July 2003 Archives

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I cut my hand today. I was cutting up an avocado, and the way I get the pit out of an avocado is to stick a knife into the pit, twist it, and pop it right out. Well I was holding the avocado in my hand (mistake #1), and stuck the knife in a little too hard (mistake #2). The pit split and the knife went right through it, right into the palm of my hand. Don't think I'll be doing that again.

It's not a long cut, but kinda deep because it was the point of the knife. I thought at first that I was going to need stitches but it stopped bleeding after about a half hour so I think I'm OK. It hurts a little to bend my fingers, not too bad but still I'm trying not to put much strain on it. Georg is bringing home some of that liquid bandaid stuff so I'm sure I'll be fine in the morning.

The only really irritating thing is that this cut interrupted a day of housework. Had spent the morning cleaning the bathroom and was planning to move on to the front porch after lunch. At least I got the bathroom done. Took almost two hours. There's a little voice in my head telling me that it would take less time if I did it more often. But I told that voice to shut up, and then I felt much better.

Only other thing I have to add is that Radio Free Records is closing tomorrow. Sad day. Georg went by there last night and bought a bunch of CDs. He got some for me, including a Japanese import of Oranges and Lemons by XTC (a CD-sized replica of all the original LP packaging, including inner sleeve and posters of the band! woo!), Jet Sounds Revisited by Nicola Conte (which, by some weird coincidence, I actually thought about ordering the day before, but didn't mention it to Georg), and Ultradolce 2. Which I cannot even describe how happy I am to have. The first Ultradolce is one of my favorite albums, and most of the best artists are back on this one. Both CDs are compilations of modern Italian lounge/exotica (called "easy listening" over there, but much hipper than our easy listening), and both include poems about how happy the music will make you. And it's true! I cannot listen to either CD without feeling all bubbly and giddy.

The first poem is all about giving the CD to your hairdresser. And yes, I did make a copy of it for my hairdresser. He told me that he still listens to it. Here's the poem from the second one:

Listen to Ultradolce 2!
The music that brings oxygen to your blood!
The more you have it the better it is, revitalizes your vital energies,
keeps you young and dynamic!
Listen to Ultradolce 2!
It keeps you away from the stress of the everyday life.
Listen to Ultradolce 2!
It gives you the perfect physical and mental balance
Every time you feel down or tired, refresh yourself with Ultradolce 2!

Actually that's the English translation. They have it in English and Italian. I'm assuming the Italian version of the poem flows a little better. OK, enough typing; my hand needs a rest. I'm going to chill and listen to my new albums.

notes to self

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This post contains things I need to remember next time about the logistics of the parade and cam setup, which I might not have mentioned elsewhere. I'll keep adding to it as I think of things.

back home

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We've been home since Monday evening, trying to get back into our routine. I found out that the USA Today story won't run for several weeks, just before Art Car Fest in San Francisco. I'm not expecting my photo to end up in the paper but the photographer did say he would send me a copy after the story runs. I don't have any shots of me and the car, because I'm always the one taking the photos. So it will be really nice, not just to have a picture of me and my car, but one taken by a professional. I won't be able to post it online though. Cause of that copyright thing.

artscape

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Artscape was a blast! I wrote about it in detail on my car site, so here I'll just add a few personal notes that aren't related to art cars.

We stayed with our friend Pru, who has two daughters: Hunter (age 9) and Logan (5). Logan seemed to attach herself to me. I think because Georg is Hunter's favorite "Uncle Georg," so maybe Logan decided that I was going to be her favorite. Or maybe because I asked Logan for her opinion on what shoes to wear to the car show on Friday night. She seemed thrilled to be able to give fashion advice.

Logan told me at some point that she's "a girly girl," who only likes girly things. When I asked her for specifics, she said "Pretty things. Things that are pink. Like Barbie." I hate to hear a child so young pigeonhole herself like that. So I told her that computers are very girly, that I'm a girly girl too and I love computers. And asked her to help me with my website because all girly girls are good with computers. Just doing my part to subvert harmful cultural stereotypes.

They have a dog, a foxhound named Pigeon. Pigeon is totally devoted to Pru's husband Joe. She's clearly primarily Joe's dog. On Saturday morning he took the girls to Pru's parents, and Pigeon went ballistic. She spent a good fifteen minutes running back and forth between the back porch (where she could see the empty driveway) and the front door (where she could see the road), wailing and caterwauling her dismay at "the man"'s having left. She sounded positively heartbroken.

It was kind of odd being around a young, highly energetic dog. It made me wistful for the days when Thirteen and Lina were young and playful. But mainly, it made me appreciate the more sedate pace of older dogs. No crazed running around the house, no begging at the table, no trouble getting them to come back inside, etc. All my dogs want is quiet days lying around the house, the occasional ride in the car, and a lot of good tummy rubs.

The evening after the parade we went back to Artscape to see Thievery Corporation on the outdoor stage. I must say, I'm really impressed with the quality of the musicians they get at Artscape. Last year we saw Karsh Kale; this year they had Los Amigos Invisibles (who we missed), Afro-Celts (whose show we caught the last few minutes of), and Thievery Corporation. They don't get acts like that at street festivals in Durham!

The show was at night, and way more crowded than Karsh Kale's afternoon performance last year. Still, by watching for people leaving, we managed to work our way into a decent spot to the right of the stage. The seating was on a rather steep grassy hill. The slope was nice because it meant you never had to worry about tall people sitting in front you and blocking the view. The only problem was that the only comfortable way to sit was with your knees up. Which is rather too revealing when you're wearing a short skirt, as I was! I struggled to find a comfortable sitting position that didn't leave me flashing everyone sitting below me. Finally settled on putting my camera bag behind my feet to block the view. Note to self: next time, pants.

Anyway, Thievery Corporation. I wasn't sure how their sound would translate to a live outdoor performance, but they were fabulous. Very energetic, very fun. We wondered if it was just going to be two guys and a computer, but they had a band -- two percussionists, a guitarist, a horn section and a guy who played guitar and sitar -- and several vocalists. Lou Lou and Pam Bricker, who both appeared on The Richest Man in Babylon, sang for the first half of the show, and the second half really ramped up the energy level with a pair of reggae/rappers. (I didn't catch their names, but I got the impression that they're DC guys who work with them live. On the album those tracks were done by Notch and Shinehead.)

The coolest part is that Thievery Corporation use a TiBook! It was on the table with them. It was hard to see from so far away, but I think it was a 15" TiBook. Which is what I use! Theirs is probably way more loaded than mine, but still. I have the same computer as Thievery Corporation! Woo!

I tried to take pictures but without a tripod, it wasn't easy. It was so dark that I was getting exposures of .25 to 1 second, which is way too long for holding the camera in your hands. I tried resting the camera on my legs and holding my breath during the exposure. Not a perfect solution, but I got a few passable shots. Here's one with Lou Lou, the Iranian singer, performing "Omid." That's my favorite track from The Richest Man in Babylon, so I was really glad they played it. Rob and Eric (Thievery Corporation proper) are the two guys in back who aren't playing instruments. The TiBook is between them.

I also took a bunch of photos of the reggae guys, but they were so energetic that with the long exposure they ended up just a blur of arms and legs. I might post one anyway, it's kind of cool looking.

artscape report

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I’m writing on Sunday afternoon but I’m posting this dated Saturday so the images will show. We’re enjoying a wonderful day of relaxation. I really needed it after the hectic activity of the past few days. I had a line in this morning’s Baltimore Sun, but no photo: “Shopkeepers came out to gawk at Sarah Ovenall’s ‘Undersea Mah Jongg,’ covered with fish playing the Chinese game and topped with a bubble-maker spewing soap bubbles.” That is pretty close to what I said, although I described the people as “looking,” not “gawking.” And the two photos they ran were of great cars, Wicked Mojo and That Car. And of course I still might be in USA Today. So I’m happy with the press coverage.

Welcome to Bawlmer, Hon

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[writing this Monday night, but dating it Sat. so it'll stay with the Sat pix]
If it's Saturday, it must be Artscape. The Man made us eggs 'n sausage -- well, not Sarah, who hates eggs -- and I explained to him why his birthday present turned out to be a sampler of microbrews of the Southeast. Cos realbeer.com are bastards. Or at least they aren't kidding when they say 6 to 8 weeks for delivery. Anyway, we got the cams, the picnic, the directions, and ourselves into the car and on the road. And on time.

after artscape

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Well it went great. The webcast ran for about 2 1/2 hours. I was interviewed by USA Today and the Baltimore Sun, both of whom took lots of photos of me and the car. (Good thing I dressed up!) The parade was a blast, we met lots of fun people, took loads of photos, and we had a wonderful picnic afterwards under a tree near my car. And then we took Pru's 94 year old great aunt Florence out for a spin in Undersea Mah Jongg. What a great day. More later, now I've got to go get cleaned up and have dinner.

friday night

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It looks like the cam test was a success. We ran the cams for about an hour, used the phone's battery rather than idling the car the whole time. I never unplugged the cam, just moved it every few minutes to get a different angle. Tomorrow we'll have all three cams aimed in different directions and will switch back and forth among them, because of course we won't be able to get out of the car and move the cams.

the Land of Pleasant Living

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[written Mon PM but dated Fri to match photos] So I've moved from commenting to make actual entries. One step closer to blogsville... Anyway, Artscape was a total blast. Even better than last year (and last year was pretty damn good). I think mostly cos we had experience and thus planned better. Also, it was only hot this year whereas last year was Stupid Hot. And this year's cool-band-we-cannot-miss was on Sunday night, leaving us available to lounge around and socialize by the cars right after the parade.

it works!

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We're here at the symposium, the cam is working great! I wish Tim could do it too. We were a little late so the talks had already started by the time we got here, but there are a fair # of people walking aroud. I'm going to lock up the car and go take some photos.

My History with Dragons

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I know dragons are real,I've seen them in the pet store. They may not breathe fire or fly, but they're still considered dragons. (ex. KOMODO dragon)

i love pretty unicorns there

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i love pretty unicorns there so great i live in a castle by the art car show

oh no!

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I just got a phone call from Tim. He was out doing a test run this afternoon, hit a bump, and killed his computer! He says he can't get it to restart, so he's not going to be able to do the cam thing with me tonight or tomorrow. What a disappointment! If any computer experts (Mac experts specifically) out there have ideas about quick fixes he can try, PLEASE email me with your suggestions.

Damn !!!!

on our way

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We're on our way! All packed, just need to have breakfast and take the dogs to the kennel. Next post will be from Columbia!

almost ready

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It's 10:30 and we're almost ready. After my test run this morning, I had a very productive day finishing things up. Had a last-minute inspiration while I was vacuuming out the car, and ended up covering the rear shelf with fabric. Then poked holes into the fabric and ran pipe cleaners through the holes. Now I can use the pipe cleaners to attach my mermaid Barbies without having to glue them in place.

2 days to artscape

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Did another test run this morning, to try out the "express network" on the road. It went great! I stayed online for about an hour with no problems. I wrote to a few friends when I headed out. It wasn't the most exciting cam-watching experience -- watching me go to the post office, bank, and gas station on my way between Chapel Hill and Durham -- but it was really helpful to have people watching live and letting me know how things looked.

wednesday night

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Got a lot done Wed. the evening. I'm actually writing this Thursday morning, but I'm dating the entry last night so it will stay with the photos for the day. Got the vinyl sign put on my rear window, installed the black light and some glow in the dark goodies, and did a lot of shopping.

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For the next few days I'm going to be really focused on Artscape, coming up this weekend (ack!). So please check my Undersea Mah Jongg Diary for current journal entries until after the event. Also, we will be web casting Friday evening around 7 pm eastern time, and Saturday starting around 11 am. Check it out!

3 days to artscape

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Whew, yesterday was exhausting. I didn't think it would be so bad, I didn't do a lot of running around. Just staying home working on the car. I guess that, even though I didn't stay out there to the point of severe dehydration, it's still tiring to work outside in the heat.

4 days to artscape

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I set up Georg, Tim, Pru, and her kids Hunter and Logan as authors on this site. Thought it would be fun if everyone involved with the event was able to post. So I hope you'll be seeing entries from some (or all) of them soon. I also went ahead and ordered the high speed access through my phone. Haven't had a chance to speed test it yet but it looks good so far.

car cam success

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SUCCESS! The in-car trial run was a complete success. Plugging in the power cable and the data cable together worked great. I drove around for about 25 minutes, connected the whole time, and the battery was still full. (I even plugged it in afterwards and it said "charging is complete" as it had before we started.

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SUCCESS! The in-car trial run was a complete success. Plugging in the power cable and the data cable together worked great. I drove around for about 25 minutes, connected the whole time, and the battery was still full. (I even plugged it in afterwards and it said "charging is complete" as it had before we started.

I was also pleased to discover that turning the car on and off did not have an effect. I seem to recall that in Houston, that was one of my problems: I was running off the battery but when I started the car there was a moment of interrupted power, which caused the whole thing to crash. And since I was the driver and also the only one in the car who knew how to run the cams (another big mistake I made in Houston) there was no way to fix it or even discover the problem. But today I stopped at an auto parts store to get a DC splitter, and the connection stayed active throughout.

Imagecaster was barely -- just barely -- able to keep up with uploading one image per minute. So I am going to go ahead and order the high speed express network. It costs about the same as the USB cable, so I'll return the cable and sort of break even.

I took the dogs with me and rather than pointing the cam out the window, I aimed it at them. Here's the best photo. Lina's face is sort of cut off, but withthe cam so close it was hard to get both of them in the image together. Also you can see the fabric on the ceiling. I'm amazed to report that it really doesn't smell like caulk in the car this morning. That's what I used to glue it up. I thought the stench would be overwhelming but I couldn't smell it at all. Maybe loss of sense of smell is a lingering effect of my getting overheated yesterday.

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Very long day of car-related activities. With Artscape this coming weekend (ack!) it's time I finally get my ass in gear and get the car in shape. I'm wanting to try the webcam thing again. Even though it was such a disaster in Houston. Because it always seems like such fun for Lisa, and she's able to lend me most of the equipment and talk me through it. And there's another guy at Artscape, Tim Klein, who (along with a truly amazing art car) also has a TiBook and webcam and expressed interest in us webcasting together. In fact I think he would be doing it already if he knew how to set up his cell phone for net access.

So anyway, Tim and I have been talking about webcasting together, through my cell modem. We both have Airport in our computers so we need to stay close enough together during the parade to maintain the network. They don't assign lineup position at Artscape, so we agreed that whoever got there first would save the next space for the other.

Most of the work of setting this thing up has fallen to me, because for one thing, it's my cell phone, and for another, Tim is on a whirlwind art car tour right now and doesn't have much time for computer fun. So I've spent much of the past couple of weeks trying to get things running over here. I'm using Imagecaster (recommended by Lisa) to run the cams, and that's working great. It seems a lot easier to use than the system 9 webcam software we tried in Houston.

Getting the phone to talk to my computer is another story. I found a yahoo group called maccellphone that's been a big help, a lot of the people there have the exact same setup as I do -- same computer (15" TiBook), same phone (Kyocera 2235) and same provider (Verizon). But still, following their instructions as best I could, no matter what I tried I couldn't get the computer to recognize the phone. I even went to the Verizon store today to buy a new phone, but it turns out I can't because I'm only 15 months into a two year contract. Unless I want to pay through the nose, I have to wait until February to get a new phone from Verizon. I guess I could have changed providers but that's a little drastic. And besides, Verizon is the only provider we've tried so far that got decent reception at the house.

OK, so I was really dejected to find out that I couldn't get a new phone. I was starting to think that I might have to give up on the web cam thing. I mean, only 5 days to go and I still hadn't managed to connect through the laptop at all and had no idea what I was doing wrong. Not encouraging!

The guy who talked to me at the Verizon store was so helpful though. (I felt bad about not being able to buy a phone from him because I think they work on commission. I hope he's still there in February when I got back to get a new phone.) He really knew a lot about cell phones and the internet. He explained to me about the different bandwidth levels: everyone on Verizon can use their phone as a 14.4 modem -- gack! but there's no cost above the use of minutes. Or you can pay the rather outrageous sum of $80 a month to get near-DSL speeds out of the phone. I explained that I only needed this service for a couple of days and he said I could get it for a month and then cancel and only have to pay for the one month.

I told him about the battery problem I was having with my current phone and he upgraded the software in it. Apparently this is something I should have been doing all along. He said it might help with the battery and would probably also improve my reception, which made no sense at all, but what do you know, the signal went from one bar to three when he did it. He said if the battery problem persists I should bring it back when their technical people are there, there might be a bad chip in it. But it seems to be better.

Also I asked him about data cables. I had been using a serial cable, but since Macs don't have serial ports I had to add a serial-USB adapter. (My first stumbling block in this process was finding out that my old adapter wasn't compatible with OS X, and having to order a new one. Which took five days to get here and didn't help at all. But I can use it for other things, like the remote release on my camera, so I'm not upset about buying it.) Now they have a USB cable for the phone. He said it shouldn't make a difference, and the maccellphone people say the same thing. But I bought the USB cable anyway as a last resort. If it didn't help I could always return it.

Well, it worked. YAY!! Actually, I had the wrong driver installed, but I couldn't tell that was the problem with the old cable. I may return the new cable anyway, since I don't really need it and it was pricey. But without it I would never have figured out my problem.

Okay. First hurdle crossed; big sigh of relief. I have the computer recognizing the phone. I did a little test run in my living room: turned off Airport, connected to a dial-up account using the cell phone as a modem, turned on the webcam. It worked great. I have it set to upload every minute, but at 14.4 it couldn't always get the file uploaded within a minute. However, Imagecaster seems pretty good at just skipping an upload if it isn't done yet with the one before. I seem to recall that was a big problem with the previous software; it didn't know what to do if uploads overlapped like that.

Next hurdle: how long will the phone stay connected. I stayed online for almost an hour this afternoon, working on the page that will display the cam images and just keeping an eye on it, until I decided that I really needed to go do something else so I shut it off. By that time the battery indicator was almost empty. So I'm guessing that I would get a little more than an hour off the battery. Which would just barely get us through the parade, but not much more. I'd really hate to go to all this trouble to only be able to webcast for one hour.

I sent an email to our host Pru, asking if I could use her cell phone as a modem when my battery conked out and promising to do all the research and buy whatever cable needs to be bought. Considering my track record, I'd hate to try to get that working the night before the parade. But if that's the contingency plan, I'd give it my best shot.

See, the problem is a design flaw in the phone. The power cable and the data cable are too close to each other; they can't be used at the same time. So whenever I'm using the phone as a modem, it has to run off the battery. But, I was looking at the cables, seeing if I could force them both in at the same time (I could not), and I realized that it's not really the connector that's in the way, it's the thick rubber padding around the metal connectors. I called up tech support and asked if it would be dangerous or bad for the connection to trim that off with a knife. The woman laughed, I guess that was an odd question, but she said that as long as I didn't cut into the cable itself there was no problem.

So this evening I got out a nice sharp cleaver and trimmed one side off the rubber padding on the power cable. Didn't cut into anything but rubber, and now the data cable and the power cable both fit! I can't even begin to say how excited I am about this. If I can run the phone off the car adapter then the only time limit on broadcasting will be the battery power in the computer. I'm going to do a test run in my car tomorrow morning.

OK, so aside from all the geeking out I also did some work on the actual car. I glued a fabric panel to the inside of the roof. It won't show to parade spectators but it will make the ride more fun for us. The fabric has a swirly blue pattern which I'm going to embellish with glow in the dark paint. Also I have a bag of glow in the dark salamanders somewhere, and Lisa recently gave me the most wonderful thing, a packet of stick-on glow in the dark fish. I am hoping to get all the GITD stuff set up this week so I can take Pru's daughters out for a glow drive on Friday night. I'll want to do a local test run after we get there anyway, so might as well make it a fun outing.

The bad thing about putting up the fabric is that I nearly gave myself a heat stroke. I didn't think it was that hot, in fact I thought I was better off inside the car (thus out of the sun) with the windows open. Gluing up the fabric wasn't that difficult, but it did require a lot of attention and energy to apply the glue to the ceiling, smoothly press the fabric up and pin it in place, and trim around the handrails, dome light, etc., all while trying not to get glue in my hair. What's worse, once I got started I felt like I couldn't stop until the whole thing was finished. Obviously I couldn't drive with a huge piece of fabric half-glued to the ceiling, so it had to be done today. Beyond that, I didn't even want to stop for a few minutes. I was afraid if I took a break the whole thing would peel off as soon as my back was turned.

So I must have been sitting in that car for hours on this sunny, hot July afternoon. Well "sitting" isn't exactly the right word, actually I was crawling around between the back and front seats, gluing up the fabric. I knew the heat was getting to me when I set down a screwdriver (needed it to take down the sun visors), a moment later couldn't remember where I had put it, and started crying. That's always a bad sign. By the time I finally got out of the car I was short of breath, dizzy, and my hands and feet had fallen asleep. Not fun at all! Georg helped me get into bed, put a cold cloth on my head and made me drink lots of water until I felt better. Remind me not to do that again.

But at least the fabric looks good. Well, it will look good when I trim off the excess, which is hanging from the edges right now. I'm not worried about getting a nice neat edge because I'm planning to trim all the way around it with white beads. Which I have run out of, darn it! So that will have to wait until after Artscape.

car cam struggle

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Very long day of car-related activities. With Artscape this coming weekend (ack!) it's time I finally get my ass in gear and get the car in shape. I'm wanting to try the webcam thing again. Even though it was such a disaster in Houston. Because it always seems like such fun for Lisa, and she's able to lend me most of the equipment and talk me through it. And there's another guy at Artscape, Tim Klein, who (along with a truly amazing art car) also has a TiBook and webcam and expressed interest in us webcasting together. In fact I think he would be doing it already if he knew how to set up his cell phone for net access.

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Fourth tattoo session was this afternoon. We moved it up a few days because I wanted to be in good shape before we leave for Artscape on Friday. Here's a photo. All the outlining is done now, and all vines and leaves are colored except that bit of vine we didn't get to last Tuesday. I love the two vines that intertwine in the middle, and I've really warmed up to the brighter green. He really got a lot done; it looks so much more full now.

This time I took Advil before going, which helped a lot. I remember lying there thinking "Hmm. That kinda hurts. In fact it hurts a lot. Somewhere over there. Up here, I'm sleepy." However, as with previous sessions, the third hour was a lot harder than the previous ones. I'm still not sure if that's because filling in is more painful than outlining, or because by then I've reached my limit. Either way, with only coloring left to do, I think from now on I'm going to do two hour sessions. It will take a little longer to finish, but may substantially cut down the pain level. And why suffer needlessly.

The music this time was much less objectionable. They had the stereo on shuffle and some of it was really good. There was one "angry white boys with big pants" CD in the mix, but it bothered me a lot less because it was only one song at a time, not a whole album. Also because, being a weekend, the place was pretty crowded so there was a lot more ambient noise. The funny thing about the angry white boy album is that their lead guitarist sounded like he had just graduated from Eddie Van Halen Music Fantasy Weekend. Seriously, it was a typical pounding, screamy thing, then suddenly a Van Halen guitar solo would be thrown in. You'd think that would be even more unpleasant, but it was so kooky as to be almost comical.

Yesterday something really weird happened to me. I went into the office and had lunch with the guys at Breadman's. We were waiting in line to pay, when the woman behind me must have seen my tattoo above the neckline of my shirt. Without warning she grabbed me and started yelling about how much she loved tattoos, and pulling at my shirt and bra to get a better look! I don't mind showing it to people but jeez, please ask before touching me, much less pulling my clothes off.

(I told Rex the whole story and he said that's really common, if you have visible tattoos people feel like they have the right to touch you. He said that it used to happen to him a lot, but not so much now that he has more tattoos. Maybe people are intimidated by the amount of tattooing so they leave him alone. Rex also said it happens more to women; there's a woman who works there who's pretty heavily tattooed and people are always grabbing her arms so they can see her full sleeves. According to Rex, she's not shy about telling them to take their hands off her. Maybe I need to learn that.)

Anyway, back to the woman who pawed me at Breadman's. She showed me a tattoo on her shoulder that some guy had done for free because she "had such nice skin." (Rex snorted when I told him that part. I thought it sounded like a cheap pickup line and I guess I was right.) She said she had wanted to get some kind of vine starting at her ankle and winding all the way up her body. I asked her why she hadn't done it and she said, "oh, he got into crack, so I decided it would be a bad idea to let him tattoo me anymore." What a freaky story! I have to say, it was a struggle to keep a straight face.

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Earlier this evening I got email from my friend Christa. She had some kind of horrible allergic reaction, or something, last night. Spent the night in the emergency room, during which time they did a spinal tap on her, but took 7 attempts to get it right. Yowza! She definitely has me beat on needle-related pain; nine hours of tattooing is nothing compared to that.

It sounds like she's feeling much better today, but won't be up to her radio show tomorrow. So I'm going to be subbing Divaville tomorrow night from 6 to 8 pm. We're still webcasting, so please listen in if you're free and you like classic jazz vocalists. Also, I'm seeking suggestions of jazz standards involving being sick or being well. In case Christa listens tomorrow night, I want to do a little set for her.

OK, now to update my life the past few days aside from the tattoo. Well Sunday we experienced the glory that is Space Bags. We live in a very small house, and we have a lot of stuff, so storage is a perpetual problem for us. It got particular bad when warm weather rolled around, and we had no place whatsoever to store our blankets, comforters, etc. They were all just sort of stuffed into the closets, piled up on the extra couch, wherever.

After we got a vacuum cleaner, it occurred to me that we might try those space bags. I got a box from Costco that has small ones and really big ones. They are amazing! You just stuff it full of blankets, ziploc it shut, and then vacuum out the air. Presto! A teeny tiny bag of blankets. Ours didn't come out all neat and flat like the ones on the TV commercials; they tended to be more wrinkly and brick-like. But we found that walking on the bags as they deflate helps to keep them flat.

On the other hand, I was much less impressed with the smaller ones. They didn't have the vacuum seal; instead you have to roll them up, and the air sort of leaks out the other end. I had intended to spacebag my sweaters (yes, we have decided that "spacebag" is a verb, much like the makers of Swiffer mops want us to use "swiffer" as a verb) but they were way too bulky for the small bags, and with just rolling I couldn't get them very compact. The spacebagged sweaters take up about the same amount of room as the non-spacebagged ones.

I guess the small bags probably work pretty well for travel, when you wouldn't have a vacuum cleaner in your hotel room. But you'd have to be sure they had an iron in the room. Regardless of what they say on the TV ad, I do not believe that cotton clothes come out of that bag wrinkle-free. I mean come off it! If you wadded up your cotton shirts in a ball and weighted them down under a stack of books, would you expect them to get wrinkles? I think so! Anyway, for long term storage of my sweaters, I'm going to go to Wal-mart and see if I can find a box of just the big vacuum-seal space bags.

Monday I had a meeting in the morning and then met my friend Kevin for lunch. He was at Books Do Furnish a Room, the comics/used book/used record store in Durham, selling a bunch of books and LPs. Kevin wanted to have barbecue for lunch, since it's really hard to get NC style barbecue in New York. I suggested Allen and Sons, which we both vaguely remembered was on 86 between Chapel Hill and Hillsborough.

Well we drove the whole way along 86 until we got to downtown Hillsborough, and never saw it. We pulled over so Kevin could call his father, who said that the restaurant is actually on old 86. Off we went, stopping to ask a woman on the sidewalk how to get to old 86. (And may I compliment Kevin on bucking stereotypes and having no qualms about asking strangers for directions.) We drove the whole way down old 86 until we got to Carrboro, and never saw the restaurant. Assuming that we had gotten wrapped up in conversation and just missed it, we turned around and drove the whole way back to Hillsborough! Then I suggested that maybe we should try Bon's, a Carrboro barbecue place run by Mama Dip's daughter. That was OK with Kevin so we turned around and drove the whole way back to Carrboro on old 86.

Bon's was easy to find, but it was closed! At this point I was feeling monumentally embarrassed about driving Kevin around, lost, all afternoon. And very concerned about how late it was getting without him having had lunch. I was fine because I'd had my breakfast late, and Kevin assured me that he wasn't hungry either because he'd had biscuits and gravy that morning at Bojangles. He suggested that we try the Pittsboro Allen & Sons, which I was sure was on 15-501. We headed out, and dang if we didn't drive the whole way to Pittsboro without seeing it! I couldn't believe it.

By that point it was 2 pm and we were both starting to feel hungry, so we gave up on barbecue and ate at a little place in downtown Pittsboro. (Actually I have to admit, it occurred to me later that even if we had found either Allen & Sons location, it probably would have been closed since it was Monday.) I'm embarrassed to admit I can't remember its name, something like General Store Cafe. It's in an old car dealership so it's a really funky shape inside. They sell sandwiches, salads and daily specials. It kind of reminds me of the old Ninth Street Bakery that I used to work at.

I felt bad that Kevin never got his barbecue, but also grateful that he was so nice about the whole adventure. Instead of being stuck in the car feeling cranky and hungry and arguing about where the heck we were going, we had a conversation so fun and interesting that I barely noticed how lost we were. It made me wish that we still lived close enough to have conversations like that more frequently.

(Later Kevin told me that his father had given us wrong directions to the Hillsborough Allen & Sons. So it wasn't entirely my fault. I still think chances are good it would have been closed even if we had found it.)

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Whew, a busy couple of days. Let's see, I spent a fun afternoon with my friend Kevin, got to work on the webcam thing for Artscape, had a radio show, and discovered the glory that is Space Bags. But first I'm going to write up my third tattoo session while it's still fresh in my mind.

I went in yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon for another three hour session. Here's a photo of the latest progress. We didn't get as much done this time for a couple of reasons: first, there were a number of interruptions, and second, Rex said that the lower back is harder to work on than the upper back due to elasticity of the skin. The upper back is apparently pretty taut, but he needs to kind of stretch out the lower back with his other hand in order to get a good line.

It may be harder for him to work on, but I'm happy to report that the lower back is much less painful. The only parts that really hurt were the very lowest bits, right over the spine, and the edge of the flower on the right where it starts to come around my side. The rest of the new outlining was so easy that sometimes I couldn't feel the needle, just the vibration.

Or maybe it was all about blood sugar. After Christa mentioned that it's supposed to make a differencem, and my friend B. told me on Saturday that heightened senses are a symptom of low blood sugar, I made sure to eat a large, high protein meal exactly an hour before the appointment. I discussed it with Rex and he said that makes sense, because when people pass out during tattooing that's supposedly from a blood sugar crash. He said that they can tell when someone is about to pass out, but the first couple times it totally freaked him out because sometimes they get all twitchy after they pass out. He said the first time he thought the person was dying or something. I've never fainted like that, but I was once told by a phlebotomist (did I spell that right? The person who draws blood at the doctor's office) that I show all the signs of it. She threw an arm in front of me right before the needle went in, to catch me I suppose, and she told me later that she had never seen anyone behave the way I did (jittery, pale, hands got sweaty right before) and not pass out. But that was years ago, I'm much calmer about blood draws now.

Anyway, the two hours of outlining was for the most part, really really easy. Then he got interrupted for about a half hour, and we started up again at 4:30 with coloring. That was much harder! He was going over areas that had been easy an ninety minutes before, but it hurt a lot more. I'm not sure if it's because he was going back over areas that were tender from the outlining earlier, or because coloring is just harder than outlining, or because it had gotten later and that pesky blood sugar had started to drop.

I think next week I'm going to take some Advil beforehand (I thought over the counter painkillers were a no-no, but Rex said only aspirin is bad, Advil is okay) and bring a little fruit to eat about 2 hours in and bringmy blood sugar back up.

I asked Rex about the funky spot on my shoulder from last week and he said that I have a mole there. He had to skip over the mole and he just forgot to tell me about it. Apparently they can't tattoo into a mole because it might possibly cause the mole to turn into cancer or something. I guess moles don't like having a bunch of needles stuck in them. Or maybe it's the ink they don't like.

Rex said that he has another client with a lot of moles on her back. She's getting this gorgeous design of a carp jumping out of water, the carp's head is pointing straight up and its body is curved in an S-shape. I admired the sketch last week, I hope I get to see a photo of the finished tattoo. Anyway, she has a lot of moles. He tried to draw around them, but that's hard to do because it's difficult to get the stencil in exactly the same place every time. He ended up with an important line (around the eye) going right through a big mole, but he was able to redraw the line a little to the right. He said that would work out OK because there would be very little shading to the left of that line.

The other thing that bothered me late in the session was the music. Usually they play classic rock radio, which isn't my favorite thing but doesn't bother me.
But yesterday everyone had brought CDs. Most of them were OK but one was this horrible "angry kids with big pants" music. You know, the kind where the lead singer doesn't sing, just screams. It was driving me crazy! That was when the tattooing had started to get bad, and to be honest I couldn't tell which was bothering me more. I actually made Rex stop tattooing so I could get up and get my iPod out of my bag, but I didn't have the headphones. Another thing I'll remember for next time.

Today I feel fine, a little sore but not too bad. One nice thing is, now that he's working on the lower back, it's a lot easier to wear a bra. Whew!

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They finished the tankless water heater yesterday. Yay! The electrician came first, Neighborhood Electric. He was a friendly guy, though not crazy about dogs. He called me from the driveway rather than come inside the gate, then when I told him my dogs don't bite, all he said was "I never met a dog that didn't bite." Apparently he had been bitten recently, which made his nervousness understandable. Even after he had been here for a couple of hours, when the dogs had grown completely bored and were just sleeping around my desk chair, I told him that they were way too old and lazy to hurt anyone and he said "The one that chomped on me was just like that!"

However, aside from his fear of dogs he was a really nice guy. He was into the car, he knew of Toby and her doll car and was saddened to hear that the doll car had been totalled. He told me that Ken Kesey's family wouldn't allow the Smithsonian to buy the magic school bus and put it on exhibit, and seemed very annoyed about this fact. And he told me that my next door neighbor (or the person who lived there 20 years ago) was the first customer ever to cheat him out of payment.

After the electrician finished up, the plumber (Worth Plumbing) kindly rearranged his schedule so that he could come by yesterday afternoon and connect the water line to the new heater. He left the old water heater where it was, said there was no need to remove it.

The tankless heater is wonderful. It has a thermostat, we had it put in the hall by the one for the furnace, where you can set the temperature. It can be set anywhere between 80 and 120 F, but if the water's already running when you try to change the temperature, it will only go between 96 and 110 degrees. Which seems like a nice safety feature; that way no one can accidently turn up the water too hot and burn someone in the shower. We've only had it for a day, but so far it looks like 110 is perfect for my showers but a little bit too hot for Georg.

Oh man, it is so wonderful to have unlimited hot water. I can't wait for it to get cool so I can take a hot bath! I never could before because the old heater didn't produce enough hot water to fill the tub.

Last night we went to a photography show at Tyndall Galleries in Chapel Hill. I did their website, they were sort of my first client, and the owner Jane Tyndall and her staff are really nice. So I like to go to their openings and keep up with the gallery. We met John Rosenthal, one of the photographers in the show. He had a wonderful photo of two hippos in a zoo that he talked to us about. He had managed to catch one of the hippos climbing up some steps, just as it was about to put its foot down. Although he said hippos walk very slowly.

Afterwards we walked around the mall a bit (they're in University Mall in Chapel Hill). We like to go down to the other end of the mall and make fun of the Thomas Kinkaide(tm) gallery, but it's not Thomas Kinkaide(tm) anymore. Now it's just generic crap art, which is much less fun to make fun of. They had a lot of those photo mosaics, you know the David Hockney thing where they collage together a bunch of small photos of the same scene. But this guy cheated -- the photos lined up too neatly, they were clearly small prints trimmed out of the same large photograph.

Today Georg had to do the world music show, and I went with him to do some more shelving in RPM. I had done the comps already, but today they were in at least as much disarray as before I started. From talking to Georg (he's been dealing with this problem in the world music section for a while now) I get the impression that trying to keep the RPM section correctly filed is going to be like trying to keep the tide from coming in. Almost everyone at the station has at least some college education. You'd think that they could handle the concept of the alphabet.

I realize that RPM compilations can be confusing. For instance, how is the DJ who knows nothing about RPM going to know that "DJ Kicks: Vikter Duplaix" is filed in comps under "DJ"? But that's why you're supposed to pull the next CD out halfway when removing a disk. That way you can see at a glance where it goes. We were all taught to do that in DJ training, it shouldn't be that hard. I don't think my fellow DJs are stupid, which leads me to the conclusion that many of them just don't care if anyone else can find an album they just played.

Anyway, enough griping about the shelving problem. While I was at the station I also did some ripping so I could make a CD for my friend Kevin. He's more into indie rock than I am, though I've been learning about it since becoming a DJ. I had the CD burned but was still working on the track listing when he called asking if I was free to get together with him and B. for a little while this afternoon.

I met them at Northgate Mall, where they were doing a little shopping in between family obligations. We walked around the mall, which is a lot bigger since the last time they saw it, and chatted for about an hour. It was great to see them, especially B. who I haven't seen in, what, eight years now? Anyway I was really glad they could spare a little time for me. Kevin is staying in town for a couple of extra days so I'm hoping we'll be able to have lunch on Monday. I told him that I'd give him the track list for his CD then, or if we don't manage to get together it will have to be a surprise.

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The heating company came this morning to hook up the gas line to the water heater and into the kitchen. And the electrician finally called me back. He may come tomorrow morning. He said that he was free at 9 am, unless the one thing he has to do tomorrow that he couldn't remember turns out to be in the morning. Depending on whether the plumber is free, we might have the tankless heater running by tomorrow afternoon.

The brother of an old friend of mine died last week. My friend and his spouse (also an old friend) are coming to the area for the memorial service this weekend. I would love to see them, but I'm not counting on it. I'm sure they'll have a ton of demands on their time. After all they'll be here to remember Kevin's brother, not to hang out.

It's only 9 pm and they're showing Bringing Up Baby on TCM, but I'm thinking about going to bed early. I'm tired. I've stayed up late the past couple of nights, and then today and yesterday been woken up by contractors phoning at 7:00 or so to say they were going to be here any minute. So I've had to rush around getting dressed and ready for them, which is no way to start the day. Plus this afternoon was quarterly payroll taxes at Stoneline. Which are about ten times more complicated since they switched us to semi-weekly filing, so that was rather draining too. So tired. Sleep now.

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It was mostly a quiet day today, stayed at home trying to take it easy on my back. The plumber came this morning to install the instant water heater. Yay! He put it in next to the old one in the crawl space. He had to chop down a bush outside the study window, because the heater sticks out of the exterior wall. But I don't mind, I hate that bush. We've cut it down to the ground twice already and it keeps coming back.

So now that the heater is in, we have to get the heating company to run the gas line, and the electrician to install the thermostat. Then the plumber comes back and connects the water line to the new heater, and then we're set! The heating company is coming tomorrow. Looks like we're going to have them run a gas line to the kitchen while we're at it. It's a lot less expensive than I had expected, since we already have gas to the house for the furnace.

We probably won't buy a gas stove immediately (one major appliance at a time!) but I'm hoping we'll be able to within a few months. A gas stove! I've always always wanted one. The only downside, I hear, is that it limits your options. Because once you use gas you'll never want to go back to an electric range.

This evening I did go out, to Buffy night with Lisa, Shayne and Dave. Actually Dave didn't watch Buffy with us, but since it was his and Shayne's house, he had dinner with us. It was a really nice dinner too. Shayne and Dave had grilled steak, chicken and vegetables, Lisa brought a nice big salad, and I made mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Now that the series has ended we've decided to continue our weekly Buffy night with classic episodes. We talked about working our way through all the episodes written by Joss in order. Or we might do thematic nights, like "The Wish" and "Dopplegangland" together. Tonight we watched the first two episodes, "Welcome to the Hellmouth" and "Harvest."

After Buffy we geeked out. Lisa and I had brought our computers with us. Lisa was trying to figure out why she can't access the SAS network from her home. Since Dave is in her work group and he can, she wanted to try from his house. I brought mine because I've been having this really irritating problem with horizontal lines zigging across the screen. It seems to be worse when I use the trackpad a lot, but sometimes also happens with an external mouse. It's been really worrying me that this display problem would cause difficulties at Artscape. And Dave had given me some advice a couple of weeks ago that I didn't fully understand, so I was hoping he would take a look at it.

Dave was also glad we had brought our computers, because he was having trouble using iTunes sharing and iChat, and we gave him a chance to try them again. And Shayne is thinking about ditching her Dell laptop and getting and iBook, so she was able to compare my Powerbook and Lisa's iBook. So it was a whole Mac thing.

Well Lisa was able to get into the VPN, so now she knows that there's something wrong with the network at her house. And I have working theory on my display problem. See, I couldn't duplicate the problem. I tried everything that normally causes it, but no go. Finally I realized that it was really cool (cold actually) at Dave and Shayne's place. And since I don't use the air conditioner much, it's been pretty hot at my house. And in fact, the display problem has been getting worse and worse as it's gotten hotter. I asked Dave if it could be caused by the computer overheating and he said yes, absolutely.

If heat is the problem, that also explains why putting the computer to sleep for a few minutes helped: because it gave it a chance to cool down. Lisa lent me a metal laptop stand that allows air to circulate better. It's kind of hard to use the laptop in the stand, but storing it that way should help a lot. And I can leave it in the stand when I'm using the external keyboard. She also lent me a battery-powered fan. When she runs her computer in the car for her webcam project, she leaves it in the stand and points the fan at the back of the case. Sounds like that will go a long way towards preventing overheating.

After our little troubleshooting extravaganza, we fooled around with iTunes, checking out each other's music collections. The highlight of the evening was definitely when Shayne played the "Too Fat Polka" and Lisa looked up and noticed that the TV, which had been left on with no sound, was showing Andy Griffith's jug band. Who seemed to be playing and singing in time with the music. It was too funny!

Have gotten some more work done on the car over the past couple of days. Right now I'm working on putting white beads over the chrome around the windows. It looks pretty good if I do say so myself. I've got a couple of photos on my art car page. Also I bought a car cover at Target. Because I've noticed that the sun is really fading the beads and some of the toys. I'm sure that leaving my car out behind the house, in full sun, every day is contributing to the problem. Because I used to have it in a covered garage at the office every weekday.

The tattoo is feeling pretty good. Just like last time, it stings a little when I lean on it, but I only really feel it if I lift my arms over my head or pull them back behind me. It just occurred to me that next time, all the tattooing will be low enough that I'll be able to wear a normal bra. hooray! A bra is a big problem when he works on the upper back, because the strap rubs at it while it's trying to heal. I've been wearing the gentlest of knit bras when necessary, and doing without as much as possible. Which is really not comfortable, especially in this heat.

Well I need to get to bed. Not sure when the heating guys will show up tomorrow morning to run the gas line. Poor dogs, it drives them crazy to have strangers walking around (and under!) the house. And I won't even let them bark at the invaders.

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Had my second tattoo session today. I'm really, really happy with how it's shaping up; here's a photo.

Today was a lot harder on me than last time. I don't know why, maybe because he worked in some more painful places. Like up high, just beneath the neck, in the center, that was really bad. And he did that part last, when I was already at about the end of my pain tolerance. About an hour earlier, he was working lower down on the back and there was so little discomfort I swear I almost fell asleep. I was just lying there thinking about planning for Artscape, making a list in my head of things to add to my "to do" list in iCal, and trying to get into a rhythmic breathing pattern, and the next thing I knew I was nodding off. I told Rex about it and he said "Well I'm about to wake you up, we're going to start coloring in now." He wasn't kidding! The coloring in was really painful, worse than I remembered from last time.

I was wiggling my feet during the worst parts, hoping that would keep my back still. But could I tell that I was moving too much because sometimes he would hold my back/neck down with one hand while working with the other. Finally, at the very end, I sort of started panting hard instead of wiggling my feet. I guess I must have been really huffing and puffing because he jokingly said, "are you in labor?" I laughed but I was kind of thinking, dude, it's either this or screaming, which would you prefer? Then he said "whatever gets you through it," something more ameliatory like that. I tried not to pant so hard after that but jeez, I had to do something.

It's kind of funny how the pain level changes, not just from place to place on the back but from moment to moment. Rex said it's all about how close he is to a nerve. Sometimes it would be like "not so bad not so bad kinda hurts YAAH! not so bad not so bad."

This time I knew to bring a button down shirt. Unfortunately it was a long-sleeved, kind of heavy shirt, but it was the only button-down shirt I had! Except for a polished cotton blouse I have for client meetings, that I really didn't want to wear today because tattooing is a bit messy and I didn't want it to get stained. Guess I cleaned my closet a little too thoroughly.

Anyway, I brought the button-down shirt with me and wore it backwards during the session. Good thing, too, because Rex got a little overheated under his work lamp and ended up opening the door to the booth. Several people from the shop wandered in to see the work and said very nice things about it. Which was nice to hear. One woman said that she had been admiring the sketch on Rex's wall, so she was glad to see the actual tattoo. I was feeling all flattered until I remembered that it's not my sketch anymore, it's Rex's work. Well I picked out the flowers and the general style, so I'm going to take it as a compliment to me as well as to Rex.

Rex isn't a very talkative guy, which suits me fine. If he'd rather concentrate on the work than on chit-chat, I have no complaint! We did have one interesting conversation though, when I asked him how one practices tattooing. I mean how did he learn before doing his first tattoo on a person.

I had imagined some kind of tattoo school with students tattooing sides of beef or something like that. Or at least tattooing each other without ink for practice. (Since the tattooed area gets red and swells a little, you could do a tattoo without ink and see how clean the artist's lines were, without doing anything permanent. Although you couldn't see their skill at coloring that way. Obviously.)

But Rex said no, he never practiced without ink or on something other than a person. And he also said there's no tattoo school. Some people do apprenticeships but he was mostly self-taught, he basically learned by doing. So he just got a (needle gun? I don't know what they call that tool that actually performs the tattooing) and did his first tattoo on himself. And he had a few friends who wanted tattooes and trusted him. When he had done 6 pieces, he took the photos to a shop, who had him tattoo someone while they watched, and then they hired him. And he's been doing it professionally for 7 years now.

No more visits from girlfriends needing to have serious talks, but there was one extremely embarrassing incident: One of the guys in the shop brought food in from a nearby restaurant, and Rex took a break to eat. Which, you'd think that would be annoying because I'm wanting to get as much done as possible before Artscape. But actually, I was really glad to have a few minutes off to walk around, have a drink of water, catch my breath.

So anyway, Rex is out front eating with a couple of other folks, and I decide to take a bathroom break. So I come out -- wearing my shirt backwards mind you, kind of crossing my arms in front of me to keep it from falling off -- and head to the bathroom. The door was shut but since it has a lock, I didn't knock or anything, just opened the door. Inside is another (male) employee, sitting on the john! I said "oh my god!" rather loudly, shut the door and kind of stumbled back to the front covering my face with my hands. I didn't see anything, but still, that was not something I wanted to see. The people at the front were all laughing and Rex yelled "The door has a lock you know!" When the guy came out, he said to me, "You could have sat in my lap!" Can I just say EW! and EEK! In fact I'd like to say them together. EEK EW!

We made another appointment for next Tuesday, same time. Since the work he did lower down today (around mid back, over the lower ribs) was so much less painful, I'm hoping that next week's work (more outlining, below what's already there) will also be on the lower end of the pain spectrum. When the outlining and green coloring is all done, he's going to do all the flowers last. We talked a little bit about the flower colors and I think we're going to do blue and orange. The ones that look kind of like daylilies will be orange and the trumpet-shaped ones will be blue. I have a book that says what these flowers actually are, but I lent the book to Rex.

Georg and I had planned on going to a new Japanese restaurant in Raleigh after the session, but somehow that fell through so we ended up just coming home and having a quick dinner of roasted chicken from Wellspring and asparagus. I was feeling really groggy and headachy earlier, I'm sure the headache was from the tension I was holding in my neck and shoulders during the tattooing. But I took some ibuprophin and put one of those cold packs on my forehead, and I feel pretty much fine now.

We just cleaned it up, applied bactitracin and the pink Glad "Festive Holiday Cling Wrap!" There's one spot on my left shoulder that looks a little funky. I can't tell if it's supposed to look like that or if that spot got messed up. Maybe the bandage slipped off that little bit and my bra strap rubbed against it? Well, if it got messed up I suppose he can touch it up in the next session. Though it's one of those high up parts that hurt a lot, so I hope that isn't necessary.

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Pretend for a moment that this is a blog. The kind of blog that posts lots and lots of links to articles that will either annoy/anger you, or make you feel good about yourself for being so much more sensible than the author/subject of the article. Or both.

Spinsanity.com gives Ann Coulter's new book Treason every bit of respect and praise it deserves. (Both Salon and Andrew Sullivan called Spinsanity's review "devastating.") The best thing about Spinsanity's piece is that it includes so many direct quotes, I don't have to even consider reading Coulter's book. That's a few hours of my life that will be much better spent on other pursuits, like rereading the latest Harry Potter book. Speaking of which,

From the always-witty Arthur D. Hlavaty comes a link to A. S. Byatt's rather pissy diatribe against Harry Potter in particular and escapist fantasy in general. As supergee points out, it's hard to imagine an essay that would make me more sympathetic towards Harry Potter. Byatt suggests that the Potter books are "...written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons, ... soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip."

What sticks in my craw about Byatt's essay is the assumption that light entertainment, whether on TV or written, is inferior material created for inferior people. The idea that reality TV or romance novels (I'm surprised she left that off her list, actually) are only enjoyed by the unwashed masses, the "normal people" who lack the capacity to appreciate Great Art and therefore deserve what they get.

I don't buy it at all. I love the Harry Potter books, and I also love cartoons, soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip. (Let's not forget fashion. And romance novels.) And if you know anything about me, you can guess that I'm pretty comfortable with the state of my "imaginative life." And I really don't think I'm more creative or imaginative than anybody else. Sometimes I doubt that there's any such thing as "normal people." Everyone is a crazy freak about something. It's just that only a few people let everyone else find out about it.

I think I'll go see what's on Soapnet.

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The thrift shopping excursion was indeed two tons of fun. It was me, Lisa, and her friend Ollie, who she knows from the big VW thing in Roswell. He's living somewhere near here (within a couple of hours) and had driven over to spend the day with her. First we went to Thriftworld, which no longer says "The Store You Deserve" on their sign, but I still think of them as the store I deserve. I bought a couple of sleeveles tops, I'm trying to get rid of my driver's tan but I need to protect the tattoo from the sun, so tank tops are out. I also bought a bunch of patterns. I had forgotten that Thriftworld sells patterns. Most of them are only a few years old but they had some back to the 50s. I bought a half-dozen, mostly mid-60s dresses but also an A-line skirt. Unfortunately I kind of got caught up in the moment, and three of the patterns I bought are way too big for me -- 3 to 4 sizes too big. Well, I know someone from the station, Sylvia, who collects old patterns to sell on Ebay. So maybe I can trade them with her.

I must say, Sylvia and the other pattern sellers must know a better source than thrift stores. I paid $1.75 for each of those patterns, but the ones on Ebay go for $3-4. There's no way the time and effort of reselling would be worth $1.25 per pattern for me, unless I were selling them by the boatload.

Next we went to Duke Surplus Store. Lisa and I agreed that Duke Surplus is way overpriced, but it's kind of a fun experience to go see all the medical glass, classroom desks, dorm furniture, etc. For me it was kind of a letdown. I remembered Duke Surplus having better stuff. But maybe that was just nostalgia, maybe it was always the same.

Our next stop was Untidy Museum. Which was an amazing vintage store. I can't believe I'd never been there before. A bit pricey, but I guess I'm just so used to the prices at Goodwill that anything over $3 for a used garment seems outrageous. I bought a really cute hat, a hand beaded beret. I also tried on a minidress with little mirrors stitched all over it, kind of Indian in style. Once I got it on we realized that it was probably a tunic, because the side slits were way too high. Also it was made out of the most uncomfortable fabric I have ever worn in my life. So I put it back.

(I don't know why horribly uncomfortable polyester was so popular in the 60s and 70s. I guess because it was the new thing, but why would people choose to wear clothes that felt so awful?)

We took a last stop in a thrift store that wasn't really very interesting to me, but Ollie bought a teapot and small rabbit fur. Not sure why he needed the fur, but he seemed really excited about it. Maybe it was for an art project?

Georg and I spent a couple of hours working on the car this morning. I did more beading, and he reglued a bunch of fish that had fallen off, and also covered a blank area with these cute little goldfish in a variety of colors. I'll take photos of the new stuff tomorrow.

Then in the afternoon we went shopping, chez Target. I bought a car cover so the sun won't bleach out my beading so fast. Also got some exercise clothes, including running socks. I felt like I was falling for a stupid gimmick, but on reflection I decided that good socks are more than a gimmick. Let's see, also got new earphones for the iPod, because the ones that come with it were hurting my ears and also tended to fall out. Maybe they're made for people with bigger ears. Anyway, I got the kind with a little frame that wraps around your ear. They seem much more comfortable and more likely to stay on.

And best of all, Georg and I bought a vacuum cleaner. It's not an expensive one, we decided that with such a small house we didn't need a top of the line model. It's great though! I used it today, it cleaned the hall rug so much faster than the with little hand vac. Then I went around the house getting dust bunnies out of corners, and scaring the dogs in the process. I didn't get through the whole house, but made a lot of progress before I pooped out. It's so much easier to dust with a vacuum! Jeez, if I'd known I would have gotten a vacuum cleaner years ago.

Now I'm watching The Time Machine with Rod Taylor. Oh man I love this movie. Having seen the remake only makes this one even better.

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Our Fourth of July was quiet. We had been invited to a party hosted by computer Jason from XDU, but we ended up staying home, having a cookout just for the two of us, and watching the end of Junglee which we had never gotten around to. The cookout was nice, especially because we have discovered the best deal in all of Whole Foods: they sell "tenderloin tips," the ends of the beef tenderloin that are too small to cut into a filet mignon, for half the price. Woo hoo! We also grilled zucchini, radicchio, and peaches for dessert. It was a really nice dinner.

Fourth of July is always kind of an ordeal for us, because the sound of fireworks scares the dogs. And our neighbors really love fireworks; they get started before it even gets dark and keep going for hours. (New Year's Eve is bad for the same reason.) So I spent the evening trying to calm and quiet two very skittish dogs. Thirteen paced around with that crazed look in her eye, and Lina pulled her ears back so high she looked like she was going to take flight. Kind of funny actually. Lina also clung very close to me. She wanted to get on the couch with me but I wouldn't let her, so she sat right in front of me, panting in my face. Mmm, dog breath. She clung so tight she actually followed me into the bathroom! She normally won't go near the bathroom willingly, because that's the place where they get a bath. (Thirteen used to be the same but she's taken to sleeping in the bathroom in summertime because the ceramic tile is cool.) The first time I shooed her out and shut the door in her face, but the second time I took pity on her and let her come in the bathroom with me.

Nutty, on the other hand, slept through the whole fireworks experience. What a good boy. Sean and Pam are supposed to pick him up today. I have to admit I'm going to miss the boy. It's been really fun having him here the past couple of weeks.

I just heard that WXDU is off-line until Monday at least due to equipment failure. Apparently something has overheated. Gee, can't imagine why! It doesn't affect me directly because I'm not on the air next week. I'm sure they'll have everything running again as soon as possible.

This afternoon I'm going thrift shopping with my friend Lisa. A spur of the moment thing, I was planning to work on my car today, but I haven't gone thrift shopping in ages and I hear Lisa is the queen of thrift. So it should be fun.

They just showed "Other Voices" from the Cure on VH1 Classic. Damn, Robert Smith looked young. He was probably around 20 or 21, but he looked barely old enough to drive. Actually I have no idea what the legal driving age is in Britain. But you get the point.

It reminded me of my first encounter with the Cure. It was 1986, the fall of my freshman year in college, and I stayed at school over a holiday to get some homework done. My roommate and I didn't get along so I usually studied in the library, but since she was away for the holiday I had a rare opportunity to study in the dorm room. I was trying to broaden my then-rather-narrow musical horizons so I was listening to WXDU on the radio, hearing lots of great stuff I'd never heard before. (In fact, I think I heard the Fall for the first time that weekend too.) Anyway they must have been doing a special non-playlist thing for the holiday, because one evening the DJ played about two hours of the Cure. Which totally blew my mind. I remember thinking, oh man, this is the greatest thing ever! I ran out the next day and bought The Head on the Door, Pornography, and Japanese Whispers, and listened to them obsessively until my next roommate, who I did get along with, asked me to stop playing those same damn albums so much. Alas, they were all on cassette (no turntable in the dorm room) so I don't have them anymore. I should see if the station has them. Well duh, I guess they have to have them, because that's where I first heard them in '86.

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Trying to cover three busy days in one post, I missed a few things. First of all, my haircut is fabulous. I love my hairdresser! It's so short that the sides don't curl up so much. I guess this is the wrong time of year to try and have straight hair, it would be easier in the winter when the air is drier. But the products I'm using (from Bumble & Bumble) feel pretty nice in my hair, not nasty or sticky, so I don't mind styling it even in this humidity.

Another thing, Georg and I are planning a weekend in Asheville in August. After Artscape it will be nice to get away for a few days without having anything to do. So anyway, we're planning this trip to Asheville, and it looks like we're going to stay in a yurt! Georg was looking for someplace interesting for us to stay and found it. It has hardwood floors, a kitchenette (fridge, microwave and outdoor gas grill), even cable TV.

The one regrettable thing it does not have is plumbing. We didn't find out until after making the reservation that we'll have to use the bathhouse that the campers use. My first impulse was no way, let's cancel and get a room at a hotel. But we talked it over and decided to treat it as an adventure. The yurt looks really nice from the photos, and it will be great to have all that privacy and the nice big deck. Plus the fridge will make breakfast a lot easier. Since I don't like eggs and now don't eat white flour, sugar or potatoes, it's really hard to eat breakfast in a restaurant. But the yurt has a fridge so I can bring my yogurt and strawberries that I have every morning. Anyway, it will definitely be a different experience from staying in a hotel.

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Whew, busy week. One thing I forgot to mention about my show Tuesday morning: We have a new album on the playlist by a band called Dengue Fever. It's Cambodian garage rock, by an LA band with a Cambodian singer. Well, this has me excited (besides the fact that it's a great album) because I have this fabulous album called Cambodia Rocks with 22 great songs, but no information whatsoever about the artists, song titles, nothing. But Dengue Fever's album includes a lot of the same songs! Plus I've been web surfing, and reviews & articles about Dengue Fever always mention Cambodia Rocks so I'm hoping I'll finally be able to find out something about the older album.

Let's see, Tuesday out of the blue my friend Christa offered me a free ticket to that night's ADF performance. Apparently she does fundraising for them and she's good at it, and they offer comp tickets as a bonus. It was an Indian group called Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, comprising five women. They were wonderful. The first half of the performance was what I'd consider modern dance, set to Indian music; the second half seemed much more like traditional Indian dancing. Christa sees a lot of modern dancing so I think she had more of a vocabulary to appreciate the performance, but I really enjoyed it too. I didn't try to understand the meaning of the dancing, just sat back and enjoyed the beautiful movements.

One funny moment was during the intermission, when Christa and I tried to make a pit stop. The bathroom right by the theater was really crowded, but it was in the Bryan Center so we went downstairs to another bathroom. It had a "pardon our dust" construction sign, but the door was open so I went on it. Well, the toilets were all there but there were no stalls! Just a row of toilets against the wall. I definitely didn't need to go that badly, so I headed out, passing another woman as I left. I felt like I should say something to her, but she passed by me too quickly. She came right back out, laughing and saying "I wasn't ready for that!" She looked really familiar to me, but I couldn't figure out why.

Wednesday I didn't get as much work done as I would have hoped because I had to get my hair cut (shorter this time, I really like it) and then go to Stoneline. Luckily they didn't have much work for me at Stoneline because Georg and I had tickets to Orchestra Baobab that night. They were fabulous! They're a Senegalese Latin-influenced band from the 70s. Their album Pirates Choice was re-released a couple of years ago, and was such a big hit that the band was convinced to get back together. They made a new album, Specialist in All Styles (also fabulous), and now they're on tour.

It was an outdoor concert at the NC Museum of Art, and it had been raining on and off, sometimes heavily, so we were worried that the show would be cancelled. But the rain stopped a couple of hours before the show, and by the time we got to the museum the sun was actually shining. What a lucky break! Georg had brought a couple of waterproof cushions and rain jackets anyway, which was great because the seats were all sopping wet.

With the show at the museum, the crowd was a bit older and less hep than the typical club scene. Apparently these outdoor concerts are a big picnic outing for a lot of people; we saw a lot of people with big coolers. Also they played really awful pre-show music, some kind of James Taylor knock-off. You'd think that to warm up the crowd before a legendary African band, they could have played African music. You would think that, but you'd be wrong.

We saw a bunch of WXDU DJs: Phil, Christine, Lew, Sylvia and Jason. Not computer guy Jason, but new Jason, who runs a music store and is helping Sylvia track down some Latin music that lacks US distribution. New Jason did training with me and we had a really interesting conversation about nu-jazz if I recall correctly. So maybe I should call him "nuJason." Sylvia sat with us for most of the evening, but we were really close to the stage so conversation was difficult. Sylvia did tell us that one of the band had been a lawyer for the past 15 years, and we speculated that it was the guitarist on the left who wore glasses. Also, Sylvia was going to interview the band after the show -- she's really involved in the world music scene, when we saw Los Lobos she interviewed them too -- and she asked if we spoke French. Alas! We both studied French in high school, but we don't remember any of it. If either of us had even passable French, we could have been her interpreter for her interview.

Anyway, the show. It was terrific. They played for almost two hours, which would be a rather short performance in Africa from what I understand. It was a fairly large group, 7 or 8 members I think. We particularly liked the two men on the far right, rhythm guitar and saxophone, who moved from side to side in unison for most of the performance. They really had it going on.

One interesting thing was when people started walking up on stage and handing money to the performers. Georg told me that's really common in Africa; everyone tips the musicians throughout a show. In fact, if I recall correctly what got the ball rolling was when the lead singer gave a dollar to the drummer after a solo in one of the first couple of songs. Some of the people who gave money stuck the bills to the musicians' foreheads. Which might be what they do in Africa, but here it seemed a bit awkward. As Georg said, you could tell the people sticking the money to the musicians' heads were "outside their comfort zones." On the other hand, the Africans who tipped were for the most part much more matter-of-fact about it: just walk up on stage, put the bill in the guy's pocket or pass it to him in a handshake, and then back off the stage. Rather than a sort of "tee hee, I just stuck a dollar on a man's head!" nervousness.

The weird thing is, the familiar-looking woman I had seen the night before at ADF was at Orchestra Baobab! I had been wondering all day how I knew her, and there she was again. I went up and told her that I had seen her the day before, and I'd been wondering ever since why she looked so familiar. She looked at me kind of blankly, then said, "Did you get your hair cut since last night?" I guess the haircut must have been more drastic than I realized!

It turns out that she waits tables at Greenhouse Cafe, a restaurant Georg and I used to go to all the time. It was small, only a handful of tables, and she was the only waitress most nights, so we had gotten to be chatty with her. Unfortunately when I started doing low carb we had to stop going there. The menu was mainly starch-based (mostly pasta and rice dishes), and also changed every night so it was impossible to predict whether they'd have anything I could eat.

Anyway she was really nice. She said it happens to her a lot, that people recognize her but don't know why. I can believe it; that used to happen to me all the time when I worked at Ninth Street Bakery, and for years afterwards. (In fact I saw one of my favorite Ninth St. customers, David Halperin, just a couple of weeks ago at Breadman's in Chapel Hill, and he remembered me too.) She introduced herself, and invited me to sit with her! I noticed that she had a journal out before the show started. Seems like a really cool person.

Then yesterday during the day I got a lot done on that intranet we've been working on. In fact I think we're almost done. woo hoo! That gives our client a good week to use it & find whatever bugs turn up before they show it to the organization at a big meeting next weekend.

In the evening I subbed Divaville, the jazz standards show, for Christa. Since it was July 3rd I played a lot of patriotic music. Which meant mostly military songs, since most patriotic music in the Divaville genre is from WWII. I didn't mean for the show to turn out so hawkish, but that's the way it worked out.

I had two requests: "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Anchors Aweigh." The sad thing is, I couldn't find "Anchors Aweigh!" I ended up playing songs about the Army, Air Force and Marines to make up for the omission. Christa had lent me some stuff from her extensive collection, and I have a two-CD set of WWII music, so I had a pretty wide selection to choose from. I did not play "Der Fuhrer's Face" by Spike Jones, but I did play "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" by Nelson Eddy.

And now I'm finally caught up to today. Whew!

swag

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The Kirby Derby has really got me going on the car. I spent most of the evening yesterday working on the art car diary. Not much difference to the viewer, but it's set up in Movable Type now like this diary. Which will make things a lot easier for me, for one thing, only one blogging software package to keep up with now. And I can turn comments back on (there was a bug in Greymatter comments that had allowed someone to hack my web hosting account, so I had to turn them off). Plus I can do that "trackback" thing, although I'm not entirely sure what it is.

Well anyway, I still have a few things to fix up in the art car diary: some style sheets here and there, the comments popup window needs to be formatted, but most importantly the photolog needs to be totally revamped. It's some PHP I wrote myself, and it needs to be rewritten to work with Movable Type. Also I want to set up a photo archive with categories. Because I have way too many photos to throw them all on one page, and it's only going to get worse when I add another 50 photos or so at Artscape.

The tattoo is just about healed. The "onion skin" scabs (sorry to be gross but that's what they are) are finally coming off. Thank god! I haven't been able to wear a regular bra since last Tuesday because I've been trying so hard to to protect the tattoo while it healed.

Had a nice show this morning. I was worried that I'd be too tired because I was up late last night working on the art car site. But I managed to get into a decent groove I think. Ended up playing a bunch of old music: XTC, Tears for Fears, the Smiths, the Buzzcocks. I was actually rather proud of myself for realizing that the Smiths would sound good after the song that was currently playing, and with only about 2 minutes to work with, finding the album (vinyl LPs are harder to browse than CDs), getting back into the control room, and cuing up the song (also harder to do with vinyl than with CDs) in time. I even knocked the needle out of place after I had cued up the song and had to do it again! Finished with about 10 seconds to spare. Once last summer I saw Phil, the DJ who used to be on the air before me, make a trainee do that (cue up vinyl with hardly any time) and I thought he was being sadistic. But it's not that bad once you get used to the station's turntables.

New RPM promos have starting coming into the station. I write a lot of letters to labels, and to be honest not many of them respond. (For one thing, a lot of the labels I'm interested in are in Europe, and they frankly could care less about some college station in the US.) But sometimes I hit the jackpot. Like this past week: I wrote to a new distributor asking for New York Lounge, the newest in the "City Lounge" series from Wagram. Each one is a 2 CD set of nu-jazz, downtempo and funk from a different city. So far I've heard Paris Lounge, Berlin Lounge, and London Lounge, and they've all been fabulous.

So anyway, I heard that New York Lounge was coming out soon & would be the best of the series. So I wrote to the label, and they put me in touch with their distributor, and the distributor sent a humongous box of stuff from a bunch of different labels. He even sent swag! I got a T-shirt for "Tracy Young Remixes Living Theater," and a keychain of a cute little Japanese kitty cat smoking a cigarette, that says Tamala 2010 on the wrapper. MSI is my new favorite distributor.

The only bummer is that they only sent a sampler of New York Lounge, not the full 2 CDs. It is every bit as fabulous as I heard; so I'm going to have to buy it anyway. It hasn't been released in the US yet, only as an import, but I found it for $20 on Amazon marketplace. They also sent only a sampler of Champs Elysees Cafe 2. I loved the first Champs Elysees Cafe, but the sampler of the new one isn't really ringing my bell so I don't think I'm going to buy that one.

Speaking of which, here's last week's CMJ chart. The Four Tet album was #2 on the overall playlist, so yay for RPM! Also I'm pleased to note that 5 of these albums were reviewed by me. Now if I can only get better about reviewing every week!

# ARTIST Recording
1 FOUR TET Rounds
2 CINEMATIC ORCHESTRA Man With A Movie Camera
3 RALPH MYERZ AND THE JACK HERREN BAND A Special Album
4 TRAVELER '03: A SIX DEGREES COLLECTION VARIOUS ARTISTS
5 KARSH KALE Liberation
6 AUTECHRE (CURATED) All Tomorrow's Parties 3.0
7 PEST Necessary Measures
8 RED ROOM Le Paradis
9 TORCH: A SIX DEGREES COLLECTION OF MODERN TORCH SONGS VARIOUS ARTISTS
10 IDOL TRYOUTS: GHOSTLY INTERNATIONAL VOL. 1 VARIOUS ARTISTS

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