looks just like it did 20 years ago.

The kids had a good time in spite of everything. Here are Veronica and Sam finally asleep in Douglass 105!

More photos to come.

The Kids in Saginaw

At their grandmother's house.

I Love Windows (Not)

This isn't really the operating system's fault: it's most likely a crashing driver for a USB device. On second thought, putting USB device drivers inside the kernel is the operating system's fault. Whose idea was _that_?

These crashes always seemed to happen when I was most desperate to finish a build of the DSP firmware I was debugging.

The corrupt iTunes library could be Apple's fault, or a side effect of Windows dying horribly right in the middle of some kind of library update. Well, come to think of it, if your program's data files can be totally demolished by a single crash, that doesn't speak well of your data design and error recovery.

The hard drive doesn't seem to be failing as such, although because Windows hides such errors very thoroughly, it can be hard to tell.

Joshua and the Pickle

Joshua's first official solid food (what he chose to eat, and kept gnawing on) was a dill pickle spear, yesterday, 15 June 2009. We've tried him on bits of rice and bread and things like that before, but they usually came back out.

Work Hours and the Quest for an Even Keel

So, for the last couple of months I've been working an enormous amount of overtime -- and for a while I was commuting to Lansing along with my 12-16 hour days. I haven't added it all up, but I'm pretty sure there were some 80 to 90 hour weeks in there. If I were able to take the overtime as straight comp time, I'd have a couple of weeks off. That won't happen, but I may be able to get a couple of days.

Thankfully, we have mostly shipped our product -- at least the test builds and the prototype hardware. We are getting away from our frantic scramble -- worried that the fate of the entire project might hinge on some intractable hardware or software bug -- and back to a more normal pace of development, which will mostly involve bug fixes and clarifications to the specs.

Yesterday I worked only eight hours. It was a remarkable feeling, driving home while it was still light out. I took baby Sam for a walk, and realized I'd almost forgotten how to interact with my children. The evening seemed really long, and that was only partly because it's almost midsummer. I'd gotten used to work being such a preponderance of my waking hours that I wasn't used to having any to use for much of anything else.

I'm not going to spend all that new-found time blogging, but I'll try to catch up a little.

Here's to the adjustment back to having a life!