fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Jack Pressman was a rabbi who, among other things, co-founded American Jewish University, formerly the University of Judaism. This is of some personal significance, since that was where I went to the first storytelling event I ever attended and found out about this whole wonderful community. (I also used to sometimes attend the Library Minyan at Temple Beth Am, which was Pressman’s shul.) Brian Friel wrote plays, notably Dancing at Lughnasa. Paul Prudhomme was a chef, who popularized Cajun food.

Technological Frontiers of Space: This year’s MIT Club of Washington seminar series is about space, so I felt semi-obliged to register for it. The first talk was a week ago Tuesday and was by John Logsdon, the former director of GWU’s Space Policy Institute. Unfortunately, he focused almost entirely on human spaceflight. I understand the interest in that, but the emphasis on human spaceflight gives an entirely misleading perspective on where we are, from both the technology and policy perspectives. For one thing, human spaceflight is less than half of NASA’s budget. Using the FY16 budget request, NASA’s overall budget is $18.5 billion and the human spaceflight part is $8.5 billion. It’s not so simple to get at what the National Security Space budget is (both because of classified programs, but also because things are tracked in ways that don’t necessarily break out space), but 30 seconds of google suggests it was about $27 billion in 2011.

Logsdon’s point is that we haven’t had a strong space policy since the Apollo days. But I think NASA has been pretty clear all along about aiming for Mars (again, from the human spaceflight perspective). In the meantime, the growth of unmanned space is huge. GPS is, of course, the killer app for space, but one can’t neglect the impact of communications satellites and weather satellites.

I’m hoping that the future talks in the series will have a broader view. I am not, however, optimistic since most of the speakers are either from NASA or the emerging commercial world.

Trip to Los Angeles: I made a quick trip to Los Angeles to go to lunch with people I worked with 25+ years ago. It also functioned as a semi-mileage run, of course. We were at PF Chang’s in Torrance, so the food was not exciting, but the company was good, including our department head from way back (who has long since retired) and a guy who was a summer intern and later abandoned our world to go to medical school. The latter was the other non-local attendee, as he lives in Minnesota. Anyway, there was lots of good conversation, so it was worth the effort.

I also got together with another friend for dinner. In between, I walked a bit on the Strand, but it was too bloody hot to do much of that. The car thermometer had claimed that it was 102 in Torrance. Sheesh.

The travel was not too annoying, though it was tiring. Also, I watched a particularly bad movie on the way home. (I knew it would be bad, but I can’t resist a vampire musical. And it was included in Amazon Prime.)

Speaking of Amazon Prime: I binge watched Better Off Ted and I really wish it had lasted more than two seasons. The Veridian Dynamics commercials (especially in season 1) are brilliant. And I have been looking for opportunities to use the line "more brains than a zombie Thanksgiving."

Grapevine: Last night was The Grapevine, a storytelling series at Busboys and Poets in Takoma. Last night was Jason Nkwain, a performance poet, and Laura Simms, an internationally known storyteller. Jason’s material was a mixed bag. Some of it wasn’t my sort of thing, but I was very favorably impressed by a piece called "Have You Ever Seen an African Dance?" Laura had an interesting and very entertaining blend of personal material and parts of a Romanian folktale. For what it’s worth, I told "Lyle and the Ghost" at the open mike part of the evening, because it’s the only really short ghost story I know. That is, if you can call it a ghost story instead of just an excuse for a really awful pun.
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On Friday night I went to see American Century Theater's production of One Night With Fanny Brice. This is essentially a one-woman show, written by Chip Deffaa, with a piano accompaniment. It was rather too literal a look at Brice's life, so came across as "I did this," followed by a song, repeat ad infinitum. Though Esther Covington, who played Ms. Brice, had a reasonable voice, her dancing is unimpressive and she has no sense of comedic timing. Combine that with accompaniment by Tom Fuller that often drowned her out and the result was a remarkably dull performance. A show about one of the funniest people ever to perform on a stage should have the audience laugh more than once or twice.

Saturday night was Tellebration! This is an annual evening of storytelling around the world. I performed at the event at the Kensington Row Bookshop in Kensington, Maryland. The Beltway traffic getting there was about the third worst I've ever encountered, so I was glad I had left myself a lot of extra time. I told two stories. In the first half, I told a Mongolian folktale I've used the title "Two Foolish Old People" for, though rechecking the book I got it from (which I also misremembered the title of) it is called "A story of the foolish and silly old people." It's short and funny and, therefore, made a good opening piece. The piece I told in the second half is Border Crossing, a personal story that attempts to answer a probing question an official asked as I entered Karonga, Malawi. It gives me a chance to make fun of weddings I've been to (all of which are real, though not all of which actually involved members of my family). I generally say that all of the stories I tell are true, whether or not they happened that way, and the minor exaggeration in this one is a good example.

As for the other tellers, Anne Sheldon told "The Tiger's Whisker" and a Vachel Lindsay poem about Johnny Appleseed. Bob Rovinsky focused on weddings and dance. His "seven pits" dance (which parallels the 7 stages of man) is always enjoyable to see. Laura J. Bobrow did a clever story about a girl called Rhonda, after the ballet term "ronde de jambe." Last but not least, Cricket Parmalee told a complex Arabic folktale about a princess who defied an order for there to be no women in a neighboring kingdom. Jane Dorfman ably emceed the evening.

The formal concert was followed by an open mike, the highlight of which was hearing Zoe Sagalow tell the circular story about the mice searching for the most powerful husband for their daughter. I had time for a quick browse around the shop afterwards and was seriously tempted by a theremin they have for sale. I may well go back and buy it if they still have it the next time I am in the neighborhood. (Which may not be that far away, as there is a Volksmarch in that area in December.)

Sunday was occupied primarily with knitting group. It appears that every woman I know who is under 40 is pregnant. Well, except for the two who just had babies in the past few weeks. And the other two. At least baby stuff is quick to knit.

Finally, all I can say about this past week's episode of The Amazing Race is that Chad just got what was coming to him.
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1) The major case of accidental death among hunters is falling out of trees. Personally, I suspect there is usually beer involved.

2) I am a bad influence. One of the guys from my company took a quick trip to Hawaii to maintain his United Premier Executive status. Over on Flyer Talk, we call that a "mileage run." And the guy who has the office next to mine went to Brazill for the weekend.

3) The only place I went over the weekend was Silver Spring for a story swap. It was a particularly good one, with a lot of people there and a wide range of stories. Jane's rendition of the story about why coyote has a puckered anus was a particular highlight.

4) Dear amazon.com: If somebody buys a Red Sox calendar, it is probably because they are a Red Sox fan. Sending them email every couple of days about the availability of calendars featuring other baseball teams is annoying.

5) Dear Washington Jewish Film Festival: It would have been nice if the film about Jews and baseball were on when Robert is going to be here, as that would easily top the list of possible entertainment events to go to. I will go see the film anyway, of course, but you could have sold two tickets, not just one.

6) I made a vegan version of sausage stew last night. Smoked sausage style soy sausage, vegan beef-flavored broth, potatoes, carrots, onions, seasoned with all-spice and bay leaf. It was reasonably good, but too obvious to be a keeper.

7) I'm not sure what I think of the proposal for one-way trips to Mars. I do know that I won't be signing up for one.

8) I'm sorry to see the parent / child teams eliminated from The Amazing Race. I was surprised that Michael and Kevin blew it by incurring penalties, instead of failing at a physical challenge. I was more surprised at how misled teams were by maps in Oman. And isn't Chad the luckiest bastard on the planet? I was so hoping that oversleeping would get rid of him and Stephanie.
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I am heading off to IAH this evening to start my participation in Starmega DO 2, which I am way too excited about. So here are some quick notes before I go.

1) I am happy that the Giants won the World Series. San Francisco is more of a baseball town than suburban Dallas, so let them have a nice party.

2) The Congressional race in my district is still too close to call. I am hoping (and somewhat expecting) Connolly to pull it out, but we may well have a recount mess that will linger for weeks.

3) The big celebrity death watch item of the week is Ted Sorenson, JFK's speechwriter. But I also want to mention John Olsson, who founded the late, lamented Olsson's Books. Up until the local chain's bankruptcy a couple of years ago (largely due to rising rents), it was a good place for me to drop some cash on my lunch hour.

4) The police in Fairfax County cited a woman who was walking her fox on Halloween. The fox was dressed in a skeleton costume and one would hope that the citation was for humiliating an animal. But it turns out that merely keeping a wild animal as a pet is the problem ehre. Once you can get the permits to do that, you can humiliate it however you please.

5) In the amusing things heard at work category, a launch delay is being attributed to a "holiday seeking rocket," i.e. one that will interfere with somebody's holiday plans. And a plan for a deep space launch involves the satellite in question "stopping at the space station for a potty break."

6) Re: The Amazing Race, I was very surprised that the music challenge proved so much harder than the film challenge. Admittedly, all those pianos in the same room was cacophonous, but two of the three pieces were ones I instantly recognized and could have identified by the sheet music alone. I guess none of the contestants are fans of 19th century Russian classical music?

Not Cake

Oct. 18th, 2010 04:50 am
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This is one of my hodegpodge entries - basically everything but cake.

Follow-ups: Ron solved the mystery of my "303/357" note to myself. That's a battery size and I wrote it down when I needed to replace the batteries in two of my travel alarm clocks.

I solved the mystery of "3200-11" myself by (duh) googling it. It's a DoD Instruction having to do with test ranges.

I also did a bit of research on "boughten" and found it is northern U.S. dialect. I will note that I use it only as an adjective and almost entirely in relation to food items, though I could stretch to referring to a boughten sweater (as opposed to a hand-knit one).

Sometimes the headline says it all: "Car eating rabbits invade Denver airport." The story explains that the rabbits eat soy-based wiring found in some late model cars.

Weird thing to wonder about: Suppose a transsexual decides to convert to Judaism. What would an Orthodox rabbi do? I am, of course, assuming the person's history is known to the rabbi, but the question becomes harder in some ways and easier in others if it is not.

Fun with names: I was amused to learn that one of the largest manufacturers of glass for the defense industry (e.g. in night vision glasses) is Schott.

Celebrity death watch: I am slightly annoyed (though not at all surprised) that Barbara Billingsley (who played June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver) got a lot more attention than Benoit Mandelbrot (who did much of the key mathematical research on fractals).

Story swap: I went to the Voices in the Glen story swap at Michael's on Saturday night. There was a reasonably good turn out and the swaps are always fun. A particular highlight was hearing Eve's son, Jonathan, tell "Birds of America." I also enjoyed Bill's story about Elizabeth Bathory.

Coral Reef Update: The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Exhibit is open at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History! It was supposed to open on Saturday but there was a water main break on Constitution Avenue, so the museum was closed. I saw the reef yesterday afternoon and it is lovely. The community reef is the biggest part of the display and is huge. I was able to find some of my contributions. And my name is spelled correctly on the plaque, which is always a plus. The exhibit runs through April 24, so you have lots of time to check it out.

USA Science and Engineering Festival: The inaugural USA Science and Engineering Festival is next weekend. There will be booths on the National Mall and around Freedom Plaza and Wilson Plaza and in the Mellon Auditorium. I'm volunteering and will be at the Mellon Auditorium info booth all day Saturday, so stop by and say hello if you're there. And you should be there. It looks like there are a lot of cool interactive exhibits and plenty of performances on four major stages and several smaller ones. (In case you are wondering how I came to be involved, the call for volunteers went out to a local MIT email list. I went to the volunteer training yesterday, which is why I was already in the city to check out the coral roof.)

Amazing Race: I haven't been to Kiruna, Sweden, though I've been to Sweden and I've stayed at another Ice Hotel (in Quebec). My wrap-up is behind a cut since some people may not have viewed the episode yet.

Read more )
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I normally post entries early in the morning, but I have been in a "getting organized" mood (not that you'd know it from my lack of progress on the chaos that is my den). And I seem to be too tired to write on the nights when I am not too busy. So I am actually using a work break to catch up here, instead of my usual chit chatting.

Crafts: The crocheted coral reef exhibit is opening this weekend. I am hoping to get over to the Museum of Natural History on Sunday morning, before the meeting for volunteers at the upcoming Science Festival on the mall. But what I wanted to mention now was one of the other satellite reefs that I found interesting. It was made by inmates of a women's prison in Indiana.

Celebrity death watch: I should mention the opera singer, Joan Sutherland, but the most recent celebrity death was of Carla Cohen, co-founder of Politics and Prose, an excellent independent bookstore in northwest Washington, D.C. She had been in poor health for a while (and the shop is for sale partly because of that). Until reading her obituary, I had not realized that one of her brothers is Mark Furstenberg, owner of the well-regarded sandwich shop, Bread Line (as well as Marvelous Market, which I am less impressed with).

Amazing Race: Sunday night's episode came down to two things - luck with taxis and attention to detail. The Princeton boys did well (despite taking way too long to find Ghana on the map) because they actually read the clue for the construction materials challenge. And they were the only team who actually found the decoder key for what should have been the easier challenge.

I was annoyed at tattooed guy for his meanness to his girlfriend, though he did apologize when she had the asthma attack. I have also concluded that the doctors won't last much longer, given that they were the only team who had trouble finding the marked path to the pit stop.

Notes to myself: Does anybody have any idea what the possible significance of "303/357" might be and why I wrote it in my planner a couple of weeks ago? Or why I wrote "3200-11" a couple of days later? (Lest you think all of my notes to myself are cryptic and/or useless, I am reasonably sure that one string of letters and numbers was a temporary web password for a site I forgot my password to and had called to get reset. And I actually know that "Elstar" is a type of apple, about which more later.)

Yoga: There is a Baptist minister who has been getting skewered in the press for saying that yoga is un-Christian. I don't see the big deal. It isn't any secret that yoga has spiritual practices associated with it and it should not be surprising that those might be incompatible with other religious traditions. (By the way, I know of at least a couple of synagogues that have special yoga classes that have been designed to avoid some of the practices that are un-Jewish.)

Apples: The farmer's market has been full of apples for the past several weeks. The Elstar apples definitely had an unusual flavor, which is why I made a note about them. They were fine for a change of snacking pace, but I will stick to the Rome and (especially) Cortland apples for the most part. Were I ever going to bake a pie, they have a good supply of Northern Spy, which are the definitive pie apple as far as I am concerned.

Speaking of baking: I baked a chocolate cake for a colleague's 50th birthday. Basically, I used a recipe from Hershey's web site, substituting brown sugar for half the granulated sugar (because I ran out of granulated sugar) and tossing in a bag of chocolate chips for good measure. My ambitions are limited, however, and I used boughten frosting. It was a success and I will use that cake recipe again.

Words: Does anybody else use "boughten" to mean "store bought" or is that something I picked up somewhere obscure?

Endangered languages: I went to hear K. David Harrison's talk at National Geographic on Tuesday night. I picked up a copy of his book, The Last Speakers while I was there. He was an entertaining and informative lecturer and played clips of several speakers of endangered languages. The funniest part involved a love song from a tribe in Papua New Guinea. The lyrics were along the lines of "Your village is swampy and has death adders. I don't want to live there. Come and live in my village where there are no death adders."

I think that brings me up to date.
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I did a lot of entertaining things in the past week. I've already written about my trip to Niagara Falls last weekend. Here is a wrap-up of other things:

Amazing Race: None of the teams really pissed me off, though I did notice a lot of cluelessness, starting with nobody being able to pronounce "Accra" correctly (or "cedi" for that matter. The currency of Ghana is usually pronounced with a long "e" so it sounds like "CD.") I didn't care much for the sunglass sale challenge. It did strike me that nobody really caught on that bargaining is the norm in that sort of market and started out asking for a higher price. I was glad that they had the coffins as an option, since the fantasy coffins are one of the truly unusual things about Ghanaian culture. I was surprised to see them miss the other unusual thing as none of the businesses they went to had names with religious references. In the end, it seemed to come down largely to taxi drivers, which is disappointing but probably realistic.

The Social Network: Because of my bruised foot, I thought it best not to go to dance class on Tuesday night. I had a free movie ticket from a refund offer and used it to see The Social Network. My understanding is that the film exaggerated how much of a jerk Mark Zuckerberg is, but it makes a better story that way. At any rate, I thought the movie was very good, with some genuinely funny material.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo: The Trocks were at the Kennedy Center this week and I went Wednesday night. Burly men dancing en pointe always makes for an amusing evening. It works because they are good dancers, able to keep in control of the parody. But I will note that they are really doing pretty much the same shtick (e.g. "Swan Lake" with exaggerated pantomime) as they have been doing for some 30 odd years.

Elon Gold: I went to see Elon Gold's show "Half Jewish, Half Very Jewish" at Sixth & I Synagogue on Thursday night. I'd say he is funnier than Jackie Mason (who I admit I don't much care for) but not as funny as Avi Hoffman. Some of his jokes are rather dated. For example, he has a bit on the differences between Israelis and Jews which includes lines like "Israelis return fire. Jews return merchandise." He talks about his father teaching in the South Bronx. "What does he teach? Schvartzes." On the plus side, he had some very funny material about every rabbinic sermon, which he used in a routine about a rabbi doing stand-up comedy. And his demonstration of how his cantor can drag out "Baruch Ata ..." into 30 minutes was spot on.

Other stuff: We have an annual security orientation at work. They give us something for showing up (which is kind of odd, as going is mandatory). In the past, the gimmes have included things like flashlights and a beach bag. This year, it was a fleece blanket. Yes, I now own an official corporate security blanket.

This weekend: I have no plans. There's an Octoberfest party at my condo complex tomorrow night, but that is low pressure. I have already spent a lot of time catching up on reading and sleeping.
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It is pretty hard to judge teams based on the first episode, but this season of The Amazing Race already has a few who seem likely candidates for melt downs. The couple who have been dating just a few months, for example, were already screaming at each other and screwed up badly trying to find the pit stop. He also annoyed me by having zero appreciation for Stonehenge. Either they will blow it quickly or be irritating up to the last couple of legs of the race.

The idea of a birth mother racing with the daughter she gave up for adoption is appealing, I don't see them being able to work well together in the long run. Admitedly, the problems they had this leg had to do with other things (like not really knowing how to drive a stick shift well) but I just can't see them lasting long. I also suspect that the tattooed couple won't last long since they aren't exactly the brightest people around. I'd kind of like them to stay for the comic relief, e.g. trying to get the flag from the "battle man" instead of taking it from the "battlement" and replying "uh, London?" when Phil asked them what country they were in.

So who do I like? The Princeton guys have an appealing sense of humor. The doctors seem pretty competent and could do well. (But what is with the blond one testing her blood sugar while driving? And isn't 337 an awfully high number?) The Asian father and son coud be interesting, too. I'm less sure about the father and daughter team, which is probably my bias about his backwoods accent.
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This past weekend was the FlyerTalk "Visit a Nation's Capital Do". A "do" is a get together of people on flyertalk and could be anything from a happy hour to a few days in some city to a charter flight. Basically, it's social networking turned to real life meeting, with a focus on travel. While there were lots of locals, people flew in from as far away as Edinburgh and Barcelona (despite volcanic ash).

There was a tour of IAD on Friday (which I had to skip due to work), a dinner get-together on Friday night, a tour of the Hilllwood Museum on Saturday (which I skipped due to too much to do, though I did very little of it), dinner on Saturday night, brunch on Sunday, and a tour of the Udvar-Hazy Museum on Sunday afternoon. But the real point was hanging out with people to talk about travel and frequent flyer miles and such.

The Friday night event was at the downtown branch of Capital City Brewing, which gave us the upstairs room and did an excellent job, even down to giving individual checks to 30 some odd folks. The food is not horribly exciting (your basic pub grub), but it is cheap and the beer is decent enough. (Their pale ale could be hoppier, in my opinion. My recollection is that other branches of this small chain have a wider beer selection.) Again, socializing is the point.

The food Friday night at Zengo was very nice. As is typical of fusion menus, I found the appetizers and dessert better than the main courses. (The food was served family style.) Drinks were very pricy and the acoustics left a lot to be desired. I found myself more or less having to shout to the person sitting right next to me.

Sunday brunch was at Harry's Tap Room in Clarendon. Their French toast was excellent and, more to the point, it was possible to carry on a conversation without shouting. I drove a couple of people over to the Udvar-Hazy (the branch of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum out by IAD) and they were kind enough not to mock me for missing the exit from 28. (For some reason, I mistakenly thought the museum was north of the airport, and did not see the sign.) Our docent was a real enthusiast about airplanes (duh) and very informative. I do find the space section of the museum disappointing, mostly because I think it is too focused on human spaceflight.

Overall, it was a good weekend. I wish I could say the same thing about the finale of The Amazing Race.
click here for more details )
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First, I had an odd moment of creativity the other night and wrote what I think is the chorus of a folk song:

Everyone is someone else's weirdo
Everybody's strange to other folks
No matter how normal, you may think you are
You're just the butt of someone else's jokes

(I have a melody in my head, too, but haven't transcribed it yet).

But you really care what I thought of the latest episode of The Amazing Race. click here: spoilers within )
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I scribble a lot of things in my planner, some of which I intend to write about here. These are kind of random and I have no idea why I numbered them.

1) The Washington Post reported on a ghost bike put up at Dupont Circle. I think I had vaguely heard of the idea (a white bike with a placard commemorating a bicyclist killed in an accident), but I don't think I'd heard of one in this area before.

2) The news about Spirit Airlines planning to charge for carry-on luggage in the overhead bin got lots of coverage. There was somewhat less coverage of Senator Schumer's objection to it (and plan to introduce legislation). I think he has a good point. Airplane tickets are taxable; fees are not. The unbundling of services is a way of cheating the taxman.

3) Speaking of taxes, I got the "your return has been accepted by the IRS" e-mail pretty quickly. Doing my Virginia taxes on line was quick and simple. The iFile system has always surprised me for its ease and simplicity in a state that is normally not interested in anything Thomas Jefferson hadn't thought of. So, sure enough, the neanderthals in Richmond are taking it away for people over a certain income. This affects about 12% of the state. Those people will have to pay for tax software to file electronically. The claim is that this is in alignment with the federal government, but that isn't true. The feds provide free fillable forms for (almost) everyone. (The exceptions involve the need to file certain less common forms.) The really stupid part of this is that, while it will allegedly save the state six cents a return by outsourcing the electronic filing, it costs a dollar to handle a paper form. There are plenty of people like me who refuse to pay a private firm 30-50 bucks to file our taxes. And, oh, I don't suppose it's possible that the large political donations to certain politicians by Intuit have anything to do with this stupidity, right?

3) Back to travel, United is introducing a fee to stand by for an earlier flight. You only pay the $50 if you actually get on, but what is irritating is that they are not exempting all elite frequent flyers, only 1Ks. I need to find the right email address to send my complaint. They have a legitimate concern about people booking cheaper flights and hoping to stand by for more expensive ones, but most elites are business travelers who are just trying to get home earlier if a meeting finishes before they expect it to. (I have also used that system when connecting from an international flight. It's hard to predict how long immigration and customs will take, so I err on the conservative side and switch to an earlier flight if I get through sooner. I have done this exactly twice in the past three years.)

4) There was another news story about the closing of the last sardine cannery in the United States. I have to admit that I can't remember the last time I ate sardines, though I used to eat the ones that came in mustard sauce fairly regularly and the ones in hot sauce somewhat less often. But didn't they switch to pull-tab opening at some point? Do people much younger than I am know about the old key system for the cans?
And did anybody else get the Stan Rogers song "Tiny Fish for Japan" stuck in their head while thinking about this?

5) I went to a reception for the new director of DARPA, Regina Duggan, on Thursday night. The traffic was bad and I missed the first couple of minutes of her talk. From what I did hear, I thought she spoke well - knowledgeably and entertainingly. It gives me hope for the future of science and technology in the Department of Defense. By the way, does it strike anybody else as odd for an event scheduled from 6:30-8:30 p.m. to be a coffee, wine, and dessert thing?

6) The resulting flight disruptions are making the eruption of Eyjafjallajoekull a real pain in the ash.

7) I bought my plane tickets for the NPL con in Seattle. I also discovered that next year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is the same weekend as the Virginia Storytelling Alliance gathering. How can I already have a schedule conflict for March 2011?

8) Holly wanted my comments on the last episode of The Amazing Race. Here they are, behind a cut )
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I have, as usual, too much to do.I am scrambling to get things done before back to back trips. The business trip to L.A. is for a conference but I am trying to squeeze in a couple of meetings, too. And I am planning to take advantage of the timing to go to both Long Beach Storytellers and Community Storytellers. I'll have a night at home when I get back and then fly up to Boston, nominally for the Boston Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Somewhere in there I have to deal with life maintenance like laundry and taxes and such.

Sometimes life gets in the way of things I planned to do. I'd intended to go to zumba (or possibly try out a hula hoop class) tonight but the metro got in the way. I did scribble down a few haikus once I finally got on a train, only the first of which is really related to tonight's commute:

19 minutes is
way too long to wait for the
Blue Line at rush hour

Please do not block
the door with your stroller. Have some
common courtesy.

Manual braking
makes the metro ride herky
jerky. I feel ill.

Cherry blossoms may
be nice to look at but they
bring ugly tourists.

I need to sleep at times, also. I woke up in the middle of the night and it took me a long time to get back to sleep, not helped by my deciding that I wasn't going to get back to sleep and doing a few things on-line. When I did get back to sleep for a few hours, I had a dream in which I had managed to lose two cars in the same parking lot. [livejournal.com profile] piefessor pointed one of them out to me, but it turned out she had really stolen the license plate and the trunk of my car and installed them on an orange and white PT Cruiser. I was upset that the jar of spaghetti sauce I'd had in the trunk was missing.

But I still managed to watch The Amazing Race. And I will put spoilers behind a cut.
Clicky here. )
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Before I get into the latest episode of The Amazing Race, I've discovered another sign I travel too much. Namely, both last night and the night before I had dreams involving airplanes. And the thing I remember in those dreams is what seat I had on the plane. Sadly, I often get better seats in my dreams than in my real life.

Spoilers ahead )
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I've been absurdly busy. You already heard about my theatre going last week.

I went to Zumba on Tuesday night and Sunday afternoon, as well as Bollywood dance on Wednesday night. This Wednesday night is the last Bollywood class of the current term and I intend to go. I'm also going to a Central Asian dance workshop tomorrow night, which I am a bit apprehensive about as I have no idea what it will entail. The dance studio is moving to a new place (just a few doors down) and having an open house on Sunday afternoon. I signed up for 15 classes in the next 10 week session (instead of the 10 I've done in the current session and the previous one) and I have no idea where I'm going to find the time to go. I'll continue going to Bollywood and they have weeknight Zumba at somewhat more convenient times now. I'm also intrigued by their new hula hoop class and will at least give it a whirl.

Saturday was the Women's History Month event that Voices in the Glen put on at the Beltsville library. I took advantage of having to drive out there already to stop at Ikea, but I still have not found the ideal solution to my need for a low bookcase under my bedroom window. I told my piece about Sophie Germaine, which went over okay, though I did leave out a detail I intended to include at the end. That's not all that surprising given how many years it's been since I last told that story.

I've been filling up my calendar with more things to do - music, theatre, travel. I have about 95% decided on my next major vacation - namely, the Baltic states. I will probably fly into Finland, take the ferry across to Estonia, then go through Latvia and Lithuania. I am still researching how much of a pain in the neck it would be to go to Kaliningrad (which is of personal interest as my father's birthplace). I'm looking at late September / early October for this. That should leave me enough vacation time to go somewhere appalling in Africa in the December / January time frame.

There are also my attempts at cleaning for Pesach. And, somewhere in there, I managed to watch The Amazing Race.

spoilers ahead )
fauxklore: (Default)
A new season of The Amazing Race started last night. It's the only reality TV show I've ever really been able to get into. This season started with a few things that are promising for the entertainment value.

Behind a cut to avoid spoilers )
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My planning for my trip to Peru is progressing. I decided to splurge on a luxury resort for a night at Aguas Calientes, in lieu of staying at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge. The Inkaterra is still mind-bogglingly expensive, but appears to be better value for money. And they have spectacled bears. Bears are good.

The contrast between that and the under 10 bucks a night rooms in some of my other stops is pretty dramatic. But there is only one night on the trip when I won't have running water. (That involves an overnight bus between Cuzco and Nazca. I'm somewhat apprehensive about a night bus, particularly over the Andes with its risk of bus plunge, but it's a 15 hour trip and there's not really a better way.

At any rate, I continue to be impressed by how much the internet has simplified travel planning in some ways. I was able to buy my Peru Rail tickets on-line for example. (And I will buy the bus tickets on line, but it's a bit early to do so.) However, I still had to fax my credit card info to one hotel to secure a reservation, so not everything is up to date in Inca cities. I am waiting to hear back from a couple of other places and I still need to decide between staying in Ica, Paracas or Pisco for one night between Nazca and Lima. (Paracas is the closest for seeing Islas Balleastas, but has the least infrastructure. Though I can probably get a room at the new Doubletree Hotel there free.)

Other people travel too, including those on The Amazing Race... )
fauxklore: (Default)
Bollywood dance class was canceled tonight, so I was able to go see Khogzhumchu perform at the Kennedy Center. I hadn't actually heard of them before, but I feel obliged to support performances of xoomei (Tuvan throat singing) in Washington, D.C. Also, it was the Millennium Stage, so it was free. They were somewhat more traditional than some of the other throat singers I've heard and very good. As a result of the commentary, I had a minor epiphany. Namely, all of the best xoomei is about horses. Sure, there are songs about other things - nature, love, camels. But horses really work best.(Oddly, I don't think I've heard songs about yaks. But kargyraa, which is the deep droning stuff I particularly like, is supposedly imitative of the grunting of yaks.)

In other news, I've made progress on my arrangements for my upcoming trip to Peru. Specifically, I've managed to buy a plane ticket from Lima to Cuzco. This is harder than it sounds because my credit card company decided this was "unusual activity" and blocked it until I called them. My other internal travel will be by train and bus. I really need to decide whether or not to spring for the large amount of money to stay a night at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge (the one right at the entrance to the ruins) versus a hotel in Aguas Calientes for a night. It would be nearly half the total cost of the trip (remember, I got an amazing deal on the airfare to Lima) but the idea of seeing Machu Picchu in the early morning is pretty appealing.

Also travel related, I went to Flyer Talk dinner last night. There are actually people who are far more obsessed with frequent flyer miles than I am. I ended up sitting next to one guy who churns credit cards (i.e. signs up for new ones with mileage bonuses) so he can take four or 5 international trips a year. But he travels in coach, which drew the wrath of the guy sitting across from me, who is a fan of buying cheap and complicated domestic tickets to earn the mileage for fewer trips, but in first class. This is something of a religious war and makes me look reasonably normal.

FInally, I am still following The Amazing Race. For my take on Sunday's episode, look behind the cut.
read more )
fauxklore: (Default)
The latest season of The Amazing Race started Sunday night. I watched it on-line after Yom Kippur and have a few things to say.

behind a cut due to possible spoilers )

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