Friday, January 19 2007
The weather has been bleak and cold for some days now, often paired with unusually strong winds. I suspect this combination is what finally did in the cover plate on my homemade solar panel, the tatters of which I saw flopping about uselessly this afternoon. That plate had been made of a vinyl material sold at Herzog's Hardware for (as I recall) making shower curtains. I'd installed it as a stop-gap proof-of-concept material, never intending it to be permanent. That it lasted nearly a year and a half is as surprising as anything else. That material had proved unexpectedly tough and never shown any sign of sun or wind damage. I suspect, though, that in this cold weather it became stiff and brittle and the wind shattered it like glass. Glass will be what I'll end up replacing it with, unless plexiglass proves cheaper. In the meantime, though, my solar collecting is on hiatus.
Today was Gretchen's thirty sixth birthday, meaning I had to change the wording on the refrigerator from "Lerdy Live" to "Lerdy Lix." These words, a reference to "Lordy, Lordy, look who's forty," are spelled out in cut-up magnetic "Support the Troops" and "God Bless America" ribbons.
Gretchen had a celebratory vegan lunch with her lady friends at the Garden Café in Woodstock. Tonight we'd intended on continuing the celebration at the Accord roller rink down on 209, but when we showed up there the place was lousy with teenagers and had a completely inappropriate ambience (Gretchen had originally intended on spiking our rootbeers with Stoli Vanil in the café section).
So we ended up at the Red Brick Tavern in Rosendale. It's in the place where the Alamo used to be before its two flaming founders (who had been spearheading a massive Rosendale gentrification project) fled town, leaving behind streets choked with tumbleweed. No longer is there a sign that reads "Food worth fightin' for." No longer does the menu represent a happy marriage between gay culinary fussiness and down-to-earth AmeriMexican. Now its focal point is a massive flatscreen television and the menu is an unremarkable restatement of American sportsbar orthodoxy. Prices seem to be cheaper, though, and the sound system no longer blares anything (much less the punchis that was so out of character back when it was a self-declared Mexican restaurant).
While we sipped our beverages, Gretchen suddenly realized that the Rosendale Café, where she'd originally planned to have dinner, would probably be hosting live music tonight. Had we come earlier, we could have had our meal before the band set up, but now we were already past the mandatory cover charge hour. So I had the idea that we just continue down to New Paltz (which isn't all that far from Rosendale) and try out that new vegetarian Indian restaurant. Gretchen thought this a splendid idea (and sure beat a second meal at the Garden Café in Woodstock, which might be forced to obtain a restraining order if Gretchen eats there any more frequently).
But we got there and found it closed, yes, on a Friday night! Nothing lasts, not the gentrification of Rosendale (which had once seemed like a force of nature), and not even a hippie restaurant in the most hippie of Hudson Valley villages. So we wound up at the other New Paltz Indian restaurant, where we were, for a time, the only customers. Service was fast and the food was unexpectedly good (though it was expectedly expensive).
The other day I got a little adapter allowing me to hook up classic Macintosh computers to my various computer monitors. I have two Mac SEs, which have their own monitors, but I also have two headless Macs (a IIsi and a Performa 475) from the early 1990s. The IIsi was my main computer from 1992 to 1996 and was, for example, where I did most of the writing that ended up in the Big Fun Glossary. I have it up here in Hurley as something of a promise kept to my younger self, a person for whom it was a most prized possession. The contacts between its memory SIMMs and its motherboard had corroded slightly and I had to completely take the thing apart to exercise its connections, allowing it to boot for the first time since 1997. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to wax nostalgic about; all the good software and documents are on SCSI drives that are still back in Virginia.
My particular IIsi has long been separated from its original grey plastic case. For me it's always lived inside the hollowed-out aluminum chassis of an eight inch floppy disk drive, reflecting its origins as something I'd obtained uncommercially, one piece at a time, back when I was young, poor, and (when drunk) brave. Is such an old Macintosh useful for anything? It seems like a shame to abandon it so completely given how useful I used to find it. IIsis were capable machines back in the day. I used to surf the web (using Netscapes 1.1 and 2.0) and even run a covert web server (using MacHTTP) on the IIsis in Gilmer Hall at the University of Virginia.
My faithful old Macintosh IIsi, inside a vintage aluminum eight inch floppy drive chassis. Notice that when I'd originally assembled it, I was thinking long term, moving the PRAM battery backup outside the case to make the batteries easier to replace (today, though, was the first time I'd ever had to replace them).
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