Crime!!! In Union Sq, Somerville

Wednesday night at 4:00 AM, J woke me up and said, “Someone’s ringing the doorbell.” I was so asleep, I didn’t know what a doorbell was. And when I finally understood what the doorbell was, I remember thinking “that’s strange, we don’t have a doorbell”.

The last couple times our doorbell has rung in the middle of the night, it’s been the cops letting us know we had parked somewhere we shouldn’t have and ‘here’s a $100 ticket.’ Anyway, this time the police were singing a different tune. They said our car had been broken into… I don’t know how to explain what that’s like, going from dead asleep, to wondering what a doorbell was, to thinking we didn’t have one, to hearing our car had been broken into.

I went downstairs to find a cruiser with its headlights pointed at our car and a cop who looked like he was in high school. Right as I got down there, the cop set the alarm off by unlocking the door from the inside and I had to run up to grab the keys I should have brought down originally. Fascinatingly enough, the alarm doesn’t go off when someone throws a double brick through your window, but unlocking the door from the inside is all hands on deck.

Apparently a neighbor (the neighbor, incidentally, whose handicapped spot we and several guests parked in over and over last year because it’s incredibly unwell marked) had heard someone trying to break into his car and woken up. He then saw them throw a brick though our side window and chased them down the street before calling the cops.

Whoever broke in stole the GPS out of the glove compartment. They must have been in a hurry, though, because they left the stand and when they ripped the chord out, half of it stayed in the cigarette lighter.

J called Commerce Insurance (two thumbs up!) in the morning and Giant Glass was there within 3 hours installing a new window. Commerce sent us a check yesterday for the GPS. All in all, not too bad, and obviously it could of been worse.

To the knuckleheads who stole the GPS: “Hey assholes, thanks for throwing a brick through my window. Have fun with the 3 year old GPS featuring outdated maps, no stand, and no charger. See how much you get for it. Idiots.”

Crime!!! In Union Sq, Somerville

Pizza Potluck

This is the second year that we’ve participated in the Ledge Ends CSA with our friends Janie and Ken, and the second year that we’ve celebrated the last share of the season with a “well, what’d we get?” pizza potluck. We elected to leave the rutabagas, radishes, and kale off of the pizza, but Ken and I still made four delicious pies using locally grown organic vegetables, and, uh, the bounty of the neighborhood Whole Foods:

Pizza (by mharvey75)

Left: tomato sauce with mozzarella and parmigiano.
Right: sliced heirloom tomato, spinach, garlic, and mozzarella.

More Pizza (by mharvey75)

Left: hot italian sausage, green pepper, red onion, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and parmigiano.
Right: olive oil, garlic, leek, fingerling potato, black forest bacon, chevre, and mozzarella.

Four deeeelicious pizzas. Thanks to Ken and Janie for sharing delicious veggies with us all year long.

Update: Behind-the-scenes photos from Ken here and here.

Pizza Potluck

24: Episode 18, 12 AM – 1 AM

Key Words: , ,

Is this week’s episode going to suck? I sure hope not, and our guest Jen MS hopes not also.

9:02: The president has a cell phone? That he answers by himself? Do you think he has Domino’s pizza in the speed dial?
9:03: Here’s the thing, “24” has done such a good job of convincing all of us that President Logan is a bumbling moron, that it’s impossible to take him seriously as a criminal mastermind. That’s one of the main problems with this show, they spend multiple weeks telling us one thing and then just change their minds all of a sudden and we’re supposed to go along with it.
9:03: President Logan just hung up on Christopher Henderson, and then Christopher Henderson looked at his phone like, “What the hell, did the president just hang up on me?” That was great.
9:03: I STILL hate those C.T.U. phone rings. Beep Beep, Boobeep.
9:05: I like Bill Buchannon more and more every episode.
9:10: Jack Bauer is going dark. WOAH. Not dark enough, huh, Heller.
9:11: Secretary Heller thinks he’s going to take the power back and be able to handle it. You know, Heller, with great power comes great responsibility.
9:16: Sometimes Chloe is good enough to realize there’s a sting going on, and sometimes she’s not good enough. It all depends on what the writers want to do on any given night.
9:17: Why were those security guards wearing white shirts instead of red shirts? What’s going on here?
9:18: Isn’t it impossible that President Logan would be able to talk to people like Karen Myers without them figuring out what he’s up to.
9:19: Well, well, well, look at Mike Novick watching news updates on his razor phone by Sprint. Available at Sprint stores everywhere.
9:20: Where is Curtis during all of this? Was he replaced by Homeland?
9:21: So now Mike Novick realizes that President Logan is telling C.T.U. the military is on the search and the military said they don’t know what’s going on. Big goings on. When President Logan does it that means it’s not a crime.
9:23: Come on, Mike, President Logan has been doing a damned good job of leading the country through the crisis over the last 18 hours. It seems like if he knew what was going to happen, he should have been doing a MUCH better job, right? It’s like he had the answers to the test on a piece of paper during the test and he still was asking his neighbors what to do.
9:29: I don’t think Miles is as big a jerk as he pretends to be either. I don’t think Chloe is smarter than everyone either. Just with computer codes and stuff.
9:30: GIRL FIGHT!!! I don’t think Chloe should have told her about President Logan’s plot against America.
9:32: You can always tell the type of President that isn’t getting the respect they deserve as president because they keep saying things like “I am the president, don’t forget that.”
9:38: First Lady Logan really isn’t as young or sexy as she thinks she is. Aaron Pierce doesn’t care.
9:40: President Logan as king. King Charles. He is above the law because he knows best what the country needs. I might eventually watch this season again and do a better job documenting the parallels between Charles Logan and George Bush.
9:42: Wait. Chloe was able to walk out of C.T.U. that easily? THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A SECURE BUILDING!
9:43: Jack MacBauer. Too bad it took Jack Bauer 40 minutes to find the heated pipe, otherwise he could have been more of a factor in this episode. He could have been somebody.
9:43: JBKC: 1 (Secretary Heller’s security detail)
9:50: JBKC: 1 (Henderson baddie)
JBKC: 1 (Henderson baddie)
NJBD: 1 (Secretary Heller’s security detail)
JBKC: 2 (Henderson baddie)
9:51: “Our government has no integrity.” That’s right, but who knew Jack Bauer was a democrat?
9:53: This is so stupid. GO GET THE TAPE, JACK BAUER.
9:55: Anyone who didn’t predict this ending down to being able to write out the dialogue doesn’t know anything about “24”
5 JBKC, 0 tortures, 1 NJBD, Prediction Ratio n/a
Jack Bauer still needs some more JBKCs to catch up to everyone else on the show, but a couple more episodes like this and he’ll be right back in the running.
Totals for the season, 35 JBKCs, 5 tortures, 123 NJBDs, Prediction Ratio 45% (5 out of 11)

24: Episode 18, 12 AM – 1 AM

24: Episode 16, 10 PM – 11 PM

Key Words: , ,

I’m mad at “24”. Two weeks ago, the cliffhanger was that the terrorist may or may not have got her information from Audrey Raines. Audrey was portrayed as a terrorist. Then,, “Oops, Christopher Henderson just told me to use that name.” Again, it’s a problem of trust. If we can’t trust “24” not to jerk us around and just throw in random bits of information, then there’s no reason for us to watch.

9:02: Looks like Jack Bauer’s plan worked and the world is safe for everyone.
9:03: Oh, my God, bring the terrorist to safety, Jack Bauer. Fire doesn’t burn Jack Bauer. Jack Bauer is the white-hot heat of one million suns.
9:04: Jack Bauer is scared? A shockwave just went through the universe.
9:06: Karen Myers’ assistant is like an airplane full of snakes.
9:07: Do you think Aaron Pierce goes months and months without being shot at and then relishes the days he’s shot at twice in a couple hours.
9:09: So is Evelyn a good girl or a bad girl? Maybe she’s both, the best kind.
9:10: Oooh. The “IP Account” that’s what the interweb is made of.
9:10: I just laughed out loud. No one cares about Evelyn’s baby. Except Jack Bauer.
9:12: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, THIS SHOW SUCKS!
9:16: “Backslash Protocol” hmmm.
9:17: How does Audrey not smash that guy? I don’t think her loyalties are as divided as Homeland thinks she is.
9:19: When a mid-level Chief of Staff starts throwing around nasty threats like that, Bushbots everywhere get excited.
9:21: This is another situation when the show is making it seem really obvious that a major figure (Hal Gardner) is responsible for everything. They did this earlier in the season and it made me really angry and depressed because I knew it wasn’t going to turn out the way they were making it seem like it was going to turn out.
9:24: Evelyn Martin’s daughter looks much older than I would have expected.
9:28: Duh. Duh. Duh. Hal Gardner, meet Wayne Palmer.
9:31: Audrey’s entrance into that conversation seemed horribly unnecessary.
9:31: This is so fucking stupid. There’s no explanation. There’s no way at all for it to be believable that Evelyn Martin would feel like she “has [David Palmer’s] blood on her hands” and not do everything possible to help the investigation.
9:33: “Patch me in”? How exactly does one patch someone in on a cell phone?
9:40: Why doesn’t Jack Bauer just torture Evelyn. I mean, in the scheme of things, what does anyone care about her? Jack Bauer has a weakness for little girls, but still…
9:42: Jack Bauer has an enormous sentimental side. Basically if you want to convince him to do something he doesn’t want to do you just play the revenge card and talk about you brother getting shot through the neck. He crumbles like a house of cards every single time.
9:43: What if the President is the puppetmaster? That would be the ultimate in unbelievability and right up this show’s alley.
9:44: Torture her, Jack Bauer, torture her!!!
9:51: “Damn it, there’s too many of them.” What the hell does that mean, Jack Bauer? When has that ever stopped you?
9:51: JBKC: 2 (Christopher Henderson’s bad guys).
9:51: NJBD: 1 (Wayne Palmer pops his death cherry on a buddy of Christopher Henderson’s).
9:56: JBKC: 1 (Christopher Henderson’s bad guy).
9:58: Ahem, I don’t mean to toot my horn but, “9:43: What if the President is the puppetmaster? That would be the ultimate in unbelievability and right up this show’s alley.”
3 JBKC, 0 tortures, 1 NJBD, Prediction Ratio n/a (I could count the rope-a-dope president, but I didn’t follow prediction protocol).
This shit sucks. President Logan is a mastermind and for what? The only reason I’m watching this is to see how lobbying and immigration get folded into the plot in the next couple weeks.
Totals for the season, 30 JBKCs, 5 tortures, 114 NJBDs, Prediction Ratio 45% (5 out of 11)

24: Episode 16, 10 PM – 11 PM

Thirty

In just a few short weeks, I’ll be turning thirty. I don’t really feel thirty, if you know what I mean. I’ve never really felt I was ready to be as old as I am, no matter what birthday was approaching. When I was 14, the high school kids seemed so old. And tall. And when I was in high school, college kids seemed just so mature. And when I was in college, people in their twenties seemed so together. And now here I am, a few years away from the age my dad was when I was born, and I feel exactly the same as I always have.

Like most people, I expect, I’ve had a list in my head of things I’d like to accomplish before reaching this arbitrary milestone. I was thinking recently that I hadn’t done so well at achieving these goals, even if some were a bit on the fanciful side. Let’s take a run down the Things To Do Before Thirty list, shall we?

Be a rock star.

I should clarify this one. I don’t want to be, I don’t know, Mick Jagger or anything. I don’t even want to be Neil Finn, or Chris Martin, or Ben Gibbard, or (God forbid) John Mayer. I’d be content to be Colin Meloy. Or Rufus Wainwright. An underappreciated genius, perhaps, with a small but fervent fan base. That’d do.

Making music for a living sounds like a pretty decent life. Obviously, I’d prefer to skip over the part where I play in smoky, beer-soaked clubs for hostile or, at best, indifferent drunks and go right to the part where I can afford to build my own recording studio in my house. I like the idea of waking up around 10, padding downstairs in my pajamas, picking up a guitar, and noodling out a song. And of course, I wouldn’t mind performing for a friendly – nay, adoring – crowd.

I would never say that I have any sort of stage fright. I’ve always been comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. And I’ve always been comfortable singing in front of a crowd, as long as I’m not alone up there. In college, I can’t really ever remember being nervous when my a cappella group performed, because even if I was soloing I knew there were 7-12 other guys in the same outfit standing up there with me. The very, very few times I’ve performed original songs, with a guitar, I’ve had a partner. If something went wrong, there was someone on stage to whom I could give a knowing eye-roll for the benefit of the audience.

So it’s not performance nerves that are holding me back from this particular dream career. It may be more that in order to be a successful singer-songwriter (and this may already be obvious to you), one not only has to sing, but also write songs. This is a bit of a problem for me. I’ve written roughly three songs in the past, oh, six years that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to play for someone. I have to believe that to do this professionally I’d have crank one out more often than every twenty-four months.

So, yeah, I didn’t quite make this goal. I take some solace in the fact that the imaginary audience in my head gives me a standing ovation every time I bust out singing in the shower.

Pitch in the major leagues.

Ok, ok, stop snickering. No seriously, stop it. Sigh. I’ll wait.

Are you done? Thank you. Look, I know there was never any danger of this happening. I’ve never been even remotely successful in any sort of athletic endeavor and have never really wanted to be. But baseball has always been the sport that mattered to me. My little sister and I would watch nearly every Cardinals game on television growing up, and these were the great teams of the Whitey-ball era: Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Vince Coleman, Jack Clark, Joaquin Andujar, Todd Worrell…those were heady, formative times.

We’d play baseball in the backyard. Sort of. It was generally just the two of us, and our yard was nowhere near large enough for even a scaled-down version of a baseball diamond, but we had an imaginary rhombus-like shape in our heads, and we’d take turns pitching to each other and keeping track of where our runners would have been, occasionally getting into arguments about whether a fielded ball thrown into Mom’s vegetable garden was one base or two.

I loved pitching. Sure, hitting was fun, although it was hard to get a truly satisfying whack with a wiffle-ball bat on a hollow plastic baseball – especially since hitting it out of the yard meant having to deal with the mean crazy next-door neighbor. But pitching was where I really let my imagination get away from me. Standing on the corner of the driveway, I was always on the hill at Busch Stadium, facing down the (boo) Mets or (hiss) Cubs, one strikeout away from a complete game victory.

Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not any good at it. And yet there’s something about holding a baseball that makes me want to kick my leg up and let one fly. I still do it, playing catch with my wife in the backyard. We’ll toss the ball back and forth for a while, and then I inevitably want to go into the full windup. I’ve always just aped the delivery of the professional who had the most impact on me at the time. As a kid, it was John Tudor’s delivery (flipped from left to right, of course), or Andujar’s. Today, it’s Pedro Martinez’s. (Hey, I like to aim high.) And every once in a while, the ball actually goes where I intend for it to go, and every once in a while, R— catches it and says, “Ow, that was hard!” and I think, “Damn, I could have done this.”

I could have tried out for the baseball team in middle school, and sucked, but eventually gotten better. I could have worked out all through high school, and eventually become the team’s star starter, and led us to the state championship. I’d have tried out for the baseball team at Brown, and certainly I wouldn’t have been the star, but I’d have been good enough to make the team and pitch on a regular basis, and maybe a bunch of us on the team would go to a minor league tryout (just on a lark, you know?), and I’d catch some scout’s eye, and (this is where it gets really fanciful) get signed to a minor league deal and pitch for some AA club for a few months, and then get called up to the big leagues when a reliever goes on the DL and come into a game in long relief and shut down the opposition for 5 strong innings and eventually get promoted to the rotation and finally, one day, get the start on the hill at Busch Stadium.

Or, you know, not. Well, I’m still the ace in our backyard.

Start my own company.

Here’s the thing: I don’t like my job. In fact, I’m starting to dislike my whole career, but I’m willing to chalk that up to a bad job. This is, however, the second job in a row I’ve had where I felt as though my talents, and the talents of my colleagues, were being wasted by inefficient or even, at times, incompetent management. Here’s how I’ve been putting it to my (long-suffering) wife: “Everybody except me is an idiot, and I can’t work for idiots.” The obvious solution? I should work for myself!

This idea is enormously appealing on so many levels. I’d finally have to put up and/or shut up. Rather than bemoaning bad decisions that were being made on my behalf, I could make them myself! (Or, if I got really lucky, make good decisions.) I’d finally be able to build software (for this, indeed, is my career) the way I think it should be built, without taking unnecessary and detrimental shortcuts. Eventually I’d get to build a team of the best programmers I could find and be able to ensure personally that they are all up to my standards. I’d have a job I didn’t dread going to every morning, and if I suddenly found that I did, I’d actually have the power to fix it.

Turns out, however, that starting a software company is hard. Ok, well, that’s patently untrue. Starting a successful software company is hard. If it’s going to be a product-oriented company, I need, obviously, an idea for a product, and I don’t have a good one. (I have a few bad ones, but I’m not sure that’s how I want to start out.) And if it’s going to be a services-oriented company, I need to find someone to offer my services to.

None of this is impossible, of course. What it takes is a measure of gumption, which, as I’m approaching this three-decade milestone, I’m starting to wonder if I lack. Am I willing to sacrifice stable employment and the steady (and generous) paycheck it brings for the stress and uncertainty of self-employment? Am I?
Well, I don’t know, but I’m not ready to move this particular goal into the unachieved column. I’ve only been working for eight years, and the fact that I’m not running a company yet isn’t necessarily a sign of failure. Hey, I’m only thirty! I’ve got time.

My sister, who’s wise beyond her years, once said that part of maturity is being able to tell the difference between attainable and unattainable dreams. I’m never going to be a rock star, nor will I be a professional baseball player. And I’m ok with that. I might write a few songs and perform them at a local coffee shop. Or join a softball league. I still might, some day, start my own software company.

Of course this hasn’t been an exhaustive list of unachieved goals. I’ve never traveled anywhere interesting or lived abroad. I’ve never picked up and moved on a whim. I’ve never learned to play the piano (competently), or acquired a taste for olives, or had a piece of writing published.

On the other hand, I don’t want to sound too down on myself. There are quite a few things I’ve managed to accomplish: I got and held a sequence of good jobs and excelled in a field that wasn’t what I studied in college. I met, fell in love with, and married the girl of my dreams. We found, bought, moved into, and decorated a house – a real house! – with a basement and a yard and a driveway and a garage and all sorts of other adult features.

Would I have ever thought, ten years ago, that this is where I’d be at thirty? It’s not so bad.

I guess it’s time to start making the “to do by forty” list.

Thirty