Sunday, February 29, 2004

Spring?

It was a great day here in NC. I didn't check the temp, but it must have gotten near 70. It felt like spring. I'm sure it means we'll have an ice storm tomorrow.

But the highlight of my weekend was bowling last night--I got a 207, my first over-200 score in league play. I rocked. I had a crappy first game (122), and a decent third game (169), putting my average at 166 for the night. Our team won the last two games by a huge margin--against the #3-ranked team (we were in 8th place going into the evening). It was so much more fun than sucking and losing all night. Mark (aka Cap'n Pants) has been down in Oriental futzing with the boat, and he's going to be sorry he missed it.

Because I was on such a high from last night, I had to go and bowl today even though it was too pretty out to be indoors (6 games: 143, 139, 182, 125, 179, 150). So then I made up for it by walking around downtown Durham snapping photos. Unfortunately the memory card in my camera is only 128 meg, so it seemed I had just gotten started when I was done. I think downtown Durham is really visually fascinating--it's just a completely half-assed amalgam resulting from a once-vibrant downtown going through several illogical attempts at "revitalization." It makes absolutely no sense at all and I love it. Anyway, I want to post a kick-ass photo gallery of Durham, but I'm out of server space (we pay entirely too much for our DSL and all they can give us is 10 megs of web space? Bastards.) So I guess I'll have that to sort through soon.

The big question in my immediate future is: should I bother watching the Oscars? I don't know if I care enough about them, and I suppose if someone flashes a tit or something I can always look for it on the internet tomorrow ...

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Perhaps I won't be bitching about snow much longer ...

Lucy & I went for a walk around the hood this morning, and there were some snowfolks comtemplating their inevitable demise as the sun shone and the temperature rose:



Less than a block away I saw a welcome sign of spring:

I thought I fixed my permalink problem yesterday, but maybe not. So if you came here via what someone posted as permalink (probably to the anti-fascist stuff), you're just going to have to scroll down. I think that in order to really fix my permalinks, I'll have to republish each post, one by one.

I planned yesterday to go to work for a while today to make up some snow time. Now it's bright and sunny outside and looks like it may get into the 50s, and I don't want to go. I think I'll tke Lucy for a walk and then decide.

One cool thing about my dj gig at WXDU is that I get to review new music to let other djs know what the new stuff itsabout. Right now I've got Boban I Marko by the Boban Markovic Orkestar, and I think its one of the coolest things to cross my path in about 6 months or so. It's Balkan Gypsy brass music that RAWKS! Totally!

Friday, February 27, 2004

Some of the people in my neighborhood just love to worry about crime. They want to be "block watch captains" and ride along with the "COPS" patrol (it's a program where civilians get to wear uniforms and ride around in a cop car doing whatever people who worry about crime do. I keep imagining Gomer Pile yelling "Citizen's arrest, citizen's arrest!"). They keep track of the statistics about what happens where and issue exhortations via the neighborhood crime e-mail list to report "suspicious" activity.

I subscribe to the crime list because our shed has been burglarized twice, and it's good to know when folks have had car break-ins, etc. But I never participated ... until yesterday. Someone posted something about a "prowler" in her yard, and then another woman responded that when she came home there was a black man with a bike at the end of her driveway in the alley. She said she almost hit him, and then he said something to her and "rushed away." She called the cops and reported him to the e-mail list as "suspicious."

Now this got my goat because from her post, it seemed that the only suspicious thing about the guy was that he's black. Last I knew people were allowed to be in the alleys and have bicycles here. Further, the only description she gave was that he was black, wore a tan hat (around here they call them "toboggans," so I always imagine someone with a sled on his head ...) and he had a bike. No age, height, weight--nothing to distinguish him from the rest of the black men in Durham (roughly one-quarter of our city's population). So her post really sounded sort of like "Oh my god, there's a black man in the alley!" And this is a neighborhood that has a least a few black folks in it--including Mark, aka Mr. Complete Bunch of Pants. (You can call him Mr. Pants if you wish.)

So Mrs. Pants, being a smart-ass, decided she needed to wade in. She, I mean I, sent the following note to the list: "Hmmm ... a black man in our neighborhood ... are you sure it wasn't my husband? He gets mistaken for a 'suspicious' person all the time on account of being black and all ... "

Of course a couple of people responded, and the gist of their posts was mainly that the guy wasn't suspicious because he was black, but because he was, well, suspicious. The original poster said it was because he was in her alley in the dark. I wasn't aware that black folk weren't allowed to be in the alleys after dark. (My neighbor H. also posted that he thinks Mark is suspicious, but he made sure to indicate that he was joking.)

Since I often don't shut up once you get me going, I posted again:

"People are allowed to be in the alleys--I walk my dogs in the alleys all the time, and I often peer into people's yards and such along the way out of sheer nosiness. I've even walked around with my camera and taken photos of some of your back yards. If there's a stack of junk in the alley, I often check it out and see what people are throwing away. But then again, I'm white, so if you saw me you'd probably just think I'm strange, not suspicious.

"People are allowed to have bicycles. People are allowed to have plastic garbage bags. Why my own strange neighbor H_______ has been known to prowl around the neighborhood picking up aluminum cans, and I'm sure he finds a bag comes in handy now and then.

"Maybe what the guy said was "Watch it, lady, you almost hit me." Maybe he said "I was just picking up some aluminum cans." Maybe he rushed away because he figured that since he's black you would naturally consider him suspicious and call the cops, and he just didn't feel like getting hassled tonight over some crummy aluminum cans."

So anyway, a couple of people e-mailed me to thank me, and a couple wrote supportive posts on the list. Mark posted that as a black man with a bike he hoped that people would be a little more descriptive than "black man with a bike" when they posted about suspicious characters.

Then it just got silly. People started a debate about garbage. Somebody said it's illegal to go through garbage, and then someone else posted actual case law citations to the effect that once you put it out, your garbage isn't yours anymore (for example, cops don't need a warrant to seize your garbage). Then people started asking things like: What if the garbage can is on my property? What if it's in my locked garage? What if it's in the middle of my den? Fortunately no one bothered to respond to them.

I had briefly unsubscribed from the list in disgust, but then I realized that making fun of these people is more interesting than most of what's on TV. Besides, in the middle of the whole discussion, someone posted about a car that was stolen on my street last night. That's always good to know.
I've nosed around in the Blogger support section, and I think I may have found the reason my permalinks don't work. Apparently the tag that generates the anchor was inside of my title section, and as such it would only work if I used the title field, which I don't--mostly because it would involve coming up with a title for every post, which I guess I'm just too lazy to do. So I've moved the tag out of the title section. If that still doesn't work, I guess I'll just have to put it back and start using titles. Or just not use permalinks. Maybe I'm not enough of a geek to do this whole blog thing. Perhaps I should just scrawl out my missives on a piece of paper and post them on a streetlamp.
Where am I and why is everything all white? We got several more inches of snow overnight, and it's currently sleeting and/or raining. The television told me not to go to work. Actually, what it said (and what it says every time it snows) is that if you don't need to be out on the roads, stay home. There have been a lot of wrecks on the highways. So I did what I've started to do every time there's weather like this: I called my boss to see if she's going in. She's not, so I'm not. I can always make up some of time tomorrow.

So now I'm wondering if I'm going to do anything productive with my day, or if I'm going to sit around and read like I usually do. I should clean the house ... but I probably won't.

Instead, at least a little while, I'm going to try and figure out whay exactly my permalinks aren't really behaving like permalinks. See, supposedly there's a little bit of code in my Blogger template that puts an anchor in every post, and then if you want to send someone to a particular post, you use that anchor as your link target. I see the code in my template, and the dates at the end of the post do indeed include a target. But if I use that target link, it just opens the particular archive at the top of the archived page and not at the target post. That's not terribly useful. But I figure a day off work is the perfect chance to unravel a mystery like this, so off I go ...

Thursday, February 26, 2004

We got about an inch of snow, and they're predicting more (or sleet or freezing rain) overnight. Even though nothing accumulated on the roadways around here, anything that could be canceled for this evening has been. Stuff has been canceled for tomorrow morning as well.

After moving here I made fun of the fact that every time there’s a winter “weather event” people around here rush to the grocery stores and buy up all the bread and milk. The local news shows send reporters to the supermarkets to show how empty the bread and milk shelves are. Why bread and milk? I never understood until today after work, when I realized that we probably needed bread and milk (among a few other items). So of course I rushed to the store and bought some bread and milk, and it’s a good thing I got there when I did, because the pickings were getting slim.
Arrghh!!! Now they're saying we could get 6-9 inches of snow. 'Round these parts, that certainly qualifies as a significant snow event, as "officials" like to say.

It still won't be as much snow as Andrew The Super Nova Scotian has gotten, but I bet we get more chaos ...
We're expecting more snow today. Everyone is on high alert, because as I've mentioned before, just a few inches is enough to shut down Life As We Know it in NC. People are already slacking off work a little in anticipation of leaving work early to get home before the roads become treacherous. (This despite the fact that we have yet to see a single flake, but it's allegedly started down in Fayetteville.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Well alrighty, according to this Weblog Author Survey, I am a Totally Normal Person. The survey is an appendix to an essay called "Why I Fucking Hate Weblogs!". It's hilarious.

While I was taking this little survey I wavered between choosing the answer that best represents me and the answer that seemed most "normal." Fortunately the two seemed to coincide much of the time, but it reminded me of the pre-employment “personality” and “morality” tests that so many companies give to try and figure out how likely you are to steal them blind, blow away a co-worker or be found one day OD’d on the restroom floor. I see these tests more as IQ tests, in that they really test whether you are smart enough to figure out which answers will pretty much rule you out as a candidate.

I mean, it’s fairly common sense to understand that a potential employer doesn’t want you stealing from them, isn't it? When presented with a question like “Taking office supplies from my employer isn’t really stealing,” you should definitely select “highly disagree” or the equivalent, even if your actual answer is “Well, what kind of pens do they stock? Are they Uniballs? Black Uniballs? Because everyone always steals those from me, so when I see extras lying around they're all mine.” But whatever you do, don’t agree with a statement like "I have never been untruthful, even to save someone’s feelings,” because that kind of question is often used to figure out if you’re faking at being honest, and they know you're lying if you say you've never told a lie.

But there are often more subtle questions that trip people up. For example, “If your co-worker stole money, would you tell a superior?” Now a reasonable response would probably be “No way, I’m no snitch!” But the company--let’s just call it "Wal-Mart"--doesn’t wan’t people who are actually decent and principled to their co-workers, they want people who are so desperate they will rat on their mothers for less than a living wage. So the correct answer to the question is “Yes, and how!” (Don’t worry, you can still actually be a principled human being after you secure that wretched job.)

But then there are questions like “Would you lie to protect your boss?” Maybe you think of some particularly odious boss from your past and figure you would spill all if there were a chance of his having to become someone’s bitch in some prison somewhere. And naturally you assume that this is the opposite of what the company wants to hear, because you’re supposed to side with the boss, right? Not necessarily--if you’re applying at the kind of company that resorts to expensive pseudoscientific tests like this to weed out undesirables, chances are the boss is just another replaceable part in the machine. If the boss is stealing, the company will want you to turn fink on him. But, if the boss is forcing you to clock out and then work a few hours of unpaid overtime, or locking you in the store during overnight stocking, then the company would prefer you to just shut your filthy hole, you scum.

So maybe failing one of these tests wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen ...

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

So far it's been a cranky week for me. But pretty much everyone at work is feeling cranky as well--that’s today’s hot topic: How Cranky Are We And Why Are We So Cranky? I didn't write much yesterday because all I could think was how much everything annoys me. It can be an entertaining topic, if done correctly, but I'm too cranky to execute it properly.

But one little annoying episode bears mentioning because it relates to a recent topic--the whole fascist thing, and I’ve just got to step back up on the soapbox for a moment (I promise I’ll talk about TV, music, dogs, bowling and other pressing issues again very soon). I ride a van pool to work (not every day--some days I need my car for one reason or another), and most of the time I pop on my headphones for the whole ride. I feel a little guilty because I should be more social, but I usually don't feel like talking about city council elections, neighborhood associations and other things these people get into. (Most of them would describe themselves as "progressive," a squishy catch-all term that allows them to hover vaguely on the side of the political spectrum that passes for "left" in this country. The fact that they voted for the black guy in last year’s attorney general race allows them to claim no racist motivations the next time they call the cops to report a “suspicious person” upon seeing an unfamiliar young black man walking down their street.)

Anyway, one guy asked me if I had "gotten out" at all over the beautiful weekend. So I said sure and proceeded to give a little synopsis of the demonstration. Anyway, when I mentioned the part about the huge police presence to protect the fascists, the guy says "Oh no, they weren't protecting the fascists, they were just keeping the peace." I said no, they were definitely there expressly to protect the fascists, and if they had been absent there would have been no fascist rally. He insisted the cops were there to keep the peace and then started blathering about the fascists' right to participate in the "free marketplace of ideas." Every time I tried to explain my disagreement with him, he kept repeating "They were keeping the peace, they were keeping the peace," over and over like a mantra, and then I realized that he had to keep up this mantra to protect his little worldview.

See, in the little utopia in his mind, the fascists, well they're just plain crazy and anyone with any sense knows it. So if you just let them get up and spout their craziness in peace, all the rest of the good people in the world will shake their heads and say "Golly, these people are just nutty," and then go on home and have a nice glass of cabernet. (Actually, I think he feels that people should just stay home and enjoy their cabernet while the fascists rally, because if you show up to try and stop them you’ll just make them feel important, which only encourages crazy people, y’know). To him the Klan and Nazis just like to talk ... why, the goofy things they used to do like lynching black people and running death camps, well that just wouldn’t happen again because everyone is so enlightened now.

But maybe the comfy job that keeps him in cabernet (he’s a lawyer) is making it easy for him to miss the fact that things aren’t so comfy for a lot of people right now, and they really want to be angry at someone. See fascists feed off of economic uncertainty and social turmoil. In other words, when people facing hard times through no fault of their own (i.e., I worked my ass off for 30 years, why am I suddenly unemployed and unable to find a job anywhere but Wal-mart, where they pay you crap, cheat you on overtime and treat you like a potential criminal?), or when crime, terrorists and such make the world seem scarier, people look for something or someone to blame. The fascists give them some convenient scapegoats. They say that those Mexicans stole your job; that black guy walking down the street wants to steal your television; the gays want to make a mockery of marriage and the family and/or recruit your son or daughter (as well as restyle that mullet you’ve been wearing since 1987); etc. ad nauseum. Sure it sounds kooky to you, Mr. NPR-listening Cabernet Lawyer, but right now there are a lot of angry people who hear the fascists and wonder if they really do have the answer. Ignore the 35 fascists who show up at the capitol this year, and next year there will be 40.

So Mr. “Keep-the-Peace,” if “peace” means that fascists are allowed to spew their filth freely and without challenge from the justifiably outraged decent people of the world, then I’ll be the first to say that I’m against peace.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Hey, check out Danger Mouse ... the Grey Album is #3 on WXDU's Top 88.7 this week.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

It took me a lot of connecting and reconnecting, but I finally ftp'd all the photos from the anti-fascist demo.
Yippee-ki-yay to Beast of Sound for helping disseminate info about the anti-fascist demo.
The News & Observer has an article on yesterday's events (Scroll down a teensy bit for the real story!).

The Anti-fascist Demonstration

Ok, as I promised (threatened?) yesterday, I'm going to give a thorough narrative of the anti-fascist protest in Raleigh. I'm really just doing it "for the record," because I don't think a 5-paragraph AP story really covers it for an event that I take a little more seriously. I know a lot of people think that the best thing to do is ignore the fascists, but then a lot of people thought that in Germany during the 1920s, and come 1933 it was a bit late to "nip it in the bud," as Barney Fife would say. A fascist rally is not an exercise of "free speech," it is a direct threat of violence to blacks, immigrants, gays, jews, trade unionists and anyone who stands alongside them. Fascism isn't just about people saying bad things or being "prejudiced," (the kinds of things that "sensitivity" training is supposed to overcome). Fascism is about genocide, y'all.

I was actually a bit surprised to hear about the planned Nazi rally because in the three and a half years I've lived in NC I hadn't caught wind of much overt fascist activity. Shortly before we moved here David Duke had held an anti-immigrant rally in Siler City, a town not far from here that's had a large influx of Mexican and Central Americans to work in the poultry processing plants. But I hadn't heard of much else (I must admit that I've also not been really "plugged in" to sources of such news either). But when we lived in the Midwest, sometimes it seemed not a weekend went by without some Klan group holding a rally someplace in Indiana or downstate Illinois (or even in Chicago, where the cops had to be on full mobe to protect the scumbags in that very black, gay, jewish, immigrant and unionized city).

Come to find out, the Nazis who showed up in Raleigh were from Minnesota (I'm guessing the small Klan contingent that joined them were home-grown, though). Apparently they chose Raleigh for their rally because of a recent documentary called Welcome to Durham about gang violence here. Which raises the question: Why didn't they come here to Durham? I know why: to quote a bit in The Utne Reader:

"There are few other U.S. cities where African Americans wield as much political clout. The population is roughly half black and half white; the majority of city council members are black. An organization called the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People has been influencing community affairs since the 1930s, when a large black middle class grew up around North Carolina Central, a black university, and Pear Street, which was known as the black Wall Street. Whites aren't allowed to attend meetings, but the committee has a long history of working closely with a progressive white organization called the People's Alliance. Don't even think of running for public office in Durham unless you have an endorsement from this powerful committee. "

The fascists are really a cowardly lot--they wouldn't come out and rally anywhere if the cops didn't mobilize to protect them and keep counter-demonstrators far from them. And they certainly don't want to test the waters in a place like Durham, where they're not likely to get the same kind of official welcome they got in Raleigh. And make no mistake--the cops in Raleigh were out in full-force (probably with lots of overtime pay involved) to make sure that not a hair on a hooded fascist head got mussed by rightly outraged people.

News reports said there were about 300 anti-fascist demonstrators there, but it looked like closer to 1,000 to me (Mark estimated 1,500). When we arrived yesterday, the entire sidewalk along Martin Street between Salisbury and Wilmington streets (south of the Capitol--the "legal" site of the anti-fascist demo--if you're not familiar with downtown Raleigh, here's a map) was crammed with people, mostly dressed in black (it was actually a pretty impressive sight. I would have loved to have gotten a photo of the whole block but the cops had the place so blocked up there was no way I could have gotten a good angle).

We parked on New Bern Place and walked up to Wilmington Street, where the half-block to the corner of Wilmington and Edenton streets was thronged with more people, mostly in black as well, many with bandannas on their faces (looked like a very anarchist crowd to me). The fascists were supposed to assemble in state lot 18, across the street, and the people assembled here were hoping to "greet" them. We caught a few glimpses of confederate & Nazi flags, but it became clear that the cops weren't going to allow the fascists to march across the street to the capitol out in the open (instead I think they put them in vans and shuttled them over).

At any rate, after about 20 minutes the cops all got out their sticks and told the crowd to leave the corner. They marched everyone down to the corner of Wilmington and Martin, hoping to pen everyone into the "legal" demonstration area, which effectively trapped the crowd in between the cop barricade and a couple of buildings. Mark and I chose to stay out of there--we weren't interested in the possibility of being clubbed, gassed, trampled or arrested if the cops decided it was time to bust heads.

I can't remember what time exactly the fascists showed up, but it was way after 2 pm, their appointed time. There looked to be about 30 from where I was standing, which was half a block away--as close as anyone but cops and journalists got. They had a PA system and made speeches which were barely intelligible, and all the anti-fascist forces could do was chant, bang their drums and wave their placards. It's a really pathetic and demoralizing feeling to stand a watch a group of fascist scum spew their filth while you're powerless to shut them up. In fact, I wavered a bit when deciding whether or not to attend, because the real goal is to keep them from coming out in the first place, which isn't easy when the cops are working overtime to protect them. The cowards wouldn't even have gotten out of their cars without the cops to protect them. Hell, they probably wouldn't even have parked--they'd have just driven right by and headed straight back to the interstate.

There was a barricade around the entire Capitol grounds, reinforced by what looked like 50 state troopers in black storm-trooper gear. They kept forming and re-forming their lines--I'm sure they were all on a big cop adrenaline rush. In fact all the cops looked like they were either on a high or nervous as hell. Unlike in Chicago, where the cops have perfected the art of busting heads to "keep the peace," this kind of demonstration doesn't happen much around here. It was pretty clear that the cops weren't always sure what to do. (But true to the southern tradition, when I heard cops issuing orders, they usually said "thank you" after people followed an order, which was usually phrased more like a request: "I need you to stay on the sidewalk please. Thank you.")

At one point a contingent of anti-fascists (the ones with bandannas) all left the cop pen en masse and went back to the corner opposite Lot 18. The cops got a little confused and the the order was given that every other cop in line was to get out and fortify that corner. Militarily speaking, the demonstrators had just effectively split the cops' forces. Then at one point a bunch of demonstrators started east on Edenton Street, away from the capitol (I have no idea what their objective was--maybe they just wanted to fuck with the cops), and the cops got really nervous and started giving chase, spreading their ranks further. It was interesting but tense and, Mark and I decided we didn't want to be in such a volatile situation (especially if they were just messing with the cops), so we moved back down to the opposite corner.

I heard a lot of people expressing surprise that the cops were there to protect the fascists from the demonstrators and not the other way around. After all, they reasoned, aren't they the dangerous ones? What about all the worries about terrorism--aren't the fascists really terrorists? I almost wanted to start my favorite anti-fascist chant: "Cops and Klan go hand in hand" but the last thing I wanted to do in a demo with such dodgy leadership was bait the cops. It already seemed that some of the protesters, unable to get close to the fascists, were itching to take on the cops instead, which is a futile and downright stupid thing to do. What do you prove by getting yourself clubbed, gassed and/or arrested? It only proves what you can learn by looking at history, here as well as in Europe: fascists come in handy when the state needs a hand breaking strikes, enforcing Jim Crow laws, silencing leftists, etc.

Anyway, before I get stuck up on my soapbox, I'll wrap things up. Once we saw the fascists finally shut up and leave, Mark and I decided it was best to get gone before the cops decided to clear the area. Mark heard that two or three people got arrested, but we don't know what for. Whenever I manage to ftp all of my photos, they will be posted here (if you get the "page not found" error, it means my ftp connection won't go and I'll have to post them Monday).

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Here are a few photos of the anti-fascist demonstration today in Raleigh (see previous post for more info). What you can't see is that on the side of the street where I'm standing, there are at least 150 more people. I didn't cross to the other side because the cops basically had people penned in--they had about 8 feet of sidewalk and their backs were up against a building--there would be no escape if the cops decided to charge them or gas them. I couldn't believe that people brought their dogs and small children with them--I guess maybe they've never done this before and don't realize what happens when the cops want the area cleared NOW! It's a good way to get your dogs or kids tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed or trampled by panic-stricken people fleeing the cops batons. Anyway, I'll write a real narrative tomorrow--I'm beat.



Mark and I went to the anti-fascist demonstration today in Raleigh. At least 1,000 people turned out to demonstrate against the Nazi-Klan scum (news reports say 300--but they rely on police sources who, from my experience at demonstrations, aways underestimate). It looked like the fascists managed to scrape up about 30 people (the news sources say 35, but we weren't allowed to get close enough to really count. What the news stories didn't mention was that there were at least 200 Raleigh cops and State Highway Patrolmen (in black riot gear--they looked like storm troopers) protecting the fascists (including snipers on the rooftops of several downtown buildings). Then later when they realized how huge the anti-fascist crowd had gotten, they brought in a couple vanloads of sheriff's deputies in full riot gear, and then about 15 US Marshalls showed up. All this to protect the Nazis and Klan. I got a lot of photos and I'll post them tomorrow (or Monday if my ftp connection from home goes dodgy as it has been lately).

I'll also post more of a narrative in a bit, but here's one of the few news stories I've found about it (apparently all the local news outlets just picked up the AP feed).
(Free registration required.)
I guess I'm just a born rule-breaker ...

A blogger, er, I mean a journalist or writer (she's really picky about terminology) named Jen Chung, who writes a blog (or whatever the hell she wants to call it) called Gothamist, published some rules for "What Not to Do When You Blog." I've broken every one of them. Oh well, too late to straighten up and fly right now. Hell, I didn't even know there were rules when I started this thing. Now I'm wondering if the weblog police--with Gothamist on point--are going to come hacking through my door to yank out my DSL for violations.

Seems I went astray from the get-go: you're not supposed to call it a "blog" unless you understand what the word "blog" means. Silly goose that I am, I though it was just short for "weblog," and I thought that a weblog was just a sort of journal of whatever sort one kept on the web. But no, "blogs are made up of posts that have 'links + commentary.' Commentary, not Joyce-ian stream-of-consciousness. They can be personal, but more in terms of point of view, versus a webcam of yourself." Apparently veteran bloggers like Gothamist, like long-time residents of a neighborhood that has recently become trendy, now feel the need to distance themselves from the newbies, or as Gothamist puts it, "16 year old girls, writing in bad grammar on LiveJournal."

Her next rule is: "for the love of God, do not write about yourself." Oh please. I guess we're all supposed to be hip, "cool link of the day" type bloggers who toss in a link to the same Slate article 500 other bloggers, er, I mean journalists, are linking to, rip off a sentence or two trying to demonstrate how witty and above-it-all we are and then call it a day. That's boring. I happen to like reading blogs where people write about their lives, linking to interesting things where relevant. OK, you can spare us what you ate for every meal, unless it was a particularly good or interesting meal, or your blog happens to be all about food (there's a guy in Italy who posts a photo of every pasta meal he eats). Gothamist assumes that everyone who keeps a weblog is trying to become famous through it the way she is. If that's your objective, then sure, follow her rules (and be sure to post links urging your readers to vote for you in the Bloggies). But if your objective is to amuse yourself and maybe a handful of readers, I say do your own thing.

She does make the point that you shouldn't write about your pets, which reminds me: I've written a bit about my dogs, but nothing about my cats. That's hardly fair. I'll have to rectify that soon ...

Anyway, the rest of the rules are fairly sensible to me: make an effort to update regularly, don't libel folks, etc. But by the time I got to them I was rolling my eyes and feeling like a rebel. And I think you should too, in fact, I'm going to make that rule number one in my upcoming "Rules for Readers of A Complete Bunch of Pants."
Today started out looking like it was going to be beautiful, but now clouds have rolled in and it's looking like rain. I wonder if the fascists come out in the rain? (See yesterday's posts about that.) Anyway, our plans are still on to head out to Raleigh and check out the scene later today.

A sign of impending spring: I noticed this morning that my hellebores are in bloom. Then I saw that the News and Observer has an article today about hellebores. (warning: the link will probably expire in a couple of weeks because they want you to pay their stupid old news). I've got my eyes peeled for signs of crocuses.

Friday, February 20, 2004

OK, so before the fascists (see posts from earlier today below) slithered out from under their rocks, I was thinking about Danger Mouse and sampling ...

First the weather report:
Beautiful! Springlike. Happy me! I'm not cold right now, and in fact, when I went out during lunch I had to take my jacket off because it got too warm. A day like today is what it's all about.

Now a ramble about music:
Listening to Danger Mouse's Grey Album (the topic of yesterday's post) has made me kick around the whole debate about the legal/ethical/musical/artistic merits (or lack thereof, in some opinions) of sampling. Actually, I've been party to an e-mail list discussion about the matter (a list of djs), so that's probably what's got me thinking about it. And since I'm thinking about it, I'm writing about it--just because it's hard to write about something other than what you're thinking about.

First off let me state that I'm all for it (sampling), and I think The Grey Album is pretty damn brilliant (especially "Dirt off Your Shoulders"). I think the whole notion that music is all about "writing your own parts and playing your own instruments" (to quote one participant in the e-mail discussion) may have been a valid point of view way back when the big question was "Are The Monkees legit?" but it just doesn't apply anymore. The whole concept of a musical "instrument" has really changed, for one thing. I was listening to NPR yesterday on the way home from work, and they had a bit about a music professor who's teaching a "turntablism" class. It's a sign that the turntable and mixing board are becoming recognized (and rightfully so in my opinion) as legitiate musical "instruments." (By the way, if you want to argue the "it's not art" or "it's not original" thing, don't use MC Hammer as your example of why it sucks, OK? Because the only answer to that is an eye roll ...) (Oh also, I should add that I'm not the kind of dj who produces art ... I just play songs on the radio and then talk in between them).

There is also the (knee-jerk, in my opinion) argument that "sampling is stealing." Legally, according to copyright law, sampling without permission and or remuneration is "stealing." But even though I am (or like to consider myself) an artist (albeit not a musical one), I think copyright law, so well intentioned, is just off the mark. I do believe in some form of copyright protection--for example I don't think someone should be allowed to grab one of my photos and use it un altered without my permission. But what if they take a piece of one of my photos and use that piece in a new pattern of their own design? That would be cool (although it would be nice if they gave me credit, of course). Well, that's pretty much what sampling is. And it shouldn't be a breach of copyright.

Written work sort of has this covered in the "fair use" provisions of copyright law--you can quote someone else without their permission as long as you give them credit (fair use also covers parody and satire). So I can take a chunk of text from the Illegal Art website and slap it here to help illustrate a point, for example:

"The laws governing 'intellectual property' have grown so expansive in recent years that artists need legal experts to sort them all out. Borrowing from another artwork--as jazz musicians did in the 1930s and Looney Tunes illustrators did in 1940s--will now land you in court. If the current copyright laws had been in effect back in the day, whole genres such as collage, hiphop, and Pop Art might have never have existed.

"The irony here couldn't be more stark. Rooted in the U.S. Constitution, copyright was originally intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas but is now being used to stifle it."

Oh yeah, and another thing about written work: If I take a quote from someone else and rearrange the words, it becomes my original work. So listen to the Danger Mouse stuff and then decide if he didn't just quote and rearrange the Beatles (into completely new music)? (Jay Z implicitly gave permission for the Black Album to be remixed by "leaking" the vocal tracks--Danger Mouse is just one of several DJs to use them.)

Anyway, here's a link to Illegal Art's page of copyright articles if you want to read on...
So Mark and I will be going to the capitol tomorrow between 2-4 pm. I'm a bit reticent about getting too close because past experience has taught me that cops love to bust heads, and usually not fascist heads. (How much like Chicago cops are Raleigh cops?) Also there's the whole 1979 Greensboro Massacre ... this will be my first anti-fascist activity since moving to the South, and I'm interested to see what goes down.
The Chapel Hill Independent Media Center appears to be part of the anti-Nazi organizing. Their web site says: "Give NO fascists any breathing room" Surely they don't mean squeeze the air right out of their lungs ... Oh sorry, I'm having daydreams of omnipotence ...

The Fascists Are Coming

This ticks me off: Nazis are going to rally tomorrow at the NC State Capitol in Raleigh, and they've invited some of their Klan buddies to join them. About 1,000 yards away there's apparently going to be a touchy-feely "fascists aren't very nice" kind of demonstration, but what good will that do? I agree with Trotsky: The only way to argue with a fascist is to introduce him to the pavement. Today's News & Observer doesn't seem to have any mention at all of the fascist rally (Mark heard about it on NPR), probably under the belief that A) if you ignore the fascists they will go away (look how well that one worked in Germany) or B) if the good people of North Carolina know that the scumbags are going to be out in the open, they will descend upon the capitol and chase them off the streets and that would be violence and that would be bad. Y'all, the fascists ARE violence. This ain't about free speech, this is a direct threat to blacks, latinos and anyone brave enough to say words like "trade union" here in the South.

Thursday, February 19, 2004


Free The Grey Album

From Illegal Art: DJ Danger Mouse's recent Grey Album, which remixes Jay-Z's The Black Album and the Beatles White Album, has been hailed as a innovative hip-hop triumph. Despite that and the fact that only 3,000 copies of the album are in circulation, EMI sent cease and desist letters yesterday to Danger Mouse and the handful of stores that were selling the album, demanding that the album be destroyed.

"EMI isn't looking for compensation, they're trying to ban a work of art," said Downhill Battle's Rebecca Laurie.

"Special interests, including the major labels, have turned copyright law into a weapon," said Downhill Battle co-founder Holmes Wilson. "If Danger Mouse had requested permission and offered to pay royalties, EMI still would have said no and the public would never have been able to enjoy this critically acclaimed work. Artists are being forced to break the law to innovate."

The Grey Album has been widely shared on file sharing networks such as Kazaa and Soulseek, and has garnered critical acclaim in Rolling Stone (which called it "the ultimate remix record" and "an ingenious hip-hop record that sounds oddly ahead of its time"), the Boston Globe (which called it the "most creatively captivating" album of the year), and other major news outlets.

Download the Grey Album from Illegal Art

Read about the Grey Tuesday campaign.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

"One person's gaffe is another's peccadillo." What a lovely quote! It comes to us courtesy of Washington State University prof Paul Brians, who maintains a website called Common Errors in English. I love stuff like this ... but before I go any further let me first admit that I make errors in English. Most of them are because I'm too lazy to pay attention. In fact, I enjoy not paying attention--because once upon a time I had to pay constant attention (I was a copy editor)--so now I like to kick back and let the errors slip right by me. Anyway, I still get a little bugged by some folks' usage ... for example impact as a verb or using "an" in front of "historic, so it's fun to go over Brians' list of common usage errors. He appears to have done this to be helpful, not nitpicky, so don't get offended when you see your favorite usage/phrase on his list. Check out the entry for bumrush/bum's rush.
Apparently, you're not really supposed to shake a Polaroid picture.


No Pants Day? I'm trying to decide if that's something I should support or not ...


Welcome Singaporeans!

See, I'm big in Singapore! OK, not exactly "big" ... not at all "big," actually. But I have had several people from Singapore hitting the site (and probably going away disappointed never to return). I've been testing out a couple of free site-tracking services--just for kicks, really, because there's no reason for me to know or care who visits this site (Note to self: come up with something to SELL these people!) But one of the things I'm able to find out is what country vistors are from, and several have been from Singapore. Not only can I find out their country, but I can also more or less learn why they came, or at least what web site referred them to me or which Google or Yahoo search keywords dredged up my site. In the case of the Singaporeans, it was William Hung (or in a few cases "Willam" Hung, because apparently I misspelled his name once and never caught it. No way am I going back to correct it now.) The two of you who read this site regularly know that last week I wrote a little thingie about William Hung ... really I'm just trying to ride to fame and fortune on his coattails.

Anywho, more interesting to me is that someone found this site by typing "who the hell is simon cowell" into google (which, if you include the quotation marks, brings up this page and only this page). Someone else got here by googling "can't get that evil weiner," which is part of the name (Can't Get That Evil Weiner Song Out Of MY Head) of a recently released cd featuring local (NC) bands covering songs by local band Evil Weiner.

And all of this brings up the question: Shouldn't I be working right now?

By the way, the site-tracking service that I like is called Stat Counter.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The threat of rotten weather was enough to cancel tonight's flyball and agility classes. (I've mentioned before that bad weather shuts everything down around here, but that wasn't completely accurate--apparently the idea that bad weather may actually happen is enough.) The rotten weather didn't completely materialize here. It did snow hard and fast this morning, and then it rained a bit--the threat was that is was going to be freezing rain. But it didn't really amount to much.

But I'm not sorry that the classes were cancelled, because it's butt-cold outside and even though I'm a crazy dog person, I'm not crazy enough to enjoy spending almost 4 hours out in 25 degree temperatures teaching people how to train their dogs or training my own dog. (The ring we train in is covered, but otherwise it's outdoors.) Lucy doesn't have very thick fur, and she gets cold and shivery pretty quickly. I have a coat for her, but she hates it. She gets this hang-dog look that seems to say "Why am I being punished?" whenever I put it on her, and then she'll refuse to walk unless I lure her with a treat. I can't even tie a bandanna around her neck without putting her into a pout.

Even though it's early, I think I'll crawl into bed with my latest good book: The Colombo Bay by Richard Pollack. It's about the huge container ships that bring all those cheap goods to the Wal-Mart nearest you. It may not sound fascinating to most folks, but a few years ago I met up with a woman from Scotland whom I had known in college, and I learned that she now drives container ships around the world for a living. It sounded pretty interesting to me, so I had to check this book out when I saw it at the library.
There's a blog I've got blogrolled called Help Me Bubby where some folks have set up their grandmother to give advice to other folks. For some reason I like advice columns, even when the advice they give out is just plain wrong. Like Bubby's. I'm betting she's a wonderful grandmother, and the advice she gives probably makes people feel better, but it's not really the best advice in my opinion, which is the opinion that counts here in my blog. So just for fun, I'm going to answer a couple of Bubby's latest queries with my own advice.

Dear Bubby,
I recently broke up with my boyfriend of one and a half years. I really thought that he was THE ONE. After suffering through several months of “things not working out,” however, I realized that it was time to cut my ties. I am almost 24 years old now and I know I am still young. Nevertheless, I feel so hopeless about ever finding the right man for me. I just want someone who understands me and my complexities (every woman has them). I need some advice on how to meet someone.
Sincerely, Timidly Looking


BUBBY'S ANSWER:
Dear Timidly Looking,
There are many fish in the sea and I am sure another one will swim your way. Find someone worthy of you. Never sell yourself short or you will be the loser. Join some organization, spend time in the adult library. You could take some adult classes. I know several girls who met nice young men that way.

Good Luck. ♥, BUBBY

MY ANSWER
Hey TL,

You are never, ever, ever going to find a man who understands your "complexities." Nobody really ever understands anyone else's "complexities," they just either learn to deal with them enough to stick around for a while, or they don't. But here's a tip for finding someone willing to put up with your "complexities" for a while (or longer): get over yourself just a little bit. I mean, if you're sitting around fixated on your own complexities all the time, guys are likely to see you as yet another person wallowing in a bunch of tiresome complexities (that probably aren't really so complex to begin with, but everyone seems to feel that "complexities" make them more interesting). You can go to the library and take all the adult classes you want, but nothing scares away all the fish in the sea like a self-absorbed "complex" person. Unless she's what guys call "totally hot," in which case some poor schmoe will fall for you hook, line and sinker and put up with all your crap for the rest of his miserable life.

Dear Bubby,
I've been going out with my girlfriend for over a year now, and when any important holiday comes around, I feel really lost and confused. I never really know exactly what to buy her to make her really happy.

It's not like I don't listen. I really do. But she doesn't exactly say, "I want _____ for Valentine's Day" or something!

What should I do? Casually ask her about these things, or what?
Confused Shopper



BUBBY'S ANSWER:
Dear Confused Shopper,
If you really want to buy your girlfriend a gift there are a million things you can get her. Now that Valentines day is here, how about a dozen red roses and a box of good chocolates? If you are very close to her there is always lingerie - and a nice gold chain with a charm - a heart is just beautiful. This is only the beginning. If she likes to read, get her a copy of one of the books on the best list - check the N Y Times and go to Barnes and Nobles. Then there are beautiful bags (pocketbooks). Just go and buy! And then you'll get her reaction -- don't just talk about it or dream about it. My husband bought me all sorts of gifts without asking me WHAT.

Good pickings ♥, BUBBY

MY ANSWER
Hey CS,

Material goods cannot give happiness, ya dope. And roses, chocolates, lingerie and jewelry are just so done to death for Valentine's Day--they would signal a total lack of imagination on your part. And what kind of imagination does it take for one person to get another a Valentine's Day gift anyway? All it means is that you can follow orders and do what your television says. Baaaaa! Sheep!

But if you want to get her a gift (and who doesn't like a small gift now and then?) get her something from the completely, astoundingly awsome Soul Jazz Records catalog. If she doesn't like it then she has no taste and you should dump her.

Got a question for A Complete Bunch of Pants? Look around, there's an e-mail address on this page somewhere--I remember putting it there once.
More snow going on. I'm going to completely reverse my attitude about the weather and love snow. I will embrace it. I'm going to go home and roll around in it (in the front yard ... there's dog poop lurking underneath it in the back yard). I'll make a snowman if that's what it takes for me to love the snow. Then maybe it will go away. I'm just thinking that hating it isn't doing me any good, so I may as well try the old reverse psychology thing.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Ahh, lunch. The highlight of most work days (next to quittin' time, of course). Sometimes half the morning can be taken up by important discussions and negotiations about lunch, usually starting with "Did you bring your lunch today?" I brought half a lunch today--a container full of broccoli slaw with ginger vinaigrette dressing, so when Melanie and Erika asked if I wanted to go to Fresh Market with them I gladly tagged along. I wish I had grabbed the camera.

Fresh Market is exactly the kind of place I love to hate: Gorgeous, overpriced, uber-upscale, foo-foo food store scientifically designed to instill the belief that the mere act of purchasing something there is all one needs to become a better person. Fresh Market is basically a Whole Foods without the "save the planet by shopping here" message programed into the marketing mix. They do make a very tasty smoked turkey and swiss on whole wheat, and yes, it's quite fresh. But it's hard to get in and out of there with just a sandwich, because they've spent a lot of money engineering the experience to prevent that from happening. The store is wall to wall eye-candy (with a lot of real candy thrown in). The first thing you see when you walk in the front door are gobs of flowers. That achieves a swift and total deactivation of your "I'm just popping in for a sandwich" defense mechanism. Then, when you are hit with the bins full of bulk yummies, nibblies and coffees you're completely receptive to their seductions. "I haven't had sesame sticks in a long while and look, they have roasted pepper with cheese ones," or "I'm sure I would be happy if I had some freshly ground Kona blend coffee every morning. " Then there is the bakery, where crusty sourdoughs and foccacias compete for your affections with tiny works of art made from sugar, butter and food coloring. And before you can check out you must pass within sight of the wall-o-wine, which actually made me consider buying a bottle to go with my lunch before I remembered myself and my mission. Anyway, I managed to make it of there with only some spicy plantain chips and some sesame sticks (yes, the roasted pepper and cheese ones) in addition to my sandwich.

Stuff like this is why I try to make myself bring my lunch.
Last night's sleet changed to show, and we woke up to a very pretty sight this morning. It was a fluffy snow, 4 to 5 inches worth, and it stuck to everything in huge puffy tufts. The sun was out, and I figured I'd give it time to melt things a bit (plus I wanted to waith until the "I've got me a 4-wheel drive and I'm gonna go go go" folks were gone), so I went to work a couple of hours late. At some point along the way--I'm not sure exactly where, the show pretty much disappeared. Raleigh got hardly any, but Durham got more than plenty. Anyway, the roads are fine, life continues, and I really hope that was winter's last party

Sunday, February 15, 2004

More weather ...

We've got some weather going on. It's sleeting pretty heavily. Ordinarily I'd be a little bummed because I'm sick of the weather disrupting things, but right now I don't think I'd mind not being able to go to work tomorrow. What with my mom being here and Mark's mom arriving, I just don't feel I've had much of a chance to slack this weekend, and everyone needs a little slack now and then. There's already 5 inches of snow on the ground in the county where Mark works, so his company declared themselves closed for tomorrow and he gets a paid day off. State government never closes, so I'd have to make up my time or use vacation. But since we got bonus leave instead of raises for the past two years, it's not a big problem for me.

But the weather sucks anyway ... Sunday is when we usually do the grocery shopping, and tonight we also had to shop for Mark's mom. She's still in a neck brace from the accident and she isn't supposed to move around much. Since she just moved in she has nothing and needs everything. So we had two carts full of stuff and we had to decipher what exactly was on her list and figure out which particular type of whatever she'd be happy with, plus do our usual bargain calculations and coupon shuffling. It took forever, then we had to load it all in the car in the sleet, unload it to her house in the sleet, and then unload it to our house.

Oh yeah, we did a little bowling practice today, and in 5 games my scores ranged from the 130s to 180--all respectable for me. I was consistently hitting the strike zone, but I didn't always have the rotation I needed to actually strike. I was picking up my spares almost every time (except for the splits). I think I'm to the point where the new ball will really be necessary if I want to stay on the high end of those scores. The plastic ball doesn't get enough grip to get the rotations and the consistent hook I need. I've just been feeling a bit "tightwadly" lately and hate to spend the money. Last week I bought a wrist support, and it was a well-spent 20 bucks. I'm not sure if it improved my game, but my hand no longer hurts after bowling. I think I'm turning into a bowling geek, because all of the lingo and bowler babble is starting to make sense to me.

LOL! LOL! LOL!

The trouble with this whole blog thing is that one is likely to feel a comittment to writing something daily even if one can't think of what to write. So then you end up writing stuff like: "This morning I was out of Special K Red Berries, so I had to eat Honey Nut Cheerios instead. I guess I need to go to the grocery store." That's about how creative and expressive I'm feeling today.

At least I'm never tempted to write "LOL!" after anything I write. I find "LOL!" the most annoying little bit of online shorthand. I always figure the person writing it is humor-impaired and assumes that everyone else is just as humor-impaired, so they must mark every joke plainly and boldly. I don't mind the little "winky" emoticon--y'know, the semicolon close-parentheses guy--it's like smirking after you crack wise, a subtle cue to let people know you're joshing them. Like if I were to say the the real trouble with children is that there's just not enough meat on their bones, I might want to toss in a ;) just to let you know it's a lark. But writing "LOL!" wold be like saying loudly, "I'M KIDDING, OKAY? YOU KNOW I'M JUST KIDDING, RIGHT? I DON'T REALLY EAT CHILDREN, OKAY?"

Anyway in the mundane mundo, Mom's gone home, taking her little dog with her. Mark's mom is in her cozy little cottage. She likes it. I was a little worried that she wouldn't--people like to pick out where they are going to live, but we pretty much just bought the place and said "You will live here now." If she hadn't liked it I would have been a bit perplexed because it's cute as a button. If it weren't just a little too tiny I'd want to live there, but we'd need to downsize a bit more before that could happen. But I am actually considering it for the unforseeable future. I have two friends who are currently living with three pit bulls, a chocolate lab and a cat in an RV. It's only been for the past two years or so while the guy has been in grad school, and they will be moving back to their house in Alaska this summer. But the point is, it can be done. Mark would love to live on our boat, but I'm really not ready for that.

Bowling news: I did respectably last night: two games somewhere in the 150s and one somewhere around 135. But the coolest thing was in the last game I bowled a turkey. (That's three strikes in a row.) People in our league often bowl six or seven in a row, but I'm happy with my three for now. As soon as Mark gets back from helping his mom settle in we're going to go practice some more.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

My mom is on her way back from Virginia today. She'll stop here to get Edy, stay the night and head back to Myrtle Beach tomorrow. I should be cleaning up the house right now. There's dog-toy stuffing everywhere. We have a whole basket full of dog toys that are largely forgotten, because Lucy only likes certain toys, and Mr. Gomez is afraid of most toys (he doesn't like anything that squeaks, and I also suspect that toys with eyes frighten him as well). But Edy never met a toy she didn't like, and she's a very busy little dog. So she's dragged out most of the toys in the basket, carried them around the house, and torn the stuffing out of the ones that still have stuuffing in them. (Fortunately she doesn't eat the stuffing--I know dogs who do.)

My mother-in-law is also flying in today, only she's staying for good--in her own house, though. We bought her a little 2 bedroom house--we would have had to pay her rent in an apartment, and this way we will at least get an investment out of the deal. When we were house-hunting, a lot of people asked us why we didn't just buy a house big enough for her to live with us. But for roughly the same amount of mortgage payments each month we can keep our own modest house and have her living too far away to walk over, but close enough for us to drive over in less than five minutes if she needs us. This way we don't have to pack up and move (from a house we like), and we can still enjoy our own space and time (and she hers). Besides, we'd have to buy a really huge house if we all wanted to live in harmony.

Anyway, moving her here has been a nightmare. She was living in Mexico, and she had insisted on driving herself and her two cats northward. Check out my January archives if you want to read the story of the car wreck she got in on her first day of traveling. She's been in Houston at Mark's sister's house recovering and waiting for her stuff to arrive here so we can get her house ready. That's part 2 of the nightmare. Mark had wanted her to sell her furnishings and just ship her personal effects and paintings (she's an artist) as cargo, and the money we saved shipping her furnishings could be used to get more here. She wouldn't hear of it because she liked her stuff too much. Anyway, she found a freight forwarder who was recommended to her by some gringos in San Miguel de Allende, so Mark worked out the deal with him, or so he thought. Well, we still haven't decided if he's an incompetent boob or a con man ... we finally have her stuff, but the guy tried to rewrite the deal as he went, citing all sorts of complications (like his wife ran off with the money he was supposed to pay the Mexican movers). The problem is that we were here, he was in San Miguel de Allende, and the stuff was somewhere in between. All in all it came in at only $10 over budget. The lesson is: Don't get attached to your stuff. It just isn't worth it.

So the saga continues ... she was supposed to arrive at around 2 pm today, but she called Mark a while ago to let him know she'd missed the flight. (People! You can't get to the airport a half an hour before your plane leaves anymore and expect to catch the flight! Once we got to the airport just under two hours before a flight and we still missed it.) So she's supposed to arrive around 5 pm. Our bowling league starts at 7 pm. She's going to be ditched at her new house with some food and a television, and we're going bowling, dammit. Actually, I could afford to miss it because I'm likely to bowl below my average, considering the way things are going, and the team would probably benefit from bowling a blind in my place. But Mark's been bowling way above his average, and if we had to bowl him blind it would suck.

I guess we're terrible people for feeling that bowling is more important than getting Mark's mom all settled in her comfy little house. It's only for a couple of hours, and Mark can spend all day Sunday helping her settle in.

I guess I'll tidy up a little before my mom gets here ...

Friday, February 13, 2004

My headache finally went away--it had gotten a lot worse before it got better, which probably explains the previous grouchy posts. I try to steer clear of political and religious discussions at work, but it doesn't always work.
Another sort of political discussion I should try to avoid: people complaining about how their tax money shouldn't be used for prisoners to get an education while in prison (quote: "people come out of prison better off than they went in and I shouldn't have to pay for it"). What I didn't say but wanted to: "Yeah? Well I shouldn't have to pay to educate all the damn brats you people are cranking out, but I do." (As I mentioned earlier, I've been grouchy today). The point I did make: Wouldn't you rather people come out of prison better off so they're maybe less likely to rip off all your stuff and kill you?

Seriously, the biggest thing that bugs me about "my fellow" Americans in general is their sanctimonious vindictiveness. In general most of the folks I deal with on a daily basis are bloodthirsty for vengeance, and desperate to believe they are superior to anyone. And the folks who who chant along with the preacher on Sunday "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" are the first ones to demand "justice" most loudly

Needless to say I'm feeling extremely misanthropic right now. I' may feel better a little later ...
Why I don't discuss politics with many people ...

There was some mention and discussion about gay marriage ... someone mentioned allowing non-married couples, whether gay or straight, to have certain rights like health care coverage and whether that would settle the question ... I chimed in something like: "Or how about maybe just health care for everyone, period, gay or straight, married or not?" Someone replied "Because we don't live in RUSSIA." Yow, golly gee, never mind. (I'm not even going to bring up the point that not even Russians live in that "Russia" anymore ... )

Instead I'll just leave everyone to natter on and on about which Democrat is "electable," blah blah blah ....

I've had a low-grade headache all morning, but it's high-grade enough to make me extremely annoyable. So I'm really cranky right now, and that's when I say the damndest things ... What's annoying me most right now are baby showers. It seems everybody I work with has had or is having a damn baby. So we keep having all these baby showers. I've never worked in a place where it's customary to give baby showers at the office. I find it unacceptable, because it sort of obligates people to participate or be branded anti-social or something. But honestly, I disapprove of the whole concept of having babies. I wish I had the guts to buy each mom- or dad-to-be a box of condoms as a shower gift. Actually, I exaggerate a little bit--I don't mind buying baby gifts for actual friends, but I resent the fact that just because I work in the same place as some random person I'm expected to help foot the cost of outfitting their nursery.

At least no one's invited me to a bridal shower lately ....

Thursday, February 12, 2004

This is kind of sad (and a little baffling) to me: three women blog about shopping. They take pictures of all the stuff they buy and post it on the blog. They buy a LOT of stuff--most of it high-end. They say it's "things of great necessity," but honestly, who needs that much Hello Kitty stuff?

If you're at all familiar with women, chances are you've noticed that a lot of us carry purses around. Most of us would not be happy walking around with a wallet-bulge in our back pocket, assuming the pants we're wearing even have pockets. (Too many womens' clothes don't. You know that inside breast pocket that mens' suit- and sport-coats always have? Women's suits never have one of those.) Anyway, a lot of us carry more than our wallets around in our purses, and we get addicted to the feeling that anything we could possibly need is right there with us. (Once I was able to produce a table knife when one was needed.) In the winter I get quite agitated if I don't know where my next hit of chap-stick is coming from, and I almost always have paper and pen.

Anyway, this morning I walked out of the house without my purse. I had grabbed the carry-all bag that I use for miscellaneous crap, some cds and/or my ipod, an umbrella and whatever else I want to lug to work, but I left the purse on a chair near the door. I didn't notice until I got to work and went to grab the carryall and ... the purse that wasn't there. I had a momentary panic, because without my purse I am nothing. No swipe card to get into my building ... fortunately the security guard at the front door knows me. No money for lunch ... but I had yeasterday's lunch still in the fridge because I ended up going out. No change for a snack ... but I shouldn't be eating those anyway, and besides I had microwave popcorn and fruit cups in my desk drawer. Really, the only things I missed all day were my comb, the lens cleaning cloth for my glasses and my USB thumb drive, which had some stuff I wanted to work on during lunch.

But my digital camera was in my miscellaneous bag, and with no personal work to while away the lunch hour with, I decided to accompany co-workers to Borders bookstore, where I surrepticiously took lots of photos. I felt like a shoplifter. I'd pretend to be interested in a book or a magazine when really I was trying to get pictures of people without their knowledge. I had a great time. It's way more fun than actually shopping.
OK, you have to check out The Kids of Widney High. Widney is a special ed high school in L.A., where teacher Mike Monagan started a songwriting class in 1987. From that grew a singing/songwriting group, which just released their third album Act Your Age (currently on playlist rotation at WXDU). You can listen to 2-minute clips of every song at CD Baby (definitely pick the "play all songs hi-fi broadband" option, because the lo-fi sounds like crap). Whatever you do, be sure to listen to track 1, "Life Without the Cow." It's a standout.
My blogger code: B2 d- t- k+ s-- u-- f i o+ x-- e l c (decode it!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


So last week I decided to go ahead and add the snippet of code that lets me see which sites are referring to this blog (lookee at the bottom of the sidebar on the right-hand side if you want to see what it does). At first I didn't like it because no one was visiting--at least not from other sites--and nothing was showing up. But now there are always a few sites listed, often including Google. So now I wonder: What on earth are people Googling that is bringing up this site? Maybe it was the mention of Janet Jackson's boob? That was supposedly one of the hottest Google search terms last week.

This week the hot topic is William Hung. He's the civil engineering student from Hong Kong who became America's Sweetheart overnight by getting lambasted by that smug British asshole on American Idol. I didn't watch the show, which means that around here, I'm left out of a lot of conversations. You see, this here's Clay Aiken country, and ever since Clay, everyone watches American Idol. (The Clay Aiken issue is similar to the basketball issue around here: everyone assumes that everyone else is into the whole ACC thing, so people often ask who you're for, and by that they mean: Carolina, State, or Duke? People always ask me "Didja see The Game last night?" When I say "What game?" I've made it clear that we have nothing to talk about. So with Clay, people assume you either love him or you hate him, but I've never even watched the guy perform so that shuts the conversation down pretty quickly.)

Anyway, I was talking about William Hung. As I said, I didn't watch the show. I wasn't inclined to watch it anyway, and after seeing a couple of commercials that hinted at his humiliation, I was determined not to watch it. I just didn't get into the fun of watching a nice, well-meaning guy get humiliated by some smug bastard who somehow landed a job as a jerk on a "reality" TV show. (I'm all for a show where mean people like Simon Cowell get humiliated. Who the hell is Simon Cowell anyway? Why doesn't he get up and sing us a song?) But a day or two later, some guy at work had dredged up the clip on the internet, and I watched it. I was actually sort of mesmerized by William Hung. Sure, he's not such a great singer (or dancer), but I really wanted to see him do another number.

Apparently a lot of other people were mesmerized--or something--as well, because now there are websites: williamhung.net, williamhung.org, williamhung.biz, and who knows what else (none of these sites are run by William Hung himself. Apparently, he's a little bewildered, still wanting to be a musical star but not a comedy act). DJs are having fun remixing his performance (one of my faves pairs William with OutKast).

So how about a reality show with Willam Hung and Paris Hilton? Hell, why not throw Janet Jackson and Clay Aiken in with them?

I wonder what else people are Googling these days ...
Exhausting day yesterday: There was work, which was mostly the same as always. Then I had to teach my flyball class. Before now, I've only taught or helped train other dogs informally as part of team training. This time, people are paying for the class, so I have to give them their money's worth. It went very well. There are only 4 students, so each dog got plenty of training time. After that class, Lucy and I had our agility class, so both of us were pretty beat by the end of the evening. It keeps us off drugs.
I think I'll start another blog just to record my radio show playlists. Not right now, I'm feeling too lazy. So I'll just put today's playlist here so it's recorded for posterity:
Eye Mo de Anaa / Reggie Rookstone / Rough Guide to African Rap
Whispers / Troy Walsh / Country Clubbin'
Caminos De La Campana / Celso Piña / Una Visíon
In The Groove / Evan Johns and The H Bombs / Rockit Fuel Only
TV Eye / The Stooges / Fun House
Alármala De Tos / Café Tacuba / Avalancha De Exitos
Fortunately Living in Yorkshire Doesn't Apply / Dexy's Midnight Runners / Searching For the Young Soul Rebels
Tiny Ocean of Tears / Jason Collett / Motor Motel Love Songs
Fine Miserable Day / The Talk / No, You Shut Up
Driving Manual Auto / Kaito / Band Red
Matt Won't Come Back / The Emergency / How Can You Move?
Tengo Un Trato Remix / Mala Rodriguez / La Niña-Amor y Respeto
She Bangs Milpitas Booty Bump Remix / The Milpitan / www.williamhung.net
Hollow Inside / Buzzcocks / A Different Kind of Tension
From Russia With Love / Jackie Mitto & The Soul Brothers / Last Train To Skaville
Topsy Turvy / Regina Hexaphone / I Can't Get That Evil Weiner Song Out Of My Head
Rainin' In My Heart / Al Green / I Can't Stop
Life Is Elsewhere / Mr. Wright / Star Time Sidereal Sounds From
Teeth / Mekons / Punk Rock
Fryday / Kombinat M / Hybrid Beat
Ojos Negros / Maldita Vecindad Y Los Hijos Del 5to Patio/ Maldita Sea Vol. 1
Help Me Make It Through The Night / Willie Nelson / Greatest Hits
I Make My Teachers Mad at Me / The Kids of Widney High / Act Your Age
Komine / Habib Koite / Foly! Live Around theWorld

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I'm feeling mostly better today. Fortunately it's not shaping up to be an overly taxing work day.

Monday, February 09, 2004

I woke up this morning fatigued and aching all over. While I kept busy this weekend, I don't think I did anything that would make me ache--except painting out on the cold porch. Maybe my body wore itself out trying to keep warm. Anyway, I couldn't even muster up the energy to put together some breakfast, and instead I just crawled under a comforter on the couch. My first thought was flu, but I had no other symptoms--I was just tired and achy ... grouchy, too.

But when I thought of taking a sick day from work, I felt guilty. I mean, as far as I knew there was nothing quantifiably wrong with me other than I couldn't pick myself up off the couch. So I figured I should just quit being a baby and go to work. But then I thought about the prospect of dragging myself through one day only to feel worse the next, and maybe the next after that, and I realized that my body was screaming for rest and I have plenty of sick time, so I was going to take it. And I did. I moved around as little as possible today, took a couple of naps and just rested and read. No television, no internet ... just the three dogs, who mostly behaved well all day (the cats keep out of sight while my mom's dog is visiting--they don't trust her at all). I'm just now starting to feel better. (Just in time for bed!) I have no idea why I felt so bad, I only hope it really is nothing and tomorrow I wake up feeling fine.

A lot of e-mails piled up during the day. I only answered a few--the rest will have to wait. Tomorrow evening I teach my first flyball class (followed by the agility class I'm taking), so I must fell well tomorrow. I think I'll rest a little more now.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

My mom stopped by on her way to a funeral in Virginia and left us her dog, Eden (aka Edy, Edy Sweetie, Bat-faced Dog, Dobby), for a week. Eden is named for the town of Eden, NC, where she was found wandering th streets. Mom adopted her from Second Chance Pet Adoption in Raleigh, NC, a little over a year ago. She's a very sweet dog, but she can be a little excitable, so when she pairs up with the extremely excitable Mr. Gomez, the house becomes Screaming Banshee Dog Circus several times an hour. (My little dog Lucy, aka Perfect Angel Princess, calmly keeps herself above their shenanigans). At any rate, three dogs following me around the house gets to be a bit much. Fortunately it's just for a week, and Edy really is fun little dog.

I spent a good part of the day painting flyball jumps in preparation for the class I'm going to be teaching starting Tuesday. (Flyball is a dog sport ... I'll probably mention it more in coming weeks seeing as how I'm going to be teaching a class on it). I should have painted them last weekend, but I kept hoping that this weekend would be warmer. It's wasn't--it was sunny and pretty, but the wind made it feel a bit too chilly out for me. I have to paint on my front porch because I have no garage--one of the drawbacks of a little "vintage" house. Anyway, I froze my butt off and I still didn't completely finish the jumps. When my paint started to get really viscous from the dropping temperature and I realized the porch light was more decorative than useful, I decided to pack it in.

I bowled poorly last night: 124, 104 and 149. Actually I was happy with the 149. But I'm thinking maybe people are right when they say I'll be more consistent if I get a better ball and have it drilled differently. Anyway, we went to practice today and I did (mostly) better: 108, 191, 158, 180 and 158. The 191 and 180 scores are what keep me going back ... I can't completely suck if I'm doing that now and then.

I want to say hey to Grace of "Busy, Busy, Busy Killing Han", a blog I ran into at the North State Blogs site. Check it out, y'all.

I put together yet another photo gallery, this one with a "retail" theme (all photos I've taken in stores or malls), but my ftp from home is a bit dodgy, so I haven't been able to post it. I'm also running out of server space on our Earthlink account, so I may have to actually shell out some dough for real web hosting one of these days. I know there are places that give you free web space, but I don't really want ads on my photo pages.

Yay, it's TV night! That is to say, Malcolm In The Middle and Arrested Development are on tonight. Aside from the new episodes of Absolutely Fabulous (Fridays, 9 pm EST on Oxygen), it's the only TV I purposefully watch

Friday, February 06, 2004

Arrr! Me pirate name be Iron Bess Flint!
I'm sort of trying to unify things a little bit, so I made a home page for my little photo galleries (and whatever else I decide to stick on there). I also stuck a link to it over yonder in the sidebar. I've still got a couple more photo galleries in the works, but I've got to decide which pictures go in them. That should only take me a month or two, during which time I will have taken lots more photos ...

I also discovered a page called Photomemes.org that lists various cool photo obsessions on the web. I'm cooking up a photo obsession of my own, but I can't speak of it until I start it, because otherwise it will just become yet another project I say I'm going to do and then don't. Once it's started it's a work in progress and it's OK to speak of it because I'm actually DOING it (unless I never finish it, in which case it becomes yet another unfinished project).
So I'm not the only person who gets a kick out of spam. There is a site called Spam Poetry where the proprietor (it appears her name is Kristin) creates poetry using only the subject lines from spam. I think it's splendid stuff.

There was also an article* in the NY Times yesterday about the creative names some spammers are using in an attempt to get past filters or maybe get people to actually open the spam.

*Note: Registration (free) required for the NYTimes site, plus the articles only remain posted intact for 2 weeks, then they just post an abstract and require you to pay to actually read the story.
Another important message from "Citibank," apparently sent by their service center in the Dominican Republic:

"Citibank" hobbs@rdominicana.com
_Dear_ Online-Citibank _User_,

_This _email was _sent_ by the CITI_bank server to
veerify your EMAIL_ address_.
You muust cmlotepe this perocss by clicking on the_ link
beloww and enteering in the smmall _window_ your _citibank_
Debit full Card Number and pin that you_use in_the local
ATM Machine.


I declined to "cmlotepe this perocss."

That_is done - for-your preocttion -g- becouse some_of_our
_members_ no leognr have accses to their email adsreedss
and we must verify it.


I'm glad they are concerned with my "preocttion," whatever that is, but I've not had a problem with "accses" to my "email adsreedss," and if I did I doubt Citibank would be able to help me with it.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

More literary (albeit semi-literate) spam:

From: Gwendoline CURTRIGHT
Subject: to pass the night. The servant-woman had left the premises to find a lodging in some crib or hayloft. It

This doctor developed p.a,t.c,h is very easy to use

http://[deleted]

GET a big pen1s today. 100 % gtaranueed. NOT PILLS

I want to be rem0ve from
http://[deleted]

the iron bars into their places and ran the bolts. The landlords room, where the two young surgeons were to sleep, adjoined the public room, and was separated by a somewhat thin partition from the kitchen, where the landlord and his wife intended, probably, to pass the night. The servant-woman had left the premises to find a
We went bowling tonight and I did reasonably well, considering I've messed with just about every aspect of my approach and release. Tuesday night Mark and I had a lesson from a guy in our league who's really good. He had given Mark a lesson a couple of weeks ago, and he improved tremendously. So I figured I'd see what he could do for me, and he helped a lot in just an hour just by pointing out that absolutely everything I was doing needed to change a little bit. The consensus is still that I need to get a better ball, but apparently Larry (that's the guy's name) was fairly impressed with what I could do with my plastic ball. So I'm not going to rush right out and buy a new ball immediately, but it's on the agenda for some point in the future. Larry wants me to get the ball drilled for a semi-fingertip grip, which supposedly will give me more hook. Who knows, before too long I'll be one of those people you see rolling my collection of balls into the alley (because I'll need a special ball with less hook to pick up certain spares, and another for ... well I don't know what for, but I'm sure it will impress and intimidate people.)
A really quick rant about work: We design stuff, and a lot of the stuff we design has words somewhere. People send us these words in MS Word or Word Perfect files, and we insert and format them as needed. Ninety percent of the time, the people responsible for sending us these words don't read them, or even run spell check on them, before they send them to us. So we spend hours getting them flowed and formatted perfectly into whatever we're doing, and then the folks decide it's time to go over the text with a fine-toothed comb and find all the problems they could have fixed themselves before the document even got to us (oh and there are always tons). But why do that when they can wait until later and make us do the tedious work of cleaning up their text? And then to top it off, they wait until the whole document has been proofed and corrected several times before showing it to whichever Big Kahuna has final say over everything, and invariably he or she has some major, fundamental problem with the entire thing and demands a complete re-write or something.

I only exaggerate slightly.
Wow! The Nigerian e-mail scammers have been caught, according to this. So be warned: if you get any more Nigerian e-mail scam letters, you know that they are fraudulent, written by imposter Nigerian e-mail scammers!
Move over Hello Kitty! It's the Parasite Pals! There's Holly Hostess, Dig Dig the Head Louse, Tickles the Tapeworm, Blinky the Eyelash Mite, and Zzeezz the bedbug. Join the Happy Parasite Friendship Club or watch the Flash Movie "Dig Dig Finds a Home!"

OK, the site was amusing for a few minutes, but then it started to make me a little itchy. But in the grand scheme of things, Dig Dig, Tickles, Blinky and Zzeezz are really tame parasites. If you want to get really bugged (pun intended), you need to read Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures by Carl Zimmer. You'll realize that there are millions of little tiny things just waiting for the chance to devour your insides or lay their eggs in hospitable places like your brain or your liver. You'll also realize that you are damn lucky if you live in a place with indoor plumbing, sewage tratment facilities and even minimal food safety standards. So quit whining, dammit!

Another contact from the outside world ...

A big yippee-ki-yay to Sam, of Sam's Life, a blog I had stumbled across, liked, and added to my blogroll. I got an e-mail from him this a.m. telling me he had read my blog and linked back to me. Thanks Sam!

He's also got some code at the bottom of his page that shows referring sites. The code is available free here. I'm trying to decide if I want to try it here. Do I want to know if and from where people are coming to my blog? Would the information just create an annoying obsession for me, prompting me to count and visit every referring site? I've got to think about that ...

I'm having the same dilemma over adding the ability for people to comment on my entries. Free "comment-ability" is available from HaloScan.com, but I'm not even sure if I want to know what other people think. I have my e-mail address listed--although it's an address I only check once a day or so--so if people really want to contact me, they can. The comment thingie would just make it much easier for them, and their comments would be viewable by everyone who stops by. But maybe I'd rather not have it too easy for people to comment because then I may get all kinds of people spouting off at me, and I just don't want to deal with it. I'd feel like I had to respond to even the most moronic of them, and I'd probably feel I had to defend my whole existence from some quarter-wit who maybe just figured out how to operate his computer. So unless I change my mind, people can e-mail me if they want to say hey or tell me that something I've written is going to send me straight to hell. (Look around on the right-hand side of the page ... the e-mail address is there somewhere.)

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Someone has been reading my blog (someone besides the people I sent a link to saying,"Um, like, if you've got absolutely nothing better to do you could read this if you want, but don't feel obligated ..."). I know that someone besides them has read it because something interesting (and funny, I think) happened today... involving contact from the outside world.

Backstory: A few days ago (Feb. 1, to be exact), I wrote a little thing about a kerfuffle on our neighborhood e-mail list. I was quite scathing in my characterization of some of the folks who get really involved in neighborhood discussions and activities (most of whom I only know from their postings on the e-mail list.) I also predicted that if my house were firebombed, it would be because someone from the neighborhood association had discovered my blog.

And that's exactly what happened--except for the firebombing (he promised he wouldn't do that). The guy who runs the neighborhood web site (and the Yahoo group) sent me an e-mail (a friendly one!). He was checking out the stats on his site meter, which apparently allows him to see where visitors are referred from, and that's how he came across your humble narrator's blog. I always knew that many webmasters carefully cultivate such superpowers, but I guess I never realized how it could affect me. Fortunately, he has chosen to use his powers for good and not evil: as I mentioned, he's not going to firebomb my house. And he also said to let him know if I was interested in writing for the neighborhood newsletter. I told him I probably wasn't the type, unless they want a column called "Cranky Smart-ass Neighbor Spouts Off."

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

OK, I have this thing called a "blogroll" on the right hand side of page, and it makes it really easy for me to add a link without having to get into the html guts of my template. I added a blog called One Channel because it looked interesting: A guy is trying to simplify his life and he goes down to one TV channel, I guess because it would eliminate all that time spent channel surfing when there really isn't anything to watch. So with one channel your choice becomes: watch it or don't. I was hoping he'd have lots of interesting insights about life now that he's not fixated on TV. But judging from his blog, the guy remains totally fixated on TV!

For example, even though he didn't even watch the Super Bowl, he's outraged about the whole Janet Jackson's boob thing. He says: "But I am so sick sick sick of exposed skin and crap like that. I just get tired of having sex slammed in my face." Maybe I should e-mail him and say: "DUDE! You didn't even SEE the incident in question! To have seen JJ's boobie you obviously had to GO LOOKING FOR IT on the internet the next day! Nobody slammed anything in your face! Besides, it' was JUST A BOOB, for crying in a bucket! It's not like she and Justin Timberlake started doing the old in-out on national TV or anything. I though the whole "one channel" idea was supposed to help you get a life worth living, but it doesn't seem to be working!"

But nah, I won't e-mail him. He'd probably e-mail me back and I'd e-mail him back, and it's not worth the trouble. But I do thank him for giving me something to blog about. I've been a bit dull today. I was going to remove his link from my Blogroll but I decided to keep it up there. It' may give me more blog fodder in the future.
I'm not cold right now. From what I can tell (the blinds are closed to keep the glare off of our computer screens) it's sunny outside. I really really really would be most appreciative if it would stay this way.

My co-worker Tracy had to bring her baby to work for a couple of hours this morning until she could hand him off to a relative. He was sitting on the lap of another coworker (Gail), and I was about to comment on how cute he was but I noticed he seemed to have a funny look on his face. Then sure enough--and I remember it like it happened in slow motion--white stuff starts to flow from his mouth, first a little, then a whole bunch. I was able to say "watch out" so Gail could take evasive action and avoid getting any of the spit-up on her. The first thing I thought was that I was glad I didn't have one of those of my own. I had been about to heat up my lunch, but the vision of baby-effluvia (in slo-mo) stuck in my head and really grossed me out and I had to wait. But I got over it pretty quickly, and then I wished I had caught it on video. It would have made a funny little clip.
I just read in an article in Salon.com (which I'm not going to link to because they make you trurn cartwheels to read their content for free) that state law in Hawaii requires even minimum wage workers be given health insurance. That's so cool. And Hawaii is warm ...