May 2003 Archives

strangest thing i have found

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Strangest thing I have found while house cleaning: A long, stretched out blob of sort of clear, sort of white waxy stuff hanging from a wire basket.

It actually kind of looked like a translucent slug, which grossed me out to no end. But I poked it with a stick (a pencil actually) and it was inert. So I picked it up, determined that it was indeed some kind of hard waxy substance, shrugged and threw it away.

A couple of hours later I found the source of the weird waxy blob. See, a couple of years ago I had bought a couple of those devotional candles in tall glass jars. You know, the kind that usually have pictures of saints on them, but these were blank. I think I was going to paste VTW images on the side and give them as gifts, but I never got around to it.

Eventually they ended up stored on a shelf, on their sides to save space. Well, the wax inside these candles was so cheap that it softened and spilled out. It doesn't look like the wax ever fully melted to a liquid state; just slowly gooshed out in this big viscous waxy blob. We don't run the a/c much in the summertime but I didn't think it got that hot. The candles actually looked really cool with half the wax hanging out like that. I wish I had taken a photo, but I was in full-on cleaning mode so I just threw them out.

Coolest thing I have found while house cleaning: The manual to my sewing machine.

Really, this is an amazing thing to find. Because I love my sewing machine (it's a Viking 400). I bought it at a floor model sale about 8 years ago and it has served me faithfully ever since. However, I only use a tiny fraction of its capabilities, and I don't remember how to do most of the other features. Without the manual I would never have been able to use the complicated stitches. Heck, I couldn't even remember how to adjust the thread tension. Since they don't make this machine any more, extra manuals are hard to come by. I saw one once on Ebay for $40, and the auction wasn't even close to over yet. So you can understand how heartbroken I was when I realized I had lost the manual. And how happy I am to find it again.

Speaking of sewing, I'm working on an outfit right now that's causing some frustration. It's one of the vintage patterns that I got from Ebay. The instructions on the outside of the package weren't real clear, so I didn't realize the dress was supposed to be lined until after I started working. At first I figured I would just skip the lining, but then I got a little further along and discovered that one part of the dress wouldn't hold together without the lining.

OK, no big deal. I took apart what I had already done and found some old scrap fabric that would work for the lining. Figured I would just line that one piece. And yes, I did read the rest of the instructions to make sure the lining wasn't essential anywhere else.

I didn't get back to work on it until the next day. When, after sewing a few more pieces together, I decide that it just isn't going to look right if it's only partially lined. The lined piece will hang differently from the rest, the rest of it will wrinkle faster (it's linen), I'll never be happy if I leave it like this.

Heavy sigh, a bit more swearing, and I end up spending most of the day yesterday taking my work apart again, cutting out and edging the lining for the rest of the pieces. At least there was enough of that scrap fabric to line the whole thing, so I didn't have to buy more fabric. And that's where I am now, just about to get started on this dress for the third time. After all this, I hope it at least looks good when I'm finished.

Here's a photo of the pattern by the way. I'm making the second from the left (with short sleeves and top-stitching) in light green linen. I really like the back belt; I've never seen a pattern like it before.


A couple of days ago I heard a story on NPR about the guy who selected the soundtrack music for Austin Powers, American Beauty, and that new Rock Hudson/Doris Day knockoff, which I can't remember the name of. You know, the one starring Ewan MacGregor (looking a bit like Cary Grant) and Reese Witherspoon (looking like Doris Day in an advanced stage of starvation, who had just eaten something really sour. Reese Witherspoon always looks to me like she just ate a lemon or smelled something bad or just stopped crying. Her face is all scrunched up).

Anyway, the music guy on NPR. They spent a long time talking about how he had chosen Quincy Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova" for Austin Powers, and how it had become sort of the theme song for the movie. And I have to say, it was a brilliant musical selection, and I hope Jones made a whole lot of money, but I really can't forgive them for using that track. Because I used to love "Soul Bossa Nova." And I equally loved the Dream Warriors' "My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style," a sparkly, fun hip-hop track that heavily samples "Soul Bossa Nova."

But the track is now so overwhelmingly associated with Austin Powers that I can't listen to the original (or the Dream Warriors' earlier appropriation) the way I used to. Now I mainly hear "the Austin Powers song." Which, Austin Powers was a fun movie and all, but that's not the only thing I want to be thinking of when I hear to the song. I guess that music guy did his job too well.

Yesterday was the first full day without rain since .. well I can't remember when. Weeks I think. The sun even came out for a while. I celebrated by going shoe shopping with a friend. Didn't buy any shoes but did buy some work clothes, since all my work clothes are for cooler weather. And it is possible that I might have to schedule a work-related meeting before fall rolls around again.

Anyway it was a good thing that we had a nice day yesterday. Because it's raining again now.

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Had a doctor's appointment last night, to have him look at a lump I had recently noticed in my arm. I'm not actually sure how long it's been there, as my arms used to have a bit more padding than they do now. But I noticed it about six weeks ago.

I didn't expect the lump to be a big deal & going to the doctor was mostly a precaution. Now that she's gotten old, Thirteen has these "fatty tumors" all over and the vet says they're completely harmless. So I figured mine was probably something like that, and my doctor pretty much agreed. He measured it (2 cm diameter) and told me to check it once a month and come back if it ever changes.

To be honest, I kind of felt like the appointment was a waste of time. Especially since I had to wait 40 minutes. They said it would be 10, and then they wouldn't let me leave the examining room to use the bathroom or make a phone call, since "the doctor might be there any minute." 40 minutes later I'm sitting there reading Parenting magazine because they had nothing else. Remind me never to schedule an evening appointment there again, or at least to bring a book. At least I didn't have to get undressed because he was just looking at my arm. Also, this was the first time I'd seen him since my cholesterol tests came back, and he told me the results were "amazing." Which was nice to hear but on the other hand, it's kind of sad that a doctor is amazed by healthy cholesterol levels. Maybe he just used that word to make me feel good.

The introduction of the Ikea furniture into the house has sparked a frenzy of cleaning and reorganizing. Georg did a ton of work while I was away, and now I'm trying to do my share. There's a lot to be done but we're whittling away at the mess faster than I had expected. Last night a couple of friends came over unexpectedly, and I actually wasn't embarrassed to let them in and show them the new stuff. That's a bizarre feeling.

We are having a problem with the sewing table though. I have this old sewing table, the kind that's supposed to have a machine inside it, but I always used to just sit my machine on top since it didn't fit inside. Now we have the stereo on the sewing table, so I had been setting up the sewing machine on the dining table. Which was a nice arrangement, lots of room to work, except that the entire dining room would be full of sewing stuff until my project was done, which could take days. Or even longer if I got distracted in the middle of a project, which has been known to happen. Georg had the idea of putting the sewing machine on the drafting table. Which looked like it would work great, except that 1. the drafting table is too high, and 2. it's not that sturdy so it shakes while the machine is in use. Which is a bit distracting. So now we're looking at sewing tables.

I hear that The Matrix Reloaded has been getting some negative press, and I have to admit I can't join the hate train. Sure, it didn't blow me away like the first one did. But I wasn't expecting that. When I saw the first one, I knew nothing about it. All the stuff about virtual reality was a total surprise (Which is sadly rare, considering the nature of movie marketing). There was no way the second one could have surprised me like that.

What I was mainly hoping for was enjoyable special effects, and it provided plenty of that. I only had two quarrels with Reloaded, both pretty minor: first, some of the fight scenes looked way too CGI for my taste. Maybe I've seen too many HK movies, but I actually like wire work. I like when you can see that those are actual people, even if they are on wires. But when everyone in a scene is completely CGI, you aren't seeing any actors at all, it starts to look like a computer game. I realize that some of the fight scenes in Reloaded would have been impossible without CGI, but that doesn't make me like the look of it any better.

Second, the ending. (Don't read this paragraph if you're planning to see the movie.) I have to say I felt let down by the ending. I'm sure it's difficult to do an ending that isn't really an ending at all, but still has some feeling of closure. But not impossible; Empire Strikes Back did a good job of it. But the cliff-hanger ending of Reloaded was so jarring, I half expected to hear a narrator say "Tune in next November! Same bat time, same bat channel!" It was really that corny.

So anyway, minor complaints aside I did enjoy Reloaded quite a bit. Which may have had something to do with the setting -- I went with a whole group of friends to a late night sneak preview in a packed theater. Fun movies are always more fun when you're surrounded by people who are also enjoying them. And we even managed to get decent seats, and the people around us were even relatively good about not talking during the movie.

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Have I mentioned that our hot water heater isn't working? Well, our hot water heater isn't working. A couple of days before I left for DE, the hot water suddenly got very very hot. Then the next day, there was no hot water at all. Which sounds to me like maybe the thermostat.

Well we had been talking about getting an instant water heater last summer when we had the bathroom redone, but we couldn't swing it at the time because the bathroom ended up costing so much more than we had expected. So we decided that now is the time. It wouldn't make any sense to replace or repair the old heater when we really want the tankless heater.

The only problem is, the day I got back I called our plumber that we worked with before, and he was on another project for two weeks. Which really upset me at first, but when you think about it, since we have to schedule the gas company and the electrician, it probably would have taken almost that long even if he was available immediately.

He suggested that we repair the old heater in the meantime, but I think we're just going to tough it out. Rather than cold showers we've been heating water on the stove and filling the bathroom sink. Which is much less horrible than it sounds, especially now that it's warm again. The only cold water I have to use is to rinse my hair.

Today I got the Ikea dining table and sideboard put together. Here's a photo. It looks pretty good I think, so what if it's MDF and fake wood veneer. The table legs are real wood, it's just the top that's fake. We've suddenly gone from cramming all our dishes on top of each other, to having room to spare. Clearly we need more dishes!



Went home to see my folks last weekend, which meant that I couldn't post while I was there, and didn't have time to post before I left, and after I got back I was swamped with work so I didn't have time to post until today. But here I am finally.

I had a really nice time with the folks. Didn't "do" a whole lot except go out to lunch with different people every day. Mostly we just hung out, which is the best kind of visit. I also spent an afternoon doing girly things with my sister (shopping for skin care products and putting on makeup) which was way more fun than it ought to be.

On the way back I stopped at Ikea to do some furniture shopping. It's right on the way, you can see the building from I-95. I had never been to one before so I ended up spending 5 hours there. I guess I managed to restrain myself pretty well because I didn't buy anything I hadn't intended to. Which was a heck of a lot. In fact I had rented an SUV and it still didn't all fit. They had to strap the dining table to the roof. (In my defense I will say it was a small SUV, a Mitsubishi Outlander, so no wonder the table didn't fit). Which was a bit scary driving though rush hour traffic in DC, but I made it back fine.

The car didn't though; somewhere along the way a stone hit the windshield and knocked a chip out of it. And of course, I hadn't bought the insurance for the rental. Which was infuriating at first but really, there was nothing I could have done to avoid it. So what's the point of getting all worked up.

I guess that weighing the cost of the repair against the cost of insurance I didn't buy for every car I've ever rented, I still came out ahead. At least that's how I'm trying to look at it. I didn't tell the rental company, and they didn't say anything. So I guess I'll find out when I get the bill on my credit card statement.

Anyway, Ikea. I wanted to take a bunch of photos for Georg, but I only got about a half dozen before an employee saw me and made me stop. He seemed kind of agitated and I was afraid at first he was going to make me delete the photos from my camera. Which I don't actually know how to do without the manual, because I always use a card reader and then iPhoto deletes them automatically. But the guy was satisfied with me putting away the camera, and a fair amount of scolding about "proprietary information" and whatnot.

One scolding wouldn't have stopped me, but every time I wanted to take more photos, there were employees standing around right there. I wanted to bring Georg back a whole little tour of my Ikea experience but I actually only got the first hour or so. But I did get a couple of decent shots. So being the model citizen that I am, what else could I do with my ill-gotten photos but post them on the Internet?

Here's the entrance to the store. This photo was taken standing next to the car. I got there early (actually a couple of minutes before they opened) so I parked really close. Although there were a lot more people there than I had expected first thing on a Tuesday morning.

This is a pretty crummy photo, but since I only got a few I'm posting them all. When you walk in the door, you can go straight ahead to the "marketplace," where they sell linens, lighting and etc., or go up the stairs to the showroom. I took this photo standing at the top of the stairs looking down at the "marketplace" area. They had that cute display of outdoor furniture, but I didn't see much nice outdoor stuff actually for sale. Which was too bad because I was hoping to get some chairs & a table for our porch.

And this is the entrance to the showroom. The place is so big they had big arrows on the ground to direct you. That bin full of yellow things is big shopping bags. Which seem kind of pointless for the showroom area, almost everything you would want to put in a shopping bag is downstairs.

I liked that flat cabinet next to the TV in this one. I think it was CD and videotape storage. Which is an issue for us. Although, wall space is too, so I'm not sure where we could put that cabinet.

Here I guess I wanted to show Georg these cabinets. They're cheap-ass plastic (I mean duh, we are talking about Ikea) but really inexpensive. I wonder how hard they are to mount on a wall.

Georg has been looking for a small computer workstation with decent storage, so I wanted him to see this one. Although now that I look at the photo, I wonder where your legs are supposed to go when you use it. It's a moot point anyway because he had picked out a desk from the catalog and I got him that one. See if I had one of those camera phones, I could have sent him pictures of all the desks (lots of them weren't in the catalog) and then he could have picked the best one. Unless that pesky employee had showed up and made me stop taking photos.

As I mentioned above, CD storage has become an issue for us. So I was interested in these wall mounted CD racks. They're just translucent plastic but they mounted them over orange paper to give them this interesting color. We had already picked out a style of CD tower to buy, but each rack holds 51 CDs and only cost $4. So I bought two. (There are 13 racks on the wall in this photo.)

This is the dining table we had picked out from the catalog. It has matching chairs and a china cabinet, which weren't in the catalog I don't think so that's why I took this photo. I really liked the shape of this table, but when I got up close I realized that the "beech veneer finish" or whatever they call it looked really fake. Something about the color. I mean, it looked FAKE. Besides, I opened up the leaves and discovered that if you wanted to seat 6 people, the legs would be placed really inconveniently.

Since the leaves were somewhat problematic and the color was really off-putting, I ended up getting a different table. The one I got was round and had two leaves, that go in the middle to make a short or long oval. The legs stay on the outside so they aren't in anyone's way. It's still fake "veneer finish," but this one is fake birch, which somehow looks less cheap & phony to my eye than the fake beech. Besides, a lot of our furniture is light wood so the fake birch will match better. And the sideboard I got is in the same finish. I'll take photos of the table and sideboard I bought as soon as we get them assembled.

These bathroom cabinets are so narrow they could go behind a door. Our bathroom is severely tiny so these might work out well for us. On the other hand, I'm not sure what you could keep inside such a tiny cabinet. If it's deep enough for a roll of toilet paper, I guess that would be a help.

Our bedroom is really dark, so I was looking for bedroom lighting ideas. I thought this was great, with the lighting under the shelves. Plus special bonus, the bedspread matches a rug in the living room of a friend of mine, that I've been admiring for years. So that made the room display more appealing, so see L's rug design on the bed.

This bedroom display was OK, but didn't grab me as much as the one before. It's hard to see in the photo, but those lamps are flat with a big round bulge in the middle where the bulb goes. The lights are kind of bright, but I guess you could put softer bulbs in. They sell compact fluorescent light bulbs at Ikea for really, really cheap, so I bought several. Which I now regret, because they're really glare-y, not the soft pink or yellow ones we've been buying. Oh well, if that's the only thing I end up regretting from my Ikea shopping day, then I did pretty well.

At this point I went to take some photos of the modular shelving displays, but that's when the employee saw me and stopped me. Which is too bad because they show a lot more detail about the possible configurations in the store than they do in the catalog. I told the guy that I was taking photos for my spouse who couldn't be there, but he just pointed at the catalog in my hands and said "well you have the catalog, it's all in there!" Which it isn't, that's the point. Oh well.

My last photo was taken from outside the store. This is the rented SUV with the table strapped to the top. I wish I had gotten a photo of the hatch open so you could see how much stuff was in the back. But you can see the baskets piled up in the passenger seat so that gives you an idea of how loaded down I was.

The guy who helped me load the car was really, really nice. He told me they weren't allowed to tie down the table for me, for liability reasons, but he stood right next to me and showed me exactly how to tie it. Eventually he must have decided that he couldn't trust my knot-tying skills because he muttered something about having been an Eagle scout and started retying all the knots. Which I greatly appreciated. I tried to give him a tip but he said he couldn't take it because he's management.

OK, whew, that's my trip to Ikea. I have to say here, that I just upgraded to the newest version of Fireworks and it made processing these photos a breeze. The "batch process" command works so much better than it used to. If I had known that I would have upgraded a long time ago.


I'm glad yesterday was a good show, because as it turns out it was my last Monday show. The new WXDU schedule has been posted and I'm now on Tuesday mornings from 9-noon, sharing with someone else.

I must say I'm more than a little bummed out about this. Summer is supposed to be the easiest time to get a show, and I did lots of volunteer work last semester, and even joined the board. But I still got my last choice. (They said over and over that board members get their first choice of shows. Which of course is not why I applied. But I thought it would be a nice perk.) All I can think is, a board member who can't get the show they want in the summertime must be one of the worst DJs there.

I guess it doesn't really matter that much. At least I didn't get stuck in some ungodly hour like last fall. It's just that I really like the people who were on before and after me on Monday, I liked seeing them every week. And I really liked that the woman splitting with me was willing to split each show rather than alternating, so we could each be on the air every week.

Well who knows, maybe I'll end up liking Tuesdays too. I'm definitely not going to be on next week (will be driving back from DE that day) so I guess my next show will be Tuesday the 27th.


I had a fun show this morning. Got a call from a woman who just wanted to let me know she was glad I had played Kate Bush. I think this same person has called me before in recent weeks. I have a feeling she's another DJ from the station. She never identifies herself but she always uses a tone of familiarity that sounds like she thinks I know who she is. The dead giveaway would be if she used a term (like "backsell") that a listener probably wouldn't know, and she hasn't done that, but still she somehow sounds like a DJ. Anyway, it's nice to have an appreciative listener whoever she is.

I've done the CMJ reporting for a few weeks now. I've lost track but I think today was the 4th time. The CMJ website lets me load last week's chart, move things around, and then add the new albums. It's nice because I don't have to re-enter everything, usually at least half the albums were on there the week before. It's actually pretty interesting to see albums move up and down the chart from week to week. I've noticed that we tend to get 3-4 new things on the RPM chart each week (out of 10 total). Which is a pretty good turnover rate, I think, considering that albums stay on our playlist for six weeks. (the top ten list is, of course, the top ten RPM albums from the playlist only, because plays of old albums don't matter to CMJ.)

Another interesting thing is to compare our playlist to the overall CMJ chart. I noticed that in RPM, there are some things on the CMJ chart that we didn't get, but there are also things -- Everything But the Girl and Schneider TM for example -- that we got but didn't playlist. I don't know if that means we're more selective or what.

Just for kicks I'm posting our RPM top ten from last week here. Aphex Twin is probably the most famous thing there. Now, I don't personally have much appreciation for Aphex Twin. In fact, if I were being really candid I would have to admit I find Aphex Twin pretty much unlistenable. But I'm happy to see RPM getting played at the station, even if it's not an album that rings my bell. There is a lot of stuff on last week's top ten that I really like: Prefuse 73, Mr. Dibbs, MC Honky, DJ Broken Window, and Mouse on Mars.

# ARTIST Recording
1 PREFUSE 73 One Word Extinguisher
2 APHEX TWIN 26 Mixes For Cash
3 MR. DIBBS 30th Song
4 MC HONKY I Am The Messiah
5 MANITOBA Up In Flames
6 ADULT Anxiety Always
7 DJ BROKEN WINDOW Parallel Universe Vol. 1
9 COM.A Shot of Love

In other music news, still haven't found anything to buy from iTunes. I want to make use of the service, I really do! But I can't buy music from them if they don't have music I want to buy. So far I have looked for: Electrolounge 2, the song "Aruba Liberace" from Bachelor in Paradise, the cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" from the Donnie Darko soundtrack, The Exotic Moods of Les Baxter, Frente's cover of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle," this Astralwerks compilation by Miguel Migs that I can't even remember the name of, and Millions Like Stars... by Single Gun Theory. They don't have any of it. Bummer.

iTunes does rise in my estimation by having five Stereolab albums. Unfortunately I've already got four of them, and the fifth is only a partial album, only 5 tracks available. So iTunes finally gets some respect from me, but they still haven't gotten any of my money.

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Yesterday was the big Houston parade. I wish we could have been there, but it's just not possible for us to take a trip of that length every year. Besides, I thought I remembered there being a rule that the same car could only be in the parade every other year.

So anyway, we didn't go but Georg found photos on the Houston Chronicle website. There's a story and a link to a photo gallery on the front page. He said that the giant head is supposed to be Yao Ming, that basketball player in the 12" Powerbook ads.

A few of these entries I recognize, which makes me wonder if they changed that rule about the same car being there two years in a row. Maybe now that they're not part of the International Festival anymore, they were able to loosen up a bit on the number of entries? In any case, seeing the photos and reading the quotes from Bryan Taylor (who was really nice to us last year, had dinner with us that night after the parade and really made us feel welcome) makes me really excited about going next year. I'm going to try and get as much beading as possible done in the meantime. And, get my art car diary set up in Movable Type so I can start posting there again. This post should really be there.


We're hanging around watching VH1 Classic this evening. Just saw a Pere Ubu video, how's that for obscure. Even more obscure, the video was filmed at the Orange Show building in Houston! The Orange Show Foundation sponsors the big Houston art car parade, and the day after the parade last year there was a brunch party at the Orange Show. It's a neat structure, lots of little nooks and odd places to walk around, all decorated, tiled and all sorts of odd things. We agreed that's the first time we'd ever seen a music video that was filmed in a place we'd been to. Besides of course well-known places like outdoor areas in New York.

There have been some movies filmed in Durham though: notably of course Bull Durham, which has tons of recognizable locations in it. Every time it's on we try to figure out what neighborhood Susan Sarandon's house is supposed to be in. Also The Program, a terrible movie about college football mostly known for including a scene in which the players lie down on the yellow line in the middle of the road at night to prove their manliness or something stupid like that. Which scene was deleted after some kids tried it in real life. And got run over. Duh!

The thing about The Program is they filmed one of the restaurant scenes at Ninth St. Bakery, the place I worked at right out of college. And it was filmed soon after I stopped working there and several people I knew show up in the scene (as employees of the restaurant, natch). I had been meaning forever to rent it so I could see my friends, and recently I stumbled across it on cable so I watched it. And didn't recognize the Ninth St. Bakery scene. I was watching for it, but none of the restaurants looked like Ninth St., and I definitely didn't see the people who told me they were in it. The sad thing is, the movie was so terrible I'm not willing to sit through it again. So I guess I'll never see Ninth St. Bakery's celluloid moment.

Next weekend I'm going up to DE to see my folks. On the way back I'm going to stop off at Ikea and furniture shop. A few areas of the house are badly in need of new furnishings, and we have a pretty long shopping list. We've been poring through the catalog and taking measurements of the house so I'll be prepared for the Ikea experience. I understand everything is sold in flat boxes, but my car still wouldn't be able to transport all this stuff, so I'm going to have to rent something bigger.

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Well, my plan to clean up the "public" rooms and steer Peggy away from the rest failed miserably. She ended up going into the bedroom, the study, and even the porch, which has gone from "good god" to "people live here?" over the winter. Still, I can't get too worked up about it. After all these years, it's not like she doesn't know what kind of housekeeper I am. And besides it was good that I was forced to reorganize at least part of the house. I've really been enjoying the living room and dining room since I cleaned them.

On the brighter side it was a really nice visit. She had brought a yoga tape in "vinyasa," flowing style, which we did (that's why we were at my house & not a public place). It was a lot harder than anything I'd done before, but enjoyable. Afterwards we drove out to Hillsborough for lunch and then visited a nursery that she had liked when she lived here. We had talked about going to a movie but I'm glad we decided to just hang out and talk.

One thing Peggy and I have in common is sewing. I don't sew nearly as much as I'd like (especially now that my friend who also sews lives 1,000 miles away), but this summer I really want to get back into it. I've decided that this year it's all about mod. A-line mini-dresses, white lipstick, go-go boots: that's the look I want to go for.

I thought I had come up with a really original idea with this mod thing, but then a couple of weeks ago I was watching a show about fall 2003 fashion on the Style network (digital cable is the most amazing way to waste time) and I saw that Marc Jacobs is doing mod this fall! His collection is exactly what I want to do: A-line minidresses, geometric shapes and bright colors, outfits like the stewardesses in 2001.

I'm a little disappointed to find out that I'm going to look like a fashion follower. But at least I have the consolation of knowing that I had my mod idea before I knew it was going to be on the runways. Just remember you heard it here first: when you see A-line minidresses and Pucci knockoffs at Wal-mart this winter, it was my idea first.

So how did I get on this tangent. Oh yeah! Sewing. Peggy and I both like sewing. She's really good, every year she makes these amazing dresses, mini evening gowns really, for her niece. So I showed her all the mod dress patterns I had collected from Ebay. You may not know this, but there's a thriving trade in vintage clothing patterns on Ebay. I've seen 100 year old patterns there! But the ones I buy are all from around 1967-1968. At first I was nervous about the condition of the patterns and so forth. But as long as you only bid on the ones which say it's complete, it isn't a problem. Maybe I'll scan some of my patterns and post them here. You just can't find anything like these now, either in stores or new pattern books.

Last night we watched a newly restored version of Metropolis on TCM. It had a lot of footage that I didn't remember from previous viewings. Also they had inserted intertitles to explain scenes that are still missing. I must say the movie made a lot more sense this way. The first time I saw it was the version with the Morodor soundtrack, and it didn't make much sense to me at all. Speaking of soundtrack, this new version has a new recording of the original score. Which was really nice (a big improvement over the Morodor version!).

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Had breakfast this morning with Peggy and Chris, really good friends who're visiting from Texas. I haven't seen them since the big art car parade last April. It's great to see them again now even if it's only for a couple of days.

Then I spent the rest of the day cleaning, since Peggy wants to come over tomorrow. Now, I'm not the best housekeeper in the world. In fact, my range is somewhere between "a bit messy" and "good god." I feel kind of bad about paying so little attention to housework and yardwork, but there always seems to be something more important to do. (I mentioned this to my friend Kevin and he observantly replied, "Yeah, like staring at the ceiling.")

Normally I would just make some excuse why we needed to meet someplace else. But for goodness sake, I only get to see Peggy once a year or so. What do I care more about, spending time with an old friend, or dust bunnies? Well obviously not the dust bunnies, or I wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.

Anyway it's not that bad. In fact I'm almost done -- just need to get rid of the pile of cardboard boxes that's filling up the dining room. We have to save boxes for deck orders, but there's only one specific size that works and we ended up with dozens that are too big stacked up everywhere.

I got this really surprising email today. About a year ago, I wrote in this diary about looking for a game called Castle Falkenstein, going to a comics shop and almost going to a gaming shop, but not having the nerve to go in. Well, today the manager of the gaming shop sent me an email! He said they were working on making the shop more "female friendly" and asked for my ideas. I'm not sure if I can be much help there. I mean, it's not like I have a huge amount of experience, or any, with gaming shops and how to run them. The only thing I could think of involves having girls involved in the shop already -- like maybe if they could get a female employee or regular to organize an all-female guild (or clan or whatever) for their tournaments. I bet a lot of girls would get a thrill out of kicking a bunch of boys' butts on their own turf. The hard part is getting the foot in the door.

To some degree it's just an inevitable effect of the genre being so much more popular among boys than girls. Almost all of my gaming has been online, largely for that reason. It's a lot easier to feel like "one of the boys" if they don't find out I'm not until I choose to tell them. When I played Diablo II (which I would probably still be doing if not for my wrist), I used to love kicking ass in a team game, then eventually revealing to the boys in my party that they were playing with a woman twice their age. I didn't broadcast my personal info to everyone I played with but it did come up (like if they would ask me my name or what grade I was in or something like that).

It's funny because, I seem to recall that I could usually tell when I was playing with a woman, but the guys could never tell, they always sounded stunned. "You're a girl?? No way!!!" I was never quite sure if their surprise was to encounter a girl at all, or to encounter one who was any good. If the latter, that was really stupid on their part. Because all the women I played with on were great, they kicked ass.

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After about an hour and a half, I was able to extricate myself from the dress yesterday. That wasn't an hour and a half of struggling; it was more like an hour of thinking I could just wear it all day until Georg got home, then remembering that Georg would be at the radio station until after 10, then about a half hour of struggling. I did manage to get the zipper unsnagged without damaging the dress, so yay me.

Georg found the winners from the kinetic sculpture race online:

The Golden Dinosaur Award: Kinetic Airways;
Worst Honorable Mention: Visionary Virtual Vehicle;
Next to Last Award: G Hut;
Golden Flipper Award: Road Boat;
Best Pit Crew: The Duck;
Best Costume: Mad Hatter;
Pilots' Choice: Shrimptastic's Brad Sweet;
Best Bribes: Mad Hatters;
Sock Creature of the Universe: Bumpo's Gandhi;
Spirit of the Founder: Catholic Community School;
Ace Pilots: Dragon of Death; Beaver Bike;
People's Choice: Bumpo;
Speed Award: Beaver Bike;
Engineering Award: Louie's Bone Wagon,
Art Award: Shrimptastic;
Grand East Coast National Mediocre Champion: Bedlam

I'm not sure what all these prizes mean. I think "Ace Pilots" means the pilots never left the vehicle (no pushing up hills, getting off to attach pontoons, etc). The "next to last award" is a brilliant idea, as it ensures that the end of the race will be competitive too. Also I'm tickled to find out that the stuffed Ghandi on top of Bumpo was their official sock creature. I had read that rule that they have to have a sock creature on board, but I figured everyone just had a sock monkey strapped on or in their pocket or something. I didn't realize people were so creative with the sock creatures.

Visionary Virtual Vehicle, by the way, was the guy in the car who gave us a duffel bag bribe. His entry was truly virtual: just a number taped to his back. Don't know what he did at the obstacles. I'm assuming he did not walk through the mud, swim around the pier, etc., but just followed the route in his car.

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I suppose you've all heard about the new iTunes music downloading service. I just installed it this morning and have been playing around with it. The idea of paying $1 per song or $10 per album, no subscription fee, is so much more sensible than other services I've heard about. I've always said that I would be happy to pay for music online if there were a way to do it that actually worked.

Also the usage restrictions seem fairly easy to work with -- you can put the music on 3 computers and unlimited MP3 players, you can burn songs onto unlimited CDs (although you can only burn the same "playlist," identical CDs, ten times. Which I assume is to prevent large-scale piracy).

I like the structure a lot, it seems really easy to use. Although I haven't bought anything yet because they haven't had anything that I was looking for. It's not just that my taste is obscure -- they don't have anything by XTC, none of David Byrne's solo work, nothing by Daft Punk or Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul. These aren't particularly obscure, I don't think.

On the other hand, I have to concede that most of the stuff I want is fairly obscure, so I wasn't surprised not to find it. A lot of it is albums that have gone missing from the radio station, on which I really loved one song, but the album is either 1. out of print, or 2. not worth spending $18 just for one song.

I heard (in one of the multitudinous glowing articles) that the entire iTunes catalog is currently from the 5 major labels. Which would explain why so much of my wish list wasn't there. I'm hoping that if it's successful, they'll get some indie labels to sign on.

So, this morning I was trying on an old vintage dress that I haven't worn in years, just to see if it fit. And it did, which is the good news. The bad news is, the zipper got snagged and I can't get out of it! I'm completely stuck in this dress. The zipper is on the side, under the sleeve, so it's difficult for me to see what I'm doing. And it's kind of fragile, so I'm afraid of damaging it. I feel kind of silly sitting at my computer working in a lacy vintage dress, but I may have to stay in it all day until Georg gets home and helps me out of it. I should dig out the vintage purple hat I used to wear with the dress and wear that too. At least that way I would match.

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