Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Thanks to Michael Musto for injecting some sanity into the latest Michael Jackson frenzy.

I'm listening to Julieta Venegas latest album . It's a little piece of heaven.

I'm so bored with the whole "gay stuff is shocking" theme.

Two girls got suspended from school for kissing.

Surely the school could find something more interesting to suspend someone for? Don't people watch Will & Grace, for crying out loud? Same-sex shenanigans are just done to death. You can't swing a feather boa without hitting a boy who's kissed a boy or a girl who's kissed a girl. Get over it, people.

And now conservative want to turn gay marriage into the "hot button" issue of the 2004 elections. How about we just outlaw heterosexual marriage to match and then focus our attention on FREE UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Michael Peterson estate Sale, Part 2

OK, took Mr. Gomez to the vet. he has a yeast infection in his ear. Sounds bizarre and gross, but it's actually not such a strange thing for a dog to get. He got one once before. Our theory, and the vet says it's plausible, is that because Lucy is always licking his ears--kinda like a mama dog would--the resulting dampness is fostering the yeast. Except that she cleans both of his ears and he's only ever gotten the infection in his left ear. So now I have to squirt stuff into his ear twice a day, and he's going to spend the next two weeks with medicine oozing out.

And then I didn't have time to come back and blog the conclusion to my Michael Peterson estate sale story because I had to go do my world music show at WXDU. Here's what I played:
"Nostalgia"/Control Machete/Uno,Dos: Bandera
"Bossa Nove, Ne?"/Luiz Macedo/Rough Guide to Brazilian Electronica
"Asereje"/Las Nenas/Yallah Amigos
"El Generalissimo"/Fulanito/The Remixes
"Dance with my Lover/Trilok Gurtu/The Beat of Love
"Tristete"/Electric Brother/Datcha Studio
"Mi Ultima Voluntad"/Sergent Garcia/La Semilla Escondida
"Fiesta China"/De La Guarda/De La Guarda
"Yo Marco El Minuto"/Mala Rodriguez/La Nina/Amor y Respeto
"Wave Speak"/Sheila Chandra & The Ganges Orchestra/CompilAsian
"This City is Very Exciting!"/3 Mustaphas 3/Soup of the Century
"Che Il Mediterraneo Sia"/Eugenio Benato/World 2003
"Pas Assez de Toi"/Mano Negra/Puta's Fever"
"Wassamatter Baby"/Yerba Buena/President Alien
"El Animal"/Clorofila/Frontier Life Banda Sonora
"Dreaming"/Dr. Didg/Dust Devils
"Mi Gente"/Ozomatli/Kumbia Kings/Coming up
"El Sinaloense (Dance Remix)"/Plankton Man/Kronos Quartet/Nuevo
"Duden (Spooky Remix)"/Natacha Atlas/The Remix Collection
"Como Quisiera Decirte"/Los Tetas/Tomala!
"La Cumbia De La Paz"/Celso Pina/Barrio Bravo
"Whirl-Y-Reel 2"/Afro Celt Sound System/Volume 1: Sound Magic
"Pez"/Cafe Tacuba/Re

OK, so now what happened when we finally got inside the Peterson house? Not a whole lot. Pretty much all the "nice" things had sold, but judging from the tags that were still on the items that hadn't been carted away, they were overpriced. I put the word "nice" in quotation marks because, frankly, some of the stuff was godawful. Sometimes you hear it said that most rich people have more money than taste, and this was proof. They had apparently traveled the world buying up everything in sight, and I suppose if you amass enough stuff you'll get lucky and impress someone with a piece or two. But they had terrible taste in furniture--it looked like some of the crap that you'd see in a rent-to-own store. The sad thing is that I'm sure they paid top dollar for a lot of it. One horrible example was the bedroom set in the master bedroom. The bed was this laquered four-poster, made to look as if the posts were Egyptian columns. Did you ever watch All My Children back in the late '70s/early '80s? If so, then you'll know what I mean when I say it made me think of Opal back in the Glamorama days. When we went in the room there were two women oohing and ahhing over it, and Mark, not really aware that he was being overheard by anyone but me, said "God it's so tacky." One of the women, who had a cane, said "Tacky for you" and acted like she was going to hit him with her cane. We exited quickly.

The overwhelming sense I got was that these people bought whatever they wanted, and it slowly accumulated--when you have a 10,000 square foot house there are a lot of places to cram things. Half of their family room was full of huge expensive exercise equipment that I bet they never used. Michael Peterson should have had this sale a few years ago, and put some of the money toward upkeep on the house. Hell, he should have sold the house and been content with something half the size, which is still way more than 90 percent of the people in this country can afford. Instead they slid deeper into debt, and now folks are traipsing through what once may have been their pride and joy, hauling away all that stuff they just had to have.

Sorry, I'll stop my sermon now ...

As for the crime scene, they had boarded over the downstairs entrance to the stairwell, which was in a hallway just off the kitchen. (There were so many doors taped closed upstairs that I'm not sure which one led to the stairwell from there). So it was pretty obvious when you walked past that you were threading where Kathleen Peterson had died. It was weird if you let yourself think about it, and I know for a fact that I wasn't the only person thinking about it.

Anyway, after coming to the realization that there was nothing we wanted to buy (I considered buying a few books, but they wanted $5 for hardcovers and $1 for paperbacks, so I nixed that idea), we went back out the front of the house empty-handed. People still waiting asked us if it was worth the wait. I said it depends on what you're here for. We decided we were hungry, so after stopping off at home we headed out to an early dinner at Pao Lim.

And speaking of dinner, I'm hungry right now, so I'm off to forage for some food.

Michael Peterson Estate Sale, Part 1

Yesterday we went to Michael Peterson's estate sale here in Durham. I'll freely admit right from the start that morbid curiosity was one of the reasons I wanted to go. I mean, how often do you get publicly invited to paw through the contents of a mansion where a murder took place?

I also love estate sales. Now every true estate sale is the result of death--I mean, the whole point is that someone died and rather than just throwing all their stuff away, the survivors want to turn it into a little cash. So any estate sale entails rifling through a dead person's stuff, and one of the attractions for me is to try and figure out a little about the person's life from what they left behind. My favorite sales are the ones where nothing has been thrown away, and you can find old photographs, newspaper clippings, magazines, recipe files and miscellaneous detritus that can tell you a lot about the person. That's the stuff I like to buy, and it's usually quite cheap. The sales here in NC aren't like that--they usually toss out that junk assuming that people only want expensive an boring antiques. The estate sales I went to in Chicago usually sold the trash as well as the treasures. At one sale I picked up photo albums and press clippings about the dead guy, an artist who had travelled the world his entire life, often on commercial steamers. Really fascinating stuff.

Anyway, back to yesterday. The Peterson sale was hyped for weeks in the news, and sure enough, there were probably about 500 people there by the time the sale opened at 1 pm. The organizers had only about 300 numbers ready to hand out, so by the time we got there, they were scrawling out numbers on post-it notes. We got number 398. They stopped giving out numbers at 400. But people kept coming--we heard a rumor later that people were selling their numbers to latecomers for $20 each. Some folks gave up when the organizers made an announcement that the line to check out was an hour long. Many departing people gave their numbers to newcomers. We managed to do a little trading--they were letting two people in with one number, so some people with early numbers were pairing up with later arrivals, and the later arrivals were giving numbers to even later arrivals. I managed to get number 338 that way, so I gave my 396 to someone less fortunate.

It was a pretty convivial atmosphere outside. We sort of clumped together with a few other people for the duration of the wait--yes, we made a few morbid joks, and a lot of comments about how poorly the million-dollar hose had been kept up. I desperately needed a scrape-and-paint (probably about $20,0 worth), and according to one news article, it had a bad case of termits and a bat problem. We also wandered the grounds and peered into windows (a photo taken of my backside as I gawked found it's way onto today's Durham Herald-Sun website, but I'm not going to link to it because my ass looks too huge). My husband spotted a game called "How To Survive a Mid-Life Crisis" on a coffee table. I remarked that it would be funnier if the game were "Clue." (Later while inside I actually saw two copies of "Clue" for sale.)

The line seemed to move right along at first, but after about an hour and a half, it really stalled. That's when they made the announcement that the check-out line was an hour long. I was starting to get hungry and a little tired of standing around so I was wondering if this was going to be worth the wait. I speculated out loud to the folks I had clumped up with. Most of them seemed to think I should stick around after having made it that far. My husband, Mark, naturally left the decision up to me. Anyway, just when I was about to throw in the towel, the line picked up pretty briskly. (Apparently they had opened a second check-out line.) The guy running the line started calling out numbers like it was bingo. People started smiling again. After almost 2 hours of seeing people walking out with some cool stuff (and a few really tacky things), we were on the verge of getting a chance to gain from someone else's misfortune.

I have to take my Mr. Gomez to the vet now because he has a stinky ear infection. I'll be back later with the denouement of my little tale, which will answer the question: Was it worth it?

Monday, November 17, 2003

I've been lazy about writing. I went to see the Titanic exhibit on Friday. I love anything to do with the Titanic, so it was pretty cool. But as we were leaving, we read a few entries in the little "Tell us what you think" book, and one kid wrote "I liked the movie better." The notion of comparing a museum exhibit with a movie is pretty funny, but the kid had a point. The movie was better. I mean not the stupid steerage-guy-meets-first-class-girl plot, but the movie did bring the ship to life.

Anyway, speaking of ships, later Friday we went to see Master and Commander. It's a really well-made movie (Peter Weir movies usually are). But I must confess that there was a fleeting momentthat the film dragged just a little and I thought to myself, "Do I give a shit about whether the Surprise catches and kicks the crap out of the Acheron? I got back with the program as soon as the pace picked up just a little.

Right now I'm listening to Control Machete's latest, Uno, Dos: Bandera. It's their best album yet.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Happy Birthday to me ...
Great presents: Tickets to the Titanic artifact exhibit at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, a 256mb USB thumb drive, Songs in the Key of Z (the cd, not the book), and an agility jump.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

The Wheelbarrow

I had the day off work for Veterans Day, so I celebrated by buying a wheelbarrow. Now, for an extra $10, I could have gotten one already assembled, but I'm too cheap, and how hard can it be to put a wheelbarrow together anyway? My first mistake was opening the box of parts. I apparently did that incorrectly. I noticed that there were no instructions. There was a picture of the completed wheelbarrow on the box, but it didn't show where exactly all the little bits went or how they got there. So I called the store, and they said that the instructions should be on the box or in the box. Mine weren't, as far as I could tell. They said to come back and they'd get me some instructions.

Instead I decided to take the guy route and say to hell with the instructions. When a guy opens a box of parts, he never looks to see if there are any instructions. Those are his last resort anyway, and he's going to do everything in his power not to peek at them. But guys somehow manage to get things put together anyway (it's not always a pleasant process to watch), so I figured I could do the same. About an hour later I headed back to the store.

Two helpful employees decided they'd get the instructions out of another box and photocopy them for me. But there were no instructions in the box ... until we noticed that they were printed on the inside top flap of the box itself. Maybe I had opened my box upside down? After arriving back home I discovered my instructions exactly where they would have been had I opened the box correctly. But here's the thing with modern instructions: they have no words, just an exploded view picture of how the pieces fit together. They are carefully designed so that all people from all corners of the Earth can look at them and be equally confused. Since there are no words, there is nothing to warn you that a simple wrench, or even a regular socket wrench, will be of no use in tightening the nuts. You won't realize that you need a deep-socket wrench until you're well up the frustration scale. Of course, you won't have a deep-socket wrench because it's in the trunk of your husband's car and he didn't get Veterans Day off of work. And the instructions, seeing as how they ain't got no words, don't tell you that in order to hold all of the relevant parts in the proper positions while you insert the bolts, you really need a second person.

Anyway, the wheelbarrow is now together, ready to tote finished compost to its final resting places in my gardens. And just in time, too, because I'm about to start the annual Gathering of the Leaves and I'll need the space in my compost bins. I also got a special treat for my compost pile today: llama poop! Actually, llama poop doesn't need to be composted--you can put it straight into a garden, unlike cow or horse poop. But I'm going to let my compost pile enjoy its nitrogen-rich goodness anyway.

I got the llama poop when my dog and I went for our sheep herding lesson. There is no real need for my dog or I to know how to herd sheep, it's just a fun thing to do with all of our excess time and money. Some people spend their free time and money collecting antique toothpick holders or dressing up like civil war soldiers and pretending to get shot to death out in muddy fields. I spend mine doing fun things with my dog Lucy.

Lucy thinks she already knows how to herd sheep, and she doesn't feel she needs my help. When they stand still, she runs at them, barks a bit, and bites them in the ass every now and then to make sure they get the point. When one sheep breaks away from the others, she makes sure to chase it down and let it know how stupid it's being. My job in all of this is to direct Lucy as to where exactly she should be putting her sheep when she's got them all gathered together. The problem is that I don't really know where I want my sheep. They're not even my sheep anyway, and when we're done with our lesson, the instructor will bring in her champion border collie and put the sheep where they really need to be. After a few more months of lessons, we may be ready to compete with other people who spend their free time and money teaching their dogs to herd other people's sheep pointlessly around a field.

And in case you're wondering about the sheep-herding/llama poop connection, here's a little tip: if you keep sheep it's always a good idea to have a llama or two around. Sometimes country folks have a tendency to let their dogs roam at will, and the dogs have a tendency to chase sheep, sometimes catching them and killing them. But llamas don't take any crap from dogs, and they're pretty effective sheep guardians. And unlike other livestock, llamas like to poop in the same place all the time, making it easy to gather up for gardens and such.

Monday, November 10, 2003

I planted the pansies! It was so chilly this weekend that I didn't want to do it, but I realized there's no guarantee it was going to get any warmer until next spring. So with chilly fingers, I put pansies in every available container in front of my house (seven of them). Here's the exciting part: whilst carrying packs of pansies from the porch to the yard, I managed to completely misjudge where I was placing my foot and I fell down the steps. Fortunately there are only four steps, and somehow I managed to maneuver my fall so that nothing easily breakable absorbed the impact. In fact, the only injuries sustained were by a couple of pots of mums, which sustained a direct hit.

I did not fall down or hit my head on Saturday when I participated in my first agility event with my wonderdog, Lucy. It was just a "Show & Go," so there was no pressure to do anything correctly. Here are a few grainy, not-so-great photos.

Right now, I'm working on a "concept" design. I hate trying to do concepts ... especially annual-meeting type inspirational stuff, which it what this is. I need to provide some visual "wow" to accompany the slogan "Facing Tomorrow's Challenges Today." I'd rather put this off until tomorrow. Anyway, once upon a time I worked for a national jewelry chain, and they wanted me to help think of a slogan for their annual inspire-the-retail-store-managers to make their quotas meeting. I suggested "You Can Be Replaced." I wasn't invited to participate in their little brainstorms much after that.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Grooving right now to The Rough Guide to Brazilian Electronica.

My head bruise is feeling better, thanks for asking. I haven't planted the pansies yet because it's dark when I get home from work. Which makes me wonder about the whole Daylight Savings Time thing. I've got no problem with DST, but I have no idea why we even bother to switch back to standard time. Why can't we just stay on DST year-round? I'm all for taking those extra daylight hours in the evening--it makes me feel like I have somewhat of a life left after working all day. But seeing as how daylight is even more rare and precious through the winter, shouldn't we be stacking whatever we can get at the end of the day? Or maybe switching back to standard time is a nefarious capitalist plot to get the workers asses out of bed in time for work all winter ...

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Why should anyone read the blatherings of yet another boring soul who thinks she should have a weblog? Don't ask me--go read someone else's blog if you think it will be more exciting.

Last night I bent down to pet my dog, and on my way back up I hit the back of my head on a doorknob. Now I have what is probably a huge bruise--fortunately my hair covers it. I don't take may hair for granted. About two years ago a spot fell out, and I was living in fear that I was going to end up like these folks. It grew back.

I bought some pansies today at the Farmer's Market. I'm sure I'll have loads of madcap adventures when I plant them. I can't wait to share them with the world.