April 2003 Archives


This batch makes the last of the photos from the Kinetic Sculpture Race. Whew! Then I can write up what's being going on in my actual life for the past few days.

I guess I should explain the photo on the previous page. Pru and I were given noisemakers, but mine was broken. I tried to blow it at Georg standing across the water, but it hardly made a sound and pointed straight down. Some guy came over and asked me to do it again so he could take my picture. I asked for a copy of the photo and he gave me his card so I could email him. It was nice of him to send the photo!

Okay, back to the race. Here's the eyeball people heading through the sand trap. As you can see they had lost their big eyeball. We saw it on a truck at the water obstacle; wish I'd taken a photo of that! Their entry looked a bit forlorn without the eyeball. Georg said he heard someone ask them "Hey, what happened to your eyeball?" to which they replied, "What eyeball?" At least they had a sense of humor about it.

And this is my favorite Shrimptastics getting stuck in the sand. Like I said, a rousing cheer of "We're SHRIMPTASTIC!" accompanied them through every obstacle. Their pit crew, who had to tow them through the sand, had shrimp costumes too.

At this point we decided that everyone was going to go through the sand the same way: get a running start, hit the sand as fast as possible, drive a few feet in (depending on their weight), then get stuck and have to be towed out. So we decided to head up to the mud obstacle. Actually the mud turned out to be exactly the same, except more fun to watch because they were going through a mud pit 18" thick in places.

A few entries had already been through the mud -- when we got to the park, the dragon that Hunter loved was already heading up the hill to the "pagoda climb" (up a steep hill to the pagoda, get a flag to prove they'd made it, then back down and on to the second water obstacle). And we could see another entry getting the mud hosed off when we went down to the sand. But we still got to see most of them go through the mud.

Here's Bumpo getting towed through the mud. As you can see it didn't make it very far on its own power, I guess because of the weight. No one made it all the way through without towing; I heard the mud was thicker this year and that last year a few had actually been able to get through. The Bumpo pilots got mud all over their pretty costumes. Actually that happened to a lot of people. You can see that the woman in purple had lost her shoes in the mud, which also happened to a lot of people. There was a team of mud volunteers (the people in white overalls) who helped with towing and retrieval of objects stuck in the mud. Someone from Bumpo's team retreived her shoes from them.

Like I said, falling in the mud wasn't unusual. These guys also lost the toy bone off the front into the mud. It seemed like the mud was thicker near the building, so the ones that steered towards that area had a particularly bad time of it.

Here's the big dog going through. I think I see the little boy pushing underneath, so maybe they got their "child on board" bonus points after all.

At one point a bunch of dumb kids started running through the mud and jumping in. Three or four did it, until this guy ran too far, jumped into the shallow part and cracked his head open. The ambulance came for him and I heard he only needed a few stitches. However, some guy with a big video camera jumped out in front of me to film the mud-diving kids, which annoyed me greatly. It's kind of weird how people with video cameras act like they have the right to push you out of the way or block your view. Then again, his camera looked professional, and maybe if taking photos or video was my job I'd be pushier about it too. I'd like to think I wouldn't, but maybe I would. Anyway the rude guy must not have gotten his footage, because he tried to coax more kids into cracking their heads too, but no one else was game, so he went away eventually. Yay!

One thing I regret about the mud obstacle is I never got a good photo of an entry at the moment it got stuck. There was always a splash of mud, sometimes a big impressive one. But my timing was always off. In any case, here's the SARS patrol trying to extricate themselves. The smaller, lighter entries generally had an easier time of it. They often end up lifting up their entries and carrying them over the mud. The guy in the blue scrubs got totally stuck and almost fell over. Good thing he had the wall to lean against. It took him a long time to pull himself out.

On the other hand, Alice's Tea Party was huge so required a lot of towing. Alice led the charge, and she looked like she's been pumping iron! You could see her working it. At one point the Queen of Hearts got out of the teapot and started shouting and waving her fists, but I couldn't get a decent photo of her. I really appreciated the theatricality of this group.

I didn't see these guys go through the water, but they were good natured about the mud as you can see. One of Bumpo's pilots came and helped them with towing. After they got out, I heard the guy say, "Remind me why we do this?"

Here's the eyeball people going through. You can see how much mud got all over everything. Everyone had to get hosed off afterwards. We noticed that their pilots stayed on board, and we wondered if they got more points for that.

This guy was watching from the balcony, dropped something and climbed down to retrieve it. He tried to hang from the ledge and reach it (whatever it was) without having to get in the mud, but never was able to reach. The Shrimptastics taunted him about it (they came through while he was climbing down) but eventually one of the mud people gave it to him.

And here are the Shrimptastics giving their customary cheer. In case you hadn't figured it out, they're SHRIMPTASTIC! They had a really hard time getting through the mud. Maybe they were particularly heavy with low clearance? Anyway they needed the mud people to help tow them. In the background of the photo you can see the guy sitting on the ledge, he hadn't gotten his whatever-it-was back yet.

Next came the duck, which also had a hard time getting through. Not so much because of its size, but because most of its pit crew were children (the "ducklings" I mentioned before). The funny thing is, a handful of the ducklings decided to go through with the entry. The duck got towed away but the ducklings were left behind, totally stuck in the mud! It was a hilarious scene watching them trying to pull each other out and falling in again and again.

My last photo of the race was the frog. They did pretty well on the mud; the drivers were big guys & didn't have too much trouble pulling it out. I guess they must have lost a lot of ground on the way to Patterson Park, because I remembered them being earlier into the water.

After everyone went through the mud we decided to head out. It was almost 3 pm, we hadn't eaten anything, and Hunter was getting tired. I must say, she handled the day really well. There was a lot going on and a lot of walking, but she kept her spirits up throughout the day, never got crabby. So anyway, we missed the second water obstacle and the finish line, but we decided at that point that we'd rather have lunch and dry clothes.

On the way back to the car we saw this sculpture in the park. It was in a rough stone circle, with no sign or explanation. Pretty cool thing to find in the middle of a public park.

And that's all of my photos! Whew! Only took me three days to post them.

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Yesterday I said that I don't like having my picture taken. Which is true; I'm either extremely picky or extremely unphotogenic, because I rarely see a photo of myself that I like. So although I've been taking tons of photos lately, and hope to add a photolog to this diary, I don't post photos of myself very often. But for a photo as classy as this one, I'll make an exception.

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Before I forget, here are some photos Georg took that fill in some of the gaps in mine:

Here's the view of AVAM from the hill. The colorful object on the right is a Vollis Simpson whirlygig.

Here's his photo of the eyeball people. His is much clearer than mine because he was better at keeping his lens dry. Too bad that guy was in the way, otherwise this is a great photo.

This is Hunter posing with the dragon. She and Georg walked around for a bit looking at the entries, while Pru and I were out on the pier taking photos. Due to the "bribe" thing, Hunter made out like a bandit. Everyone gave her stuff: candy, cookies, stickers, beads. I think the best thing she got was a cookie from the Alice in Wonderland tea party that said "Eat Me." Georg asked them if it would make her larger or smaller, and they said she'd have to try it and find out!

And here's a surreptitious shot of Pru and Hunter. Hunter is in the pink Hello Kitty jacket and Pru is in brown slacks and a black jacket. You can see me in the background, just to the right of them, standing on the edge of the rocks with my arm up. I don't typically like having my photo taken, so this is about as good as it gets.

Now back to my photos. I think when I left off, Bumpo had just hit the water. As I mentioned before, Bumpo floated amazingly well. However, steering seemed to be a bit of a problem. On the way out into the harbor, they plowed right into the pylon. With some direction from a pit crew member standing on the pier, they were able to back up and go around it.

But then the same thing happened on the way back! I think maybe the person steering was in the back, and couldn't see where they were going? Whatever the problem, they backed up again and made it around the second pylon.

Right before the duck hit the water, we noticed some real ducks swimming around the pier. I tried to get a photo of the real ducks and the kinetic duck, but they swam away.

The duck was very impressive. They were another group to use paddles on the bicycle wheels for propulsion, and just use the oars to steer. Which allowed them to move a lot faster than the ones doing all the work by paddling with oars.

I heard it was a school project. Which would explain the throng of youthful supporters shouting "Fear the Duck!" and making duck noises on kazoos.

Next up was the wedding party. Pru said that they represented the wedding of the Utz potato chip girl and the National Bohemian beer man, two local brands. I'm familiar with Utz, they sell that in Delaware, but I never heard of National Bohemiam before.

The wedding cart had a lot of trouble completing the water obstacle. They took on a lot of water and, I heard, were actually in some danger of sinking. That would have been exciting, but I'm glad they made it.

For sheer attitude, my favorites were the Shrimptastics. It appeared to be a shrimp sandwich, complete with lettuce, tomatoes and shrimp, with "Shrimptastics" emblazoned on the side. The pilots and pit crew all wore the cutest shrimp costumes, and the lead pilot kept screaming "We're SHRIMPTASTIC!" They were so cool.

After they came out of the water, we walked over and got stickers from them. I asked them, "So are you guys, like, shrimptastic? Cause I'm not really clear on that." Which set off a chorus of "SHRIMPTASTIC!" shouts. I think they were art students, there was a sign on the side for an art college.

These guys had an odd entry. When I first saw it, I thought it was a mobile confessional or something. But Alix pointed out that they were wearing surgical masks so it must have been a M*A*S*H unit. We talked to them too, and found out that they had spent, and I quote, "90% of [their] time on working out the engineering, and 1/2 hour at the end building the structure." They said it was supposed to be an ambulance, their name was SARS Patrol and they had planned some clever stuff which didn't work out because of the weather. And the fact that they had spent only a half hour building it. They said they would definitely allow more time for construction next year. Also, they ran the entire course sitting backwards.

Here come the volcano people. You can see the nice big paddles coming off the sides of their wheels in the photo. They (along with the frog) were probably the fastest through the water obstacle. If they had still been smoking, it would have been the coolest thing ever. But it was still pretty darn cool.

This is a shot of the crowd as a whole. Not everyone is in there, some of the entries were up at the top getting ready to move on to Patterson Park. But that's most of them.

We thought everyone was done and we were actually getting ready to go, when we realized that Alice's Tea Party was in the water. I ran back down to the pier and got a couple of decent shots. It was so impressive. They got around the oar problem by having the oars come out holes in the sides, like a Viking ship. And the oars were shaped like teaspoons! I think Georg told me they spent 2 months building it, and I can believe it.

This is the last one we saw in the water. After him it looked like there might have been a straggler or two, but the front of the line was heading out to the next stop, so we jumped back in the car and started following the cones again. At some point the road narrowed so we had to drive in the race lane. I think we were following the frog. It was funny because we were in Undersea Mah Jongg, so people assumed we were part of the show. People waved at us and we waved back, it was just like being in a parade.

Next up: Patterson Park! Sand! Mud! Lots and lots of mud!


OK, when I left off we had just finished watching the start of the race, with the kinetic sculptures heading off at the top of the hill. One problem we had with the race organization was finding out where the race was going. Handing out maps of the parade route would have been good. Georg did manage to track down a list of locations and expected times, but no directions were provided. Apparently there was a full page ad in the local weekly paper that described the parade route in a little more detail, but coming in from out of town we hadn't seen it.

In any case, I thought we would go back to the car, get the list Georg had found, and try to find the next stop. But somehow we ended up following a group of a half-dozen people who had headed off vaguely in the direction the racers had gone. I guess we thought they would lead us to the next stop or something, and we did see the racers a few times, always a couple of blocks ahead of us. But the people we were following were actually going to their house, about a mile from the AVAM. Right around the time the people ahead of us got to their house, we realized that the racers had also turned around and were heading back to the AVAM. I guess the first part of the race was a loop. So we ended up walking about two completely pointless miles. In the pouring rain. While we all discovered the limits on the waterproofing of our jackets and boots.

Finally we got back to the car and got the location of the next stop. Unfortunately, we had no idea where that was! Luckily we were able to follow the orange cones which were set up for the race. After not too long we caught up with the tail end of the race, so at least we knew we were going the right way.

At one point we were driving next to the cones, and a guy inside the parade route leaned out his window, held out a duffel bag to us, and said "Bribe?" Now, apparently there's a rule that bribing judges and spectators is encouraged, so the racers all bring cookies, stickers, candy, whatever to hand out. But we had no idea of this, so we were completely perplexed by this guy trying to give us a bag. The light changed so we headed on, but he caught up with us again at the next light, and this time gave us a different bag, which turned out to be a bag full of thrift store junk. Pru's daughter Hunter was excited about finding a blank compositon book with someone's name written on the front, and there were a pair of stuffed toys that were either shared by Hunter and her sister Logan, or ended up chew toys for their dog Pigeon.

In any case, after much following of cones and driving around hoping we hadn't missed everything, we got to the water obstacle and discovered that it had only just begun. Yay! The first thing we saw was this dragon, which had finished the water when we got there. Hunter was completely in love with the dragon. I wish we had gotten to see more if it, but he was so far in the lead that he was always ahead of us.

When we got down to the water, the beaver man was just coming out. You can see that he turned the pontoons upside down so he'd be higher out of the water. It didn't seem that steep a slope come out, but most of the larger entries had to be helped out.

These photos are really blurry from the water, but I'm including them anyway because they're so much fun. The first entry we saw go into the water was this big doggie. They had already headed out when we got to the starting point, so this was the first time we saw them. They spent a fairly long time here adjusting their flotation and whatnot before going into the water.

And the dog is off! They had to go into the water, paddle around a short pier, and come out the other side. That little boy hung onto the side the whole way around. Georg told me he read that entries got bonus points for having a child on board the whole time. I didn't see if the boy was still there during the mud, so they might not have gotten those points.

Next up was the rat. The rat guy was having a really hard time paddling around the rat head. Steering seemed particularly bad for him; one of his pit crew had to tow him part of the way around the pier. He took it well though, kept smiling all the way around. It was a common problem, we noticed, for the entries that used oars to get through the water. The more successful water entries had paddles attached to their bicycle wheels.

One more photo of the rat. I particularly like the big pink belly.

After the rat came Impossible Dream, the Don Quixote entry. By this time they had lost part of their windmill, and they almost tipped over when they climbed off the bicycles and into the grey containers. But they kept going!

Again I have to apologize for the photo quality. By this time the rain had fogged up my lens protector, but I didn't realize what was happening at first. In any case, this is Hooly Rollers, the folks from Boone. The lady in the front did have her feet down at first, but her boots were way too low and filled up with water immediately. She yelped with surprise and pulled her legs up, ended up resting them on the pontoons as you see. It didn't look all that comfortable but I guess it was better than getting completely soaked!

Here's the froggie, with much better photo quality because clever me finally realized I could take the foggy lens protector off. It makes me really nervous to leave the lens exposed like that, but the lens protector (a UV filter I just leave on all the time) was completely fogged over and I had nothing to clean it with.

The frog really booked around the pier. They used oars to steer and paddles attached to the wheels for propulsion. You can see the wake kicked up by their paddling in the photo here. I think they were one of the fastest ones around.

I've read that at the big kinetic sculpture race in California, the water obstacle is actually across a harbor, not around a pier as they did in Baltimore. In a way, Baltimore's method is more difficult because tight steering is required around that pier. But on the other hand, in CA the water is still part of the race. An entry can gain or lose ground in the water, depending on how well they designed for that part of the race. But in Baltimore, as long as they finish the water at all they stay in the same position as when they got there.

We were really impressed by how well Bumpo floated. You wouldn't think that something so tall would float so well, but it did. They must have put a lot of work into balancing the weight and flotation.

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I'm still kind of new to Movable Type and I can't figure out how to upload all my photos at once. It is making me use the upload window over and over for each photo. I have over 60 to post, so I'm not thrilled about this. Here are the first few to start:

When we got to the starting point, at the American Visionary Art Museum, pretty much all the entries had left already. A volunteer told me that the best vantage point for the beginning of the race was up a steep hill behind the museum. We all started clambering up the hill, and about half-way up I saw the most amazing thing: a row of six people wearing bee costumes, riding bicycles all in a row along the crest of the hill. They looked like the final scene from The Seventh Seal, if that film had been performed by bee people on bicycles. The lighting, the row of people, it was the perfect shot. I scrambled to get out my camera, but by the time I got it out of the bag and turned on, the bee people had almost all moved out of view. It's the one that got away and I will regret missing that shot forever.

Most of my photos from early in the race are crummy, because it was dark and raining pretty hard and I got water on the lens of my camera so there are big blurry spots on the images. I am going out tomorrow to buy a nice lint-free cloth that I will keep in my camera bag. I had nothing to clean the water off the lens. Tried to use a tissue, which was a total disaster. Do you know how much lint comes off a wet tissue? A lot.

Keeping in mind that these photos are blurry from the rain on my lens, here's one of a group called Hoooly Rollers. They're from Boone, and are apparently the first entry ever from North Carolina. I wish I had had a chance to talk to them because they seemed like a lot of fun.

These guys were called "Impossible Dream" and they were, of course, doing Don Quixote. You can't see it in this photo but they have a big lance.

Here are the bee people, minus the surreal Swedish film atmosphere. Note that the woman in front has a beehive hairdo. I never found out what race entry they were with. Maybe they were just along for the ride, not associated with any entry.

These folks were riding alongside the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. I think the woman on the left was a tea bag, and then there's the White Rabbit and Alice in the back. When I took this photo, the tea bag lady was leading a cheer: "Give me a T" T! "Thank you!"

And here's the tea party. It was really impressive to see it on the road. Riding alongside is, I guess he's the Mad Hatter. The Queen of Hearts was riding inside but I didn't see her until much later on.

This is Bumpo, the amazing elephant. There was so much detail on Bumpo, the rug, the braided material used to make his skin, the trunk that moved up and down. I particularly liked the Mahatma Ghandi sitting on Bumpo's back making a peace sign. There was room up there for one of the pilots to sit next to Ghandi. I read on another website that Bumpo was the AVAM's official entry this year.

The massive, multi-person entries are often more impressive, but there's something elegant about the little single-person vehicles. This one was a little dog chasing a bone on a stick. I think the bone was made out of some kind of children's toy. Like Legos but all little sticks that you join to make spaceships and whatnot.

This is the beaver man, who has (I heard) done beaver-related entries for the past three years. This one wasn't very beaver-like at all -- just a beaver hat on his head. It had a small whirly-gig on the back and was dedicated to Vollis Simpson. (Which reminds me that he lives and works really near here and I have got to go out and see his work this summer.)

Fifi rode right in front of us at Artscape (the art car parade) last year, so we were thrilled to see her again. We saw her at the very beginning but not at any of the other stops. I heard later that she only took a short, ceremonial route through the beginning of the race, since Bumpo was the official AVAM entry this year.

This one, Bedlam, isn't a great photo and not that remarkable of an entry either. However, they won the coveted Mediocrity award (came in dead in the middle) so they are noteworthy enough for me to post their photo.

I heard that the volcano had smoke coming out of it at one point, but by the time we saw them the smoke had been put out by the rain. The volcano was really fun close up, they had put little stuffed pink poodles on it, and little tiny monkeys on toothpicks all over the volcano. One of the poodles was right up at the top -- maybe a virgin sacrifice?

These are the eyeball people, one of my favorite entries. This is a horrible photo which I am going to replace with a better one that Georg took. I wish I had had a chance to ask them if their entry was based on the Residents. They seemed to have a good sense of humor. As they were passing us, they turned the eyeball towards us and one of the pilots said "I see you!" When it was time for them to move again, the same guy yelled "Eyes Front!" and they turned the eyeball to the front before moving on.

One thing you can't see in the photo here is that they have a little trailer attached to the back with a couple of kids inside. I didn't see them go through the water but I'm assuming they unhitched the kids for that part. Let's hope so!

And that covers all my photos from the first stage of the race. And it is quite late and I am still very tired. So I will continue tomorrow. Next time: water! Water! And more water! Us trudging through the rain! Giant frogs and rats and duckies paddling around the harbor! It's a shrimptastic water extravaganza!


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We just got back from the Kinetic Sculpture Race. It was an amazingly good time. I have about 200 photos to sort through; will post the good ones here, later tonight I hope. Right now I'm exhausted. We took my car (stick shift) so I did all the driving: 5 hours to MD on Friday, to and from the race on Saturday (plus hours of walking to follow the race), and 5 hours back today. Georg is cooking a nice dinner, I'm going to watch junk TV and go through my photos. Wonder if there's a Soapnet marathon on.


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Today was another long day, but much more effective. The day started at 8, driving out to a meeting with one of my favorite clients. (Technically they're not my client because I subcontract for the company I used to work for. But I still really like them.) They're on the other side of Raleigh, and I had to go to Chapel Hill first to pick up Marc, the programmer, and the meeting lasted 2 hours, so we didn't get back until about 12:30. They have a lot of work coming up. And they are that rarest of creatures, a client who thinks in advance, in an organized fashion, about what they want. So it was a great meeting.

Wednesday is Stoneline day, normally I go over there at 4 or so. But since I was in Chapel Hill already, I went right over there, rather than heading back to Durham and then going back in a couple of hours. I had to do the quarterly payroll taxes, which has become a lot more complicated since we had to start depositing weekly. I was there for four hours, had to stop at the store on my way home so I didn't get back until almost 6. Between driving 100 miles in the morning, and hours of payroll taxes in the afternoon, I'm exhausted. And I still have work to catch up on tonight! But hey, it's billable time so I can't complain.

It looks like my employer may have actually come up with a solution to my tax problem that will not require me to file new tax returns or pay any more money, and isn't even bending the rules. Which puts him pretty high on my list of favorite people. (It looks like it was my bank's fault, but again that doesn't really matter.)

OK, got to get to work. I need to get some stuff done so I have time tomorrow to work on my car. It's actually kind of nice to work on the computer while watching junky TV.


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Whew, what a day. Spent the morning having the front speakers in my car replaced. I had blown them out on a particularly bass-heavy track from that Evolution Control Committee album I was raving about, one of them was making that horrible "brrmmm brmmm brmmm" reverberation. And we're driving up to Maryland this weekend. Not a good time to have a horrible annoying noise coming out of one of the speakers. So, off to Best Buy to get new speakers. At least the installation wasn't that expensive, and while he was at it the guy fixed my radio antenna, which had never worked properly since I'd had the stereo replaced (after the theft last year). Since the stereo had also been installed at Best Buy the guy did it for free. Which was nice of him.

While I was waiting I did some necessary errand-running: a few tubes of E-6000 for my car, a big box of blank CDs, one of those cardboard folders with pockets in it for filing 2003 invoices. Yes, I should have gotten that several months ago, but at least I've got it now. Anyway I was planning to spend the afternoon working on my car, but something of a tax crisis came up that took my attention. I hope it's not too serious but it is very upsetting because I'm having a hard time fugring out exactly what happened. Of course, it doesn't really matter in the eyes of the IRS, it's ultimately my fault as far as they're concerned. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that I'm going to have to file new returns. The only encouraging thing is that I was going to get a huge refund, so I definitely don't owe, and maybe won't have to pay a penalty because of that. I just won't get much of a refund anymore. Argh.

So I managed to get the car cleaned and the inside mostly cleaned out before all this came to a head. I wanted to do some work on the decorations, but I was too upset. All I could manage was replacing a few fish that had fallen off, I couldn't even think about adding anything new. It's funny because I would never try to "do art" in this state of mind, but I thought I would be OK working on the car. But I just couldn't bring myself to. Which I guess goes to show that it really is art.

Anyway I really need to get the car vacuumed before our trip this weekend, and want to get the decorations freshened up as well. Tomorrow's going to be a busy work day, but maybe I'll have time on Thursday.

Sorry to be such a bummer today. I thought about just not posting, but if I only posted when my life was all sunshine and bunny rabbits, this diary would be somewhat dishonest and self-serving. Which is sort of the point of a web diary, I guess.

So this trip. We're going to Maryland to see the Kinetic Sculpture Race. It sounds amazing, I've wanted to see it ever since I heard about it a few years ago. It's a race of human-powered vehicles that have to travel on road, mud, and water. And they have to be sculptures. I gather than they're often essentially bicycle-powered, and when they get to the water they attach paddles and pontoons and just drive right in. The big one is in California and lasts for 3 days. This one is a 1 day event but is pretty big too, I hear. Apparently the pink poodle bicycle that we followed in the Artscape parade is from the Kinetic Sculpture Race.

We're going to stay with Georg's old friend Pru and her husband and two kids. It will be great to see them again. They moved into a new house since the last time I saw them and have a dog now.


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I did my first CMJ top ten list today! Woo, I feel so official! It wasn't nearly as time-consuming as I had expected. I thought I was going to have to go through the individual flow sheets like Alicia, the music director, does. But instead she emailed me her list of all playlist tracks & how often each one had been played. All I had to do was pick out the RPM tracks, log onto the CMJ website and enter them.

She said it was OK for me to include CDs that are being filed in other sections but are actually fairly RPMish. For instance Adrian Sherwood and Bob Holroyd, they're both filed in world but they could just as easily be in RPM. So she said I can count them in my top ten. We weren't sure what to do if there are fewer than ten RPM albums on the playlist, would they take a short list or what. I'll do my best to make sure that never happens.

The list is due by 2 pm Tuesdays, and Alicia does her list late Monday afternoon. So I'm going to try & get in the habit of doing it every Monday evening. If I wait until Tuesday morning I know some weeks I'll get caught up in work and will miss the deadline. I think consistency is important with these lists so I want to find a time when I know I can get it done every week. Looks like Georg is going to do the world top ten list too, so maybe we can do it at the same time & remind each other.

Next I have to start writing to labels. One of them already wrote to me, to ask about the status of a whole list of CDs. I have to admit that was intimidating! I wasn't sure what kind of information he wanted, so I took a copy of the message with me to show Alicia. Apparently he wants to know, have we received the CDs, are they in new releases, are they in heavy rotation. If I can tell him that a particular CD is getting lots of plays, that's good too.

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Know those Snapple ads where they have Snapple bottles with little wigs acting out scenes, usually plots from teen movies? Well I finally saw one I liked: the Snapple jars are running with the bulls at Pamplona, and the bulls are guinea pigs! They put horns on little collars and set the guinea pigs loose. It's hysterical. (We used to have guinea pigs when I was a kid, so I have a fondness for them.)

They announced the new board positions at XDU, so I'm officially RPM music director. Woo hoo! I'm going over tomorrow afternoon to learn how to do CMJ reporting. The idea is that, if we're turning in a weekly RPM top ten list, we'll get more RPM promos. I hear this is a time-consuming job so here's hoping it works.

The powerbook came with Quickbooks so I set that all up. If I can keep up with it, maybe it will make my taxes easier next year. It's not set up for personal bookkeeping but I set all the non-work accounts (groceries etc) to be "not tax related" and I hope that will keep everything straight.

Feel pretty much normal today, thank god no more stomach pains. After being up all night Friday, I was way too tired to stay up for the King of Iron Chef at 10 pm last night. Georg taped it for me to watch today. But first I've got to get some work done. So why am I writing here? Because I'm procrastinating, of course!



Last night I did a class in using the production room at the radio station. It was really fun! He showed us how to use everything, how to record from any input (the CD players, the mic, the minidisc player) into the computer, and how to edit the sounds into a drop and burn them onto CD. I already knew the basics of the equipment because we do new DJ training in there, which I've done a couple of times. But I didn't know anything about how to record into the computer so that was really interesting.

As part of the class we each read a PSA or legal ID, backed it with music, and burned it onto a CD. I read a phony PSA I wrote on the spot for TRACK, Triangle Regional Art Car Klub. Which currently has 2 members (maybe 3) but I'd like to see it have more and be a real club. Or klub. I'm going to put together a web page for TRACK and then submit my PSA to the station.

Mixing the voice and music was a bit more difficult than I had expected, because they don't have multi-track editing software on the computer (yet -- I hear they're looking into it). So instead of importing each sound separately and mixing them in the program, we have to mix them on the fly, using the board, and record it into the computer as one track. So there was a lot of timing and practicing: "okay...start the music...now at 7 seconds in, pot down the music and start the voice...now pot the music back up, then fade down quickly." Which is essentially what we do every week on the air, but it seemed more complicated because we were trying to get it just right for the recording.

The software would let us trim dead air from the beginning and end, shorten the fade, things like that, but we couldn't adjust the voice independant from the music or vice versa. Greg (the production room director) said that we could have simulated multi-track editing by using the two stereo channels, but for the purposes of the class we just recorded everything together. He did let us each keep the minidisc with the voice-only recording in case we wanted to play around with it later.

What I was really hoping to learn was how to record a vinyl LP onto CD, with the songs separated into tracks. Because I have some nice LPs that I would play more often if it didn't involve lugging LPs to the station. He discussed that briefly but we didn't really have time to get into how to actually do it.

I'm going to look into editing software for the Mac, maybe I could record the LPs at the station, burn them onto CD just as one big long track, (or two actually, one for each side) then bring them home and edit them into multiple tracks here. I asked Greg about Mac versions of the software and he didn't know, but he did say that the Mac is a better machine for sound editing. So, yay Apple.

Later last night was not so fun: I didn't get home until about 9, Georg had a nice dinner waiting for me of a chicken breast stuffed with broccoli and baked. I was so hungry that I ate really fast, didn't really stop to chew, and the chicken was a bit dense, even a little hard on the edges from having been baked. And (possibly because of that) it gave me terrible indigestion. Before bed my stomach just hurt a little, but after I'd been asleep for about an hour I woke up with severe stomach pains. I have to admit, I was kind of scared. I'd never had indigestion like that before and I was worried that it was something more serious.

We called the emergency room but they were no help. They said they aren't allowed to give medical advice over the phone, he wouldn't even tell me how much pain would warrant coming in. Which in retrospect, seems perfectly reasonable and probably necessary (what if they told someone over the phone not to come in and then the person died), but at the time I was hoping for more help than that. I didn't want to go until I was sure what th problem was, because if you go to the emergency room but it's not really an emergency, a lot of health plans don't cover it.

I looked up my symptoms on WebMD.com and decided to take some antacids and wait until morning, if the pain was still there I figured I'd go to the urgent care clinic instead. Unfortunately we didn't have any antacids in the house, so poor Georg had to go to the drugstore at 1:30 am to get them for me. They helped enough that I was able to sleep for a couple of hours. Then I sat up playing solitaire on my computer until morning, when I finally could lie down and get some sleep. Now I feel almost fine. Still a little funny in my stomach, but nothing like last night. I'm thinking it was from eating that chicken too fast. I'm going to play it safe and eat soft food for the next day or two.

Now I'm off to watch Spirited Away with a 6 year old friend of mine. We've been planning this for a long time: we wanted to see it in the theater last year, but her mother was concerned that the movie might be too frightening. I saw it with Georg and I have to admit, it has some scary moments. I was scared when Chihiro's parents turn into pigs. They're not cute little Porky Pig type pigs, they're very realistic & it's intense to see the parents transformed into huge, squealing animals, leaving their daughter all alone. So we decided that it would be better to watch it on DVD where we can stop it and talk about it when it gets scary.


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Here's a photo of the computer Victoria bought. I just pushed the old monitor back on my desk and set up the Powerbook in front of it. That way I can still get to the old computer if I need to. I'd like to use the old G4 as a file server & keep this one uncluttered. Maybe I'll set that up over the weekend.

In movie news, I tracked down a copy of Gumnaan, best known as the Bollywood film Enid watches during the opening credits of Ghost World. I found it at Indofilms.com, a South Asian version of Netflix that also sells movies.

Haven't had a chance to watch the whole thing yet, but the DVD has a song index so I checked out all the songs. The one they use in Ghost World is still my favorite song, but there's another dance number in the movie that's actually cooler. It features giant stone statues (they look kinda like tiki heads, except of course that's not Indian) decorated with flashing Christmas lights, with one of the female stars dressed all in red dancing among them. I'd include a screen shot but the Mac makes that extremely difficult to do, for reasons unknown to me.

Anyway I'm looking forward to watching the movie (it's kind of long, as Bollywood films tend to be). I hear it's based on Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians. I'm hoping to get together a Bollywood party to have Indian food and watch the movie, but I've got to watch it first and make sure the disc is OK. I got burned with Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain, the DVD is totally screwed up at the end. So I have no idea how it ends. Not like it matters actually, that movie makes no sense whatsoever and doesn't seem intended to make sense. The narrative is kind of beside the point.

In VTW news, Llewellyn turned down that guy who wanted to put an image from the deck on his demo CD! I am so bummed. I really thought it was cool and since it's not for sale, I don't see why he shouldn't be able to. But what can I do, it's not my decision.

Does it make me a total loser to admit that I like VH1 Classic? It's really, way cooler than regular VH1. For one thing, they actually show music all day. They have a couple of shows that play a lot of obscure 80s songs, even a few things Georg hadn't heard of. And I just saw a promo that featured that song "Emerge" by Fischerspooner, with crudely animated kittens in spacesuits singing the lyrics. For once, a music channel with great promos that aren't a hundred times better than the videos!

[Edited to add that at great personal expense, I figured out how to get screen shots of the movie. I set up the camera in front of the TV, paused on good moments, and snapped away. They're a little blurry but better than nothing.

Here's the woman in red with the flashing light statues.

And here's the dance number that showed up in Ghost World.]

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We've done some major work on freshening up the Stoneline Designs website which I'm rather proud of. We tried to make the site elegant but still relatively easy to use & I hope we achieved that. Stoneline makes beautiful, high end furniture. Mostly corporate, conference tables and so forth, but also residential furniture as well.

They traded me an executive desk for my web work. All their work is custom made, so occasionally they get stuck with a piece & have to just hope that someone else orders the same thing. I think that's where my desk came from. It's far and away the nicest piece of furniture I will ever own. It's just like the desk in the photo except mine has a glass top. But the glass is 3/4" thick, so it looks just as substantial as the stone top in the photo. My friend David commented that he could tell how well-made it was because opening the drawer was so satisfying, it made you want to open it again.

I wish I had more room in my house (and more money) so I could get more stuff from them. They make a console table that I'm just in love with. I actually think the steel furniture is more sophisticated, but it's a bit too sophisticated for me and my little house. Maybe when VTW hits the bestseller list. (yeah, right!)

Here's a photo of my neighbor's tree after he cut the branches down. The utility cables are indeed hanging pretty low, even though he left the one branch that's doing most of the holding up. I think without that branch they'd be on the ground and we'd be parking down by the road. I'm only 5'1" and I'm holding the camera at eye level, so that gives you some idea of how low they are. We can just barely get our cars in and out. I was worried about the cables getting caught on the toys on top of my car, but they just barely clear the car. Whew!

I hope he takes that tree out altogether. It was never a particularly attractive tree but now it's quite hideous. Also, there is a giant spider that builds a humongous web across our driveway every year, between that tree and the bushes on the other side of the driveway. I have to remember to roll up my windows before I pull in every night, so "the evil spider" (as I like to call it) won't get into my car.

Of course I know a spider doesn't live very long, but there must be some kind of instinctive thing about that tree because the same giant spider with the same web is there each summer. Every night we drive right through the web. and the spider puts it back every day. I can't imagine that it catches enough bugs to be worth all that effort. But that's just me, I'm not a spider.

While I was at it, I took a photo of the dogs too. Because, one can never have enough photos of one's dogs. They were at first very excited about my being out in the yard, but this photo was taken as they came to the realization that they were not going to get a walk out of this.

Oh, the cable guy is here to move the cable wire up. I hope the phone company shows up soon, that's the one that's really in danger of blocking the driveway.


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Evolution Control Committee. Plagiarhythm Nation. You must buy this CD. Now!!

Seriously, this album is amazing. It's a serious of sound collages, some full length songs like the infamous and hilarious "Rocked by Rape," all samples of doom n' gloom statements by Dan Rather, and also short snippets like "Breakfast," "Lunch" and "Dinner," each 30-40 second tracks sampling someone naming foods. My favorite is "The Fucking Moon," which purports to be the real first conversation from the moon landing. Mostly consists of stuff like "Jesus H. Christ, Houston, I'm on the fucking moon. Over."

I met one my neighbors yesterday. Kind of sad that I've been living here for years and never met them before. He scared the bejeezus out of me: I heard someone outside yelling "Hello!" and looked out the window but didn't see anyone. I figured it must be someone coming to see the neighbors, because they have people come over much more frequently than we do.

But the yelling continued, so I went into the bathroom where I would have a better view. Just as I pulled open the curtain and leaned forward to look, a hand reached up and started knocking on the window. I swear, I jumped back three feet and screamed out loud. I don't think he heard me, because he kept yelling "Hello!" in the same tone of voice.

He turned out to be a friendly fellow, seemed very good-natured. He just wanted to tell me that he was cutting branches off a big pine tree near my yard, but some of the branches are holding up the cable and phone lines to my house. So he wanted to warn me that the cables might hang low over our driveway, but that the utility companies are coming in the next couple of days to raise the lines, at no cost to either of us.

Later when Georg came home, I heard the neighbor (I think he said his name was Robbie) explaining the situation again to him. The funny thing is, he called me Georg's "old lady"! I actually found that sort of charming in a good old boy way.

The monitor adapter cable didn't work. It was supposed to let me plug the old monitor into the new powerbook, so I could use both monitors side by side. Alas, the old monitor was just a little bit too old. It was ADC so the guy in the Apple store thought it would work, but it didn't. The computer could see that the monitor was there, but the monitor never came on. I called Applecare last night, who told me that the adapter only works with the new flat screen monitors. So I took the adapter back today. They normally charge a restocking fee, but I had cleverly gotten the clerk who sold it to me to promise that I wouldn't have to pay the restocking fee if it didn't work, since he had advised me to buy it. So I got a full refund.

I'm not upset about the monitor anyway, because the screen on the Powerbook has almost the same resoluton. It would have been nice to use both screens, but I feel like I can work with just this one. Besides, the old screen drew a lot of power and probably pumped out a lot of radiation. So maybe it's for the best that I stop using it.

I'm still doing the low carb thing, it's going very well. I thought it would be, you know, bacon and fried eggs all the time but it's not like that at all. It's actually really healthy and I feel good eating this way. That's all I'm going to say about it here, I don't want to bore you all. If anyone wants to hear more feel free to email me.

Got to go now, I've got Buffy night tonight. Been getting together with a couple of friends whenever there's a new episode. They both have Tivo so we always do it at their houses. I'll miss our get-togethers when the show ends. Maybe we can do Angel night next season.


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Just finished my taxes. It wasn't ten hours straight because I took time out to make and eat dinner, but it sure felt like it! They seem to get more complicated every year. This year the new complication was figuring out "cost of goods sold" on schedule C. I am exhausted. Sleep now.


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I must say, I'm absolutely stunned to have gotten comments from two different people already. I thought it would be weeks, maybe months, before anyone realized that I was posting here again.

Yesterday afternoon I interviewed for RPM music director at WXDU. It's basically an assistant to the real music director. I would work on maintaining contact with RPM labels to get us more promos, do the weekly reporting to CMJ, and make sure all the RPM promos that come in are getting reviewed. The interview was fun, very informal. Georg is on the board already, World music director, but he "recused himself" from interviewing me. They don't make their decision until Friday, but I'm the only person who applied for this position, and this morning there was mail addressed to "RPM music director" in my box, so I think it's pretty safe to say I've got the job.

I should also mention here that my show is at a decent human hour now -- 9 to 10:30 Monday mornings (eastern time of course). I like this show a lot and I hope to keep it as long as I don't have an office to go to on Mondays. We are still webcasting, so please listen in if you get a chance at www.wxdu.org.

I've gotten a couple of usage requests for VRT: one for a Tasmanian wine maker who wants to put the Justice card on a label, and one from a Brazilian musician who wants to put the World card on a demo CD. The wine maker had to put the whole project on hold so I'm not sure if he's going to need to image or not, but it looks like the musician is going to get the World image for his CD, since it's only a demo & will be made in limited quantities and not sold, I think they're going to let him use it without a fee. I asked him to send me a copy of the CD.

Now I must do my taxes. Yes, I am the worst procrastinator ever. I used to do them on the evening of the 15th, literally hours before the deadline, but now that I have to fill out all these schedules (self-employment, royalty) that's just cutting it too close.


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Like I mentioned, last week we got our royalty statement for the second half of 2002, and it was enough for me to get this computer. I don't know how Llewellyn feels about our sales figures but I'm ecstatic. I doubt we'll see another payment of this size, from what I understand book sales drop off pretty quickly. But still, I've already earned more from VTW than I ever expected to. And of course the money is only a small part of it. Getting a letter from someone who uses my work in their tarot practice, I can't even describe how that feels.

Okay, enough gushing. In other news, Amazon removed the discount for VTW. They're now charging the list price. This makes it easier for me to compete with them, but on the downside sales on Amazon have dropped. Actually I'm not exactly sure when our sales rank tanked on Amazon, but I'm assuming it was around the time that the price went up. I wonder if they did it because the deck has been out for a year?

Another downer about Amazon, they've added a "sponsored link" section to their page. Between the "look inside the book" and the customer recommendations, there's a section called "Customers interested in VTW may also be interested in:" with links to three external websites, which obviously paid to be there. Only one of them even has anything to do with tarot.

I guess this kind of advertising is inescapable these days, but I'm still disappointed in Amazon. I really appreciated their skill at developing site features that marketed their product and provided added convenience to their customers at the same time. But this is different, it's nothing but a typical ad. At least it's not a popup window.

On the brighter side we have gotten a few more customer reviews on Amazon, all very nice. And they did finally add "look inside the book," which I had been wanting for a long time. I think that really helps a book sell, especially one as visual as VTW.

So have I mentioned how much I love my new computer? It's running the newest Apple OS, Jaguar, which seems really slick so far. And Airport is totally fabu. I'm sitting on the couch watching TV while I write this! Does it get any better? The plan is to plug my keyboard into the laptop and use it at my desk as my regular work computer. Which will be easier on my back than leaning over the coffee table, but for right now I'm too enamoured with the novelty of it all.

Yes, I'm Still Here


Believe it or not, I'm actually posting in my diary again. Not just that, but redesigning the whole thing in Movable Type. Yes, I have succumbed to the shame of friends writing to ask me what the heck happened to me and why I haven't posted here in six months. Actually I've been meaning to do this for a long long time & just needed a kick in the pants. I'm still in the middle of setting up the templates. I'm using their style sheets to a large degree, although the text looks awfully small on my screen. If anyone happens to see this, please let me know how it looks to you.

It's hard to know where to start recapping the past 6 months of my life, much easier to write day-to-day than try to cover such a long period of time. So maybe I'll just pretend I never stopped posting, and write about today. That will be easier.

OK, this morning was the first nice day after a week of cold, dark and rainy. I went to the flea market with my friend Patricia, we had fun walking around for a few hours. To my surprise, I actually found the only thing I needed: a special screwdriver to open my Mac so I could install Airport.

(I should mention that my computer got zapped in a big ice storm last December, and hasn't worked right ever since, but it's my primary work computer now ((here is a good place to say that I went freelance last fall, which is a nice way to say I got laid off.)) so I really need it to be in tip top shape. Luckily we got our twice-yearly royalty statement last week, and to my shock and amazement it was enough to replace my computer. I got a 15" Powerbook, it arrived yesterday and I am in love.)

So anyway, we walked around the flea market for a couple of hours. I got my screwdrivers and also a necklace that I think I can turn into a groovy belt. And I also got a hellacious sunburn on my neck and shoulders. Duh! I wasn't thinking about sunscreen at all. I was supposed to meet a friend at a local club that's doing a Bollywood/Asian Underground night, but I think I'm going to have to miss it. It's too bad, because I love that stuff.

Well that's about all I can think of to say right now. I've been playing around with my camera lately. Here's a photo I took with the remote release my parents got me for my birthday.

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