September 2002 Archives


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Reason #2 why I feel like I'm working in a pre-bust dot com: The programmers down the hall (yes, the same ones who had a Halo tournament in the conference room a couple weeks ago) have bought some extra strong magnets. As in, so strong you could hurt yourself if your finger got stuck between them. So strong they don't like to sell them to the public, and he had to call the company and promise to wear eye protection before they would sell them to him. (Apparently magnets this strong can damage themselves when they snap together, creating metal shards that could get in your eye. Who knew.)

I'm not sure exactly why he wanted these magnets. Just to play with, I suspect. He built this freaky apparatus that's basically a tube with a magnet on each end, and another, loose one in the middle. By quickly removing shielding from the magnets on the end, he can make the one in the middle bounce up and down in the tube. I have no idea what it's for, but it certainly is neat to watch. Also the tube is made out of a bong. No, he didn't have one lying around. He went and bought one just for this purpose, because it was the only thing he could find that was the right shape, clear, and sturdy enough.

The magnets are short cynlinders. I was thinking they were about as wide as a can of soup, but looking again they're more like the size of a can of deviled ham. Mmmmm, deviled ham. He padded them (after catching a finger between them, ouch) and attached strings that make them a little easier to work with. The strings led to a pastime I'm calling "wacky magnet fun":

Hang one of the magnets from the handle of their office door. Hang the other from another door that's close by. Bring the magnets together, but use doorstops (or two programmers) to hold the doors apart. The magnetic field is strong enough to hold them up, even several inches apart. Now you can poke the magnets, put your hand between them, even move one up or down and watch the other move accordingly. It's wacky magnet fun!

I took a few photos this afternoon:

Here's the apparatus for making the magnet slide up and down.

Here's the wacky magnets on the door.

Another wacky magnet photo.


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Frank Jensen's review of VTW was published in the International Playing Card Society journal! I just got my sample copies. I'm so thrilled! It's a great review and they printed four card images. I will post the text of the review on the site when I get home later today.

In other news, I think Georg has superhuman patience. He was too tired to watch the Sopranos with me last night. (We had missed it on Sunday because, of course, the VCR isn't recording yet.) This morning I asked if he wanted to know anything about the episode, and he said no! He'd rather wait until he can see it himself!

If the situations were reversed, I would have said "hell yeah! Drive me to work so you can retell the entire episode on the way!" But then again, I find spoilers a nearly irresitable temptation, which Georg really doesn't. (For example I'm struggling to avoid Buffy spoilers until the season premiere next week. Last season I read tons of spoilers and it really did ruin the fun.) So I guess it's no surprise that he would have such an easier time of waiting to find out what happens.

The bright side of having a VCR that at least plays, even though it doesn't record, is that I can start catching up on older and/or obscure videos again. The stuff that's been sitting around forever at the video store, that will probably never be converted to DVD.


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Today I had lunch with an old friend I hadn't seen in five years. Which was really wonderful, and made me realize how sorry I am that he moved away. I mean, I suppose he has a right to, you know, have his own life and all. But still! Things would be so much nicer if he had just stayed here where we could have nice talks like that any time we wanted. I don't make new friends all that easily, so it's always a real blow when a good friend moves away. I still don't think I've recovered from another friend moving to Texas two years ago. I keep wanting to call her about a new movie and then remembering that I can't, she's in Austin.

Anyway, my friend mentioned that he had read my web site to catch up on my life. Which reminded me that I hadn't written here in almost a week.

So what's up. First of all, I finally got through to the vet. She said that the really bad reaction to Rimadyl is rarer than I had thought. Still, she understood why I would be concerned. And she agreed wholeheartedly that I should not give it to Thirteen every day, but only when she needs it. She suggested I treat it like an older human would treat aspirin -- take it only on stiff days. I really like this vet.

Thirteen seems to be doing OK. We are walking almost every day. I haven't noticed her limping at all, although she does slow down after a particular long walk. On Saturday we went to the Eno park and I'm afraid we overdid it. Thirteen loves the water so I walked them all the way down to the river. Unfortunately the riverbed is down pretty low. Which meant we had to walk up a steep hill to get back to the car. Poor Thirteen was so wiped out. I actually thought about carrying her up the hill. Decided against it for 3 reasons:

1. she weighs 55 pounds, I can barely carry her to the bathtub;

2. she's a nervous dog and being lifted freaks her out;

3. she had been wading in the muck at the edge of the river and she was disgusting.

I had my first 5-8 am show this past Saturday at the radio station. I'm really going to miss getting phone calls and requests, but at least the people on before and after me are nice. Being up that early wasn't that bad, mostly because I could lie around all day doing nothing. I tried to take a nap after getting back from our walk in the park. In fact I did doze off on the couch, but waking up enough to turn off the TV and get a blanket woke me up too much, so I wasn't able to get back to sleep. I should have just left the TV on and let myself fall asleep.

We actually went out to parties on Saturday and Sunday nights, which is really rare for us. Sunday afternoon we bought a new VCR so we could tape the Sopranos season premiere. The old VCR had been broken since we got the DVD player, but it never seemed that important because, well, we had a DVD player now.

So anyway, we got a new VCR -- really cheap by the way, I guess no one wants VCRs anymore -- and we got it all set up to play tapes, but we couldn't get it to record from the TV! It doesn't get the signal from the cable. We have no idea what's wrong. The cables seem to be plugged in properly -- "RF Out" on the cable box goes to "RF In" on the VCR -- and we checked to make sure it was on the right channel. It simply doesn't work. It's so frustrating!

Well, at least we can watch videotapes now. I have tons of classic movies taped off TCM, it will be nice to watch them again.

In other news, my friend that I had lunch with today gave me a tripod! I'm not an expert, but it looks like a nice one. It looks well used and also well kept. Missing one of the rubber feet, but otherwise seems to be in perfect working order. It has a nice pan-and-tilt head with degree markings, and it seems a bit sturdier than the one I bought. (I used to rest my left hand on the other tripod and pull down, to stabilize it, but I don't think I'll need to do that with this one.) I'm not sure who made it, but it has "PRO Line" written on it. Vivitar makes a series of tripods called "Pro Line" but I looked at their website and I don't think that's what this is. I'll take a picture of the new tripod when I get a chance. That was so generous! I am going to get a lot of use out of it.


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On Sunday night I was searching for a low-cost source for Thirteen's arthritis drug Rimadyl. Stumbled onto the Senior Dog Project, a website that documents some rather disturbing side effects. Apparently .2% (that's 2 in a thousand) dogs on the drug suffer a toxic reaction which can include kidney or liver failure. Apparently, once the toxic reaction starts, the dog can die within a day or two.

Let's see, minor arthritis pain vs. sudden death? I'm not so sure the risk outweighs the benefits. I took her off Rimadyl immediately. She's missed two doses and she seems fine, no less active than when she was on it. I'd like to see if with glucosamine and daily exercise, she can stay OK without the drug.

I called the vet yesterday morning, and played phone tag with her all day. I want to talk to her about this & see if she agrees that it's OK to keep her off Rimadyl, or if I should try a reduced dose, or what.

I don't want to get all in her face, but I would like to know why she didn't warn me about these side effects. I guess she could say that she gave me the insert from Pfizer and it was up to me to read it. Which is true, it's ultimately my responsibility. But still, if she had just told me that there is a rare but dangerous side effect, and I need to closely monitor Thirteen's eating and drinking habits as long as she's on the drug, I would feel a lot more comfortable. As it is, if I hadn't stumbled onto that website, Thirteen might have had the toxic reaction and I would have had no idea until it was too late.

In happier news, I took them to the Duke Gardens for their daily walk yesterday. It was a lot of walking for Thirteen, she was dragging by the end, but she seemed okay in the evening, not sore or stiff. There aren't a lot of people in the Duke Gardens on a weekday morning. Mostly gardeners who look like volunteers, and older people. Very fit older people. People who look so good, I will be lucky to be in half that good shape when I'm half their age.

In the afternoon I ended up subbing for the 4 to 6 DJ at WXDU. Which was nice because the new schedule had gone up so fast, I hadn't felt like I had gotten to say goodbye to Mondays. I didn't get to see the DJs I used to follow and precede but still, it was nice to have one last Monday show.

Also I got an awesome phone call. I had been playing some jazz & lounge stuff -- Johnny Hartman, Montefiori Cocktail, and this awesome new CD by Les Hommes -- and this guy called, all excited about the music I was playing. He was beside himself when he found out that I knew who Les Baxter was. He asked for something from Baxter's "Ritual of the Savage," which I could not find because I foolishly looked for Baxter in jazz, though he is actually filed in rock. Silly me! However I did know of a lounge compilation with some Baxter, so I was able to fulfill the request anyway.

The guy also mentioned a band called "Space Pop." He said they were the originators of space sounds in 50's lounge music. I've been looking for them online and I can't find any mention of them. Though I did find a web site devoted to a genre called "Space Age Pop." So maybe I misunderstood the caller. He said that he normally only listened to XDU in the morning on the way to work, but that he would try to listen more often. (Which is insanely flattering.) I recommended that he check out Divaville, the Thursday night jazz vocalist show. My friend Christa who does Divaville knows just about everything about 40s, 50s and 60s jazz. Coincidentally, I'm subbing Divaville this week, so I'm going to focus on lounge-exotica in case he listens.


Trivia fact of the day: On September 2, 1752, Britain converted from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. Which conversion necessitated losing 11 days, as they skipped ahead to catch up. You will not find any 250-year anniversaries in British history between now and Sept 14, because those days didn't exist 250 years ago.

Here's a fascinating, if brief, article about the conversion, including riots with the rallying cry "Give us back our eleven days," from simple folk who thought 11 days had somehow been stolen from their lives. Which reminds me of a quote (which I unfortuantely cannot cite) from an Alabama farmer opposed to daylight savings time, on the grounds that the extra hour of sunlight would hurt his tomatoes.


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We started Thirteen on her exercise regimen yesterday. We took a walk around the block, which totally wore her out. But it's a big block! This morning we just went up one street and back the same way, rather than going all the way around. She still looked tired by the time we got home, but she seems much more lively now. So I think tomorrow we'll try the whole block again.

On Friday night we went to see an excellent band called Tarmak. They had been described to me as a cross between Portishead and Luscious Jackson. They did remind me a lot of Portishead, though I didn't really see the connection to Luscious Jackson. Except that Tarmak's lead singer kind of looks like the singer from Luscious Jackson. Maybe that was what he meant.

It was a mostly electronic band: along with the singer they had drums, a guy who played turntables and sometimes guitar, a woman on electronic bass (let me tell you, that was cool looking) who also sang, and a guy mixing.

They performed at a mostly-outdoor coffeeshop in Chapel Hill called Caffe Driade. It was a wonderful environment, with tables set up, lit by candleight, around an outdoor stage (really just a small platform). There were trees hanging over the stage and the band had aimed their floodlights up at the low-hanging branches, so it really looked beautiful.

I got there early, because I don't go to many shows so I took the 8 pm start time literally. (Silly me!) So I arrived a few minutes after 8 worried that I'd be late. Actually I had about half an hour to get some tea, and decide where I wanted to sit (only one other table was occupied when I got there). Luckily I had brought reading material -- excellent Tarot essays-in-progress, written by a friend of mine. It was such an idyllic setting, under the trees, sipping my tea, reading a new perspective on Tarot and watching the band set up, I found myself thinking, "whose life is this? I hope they don't want it back!"

The funniest moment of the evening was when a woman walked up to the merchandise table, looked over the CDs, and actually interrupted the turntable guy while he was playing to ask if she could buy a CD. It was just the beginning of the song so he stopped and talked to her, and then the singer came over and sold her the CD. I guess they just dragged out the opening of the song until the singer got back to the mic. Or maybe the opening was long enough anyway. Georg and I were sitting right by the merchandise table so we saw the whole thing. It was really hard not to laugh at her out loud.

I was kicking myself all night for not bringing my camera to the show. I was sitting right up front so I could have gotten some great photos. I could have rested the camera on the table, so I wouldn't have looked all geeky with the tripod. What's worst, I had just taken the camera out of my car earlier that day, because I was worried about it getting stolen. I guess it's a sign that if I want to capture moments like that, I need to start taking the camera with me everywhere. It would be safe in the trunk.


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As of today, WXDU's webstream is officially off-line, at the request of Duke University legal counsel. Apparently someone from the station's board is negotiating to try and convince them to allow us to turn the webcast back on, at least for the time being. But in the meantime, it's off, and if the Internet Radio Fairness Act doesn't pass, that could well be permanent.

On a related note, everyone who cares has probably read this already, but Janis Ian posted an excellent article on the issue of MP3 downloads to her website. I hadn't seen this article until today, and I'm really impressed with what she has to say. You hear a lot from the RIAA about how file sharing is destroying their industry, and they have to protect the artists from all this rampant theft. It's nice to find out what one of the artists in question thinks about it.

I got a handful of CDs to review from a label I had written to. Which is really cool of them to send so much stuff. The weird thing is that some of the discs are just CDRs with the album's name written on it. No packaging, not even a track list. I'm grooving on the CDs but I need more information to review them. I tried to look them up on Amazon but they aren't listed there yet. Found one of them ("Club Privé") on, so at least I can get a track listing. But the other, I have no idea. I think I'll write back and tell her I can't recommend them for the playlist without more information like a track list, preferably the packaging too.

Another thing they sent is called "Nirvana Lounge 2" by Claude Challe. He did Buddha Bar, which I love. This one is a lot like Buddha Bar: a 2 CD set, the second disc being excellent world beat dance music, and the first being totally forgettable, kind of new-agey, vaguely ethnic brunch music. (I actually took Disc 2 from Buddha Bar and put it in a smaller box, and put away the original box with Disc 1 in it, never to be seen or heard from again). I'm wondering if I can review them separately. Because Disc 2 belongs on the playlist but Disc 1 doesn't.


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On Monday I drove down to Charlotte to be in a parade. They have started a new arts festival called Shout! and the parade was the opening of the festival. It was a lot of fun, though it would have been better if Georg had been there (he was sick and had to stay home). I haven't written my trip report yet but I did post a few photos.

Thirteen is at the vet today. She's developed a problem with her left back leg. On Saturday we noticed that sometimes she had trouble getting up -- her leg seemed to give out when she tried to stand up. I called the vet that day, but they couldn't take her until today. Then in the meantime she started limping, only a little most of the time but a really bad limp if she had been lying down for a while. They say they're going to do an X-ray. I was telling someone at work about it yesterday, and said "I'm worried she has --" hip displasia was how I was planning to finish that sentence, but he cut in with "--a tumor." I really, really wish he hadn't said that. It hadn't even occurred to me to worry about a tumor, but I've thought about it plenty in the past day.

In other good news, the new schedule at the radio station was posted. I got a really horrible show -- 5 to 8 on Saturday morning. I have to admit I'm pretty extremely bummed about it. I loved Monday mornings so much. I even wrote a note on my grid, begging to stay in that time. I had heard that they give better shows to people who help out, and I really thought I had earned enough brownie points to stay in a good time. But I didn't realize how much tighter the schedule is during the school year. Maybe they're giving preferential treatment to students. Which I couldn't really fault. After all, it is a student organization, funded by the university.

I'm trying to look at the bright side, think of the positives of losing a daytime show and going back to pre-dawn:

--an hour of "safe harbor": before 6 I'm able to play indecencies. You'd be surprised how many good songs happen to have a four-letter word in them.

--since it's the weekend I can take a nap after my show, rather than staggering through a workday like I did all spring.

--it's a good time to listen in Europe. Which of course will be irrelevant in October when the DMCA takes effect and we shut down our web stream, but in the meantime I can invite my multitudinous -- ah, that would be 1 -- European friend to listen. Except that she only has net access at work. Oh well, so much for that.

--I never had much social life on Friday nights anyway.

--all those pesky phone calls and requests just break your stride, but at that time I'll never have to answer the phone.

--since no one I know will hear my show -- heck, no one will hear it -- I won't have to worry about correct pronunciation or fumbling with PSAs.

charlotte shout

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The Charlotte Shout festival was a blast! It was the Charlotte labor day parade, the art cars were the entry for the Arts & Science Council. They treated us really well, the parade was fun, the other drivers were great, all the people I met were really nice. I finally got to meet Dave and Irene Major, who drive the Aerocar, and see the famous Stink Bug. It would have been a perfect day if Georg hadn't been sick and had to stay home.

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