Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yet we are the movers and shakers

painted! bathroom

Over the weekend I became seized by the urgent need to paint my bathroom (Above left: new color; above right: what it looked like when I moved in). I hadn't picked a color yet, or rather, I thought I had decided I'd paint it pink or brown, but I changed my mind and picked out a chartreuse color instead. It's a tiny bit shocking, which is the way I like it. I think it will look better once I get some sort of window treatment going on and a new shower curtain. I'm thinking brown for those things, maybe. Also I want to paint the ugly white laminate vanity, which will require some sort of smelly, heavy-duty oil-based primer, I think.

Also over my little navidad holiday I bought a treadmill, taught Lucy to walk on it, walked on it myself and saw two movies in actual theaters, which I rarely do (Four Christmases and Marley and Me. They were both OK.)

Over the course of the next two days I will be getting divorced and refinancing my house. Busy, busy ...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Is that a tamale in your pocket or ...

My friend Sue is on a quest to find the best tamales in Durham. Problem is, she doesn't even like tamales so she's not a good judge (she's doing this for her dad, who does like tamales but isn't the type of guy who would go eat at random taquerías or, ¡dios mio! trucks or buses). I am very fond of the tamales at Tacostumbras, the taquería inside the Town & Country at University & Dixon (and I'm more fond of their tacos de asada, and fondest of all of the fact that I could walk there ... if it weren't always after dark when I feed my taco habit). So I'm putting the question out there: who's got the best tamales in Durham? Or: if you were going to give someone tamales for Xmas, whose tamales would you give?

Gracias.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Something that made me smile today

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich
Dude, please! Yes, it's totally the Chicago way to do things, but you're not supposed to actually say it OUT LOUD!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How many bullet points make a proper list?

I love using html list tags ...
  • Had a successful Thanksgiving dinner at my house. I supplied mashed potatoes, sweet potato soufflé, nibbley things and orange juice for the mimosas. I drank many mimosas, until I got tired of bothering to add orange juice and just drank straight champagne. We played Life:

    life with champagne

    Two of my friends brought young dogs they didn't want to leave home all day, and Pinky learned how to use Doggie Bitch Face to keep another dog (a cute little baby rottweiler) away from her yummy beef bone. She had never used Doggie Bitch Face before, and while I don't want her to make a habit of it, I must say she's got the cutest Doggie Bitch Face ever.

  • I went to the Pant's Mother's house in Myrtle Beach. Friday's weather was beautiful, and I had been hoping that Saturday would be a great day to take the dogs to Pawley's Island or something, but no, it poured rain instead. So my mother and I painted her living room a really awesome deep brick/reddish brown color (Behr Premium Spicy Cayenne, in case you're a color geek ... once I saw it on the wall I think I would have named it "Mexican Chocolate"). Now I have renewed interest in continuing to paint my casa crazy colors...

  • My back has been absolutely killing me over the past few weeks, so yesterday I had an rather expensive but astonishingly effective massage. For much of the day today I've been just marveling and how decent my back feels. But then I start thinking too much about how I need to be careful not to build all that tension back up again and it starts to make me really tense ...

    Anyway, if anyone needs a kick-ass massage therapist in Raleigh I now know one ...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Perhaps I'm normal after all ...

Ha! I knew I wasn't imagining things: Jezebel has Rahm Emanuel as #2 on its Sexiest Everyday Men of 2008. And Santa Salsera validated my opinion on him as well. The rest of the Jezebel list is neither here nor there ... I don't even know who some of those guys are. (Hmm, I'm sure I've heard of that Barack guy somewhere ... what band is he in?)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sloth and silence

Things have been happening at Casa De Pants, as in almost six months after moving in I'm starting to make it look like I didn't just move in. I needed some motivation, and it came in the form of a few people planning to come over and eat Thanksgiving dinner at my house. It's not like I'm having a party (so don't be miffed that I didn't invite you, 'K?), but several dog agility friends and I decided to have Thanksgiving dinner together, and one of them suggested my place. I figured staying home would be far better than driving to Chatham County, the site of the other possible dinner venue, so I said sure. This way I can drink a lot of wine and not worry about driving my ass home.

(Normally I would be having Thanksgiving dinner at the Pants Mother's house in Myrtle Beach. But the Pants Mother called up and said "Do we have to go to all the bother of cooking Thanksgiving Dinner?" What?!?! Hell yeah I want Thanksgiving dinner! Damn, who doesn't want Thanksgiving dinner? Turns out that neither she nor my brother really cares about Thanksgiving dinner. So I told her I'd just stay here and eat turkey with my friends and then head down to her place on Friday. She was very satisfied with that arrangement.)

So anyway, I also bought a new sofa. Actually a used sofa, from Once & Again consignment shop on 15-501. I had thought I wanted a sleek modern-looking sofa, but nothing I found seemed at all like the kind of thing I'd want to collapse on to watch a day-long Mad Men marathon. Then I saw this big fat thing with all kinds of pillows and I knew it was the place where I wanted to be lazy. It will be delivered Saturday. My old sofa will go live in the dog room at my friend Sue's house. I can visit it anytime I want.

I'm also the proud owner of a new electric leaf blower. A .59-acre lot collects more leaves than I want to rake. Damn, if I'd just gone and had kids way back when, one of them would surely be old enough to clear the leaves off my lawn by now. Obviously I wasn't thinking ahead ...

Friday, November 07, 2008

I admire your efforts to make me take it all seriously

OK, I'll say it first. Rahm Emanuel is kinda hot. I especially like that he once told Tony Blair "Don't fuck it up." This is going to be fun.

UPDATE: Yes, yes, I KNOW Rahm Emanuel is a complete asshole ...

I apologize in advance to some dear friends ...

... but had I been drinking coffee this would have made me spit it all over my keyboard:


Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

They're both peppermint ...


they're both peppermint
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants.

For a return to traditional zombie values

This is way more important than your election: Simon Pegg reminds us that the undead do not run.
More significantly, the fast zombie is bereft of poetic subtlety. As monsters from the id, zombies win out over vampires and werewolves when it comes to the title of Most Potent Metaphorical Monster. Where their pointy-toothed cousins are all about sex and bestial savagery, the zombie trumps all by personifying our deepest fear: death. Zombies are our destiny writ large. Slow and steady in their approach, weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie relentlessly closes in, unstoppable, intractable.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Oh, is that what they're doing?

This is an actual headline from the Raleigh rag today:


Would someone please bring interesting back?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This post brought to you by Major League Baseball

I'm multitasking ... writing this while watching Game 4 of the World Series. Except that at this point there's no actual baseball going on because they're doing all the recap/pregame buildup with a break every two minutes so Fox can cram as many commercials as possible into the beginning of the broadcast. I think there are three minutes of ads for every one minute of sports talk.

I missed the first three games because, darn, I was in London.

I had an excellent time ... but no, I didn't do all those many things one simply must do when one is in London. Good reason to go back, I guess. I did have a pint in a pub and a cup of coffee in the cafe in the Crypt (at St.-Martin-in-The-Fields), so alliteratively speaking the trip was a huge success.

I'm currently working on my cloyingly pretentious Madonna-esque fake British accent. I can say queue instead of line without even thinking about it now, and every once in a while I'll even pronounce a T sound instead of a D sound in words like "pretty."

I took some pictures. Coming soon to a Flickr photostream near you.

Coming home I was on the first international flight into the brand-spanking-new terminal at RDU. I saw a bit of it through the glass walls of the corridor that international arrivals are funneled through to Passport Control and Customs. Looks a lot like an airport terminal. Then I stood in line (oops, I'm supposed to say queue, aren't I?) for 45 minutes ... at least four times as long as I've ever had to wait to get back into this country before (all at far busier airports than RDU). I think other countries are perfectly well within their rights to make me wait forever to be admitted if that's what they want to do, but it annoys me (I mean, makes me cross) when my own country does it.

But back to baseball, it's the bottom of the 5th and Tampa Bay is making me very, very sad ...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Putting the "trans" in trans-Atlantic ...

I've been posting so infrequently that no one will notice if I step away for a few days, will they? Good, because I'm heading off to London this afternoon for a long weekend. Maybe I'll take a few photos, but maybe not so many because I didn't bother to get a voltage converter for my camera battery charger, so once the juice in my battery runs out, it's out. Unless I manage to go out at lunch today and pick up a spare camera battery (it costs about the same as a converter, but would prove to be more useful to me in the long run).

Anywho, be good while I'm gone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Perhaps this makes up for our current lack of Ethiopian restaurants ...

Durham is on another "Best" list, this time it's Business Week's list of the best cities for riding out a recession. We're #3 (Behind Arlington, VA, and Washington, DC). Madison, WI, another kick-ass place I've lived, is #4. But it's too damn cold there. We're wearing flop-flops in October.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Does this security checkpoint make me look fat?

I went to Chicago over the weekend. The most noteworthy bit was when I got to see the White Sox beat Tampa Bay in game 3 of their ALDS matchup. Well OK, I had to leave before the actual win to catch my flight home, but when I left they were ahead and they didn't score more after I was gone, so I'm counting it as seeing the win. Our seats were right above the Sox bullpen (thanks to the fact that a sister of the friend I visited works for the White Sox). See, I got pictures:

a.j. gets his gear on toss it to me me me!

My friend Jackie and I did lots of other stuff in Chicago and I'll post photos on Flickr. Maybe. Sooner or later.

But the thing currently sticking in my memory is that I was pulled aside for a pat-down while going through security at Midway. It wasn't random, either--apparently the three layers of shirts I was wearing (hey, I was at a ball game in Chicago in October--I could have frozen my ass off) made me look suspicious, because the guy yelled out "Female. Bulky. Pat-down." Yes, dude called me bulky. Loudly. And then I caught him checking out my ass while I was waiting for a woman TSA worker to show up and pat me down. I wanted to say something like "yeah, my ass is so hot it'll make the plane explode, baby!" But it's not a good idea to mess with TSA workers because you're never sure which one is going to be stupid, easily threatened and on a power trip. So I kept my mouth shut and eventually got a quick, cursory pat-down by a woman who was way bulkier than I am. She was very nice, almost apologetic, and I was on my way very quickly. So it wasn't such a big deal, just my chance to play a role in TSA's theater of the absurd

Thursday, October 02, 2008

What fun ...

Even the people at work who would otherwise be inclined to like whomever John McCain chose as a running mate are hatin' all over Sarah Palin. We are very amused.

Monday, September 29, 2008

One in five jobs today being created under the umbrella of job creation ...

God I love Tina Fey. (May take way too long to load the video, but it's worth the wait.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Don't expect to find gasoline in Pikeville, NC ...

... so maybe you should just fill up your damn tank before driving through rural Cackalacky.

I went to to Kinston for a friend's wedding Saturday. I just assumed, spoiled city-slicker that I am, that whenever my tank neared empty there would be plenty of places to fill up. If I had taken the road more traveled (40E to 70E), that would have been the case, but at the bride's suggestion, and because I always like trying a new route to anywhere, I went 540 to 264 E, to 117 S. to 70E. That way goes through a lot of nowhere. It didn't help that I sort of forgot to pay attention to the gas gauge for a while, and when the needle approached E I realized I was in the middle of all that nowhere. Just after the little red light came on I reached an exit for Pikeville, NC.

I was a little disconcerted that the "Gas Next Exit" road sign had a large blank area where there should have been a gas station logo or two. As I couldn't conceive of a town with no gas station, my gas light was glowing and I had no real idea where the fuck I was or if there were any better choices of towns nearby, I took the exit anyway. Besides, unless the population of Pikeville were hungry zombies, I figured I'd be better off running out of gas there than along the highway.

Turns out there are two gas stations in Pikeville. One was closed. The other, the "Gas and Grab," was out of gas, leaving only grab, which I wasn't in the mood for. I went inside to ask if there was any fuel to be had in the vicinity, and it felt a little surreal, like a scene out of a movie. You know: overdressed city-type walks in on the local good ol' boys sitting around the store shooting the shit. Fortunately, they all had hearts of gold and we discovered in the end that deep-down inside we're all just people. Oh, and that I would find some gas a couple of miles down the road. I did.

The bride was lovely and we all lived happily ever after.

Friday, September 19, 2008

But I'll admit to using barbecue as a verb ....

I just had some banana pudding (from the lunch bar at Capital City Grocery) that tasted (very faintly, i'll grant) of cinnamon. I'm sure that's a violation of North Carolina statutes. I wonder who I should call to 'report it ...

Frenzy. Yay.

our new pet

We had a giant chicken delivered to our workplace yesterday. We are supposed to decorate it for a certain event. I think we should make it look deep-fried and put it on a stick.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Do they make a Roomba for lawns?

I'm afraid I'm going to be that neighbor who lets her grass get annoyingly long before she cuts it. I'm a little embarrassed that twice since I moved in my neighbor has cut the grass in the ditch at the left front of my house. I thanked him for it, and he said he did it because he realized it was probably hard for a smallish woman like me to maneuver the lawnmower through the ditch (he is absolutely correct). I still feel a little bad about it though, and I've resolved to always mow it before he feels he has to.

I think that means today. I got up this morning and realized that whatever plans I have for the weekend will need to be interrupted long enough for me to cut all this damn grass. (Confession: I stay up-to-date on my back yard lawn-mowing because I use that space almost daily for dog-training. It's the part the neighbors actually see that gets neglected.) I had read somewhere that when times are dry it's best to raise your lawn mower blades and not cut the grass too short. So that's what I've been doing, and it seems that my grass has been growing like ... er, weeds. Then I realized that we've really had a shitload of rain recently, and the grass is growing so well because it's happily sucking up as much water as it wants. Indeed, "they" say we are officially not in a drought at the moment. So the blades are coming down a notch or two.

The mowing brings to mind another dilemma I have regarding neighbors and neighborliness. I'm on a corner, and one strip of my property that borders the street to the west of me is sort of a "no man's land" in that it's outside of my fence and goes completely unused by me. It's exactly the kind of spot where people like to let their dogs poop without picking it up because they think the huge pile of Golden Retriever shit will inconvenience no one. But I still have to mow the grass there, which grows quite thick and lush and, yes, large mounds of Golden Retriever shit are quite an inconvenience to me. So now I'm wondering: should I put up one of those "Please pick up after your dog" signs in my side yard? Would it do any good at all--I mean, would someone who's obviously inconsiderate to begin with suddenly develop a neighborly conscience because of a sign? I really don't know because I always pick up after my dogs without being asked by a sign. It's just the right thing to do. Dammit.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bad week

What a crummy week. Not for any reason I want to talk about (well, OK, it was a tragic death in the family of one of the nicest people I know). My prevailing mood has been "Meh. Whatever."

But I'm trying to remotivate myself for the weekend so I can get back into the swing of Doing Stuff Around The House. Because I have a confession to make: I still haven't really done much unpacking to speak of even though I moved in more than two months ago. Other than a spiffy paint job in the living room, I've done very little except mow the very large lawn many times with my spiffy new Toro Recycler mower. I just lost all motivation.

I think I realized the reason last week: I suddenly hate all my furniture. It never bothered me a bit in the old bungalow, even though most of it is nothing special, but in my little ranch it just seems all wrong. The dining room table is the wrong size and style for the dining room. The oriental rugs just don't work. The slipcovers on the sofa and chair seem dull (I think the living room is too dark for them), while in the other house they sort of worked. Without the slipcover the sofa looks sad because it is a bit worn and cat-scratched. I just feel like no matter what I do as far as decor, I'm not going to be happy with it, so why bother?

So I'm thinking perhaps I should just forget the living room for now and paint the bathroom. I'm thinking a little crazy, like maybe adding brown and pink to the existing blue-tile color scheme. Yes? No? Your opinion is valued here at A Complete Bunch of Pants.

Also, I think maybe I want to go downtown Saturday evening to see Razpa for free. Anybody? Bueller?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

You think you're alone until you realize you're in it

Thanks to Chris I've learned that Durham's own Scene of The Crime Rovers will be heading to Boston to participate in HONK FEST. They want you to give them some money. See their begging blog post for details on how to transfer your fundage into their coffers.

And in News About Pants, this year the NC State Fair will feature Subway's "Pants Dance Revolution" contest, in which one dances wearing pants to win stuff. And they mean pants in the American sense, i.e. trousers. Although it would be far more entertaining if they meant pants in the British sense, because then we could watch people dancing in their undies. Although there are some people I don't want to see dancing in their undies.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'd like to turn this water into wine

My cute little house now has a dishwasher. There was a spot in the kitchen where there was a countertop with no cabinets underneath. Just open space. It practically screamed "put a dishwasher here!" That plus the fact that every list of water-saving tips says something about dishwashers being much more water-efficient than hand-washing ... oh and plus the fact that I hate washing dishes and the way the dish rack takes up counter space, convinced me to take the plunge. Makes me want to cook an elaborate meal as an excuse to have dishes to wash ...

I also had a water-saving toilet installed today. The one that came with the house was circa 1957 (the year the house was built), and it required about 6 gallons per flush. My new one only uses 1.6 gallons. It's really cute, too, insofar as a toilet can be cute.

And last week I installed a Whedon Deluxe Ultra Saver shower head with a push button control that reduces water flow to a trickle for soaping up and leg-shaving. It gives good shower for such an efficient little thing.

I did all this just so I won't feel guilty putting a bit of water in the birdbaths now and then (not that they need it after all the rain we got this week).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's happeing in El Triángulo over Labor Day weekend

Dog Agility. like what I sometimes talk about here.

Yup, that's all you need to know. It's at this place. Look, here it is on a map.

Also, today is more or less sort of Pinky's birthday. I can't be sure, but give or take a week she's a year old.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The internets exist so we can make fun of stuff

For some reason I recently got into ReadyMade (the blog and the magazine, and it's probably because I think some non-lazy Lisa is going to suddenly take over my life and transform my new house into a creative showcase of stunning DIY derring-do), and they recently ran a post on "beautifully funny blogs about unfortunately ugly stuff" that features some mighty fun links. There's Cake Wrecks, which Georg already blogged but is fun enough to me blogged many times; It's Lovely! I'll Take It!, a "collection of poorly chosen photos from real estate listings," which is depressingly funny if you are in or have just been through an actual real estate search; and D-Listed Decor: "Design Within Retch: The worst home furnishing finds on Craiglist."

The last one seems to entertain me the most, maybe because it's fun to see what kind of crap other people think is cool enough to sell. Like if I had ever had such a lapse in judgment as to pay $40 for a neon "rock-on" sign, I'd probably, after coming to my senses, just slip it into the next box of stuff I'm taking to a thrift store where no one need ever know that I and my money actually encouraged the manufacture of such an item. But someone else would say no, this is a "Perfectly functional neon rock-on sign. Great for college student or a den. I bought it and took it out of the box once to use. It's about a foot tall including stand. I bought it for 40 dollars so 20 is a steal."

But one post at D-Listed that sort of hit home is SCARY STUFFED CAT- LONG STORY. The short story is that this woman had a real-life hugely fat mutant cat, so someone else thought she'd love a gift of a stuffed hugely fat mutant cat. I can sort of relate to this not because I once owned a hugely fat mutant cat (I did have a rather fat cat, but she wasn't extraordinarily so), but because when I owned cats people always assumed that I would want to receive cat-shaped or cat-related items as gifts. Now I will say that an occasional cat shaped item is fine--cats are rather pleasingly shaped and sometimes they're darn cute. But people seemed to assume that a person with two cats must of course want to drink only out of feline-themed coffee mugs, wear cat-shaped earrings and cat adorned T-shirts and get her soap or lotion out of dispenser with a cuddly kitten on it. Maybe the person really wants a Spongebob Squarepants soap dispenser, but she's stuck with the cat one because the person who gave it to her comes over all the time and she doesn't want to hurt any feelings.

I don't have nearly as much trouble with this as a dog owner, probably because most of the doggie paraphernalia out there is breed specific, so people gift it based on the particular breed someone owns. Ha ha! I have mutts! But anyway, back to the scary stuffed cat: if someone did give me such a thing, I would not waste any time trying to get someone to actually give me money for it via Craigslist. No, I think I'd leave it on someone's desk at work as a prank.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Don't accidentally hit publish ...

I was writing this post and I accidentally hit publish when I meant to hit save ...

Anyway, I was looking at this clip from BoingBoing and laughing my ass off, and the next clip YouTube suggested was this one called "Ray Bradbury is an Ass":



I love serendipity.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who's the cat that won't cop out?

Here's a little gift for you: In honor of the recently departed Isaac Hayes, Versions Galore has posted 31 covers of the Theme from Shaft.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Who put these fingerprints on my imagination?

So we've gone and done it. Onda Carolina, the music blog S. and I have cooked up, has gone live. Of course, I have yet to post, but S. has already popped three entires out of the toaster. I swear I'll put something up there soon. And eventually I'll put up some links and whatnot to make it look like a real blog and all.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Up, up with people

Here's more fun from the Festival La Ley. This is a local band, La Tropa de Tierra Caliente. They'll be playing in Durham Central Park on Sept. 6 at the Coalition to Unchain Dogs 2nd Annual Benefit


Tropa De Tierra Caliente from bunchofpants on Vimeo.

I should note that like any self-respecting Mexican regional group, they normally wear snazzy uniforms onstage, and not white T-shirts. But the Tropa guys were called to duty after their scheduled set to fill some time when the headline act got delayed on their way into town.

In other news, I think Sta. Salsera and I have decided on a name for our new blog. It's not Locopants, alas.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Like I need a hole in the head

awesome guitar

For the third year in a row, Santa Salsera and I went to the Festival La Ley, which is an annual anniversary all-day musical marathon featuring lots of Mexican regional groups. (And also reggaeton, because it's taking over the planet). It was big, big fun.

Anyway, I got a new camera, so whether anyone likes it or not I'll be posting a bunch of photos and maybe a few videos from the day here, as soon as I have a chance to look through them all. But here's a tiny sampling of the fun (Raleigh-based Bravo Norteño):


A snippet of Bravo Norteño from bunchofpants on Vimeo.

[Edit: Salsera says Bravo Norteño are from Goldsboro. But perhaps in the same way people from Waukegan say "Chicago" when they're traveling and someone asks where they're from, I bet Bravo Norteño says "Raleigh."]

The event was held this year at the Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary, and I don't think I've mentioned lately how much I hate that place. Well, not the place itself--it's actually very pretty and music sounds good there. The real downer is the overabundance of rules about where you can sit, stand or walk (after all, it's in Cary) and the maniacal zealotry of the security people in enforcing them. In previous years at the La Ley events, Salsera and I pretty much wandered wherever we want, she interviewing people and I taking photos (we've had backstage passes every time because Salsera is a real journalist, and I've actually sold a few photos to the pub she works for so I guess I'm sort of a real photographer. Plus I have a master's degree in journalism, so I think I should get issued a press pass wherever I go). But at Koka Booth, I practically got tackled by the head of security for being in front of the stage, even though I'd cleared it with the rank-and-file security guy before I went out there. So I asked what the deal was, he said I needed "credentials." Like above and beyond the fact that the sponsoring group gave me an all-access wristband? Yes. (Note to self: put mad graphics skillz to work on some "credentials," stat.)

He was also getting pretty huffy about the fact that Salsera was interviewing band members (which is why La Ley gave her the backstage pass, duh), and he got on his official radio with someone to ask if she was allowed. To him this situation was a gigantic emergency. Probably because everything else at the entire event was going so smoothly (beer at Koka Booth is waaay to expensive for there to be any drunk and disorderly people); He was definitely one of those guys who loves nothing more than to feel important and in command. If there's not a "crisis" for him to handle he probably feels suicidal. We've got some guys like that where I work, whose job is to manage "emergencies," and they're happiest when there's a big-ass hurricane barreling toward us threatening to take out every hog farm east of Greensboro.

But I digress, as usual.

So tune in tomorrow (or sometime, I dunno ...) for more on the festival. Or don't. I don't care. This blogging gig pays the same whether anyone reads me or not.

An another thing: Salsera and I are now kicking around the idea of starting a blog together. OK, we're more than kicking it around, we've decided to do it, we just need to agree on a name (suggestions welcome). It will be about music (primarily all flavors and styles of Latin music but I refuse to be limited, so Turkish hip-hop and Tuvan throat singing could easily show up there). We hope to include a calendar of local Latin/world shows (not that we know how to do said calendar, but I bet The Google can teach us), plus photos, videos, interviews with artists, etc. Coming soon ... maybe.

Friday, August 01, 2008

zwf iso brains

I found a date through zombie harmony - one of the best free dating sites for zombies

But I thought they were our friends ...

I'm still upset that they removed the words "Mr. Shoe" from Mr. Shoe. Now I find out from Gary over at Endangered Durham that Greenfire, the company that now seems to own most of downtown Durham, wants to tear down Mr. Shoe and two other historic buildings on Main St. But wait, they have "green" in their name! They claim they want to preserve historic architecture! How can they do something so obviously shitty? "Bwah ha ha ha ha," Greenfire laughs. "It's all part of our PLAN! Bwah ha ha ha!"

I hear Greenfire is also planning to test their Mega Freeze Ray Gun at Centrefest this year.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The truth

I have not been blogging lately, and do you want to know why? I just haven't felt like it. I've got plenty of topics that are wonderfully blogworthy in that they would provide me with the opportunity to possibly be somewhat witty, sarcastic and/or silly. But I just haven't felt like it. I should post photos of the Roman shades my mother made (I helped!) and the lovely new colors of my living room. But I just haven't felt like it. I could also discuss the new perspective on Durham one gets when one moves to a different part of town. Or the frustration of a new homeowner being hounded constantly by purveyors of mortgage protection plans (no, I don't give a shit what happens to my house after I die), security systems and home remodeling services. But, meh, whatever.

I will, however, show you a photo of my lovely solar dryer:

solar dryer

Yeah, you can see my undies if you look closely. Woo.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

News of good from the old 'hood ...

I just saw a post on the Trinity Park e-mail list (yeah, I still subscribe--some days it was the cheapest entertainment around) about the site of the massive proposed condo development that caused such a kerfuffle last year. Apparently the owners of the site have submitted a design package for a 13-unit (which would need no special use permit) luxury condo plan for the site.

The poster, a member of Neighbors For Sustainable Development in Trinity Park, has an initial favorable opinion of the proposal. There will be a public forum on the project Monday, July 21st at 1:30 p.m., when the site plan will be reviewed by the Design District Review Team (DDRT) in Conference Room A, Ground Floor, City Hall.

I wonder if my new 'hood has an e-mail list?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The midnight train is whining low

I hate it when the blogs I read regularly go silent for days on end and provide me with no entertainment or edification. So I apologize to anyone who gives a crap about what I write here. I've been busy trying to turn my new house into a home.

But before I blab on about that: Ever wanted to hear a Brazilified Hank Williams song? You can here. Click on the "downloads" link, give them some of your precious info, and they'll give you three free musics. Including the aformentioned Hank cover.

So anyway, about the house. It needs paint. On the inside; the outside is all bricky. I was going to start in the bathroom because it's heinous. I hate blue and the tulip border drives me crazy. The shell-shaped sink, laminated vanity and geriatric railing next to the toilet don't help at all. Ideally I'd completely remodel the whole thing but I'm not going to spend such bucks right now. Fabric will have to do for now. (Anyone with any experience painting laminate should feel free to share their wisdom with me.)

The kitchen was going to be next, because the anemic yellow cabinets just don't fill me with joy. I think kitchens should be colorful and maybe a little crazy. They're supposed to be happy, creative places, like maybe it would inspire me actually cook something that required more than pre-heating an oven. I have a slightly kooky color scheme in mind inspired by the boomerang countertops.

The night before I was going to go buy some paint for one of these projects I was sitting in my living room and it occurred to me that it really needed to be first in line for some paint. To begin with, the trim is the worst shade of blue ever invented. It looks like it belongs on the walls of a hospital because any color so ugly must have some special redeeming quality like superior germ-fighting powers or resistance to staining by bodily fluids. Also, I have a whole ton of weird crap I want to display in the room, and it would make sense if I paint before I drag it all out of its boxes.

I had a hard time settling on one color for the room, so I chose two ("Jovial Orange" and "Golden Rod"). I got some coordinating fabric to make Roman shades. Not that I know how or anything, but my mother does and she keeps saying she wants to help. So she'll be up this weekend for shade-making merriment. So far the room is slightly painted, but I'm busy with dog stuff as usual, and it all probably won't be finished until next week. I'll post photos at some point.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A dinosaur victrola listening to Buck Owens

I dined out last night with the Durham Mighty Morphin' Ninja Blogger Posse. We tried Taste Of India, which is in the "Big K" shopping center on University Drive (very convenient to my new digs!) I ordered a vegetarian sampler plate that I thing was called something like "Palace Bhojan." My camera was dead, so I got no photo, but Lenore got a photo of hers. It was way more food than I could possibly eat at one meal, but I really enjoyed it. I'd love to go back sometime, so anyone who wants to try the place and needs a dining companion should just let me know ...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hello from Susie Single Homeowner ..

I got internet this morning. Hooray for Time-Warner. Except for the part where I had to wait two hours for the cable guy, it was fast and easy. Hey Verizon, you can suck it, OK? Time-Warner put me through zero hours of tech support hell, and even though I chose their second-cheapest service, it seems fast enough for my recreational intertube surfing needs.

Oh, but bad thing this weekend: the big huge scary storm Friday night knocked out power in my vicinity for about 24 hours. Good thing I didn't have the fridge or freezer fully stocked. Also good thing that I decided to bring the two extra (I know, seems excessive) yard waste bins from my old house (I left one for our buyer). I filled all three bins with the miscellaneous chunks of trees and bushes that littered my lawn on Saturday.

On Sunday, I mowed the lawn. I had to borrow a friend's mower because the one I had before was an old electric and it wouldn't have been up to the task of .59 acres. My friend's mower is a self-propelled walk-behind, and even though it helped a bit, I still did not really enjoy myself. People tell me I need a riding mower, but they're all so gigantic that I don't think they'd fit through either gate between the front and back, and they definitely wouldn't fit through the basement door, so I'd then have to build a shed just for the mower to live in. Then I'd have to worry all the time that some crackhead was going to break into my shed and steal my big gigantic mower. Maybe I'll just hire TROSA lawn care from now on. (Did I mention that TROSA moved me? They did an awesome job. I wholeheartedly recommend them if you're planning a move.)

But damn, my new house is awesome. I'm having a hard time getting stuff done because I just want to sit out in my big, beautiful back yard and ponder how cool the place is.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Man I was mean but I'm changing my scene

Yes, I'm moved in. No, I'm not unpacked and settled. Yes, I need a beer.

I'm really grumpy because I don't have internet yet. I made the wrong choice: I figured it would just be easiest at first to get the Verizon service transferred from my previous house to this one and just plug in my existing modem and wi-fi transmitter. No waiting around for a cable guy, methinks. But no, stupid me, it couldn't possibly be that easy. First off, I didn't actually get the phone service when they said I did. Dude called me Monday morning to say he was hooking it up. So then I went to use it Tuesday, after I had finally found my telephone, and it didn't work. I called Verizon and they said they showed it as being good to go. The woman told me to go test it at the box outside (which involved stringing together two extension cords and running them out a basement window so I could plug in the cordless set outside). It really, truly didn't work, so I called them back and they finally sent out a guy who found that there was some problem between the pole and my house. Couldn't the first guy have checked that when he did my install? No, maybe too much work ...

So then Verizon tells me my DSL is also GTG. I hauled out the gear and its associated spaghetti of wires and hooked it all up, but no go. The modem power light came on, but not the other two that indicate it's actually getting data. Here I descended into tech support hell, talking to two different women who I'm guessing could have been in China from their accents. (I had to call twice because the first time I accidentally cut myself off whilst playing with phone wires D'oh!) Each dutifully followed her script to take me step-by-step through the whole troubleshooting process. In these situations, you cannot deviate from the script or they get very confused. It takes for-freaking-ever.

So at one point the second tech-helper-person wanted me to unplug my phone--the one on which I was talking to her. She had to call me back on my cell phone, which brings me to yet another problem: I seem to live in a nearly wireless-free zone. Inside the house, I'm lucky to get a signal at all, and out in the yard I can maybe get two bars. I may have to give up on the crack phone and go with another wireless plan if this persists. Dammitalltohell.

So anyway, back to tech support torture room. After two hours on the phone, the last half hour of which was on my cell phone and involved me walking around my back yard to maintain a signal while the techie repeatedly put me on hold for five minutes at a time while she "checked on something," I cracked. About the fifth time she came back on the line to apologize and tell me she had to put me back on hold, I told her I would rather just cancel my Verizon DSL than stay on the phone any longer, and that I really had to go to work soon. So she said she was pretty sure the problem was that my modem wasn't compatible with my phone line, and that she would transfer me directly so some guy about getting me a new modem. So after another five minutes on hold, I get a guy named Chris, who starts to tell me what they will have to charge me for the modem and them bam, the cell signal drops out and I lose the call.

Fucking fuck, says I. (No, actually what I said was a lot fucking worse than that). Fuck Verizon. I figured at this rate, there's no way in hell I was going to get my DSL working before Monday, what with tomorrow being that big patriotic holiday and all, and if I was going to wait that long I may as well just get a cable guy to come out. So I canceled with Verizon and called Time Warner, and after another eternity on the phone with a very nice sales rep I have an appointment for Monday morning between 8 am and noon. Please, please, please let the guy really show up. Please.

So anyway, I guess I'll be semi-incommunicado all weekend unless I want to schlep my gear to a coffeehouse with free wi-fi, something I've never actually done before because I've never seen the point of going somewhere else for internet when I have it at home. And my coffee is free.

Oh yeah, and one more adventure: last night I actually locked myself and my two little dogs out on the screen porch. That's when it struck me how dark it is at night in my new neighborhood and how far apart the houses are compared to Trinity Park. And also how I don't know a single one of my neighbors (except the dog next door who comes up to the fence looking for attention and gets pointedly ignored by Pinky and Lucy). After a few minutes of wandering around looking for a house where it appeared someone might be home, all the while listening to Pinky's yelps echo through the neighborhood, I decided to test my security. It took a great deal of determination and a lot of noise, but I was able to break into my own house. I'm not going to say how, because I don't want you trying it, but I had to have someone come repair the damage I did this morning. I'll be stopping by True Value Hardware this evening to buy a few necessary security fortifications, as well as a lockbox so I never have to break into my own house again.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yes you're a fine mellow fellow, but you're stubborn as a mule

I'm sitting on the bare wood floor. I have no furniture but I still have wi-fi.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

You can't solve all your problems by shooting someone or setting a stranger on fire

Just about everything that can be in a box is in a box. Except for the stuff that makes coffee. I'm going to need that. And the TV. It's a big 33" thing from about ten years ago, back before they made them all flat and stuff. Where am I supposed to find a box for that? Oh well, if the movers break it it will be the excuse I need to go buy one that's all flat and stuff.

The movers will be here at 9 am tomorrow. Then we clean (my mom and I, that is), and Sunday night we sleep on air mattresses so we can make a quick exit before the buyer's final walk-through. Then I guess we'll have to kill time until my walk-through at 11:30, and then kill more time until I close at 2:30. Then sometime after that I get all my stuff in boxes back and get to start this whole process in reverse. Yay.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

meet me after school and I will beat you like gorilla

I just ate an organic/vegan/gluten-free dessert. Bleck. It was horrid. Why didn't I stop eating it halfway through when I realized it wasn't as good as it looked? The best thing I can say about it is it was nice and small. I wonder why vegans/gluten-free types even bother to make such stuff when it's obviously worse than eating no dessert at all.

What you need is automation, girl

Spending long nights in the lab makes it hard for your love to thrive. (Looks like some ad agency creatives have been watching Flight of the Conchords)

Monday, June 23, 2008

What's the best way to connect to the intertubes?

I need to figure out if I want to continue using Verizon DSL in my new home or go with a cable modem. Verizon would mean I'd have to have a land line, which I don't really feel like I need except for in that panicked moment when I call 911 and I want my actual address to pop up on their screen in case I can't talk or something. The cable modem would mean getting cable, which I also don't think I need because just about everything I watch is on DVD (sometimes I even watch stuff, like Battlestar Galactica, 30 Rock and My name is Earl, on the web).

Isn't there a way to have high-speed internet access without paying for crap I don't need? There's Clearwire, I guess, but I've heard it sort of sucks. Verizon sort of sucks sometimes, too. I don't know about Roadrunner. Does it suck?

Somebody tell me what to do.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Son of a ...

I went to Sennet's Hole again this morning for doggie swim time (I swam, too). Now, I'm the kind of person who always, always locks her car. It's like an automatic compulsion--as soon as I'm out I click the little remote thingie twice so I hear the honk that tells me it's good and locked. You know what's coming, right? I must have neglected it when I got out of the car at West Point on the Eno. It's Pinky's fault. She was being a little wild girl and I was trying to wrangle her in so we could start the walk, and I guess that made me forget the click-click-honk ritual.

Anyway, so after a good time was had by all, I packed everyone back into the car and then the little dashboard thingie told me a door was still open. So I got out and double-checked all the doors I'd just closed, but the light was still on. That's when I saw that the passenger side front door wasn't closed properly, which was weird because I hadn't opened that one. That's when I noticed my agility gear bag was missing from the front seat. Bastards!

The good thing is that what was in the bag would be an extremely disappointing haul for a thief. Unless he really wanted a women's size small Marmot Mist rain jacket and a pair of women's size small REI breathable waterproof pants. Damn, that was really good rain gear. Other than that there was really nothing of value to anyone but me: a ziploc full of benadryl, a few other over-the counter remedies and maybe a Rimadyl tablet or two; one or two spare pairs of socks (most likely permanently stained orange from our clay soils); a ziploc full of, er, girl emergency stuff; a travel contact lens kit (no lenses included); a polycarbonate water bottle; a just-in-case Ace ankle brace; a spare leash, maybe a dog toy or two, and Lucy's slip-lead. The last thing is the only item that will be hard to replace, because it was handmade by a woman who's no longer making them. I'll just have to buy Lucy an ordinary, generic slip-lead, I guess. Dumbass crackhead's going to have a hard time selling any of that stuff. Unless he goes to an agility trial.

Fortunately the thief bastard left the most expensive thing in the car: my REI Alcove shelter.

I hope karma pops a cap in that lowlife thief's ass.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Commencing countdown, engines on

The inspection Monday went very well. The inspector pronounced my house-to-be a "really good 50-year-old house."

My loan has, in the words of the mortage broker, "received an approve designation." Does that mean it's approved or what? I'm not sure, but it sounds like a good sign.

Anyway, people want photos, so here (click to see 'em bigger or for more description/commentary):

my new home?porch & carportbackkitchenboomerang countertopliving roombathroom

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Did some Derm stuff ...

I took a break from stressing about selling/buying a house and getting rid of/packing up all my crap to do something Durham this morning. Pinky needed a swimming lesson, so we headed up to Sennet's Hole at West Point on the Eno. I needed a place where I could carry her into the water with me and then let her swim next to me. Since it was early Sunday morning there weren't a lot of people there, and except for one fisherman all the other folks had dogs. It's really a lovely place. I'd been there before, but I never swam. Now that I know what an awesome swimming hole it is I need to make a point of getting out there more often.

The swim lesson went pretty well--at least Pinky knows that she knows how to swim now. (Dogs pretty much instinctively swim, but unless they've done it before they don't always realize that they can). Pinky still doesn't seem like a big fan of the water, but maybe she just needs a few more lessons.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

We're together everybody knows, and this is how the story goes

So I was already writing a post along the lines of "Dammit, would somebody please sell me a damn house, dammit?" I had reached a point yesterday where I thought maybe any slowdown in housing sales was due to crazy sellers not actually wanting to sell their damn houses to buyers who were offering damn full price. But never mind, because I'm now under contract to buy a damn house.

There was much gnashing of teeth involved in getting said contract. Here's a little tale about how to make a potential homebuyer cry. The seller (of House 3, the one I made the offer on yesterday morning), had been left at the alter by a previous buyer. The house had been listed a few weeks ago and went under contract in a couple of days, with a quick closing date. It went through inspection, had a requested repair made, and they were all set to close. Then at the very last minute, the buyer jumped ship, apparently for first-time-home-buyer cold feet.

The house was back on the market for a day or two when I saw it, liked it and made my (damn good) offer. We got word from the selling agent of another potential offer, and I decided I didn't want to wait for that offer to come in and than maybe get into a bidding war. (Especially considering that we could have been waiting for days ... if I had $5 for every time an agent told my agent that someone was going to make an offer on our house and then it never materialized I'd have, like maybe $15.) So I sweetened my offer and put a 1 pm deadline on it to prod the buyer into responding to me before the other offer came in (IF it even came in).

The seller, gun-shy from having just been ditched, was reluctant to take my offer so quickly without some insurance against getting jilted again. She countered that she wanted me to remove the home sale contingency (i.e. my "out" of the contract if for some reason the sale of my house falls through). Never mind that removing my home-sale contingency wouldn't keep me from quitting the deal for cold feet. All it would do would make me responsible for circumstances entirely out of my control, like some mortgage company that's been burned by a few years worth of crappy loans deciding not to lend my buyer money. There was no way I was going to take on that kind of risk when there's no way I can buy another house if ours doesn't close.

My agent went to work trying to convince the seller that I'm a motivated buyer and the contract on our house is about as solid as a contract on a house can be. The seller apparently also looked me up on the Durham tax records and started asking about our other house (the one that s.t.b.-ex Mr. Pants' mother lives in, which he is going to buy me out of ... or should that be "out of which he is going to buy me"?) and what's the deal with me buying a house without my husband, etc.

I was about to call my agent and say "Shut it down" when I had a flash of brilliance: Throw a little money at the problem! Specifically, offer a little bit more earnest money to assure the buyer I really want to buy her house. My agent said it's worth a try, and the seller's agent said it's not going to work but let's try it anyway. Damned if it didn't work. I added and extra grand, making my stake at this point $3,000. I'm going to buy this damn house, dammit. Inspection is Monday at 9 am.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The continuing saga of the saga that continues ...

I stopped by my agent's house at 8 am today to initial and sign all the things that must be initialed and signed to make an offer on the house. A little while later I got a call from her telling me that someone else is planning to put in an offer this afternoon. Damn! I knew I should have licked the doorknob to claim the house while I was there last night.

Anyway, so we revised the offer to take out the closing costs I was asking for, and submitted it with a 1 pm deadline for response. So now I'm offering full price, asking only for a home warranty, with a really quick closing. (The house is vacant and was just put back on the market after the buyer backed out--literally at the last minute so we think they're interested in a quick closing.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I suppose you're going to have to play it by ear, right here

So the house-buying saga continues ...

I countered the sellers' counter and then they countered my counter. But since they had already take three days to even respond to my initial offer, I was losing my will to buy their house. So I stood on my counter. I'll wipe the footprints off later. They haven't responded back, but technically the day isn't over yet. Still, I'm assuming they're not going to accept.

So there's still House #2, plus two new ones have come up since I put in my offer, so I went to look at them this evening ... let's call them Houses 3 and 4. I like house 3, a brick ranch on more than half an acre off Hope Valley Road, even though it has old crank windows that will need to be replaced and the laundry is in a half-basement that only has exterior access. The kitchen is dated but cute, spacious and well-arranged (it also has vintage boomerang-patterned formica countertops that are in great shape). So tomorrow morning, assuming I don't hear back from the proprietors of House 1, I'll put in an offer.

Dayyyuuummmm ...

Sellers just came back with an outrageously crappy counter offer ... and I was offering full price with some closing costs and a home warranty. I don't believe I shall be living in house #1 ...

There's a crazy rhythm, comin' from Puppetland

I made an offer on what has become known as "House 1" on Saturday. I'm still waiting ... part of the problem is that it's a For Sale By Owner, and the owners left town right after showing me the house. They acknowledged receipt of the offer on Sunday and that's all I know. Meanwhile, I'm packing all my crap because I've got to have it all out of my house on June 29th. Maybe the dogs and I will be living in the Honda Fit ...

In other, better, stronger, faster news, I sold a photo. Or rather, rights to use a photo. To a big famous ad agency, even! For a big famous client! It's this photo, which is Photoshop fake "tilt shift":

fake model nc state fair

Yay me!

Friday, June 06, 2008

How can I be sure when your intrusion's my illusion?

So the winner is ... House #1! Well, assuming our offer is accepted and whatnot. (See this post If you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about.) The possibility of living in this house makes me very happy.

And while I'm on the general topic of housing, I had no idea that something like this was going on in Raleigh. In on respect it's cool--preserving houses and keeping building materials out of landfills. But then again it's not necessarily so cool for people to destroy the character of neighborhoods by moving out the modest houses to make way for McMansions. Still, I'd like to see what Barrington Village looks like, but I have no idea where it is. Anyone have any idea?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The decisions are killing me!

I still haven't made the offer on a house yet, because of what my agent calls "a good kind of problem to have." Imagine you needed to choose between two houses: same neighborhood, same price, same above-grade square footage, same number of rooms/bedrooms/bathrooms, comparable lot sizes, and both have a fireplace.

House 1:
  • Has a full, partially finished basement with lots of usable space (washer/dryer are there), interior and exterior access and a fireplace with a wood stove.

  • The interior is in great condition with hardwood floors throughout and tile in kitchen and bathroom.

  • The kitchen is recently updated, lovely and well-arranged.

  • The bathroom is cute

  • Seems like it would be a really awesome house to live in and I would not have to do any work (barring unforseen maintenance) right away.

However:
  • It's roughly a quarter-mile from I-85, and although there are trees, a couple of streets and houses in between, if you look hard enough between the leaves you can see the highway and hear its noise.

  • It's the second house down from a traffic circle where cars maybe sometimes go a little too fast. Although it's not an incredibly busy street, it still gets enough traffic that backing out of the driveway might be fraught with a little anxiety.

  • Has no garage or carport

  • Doesn't have a front porch or a rear deck


House 2:
  • Is in the middle of a fairly quiet block.

  • Is a half-mile from I-85, and the noise isn't a big deal.

  • Has a garage of sorts ... really sort of like a shed at the end of the driveway that's just big enough to park a car in.

  • has a front porch and a big rear deck.

  • Is very close to a few taquerías

  • Seems like it could become a cute place to live with a little work (and a bit of money ... see below)


But:
  • The kitchen, while usable, cries out for a total remodel. It's badly arranged and looks like it would be inconvenient to use even for someone who doesn't cook a lot, so it's the kind of thing that needs to be done sooner rather than later.

  • The bathroom looks perfectly usable, but that's the best thing that can be said about it.

  • There is a small basement, but it's not really usable space and has exterior access only.


So my dilemma is, I love house #1 and want to live in it, but from a real-estate-marketing perspective it's got location issues, and we all know that location, location, location is supposed to be all that matters. I like House 2 well enough and it's in a great location, but the prospect of saving up enough to make the kitchen and bathroom decent (and then spending however many months in a construction zone) doesn't thrill me at all.

Ack.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I've seen the moon sitting on the road

If you don't get me, maybe it's because you have semantic dementia. Perhaps it's epidemic in Trinity Park.

In other news, I haven't made the offer on the house yet. We were waiting for the results of the inspection on our house to make sure there wasn't some awful thing that was going to make our contract disintegrate. There's not. Just some little pesky crap that we can fix fairly quickly (we think).

meanwhile, another house popped up on the MLS and I really think I should look at it before I make the offer, because it's more space, more land and a better kitchen for the same price. I'm just not in love with the street it's on, but it's in a "good" area, so I should consider it. So I think I'm going to see it today.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I think I heard the mariachis playing "El Cascabel"

I went out again with my agent yesterday evening after work. Today I may be making an offer on a house. I'm not even going to say where it is right now ... I've become a little superstitious about jinxing the whole thing. But I'll just say that it's cute (or it will be with some paint and a few tchotchkes), it's in one of the 'hoods that I call hip, and it has a fenced yard, albeit not the huge yard of my dreams. Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

There's a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one

I went out with my agent yesterday and I was going to write yet another post about looking for a house, but I'm just sick of the whole thing. I'm sick of worrying about resale value and what some future homebuyer might think of a place. I'm sick of looking at stuff I can't afford because my agent thinks I should want to live in that location, location, location. I want to say "Nice house--are you buying this for me? Because I certainly can't buy it myself." I'm sick of looking at stuff I CAN afford and thinking "Shit, who on earth would want to live here?" Or, seeing all the awesome stuff I can afford go under contract immediately. I'm sick of kitchens. I'm sick of bathrooms. I'm sick of discovering all the really strange places people put washers and dryers.

Maybe I should just buy an RV instead.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Poop poop poopity poop

I was so excited this morning when I checked my "new listings" e-mail and saw a cute little house on Monmouth in Old North Durham. In my price range! Sure, the lot isn't huge, but it's comparable to my current one and I'm willing to live with that if the house is in a cool neighborhood like OND, Duke Park or Northgate Park. I already had a date with my agent to look at more houses today, so I e-mailed her and asked her to get an appointment. Then I decided I'd zip on over and just take a look-see at the house (as the crow flies it's less than half a mile from my current house). Damned if it didn't have one of those little "Under Contract" bursts on the sign! Damn damn damn! OK people, I officially call dibs on the next cute house in my price range that comes up in Old North Durham. Do you hear me? DIBS!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Your turn to buy and my turn to drink

So my agility weekend was way fun. I talk about it ad nauseum over at my other blog. There's video, too, so you can see how dorky I look when I run. My dog is really cute, though.

Now I have to find a house to buy, because we close on our house June 30. I'm not really excited about anything that's currently available. There is a really cute little place on almost 3 acres, but it's way the heck out on Stallings Road. There's a little teensy place on Northgate St (724 square feet) that's also nice and cheap, but the lot is small and full of "landscaping" that I'd have to rip out to make room for dog agility. There's also a cute little old house with ugly floors (carpet and vinyl ... I could change that) on over an acre in Bethesda. I rather liked it but my agent hated it and pointed out as many flaws as she could think of while we were looking at it.There's a nifty older ranch home with a big, flat yard off 54 near Southpointy, but it's heated by fuel oil. It's a strange little location--if you look at a map that shows city/county boundaries, this one little gravel street is county while everything around it is city. The homes are all on well/septic systems and there's no natural gas line on the street, while all around it is tract housing galore. PSNC says it would probably run me $3,500 to covert to gas heat (including furnace) and another few grand to include stove and water heater.

The good news is that she doesn't seem as anti-Parkwood as before, but all the listings available there right now (excluding "handyman specials," which I do not want) are over $150,000.

So my front-runner house right now is one in Homestead Heights. The location isn't perfect for me, but the house is a reasonable size, it has a carport, the yard is large, flat and fenced and I don't have to do any work or buy and appliances to make it livable. I'm wondering if I should just give up on finding anything better and make an offer on it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

So maybe you have nothing to do this weekend?

I should be out looking at houses, considering I'm supposed to be out of mine by June 30, but instead I'll be doing dog agility for three days this fine holiday weekend. You can watch if you've got nothing better to do. Directions are here. We start running at 8 am and keep going until we're done (anywhere from 3:30 to 6:30 pm, depending on, you know, stuff). We're crazy people and we love an audience.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pending ...

We signed a contract on our house yesterday.

Now I just need to figure out where I'm going to live. Somewhere in Durham, I imagine ...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

No remorse for imitators, my crew be innovators

I had a great day yesterday doing Durham stuff. First came the dog walk, though ... because the dogs come first. And it makes me think of one thing I will definitely miss about Trinity Park: plenty of sidewalks. There are a few streets that lack sidewalks or only have them on one side, but compared to rest of Durham we have it good when it comes to not being forced to walk in the street. The alleys are nice for dog-walking, too..

In the afternoon, Lisa and I went on the Cleveland-Holloway home tour. Wherever we went people would introduce themselves, so we kept having to say "Hi, I'm Lisa" followed by "and I'm Lisa." It was a little bit funny at first but then it got tiresome.

The home tour itself was interesting--both inspiring and depressing at the same time. Inspiring because there are people who are putting a lot of work (and money) into the neighborhood. Depressing because I was able to see up close how decades of neglect have turned most of the housing there into unlivable (or nearly so) shitholes. Most of the homes on the tour were in some stage of renovation--mostly the early stages--and needed a lot of serious work. Over the years many had been hacked up or divided as rentals, so there were walls where they shouldn't be, drop ceilings and extra closets built into places that weren't originally bedrooms. There was also lots of damage from foundation or roof problems that had gone unfixed for years. One guy showed us a spot where a tree had been growing in the middle of the house when he first bought it.

I'll admit that some of my curiosity about the neighborhood was because I'll be needing a house myself at some point (possibly soon ... there's been encouraging news on the home sale front), and I was wondering if I should include the C-H neighborhood in my search. But from what I saw, pretty much everything available there needs way more work than I can put into a house ... unless I were to give up dog agility and anything else I like to do for a year or more while I put all of my energy into renovations. That just doesn't appeal to me. Also, because of my dog-training needs, I'm determined not to have a lot any smaller than my current one (.17 acre), and the lots in C-H are typically on the tiny side.

Decay and other issues aside, the neighborhood felt rather pleasant. The houses are close together and people were out on porches, and even the folks not involved with the home tour were friendly. Then again, it was a sunny Saturday afternoon and the tour meant there were a lot more people out walking the neighborhood streets on a typical day, so I don't know what the vibe is most of the time. The home tour people were all full of optimism and very upbeat about the 'hood's future, but then I talked to a guy who was visiting his mother in the neighborhood, and he had a different view: "This is a baaaaad neighborhood." He didn't mean bad as in good. But people say the same thing was true about Trinity Park 20 years ago.

In the evening I want to a Bulls game with my friend Marcia. I had a good time but I must say I like baseball when there's an actual game to watch. The Bulls took a lead in the first inning and were never in serious danger of losing it, so there wasn't really a lot of excitement (aside from a few home runs, a bat being slung into the stands and the Bulls' center fielder rescuing a fallen SpongeBob and tossing it back to its owner). Also, the only seats available were in the "Diamond View" section, and the early start time (5:00 pm) meant that we were looking into the setting sun the entire time (it dropped below the American Tobacco building just moments after the close of the ninth inning). Nonetheless, my dog training and trialing schedule won't be terribly booked up between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so I'll try to make it back out to the DBAP a few more times over the summer.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Everyone thinks he looks daft but you can have your dream

Most of my life is dominated by dog agility, but every now and then I do some things that normal people do ...

Tuesday night I had dinner at Satisfaction with members of the super-secret Bull City Bloggers Cabal. I've probably already said too much about it. They may have to kill me now. Anyways, I had a great time. Although the topic of dogs did come up, I think I handled myself well and didn't make anyone's eyes glaze over.

Also, in the almost eight years I've lived here, I've never actually gone to a Durham Bulls game. Shocking! I have, however, been to a college club game (NC state vs. UNC) at the old (er, I mean, historic) Durham Bulls park, so there. Anyway, I'm finally going to go see the Bulls on Saturday. A friend called me up and asked me if I wanted to go ... and that's all it took.

And I'd like to go to the Cleveland-Holloway Home Tour on Saturday. I suppose I can go by myself, but it would be more fun with company. Anyone up for joining me?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

you get hooked so quick to anything, even your chains

Apparently there was an election of some sort yesterday. Why doesn't anyone tell me about these things?

Who else got a message from Stevie Wonder on behalf of his friend Barack?

In other news. Is it just me or has Battlestar Galactica been a big snooze for the last three episodes? I'm getting to the point where I want humans and Cylons both to perish for all time.

UPDATE: Note to self: learn to spell Obama's first name correctly.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I love Craigslist so much I want to have its babies

I spend a lot more time preparing food for my dogs than I do for myself. This involves pureeing a lot of veggies, and until now I was using a little food processor attachment on my blender. (I got the attachment on Freecycle ... for free, of course!). Chopping the veggies took a long time and was a pain in the ass because the blender attachment was rather small and not terribly effective. I've been wanting a real food processor for a while, but I'm trying to be frugal, so I figured I'd make do with my crappy one until it broke. Sunday it broke. I don't know exactly what went wrong, but instead of making a nice veggie pulp it made a horrendous noise and the blades wouldn't spin. I tried and tried to figure out how to make it work again with no luck.

So yesterday I turned to Craigslist and I found a guy selling a food processor for only five diggities! Yes, $5! After phone call, a small detour on my way home from work and a petty cash expediture, I now own a big Hamilton Beach food processor. Sure, it's not the Mercedes of food processors, but five bucks! I didn't have to go much more out of my way than I would have for a store, so even factoring in time and gas it was quite a bargain. Of course, there was alway a chance that the guy selling it was an ax murderer and only placed the ad to lure victims to his casa, but what's life without a little adventure?

Friday, May 02, 2008

There's no such thing as too many mariachis

In a quandary: Mariachi band Los Galleros de Mexico are playing at Brightleaf from 7-9 pm tonight. Meanwhile, our pals Mariachi Amanecer Tapatio are playing again at Lopez ... starting at 7, of course. Which to see?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Special Ask-The-Readers Edition: How do you choose a financial advisor?

"I've got to make money and save it. I've got to do that thing that rich people do where they turn money into *more* money. Can you teach me how to do that?"
--Liz Lemon (30 Rock)

Hitherto, all of my money matters have been handled by the soon-to-be-ex Mr. Pants. He was good at it and increased our net worth very well over the years. It's a good thing, too, because I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to money, and I haven't a clue about what constitutes a wise investment. I know I should regularly put money into my IRA, and I need to be frugal (although I'm not always good at it). Oh, and earning high interest is good, owing with high interest is bad. And it's either a good time or a bad time to buy a house, depending on whom you ask. And something something no-load mutual funds something blah blah blah.

So I think I'm going to have to outsource my financial thinking to a professional. I've had some friends recommend theirs to me, and I think I'll contact a few to see if they are a good fit ... not that I have any idea what would constitute a good fit. I really have no idea what to ask them, other than "How much is this shit going to cost me?"

So that's where you, dear reader, can help me. Tell me: what the hell do I ask these people? How do I know which one to choose?

Friday, April 18, 2008

El mariachi loco quiere bailar

Went to Taqueria Lopez tonight with the cool kids to see the mariachis (real name: Mariachi Amanecer Tapatio) and eat really, really good tacos. I ate too much and had a great time. Here's a clip of their most action-packed number (I got the idea to grab some video a few seconds after the song started, so the opening bars are cut off. Sorry.):



They'll be back at Lopez in two weeks. Mark your calendars.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I hanker for a hunk of, a slab, a slice a chunk of ...

I think Durham definitely needs to hold a Grilled Cheese Invitational. I should be one of the judges because nobody is as much of a grilled cheese connoisseur as I am. I have attempted to make grilled cheese sammiches out of so many breads and cheeses that I can't even keep track. (Link via boingboing).

Also, speaking of Durham stuff: Mariachis this Friday night at Taqueria Lopez. 7 pm. It's way fun. You should go.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gratuitous puppy photo blogging


the silence of the squeaky toys
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants.

Damn my puppy is cute. I don't even mind picking up the toy guts.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

She's got eyes like saucers, oh you think she's a dish

Hey, I just discovered that one of my photos made it to Cute Overload! Teh cool.

Speaking of teh cute, I need to take more pix of Pinky Laverne Del Fuego, because she's grown into quite the goofpuff:

funny little dog
That was a few weeks ago. She's gotten no less goofy since.

In other news, I looked at two houses in Raleigh today, both on Waycross Street. I really like the street, even if it is in Raleigh. It feels semi-rural. In fact, behind one of the houses (the cute one that I probably won't be able to afford) is a goat farm! Yes! And all the little goatses were cavorting and doing goaty things and saying "Mmaaa-aa-aa-a." Very cute. I would really like to live there, even if it is not in Durham. Unfortunately, the house on Waycross that I can afford is not very cute at all, with really low ceilings and a very weird layout. I'm pretty sure that at one point it was a two-room shack that got added onto gradually over the years. I did rather like the window that opened from the dining room into the master bedroom closet, however. It would be nice to know that if I were ever to become accidentally locked in the closet I'd have a way out.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Fight 'em until we can't

Once again I'm sort of bummed that I have the cheap-ass ghetto cable package. No Sci-Fi Channel. Even though I've maligned it somewhat in the past, I'm really ready for more Battlestar Galactica, which starts its final season tonight. I just watched the entertaining eight-minute recap of the first three seasons, which does a good job of skipping all the crap storylines (most of which involved Starbuck and/or Apollo being poor tortured souls ... boring!) and getting me excited about the series again. I guess I'll just have to buy the episodes from iTunes.

In other news, Durham and it's blogosphere are all abuzz over the world-famous Full frame Documentary Film Festival this weekend. Meanwhile, I will be competing in yet another dog agility trial. If you get sick of movies you can come watch crazy people running around a wet field with their dogs.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A lady doesn't wander all over the room and blow on some other guy's dice

I'm very forcefully making myself think/write about something other than what I'm now calling "my situation." So, let the frivolity begin. Yay.

I'm probably the least fashion-conscious person I know. Seriously, my idea of a really sharp outfit is something that has only one hole in it. Nonetheless, a co-worker once told me how awesome Lucky Jeans are. So when I saw a pair of Luckys in my size at Goodwill on Saturday, I grabbed them with alacrity. They fit me perfectly. Retail price: somewhere around $100ish. My price: $3.49.

Anyway, I may not know what looks good, but I do know heinous when I see it, which is why I love Go Fug Yourself and I'm really getting into the Fug Madness 2008. I just voted for Sharon Stone over Courtney Peldon in Round 4, not because I could decide which one has a worse fashion record, but because until I started reading Go Fug Yourself I had no idea who Courtney Peldon was (I still don't have any idea what she is famous for, other than wearing bad clothes.)

Anyway, tomorrow in the "Charo Bracket" is going be a face-off between the two worst fashion disasters EVAR (IMO), and I don't know who to vote for: Chloe Sevigny or Bai Ling. Of course, by the logic I used in the Peldon-Stone match I should vote for Chloe, because prior to perusing GFY I had never heard of Bai Ling. (Should I have? Am I just not paying attention?) But wow! Bai Ling really does wear some jaw-droppingly abominable crap! Still, it's very obvious she's doing it on purpose because, well, what else is she famous for? It's like she's thinking to herself: "Batshit crazy, yes, but you're all looking at me, right? And I'm hot, am I not?" Meanwhile, Chloe Sevigny is supposedly a Serious Actress and she sells herself as one of the Fashionista types by going to all the NY Fashion Week things, even launching her own clothing line. And yet she consistently looks like she's styled by Mr. Magoo. So I'm thinking maybe she needs very badly to win this thing. Am I wrong?

Friday, March 28, 2008

It aint so hard to do if you know how

Every now and then I stop whatever I'm obsessing about just to simply listen to some music. Sometimes the music pleases me greatly, so greatly in fact that I must share it with the world, or at least the one to two dozen people who regularly read this blog. Such is the case with a release from Barbés Records: The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru. Stop what you're doing right now and go listen to it via their web streaming thingamajig. Then you can buy it (if you subscribe to e-music you can make it part of your downloads for the month like I did.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Someone left the cake out in the rain

MegRNC tagged me with a meme last week, and I'm so behind in my blog reading I just discovered it today. But it's a good thing, because I needed a meme to make me stop obsessing about houses.

Anyway, the rules:
  • Post 10 random things about yourself.

  • Choose five people to tag and a reason you chose them and make sure to tell them.

  • Don’t tag the person who tagged you.

I don't think I've ever done this one before, so here are my answers (the rules don't say they have to be interesting random things):
  1. I cheated at Pin The Tail on the Donkey in kindergarten. I could see right through the blindfold. I won a little plastic jack o'lantern.

  2. I worked at a telephone survey lab for a while in grad school at UW-Madison. We had to call people up and ask them questions about things like their health, how much Great Lakes fish they ate, what drugs they took, whether they got sick during the 1993 cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee County, yada yada yada. I was so good at getting people to do the surveys that I became a "refusal converter," which is what we called the interviewers who called back people who had already said no to convince them to participate (the validity of our data depended on a high response rate).

  3. A "safe sex" store opened across from where I once worked, so I dropped in during lunch one day. There was a reporter and a camera crew there, and I consented to doing an interview. I had no idea it would end up being broadcast on CNN. Several people I knew in other states called me up to say they saw me on TV talking about safe sex.

  4. I can't stand sun-dried tomatoes.

  5. When I was little I carried a blanket around with me everywhere. I called it "bankie". My mother said she couldn't get me to give it up for anything, so every time she managed to get it from me long enough to wash it, she'd cut a strip off of it. It kept getting smaller and smaller, until finally I was just carrying around a swatch of blanket. Eventually I guess it just lost its charm.

  6. I think I want to be either a volcanoligist or a dolphin trainer when I grow up. Those were never any of the choices offered when we took those "career lab" quizzes in high school.

  7. I'm not very good at making lists. I get a few items written down and then I can't remember anything else that should go on the list. Then I get distracted by something else and forget to finish the list. Then I lose the piece of paper I wrote the list on.

  8. I love sauerkraut.

  9. In ninth grade we went on a field trip to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, where the food carousel in the cafeteria included little bottles of wine. Some friends and I stole a bunch of wine and went into the bathroom and got drunk. This was years ago ... I think they've long since stopped selling wine there.

  10. Every time someone I know gets a new dog I try to get them to name it "The Shizzle." So far no one has complied.


Now I'm supposed to tag five people, but I don't feel like singling anyone out. Most of the people I know would be like "Aw, man, I don't feel like doing your meme." So hey, five of you, do this meme! But not you, Meg, because no tagbacks allowed. There.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Not having to work makes it Great Friday

Had the to day off yesterday. The Pants Mother came in to town, and in the afternoon we went to look at houses. I think I'm going to stop looking until our house is under contract, because I can't make any offers and if I see something I love I know it's not going to be around by the time I can actually try to buy it. Such was the case with an absolutely awesome house on Gresham Ave., which is my favorite street in Northgate Park. The house was listed on Thursday, and when we got there to see it on Friday there was someone else waiting for their agent in front. It would have been absolutely perfect for me, so of course there was an offer on it by the end of the day.

I saw some other houses that would do. But I don't love them. One of them has a fantastic flat, fenced half-acre lot, but the layout of the house is not-so-great. Another one is adorable with a lovely yard, but it's heated with fuel oil, not natural gas. Also, there's no dishwasher and no place to install one, and I'm a little spoiled--I lived in a house in Chicago with no dishwasher, and it sucked. Still another house is cute in a weird way (it looks like a barn) and it's nice inside, but the lot is mostly a big slope. And one more is a nice house in a fantastic location with a big lot, but they're asking too much (for me, at least).

Then last night we went to see the mariachis at Taqueria Lopez. Sarah blogged it first. Mucho fun. I took photos but I'm too lazy to deal with them right now.

Then today I finally planted pansies in front of my house. Every time my agent came by she'd say "You know, you could put some pansies in those pots." And I'd say I know I can, but so could Mr. Pants ... why do I have to do everything around here? I'm tired and busy. But I decided to go ahead and do it this weekend because what else am I going to do with my mom hanging around? So I figured since I'd be digging I might as well see if I had a statue of St. Joseph lying around, and believe it or not, I did. So I decided to give in to silly superstition and bury him upside down in a flower pot. I don't pray, so instead of a prayer I promised to let him out again once he'd found a buyer for my house.