Monthly Archives: July 2008


This summer I’ve remembered, in various places, some of the gifts my Dad gave me. When both of Margaret’s Tevas spontaneously fell apart, I recalled his reading “The Deacon’s Masterpiece” to me. When the Carter Family came up on the iPod, I remembered his playing the ukelele and singing “Worried Man Blues.” Then later on, a radio show (perhaps American Routes, perhaps Back Porch Music) played another song he used to sing. It wasn’t “The Fox Went Out On A Chilly Night,” but it was something like that.
As I was clearing up my work table at the townhouse, I uncovered a Christmas card Dad sent us. He won’t send any more, but we’ll be receiving gifts from him as long as I hear and remember.

Framingham Revisited

We closed up the Princeton townhouse this morning, said goodbye to Jennifer (who headed back to NYC), said goodbye to Clare (who handed down to Margaret her [Clare’s] grandfather’s doctoral robes from Duke), and rolled out for a leisurely trip to Framingham. As we pulled into the Red Roof, I had a flashback — “We’ve been here before!” — but I got over it, and we’ll probably take it pretty easy for the rest of the evening. So far, so safe.

Not Forgotten

Just mostly offline. Jennifer’s here, we’re meeting Princeton friends to say goodbye, we’re struggling with the need to clean out the townhouse (and not making headway as fast as we’d like). All will be well.

Catching A Wave

We’re leeching wifi from our friends — here are some pictures I wanted to send along:


Bea was wiggling so furiously that there was no chance of getting a clear image in the hospital lobby.
The Bulls game last night was a satisfying win for the home team. It was my first trip to the new Durham Bulls Athletic Park — the replacement for the Durham Athletic Park made famous in Bull Durham. At one game, the outfield Bull prop did its routine, eyes flashing red and steam shooting from its snout, and scared the living daylights out of a young Nate Adam. Last night, a new simulacrum of the old Bull (itself added just for the film) scared the bejeebers out of our friend Luke Musser — in keeping with an honorable tradition, now.

Smoke and Eyes

Oh, and we have reached the conclusion that I have plantar fasciitis in my left foot (a physician friend concurs) — explaining the persistent pain in my heel. It’s unpleasant, but it’s not as bad as some of the alternatives I imagined.

Don’t Call Us, We’ll Walk Around Till We Get A Signal

Our new home is in the heart of Durham; it’s urban-without-skyscrapers, in a city that’s part of a high-tech triad of municipalities, adjacent to a university campus that has a long-standing cordial relation to Apple. Our AT&T coverage map shows us in the middle of the “best” signal strength, and they even submit that this neighborhood benefits from 3G service. We are perplexed to discover, then, that our cell phones report “No Service.” That’s none — not even the faint cup-and-thread signal that we usually got in a rural area of Princeton.
As we read further, it turns out that the coverage map is not meant actually to reflect the map “may include areas served by unaffiliated carriers, and may depict their licensed area rather than an approximation of their coverage [my emphasis]. Actual coverage area may differ substantially from map graphics [my emphasis, again], and coverage may be affected by such things as terrain, weather, foliage, buildings and other construction, signal strength, customer equipment and other factors.” Well, I knew that architectural features and terrain matter, but this house rests out in the open, not folded into the valleys that hide outer Princeton from cell towers. And since architecture does matter, we tried our phones down the road at Clay and Sarah’s house, and we got no signal there, either.
Last trip to Durham, I don’t remember having been shut out, so this may be a transitory effect. We hope. But getting no signal at all from our contracted carrier would make this a very large headache.

Landed Safely

Got up early, saw Jennifer to the Dinky, drove drove drove to Durham, arrived at about 4:30, reveling in a visit with Sarah and Luke and Anna.
Our AT&T mobile phone coverage in Durham is atrocious.
These are the headlines; full coverage later.

Packing In Princeton

Not content with relocating from Evanston to Durham, Margaret and I are now (with Jennifer’s generous assistance) getting set to relocate from Princeton to Durham, too. We’ve gotten much of the Princeton-stuff into the rental van, and we’ll make this move sometime tomorrow.
Of course, that’s not the end of the story; we’ll stop back in Princeton for a few days next week, and we have to go to Maine to fetch our young one — but every stage gets us a little closer to done.
We did bring Beatrice back from the animal hospital last night. You”d never guess from her behavior that anything was wrong at all. The vets suggested that they emetic got the gum out of her system fast enough, but I just think she’s got a streak of supernatural durability in her: Beatrice, the Rasputin of Bichon Frisés.

Hard Job Harder

Keeping a clear email inbox is much more challenging when you only have a few hours of connectivity per day.
On a more humorous note, the topic of olive oil has provoked many tired jokes, but I still think that someone in the McCaffrey’s sign-making department must have seen this grocery sale as an opportunity to invite a new twist on the clichés:

Your Caption Here

Piling On

Our writing and packing plans went a little awry yesterday as Beatrice nosed her way into Jennifer’s purse, and found a package of Orbit gum (up till now, the official chewing gum of the gum-chewers in our family). Bea scoffed down seven to ten chunks of gum before we noticed and stopped her, but since Orbit is sweetened with Xylitol, we had to take Bea to the New Jersey equivalent of Animal 911 (yes, this is the same dog that ate two blocks of Mexican drinking chocolate almost exactly two years ago).
Xylitol evidently can throw a dog’s blood sugar off, so we raced the hour to our nearest all-night emergency room, and Dr. Motley induced her to regurgitate the gum, we called the Animal Poison Control Center, and left Bea at the clinic overnight. ( The staff at VSDS were all very helpful, solicitous, and professional — we recommend them highly, though we would prefer that you not need their help.)
This morning, the doc reported that her blood sugar is all right, and they just need to keep her another twelve hours to check her blood for signs of liver damage. This is all very good news, and though we’re vexed that Bea persists in eating stuff that’ll kill her, we rejoice that she seems to be recovering satisfactorily, and we’ll probably have her home tonight.

More Goodies

The developers and e-scribes at Logos Bible software have been very hard at work. A few days ago, Kent Hendricks called my attention to a Logos-compatible version of Migne’s Patrologia in preparation; in looking into that, I noticed that they have an alpha version of their software available for Mac OS X; and now, they’ve begun working on a digital version of the works of Francis J. Hall. This is all very good news.
Since they’ve not produced a Mac-friendly version to this point, I’m not conversant with Logos products. They have a strong positive reputation among the scholars I know, but I can’t speak to the software from first-hand experience. I will note, though, that all of these are rather pricey — not unfairly so relative to the labor that Logos has put into producing them, and their integration into a system that affords digital access to many other works should be applauded — but I don’t have that money, and if I did I’d probably expand and upgrade my Accordance software holdings.
The cost of Logos packages brings to mind another e-book phenomenon, the proliferation of books available in iPhone-friendly formats. Most of the reviews express something short of wild enthusiasm; the tables of contents aren’t always complete, or the searching capacity is (allegedly) unsatisfactory. One of the problems seems to be that the present organization of the App Store requires that a software offering be an “application,” not a readable file. Surely it’s more efficient for Apple or a third party to offer a straightforward PDF reader than to make each individual text file include its own tagging, searching, hyperlinking apparatus. Second, though, the interests of writers and readers are both best served if a simple, non-specific publishing format could make transferable enhanced-text files readable on iPhones and other pocketable devices. (I know the App Store offers several ebook readers; I haven’t detected one that permits easy construction of one’s own “book” files, or that doesn’t elicit testimony decrying various important bugs).
In other words, good as the Logos project and the ebook section of the App Store may be, they’re still interposed between the actual capacities of digital publishing and a future in which author/publishers can readily produce well-formatted independent books, zines, tracts, comics, or what you will. I remain convinced that such a future lies near at hand — an adept developer who can marshal the iPhone SDK to produce a portable version of Preview, for instance, might provide all the impetus that future needs to leap over the obstacles that today’s mediators impose.
(I don’t say anything about the Kindle here. It’s because I don’t know enough to comment productively. I’m sympathetic to Mark Pilgrim’s concise skepticism, but also to the positive responses of bloggers like Shelley and David whose judgment I trust. I’ve asked Amazon if they might lend me a review unit, since I’ll be giving a presentation on this topic in September and I’d be sure to discuss the Kindle at that symposium if I had the chance to fiddle with one. But I haven’t heard back from them; I suspect that they, understandably, don’t account me sufficiently buzzworthy to let me test-drive their device. If Kindle users have feedback that would illumine my murky perspective, please don’t hold back!)