Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I've seen fire, and I've seen rain.

The aroma of burning pine logs is a distinct and pleasant one, and the smell of that smoke conjurs up images of campfires past, of camping trips taken with the family or with Boy Scouts. A very pleasant trip down Memory Lane – until you realize that you’re smelling that pine smoke while inside your house, and you don’t have a fire going in the fireplace.

It was about ten days ago, when a line of powerful thunderstorms moved through the area, bringing the first measurable rainfall in months. Lots of lightning strikes nearby – almost enough to read by inside. Then one of them knocked out the power. Only for three seconds or so, but that was long enough to reset all the electrical appliances in the house. (Most notably, it reset the DVD player, and I’d gotten through almost all of the interminably long – 13 minutes and 20 seconds – end credits to the latest Harry Potter movie. Over 13 minutes! Of end credits! Gah! But that’s a rant for another day.) I wandered towards the office to check on my computer, when I started thinking about campfires of yore.

When I snapped out of my reverie, I realized that I was smelling the smoke while in my basement; with no doors or windows open. That got me moving. I quickly checked around inside to see if I could find the source of the smoke, and when I couldn’t, I went outside to look for flames. Glowing embers, at least. A quick check of my house and my neighbor’s didn’t reveal anything, so I went back inside for a raincoat. (It was still raining pretty hard, of course, but the need to quickly find the fire overrode any desire to stay perfectly dry.)

The smell of the smoke was very strong by my basement door, so that’s where I started my search. In a couple of minutes, I was 75 yards from my house, still looking without finding anything. I ran into some folks from around the corner and down a ways, who were searching from the other direction. They hadn’t seen anything, either, but had called the fire department. Indeed, we could hear the sirens, on the other side of a small woods. “I bet those sirens are from my call,” the neighbor said. “This street has two parts, and they’re not directly connected. They’ll have to go on a three-mile route to get from that part of this street to this one.” Sure enough, about six minutes later, the fire engines roared up. (You know, I’d be concerned about that response time and the fire trucks getting lost, if I lived on that street.)

The neighbors confirmed that they’d made the call, and everyone looked around for the source of the smoke. The firemen told us they’d gotten a lot of phone calls from the area, but no one calling in had actually seen the fire. Another report on the radio revealed that other firemen had now seen the fire, about 3 blocks away from us, across the woods. And with that, these fire trucks turned their sirens on and zoomed away.

By now, the smoke had dissipated, so I went back inside.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Four for the road.

It turns out that the reason I had to watch the borrowed movie is that the guy who loaned it to me was leaving the project, and while he’d forgotten that I had the movie, I hadn’t. And since I didn’t want to admit that I’d had it for months on end and hadn’t yet watched it, or to give it back to him and then get it from Netflix, I needed to watch it right away. Well, first I needed to find it.

At any rate, last week was an interesting week at the project, as four of the thirty or so of us on the project quit during the week: one to concentrate full-time on his solo practice, one to go to a different project (one that pays more, alas), one to work as inside counsel for a large Richmond company, and one to do, well, not much of anything, it would seem.

It’s always interesting when someone leaves our little project for a real job. You’re happy for her, of course, but that happiness is tinged with a feeling of “Why didn’t they pick me?” (Okay, the answer to that question usually is “Because you didn’t apply for it,” but still.) It feels a lot like what I imagine being in an orphanage is like: you’re glad that someone got adopted out into a family, yet at the back of your mind, you wonder whether you weren’t picked because you’re not pretty enough, or something.

Monday, April 10, 2006

That little box.

A few – okay, six or eight – months ago, someone who works on the project at BigLawFirm with me loaned me a movie he thought I should see, “True Romance”. An early Tarantino script, with an ensemble cast including folks who have become a lot more famous since (Brad Pitt, Patricia Arquette, Christian Slater, Gary Oldman, James Gandolfini) and some old favorites (Dennis Weaver, Samuel L. Jackson).

Between the time he loaned it to me and last week, I had forgotten that Tarantino was the writer, and somehow thought it was going to be a relatively light flick, somewhat like “St. Elmo’s Fire”. And since I didn’t look at the box or read the description on the back of the box as I was pulling the tape out, it was a bit of a surprise to me when the movie turned out to be, well, more like a typical Tarantino movie. Still pretty good, of course, but not quite a light romantic comedy or family fare.

In any case, it dawned on me as I was putting the tape into the VCR that the last time I watched a movie on video tape was probably over six years ago, and that this was the first VCR movie I’ve watched since I bought a DVD player. Amazing to see how quickly and thoroughly a new piece of technology (the DVD player) can change one’s habits. I still use the VCR all the time, but only to record stuff from the TV that I’ll watch later. And I bet that when the day comes that I get a DVR – shortly after I get an HDTV, I’m guessing – I’ll stop using the VCR altogether.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Introducing ... Mosby.

It's official. She's Mosby. The winner should contact me soon for official transfer of his or her prize. Bring a cat carrier.

Many of the suggestions were good. I've already had a "Misty" and didn't want to tempt fate by giving her name to another cat who lives outside and could thus share the original's demise by being hit by a car. Decided against "Empress" or "Palpatine" because I just didn't want her to continue working on her Dark Powers to cause lightning to shoot from her paws. Figured that "Erdos" wasn't appropriate because not only could she not write a mathematics paper (or whatever the Cat Equivalent thereof is), she couldn't read one either. (Remember, this is the cat who declined the opportunity to sleep inside the house when it was fifteen degrees outside.)

She has, however, slept inside the house a couple of times this week, and has been introduced to the Inside Cats. Sami is always happy to find another cat to play with, but O. Henry wasn't too pleased at the idea of sharing her house with yet another feline. Not that it mattered much: Mosby was too busy growling and hissing to really tell what the other cats' reactions were.