Sunday, January 17, 2010

Post #6 - Tracing Hawthorne's Steps to the Custom House

"An unwearied pall of cloud muffled the whole expanse of sky from zenith to horizon." - The Scarlet Letter, Chapter 12

And so it was on the morning of Sunday, January 17, 2010.  My friend Ed kindly agreed to accompany me as we re-traced Nathaniel Hawthorne's steps as he would have departed from his home on Mall Street and walked to the Custom House.

We start our walk at 14 Mall Street (click the hyperlink for a map).  There are two plaques on the house, one by the front door and one facing the street.  The plaque on the street states Hawthorne's name and the years he lived at the house, 1847-1850.  It was while living here, after losing his job as surveyor, that he wrote The Scarlet Letter.  Other pictures of this house over the past 100 years, as well as other Salem houses he lived in are documented at the Hawthorne in Salem web site.  According to this web site, Hawthorne lived at 18 Chestnut Street from 1846-1849 when he was surveyor, but perhaps this is an error and should say 1846-1847, because elsewhere the author states the family only lived at Chestnut Street for a couple of months before moving to Mall Street.  In any case - it looks like we can make another walk to work from Chestnut Street some other time.

The view down Mall Street towards the Salem Common.

Crossing Washington Square North to the Common.

Walking the path in the Common towards what else...the Hawthorne Hotel.  We could have taken a short cut across the Common and through the hotel parking lot, but this seemed a nicer way to go.

We've just walked past the front of the hotel bordering Hawthorne Boulevard - hmm, is there a pattern here?  We're looking down Essex Street.  We're going to walk down Essex Street and take our second right onto Herbert Street.  It's just past the white wrecker jutting its nose into the street.

Here we are at the top of Herbert Street.  I like the way the shadows play with the light on the wet pavement.  Coincidentally,  Hawthorne lived on Herbert Street after graduating from Bowdoin, moving back in with his family for 12 years.  Because he called it "Castle Dismal" perhaps he would have preferred not to walk this way.  If we had taken the first right off of Essex Street we would have walked down Union Street, where Hawthorne was born in 1804.  That house is no longer on Union Street, it was moved to the property of the House of Seven Gables in 1958 (the year I was born...which I would not mention except for the sheer randomness of it).

Now we are midway down Herbert Street. Notice how narrow it  the street is, with cars parked on the sidewalk.  Not surprisingly this is a one-way street.  This sort of streetscape is common along the waterfronts of old New England towns.  Example of similar streets in Marblehead, Gloucester, Newburyport and Portsmouth readily come to mind.

Now we've reached the bottom of Herbert Street.  Derby Street is in front of us.  We're going to turn left onto Derby.

Heading up Derby Street towards the Custom House.  It's on the left just past the brick building.

And there it is, our destination, the Salem Custom House, now a part of the Salem National Maritime Historic Site.  It's well worth a visit.  Please come sometime and take a tour.

Here's a detail of the Custom House front entrance.

This is the view of the Derby Wharf from the front entrance of the Custom House.  The weather looks rather murky.  At the moment not much is happening, only a few people walking up the wharf.

And now it's time for us to take a coffee break...well hey, even though we just got here, why start work quite yet?  So it's off to....

 ...A&J King Bakery.  My favorite eating spot in all of Salem, and a great way to end our walk.  Thanks for coming along with us!

Post #5 - Sharing a Canon ip2600 printer using Windows 7 64-bit (updated 2011-06-05)

We have a Canon ip2600 printer which we've shared over our network for several years now via a PC running Windows XP . However, times have changed and the XP computer has been replaced by a Dell Zino running Windows 7 64-bit, so it's time to move the printer sharing duties to the Zino. Ah, what larks. What was ez-pz under XP turned into quite the little adventure under Win 7-64 bit.

It all started innocently enough - installing the printer couldn't have been easier.  After turning on the printer and connecting the USB cable to the Zino the drivers were automatically downloaded from the Internet and installed on the PC.  Wow, wasn't that simple?  However, our task is not quite complete, the PC which shares the printer must dole out the printer drivers to the network clients.  We must download and install those drivers onto the Zino. And of course our XP clients require 32-bit drivers.  Well that should be easy, eh?  Ah, what larks.

To make a long story short, attempting to install the 32-bit XP drivers on the Zino failed.  And why - well only the software gods can explain this one, but after some research, I discovered that the string that identifies the printer in the 32-bit ip2600.inf file does not exactly match the self-same string as the 64-bit description.

64-bit says: Canon Inkjet iP2600 series
32-bit says:  Canon iP2600 series

and n'er the twain shall meet nor match.  And they must.

To install the 32-bit drivers download the 32-bit drivers in the Canon driver file ip2600svst215ej.exe.  If you are searching the Canon support website make sure to select the Vista 32-bit drivers to find this file. After downloading use WinZip or 7-Zip to de-archive the contents to a folder on your hard drive - if you simply click on the .exe file it will attempt to install the drivers, and this will fail since these are for a 32-bit system and you are using a 64-bit OS.

Next, go to your new folder and edit the 32-bit ip2600.inf file to read:

"Canon Inkjet iP2600 series" = CNM_0331XP, LPTENUM\CanoniP2600_series341B, CanoniP2600_series
"Canon Inkjet iP2600 series" = CNM_0331XP, USBPRINT\CanoniP2600_series341B, CanoniP2600_series

"Canon Inkjet iP2600 series" = CNM_0331VISTA, LPTENUM\CanoniP2600_series341B, CanoniP2600_series
"Canon Inkjet iP2600 series" = CNM_0331VISTA, USBPRINT\CanoniP2600_series341B, CanoniP2600_series

Make the modification, save the ip2600.inf file, run the installation once again by clicking the Additional Drivers button under the printer's Sharing tab, check the x86 box to load the 32-bit drivers and now you are good to go.

And now a literary nod to old friends Pip and guardian Joe Gargery in Great Expectations:
"Pip," said Joe, appearing a little hurried and troubled, "there has been larks. And, dear sir, what have been betwixt us--have been."

**Note: on June 05, 2011 added details on the source of the 32-bit drivers and where to get them.
**Note: 04 April 2012, minor grammar update.
**Note: added URL to Canon Canada support website for driver

Friday, January 15, 2010

Post #4 - Hawthorne

Today I’m going to briefly write about a great American author who grew up only a few miles from where I now make my home. One day when I was exploring the side streets of Salem off of the Salem Common I discovered one of his homes, a modest wooden frame house with a placard on it listing the name Nathaniel Hawthorne and the years he lived there. It lies less than a mile from the famous Customs House where he worked as the Surveyor from 1845-1848.

I’ve never read a formal biography of Hawthorne, just the introductory essays that appear as the prefaces to collections of his stories. What I remember of these biographical bits always struck me as being somewhat unsatisfactory. Off to the semi-wilds of Maine to Bowdoin College – how did Bath, Maine compare to what must have been a relatively sophisticated and worldly Salem – then home again to write a novel which is a failure and then not to be heard from again for years and years, holed up at home – to emerge like a butterfly from his chrysalis, to write beautiful and moving novels and short stories. Of course, it has to be more complicated than this, but this is the story I carry around inside my head, and it has a lot of empty space in it.

Well, now due to the Internet and all of the material made available to the public, an inquisitive person can learn all he wants to about Hawthorne, or of course anyone or anything else. I didn't know, or had forgotten, that he spent part of his childhood in what would have been a wilder part of Maine near Lake Sebago. And also that he was at an earlier age the surveyor at the Boston Customs House. And that he attended Bowdoin because it was less expensive than other colleges (yes that was a long time ago!). And that he was one of those curious creatures, a political animal, a lifelong Democrat and beneficiary of his college buddy Franklin Pierce. Writing these cursory thoughts has increased my curiosity about Hawthorne's life, I feel inspired now to look for a real book written by a real honest to God autobiographer to learn something of the "real" story.

I don't have anything in particular to add at this time to all of the other thoughts out there about the Scarlet Letter and his other writings, but I do like imagining what it may have been like to have lived in Salem and New England during his time. Many of the same houses still exist, as do the streets, and the sea looks the same as do the clouds and sky and the weather. Of course there are many changes, but maybe there is still more of the landscape left than one would think on first blush.

To put myself in Hawthorne's place I propose to walk in his footsteps, even if it is but a short walk. This coming Sunday I'm going to drive over to Salem and find a place to park, then walk from his former house on Mall Street over to the Customs house, following a route I hope he walked. I will try to get a few pictures. Capping off my walk will be a visit to the great A&J King Bakery, to enjoy a chocolate croissant and a cup of coffee. I think he would approve.

And one final thought: did he ever meet Fitz H. Lane? They were born the same year and died only a year apart. Both lived in Boston, and on the North Shore during much of the same time period, and it was a smaller world then...or so it would seem from this end of the time-scope.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Post #3 - Which Dead Author Would You Invite to Dinner?

In my last post I mentioned some of the books I've read and re-read which have given satisfaction over my lifetime.  There are a few more to add to the list - I'll update it as my memory resurfaces them, like rocks in the spring garden.  But now let's shift to a new tack - who would you you pick as your literary dining companion, if somehow the gift could be made?

In time I may change my mind, but my first pick, if it were possible, would be to have dinner with Jonathan Swift.  This is not based on any knowledge of what he was like as a man - perhaps he was in person a boorish lout - but the man who wrote Gulliver's Travels could not be boring.  I think this was the first book I read where I suddenly found myself in awe of an author's intellect.  It's been a while since I've read it, but it was a wonderful experience to travel in Swift's mind.  A superb imagination and delightful wit and a fine style.  A first-rate satirist and a piercing observer of the human state.  if we could make it a threesome I would extend an invitation to Samuel Clemens, I can't help but think it would be a fine time.

As an alternative, if Swift was not available, and by placing the gentlemen in this order I would not pretend to say that one is first and the other second, I would extend an offer to Miguel de Cervantes, to discuss Don Quixote.  The copy I read was a translation, by Burton Raffel.  It left me yearning to learn to read Spanish so as to truly relish the novel.  Reading it was a major undertaking, but well worth it, a story funny, sad, dramatic, full of friendship and once again a deep understanding of our human condition.  Once again, I would invite a third companion....and what do you know, maybe it would be Mark Twain this time.  I think they have something in common.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Post #2 - Reading as a Hobby

This post is all about reading and writing and if I get to it, some of the authors I admire.

Reading has been important to me from the first day I learned how to turn those odd graphical symbols on a piece of paper into sounds and language.  Over the course of my lifetime I've read a lot of books. I wish I had a list, because I've forgotten at least 90% of them.  However, some of these books I have re-read, several of them three times or more.  The books I've re-read have meant different things to me each time I've read them.  Sometimes a book I've read at an earlier time in my life comes across as a dud the second time around.  I attribute this change to the River of Life moving along and changing the meaning I once found in the book and its ideas.  The book hasn't changed, but I have.  Sorry, old friend.

Some books however can be read over and over, they are truly golden.  I've never really thought about the meaning of 'golden oldie', but it means untarnished.  Perhaps golden is not the best analogy, because gold in itself has no meaning beyond a surface color, sheen and texture, you're not too likely to find new meaning in it 10 years from now.  Each re-reading of such a book however brings something new, something you never saw before, something you never really understood and perhaps mentally skipped.

So what are these books?  Number one on my list is The Odyssey.   What an amazing story.  I read it for the first time when I was 15 and re-read it last when I was 50.  Each time it has been a wonderful experience.  Odysseus is the man.  End of story.

Now, the next author may surprise you, but this gentleman is J. R. Tolkien.  I first read  The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as a teenager, and have read them again every 10 years or so.  I had the distinct pleasure of reading these out loud to my sons, what a pleasure that was.  I have to give The Hobbit the nod over the LOTR as a more satisfying work of art, at points LOTR is too stultified, but I easily overlook this for the greatness of the theme, the sweeping plot and its grounding in the down-to-earth hobbits whose lives change and are changed by the events Tolkien chronicles in his imaginary but so real world.

Next up I trot out old friend Charles Dickens and his masterpiece David Copperfield.  I bought a copy of this book for my son for Christmas, which in fact inspired this whole post - as I said on Christmas day, this is a book you can read every decade and find it teaches you something new as it breaks your heart and rewards you with some of the happiness best (and only) found in books.

My last author for now is Ray Bradbury and his compilation of short stories, The Martian Chronicles.  This is relatively lightweight compared to Homer, but I make no excuses for a great story teller with a world-class imagination.  The best stories are just as good as they were the first time I read them 35 years ago or so.

For next time:  writers I most admire - and would like to meet.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Post #1 - My New Year's Resolution

My New Year's Resolution: start a blog.

OK, that was easy :-)