Friday, December 30, 2005

Thursday, December 29, 2005

And a memo from Feldman saying everything is true ...

Via a guy in a Flickr group, I discovered this blog. I think everyone should read and comment.

Also, play the Falling Sand Game. You can't lose.

Oh, before I forget ...I

I'll be doing a special radio shift today as part of the "Afrobeat Around The Clock" thingie Georg cooked up. I'll be on from 4-6 pm eastern US. 88.7 FM iof you're local, if you ain't.

Now I'm paranoid that I will completely forget to leave work an hour early to get there on time ... somebody needs to remind me or something.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Is this going to be on the test?

Is it important that I know what "Web. 2.0" means? I see it everywhere, and I don't have a clue whether I should give a shit or not.

In other, unrelated news, I've been learning fab new Spanish words via Rimbombante. But it sort of annoys me that they ude the word "podcast" when each of their "casts" is only one minute long. Why bother loading the thing onto your pod and carrying it with you when you can pretty much have it all listened to in the time it takes to download? I suppose if you put about 30 them all together into a playlist then together they would equal a "podcast," but then why not just call them "audio files"? I know, I know, it's because "podcasts" are hip and today while audio files" are soooo 2004 ...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Boring, boring, bored ...

I hung out at mom's over xmas. We went bowling, the highlight of which was when I picked up a 6-7-10 split ... go try it, it's not easy.

I got Mr. Pants a highly addictive virtual tennis game. Did I mention it's highly addictive? I made my right arm sore from playing it yesterday and had to switch to the left arm. I also accidentally whacked Mr. Gomez in the snout with the racket. It didn't hurt him much but now he knows to stay out of my way when I'm playing it.

As part of my quest to make tofu as yummy as the stuff I get at the Whole Foods salad bar, I made pan-seared tofu with sauteed onions and mushrooms last night. It was OK--not as good as WF, though. A lot of things I make taste better the second day, and I'm hoping that's true with this stuff. I think my next tofu recipe attempt will be Sauerkraut Balls with Mustard Sauce.

Have I bored you yet? Because I'm out of things to say.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I'm tired of that question already!

"Are you ready for Christmas yet?" I'm going to have to start answering "Ready for what? Christmas? Wow, are they doing that this year too? I didn't realize it was an annual thing ..." I know people say that to be conversational ... it's like remarking about the weather--just a little shared reference point that keeps chance encounters between acquaintances and shared elevator rides from being too uncomfortably silent. Still, I'm never sure how to answer because I don't really get "ready" for xmas, I just buy a few gifts for people and eat too many sweets, and that's about it.

I did take a half day off work yesterday to buy the few gifts that I needed. Mom said she wants turtlenecks, so turtlenecks it shall be. I went to old, ignored Northgate Mall because I figured there would be plenty of turtleneckage available but I could avoid the crowds at new, popular Streets at Southpoint, a place I find rather repulsive. It was a wise choice, but I still ended up grouchy. I don't know how some people find shopping to be a fun pastime.

I got pissed off at Hecht's because they advertised a price on the rack that wasn't the price in the register (the register brought up a price a whopping $15 dollars higher than their "one day sale" sign promised! Plus a "two for $14" deal turned out to be more of a "buy one get one free" thing: If you only wanted one, or if they only had one in your mom's tiny size, they still wanted you to pay $14. Bastards.) Rather than make the clerk bring out a manager and piss off the six people behind me in line, I said "Fuck your fucking turtleneck sweaters!" No, just kidding, I said "Well in that case no thanks" and bought my turtlenecks elsewhere.

Then I started seeking trinkets for the co-workers in my section. Nothing big. last year I made them all something. I was too lazy for that this year, but then the task of finding little gifts for each of them became very annoying very quickly. I'd find something perfect for two or three of them that wasn't perfect for anyone else (mostly it's the men who mess the whole thing up!) Then my eye fell upon a huge display of Slinkys. Hooray, everybody's getting a fucking slinky!! And so they did. And there was much rejoicing.

I think Mr. Potato Heads may be in order for next year.

In other news, I guess I'll be on the radio/webstream yet again this evening, 8-10 pm Eastern US. Locals: 88.7 FM, everyone else: The playlist shall reside here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Just wanna say ....

You GO NY transit workers! And by that I guess I mean don't go ...

Plus, this is funny.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Jon Katz is full of shit ...

Slate has an article about why dogs are a really bad xmas gift. It's true, they are a terrible gift, for many of the reasons the author, a guy named Jon Katz, lists. But (as seems to be his habit, I've discovered after going back and reading some of his older columns), Katz makes some unfounded assertions that reinforce the notion that "good" dogs are bought that way. "The bigger problem with the Christmas pup is that good dogs are usually unavailable for holiday giving," he writes, along with "The dogs that are readily available at Christmas are the kind you probably don't want" because they are either shelter dogs (which Katz views with suspicion) or puppy mill dogs. Now I discourage anyone from getting a puppy mill dog because the breeding practices are horribly inhumane and should not be supported, but I disagree that the dogs themselves are more likely to be "bad" than any other dog--and neither Katz nor anyone else who makes that claim can back it up with any proof. Genetically, I can't see how much worse it can get than the extremely inbred (oh, excuse me, linebred) walking catastrophes trotting around the AKC conformation rings. (The German Shepherd Dog is a really good example, but it's by no means the only one.)

In another article, Katz makes another sweeping, completely unsupported claim about dogs from what he apparently considers low origins: "Rescued, puppy mill, and incompetently bred dogs have more behavioral problems than properly bred purebreds or thoroughly evaluated shelter dogs." Upon what evidence does he base this sweeping condemnation? He doesn't say, because he's just plain making it up out of his own prejudices. (I'm sure I can counter each of his "bad rescue" dog stories with stories from my experiences of meticulously bred border collies from top working lines who bite children, or the also-meticulously-bred working-line GSD pup who couldn't be allowed near any other puppies because he would go ballistic and try to attack them.) Plus, Katz doesn't explain what he means by "thoroughly evaluated" dogs ... does he mean that they passed "temperament testing" like Sue Sternberg's Assess-A-Pet™, methods that let shelters kill off all the "bad dogs" with confidence that they are doing a good thing. Feh.

So reading his articles made me think "who the hell is Jon Katz, anyway, and what makes him such an expert on dogs?" Well, apparently, before he styled himself some kind of dog expert, he was just an ordinary journalist who liked to write about technology. If Wikipedia is to be trusted, and of course we all know to double-check anything we read there, he was criticized by Slashdot readers who suspected him of being somewhat bogus: "Among the charges often levelled at him were that he was not an authentic geek and was seeking to co-opt and sensationalize geek subculture, that his writings (especially those on technical topics) were uninformed gibberish ..." OK, I didn't go double-check that bit--feel free to do so if you like--but what it demonstrates is that at least one Wikipedia contributor thinks Katz is just a big ol' poser when it comes to geekdom.

Well, I think he's a big ol' poser when it comes to dogdom, too. As far as I can tell from reading about him, the only things that qualify him as a dog expert are that a) he owns dogs, and b) he's read a lot of books about them. Holy shit, me too! In fact, I think we've both read some of the same books--in one article Katz describes "his" idea to help a friend teach his dog to come:
I had a different idea: chopping up some hot dogs, one of Lightning's favorite snacks. When the dog took off, Sam should run—but in the opposite direction, with the hot dogs evident. Lightning would reverse himself and follow—food-loving dogs invariably will. I thought the franks and praise might prove more effective than Sam's yelling. So it was.
Golly, that's the exactly what I tell all of my friends who get new dogs, except that I don't mind also telling them that they can read the same thing in just about any book written by Patricia McConnell (who has many bona-fides, in case you're wondering, and has written one dog book I recommend everyone, even if they don't have a dog: The Other End Of The Leash) The closest I could find to any dog-specific bona-fide in Katz's backrground is a USAToday article that called him a "certified dog nut." Well if that, and the ability to remember and regurgitate stuff written by actual dog experts is all takes to write for Slate and get a publishing contract, well hell, sign me up! I've got a journalism degree and two dogs ... I'm sure I could convince Mr. Pants that we need another dog or two if it's going to be my meal ticket.

A funny thing is, I was at Big Chain Bookstore yesterday, and I saw Katz's latest book. Since I'm serious about my dog training hobby, I instinctively thought "I must buy this." Then the frugal person inside said "You should find out more about this Katz guy first before you commit twenty diggitys to his book (it's cheaper on Amazon, btw). We've never heard him mentioned by our fellow dogerati as anyone worth reading." Thanks frugal person--I'm going to see if the Durham County Library has it (and if not I'll tell 'em to get it via their online book request form). I'll read Katz's book for free and save my money for Patricia McConnell's next book.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What a splendid idea!

"Now we're going to get snow penises popping up all over town."

Too bad we've got no snow here. Just a cold, steady drizzle all day long. I have agility class tonight. Outdoors. I'm already miserable just thinking about it.

UPDATE: Agility class has been canceled. I still have to go teach puppy class, but that's in the arena. Whew!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

people who aren't as lazy as I am have something to say ...

... about the supposed "War on Christmas."

Merry War On Christmas
Fuck Christmas

Oops I diddied again ...

So Jason! can't do his turn at radio tonight, so I said I'd do it for him. That's tonight, 8-10 pm eastern US, 88.7 near, far.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Come saw some wood with me ...

My eyes are all teary from laughing ... thanks to Rakka for hooking me up with the Brawny man (click "Innocent Escapes" on the right. Watch the pre-made movies or make your own ...)

The food, it was OK

Toddlers Gone Wild
Originally uploaded by Mr. Gomez.

So I brought eats to work for my turn at the "it's the holidays so we must shovel food down our maws" table. I made gingerbread, per Lisa L's recipe, and deviled eggs from my own recipe. For my tastes, the gingerbread was a bit too molasses-y, but others (people who like molasses more than I do) liked it. I think I made it a bit too dry somehow--maybe I baked it a few minutes too many. The deviled eggs were just right for my taste, but then I made up the recipe to suit myself. It goes a little something like this:

Boil up a mess o'eggs (I think I did something like 22 in this batch) according to whatever formula you use for egg-boiling. Peel 'em, slice them in half, and dump the yolks in a bowl.
Add mayonnaise and mustard to the yolks ... the quantity depends on how many yolks you have, but you want a lot mor mayo than mustard, unless you like your deviled eggs really mustardy. I never measure, I just add a little, mash & stir, add a little more, mash and stir, and just keep doing that until the consistency of the mixture is right--sort of a midpoint between stiff and creamy.
Chop up some dill pickles into teensy tiny bits (again, the quantity depends on how many yolks you have and how pickle-y you want your deviled eggs. I like mine rigght pickle-y). Add them, and a spoonful or two of pickle juice, to the yolk mixture.
Chop up some jalapeños into teensy tiny bits. How man, you ask? Well how much kick do you want your deviled eggs to have? You can always add more later if it's too mild, so be conservative at first. Add them, with a spoonful or two of jalapeño juice, to the yolk mixture.

Stir it all up some more.

Now you can shove some of the yolk mixture into each egg-white half, sprinkle with some paprika for beauty's sake, and serve. But if you're going to transport them first, you may want to wait.

Transporting deviled eggs is a big pain in the ass because you can't really stack 'em, and you have to make sure the container stays upright and level the entire way or you arrive with a container full of godawful mess. So this time I used a tip that I found somewhere online: put eh egg-white halves in a container, and shovel all of the yolk mixture into a plastic bag. Transport them separately, and when you arrive at your destination, arrange the halves on a serving plate, cut the corner off the plastic bag, and pipe the yolk mixture into the halves.

Be sure to eat several right away because people like deviled eggs and they usually go fast.

Oh, and behold the wondrous photo at the top o' this post. I was taken by Mr. Pants. Love it, pamper it, whisper sweet things into its ear.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Naughty, naughty people ...

OK, according to the magic little website that tells me all kinds of statistics about traffic to this blog, someone actually got here by doing a Yahoo search for "Lucy Tumnus fanfics." Apparently there aren't any out there yet. let me know if you find some ...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Saw it!

Liked it. In case you just came in, I'm talking about The Chronicles of Narnia. I didn't just like it, I thought it was pretty close to awesome. It was definitely a better adaptation than the first three Harry Potter films, although I'll concede that the Potter books must have been harder to work with. And really, the christian hoopla is a bit overblown--when I really thought about it I realized that if C.S. Lewis was trying to graft a bit of x-tian propaganda into the story, he did a really crappy job of it (I haven't read the books in years, so I had forgotten a few intricacies). In fact, now that I've been reminded of exactly how the story goes, I could easily see hardcore christians NOT liking this movie because it's really rather pagan--I mean, really, a talking lion as a supreme being?

At any rate, the real test in my opinion is: What did Mr. Pants think? He never read the books, so he had no predisposition to like the movie, plus, there were no zombies in it. He said it was one of the best movies he's seen in a long time. He was a bit trepidatious beforehand that he'd be trapped watching some religious parable, but aftrward he said it was just a really good fantasy story.

Tilda Swinton was absolutely incredible as the White Witch. I couldn't take my eyes off of her, and I want to watch the movie again just to see her. As for Aslan, it seemed that the cg animators couldn't decide if they wanted him to be fierce and noble or cute and cuddly. He sort of gave me the creeps. And Mr. Tumnus the faun was definitely hotter than one would imagine him from reading the books. I predict waves of fanfics that portray him and a teenage Lucy getting it on ...

So if anyone were to ask me, I'd tell them it's a movie well worth seeing, even if they didn't read all the books as a kid.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Gingerbread and deviled eggs

I figured out what I will make for the office food thingie on Tuesday. Thanks for the recipe, Lisa L.

I think I will go see the Disneyfied Narnia despite the warnings about its heavy-handed jesusness. Both Salon (bastards make you watch an ad first) and the Washington Post gave it decent reviews, but most compelling of all, Mr. Cranky gave it only one bomb, his rarely-bestowed highest ranking. I've heard the movie is supposed to be a visual feast, and I just loves me some visual feasting. Mr. Pants probably doesn't want to see it because there are no zombies in it, but I bet he'll go with me because he just likes movies.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Are you ever tempted ...

... to say "Thank god John Lennon is still dead"?

I mean, even if you're an atheist and don't actually thank god for stuff ...


So I mentioned yesterday that one of the reasons for the season is food. It appears that people at work agree, because from this wee until xmas we have a little thingie where every day two people bring in stuff for everyone to nosh on. My day is Tuesday, and I don't know what to bring. I want it to be healthy, or relatively so, but most of all it has to be easy and quick. I have Mr. Gomez's agility class on Monday night, so I won't have a lot of time to prepare, unless get stuff ready on Sunday nights. IO'm thinking some kind of hor d'oeuvres-y thing accompanied by crunchy raw veggies. Any ideas? Oh, and it needs to be meatless, for me (I think I'm the only non-carnivore in my division).

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Um, like, 'tis the season and shit ...

Once again I resume my quest to take the Christ out of Christmas, mostly by spelling it "x-mas." Food, twinkly lights, the scent of pine and shiny things are the reason for the season, goddammit. Joel Stein of the LA Times disagrees.

At any rate, thanks to Rummage Through The Crevices for pointing me toward something that's given me a megadose of the ol' holiday spirit: Santastic: Holiday Boots 4 Your Stockings. I think one of these tracks should get some airplay tonight ...

Which brings me to the semi-bi-weekly announcement you've all been waiting for: I will be jockeying the discs tonight, 8-10 pm eastern US, 88.7 if your near, if you're far. I think I may also find a place in the lineup for the Ghanaian postal workers thing that Rummage posted. Or maybe not. I never really know what I'm going to play until I push the button.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I thought he was just a talking lion ...

When I was a kid I loved the whole "Chronicles of Narnia" set. C.S. Lewis underlying christian themes were pretty much lost on me. I didn't equate Aslan's rising from the dead with Jesus' resurrection (Aslan actually came back to life, whereas Jesus' body disappeared from his tomb never to be seen again and we're expected to believe that it's because he was ressurrected and not because some apostle dragged it away in the dead of night ...) I suppose if I went and read the whole series again as an adult I'd pick up on it all, but nonetheless, just like Sunday school, the message didn't "take." I'm a godless infidel without much faith in anything, and the Narnia books were just fascinating little fantasies of a world with talking animals.

So now Disney is coming out with the movie version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and I would love nothing more than to have it be a wonderful adaptation of the original, transporting me back to the Narnia I loved as a kid. But in my mind, the name "Disney" is a synonym for "heavy-handed saccharine dreck." Then I read in The Guardian that "unbelievers should keep a sickbag handy during Disney's new epic." Crap. Oh well, I'll just go see the evil Harry Potter movie again ...

Monday, December 05, 2005

... and your little dog, too

So we road-tripped to the agility trial over the weekend, and all went well except for the parts that didn't go so well. Lucy and I qualified in three of our seven runs over the weekend (You can see one here and another here.) I made some spectacularly dorky mistakes in almost every run (you can see a few of them in the videos I linked to), reminding me that even though I've made it to the Advanced level I still suck and I'm nowhere near ready for Masters-level competition. But the worst of all was when I face-planted on the course. Thankfully, Mr. Pants had taken Gomey for a hike at Chimney Rock, so he neither saw it nor caught it on video. It was during a gamblers run, and I had misjudged both my dog's speed going through a tunnel and my own trajectory in regard to the tunnel, so I was crossing the opening just as little Lucy was exiting, and I tripped right over her. Right when I was thinking "Fuck, I just face-planted" the gamble buzzer sounded, and I jumped up and said "Let's go!" to Lucy and tried to direct her through the gamble, but failed. So it's a really good thing I haven't made it to Masters yet, because if I had people would have actually been watching me ...

I ended up not freezing my ass off, though. Even though Saturday was damn cold, the trial was in an indoor horse arena, and there was plenty of crating room inside so we and our dogs could hang out in heated comfort and watch two rings of action between runs. This trial attracted some of the top competitors in the country, so I got to see that even the very best agility handlers screw up and fail to qualify sometimes. They just manage to do it in a much less dorky manner than I do.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Flickr ate my blog

I spend so much time on Flickr that I've been neglecting my blog, I'm afraid. I don't know how I've ended up with so many Flickr contacts, but I make an effort to look at at least some of everyone's photos, and next thing I know it's way past my bedtime or something. Maybe I need an intervention.

At any rate, I'll be doing neither Flickring nor blogging over the weekend because I'm headed to Asheville, NC, (well, Fletcher, actually, but it's right next door to Asheville) for an agility trial. I will probably freeze my ass off. Have a swell weekend, y'all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Get out!

Holy crap is all I can say ... Dr. Noah Drake is coming back to General Hospital! I might have to look into seeting up a Freevo system, seeing as how the whole wretched day-job thing effectively killed my soap opera habits (I was able to keep the habit going in my early working years because i worked nights at a newspaper).

Which reminds me of one of those memories you're not sure if you want to share ... but oh what the hell, what's the point of having a blog if you don't give people too much information? OK, here it is: in 1982 I saw Rick Springfield live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I could give more info that explains why I was there (Aside from my General Hospital obsession I wasn't really a Rick Springfied fan), bu I'll refrain because, honestly, I enjoyed the concert. So there.

But back to the soaps, i'd still like to see a return of Billy Clyd tuggle to All My Children ...

Tonight's not the night

I really wish I had something more interesting to say at this moment, but I'm drowning in ennui. So here's all you get today: I would have been on your radio/webstream tonight, but Jason! (my "splitter" in 'XDU parlance, a term that always reminds me of Life of Brian), ask if I could swap weeks with him to accomodate a scheduling conflict. yes, I said. So feel free to listen to Jason! tonight from 8-10 Eastern US, 88.7 if you're here, if you're there. Tune in to me next week. Or don't.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mission accomplished

I'm back from Thanksgiving with me mum. I spent a lot of time taking photos--far too many of them, really. I haven't even had a chance to look at them all, so I imagine I'll be uploading my favorites to the Flickr stream bit by bit over the next few days.

Probably the most interesting thing about my trip is that I went all the way from Durham to Myrtle Beach and back without using a single interstate highway. I normally take some non-interstate roads between Lumberton, NC and MB, but this time I decided I wanted nothing at all to do with I-95, because even if there isn't construction or an accident, it's just crazy and I hate it. People drive like idiots on I-95 more than any other interstate I've ever traveled. Besides, it's a more interesting trip off the interstate, although it takes longer.

In case you're interested (and I have one or two road-trip geeks among my friends and acquaintances) here are the routes: I took NC 751 south to US 1. I meant to stay on US 1 until Southern Pines, but I accidentally took US 15-501 a bit early, which resulted in a slight detour--no big deal because I had to eventually take 15-501 to Laurinburg anyway. (At one point, I missed a turn that would have kept me on 15-501 and found myself going into the little town of Carthage, so I decided Lucy and I would have a little walkabout and I'd take a few pics.) So once I got back on course, I picked up US 74 in Laurinburg (according to the signs it will eventually become Interstate 74). Near the little town of Chadbourn, I took NC 410 to Tabor City (Home of the North Carolina Yam Festival), where I picked up US 701, taking it to SC 9 near a little hamlet called Loris. Near North Myrtle Beach I got on SC 31, a brand-new interstate-like highway that zipped me right into Myrtle Beach. The way back was similar, except that I decided to stay on 410 north to a tiny blip on the map called Dublin, NC, where I picked up NC 87. I could have stayed on 87 all the way to Chapel Hill (It becomes one with 15-501 for a long way), but I didn't want to go through Fayetteville because, well who really wants to go through Fayetteville? So I took NC 20 to Raeford, picked up NC 211 to US 1 in Aberdeen. Then I mde the mistake of trying 15-501 for the rest of the way, forgetting about the horrible traffic that always exists between Chapel Hill and Durham (751 is a much better choice).

It's rather pathetic that my choice of routes is the most interesting part of the holiday, isn't it? Oh yeah, I also developed a wicked addiction to the little "Freecell" game that comes as part of the Windows OS. I'm really good at it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Over the river and through the woods

Tomorrow I'll be heading south to visit my mother in Myrtle Beach for Thanksgiving. I don't expect to be blogging. I don't expect to have much to blog about when I get back, either. So I'll spend my drive time there and back inventing things ...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Better late than never ....

So like many, I saw Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire Friday., and I meant to blog a review but I got lazy (go away and come back later if you haven't seen it and don't want to know anything at all). I think Georg did a smashing job with his. (One point of disagreemenrt: I like the tragic Weasly coiffures. They work because all the Weasly's probably get quickie kitchen cuts by the harried Mrs. Weasley, who doesn't really care if no one like them.) I would have liked to have seen the house elves and the Dursleys make an appearance because those bits of the previous movies were always entertaining (especially Dobby bashing himself over the head with things.) But this was the first Potter movie in which I didn't feel compelled to keep a running count of things they cut from the book, probably because it just worked so well. It's definitely my favorite of the movies so far.

Now if only JKR would get cracking on Book 7 ...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Only slightly geeky

I'm not really a movie geek, nor am I a computer, sci-fi, anime, multi-player game or gadget geek. But I am somewhat of a Harry Potter geek. Only somewhat--I am not nearly geeky enough to go to a 12:01 am showing of a movie just for the sake of seeing it at the absolute earliest possible moment. So I won't be seeing Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire until Friday afternoon. I will be taking off work early to see it, however, which is a slightly geekuy thing to do. By seeing an early show I'm running the risk that there will be screechy, squawky babies in the audience, but that will just give me an opportunity for another little anti-babies-in-theaters rant, now won't it?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

it's that time again ...

Radio (or webstream). Tonight. 8-10 p.m. Eastern US. 88.7 for the locals, for everyone else. Georg is on after me, so at the very least you can tune in to me while your'e waiting for his show to start. or if you prefer reading lists of songs to actually listening to them, my playlist will magically appear here after my show.

In other news, I was feeling invincible after our fantastic agility weekend, so I rushed to get my entry in for a USDAA trial in Fletcher (it's next door to Asheville) on Dec. 3 & 4. I'll probably freeze my ass off, but Lucy always runs really fast when it's cold (maybe she just wants to get it done so she can get back to the big, fat pillow in her cozy little crate ...)

Monday, November 14, 2005

How was I to know?

So this morning my co-workers brought in bagels in belated honor of my birthday (they didn't know if I was going to be in on Thursday so they postponed it). One of the guys from the print shop came up with some questions, and I told him to have a bagel. I had no idea that he had never had one before, so I didn't think to instruct him on the proper way to enjoy a bagel (Cut it open and spread the cream cheese of youir choice on it). He just picked up a whole wheat one and started eating it like a doughnut, hating it immediately. Poor guy will never touch a bagel ever again.

Anyway, I had a fab time at an agility trial this weekend. We got first place in everything we entered. OK, full disclosure: The only other dogs entered in Lucy's height class were either absent or had no intention whatsoever of running the actual agility course. One of them, a cute little Jack Russell terrier, decided that he would rather hide in a tunnel than run the course. His owner had to crawl into the tunnel on his belly to get his dog. So we got first place even on the course where I forgot where I was supposed to go immediately after the first obstacle. Other than that course, our runs were as close to perfect as I can reasonably expect. We came in well under time in all of them, including the jumpers run in which Lucy stopped twice to wag her tail at Mr. Pants, who was capturing the run on video. He later confessed that he had given her a french fry shortly before the run, so she was either saying thanks or asking if he had another one handy.

Today I'm tired and a little sore from all the running around. But I can't wait to do it again.

Friday, November 11, 2005

No work=a good day

I'm in my jam-jams drinking coffee and pondering a day of whatever I feel like doing (which isn't much) because I don't have to work today! Hooray for Veteran's Day!*

My mother called this morning at 7:30 to wish me happy birthday. I said "Thanks, but you know it's really tomorrow, right?" She said "Oh yeah, that's right. I just always think of it as Veteran's Day because your father had that day off work and he kept standing around looking at me like 'Well, aren't you going to go into labor?' " So I learned a new little piece of family folklore: My father had really wanted me to be born on Veteran's Day. Solid evidence that I began my career of disappointing my parents before birth.

*Interesting note about this link: On the right side of the page there is (or was--I don't know how often it changes) a poll that asks "Which of the United States' post-Vietnam military conflicts do you consider the most justified?" It just made me chuckle because implicit in the question is the notion that, well, none of them were really all that justifiable, now were they? But c'mon, surely one or two of them had a shred of justification behind them, right? Help us out here ... which ones?

Of the choices, the one that really blew my mind when it happened was Grenada. I was in college at the time, and the morning after the invasion I dragged my sleepy ass out of bed just in time to wander to my 9 a.m. "History of American Cities" class. The professor walked in and before he could start the lecture some guy raised his hand and said "Can we talk a bit about the US invasion of Grenada?" Most of the rest of the class were sleepyheads like me who hadn't had their daily dose of mass media yet, and we all said "What? Invasion? Grenada?" almost in unison. I was thinking "Grenada, Grenada ... do I know where this place is?" I have since been to Grenada, which is a very lovely place. If you ever go, ask someone to show you the public telephone Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf allegedly used to phone in an airstrike request. the story they tell there is that the Army had no means of communication with the Air Force directly, and so Schwartzkopf had to use a pay phone (a la Dr. Strangelove) to request air support, and the response he got was "What? Invasion? Grenada?" because the whole operation had been so secret. I have no idea if this story is true or if the folks in Grenada just think it's a fun thing to tell tourists.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Beware the beer

So Georg chronicled last night's bowling fun accurately. My scores ranged from respectable (136) to poor (<100). Mr. Pants wiped the floors with the rest of us in the first game by rolling a 223. A great time was had by all and I may have gotten a decent picture or two but I don't have the stamina right now to look.

The reason for this is what happened after bowling. I had partaken of the cheap bowling alley beer, but not to the extent that I expected to suffer any ill effects. But on the way home, I started feeling sort of dizzy and unable to focus my eyes (good thing Mr. pants was driving). It got worse and worse so that when I got into bed I was definitely feeling the spins. I managed to fall asleep until I was awakend a couple of hours later by one of the most horrendous headaches I've had in years. I had to move to the sofa in the hopes that my writhing wouldn't wake up Mr. Pants, but it was too late--I managed to ruin his night's sleep along with my own. Then my stomach joined in the fun so I was ... what's a nice delicate euphemism? Chatting up the porcelain god? Needless to say I stayed home from work today in misery, and the headache finally left at around 2 pm.

I really don't think it was the beer. I drank no more than I would at the average party, which isn't really that much (my upper limit is 3 beers). Perhaps my body, accustomed to finer brews, was rebelling against being forced to consume Anheuser-Busch products. Or maybe I was just due for a monster migraine. Maybe I caught a stomach bug and it came with a headache. At any rate, now my brain associates bowling alley beer with very bad things. It's a pity because without it rolling gutter balls probably isn't as much fun.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Lost weekend ...

Originally uploaded by Mr. Gomez.

Mr. Pants went to the coast this weekend and took some amazing photos.

I stayed home and took photos of rubbish and crazy people.

But there's good news: We have been invited to dress up as elves and march in the Oriental, NC Christmas parade. Aren't you jealous?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Show your love with home-baked cookies

Originally uploaded by KitschKat.

I can't stop giggling. I think I may have to make this my desktop photo at work for a while. There's also a set documenting the whole project.

Hard to believe ...

... or maybe not. But I was very surprised to learn that we are not the owners of the only dog in the world named "Mr. Gomez": Mr. Gomez Leads the Pack.

But our dog's actual real name is "Mr. Bob Gomez." Although he prefers the formality of the courtesy title and his surname, he will allow friends and family to call him "Gomey." (perhaps we were first? I have no idea when the other Mr. Gomez got his name, but ours was named in 1998.)

Until he begins his agility competition, this is the best example I have of my Mr. Gomez in action. (If the clip wont play, click "save this clip" and it just might work.)

Also, just because I love pointless endeavors, I have started a collection of "mrgomez" tagged bookmarks on

Thursday, November 03, 2005

So where was I?

The radio thing went as well as usual last night; playlist lives here.

Way back in September I had written that Town & Country kennel in Apex was going to be housing some of dogs rescued after Hurricane Katrina. Well, the dogs finally chewed their way through the red tape and have arrived. I got a call yesterday from a woman at T&C who said they could use some volunteers (particularly on weekends) and supplies. They have plenty of food because Purina donated it, but she really needs to get her hands on heartworm preventative. They will also need foster homes and adoptive homes, although the adoptions can't be finalized for 90 days to give the dogs more time to be reclaimed by their owners. Anyone interested in helping out can Gmail me (bunchofpants@ etc...).

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

the usual ...

I'll be on the radio/webstream tonight, 8-10 pm Eastern US. Locals: 88.7 FM. The rest of the world:

Oh, and the Halloween drunken candy-giving thingie went well, despite the paucity of trick-or-treaters.

Otherwise, all is boring here in Pantsville.

Monday, October 31, 2005

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

Tonight is the second annual "Sit on the Neighbors' Porch and Drink Beer Whilst Dispensing Halloween Candy to the Kiddies" party. It was great fun last year, and it looks like the weather will be nice again this year. Come on by and join us at the yellow house next to the orange house.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fun with security guards

I almost got arrested for this pic.
Originally uploaded by Mr. Gomez.

Mr. Pants had a showdown at the Target corral today over taking pix on their property. He correctly answered "no" when they told him he would have to delete the photos he had taken. They threatend to call the cops and he called their bluff and said "Go ahead. I'll see you in court over Spongebob." I'm sure the last thing they wanted was a bunch of cop cars showing up in their parking lot over a guy who was photographing Spongebob Squarepants.

He said they were stunned when he said "no way" to their demand to delete the photos. I think security guards just assume that everyone will respect their authority--even when they are dead wrong and have no legal basis for that "authority." The truth is, they cannot confiscate your film or make you delete photos. They can tell you to stop (and Mr. Pants agreed to stop when they told him to) and they can make you leave their property (they never asked him to leave) and that's it. Here's a handy little guide to one's rights as a photographer, in case anyone's interested.

Sorry you asked ...

Originally uploaded by bunchofpants.

I had to miss THE Halloween party last night because I had what appears to have been a recurrence of my bubonic plague. I was feeling really cruddy on Friday night, and then just as cruddy Saturday morning. I stayed on the couch all day.

I also had a very strange episode in which I became convinced that I was either having a bona-fide panic attack or a heart attack. It went thusly: One of my symptoms is body aches, usually in my legs but Saturday morning it was my arms--a bit more in the left than the right. I didn't think much about it until later, when I started feeling an unbearable restlessness and anxiety, which was really disturbing in its intensity, especially in light of the fact that I was too fatigued to move around much, but I couldn't sit still. The scariest thing was that I literally felt crazy--it was such an abnormal feeling that I though I must be going off the rails. Then I started focusing on my left arm pain and I though "Oh my god, I'm having a heart attack!" I knew a guy who dropped dead of a heart attack at age 19, so nothing is out of the question. I went online and googled something like "symptoms of heart attack" and came up with a list. No, I wasn't having chest pains or shortness of breath ... but the symptom that stuck out the most was "Feeling of Impending Doom." Well, having been convinced that I was going crazy, sure I felt some impending doom ...

But after a few minutes of not dropping dead but still feeling fatigued, I thought "Yeah, so maybe I'm having a heart attack. Fuck it, I'm really tired and I want to lie down." So I curled up on the couch and fell asleep. After I woke up and thought clearly fo a moment, I realized what probably had happened. I had an extra cup of coffee that morning and then, feeling very sinusy, had taken two pseudoephedrine tablets (I usually only take one). I think that in combination, the caffeine and pseudoephedrine made me a little nuts.

Or maybe I had a heart attack. It happens.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Violence is funniest ...

... when perpetrated by little old ladies. Mr Pants e-mailed me this hilarious link--It's apparently been around for about a year but I had never heard it: A Guy Witnesses an Accident.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

We return you to your regularly scheduled programming

Way to go White Sox. I need a nap.

My car battery doesn't want to hold a charge. I haven't replaced it since 1999, so I suppose I'm due.

I need a web cam so I can do this. Fool is the new cool.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

So many innings, so little sleep

Sorry White Sox, I couldn't do it. Fourteen innings ... I had to give up on you at 1:15 am and go to bed. When I got up this morning, Mr Pants murmured from under the covers that the Sox had won. I asked who hit in the winning run, and he said "some guy off the bench I'd never heard of." That would be Geoff Blum ... if you're interested here's a brief rundown of the game.

But more importantly: I was stunned to see that some of the more hirsute Houston Astros--most notably Lance Berkman, who was the most lumberjack-like of the bunch--followed my advice and trimmed their beards before this game. I was feeling very influential in the baseball world until I found out that the beard-trimming had been an attempt by the Astros to change their luck (baseball players are notoriously superstitious). But at least I wasn't imagining their facial-hair fixation--a quick search revealed that indeed, the Astros may be more beard-obsessed that the average team.

Extra-inning games can be grueling, but let me tell you the absolute worst thing about watching baseball on TV: The mind-meltingly horrible truck ads, which come one after another, over and over again during sports programming. I find them terribly culturally embarrassing, both because they highlight this country's love affair with conspicuous petroleum profligacy and because they take so much glee in the image of American men as hyper-aggressive meatheads who love nothing more than to get into pissing contests over who has the biggest equipment. Never mind that the image is, in some cases, very accurate--it's just the last thing I want representing the country where fate happens to have placed me--the one I have to tell people I am from when I go abroad (of course I could always lie and say I'm Canadian). One truck commercial (I think it may be for the Dodge Ram) proudly describes the truck in question as "intimidating" and shows it menacing a rival truck into peeing submissivly like a puppy. I'd me much happier if the ads just came out and said "Hey, you know you're a big dumb fuck with an inferiority complex, and you need to drive a big fucking truck to feel secure in your masculinity. Dodge Ram. Get it? RAM! RAM! RAM!"

(I'd like to proudly point out that when Mr. Pants isn't biking to work he drives a little Hyundai Elantra. He's a professional tree-hugger, by the way)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Yet another entry about the ChiSox ...

So last night's game was a the most perfect example of why people watch baseball (read this if you have no idea what I'm talking about).

But enough boy talk, I want to take a moment to dwell upon the type of thing girls are likely to notice when watching sports: What the hell is up with all that Astros facial hair? What, are they all lumberjacks in the off-season? Do the Astros just attract hirsute men or do they start becoming barbate in order to fit in after they get there? I think most of them would look better with much more abbreviated facial hair, and you can tell them I said so if they ask.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sweet soul sounds are stirring my soul ...

I love the way the words "White sox win game 1 ofthe World Series" roll off my tongue.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Today I ran away and joined the circus ...

sarah shoots me
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants.

When my life is eventful, i.e. more blogworthy, I don't have time to blog it. It's when I've got nothing to say that I have time to go on and on about noisy babies in movie theaters and whatnot ...

The radio show went well the other night--I even remembered my password to the online playlister thingie, which means you can see what I played here. I will be back on the air for Mondo Mundo tomorrow from 13 pm eastern US (88.7 FM locals, everyone else).

But before the show on Wednesday I went to the state fair. I took lots of photos, rode the ferris wheel, watched the "Dogs of the Wild West" show and the racing pigs, and then ran into Georg and Sarah at the mini doughnut stand. We hung out for a while and there was much rejoicing.

I think I'm more interesting when I don't actually have anything to write about ...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Beware of the radio ...

I'm on the air tonight, 8-10 pm eastern US. 88.7 FM for the locals, for the rest of the universe.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

OK, I take it back ...

art school
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants.

... what I said in my previous entry. It's nice and warm out today. I broke a sweat when I was out at lunchtime, which is a good thing. I could have gone sockless if I were wearing the proper shoes.

Everybody else loves it

So everyone's all happy that autumn is here, with its pretty colored leaves and crisp days. Not me. I'm bummed that now I have to wear socks every day now. Plus my hands are already starting to feel dry and stingy, my lips are chapped and before long my nose will be running like a faucet all day every day. I fully expect to be miserable until sometime in March. Autumn sucks.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I like to watch

peeking over the table in disguise
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants.

How 'bout them White Sox? I like baseball even though I don't watch that much in the regular season. But this has been the most exciting post-season evah, what with the chisox playing really good ball and finally making it to the big one. Now I don't know when I'm going to sleep. We stayed up until midnight last night (my bedtime is usually 10 pm because I'm a very early riser), and this morning I couldn't get up on time. I may need to schedule some strategic naps for the games that are on work nights. Maybe the Sox will win it in four ...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Mini-movie review: Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Boredom

Not even the lovely Orlando Bloom could entice me into finishing it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Me so tired.

This week I've been hard at work to bring you that big annual event that starts with an "F." Sometimes we precede it with another word that starts with an "F" ...

Anyway, I'm feeling a bit exhausted. And misanthropic. But at least this year no evangelicals have offered me any toiletries from God.

If you're local and you go to that big event that starts with an "F," please remember to wash your hands.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

This one goes up to eleven ...

Just for fun, I fed my previous blog entry into Babel Fish, translated it into Spanish, and then translated the translation back into English. I think it greatly improved the piece:
Drink for above, the cabritos that I have had many opportunities empirical to verify that its capacity to recover of combats of the excessive consumición of the alcohol diminishes whereas one obtains older. The last such experiment was yesterday, the occasion that was wedding of my neighbors of the following-door. Well, the reception, really. The wedding itself did not offer any consumición of the alcohol, but there was a lady of honor with two broken arms, in addition to several children pre-verbals that added their commentary to the procedures. The reception of also open-sweeps presented/displayed an occasion to return to even discover that one does not have to discuss to policy and the religion with the foreigners, if the several beers one have consumed the opinion is ACCEPTABLE blurt outside its atheistic opinions of the left-handed person. The beers neglect generally to notice one that the individual with that one is to seem of conversation much a preservative republican Baptist of Roofing tiles. In fact, the only really safe thing to do in such occasions is to demonstrate the appropriate way to sacudarir its healthy end to stylings healthy of sir Mezclar-Uno-Mix-A-Lot. The several or plus the beers are helpful in such effort.

Drink up, kids

I have had many opportunities to empirically verify that one's ability to recover from bouts of excessive alcohol consumption decreases as one gets older. The latest such experiment was yesterday, the occasion being my next-door neighbors' wedding. Well, the reception, actually. The wedding itself featured no alcohol consumption, but there was a bridesmaid with two broken arms, in addition to several pre-verbal toddlers who added their commentary to the proceedings.

The open-bar reception also presented an occasion to rediscover that one shouldn't discuss politics and religion with strangers, even if the several beers one has consumed say it's OK to blurt out one's lefty atheistic opinions. The beers usually neglect to warn one that the guy with which one is conversing looks a lot like a conservative Republican Baptist from Texas.

Indeed, the only really safe thing to do on such occasions is to demonstrate the proper way to shake one's healthy butt to the sound stylings of Sir Mix-A-Lot. The several or more beers are of great assistance in such an endeavor.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

It went ok, I guess

So last night's radio show went from being the "Mid-Life Crisis Mix" to being the "Real-Time Crisis Mix" when I had my first experience with WXDU's spiffy on-line playlisting system. As instructed, I logged in, changed my password and set up my preferences. But the thing didn't like my preferences, and kept giving me a "fatal error" when I tried to start a playlist. So I did what anyone would do when trying to keep a radio show going whilst dealing with unccoperative computer software: I swore like a sailor. Fortunately the microphone was off at the time. I think. Anyway, helpful fellow DJ Santa Salsera helped me figure out that the software didn't like the subtitle I gave my show. It didn't like my syntax. Nobody likes my syntax. After I deleted the offending subtitle, the software was extremely cooperative, and you can see the results of my efforts here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

You are a bore, and a very dull one at that

Oh, what fun these internets are. Looking for something else entirely, I stumbled across a Random Insult Generator, apparently designed for message board denizens not bright enough to craft their own insults. But much more interesting is the "Swearsaurus," with which you can learn to say really horrible things to people in many, many languages. Most of them are not very imaginative, involving the body parts and procreative activities of the recipient, his mother or his father. But there are a few fun ones: "Che bi bili mozhgani dinamit, tebi she nosu ne bi razneslo" is Slovenian for "If brains were dynamite, even your nose wouldn't explode" or "Yer bum's oot a windae," (Your bottom is protruding from an open casement), which is apparently a lowland Scots way of saying someone is making a fool of himself.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Ch-ch-ch cha cha ...

I'll be on the radio, or on your streaming internets, tomorrow night (that would be Wednesday) at the usual time (8-10 pm US Eastern). Playlist will be "Lisa's Mid-Life Crisis Mix." Unfortunately I have no idea what that really entails because the symptoms of a mid-life crisis appear to be similar to those of Lyme Disease (i.e. plenty of lethargy). Anyway, you know what this means: stay away from 88.7 FM if you're local, refrain from visiting if you reside elsewhere en el mundo.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Spam jamming

I turned on the "word verification" feature of the commenting tool in an attempt to dissuade the bots from attacking. I had a flurry of spam comments awaiting me this morning, and it was a pain in the ass to delete them all. Sorry. If you are a human being I still welcome your comments unless they are merely thinly disguised attempts to steer traffic to your "Dog Clothes Blog." (I'm not making that one up.)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

"May Offend"

I really do try to curb my misanthropic tendencies, I swear ...

Our flyball club did a demonstration today at the NC State Vet School's "Dog Olympics." I always get annoyed by someone's behavior at these things, and today the grand prize for "Most Irritating Asshole" goes to a cameraman from WRAL. He decided, without asking us, that the best place for him to get a good shot was exactly where we and our dogs would be running: right smack in the middle of the "runback" area about 20 feet from the last jump. He was, if I may swear like a sailor and I may because it's my blog, right in our fucking way, and dangerously so, at least as far as the safety of our dogs was concerned (which is really all we care about.) We asked him to move and he refused. So we told him to move, several times (My exact words: "YOU HAVE TO MOVE!") and he snarled "I'm just trying to do my job." Dude, as far as we are concerned, your job involves staying the fuck out of our way so that we can safely do a flyball demonstration. Fortunately, a more diplomatic teammate explained to him that his presence there was a danger to our dogs, and he finally moved. It's a good thing, too, because I have been dying to try out my new catch phrase, which in this case would have been "Get out of our way NOW or you're going to get a face full of fuck you!"

Also annoying at these events are the people who think that after the demo they can just rush right in with their dogs and start trying to make them go over the jumps. Do they ask permission? No, of course not. So then we have to tell them they can't. It's not that we don't want them to learn flyball, but they can take a class and learn the correct way, at the correct pace, and with positive reward-based methods just like the rest of us. You don't turn your overweight couch potato dog into an an athlete by dragging it by the leash until it has no choice but to jump a jump. (In addition, our club has to carry liability insurance but we don't want to actually need it.) One guy went up to our outrageously expensive flyball box and started banging on it--I have no idea why. When I told him and his fat-ass family as nicely as I could that we do not allow people on our equipment, he said "I just wanted to see if my dog will do it." So I started to explain that we offer classes, and he said "That's OK, we're not interested, not if you're going to be that way about it." So I replied "Good, because we're not interested in you either." It was a nicer alternative than "We don't allow assholes in our club anyway. And by the way, your dog is too fat," which is what I was thinking.

I don't think I should volunteer for any more flyball demos ...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

And on a related note ...

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.” From Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'.

Save the artifacts

I was just now reading Chris's accounts of his adventures trying to save bits and pieces of history in Louisiana. I'm always reading travel writing, and this little anecdote reminded me of some travelers' bizarre experiences in little bureaucratic backwaters around the world--the kinds of places euphemistically referred to as "developing nations":
On the way out of the Joint Field Office, at the interior circle of security, a Blackwater guard searched my computer bag. I had the AASLH camcorder and he asked if I had a Property Slip for it. No, it’s mine. He told me he knows this, but I still need a Property Slip. But I’m trying to leave the building, and I’m never coming back, and besides, y’all never told me about this when I entered. Still, I had to get a Property Slip. Damn. He directed me to the help desk where they could get me a Property Slip. The help desk had no idea what I was talking about. {snip}

Back downstairs, a new Blackwater guard stood by the entrance. I grudgingly showed him my slip and he told us I hadn’t needed that at all and his predecessor at that post didn’t know what he was talking about. The two rent-a-cops behind the desk just shrugged.
This made me think, once again, now exactly what would I be giving up by one day moving to South America? The list keeps getting shorter.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tap, cha-cha-cha, right-left-right ...

I remember when I was a kid, during the height of the whole disco craze, I thought the idea of dressing up, going to a disco and dancing the hustle was so glamorous. Unfortunately, or maybe not, by the time I was old enough to indulge my boogie fever the disco craze had died. I never learned to do the hustle. But it's not too late! Thanks to Mr. Swank and his Album of the Moment, I now have the means to learn all kinds of hustlage. In fact, were I not to lazy to oraginize it, I think it would be fun to have a big, public "Learn The Hustle" party somewhere like, say, the Duke Coffeehouse. Alas, I am but a sad slacker and probably wouldn't ever follow-through on the idea. But it wouldn't bother me a bit if some enthusiastic go-getter were to steal my idea and invite me to the party ...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Flyball recovery day

I'm feeling a bit better, thanks for asking.

I spent the weekend at a flyball tournament, hosted by my club at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. I was actually dreading this weekend because I have been feeling so tired and achey, and flyball always takes a toll on me. It's especially bad when my club hosts the tournament because it involves a lot of physical labor. I took Friday off work to help set up, which involves rolling out lots of heavy rubber matting and taping it all down in the right places. Then after the tournament, everything needs to be taken apart, rolled up, and loaded into trucks and trailers. I tried to do as little heavy lifting as possible and still not appear to be a slacker.

Fortunately I'm no more tired today than I usually am after a flyball weekend. Unfortunately, I'm usually quite tired and achey after a flyball weekend. So I'm still sort of dragging ass, but I'm not concerned about it.

My little dog is sort of dragging ass, too, as she always does the morning after a dog-sport event, but this time I'm a little concerned because she just didn't seem as excited about flyball as she used to be. Not that she's ever been one of the gonzo dogs who act like they would chew off their own tails for a chance to play flyball. Observers always remark about how calm Lucy is while all the rest of the flyball dogs are barking their heads off and spewing spittle because they just can't wait to run down the lane and get the ball. But yesterday Lucy seemed really, really bored. Or maybe I'm projecting my own feelings onto my dog. I was kinda bored during all of our races. Maybe I won't do much more flyball. Maybe I'd be more interested if I had a border collie that howled with excitement at the thought of runing over some jumps and bringing back a ball over and over again. Mr. Gomez would have made a really fun flyball dog. Too bad Mr. Pants wouldn't let me borrow his dog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Maybe I'm just lazy ...

So my doctor called to tell me that I'm a hypochondriac. Actually she said that the blood tests and x-rays all look great. No Lyme Disease ... but come to think of it, they didn't specifically test me for bubonic plague. That's it, I'm dying of plague, I just know it.

But seriously, finding out that I'm probably perfectly healthy is both a big relief and slightly disturbing. I do have one less thing to worry about as far as mortality goes (aside from the stuff that can kill you unexpectedly like sudden cerebral thrombosis, car accident, drive-by shooting, tornado ... wow, I could keep going here ...) But now I'm thinking "So why do I feel so bad?" My doctor is now tossing about words like "depression" and "anxiety." I'm hoping that maybe I can just eat more tofu or something ...

Plague update ...

Mine will not be the voice you hear on the radio tonight during the time normally allotted to me, so it's safe to tune in if you wish. I gave away my show when the day started off poorly and I anticipated it getting worse.

I was feeling resonably well las night, and then I failed to fall asleep promptly. Of course this made me worry about how tired and achey I was going to feel in the morning, which only made it harder to fall asleep. The whole thing cycled out of control until it became a self-fulfilling prophecy and now I feel like microwaved death..

I also realized yesterday that I have no idea when I'm supposed to find out if any of the gallons of blood extracted from me at the doctor's office will yield any clues as to why I feel ill. But my doctor told me once before "Bad news travels fast," which means that if something is wrong someone will call me. No one has called yet, to my knowledge. I'm probably just suffering from existential misery and there's nothing anyone can do to help me.

I should probably eat something more nutritious for lunch than a bagel with butter (I should have at least remembered to bring my Marmite to work!), but it's all too much trouble ...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I'm only trying to help ...

Confidential to the lovesick guy:

If I told you that I know for a fact she doesn't like you, that she told me so herself, would you please stop wearing so much cologne? I'm reasonably sure she finds it as headache-inducing as I do.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Music Monday

Saturday when I did my utterly self-indulgent Mondo Mundo show of songs I consider favorites (playlist here), I picked up a cd Georg had left in my mailbox for review: Balkan Beat Box. I just now got an opportunity to listen to it for the first time and shine on me sunshine, walk with me world it's a skip-a-dee-doo-dah day ... if I didn't still feel like freeze-dried death (more on that below) I'd be the happiest girl in the whole USA. It makes me want to actually do a "best albums of 2005" list (instead of just thinking about it as I usually do) just so I can put this one at the top.

In other news, I went to the doctor this morning about my bubonic plague ... or Lyme disease or lupus or rheumatoid arthritis (my doctor actually brought those twice during the consult, so now I'm all fixated on lupus ...) The good news, I guess, is that Lyme diseas is very rare in North Carolina. But it has occurred ... mostly toward the area where I picked up my little tick friend last month. They sucked copious quantities of blood out of my veins and, because of past health issues I won't go into here, took a chest X-ray because it's been more than 5 years since my last one.

Also, good news: our sailboat made it through Ophelia perfectly well. Since Mark went a little overboard (pun intended) and put out 4 anchors, one of which weighed 70 lbs., I'm not surprised she held fast (I am surprised that no other boats smashed into her, however). Others didn't do so well: one huge boat in our marina that Mark has nicknamed "The Pig" wasn't achored so well and is now hard aground in a shallow marsh. Bummer for them.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Hmmmm ... Lyme Disease, maybe?

Have you ever read a list of symptoms for a disease and become convinced you have it? I awoke at around 5 this morning absolutely certain that I must be suffering from Lyme Disease. I was indeed bitten by a tick on or around August 12, which was the day I went with my boss and a co-worker out into the rural wilds of NC to photograph crops and other bucolic scenery for work. After I removed the tick, there was a very red spot at the site of the bite, but it only grew to about a centimeter in diameter, never developed into the classic erythema migrans or "bull's-eye rash," and it went away after a week. But then about two weeks later I developed a horrible, inexplicable pain in my right pinky joint, which persists. I'm also very fatigued. I've felt a little more headachy than usual, but since I'm normally a very headache-prone person I'm not sure whether that symptom means much.

At any rate, my doctor's office opens in 15 minutes. Hopefully they will be able to diagnose me with hypochondria over the phone and that will be that. I carpooled today with Mr. Whig Hill so I can't get to their office today even if they demand it. But at least I'll know why I've been feeling like lukewarm death for the past week.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Is it my imagination ...

... or does Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff look like he's accustomed to feasting on dead bodies?

I suppose it was inevitable

Speculators Rushing In as the Water Recedes. Prepare for "New Orleans Land," a planned and packaged experience in which you will be able to enjoy your jazz, beignets and etouffe without all those pesky poor people bringing you down ... except the ones we need to clean up all the vomit before you emerge from your 1000-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets in the morning. But we'll make sure they all live well outside of town while they aren't working for your tips so you don't have to worry your pretty little head about being made uncomfortable in any way.

Advance warning, among other things

So I've still got some "community Involvement" leave and I want to use it in some way that benefits people or animals. I called the Town & Country kennel--the one that was supposed to be getting animals rescued from Katrina--and no animals have arrived. They don't really know what the holdup is, but they don't need volunteers yet. They said they would call me if they did. I called the Wake County SPCA and the girl I talked to was rather rude and dismissive--as if she had nothing but disdain for people who wished to volunteer their time. They're not really doing anything helpful anyway, from what I can tell. So maybe I'll just go help people navigate through the circles of hell, like Sarah did. Sounds like more of a drag than cleaning up dog poop, however ...

And now your advance warning: The voice you will hear, should you tune your radio to 88.7 FM (locals) or clickety-click on over to (el resto del mundo) from 1-3 pm Saturday (Eastern US time), shall be mine. The theme for this version of the Mondo Mundo world music extravagana shall be "Songs I Really Like A Lot."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Required listening ...

I missed last weekend's "This American Life," but Blogdex pointed me toward it ... check it out. It's a good one--Katrina survivor's stories.

(Gratuitous snarky comment: Is it my imagination or does "This American Life" seem to specifically seek out the most unlistenable nasally voiced women it can find? I always thought Sarah Vowell's voice was particularly unpleasant, but the otherwise excellent TAL linked above features someone even worse. Fortunately her commentary is short, and it's the least-interesting one of the bunch so you can feel free to skip it if you can't bear it.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I thought it was South Carolina's turn this time ...

What day is today? I think we're supposed to be getting some sort of weather on the coast today ...

We went down to our boat Saturday morning, expecting at the most to have to strap up loose lines and bits of canvas in case Hurricane/Tropical Storm (pick one)Ophelia tossed a few gusts our way as she safely passed well to the south of us. Instead, our lovely, leisurely Sunday morning was ruined by the dockmaster telling us that Ophelia was heading straight for us. As is the case at most marinas, he wanted every boat out--his dock is a lot safer during a hurricane without those pesky boats threatening to smash it to bits.

As for the boats, the safest place during a hurricane on the NC coast is probably somewhere around Asheville or Boone. That's not an option for most sailboat owners, so we had to go with option B: anchor her out in the creek somewhere.

One important lesson learned: When anchors are prepared for deployment aboard a vessel, it certainly can't hurt to have the free end of the rode attached to the boat in some way, even if the boat is just sitting innocently in its slip minding its own business. This prevents what seasoned sailors refer to as a "Captain Ron moment." (OK, I have no idea what seasoned sailors really call such moments, but they all understand references to the movie Captain Ron, of that I am certain.) Fortunately for the reputation of our captain, the catalyst of our particular Captain Ron moment was the first mate, Mr. Bob Gomez, a dog who rarely thinks through the consequences of his actions. In his alacrity to leap sideways in fright from a big, scary rolled-up sail, he did not forsee that sideswiping the anchor could send it skittering across the deck and into a lifeline, where it would hang precariously for a moment before slipping over the edge, followed by link after link of heavy chain.

Fortunately Mr. Pants has long arms and a long grappling hook and was able to somehow locate the anchor in the murky drink and pull it back aboard. Yup, things just don't get any more exciting than my life ...

Friday, September 09, 2005

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thank you.

The Deadly Bigotry of Low Expectations: Did the rumor mill help kill Katrina victims?

I don't even know what Coldplay sounds like ...

I have heard of this famous Coldplay. It is possible I have accidentally heard the music of this Coldplay without realizing what I was listening to. Does it really sound like this? I have a question--excuse me but I do not understand your culture--but do people actually listen to things like this on purpose?

And now for a little warming of the heart ...

Occasionally when someone online somewhere mentions rescuing animals stranded in the areas hit by Katrina, they get a comment or two to the effect of "who cares about the animals? What about the people?" News flash: it's possible to care about people AND animals. In fact, so many people were forced by circumstances to flee without their animals that it is an act of compassion toward them to try to care for the loved ones they left behind.

Fortunately, almost everyone I know personally feels that saving the animals is just as worthwhile as saving the people, so I've collected some links on the topic:

Here's a video about animals rescued from the Superdome.

The Houston SPCA has already celebrated 86 happy reunions.

The North Shore Animal League is keeping an "Animal Rescue Blog."

The ASPCA is keeping a Rescue Diary.

Best Friends Animal Society is operating out of Franklinton, MS, and sending rescue patrols to Orleans Paris in LA. They have updates here.

Petfinder is also posting updates on animal rescue efforts.

Unfortunately, the Noah's Wish website account has been suspended (, no doubt because of all the hits they have received in respojnse to their hurricane animal rescue work. Fortunately Mr. Pants was able to get them a donation while their site was up. They have been on the ground rescuing animals in Slidell, LA, since last week.

I'm still waiting to hear from the kennel in Apex that is expecting some Katrina rescues. I think I'll be able to use some of my "community involvement leave" time to volunteer if they need me.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Radio night ...

I'm on the air, and the internets, tonight. 8-10 pm Eastern. 88.7 for the locals, for the rest.

This is the stuff that conspiracy theories are made of ...

Three Duke Students take a road trip for relief (going to where authorities "can't get.")

'Get Off The Fucking Freeway': The Sinking State Loots its Own Survivors.

The Real War of the Worlds

More about the animals ...

Town & Country Kennel in Apex will be caring for rescued animals from areas hit by hurricane Katrina. The animals are on the way now, and a woman I spoke to at T&C said they will most definitely be needing supplies and volunteers, but she didn't know specifics yet. She will be calling me back with more definite information once she knows exactly what they need. The animals will be held for 30 days while attempts are made to find their owners. After that they will be put up for adoption.

Oh yeah, and people too: There are also 350 people displaced by the hurricane staying in Raleigh, and here's information about how to help them.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The potemkin nation ...

I sort of spent my weekend going about my life as if nothing out of the ordinary had been happening, which sort of felt weird and wrong. I want to write about the highs and lows of my agility trial weekend, but I'll get to it later. Friday night I had to get bottled water and a few other things, so Mr. Pants and I went to Target. Of course I couldn't help but think about people in New Orleans dying for want of a few bottles of water and here I am just bopping out to the store and casually picking up a whole case. Not that my going without would have saved anyone, but still the incongruity just struck me.

I keep imagining what a horrible feeling it must be to be starve, dehydrate, swelter and die in the country that you have been programmed from birth to believe is the richest, most-powerful nation in the whole world, the ... oh shit, I can't even remember what I'm supposed to think, it's been so long since I've actually thought it. Anyway, so you're thinking "Why hasn't the great and good government of this great and good country saved me yet? My baby is dying, old people are dying ...?" What a horrible way to discover what a load of bullshit the whole USA hype is. (Here, read this. Because I said, that's why. It's not going to kill you.)

But oh my god, Trent Lott's house was destroyed! The horror, the horror ...

Anyway, during our trip to Target on Friday, I kept looking around at everyone else wondering if they gave a shit. Mostly people just seemed to be doing what they always do, which is drive their SUVs at excessive rates of speed while shoveling fast food down their gullets. Mr. Pants mentioned to me a poll he saw in which 48% of the people surveyed said they were satisfied with the government's response to the disaster. Assuming no sampling errors, that means almost half of Americans didn't see a problem with letting thousands of people fester and die in the hot New Orleans sun. I believe this is why such a kerfuffle of indignant squawking was made about looters, because it gave people a convenient cover for not giving a shit. At work on Friday when I expressed my anger at the whole thing, one of my more odious co-workers said something to the effect of "them people's shootin' at everyone!" One Richard Gibbs, a dumb-fuck Missisippi cracker fine American, voiced the attitude more succinctly: "I say burn the bridges and let 'em all rot there."

Mr. Pants said that Jackie Chiles got it right when he said "This is America! You don't have to help anybody!" (Mr. Pants also called Condoleeza Rice a "contraption they built down in the basement." I know that didn't have anything to do with anything, but I thought it was funny ...)

Anyway, as usual I had a point here somewhere, so please let me know if you find it. I'm just pissed. Still. No, not pissed, motherfucking pissed. Goddammit.

Anyway, we did OK in our agility trial this weekend. Lucy now has the title "AD," which stands for Agility Dog. (She already had SJ and SSA).

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I was feeling a little better ...

... and then I red this

Noah's Wish is on the ground in Slidell right now and has updates on their web site.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Because I'm not in the mood ...

Being somewhat depressed at the moment, I can't summon the energy for the rants that should be spewing forth from me right now. But others are doing a pretty good job. I ran into this piece from Wicked_Wish over at Daypop. I've been thinking many of these exact things for days, and now she's saved me the trouble of writing them.

And BW Ventril is on a rant rip as well, with many tasty links calling for heads on platters and whatnot.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned

Nero fiddled while Rome burned
Originally uploaded by asmythie.

I've got to stop reading/watching the news. Last night while we were watching people in NO die before our eyes on CNN or MSNBC or whatever, Mr. Pants said "Why are we watching this?" and I said "Because I keep hoping that any minute the trucks and buses will come in with supplies or to take all these people out of there." I've seen too many Hollywood movies, I guess.

I'm alternating between outrage and depression about the realization that the "plan" for the hurricane that would inevitably hit New Orleans apparently was to just write off the at least 100,000 people who would not be able to evacuate. OK, maybe that wasn't the "plan," but the plan was that, well, they hadn't really figured out that part of the plan, apparently.

Anyway, I don't have the energy to rant further right now, so I'll just say that I think Slate has some of the most insightful coverage I've seen.

(And by the way, thanks to everyone for their kind thoughts and works about Kitty. I'm feeling a little better, but I still get a bit misty now and then.)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Still crappy.

dr. bombay
Kitty's gone and I feel worse, partially because we made the decision to put him to sleep with some uncertainty as to whether he could regain kidney function. That would have involved a few days (or more) in the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Cary, a few thousand more dollars and a lot of worry, all for a very uncertain outcome that I just didn't feel up to facing. Even if we were able to just not think about how much it were going to cost, as the vet suggested, I just didn't feel able to deal with days or weeks of anxiety, possibly false hopes and sorrow.

Instead, I held kitty in my lap for about 20 minutes and stroked his head and face until he was as relaxed as a rag doll. I had to put him on the table for the shot, but he already had an IV line so he didn't have to feel a needle stick. He just slowly put his head down and was still. And today I'm walking around feeling like ... well, like my cat just died.

He was a sweet, goofy, laid-back guy, and I miss him. (And even though I had previously mentioned our no-new-dogs-until-one-of-the-cats-dies policy, I'm not really in the mood to adopt a new pet.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I feel like crap

My kitty (Dr. Bombay, but we just call him Kitty) is dying. It's my fault, because I failed to recognize a potentially life-threatening illness (renal failure) soon enough to do something about it. But in truth, cats are very good at masking their symptoms--he would be the third cat I've had who died suddenly without giving me much warning. But I feel rotten because there were warning signs--I just didn't put them together into the realization that he was seriously ill until he really acted seriously ill. By that time it was obviously too late, and I had lost several days time when they may have been able to get Kitty's kidneys functioning again.

I think the biggest problem I had in realizing he was really ill was that he's only seven years old. My previous cats made it to 13 before they died. In fact, I keep looking for signs of illness from our older cat (Battlecat--she's at least 10, maybe older but Mark can't remember when he first got her). But she's fine--in fact she has seemed more chipper and sprightly than ever over the past few days, leading me to wonder if she's been sucking the lifeforce out of Kitty ... OK, I jest. But Kitty was the one I expected to have around for a while longer. If he's no better by the end of the day I think we're going to say goodbye ...

Damn I feel rotten.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I'm sure there was a point in here somewhere

I'm usually a big fan of what some think of as "morgue humor," or jokes made in the midst of disaster and misfortune. But I'm not really feeling that way about all the unfortunate folks in Hurricane Katrina's wake. Not only are some people dead and others left with absolutely nothing, but life is just plain going to suck for almost everyone in the "huge" affected area for a long time. What the hell are all these people going to do? I feel crappy about it, honestly.

But I've gotta say, the one thing guaranteed to get me really misty is a photo of some bedraggled survivor clutching his or her little dog. I really identify with the folks clinging to their pooches. I saw one photo somewhere of a guy sitting out on the roof of his flooded house with his dog. I could imagine myself in that situation---the helicopter is hovering overhead and I'm saying "What? I can't take the dogs with me? OK, thanks, we'll just stay here, then ..." Through the course of Katrina I have often thought: "Are the dogs OK? Is someone saving the dogs?" When Hurricane Floyd came through North Carolina, many evacuees left behind their cats, dogs and livestock, some tethered in yards or confined in pens, barns or houses where they couldn't escape the floodwaters. Fortunately, many were rescued and either reunited with their families or adopted out to new homes. (Tons--literally--of hogs died, however, and I still get sad when I see some of the pictures of desperately swimming hogs.)

Anyway, the point is, I feel badly for the folks on the gulf coast. And their dogs, cats, piggies, horsies ...

Only a week left for those white shoes, ladies!

I forgot to mention a very important thing: We finished painting the damn house on Sunday. Now what are we going to do?

Actually, I've got plenty going on. This weekend is another 3-day agility trial here in Durham, and as always I'm a little nervous. But happy and excited--agility is just so much fun. Even when I screw up. Anyway, if you've got nothing better to do and want to see weirdos like me with our amazing dogs, drop by here Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

And did I mention that we're going back to Ecuador next year? We only have a week last time, so were going to take two weeks this time. I already can't wait, and I'm planning it all right now.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Open letter to the guy who just called me ...

Dear you,

I realize that you are not an "office guy." You work out "in the field" with salt-of-the-earth people who work hard to bring us our milk and honey. You help them do that more efficiently, and that is good. But I urge you to get over your fear of this confusing newfangled thing called "voice mail."

Sometimes we office people are actually allowed to vacate out seats--a field guy like you may be able to appreciate that we occasionally look forward to it. My boss, being a very busy woman who must interact and assist people throughout our building, often must vacate her seat for hours at a time. That means, of course, that she's not there to answer her phone. Many years ago someone recognized that people like her could use a simple and efficient means of collecting messages from people like you, who don't have time to keep calling back in hopes of finding a person like her back at her desk. The resulting modern voice mail is system is so simple that it requires little input from someone like you beyond speaking when the little voice tells you to. It is not an evil spirit. It will not steal your soul.

Your fear of modern electronic communications systems affects me directly because you seem to believe the most efficient means of contacting my boss when she is unavailable is to immediately call me. Although we do occasionally have lunch together, I do not have a psychic connection with my boss. I don't know where she is, when she will be back or what answer she would most likely give to your question. And despite your distrust of higfalutin' contraptions like voice mail, I assure you it's a far more effective and dependable way of reaching my boss than asking me to tell her to call you. You see, not being a secretary, I don't think like a secretary. When someone calls or stops by my office looking for someone else, the first response to pop into my head is "How the fuck should I know where so-and-so is?" When they say "Well, can you tell her that such-and-such is looking for her?" my mouth says "sure" but my brain says "whatever" and goes back to what it was doing before. If I remember, I'll pass on the message. I usually don't remember. It's not because I'm stupid, I just don't give a fuck.

In summary: please use the damn voice mail and leave me alone, you dumb fart.

Thanks and have a pleasant day!

Friday, August 26, 2005

We're not all freaks ...

So Mr. Pants pointed me toward an article in Slate about dog sports, specifically agility. It's kind of cool to see an article on the topic at geeky news site, but what's not so cool is that a lot of the article is complete bullshit.

First off, the tone of the article seems to be "So you want to be a world-champion agility competitor?" This really gives a skewed view of what agility is about for most people. All but a few of the people I know in agility just want to do something fun with their dogs and are happy with the little wins we achieve at local and regional trials. The few who are aiming for national competition put in quite a bit of money and time--which is what the article implies are necessary for everyone. Not so at all. It's not cheap, and you do have to take a lot of classes and build some training time into your schedule, but you don't have to pay world-class trainer Stuart Mah $75 an hour just to make it into master's level competition. (BTW, he is excellent--he's one of the people you'll see if you ever catch agility competition on TV).

But even worse is this sentence: "The bad news: If you haven't been training Fido since he was a wee pup, you've likely already blown it." That's absolutely incorrect. I didn't start Lucy in agility until she was six years old. In fact, she didn't even take a basic obedience class until she was one year old, and even then we almost failed it because she seemed very put out by the idea that I would make her do such boring and stupid things. But she's sheer joy out on an agility course. I'm the one who needs more work, since 95% of the problems one runs into in competition are handler errors. Getting your dog to do each obstacle correctly is fairly easy compared to getting yourself to learn to read a course and come up with a strategy for it, and then successfully communicate it all to your dog on the fly in actual competition. Our worst problem is that I'm usually slightly out of position at crucial moments, which translates to Lucy as confusion about which obstacle she's supposed to take next. I'm pissed that my mother didn't give me handler training as a toddler ...

What really ticks me off about this myth that you have to start a dog in training at 49 days is that it perpetuates the belief that you have to go to a breeder and pay a lot of money for a (probably highly inbred) puppy from champion lines. My friend Diane has tons of titles--in flyball, agility and herding--on a mutt who was adopted and returned twice to a shelter before she got him. And he's just an all-around great dog who's happy to keep the sofa warm when he's not out playing sports (i.e., he doesn't drive her crazy with obsessive-compulsive energy).

But the really horrible, horrible thing was this bit on "evaluating" puppies (from a "trainer" named Mirabelle Wrist): "To test the puppy's pain threshold, spread the front paws and press a fingernail into the sensitive flesh between; ideally, the dog can withstand this for four or five seconds. To evaluate trainability, hold your dog supine for a few moments. If she overcomes the embarrassment and returns to you, she'll be a willing, forgiving student." I cringe every time I hear or read someone perpetuating barbaric methods of training or "evaluation." Why on earth do you need to know how much pain your puppy can withstand? Proper (and civilized) agility training does not involve inflicting pain on a dog. And why would you need to see if a dog will "forgive" you as a measure of "trainability?" What are you planning to do to the poor dog? If you use positive, reward-based training methods--as every trainer should--your dog won't ever need to forgive you. So is this woman beating her dogs to get them to do agility?

And finally a more minor quibble: to "illustrate" the article, the author linked to a page of photos that contains a few examples of bad ways to teach the obstacles. The worst: The first photo shows someone training an A-frame by luring a leashed dog over the obstacle. This is not only dangerous--if the dog freaks out and bails over the other side, you could end up dangling him by the collar--but there are much better ways to introduce a dog to contact obstacles. They also show a handler teaching weaves by luring the dog in and out between the poles. This method usually results in slow weaving, clumsy footwork and a dog who is dependent on the guidance of the handler to complete the weaves. The channel method is better for getting a dog to do fast, independent weaves.

Yeah, OK, so I am a bit of a freak, really ...