Monday, July 28, 2008

Boxes are for sleeping

There is still a bit of unpacking and organizing and optimizing to be done in other parts of the house, but in terms of actual stacks of boxes, we are down to just one final stack, in Luther's and my bedroom.



The Simplicity-cat is not, strictly speaking, allowed in our bedroom, so she has to sneak... but in the absence of any other tall stacks of boxes, she just had to get in there, clearly!



And, for perhaps no other reason than to prove (after that last photo) that I can at least sometimes take a photo that is in focus... Here's something that Luther brought home from the beach one morning:



I am reminded that we have yet to find a really good sushi restaurant here. We may have to go all the way to Tampa! That, or... fish more of these fellows out before they make it to an unhealthy beach landing.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dark Knight and paying for college

I haven't seen The Dark Knight yet. I loved Batman Begins like there was no tomorrow --it rocked. So I've been looking forward to the next installment. As usual, though, I've been avoiding reading too much of the hype.

Today I saw, via Google News, a headline that (for once) suggested not everybody loved The Dark Knight. There is, after all, a LOT of hype, and apparently a critical reception is considered unwelcome by fans. The critic in question is one David Edelstein. So I thought, "Let's see what he said about the first movie, Batman Begins."

I looked it up. Here's one of his reviews: A Dark and Stormy Knight. As much as I really dug the movie, I'd have to say I agree with his critique --and with where he praised the movie. The beauty was in the character. Well, what the hell do you do with a sequal in that case? You can't do the same thing --because then the character isn't growing. But you can't ignore the character altogether, or invent some easy new conflict, because then it's fake. How do you inject the same kind of emotional realism?

I am guessing The Dark Knight failed. And for me, a crazy bad guy doesn't make a movie. (I will note that I understand others will love it. Lots of people are enamored of crazy bad guys. Great.) I look forward to seeing it, nonetheless.

In the meantime, Luther and I are navigating the world of student finances. Wil starts college in August, and we are paying. Heck, we're paying through the NOSE. Florida is quite strict about residency --not surprising, really, given the number of people who could claim to be residents based on a grandparent or real estate investment. You have to be able to prove you've lived here for a full year before you will be allowed to pay the regular in-state tuition. We moved here in the spring, and we're going to have to pay out-of-state tuition. Wil's first year is going to cost about three times what his second year will cost, isn't that nice?

It is an interesting process. We are leaving no stone un-turned. We are recognizing what a boon this would be to somebody who had nothing (we're not eligible for grants and "forgivenesses" and so forth, because despite being broke as hell, we have too much... but others are not so fortunate as we). I am really freaked about how probably most truly poor people never learn of all these opportunities that are available to them, however. I know from experience that the less you have, the less people talk to you. There's money there, for somebody that is willing to really commit to education. But boy oh boy, it's all phrased in language that is inaccessible to those who don't already have that education. Watching Wil stare blankly at some of this crap is only a reminder --he already knows more than most.

What we'll be doing is taking out student loans, which Luther and I will later pay. I get to defer my panic about my own lack of any kind of retirement plan. Well, actually, it's fine: The plan remains the same. I must die first. That is all.

Life. She continues to be amusing.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Wetwork

Here we are in July already, and Luther's son is due to join us in just a few days. This means the pressure is on, now, to get some non-functional things functional. This includes somewhat unfortunate changes to one of the nicest rooms in the house: the main bathroom. This lovely little house has been perfectly set up for a couple whose children are grown up and out, and in Luther's case the "up and out" is only 50% complete at this time. The other 50%... is going to need to take a shower now and then, and the beautiful main bathroom is only set up for baths.

Normally, not a big deal. Who hasn't added a shower head to a bath before?! But in this case, there's also NO TILE. Yup, that's right. Oh yes, and there's the added factor that our old house still hasn't sold... so money is even tighter than usual.


Nice, isn't it?

Because of the window, we had already decided not to tile. We'd thought about covering the whole thing with one of those fiberglass surrounds, as ugly as they are, "for the time being"... but this would be a custom job and even if we did the work ourselves, not cheap. So I ordered a shower curtain ring from a shop in Ohio, with the idea that we'd just run a curtain the whole way around. That'll work!

Except...

Except there's still going to be water hitting the wall behind the tap. We insist on having shower handsets, and everybody who'll be living here is used to being able to use that feature, so it won't just be random spray that hits the wall, but also dripping hands reaching for the shower head. That wall is just going to get wet. Ultimately, I think the right thing will be to tile that wall and corner, in something nice that matches the minimal tile in the rest of the room. Curtains can be draped aside artfully when the room is not regularly being used for showers, and then they'll hang down again for showers, with the tile wall where water is likely to strike. Right now, though, there's no time and no money for a tiling job.

What to do? We thought about waterproof paint, but such a thing doesn't appear to exist, at least not for applying over existing paint on sheetrock (or whatever is under there - I'm ignorant of such things). And we could get a really cheap plastic surround kit and just put up part of it... but the cheaper they get, the uglier they get, and I don't know that we can bring ourselves to do it.

Other projects are underway. This weekend I did a whole "killdisk" thing on our old desktop machine, so that today or tomorrow I can figure out where to take it to sell or donate. We don't need it and frankly don't have anywhere to put it in this new house! And I also somewhat refurbished my old, old laptop so that it can act as our "legacy machine"--because we've had occasions where our work called for older versions of software, or at least being able to build screensnaps for teaching somebody with older software how to do something. The little laptop can stay tucked away, with just a little footprint, only to be pulled out when needed.

It may also be a handy Internet-access station for guests (hint, hint), provided they're patient with the slow machine.

We're also making some changes to what will be Wil's room. It is a really cool room in what used to be a carport or garage, and one whole wall is closets. Right now, the wide center section is set up with a wire clothes-closet system. We're putting a clothes rod in one of the side sections, so that both sides will be the clothes closets and the center section... can become Wil's "entertainment station." We'll run power into it, and he can set up his TV and all of his game systems and games, and then hopefully when he's not using them, he'll actually be able to close the doors and have the room almost instantly in order again. We'll see how that goes...

...but you can see, at least, that we're not getting a lot of help from Simplicity, who has discovered the little study nook in the corner of the room.