Today: Shopping.As I’ve mentioned before, there’s something about being here that brings out my inner “MUST CONSUME OMG!”. So, after waking up at 7:30am, I went down to Franklin Street and caught the bus to Southpoint. That turned out to be its own mini-adventure, because South Road is closed for construction. As an aside, since I’ve been coming here in 2002, UNC has resembled a vast building site, and it seems to be getting worse, not better. They still haven’t finished the work next to Sitterson Hall (the Computer Science building where I spent a lot of 2002, and somewhat less of 2003 ensconced in). Anyway, that meant there was a rather long detour before getting anywhere near the mall again. And again, it marks me out as a good little consumer, but I really like Southpoint Mall. I don’t even have to buy anything; just looking around the shops, checking mail in the Apple Store and reading in Barnes & Noble is good enough for me. Mostly. For today, I was on a mission! Off to American Eagle, where this exchange of events occurred:
CUTE GIRL: How are you doing today, sir?But I got the sweater. So hurrah! Then, off to Gap to see if I could get anything approaching a sane price (and I think a thick scarf for £3 plus a jumper for £10 counts, there). Then the Apple Store. Oh, Apple, you temptress. But I was strong! I walked out with my wallet intact (besides, I have to wait for the traveller’s cheques to clear. Which I thought would happen immediately, but, er, it hasn’t just yet). Eventually, I pulled myself back to Chapel Hill, getting a phone call from a sick Laura. Struck down with ‘flu and popped ears. Get well soon! I made my way back down Franklin, seeing how much work has been done on the new hotel, getting a little sad about the bookshop being offered for sale, and yes, going into the fine, the fabulous Chapel Hill Comics to pick up my copies of Phonogram (which would have been complete if someone had kept to a monthly schedule), picked up another book for the Secret 2007 Project (if I say it enough times, it’ll force me to make it happen, I guess), and got some lunch at Wendy’s. Oh my goodness. I had forgotten that Wendy’s changed all their sizes since I’ve been away. And not in a good way. For, you see, they got rid of their small combo, replacing it with the medium, and the large combo became the medium. The new large combo seems to come in reinforced corrugated cardboard plus a plastic 42 fl oz soda. And perhaps they call 911 for you after the heart attack too. Even the small was too much for me, and I’m still feeling bloated from it now (and I was glad that I went for chicken, otherwise I don’t think I would have made it through the afternoon). Sadly, tacie and I couldn’t meet up today, but I did have a visit from Esther and Ryan before they headed back to Concord. And I got a lovely collection of little toys and a robot notebook from her. Plus, they might visit in 2007, which would be quite splendid. And now? Now, I’m sitting back in Collin’s apartment with my new shiny toy: an 80Gb USB-powered hard drive. It’s going to come in handy for another little project lalalalalala…
FLUSTERED IAN: Erm, fine thank you;.
CUTE GIRL: Is there anything you’re looking for?
FLUSTERED IAN (suddenly emblazoned with purpose): Actually, yes!
FLUSTERED IAN: Do you have any of these?
(Ian reaches into his backpack, pulling out an A4 piece of paper with a picture of a sweater on it)
CUTE GIRL (a little flustered herself, looks to her left): Umm, I think they’re over there…
(Ian throws himself into the women’s clothing section)FLUSTERED IAN: Thank you!
Oh, okay, 38,000. You’re sticklers for accuracy, and that’s why I love you all (except for you, yes you, right at the back. Kindly remove yourself from these premises).It has begun. It is weird that the only time I ever feel English is when I leave the country, but already my accent has began to sound strange, I’ve been called ‘very polite’ only an hour into the flight (moving to allow a husband and wife to sit together), and I’m hemmed in by Americans on all sides. A typical RDU flight. However, it is the first flight that I’ve had a huge bottle of gin stuffed into my bag. But! Hark! What is this?! For the first time since I’ve been on this flight (starting in August 2002, so I’ve been doing this for four years now. A little scary, that), they’ve changed the menu! Slightly! For instead of chicken with a mush that once resembled pasta, now it’s chicken with a green mush that resembles pasta with pesto! I was astounded. I just hope that the spongy, springy pizza hasn’t been changed. It sounds horrible, yet somehow it always turns out to be an enjoyable experience. Manic scenes at Gatwick this morning. The check-in desk was, as usual, almost deserted, but they still haven’t adjusted well to the new security requirements, meaning that the queue for Security Control was so large that they had to have officials going around to pull people out of the queue in order for them to make their flight. It’s very disconcerting when the lights go off and then come back five seconds later. There should be less of that. Anyway, the usual wander around the duty-free shops, seeing if Dixons had tax-free Wiis (they didn’t), the sale items at HMV (at which point: Bonnie: they had the Clerks X edition for £5.17 in there — might be worth picking up!), looking in vain at various brands of whisky, and wondering whether other countries concentrate quite so much on alcohol in their duty-free shops (I know America doesn’t). Absinthe with warning labels telling you not to even bother attempting to get it past US Customs, next to huge bottles of vodka and rum in a 2 for £20 deal. We don’t have a problem really. And now, for the highlights from this month’s SkyMall magazine, Yes, I knew you were waiting for it. First up - the Pet Staircase. Designed to allow your cat to walk up to the top of your sofa before trying to tear it apart, rather than the usual method of having it jump up there. Excellent. A collection audio summaries of business books that you don’t have time to read, but need to know about to stay current in the Exciting World o’ Business! Only $169! Titles include Break From The Pack, The Giants of Sales, Loyalty Myths,, and The Enthusiastic Employee. Fabulous value, I’m sure you’ll agree. Oh, my they sell adult onesies. That’s just a little freaky. But I think the prize for this month goes to the Computer-Less Printer. This marvel of 21st century technology (indeed, it is when it all happens) connects to a phone line; every night, it dials out to a special toll-free number, downloads any emails in your messagebox, and helpfully prints them out. I’m sure we can come up with at least five different reasons why this is a particularly silly idea. If nothing else, at $169 plus a $10/month charge for the online service, it’ll probably be cheaper after a year to have gone on bought a computer in the first place. And you know it would only be a matter of time before you came downstairs to be greeted by offers of millions from Africa or Christian dating services. The blurb also says that it takes ‘standard’ ink cartridges, so obviously it works with HP, Epson, Lexmark, and hell, you could empty a Parker pen into it and I’m sure it’ll continue to print. Or perhaps not. And now, turbulence.
Many have pointed to the world’s population level and Mr. Christmas’s rather limited means of transportation as a means of casting doubt on the veracity of his feats. In fact, Mr. Claus managed to keep up with the population explosion throughout most of the 19th century, thanks to a Hobo/Yeti alliance in North America. Sadly, in 1894, dismayed by the ever-lengthening railroads and the unseemly behaviour of “Cranks” McShawmack (of the legendary McShawmack clan), the first of the Yeti-Hobo wars began. For a while, it appeared that the hobos had the upper hand in the conflict, although historians now believe that both sides were reduced to fewer than a hundred members by the final battle that raged a few blocks away from President Reagan’s inauguration in 1981.To resolve his supply issues, Santa first turned to the technology of the day for salvation. The Christmas of 1900 saw the first mass airlift of presents from the North Pole; a fleet of airships taking to the sky, delivering their precious cargo. Sadly, it turned out that elves lacked a certain head for heights, and had a tendency to plunge into the sea at the first opportunity. The children of Luxembourg received no presents that year because of a horrific ten-ship crash in the middle of the English Channel (indeed, it is often thought that the lack of hope and good cheer in the children that year was a direct cause of the Bad Boys And Girls Riot of 1901). After surveying the burning wreckage of Luxembourg in July 1901, Father Christmas swore off airships; for the next forty years, ninety-eight percent of presents were delivered by the postal services in the countries of the world. An experiment involving flapper girls in 1926 went horribly wrong, leading to salacious pictures of Mr. Christmas being published in the Hearst Press. Mrs. Claus made sure that it never happened again. In July 1947, Santa saw a shooting star blaze across the sky whilst taking the reindeer out for a brief sojourn. He followed the meteorite to its destination, a small town named Roswell, residing in the state of New Mexico. There, he came face-to-face with Rexatfaloobrious-9 from the Deltaon Star Brigade. Rexatfaloobrious-9 (or Rexatfaloobrioussmelgoodaleeekaxho-9.1434566443 to his friends) saw the goodness within Santa’s heart; knowing that he was dying from wounds sustained from the crash, he gave Santa a Deltaon tool. Towing the ship back to the North Pole (and thus confounding both the US Military and UFO experts), he granted Rexatfaloobrioussmelgoodaleeekaxho-9.1434566443’s (for Santa was considered a friend) last wish; to be encased in ice and shot out into the expanse of space, so that he may be reborn when the space-god Rotaxes-252 awakes from his Millennia Slumber. Unfortunately, this was something of a mistake; when Rotaxes-252 did awaken in 1962, it was discovered that he was actually a terrible planet-destroyer powered by the soul-energy left behind in Deltoan corpses. An irony not found particularly amusing in the Tau Star Empire, which lost over five thousand planets in the ensuing battle. It wasn’t until 1955 that Santa perfected the use of the Deltoan artefact. Powered by solar energy and elves on treadmills, the device could rearrange the atomic structure of any substance into anything that the holder imagined. After creating a (purely defensive, of course) set of thermonuclear missiles, Santa began using it to create presents. But he still had to deliver them; with the Baby Boom, this was becoming an impossible task even with outsourcing most of it to the Post Office. Beren Lightleaf, head elf, came up with the solution. He suggested that Santa create a teleporter that could magically put the presents in every child’s home. Delighted by this idea, Santa made a tragic error, waving the device at Beren as he instructed it to create the machine. Beren was instantly transformed into the teleporter. Although he was saddened by the loss of his friend, the teleporter was a great success, and anyway, Beren had a nasty habit of chewing garlic cloves, a habit that was not altogether possible in his new form. And that, to this day, is how Santa gets presents into the homes of children across the world. His network of spy robins has, however, recently been commandeered by British and American security services as part of The War Against Terror, so he may have to make some adjustments for 2007 so that he can maintain his lists of those who have been naughty, and those who have been nice. For now, though, let us go to sleep and awake to find what gifts have been molecularly-rearranged for us this year!
Songs that I meant to write about this advent:
And we’re watching Die Hard. The finest festive film of the season!