Thursday, December 30, 2004
I decided to seize a portion of the day to TCB, as Elvis would say. I had to renew my drivers license, which had expired in November (and which I had totally forgotten about until I was hurtling down I-95 toward Myrtle Beach in the Pantsmobile when it occurred to me that I should probably stay a little closer to the speed limit on account of I had some unfinished business with the DMV.) The DMV is one of life's great equalizers. Whatever your situation in life, if you want to operate a motor vehicle sooner or later you will end up in front of The Woman Who Doesn't Want To Work There. If you're lucky, she will bestow upon you a number which entitles you to take your place in The Very Crowded Area until the Voice From Above announces that you may appear before The Examiner.
Being lucky means you brought satisfactory documentation. For a renewal that means your old license and something that has your Social Security number (i.e. Proof Of Your Existence) on it. I knew this because I had gone to the DMV website and looked up the requirements beforehand, so I did not have to suffer the humiliation of being turned away by The Woman Who Doesn't Want To Work There. I watched it happen again and again (and again again ... I was in the Very Crowded Area for a good while.)
I had forgotten to bring a book and it got boring watching people get turned away by TWWDWTWT, so I tried to study up on the sign identification test ...what if I called the "Farm Equipment" warning sign a "Tractor Crossing" sign? It looks like it should mean "Tractor Crossing" to me. What if I gave my answer in the form of a question? (I'll take "Road Signs" for $1,000, Alex.) Would the examiner think it was funny or fail me? Then I obsessed on the sign that said "Please have all documents in your hands at all times." Were they doing spot checks, ejecting anyone who had carelessly placed their documents in a pocket or purse? What would happen if I dropped mine on the floor? That got boring, and my mind wandered off on its own until I got to the topic of tsunamis. I plotted my escape route. I don't think we would have had a chance. Finally, as The Voice got to within ten of my number, I started obsessing on The Calling Of The Numbers. I was A075. What if they called it and I wasn't paying attention? They didn't waste much time before calling the next number if someone didn't get up and head to the appropriate desk right away. What if I got so excited I jumped up and shouted "BINGO!" when A075 was called? I even had a little time left over to obsess about the picture-taking part--If I smile too much for ID photos I look psycho. Too little and I look like a terrorist.
Fortunately, I heard my number and I was approprately calm, collected and quick. With the help of my glasses I aced the eye exam, and since the tractor thing wasn't on the sign test I aced that as well. But I failed the picture taking part. I don't know what I did wrong but they called me back for a do-over. Anyway, my strategies paid off because now I have an ID photo that makes me look like a drunken nerd instead of a psycho or a terrorist.
So with my new license in hand, I had just enough time left in the day to go renew my WXDU access card, which was to expire tomorrow, at the Duke Card Office. I know exactly where the Duke Card Office is, but I can never remember how to get there. It's nestled in the heart of Duke's West Campus, which is all winding roads that always seem to be a part of a construction zone. It's like an enchanted vortex that sucks you in and spins you around until, after you've passed the Fuqua School of Business for the thirteenth time, you realize that you may never see your loved ones again. Plus two of the main roads are "Science Drive" and "Research Drive" which are easily confused in my mind--really, what's the difference? Couldn't they name them something like "This One Goes Right By The Big Famous Chapel Street" or "Here's Where You're Allowed To Park Road?" I finally asked a jogger to point me in the right direction and somehow he knew the way. The card thing took all of five minutes (no new photo required!), but then I had to find my way back out again. I decided the best idea was to just follow a car, any car and soon enough I was dumped back outside the campus--on the side completely opposite where I had entered, but outside of the enchantment zone so I immediately knew the way home.
But the good thing is I don't have to work tomorrow. Woo hoo!
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Anyway, I'll be on the radio today from 4-6 pm eastern whatever time, but I do not feel up to it at all. Maybe I'll look for the grouchiest music I can find ... tune in if you can (if you dare?): 88.7 locally, wxdu.org elewhere.
And have a really super day!
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
The fact is, being reminded of worse things does not make me feel any better about my mundane little complaints. Like this morning, the elevator I take up to the 5th floor wasn't working ... again. So I was faced with walking up 5 flights--it's really 6 floors up because of a "mezzanine" level they snuck in there--first thing in the morning. I crabbed about it to a co-worker, and he said "Hey, it could be worse--at least we weren't wiped out by a tsunami." Yeah, that helped me out--reminding me of the tens of thousands of people obliterated in Southeast Asia. AND the elevator wasn't working.
So telling me how much worse someone else in the world has it only adds to my misery. My back hurts, my knee hurts (and both will continue to hurt until I die), and the survivors in Sri Lanka, Thailand and other places are homeless, probably hungry and missing many family members. Am I supposed to feel like getting up and dancing now?
Sorry, I guess I'm still kvetchy.
Monday, December 27, 2004
Not that I have anything against my mom, but her house isn't my house. There are no comfortable places to sit there. Actually, the living room is full of big overstuffed uber-comfy furniture, but my brother, who is living there right now, likes to plant himself in front of the TV and watch stupid crap like sports and shows about motorcycles. So I have to find somewhere else to hang, and all the other seating in the house is uncomfortable. I spent a lot of time scanning in old family photos, but mom's computer chair is a metal folding chair and it was really kind of a drag.
Plus I had to sleep on an air mattress, because even though mom has three bedrooms and a "bonus" room over the garage, there are only 2 beds in the house. When my aunt and uncle came to visit a few weeks ago my brother got kicked to the air bed so they could have the real bed. (It's not like he's paying rent or anything.) My mother really doesn't seem too concerned about her lack of decent sleeping arrangements (she has a fantastic bed for herself), and isn't in a big hurry to fix the situation. But she's always wanting me to come down and visit, and she's always asking when Mark is going to come with me. Should I tell her he'll come when she gets a decent bed for us?
OK, I'll stop complaining. Hope everyone else had a half-decent holiday.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants.
I finished the presents for my co-workers, just in the nick of time last night. Everyone appeared to really like them (or at least pretended to). I had originally thought I would give the two guys in my group store-bought stuff because I figured they wouldn't want some stupid hand-painted thing, but then I decided that, dammit, why should they escape the hand-made crap that everyone else has to endure? They survived the ordeal.
I have to mention that lunch yesterday was actually quite fun. Everyone begged off except for the six of us in my immediate group, and we have lunch together all the time so it was just like another lunch out. We were all in good cheer. I had a crab cake (oops, I almost typed "crap cake," even though it wasn't crappy at all) and the twice-baked potato thingie that dickumbrage recommended, plus some of the hushpuppies kept leaping out of the basket into my mouth, so I ended up eating a wee bit much. It was good (yep, the potato thingie was tasty), but a bit of a heavy lunch. I came back and my pal Lia had left a bag of homemade cookies on my desk. Most of them are still here.
People in my division like to eat. This morning we had a breakfast feast with bagels, "breakfast casserole" (which is reaaallly good), Krispy Kremes and miscellaneous pastries. On top of that, the print shop is having its annual party spread, to which we are invited. My pants feel uncomfortably tight right now. I know I could just say no to all the food, but I've got to have a little taste of this, and then that, and then the other ...
I'm lunching with rick! later on, and I think a small salad and a diet beverage will be all I can handle.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
(If you want your own copy of Donnie and Marie spreading joy, go get it now. The proprietress of Copy, Right only leaves each download up for a few days.)
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Just now I was listening to the Pixies Trompe Le Monde, and even though I've heard "Motorway To Roswell" many times, I hadn't given much though to the lyrics aside from "heh, clever." (Essentially it's the Roswell incident from the alien's point of view, in case you're not familiar with it.) Well today that song made me really, really sad. (Particularly "how could this so great / turn so shitty / he ended up in army crates / and photographs in files) I mean, poor guy was just looking for a place to stay ...
It's the whole x-mas stress thing, I'm tellin ya. I say "who gives a crap about x-mas?", but then I still feel like I have to fulfill many expectations.
Well not all of them ... Monday we had our annual division x-mas breakfast thingie at yet another country cooking restaurant. Not only would the meal not be free, but we would be squashed elbow-to-elbow at 20-foot-long tables. I couldn't stand the thought of going, so I said no thanks. My boss, a normally very nice person, seemed a little irked, but she got over it.
So then I was reminded today that we have another forced fellowship encounter tomorrow at lunch for our "section." (That's smaller than a division but still about 15 people). This one is at a half decent restaurant (4nd Street Oyster Bar--everyone else just loves it but I'm ambivalent about it.) but I still don't feel like going. I'm group-lunched out. The thought of enduring another group lunch fills me with dread. So I said I'm not going. Again, boss seemed a little irked. She'll get over it. I feel like I should spend lunchtime tomorrow at a day spa or something to celebrate my freedom from the group lunch.
(I think my boss may be jealous that she can't blow off the group things because she gives a crap about what other people here think of her.)
Monday, December 20, 2004
But right now, x-mas is (I take mine christ-free, thank you very much). I don't get terribly bugged about it being a Christian holiday--I make up for that by saying a lot of "goddamns" all season long. I really think having some sort of celebration at the beginning of winter is probably a good idea; it's a way of staving off for a couple of weeks the gloom and depression of the cold, dark season. I like that people string lights all over their houses and lawns--especially the ones where nothing matches and it's just a huge, happy, gaudy hodge-podge of crap that makes the statement: "Who gives damn what the neighbors think?" (My favorites are the nativity scenes that include Santa, toy soldiers, reindeer, snowmen, Homer Simpson, etc.) I like having decorations up everywhere I go, and I can even get into a bit of christmas music. I think I really just have a problem with the whole deadline thing.
I don't need one more deadline in my life. Although I hate shopping (except at Target--I think they put something into the air there), in theory I support the giving of gifts. It's nice to give people things, but why do they have to all be due on Dec. 25th? Of course, I'm all against mindless consumerism, non-stop commercialism, needless waste and unnecessary debt, which means that theoretically I should be all for making x-mas gifts for everyone. It doesn't work like that in real life for reasons I'll get to, but let's pretend for a moment that I'm making all of my x-mas presents this year. They all would have to be done by Saturday. In reality, since I'm making presents for a handful of co-workers, they have to be done by Thursday morning, because we're off Friday. It's fun and nice to make things, but when you have a deadline and when the thing in question really needs to look half-decent, it adds up to a whole lot of pressure. It's no longer creative self-expression, which is good, but obligatory toil, which is bad. So more than once over the past week I've thought to myself "Screw this homemade crap, I'm going to Target."
But even the whole making-gifts thing gives me a few ethical dilemmas. For one, my homemade gifts are decorative and not really useful. Who needs more decorative crap around their house? Not me--in fact I couldn't give Mark a homemade gift because it would be too silly--the poor guy has to live his life surrounded by my "art" (and I'm using that term very liberally) whether he likes it or not. Then there is my mother, who may appreciate my artistic attempts, but has a tendency to live a very cluttered life (I know where I get it from). I refuse to contribute to that, so I'm careful to get her something she can actually use (this year it's Warm Things To Wear). As for the co-workers who are going to get homemade crap from me, I don't know whether they need or want yet another decorative piece of crap, but I don't want to be the only one in my group who doesn't have a little token for the others. So it's either go and buy some useless crap, thus contributing the all that is evil about x-mas, or make some, and I feel better about making it. They can regift it or donate it to a thrift store and I'll never know the difference.
I know one oft-suggested x-mas gift is to make a donation to a person's "favorite charity." Look, I'm cheap. If said charity wants a hand-painted faux-stained-glass vase made out of a bottle that otherwise would have been thrown in the recycle bin, then we're good to go.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
I have a blog entry brewing about holiday ennui, but I'm too filled with ennui to actually write it. But those of you with telepathic powers can contact my psyche right now and get the full skinny.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
When one points out that the way of life and the entire economy of the antebellum US South would have been impossible without slavery, and that "states' rights" mostly referred to the right to own human beings, then the argument often shifts into slavery defense mode (even people who otherwise would not explicity defend slavery just can't admit that dear Dixie could have been just plain WRONG on the question and maybe deserved to get her ass kicked over such a barbaric system). So then I'll hear "They had slaves in the North!" (Until it was OUTLAWED, you mean. It's called "progress" or more specifically, "civilization triumphing over barbarism." Duh.) Someone today had a new on on me: "Yeah, well slaves had slaves, too" (which, if true, would presumably make chattel slavery A-OK, I suppose). But I'm thinking, slaves weren't even allowed to own property ... I'm sorry, but this was a new one on me, so I of course said "What?" The explanation was that slaves often paid other slaves to do their work for them ... Um, sorry: paying someone who is not your legal property to do something for you is what we call employment. Sure, in Marxist terms it can be "wage slavery" and it often feels like slavery, but it's not the same thing. Nice try though.
I don't hate the South or (most) Southerners--in fact I love the weather, the accents, the peculiar phrases, the practice of being nice to people regardless of what you really think of them (Trotsky called civility "a necessary social lubricant") and even some of the food. But dammit, the Confederacy stood for a shitty cause in the Civil War and its defeat represented progress! The Confederate flag is a symbol of a bad thing and its display is a racist provocation.
(Confidential to M.R.: If that asshole from New Jersey were from South Carolina, he'd be an asshole from South Carolina, see? I mean, just because you're a psycho doesn't mean all Southerners are psychos, right?)
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Anyway, I ended up opting for the grilled cheese sandwich. It was very greasy, as if they had fried it in twice the recommended amount of butter. But the good news is I got out of Big Ed's for $2.65 plus tip, a much better experience than paying $10.99 for a near-tasteless sandwich at the Cheescake Factory. So all in all I would say that maybe the Big Ed's experience would be slightly preferable to that of the Cheescake Factory except that ... and this is a biggie in my book: among all the down-home crap adorning the surfaces available for decoration at Big Ed's are several items that feature confederate flags. When I see confederate flags, I automatically start checking my pockets to see if I have matches or a lighter that I can set them on fire with. I start imagining ways to tear them down, deface them, spit on them, grind them into the ground ... so in conclusion I would have to say that Big Ed's fucking sucks and no one should ever eat there.
Also: I'll be on WXDU today from 4-6 pm (EDT ... or is it EST? I can't keep it straight). That would be 88.7 FM if you're local, wxdu.org if you ain't.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
The weekend went swimmingly, for anyone who may be wondering how my dog and I did at our agility demo. We did 3 demos on Saturday and two on Sunday, and we finally did the course absolutely perfectly on our last run. The cool thing is that the crowd loves it when you mess up--it's cute and funny. And anyway, the purpose of the demo was to show people that you, yes you, can do agility with that dog that's hogging your sofa right now. You don't need a border collie, and you certainly don't have to be as good as the people they show competing in the "Champion of the Universe" agility competions on Animal Planet. Anyway, we showed how we teach some of the equipment and even brought up an audience dog and got it to go through a short tunnel. So it was actually useful to have a few goof-ups now and then so it didn't look as intimidating to people. Then it's easier to ensnare them into our cult of obsessive dog-training ... (One of us! One of us! One of us!)
Anyway, right now I'm listening to some of the cds I took for review this week, and it's killing me. Except for the Arhoolie The Roots of The Narcocorrido compilation, they're boring me (I'm not going to name them here because I doubt you'll ever hear of them and I know for a fact that the bands are busily googling themselves right now and they'll find me and then I don't want to deal with any correspondence regarding a band I've trashed). So anyway, I don't feel like listening to the cds all the way through, but then that makes me feel guilty that perhaps I'm not giving them a chance ... Honestly, I just want to listen to the Buzzcocks right now: "Hollow inside, I was hollow inside ..." Is that so wrong?
Friday, December 10, 2004
Anyway, thanks to this entry at Whig Hill Dispatch (whose proprietor, Chris, I met the other day outside the history museum, but that's probably another blog entry ...), I see that Cary is a containment area for something else entirely. Apparently a private school there teaches about slavery using a booklet that provides a biblical justification for it. The school principal says it's "hard to find writings that are both sympathetic to the South and explore what the Bible says about slavery." Um, and that's supposed to be a bad thing?
Shortly after I moved here a friend (A Canadian, who I think may be considered "worse" than a Yankee) remarked that "people around here seem to think the Civil War isn't over." No, it's really not, and it's high time we finished it once and for all.
Me 'n' Lucy are going to be doing agility demos this weekend at the Super Pet Expo (Graham Building, state fairgrounds). Lucy is hoping her fan base will come and watch, but I told her not to hold her breath since they're charging something like $6 or $7 to get in the door (you can buy cheaper tix at their web site, though). What really bugs me about the admission price is that the Pet Expo is just a big marketing opportunity for people who sell pet stuff. Sure, they'll have entertainment, like agility demos and whatnot, but they're charging vendors many hundreds of dollars to set up booths so they can sell things to pet owners. So people will be paying for the privilege of buying stuff. Of course, a lot of Americans view shopping as entertainment and are willing to pay a lot of money for a good "shopping opportunity"--just look at all the people who choose vacation destinations based on the quality of the outlet malls nearby. I bet if malls decided to charge admission, a lot of people would pay it.
Anywho, if you're a local and you've got no problem spending a few of your hard-earned dollars to be a marketing target, come on out to the Pet Expo (Lucy and I will be in the demos at 11 am, 1 pm and 4:30 pm Saturday and 11 am and 1 pm Sunday). You can bring your dog, and it will be quite entertaining (a really cute little Papillon will be in some of the demos, as will a great big Aussie--that's shorthand for Australian Shepherd, a breed that was invented in the US--who loves to bark and spin and try to grab his owners' arms). But then again, you could come out to an agility trial sometime and see the same thing for free ... (By the way, mark your calendars because my team will be hosting a flyball tournament at the fairgrounds Jan. 8 and 9. It's free but you'll need to bring your own earplugs. It's loud.)
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
That's right, in Wake County, NC, disrupting class is a criminal offense, for which a kid gets his ass hauled into court. I can't think of any other way to say this except: What the fuck?
Contrast this: in 8th grade I was one of the ringleaders of a student walkout, and all I got was a single-day suspension and two after-school detentions. If I were a kid in Wake County, NC, today I'd probably be tried as an adult on some sort of RICO or conspiracy charges (or worse, they'd hold me incommunicado as an enemy combatant.) I was a little pot-smoking smart-ass who really got away with a lot of stuff, yet here I am, gainfully employed and all the crap that goes with being a responsible adult (except for the having kids part, and damn am I glad I skipped that). Hey, I've even got a (mostly useless) master's degree.
Honestly, with the way things are for kids at public schools today can you blame them for wanting to smoke a little pot?
Oh yeah, and the whole teen court thing scares the shit out of me because can you just imagine what kind of kids would volunteer for something like that? The most uptight and unpleasant ones--the kind of people who really get off on the power trip of enforcing all the over-the-top rules, that's who. Truly frightening.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
In fact, I'd like to add, just for the record that I have grown to hate Flash. Properly used, Flash can be cool, but when someone uses it to build and entire website it almost always sucks.
Monday, December 06, 2004
We sort of picked Ecuador out of the blue. We're using frequent flier miles, so we had to book early (I think we booked the flight in August or September) and we had to come up with a place that had frequent flier seats available (which meant the Caribbean was out). So we were thinking Nicaragua, but for some reason one of us thought of Ecuador and be both said "Ecuador, yeah!" That was pretty much it. I have no idea what we will do there, but hey, we'll be in Ecuador! Yay!
We have a Rough Guide, but I haven't gotten around to looking at it. There are always travel web sites, but I haven't gotten around to looking at them either. I hate planning things because things never turn out the way you planned, but if you go into something with no expectations you're usually pleasantly surprised. I'm sort of figuring that since I speak Spanish we'll be able to figure things out as we go along. But if there's some place really cool that we should aim ourselves toward, I'd like to know.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
| You scored as Pissed at the World Cat. And here we have the next serial killer. Try having some cotton candy, it'll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, Psycho.|
Which Absurd Cat are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
I found the results of this quiz oddly satisfying.
Thanks to Spacegrrl for the link.