Saturday, December 25, 2010

Handyman Skills?

One of the annoyances about our apartment is that part of the light in our bathroom was detached and dangling. A very slow, drawn-out process involved me trying to fix it (no dice), our landlord's handy friend trying to fix it (no), and then us getting the go-ahead from the landlord to call a handyman to fix it. Of course, this involves finding someone and calling to set up an appointment, which was taking forever to get around to do. So, I tried again. It turned out the part in question was stripped and pretty much hopeless for screwing back in, so I settled for some electrical tape. I think it looks pretty much OK though.

Also, I made rigged this awesome litter wall to keep Jess from making such a mess. She loves to dig litter out of her box and put it in piles on the floor. Hopefully this will improve the situation.

Cats Like Christmas Presents Too

They come in boxes and have ribbons.

A Walk Around the McCarty Property

We were in Indiana last weekend and stayed with Sara and Kev, Erin's sister and brother-in-law.

Cat in a Bag

Sara and Kev's kitty Nala loves paper bags even more than Jess does.

Chocolate Walking Tour

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Long Weekend To-Do List

  • figure out ipod
  • finish configuring virtual machine
  • rearrange bedroom
  • finish scanning maps
  • draft trip report
  • date night with lovely wife
  • install thermostat
  • fix fridge light
  • blog photos
  • pick up books at library
  • finish ordering stuff
  • clean out e-mail
  • tidy office closet
  • sort cable box
  • put toll thing and new sticker in car
  • open presents
  • ask question about tiny note-taking devices
  • shovel back stairs
  • wash Bucky Beaver
  • do laundry
  • send off old film 
  • clean litter box
  • tidy litter box
  • replace bathroom lite bulbs
  • try to fix bathroom light again
  • give to wikipedia
  • go exploring with lovely wife
  • mess with boxes
  • go to gathering downstairs
  • call folks

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Claw

Found on a sidewalk in Cambridge.

First Snow in Cambridge, Mass

A tidbit for our Minnesota friends. Here is the first Massachusetts snow of the season.

Creepy Christmas Decorations

I find these animatronic lighted flamingoes a bit unnerving. They are on the walk from home to Porter Square train station (and vice versa).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reading My Height In Books, In a Year, Three Times

One of the things that I love to do is read books. And I read a ton of books. Six years ago, I started keeping a list of what I read, along with how thick the books are. The goal: read my height in books in a year. I just finished my 72nd book of 2010, which put me over the top for the 3rd time. It seemed like a good time for reflection on the project.

Here are the data for the six more-or-less complete years I've been counting:

 Year   Books   Meters   Reids 
2005 61 1.34 0.73
2006 60 1.54 0.85
2007 75 2.03 1.11
2008 78 2.00 1.10
2009 56 1.38 0.75
2010 72 1.85 1.01

Since October 2004, I've read 418 books, which collectively would take up 10.5 meters of shelf space, or 5.7 times my height (a pretty hefty bookshelf).

I decided that for a lifetime achievement, I would read a football field's worth of books; so far, I've made it roughly 11% of the way. I'm on track to achieve this goal. At 11.4% per 6.25 years, that's 55 years to read 100%, or 49 more to go. That would make me 80 years old, which is quite feasible. Obviously the rate varies according to circumstances, but I assume it will go up in retirement, perhaps way up.

I also rate the books, in terms of how much I think others should read them. The most meaningful or important books get the "classic" rating, and these 24 books are:
  • Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
  • Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions 
  • Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
  • Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
  • Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
  • Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
  • Joseph T. Hallinan, Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Above Average
  • John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me
  • Edward Lazarus, Closed Chambers: The First Eyewitness Account of the Epic Struggles Inside the Supreme Court
  • Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
  • Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations ... One School at a Time
  • Donald Norman, The Design of Everyday Things
  • Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
  • Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
  • Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking 
  • Sister Helen Prejean, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions 
  • Piers Paul Read, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors
  • Robert B. Reich, Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America
  • Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Elizabeth Royte, Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash
  • Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld, and Jim Dwyer, Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution, and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted
  • James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Businesses, Economies, Societies, and Nations
  • Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information 
  • Tom Vanderbilt, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
    So there's your how-to-be-a-better-person reading list, according to me.

    Finally, if you want to follow along on my grand adventure, here is the list of books. There's no RSS feed, but I do tweet each book as I record it.

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Weekend To-Do List

    • Finish scanning maps
    • Clean out e-mail
    • Clean out Google Reader
    • Blog photo
    • Tidy office closet
    • Sort cable box
    • Clean off table
    • Organize/rearrange bedroom
    • Date night with lovely wife
    • Buy some presents
    • Put toll thing and new sticker in car 
    • Chocolate tour

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Who Is Susanne?

    One of the odder graffiti in my neighborhood. Who is Susanne? And why is she depicted as a cat who has left a giant steaming turd?