Mentally Torn

I have a serious fountain pen habit, and I found a community of like-minded maniacs about a year ago (online; the FountainPenNetwork, where there are lots of people who are more into pens than I am, and who have quite a bit more money to spend).  I have picked up a couple of pens off their selling forum, which is a great way, if you keep an eye out, to get nice pens for much-better-than-retail prices.  Picked up a Parker 21 Super (1965 or so, behaves like a Parker 51) and, just last week, a Pelikan M2oo.

At the moment, and the reason why I am mentally torn, I have a line on a M1000, XF-XXF (modified XF nib)… Pelikan’s top of the line pen, with about $100 of nib modification… for about half of what the pair should go for at retail.  The thing is, an M1000 is such an epic pen that I do not think I would ever take it out of the house, much less use it as a tool that fine deserves to be used – I am not a collector of pens; I buy pens I intend to use.  So, on one hand, the M1000 would be a great pen to get, especially at the price it is available to me – on the other hand, I would use it very little, and the large amount of money involved, even as discounted as it is, can be put to a multiplicity of other uses, especially once I reach Berkeley.

So, a part of me would love to purchase it – but my semi-parsimonious nature is saying no.


Making Plans

So, today started with the building where the lab is smelling of wood smoke… and the FD evacuating the building, and finding a small fire on the roof courtesy, one assumes, of the roofers who are putting a much-needed new roof on the building.  While this was going on, my phone went off – it was the owner of the management company who deals with the building where my apartment in Berkeley is – who said he had found the check, and described his partner as an idiot.  So, that is sorted.

Given that the apartment is locked in, I booked my flight (not for free in the end, but I will live – $285 to get the cat and me out there on Southwest) and my moving container ($1505, much less than the website had quoted me – which was $2200).  So, with everything else, it should be more than doable.  This is good.

So, after traveling through time at one second per second for the last year, I am now twenty four years of age – I had a quiet but enjoyable birthday – had dinner and much wine with friends at a wine bar here in Nashville.  Much joviality was had by all.

Irritations include the USPS losing track of my deposit for my apartment in Berkeley… they claim that they will call me tomorrow with news as to where they delivered the priority mail envelope, but I am distinctly unamused.

And now, with a decent amount of wine on board, with work in the morning and a cat who is happy to see me, I am off to bed.

Alright.  I am back from a whirlwind trip out to Berkeley, where I stalked the feral apartment through the underbrush (and the hippies, and the hordes of homeless, and the impressive gardens)… and I ran down my quarry and subdued it.  As it happens, I think I did damn well – I wanted a place in North Berkeley (as south of campus is the undergraduate district, as well as being Not As Nice), close(ish) to the lab and within useful striking distance of Useful Things (e.g., bakeries, groceries, bookstores).  Also, I needed a landlord who did not have a problem with the Dread Feline Overlord (who is, in reality, fifteen pounds of harmless beastie with a taste for sleeping in the sun).

I found a place (listed as a studio – hell, I would call it an extended studio – one main room, a detached kitchen and a bathroom; three closets [one laughably tiny, one linen closet and a walkin closet in the main room with a builtin bureau]) that is less than five minutes from the lab, while being a similar distance from the center of the gourmet ghetto.  So, five minutes on foot for excellent bread and cheese (Cheeseboard Collective), about ten minutes for groceries and alcohol (new Trader Joe’s at MLK and University; also, Andronico’s about 10min north) and about the same for one of the better bookstores in the area… I did damn well.

I spent three nights with friends who live in SF (one is a research assistant with the lab I am joining; the other did her PhD with my new adviser in his days at UC Davis) and had an awesome time.  Things to note: good coffee is easy to come by in the bay area (at least in comparison to Nashville, and I came back with 0.5# of BBCC’s beans), good Persian food is absolutely awesome (and that meal rekindled my love of pomegranate molasses) and there is such a thing as Tacos the Wombat Wants to Eat*.  I owe said friends several meals once I get settled in Berkeley, methinks.

The only lame aspect of my trip was my set of flights from the bay area back to Nashville : Oakland to Salt Lake City to Denver to Nashville… took off from Oakland at 1:20pm (which meant I was at the airport around noon)… landed Nashville at 12:20am.  That being said, Southwest is still awesome (they have a tendency to forget to charge me for alcohol on flights… so a scotch was had on the Denver-Nashville leg to blunt the pain of twelve hours of travel).  Had to eat a ~3hr layover in Denver (lame)… grabbed dinner (lame, but edible).  The nice bit is that said flights pushed me over threshold for Rapid Rewards, so I now have a free flight with Southwest – which I intend to use (well, half of it) to fly from Nashville to Oakland come August (when I move for good).  Even with the Overlord, I should only be out $87.50 to fly most of the way across the country ($2.50 security fee, $75 pet fee, $10 for early-A group boarding), which is better than the $250 is was going to be.


To start with, I fucking hate moving. Doing it in a city one already lives in sucks reasonably hard, but trying to find a place when you are n miles away (make n an integer greater than 2000 in this lovely case) sucks inflamed donkey arse.  Having a likely-great place on Craigslist vanish out from under me because the fucking landlord would not return my call chaps my ass.

It also does not help that the market I am moving to is much more expensive than the one I live in now – going to a real fucking city will do that for you.  Renting what I have now is almost certainly out of my price range – I will be lucky to wind up with rather less square footage for well over $1000/mo.  If I am lucky, I can find an inlaw or a cottage that rolls utilities into the rent, which will simplify matters and mitigate the pain, but I do not know how likely that is.

In all, arrgh!

Exactly what it sounds like.  It is 1am, and I cannot sleep.  This displeases me.

The cat, strange animal that he is, popped on to the desk as soon as he heard the computer come out of sleep.  He can sleep 20 hours a day and spend the other four making cute noises at me (or playing with string, or killing fake mousies)… but I cannot.  I get to wrangle magnets and make my friends bored for the greater glory of science and the honor of the lab – at least, that’s what I tell myself.

Might be time to decamp back to bed, this time with said feline and see if fifteen pounds of furball work as a sleep aid – it often helps to have him somewhere on the bed, for reasons that are unknown to me.

If I had to bet, the insomnia is a consequence of coming home after a lovely (gack, cough, spit, splutter, gag) walk home from the lab in ~90º heat to find that I had no water.  Water has been a bit of an issue as of late – the Cumberland river (among others; but in Nashville the Cumberland is the one that matters) flooded rather drastically at the beginning of the month, taking out one of our two water treatment plants – so the city has been on varying forms of water restriction since then.  The fact that we get our tapwater from said river probably explains why the tapwater in this town tastes like a lovely mixture of sulfur and chlorine, which means that I filter it for any internal uses.  Yet another example of the fine urban planning Nashville is known for (feh – urban planning my arse, try intermittently-maintained underspecced stupidity incapable of supporting current demand – and I am not just talking about water – this entire city is not designed well at all [cough, green hills, cough]).  I have water now, although flushing the lines was an interesting (rather yellow-brown) experience.  Glad I did that tonight; seeing that in the morning would have constituted a rather nastier wakeup call than I usually prefer (I do use metal as a wakeup via the computer on occasion, but that is when I really need to be up at some utterly unholy hour).

In lieu of actual content, I will note that sleep deprivation (went to bed at 2330… got to sleep at 0200) and problematic software are a very, very bad combination.  I edited four retinotopies today (adding in foveal deliniations, for those who know about such things), and the process ate my fucking brain.  I left the lab moaning brains, brains and staggering down the hall like a zombie.

Maybe I should add that to the lab manual – be well-rested prior to wrestling detail-oriented neuroimaging data.  We want our subjects well-rested, so having the researchers be the same way is also a good idea.

Wombat out.