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 wxdu.org (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 (www.noahswish.org), 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, wxdu.org 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.)