Monthly Archive: June 2005

Jun 22

All passengers on board — departing soon!

So a goodly part of this week and this past weekend (after the Aimee Mann show(1), which was fabulous) has been devoted to getting ready for the Europe trip, for which we depart on Friday!! We start in Heidelberg, as always, to pick up and pack the bike (and recuperate from the trip a bit), then moving on to Antwerp, where a good friends of Jeff’s, Carlo and Gabi live (that’s Gabi in the front of the boat, with her son, Tomas, behind her). We’re staying in the city center, and I intend on shopping most mightily. And eating frites. Lots of frites.

At some point during the Antwerp bit we’ll probably take the bike to Bruges for a day, as it is supposed to be lovely and it’s only an hour and a quarter away.

Then on to Spa, where we hope to be able to have Spa treatments, but at worst we’ll have spa baths. (Scheduling mishap on my part — I didn’t think to make reservations far in advance, which I’m normally quite anal about). Oh well. Worst worst case, we’ll do something like the Castle at Rochefort or Chimay (aka Trappist ale land).

On Thursday, the rest of the gang shows up. This year will be a big one, as it’s the 10th anniversary of EP, with folks coming from Switzerland, Germany, USA, Japan (1), Spain, Portugal, Italy, UK, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden and Ecuador! Needless to say, I can’t wait. I’m not as anxious as in years previous, as I feel like I know folks, and I’m quite glad to be seeing everyone again.

Post-EP we head for Luxembourg for two nights, after which I fly home and Jeff continues on to ride unencumbered for a week more.

The good news about the getting ready is that my comprehensive list (which I update every year with learnings from the year previous) makes everything pretty simple, even though the logistics of preparing for a motorcycle trip can be complex (you have all the normal packing issues, with the additional constraint of everything having to fit in a small waterproof duffel. Add to that the fact that the “gear” is critical — and also complicated — and the whole thing has the potential to be a nightmare.)


In other news, one of my cow-orkers (thanks thebrooomecloset for the terminology) has a cell phone that’s set to play Reveille (you know, the “I can’t get’em up, I can’t get’em up, I can’t get’em up in the morning” song). In general, I think phones should ring, not sing (particularly as they do it so poorly), and in specific, phones should NEVER do this.

(1) The Aimee Mann show was wonderful! Heather and Steve met Jeff and me at the Wellspring (I refuse to call it Whole Foods) to procure foodstuffs. Two loaves of bread, chicken salad, hummus, three kinds of cheese, three kinds of meat, strawberries, cherries and mini-desserts later, we headed out for the show. Product endorsement: I have one of those rolling cooler thingies (that’s not the exact model I have…mine was cheaper at Target) and it ROCKS! Also highly recommended are the chairs that have backpack straps (not the ones that come in the green bags… I don’t like those one bit, as they’re too tall) — they’re low, portable and have a great big pocket on the back into which you can stuff more goodies.

Anyway, she was great. At one point someone hollered “Free Bird” and she joked about wishing she knew how to play it, but then went on to play something else. Much later in the show (during the encore?) she was hemming and hawing (but in a cute way) about what to play and someone (perhaps even the same one) hollered “Free Bird” again.

And she started to play it! Or something like it. She was clearly making it up as she went along (geez! I wish I could play *any* instrument by ear!), so her version contained the hilarious lyric: “You can’t tame a bird” rather than the “And this bird you cannot tame.”

She also was tres amused by the spinney flashy light things and asked the light-bearers (which sounds a whole lot more profound than “drunken concert-goers”) to do an “interpretive dance” to the next song. They did, which apparently surprised her — so much so that she started laughing three times at the beginning of “Deathly” (I think that was it, anyway), and had to scold herself: “be a serious artist now” :-D

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Jun 14

Did I mention Tift Merritt was great?

I’m sooooo far behind in blogging (well, in everything, actually). I think I will blame it on getting ready for the annual pilgrimage to Europe sur moto.  This year it’s Germany (it always starts there, ’cause that’s where the bike lives), Belgium (the frites and the chocolats are calling me, yea verily), then to Luxembourg City, which is in Luxembourg the country, though as I understand it there’s not much difference between the two.  We leave next Friday, the 24th — I can’t wait.

Or I could blame it on being too social.  But that would pretty much be a lie, as there’s no such beast for me.  Two weekends ago was the Tift Merritt show at the NC Art Museum that I alluded to in the title.  We had 15(?) people, who were all friends of mine or friends-of-my-friend-Caroline (or, for that matter, friends of both of ours).  We all brought pot-lucky foods, and I busted out the big guns on the cooking scene, making a Cook’s Country recipe for pasta with bacon and ricotta (and other bits) that Heather had recommended; coleslaw (hailed by two different people as the best coleslaw they’d ever put in their mouth! — the trick is using a little rice wine vinegar along with the regular vinegar…it adds a lovely ‘kick’); and two apple pies.(1)

The apple pies were not particularly portable (a fact I’d thought of when I was considering recipe choices, but conveniently forgot when I was making the actual dessert selection), and posed, therefore, posed an engineering challenge.  We rose to the challenge by constructing a rather clever, if I do say so myself, Pie Box, consisting of a square cardboard box whose dimension along one side was a wee bit longer than the diameter of the pie, into which we placed four Pie Struts, made of cardboard folded into little prism shapes and taped.  These fit quite tidily into the corners of the Pie Box, allowing us to support a “second floor” (made of several layers of cardboard, set cross-grain, cut to the appropriate size and taped together) to hold the other pie.  Sadly, due to space constraints with unpacking the food, no one else got to see our clever Pie Box, so this memorial will have to suffice.

Last week I managed to have dinner with my friend Jacintha (followed by ice cream at Coldstone —mmmmm), (which was *really* cool, as we don’t manage to get together nearly enough and this “rescued” a spoiled plans night for each of us!), and my brother, Drew, who was in the state (and who I was seeing) for the first time in two and half years.  That was great, and probably worth an entry unto itself (apparently his fiance, Jo, has somehow got me tagged as the “stylish jeans girl”?!), but that’s not going to happen if this is ever to get posted.

The real blame (for the lack of blogginess… you’d lost track, hadn’t you?  That’s ok, I don’t blame you.  I’d nearly lost track myself), though, I think, belongs to my most recent craft obsession:  the sewing of a yukata.  I’ve wanted to do this for years, but was finally spurred into action due to a constellation of factors including:

  • finally getting the fabric (when I was in New York)
  • discovering that I had a kimono pattern already (whilst looking through my pattern stack with Heather for an apron pattern), which is basically a more formal yukata
  • just enough free time to think this was a good idea

Pictures (and a proper recounting of the battle, from which I emerged scarred, but victorious) to come (really), but on a day I’m not quite as frazzlepated as I am right now.  Amongst the lessons I learned is the fact that fabric does, in fact, come in non-standard widths, and just because the back of the pattern envelope has directions for 45″ wide and 60″ wide fabric, and you know your fabric is wider than 45″, that *doesn’t* mean that it’s 60″.  Nope.  Not at all.  I took the shortage of material as an opportunity to investigate contrast trim, which, in the end, looks quite nice, I think.

Also to come “Stupid Way to Injure Yourself, #113” …

(1) You get something from every experience, I believe.  This *amazing* apple pie recipe is what I got from one of my significant ex-others.

ALSO: last chance to vote in the great spectacles debate!  Voting closes 9:30am EST Wed.!

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Jun 13

The great glasses debate

Quick backstory: having had lasik many, many moons ago, my eyes are pretty darn good.  That being said, the computer-all-day thing stresses them out and sometimes by the end of the day I’m 20/25 in my left eye and 20/30 in my right. 

Normally that’s so trivial that it’s not worth correcting, except that my vision plan through work has a glasses benefit and the optometrist I saw today (eye checkup, no panic) had some frames that were 50% off, thereby putting them 100% within the allotted benefit amount.

So, basically, free glasses in case my eyes are tired and wonky, so it seems silly not to get them.

There are two pairs in contention (and all other variables are equal, as price is identical.  Free.).  There is a hair up and hair down photo for each — please, please note, no makeup and no hair fussing was done today, it being mostly a work-from-home day.  The shirt isn’t all that flattering either, but I’m desperate for additional opinions.

Pair 1 (“lighter” frames) – These are the more subtle of the two options.  Here they are with hair up

and hair down

Pair 2 (heavier frames) – There’s some part of me that says “for cryin’ out loud, you might as well get a good ‘scary librarian’ look out of this, so here’s the less subtle option with hair up

and hair down.

So which are better?

Which glasses are better?
Pair #1 (the “lighter” frames)
Pair #2 (heavier frames)

Free polls from

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Jun 09

My letter to PayPal

Dear Paypal,

Today I received an email from your regarding fraud and how it could be avoided. I double-checked the source of the email, then followed the link to your article on Paypal spoofs, from which I followed another link to the “10 ways to recognize fake (spoof) emails” article,” which launched in a pop-up window.

How ironic that #9 in the list in the pop-up window was:

“Pop-up boxes. PayPal will never use a pop-up box in an email as pop-ups are not secure”

I recognize the difference between a pop-up in an email (which this was not) and a pop-up on a web page (which this was), but *in the context* of giving people information to make them suspicious *and* knowing that people often skim lists like this (and would therefore skip right over the “in an email” bit), it seems to me that putting this information in a pop-up is likely to cause needless worry, and perhaps even cause people to discount your good advice as spoofing.

My $.02, YMMV, of course.

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Jun 08

NYC, part III (or II, if you’re not counting the Star Wars thing)

Thursday I headed downtown again to meet my friend Buzzy for dinner and to see the show Alterboyz (real website seems to be hosed, oops). The PATH train took less time than expected so I went around the corner from the Christopher Street station and had The Best Manicure Ever. (If this sort of thing doesn’t interest you — which may very well be everyone but me — tune out temporarily, but I have to write this down so I’ll remember it for next time). Nails were trimmed to correct length, filed so that there were no scratchy bits (tough being that my nails are naturally flimsy and prone to splittage), and painted with base coat, two color coats and top coat. Whenever a little bit got on the ski (inevitable), the nice lady used the tip of her nail (dipped in nail polish remover) to clean it off. End result: perfect nails. Happy Gina.

Nails done, I headed back to the station to meet Buzzy. He and I wandered around Greenwich Village (I think) for a while, browsing (many cute stores) and trying to find a suitable place for dinner. We happened upon a little cafe, wherein I had a wonderful proscuttio and swiss with pesto mayonnaise on Italian bread sandwich. Mmmmm. Will look up place for reference, as it was really delicious (service kinda stank, but I wasn’t in a fussy mood, so I wasn’t incredibly bothered) — ah, wait, here it is Cafe Rafaella) . Then onto Alterboyz, which was fun. Some of the music wasn’t my style (hip-hop, I suppose it was), but anything where there’s five-part harmony is pretty fine by me, so most of it I liked. After the show we wandered around a bit more before Buzzy ever-so-gallantly took me all the way back to the PATH stop so I could find my way home.

Late Friday afternoon, I headed into town for some shopping in the “Fashion District” — not for clothes, mind you, but for beads and buttons and bits with which to make things. I found a wonderful stash of “old stock” (vintage but never used) Swarovski crystals, which called to me so loudly that I had to take some of them home. They’re stunning, but a bit tricky as the back is actually pointed (trivia: this is called a Chaton shape, as opposed to a Flat-Back, which are far more common. I dunno how I’m going to mount these…

Then I met compositeur and Buzzy for drinks at Splash (I’d link to the website, but it’s most definitely not work safe), a very happening gay bar. Drinks were two-for-one (and I can’t resist a bargain), so I had (tasty) cosmopolitans served by a half-naked barman. Since Perry and Buzzy are both from Raleigh and both love music there was plenty to talk about and it was great fun catching up with them both.

After dinner, I toddled down to Craftbar, the little sister of Craft (websites are down) where Jeff and I had reservations at eight. Dinner was very rich, and per norm, I think my eyes were bigger than my head, as the risotto I had for an appetizer, duck with figs I had for dinner and apple tart I had for dessert left me full-to-nearly-bursting. Jeff had a fried softshell crab for an appetizer, rabbit for dinner (don’t remember what was with the rabbit though) and ?? for dessert. Very lame description of the meal, I know, but honestly, the two cosmos and glass and a half of wine I had on an almost empty stomach made the whole thing a bit hazy. Good. But hazy.

Saturday I shopped. I found Mood Fabrics, which had an absolutely astonishing assortment of incredible fabrics and spent two and a half hours there just drooling. Silk satins, the most amazing variety of woolens (I found a beautiful green/turquoise herringbone-ish pattern that desperately wants to become a gored skirt), leathers, prints (on 60″ rolls!)…oh the wanting. I restrained myself (at least a bit) and only bought five pieces.

Then on to MJ Trims for buttons and clasps (just a few, really). Finally, I met Jeff at Spadium, the Korean day spa that we visited for the first time back in October. I <3 this place. The routine runs somethign like this: shower, dry sauna, steam sauna, hot tub, cold tub, scrubbing, face mask, more scrubbing, more face mask, massage, milk rinse, hair wash, hair conditioning, shower again. Here’s the amazing bit: showering is just about the only thing you do for yourself — everything else is done for/to you. I came out with all new soft-and-nice-smelling skin. And, whoa, Nellie! A BARGAIN! < $100 for the whole thing, which was several hours of pampering! Surreal spa moment: when my nice not-much-English-speaking masseuse started humming Amazing Grace. I hummed too. Love that song. Sunday was (mostly) a day of rest except for the six hours that I helped Jeff pull cables. Lessons learned:

  • It is more than a little difficult for someone who’s slightly dyslexic and fairly “spatially challenged” to correctly diagram existing cable layouts. All those cords, all the same color, all twisting and turning and getting muddled about…eeek. Problem exacerbated by the fact that the numbers were like: 01-02-02 12 vs. 01-01-02 12. Problem further exacerbated by the fact that if you don’t know *how* any given data will be used, it’s hard to ensure that the data are recorded in a useful fashion.
  • For someone who *likes* pulling cable, a “3- or 4-hour” project can easily turn into a 5+ hour one
  • If you’re tired and sick of something and you think it’s cause you’re bored, check your watch. It could be that you’re tired and bored because you’ve been sitting waiting for cables to be pulled for 5+ hours.
  • If you wait until past 9:00 on a Sunday night to eat dinner, the sushi place will be closed. Also, as a corollary, the sushi place is always closed on Monday.
  • Monday we went into town again and found an adorable French cafe, complete with real French (smoking and everything ;-) Best salad nicoise I have had in *eons* — possibly since I was in France après high school (I dearly wish I could remember where that one was… that the memory of it persists almost two decades later…mmmm). For reference, the café was called “Le Quinze” which, in context, I believe may have had something to do with some sport, as the walls were covered with posters of “le football” and (other?) sports.

    We also found (after some about of circumnavigation) Pearl Craft, which I had high hopes for based on Pearl Art; however, it was sadly lacking in much goodness, and was, in fact, less fun than your average Michael’s. :-(

    Then airport & home. (BTW, this was *quite* the logistical undertaking. From Jeff’s apartment, we walked to the Path station, from which we took the train to Newark station. Lotsa walking in Newark station (including two ramps that couldn’t have been ADA-compliant), followed by an Amtrak train to Newark Airport. Walking more, then onto the airport train to the terminals. Then security. Then more walking to the actual gate area). Whew. Made me really thankful that Jeff actually comes home on weekends!

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