Illinois update #1

Northwest Airlines cancellations due to fog: 2
legs to get from Roanoke, VA, to Champaign, IL: 3 (Roanoke - Atlanta - Chicago - Champaign)
legs in sprawling Atlanta airport crossed to get to connecting flight: 4
length of flight from Chicago to Champaign: 28 minutes (damn!)
Bush/Cheney signs in next door neighbor's yard: 8 (sprouting up like mushrooms!)
Amount I am glad to be home anyway: infinite
number of minutes spent searching for car in Willard airport, after parking for only 2 minutes while running in to pick up suitcase that didn't make it back from Chicago with me, while wandering in rain clutching umbrella, suitcase, and cell phone: 20
movie start times missed due to said wandering: 1
alternate plans thought up: 1
times better alternate plan was than movie: one zillion

Virginia update #4

Went to Smithfield today, a colonial plantation in Blacksburg. I always forget how much I love colonial architecture, furniture, textiles, paintings, etc., especially the more roughtly-hewn ones. Somehow the combination of European aesthetics with frontier practicality/resources is so appealing. Everything is beautiful yet worn, of a particular style yet with completely individual variation.

Our tour guide said that the colonists didn't use the letters j, y, or s. Doesn't that sound dodgy? I'm trying to find out.

Tomorrow is family get-together day - in a van, down by the river. Okay, it's not a van, but you know what I mean. Possibly two cousins I haven't seen in at least twelve years are coming. Possibly not. My uncle who won't travel to foreign countries and who calls fries "freedom fries" will be there, though, and I have permission from my mom to voice my opions if people start talking politics. I can't imagine what he and I will have to talk about, given that I work in a world cultures museum.

I love my parents, but I'm ready to come home.

Virginia update #3

To show how strange being in Virginia really is, I will offer the following evidence, in fthe orm of a conversation between my mother and me.
me: "Is there a coffee maker at the cabin?" ["Cabin" meaning my parents' little house on the New River, about 30 miles away.]
mom: "No, but there's instant."
me: "Oh, well, instant's fine."

"Instant's fine"?!? I hardly know myself.

We spent most of yesterday at this cabin/cottage place, en route having a discussion over the difference of what "cabin" and "cottage" technically denote, and deciding that this was probably a cottage because cabins are rustic, whereas their river house is just small. The setting is truly lovely, with the New River streaming by, going over enough rocks here and there to make happy splashing sounds. There is a hill leading right down to the bank on the other side, and all the trees are turning darker green and rust and yellow (none of the trees here turn red for whatever reason). I put on the big, shit-kicker-y boots and waded in to look at shells and rocks and stuff. V nice. My dad offered to give me a turn on the riding mower, but after watching him bounce around, I decided I would rather just keep my teeth, and took the dog for a walk instead.

The house itself, however, is heinous! Completely random furniture (whatever my parents and aunt and uncle had lying around that they didn't need), no color anywhere, and bad 70s rec room paneling. It reminded me a lot of Luci's parents' beach house, but about 20% the size and clearly lacking any sort of plan for the spaces and furnishings. But the view was fantastic, that's for sure. All that was missing was a sign that says "If you're lucky enough to be at the river, you're lucky enough." Perhaps will cross-stitch them one for Christmas.

Today's plan: visit mom's mom and then hunt for yarn stores in Roanoke. Originally my mom had proposed that we pick up her mom and go for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's as though she doesn't know me at all - has she forgotten all the tortured hours I spent as a little kid on our annual drive to Virginia, curled up in a corner of the back seat of the car trying not to be sick on the winding? It's akin to suggesting we all go out for seafood. Even weirder was that she sounded genuinely surprised when I reminded her that I tend to get car sick on hilly roads. She meant well, though.

Virginia update #2

Today we went to the O. Winston Link Museum, the Virginia Museum of Transportation, and Valley View mall. Very good, enh, and enh, respectively.

The Link Museum focuses on the photography of just this one person, Winston Link, who spent years photographing the steam trains in western Virginia, which were the last in use in the country. They had really cool labels, making clever, stylish, evocative use of the graphic design of the trains and the converted train station in which the museum is housed. The half-hour video about the photgrapher and his projects was good too - initially I thought "half an hour is too long for an orientation film," but it did a lot to tell you why these pictures were worth looking at. However, I will say that two hours of train photos was enough for me. I think it helps to know the area or to like trains a lot.

The other museum was okay. I had found a dollar bill outside on the ground and as I put it in the donation box I desparately wished I had more to give them - trains and planes and automobiles have got to be a maze of conservation problems, and many of their pieces were just outside under the open sky. They really lacked labels all over the whole museum - and I don't really know why, because you know there are dozens of train nuts volunteering there, and if you could just get them to talk for 10 minutes about each thing, transcribe their convesration, pick out the best bits, do a bit of layout, print, laminate, and stick it on the wall, that would be a good start. Not my usual philosophy of label-writing and design, but poorly organized information is better than none.

The mall was a waste of time. I hadn't realized that Roanoke is only about the same size of Peoria, so the mall is nothing special. I had remembered this place as uber-cool when we visited Virginia in junior high and high school - of course, I lived in Macomb then and had to drive 90 minutes to get to any mall.

Tomorrow I have been promised a trip to "the cabin," my parents' mysterious little river-front house. I might get to drive the riding lawn mower!

stupid PC

I hate, hate, hate this PC. The keyboard is clunky and loud. Everything is taupe. Too many dumb buttons for people who need individual keys for going forward or backward on a CD. And Windows is just so generally hatable. I miss my Mac.

But I love, love, love this yarn

available here. I got it in sea shell and I think it's the most lovely yarn I've ever used.

Virginia update #1

In evidence of history repeating, perhaps, the woman in the stall next to mine in the restroom in the Detroit airport was violently ill. I didn't know what to do - say "Are you okay?" when she obviously was not? offer to get her paper towels? ginger ale? a mint? So distressing, but yet so glad it wasn't I this time.

Have been for 2-mile walk along uppy-downy western Virginia city trails this morning. Hills=winded. Walking backwards makes it easier, though. Beautiful foliage and backyards, except for the college student apartments, which are all like Melrose and University Commons on N Lincoln but are NASTY. It was Va Tech's homecoming last weekend so I'm sure they were extra trashy today.

I might have to wait until Saturday to see the much-anticipated river cottage. The extended family is all gathering there for a bbq. I am promised a bonfire and s'mores, so I guess I can put up with the relatives. Melina, there might be a baby (either son of my cousin Amanda, remember how annoying she used to be?, or daughter of my next-younger cousin Greg). The most fundamentalist of the aunts and uncles are scheduled to attend.

At the grocery store this morning, I heard the following page on the intercom, in southern accent: "Jimbo to aisle 2, Jimbo to aisle 2." For real.

Discuss amongst yourselves: Is Chambana a latte town?

I am late to be reading Bobos in Paradise, but now that I am, I am full of questions. One of them is, would I be a bobo if I had the cash? Quite possibly. I would never tile my shower in slate or buy an SUV or go on an "adventure vacation," but the rest of what I've read applies to me quite well. This particularly came to mind as I walked my dog this morning in my Helly Hansen raincoat listening to "Car Talk" on my walkman and felt very satisfied with myself as I whipped out my cell and pledged to NPR. But being a bobo seems to be only half about attitude and interests - the other half, which I sorely lack, is bank, and though I work in a bobo-approved field I will never accumulate the resources to do what most bobos do. This is true of all my friends, too. None of us make the kind of money that would enable this lifestyle, if we were to choose it.

The "latte town" concept is interesting too. Chambana is probably too conservative, or at least the campus is, to really do this, and midwesterners are jeans-wearin' rather than hiking gear-wearin', but there are latte elements: the Lincoln Square farmers' market, the fledgling bobo-types in downtown Champaign on Saturday nights, the bulletin board at the Urbana Free Library, the Birkenstock store.... Trying to see what other people thought of this online, I found that Chambana is in epodunk's list of top 10 medium-sized college towns. Which isn't the same as a latte town exactly, but I won't quibble with anyone who sees why my town is a sensible, happy, involved place to live.

the best 12 hours in local arts and media EVER

John and I have this Wednesday tradition of cooking dinner and watching a movie. We take turns picking the movie, which is interesting to say the least, because we have such very different taste most of the time. Anyhoo, last night we went out and saw FOUND Magazine's Slapdance Across America tour 2004. Giggling genius good time. Peter Rothbart was filling in for his brother Davy, FOUND creator, who was on Letterman last night. I have such a stage-presence crush on him - or at least I did, until I went up with my crumpled $20 to buy the book and couldn't think of anything cute to say to him. I am thrilled that he did a cover of one of the Ypsilanti All-Starz's finest.

Then this morning I pulled over on my way to work to pledge to WEFT during my favorite show, Up and Atom Bomb. They needed three more callers by 8:00 and I couldn't resist. Then they played this lovely calm image-filled song and it turns out it was James Taylor. I have never in my life liked a James Taylor song (one that he sings, anyway - the stuff he wrote for Working is gorgeous). Who knew.

there really is a website for everything

In grade school, first or second grade, I think, we occasionally watched a tv show called Read All About It that features kids trying to solve mysteries. The only thing I remember clearly, probably because I was so scared, was that they had an enemy who was a floating head.

Why am I thinking about this, you ask? Well, because I watched the Sesame Street special where they go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and get locked in overnight because they're looking for Big Bird, who is trying to meet up with Snufflupagus, and at one point Big Bird and Snuffy meet up with a little prince who lives inside the Egyptian tomb at the Met,
and they help him solve a riddle that is posed to him at midnight by a demon. And that demon is a floating severed head wearing a weird scarfy hat thing and has green makeup on, and it reminded me of this other scary floating head. Also, Cookie Monster sings a song about not being allowed to eat the art at the museum, which is how I found out about this show, because my conservation professor in Toronto brought in the video and showed us the clip. Who am I to argue with both Sesame Street and the Met, but I can't help but wonder if this just planted ideas in kids' heads. And at the end of the show, Bob tells Cookie Monster that because he was so good all night and didn't eat any of the art, he can have anything he wants from the hot dog vendor on the street outside, and he does his Cookie Monster thing and eats the cart, sending hot dogs and popcorn flying.

What's with the floating severed heads on kids' shows? That can't be good.

Anyway, finally I have come to my senses and looked it up online. And of course I've already found two sites good pictures (see the big scary head right at the top!) and good review.

You know the freakiest part of all? It's Canadian!!! From Ontario, even! I bet it was filmed in Toronto! Destiny. I can't believe this never came up in all the Massey dinners we spent talking about childhood tv. And that no one proudly claimed this as a genius Canadian contribution to the world. While I don't remember it well, surely it was better than Mr. Dressup.

Yeah, that's right, I said it. I don't like Mr. Dressup. To be fair, I only saw it as an adult. But it was lame. But you can still hold your head high, Canada, because you gave children everywhere You Can't Do That on Television, the best kids' show ever.

another disappointing book

I have read about 70 pages of Jane Green's Straight Talking and it's really not very good. This is the first of hers I have read, although I have picked them up off the shelf and read the back covers many times, on the edge of thinking they could be really good or really bad, and have been too wary, too burned by Bridget-alikes, to try another.

But I did finally try one. Even the characters are Bridget-like, so much so that I have just tried to figure out which was published first (Bridget was, by a few weeks), becuase the similarities are too much (including a commitment-phobic boyfriend who won't go on mini-break).

The interesting thing is, if I had found out Bridget was published later, it would never have occurred to me to think Helen Fielding was a shoddy knock-off - BECAUSE SHE IS A GENIUS WRITER. Green's characters are not endearing, or compelling, or, actually, even interesting. The book is humorless. These people are flat. I would never, ever want to be friends with any of the people in this book. Bridget regrets having been romantically involved with her boss, but the protagonist in this one makes repeated jokes to her boss about offering sexual favors. Women of the world, we do not need this. I'm sure it's meant to be funny, in jest, but it comes off as just sad.

So far, it's like a mirror image of Bridget - so very, very familiar but totally off. But I think I'm going to finish it anyway, because I really want to know what the fuss is about with this author.

How do I get myself into these things?

Yesterday I somehow managed to get the sleeve of my cardingan stuck in the clasp of my watch and I couldn't get it out, so I had to ask John for help, and he couldn't pry the clasp open either, so we went to the shop and he used a screwdriver to get it open. Let's hear it for tools.

I rambled about other stuff too. Wanna see?

April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 May 2006 June 2006 August 2006 October 2006 December 2006 February 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 September 2007 July 2008

projects, friends, etc.

  • I love Bollywood so much that I made a separate blog for it.
  • remember when I went to Australia?
  • when you take grad school too much to heart re: literature
  • when you take grad school too much to heart re: travels
  • The Trophy Wife
  • rock and roll lifestyle
  • Why God Why
  • Technically not a friend, as not a human, but still a place I love very much, so it counts: Massey College
  • credits

  • Blog design is based largely on Not That Ugly with some ideas from Firdamatic with some additional tweaking
  • Flickr rocks! Really.
  • Hurrah for Blogger
  • And for folks trying to library-ize blogs: Blogwise and Blogarama
  • Sorry this looks like poo in Firefox. I've no idea why.