Sunday, April 28, 2013

Another Week Slips By

I'm not sure what we did last week. My entire to-do list is still sitting here with all the same stuff on it. I spent some of the week at work digging out from the mess of tax season. There is a ton of work to do, and I could work pretty much as many hours as I want to, but I think the boss-man doesn't want to pay me to do it. When I left Friday, he just said he would "call me and let me know." I hope he doesn't think I'm just going to be sitting here in my office clothes waiting by the phone five days a week for him to call and tell me someone wants a tax return done. (I've already had several such calls since the 15th. Sorry dude; I have a life.) He mentioned something to me about working for a percentage of the returns I do in the off-season. Sounds good as long as when I'm there, he isn't expecting me to stick around all day doing his filing and dealing with pissed-off customers. Anyway; it will probably all come to a big nothing like most other things. Everyone is very excited to have you work for them. Their enthusiasm noticeably wanes when you make it clear you expect to get paid. Which would be fine; I could use the time to keep working on the Money Pit we live in.

I did manage to get all the stud work scabbed in on Thursday. At this point, there isn't anything that needs to be done before the siding goes up. Other than hitting the Lotto so we can pay for it; that whole people-expect-to-be-paid-for-the-work-they-do thing again. So it's only financial roadblocks at this point rather than logistical roadblocks. And our bathroom carpet sporting a permanent wet spot for the last three or four days probably isn't going to help rid us of that financial roadblock. The bright spot is that I've been looking for an excuse to rip the carpet out of the bathroom since we moved here. I hate carpet in a bathroom. That has to be the most disgusting thing a person can do in a house. Understand, I lived for several years with a composting toilet; I know disgusting. That isn't even in the same ballpark as carpet on a bathroom floor. So first thing tomorrow, out goes the carpet so I can a) find where the water is coming from and b) stop getting sick to my stomach every time I walk in there.

I should probably take some photos of the planting bed out front. The herbs all seem to be doing well so far. We'll see how much Florida heat it takes to burn them down to the ground. It ain't helping that we're in the middle of a Phase III Extreme Water Shortage. So far, the "wet" season has produced a single rain storm while the temps are spiking up to 90 every day. We're only allowed to water with the hose on Friday's before 8am or after 6pm. Other days, we have to use a watering can, which takes over an hour. We added a single tomato plant last weekend to see if I can make fresh tomatoes for Debbie. It's still alive and has a half-dozen-plus green tomatoes hanging on it. We'll see if they ripen up, if animals/bugs will leave 'em alone, if they taste like something other than cardboard, etc.  If I can get some yard work done this summer, we may try tomatoes again at a somewhat larger scale in the fall.

Well, Debbie wants to go for a bike ride now that the heat's died down a bit.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Nailed It Again

Scott Meyer has been on a roll lately:

Still trying to catch up from tax season. I've been either on the road or sitting in various waiting rooms all last week. Except when I was working; I got more hours last week than I did for the last week of tax season. As of right now, our bikes are fixed, our car is fixed, I've been lab'ed and doctor'ed until I look like a pin cushion and our bank account wiped out. Today was the first time in over a week when I didn't have an alarm set for some ungodly butt-crack-of-dawn time. I celebrated by sleeping for more than twelve hours.

Today is more catch-up: planting Debbie's poor tomato plant that's still in its plastic pot, mowing the grass, trimming, raking (if it will stop raining long enough to accomplish any of those), and continuing to pick away at getting all the stud work done in the Florida room so we're ready for siding. If I can slow down my work schedule, I may actually start feeling somewhat caught up sometime next week. Assuming nothing else breaks or goes sideways either here or at work.

And I'm off to make bread.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Paolo Soleri, RIP

Paolo died on April 9th at the age of 93. He was the designer of Arcosanti, where we lived for a year after completing the workshop program. While we were there, Paolo could still be occasionally seen on the end of a shovel, but a while back, we heard that he had been ill and had stopped all involvement with the project to "focus on his writing." I assumed then that his passing couldn't be far off. I couldn't imagine Paolo hanging around for any length of time as a semi-invalid.

We had the chance to talk to Paolo several times during our stay at Arcosanti, but we can't really say that we knew him or much about him. I'm not sure anyone really did outside of a very small circle. But I can say that he was certainly a unique human being with a gift for pissing people off. I haven't met many people I would label "genius"; Paolo was certainly one of them.

I just went to Amazon to see if I could scare up a copy of his book, Arcology: The City in the Image of Man. No new copies available, but a used one in paperback is a mere $438.19. That didn't take long. I hope they do a reprint of the hardcover edition (the paperback was crap and fell apart the first time you opened the cover). I wanted to get a copy while we were at Arcosanti and never got a round tuit. It would be nice to have a copy, but not for the price of a used car.

Paolo was buried next to his wife on the Arcosanti property. I remember one of the times Debbie and I were wandering around when we were there for the workshop. We had crossed the Agua Fria River and climbed to the top of the mesa next to the one Arcosanti is built on, when we came across a small, fenced-in area with a padlocked gate. Inside was a bench and a badly-neglected garden. Everything was long dead other than native pioneer weeds that had reclaimed the spot. By then we had gotten used to stumbling across odd bits that someone had invested time and money into only to have it abandoned to the elements. We found out later that it was Paolo's wife's grave, the closest thing to a sacred site at a militantly atheist project. I assume it was spruced up a bit for Paolo's arrival. Or possibly not; he was never had much use for formalities.

One of the reoccurring conversations we had as residents of Arcosanti (and something I was asked about on every site tour I gave), was if the project would survive the death of its creator. On paper at least, there should be no problem. Paolo has not had an active role in Arcosanti or the Cosanti Foundation that supports it for many years. The day-to-day operation has been run entirely by others, and there is no logical reason for there to be the slightest hiccup with Paolo's passing. And yet I can't help but wonder if interest will wane in continuing to build out the site, with what is already there becoming a Monument to a Visionary, preserved in amber like Taliesin West. I may not have known Paolo all that well, but I'm pretty sure he would have hated the very idea.

I will close with this: Our lives were certainly made richer by Paolo's little experiment out in the central highlands of Arizona. In fact, Arcosanti probably saved our marriage. Thanks, ol' man, and Godspeed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Latest Work

The latest bits we've sunk into the money pit:

We moved the slider that was originally between the trailer and the Florida room onto the front of the Florida room. The original door didn't fit right and the screens and plastic "windows" were in pretty bad shape. In other words, the whole thing was pretty much for show and didn't keep out wind, rain, bugs, stray cats....

The Beast. The $4,500 Beast. The good news is that we'll make that back in no time with all the money we'll save having a new, more-efficient AC. The salesman said it, so it must be true.

The Florida room more or less ready for siding and some new skirting. Maybe in May or June.
Only four days left to tax season. I think I'll take a couple days after April 15th to just sleep.

Saturday, April 06, 2013


In my role as kitchen goddess, I made a pizza for dinner:

The crust has been pre-baked for about 20 minutes with a good slathering of butter and garlic. Then sauce, a couple pounds of various meats (pepperoni, sausage, ham and bacon), all topped off with a pound of mozzarella cheese. Heart-healthy it ain't, but ask me if I care.

Deep dish pizza without the deep dish.

Fresh from the oven. The cheese could have stood a bit more time to brown, but we were hungry.

I've been experimenting with the crust for a while; wetter or drier dough, pre-baking the crust, seasoning the crust, etc. I think this one was just about perfect. Now if I can just remember what I did....

And a bit of geekiness:

That's one of a couple dozen computers that made up the SAGE system back in the 1950's and 60's. SAGE was a computer network that linked radar installations, interceptors and missile batteries. Data was displayed on GUI workstations that even had a sort of touch screen interface. Each computer ran dual 32-bit CPU's (not in parallel; they ran the second as a redundant backup) with 256K RAM. The computer hardware weighed 300 tons and burned 3 megawatts of juice. All that to crank out 75,000 operations per second. For comparison, an iPad can do something like 1.5 billion operations per second. If you care, you can read more here.

Well, the sun is up, so I need to get my butt outside and do some work.