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Subject:In case you're curious about the engineer mindset.
Time:03:17 pm
I've got a "wood stove insert" for my fireplace. It's basically a box that retains heat, makes sure all the smoke goes in the right direction, burns everything more cleanly, and has a fan to circulate air around the firebox and out into the room. It's my second one, and while I like it better partly for the transparent window in the door (so I can watch "fire TV") I also like the fact that the fan is controlled by a thermostat, so I can just leave it on after I head to bed.

The only bummer is that even with the more open front section of the house, the rear of the house doesn't get nearly as much of the heat generated, and tends to cool way off the longer I run the stove. Even turning on the HVAC fan to circulate the air doesn't really help much, as all the vents (intake and output) for the HVAC are at floor level.

I thought about various options for a long time, and then realized that if I cut a hole in the wall to the left of the fireplace, I'd be looking straight down the hall to the back of the house. I got a register booster fan and installed it at the top of the wall, blowing into the hallway towards the back of the house. We tried it out last night, and the change was pretty spectacular. The additional fan noise doesn't even rise above the wood stove insert fan noise.

This is engineering, though, so clearly that's nowhere near enough fiddling. I've checked the wiring diagram of the wood stove insert, and it's pretty clear where I can tap into the circuit to get a thermostatically controlled outlet that I can plug the booster fan into. That way it'll all operate automatically whenever I build a fire. I'll just need to figure out a sensible way to route the wire and it'll be perfect.

Well, not perfect. But close enough for me to stop messing with it.

Probably.
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Subject:"Midtown" it ain't.
Time:01:36 pm
Kader's is moving. They're moving to Cary Town(e) Center, which is certainly a big step up for them and technically closer to me but sometimes that bridge over I-40 seems a little insurmountable, mentally. It's like a whole different city over there. I think they're going to be near one of the anchor stores. We'll see what March brings.

There's also a Costco moving in marginally closer. If anything, it'll take the load off the current one on Wake Forest Road, which we patronize rather regularly. Driving back from that, Laurie and I talked about rumors that Cary Town(e) Center is going to undergo a North Hills style redevelopment (so, essentially a total teardown and rebuild with lots of open private space that masquerades as a public square). We'll see.

But, "Midtown" just doesn't work for me as a name, and I've finally figured out why. There's a complete lack of decent public transportation and its attendant pedestrian affordances. Sure, if there was a subway, light rail, or more regular/reliable bus transit between the city center and various local focii (Cameron Park, Crabtree Valley, North Hills, Five Points, etc.), then maybe the concept of "Midtown" would fly.

As it is, they're just various points on a map best traversed by car. "Midtown" implies a larger urban infrastructure that Raleigh just doesn't have, and doesn't seem to have the will to build (yet). Trust me, I'd love to see that. I might even stop calling that area "North Hills" as a result.
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Subject:Great Cover Up - Saturday (Day 3)
Time:04:53 pm
I did not go out to eat tonight, partly because I had dinner at home and also partly because I spent as much of Saturday as I could asleep. After I finish typing this, I will dip into a vat of Cosmoline and regenerate for a week.

I rolled up at 7:40p to a line already halfway to the corner. Ten minutes later it was around the corner and halfway down the block. Twenty minutes later they were letting us in. Ten minutes before that it had started raining. Time is hard. I got a little damp, but I also got beer pretty quickly and was staked out near the front this time despite the fact that some dude entreated me to "walk up the side of the room" like this was the DPAC or something.

Starting out the night, fresh out of his pine box, was Waylon Jennings (cue Carol (Cheryl?) screaming "Outlaw Country!"). The wigs were almost subtle and the rest of the outfits were choice! Also good vocal work from the lead to really sound like Waylon. The setlist included "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line" (a title that urges me to explore the subtle themes of alternative sexuality present in country music), "Are You Ready for the Country", "Lonesome, On'ry And Mean", "There Ain't No Good Chain Gang", "Luckenbach, Texas", and one more I didn't quite catch. Good horn section, understated but perfect lead guitar, cool between song banter. Yes.

When The Cramps took the stage, one problem was GLARINGLY APPARENT. Lux Interior was NOT wearing red, high-heeled pumps. Well, I soldiered on. They did, too, but there was no hope in Hell of me determining the names of any of the songs they expertly lurched and growled through. Lots of dirty sexy fun.

So the dad-joke I have about the Arctic Monkeys is that the only reason I knew they were a real band and not something the kids made up to troll me is that autocorrect suggested "Monkeys" as the next word (autosuggest?) after I typed "Arctic". Sporting the crisp look of an early 2k British rock band, they did a bunch of songs I wasn't able to grab a lyric from to look up on the internet so I could get you a song title. They all rocked out skilfully, but the drummer was clearly having the best time.

Of course, making a dad-joke caused everyone to be subjected to that colossus of dad-rock, Wings. The stage got crowded with guitars, keyboards, horns, and in one case a Tricorn-ed war drummer. Despite holding the guitar wrong (well, right, but this is Paul we're talking about so you have to hold it the other way or you're wrong), they dad-rocked it out with "Getting Closer", "Let 'em In", "Let Me Roll It", "Band on the Run", and "Jet". This will not teach me to make dad jokes anymore, but I did have to repay someone with beer.

From dad-rock to more dead-rock, Stone Temple Pilots showed up next. This brings up important questions about what you do when something like this happens, given that they almost had to be practicing this before Weiland passed. I'm glad they stuck to it. Shirtless Scott was also reportedly an excellent choice. Solid drumming drove the setlist: "Wicked Garden", "Meatplow", "Interstate Love Song", "Crackerman", and "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart". Bold choice, not doing "Plush", but they pulled it off.

Up next was something I'd been looking forward to for years without even knowing it. Detroit proto-progressive-punk rockers MC5 took the whole room and not just the stage. I couldn't figure out the first song, but they followed with "Kick Out the Jams", "Sister Anne", and "Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa". I had a hard time comprehending how these songs could be all long jams and fast jams and sweet technical jams, but somehow it happened. Nice fro, too.

An almost incomprehensible number and variety of blond wigs adorned Def Leppard as they took the stage to launch their new sound for the eighties! How this differed from their old sound is up for debate, but like most things about the eighties we can probably blame synthesizers. Wigs can be easy to come by, but I was truly amazed at the stonewashed jeans on display. Where can you find those now? I have the utmost respect and compassion for the lead singer putting his vocal cords through the torturous stylings of Joe Elliot. That... looks painful. Junior High nostalgia was expertly activated with "Animal", "Love Bites", "Pour Some Sugar On Me", and "Hysteria".

Rounding out the week and the night was early and skinny Billy Idol, showing a commitment to reality by bleaching his own hair and cutting it into a rattail; completing the look with wristbands and everything. But the rest of the band had stellar costume choices as well, straight out of the 1983 MTV video costuming vault. They (as well as I) looked a little perplexed as several (empty) beer cans started flying stageward, but they pushed bravely and fiercely through "White Wedding", "Eyes Without a Face", "Cradle of Love", and really hitting their stride on "Rebel Yell" to close the set.

I slipped out quickly with a friend to the renovated Waffle House on Hillsborough Street, only to find that they were out of onions so "Smothered" wasn't an option for my hash browns. Somehow I survived this slight, had breakfast and tucked into bed. By next year, I will have forgotten this exhaustion I feel and be ready for this again!
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Subject:Great Cover Up - Friday (Day 2)
Time:05:50 pm
Friday found me again at The Borough simply because I had actually scheduled two dinners earlier in the month with the same destination and didn't think about it. This time we got to Kings and the line was almost to the corner and quickly wrapped around before we made it to the door. We got in, though, and found a secret spot at the back and tried to avoid the crushing crowd a little.

The Pixies started off the night and led with (of course) "Debaser". They sounded just a tiny bit rough, but that's exactly how you want the Pixies to roll. Gritty, tough, and earnest, they chugged through "Tame", "Wave of Mutilation", "Monkey Gone to Heaven", "Hey", "Gouge Away", and finishing off with "Where is my Mind". The crowd hadn't quite warmed up to rock, which was a little unfortunate.

The Magnetic Fields was next, which was super awesome and had a stage stuffed with all the right instruments. Still probably not going to get people dancing, though! The lead singer had the voice to drop all the way down into Merrit's range, and rest of the crew skillfully slid through "The Death Of Ferdinand De Saussure", "A Chicken With It's Head Cut Off", "All My Little Words", "Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side", "The Night You Can't Remember", and "I Think I Need A New Heart", and maybe one more. Typing that, it seems like all the 'Fields' songs are love songs, and not just that one album.

Up next was a gender-swapped Taylor Swift looking and sounding more like Henry Rollins, which seemed a little undercooked as these things go, but with a dude looking like Corey Hart on the keyboards how can you go wrong? "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was followed quickly by "Shake It Off" with a new Beastie Boys vs. Public Enemy rap breakdown, then "22", "Style", and "Blank Space". I think "Style" was pulling the bass line from "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?", but that might just be wishful thinking.

The dark, robe vestments led a few people to think we were going to get Sunn O))), but no, it was The Monks; a band which at least one person had heard of because they got super-excited. Here's a band where "undercooked" is the style. Chunky 60's style avant-garde garage punk is the best way to describe it, and just as I was really really really starting to grok it, it was over. Way too soon.

Now THIS was 4AD, no... wait.. My bloody Valentine eventually signed to Sony. OH WELL. With a strobe on the drummer and the most pedals of any of the acts so far, the tide rolled in with a deep wash of thick fuzzy guitars. I couldn't really pick out lyrics and didn't really know any of the song titles but I found an old cassette tape than an ex had given me with the exact same song order in my '91 Civic. Here's what it says: "Song for an angry partner", "Song for sexy times", "Song for cooking waffles and making coffee (sunny day)", "Late night road trip song", "Maybe more sexy times?". I hope this helps.

Up next, with the best hair, was a band entirely comprised of different Alanis Morrisettes. The singer with the absolute perfect voice for this was backed by a band that sounded like they'd practiced all year. When (singer) Alanis whipped out the harmonica, the crowd went nuts. Only four songs here: "You Oughta Know", "Head Over Feet", "Hand In My Pocket", and of course ended with a song that redefined the word in Wikipedia: "Ironic". Yes, everyone sang along, and if you didn't you probably should have.

One of the harder things about an artist like Madonna is the fact that it's 80-90% studio production work, and so doing it live usually involves either a bus full of musicians or a DAT behind you. That's why I was SUPER-IMPRESSED by these folks. Careful arrangement - and, again, a spectacular lead singer with a great voice - made this actually work. "Like a Prayer", "Like a Virgin", "Express Yourself", and "Vogue" comprised the set. Also a cute Gautier corset costume.

Rounding out the night was Iron maiden. The same band from a few years ago, but now with a New! Dynamic! Male! Vocalist! I don't think they could have crammed another guitar on stage if they'd tried, but they sorta looked like they wanted to try even though the songs were crisp and relentless. The crew was rounded out by a straight-jacketed Eddie doing as munch menacing as you can do in a straight jacket. The set started with "Aces High", then went though "The Prisoner", "Wasted Years", one I couldn't figure out, and "The Clairvoyant".

I slipped out as quickly as I could in an attempt to get a headstart on fixing my sleep deficit, only to work until 3a to take advantage of an empty computer cluster. One day I will learn!
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Subject:Great Cover Up - Thursday (Day 1)
Time:02:36 pm
This time I actually had a real meal with my wife and other wonderful associates at The Borough before heading over to the show. A smattering of people waited outside just before the doors opened at 8p. We made it in and started the tab and got rooted to the correct spots. It wasn't long before the music started.

When rockers of a certain age play, you get to do the "Is that a sweatband or carpal tunnel brace?" game. This band was Face To Face, whom I've never heard before so you're not getting any song titles from me, but the internet tells me they're a 90's poppy punk band from California and they played that role to the hilt with a rock solid drummer and wide glaring sincerity that was not going to be topped until slightly later in the evening.

When Slowdive took the stage in all black with shaggy black hair that might have been wigs but only their hairdresser knows for sure I was thinking "This. This is 4AD". But no, they were signed to the majors after all. Here again I don't remember any song titles, but they had the staring-at-the-floor-swaying-wash-of-guitars thing down pat. It was yet another moment where I thought "Hey, I should have crimped my eyelashes and put on liner", which means that the makeup (heh) of the bands this year was trending towards my just-post-highschool days.

Rod Stewart came out next and promptly started forgetting the lines to "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" (the refrain, reader. The refrain.) However, an ex-roadie friend standing next to me said that was par for the course for Rod Stewart actual, so I'm going to call it intentional and good (needs a few not-so-subtle nose wipes to complete the look). The band, however was tight and solid, and sailed through others like "Tonight's The Night" and "Hot Legs".

Next up was Green Day, fully rocking the black eyeliner, angry sneer, and audience abuse. It is more than a little vertiguous seeing someone you're used to roughly treating a table full of synthesizers wrench a punk guitar around stage but it is also super neat. Songs included "Basket Case", "When I Come Around", "Longview", and some others I can't remember or identify.

My wife is super bummed she missed Cheap Trick, but them's the breaks! These were the best costumes so far, right down to the Neilsen's bowtie, baseball cap and bouncing, and Bun E.'s sunglasses, cigarette, and disdain. It was clear - SUPER clear - they'd looked at a lot of pictures and watched a lot of videos. They started with "Hello There", and the rest included "Surrender", "Anytime", "I Want You To Want Me". Ridiculously good lead guitar.

There were an awful lot of beards on stage for it to be Men At Work, but Men At Work it was. "Who Can It Be Now?" is nothing without a saxophone, and fortunately there was a good one on stage! There was good costuming and and accent work to take the band through "It's a Mistake", "Day After Day", and "Land Down Under" (in which the saxophone served as the flute and that worked out just fine thank you). It _did_ make me want to investigate possible ska influences on Men At Work, but that's for another day.

Rounding out tonight was DJ Castro backing up a trio of dudes doing the Beastie Boys. You may remember DJ Castro from when he did Justin Timberlake back in 2006, and here he lended his turtablist skills to the dressed-in-full-late-80's-era-style Beasties. Probably one of the hardest things to do for this band is say only the lines that you're supposed to. These guys had it handled for "Shake Your Rump", "Paul Revere", "Pass the Mic", and "Sure Shot". There may have another, but there was also beer. They also threatened "Jimmy James", in a cute tip back to Cheap Trick.

Waving down a cab on Thursday was much easier than I expected, and I got out of there and home in hopes of being coherent enough to make it through Friday.
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Subject:Great Cover Up - Wednesday (bonus day!)
Time:01:23 pm
Sorry these are late, kids! I'm just now catching up on a sleep deficit I've been expanding since Wednesday. Of course you knew I'd be down for the bonus day. You don't even need to tempt me with a coupon. A bonus day! At the beginning! I was walking up the stairs at a hair after eight and not even the first person there.

It's been since about 2006 since I've seen TV Man and his TV Band, and I will tell you that TV theme songs fill me with a combination of nostalgia, and ambivalence! But I've grown to love the idea of zipping through a bunch of 30-second serotonin pokes. There were updates! But are they really TV theme songs if they're only available on cable? I got a kick out of the "Cheers" end credits theme when someone (in the audience?) meowed and I had JUST NOW gotten "Too Many Cooks" out of my head when of course these folks brought it roaring back. Other themes: Game of Thrones, True Detective, JEM, Laverne and Shirley, Cheers (opening theme), Friends (yes, I clapped).

If you're going to do Elton John you're going to need a decent piano, a sweet group of strings, and a solid costume that includes glasses and shoes. They stuck to the hits: Tiny Dancer, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Rocket Man, Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting. It looked like Elton practiced that piano sustain pedal with the heels because that shit could not have been easy.

Bill Withers caused a heavy split between my friends. There's no denying that musicianship was solid (especially the keyboards), and the song choice was right on (Ain't No Sunshine, Kissing My Love. Just The Two Of Us, ending with Lean On Me), but why wasn't everyone signing along with "Lean On Me"? Maybe more audience interaction?

There is a fine line between earnest Morrissey and parody Morrissey, and The Smiths gingerly walked that line all the way through their set. This, of course, was equal parts adorable and hysterical, with an almost totally unbuttoned Morrissey twirling and vamping through a delightful set including This Charming Man, Big Mouth Strikes Again, How Soon is Now?, and There is a Light That Never Goes Out.

Pasty Cline marks the first time I've ever had an advance clue about a band performing at the Great Cover Up. I usually try to avoid any information, but this one came out of nowhere and so I knew _what_ but not _when_. Every goth girl I dated in college had a Patsy Cline album, and while the whole "women are crazy" trope is some patriarchal BS they all loved this song, too so I'm glad this crew opened with that. This was followed by Seven Lonely Days,Tra Le La Le La Triangle, and Walking After Midnight. The costumes, wigs, and the triangle on "Triangle" were super on point and I do believe fringe is going to come back.

Post show was spent wearing out my welcome at the soon to be gone Borough while a friend and I snacked on brownies and coffee.
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Subject:Dream Journal
Time:09:22 am
So I'm in my house, but of course it's not my house because my parents are there having a going away party for my friend H_, who has moved here temporarily but is moving back to where she came from because it doesn't make sense financially. She's wearing black and white pajamas that are patterned with sort of a Hardy Boys line drawing of two dudes, which is similar, but not exactly the same as my bedroom wallpaper. We decide to take some going away pictures in my bedroom, and she starts taking off her top just as Mom shows up.

Later, there's some TV show about a weird sort of game involving bingo and kicking people that's being played in (where else?) Texas.
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Subject:More joys of home ownership...
Time:11:10 am
I was working on my chimney when I realized I needed to do something about the rest of my well system so I could build my raised beds.

But let me back up, because this started when I bought the house in 1996.

There was a below-ground well, with a breather tube. I was already on city sewer. I was was going have to pay for either 1) An above-ground well head, to bring it up to code or 2) city water. The cost was about the same, so OBVIOUSLY I picked city water. They left the well connected to power and capped it off past the storage tank in case I ever wanted to use it to water the lawn or something.

I tried not to bonk the breather tube with the lawn mower often. We all know how well that works out, so eventually I had to dig up the below-ground head, pull all the stuff out, and fill the well with concrete. There was still pressure in the pipes, to my surprise. I reburied everything and forgot about it.

Now fast forward to the renovation. They were sealing our crawl space. Now, the smart thing to do at this point would be not to assume they could figure everything out, but to explicitly tell them all the stuff they could just yank out of the crawl space to make their lives and mine easier. I did not do the smart thing, so there was still all the crawl space well system kit under the house: storage tank, pipes, wiring, etc.

When I was cleaning my gutters recently, I noticed that the chimney cap for the old (removed) HVAC system was loose. In the process of fitting it back on, I removed the no longer required liner from the chimney so I could seal it off more easily. This had to be done from the crawl space, and it was then that I figured out the source of the water incursion in my "sealed" crawl space: the pipes that went through the foundation to the old well.

Now was as good a time as any to take care of this, because I wanted to build raised beds right over the place where the old pipes went. This would only cause more problems with water in the future, and since I was already digging it seemed like the time to take care of it. Under the house again I went, this time removing all the old well kit and making sure the pipes were unattached.

Next I dug up the pipes from the outside of the house, pulling them out through the foundation and exposing the hole. I spent about a half an hour with a bristle brush cleaning the muck out of the hole, then crammed some concrete rubble in the hole and filled the rest in with hydraulic cement. Then I headed back under the house to patch up hole from the other side and seal up the crawl space liner over the places they left open for the well system.

After all this, I can finally build the raised beds.
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Subject:Longboard Voyage
Time:07:46 am
So, the whole premise was that I had a gigantic skateboard (like the rest of the group), and we were going on some sort of long trip so the duffel bags were packed and placed on the backs of the boards (which were, to be plain, even larger than surfboards) and we shoved off. I was quickly stymied by a very long but not very steep hill. I distinctly remember (before the hill) being at the edge of the road and going over humps where other roads came in perpendicularly.
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Subject:Beach trips and arrogant pharmacies.
Time:09:35 am
I should really start posting these here again. I will say that cats have affected my dream memories a lot more than I'd expected them to. Since they wake me up in REM state around 5-5:30a, it's much harder to remember what was going on behind my eyelids.

The weekends are better for this, since I usually feed them and then go back to sleep. I remember those dreams. Anyway.

I was in a pharmacy trying to get some prescriptions filled, and the pharmacist asked me for a card that I not only didn't have, but had no idea existed and had never been asked for it before. I tried to relay this information to her, and was rebuffed "No, we've always done it this way". Eventually I talked to someone higher up and explained my predicament. They acknowledged I was in the right, and I insisted that they also take it up with the person who told me the wrong information and then also insisted I was wrong.

Something very weird involving a religious boarding school, a road trip where I dropped my car off and carpooled with Mike M. and tried to put my shoes on backwards in a moving car with no doors or top or seatbelts.
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