Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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!

Phase Change

August 28, 2007

Nothing especially witty to say today. I’m going to mostly focus on the day’s events. But to summarize today, I must also describe some events of the prior two days.

I felt entirely miserable from Sunday afternoon through Monday evening, presumably due to food poisoning. I have a theory:

My dad called me Sunday morning in a bit of a panic. His PC wouldn’t boot due to corrupted system files. This couldn’t have come at a worse time (for him), as he was on a deadline for certain Masonic deliverables.

But I’m used to being my parent’s IT guy, so I brought my PC over there and spent a few hours getting things set up satisfactorily. Disaster averted.

During all this, Mom made me a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. Sandwich attempt #1 involved horseradish and spicy mustard. I caught this error just in time! Thus I began explaining that while that formula had been entirely satisfactory with roast beef a few days prior, the change to ham had impacted the condiment situation. This should be basic knowledge. I happen to take my ham and cheese with mayo. Sandwich #2, while seemingly correct, may have brought about my downfall. Perhaps this was some sort of karmic retribution for chastising my mother.

Mom keeps a jar of mayonnaise on hand just for me. The parents are Miracle Whip people, while I had always viewed that substance with some degree of suspicion. To me, Miracle Whip always seemed like one of those wartime scarcity foods that only the properly indoctrinated could enjoy. It’s vaguely like mayonnaise, but adds excessive amounts of sugar and paprika in a naive attempt to confuse one into not missing whichever critical mayo ingredients are being used for the war effort. I am a modern American; I will not be denied my war materiel.

Anyway, I suspect the mayo had been aged for quite some time. Mom claimed over the phone to not being able to read the expiration date on the jar. The evidence has now been eliminated, so I will likely never know the truth. This conspiracy runs deep.

Thus it was: Sunday night was thoroughly miserable and Monday was a totally down day. By this morning I had largely recovered and was finally able to go to the automatic carwash with my dad.

Julia has asked about my car, so I’ll provide the details for those interested parties. I purchased a somewhat new (it was the dealer’s demo) 2007 Infiniti G35x AWD sedan in Liquid Platinum (silver, I love car color names). So far so good; it’s a nice car.

My father is tremendously more excited about the car than I am. This is why he drove over to my place this morning so I could then drive us the three miles to the automatic carwash and get my car washed for the first time. Dad then wiped down the rear of the car a bit as I had failed to “optimize the drying cycle by distributing air evenly across the vehicle”.

My appetite finally restored, I went grocery shopping in the afternoon. I’ll talk about the overall grocery shopping vibe around here in a future installment. Anyway, I resorted to buying grocery store sushi. Yes, I know I deserve your scorn. But with enough soy and wasabi things were made bearable, perhaps even enjoyable. I really miss Bay Area food convenience.

It was shortly after returning from the grocery store that I realized my metamorphosis is beginning. I am adjusting to New Hampshire speed. The Zen-like level of relaxation is taking over. If I don’t accomplish something today, I can do it tomorrow, or the next day. New Hampshirite time perception lies somewhere between that of Silicon Valley denizens and the Inuit. I’m starting to think of time in terms of seasons. I’m seriously tripping balls without any drugs whatsoever. The Keanu says “whoa!”

Welcome to the Hotel New Hampshire?

August 12, 2007

I’ve been back in NH for about 10 days now and am just starting to have some time for myself. Before I left the Bay Area, I promised all sorts of people that I’d start a blog to chronicle my adventures. But I’m not particularly an adventure writer, so I’ll probably spend more time deconstructing the New Hampshire Experience from an expat’s point of view. My parents will not approve.