passive political screening of potential neighbors
Tuesday, April 13 2004
I've developed a plan to create a wireless communication system using stock FM radio equipment and bands normally licensed to Clear Channel. I've already told you about the transmitter equipment I'm using, tiny $9 devices that come concealed inside cigarette lighter adapters and broadcast hundreds of meters. Today I received a box of small FM receivers. They're actually Chinese-made Sony Walkmans, but they only cost about $8 each. I need two of these and two FM transmitters to make a full-duplex hi-fidelity FM walkie-talkie system. By hi-fidelity, I mean that the potential bandwidth is essentially equal to that of my DSL service. But since it's a stereo broadcast, I actually have twice that bandwidth. The amount that I'm actually going to use is much less, since I intend to encode my communications using a standard 56 kb/s modems. I've got fairly modest goals at first: I just want to be able to open a terminal on a remote machine and send data back and forth between it and some mothership using, say, 104.7 MHz. Despite a four-times-larger range, it probably won't be as useful as what I can already get out of 802.11b gear. But it will form the basis for further FM networking experiments. By the time I'm done, I wonder if the neighbors will still be able to tune into any of their favorite Clear Channel stations.
Speaking of neighbors, the folks across the road have had their house on the market for over a month now. The first day I saw the "for sale" sign in their yard, I thought Gretchen and I should respond with a political sign in our yard. You know, stuff like "Support Our Troops, Try Bush for War Crimes," "Support the Iraqi Resistance," and "Have You Aborted Your Republican Foetus Today?" - the idea being to scare off any would-be Republican home buyer considering the prospect of becoming our neighbor.
Actually, though, even without the intimidation of political yard signs, it's likely that any new neighbor would be an improvement over the couple living there now. The only time I ever communicated with either of them was about a year ago, when the woman walked over and shouted at me through my window because I was rocking the free world with my electric guitar. The one other thing I know about them is that the man of the house is obsessed with his lawn and spends the bulk of his outdoor life riding around on a ride'em lawnmower. Indeed, it's possible that one of the reasons they've decided to leave is because of the horror that is our lawn. We've mowed it about four times, and it looks more like a wetland than a golf course.
Unfortunately, though, it seems we've already missed our chance to use our politics to influence the purchase decisions of prospective neighbors. The other day Gretchen learned from our realtor Larry that someone has already signed the paperwork promising to buy the place. From the outside it's a beautiful house (more so than ours) and it has a commanding view of the Esopus Valley. But the advertised price of $375,000 seems kind of steep, especially given the fact that it's only about half the size of our house, which cost us $285,000. But that was back before we put about ten thousand dollars into making the upstairs inhabitable.
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