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Saturday Splurging

Saturday, November 17, 2012

1. Taking care of business
2. Lounging
3. A night on the town

I. Taking care of business

Up in the morning at a reasonable hour (without hitting the snooze button), a quick breakfast of coffee and tea along with a delicious bowl of oats complemented by blueberries and cherries, and a leisurely and uneventful drive to Ms. S.'s parents' place, where the painter was already at work.

I let the dogs out for a bit, found a hammer for the painter, and mostly stayed out of the way.

Ms. S.'s parents have their desktop plugged directly into their router, and while I brought my laptop to the house to use it for work, I wasn't planning on unplugging the ethernet cable from their computer and into mine, and then replacing it every day just to have internet access on the laptop. The desktop is just fine, thank you. But as I was standing over it this morning I realized that the router has an antenna. Ah, wireless ...

... and a quick online search for the model gave me its specifications and configuration information. Looking at the desktop's gateway gave me the router's IP address, and more than that, it turns out wireless was already turned on. I just was not sure, until then, which access point was theirs, and what the authentication system was. Improve security a bit with MAC address filtering, and then connect my laptop. And find a plugin in this ancient house with its ancient wiring that the laptop will accept as a clean power source.


The dogs were fed at the appointed time. They got to run around outside. The couple cats have been keeping their distance for the most part.

II. Lounging

So then I could sit in front of the hearth, all toasty, dogs at my feet, while outside painting went on. In another browser window football games happened almost like pantomime. I'm sad to say, it's been a rather uneventful and boring college football season ... I'm having a hard time caring for any of the teams I'm supposedly supposed to care about (because of employment, school, or family connections).

Yesterday I focused on academic work. Today I digressed in the direction of programming, usually on the lighter side.

I know as much as the next person not to read the comments to articles, blog posts, and the like. But I can't help myself.

Wait. Let me correct that.

I can help myself, I can stop, but I choose not to: reading outrageous and often moronic comment threads, and becoming outraged (or more accurately: letting myself become outraged, knowing ahead of time what will happen) is like therapy. It's a sport, even. A game. Or like playing house or dress-up. It's a pose. The only sad part is that what the above metaphors imply, or rather what knowing they are metaphors implies, is that we have to treat these sorts of discussion threads ironically, with and from a distance, as spectators. It's Baudrillard all over again, and our faux-outrage at things unworthy of the emotion or reaction a mere simulacrum.

Using that word today is just part of me lounging around.

III. A night on the town

Mid-afternoon the painter finished, packed up, and left. I let the dogs out, and had to go wrangle two of them because the painter had left the gate open (I should have checked it before letting the dogs out). Disaster averted.

The dogs spent the afternoon with me after their supper but from time to time one or two of them would get riled up and run out the back to bark at something. I checked once: nobody, nothing. Another time I looked out the kitchen window and saw squirrels ... noisy little buggers, probably inciting the dogs. Another time it turned out a set of neighbors was in their yard doing work, and the labor excited the dogs, so at that point I shut the back door and limited them to the house.

Then a last time they became excited, I looked out a window, and saw Ms. S. walking through the gate.

Since I'm spending the night (she can't, as she has a night shift) she brought me a few more 'supplies' than I'd already brought. Then we left, walked to and through town, past the cemetery, the the lone Mexican restaurant for many miles around. A half hour walk works up the appetite. The service was dependable, the cuisine likewise, and the margaritas hit the spot.

A Saturday splurge, I noted.

We walked back, retracing our steps most of the way until downtown's only real traffic light, took a left, and a few blocks later along a rather nice, new, and well-lit stretch of sidewalk we stopped by the drug store and I got some snacks for tonight and tomorrow, including a big ol' bag of almonds. On sale.

And ice cream. As I said, a splurge.

Just Edy's. But on sale. And 'Cherry Chocolate Bomb'? Of course. Since Ms. S. doesn't care for cherries -- I know, I know, it should be a deal-breaker, but isn't -- that one was for me alone. The chocolate peanut butter one still in the freezer I'll share tomorrow. It's the weekend. I'm feeling generous.

I do love little old towns. I love the storefronts, the sidewalks and the width of the streets, the lazy intersections, the pedestrians, and the couple blocks each direction that define the region so well. There are both little architectural curiosities in each location -- here we found one little stairway in an alley that would not feel out of place in New Orleans -- as well as a unity of style that makes all these places feel the same. But in the United States there's a categorical problem with them: they're all dying, they're all on borrowed time. The few that are not dying are either gentrified or essentially tourist traps. And this is not necessarily a bad thing, and there must be change and development. And redevelopment. But it means we should be wary of setting them up as ideals or idylls, as something to strive for or return to.

The clear sky of stars, though, is a pleasant change of pace. Leisurely evening walks ... strolls ... are a commonplace.

And yet both Ms. S. and I would be bored to death in one longterm. We're both more city people in that regard ... walkability, public transportation, local shopping, parks and gardens and institutions like museums and large libraries. Community theaters: plural. We know several such locations ... we just need to find good jobs there.

IV. Appendix

The Cherry Chocolate Bomb?

Tasty but not The Bomb. I'm usually better off making ice cream (less expensive, better yet fewer ingredients, more variety or flexibility) unless I want a real treat ... and then it's time for Ben & Jerry's.

Here I have no cell phone service. Which is wonderful because I have an excuse to ignore my phone. It's a shame because my father needs some computer help (so says a recent voicemail), but I cannot call him back. Though there is Skype.

And I have a symphony of snoring dogs at my feet.
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