after cleaning the house furiously (or at least intently) for the last two evenings, i feel tentatively hopeful that we can look forward to the following at the party:

* The Room of Mystical Divination. I wasn’t sure if I could get the back bedroom ready, but as of bedtime last night, there was open floor space and the sofa was accessible by humans. I even vacuumed! A lot!

* The Caravan of Eyeballs. Since this is the Charming _English_ Cottage of Death, the van of course becomes a caravan, and it will likely be home to the Eyeball Collection.

There may be more to come… but I don’t want to promise things and not deliver. I am hopeful that I’ll have a chance to execute an idea i’ve had for _years_ though. whee!

i voted!


however, i didn’t use early voting– i used an absentee ballot. i filled it out last night and d. drove me to the post office today at lunch. i was paranoid about mailing it from work or any other place besides a post office or official blue mailbox. i’m actually pretty paranoid about the mail aspect of the whole thing, but that’s not within my control.

i had to get d. and our co-worker charles to sign the envelope and put their full mailing address down, after i signed the envelope too. almost like a notary public thing, except it could be any two people over the age of 18 to serve as witnesses.

i liked voting at home with all my materials in front of me and access to the internet. the mail part i don’t like so much.

anyway, i don’t get a cute little sticker and therefore no free french fries or anything, but the important thing is that i voted.

after mailing my ballot i hopped back into d.’s car and said, “do you want to exit poll me?!?” we determined that kerry had 100% support in the car, and therefore, he will win.


when i was in 5th grade, when people asked me what i wanted to be when i grew up, i would say “archeologist”.

it wasn’t that i actually wanted to lay about in the sand and dig things up. it was that i enjoyed being able to say (and understand) a word that was much too long and complicated for such a little kid. i liked impressing people with my vocabulary. show-off!

much to my surprise, i have in fact _become_ an archeologist to some degree.

researching the UI for a tool my department is writing is a lot like archeology. there’s a lot of buried information that i have to locate, tease to the surface, and collate in a way that will be meaningful. is there already an unspoken editorial policy? do templates already exist in some form? will i ever solve the eternal mystery of why so few rules are ever enforced on the web site? dig, dig, dig. i’m amazed at what i uncover.

“ok/cancel”:http://www.ok-cancel.com/ wins the geek cute award again this week– i am _so_ getting one of “these likert scale shirts!”:http://www.ok-cancel.com/store/

should i stay or should i go?

a lot of people talk about moving to canada or some other country should the presidential election go to Bush this year.

it’s something i think about, too. another four years of Bush and America will become a strange, deluded world unto itself, where women have no control over their bodies, and everyone who isn’t wealthy will be struggling, at best, to make it through their elder years (or just to make it at all). we’ll be shunned by the world; perhaps we’ll even be attacked again by terrorists. we’ll ignore the fact that entire continents are falling into chaos because their populations are being decimated by AIDS, until the chaos laps at our borders. our liberties will continue to be systematically removed in the name of safety and decency; formerly cutting-edge broadcast organizations will become bland wastelands. dissent will be considered _morally wrong,_ as will any religious belief that isn’t Christian.

it’ll suck.

i’ll stay.

i went to a quaker college during the era of south african apartheid. the quakers do a lot of work to bring political refugees to the states, to help them lead safer, better lives. i met a man named gordon who had thick scars across his back where he had been whipped by the police in south africa. he had seen his entire family murdered by the police. i met a man named mojomotse who told the story of finally making it to america, after a harrowing escape from south africa. he said that the day he arrived, he was so excited to be in a country where civil liberties are guaranteed that he accosted a man on the street and recited portions of the bill of rights to him. mojomotse was astounded to be living in a country where the law guaranteed that he’d be treated as an equal with other men, a country where he could express dissent without fear of whipping, arrest, or death.

if we leave, who will hold back the tide of morons who would change that?

The Charming English Cottage of Death Beckons Once Again

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you are invited. yes you. lurking. reading my blog. you’re invited to my halloween party….

Lumbering back to life, the Charming English Cottage of Death insists you rearrange your stupid plans for Saturday, October 30th to once again pay it a visit.

It’s cranky. It requires soothing. Please bring it strong drink to make it forget its bad mood over being neglected in past years. Perhaps if you wear a costume, it will make some small difference to the house. But it’s up to you.

bring your friends. the house won’t mind.

“read more.”:http://wxdu.org/~lisa/halloween/index_2004.html

trip to luray caverns for nbeast

“[ photos ]”:http://www.spacepod.org/photolog/archives/cat_nbeast_2004.html

started out friday, october 22, 2004

left durham 10:10am (could not get tank full – b20 biodiesel from Exxon) ar luray, va, 5pm. approx 260 miles, mainly route 15. filled up tank during trip, use about a tank and a quarter, maybe less, for the trip up.

during trip ran fridge on 12 volt while engine was on. began having difficulty shifting into low gears about 3/4 way into trip extreme difficulty by end of trip.

did not want to start a couple of times while warm, jiggling key eventually got it to start

oil light came on after steep curve, about 10 miles from campground. stopped, oil 1/2 way down dipstick. topped off, oil light stayed off for rest of trip up mountain.

strange staying in jellystone campground, have only ever stayed at state parks before.

reasonably rustic site w/ water/electric, in with the tents, not in with the r/v’s which are packed in, no trees.. like a trailer park.

many elaborate campsite decorations. one woman said “we come here every year for halloween, it’s a tradition.” many kids. sullen teenagers hanging out by the bath house at 11pm.

tried the a/c 120v power in the westy for the first time, worked! nice ambient glow of pumpkin lights, instead of harsh white light. also, set up glowing eyeballs on stakes outside the camper. i’d like to get novelty lights specifically for westy and find a way to string them so they’re not in the way– they give the perfect light.

first night sleeping in the westy, the new bed is good, definitely needed sleeping bag and both wool blankets. cold but not extreme cold; would want more warm gear for winter camping.

rethinking rug inside; maybe a piece of bound carpet to fit in the living area floor would be nice– something still removeable so it can be cleaned, replaced.

a/c powered space heater would be nice too.

spare battery not much use– not sure what’s up with that.

took westy to the car show to serve as office/shelter. it was quite cold in the morning. lots of attention to the westy throughout the day! many folks complimenting her, telling stories of their old bus. the distinctive shape drew people in.

i judged the stock category in the show, which i have to admit, i really enjoyed. i judge beetles all the time in my mind– looking them over for dirt, paint scrapes, little flaws. the advantage of the stock class is that i can use the knowlege i have of the different models, but don’t need to worry about understanding and comparing performance and other mods i might not be familiar with.

van started just fine throughout the day which lends credence to the notion that it’s an issue when the wiring is hot, as mark had suggested. maybe trouble shifting and trouble starting means… time to give ‘er a bit of a rest.

after the car show we went through the luray caverns. i’d never been in a cavern before. i love the strange, moist, organic rock formations. i was quite exhausted so that sapped a little of my enjoyment from the experience but still it was fun.

i also checked out the antique car museum on the grounds. wow.

hard to be with people all day nonstop. after the caves, i was a little rude to an overenthusiastic japanese woman who practically sat in my lap on a crowded park bench. nice though to see the stephs. good to meet steph. surprisingly, we are sort of free joking back and forth about butchness. interesting moment for me when i said to her, “i wondered what it means that i share so many interests with stephanie’s new girlfriend” (meaning.. why am i straight yet so butch?) and she said, “it doesn’t mean anything”, which is the best answer anyone has ever given me to that question.

rain started before dawn on sunday. awoke early, checked for forming puddles or other potential rain related problems with flashlight; everything looked good so i went back to sleep.

steve came by in the morning and i opened my little sliding glass window to talk. he said, “i feel like i should be placing an order or getting money from an ATM.” he told me that he didn’t want to do the skyline drive cruise in the rain. i decided i wanted to go to dinosaurland anyway, and figured i would have no trouble recruiting some others to go along.

we had a merry group of john in cleo, the stephs (i rode with them on the way up), britt in his snap orange, and les. the rain stopped but it was quite cold. the gift shop was almost as silly as the big, fake dinosaurs, and oddly out of place king cobra, preying mantis, and king kong statue. i didn’t take many pictures since i had taken quite a few on my first visit there.

john was nice enough to give me a ride back. we stopped for lunch at a fantastic old place in front royal, the royal creamery restaurant. it looked as if not much had changed since it opened… probably in the 50’s or before. it was nicely kept up, but still reeked of authenticity, and the food was fantastic. crisp, hot fries and a very tasty patty melt. we decided to get ice cream, too… i got mint chocolate chip with sprinkles, my favorite from when i was a kid.

being rather burnt out on conversation, john was the perfect person to ride back with– he’s ok with some silence– and i told him at lunch that i appreciated that about him. i figure that being quiet and shy is so rarely an advantage, it’s nice to let someone know that sometimes, it’s really a good thing.

i bought a space heater because i knew i’d be spending some time hanging out in the van on my own. when i got back to the campground, it was practically empty, after being completely filled over the weekend. it was delicious to nap in the westy, hiding just below the un-curtained windows. when it got chilly i fired up the space heater and it works great. i probably won’t run it while i’m asleep, but while i’m awake and doing stuff in the van, it’s nice to be warm.

the fridge has been a champ through the whole trip, everything has stayed quite cold. i look forward to trying to get it to run off propane so i can run it anywhere. i think i will not run it off the 12 volt system while i’m driving home– if i’m correct and the wiring is heating up and causing problems starting, it would be better not to strain the electrical system.


trip home fairly uneventful. stopped at out of the way state park for a one hour break, to let her cool down and because i needed a nap myself. seems to have helped.

scored another cool old diner for brunch in culpeper.

tired now.

ready, steady… GO!

things are looking good for this weekend!

* mark is working on the starting problem– he was able to get his hands on a starter, and they even knocked part of the price of the part off because they thought it was too high.

* lonnie thinks the starter i have on there is the _original_ 22 year old starter. if so– that’s pretty amazing, because it seriously starts the thing right up every time. well, except for when it does nothing at all.

* mucho thanks to georg and sarah for carting me to and fro today– and to d. for carting me around quite a bit in the last few weeks.

* and mucho thanks to sarah and christa for all the sewing help, wow.

* and mucho thanks to everyone who has listened me go on and on about my dang van, and been supportive through it all. you guys rock!!!

* mucho thanks also to chris– who is picking up the nbeast t-shirts for me from the printer in carrboro.

i checked my map today, thinking i’d have to put a lot of time into planning a route on all secondary roads– but it turns out the 15 goes straight up almost all the way to Luray– and i think the mileage will actually be less than taking the interstate. so i am very hopeful that this will be an extremely pleasant journey.

last night i replaced the bit of rubber gasket that was starting to fall off the camper top, and which was probably responsible for at least some of the dampness problems inside the van. so i’m feeling like she’s in rockin’ good shape for this trip.

oh, and mr. metaphor dropped me a line today. yay!

ok computer

so on saturday i had lunch with mr. metaphor. we had a nice time. i’m left now with two things:

* an addiction to a web site that he told me about called “okcupid”:http://okcupid.com

* a (probably futile at this point) desire to hear back from him

let’s discuss the more interesting of those two things– the web site. it’s an online dating system that uses a lot of preference testing and some algorithms to match people. supposedly to get good results from the site, one must answer hundreds of questions. it’s amazingly addictive. i enjoy answering the questions.

anyway, i just ran across a particularly interesting one:

bq. “It is more worthwhile and satisfying to: A) Improve the world. B) Appreciate the world.”

it’s probably not surprising that i immediately answered “Improve the world”, but after answering, i paused over my answer.

after october 30th, all of my non-work-related, deadline-based obligations go away. i basically have no plans. to say that i am looking forward to that time would be a wild understatement; it’s like the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that has been this year.

i thought to myself that perhaps i should make a greater point of _appreciating_ the world after i’m done improving it. perhaps i don’t need to be endlessly productive; instead, i could make a greater point of taking things in. new things. fun things. strange things. marvellous things.