Worry Not

Maybe I was just overreacting to a really long, really bad day. Don’t worry. I don’t think I’ve peaked yet. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunity to get even more stressed and weary (and whiny?) in the next few weeks.

That said, I’ll probably skip the comic relief of tonight’s vice presidential debate.

The Atheist Homosexuals Who Stole Christmas

Liddy Dole’s latest campaign mailer manages to successfully display not only her  contempt for those who don’t meet her religious specifications, but also her distaste for all those godless homosexual scoutmasters who primarily get involved so they can molest little Billy or Bobby. While simultaneously stealing Christmas, of course. It’s a pity she couldn’t score the trifecta and somehow sneak gun control into the message as well. Maybe something about how all those scoutmasters want to keep nine-year-old boys unarmed so they won’t be able to fight off atheist homosexual predators?


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Randomly Wednesday

Today’s randomness courtesy of the ALA’s weekly newsletter:

I want a Flexible Fred:

But these days, the 5-foot-tall, 200-bone plastic skeleton slumps on his roller stand in a corner of the Delaware County Law Library. Taped to his clavicle is a sign that reads: “We have had a neighbor complain that Flexible Fred is scaring her children. Please do NOT put him near any windows.”

I keep reading about this book and I think I must have it:

So begins Rick Wartzman’s “Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ ” (Public Affairs Books, $26.95, 310 pages). The title comes from a comment by powerful Kern County farmer Bill Camp, who said Steinbeck’s book was “obscene in the extreme sense of the word.” Camp would supervise the burning of “The Grapes of Wrath” a few days later in downtown Bakersfield.

A couple of these nifty new free WordPress themes  may actually convince me to use WP rather than Joomla or Drupal for the new version of Groceteria.

Where’s Donna Pescow?

A few months ago, Harris Teeter started running TV commercials featuring Isaac from “The Love Boat”. Today, I heard a Food Lion radio commercial based on the famous turkey giveaway episode of “WKRP in Cincinnati”, and featuring what seemed to be the actual voice of Les Nessman.

North Carolina: where B-list TV stars from the 1970s go to die promote supermarket chains.

A Cold and the Fair

Somehow I managed to pick up the raging cold of death this week. Mark had a less intensive version of it first, but I think I got the full-strength edition. It started on Tuesday with a sore throat. By Wednesday morning, I sounded like Brenda Vacarro on steroids, but I felt a lot better by nightfall. It came back on Thursday and Friday, though. It didn’t help that I was alos having lots of trouble sleeping. I’m still not sure whether I felt so bad because I couldn’t sleep or I couldn’t sleep because I felt so bad. Either way, I felt like shit and I was really sleepy.

I think it may finally be ending soon. But I tought that on Wednesday, too.

Anyway, I have lots of exciting reading to do on archival theory, but I just wanted to take a second to put these exciting photos from the fair last week, because I know you’d hate to miss the special librarian cake and the pig races:


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Welcome to Your Place

Cool. KOFY’s back, dogs and all. It’s a desperation strategy, but it might work. Of course, they wouldn’t be in this predicament if they’d hired me to do their website when I interviewed for the job seven or eight years ago.

OK, they might still have problems, but they’d at least have a much more attractive website than they have now.

A Climate Controlled, Acid Free Environment

I had a friend once — a queer ska librarian by trade — who told me he thought I might be more of an archivist than a librarian. Having finally gotten to the part of  my archival management class where we actually toured the university archives, I decided that he was quite correct. I’d suspected it all along, but as I moved deeper and deeper into that freezing cold, cave-like room full of meticulously-maintained boxes of paper and other random stuff, I just got all giddy and excited. I was afraid my classmates were going to notice my stiffy. It was almost embarrassing.

Site Update

For those of you who are keeping up, I’ve finished migrating all the old content into WordPress except for 1999, 2000, and the first nine months of 2001. Unfortunately, that was one of my most prolific periods, so it may take a while. I also haven’t yet gone back and corrected all the internal links. But I did finish my two big  goals for this month, which were to get this particularly important weekend in 2001 converted before our seventh anniversary later this month, and also to get the Planet SOMA US Tour 1998 ready to celebrate its own tenth anniversary, which starts Saturday. I hope to have the rest done by the end of November at the latest, but we’ll see about that.

He’s NOT Joe the Plumber

Seems we’ve found our new handyman. He’s a very chipper and friendly sort who just moved here last year from the UK. So far he seems to do good work at a reasonable price. He shows up precisely on time. And he’s not a scary redneck like so many handymen around here. He does not, alas, resemble Handy Andy in any significant way. But that’s OK.

Stupid AT&T

So our wireless router/modem died yesterday afternoon, leaving us with no internet access. I’m sitting at a Starbucks right now, because it’s free and easier than driving to school or trying to find a parking space at Winston-Salem State or Wake Forest. The really sucky thing is that it’s fall break and I was really hoping to spend these two days getting caught up — and maybe even a little bit ahead — on my work. Oh well.

The other sucky thing is that we’re actually losing the DSL next week in favor of a return to cable, so if the damned router could’ve held out for one more week, it wouldn’t have been an issue anyway.

At least the weather is nice; we even broke out one of the space heaters this morning, and we started the Hallowe’en decorating last night. I think the long hell of summer is finally over. I hate summer.

There Is Internet Again

Of course, the replacement router arrived precisely at 4:59PM, just as I was calling for a status update. As it turns out — and as I suspected, which is why I tried it — the problem was the adapter rather than the router itself. Once I plugged it into the new adapter, it came right back on and all was well with the world.

Advice Column

The title refers to the fact that I’m looking for it, not providing it.

Mom and Her Computer:

The first question has to do with my mom. She’s had a computer for about eight years.  She’s actually become increasingly less adept at using it during this time. I’m talking about basic things, like being able to create a word processing document and then save it to a specific location on her hard drive and find it again later. My mom basically does not know what an application is nor how a hard drive is arranged.  The concept of highlighting items with her mouse and editing or moving them largely eludes her.

Early on, she learned how to use AOL  (to some extent) and that’s about it. She has no grasp of the basics. None. Now that she no longer has AOL as a standalone application, she doesn’t really even seem to know how to check her email; she has weeks worth of unopened messages every time I visit. I tell her how to look at them. I come back the next week, and she’s surprised when I mention that those same messages are still unread. And it’s getting worse and worse.

This is not just a case of my being anoyed at having to provide occasional tech support to get her out of a jam, which I’d gladly do. No, I’m questioning whether or not my mom has any business even using computer at this point. I’m not sure that she really can learn what she needs to know, but even if she could, I’m not sure who could teach it to her. My mom is an intelligent woman, and she actually worked with computers in the 1970s and 1980s, long before most of the rest of us, but she learned a certain set of tasks with no background context, and I think it’s too late for her to recover from that.

It’s really causing problems for her. She gets so incredibly frustrated–often to the point of tears–and that, of course, gets me frustrated and stressed as well. Frankly, I don’t think she needs that extra stress in her life, and I’m pretty sure I don’t either. The computer was supposed to be fun for her. That’s obviously not how it’s working out.

I understand that there’s more to it than meets the eye. She doesn’t want to give it up because doing so would mean admitting that her abilities are getting more limited as she ages (although I’m 95% certain something like dementia is not an issue at this time). My mom is already depressed, I know, perhaps even clinically depressed, so maybe it’s good that she keeps trying. But it’s hard to watch her, and hard to take answering the same questions over and over again and never seeing any progress.

Has anyone dealt with a similar situation? How do I tactfully suggest that the computer may be doing her more harm than good and that it’s sometimes even making me dread visiting? I’d like to spend the remaining  years talking to my parents, not getting annoyed by a piece of technology.

Colleague/Bigot:

I recently discovered that someone I’m working very closely with on a project is also of a somewhat activist bent on the issue of “preserving” marriage (yes, we all understand what that code word means). This is someone I pretty much have to work with for the next few months, and I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to react the next time I see her.  We haven’t really discussed our personal lives all that much, and I’m not even sure if she realizes I’m one of those “radical agenda-carrying homosexuals”, although it’s certainly no secret and not something I’ve hidden either. I just can’t remember if it’s come up in the conversation; I thought I’d mentioned my husband in passing at some point, just as she has, but I’m not sure. We’re not exactly “chummy”, although we get along fine.

I can deal with people I disagree with, which is good, since this would include most of the population. But it’s hard not to take this particular issue personally, rather like it would be difficult for an African-American  to work with an avowed and vocal segregationist. We’re at the same point on the organizational chart, so it’s not a supervisor/subordinate issue, and it’s also not like the Agnes incident, because Agnes was nuts, and that involved a disposable part-time job anyway. Any thoughts on how to avoid letting this affect my work while  still maintaining my principles?

2000

I’m down to converting the last few months of entries from 2000 now, after which this site will be 100% database-y. Despite all the stuff I have to do this weekend, I’m close enough that I’m determined to finish. And if you’ve seen a couple of odd things pop up on the front page today, it’s probably because I’ve been a little sloppy and forgotten to re-date some old entries. Thus, I didn’t really bugger a boy in front of an audience nor have dinner in Oakland last night, and I don’t have strep, either.

It’s funny how I don’t seem to get strep anymore now that I don’t hang out in backrooms and sex clubs and bugger boys in front of audiences.

Seven Years Ago Today

Seven years ago today, I was still in Fresno. I spent most of the day taking pictures of old supermarkets.

Then, I went to Club Fred, where I’d arranged to meet up with this guy I’d been exchanging email with for a couple of months. We went to a party for a while, had dinner at Denny’s on Blackstone, and then went back to his place to look at his new iBook:

Nothing was ever quite the same for me after that.

I love you, baby. Happy anniversary.

Why I Don’t Generally Vote Republican in the South

It’s election season — as if you could have missed it. I’ll most likely be voting something close to a straight Democratic ticket on the local and statewide races, which is pretty much my default strategy here. I’ll be voting for Barack Obama as well, but that’s for different reasons that I may talk about later. Or not.

I’ve lived in two very culturally distinct regions of the United States, and my political choices have always been a reflection of (or perhaps a reaction to) this geography. I moved steadily to the left of “mainstream” through my years in the south, and moved rather decisively to the right of it when I was in San Francisco. I don’t think either migration necessarily means that I’m a “centrist” at heart nor does it reflect any radical shift in my political values over time.

Ultimately, I’d call myself a “pragmatic libertarian” in philosophy. Mind you, this is not to say that I support the Libertarian Party, a group of anti-government zealots  which has almost nothing to do with libertarian philosophy, as evidenced by their choice of Bob Barr to lead the ticket this year, among other shining inconsistencies. Unlike the capitalized Libertarians I don’t believe that the government should be abolished nor that taxation should be eliminated. I merely believe it should follow the most non-invasive and minimalistic course of action that is feasible and realistic. A good example is community college funding. I’m a big supporter, because a reasonable investment in education now saves what will eventually a much bigger investment in cleaning up the effects of a lack of education. Call it government by preventative mantenance — or maybe governement by cost-benefit analysis. Similarly, I question whether the government should be in the business of regulating, rewarding, or penalizing what should be private contracts or individual decisions  (e.g. marriage, bearing children, home ownership, etc.)

In California, it was sometimes easy for me to reconcile voting for Republicans because western Republicans, particularly urban coastal ones, often come from this intellectual tradition, or at least from a similar one. Even John McCain used to be accused of it before that scary stranger inhabited his body. Many of them started out with an assumption and a foundation of equal rights for all individuals (social libertarianism, if you will) onto which they built a level of more fiscally conservative or pro-business policies. Again, it was a largely intellectual process that reflected a consistency of reasoning with which I did not always agree, but one that I could usually respect. Of course, this is not the case with all western Republicans, and I still found myself siding (sometimes reluctantly) with Democrats as often as not in California, but this sort of  approach is much more common west of the Rockies.

In the south, however, most Republicans seem to lack that intellectual aspect (maybe it involves too many shades of grey) and are coming more from an ideological tradition — specifically a fundamentalist Christian-derived ideology. For many, I suspect, it’s more a case of “knowing their audience” than an indicator of any specific conviction (Elizabeth Dole, in particular, strikes me as just such a performer), but the end result is a inconsistent ideology of less government — except when it comes to sex, or profanity on TV, or flag burning, or religious diversity, or other things that are “inconsistent with North Carolina values.” In these cases, the same Republicans who want government out of our everyday lives are far too willing to make exceptions, citing God, family values and norms, or whatever other excuses they can concoct. I have no respect for parroted ideology; there is no critical thinking going on here, only memorization of random Bible verses and glib soundbites.

Southern Democrats, mind you, are only somewhat less offensive, but they at least tend to pay lip service to the concept of social diversity and to skip the more blatantly race-baiting and gay-baiting tactics of their Republican counterparts. In fact, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress from my district is actually an avowed supporter of same-sex marriage, which is considerably further than Democrats are willing to go, even in California. Barring any other realistic option, these southern Democrats, mixed bag that they are, generally get my support, and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Randomly Monday

It’s gonna be a really long, ugly week, so I’ll get these out of the way right now lest you not hear from me again for several days:

  • Is it really sad that I didn’t even realize the World Series was going on until I realized the DVR hadn’t recorded The Simpsons last night? And that I still don’t care?
  • Cool download via Scrubbles. This is surely one of the most bizarre albums ever recorded, featuring Hugo Montenegro (who wrote the theme from “I Dream of Jeannie” among other classics), an early Moog synthesizer, and covers of such groovy hits as “Dizzy”, “MacArthur Park”, and “Touch Me”, not to mention “My Way”. I remember it very well, as it may have been the first 8-track my parents ever owned. I think it came with one of my dad’s Buicks. For some reason, it sort of gives me visions of the cast of The Mothers-in-Law on acid.
  • Via my hubby: The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible. It’s a fundamentalist’s nightmare.
  • New site from the creator of Charlotte Eats: Charlotte Ads.
  • And don’t forget the newly remodeled Diners of the World, to which I may even be contributing soon.

Back to the grindstone…

The End of an Era

Farewell, rust-based video:

Victor Co. of Japan Ltd., better known as JVC, has stopped producing VHS-format videocassette players and will end global sales when existing inventories run out. Panasonic Corp. and others no longer make the once-ubiquitous machines, so JVC’s exit rings the curtain down on major Japanese manufacturers’ presence in the VCR market.

In Memory of Opus the Penguin (1981-2008)

There it was in Food Lion tonight, reminding me that after Sunday, Opus will be no more. I’ll miss him despite the fact that he was never quite the same once Milo and Binkley deserted him almost twenty years ago, ending the best comic strip that ever was. I wish him all the herring snacks he can eat in whatever future life he may have.

Back on the Wire

Let me just say that the week has been every bit as ugly as I promised on Monday, and it’s showing no signs of letting up until, well, mid-December.

That said, I’m now announcing that after seven years as a satellite household, we’ve made the switch back to cable. The primary factors were cost and customer service.We’re saving a little money, getting better internet service (by bundling and ditching the DSL), and we no longer have to deal with Dish Network’s special “once we install it, you’re on your own” brand of customer support.

I have to admit the Dish Network DVR interface runs circles around Time Warner’s, both in appearance and customization options. But Time Warner has some plusses as well, like the “start over” feature on some channels (I don’t really know how well this works yet) and the ability to watch one show while recording another. And it’s also nice that we can pretty much connect as many TVs as we want to ghetto cable at no extra charge.

The switch might have been more traumatic if I watched TV more than I currently do. The biggest drama so far was that the installer spent almost eight hours wiring our house, and then made me jump start his truck before he’d leave. Glad I didn’t have anything to do on Tuesday. Oh wait. I did.