What I did this rainy weekend

Installed a dishwasher.
The dishwasher that came with the house had a habit of peeing rusty water on the floor; our new Kenmore has been sitting in the garage for weeks waiting for inspiration. Which struck on a rainy Saturday morning; Kate watched the baby and I lay on the floor and cursed and groaned trying to get thick-walled half-inch copper supply piping to meet up with the brass inlet tube. Any analogy I’ve made previously about computer programming being like plumbing (skilled job, paid by the hour, experience counts in the details)? Yeah, I take that back. Plumbing is WAY harder. Code stays where you put it, unlike @#$@@$ thick-walled half-inch copper supply piping, which laughs at the sweat-slippery thumb pressure of mere mortals. Works now, though.

Built an AM transmitter for the Guerilla Drive-In.
I’d love to claim 100 Geek Points for doing this, but it’s really more of a seven-and-a-half-geek-point job; I built it from a very complete kit that I ordered from Antique Electronics Supply after my store-bought FM transmitter turned out to be a flop.

According to Baldwin family legend, my great-grandfather sold pressure cookers during Prohibition, along with lengths of copper pipe and explicit instructions about what NOT to do lest you find yourself in possession of a small and eficient gin still (unsurprisingly, his pressure cookers sold so well that the Chicago mob muscled in and forced him out of business.) Along the same lines, the instructions of the K-488 AM Transmitter kit explicitly advise me not to use a transmitting antenna longer than six inches, or I’ll be in violation of FCC guidelines. See, that’s the beauty of a kit, now. Honey, where do we keep the juniper berries?

Discovered a whole new level of goofy German irony.
AM transmitter kits are used by antique radio enthusiasts to send audio from their computer to their old Art Deco recievers (in fact, my transmitter tube appears to have been made in Argentina in the 1930s, so obviously it was intended for use by spies in evening wear.) So it’s kind of fitting that I discovered Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester yesterday. The Palast Orchester is a German twenties-revival band that has been covering old pop songs in the wavering falsetto delivery you associate with stratchy montages of cocktail shakers and tommy guns. My favorite right now is the cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, with a clarinet section standing in for the boom-boom clap baseline that used to shake the back of the schoolbus on the way to track meets. (Reedy voice, German accent: “…gonna make a big n-o-o-o-o-ise someday!”) I’m just disappointed I didn’t find out about this sooner.

In other weekend news, Lydia, that encyclo-pidia, now will repeat words back: “Uh-oh! Night night! Bellybutton! Damn!” (whoops, gotta keep her out of the room when I’m installing dishwashers), and continues to double in intelligence, in personality, and in cuteness in an alarming, geometrical, and overwhelmingly wonderful fashion. If you take a shower, Lydia will stick her head under the curtain, just to be sociable, and will look around in an interested manner at the soaps.

If you take her to Ikea (as we did on Sunday, which Kate may write about), she will wave her hand and deliver a bright, chirpy “hi!” to all the passers-by. Then she will fall asleep in the sling, resting her little baby head on your shoulder in a way that will make passers-by weak in the knees from the Power of Cute. Seriously, in humility: blogging is great for bragging about your nerd kit made from nazi spy parts or whatever, and the latest flavor of nerd rock you just found, and that’s fun, but how do you compare it with the act of MAKING A PERSON, a person who to all appearances bids fair to be smarter, sunnier, and better-looking than you, and how do you explain how happy, proud, delighted, lucky, and excited that makes you feel?

Well, I suppose you gush, which is what I’m doing here. And then you go buy the mama, who actually, you know, assembled the baby, some kind of diamond bracelet so big that she’ll have to walk with a crutch. You hear me, honey? A crutch!

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4 responses to “What I did this rainy weekend”

  1. Ouch! That is not a context in which I want to be known as the “master of illusion.” I’m trying to save that for the eight-year-old across the street, and his his belief that I control the laws of space and time (at least as they apply to the ability to pass fifty-cent pieces through solid objects.) Not my inability to deliver diamond bracelets of crippling bulk.


  2. That wasn’t meant as a dig, I mean, there’s also the fact that I don’t really have anywhere to wear a diamond bracelet like that. They might start charging me double at Burger King.


  3. In college I told David I would someday love a tennis bracelet. A few days later he bought one of those horrible gold chains (you know the kind you buy by the inch off those giant spools at flea markets) and strung 4 tennis balls on it. He left it on my dorm room pillow. You had to admire the ingenuity, six years later I married him – 12 years later I got the real thing.


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