Monthly Archive: August 2003

Aug 27

Itsy. Bitsy World

OK, a few weeks ago Jessamyn (whose blog I read regularly) was talking on her site about a huge road trip that would include RTP. So I wrote her and said “Hey, if you get bored when you’re in NC, call me…” since I know the area and think we’d get along and whatnot.

So today I’m reading her account of the trip and who do I find out she’s visiting? My dear, old friends Steve & Heather. We’ve known each other for eons; in fact, Steve’s fond of saying that I gave him his first internet job, which I guess I did.

Again, the world shrinks, but in a really nice way!


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Aug 25

Sad Confession Time

I watched Dance Fever last night. Now, in my defense, I didn’t watch the bad parts (the commercials or the announcer or the silly Dance Fever Girls [who weren’t _half_ as good as the contestants — why were *they* being paid?]), just the dancing. And the judging. (Hail PVR!)

Here are my thoughts on the whole thing:
1) There were some *quite* good dancers.
2) I respected the diversity of styles represented (the winning group even had some traditional african dance moves!)
3) Clogging is the same thing as Irish Dancing, but has a much poorer reputation
4) MC Hammer repeats himself “You got the whole package. That’s right, the whole package. You got the whole package.” Lather, rinse, repeat.
5) The technical judge (whose name now escapes me) had the worst of it, as he actually had to judge their dance ability. Carmen (Electra) was in charge of judging “Appearance” (=costumes, I think), and MC Hammer was judging “The whole entertainment package” (which would seem to make the other two jodges redundant, no?
6) I really do like to dance & I should do it more often.

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Aug 25

Sewing machine!

I am so excited! I won an eBay auction for a Singer Slant-O-MAtic, which is just exactly like the sewing machine my Granny used (and that I learned to sew on). I have head several sewing projects that have remained unfinished since my Singer (a ’70s model Futura that was crappy) quit behaving nicely. There’s a STar Wars t-shirt from my friend Caroline that wants to be “modded”, and several tote bags that are begging to be made. Whee!

And yes, I am well aware that I don’t really need another crafty project, as the current list includes:

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Aug 21

oh dear (but with redeeming bits)

I was quite excited because my friends Erika and Katie (both high school chums) were going to be in town and another frind (Phil) was going to be throwing a dinner party with all of us (and a bunch of other folks). But it turns out Evite screwed up the invite and the party is actually Labor Day weekend, which means that I won’t be able to go. :(

The good news is that I’m going to Chicago for Labor Day weekend. Jeff’s going up this Sunday (for business) and I’m joining him next Thruday night. Friday I’ll be on my own (Magnificent Mile, here I come!), Saturday night we’re going to see Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai, and Sunday we’re going to The Shedd Aquarium. There’s a big jazz festival that weekend too, and the main pavillion is right by our hotel (The Fairmont). Whee! I can’t wait!

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Aug 18

Something I wrote about in the comments on Anna’s blog

In response to Anna’s Top 9 things she needed in a city:

Ok, I can’t help you on #2, as temps here do go into the low 90’s (and sometimes higher) during the summer (though there’s AC everywhere, so it’s not as big a deal as it might be. Also, we get beautiful thunderstorms that really cool things down, so it’s not usually the case that you have >1 week where it’s really hot).

Save that, tho, the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area of North Carolina is pretty swell (IMVHO, of course).

Our winters are great… not too cold, but we usually get 1 “good snow” a year (which down here is <5″, but is enough to make you “miss school” — yah!). [I am ignoring the freak ice storn, as it’s happened once in the almost 35 years I’ve lived here.]

The Research Triangle Park means there are computer jobs (IBM, Cisco, Glaxo-Welcome, etc.), plus there are three research universities (Duke, NC State and UNC-CH). This makes for a very intelligent region (it’s geeky in a good way, if that makes sense).

All kinds of arts things, both bigger (like touring broadway productions) and smaller (several good community theater groups), plus the best band scene anywhere that’s not a “big city”. I’ve seen David Byrne, the Cowboy Junkies, the Flaming Lips, Dar Williams and They Might Be Giants in the Cat’s Cradle, a local club. (See

There are Mickey D’s and Golden Corral and so on, BUT they’re ignorable (tend to be right off the main highway). There are also lots of fantastic locally-owned restaurants, both gourmet (“foodie far”) and “home cooked”.

As far as the walkability/public transport, you’d probably enjoy the 5-points area of Raleigh or Chapel Hill/Carborro. They’ve got the requisite small (even organic) markets, plus theaters, bookstores, etc. etc. all within walking distance. You’d need a car to get to work, though, unless you telecommuted or found into a job that was really near your home. We don’t have good public transport *between* the big areas of the Triangle.

As for the big city for bands… well, you don’t need it. We actually get good bands here (the big ones come to either the Dean Dome or the outdoor concert pavillion, and the smaller ones play the Cat’s Cradle or the Lincoln Theater.

I probably shouldn’t even tell you how much I bought my 2-br, 1-bath (1175 sq. ft.) house for, but I’ll say it was <$100K. (This was a decade ago and prices have gone up, but I know you can buy a 3-br, 2-bath 1500 sq. ft. home for <$160 now.) My SO is renting a 1500 sq. ft. townhome (3br, 2 bath) for about $1000/mo. I dunno; just like everyone else, I think my home is pretty great. I've considered moving (somehow I think I should because it would be good for me, like brussel sprouts), but I have never seen a compelling reason to do so. The Triangle has become much more diverse in recent years .. we've now got Thai restaurants and Etheopian and sushi-galore, yoga classes, gelato, several bead stores, and a real german bakery (for some reason that list sounds eclectic to me). I think if the area hadn't evolved (in ways that are compatible with what I like), I'd have moved, but as it is, I couldn't be happier. Lemme know if you ever want to visit! :) -Gina Gina on August 18, 2003 11:13 AM Oh, and I forgot ... Asheville is the *perfect* weekend getaway at a 3-hr. drive. (Lots of B&B's there... the SO and I've gone twice this year). Of course the fact that you can be in Wilmington NC (beach!) in <3 hrs. shouldn't be ignored either. :) Gina on August 18, 2003 11:21 AM

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Aug 15

Power outage, power outage, who’s got the power outage?


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Aug 15

New Media Server Online Soon!

Thanks to the hard efforts (now, now, not that!) of a super-swell boyfriend, I’m about to have a dedicated media server/backup machine chez moi! I *love* my Audiotron, but it needs my computer to be on in order to shuffle amongst my music collection (tho it can Radio Paradise just fine without, thank you). This is a bit of a problem since I really didn’t want to leave my PC on 24×7 (because, amongst other reasons, it’s in my bedroom).

This new solution should be ideal, since it will allow me to both backup my data (increasingly important as more of my photography is digital, and therefore has no dead-tree archives) *and* have an always-on music machine! Whee!!!

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Aug 15

Virus, Virus, who’s got the virus?

Wow — I think they must’ve installed six system patches/upgrades yesterday here at work. Much re-starting, which is time-consuming. Meanwhile, at home I seem to be OK, and I’ve installed the MS fix, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

The really frightening thing here is that is points out just how vunerable our key systems still are…

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Aug 11

Weekend in Review

Friday night, Jeff and I went to the Grand Asia Market in Cary … many, many interesting bits! I bought a bobble-headed kitty (it’s actually a little good luck kitty in a basket that bobbles up and down) for Jeff’s dashboard. At first I think he was unconvinced of its wonder, but it’s grown on him. (What’s supergreat is that the kitty bounces happily even when you’re stopped at a light! Whee!) Then on to Shabu-Shabu for dinner, again on the Asian side. Sushi goodness and Shabu-Shabu goodness. (Again, I was struck by the irony of going to a restaurant to cook your own food.)

Saturday was go-to-Winston Salem day, mostly to look at a MINI, though I convinced myself that the real reason we were going was so that Jeff could get his tire changed at the BMW motorcycle place in Greensboro. (We actually took the car, but put the wheel of the bike in the truck.) That having been done, we went to Winston and waited for a salesdude to become available. I drove the MINI with the CVT and, honestly, I was a little thrown by what I perceived as a lack of responsiveness.

Background: My Saturn acellerates pretty normally until you really hit the gas, at which point it kicks into “Oh you really mean that” mode and goes *zoom*.

So when driving the MINI, in regular mode (IOW, not using the CVT functionality), itI just didn’t *zoom* from a full stop. In CVT mode it was a little better, but still was more sluggish than I expected. When we got home I looked at the specs and my saturn actually does have more horsies, but is approx same weight, so that’s at least part of the explanation. Jeff also pointed out that the CVT itself gets rid of some of the “oomph” as it’s designed to be smooth and has no distinct gears (he explained it by saying that it’s like the gears are one big cone, rather than distinct wheels… there’s no “steps” just a continuous surface, hence “smoother” ride. There’s also something about the engine breaking in and it getting more “peppy” after that.

I then wanted Jeff to drive the manual MINI to see how much of a difference it was. He said “maybe 10%” and then I talked the salesguy into letting me drive it around the parking lot.

More background: First off, I don’t really like driving. If I could teleport everywhere, that’d be just swell with me. I don’t understand the “good time to ‘be alone and think’ business, because the second I start thinking something interesting (like how to fix a problem), I want to *do* it, and that’s usually incompatible with driving (see first point below). Driving has been, for me, a relatively efficient way of getting from A -> B (relatively because it’s quicker [and less sweaty] than walking but slower [tho admittedly less expensive] than flying).

I can drive stick; I’m just not all that comfortable with it yet. Stephen taught me (a million years ago) on his Saturn, but broke up with me before it became instinctive. And then I pretty much didn’t drive a stick shift car for a decade. Recently I’ve persuaded a friend of mine to take me out in his manual Saturn (which went swimmingly) and I’ve attempted to drive Jeff’s Audi A4 (which went not-so-swimmingly. VERY *fussy* responsive car.) So now I have this quasi-fear-of-stick.

One the one hand: I *hate* driving because it’s boring. Boring, boring, bor-z-zzzzzzz. This leads to one of two things happening:

  • I start doing things other than paying attention in order to stave off the boredom (like, oh, I dunno, putting on lipstick or making a list); or
  • I start getting very very sleeeeepy.

This is Not Good. So, in some ways I think having a stick might be good… it might make driving “fun” (and/or interesting).

OTOH, if I don’t like driving anyway, perhaps this would be more of a bad thing. (Bad enough to have to drive, but now also have to contend with this tricky hand-hand-foot-foot-coordination thing.) Or maybe I’ll never get good at it! That would be sad (though unlikely, I’m told.) And I know it’s harder, as was demonstrated right before we went to the dealership (of course). We went to the McD’s drive-thru (sustenance food) and it had an unfortunately slanted bit leading up to the window. Jeff had trouble getting going without rolling backwards (and he’s an expert driver).

The thing is, *if* the manual MINI is more peppy, the whole thing becomes a lot more attractive. And furthermore, you can only get a Copper S (the more-horsepower version) in a manual (so I hadn’t even considered it before now, as I hadn’t seriously been considering getting manual car). And, of course, the S costs more too, throwing another wrench in the thinking.


Once I’d gotten myself thoroughly confused (and we’d run out of time for me to do a proper drive of the manual one, as they were closing), we left the dealership and headed for Dewey’s Bakery, home of the best cream horns on the planet. Imagine my complete and utter distress upon discovering that the shelves were practically bare. They had one wee tray of baked goods (we did get a slice of cake and a cupcake, which were both good). Apparently you have to order ahead for cream horns on the weekend!


So, in a last-dtich-perhaps-some-retail-therapy-will-rescue-this-day move, we went to the Steinmart, where Jeff scored some nice “everyday” shirts for *darn cheap*. (And I got two sets of Christmas presents for next year — whee!) Then onto Bed-Bath-and-Beyond, where we used two of the 20% off coupons that they send us every three or four days to get two drapes for Jeff’s bedroom, which was suffering from an overabundance of morning light.

On a whim we went into the pet store next to the BB&B and (on a further whim) I asked if they had any hedgehogs.

Background: (makes you wish you could just read The Life of Gina, vol. 1-35 doesn’t it? No? ;-) I am allergic to furred-n-feathered creatures. *Violently* allergic. Get-hives-if-I-sit-on-a-couch-that-a-cat’s-been-on allergic. Take three-24-hour-Claritins-and-start-wheezing-within-an-hour-of-arriving-at-a-dog-and-cat-both-live-here-house allergic. I’ve tried shots (twice). The first time ended because it seemed like a good idea that Dad would give me the shots. And though he shot the orange with great mastery, when faced with his (at that time) 10-year-old daughter, he completely wimped out. And tried to “ease” the needle in. This did not work, and within a few months led to much crying, aversion and general stress around the whole thing. So we quit.

The second time was a few years ago, when I’d go from work to a place and get them. That time I ended up quitting (after two years or so) because my job got crazy and I simply couldn’t afford to take an hour-and-a-half in the middle of the day once a week to go deal with it.

End result: I’m still very allergic. I’m invistigating a sounds-too-good-to-be-true thing where a doc in Denver makes up a specific solution for you which you take orally and which desensitizes you just as well (or better, they claim) than traditional immunotherapy. My allergy doc doesn’t use it, which seems a little odd, if it’s so wonderful, and they can’t (/won’t) give me study/clinical trial information. That being said, there are people who swear by it.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I have heard from Jeff’s friends Paul & Kate that hedgehogs are non-allergenic. (FWIW, I’ve heard this about other creatures too, most notably Yorkies; however, at a baby shower recently I held a Yorkie for about 45 minutes and everywhere he licked me had monstrous hives.) However, Paul is violently allergic (why do we use that phrase? it’s not as if we get violent upon seeing creatures) to cats and he swears he has no problems with their hedgehog, Huff (they call them hedgepigs in the UK).

However, I’ve never met a hedgehog (or pig), and Paul and Kate are in England, which leaves me back asking the pet store if they had hedgehogs.

They didn’t, but another pet store in Greensboro (on our way home anyway) did. So I went to meet my first hedgehog. First off, those really are spines and they really do hurt! I had been told they’re like a hairbrush, but that’s only the case if your hairbrush has sharp points (in which case I suggest you get a new hairbrush). The little guy I held hadn’t been well-socialized (which isn’t uncommon, apparently, among hedgies at pet stores. *If* I get one, if will be from a breeder who hand-socializes the little hoglets, but this was good for an allergen test). The good news is that if I did react, I didn’t react much. It was hard to subtract out the abundance of other allergencies (kitties and birdies and ferrets and puppies and gerbils, etc.) and I did pre-Claritin, but I still only got a wee bit sniffly. No hives, even though he put his little paws on my chest. The bad news is that it was really hard to evaulate “hedgehogs” as a class because this little guy really didn’t want to unroll from his little ball. He was all prickly and huffing most of the time. We did OK when I took him back to the much-darker and somewhat quieter fish department (they’re noctural) at Jeff’s suggestion, but it didn’t take much to curl back up.

All of which nets out to this might be worth further investigation. I changed shirts in the car, and saved the one that’d been thoroughly hedgified. I plan on doing a “clean” test (no other allergens present) whereupon I bury my face in the shirt and see if I explode. Soon.

I’m too tired to say much about Sunday except: (A) we added a UPS to my stereo set up (and in the process Jeff rationalized the cord spaghetti — yah Jeff!), (B) I made a new pair of earrings and (C) a bottle of white wine and four or five episodes of Whose Line Is It, Anyway? is a good combo.

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Aug 08


A MINI Cooper. I’ve wanted one, of, I dunno, forever. I built “my MINI” on MINI Usa website way back last summer (maybe before), but thus far I’ve been being “a good girl” and not thinking about it…much. I have a perfectly servicable Saturn with only 55k on it… I really don’t *need* a new car. (And this is, by far, the worst kind of retail therapy!).

But now my boss, David, has one. And so I’ve ridden in one for the first time. And it’s just as marvelous as I thought it would be. Oh turmoil.

(This anxiety is compounded by the horrible horrible re-finance experience I had recently… now the whole “dealing with money” business has me scared. Gak).

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Aug 07

Attempts at productivity

This weekend was all about revising Realm of the Lint Queen and tonight (thanks to the gentle prodding of my friend Spider, I’ve been experimenting with CSS on the site. Not as tricky at a simple level as I thought, but also a lot more complex as you dig deeper.

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Aug 06

Big Bar-B-Que Screw-Up

So we took Wendy to Allen & Son, which it turned out she hated. There was much berating of me (since it was my idea). This made me sad. I *thought* she’d like it. And it was inexpensive, which seemed important as people seem to complain when they have to spend their own money on Nortel-related stuff (long gone are the days where you’d expense that sort of thing.).

Oh well. I did my best.

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Aug 05

Great run on Radio Paradise:

Burlap To Cashmere – Digee Dime
Charlie Parker – Bloomdido
Paris Combo – Señor (who I saw live recently – so fun! She’s unbearably cute, and yet I didn’t hate her (that’s saying something). There’s a little da-da-da-da-da-da-little-a-da bit that *kills* me. Must must sing along.

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Aug 05

Busy Busy

Wendy, one of our West Coast teammates is in town, which is really nifty. This is someone with whom I’ve worked for more than 2 years and I’m just now getting to meet. Weird! It’s odd how the (almost complete) cessation of business travel has led to a completely different work dynamic.

Still don’t know what’s going on with my Grumps, which is stressing me out. I *think* I’m heading to Charlotte this weekend to visit him, but that’s still up in the air.

Tonight we’re taking Wendy out for real NC Bar-B-Que, which might scare the crud out of her, as we’re going to Allen & Son Bar-B-Que … just about as authentic as you can get: sea green walls, checkered tablecloths, fake daisies in small glass vases and the best BBQ around, AFAIC.

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Aug 04

saddly malfucntioning digiteria

That’s the new thing I’m going to say whenever I get tired enough that my (admittedly poor to begin with) typing skills fail me altogether. (Just was IM’ing with Jeff and managed to come up with that — unintentionally. Should head home now.)

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