pyramid of cupcakes
Saturday, March 15 2008
Nancy, of Ray and Nancy, was having her birthday Upstate this weekend. She, Ray, her sister, brother-in-law, and a friend had rented a house near Saugerties for the weekend, and tonight we met them for dinner at the Garden Café in Woodstock. Gretchen had baked a pyramid of cupcakes that had collapsed irreparably in transit, but they were still perfectly edible and it was still possible to shoo some (though not much) of the entropy away.
Penny and David showed up, two bottles of wine were drunk and we all chipped in to buy more (it was the first time since Charlottesville that I'd been at a situation where an alcohol run was funded entirely by the contribution spare singles from numerous separate wallets).
Penny told me about an entirely theoretical survival class she and David had attended this afternoon at Mohonk. Among other things, today she was introduced to the idea of a survival kit that will fit entirely within a mint tin.
And then I overheard Jill, the one person at our table who I didn't know very well, explaining to someone at our table that she used to be the "sex editor" for (and at this point I assumed she was going to mention some magazine or perhaps a hip website) "College Club." That's right, she used to be an editor for that doomed dot com I worked for back when I lived in San Diego. I was taken aback how casually she'd mentioned it; usually when I utter the phrase "College Club," I'm careful to give the impression that I'm embarrassed to have had anything to do with anything with such a ridiculous name, and that's even before going on to explain that the place was run like Jonestown.
Jill had actually taken the job several months after I'd been fired, well after the volatile Michæl Pousti was ousted and College Club's IPO dreams fizzled out. Jill did, however, know a number of people I'd worked with, particularly John Styn, "Sherms," Bennett, and of course Al Smith. She characterized her time at College Club (and in San Diego generally) as "great." This was because, unlike most at College Club, she had never expected College Club to go public and make her a zillionaire. She'd come to College Club as part of its acquisition of Student Advantage, a vanquished competitor from the early years of the college-oriented web portal showdown.
Back at the house I hooked up my new wood stove pedestal wiring to the electrical connections available in the basement ceiling fan which I'd reached through my various floor perforations. But when I flipped on the circuit breaker it triggered immediately, indicating a short somewhere. After much testing I found what the problem was. There were no neutrals available in the ceiling fan's electrical box! But there was an always-on hot wire, a ground, and two switched neutrals that were part of a circuit allowing the fan (and light) to be controlled from two different SPDT switches. (For some reason whoever did the wiring in our house decided to switch neutrals, not hot wires. This means that light sockets are always hot, even if the switches controlling them are off.) I decided that the only solution to this problem was to scrap the dual-switching arrangement so I could use one of the wires as an unswitched neutral, thereby providing a neutral to my outlets in the room above. Doing this would liberate a few additional wires, and I'd have enough to provide separate switches for the fan and the light (and be able to abandon the white-fobbed pullchains, which have always struck me as just a wee bit white trash).
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