Friday, May 31, 2002

Last weekend we could not find NOKOA or The Villager at the customary location at our H-E-B. Today it was announced on the KAZI Breakfast Club that H-E-B is barring both of them from being distributed at their stores. I sent in the little H-E-B survey with a polite rant, and H-E-B corporate headquarters will receive a genuine letter of complaint.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

So much for Chicken Little. Now that I know about DPS on-line renewal, I swear upon my solemn oath that I'll always use it in future. I do not e-v-e-r want to be called "Hon" again by anybody! The system is greatly improved from what it used to be and doesn't expend quite so much of a person's time, but it still costs way too much of that valuable commodity. There was a guy there who had to be instructed to remove his sunglassed for the photo.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

The news sounds dire, but the narrator is unreliable.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

The Insomnia Reading Circle turned to a London Review of Books and hit paydirt in the first few pages: a first-person account of Caracas during the week of three presidents, plus a great piece on Thomas "Fats" Waller, who wrote more of my favorite songs than I had realized. I'd remembered that it was Duke Ellington who said "One never knows, do one?," but it was Waller. Yesterday, late in the afternoon, we heard a wonderful piano piece on KNCT and thought it was Eubie Blake, but it was Waller. We loved hearing a non-Fred version of "Needle in a Haystack"--not because it was non-Fred, just to hear the song. We think Dickie Powell sang it in a movie, too.

Monday, May 27, 2002

There's no place for a parade in Austin on this day. No! the streets must be closed instead for a triathlon. So we listened to several hours of the complete Sousa marches, now out on five CDs for over seventy bucks--we listened to our old vinyl. K made his first potato salad and tired of Sousa before I did. Every radio station was playing crap. Earlier there'd been a Mozart requiem on KMFA, but they'd turned to flupes and clarineps, so we turned to old-school hiphop on KAZI. Until yesterday, this past week or so has been very good for broadcast music. We heard Regine Crespin sing Debussy and Ravel art songs; we heard all of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi for the first time and loved it, and Paul Ray devoted a lot of time to Sun Ra. For some reason, he and the Solar Arkestra used to be on TV live a lot of the time somewhere we lived.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Where the new hotel is going up on hallowed ground (Back Forty and the Pit), there was a Michoacana helados guy. He and the flagman were engaged in conversation whenever there was no traffic. The paleta guy must station himself there all day, ready for breaks and lunch hour. His cart was hand-pushed. Last week we saw our first one modified to be a tricycle. I found "El paletero"--the lyric from a song?

Saturday, May 25, 2002

The Insomniac Book Club features Grasshopper. Mirabile dictu, it has a happy ending, more or less.

Friday, May 24, 2002

Zane Grey is the most recent range to be catalogued. Desert of Wheat still has the flap from its original dust-jacket. Here's a quote from the blurb: "A vigorous story of a man's fight to purge his blood of a hated taint and his war against the I.W.W.'s, who ruin his wheat harvest. The farmers of the great Northwest, after their wheat fields have been destroyed by the uncrupulous methods of these Bolshevists, band together to wipe out this menace." Some of these are illustrated with very corny magazine-style duotone illustrations of the era; others have stills from silent movies made from the stories. The Short-Stop is dedicated "to all the girls and all the boys who love the grand old American game" Lone Star Ranger is frequently reprinted in full facsimile.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

It took the hand truck to get the old 19-inch CRT monitor to the car, but the wonderful guy at Axcess carried it to the loading dock for recycling. Love him, love my hand truck!

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Orange cosmos are better than no cosmos, much better.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

It's obviously necessary to keep a complete spreadsheet or even relational database to deal with magazine subscriptions, credit-card accounts, you name it. Now it's back to Business Week and Texas Monthly shorting on the term, and all these creeps outsource their "customer care" and give the poor people dealing with this stuff no authority to do anything helpful. Grrrrrrr.

Monday, May 20, 2002

The Insomniac reading circle featured a short feature in the Atlantic for June about the Wiffle Ball, still made in Connecticut and still a small family business. K. thinks he must have had one of the first batch, in 1954. Now we know that there's a United States Perforated Plastic Baseball Association, enjoying use of the domain, which the trademark-holders have evidently neglected to secure, but obviously required to use "perforated plastic baseball" as the generic term, again for trademark reasons, I bet.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

We had no intention at all of leaving the house, but the paper had a circular showing a sale for hand-tools. This week saw the end of my 30+-year-old long-handled cultivator, my "claw." I suppose that, if I could find a good ash handle, I might be able to fasten the forging to it. We were tempted by a dandelion/weed-digger on a long handle; we'd only ever seen short-handled ones. While we were there, we inspected all the non-power reel mowers. The one that's equivalent to my mower now has a lot of plastic parts and costs $189 dollars. Mine cost $45 when new and is a better piece of equipment, no plastic hubcaps. K. and I both had both had a Gilbert Chemistry set. I followed the experiments; he did a lot of messing around. The owner of MGM Indian foods recommends Lagaan highly. He stocks mostly DVDs these days.

Saturday, May 18, 2002

For the first time in quite a while, Mrs. Scott from Scott Arbor in Seguin was at the South Austin Organic Farmers' Market. They've had a terrible bout of grasshopper infestation, even losing fruit trees. One of the customers got angry when someone spoke to him in Spanish: "I'm Polish!" I guess we've petted Gus the bassett hound for the last time, made our last pilgrimage to Twin Oaks Hardware. I was hoping to find a long-handled cultivator, but they were sold out of them. We used to buy Lonestar Seeds in bulk at the old Feed and Seed on South Congress (now housing Guero's); then we always found them at Twin Oaks. Some Lonestar packets are still printed from the old chromolithograph plates.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Troubleshooting's not revealing anything and haven't had time to find a loaner/renter to substitute for near-useless monitor. This is day number ???. Postings will continue here by touch-"typing" and shortcut keys since this is where all personal work is done. There'll be reminders now and fuller postings later. Maybe there'll be some time this weekend to try to do somethi8ng about this. It's not even certain whether it's the card or the minitor itself. We're already sucked in to "El privilegio de amar" and we haven't even seen Cesar Evora in action. Helene Rojas is great, as always. We're surprised to see the actress who was in the novela set in "San Carlos"--the second Gaby Spanic one, between La usurpadora and La intrusa--and then was more or less the juvenile lead in the one set in the boarding school. We read in the pulps that she and Juan Soler weren't getting along. Then she was cut and with no explanation her part was filled the last few episodes by Iran Castillo from Preciosa. Now she seem to have a featured role. Hmmmmmmmm. I must write about cleaning and tidying as a means of warding off evil. Also, the transom in the boys' room opened for the first time in a couple of seasons--what part of the house has shifted or settled to make that possible, I wonder.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

I hate the current Dell help-desk lot. They're pleasant, but they want to send a list of the same trouble-shooting stuff that's already been performed. There must be a monitor somewhere that I can borrow so that I can isolate the problem to monitor or card. I wish I hadn't given away my old one. It's luck of a sort never to have had a monitor go first. I've never even seen a television go. When we finally got a TV, it was a used one from Ben's Radio Shop (B&W, of course) and is still going strong after decades. Then, for our own household, we got that one that was "portable" with rocket-fins. That came from an abandoned roadhouse/dancehall in the woods and was used. In New Mexico there was no reception anyhow, just the sound from one station. When the sound stopped working, we bought another used "portable," this time from a pawnshop in Albuquerque. One of the best features of the Balcones Recycling building (old Shorty's Bar) was a wonderful series of maps of wood-pulping and paper-manufacturing locations in the U.S. and around the world. Even Battenville, which is on very few maps of any kind at all, was shown. Susan B. Anthony did spend a part of her childhood there.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

El mirador has finally been updated a bit. I've been feeling so guilty, since it pops up in so many search engines and there's nothing out there.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

For some reason we only now just found out about the "Loose Your Spirit" Hallmark Mahogany cards--a KAZI pharmacy sponsor's ad, I think. We were mesmerized last week or whenever it was, seeing Bishop Jakes and that wheelbarrow full of mustard seeds. Or was that Creflo Dollar? Sometimes it's difficult to get back to the novela, even though we know the commercial's over!

Monday, May 13, 2002

I love my book "How to Win at Donkey Kong." Now I find that it's a collectible and that at least someone out there wants to buy it.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

cch reports that she and HL used to take the Hudson River Day Line to the last stop before NYC and then get off and catch the next one back

Saturday, May 11, 2002

We enjoyed a private tour of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, courtesy of Sister Bunton (Rocha). I've never seen a sanctuary bathed in so much blue light, or such blue-predominant windows. Perhaps my favorite house on the tour was the former German-American Ladies' College, now owned by Alan Pogue and D'Ann Johnson. One or two of the houses were owned by the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation. We loved the one with two parakeets in the kitchen--that was the most lived-in establishment on the tour. We started the tour at one of the secondary points for beginning and so avoided the picket excitement at the main tent. We kept seeing neighbors and people from former lives from afar. It'll be interesting to see what Susan Smith publishes in the Statesman, probably on Wednesday. There's a force that doesn't want us to go to any of our operas this year--events beyond our control kept us from la Fanciulla del West and the curse almost worked again with Rigoletto. Ping Yu, who sang the lead role, was the best we've ever seen or heard in that part, which is usually taken by the superannuated. Joe McClain says he's a practioner of traditional Chinese medicine.

Friday, May 10, 2002

This morning's Breakfast Club had a caller inviting people to show up for an anti-gentrification demonstration at tomorrow's Heritage Home tour. I sure can empathize with people's fear of being taxed out, having gone from "houses in that neighborhood are just junk and will be torn down soon and they're just fit for hippies and students and we won't lend on them" to "that part of town's too good for the likes of you" in 2.5 easy decades. Courtesy of the Library, the Insomniac Book Club raced through the first half of Yemen: the Unknown Arabia. The author certainly projects an unpleasant persona but we share a fascination for the quirks of idiomatic expression in various languages. I see that he's milking his experience for all it's worth and that Mackintosh-Smith's current book apparently also devotes a generous chunk of prose to qat.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

After Dutch tulips and several kinds of poppies in Mack's Yard, now we're enjoying our first success ever with delphiniums and we don't even know why! We don't even remember having planted them. They must have been in all those packets of mystery seeds and seeds past their shelf-life. With some Drummond's phlox and firewheels, we have quite a show.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Shelf PS-A-4-B has been catalogued. Two books that it's time to read again are Army Life in a Black Regiment and Not Without Laughter.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Insomniac bookclub selection: "Stiff News"--the last of the Catherine Aird books from the library--this cures insomnia, since, though it's a workmanlike example of its kind, that's the best that can be said for it. If the weather remains as it's been, it'll be time very soon to bring forth the full panoply of fans. Those who have air-conditioning never truly experience the climate as it is, that's for sure. The home library catalogue is progressing slowly; 541 books done and so much more to go. What a project this would be if we hadn't been so faithful about disposing of what will never be read or referred to again.

Last night it was the police helicopter that woke us up. So we had a middle-of-the-night breakfast, caught up on the newspapers, and catalogued a few books. I just love the coverage on the great Harvard Business Review scandal. Subs cost well over a hundred smackera a year, but the really big bucks come from people ordering vanity offprints. I knew from the moment that the first inkling appeard in the WSJ--this was going to be b-i-g. The coverage in NYMag has been the meanest so far. According to that piece, the HBR editors spend a lot of their time "polishing" the illiterate submissions of corporate bigwigs. I love the trouble all this is causing for Jack Welch of GE (Mr. Hudson PCB), not to mention the spotlight on Suzy Wetlaufer.

Monday, May 06, 2002

The bride and groom were featured on the first page of the Statesman's second section today, at the Huston-Tillotson graduation. We're going to send an extra copy and look into getting photographic prints.

Sunday, May 05, 2002

Whew! With graduation over, time for the conjunto festival. The revelation of the day was Dueto Carta Blanca con George y Mague. Even with ninety-degree temperatures, they brought the dance floor to life. We realized that we've sat next to Margaret Gomez and chatted with her several times at these events without realizing who she was. I had a delicious gordita with pico de gallo and K. pleased himself with two hot dogs. As always, there were almost more people attending in strollers than on two legs. We spent most of our time set up under a pecan tree. The KB Homes booth had a foam house with a bluebird on the roof and fat shoes and gloves. KB Homes, the former Kaufman & Broad, wasn't even an official sponsor--just rented a little booth. The men sat in the shade; the two young girls took turns suiting up and leading the suited-up person around the grounds. The leader was taking Polaroids of children with the house. Then the parents would come by with the photo for a free frame at the booth. We were privy to a great conversation between the KB guy and a KVET guy about the benefits of sponsoring el cinco de mayo and how they want to be in on the ground floor with this rapidly developing market. Also next to us was a booth selling pralines and bags of shelled nuts: a woman, her son, his wife, and their son. The guy reminded us of Jack. He had a beautiful vessel for the nuts and the oil and seasonings and an interesting utensil for keeping the nuts moving in the coating of oil. All was done on one of those devices used for deep-frying turkey. After a weekend like this, we were crashing just as Jaime y los Chamacos were taking the stage.

Saturday, May 04, 2002

The bride was beautiful and wore a perfect-fitting gown in the very finest of taste; the groom was handsome and happy, the children were seen and not heard, even the many infants. Because of snarled traffic, a trip that used to take under ten minutes took nearly an hour. We weren't the only ones to arrive with little time to spare. Acoustics weren't great, but the officiating of the bride's grandfather was and so was the music--a voice with a future and a saxophone and piano with mood. Home and off with the uncomfortable clothes and two hours of James Brown and his Famous Flames. I see that "Please, Please, Please" brightened 1956, and how!

Friday, May 03, 2002

No packing slip was enclosed with the first item ordered through the Co-op that actually arrived. The second item did enclose a packing slip, revealing that the order must have been lost yet a second time, since the order date is March 27, not the March 11 when the credit-card account was debited and when it has been stated that the second and replacement order for the one lost was placed.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Having committed yet more errors, the Co-op graciously agreed to spring for free guaranteed next-day shipping and delivery of that pesky item of academic regalia that we've been trying to acquire from that source since February 24! Every possible part of the order has been mishandled, from losing it, not following it, having it shipped to the wrong location (if and when ever shipped), ignoring deadlines, not responding to inquiries, to being rude about follow-up and then having to apologize and going on to commit yet other errors! K. wants to keep the items that will arrive late, if they ever do arrive at all, but I'm resolved to turn everything in, not neglecting to get a receipt! I need to erase all the correspondence that I've been keeping as proof of all that's happened; it's beginning to hog my entire mailbox capacity!

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Today's WSJ has an official list of what are permitted and prohibited as carry-on items for airplanes. "Kubaton" is listed as one of the items, new to me. On Google, it's listed also as kutotan and kubatan. Looking at images does not convey the purpose of the kubotan. On the list also were "numchuck" (nunchaku) and "throwing star." But not Leatherman. Despite anecdotes, knitting needles and nailfiles are apparently permitted.