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And a Stolen Laptop Later…

This story definitely goes into the “Sometimes God just takes care of you” category.

Last Tuesday, I walked out of the Chelmsford Public Library, after working there on my computer that morning, to where my car was parked, and I saw this:

And a jolt zapped through my gut. Who the hell did that to my car?! How?…

Backing up for a second, getting some perspective…


And after a beat to see the humor in this cruel joke of fate, I chuckled and thought, I so have to get a shot of this for my blog!

The week had started wonderfully. For the first time for as long as I could remember, I had blog posts lined up and scheduled for the entire week— I had slack in my schedule, and I felt great and ready to work on posts for the following week.

So I set down my laptop next to a nearby tree—and you can even see it there, if you look closely, in the shadows of the lower-right corner of the above photo—and I pulled out my cellphone and took the two shots. This was going to be a great story!  Click to continue »

How I Totaled My Favorite Car

1991 Geo Prizm (Not mine, just the same model and color)

On the morning of December 8, 2010, I passed two—not just one but two—accidents on the highway. Usually, there aren’t any. But that day, one of them closed down the entire highway. And I was one of the first batch of drivers to get caught in the resulting traffic jam, even before news of the accident hit the news. The experience gave me some time to think, and I recalled accident stories from my past.

That’s when I decided to write this story.

(Yes, that’s sometimes how long it takes me to go from post idea to final publication.)

(By the way, this is not exactly a funny story. But it should be relatively fun to read, and I’m desperate for Friday material this week. So—sorry—this is what you’re stuck with.)

About a year before I met my Beloved, I totaled an almost-new Geo Prizm. I was much younger then, a young twenty-something carefree, still living with my parents.  Click to continue »

Accidents Will Happen: Picking Up and Moving On with Integrity

Ouch That's Gotta Hurt: If this photo isn't depressing, I don't know what is.

When I wrote this piece, I was not sure I was ready to talk about it. I had not even told the story to my Beloved yet. But, I thought, maybe writing about it would make it easier. That was over 5 months ago. Since then, I’ve told my Beloved part of the story, but this is the first time I’ve gone through it in any detail. I’m still not sure I’m ready to talk about it.

About a year before I met my Beloved, I totaled an almost-new Geo Prizm. I was much younger then, a young twenty-something carefree, still living with my parents. (That’s a different story, which I’ve queued to run this Friday.)

For the next twenty years, I never got into an accident.

Well… Yes, I occasionally ran my right tire up against the curb. Or did the Boston bump while parallel parking. And twice within the past several years, my car has been damaged while parked on the street here. And neither time did the damager seek me out or leave a note. In one instance, I managed to settle with my insurance company, who paid to have the car repaired despite the fact that they couldn’t pin it on anyone specifically. In the other instance, my mechanic managed to find a good-quality replacement part from a junkyard, gave me a great price on the repair.  Click to continue »

Accident (and a cute Jewish joke)

Had you seen me a week ago Tuesday morning, you might have thought I had peed my pants, because I had an accident. The kind of accident that involves a car. And bottled water.

I was driving down the highway, when I decided to open my bottle. Stupid, yeah, I know. But My Firstborn was sleeping so soundly in the passenger’s seat, and I didn’t want to wake her.

So I reached over with my right hand, and I started wrestling with the cover. After all, I figured, I’m a young (ish), strong guy; I should be able to undo a water bottle one-handed.

So I’m sitting here in the car, one hand on the water bottle, one hand on the wheel, and both eyes on the road– I may be stupid, but I’m not crazy, not usually, anyhow. And it’s not working. So I ratchet up the effort. New water bottle, you know, and I just couldn’t break the seal. I’m pulling on the cap with my right hand, steading the wheel with my left, trying to keep the car going in a straight line at 70 MPH with other cars all around me.

And the cap slips, it moves, just a smidge. Ah! I’m making progress!

So I’m still pulling on the cap with one hand, the other on the wheel. The car’s still going in a straight line, but I’m not making any more progress with the water-bottle cap. I give one more glance at my Firstborn and consider waking her up and asking her to open up my water bottle for me, before formulating my master plan to deal with the water-bottle cap.  Click to continue »

Some Photos I Found on My Cell Phone

Once upon a time, I couldn’t see the point of these new-fangled gadget cell phones that can text-message, play MP3′s, take pictures, and sometimes can just barely not even make a phone call. (You know what I’m talking about.)

Today, however, I copied all the files from my cell phone onto my computer, and I found numerous photos that I and my kids had taken, some of which are kinda cool, and others of which bring back memories. Most of us don’t carry a camera around, but we do carry our cell phones around. So when a photo-op presents itself, good thing we have some way to capture the moment.

(By the way, my cell phone takes pictures no better than any other cell phone, of much lower quality than the camera my brother’s uses to take his pro-quality photos. Most of the shots on there stunk. But some of them I was able to salvage, and the images you see here have been enhanced and processed to look half-decent.)

Start with this cute shot I took, across the parking lot from my favorite Starbucks. When I saw these two storefronts, side by side, the only thing I could think was, I wonder if they’re in business together.

(You can click on the photo for a higher-resolution image.)

So, I have my radiator replaced…

Some time ago, the radiator on the 1998 Saturn had been leaking. And the coolant pump had blown as well. As I recall, I had them replaced, because they were leaking coolant, and it was really annoying that my engine kept overheating.  Click to continue »

What I Did Over My Summer Vacation

Photo © 2009 CC 2.0 BY

I did not laze around on the beach all day, everyday, reading books, writing on my laptop– Ah, that would have been fun.

I’m actually still on my “summer vacation,” even though the calendar and the weather both say we’re well into autumn. Because it wasn’t really a vacation, although it was a vacation from full-time writing.

I’ve been spending most of my time on a full-time software contract, developing software for a commercial search engine (which does not have a ‘G’ in its name). A big surprise to me: I discovered that I haven’t lost my touch. I fell into developing code just as easily as if it had been riding a bike. But I also have been maintaining a sense of distance from the project, doing the work for the money–doing my best work, yes, and giving my best advice, but not becoming personally invested in the results. (And if you don’t understand why this is such an important transformation for me, I recommend a National Geographic documentary about stress, which I recently watched, especially the very last segment.

I also discovered that I still make mistakes after almost 30 years, but at least I learn from them. And at least the mistakes are on the margins, subtle.  Click to continue »

God Has an Ironic Sense of Balance

Photo © 2010 Mike Cohen CC 2.0 BY NC ND

I apologize for the delay. It’s been over two weeks since my last post, and I haven’t replied to anyone’s comments or emails. Part of the reason is that I billed over 30 hours last week on this new software-development job, a heavy week for an off-site contractor. (I’ll have to explain to you the math of billed contractor hours versus employee hours sometime.) And I’ll probably bill about 30 hours this week, too. In between those hours—at least last week—I spent numerous hours taxiing the family around, my Beloved to and from work, my daughter C to and from school. I would get up in the morning, drive around, and get home just in time to start working with the guys at Client Z, out on the west coast.

That’s because we had one working car, and it wasn’t even ours.  Click to continue »

Another Car Bites the Dust?

Photo © 2008 David J Laporte CC 2.0 BY

“Why does all this stuff happen to us? It can’t be bad karma. We never did anything.” Or so says the Little One. And I think she’s right. Sometimes shit just happens.

And if it could have waiting just another month or two, I wouldn’t even be in a jam. Incredible. It’s like, just when you think things are looking up and you can breathe easy and ends will finally meet without stretching, the universe is like, “Uh. Hold on a sec—” Or as Dad puts it sometimes, “Cheer up! Things are going to get worse.”

(My Little One is not so little any more, BTW. But I still call her that. She insists. I don’t think she wants to grow up.)  Click to continue »

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