Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I have digital camera envy. Sure my camera looks cool, but lately I've been noticing that most of my photos have a ton of noise in the darker areas. I thought this was a low light problem until I saw the pics I took of the Brooklyn Bridge in bright sunlight, and the shadows were noisy. Grrr. I looked around online and the only advice I've heard is to keep the ISO as low as possible and use the shortest exposure you can. My camera is only a year old and should be able to take nice images; it's a Canon and a 2-megapixel. It's not a resolution problem anyway, just noise (instead of being shades of black and grey, the shadows have speckles of red and green in them). Maybe it's my no-name brand memory card? Is that possible? Probably not... I'll play around with it in the next couple of days.

Go check out Craftytown (and admire my restraint in not making any double-entendres; it was difficult not to since I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy) to read a short post about chestnuts.

Last night I let the dog sleep on the bed, I was so cold. Today I have the Fawns' Wicked Cold stuck in my head. Even the "dan-nat, dan-nat, dan-nat, dan-nat" part. It's much better than yesterday, when I left work singing, inexplicably, Lady in Red.

Monday, September 29, 2003

How could I have been surfing the web for so long without ever seeing the glory that is the World Beard and Moustache Championships.

This guy is the current world champion in the "partial beard, freestyle" category. I think I'm in love:

Sonograms are cool. Here are a bunch of my future niece.
Thursday I went out, Friday I stayed in. Saturday I went out, Sunday I stayed in, which means that tonight I should go out. Hmmm...

Saturday the Fawns headlined at Harry's where they rocked the house. Lisa has some great new songs; her voice, and the whole band, sounds confident (tighter yet looser - you know, when a band practices enough that they know what they're doing and can relax onstage) and I like them more every time I see them.

I went to an after-party at H&L's, where henning decided to prove the fact that it's always like Christmas at their friendly home, by having a Christmas-carol singalong. Somehow it was the best thing to do at the time.

Also, Danny the dog got some serious lovin' from both dog and man. There is photographic proof of this.

Sunday I cleaned the bathroom, making it look better than the day I moved in. I used this cleaning stuff called "Scrub Free" - yes, that's the actual name of the product. And guess what? I had to scrub. A lot. I got a cut on my finger from scrubbing so hard. Scrub Free, you can kiss my ass. The tile looks a lot better (again, nicer than the day I moved in), but I don't know if I can keep it looking that way; I was in there for an hour of almost constant spraying, scrubbing, and wiping.

After that I worked on my art-o-mat project; read more about it on my Craftytown blog (see new link at left!). I was hoping I'd wake up today with super muscular forearms, but no dice.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Hey lookie here; you can now find me at CraftyTown, my official MassLive blog. Go take a look. It will be about making things and shopping. It's the materialistic blog! I'll never get to be a buddhist at this rate...

Anyway, I hope you don't yell "Judas!" at me the next time you see me: I can't have sold out, as I'm not getting paid. Chowflap will continue to chug along as always.
I just got word - Hortense it is! I'm getting a niece!
Eye on Northampton's Under-Construction Asian Restaurants: I peeked into Ichiban today, which for months looked like a bunch of crazed monkeys had gotten in there, and now, suddenly, it's starting to look pretty good. What was most exciting is that it looks like they're going to have a River of Sushi: an oval-shaped track with little boats floating around it (there's a current, somehow) and on the boats are small plates of sushi of various kinds. You take whatever one you want off the boats, and at the end of the meal they count up your plates to figure out your bill (like Dim Sum). This is a fairly common sushi-place gimmick, and it's a fun one; my sister and I ate at one in Little Japan in San Francisco, but you can find them all over. I think the idea might have actually originated in Japan. It's nice to be able to pick and choose the nicest (and freshest) looking pieces of sushi.

Also Teapot's Tofu now looks almost complete, with the tables and chairs all in place and cleaned off. They seem to be building an elaborate shade, similar to the Brewery's, over the little sunken patio they have (where the Fire and Water exit was), which seems like a waste of money for a space that could probably fit like 8 diners, but what do I know.
Today's the day I hopefully find out if I'm getting a niece or a nephew. My sister will get to narrow down her name choices, too; Ashley or Ashleigh, Eva or Adolph, Jorge or Fanny, Raindance or Skysparrow, Axl or Left-Eye, Constance or Jebediah, Khalil or Nefertiti, Raiden or Kitana. It won't be easy.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

This is beautiful. I love these people, even though they work in advertising.
This morning I woke to Bjork's Homogenic. As a wake-up album it was okay, not spectacular. But I do loves me some Bjork. I want to stick her in my pocket and make a little home for her in my skirt.

Last night I saw the School for the Dead show at Harry's. They were very rockin', moreso than usual it seems, though I think I've been seeing them in venues where they have to tone it down a little. I had been told that Henning was on some prescription painkillers so I was watching for some extra goofiness, but he seemed fine, even pulling off the neat trick of tuning his guitar, while singing, in the middle of a song. Max was also back-hurting, due to bailing water out of the basement of the house I sold to him (and I can't stop feeling somehow responsible, like I sold him a lemon). I need to go over there and show him some tricks I learned.

I'm pretty down right now. Now that this blog is linked all over the place, I feel I can't elaborate. But reality is coming home to roost. It's a familiar pain (which makes me feel old), and I know it will mostly subside. It just takes time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I've been waking up to a CD every morning. I've been trying to pick albums that make me feel good to be awake, and as a bonus, have a first song that's great to wake up to. So far my selections have been:

Bjork - Vespertine
Django Reinhardt - some French collection
They Might Be Giants - Flood (first song: The Theme from Flood)
REM - Green (first song: Get Up)
Stevie Wonder - Innervisions
XTC - Apple Venus Vol. 1

XTC and Bjork have been the best, though only Apple Venus has remained in the player for three mornings in a row. "River of Orchids" is just a perfect waking-up song; it starts with the sound of a drop of water, then the thrum of a bass, and slowly becomes all complicated and earnest. Here are some lyrics:

Take a packet of seeds
Take yourself out to play
I want to see river of orchids where we had a motorway
It's all in your back yard
You've the whole world at your feet
I said the grass is always greener when it bursts up through concrete

I seem to like songs about wanting civilization to revert back to nature. I love seeing the weeds win.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

It's not that I'm all sad about Gordon Jump, and posting those lyrics as a tribute is kind of a joke. But I did go through a period when my family watched WKRP reruns every night at dinner. Similarly, I have likely seen every episode ever made of: Benson, Three's Company, MASH, Night Court, and Taxi; shows that were rerun on one of the three networks during 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. all week. For many years our family had a small black and white TV on the dining table in our kitchen, and we'd watch it while we ate, not talking but occasionally laughing together at the fake people on the television (we put the fun in dysfunctional!). WKRP was a really funny show, and I stand by that. For years I would say "Chi Chi Rodriguez" the same way Les Nessman did (Chy Chy Rod-rig-wheez), and the episode where they drop the turkeys from the helicopter is a classic. I even had a crush on Johnny Fever, which was quickly quelled when he ended up the teacher on the embarrassing Head of the Class. Good times.
From the AP: Gordon Jump of 'WKRP' dies.

Baby, if you've ever wondered,
Wondered whatever became of me,
I'm living on the air in Cincinnati,
Cincinnati, WKRP.

Got kind of tired packing and unpacking,
Town to town and up and down the dial
Maybe you and me were never meant to be,
But baby think of me once in awhile.

I'm at WKRP in Cincinnati.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Had a lazy weekend. I really only did a couple of things; yesterday I cleaned my apartment, read a lot of a book (a memoir called Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight), and went over to visit with A and T and get Chinese food delivered. We watched the first 20 minutes of the Emmys (Garry Shandling - not so funny. Jon Stewart - hilarious) and then the girls insisted we watch an episode of Sex and the City on DVD. I've only seen a couple of episodes, and this one was a really great one, dealing with Carrie attempting to be friends with Big, discovering he's engaged to his new young and bland girlfriend and accepting that she needs to find someone who will appreciate her complicatedness. Not that expensive-shoe-wearing makes her complicated, but the sentiment was good. Anyway, I completely missed seeing a friend onstage, when the writing team for the Daily Show won, for Best Comedy Writing for a Show that's Hard to Categorize. He's really my sister's friend, but I've spoken to him several times, so that counts...

[If you hate the "today I had a ham sandwich" entries, skip this next paragraph... In fact, you may want to skip my entire blog, Mr. Judge-y Pants.]
The other thing I did was go to the Big E, which ended up being the sun around which my entire weekend revolved; I had to prep for it beforehand, and I was completely wiped out after. I was to meet up with my sister, her husband, and her in-laws (including two bro-in-laws) around 1:00, so I spent the late morning getting the car gassed up, getting cash, eating breakfast, dropping the dog off... By the time I got on the road, I was all set to get there on time - if there was no traffic. But there was. A lot. I'd been to the fair twice on two other years and never, ever did I deal with traffic. I have no idea how; I guess I just got lucky. This year was horrible. Stop and go traffic on rte. 20 with no end in sight, so I took a chance and slipped off onto a residential street, eventually making my way close to the Big E. In previous years I just parked on someone's lawn for $5. This year I wound all around the side streets and everyone's little lawn lots were either full, or $15. Fuck no, I said, and kept driving. I managed to get on a main artery by accident, and spent a good half an hour going about a third of a mile; hopeful locals on this road were asking $15 or $20 for their remaining spots, with signs that were clearly taped over from when they once said $5 or $10. Fuck no, I said, and kept driving more. Eventually I got free and circled around once more, seeing that the high school lot I rejected because it was too far away (though only $5) was now full. That broke my spirit. I found a close-ish lawn with space available for $10 and just sucked it up. By the time I got to the meeting point I was an hour late. Thank god for cell phones.

Anyway. As for the fair itself, well, it was going to be hard to feel it was worth the $22 I'd paid just to get in. I was also working with someone else's itinerary, namely that of my sister's in-laws. Once we all found each other, all the parents wanted to do was visit the various buildings.

The State buildings are always kind of cool. Highlights: The lobster rolls in Maine (much better than the cheaper ones in Massachusetts); free samples of maple sugar cotton candy in Vermont; and the Flatbread people in Vermont, who were friendly and cheerful though they were using a big fire-burning oven and it was wicked hot in there. Also, the much-hyped (by the in-laws) clam fritters (in Rhode Island, maybe?) were completely clam-free as far as I could tell, though give me a little deep-fried doughy puff and I'm gonna love it no matter what. They also sold old-fashioned coffee-flavored syrup and fritter batter whose package design hasn't changed for 60 years.

But then, instead of wandering through the midway, or seeing the farm and animal stuff, the in-laws wanted to go to the other buildings, which are big-ass open spaces divided into flea-market-type rows of booths and cubicles. Some of the booths sell handmade jewelry and crafts, but an alarming number hold what are essentially live infomercials, with a patter-spewing pitchman or woman selling convertible ladders, plastic blocks, pressure cookers (at least ten different locations selling those! Weird), chamois car cloths, blenders, and finger-grating mandolines. And then you'd stumble across a lemonade stand or a fried dough booth, looking totally out of place indoors. My sister and I were very tired by the middle of it all, and we kept stopping and sitting on the greasy concrete to rest our legs.

But then it was parade time, and the inlaws had said they really wanted to see it. So sister and I went and stood close to the route. Several marching bands passed by, all in band-stasis, holding their instruments straight out in front of them but not playing them, while the drums pounded out a marching beat. There were the usual slow-moving antique cars - does anyone think these belong in a parade, ever? I mean, unless it's an antique car parade? - though it was very funny to see a modern Comcast Cable van in the middle of them. Wow, I never see those around anymore! Then there were a bunch of 4-H kids, and then Smokey the Bear, whose pants were falling down and would have shown bear-ass-crack had he not been so hairy. And then a huge white RV came by, with Ronald McDonald standing on the top, waving an American flag. Uh, whatever. Then, finally, came the much-hyped Mardi Gras floats. We waved our hands frantically and aggressively but ended up beadless. I had said I would flash my boobs, but the bead-throwers were mostly preteen girls so I abstained. The six floats passed and that was it. We turned around and saw that the in-laws had remained at a picnic table a good 50 feet away the entire time. If they wanted to see the parade, why didn't they get all up in there like we did?

After that everyone disbanded, going their separate ways home. I was going to hang out by myself for a bit, taking photos of stuff at the midway, but then A called telling me to come home and get the dog immediately. So I had to leave. Frustrating. And then on the way out I got caught in another traffic flow which detoured all of the exiting fair traffic so far south that I ended up in Agawam! I was furious, stressing about picking up the dog on time, composing angry letters to the Big E traffic cops in my head.

Conclusion: It was very nice to see my sister once again, and would have been fun if had been us "kids" without the adults, especially since my sister had never been to the Big E before. But I will never ever go on a sunny Saturday again. It was crowded and expensive and generally unpleasant. We only ended up seeing about a third of the fair.

I did get some nice french fries, though.

Friday, September 19, 2003

In honor of 'talk like a pirate day,' I be sharin' this 'ere scurvy joke with ye, arrrr!

A pirate walks into a bar, not wearing any pants. He has a steering wheel hanging, heavily, from his balls.

The bartender asks, "Whoa, what's the steering wheel for?"

The pirate says, "Arrrr! It's drivin' me nuts!"

Thursday, September 18, 2003

No comment neccessary, except for Arrrgh! Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19
This is hilarious. From the Morning News: The Non-Expert: Broken Hearts.
I'm pretty excited for the upcoming hurricane action. 50-mph wind gusts? Thunderstorms? Sideways rain? Bring it on, baby. This kind of weather always reminds me of when my aunt lived here in the mid-1980s. She had graduated from Smith and was living in an apartment in that huge, tall, olive-green victorian on Crescent Street. There was a hurricane and she got into the house's little cupola thing - there's a term for it, it's a little square room on the very top of the house with windows on all sides - to be as close as possible to the wind and the rain without getting wet. It's no wonder she went on to get her masters in poetry.
I've been asked to do an even-more-public weblog for Masslive, about "Northampton." I'm considering it, about what my voice would be, and how to differentiate my blog from the other town blogs on the site. Email me if you have any ideas.

This morning a recipe tester came in to feed the two foodie editors some breakfast casserole: biscuit dough, with egg, crumbled sausage, and cheese on top. Looked pretty good and smelled great, but I don't eat red meat. The tester/creator was a man, which is unusual. It was cute to watch him explain the dish, all proud about how simple and tasty it was.

Also for some reason there were a dozen Dunkin Donuts muffins up for grabs. I took a blueberry. I don't know who started the trend of putting chunky sugar crystals on top of muffins, but I don't like it. The muffin top should be an unblemished chewy/crunchy helmet of joy, and the sugar just wrecks the texture. I worked for Dunkin' Donuts one summer; it was my obligatory fast-food restaurant experience. Maybe I should write them a letter.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The other much more popular magazine being created in my building is in the midst of recipe-testing for their Christmas issue, so all week it's been tons of different kinds of candy (left over from a gingerbread-house-like project, I'm sure), cake, and cookies in the free area of the kitchen. Goddamn. It's not the calories I'm worried about - I lost a few pounds on the break-up diet - it's the sugar. I get high (or at least less sleepy) and then I crash low, and then I start craving a sugar hit every afternoon, just to control the shakes.

All of this is to say that I really don't have much to say. I'll pull something together for you later, dear reader.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Finally an answer to the question of the ages: Just what in the hell is Broasted Chicken?
This past weekend I put my first-ever political bumper sticker on my car. I couldn't pick just one of the many horrible issues the administration is currently screwing us over, so I got one that gets right to the point: Impeach Bush. I had room for it after finally peeling off the completely faded and torn Maggies sticker. After sticking it on I drove to my parents' house in Piscataway, NJ, by way of Brooklyn, and I was sort of keeping an eye out for other drivers giving me the finger, but there were no incidents. The family, including my wealthy CEO uncle (by marriage; making tons of money does not run in my blood), loved the sticker. By the way: my 86-year-old grandmother says she's backing Dean.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Today I'm wearing all black (t-shirt, jeans) in honor of the death of Johnny Cash.

Today I'm also wearing a loud polyester shirt from the 1970s in honor of John Ritter.

RIP, Johns!

Thursday, September 11, 2003

For September 11, here's the New Yorker's current cover, which I find both heartbreaking and cute:

Eye on Northampton, sort of:

This morning I had to stop by DairyMart to get some milk for our office's Socialist Milk Collective (though we get free coffee, tea, and non-dairy creamer, we don't get milk - so those who want milk take turns buying it for the group) and walking just ahead of me was local rockstar Thane, with a short androgynous person (a woman, I decided). Thane was ahead of me on line, with a 5-pound bag of sugar, which he paid for entirely in coins he had brought in a tupperware container. He waited while his companion bought two one-dollar scratch-off lottery tickets with a $20 bill. They left, and I bought my milk, and then the old guy behind me bought some lottery tickets by saying: "I'll have a two number, and a four number, and a seven number."

I love that crap.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Also - The Daily Show was new last night, and hilarious (Al Franken was the guest) so I am pleased.
I must be a bit pre-menstrual because on Sunday night I teared up watching the last five minutes of a Star Trek episode I've seen like five times. It was the one where this probe from a dying society melds with Picard and gets him to live an entire lifetime in 20 minutes and then he comes to and is in his quarters all sad and missing his fake family and then Riker comes in and says "we found this in the probe" and leaves, and it's Picard's flute from the fake world and he plays it all sadly and then it ends. And everyone watching it cries. Come on, that was a really good episode.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I didn't even watch the MTV video awards and this recap is still cracking me up. Two of the Television Without Pity writers just taped themselves talking shit throughout the show, and then transcribed it.

Here's an excerpt:

Stee: I feel bad that 50 Cent can't open his mouth very wide.
Pamie: Well...Yeah.
Stee: He just wants a hug.
Pamie: And to kill you.
Stee: He broke Eminem's Moon Man.
Pamie: Aw.
Stee: He's so humble.
Pamie: Because he's retarded.
Stee: What?
Pamie: What?
Stee: 50 Cent's not retarded.
Pamie: Whatever.
Stee: No, he just can't open his mouth very wide because he got shot so many times. Nine times in his jaw!
Pamie: This song is "Mah-ba-dee-bu-duh. So come give me a hug." That's what retarded kids like. Dancing, hugs.
Stee: That's true. "I like the circus."
Pamie: "Go Shorty, it's your birthday."
Stee: "Go Daddy, it's the kitty. I like the kitty, and it's my birthday!"
Pamie: "I like parties, it's my birthday!"
Stee: "I like ham! And I like pizza! Let's go swimming! Take me to the beach! Take me to the zoo!"
Pamie: "Have you ever seen a cat? I have! I have three."
Stee: "I wanna sit in the front seat, you sit in the back!"
Pamie: "It's time to take my meds, I'd like some more jam."
Stee: "Where's my helmet? I need my helmet."
Pamie: "Give it back, it's mine, it's mine, it's mine!"
Stee: "You wanna bite? You can have a bite. Everyone gets a bite."
Pamie: Do you think our room in Hell will have an ocean view?
About six years ago I used to do some occasional house and dog-sitting for my boss (she's now an official VP, and the highest person in the office). I loved to stay there, alone in her huge, stylish, comfortable house with her two big dogs (a hound mix and a greyhound), a nice tank of fish, and an ancient cat named Olive. Her husband had an incredible collection of CDs, mostly jazz. One night I discovered that they had a CD-player/clock radio in their bedroom, so I set it without even checking the CD that was in it, and went to sleep on their futon on the floor. In the morning Django Reinhardt started playing, plucking away at his guitar, dragging me out of a deep cold-weather sleep.

I bought a mini-stereo on Sunday, and after I set it up, I discovered happily that it could be used as an alarm clock. I plunked in my Django CD, identical to the one I first heard at my boss's house, and woke up this morning to the same song in my little, not-very-stylish, semi-comfortable apartment with my dog who had snuck up on the bed during the night. I felt satisfied, in a way. And then I felt lonely.

It doesn't help that I haven't been sleeping well. I even tried some super-Sleepytime Tea with Valerian and I didn't feel it a damn bit. Also, the Daily Show has begun a third week of reruns. I'm not sure what's going on.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Inspired by a thread on Masslive's Northampton forum a couple of weeks ago, here's my list of Things I Love About Northampton.

Pedestrians having right-of-way


Not one but two places where you can get a free scoop of gourmet ice cream on your birthday

Not one but two completely cylindrical buildings, within a few blocks of each other

The dog park on Burt's Pit Road. It's a beautiful walk, even if you don't have a dog.

The name of Burt's Pit Road

The community gardens - $10 for a 10x10 foot plot for an entire season

The cutie-pie four-year-plan Smithie lesbian couples walking around downtown

The odd but peaceful culture clash between the patrons of City Cafe (regular Joes, girls who use tanning booths) and Harry's (indie-rock hipsters, smokers)

The statue of the gay sailor in front of Memorial Hall

City Hall, which looks like a low-rent theme park's castle

Sense of satisfaction in knowing ways of avoiding downtown traffic and parking problems

The Mill River. You can swim in it in the summer and skate on it in the winter. I've found some cool artefacts in it, too

Tiny prop planes always flying around, and on nice days, multiple sightings of skydivers

Walking on the dyke near my house. The view of the mountains is gorgeous, and in the afternoon the sun hits the face of the Summit House and it looks like it's glowing.

Chai at the Haymarket

Being able to walk to work

The peaches at the Saturday morning Farmer's Market

Even the panhandlers are (usually) polite

Helen Hills Hills Chapel (Helen married her cousin, and took his name)

Bag Day and sidewalk sales

The Academy of Music

Pleasant Street Video, an absolute gem of a video store

Broasted chicken (and BLTs, grilled cheese, fish sandwiches...) at the Bluebonnet Diner

The punk/hippie teens hanging out in front of Thornes 24-7. They seem so happy to just be together

Karaoke at the WWII Club (though I haven't attended for years) and the Club's working periscope

Don't know if they still do this but: Freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice for your gin and grapefruit at Ye Ol' Watering Hole, of all places

The enormous tree in front of the Dairy Mart

All of the strange, beautiful Victorian houses

Seeing Zeke Fiddler in his little orange car

The Listening Room, and Unmi for creating it

Thai Kitchen, La Veracruzana, India House, Osaka, Bakery Normand, and Teapot

Packard's somehow getting away with basically ignoring the town smoking ban

Even more later, maybe.
My Bloginality is INTP.

Friday, September 05, 2003

C'est le Friday Five.

1. What housekeeping chore(s) do you hate doing the most?
Cleaning the litterbox. I hate it. If I did it more often it wouldn't be as bad, yet I still can't make myself do it more than once or twice a week. I also hate dusting - I have so many knick-knacks and shit I have to move, it takes forever. Instead I just floof around with my fluffy duster which doesn't really do anything.

2. Are there any that you like or don't mind doing?
I kind of like cleaning the bathroom, giving everything a good scrubbing. Basically any cleaning where I can see the results, I like.

3. Do you have a routine throughout the week or just clean as it's needed?
I clean as needed. This is another good thing about living alone: not feeling pressured to clean, or having to clean up others' messes.

4. Do you have any odd cleaning/housekeeping quirks or rules?
Uh, no. I think I have a pretty reasonable approach to cleaning. However, the way I do the dishes probably wastes a lot more water than it should. I never really learned how to do an entire sinkload of dishes, having grown up with a washing machine.

5. What was the last thing you cleaned?
My hands. Also, I did the dishes last night. This weekend I need to do a sweep/vacuum and some laundry. I have to get back into the laundromat swing. Last time I went too close to closing time, and had to take my clothes home only half-dry. I had to make a clothesline out of jute rope and hang it in the hallway/stairwell (tying one end to a towel rack in the bathroom and the other end to a plant hanger above the stairwell window) to hang up the damp clothes. Not so good with the planning, there.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

It's Thursday, and it's fall (almost) which means the return of Must See TV for the teens in my life. They are extremely emotionally invested in Friends and I got them to give Scrubs a try, which they now also like. This reminds me, I saw a rerun of Will and Grace the other day, and in it Karen says this about Grace: "She's really confident for someone with such small breasts."
I love that.
From the Yes, but how do they smell? department:

Dutch customs find 2,000 baboon noses

Associated Press

Sept. 4, 2003  

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- Around 2,000 baboon noses were found packed in an abandoned suitcase at Amsterdam airport when they started to stink, officials said Wednesday.

Dutch customs police made the gruesome discovery last week and turned the case over to the Agriculture Ministry's Inspection Service, which said it had several leads that may help it track down the culprits.

Baboons are protected under international law.

"We assume these animals were killed, and we have to prevent something like this from happening again," spokesman Louis Steens said. He said the noses had been destroyed.

The noses -- around 66 pounds worth -- were en route from Lagos, Nigeria, to the United States and are believed to have been meant to be eaten or used in traditional medicine by immigrants.

"It is known that many inhabitants of Asian and African countries ascribe beneficial properties to these medicines and use them for that reason," the Inspection Service said in a statement.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Hi. I'm 31 years old. It was my birthday Sunday. Don't feel bad if you missed it, I kept it on the down-low. I mean, I told some people about it like a week ago but I didn't bring it up again. It's just 31, which isn't a biggie. I did, however, drive down to Jersey on my birthday to have a family get-together. Along with my twin sis, her husband, my aunt, and my parents,I got to see my 9 and 5-year old cousins, who are sweet and hilarious. My aunt told me that she had to tell the older one, D, about the birds and the bees earlier this year. Apparently they were out at a restaurant one night, and he kept asking and asking why their male dog was going to the vet to have an operation.
"The operation is so Fergus doesn't have any babies."
"But I thought only women had babies?"
My aunt and uncle exchanged a look, sighed, and explained it to him. After going over the physiology of it to him, he asked in disbelief, "Why would anyone want to do that?"
"Well, people do it when they're really in love, because it's very pleasureable."
Apparently D looked at them like they were completely insane. And now whenever his little brother L asks any questions that relate to where babies come from, D rolls his eyes and says something like "Believe me, L, you do NOT want to know."

I gots some good loot. I had a very modest birthday list (my parents request one every year) and, through the generosity of the multitude of family assembled, I got everything on it. I got three books, a DVD, some fun stuff from my sister, and a neato T-Fal (?) omlette pan that has this special red circle embedded in the teflon that somehow tells you when it's hot enough for frying, or something.

Oh - I also got the Atari thing, the old fashioned controller that contains ten early 1980s games, that I blogged about weeks ago. I'm really enjoying it, seeing all of these games with new eyes. They're still really challenging. Even 9-year-old D, who rules the Nintendo 64, was finding them hard. I had forgotten how horrible the limited sound effects were. The programmers must have decided, "Well, we can't make it really sound like a flying rocket, so instead we'll use this ear-splitting, continuous, droning whine. That's close enough."

Even though it was all grey and dreary out today, everyone I met was in a great mood, myself included. At work people were downright cheery (possibly because many are parents whose kids had their first day of school today). I went to shape-note singing after work, which featured some just-returned Smithies. Even though one of the serious singers admonished everyone to try to stay more on key, I didn't let it get me down. I sang nice and clear and loud and it was great. Plus another alto with a great voice said she thought I was 22 years old (after I told her I just turned 31) which is always nice to hear (at least, it has been ever since I turned, say, 20).

30 was a difficult year. It may have been my hardest year yet. It's at least in the top three or four. But I am going to rock this year. You hear me, 31? I will rock you!