today was the first time all week that i managed to get about 8 hours of sleep, even though my slumber was peppered with sporadic house repair nightmares. gerry the contractor never showed up but cleber was here all day painting, from 7:30 until it got dark. i spent most of the day at the office of client N, setting up machines and installing my interactives. once that's done, all the equipment gets shipped to the fabricators in birmingham before finally going to new york. i didn't finish and left after 5:00, planning to return tomorrow morning and wrapping everything up. i called gerry, who told me he couldn't make it today because he was concluding a project elsewhere, but the next two days he'll be solely devoted to working on our house and he hopes to finish by saturday.

i'm pretty much all out of food and desperately need to go to the supermarket but have been too busy. this morning i managed to make some oatmeal and then for dinner some dan dan noodles.

7:30 was when gerry called me this morning, asking if he could put his equipment in our basement. "oh, the door's unlocked, just go right inside," i told him, my face still buried in my pillow. with less than 5 hours of sleep for the third consecutive day this week, i got up and went outside to meet gerry along with my upstairs neighbor steve. gerry's crew consisted of himself and 2 other guys, and they came in matching white vans stacked with ladders on the roofs and bursting with all sorts of heavy duty equipment inside. it began raining late last night and the weather this morning was still miserable and wet. it didn't look like they'd be doing any work today but at the very least they could start their preparations.

i was worried about this first encounter between gerry and steve, since steve had a lot of reservations. but i knew they spoke the same language (the language of dormers, soffits, tyveks, and clapboards) and was hoping that once steve got a chance to talk to gerry, it'd put his mind at ease. steve asked him a bunch of questions, subtly testing his knowledge. we focused on the western dormer on the 3rd floor which needed the most work due to water damage and much of the wooden exterior would have to be replaced. gerry did add a caveat, which is that he won't know the condition of the dormer until they pull off the rotten clapboards, and there might be additional repairs underneath, which would naturally add some more cost to the final estimate. this validated what steve was thinking yesterday, that the already low asking price would eventually go up, which sort of made him feel better in a weird "i have to pay more for good work" way. "cedar boards?" he asked, which was something else he wanted. "of course," gerry replied in his thick irish accent, drawing a small smile from steve. we signed the contract and gave gerry half the money through 2 separate checks. contractor a go go!

the rain stopped in the late morning and the sun actually came out. client N finally got back to me with some feedback so i was in work mode for a few hours. i could hear the thumping and sanding of the contractors working on the western side of the house, ripping out the old clapboards on the third floor dormer and putting in new ones.

when i left in the mid-afternoon, i finally got a chance to go outside and see the progress. gerry only had 2 other people in his crew, a pair of young irish fellows. the 2nd white van i saw earlier actually belonged to a different contractor (my next door neighbor margot has been doing some interior renovations). while the 2 guys were up on high doing the grunt work, gerry was down on the ground supervising and smoking a cigarette. from what i could see, they were doing a pretty good job, and the repaired dormer looked brand new.

i stopped by the cafe before going to belmont to dropped off some books for my sister and to return the expensive HDMI cables i got at best buy last week now that my cheaper cables had arrived. when i returned to the cafe, some comcast technicians showed up to install a cablemodem. my father found a deal where for $10 more/month he could switch from the very slow verizon DSL to the much faster cablemodem speed of supposedly 12 Mbps. since it'd take some time, we went to the nearby comcast office to pick up some free digital transport adapters (DTA's), those little devices that allow me to continue getting my channels on my regular TV's once comcast transitions most of their programming to digital at the end of the month. when we got back the technicians were just finishing up and my father was able to get online. i thought it was just a cablemodem so i went home to pick up a spare wireless router.

this is the point in my day where i almost died. waiting to take a left turn onto linnaean street from mass ave, i accelerated once i saw my opportunity. the problem with a bigger motorcycle is it doesn't have the pickup as small honda rebel, so i found myself slowly crossing mass ave with two lanes of oncoming traffic speeding my way. normally people stop, but i must've catch them by surprise, because they didn't even have time to brake. for a millisecond i was basically stuck in the middle of the street with cars just a few yards shy of hitting me. fortunately the engine finally kicked in and i sped out of the way before i was killed. i was a little bit traumatized afterwards, couldn't stop thinking about those oncoming cars. let this be a lesson for me!

back at the cafe with the wireless router, i realized the cablemodem was actually a modem router combo. and since there's already a wireless access point at the cafe, i didn't need the spare router after all. my father was doing some speed tests and noticed that he was getting download speeds of only 0.73 Mbps. that couldn't be right, could it? i tested with my macbook and i got the same numbers. i ended up being on the phone with comcast technical support and customer services for about an hour, trying to figure out why things were so slow. i finally discovered that 0.73 Mbps is the correct speed of the service, despite the comcast agent telling my father he would get 12 Mbps. so somewhere along the way somebody either lied or made a mistake, and now my father is stuck in a 3 year contract that's not only more expensive than his old DSL service but actually slower. fortunately there's a 30 day money back guarantee, but we think maybe the agent was on commission and made an inaccurate sales pitch assuming we'd never bother to actually check the data transmission speed.

back at home, i installed the 2 DTA's i picked up from the comcast office. they don't use up too much electricity, but still drain a constant 3 watts of power when plugged in regardless of whether or not you're actually watching television. it's designed so you can hide it behind your tv, with a little tethered infrared probe for using the small remote control. the good thing is i can finally get MSNBC back in my bedroom again. it'll be good during the winter when i like to spend more time in there because it gets nice and cozy with the spaceheater. besides a channel number, the DTA also displays the channel name, although by now i've pretty much have them all memorized. however, there aren't any programming listing nor any on-demand access.

i tested another game on my hacked wii, this time playing madworld. to say it's kind of violent is an understatement, and i got bored of it after a while (i can only take so much senseless videogame killing). i thought i'd like the comic book black and white graphic style, but it actually makes it hard to see clearly, everything getting muddled in the two color palette (3 colors if you count the generous amount of blood red).