Monday, August 28, 2006

randomness is all I’ve got

Not much shakin’ right now, so here’s another meal of Kim sum:

  • I’d love to hear Rockapella sing “Nellie the Nudist Queen.” Love to. In fact, I’d love to hear them put out an entire album of bawdy songs. C’mon, you know that’s what they sing to amuse themselves in the van between gigs.
  • Four days til Dragon*Con!
  • This weekend I saw a squirrel fall out of a tree. I didn’t think that was possible, but I witnessed it with mine own eyen. No blood, no foul; the critter scampered right back up the nearest tree trunk.
  • Did you know that “eyen” is an archaic plural for “eye”? It is. I just knew that grad school semester of reading and speaking Middle English would come in handy some day!
  • I trimmed the branches on my crabapple tree so it won’t drop so many fruits on my roof. It’s not fun to hear things smack onto one’s roof and wonder whether they’re, say, aflame.
  • Uber-beatboxer Kid Beyond (Andrew Chaiken) is coming to town. Oct. 22, with Widespread Panic, about which I know nothing. The venue (for which my sister used to work, oddly) doesn’t have the show listed yet, but I’ll call and inquire in a few weeks. Has anyone caught Kid Beyond live? Post-House Jacks, I mean.
  • I didn’t realize Moonlighting ran for 5 seasons. I thought it was 3. Apparently its shark jump at the end of Season 3 (they did it) was so monumental that 4 and 5 were wiped from my consciousness entirely. And I’m okay with that. What I’m not okay with is our current lack of Bruce Willis as a comic romantic lead. Moonlighting was his best work. I never did care much for Cybill Shepherd, though.
  • Know how I keep finding things? Today I found $.58 on top of the TP dispenser in the ladies’ room at work. Didn’t take it, though. I don’t need $.58 bad enough to ignore the fact that it might have been somewhere less sanitary than on atop the TP before I saw it.
  • I like John Grisham’s non-legal (not illegal) stories much, much better than his courtroom dramas. The Firm and The Pelican Brief, and their accompanying movies, prejudiced me against Grisham for years. — Okay, maybe it was Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts, neither of whom I’ve ever worshipped the way the glossies instructed me to. — But I highly recommend A Painted House and The Last Juror. I’ve just begun The Broker on audio in the car. I’ll keep you posted.
  • Looks like Christmas will be at my house again this year. Crowded! With a 2-year-old! And too cold to play outside. But Sister-san’s husband’s brother is getting married on New Year’s Day elsewhere in the state, which makes my place a semi-central location. Oy. Lord, please send me patience and toilet paper. Not necessarily in that order.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

this wasn't on the SAT

Ever wonder who harvests donated organs from cadavers? If you have the misfortune of becoming a donor in Sioux Falls, SD, the answer is one of my high school science teachers.

All together now: WTF?

On her return to the wild, wild west, Mom stopped in Sioux Falls to have lunch with her friend M, M's daughter and the daughter's kids, including the one just adopted from Africa. Also joining the party were two other hometown ex-pats, Mr. F and his wife. Mom asked what they were doing these days, and Mr. F replied with that organ business.

It's not a full-time gig. Mr. F's day job is in a hospital ER, talking with family members accompanying just-admitted patients. But a few times a month, he'll be called upon to harvest an organ.

Mr. F is not a doctor. He was, however, at one time (the mid-80s) an award-winning teacher of high school biology in western South Dakota. He taught my senior advanced bio class and coached numerous science fair winners. And now he consoles the families of the desperately injured and helps the newly departed give their final gift.

And how does a person get this job? Mr. F was talking with the guy who changes his oil, he said, and that guy knew somebody, and one thing led to another, and there you go.

Don't get me wrong, I think organ donation is super cool. My Dad did it. I'll do it when my turn comes. But to know the guy who . . . you know. Well, it's just weird.

groping rams, etc.

Quote of the day:

“I suspect when God was handing out the ability to use indicator lights, the Icelanders were off groping rams.”
— Alda on her blog, the Iceland Weather Report

I crashed hard last night. Went home with a headache (something that almost never happens), was only mildly hungry for my excellent Mediterranean dinner (something else that almost never happens), and hit the sack by 9:00. I’d hoped to show Mom a little more fun on her last night in town. Well, we did watch the Moonlighting episode where David and Maddie do The Taming of the Shrew. That was nifty.

So now she’s on the road again. At lunchtime, I called her on her car phone. Not a phone that she carries in the car — a phone that’s built into the car. It’s like OnStar, but it’s a phone. Has its own number and everything. Extra charge, of course. But seriously. My mother’s Buick Lucerne is both a vehicle and a telephone. WWDWD? (What would Dr. Who do?)

I have Friday off. Rockapella is playing in Atlanta Friday. I’m not going. But I’m going to Atlanta next Friday for Dragon*Con. A cappella geekery vs. sci-fi/fantasy geekery. Close call.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

top TV characters

Autumn: when a not-so-young woman's fancy turns to thoughts of the upcoming TV season.

Name your top five favorite TV characters in each category. Feel free to make up new categories.


Female — live
Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Laura Holt (Remington Steele)
the late Laura Palmer (Twin Peaks)
Special Agent Dana Scully (The X-Files)
Xena, Warrior Princess (Xena, Warrior Princess)

Male — live
any of the Bluth brothers (Arrested Development)
the Fonz (Happy Days)
Special Agent Fox Mulder (The X-Files)
Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Mr. Spock (Star Trek)

Female — nonlive
Lisa Simpson (The Simpsons)
Wonder Woman (Justice League)

Male — nonlive
Aquaman (Justice League)
Bart Simpson (The Simpsons)

the Starship Enterprise from all the Trek series
the General Lee, the car from The Dukes of Hazard
Moira, the spaceship from Farscape
Mr. Trolley from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood


Monday, August 21, 2006

Did you ever see a penguin come to tea?

This year’s T’ai Chi retreat was by far the mellowest ever. Usually a few guys bring guitars, a drum kit and an electronic keyboard and jam in the rec room. This year, they didn’t. Usually there’s a huge conflagration in the fire pit, around which raucous, alcohol-fueled storytelling draws a huge crowd from about 8:00 p.m. into the wee hours of the morning. This year, it was a small fire, meagerly attended, and no one so much as recited a dirty limerick, at least while I was there.

I can’t decide whether I’m happy or sad about the lack of hearty partying. I drank one beer the entire weekend and was in bed by 10:30 both Friday and Saturday nights. This made dragging my keister out for 7:00 a.m. practice much easier, of course, but the retreat did not have its usual spring-break feel.

In keeping with my recent ability to find lost objects, I found a man's watch on the bench beneath the tree. Found the owner this time, though. Too bad; I wouldn't have minded keeping that watch.

The most interesting thing that happened was Tim and Lynn teaching the group a really stupid song, the kind that wedges itself into your mind like corn between your teeth. It came complete with actions that had all the adults flapping our wings and waddling around like penguins. The actual children present watched from a safe distance for a few minutes, bemused, before returning to their water fight. Regrettably, I did not dig out my camera in time to collect any incriminating evidence.

For the interested, the melody goes like this:

Do re mi fa sol
Ti sol fa mi re do.
Do re mi fa sol
Ti sol fa mi re do.


I got home Sunday afternoon in time to enjoy a very pleasant supper on the deck with Mom, followed by some online shopping, a couple more episodes of Moonlighting, and some splendid Peanut Butter Panic ice cream. And again I was in bed by 10:30.

Friday, August 18, 2006

a reading from the book of hot

The Signature Sound concert last night was fantastic. The guys played to a packed house of several hundred. The video trivia, Bill Gaither sing-along, and hilarious animation on the big screen were great lead-ins to the show.

A quartet called the Chancellors kicked things off with about three lemonadey barbershop numbers, including a super-tight a cappella rendition of "Turn the Radio On." If you get a chance to see these guys, take it. They dress in sober navy suits and full-length red ties, but don't hold that against them.

Then SSQ took the stage and lit the place up. From our balcony seats, my friends and I had a bird's eye view of the roof-raising hair and the spectacular footwear, which I had to explain to the newcomers. The guys were in excellent voice, and just when you thought they couldn't take the energy level any higher, they did.

And speaking of higher, Ernie sounded about as fine as I've ever heard him on his top notes. At the other end of the scale, I heard the church had to build a new basement just to accommodate Tim's subsonics. The people around me gasped in surprise when he first let loose, and I even heard one guy theorize that the low notes were electronically generated, since no human being could possibly produce such a sound.

The only dodgy moment of the evening came during "Stand By Me." The Ball Brothers joined SSQ onstage for the big group swing step, and Ernie got so carried away he almost hurtled right off the edge of the stage. He had one shoe half off it and the other treading on air. If the guys nearest him hadn't grabbed handfuls of suitcoat, he would have tumbled for sure. It was only about a foot and a half to the floor, but still. I don't think I've ever seen a man's eyes get that big that fast. But of course he took it all in stride and never missed a note.

Thumbs up for the Ball Brothers, too. They opened their set with some incredibly sweet harmony. Perfect blend. Again, if you get a chance to see these guys and buy their CD, do so. Clearly they've learned a lot already from hanging around the pros. But I think it's time they asked Ernie for some fashion advice. They have too much personality to hide it behind black undertaker suits.

Anyway. The newbies in my party are already marking their calendars for April 20, when the Gaither Homecoming returns to the Twin Cities. There was much debate in the van going home about which of the guys we should have kidnapped to take home with us. Plus, my favorite baritone, Doug, caught me staring at him in the lobby after the concert and gave me a huge grin. I think we’re going steady.

We concluded the evening with pie and laughter back at Sensational Acres. I got bed a bit late, but I had harmonious dreams. \m/

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

top of the mornin'

Hey, y'all go read Greetings from the Top of the World and leave a comment. Please. This is my friend Mike's blog, which he's created to chronicle his adventures teaching math at an Eskimo college in the Arctic Circle. Seriously. He's now living and working in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost settlement in the U.S. He'll be posting pictures soon, too. It's an interesting read, and Mike would dig a greeting or two from the lower 48, whether he knows the sender or not. C'mon, do it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'll bring the popcorn

Mike has made it safely to the Arctic Cirlce, albeit without his luggage. Is it too late to FedEx him a quilt? He's sent a couple mass e-mails already extolling the fierce beauty of his new home. He's planning to start a blog or something to chronicle his adventures up north. When he does, I'll link to it. For a mad mathematical genius, he's a pretty good writer.

Mom arrives sometime this evening for the SSQ concert. Yes, I know she's three days early. She wanted an excuse to get out of her wee town again. Can't blame her. She'll be driving a new car, too, as the transmission in the old one gave up the ghost last week. D'OH! This morning she e-mailed me a phone photo of a highway rest area in SD, so I know she's on the road. That's my Mom. Pictures of bathrooms. I love her.

As for Rockapella: Who needs the band to perform when the fans put on such a lively show of their own? High camp? High drama? High five! I smell a new reality show. Just right for MTV, don't you think?


Saturday, August 12, 2006

finder, refined

Today I found a cell phone outside the T'ai Chi studio. What's the deal with me finding things lately?

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Follow-up. Nothing but follow-up

those keys I found
No word yet. I might, after all, post a sign near where I found them.

Sister-san’s stolen Harley
No word on that, either.

this morning’s fire drill at work
False alarm.

Yesterday I took my first stab at downloading songs from acaTunes. First, I had to feed 10 acabucks into my account. Prepayment is acarequired — and acannoying. And because of “administrative fees,” which is BS for “we have you over a barrel,” you can only prepay in multiples of 10. I wanted to download just three songs, but I had to bank 10 acabucks. Not cool, acaTunes. Not unless you’re paying me interest on my acabucks.

Next, only two of my three chosen songs were actually available for download. The site is fairly new and not yet firing on all cylinders. So one of the songs is still on my wish list, and eight of the acabucks are still in my account.

The downloads were slow and did not bring the album art with them like iTunes does.

Feature I like: I can subscribe to RSS feeds for new acquisitions and featured music. If acaTunes lays hands on Primer, I will be among the first to know. And I will taunt you with that knowledge.

Overall impression: underwhelmed at the moment, but willing to indulge the site’s growing pains. For a little while.

SSQ concert next week
One of my friends can’t go after all. His wife is going to try to roust one of her friends to go in his place.

T’ai Chi retreat
Definitely on. I’m going, and I’m not carpooling with anyone, so stop asking! I’m rooming with Lisa.

Programming tracks I hope to hit include American sci-fi and fantasy TV, sci-fi lit, Buffy, podcasting, Trekkage, Wheel of Time, X-track.

Not featured, to my surprise, but likely to spawn spontaneous mini-tracks in the halls: Harry Potter, Lost, Xena. And you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be belly dancing. The more belly, the better.

favorite vidcasts
Ask a Ninja, Dane Cook’s Tourgasm, Comedy Central’s super-shorts, Blue Man Group


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

the key is love

Update re: those keys I found this morning.

I brooded about those keys all day. There are two photo keychains hanging off the ring with little kids' school photos inside, plus a fob bearing religious icons. These things meant something to the person who lost them.

After work I stopped by a few houses where I saw neighbors outside. (Including a senior gentleman named Harvey who was sitting on a shabby red 70s-era vinyl-covered chair in his garage, watching TV. He's lived in that house across from the park since 1957 and knows all the people who walk their dogs past there, so he said he'd ask them for me. He offered me a beer, which I declined, but only because I really needed to get home to use the bathroom.) Introduced myself, explained what I'd found, left my phone number.

Finally I had the bright idea to call the customer service number on the back of the frequent filler card, since it's different from the c-store's number. I read the card's numbers to the service rep, who said he'd contact the customer and give him/her my name and phone number. So I'm hopeful about getting a call sometime soon.

lost & found

While out jogging this morning, I came upon a set of keys someone had lost. House & car keys, a couple keychains with kids' photos on them — no one I recognized from the 'hood — a convenience store "frequent filler" swipe card.

I approached (and badly startled; sorry!) a mature couple on the path ahead of me, but they keys were not theirs.

When I got home, I called the c-store and asked if they could get the owner's name from the swipe card so I could call him/her. They couldn't. Next, I called the nonemergency police line. A pissy dude suggested I take them to the lost & found office at City Hall. Maybe I'll drop by over lunch.

In the meantime, I feel odd with someone else's keys in my purse, and I know how FREAKED I'd be if mine were lost. Any suggestions on tracking down the owner?

Monday, August 07, 2006

yep, it's Monday

Excellent weekend, letdown Monday.

Late lunch (Chinese buffet) with Pat after Saturday classes. Just us two. And she invited me to a party she’s co-hosting next Saturday.

Cookout at B&G’s Saturday evening. B&G are newish T’ai Chi students I’ve coached off and on since they started. I was flattered to get this invitation, as it included only a few people. Beautiful yard, perfect weather, fine food, interesting conversation. — How interesting? One older woman told the story of how her family fled East Germany in the dead of night 50 or so years ago, and one young man revealed that he has a supporting role in a stage production of Jaws, the Musical.

I completed many chores on Sunday, including mowing the lawn, now that I can do it without risking heat stroke.

While I was enjoying a perfect evening on the deck, G-Doc called me, and we caught up a bit, which was even more perfect.

Then I called Kelly and we finalized dates for my Dragon*Con trip over Labor Day weekend.

Then Mom called and I reported all of this to her, and then she filled me in on all the latest family news.

This morning I made my D*C flight reservations. I’m going to geek Disneyworld!

Quote of the week:
In reference to our classmate Bill, who is about 6’5”/350 lbs, Dr. J said, “'Bill' isn’t short for William, it’s short for Building.”

Sister-san just e-mailed me to report that her husband’s Harley was stolen right out of their driveway yesterday morning. One alert neighbor futilely chased the getaway car (which had no license plates) while another came to wake Sister-san and Chef Jeff. But the bike is gone, with slim hope for recovery. TEH CRAPPAGE!

Partner-san just e-mailed me to report that he’s taking August off from studio activities. Looks like I won’t get another good partner workout until sometime next month.

And I have to work. Woe is me!