Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

October 17th, 2011:



We’ve had soil subsidence issues here for some time–years, in fact–the most recent occurring when the soil pulled down on our gas meter feed so hard that it cracked the pipe. Our driveway looks like someone carpet-bombed it. My garage slab sank enough so that my lathe pulled its wires out of the junction box in the ceiling. Now the slab on the lower level has sunk enough to cause cracks in the plaster. We’ve been patiently waiting for the settling to stop, but issue piled on issue suggests that the time to get the soil stabilized and the concrete fixed is now.

We’ve been talking with a local contractor and may get a deal done in the next few days. That means, of course, that a lot of stuff is going to be moving around, especially on the lower level of the house. Carol’s office is Ground Zero, and everything will have to be moved out of there to somewhere else. I have to move several bookcases, including one stacked full of QST, which is probably the only magazine ever printed that was denser than National Geographic. I am going to get my strength training in the next few weeks, is for sure.

What we’ve begun doing is going through boxes, setting aside things for the various charity pick-ups, and trying to restack the furnace room shelves for maximum density. This is a time-intensive business, and time I would rather use writing has gone into sorting and stacking. That said, I’ve unearthed a number of things I thought I had long-since dumped or lost. One is the stack of Paradox reports I used to track manuscripts and issue lineup for all ten years of PCT and VDM. The database itself is gone, unless it survives (doubtful) on a 5″ HD floppy in the box of 5″ floppies I mentioned some time back. I found the 1882 copy of Oliver Twist that is certainly the oldest paperback book I’ve ever owned, or even seen. Inexplicably, it was tucked into a box full of archival copies of my own books, probably to fill a crack too small to accept yet another copy of Assembly Language Step By Step. Careless packing is a peculiar and little-understood hazard. (I’m understanding it better all the time.)

I also found a Russian-manufacture metal construction set; something like Meccano but Metric. I don’t entirely remember where I got it.

And although I knew it was there, I just unpacked a peculiar machine: A Z80 CP/M computer I put together solely to run Borland’s virtually unknown Turbo Modula-2. I assembled it in my garage in California in 1988, and ran it once or twice more early in our Arizona tenure. It’s been sealed in a box since 2002, when I tried and failed to sell it for $5 at the Fort Tuthill hamfest near Flagstaff. It uses the Ampro Little Board Z80 board, plus two DS/DD 5″ floppy drives, and a spare IBM PC power supply. I would fire it up except that it uses serial I/O, and the time to locate cables and rig a link to a serial window is time I need to spend moving other stuff out of the way. Let’s say that it worked fine when it went into the box in 2002. I’m not sure I want to keep it, but I sure hate to just heave it into the trash. Still thinking.

I’ve culled a hundred pounds or so of boxed technical books, most of which I intended to sell on Amazon Marketplace some years back and found no market for. (And now I’m ineligible for Marketplace because of Amazon’s sales tax squabble with Colorado.) I’m putting the word out that the books are here to grab, cautioning that some of them are mighty old as computer books go, though a few may still be useful. If I don’t find homes for them in the next couple of weeks, they’ll be in the recycle bin.

Other stuff needs Carol’s processing, like her Barbie dolls and other childhood odds and ends, but we made some real process in opening up space in the furnace room, to which Carol’s office furniture is likely to be evacuated in the very near future. I’ll need an Aleve tomorrow, but the work–heh, that’s only beginning.