Friday, August 19, 2005


  • On Thursday I was giving Dave shit over the fact that he drives a BMW and was reminded of the one time I got to drive a BMW.
    My co-worker in San Diego was union, so she earned more than double what I made for basically the same job*, and her husband is an international spy. Oh, sure, he says that he is simply setting up satellite security networks, but he's obviously a super spy/assassin. People cross him and those people disappear.
    Anyway, the point is that my co-worker was (in my opinion, at least) stupid rich.
    "I'm selling my BMW," Jen said to me one day. "I know your truck was stolen, would you be interested?"
    "Ha. Not unless you are selling it at some ridiculously undervalued price," I said.
    "Well. $1,400. Is that low?"
    "What?! $1,400? What year is it?"
    "A '98" (We were having this conversation in 2002).
    "A 1998 BMW for $1,400? Does it not run?"
    "No, it's a real nice car. I've got it outside if you want to drive it."
    "Fourteen-hundred dollars? One-thousand four-hundred?"
    And so even though I knew she had lost her mind, I agreed that I should take it for a test drive right away. To give you an idea of the cars I was used to driving, the first thing that stood out for me was the air conditioner. It was instantly cool and I felt happy and comfortable as I sat into the leather seats. The car was in perfect condition and had all sorts of amenities that I can't imagine ever needing.
    "Well," Jen said. "Drive it around."
    She made me drive it around the neighborhood and then take it on the freeway and gun it up to 90 mph (the speed of traffic in Southern California) and then we brought it back to the TV station and I told her that I would try to get my hands on $1,400 as soon as possible.
    "Where the hell am I going to find $1,400?" I thought. "Well, I've got about $200 in savings. I'll bet Jim would lend me a little bit of money for this. He would understand. I could borrow some from my parents, from Rachel's parents; I could sell my CD collection."
    Later in the same day, Jen came over to my desk.
    "Hey, about the car," she said. "I was just talking to my husband, I meant to say $14,000. Thousand, not hundred."
    "Yeah. I thought it would be something like that."
    "So, are you still interested?"
    "Not so much."
    Sometimes I think about dressing up in my hippest clothes and going to test-drive nice cars like that, just for fun. But I'm not sure how I would get to the dealership. Rolling up in the Delta 88 would be a dead giveaway, I think.

  • This is my new favorite thing. It's a bit more difficult to navigate than I would like, but it allows you to listen to the various accents of the UK. I find it to be fascinating, because I come from a country where accents are increasingly being melted away and those that exist stretch across huge distances. If you drive from Bristol, England, to Cardiff, Wales (about 40 miles), you hear distinctly different accents. Whereas if you drive from Bismarck, North Dakota, to Chicago, Illinois (836 miles), difference in speech will be almost negligible.
    It's fascinating to me that there can be so many variations in speech in such a small space. The trend is intensified in the Welsh language, where you can seemingly heave a rock and hit someone who speaks Welsh in a different way. This makes for a language that is rich and colorful, but also fucking hard to learn. There is a program called "Lleisiau" on Radio Cymru that discusses all the differences in Welsh speech. I try to listen to the program, but usually get lost within a minute as a deep panic comes over me: How in the hell am I supposed to learn how to speak this language when there are so many dozens of ways to speak it?

  • "Last year, university researchers conducted an experiment in which police fired 700 blank rounds in a New Orleans neighborhood in a single afternoon. No one called to report the gunfire."
    That's a tough city.

  • Good name for a band: Coq Roq. Oh, wait. It's taken.

    *That's not a slight against union; she deserved that money. I did, too.

    Christopher Phin said...

    If you'd like to continue your linguistic studies, you may enjoy The Speech Accent Archive which records various languages and accents and offers phonetic transcriptions.

    Self-absorbed sidenote: I've always meant to get round to learning to read phonetic script properly. I can make a stab at it when I need to (usually when looking up unfamiliar words in the dictionary) by comparing the phonetic alphabet to nearby words I know how to pronounce, but it has always struck be as a cool, if not necessarily useful, thing to know.

    OldHorsetailSnake said...

    I think it's good that you speak Welsh, so you can communicate with all the other Welsh speakers in St. Paul. Let's see, there's you and... um... er... I guess maybe that's all.

    Thomas said...

    Maybe the people in New Orleans thought an NRA convention was in town.

    traceofblistex said...

    I can't believe that your coworker lady was such a dumbass that she would mix up $1,400 and $14,000!!!! What the hell! Does she not get the whole concept of money? you'd think she'd have realized it before talking to her husband. I'm just blow away by that. But it is a fabulous story of automobile sorrow. Maybe it just strikes a raw bone with me because I just recently had a car stolen and someone mixed up $1,400 and $14,000 I'd be roaring mad! :D

    Cheryl said...

    Never mind slating the union, the woman sounds unbearable - people who think money is nothing and rub it in, even accidentally, learn not to get too close to my cups of tea... I am tempted to drug them and drop them off at a Welsh pig farm with no shoes.

    heatherfeather said...

    i used to live in new orleans.

    and that sounds about right.

    Thomas said...

    Is one of those accents like Kevin Costner in that Robin Hood movie?