Saturday, October 27 2007
After a certain amount of prep work, which included adding a second hook to the solar panel and incorporating three pulleys into the lift mechanism (as well as adding a second safety rope in case anything in the lift system suffered structural failure), I tried lifting the solar panel up to the solar deck. Originally I was going to have Gretchen help out, but she was so wrapped up in The Queen, that I decided not to bother her. I did the lift, working mostly from below on the laboratory deck. The lifting itself was easy and most of the work consisted of steering the panel around various obstacles that lay in its path. Once it was up to the level of the solar deck, I lashed all the ropes to a hand rail, climbed up to the solar deck, and lifted the panel another foot or so and then maneuvered it in. Once I had it lashed to the rail of the solar deck, I could finally relish the satisfaction of having pulled off such a complicated procedure entirely on my own. Yesterday I mentioned that I have a natural disinclination to build temporary things, but that disinclination is trumped by an even more powerful disinclination: to request or marshall the assistance of others. (In my very first report card a teacher noted this weakness by writing that I do not seem to enjoy participating in projects involving other children.)
This evening Gretchen and I went on a real date for the first time in months. Ultimately we'd be seeing Queen Latifah at UPAC, but first we had a dinner of pasta and a bottle of wine at Valerie's, an inauspicious old-school Italian place on Foxhall Avenue. I had the eggplant parmesan, not something I would normally order, and found it devastatingly delicious (if a little rich for my blood). One of the conversations we had over dinner was about whether or not Cuban exiles or American Jews distorted American foreign policy the most. I said I thought traditionally Cubans had caused greater distortion, although perhaps not under the present Bush. Then again, at this point foreign policy towards Isræl is probably distorted more by anti-rational Armageddophiles than it is by actual Jews (even of the most repulsive Neocon variety).
UPAC is an unexpected delight, a grand performance hall of the old school, complete with a massive balcony and all sorts of decorative frills. It had once been a movie theatre and (like all great architecture) been on the verge of being torn down, but, beginning in 1977, it was restored for its present use as a performance space. It's like something one sees in a major city, and I've certainly never seen a hall of such splendor in a city as small as Kingston. Unfortunately, though, the sound system in UPAC leaves much to be desired. Performers sound as if they're coming to you through a high quality AM radio. It definitely didn't help that I had great difficulty finding anything to dig in Queen Latifah's performance, which ranged from jazz to soul, two musical genres that I like considerably less than Hip-Hop, the genre where the Queen earned her title. She did a cover of "California Dreaming" (a song I love), but somehow ruined all its beautiful melancholy in her version. Perhaps this reflects racism in whatever unconscious part of my brain analyzes music in real time, but it can't be helped. Gretchen, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy most of the performance. It really brought out her inner soul sistah, and had her whooping and shouting hosannas at the stage. The crowd, I should mention, appeared to be about half black and half white, and none of the people present tonight would have been out of place at a Yo Yo Ma concert (to which Gretchen will be dragging me in a couple weeks at the same venue).
The solar panel just before being lifted.
The solar panel after being lifted. The rain had finally stopped and out had come the sun. I know, I should have at least had Gretchen take pictures of the during.
Sally being bored. She wears a bright orange collar not because of hunting season (though that is upon us again). She's been wandering around on Dug Hill Road of late and we don't want her turned into a furry frizbee.
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