Monthly Archive: January 2009

Jan 29

Bluegrass Jam – open to public & free! (donation requested)

2009 Marathon Jam

What: Bluegrass jam concert in Chapel Hill
When: Sat., Jan. 31, from noon until (at least midnight)
Where: American Legion Post 6, 1714 Legion Road in Chapel Hill.
Why:: (1) It’ll be fun. (2) If you make a donation, it will help support The Fisher house (more information below). (3) I’ll be there (singing, even)… maybe that’s not a "Why" as much as a "Why not"… (4) aklikins will probably be playing :-) (5) Virginia Ward (*amazing* singer) should be there too! (6) David Hiscoe will be there!

On Saturday, January 31st, the RDU Session Players (the bluegrass jam band I sing with sometimes) will be hosting their 6th Annual Marathon Jam. As always, it will begin at noon and continue until at least midnight with some of the best music of the year. You will hear everything from Bruce (Springsteen) to Bluegrass being played by some of the best musicians in North Carolina. This year’s Jam will be held at American Legion Post 6, 1714 Legion Road in Chapel Hill.

In addition to the music, this is a covered dish event for the musicians (IOW, we’ll be bringing food… you can too, if you want.). As in past years we will be raising money for The Fisher House, a wonderful group that provides lodging for the families of US military who have been wounded and are back in the States receiving medical attention, by asking for donations for people playing in the event. Think of it like a walk-a-thon only we get paid per hour played instead of per mile walked! (Checks can be made out to the THE FT. BRAGG FISHER HOUSE — and yes, all donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE!!)

John Santa has pledged that in addition to playing at least 12 hours that he will donate $5.00 for each copy of his book, Bluegrass Is My Second Language, that is sold that day. The public is invited and admission is free. We do ask that people attending make a donation to the Fisher House at the door.

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Jan 24

India in the snow

Here’s India in the snow:
More here:

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Jan 23

A real coversation via IM with one of my co-workers

Gina Norman [2:14 PM]:

Have you ever heard Foster Street by the Beelzebubs (Tufts)  [ed note: an a cappella group.  The co-worker in question was in her college a cappella group.]

Julie [2:14 PM]:

hmm i’ve heard the group

Gina Norman [2:15 PM]:

is on my iTunes — listen to it… is OLD — my college era… pre digital… 1988ish?

Gina Norman [2:16 PM]:

their version of comfortably numb/brain damage is fab

Julie [2:16 PM]:

oh wow. old school!

Gina Norman [2:16 PM]:

yep. as am i

Julie [2:16 PM]:

haha that’s awesome

Gina Norman [2:17 PM]:

I think this is the point where I say I have a Capella recordings that are older than you are, right? [ed note: This was, of course, intended to be a joke. ha ha ha ha]

Julie [2:17 PM]:

haha. if they predate 1986, then yes

Gina Norman [2:17 PM]:

oh f*ck

Gina Norman [2:17 PM]:

that’s not even funny

Gina Norman [2:17 PM]:


Julie [2:17 PM]:

sorry..  :-/


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Jan 22

Something for You! From Me!

Via susan_z (and ovrclokd and others):

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me! My choice. For you.

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:

  • I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!
  • What I create will be just for you.
  • It’ll be done this year.
  • You have no clue what it’s going to be
  • I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.

The catch? Oh, the catch is that you have to put this in your journal as well. We all can make stuff!

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Jan 19

A Weekend of Super Powerful Superpowers

I believe everyone has the unusual (if small and odd) super power.  Mine comes in the form of an ability to cause strangers to want to help me with things of not great consequence.(1)

This can take many forms, but most often involves small favors in retail or foodservices.  I’m the queen of using expired coupons, getting items on sale when the sale actually ended yesterday and returning things without receipts.   I’m not obnoxious at all about these things;  I just ask really nicely, smile (somewhat pitifully, I’ve been told) and am more often than not the glad recipient of largess.  Many times I don’t even ask — I just get samples and freebies and other goodnesses — I think it has to do with the fact that I consider it part of my “job” to be pleasant and entertaining when I’m shopping.

Sadly, this gift doesn’t extend to anything truly large (no Ed McMahon on my doorstep with a Publishers Clearinghouse Check), though I have streeeeeetched it (more than once) to include convincing the policeman that he really wanted *not* to give me a ticket.  (And, yes, for this I am *incredibly* grateful!).

This weekend my powers were in overdrive (2) .  First, on Friday night we went to Blue India (more correctly known as Tandoor India), my favorite Indian place because they actually make the Chicken Tikka Masala *very* very mild when I ask for it very* very mild (which is always).  Most places assume I mean “somewhat mild” or maybe “not quite as hot as they normally make it” or even “we can’t make it mild, hope she doesn’t notice” and I end up miserable with burning lips and aching belly.  I Do Not Like hot food.  Or even, by most people’s standards, “warm” food.

So anyway, despite the fact I haven’t been there in person for a year or two I think our waiter must’ve recognized me (maybe he recognized the voice that’s placed many many takeout orders, always for Chicken Tikka Masala *very* very mild?), because when aklikins ordered the buffet and I ordered my standard, he asked me if I wanted any bread, then kindly said that Adrian could share his bread with me from the buffet!  Adrian came back with the thin, crunchy peppery stuff (I wanted naan, but there was none), so when our waiter came back I asked him if there were any naan, and I’ll be darned if he didn’t bring me a basket of naan fresh from the oven!!

Then, as if that weren’t enough, Adrian got these donut-hole-looking things for dessert.  As our waiter was clearing our plates, I asked Adrian if he was going to eat his donut-hole-things (using that phrase, I think).  Adrian declined, the waiter finished clearing our plates, then returned with a little bowl with two more of the little donut-hole-things, in a hot butter sauce with some sort of cream pudding on top for me!  He told me what it was called as he was presenting it to me, but I was too busy making gleeful noises to capture the name.  Sad, because it was delightful, and reminded me (surprisingly) of something from my childhood…

Then Saturday we headed to Nantucket Grille, home of:  the only lobster roll in the area that I know of (yum!  a perennial craving since my trip to Maine); a really charming, recently-displaced-from-Southern-California-waiter, who was distressed by the cold, yet eager to keep me well-stocked in potato rolls (and brought me a sample of slaw!); *and * wonderful cupcakes.  (Amended:  the cupcakes are quite good.  The icing is *excellent* and is piled high!).

As we were departing, I stopped by the pastry case to get a few cupcakes “for the road”… I remarked aloud (yes, there are actually *some* of them that do stay *inside* my head) that I was basically “in it for the icing” and I’d just buy a tub of that if I could.  One of the managers was passing through the bakery area as I said that, was amused, and responded “I’ll get you some icing!”

And, well, I jumped up and down like a little girl.

Which cracked her up.

And resulted in me getting a tub (TUB!) of icing!  And they wouldn’t even let me pay for it because they’d been so amused by my delight!  (I did still buy the cupcakes.  All three of them, which was all they had, assuaging my guilt somewhat).

(1) I also cause grocery store lines to come to a complete and total grinding halt….waaaaay before I even get to the cashier (so, no, it’s not me “being difficult” that causes it).  It’ll be some odd combo of normal-if-they-occurred-one-at-a-time-but-unbearable-if-they-all-happen-at-once-things like:  travellers checques; a new trainee coming to take over the register (who doesn’t even know the code for bananas!!); the register running out of tape (after the new trainee comes over of course; and I guarantee he doesn’t know how to change the tape); the use of an out-of-state drivers permit (not license) to purchase cigarettes (it’s a permit, but she’s old enough to buy the cigarettes … yes, this confuses the trainee); etc, etc.

You get the picture.  Strangely this only happens in regular grocery store lines (Harris Teeter, Food Dog, etc.) not in Target or Trader Joe’s (hear the angels?  they just chorused), so I really don’ t have to deal with it all that often anymore since I only venture into a “real” grocery store once in a very blue moon.

That said, if you see me in line at a Harris Teeter, do yourself a favor and choose a different line.  You can thank me later.  :-)

(2) Adrian hypothesized that somehow the powers are enhanced by cold.  That may be the case, but it’s still not enough for me to consider moving north.  Anything below 20F is Too Cold For People.  Period.


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Jan 13

Confessions of a really bad driver (and an undeserving girlfriend)

Points of consideration:

  1. In the first place, I was very, very tired.  So tired, in fact, that I was having snippets of dreams, which wouldn’t have been so bad, except for the fact that I was on the on-ramp to the beltline at the time. (1)
  2. Then there’s the fact that on-ramps have curbs.   Which, when you hit them going 45+ mph will tend to wake you right up.
  3. aklikins is a car guy.  He can fix things, and even owns a shop, Rod-o-Rama (2).  So when I got home from the not-quite-awake excursion, he checked out my car.   Unfortunately, he also noticed some other side effects of hitting a curb at 45 mph, like smushed-up tires (the tread was separated and it had gotten all “bubbly”) and a loosened under valence.
  4. Sigh.
  5. Little known fact: the extended warranty on tires is actually a Good Thing, unlike nearly every other extended warranty.  Thankfully, when I’d bought my tires last year, I’d been convinced of this by the Tire Guy (3) and bought the extended warranty on all 4 tires.  This meant that the replacement tire for the one I busted cost $zero!!  (Not including the new $14 extended warranty that I bought for that one!)
  6. That left only the loosened under-valence (undervalence? under valence?)… the plastic-y bit that runs *under* your bumper around the front of the car.
  7. Because he may be the sweetest human ever, aklikins agreed to switch cars with me and let me borrow his truck so he could take Meep (my MINI) in to the shop to more firmly reattach said plastic-y bit.
  8. I drove the truck (did I mention it’s a Really Big Truck?  Like HUGE?) into downtown Durham, where I was meeting my friend Kim to go to a bead show (mmmm…. my pretties…).
  9. I found a spot in the Carolina Theatre parking deck  (which was, of course, undergoing massive construction, complete with barrels and “Do Not Go Here” tape and construction fencing and truly confusing signage)  and got out of the car and was all ready to go get me some beading goodness when I noticed that there was a faintly painted “Reserved” in the spot that I’d taken.
  10. Crud.
  11. I got back in the car and ever-so-carefully started to ease my way out of the spot, knowing that there were *furlongs* of truck behind me (as opposed to the 2.5′ of MINI I was accustomed to).
  12. Keeping my eye on the ginormous SUV parked behind me, I started to turn the wheel to escape the spot.

Yes.  That was the sound of the *front* bumper hitting one of the 83 million poles in the parking deck. aklikins‘s truck’s front bumper.  Which he let me borrow because he was Fixing.  My.  Car.

I am unworthy.

(1) Being in cars *always* makes me sleepy.  I’m usually OK as long as at least one or more of the following are true:

  • I’m WIDE awake
  • I’m extremely caffeinated
  • It’s a short distance (>15 minutes)
  • It’s “exciting” driving (a new place, bad traffic — I know that seems counter-intuitive, but it’s true.  If it’s exciting then I don’t have so much trouble with the sleepies)
  • Someone else is driving  ;-)

Sadly, early morning routine drives (like my commute to work) don’t usually meet any of those criteria.

(2) It’s a *neat* shop a full service hot rod and custom shop in Raleigh, so if your muscle car needs fixing or spiffing up, that’s the place to take it.

(3) The conversation went something like this:

Tire Guy:  The Extended Warranty means that we’ll replace the tires no matter what happens to them for the lifetime of the tire.
Me: Even if I do something really stupid, like run over something pointy?
Tire Guy: Yep.
Me: Or even if someone gets super mad at me and goes crazy and slashes at my tires with a knife?
Tire Guy: Yep.
Me: I’d like the Extended Warranty please


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Jan 09

Quick review of Revolutions restaurant in Durham


Food: very good (I wouldn’t yet say OMG fabulous)
Service: interrupted

On Monday night I took

aklikins to Revolution for his birthday dinner. We arrived at 7:30 (had reservations) and were seated promptly. Since we knew we were doing the three course tasting menu, we also ordered promptly and were brought bread and my drink (house chardonnay). Adrian’s drink (tea… ordered sweet, but they didn’t have any and didn’t tell him when he ordered it) took significantly longer (7-8 minutes?). The bread (slices of loaf bread and cornbread muffins) was quite good… the slices, in particular, had a nice tooth, slightly sourbread-y flavor and crisp crust that I really enjoyed.

Our firsts were veal with baby potatoes in a tomato sauce, served with thin crouton-y toasts. Very good, but surprisingly heavy for a first.

And then something must have happened, because there was more than a 45 minute gap between when we finished out firsts and when our seconds arrived!  At about 40 minutes in I asked our waiter if he knew where our food was, and he assured me it was coming and offered me a free glass of wine. Since I hadn’t even finished my first glass yet, I told him no thanks and thanked him for the information.

Two minutes later he showed up with another glass of wine (I remarked to

aklikins that apparently I was getting comped wine whether I liked it or not!). And finally, a few minutes after that our food showed up.


The second plates were saddle of rabbit with tarragon and beet risotto (I wondered if perhaps the risotto was the cause of the delay?). The rabbit was very tender and complemented well by the sweetness of the risotto, but would have been more enjoyed had we not been so full of game already, I think.  Too much too rich, you know…

The dessert, a hazelnut chocolate cake with candied quince, was very good but not exceptional. The quince was wonderful and the small amount of quince syrup livened up the otherwise very good — but not roll-your-eyes-and-sigh — hazelnut chocolate cake.

The ceilings were, IMHO, too tall, leading to the echo-y noise that is so common in trendy restaurants. The tables were wider than the norm, which was nice because there was room for all the food without feeling like you were going to knock something off the table. The light fixtures, by, are gorgeous and the table settings are minimalistic (whose aren’t these days?).

In sum, I thought that if the pairings of the food had been better and the major service gap hadn’t happened, the experience would have been excellent. As it was, it was enjoyable, but not quite what it could have been.  I am curious about what they’d have served if we’d chosen the five or seven course tastings… would there have been more balance?

I think we’ll go back, but after they get a chance to work out some kinks.


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