situation: muddy.


We’ve had an uncharacteristically warm winter here in Upper Cryogenica. There was a surprise early snowstorm in October, and then…pretty much nothing. A few minor storms kept refreshing the snow layer in the backyard and maintaining it at sledding levels, but we totally missed out on the regular northern New England rock-‘em-sock-‘em, six-inches-of-snow-every-day-for-two-weeks type of storms.

It’s mid-March right now, and the snow has been melting for weeks. This is what the Castle looks like at present:


And the grounds in front of the portcullis:


And our road, being a dirt road, looks like this right now.


The town road crews are valiantly leveling the road and pouring gravel into the worst spots, but it’s warm, the glop is deep, and every time something heavier than a Smart Car drives down the road, there are ruts in it again deep enough to lose a herd of cattle in.

Robin’s Forester has been braving the mud heroically. (It’s about a mile to the nearest pavement.) My Grand Caravan has not yet had to face that challenge, but this afternoon, I have to spend my Dadcation over at the car place to get the leak in the AC system fixed. If you don’t hear from me again, send out some Navy Seahawks with dipping sonar.

AWD power activate!

So our driveway is about 200 feet long and unpaved. We had it finished with hardpack, and it’s fine most of the year, but when we have prolonged cold spells, it can be tricky for a front-wheel car to get up the incline to our house.

Well, we currently have a cold spell like that. The temperature has been around 20 during the day and in the negatives at night for a week or so now. The hardpack has been covered with snow a few times, scraped and shoveled, and left with a thin layer of snow that has frozen and smoothed out into something that now resembles one of those Olympic luge tracks. I have to park the Grand Marnier in the spot at the bottom of the driveway because the front-wheel drive does not do well when the driveway is all ice. The UPS, FedEx, and Sears service trucks have all had to capitulate and park at the bottom for their deliveries and service calls for the last few days.

Today I went out with the kids for the weekly grocery run. When I got back, I had to park at the bottom of the hill again and haul all the groceries up through the snow on the path through the Forbidden Forest, bypassing the driveway, because it was so icy I fell on my ass three times trying to walk up it. Took me twenty minutes to get all the groceries into the house. I was utterly convinced that the wife would not be able to make it up the hill tonight to park in her usual spot right next to the house.

Well, she gets in past dark, I see the headlights coming up the driveway…and the Subaru just trucks up the icy incline like it’s freshly laid gravel in the middle of July. She said she never felt a tire slip.

The Grand Marnier is nowhere near on its last leg, but when it’s time to replace it, I want a frickin’ Subaru too.

that’s some pretty chewy rain for october.

So how much snow did we get? Apparently, more than this place has ever gotten before Halloween, and by a fair amount.

We had about six to eight inches of snow on the ground on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, it was the kind of wet, heavy snow that is very difficult to clear with the snowblower. Fortunately, the wife has a new AWD vehicle, and a neat garage tent for it. That means she had to do no scraping whatsoever, and I didn’t have to bundle up and try to clear the driveway before she left for work on Sunday morning. The Subaru does much better in this kind of mess than her old Neon did, which is to be expected.

(The Grand Marnier actually does fairly well in the snow despite only being a front wheel drive vehicle. It’s a heavy car, with a big cast-iron engine sitting right on top of the driving axle, and with my leet drivezorz skillz, I can usually make it up our driveway.)

So yeah: ominous start into the snow season here in Upper Cryogenica. But the wife got to work on time, we didn’t lose  power, and all the snow will be gone by mid-week because temps are going to be in the mid-50s.

stormpocalypse update.

Well, the storm has passed. The roads are pretty bad, especially out here in the dirt road outskirts of Upper Cryogenica, so Robin had a bit of trouble finding a route home that wasn’t blocked.

The Castle…well, look at this harrowing image of utter devastation:

Around the house, August 2011 048

Rebuilding will begin tomorrow morning…and end about two minutes later. We have a little bit of water in the garage, and one of the windows is a little leaky, but that’s the extent of it. We never even lost power. (Not that I’m complaining, mind you.)

stormpocalypse 2011!

That hurricane what is flooding the streets in NYC right now is heading right up the Connecticut River valley. Here’s the projected track:


See that light beige storm track going through the outline of New Hampshire? Castle Frostbite sits right in the middle of it. According to the weather druids, it’ll pass over us at 6pm tonight.

Right now we have quite a bit of rain and some decently strong winds. I expect it will pick up a little as the storm gets closer. We have power (obviously), but I fully expect it to go out at some point. We have the usual stash of supplies, and at least I don’t have to keep a wood stove going during summer outages. Still, no Internet for hours may turn out traumatic.

random items on a random monday.

  • Thanks to everyone who put their hats into the ring for Robin’s graphics job.  She went through all the portfolios and picked someone for the job.  I’ll be sending out emails later today to all who replied.
  • ‘”You pay $5.99 for a mocha, dude.  Why would you not pay it for a book?” The always eloquent Cat Valente weighs in on the $0.99 pricing model for ebooks, and I can’t say I disagree with her on any particular point.
  • Not to be outdone, John Scalzi provides a handy Electronic Publishing Bingo Chart with all the arguments commonly found whenever there’s a debate on the subject.  Jump into a discussion thread on e-book self-publishing, and see how fast you can check off all the boxes.
  • Lastly, Chuck Wendig gives you instructions for the Care and Feeding of Your Favorite Authors.
  • I’ve been busy Doing Stuff this weekend.  We had friends over on Saturday afternoon, so we did some of that socializing stuff that seems to be all the rage these days, and it was fun indeed.  In addition, I also finished a chapter of the Urban Fantasy novel I now seem to be writing concurrently with That Damn MilSF Sequel, and wrote 2,200 words for a new SF short story yesterday.  All in all, the weekend was the perfect mix of recreation and productivity.  (I don’t really take days off from writing, although Saturdays tend to be my least productive days because of Dadcation and Saturday Night World of Warcraft Mit Der Hooch.)
  • That short story I’m writing right now is called CAKE WHORES OF MARS.  The title was sort of an in-joke between Chuck Wendig and me, and I thought I’d see where I could go strictly from the title alone.  The evolution of that short story is a perfect example of the occasional pure awesomeness of the writing process—I started with the first line that came to mind when reading the title, and the whole story just gradually unfolded as I was typing the first paragraph.  By the time I was halfway down the first page, I knew where I was going with it, and how to get there.  I love it when stuff just comes together like that.
  • The Mac mini is now a year old, which means that it’s out of Apple Care warranty…which also means that the chances for catastrophic failure increased by 2000%.  I do have a Time Machine backup hard drive, and I’ve never lost a machine to the point that I couldn’t just hook up its hard drive to a new computer and salvage all the data.  My Macs tend to have really long useful lives, however (there’s an eMac upstairs that will be eight years old this year, and I have a G3 iBook that’s closer to ten), and if those other machines are any indicators as to the projected service life of the mini, I’ll be using that one for a few more years.
  • I got out my “spare” Olympia SM-9, the one I got in a garage sale, and cleaned it up.  It’s in as close to new condition as I’ve ever seen a used typewriter.  There’s not a thing wrong with it, and it looks like it rolled off the assembly line four weeks rather than four decades ago.  The typeface is that lovely, legible Congress in Pica.  I hammered out a bunch of pages on it this past weekend, and it’s as smooth and precise as a good Swiss watch.  The 1960s and 1970s Olympias will never win any prizes for looks—they’re not nearly as nice to look at as, say, a 1930s Royal or Smith-Corona with gloss paint and glass keytops—but they work like nothing else…and from the samples I’ve owned, they age really well.
  • For those typewriter nuts out there who also own iPads, here’s a fun typewriter simulator that’s well worth the 99-cent price tag.
  • Last typewriter-related item for today is Richard Polt’s page, specifically the typewriter font downloads.  (The essay collection of writers singing the praises of their manuals is great, too.  Hell, most everything on there is a fun read for a typewriter fan.)

Since I’m using this blog as a quasi-journal, let me mention Friday while I’m at it.

Robin got off work at noon, and we met up at the pediatrician’s office for Quinn’s 6-year checkup.  Then we all went out to lunch together.  The weather was perfect—fifty-odd degrees, cloudless skies, and a light warm breeze, no need for a jacket.  We went to Weathervane, which is sort of like a New England version of Denny’s with fried seafood and lobster.  We sat and talked, the kids enjoyed their lunch (and declared Weathervane their new Favorite Restaurant Ever), and I was struck by the fact that we just don’t do these kinds of things often enough.  Not the restaurant, I mean, but hanging out and doing things as a family—enjoying each others’ company without anyone having to do some other task at the same time.

And I thought to myself—this is a pretty good life.  I have a smart, funny and lovely wife and a great marriage.  We have two intelligent, healthy, adorable kids.  We have our own house in the green–a crooked house, sure, but ours.  We can fill the fridge and pay our bills reliably, and buy ourselves some nice things on occasion. I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do with my life, and I get to stay home with the kids and make sure they get a good start into their own lives.  Isn’t that just about as good as we could hope for things to be?

How often do we lose sight of how good we actually have it because we’re busy making things better for ourselves?  I don’t want to have no ambitions or be content with the status quo, mind you—but I have the sneaking suspicion that one day, I’ll be looking back on days like Friday, and think of them as The Good Days.  Almost everyone’s working toward That Day, that mythical point in our life where everything is going to be Just Right…and while we’re walking around with our minds weeks or months or years ahead of the present, we probably walk unthinkingly over a long string of those perfect days without realizing it.

Anyway, that’s enough Monday Morning Philosophizing for you.  There’s work to be done—a new week to seize by the throat and shake down for lunch money.

in the dark, with internets.

Power’s out again here at the castle. This time, instead of swiping the wife’s iPhone and using the 3G network, I hooked the wireless router and Internet dish up to one of those DieHard portable battery packs. The Mac mini and its LCD along with the router only draw 120W peak load, so they can run for quite a while on that pack. An even better solution was to shut down the Mac, break out the iPad, and just leave the dish and router plugged in. 30W load total, and I can even recharge the iPad from the pack if needed–it has two 120V outlets and a USB charging port.

Yes, keeping the Intertubes going on the only backup battery system in the house is a sign of advanced addiction. For the moment, however, let me bask in my ingenuity, and let’s thank Crom for not power-smiting my ISP’s wireless tower as well.