April 2009 Archives

finally

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A couple of weeks ago I had to join Twitter for work. I had avoided it before because 1. I don't need another online thing to keep up with and 2. I don't really get it.

I still pretty much don't get Twitter, but I finally found something useful about it: the CDC Emergency feed. Now I can safely ignore all panic-driven swine flu rumors. When the time comes to panic, the CDC will tweet me!

(In the meantime their advice is straightforward and sensible: wash your hands a lot, use alcohol hand sanitizer, try not to touch your face, stay home if you get flu symptoms. This Swine Flu And You article is helpful. I was already a little paranoid about picking up diseases from surfaces -- can't stand to touch a public bathroom doorknob with my bare hands, who knows how many people don't wash their hands! -- and I already keep hand sanitizer in my car.)

what was that about stopped clocks?

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Six months after the election, I still get a fair amount of political email. I don't know how I got on some of these lists. I knew enough to set up a special gmail account just for political mail which would be easy to drop later, but a few of the lists got ahold of my main address. Today brought a message from James Carville, which begins:

Dear Sarah,
Barack Obama is a better man than me.


I really can't improve on that.

who were the ad geniuses...

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who came up with this one?

Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?

benny moré: hoy como ayer

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April 28 movie: Benny Moré: Hoy Como Ayer. This movie was incredibly frustrating. I thought it was going to be all performances. Like all those Louis Jordan and Nat King Cole collections we rented last year. I was so psyched about sitting down to two hours of Moré's incredible voice. Well no, actually it was a documentary, mostly interviews with his contemporaries and a few songs here and there. What frustrated me the most was when they would show about thirty seconds of a song, and when it would start to get really good they would cut away to another interview. Also, parts of the movie seem to have been copied from a worn-out videotape. The image jumps and is scratchy and you hear that distortion that happens when the tape is starting to stretch.

It's not fair of me to blame this movie for being what it is, not what I wanted it to be. I probably would have enjoyed it immensely if I had been in the mood for it.

Also, the movie called him "Benny" but my albums call him "Beny." Not sure which is correct.

the kiss before the mirror

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April 26 movie: The Kiss Before the Mirror. A dark suspense movie in which Frank Morgan defends his friend, who is accused of murdering his adulterous wife, meanwhile Morgan suspects his own wife of infidelity. Well, suspect isn't the right word. She's really obvious about it. Also features a very very young Walter Pidgeon as one of the other men.

the more the merrier

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April 25 movie: The More The Merrier. Judging by the measure of repeat viewability, this is one of my favorite movies. I love it so much! Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn are all superb. The relationships among all three seem so genuine. They made me believe that the actors were friends in real life. And the portrayal of crowded wartime DC is so vivid. And the dialogue just sparkles. Georg and I sat there giggling just because the movie was so fun. If you like screwball comedies, you have to see this. You really do.

farm tour

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Shayne and a lambThis past weekend Georg and I went with D. and S. on the farm tour! Forty local farms open their gates to visitors for the weekend. One afternoon isn't nearly enough time to visit 40 farms, and we only made it to three.

We started with lunch at the Chapel Hill location of Allen & Sons. I have to say, that was some of the best barbecue I've ever had. The smoky flavor was so intense, I didn't even bother to put sauce on it. Good tea too, and since we all ordered tea, they brought us a pitcher.

The first farm we went to was Maple View. Which, in retrospect, I wish we had skipped because to prevent hoof & mouth disease, they don't allow anyone into the actual farm. Instead they sent us to an educational area which was kind of like the ag displays at the state fair. I like those displays at the state fair, but we were there to see actual farms.

Out back something funny happened: they had pens with a few animals for people to look at. The first pen had goats, and I noticed that about a half dozen people were inside petting the goats. I figured maybe they were taking small groups into the pen to see the goats. We moved on down the line to see the rest of the animals, and then a few minutes later I heard an employee come running out and yell, "You're not supposed to be inside the pens!" By that point there had to be at least 20 people in there. It was kind of hilarious to see them all filing out one by one.

Shayne and a lambOur second stop was the Dancing Pines Farm. It's a small farm and we got to talk to the farmers about their method for keeping lettuce alive during that really cold snap we had over the winter. The best part though was the beekeeper! He did a little demonstration where he opened one hive and showed us the bees. And he let me put on a long sleeved shirt and a bee hat and go with him to the hive! He didn't have extra gloves so I couldn't do anything, just got to stand close and watch. Still, it was So! Cool!

The beekeeper was just what you would expect. An older man who loved bees & was so in tune with them. He brought out a comb full of baby bees so we could see the nurse bees feeding them. While we were watching, a baby emerged from its cell and started trying to open its wings. You could hear the joy in the beekeeper's voice when he saw it.

I have some interest in beekeeping and I asked him lots of questions. He confirmed my suspicion that we don't have enough land to raise bees in our yard. But he said that it would be easy to find a farm which would let us keep bees on their land. Maybe when we get our yard under control, I'll look into those free beekeeping classes that I think the county does once a year.

Fickle creek farmOur last stop of the day was Fickle Creek Farm. They have a really interesting system of using the animals instead of equipment or chemicals to prepare fields. For instance, when they wanted to plant up a field, they let pigs root in it for five years to destroy the weeds. Then they let chickens live in the field for two years to fertilize. Then they were ready to plant! It was inspiring.

Unfortunately, I was being my usual graceful self that day: I lost my balance while dipping my foot in the disinfectant bath and fell on the hard gravelly ground. I got a scrape on one leg which looked terrible, but was actually shallow once I cleaned the blood off. The bigger problem was landing hard on my right hand. The heel of my hand got pretty bruised, though it took a couple of days for the bruise to come up. Today I've got a nice big purple bruise that wraps around my hand. At least it doesn't hurt much anymore.

Between me falling and the general heat of the day, we were all done in by then. We stopped at the new Weaver Street in Hillsborough for lemonade -- and can I say, it was a rare and wonderful experience for me to be the one person in the car who had any idea where we were going. I have such a bad sense of direction that it doesn't happen often! -- then headed back to Durham.

A really fun afternoon. I definitely want to go on the farm tour again next year.

farewell, maude

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ArthurBea.jpgIn honor of Bea Arthur I did a set of mouthy broads on my show this afternoon: Tallulah Bankhead, Marlene Dietrich, Ethel Merman, Mae West and Bea Arthur herself, singing "Let's Face the Music and Dance" from her Broadway album Just Between Friends. All women who "took no guff" as I put in on the air. I was trying to speak discreetly, though I almost slipped and called Arthur "ballsy." I think that's legal but my listeners tend to be older people and I try to keep my language squeaky clean.

Most people my age remember Bea Arthur from "The Golden Girls." I wasn't really watching TV when that show was on the air so my main memory of her is "Maude," which my parents watched when I was a kid. I didn't find out until later how controversial the show was. The Times has a good obituary of Arthur today. From it I learned that Maude's abortion happened two months before Roe v. Wade. Apparently abortion was legal in the county where the show was set, though not yet in most of the country. Now that's ballsy.

bunny update

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We found a local group called Wildlife Welfare which helps people deal with injured wildlife. They have a list of "rehabbers" who will tell you what to do with the animal you've got, and if it needs medical care they will take it in.

Turns out we were not supposed to feed or water it, that's dangerous to a hurt small mammal. When we went back to remove the greens and water dish it hadn't moved, much less eaten or drank anything. I'm sure it was in shock. They told us to give it warmth because of the shock. They suggested a heat pad under the box, which we don't have, so we took one of those microwave heat packs and laid it along one side of the box. That way the bunny could get close to the heat if it wanted, and if it got too hot it could move away. They also told us to mostly cover the box so it would feel like it was hidden. We had just put a screen over it so it couldn't jump out & so nothing else could get in.

I took the bunny to a rehabber in south Durham, a really nice woman. She saw the injury -- missing a big chunk of fur on one side -- and said that if it has no internal injuries, it could recover from that. She asked me what kind of dog I have and when I said shepherd mix her face fell. She said shepherds tend to do a lot of damage.

So I'm not too optimistic about its long-term chances, but still I feel much better having delivered the bunny to someone who knows how to take care of it. Even if it doesn't make it, it will be much more comfortable with her than it would have been with us.

I gave her a donation which she said she would pass on to the Wildlife Welfare organization. I hope they give her something for the work she does.

We also got a lot of really helpful information from the Piedmont Wildlife Center website.

that carnage time of year

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Jane caught a baby bunny about a half hour ago. She wounded the poor thing but didn't kill it. It was bleeding but still able to hop away when Georg caught it.

We put it in a box with some greens and a dish of water, covered it with an old window screen and put the box in the shed. If it's still alive in the morning I guess we'll call the vet.

After it was all over Georg told me that Jane had killed one while I was away. Poor baby bunnies. How long does it take for the stupid things to grow big enough that they have half a chance of getting away?

grr

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We have a neighbor who either just got a barky dog, or just decided to start leaving it out all night. I can't remember where I put the earplugs when I unpacked on Friday.

ivanhoe

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April 24 movie: Ivanhoe. Is it Robert Taylor day or something? Just for me actually. TCM wasn't showing this today, I had recorded it while I was away.

What a treat this movie is. A huge MGM spectacle with big sets, big locations (real English castles), big action set pieces, a big story, big acting, big costumes, big everything. Stars Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine, and George Sanders. All of whom I adore. The movie is a historical drama about the rescue of Richard the Lionhearted, and there's a big love quadrangle, also a subplot about the persecution of the Jews in medieval Europe. (It's pretty mild in the movie compared to reality, but still, it's not the "clerks saying "Happy Holidays" in a store" nonsense that passes for religious persecution these days.)

This was a great way to spend a lazy afternoon. One of these days I should read the book and find out how close an adaptation it is.

high wall

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April 24 movie: High Wall. I've got to say, there's nothing like a week of other people's drama wrapped up by an unexpected and mostly involuntary seven-hour overnight drive to make me appreciate the saying, "there's no place like home."

The silver lining is that no one was expecting me until tomorrow, so I had today to relax and recover from driving all night. Turned on TCM just as this movie was starting. As it happens, it's a tight, well-made noir starring Robert Taylor as a war veteran who apparently killed his wife during a psychotic episode, and Audrey Totter as a psychiatrist at the state mental hospital. Both stars are great, a pleasant surprise from Taylor who doesn't generally turn in such a subtle, believable performance. Also good work by Herbert Marshall as the dead wife's employer and H.B. Warner as a sad, music-loving inmate of the mental hospital.

escape

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April 13 movie: Escape. Decent thriller about Robert Taylor trying to rescue his mother from execution by the Nazis. It was made in 1940, after the war had started and before the US had gotten involved, and the message of the movie was "Wake up, people! We can't just stand by." Norma Shearer plays a naturalized German citizen, originally from New York, who stands in for America as she gradually learns about the evil of the Nazis and comes around to helping Taylor. My main criticism of the movie is Taylor's acting: his idea of intensity is to Shout! At! People! and he spends the whole movie running around doing just that. Good supporting work by Conrad Veidt, Felix Bressart, Philip Dorn and silent legend Alla Nazimova as the mother.

wife, husband and friend

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April 13 movie: Wife, Husband and Friend. Romantic comedy starring Loretta Young and Warner Baxter as a couple who hate each other, should never have married, and if they must stay married should live as far away from each other as possible. Okay, that's not how 1939 audiences were supposed to read it. They're supposed to be a couple in love who just happen to sabotage each other at every opportunity. I can't recommend this movie unless you loathe your spouse and you want to feel like that's the natural order of things.

show boat

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April 15 movie: Show Boat. Is this the earliest film version of Show Boat? It was made in the dawn of the sound era, and like The Jazz Singer was almost entirely silent, punctuated by a few musical numbers in full sound. Also the racial plot element had been completely removed.

You might be asking yourself, why would anyone watch a mostly-silent, bowdlerized version of Show Boat. Good question. I kept watching out of curiosity. The print they showed on TCM read like a sound movie for which most of the soundtrack was missing: it was totally silent, no music or anything, and also no intertitles. It had modern subtitles some of the time, and sometimes nothing at all to indicate what they were saying. I'm still not sure what was up with that. Also, I had never seen Joseph Schildkraut in a starring role before. He had a high-pitched voice with a German accent, and when I've seen him in soundies he usually played a villainous, conniving nobleman. The ambitious king's councillor in The Man in the Iron Mask, the vicious courtier in Marie Antoinette, that sort of thing. It was really interesting to see him as a romantic lead.

no one could have predicted...

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...that torture would be used to extract false confessions.

"There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used," the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.

"The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there."...

"There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, especially the few high-value ones we had, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people to push harder," he continued.

"Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies."

Senior administration officials, however, "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information," he said....

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under "pressure" to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.

"While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq," Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. "The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results."

Report: Abusive tactics used to seek Iraq-al Qaida link, McClatchy

the 5,000 fingers of dr. t

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April 16 movie: The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. Hard to believe I never saw this before. It's a fun movie. If you saw what Jim Carrey and Mike Myers did to Dr. Seuss and wished there was a good live-action Dr. Seuss movie, you should definitely watch this. As I said to Georg at the time, you probably have to be high to fully appreciate it, but I enjoyed it plenty without chemical enhancement.

the maltese falcon

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April 17 movie: The Maltese Falcon. Has it really been a month since I wrote up a movie? I think it has, maybe even longer. I've watched a couple dozen movies in the meantime, and I better get to it.

So, they showed The Maltese Falcon as part of TCM's fan favorite week. They had fans on to introduce their favorite movies every night. How do they find these fans, and how do I sign up? The fan favorite movies are usually big famous classics that we've all seen a million times, but you know, there's a reason why the biggest hits are the biggest hits.

(A friend of mine said that to me about the music I play on my show. Because I mostly try not to play the biggest, most famous songs -- the station's mission is "to educate and entertain" so I try to play lesser-known songs as much as I can. But at the end of last year I did a special 4 hour "a song a year" show, and for that show I did play a really famous or really important song from each year. So it was essentially a "greatest hits" show. And people loved it! I got more calls during that show than any other. Like my friend said, the biggest hits are generally hits because they're really good songs.)

It's been a long week and I actually fell asleep during The Maltese Falcon last night. At least I made it to the part where Sidney Greenstreeet says "I'm a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk." Unfortunately I missed Peter Lorre's Ren-like tirade, "you bloated idiot! you stupid fat-head!" I had seen this movie probably a half-dozen times before I realized that Ren from Ren & Stimpy was based on Joel Cairo.

yay?

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Even with Claritin these allergies are kicking my ass. Nose itches and throat hurts all the time. I would think I had a killer cold, except that I don't feel sick at all except the itchy nose and hurty throat. A friend at work told me this was the first year he'd ever needed allergy medication too. Maybe next year it won't be so bad.

Tonight I made risotto for the first time. It turned out pretty well for a first time effort. Meaning, it was perfect when we took it off the heat. Then we dithered around with grating the cheese and stirring in the vegetables, meanwhile it cooled and thickened and got not so perfect. Kind of gummy and clumped up. At least it tasted good. Next time I'll know to stop cooking just before it seems done. It was kind of amazing how it visibly turned done. All of a sudden the rice grains got bigger and changed color. Well, they turned less opaque. Just enough to make the color seem to change.

Georg went to a concert, and I stayed home and read the torture memos. Which are staggeringly awful. Worse than my worst, most paranoid fears. And I can get fairly paranoid when I put my mind to it.

I needed to take my mind off things, you know, things like my own government coming up with cynical excuses to cover their own asses while they committed war crimes. Things like that. So I turned on a movie ... A Scanner Darkly. Um, yay? Good choice, now I'm all cheered up! Next maybe I'll listen to some Billie Holiday.

yahoo

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Had a wonderful dinner at Spice & Curry. We shared spinach pakora, a dosa stuffed with potato and paneer, and a lamb dish whose name I forget, which was just wonderful. They gave us an extra dosa too! The extra one was just the pancake, no filling. By the end of the meal we were the ones who were stuffed. And why are there always so few customers when we go in to Spice & Curry? It's far and away the best Indian food I've had in the Triangle. Do they do most of their business at lunch?

All that terrific Indian food put me in a Bollywood mood so I've been watching my favorite musical numbers on Youtube. Here's a little Shammi Kapoor to brighten your evening:

batter batter batter

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Bases loadedOpening night for the Durham Bulls tonight! We had great seats, front row in left field, thanks to D. and S. who have some kind of season ticket thing.

It was a good game: the Bulls won 2-1. Some new between-inning games too. The best game was a perennial favorite, where a small child races Wool E. Bull around the bases. They had found a little boy who was so young, he did not get the concept at all. He kept stopping when he got to each base, and at second base he started to wander off into the outfield. The umpire had to turn him around and steer him towards third. It was so cute! Usually when the kid is that small, a staffer goes around with them to make sure they go the right way. Wool E. Bull is a pro at losing these races. Somehow he always manages to time it just right, to make himself far enough behind that he can genuinely run the last base and still let the kid win.

Best part of the night: $1 hot dogs!

the strange wisdom of jenny shimizu

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Since there's no Top Chef and no Project Runway, we've been watching Make Me a Supermodel. It's somewhat like America's Next Top Model, but so much better. For one thing, MMAS casts (mostly) actual models. And the prize for best photo of the week is an actual go-see, and a few of them have actually booked the job.

Both shows have a former supermodel among the judges: Paulina Porizkova on ANTM, and Jenny Shimizu on MMAS. Shimizu tends to come out with random words of advice that are both genuinely helpful and deliriously strange. My favorites so far:

"Even if I were alone in my house, I would not do that." (said of a jazz-hands / Batusi performance on the catwalk.)
"A threesome is something you really do not want to do. Someone is always the third wheel." (may only apply if Madonna is one of the other two.)
"Soft bunnies ... soft bunnies." (think of them to relax your face.)

cranky thought for the night

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Restaurants that give me a headache go off the list. As of tonight Broad Street Cafe is off the list. At least when they have a band.

Vermont overrides veto to legalize gay marriage. My understanding is this is the fourth state to legalize gay marriage, and the first to do it in the legislature, not in the state supreme court.

Damn those activist legislatures! Ignoring our democratic traditions and voting to make new laws from the ... wait.

Sarcasm aside, WOO! This is a great day for equality in America.

the makings of a good meeting

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After our last day at the Durham Neighborhood College, Georg and I realized that one reason the class had gone so well was the good mix of people among the students. A pretty wide range of interests and concerns was represented, and everyone had a chance to speak up.

We've all been in groups where one person derails the discussion with their own pet issues. You know, there's time for five questions and someone has ten questions to ask. And each of their questions is almost as critically important as the sound of their own voice. Well, we didn't have anyone like that in our class. No one overly dominated, even when the discussion got heated at times. Well done, class!

Speaking of good groups, tonight was the first meeting of the Durham for Obama voting rights group. They want to keep the energy from last fall going by getting to work on issues of concern in the community. I'm not generally a big fan of meetings, but this was a good one. Very focused and action-oriented. We left with clear, practical goals and everyone had a task to complete for next time. I'm really excited about this group. It seems like there's a lot of opportunity here to do something concrete to help people exercise a fundamental right.

eating and weeding

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Some fine eating this weekend, first at the new Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon Grill on Friday night. We had a lovely dinner with D. and S., and Phil and his friend Laraine. I had lemongrass beef with vermicelli noodles. Really really good. Saigon Grill is clearly the place to be, as we kept seeing people we knew all night. In fact we hadn't planned on eating with D. and S., just ran into them there.

Then tonight we tried La Vaquita, the taqueria in the cow store on Chapel Hill Road. Georg had lengua tacos and I had pibil (pork slow cooked in citrus and achiote). Both so good! They just opened La Vaquita II on Hillsborough Road, right near us. I think we're going to be eating there a lot. No cow on the roof of the new location, alas.

Even with everything going on we managed to get some good yardwork in too. We weeded almost the entire blueberry bed. It was overrun with vines and wild brambles, both of which have long woody roots, and this evil weed that grows a root the size and shape of a daikon radish. So there was lots of digging to get all those deep roots out. One of the blueberries had brambles growing right in the middle of it. I had to dig the poor thing up, set it aside, dig the brambles out from under it, and then put it back. Lucky the soil was so wet, that made it easier to pull out the deep roots.

Georg also dug up several volunteer saplings that are growing right under the chain link fence. It's hard to dig them out from under the fence so we had been taking the easy way out for the past few years, just cutting them back over and over. Which unfortunately encourages them to grow stronger, deeper roots, making the job harder when we finally get around to doing it right. Well Georg got a bunch of them yesterday. And between the two of us we mowed the yard. First time this year!

I wanted to but did not get around to planting the seedlings outside. It's supposed to get down to the low 30s in a few days so maybe I should wait. The tomatoes are growing fast & will need to be transplanted again soon. Each time you almost the whole plant under the soil, leaving just a few leaves exposed. That helps them grow stronger root systems.

all lounge show today

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I am doing a special show of all lounge - exotica - bachelor pad music today from 2-4 pm. More info (and a link to make online requests) here. 88.7 if you're local, wxdu.org if you're not.

i'm a graduate

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We had our graduation ceremony from the Durham Neighborhood College yesterday. It was an all-morning affair: we met at 8 am at a training facility out in Northeast Durham, near the landfill and the animal shelter. Had a nice breakfast (pastries, bagels and fruit) and then we had a bus tour of Durham. The best part of the tour was the water treatment facility out on 55 in RTP. They talked us through the whole process and we got to look at the computer monitoring system. Which is really cool. It's a diagram of the facility, and they can touch the screen to zoom in on that part of the system. We only had 20 minutes so we didn't get to walk around the outdoor facility and see everything. They invited us to come back for a full tour they were doing later that day, but Georg and I were tired so we didn't go.

We also got to see the emergency "command center" (where everyone gathers during an emergency or crisis) which is out on Stadium Dr. near Costco. They have workstations set aside with computers and phones for each branch of emergency services, and they have a special room off to the side for ham radio operators. The hams have to have quiet so they needed their own room. And they installed a window because they didn't want the hams to feel like they were working in a closet. There are also TVs all over the place so they can monitor what the media is saying about an emergency. While we were there, there was an Obama press conference in France on the TV. The sound was turned off and I was bummed about missing the press conference! I tried to find it on Youtube this morning but I couldn't. Maybe I'll try CNN later. I heard that he gave a great speech in Prague yesterday, and promised to sign the nuclear test ban treaty. About damn time.

Anyway, after the bus tour we went back to the training facility (well duh, all our cars were there) and had lunch, which was a nice chance for everyone to talk. None of the folks from my group project had made it that day, which was sort of the good and the bad: I was sorry not to see them again, but on the other hand I had the chance to chat with people I hadn't gotten to know as well.

Finally we had the graduation ceremony. Which they made kind of a big deal out of. Becky Heron and Mike Woodard spoke -- Woodard is a DNC graduate -- and shook our hands when we got our diplomas. Heron and Woodard both encouraged us to get involved in government. They want us to join committees or advisory boards or something like that. I've been thinking about all the different parts of government we learned about & trying to figure out where I would like to get involved. One thing I have learned about myself is that I like feeling like I'm helping, but I don't really like decision-making. So the committees and what-not might not be the best place for me.

One thing that jumped out at me during the class, something I'd like to do, was the Citizen Observer Patrol. They told us about it during the tour of the jail: you get to drive around in an official-looking car (which is different colors than a police car of course) and if you see a crime happening you call the real police. They were saying that patrol coverage is a real problem, for instance people know what time the shift change is and there's a dramatic increase in crime during that hour, while the patrols are returning to the station and the new patrols are heading out. (He said they had recently started staggering the shift change to reduce that particular problem.) And one of the students in the DNC confirmed that in his neighborhood, the residents felt a lot safer when they saw the patrol car & they very much wanted more patrols.

It doesn't sound dangerous, not like being an actual police officer. You don't get out of the car if you see a crime in progress, just call it in to the real police. I looked it up online and the Citizen Observer Patrol also helps stranded motorists, does house checks for people on vacation and visits shut-ins. It sounds like a way to really help Durham. I think I'm going to find out how to apply.

step back doors opening

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the broken door is fixed!I may not have mentioned this recently but Undersea Mah Jongg is an old car. 19 years old to be exact. And with an old car, things go wrong from time to time. One thing that went wrong about a year and a half ago, and had vexed me ever since, was the front passenger door. On the way home from an art car trip two summers ago it suddenly stopped working. Wouldn't open at all.

When I got home from that trip I talked to Brian, an auto mechanic I work with. He said that it could be a simple fix, but if you can't open the door, you can't remove the panel to find out. That seems like a design flaw to me -- getting inside the door is easy except when you need to -- though there's probably a good reason for it.

Anyway, since I almost never have passengers in my car and I'm also a cheapskate, I never tried to get the door fixed. Just hoped that one day it would open. Once about a year ago Georg did get it open, and I was so excited, but I stupidly thought it was fixed and locked my car, and then it wouldn't open again. Lesson learned: the problem had something to do with the lock.

Over the past year I've noticed that when the car is unlocked, the lock button on that door doesn't go up as high as all the others. That seemed significant, so I kept an eye on it, and a couple of days ago I noticed that the lock button was up as high as the rest. Tried the door, and woo-hoo, it opened!

Since then I've been trying my hardest to remember not to lock the car until I saw Brian again. I asked him if he could look at it or if I should call the shop. He agreed to do it, and he had it fixed in about 20 minutes!

Turns out it was a broken spring. The spring pulls the catch out of the way so the lock can disengage. Without the spring, the catch was loose in there, so it mostly blocked the lock but occasionally it would fall out of the way and let the door open.

The hook on one end of the spring had broken off and the spring had fallen down inside the door. Brian uncoiled the last bit of the spring, bent it over to make a new hook, and voila, good as new. All that time that door was broken, all over a spring.

why durham?

| 2 Comments

Finally set up a Youtube video of the Durham Neighborhood College project. I'm really proud of how it turned out.

oh dear

| 4 Comments

Two incredibly shallow questions about this photo. First, is Prince Philip a thousand years old or something?
obamas-royals.jpg

Second, is Michelle's slip showing?
obama-petticoat.jpg Oh, dear.

(photos from Talking Points Memo)

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