Archive for December, 2007

The Boonies… Not!

December 1, 2007

It’s become apparent during conversations over the past few months that I have inadequately described the area where I now reside. My “compound” is in Madbury, New Hampshire.

  • About 1 hour 20 minutes north of Boston.
  • About 50 minutes ENE of Manchester, NH.
  • About 1 hour 15 minutes SW of Portland, ME.

The above cities comprise the reasonable airport options. OK, but clearly not great. I keep hoping the Portsmouth International Airport (PSM, 26 minutes SE) will begin offering more flights.

The town of Madbury, NH (the only Madbury on Earth)  is something of an oddity in the area. It was originally a farming and lumbering community, and has transitioned into a bedroom community with no real consumer commercial activity or town center. There are no grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc. But Madbury is a thin wedge sandwiched between Dover (reasonable city, about 30,000 people) and Durham (University of NH). So history and geography allow Madbury to be the bedroom community that it is.

Grocery store, bank, gas station, and a few restaurants are all less than 10 minutes away. Uptown Dover/Somersworth (about 15 minutes) has reasonable, but firmly middlebrow, restaurants and shopping. Portsmouth/Newington (20-30 minutes)  offers higher end shopping and restaurants, with Portsmouth satisfying the liberal, yuppie, artsy city requirements for the region.

So, all in all, it’s not a bad situation for me. I get to have my 90+ acre backyard with open fields, wooded trails, and river, while also being within reasonable driving distance from just about anything I’d need. Mail order shopping makes up for the rest. Well, except good exotic restaurants. New Hampshire’s 97% white population has yet to truly embrace good international cuisine. I can get Mexican, Japanese, Thai, Indian, and Indonesian food here now, but none of it is really up to the standards of the better SF Bay Area places. And I’m not sure anything resembling actual Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, or Ethiopian food is available at all. The so-called Chinese restaurants here are their own food group, but they’re nothing like any of the good regional (Sichuan, Hunan, Cantonese, etc.) Chinese restaurants that I really miss from the Bay Area.

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‘Tis the Season

December 1, 2007

I’ll count today as the first genuinely cold day of the season. It’s 17 degrees now at 5pm, and the Weather Channel says “feels like” 1 degree. Anyway, it’s been clear and cold with significant wind all day long. I’ll excuse this poor excuse for weather if it actually snows a decent amount tomorrow night and Monday. They’re predicting at least some snow during that time.

Of course I can’t wait to get out there on my new snowmobile! Dad and I went snowmobile shopping a while back and picked up our new machines and trailer today. Both of us ended up settling on the same thing and same options somewhat independently. Thus we now have a matched pair of 2008 Polaris 600 IQ LX sleds. I’ll post pictures at some point.

The last couple of years have apparently been rather grim (depending on your point of view) with lack of snow. I’ve got a good feeling about this year. And if there isn’t much snow right here, there’s always my cousin’s place up in Maine.

I’ve also been having significant tractor fun with the old 1951 Ford 8N (with aftermarket hydraulic front loader). This antique has gotten a lot of actual use over the years and is still amazingly capable. My mantra these days is “the right tool makes all the difference”. Now that I’m trying to become (somewhat) handy, I’m really seeing that the right tool can mean a huge reduction in time and increase in quality.

Now if I only knew what tools I had access to around here! I’m really hesitant to buy anything new before doing serious checking around (basement, garage, barn, uncle’s place) to avoid duplicating purchases. Part of the problem is that there’s no one person who knows the entire farm inventory. The planned autumn cleaning has been postponed until spring. My agenda is probably somewhat different from my father’s, uncle’s, etc.

I’d really like to get the right bay of the garage cleaned out to be able to pour a concrete floor, insulate, and generally fix it up as a workshop. I’d also like to do some serious electrical rewiring work with the eventual aim of adding a transfer switch and generator. There’s a partial solution in place now, but I’ve got bigger dreams. I really want multiple breaker panels and automatic transfer switch rather than the single stuffed-to-the-gills panel and manual switch (for the furnace only) that’s there now.

As a final note today, I’ve decided to postpone any job search activity until this spring at the earliest. I’ve had a couple of opportunities come my way and decided to turn them down for now. For indoor fun this winter, I’ve decided to focus on some geeky networking/comms projects. I’ll probably write up some of my plans in my next blog posting, so get prepared for more boredom!