Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Keep an eye on your pod ....

You may have read it already, this tale of woe by a guy who dropped in iPod in an airplane loo almost made me spit my morning tea a couple of times. It also shows that the kind of people working customs in Canada don't seem to be much different from the meatheads you run into in the US:
I waited in total silence for about 10 minutes as he kept searching and searching, until I finally asked him, "What are you looking for?"

"Contraband," he said without looking up at me.
"Such as?"
"Child pornography, hate propaganda."
"Child porn I can understand, that's illegal. But hate propaganda is protected speech."
Now he looked up. "What country do you think you're in?"
"Oh, it's illegal in Canada?"
"I honestly don't know. But that doesn't matter. I get to decide what goes in this country. Do you have a problem with that?"
I paused for a long time while I thought about what I should say to this. "Yes."
"Yes, you do have a problem?"
"Yes, I do. If it's illegal in Canada I'll understand, but saying 'I don't want it in my country' isn't good enough when you're a government official."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Aventuras en musica

I've been too busy all day to share yesterday's adventures. I honestly still can't believe how incredibly fun it was: Santa Salsera had two backstage passes to La Ley's Third Anniversary, and she wanted to take someone who would be really into the whole thing ... so of course I came to mind! Her role there was as "journalist," but I was essentially a total freeloader, soaking up the music (and even a free meal) courtesy of that radio station I listen to when WXDU is out of range and WUNC has some gawdawful call-in show, anything featuring Dick Gordon, non-stop pledge-rapping ... or even sometimes if they say the president's name one too many times. So to repay my host's generosity I will say this: next year, when La Ley's fourth anniversary comes around, go to the show! It'll set ya back about $20 and you have to schlep all the way out to the amphitheatre formerly known as Walnut Creek and now named after a crappy cell phone company, but it will be way worth it, even if you don't have backstage passes.

Just look at Beto y Sus Canarios:



And Conjunto Matador, plus some chick who just walked onstage and started dancing behind the band (their manager told the stage crew to let her stay ... maybe she knew them because she was standing around with them backstage after their set):



Plus you can get your photo taken with the band ... will Franz Ferdinand or whoever are this year's little darlings let you do that? Headliners Beto Y Sus Canarios will:

lisa y sus canarios

Here are an assortment of other photos from the day ... I'll probably upload a few more tomorrow when I have a little more time (I'm working on a super-secret DIY project right now):

representaccordiondrumthe accordion makes the girls go blurryfans

Friday, August 25, 2006

Holy crap ... literally

Armor of God PJs.

I just submitteed it to 10,000 Reasons Civilizations is Doomed.

(Thanks to Consumerist for hitting me with the link).

UPDATE: My friend Matt has illustrated what these PJs would look like on his son and his little pal Gene Simmons:

More about you-know-what

The NYT has a very lenghty yet welcome article about the Uke-day Acrosse-lay Ape-ray ase-cay. Right when I was almost ready to turn off the comments moderation on this here og-blay ... I'll keep it on a tad longer.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

It's poison bile cocktail hour! Drink up, mates!

I'm really trying to be Miss Congeniality in my daily life, but as soon as things seem to be going well, some bastard screws it all up and makes me cranky. So if you're not up for me being self-righteously annoyed right now, perhaps you should go here instead. So anyway, I really didn't feel like going anywhere tonight because I'm a bit run down, but I needed to make a library run and I figured I'd pick up a couple of things to make banana bread. (Sneaky Mr. Pants has been purchasing massive quantities of bananas, knowing that sooner or later some of them would get overripe and I'd make them into bread.)

I should have taken my bicycle, I know, but as I mentioned I was feeling a bit run down and that makes for less-than-joyous bicycling. At any rate, the nearest grocery store happens to be Industrial Organics 'R' Us, and as we all know, their parking lots are always horrible (perhaps a passive-aggressive corporate policy to encourage bicycling?) Now that the students are back in town, the lot is especially heinous, and I was prepared to burn a lot of fossil fuels in pursuit of my organic nutmeg and raisins. But hark, I quickly spied a little spot next to a badly parked SUV and I decided to make it mine. I was on one of the "straightaway" parts of the parking lot, and as such I felt I had right-of-way over any cars turning in from the "aisles"--who are supposed to stop, if one applies regular road-rules (I don't think there is actual traffic law covering parking lots--is there?). There were no other cars in my section of "straightaway," so I knew I had no competition for said spot until out of the blue a couple in a car coming down an aisle decided that their desire to beat me to the parking space superseded my (common-law?) right-of-way, and they attempted to speed out in front of me and take the spot. They didn't realize that I don't give a crap about beating up my car. I'm not stopping. I didn't stop. They stopped ... and OK, then I actually did stop long enough to give them an "Are you f-ing nuts?" look before pulling into my (very narrow because of the stupid badly parked SUV ... are there any other kind?) parking spot.

So I get out and the couple had stopped behind me and rolled down their windows. They were pudgy, 50-ish, and looked like maybe they had once lived on a commune but were now embracing the bougie lifestyle. The woman who was driving said something whiny about how they wanted that parking spot ... no shit, I'm thinking, you tried to run me over for it. So I said "Look, I had the right-of-way." So then the guy in the passenger seat said, in a pudgy middle-aged asshole kind of way, "Yeah, that's right, you're so special" and then rolled up the window as the woman speeded off. Special? I was on the parking lot equivalent of a main road, and you were on the parking lot equivalent of an alley or a driveway. I don't care if there are no actual parking lot road rules, you are supposed to stop. And yeah, I got my parking spot so I guess I'm a little more special than you. Ha!

I'll be all sweetness and light tomorrow. Or the next day ... sometime this week, at any rate.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

At last we meet, Mr Phelps!

Thanks to my stat counter, I know that many of the people who trip and fall into this little blog are lured here because they are searching for "call Mr. Phelps" or the phone number "1-800-377-7789." Because of this post, I am the top Google search result for both of those search strings. Well today one of the many anoymouses (that doesn't look right--would it be anonymi?) who commented previously posted a web addy for the CMI group that lets us see the Phelps character who is disturbing our lives:

Randy Phelps
Director of Call Center Operations

Randy Phelps has recently joined CMI as the Director of Call Center Operations and is responsible for all aspects of collections and call center operations. Mr. Phelps has fourteen years operations and business management experience, with over 12 years in a call center and/or collections environment. Randy has designed, implemented, and managed numerous call center initiatives for a variety of industries including, but not limited to Banking, Telecom, Utilities, Medical, Technical and the Federal Government. As a result of Randy’s unique and proven techniques, he has been the recipient of numerous leadership awards in the call center and collections industry.

Ahh, so it really is a collections agency bugging the crap out of us. But we don't owe anyone any money--my days of not answering the phone becaused I knew they were after me are long past (now I don't answer just because I don't feel like it.) Why are they calling us? The knowledge that they are probably looking for someone else combined with seeing how non-threatening our Mr. Phelps really is (I could take him in a fight) inspired me to go ahead and give give a callback just to shoot the shit. Had I recorded the call it would have gone something like this:
brrring brrring!
Phone Answering lady: "Hello" (or something ... I really don't remember how she answered except that it in no way identified her company).
Me: May I speak to Mr. Phelps?
PAL: He's not available. May I have the number that he called you at? (Or maybe she didn't end the sentence with a preposition ... but it really is the easiest way to phrase such a question. I don't know why it's illegal.)
Me: (pause while I decide what the hell) 919-XXX-XXXX.
PAL: Shandra X?
Me: There is no Shandra at that number.
PAL: How about Taquita Y?
Me: No, there's no Taquita, either.
PAL: OK, then, we will remove this number from our records.
Me: Thank you.
PAL: Have a nice day (or something suitably pleasantry-like).
Me: You too, 'bye. *click*

So there--that's what you do: tell 'em you don't know Shandra and Taquita. Unless they're calling for you, in which case maybe you shouldn't answer the phone.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Snakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

So it turns out that pretty much everyone in Durham went see Snakes on a Plane at the Starlite on Saturday night. But as it also turns out, we did it all wrong--we need to go back and try it again with our Snakes on a Plane audience participation scripts. Maybe the Starlite can do a double feature with Rocky Horror ...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A day in photos ...

Morning: Farmers market:

saturday morning, durham, nc

Then stopped by Rick & Courtney's yard sale (buy their furniture if it hasn't sold already--it's cheap!):

have a seat

The Mr. Pants and I went on a photo safari to Mebane, NC, (pronounced "mebbin" in case you aren't from around here):

bill's barber shop

The we went to dinner at ... damn, I can't remember what it's called ... nouveaux Mexican joint on Shannon Road ... starts with a "T" ... somebody help me out here. Anyway, I didn't get photos because my camera battery was charging at home. I ordered the tacos de nopalitos con salsa de tuna (pickled cactus leaves with prickly-pear salsa). The food was good but it took forever for them to take our order, and then my entree arrived long after Mr. P's did. But I'll eat there again ... like I said the food was good. I saw another WXDU dj there, and he was upset because his endive salad contained no endive ... seemed like a perfect metaphor for life, to me: "Sometimes you have to make do with no endive."

Then we went to the Starlite to see Snakes on a Plane:



Rick and Courtney and Jamie were all supposedly there, but it was very dark, so I guess I missed them. We had a great time, nonetheless.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bored?

Well if you aren't now you will be after this video I made ... it's OK, I won't be offended if you skip it.

I owe it all to my eyebrows ...

So I'm walking down Fayetteville Street Mall in Raleigh around noon, and some guy walks by and says "hey, beautiful!" Never mind that I would have burst into tears and contemplated suicide upon learning I'd been betrothed to him in exchange for some goats ... I'll take what I can get.

Fashion has finally caught up with me

Thank whoever atheists thank, it's finally not cool to pluck your eyebrows anymore. Seriously--the NY Times says so. Not that I have the lush, full eyebrows the article claims are now sexy, but now maybe everyone I go to for a hair cut won't say things like "You may actually be good-looking if you let me wax those eyebrows." OK, I exaggerate, but one stylista did tell me the eyebrows were the only thing keeping me from being a "knockout." Thanks, but I'm too damn lazy to be a knockout.

Now someone please make it so I never again have to read or hear that I'm a must be total fug for not getting a "Brazilian" bikini wax ...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Oh yeah ...

I almost forgot: Radio. Tonight. 8-10 pm Eastern US. 88.7 FM or www.wxdu.org ... whichever works best for you.

Curses, foiled again ...

I was supposed to go on a little field trip at work today--I was invited to tag along on a visit to a "broiler shed," i.e. an industrial chicken farm, with the idea that I would take some photos to keep on file for any future projects that may involve broilers. Alas, I was foiled by yet another migraine and stayed home. I've ingested the appropriate pharmaceuticals and am waiting for the last vestiges of said headache to depart. Maybe the headache was my body's way of saying "Noooo! Don't go to the broiler shed! It will make you very, very sad!" Because I think it would have. I've seen photos, I've read descriptions, and it just sounds so awful. But I figured there's no substitute for direct experience, right? But I really had this little fear inside that I might throw up in front of co-workers ...

Coincidentally, Scott over at Needs More Garlic has posted a thoughtful piece on non-industrial chickens, which are raised in a way that probably wouldn't induce nausea. And if you want to read more on the topic, there's always the wonderland of articles over at Michael Pollan's web site. Hey, look, it's almost lunch time ...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Because it beats being bored ...

The cool thing about memes is that they save you from having to think of anything interesting to say, or from bringing everyone down with your evil, poisonous thoughts, which is what I would be doing if it weren't for this meme. So I'll just copy Georg and the-secret-blogger-to-whom-I-can't-link-because-his-blog-is-a secret and do the metro meme, i.e, how many metros in the world have I ridden? Not as many exotic metros as others, mostly because the places I travel don't seem to have them ... (and the Quito Teleferiqo doesn't count, although it's way cool nonetheless):



Got at b3co.com!


To spell it out: Santiago, Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Montreal, Atlanta and Cleveland. Yeah that's right, Cleveland, beeyotches.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

How can you miss me if I won't go away?

I'm home again from the flyball tournament ... although if I'm able to blog while I'm gone thanks to hotel wi-fi, then I've been here all along, right? Anyway, I got out of Blacksburg around 4 pm, which gave me just enough time to take a scenic route and be home before dark. I definitely wanted to drive Route 8 again, so that's how I got from Christiansburg to Stuart, VA. It's just a really gorgeous bit of road. Apparently it's quite popular among motorcyclists, who like to gather at the tiny hamlet of Tuggle's Gap, where Route 8 meets up with the Blue Ridge Parkway. A few of them had the misfortune of pulling out behind me--I'm sure they wanted to go faster than I was willing to drive. It's really a twisty, potentially dangerous road and not only did I not want to go careening off the side, but the point of taking a scenic route is to see stuff--you can't do that if you're driving too fast.

From Route 8 I got on US 58 east to Martinsvile, where I picked up 220 south Ridgeway, VA. Then I picked up NC 87 to Burlington, where I got on US 70 all the way to Durham. Up until now Burlington was just a few signs of I-85 to me--I had never bothered to stop there because I had no reason. Holy crap--Burlington is like the land that time forgot. I suppose it's sort of sad--the place was dependent on the textile and furniture manufacturing industries, both of which have sent most of their operations overseas over the past 20 years. So the last heyday of Burlington was obviously between the 1950s and '70s, judging from what I saw along 87 and 70. But the cool thing about such a place hitting the skids is that the old stuff hasn't been demolished to make room for hideous new development because maybe there is no new development ... I mean, what happens in Burlington these days? So anyway, it looked so completely cool to me. Mr. Pants and I have already talked about taking a Sunday and running around Burlington with our cameras.

Speaking of cameras, Mr. Pants just got a new digital SLR. I hope it doesn't ruin him. I've seen so many people on Flickr who have had their spontaneity ruined once they got an SLR. All of a sudden they get really serious because they feel they have to justify all the money they spent on the camera by cranking out Art With a Capital A. Suddenly their photos become boring as hell. Bleah. I told him I'm filing for divorce if it happens to him.

Friday, August 11, 2006

OK, I lied

You do have me to kick around, because I have wi-fi in my hotel. Most of the places I stay don't have wi-fi because people who travel with dogs can't be choosers--And I usually end up staying in a Days Inn (usually really awful) or a Red Roof Inn (usually OK but not great). I'm in a Ramada Limited, and it's OK in a run-of-the-mill hotel/motel kinda way ... but, hey, wi-fi!

I've had a fabulous day, not that you asked. I though I would be in a class all day for work and thus unable to leave for Blacksburg until five-ish, but the class ended at noon. So I was able to get on the road with plenty of daylight to burn, which meant I felt free to take the scenic route, avoiding all interstate highways. It was an amazing drive. I started by taking US 501 north to Roxboro, where I picked up US 158 west to Yanceyville. From there I took NC 86 north to Danville, VA, picking up US 58 west. I stayed on that all the way to the tiny town of Stuart, VA, where I picked up VA 8 to Christiansburg. That was by far the coolest highway I've driven in ... well I don't know how long. It's all mountainy twists and turns and very heavily wooded most of the way, so in today's damp mistiness it was like driving a winding road through an enchanted forest. I definitely will take that route when I go home. I took some videos during my drive and I'll upload them later. I should do it here--the Ramada's wi-fi is a faster connection that we get at home.

So we got to Blacksburg in plenty of time to do some walking around. Lucy was glad to get out and go for a walk after the drive (which took somewhere like 4.5 hours). We walked around downtown a bit, past my old apartment on College Ave. (now gone condo) and through a small part of the campus. Then I took her down to the Duck Pond because she loves chasing ducks, and no one was around so I let her off the leash. She chased a lot of ducks and had a grand old time, but she also decided to roll in some duck poop:



I cleaned her off. I don't mind--she really has a good time rolling in stinky things, so I let her do it as a reward for being such a good girl the rest of the time.

So now I'm tired, and I need to get some shut-eye because I've got a loud day of flyball ahead of me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

You won't have bunchofpants to kick around ...

... until mondayish or so. I'll be all busy with stuff, y'know ... stuff, for the next two days, and then I'm going to pack up the little dog and head to Blacksburg, VA--my old college stomping grounds--for a flyball tournament. I plan to eat dinner Saturday at Gillie's, in case you're wondering. Other than that it will be just flyball, flyball, flyball. So I probably won't have anything interesting to talk about when I get back.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A streemo from Treemo

Durham band Samecumba:



I still have lots of Treemo invites ...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Greetings from the belly of the beast

Have I ever mentioned what a horrible vortex of suck Cary, NC, is? It's an overplanned, excessively uniform, characterless nowhere full of identical shopping centers, housing developments with pseudo-aristocratic or bucolic names and divided boulevards bisected by grassy medians with identical trees spaced at uniform intervals. They have rules for everything--I imagine they probably regulate the size of turds that are allowed to travel through the city's sewage pipes and have an army of turd inspectors out busily issuing citations.

At any rate, Mr. Pants and I ventured forth into the heart of darkness yesterday because Santa Salsera gave us some free passes to the Festival Ritmo Latino at the Koka Booth amphitheatre there. This caused me some cognitive dissonance because when one thinks of places around here that would encourage and even welcome large gatherings of latinos and their sympathizers, Cary is the very last place that comes to mind. (As it turns out, the festival's parent organization has indeed encountered a bit of unfriendliness in Cary.) Aside from that, I just hate going to Cary for anything, ever. When la Salsera offered me the tix, I gladly said sure, but then when I found out where I would have to go I almost changed my mind because the very word "Cary" fills me with dread. (Ever been lost in Cary, or its identical twin sister Apex? There's no finding your way out because every street, every shopping center and every housing development looks exactly like any other, and there is an ordinance against putting signs where anyone can actually see them. So unless you stop and spray paint bright orange marks on trees along your way--extremely against the rules, by the way--there's really no way of knowing whether or not you're just driving around in circles.) But my love for la musica and my desire to see our very own local norteño band, Rey Norteño (whose single "Raleigh Norte Carolina" can be heard on "La Ley," and perhaps soon on WXDU now that they've given La Salsera a copy of their cd), won out over my fear of Cary.

The festival had some good acts in the lineup--we saw local group Samecumba, the aforementioned Rey Norteño, and Peruvian singer/songwriter/heartthrob Santino (not the Project Runway guy). Alas, we were tired and hungry and didn't feel like staying for headliner Luisito Rosario.

I quite liked Rey Norteño Here's a snippet of their single, in case you're curious:



I also really enjoyed Santino. (I got some video of him as well, which I may upload tomorrow when I can edit it on a decent computer.) In fact, the whole festival would have been way more enjoyable if it had been held somewhere else--the Koka Booth amphitheatre is so uptight it practically squeaks. The event was sold on a two-tiered basis, with upper lawn and lower lawn (chairs set up on the apron in front of the stage), and for most of the day there was hardly anyone in the lower area. I felt badly for the bands because their audience was mostly at least two hundred feet from the stage--performers really do a better show if the appreciative fans are allowed to get up closer. But even though it was empty up front there were overzealous (although mostly unintimidating old white golfer-looking guys) security people making sure that the riff-raff with lawn tickets were kept far from the stage. If the event organizers were to ask me, I'd tell them to make it all general admission next year, and let the performers feel some love even when the crowds are sparse (as they were up until Santino came on, at which point it picked up a little).

The security guys were needlessly assholic about other things as well. Mr. Pants spent a lot of time in the (flabbergastingly overpriced) cafe at the back of the lawn, and even though most of the tables were empty the security dudes swooped down and ran off anyone who sat at certain numbered tables (all totally empty the entire time). In the lower lawn area, Some of the kids would sit on the steps in front of the stage, and the security guys would swoop in and yell at the parents to go get them. Another time I saw a little girl going up the steps, and a mean security guy grabbed her upper arm very roughly and yanked her back hard--I'm really surprised that she didn't burst into tears. He was really angry at her, but she was only about four years old and seemed bewildered. It was awful. I don't even like children and I thought it was way excessive. And at one point, Mr. Pants and I decided to get out of the sun and were sitting on a marble sidewall next to a sidewalk, and one old asshole came and told us we weren't allowed to sit there ... there didn't seem to be any practical reason not to let people sit there except that it was a rule and we were in Cary, and in Cary you Obey All Rules. Mr. Pants didn't move ... and old duffer security dude apparently decided he wasn't going to challenge him.

In short--well actually this entry has gone on way to long--the Koka Booth amphitheatre is a really crappy venue to see music. The beverage prices are sheer robbery--a can of Budweiser is $5, and bottled water is $3. It seems to be a shrine to the enforcement of pointless rules, as befits a place like Cary. If you want to go see an outdoor concert, go to the NC Museum of Art--it's a much more fun place. As for the Festival Ritmo Latino, I'm willing to bet they'd draw twice the crowd if they held it at the old Durham Bulls Athletic Park next year.

Another thing I'd tell the organizers if they asked is that the event should start later in the afternoon and end later in the evening--it started at noon and ended at 7 pm, which took advantage of the very hottest part of the day, ensuring that even those of us prone to dancing weren't doing much of it. It would have been far smarter to have moved it all later, when things had cooled off a bit. But then when Mr. Pants and I were discussing this we figured that Cary probably has a rule about certain people not being allowed within city limits after nightfall ... they should really move this festival to Durham next year.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Non-sequiturally speaking ...

I think the theme song to the program Star Trek: Enterprise is the worst TV show theme of all time. It's as if Journey and Michael Bolton teamed up for a duet or something (OK, it wouldn't actually be a duet because Journey is more than one person ... but you get the point, right?) It's so bad I can't even think of a way to adequetely describe how bad it is.

Friday, August 04, 2006

supersecretsquirrel

So some folks may recall me mentioning that I was alpha testing this new website thingie (I think officially it was "closed beta testing," but we've been calling it alpha). Well now the tires have been kicked, the stuff all works correctly (like the embeds don't pre-load and autoplay anymore) ... even the name has been changed (it was Hypermob--or supersecretsquirrel, depending on who you asked). It's now called Treemo. The short version is that it's a place to share videos/audio/photos/text, but unlike Vox it's not a bloggin app (although you can embed all this stuff in your blogs). It's also a social app, but not annoying and ugly like MySpace.

So anyway, Treemo's going from closed beta to slightly less-closed beta--it's ready for a few more people to kick the tires. I can invite your to join in, if you want to play. You'll get to see my exciting new "Ode to Banana Bread" video. Anyway, it's bunchofpants (at) gmail (dot) com if you're interested.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hot and sad

Hot: It was finally down to about 95 F at 8 pm, so I took the dogs for a walk. Sweating is good for you.

Sad: Trying to help find homes for the dogs of a woman who died unexpectedly.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Maybe I should buy that B&B in Nova Scotia ...

I need some exercise, my dogs need some exercise ... but I just looked out at the thermometer on the fence and it says 100 degrees (that's something like 38 or 39 C in case you swing that way)--but's it's almost 6:30 pm! Crikey! I love hot weather but that's just too hot to be walking the dogs--especially when they love to walk fast.

In other news, radio tonight ... maybe you know the rest: 8-10 pm Eastern US, 88.7 if you're local, wxdu.org if you're not. It's probably going to suck so don't bother listening.

Meeeaaat caaaaake!

That's right, I said MEAT CAKE!(Thanks again, Consumerist.)

(This reminds me that I've always thought it would be fun to make liver cupcakes with Cheez Whiz icing for a doggie birthday party ... but I'm not enough of a crazy dog lady to actually throw my dog a birthday party, so it reamains just a cool concept at this point.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

There's this web site, see ...

I love trying out new web stuff, and by being at the right place at the right time I was able to get an invite to this site called Vox, that was created by the LiveJournal folkses. It's sort of a LiveJournal with video/audio/photo sharing and a livelier interface. I don't exactly use it as a blog, because that's what this here thing is, and I don't really post many of my photos there because I do that at Flickr, and I even put videos somewhere else ... in short I have no idea what I'm doing there. Anywho, I have three invitations to give out, so if anyone wants one please gmail me (I am "bunchofpants" ... you know how to build a gmail addy out of that info, right?) Preference will be given to people I "know," i.e., our paths have crossed on teh interwebs before somewhere.

That said, there's a better app than Vox being built for vids/audio/photos/social and such ... it's just not inviting yet. So if you're willing to wait ...