Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Moving Day

At long last, we are able to properly move into the renovated part of our house. There are still a couple of minor things to finish, like some baseboards, and trim around one door, but with the floors now refinished, the last major interior job is done. I spent Sunday moving furniture, alone because J was at work (my kids helped me move a few of the bulkier things) and I made a photo chronicle of the process. It was a little like playing "Traffic Jam," that children's game with the little plastic cars.

Step one: Remove all dishes from china cabinet

Step two: Move futon temporarily into new room to get it out of the way.

Step three: Move china cabinet to new dining room.

Step four: Move table to dining room.

Step five:Wash every single dish that had been in the china cabinet. All but two wineglasses were coated with a thick brown grime left over from the renovation. My dishwasher is broken.

Step six: move the piano. It is on castors, so this was easier than it looks, but it was still very, very hard. I spent a lot of time tugging uselessly while my feet slid out from under me. Halfway there. I was mainly worried that the piano would crash through the floor, since the old floorboards are in terrible condition, and there is no subfloor.


Step six: move futon to where piano used to be. I don't like futons, but I won the $250 gift certificate to Atlantic Futon in the WNRN fundraiser, so a futon became my destiny.

Still unclear about purpose of new room.

Late in the evening, after J got home from work, we moved the impossibly heavy shelving unit which spent months blocking the kitchen doorway, into the dining room.

The next day, Jon put castors on the bottom of my old sea chest. I bought this at my grandfather's yard sale for $5. When I got it home, I noticed the name "Murphy"--barely discernable---stenciled across the front. I called my grandfather to ask him about it, and he said, oh-s0-casually, "Oh, yes, that's the chest that came over with your great-great-great-grandparents from Ireland in 1847." Underneath all that varnish is red milk paint. Some day I hope to restore it, and get the name Murphy visible again. For now, it makes a fabulous coffee table and mitten holder.

When you include all the consulting, planning and getting the loan, etc, this project has been a full year in the making, although actual work started last February.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Computer dependent

Being a college student in the 21st century is quite different from what it was like when I first went to college. Before classes started, I worried that there'd be a scene like the one in the movie Legally Blond, with Elle, on the first day of class, taking out her notebook and a purple feathered pen, while the rest of the class open their laptops. In fact, I am more worried about providing my children with laptops when they go to college, than I am about paying their college tuition. Luckily for me, at Piedmont, people do still write in paper notebooks.

The biggest difference is the dependence on the internet. At Piedmont, there's a program called Blackboard that you log into and can download all your instructor's notes and powerpoints for the lectures. In the lab I am taking, we did not have to purchase a lab manual, since instructions for each lab are posted on blackboard for us to print. Quizzes and some exams are also put on Blackboard, so we can take them at home. It's all very easy and convenient, but it does assume that every student has access to a computer and a printer.

The other day, while browsing through Blackboard, I clicked on the “tools” option and then discovered “my grades,” a feature that is sure to become an obsession with me over the next few years. When you go to “my grades” not only do you see a neat summary of all your test and quiz grades so far, you also see how your grades compare to the class average. Brilliant!

And it's not that I went to college in the dark ages. We were heavily dependent on computers too. These pictures were taken in 1990, when J and I, who were then dating, traveled to Charlottesville to visit J's brother who was in medical school at UVA. It was our senior year in college. See J disporting himself irresponsibly at the top of Old Rag? See the backpack he's holding? It contained the one and only floppy disk with my senior honor's thesis and annotated bibliography. The bibliography alone was over fifty pages long. When I got back to New York, I told my faculty advisor about how J had jumping from rock to rock and swinging that backpack over his head, on the extremely windy mountain summit, and how I'd suddenly realized I'd left my thesis in it. The advisor said, “Ah, but if you'd lost the paper, you could have gotten it back from the disk.” When I told him that it was the disk in the backpack, he turned pale. I turn pale thinking about it, even now.
That last picture was taken in The Virginian. I don't think it has changed at all since 1990.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


More ranting about our car-dependant lives.

My husband and I work in the same department at UVA and we almost always take the bus to work from our house in Belmont. Parking at UVA is a hassle and it makes no sense to park at the stadium and take a shuttle to the hospital, when we can just hop on a city bus practically in front of our house. But yesterday I got an email from UVA about possible flooding this morning, and last night we decided to drive, in case the busses couldn't run.

This morning, it was clear that the busses should have no problem running their routes, but J had his heart set in driving because it is "easier." Sure, it's so much "easier" to drag 2,000 pounds of steel with you everywhere you go.

We left our house just as the city bus was passing. Employees can park in the hospital ramp for free on weekends. By the time we'd followed the long, slow moving line of cars to the top of the ramp where there was a space available, we'd spent just as much time as we would have on the bus. And our walk from the top of the ramp to the hospital was no shorter from walking to the bus stop to the hospital. How is this easier?

Usually, I walk home, so today I will be deprived of my walk. On another occasion that I drove to work, it took me so long to get out of the ramp, due to traffic, that I arrived home exactly five minutes earlier than I would have had I walked the entire two miles.

A car is just a two ton piece of baggage that you much check every time you need to go somewhere.