Saturday, June 03, 2006

#719 The Chinese Auction

I thought the Bob Guccione auction was strange. This one was as strange, in a different way.

There are usually a few hundred people at George's summer auctions. Tonight I counted 26 people on my side of the aisle, and there were no more than that on the other side. Fewer than a third of the seats were filled, when it's usually SRO. There were almost none of the usual dealers there, and I saw only one person who (whom?) I know is from NYC (and it was odd that she was there at all, because she usually comes for jewelry and silver, and there was none tonight). I gather this auction was not heavily advertised.

Apparently George had picked up one of those boxcar-sized shipping containers from Hong Kong, probably unclaimed goods, probably got it very cheaply, and probably with no clue as to what might be inside. He didn't seem as anxious to get the best bids tonight - he was very relaxed.

From all that, I figured there would be some real steals, and there were.

The small 4-door 3-drawer cabinets, that will retail for $300-$500, were going for right around $100, and the tall chests and wardrobes, retail $500-$800, for about $200. They were ALL antique, but the more dirty and beat-up they looked, the more they fetched.

There were some very beautiful heavy but graceful carved chairs that would likely retail for near $1000 each, and which sold for about $250 a pair.

I wanted one or two of the small painted chests (there were about 8 or 9 of them), exactly the right size for a side table, and that's where it got really weird. The larger rectangular storage chests, lacquered, carved, and gold-leafed, were going for around $100 (a few got as far as $275). The small simply painted cube chests, nothing special, were ALSO going for $100-$150. The only thing I can figure is that most of the people there were, like me, buying for home, not for resale, and so they wanted the smaller chests because they're more versatile. I wasn't going to pay more than $60 for one of them, so I didn't get one.

On several occasions, George would bring out, say, a silvery metal table lamp with a glass shade, and auction it off (most of the lamps went for $20 to $30), and then after someone won it, he'd say "We have 19 more of these lamps ..." and he'd take the numbers of everyone who wanted another one at that high bid. THEN, when there were still 9 lamps left, he'd auction them off AGAIN! Naturally, the winning bid was lower this time, and more people bought lamps at the lower price --- and if there were some left, he did it again! Those first buyers should feel chagrined, but --- he did that several times with large lots of several items, and every time, people jumped in and bought some at the highest winning bid. Um, didn't they learn something the first time? He sold a pair of low stools at a high bid, and then revealed that he had lots more. I waited until the third pass, and bought two of them for less than half of the first winning bid.

I confess I did end up buying stuff I hadn't meant to. The stools (red and black lacquer) were too beautiful, sturdy, and cheap to pass up. I also bought five silk Chinese dresses for $5 total (they'll go into the crazy quilt stash, or maybe on eBay), a phoenix carved out of clear perfect quartz for something like $30 (a deal - take my word for it! I could sell it on eBay for three times the price), and a pair of 3'x7' red lacquered bookcases with rails around the shelves and drawers in the middle for $80. They'll replace those ugly metal utility shelves in the den, and the metal shelves will move to the basement, where they'll be appreciated.

There are some tables and chairs in a Chinese restaurant that Roman and I have frequented, made of the polished roots of a tree. Very beautiful, and we had wondered what they'd cost. There were two tables and some stools tonight similar to them, not as nice, but I don't think I could draw any conclusions from what they went for. It was almost shameful.

These auctions usually go from 5:30 to a little after 11 pm. Tonight it was finished at 9. George wasn't pulling the bids. Many items didn't sell at all. Very different.

718 Lifted From a Saudi Blog

Borrowed from Alien Memoirs, the blog of a Saudi woman studying in the US. She is intelligent and has interesting things to say. I recommend a visit.


Patrick Chappatte

Joe_heller2_1 Joe Heller


<>Steve Greenberg

717 Searching for a French Poem

I am searching for the poem that begins "Quand on voit sur la branche au mois de mai la rose". I know the first verse, but the title and the rest is lost in the mists of time (I had to memorize it in seventh grade, 1957). Google gets me only that much, from someone's blog. If anyone knows the entire poem, or can find it online somewhere, please send me a pointer. It's been bugging me for years.

Note - the punctuation may be different. I'm not sure where commas might be inserted. I cut it into phrases to search, and still got only the one hit.

Thank you.

Friday, June 02, 2006

716 I Found a Convenient Treadmill

Friday, June 2, 2006

Stopped by Piper's office today to remind him that I need some money to pay the estimated taxes on the 15th. I had mentioned it to him Tuesday, but now I'm worried that he may not remember. Tuesday was the day he was pickled.

He had called Roman on Tuesday while I was there, to set up more tutoring, and left a message on Roman's machine. But yesterday, Piper was all excited because Roman had called him on Wednesday. Piper seemed to think it was an unsolicited/friendly call, so I'll bet he doesn't remember calling Roman. A reminder that I need a check is therefore in order.

He wasn't in. Aggghhh!


I worked out on the machines today, then stopped by the auction house to preview tomorrow night's auction. George has "contents of a container from Hong Kong" up for auction, and I was curious. There are several chests similar to some I have, so I think I'll go to the auction if only to see what they sell for. He also has several small cubical top-opening painted chests, one of which would work very nicely as a lamp/clock table in my bedroom, so maybe I can get one of those cheap. I won't bid high on them, because I have some nice Chinese hardware stowed away, and the box itself would be easy to make (although camphor wood won't be likely if I make it) and fun to paint, so, we'll see.

I happened to notice that there's a new "women's fitness center" right next to the auction hall, so I stopped in and wow! they have treadmills! - one of them with a soft surface and the option of no incline. So I got a special deal on a three-month membership, and I did a mile right then and there.

The treadmill will be better for losing weight, so I'll try to do the machines at the first place two or three times a week now, at least until that membership expires, and the treadmill at the second place almost every day. Three months is perfect, because that's through the hot months, and by September I should have my own treadmill in the bedroom unburied and serviced. (Yeah, the clutter is THAT bad.) Also, this place is open from like 7 to 7, but they will give you a key, and you can come in any time, even the middle of the night. Great. I can throw a clot and have a stroke, and not be found until 7 am. But, I guess that's still better than if I use the treadmill at home. Then it could be weeks before anyone misses me. I wonder if their insurance company knows they let people in alone?


I got a sales call from my telephone company yesterday. I have two lines - one dedicated to the computer. So the guy offered me a plan whereby I could have just one line and still make calls while I was on the computer, for "only" $75 a month. I pointed out that that's "only" $30 more than I'm paying now for the two lines combined, plus my ISP. So he came back with another offer which included unlimited long distance calls for the $75. (I guess you don't get to hear about that plan unless you turn the first offer down?) I pointed out that I don't use the house phones for long distance, I use the cell phone. Then he offered me all of the above, plus the phone company's ISP services (email, site hosting, buncha storage) for the same price. I told him I had seen his company's email service, and it was the clunkiest, most awkward, least intuitive design I had EVER seen (it's what Piper uses), and --- no thanks.

I think I made him cry.

715 This is a Blah Title, Ok? Nothing Else Changed.

Thursday, June 1, 2006.

Busy today. Took stuff to the Salvation Army, bought metal posts to mark the lot line, played bar Trivia with GG, Tom, and Mark. It poured rain today, thunder, lightning, wind, off and on. Luckily, the nasty stuff was when I was in the van or in a building.

As I was driving through Rhinebeck at about 11 pm, there was a sudden burst of very bright white and red light and a shower of sparks from the top of a pole in front of the hospital. All the streetlights went out and then some came back on. Oddly, there was no sound with the flash. I was afraid there might be a line down, so I drove very slowly past the spot, but ... nothing.

An altogether ho hum day. Tomorrow looks to be the same.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

714 Is This Why People Don't Get Married?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Back in September of 2004, I wrote an entry complaining about people who claimed they "Can't Afford to Get Married", those couples who have been together six years and have two or three kids and still refer to themselves as "engaged".

The past month or so, several bloggers who will be brides or bridesmails in the next month or so have been writing about their trials and tribulations. My attitude is, as it has always been, "Elope! Have done with it!"

Well, Daughter and Hercules have been wrestling with the issue. Left to themselves, if there were no other people to consider, they'd just elope for real. Even with other people to consider, I suspect Daughter would be just as happy to get married at the courthouse on a lunch hour. They're both over 30, they should be able to do what they want.

But, Hercules' family is more, um, sensitive, I guess. Daughter has been getting all kinds of pressure from all sides to "do this", "do that", "invite xxx", "The date is inconvenient for me, could you please change your date?" (Yes, that's for real.) Things are complicated by the fact that some family members cannot be in the same room with other family members, so the ceremony and the reception will be at separate dates, with separate attendees.

I have tried to support Daughter in everything she wants to do, think, feel, or say, without getting in her way or trying to tell her what she "should" do. The farthest I will go on advice is to offer ways she might be able to express her own needs without offending others, but we all know I'm not very good at that anyway.

In today's telephone call, I offered two suggestions: 1.) don't get married, or 2.) sneak off to a judge with two witnesses who are sworn to secrecy, and just don't tell anyone you got married. Nobody's feelings will get hurt, they'll all die off eventually anyway, and then you can come clean.

Oh, this will please some of you - she has bought her dress. For less than $35. Good girl!!

713 A Fun Test

Freakin’ Genius!
You scored 100% Awesomeness!
You are wonderful! If awesomeness was a crime, you’d be in jail for life. You win 1,000,000 points and the respect and admiration of millions of fans. Here is a gold star for you:

Link: The Really QUICK Reassuringly EASY Test written by andyash on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

712 Pickled Piper

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

At about 3:30 today, I intended to go to the drug store, the grocery store, get in a walk around the village, do the exercise machines (I want to lose those last 20 lb. before August, and I seem to have been at a plateau for the past month), and maybe stop in at Piper's office.

As I was driving through the village, I saw Piper heading for the post office and flagged him down, so we went directly back to his office. I had sent him some of the falls photos in an email, but I knew he wouldn't know how and would need help to get to them.

Piper was in very rare form. Some friends of his from Wall Street were moored at the marina in Kingston, and he had been out fishing with them all day. He was feeling good. Very good. Multiple beers in the sun and "I caught a fish!" worth of good. He gets very hyper when he's feeling good. (I'm not sure how big this boat is, but there are apparently several bedrooms.) We downloaded the falls photos, but I'm sure he won't remember tomorrow. He intended to go out again with the friends this evening. I kept telling him he should go home and take a nap first.

Then he invited me to go out with them. I was a bit leary about going out with a bunch of businessmen on the town, but then after I thought about it, and after he assured me I wouldn't cramp anyone's style, I decided it might be a good idea. Piper was going to need a designated driver. I told him to call me when he had details - and "for pity's sake, go home and take a nap!"

I ran my errands, managed a short walk, stopped to talk to the Hunk, showed him the cleared woods and discussed what needs to be done, got in about 6:30 - and found a phone message from Piper. He had crashed, I guess. Sounded very down, very tired. Was going to stay in. Would call me tomorrow. Maybe go out tomorrow evening. (I wonder how long his friends plan to stay?)

I'm not surprised. He can get so excited that he tires himself out.


The background noise this evening is Gilmore Girls. Critics love it, and I suppose it might be pretty good, but the way the females on that show talk, the very fast very clipped banter, annoys me. It makes my back tighten.

Monday, May 29, 2006

711 I'm Here

I spent most of this morning on the internet, and most of the afternoon trying on and sorting clothes. I just came in from looking at the woods with the young guy. He's gone way beyond what he had to do - he had taken out all the rotting logs from long-fallen trees that I told him he didn't have to mess with, and now he's raking up debris.

Actually, I'm a little worried about all those logs gone. I have nightmares of thousands of starving termites and homeless carpenter ants looking up the hill eyeing that big pile of timber (the big rectangular pile with the new roof). Sorta like that movie from the sixties, where an army of migrating ants that eat everything in their path attacks an African compound. On the other hand, there are still fallen logs on the neighbor's land, so maybe they'll go there.

I'm left with a lot fewer trees than I thought I had. Most of what had been in there was brush of one type or another, and almost all of the smaller trees were sumacs, all of which he took out. There are very large areas completely open, between large trees. (Some of the sumacs had a trunk diameter of 12 inches - they were huge. They filled in the spaces.)

It being Memorial Day, I've been remembering Jim Hassett, and wishing I had been a better friend.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

710 The Hunk Was Worried!

The Hairless Hunk's wife walks a lot on our road, and she came by as I was taking the garbage can down this evening. I said "I guess you've noticed I'm having a lot of work done in the woods." She said yes, that the Hunk was worried, that he had asked her if maybe I had fired him. (Ordinarily I would have given him first bid on the project.) I explained that this was probably the best deal I'd made in years, that the kid was doing it "free", in exchange for an easement for his electric line along my property line.

Maybe I should have warned the Hunk, so he wouldn't have worried.

I told her that I needed to talk with the Hunk about final cleanup, filling, and grading to make it easy to maintain, and possibly planting some flowering trees (ooo! ooo! dogwoods! yes!) and wildflowers. I'll need advice as to how to keep it woodsy and still discourage the growth of those nasty prickery things and poison ivy. I'd like most of it to still be deer and bunny friendly, but also people friendly.

They cleared the wedge at the bottom of the driveway and around the circle at the end of the road today, and for the first time ever I could see the house from the road, through the trees. I am somehow more comfortable knowing that the house can be seen from the road.

The black locust have blossomed this year, for the first time in a few years. They smell wonderful, very sweet. They've had some rough years due to some disease that's killing many of them. Maybe with my woods opened up a bit, it might help mine to survive. I hope.

709 Lost

I forget what evening it was, but it was recently, "Lost" was on the TV, not because I was watching it, I haven't watched "Lost" this season at all, I got frustrated because it didn't seem to be going anywhere, it was just on for the background noise, anyway, it was on and I wasn't paying much attention.

But still, I noticed a few things. Things that might be another reason I quit watching it.

  1. One guy in the underground chamber gets suspicious because he notices a tear in the leg of the protective suit worn by the other guy, who had just come in from outside, where the air is supposedly poisonous. The other guy gets ready to go outside again. Protective hooded suit (with tear in the leg), goggles, gas mask, etc. The suspicious guy decides to follow him. Critical plot point. Now, I noticed that the protective suit and mask combination does not cover the chin and neck! They're bare. So how could a tear in the leg of the suit be significant? Did I miss something?
  2. They missed putting the numbers in the computer, and some kind of very strong magnetic field is generated. Very heavy metal things are flying across the room and getting stuck to a wall. They do some quick number-inputting and the computer is fine again and the magnetic field drops. Um, wouldn't a magnetic field that strong kinda mess up the computer and peripherals?
  3. My cryptic note here says "rollover". If I can remember what that means, I'll update. I seem to think it has something to do with a center of weight being too low for a vehicle rollover they showed. Does anyone have any idea what I may have noticed?

Somebody's not watching to ensure that things make sense. I can suspend belief, but not logic.


There used to be a job on movie and TV sets, called "continuity". That was a person in charge of ensuring that things were the same over cuts and reshoots. Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have decided continuity wasn't important. You don't see it much in the end credits any more.

Lack of continuity is another thing that drives me crazy. I get hung up on it.

That's when, for example, you have a man and a woman in conversation, and the camera cuts back and forth between them, and in half the shots, the woman has a scarf over her shoulder, and in half the shots the scarf isn't there. My mind gets hooked on imagining her whipping the scarf on and off every five seconds, and wondering why she's doing that, and I miss the whole conversation.

Lack of continuity drives me bonkers.

708 Sunday

Very warm today. I went to the Antiques Fair this afternoon. There were literally hundreds of antiques dealers there, all set up in little booths inside long fairgrounds buildings. There were fans, but it was still pretty hot inside.

I was mildly hoping that a dealer from Mass. that I've been online flirting with would be there, but, naturally, he wasn't.

I didn't go to buy, Daughter. I've got everything I could want or need (except for a center table for the living room). Mainly I just like to look at stuff, and perhaps get an idea of what some of my things might be worth.

I did find a rosewood table that would be perfect for the living room, but it was $2700.00. I didn't buy it.

I also looked at a necklace, made of random-shaped pieces of ancient roman glass. Blue, purple, green, silvery, golden iridescence. Most beautiful thing I've seen in months. $2500.00. I didn't buy it.

When I handed it back to the woman, I said "I love it, but not two refrigerators worth."

I didn't buy anything but lunch.

The electricity at the fairgrounds died at about 3 pm, while I was outside eating some ice cream. I heard that it was off for all the traffic lights on Route 9, too. It got very dark and hot in the buildings (I can't believe the fairgrounds doesn't have generators), so I came home.

Talking to the guys clearing my woods and the next-door neighbor this morning. She wandered over to find out what was going on - she was afraid we were planning to build a house between mine and hers. Neighbor says that our phones weren't working for two days, Friday and Saturday. That made me feel a tiny bit better, because that's one of the depressing things - being out all afternoon and coming home to a big fat 0 on the message machine. Then I realized that I was dialed in to the internet the whole time, even while I was out (a separate line from the house phone), and it never dropped, so I don't know what she's talking about.

I've been going through closets trying on clothes, which is kind of fun. I'm sorting into: stuff to give away, stuff to sell, stuff to alter, stuff that fits now but will be stored for the summer, stuff that fits and I can wear now, and stuff that's still just a wee bit small but will fit soon. Oh, and stuff that's just plain ugly. There's very little that will be thrown out. It's all in pretty good condition. I guess that's an advantage to having lots of clothes. Nothing gets worn out.

I have to remember to save some yucky stuff for grunge work. Yucky stuff that still looks decent on....

707 The Merry Minuet

Sunday, May 28, 2006

"The Merry Minuet" is over 50 years old. Obie first introduced me to the Kingston Trio in 1960, and their "From the Hungry I" album was his favorite.

A few weeks ago, Roman and I were in the car, and I stuck my CD in the player. We both sang along to the songs, and after "The Merry Minuet", I remarked that it's all still true! (Except maybe the starving in Spain part....)

It's amazing how things don't change.

Merry Minuet

They’re rioting in Africa (whistling)
They’re starving in Spain (whistling)
There’s hurricanes in Flo-ri-da (whistling)
And Texas needs rain.

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off

They’re rioting in Africa (whistling)
There’s strife in Iran
What nature doesn’t do to us
Will be done by our fellow "man"

[] "The Merry Minuet" is also known as "Merry Little Minuet," an early satirical song of Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick, whose shows with composer Jerry Bock include Fiorello!, She Loves Me and Fiddler on the Roof. This topical rundown of world trouble spots was introduced by Orson Bean in the 1953 revue John Murray Anderson 's Almanac.