Wednesday, June 25, 2003

This morning, I noticed this item on I don't know much about Marvel Smith, but obviously the Steelers have great confidence in him if they're giving him this much money. However, this sentence in the article bothers me:

"Another key element: Despite three full seasons in the league, Smith won't turn 25 years old until August, and locking him up for six more seasons means the Steelers won't have to worry about the crucial left tackle position for a long time."

Thanks, Len. Why don't you just jinx him? For some reason, I foresee an injury-filled two seasons for Smith, after which he's released by the Steelers. I hope that doesn't happen, but I've got a bad feeling about this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Late at night, the traffic outside our apartment is beginning to annoy me. Apparently trucks aren't allowed on the FDR, so they use 1st Avenue to go uptown through Manhattan. And they all seem to do it starting around 10 PM, continuing all night. Our bedroom is far from the windows on the 1st Avenue side of the apartment, so we don't notice the noise while we're trying to sleep, but it's a big problem when we're trying to watch TV. I hope we're not bothering our downstairs neighbor by using the stereo and turning up the volume to hear the TV over the traffic. I'm also annoyed by the late-night revelers at The Gaf, the bar next door, but since it's a decent place, I can forgive them. Maybe in a few years, when I become an old man and completely anti-social, I'll get really upset.

We continue to discover great new channels on the digital TV system. Last week I watched a program about the development of the Luftwaffe's escort fighter on Discovery Wings. Last night, Ovation ran a three-hour marathon of The Phil, a late 1990s documentary on the Philharmonia orchestra in London. Late one night, VH1 Classics had a show called “The World's Fugliest Rock Stars” on the schedule, but it started at 2 AM and I had to go to bed.

We installed our air conditioner on Saturday afternoon, and now that we're finally getting some summer weather, we're happy we did. We also bought a new bed and mattress, a variety of household items at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and the new Harry Potter book. I'm about 200 pages into the last item, and it's good so far. It is far darker than the other books, and Harry's quite the moody teenager. I don't want to spoil it for anyone else, so I'll keep my other thoughts on the book to myself.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

I had to pay for the cleaning and painting of the old apartment, but now it looks fantastic, like we never lived there. I may have complained loudly about the apartment, but the truth is that we had too much furniture and junk in there, and a more creative decorator could live comfortably for years. I tried to list the apartment in my firm's daily newsletter, but they rejected the ad because we're using a broker to find a new tenant, and the firm's policy is not to print any real estate services' listings.

So I'll post my ad here.

One bedroom apartment available in heart of Greenwich Village, just off Sixth Avenue. New fixtures in bath and kitchen, large closet. Apartment has been renovated in the last four years and recently painted. Pets OK. Steps from West 4th St. subway station (A,C,E,F,V trains), five minute commute to Lower Manhattan and 10 minutes to midtown. Dozens of great restaurants and shops within walking distance, one block from Washington Square Park. Rent is $1570. Available July 1. For more information, or to see the apartment, please contact Wil Jean-Baptiste at 347-693-4973 or at

I'll add that the building is full of friendly neighbors, the apartment itself is quiet since it's in the rear of the building and far from the street noise, and it's extremely safe, even though it's on the ground floor.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I have my precious broadband back. Monday morning, the same customer service rep at Time Warner's office had no problems with giving me my self-install kit for Earthlink. The installation was about as easy as the DSL install was three years ago. I connected the splitter to the cable modem and to the cable box, ran an Ethernet cable to my laptop, and plugged in the modem. The modem ran through its setup process and once the lights were on in the correct order, I had my connection back. There was a minor snag when I disconnected my laptop and plugged in my wireless router instead. The router couldn't get an IP address because the modem had already assigned its IP address to the MAC address of my laptop. But my router has a convenient "clone MAC address" button that lets me spoof the MAC address that the modem sees. Once I did that, I got right back online. My wireless network worked right away, since I didn't have to reconfigure that. The only drawback to the entire setup is that both the cable modem and the router sit in the living room, but the desktop computer is in the office. I've had to run a network cable behind the couch, through the tiny foyer, and along the office wall to reach the PC. I still need a longer cable for the living room so I can get the wire off the floor. But at least the broadband is back.

I had to stop by the old apartment on the way home to pick up a few things the movers forgot and to take some pictures of the little damage we did to the place in four years. It's still really too small, even with all the furniture out of there. I can see how easy it would be to furnish for one person -- there are lots of creative ways to arrange things to create more space than we had. I'm just so happy to be out of there. My real estate broker says that it's been shown a few times already, and he's confident that it will rent quickly. It had better happen soon; the only thing preventing me from enjoying this new apartment to the fullest is the nagging fear that the old apartment won't rent, and that we'll be on the hook for the rent for another few months. Anyone out there looking for a cozy 1 BR in the heart of Greenwich Village?

Sunday, June 08, 2003

My day started at 5:30 AM, when Liz and I got up extra early to take the cats to the new apartment. Luckily for us, they cooperated for the most part and didn't put up too much of a fight. I left Liz alone with the cats at the new place and took the subway back to the old apartment. I finished up some unplugging and cleaning up, and waited for the movers to arrive. The Moishe's crew appeared exactly at 7:50 AM. At 8 AM they started packing all of our stuff, while I did my best to stay out of the way. They took a few coffee and smoke breaks, but even so it only took them 2 ½ hours to pack everything we owned. I took a cab to the new apartment, trying not to worry about the crew taking our stuff and disappearing while demanding more money. (I've seen too many horror stories on “Dateline.”) At 11:30 the truck pulled up in front of the new apartment. One hour of unloading later, and the movers were gone. Letting them do the packing along with the moving was the best decision we've made so far. There was no room in the old, tiny apartment for us to pack and live at the same time. And the packing would have taken us an extra week; I figured that if we're paying rent in two places for June, we might as well live in the larger one for as much of the month as possible. The only bad thing about having the movers pack everything was that they didn't label the boxes as they packed them, so we had to open every box to know where things were. But even that wasn't terrible: it was all here, just hidden away in 40+ boxes. At this point, it's 11:45 PM, and we've unpacked the entire kitchen, bathroom, and most of the clothes for the bedroom and the closets. The living room stereo equipment is still in boxes, as is my computer. Usually that's the first thing I unpack, but since I have my laptop, I don't need the PC yet. And I don't have broadband until Monday at the earliest, so I'm stuck looking for open Wifi access points in my building. (So far, I've found two, though neither one is a strong signal. But wireless networking is a fantastic, beautiful thing.) Tomorrow we'll finish the living room and start on the office. The landlord has to finish some painting in the apartment, and the plumber has to fix the drain in the bathroom sink, but by early next week it will be completely livable.

I still can't believe we're here, that we have so much space, and that we are as far along in our unpacking as we are. At 4 PM today, I was happily watching the cable guy set up my new digital connection, while Liz puttered away in the kitchen, stowing our food and cookware. Four years ago, at the same hour of the day, immediately after the move, I was in tears from the lack of sleep and the sheer amount of stuff we were trying to cram into the tiny apartment in the Village. (I'm man enough now to admit that at the time, I cried like a baby. And that Liz told me to snap out of it and get back to work.) So this time around it's a much better experience. I'm not sure we'll ever move again, this place is so amazing. We actually need to buy things to put in our spare storage areas. Is that crazy or what?

Friday, June 06, 2003

We're as packed as we can be for the big move tomorrow morning. The movers are packing our stuff as well, so we just had to clean up and unplug everything in preparing for their arrival. It's amazing the things you find when you're cleaning up almost four years' worth of detritus and assorted crap. We had several sealed glass storage jars we stowed under the kitchen sink when we moved in. I'm certain they were empty when we put them there. A few nights ago, we cleaned out the area under the sink and found the jars, two of which had water in them. One was filled almost to the top, the other about halfway. I know that the sink had been leaking; the wood panel that forms the bottom of the cabinet is warped from water damage. But how did the water get inside the sealed jars? Is it four years' worth of condensation? We may never know.

I had a fun run-in with Time Warner a few days ago. I ordered Earthlink cable Internet service instead of DSL, since we're not getting a phone line. I made the call about the Internet about 10 days ago, not sure yet when our move-in date would be. Earlier this week, when we found out the move was this Saturday, I called Time Warner to cancel the cable TV and set up an appointment for a digital cable TV install in our new apartment. At that time I mentioned the cable Internet setup, for which I was still awaiting a phone call from Time Warner to set up an installation appointment. The TW rep suggested that I go to the TW sales office on 23rd Street and pick up a self-install kit for the Internet service, so I could hook myself up once the cable TV is installed. So on Wednesday I went to the office and waited for another customer service rep to help me. That's when I found out that they couldn't give me a self-install kit, since I didn't have "active" cable service at the new apartment. Apparently you have to be "on" in their system before they hand out cable modems. I tried to argue that I'd have an active connection on Saturday afternoon, after the TV guy hooks up the TV connection, but that didn't matter on Wednesday. Also, I could have scheduled the Internet guy to come out on Saturday as well and hook that part up, but since I hadn't requested a dual install when I was on the phone with the TV rep, I was out of luck. So now I have to hope that my TV is unpacked, or at least in the apartment, when the cable guy shows up tomorrow, and that we get the TV hooked up without complications. Then I can go back to the 23rd St. office on Monday and get my cable modem. In the meantime we might be "borrowing" wireless Internet service from someone else in the neighborhood. That should be fun. I have to remind myself that I've got an entire apartment to set up, and that the Internet is not that high on the priority list for a few days.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Lots of news to report.

Liz and I are moving. The afternoon before my major network upgrade, we saw several two-bedroom apartments on the Upper East Side, none of which had the necessary space for us to consider moving into them. They all had two good-sized bedrooms, but little shared living space aside from the kitchen. With all our living room furniture, we would have had to put all our stuff into the spare bedroom, leaving us with the same situation we have now. The last apartment we saw looked the same as the others, with a big kitchen and two large bedrooms. Then we opened the door to what we thought was a closet and found out that it was another bedroom, the same size as the other two rooms. It was exactly the apartment we'd been looking for. A flurry of activity over the weekend and into the next week resulted in us signing a lease for the new apartment, beginning the process of re-renting our current apartment, and planning a move. Everything happens this Saturday starting at 8 AM, so hopefully by midafternoon we'll be unpacking all our stuff in a much larger space. We're not paying that much more for the extra room, either. Until then, it's going to be crazy around here. I'm taking a few days off to clean up the apartment and make some other arrangements, but we don't have to do the actual packing, we're letting the movers do it. Those who have seen our little apartment will agree that there isn't enough room in the place to pack and live for more than a few hours. If we packed our own stuff, by the time we were ready to move, we wouldn't be able to get to the door to let the movers in. Aside from the added room, I'm excited because we get a home office that eventually will have separate spaces for Liz's stuff and my own. My friend Carol and her husband have a two-bedroom apartment in Chicago with a home office filled with computer equipment. That's my dream, and someday, it will be a reality. For the time being, we'll have digital cable TV and Earthlink cable (instead of DSL) to occupy us.

Adding to the craziness last week was the musical for which Liz and I played in the pit orchestra. It was a production of COMPANY, by Stephen Sondheim, by the St. Vincent's Players, a group of nurses and one doctor from St. Vincent's Hospital in the Village, along with some professional actors. We got roped in by one of Liz's friends who played bassoon in the pit. We had a great time, met some cool people, and we're looking forward to playing their shows again. I'm not a big fan of Sondheim's music, but the songs for this show weren't bad. To try and keep them out of my head, I've been listening to the soundtrack of Godspell, which brings back all sorts of fond memories from Georgetown. Oh, how I pine for simpler days sometimes....