Zhaba Zhournal
Saturday, May 31, 2003 
Department of "no kidding" 
Get ready to act really surprised: Richard Chamberlain fesses up to being gay. (I don't know, maybe there are people who are surprised. But I think the gay community has had it figured out for, oh, forty years or so.)

[ at 7:22 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Nigerian spam 
Hey, someone's actually prosecuting Nigerian e-mail spammers. (Someone Nigerian, even. It's the country's new, and long-overdue, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.) Among the charges is that a Dutchman was scammed of $1.7 million. Um...how dumb was that Dutchman? Is he interested in buying the Brooklyn Bridge?

[ at 7:14 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Justice and/or the law 
Good week for catching evil killer scum: first the Louisiana serial killer, now the Olympic Park et al. bomber. Now all we need is for them to meet in prison and kill each other, and that'll be two problems solved. (Okay, okay, alleged evil killer scum.)

Also, Florida finally repealed that awful "Scarlet Letter" adoption law. (The one that required women who wanted to put children up for adoption and who didn't know who the father was to publish a newspaper ad describing themselves and when, where, and with whom they had sex, even if they were underage or victims of rape.) Certainly, it is a good thing that the lawmakers removed their heads from their asses long enough to repeal the stupid law (and even before this, they added a provision that it didn't apply to rape victims); it is, however, a bad thing that it got passed in the first place. Especially when you consider this quote from the New York Times article on it:
When the original legislation was approved, many lawmakers who voted for it said later that they did not read it thoroughly and were unaware that it contained the publication provision.
Great...so we've got legislators who are passing laws that drive women to humiliation, depression, despair, and sometimes even abortion, which actually hinder the adoption process, because they didn't read the fucking law in the first place. Jeez! There should be some kind of pop quiz for lawmakers: you have to answer ten questions about the law you're about to vote on, and if it turns out you don't know enough about it, you're not allowed to vote. Or you have to sit there and read it right then, with someone standing over you and checking your work. If I had to read every damn word of Catcher in the Rye to pass my freshman English class, they should have to read every word to pass a law.

[ at 6:25 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, May 30, 2003 
Title of the day 
In the endnotes of an article about wine in the New Testament: Courtesans and Fishcakes. Hm. Is it either-or, or can you get them together? How about to go?

As J. would say, the possibilities are mindless...

[ at 1:47 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Say "cheese" 
Via Presurfer: an experiment by the Laugh Lab (the people who brought you the "funniest joke in the world" experiment) on whether you can tell a real from a fake smile. Much to my surprise, I correctly identified ten out of ten. Gosh. I had no idea I could read people, or at least photographs of people, that well.

[ at 12:32 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday Five 
1. What do you most want to be remembered for?

Causing no intentional harm, and remaining true to my principles; and, hopefully, having principles that are, and remain, fair and honest.

(And writing good novels that actually get published, but I don't know if I'll be able to make that happen.)

2. What quotation best fits your outlook on life?

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."—Samuel Beckett (cheerful, I know).

3. What single achievement are you most proud of in the past year?

Not having a complete nervous breakdown due to the stress of planning my wedding.

4. What about the past ten years?

Getting an A on a paper from Harold Bloom—a paper he didn't even agree with. (It compared the roles of Shylock and Antonio in The Merchant of Venice; the title was "'Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?': Antonio, Shylock, and the Merchandise of Venice.")

5. If you were asked to give a child a single piece of advice to guide them through life, what would you say?

Know that you don't know everything, but trust what you know that you know.

[ at 10:06 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, May 29, 2003 
Out and about 
Took advantage of the nice weather to walk home; it's about a mile. My feet hurt, but not too much. Now I've got the blinds up and the windows open, affording me a lovely view of the backs of the houses across the alley, but, more importantly, sunlight and fresh air. (As fresh as air can be in South Philly, anyway.)

Once saw a guy jogging on the Platt Bridge, over the refineries and the sewage treatment center; couldn't help wondering if it was counterproductive, or at least counterbalancing.

[ at 5:41 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Spam satire 
When life gives you spam, make fun of it: The 3rd Annual Nigerian EMail Conference. Including:
  • Debate:
    Attend a lively debate between Lady Mariam Abacha and Mr. Godwin Oyathelem. Topic: "The effectiveness of using all UPPERCASE characters."
  • Practical Discussion:
    Mallam Mahmud Abacah answers the question, "Are 10 million emails a day too many?"
  • Economics:
    A round table discussion: Is email now Nigeria's top export?
(Via anything but ordinary, via Presurfer.)

[ at 4:07 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Gender? What? 
According to Spark.com's Gender Test, I am a man. (They have 80% confidence in it.) Last time I took it, a year or so ago, I was a woman. But in both cases, I was right smack dab in the middle of their chart; I guess I just edged a few millimeters over into masculinity.

I've always been on the balancing point of a duality: bipolar, bisexual, and a Gemini. And I've never been particularly gender-specific; I'm afraid of roaches, but I drive stick; I wear lipstick, but I keep my wallet in my pants pocket.

Somebody once said "Gender is overrated," but I forget who. (Either a woman or someone non-heterosexual, or both, I'm guessing.)

[ at 1:31 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Satellite art 
Very cool Web site: Earth as Art. Landsat satellite images, some artificially recolored, that could give any modern artist a run for his/her money. River deltas, weather patterns, mountain ranges, crenellated fjords, flowing glaciers...my favorite so far is this almost-abstract cloud vortex. There's also an environmentally-frightening, mosaic-like image of Bolivian deforestation. Prints are available; if I had any wall space, I'd buy some.

[ at 11:55 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Geek test 
Time for the test lemming thing: the geek test. And I am:

39.25049% - Major Geek

I'm not sure if I should be proud of that.

[ at 11:16 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Burning down the Net 
I guess everyone in the blogosphere knows about this by now: a blogging shutdown due to a fire in NAC's DSR room. The Net always seems like some intangible, omnipresent entity, which it kind of is; very strange to think of it being affected by something so quotidian as a fire in New Jersey, of all places.

[ at 9:27 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Woke up this morning and noticed something very odd: Light coming in the windows. Light! From outside! How strange! Moreover, the sky was blue. You mean it comes in colors other than gray?

However, this odd situation won't last long. Clouds and rain predicted for this afternoon. Yup, back to normal soon...

[ at 9:21 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, May 28, 2003 
On-air correction of the day 
NBC Nightly News: Tom Brokaw refers to the 50th anniversary of the ascent of Mt. Everest by "Sir Edmund Hillary and his sherpa guide." J.: "...who has a name! It's not like 'Sir Edmund Hillary and his faithful dog.'" We both grumbled at the TV. Apparently someone right in the studio grumbled too, because at the end of the broadcast, Brokaw did his best not to look sheepish when he said that he had to make a correction; of course, the sherpa did have a name (Tenzing Norgay, if no one's mentioned it to you today, which wouldn't surprise me).

[ at 10:18 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Font geekery 
At last, I have found the name of the font I have been craving: Trebuchet MS. I like it almost solely for the lowercase g: g. Even better in italic: g. I could look at it all day: ggggg.

Okay, I know, enough of that for now. Still: it's remarkable how an appealing font can lure you to read the text it styles.

[ at 3:28 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Archaeologists really never know where they're going to find things: while searching caves at Ein Gedi (near the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found), archaeologists discovered textiles from the second century A.D.—in an owl's nest. Yes, one man's antiquities are another bird's nesting materials.

[ at 1:07 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Nothin' much 
Nothing much to report today. The weather continues to be dull and gray, but that pretty much goes without saying these days. (I think we've had exactly one and a half days of sunshine in the entire month of May.) Work continues to be dull, if not gray. (Chasing down italics and transliterated Hebrew in the Biblical Archaeology Review; whee.) I seem to have picked up some annoying sleep habits that drive J. to sleep on the futon, although tonight he came back after I had stopped running in my dreams, or whatever I was doing.

Watched about three hours of forensic shows on the Discovery Channel last night (yeah, there's a real mood-lifter). One of them was about a murderer who killed four people between 1967 and 1973, three of them children. He finally confessed, after police found pieces of his fourth victim wrapped up and labeled in his freezer; hours later, he hung himself in his cell. To which I say, the world would be a better place if he'd done that in 1966. Oh well...at least they caught the Louisiana serial killer scumbag.

[ at 12:08 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, May 27, 2003 
World's smallest dog 
Why, God, why?: The world's smallest dog. This is not what early man had in mind when he domesticated the wolf.

[ at 11:17 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Lemming (of the B.D.A.?) 
I've gone and done it: I've blogrolled. (As you can presumably see to the right.) Figured it was about time I put in some bloglinks, and made my righthand column a bit more useful. Fame and fortune will follow, right?

Well, maybe not.

Extra points if you pick up on the reference in the title of this entry.

[ at 7:45 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

A metaphor 
I've finally discovered a metaphor for the sound of a Siamese cat in heat: a fire engine stuck in traffic. Not in terms of volume, of course (though not for lack of trying on the cat's part), but the pitch, tone, and urgency are remarkably similar.

(Heard the fire engine wailing while walking home from CVS; traffic was backed up in various weird ways, there was honking and shouting everywhere, but I couldn't figure out exactly where the truck was. Anyway, I believe there is a special place in Hell for people who get in, or don't get out of, the way of emergency vehicles that have their lights and sirens going.)

[ at 6:27 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Stupid spam 
What kind of lame spammer sends spam with broken graphic links? Nothing like a big box with the dreaded red "x" to make people want to click on your link. (Sarcasm: "click on your link"="avoid your link like the plague.")

[ at 4:31 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

This strikes me as very, very odd: there are books about blogging. Not just cyber-intellectual studies of it, either; actual books about how to blog. (See some of them in this Amazon.com search result.) I'm extremely surprised that anyone interested in blogging wouldn't have enough Internet savvy to find information on-line. It's not like there's a paucity of it; heck, some people think it's taking over the Web. (An Internet version of that classic horror movie: "The Blog," rather than "The Blob.")

[ at 3:08 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

In the news 
Headline: Rumsfeld: U.S. Won't Let Iraq Be Made Into New Iran.

Ah. So that whole thing about "letting Iraqis choose their own government" actually meant "letting Iraqis choose a government the U.S. wants them to have." I gotcha.

[ at 10:14 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

A very international day yesterday: India, Yugoslavia, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Romania. Today, someone searching for "spamming bureau" got to my Evil Spam page; I've done at least one good thing for humanity today.

[ at 9:52 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

My aunt, after last week's medical emergency, is doing remarkably well, as reported in this e-mail from my mom:
Connie will be coming home 5/28 or 5/29 and is being called the Miracle Patient. She arrived via helicopter in the most dire, unstable condition, gold level, and has made a remarkable recovery which has surprised the medical staff. She will need some rehab but not much and has recovered ramazingly from the stroke and surgery. She will be allowed to go up and down stairs once a day and is extremely tired but anxious to get back to her life. Her aorta is defective and she will be watched closely. They also suggested her kids be checked and if they have the problem, they will need to be watched and probably have surgery at some point to correct it. Hard to believe just a week ago they weren't sure she would survive and were predicting severe deficits! Prayers do get answered!
Amen to that...

[ at 9:32 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Another bug 
Another huge black cockroach last night; this one, however, was crawling slowly across the living room floor while the lights were on. J. opined that one of our neighbors had bug-sprayed their house and now the cockroaches were crawling out to die. The sooner the better, I say, and preferably not in our house. I did refrain from screaming; just inhaled very sharply and called, in a quavering voice, "Honey? Bug!" So J. came down and whacked it and threw it away. No further cockroaches in the mouse room; good. I don't want to bug-spray the mouse room, lest we harm the mice. It's tough when your vermin have vermin...

[ at 9:23 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, May 26, 2003 
In my anti-Cyrillic-misuse post, I didn't mean to imply that everyone who doesn't know how those Cyrillic characters are pronounced is a frickin' moron; only those who are producing a two-part, four-hour special on Russia, and have, presumably, at least some ability to discover which Cyrillic character is which. (E.g., "Hey, can someone get a production assistant to type 'cyrillic alphabet' into Google?")

[ at 9:26 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Another peeve 
Dear History Channel,

Kievan Rus' is not Russia. (And vice-versa.)



(I actually did watch 15 minutes of the Russia special, but turned it off because I was getting too annoyed. Also because J. has another, or is continuing to have the same, interminable headache; but mostly because I was annoyed.)

[ at 9:23 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Liquor's not quicker 
The laws regarding alcohol in Pennsylvania are ridiculously Byzantine and often bizarre (for instance: you can't buy wine and beer in the same store, and in an official beer distribution outlet you can only buy it by the case, but in a properly licensed convenience store you can buy a six-pack [but no wine]). There have been some rather half-hearted attempts by the Liquor Control Board to make the system a little more consumer-friendly; a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist sums some of these up in an article with the wonderful headline Too little liquor, too much control.

[ at 8:21 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Peeve of the day 
Dear History Channel,

I would like to call your attention to the following Cyrillic letter:

You may recognize it as the one you are using for the "R" in the logo for your Russia: Land of the Tsars special.

Well, you frickin' morons, it's not an R. It's pronounced "ya." I don't care if you think it looks like an R, or if you think it makes your logo look more Russian, or anything else; it's not an R. Got that?

While I'm at it, I'd like to call your attention, as well as the attention of everyone else who designs logos for Russian-themed things, to the following Cyrillic letters:

I have seen them used as, respectively, "N" and "U."

Well, you frickin' morons, they're pronounced, respectively, "i" and "ts." Bugger your Russian-looking logos; they just make you look stupid to anyone who knows Cyrillic. And if you can't figure out the proper use for the Cyrillic alphabet, why should we expect you to have figured out any useful information about Russia?

You do get points for correctly transliterating "tsar" (I really can't stand "czar"). I'm still not watching your program. If only because, every time I see the logo, I start shouting at the TV screen.


[ at 4:34 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

A day out 
Yesterday was an actual leave-the-house day; yea, verily, a leave the house for a reason other than work day. In the mid-afternoon, J. and I finally got sick of sitting around looking for something to do, and decided to brave the weather. (It rained off and on for the rest of the day, but not too badly.) We went to South Street; to the dismay of many Philadelphians, it's become increasingly mainstream and commercial (it's even got a Starbucks now; and, as I discovered while writing this, a Web site), but it's still got plenty of cool, offbeat places to go. Stopped at Garland of Letters first; I looked at the Tarot decks, but didn't see anything I wouldn't rather buy on-line. Also, there were some patchouli-smelling people standing uncomfortably close and I didn't feel like waiting for the clerk to stop talking to them and wait on me. Then we headed for Book Trader, one of the coolest used-bookstores I've ever been in. It's a rambling, two-story converted rowhouse, complete with two or possibly three store cats. I found a book on the English Regency that I've been looking for; J. didn't find anything he wanted. After that, Mineralistic, where I indulged my shiny rock cravings. I saw a fossil ammonite that is high on the list of the most beautiful things I've ever seen: it had opalized, so it was glazed with a rainbow sheen, and the chambers of the shell had become filled with crystals of different colors; some of them looked like geodes, caverns with crystal walls. Gorgeous. Also $195, so it stayed in the store. I did buy a flourite octahedron; I thought it was a natural crystal, but it turned out to have been cut that way. Feh. Still, very attractive.

Then, sushi at Hikaru; it's been a long time since we went out for sushi. (Our first date was at a sushi restaurant, and when J. proposed, we went out to a sushi dinner afterwards.) We only had three maki rolls apiece, plus appetizers and sake, and, with tip, it was only $80. Downright cheap. (For six glorious months in 2000, I was a restaurant reviewer; it wasn't uncommon for us to have a $400 dinner, which, of course, was paid for by the company I wrote for. Oh, that was wonderful...)

After that, we went to the new annex of Book Trader; smaller, and a little...classier, I guess; no shelves full of people's old paperback Stephen King novels. The best thing about the place was that they, too, had a store cat; specifically, a store kitten. (I never really thought about it, but obviously that's where store cats come from.) It was a little tabby, absolutely full of energy, chasing shoelaces and dashing up and down the aisles. J. and I both played with it, and got plenty of little kitten-claw scratches to show for it. Frickin' adorable. We can't have a cat; J.'s allergic to them, and besides, cats and pet mice do not mix very well. But other people's cats, for limited time periods, are a lot of fun.

At that store, we bought a book titled "Impractical Pets," which I think I'll leave in the living room to freak out my parents. (They never know what odd animal we're going to want next; chinchillas are high on our list right now.) I also was very pleased with myself for picking up Jeffery Deaver's latest book, still in hardcover, for $10.95; it retails for $25. I'd resigned myself to waiting for it to come out in paperback. After that, we went home, and immediately settled down to read. Went to bed around midnight; I slept till noon, then got up and finished the book. Then decided it was time to get back to my usual day-off activity of sitting in front of the computer for hours at an end. And here I am.

[ at 3:27 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Saturday, May 24, 2003 
The scariest man I ever saw 
Okay, I'm bored, time for a Story From My Past.

The scariest man I ever saw was in front of me in line at the pet store near my parents' house in Wilmington. I had nothing to do but stand there and look at him, and he wasn't much to look at: scraggly facial hair, long grayish-brown braid, bandanna around his head. I didn't want to look like I was staring at him, so I looked down. Which was when I noticed the "White Power" tattoo on his leg. Oh dear God, it's a white supremacist, I thought; I'd never actually seen one before, and now I really didn't want to look like I was staring at him. So I looked at the counter in front of the cash register, and saw what he was buying: a bag of live goldfish. Which were sitting on a box he'd brought in with him.

A pizza box.

Yes, I was standing directly behind a white supremacist with a bag of live goldfish...and a pizza.

I don't even remember what I did at that point; probably just pretended very hard that I wasn't there and waited for him to get the hell out of the store. I really, really don't even want to think about where he went and what he did after that.


I don't think there is a moral. Just some plain common sense: Stay the heck away from white supremacists. And don't let them prepare your food.

[ at 10:10 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

TV tonight is so aggressively bad I think it may be an actual punishment from God.

The weather sucks and is going to suck.

Fark.com seems to be having some kind of legal wrangling over their more risque links and has started posting really, really boring ones. And because it's a weekend, there aren't many people commenting on the stories, and because the stories are boring, the comments are mostly "Hey, this is boring!"

I've finished one bottle of wine and I probably can't get away with opening another unless I want to start thinking of myself as...well, I guess if I were going to be an alcoholic, I'd have become one already...well, someone who drinks too much because there's nothing to do, damnit.

This long weekend is going to be a loooonngggg weekend.

(Speaking of long, how on earth did someone come to my site via "www.m@nsterc0cks.c0m"?* [No, I'm not linking that!] Hm...well, maybe they were searching for something that could be partially matched by the phrase "huge black cockroaches"...)

Maybe I'll amuse myself by Photoshopping naked pictures of Scott Peterson, since so many people come here looking for them. What's he gonna do, sue me for defamation of character?

*Update (11/21/03): I finally changed some of the key letters to symbols, in hopes of getting all the pathetic people who come looking for that URL to...um, come someplace else.

(By the way, if you know the URL, why don't you just type it in the browser?)

[ at 9:43 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Evil Spam, part 2 
I am now the proud owner of "evilspam.com" and "spamzoo.com." At the moment they just redirect to my current Evil Spam page, but I'll figure out something to do with them. Suggestions welcome; spam donations, too, as long as you don't get me on any spam mailing lists.

[ at 2:02 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Evil Spam 
I got on-line tonight, checked my e-mail, and discovered a truly nefarious spamming scheme: a spam e-mail with a "Report Spam" button that actually causes you to get spammed. I wound up spending the rest of my time on-line creating a Web page to explain the scheme and exhibit the evil spam itself. And here it is: the Evil Spam page.

(I'm trying to figure out how to alert people to this without spamming them myself; I think a couple of judicious posts, and an e-mail to my immediate family and friends, should do it for the time being.)

When I created the page, it was kind of fun to see the evil spam contained in a gray table labeled "Evil Spam." Kind of like having spam in a cage. I can imagine a site..."The Spam Zoo." The nastiest, most insidious, trickiest spam, its code carefully pruned, displayed to the public for their edification. (Hey, spamzoo.com is available...)

[ at 12:10 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, May 23, 2003 
One month 
Hey, it's my one-month blogaversary! (Started on April 23, with three test posts and a cockroach story.) And this is my 107th post.

Maybe this weekend I'll get around to the obligatory 100 Things post. And maybe even do the stats-geek thing and figure out how many countries I've gotten hits from and the most interesting IP addresses and strangest search requests and the like. (Hey, it's a long weekend, and the weather's too lousy to do anything but stay inside.)

[ at 4:43 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Small dogs 
I hate small dogs even more than cockroaches (you're not allowed to step on them), but here, at last, is a case where they proved useful: Miniature Dogs Chase Off Flasher.

That guy is so, so pathetic. ("I had to run! She had...[shudder]...pugs! Thank God they weren't Jack Russell terriers, I'd have fainted right away!")

[ at 2:56 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Fact o' the day 
Snapple fact of the day (from one of the bottle lids): "Honeybees are the only insects that create a form of food for humans."

Hm. Are they counting the insects that are a form of food for humans? (And I don't mean just on "Fear Factor.") (Find out more at www.food-insects.com, if you don't have a weak stomach.)

[ at 12:41 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Hey, I made it into the Chicago Manual of Style Web site! My question on how to spell/hyphenate "pop-up" is in the FAQ. (Yes, this makes me a complete copyediting nerd.) I like the last sentence of their response:
We hope that pop-up ads will go away before the dictionaries get around to including them in an example.
Amen to that...

[ at 11:02 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Less not-good 
My aunt is recovering after Monday's medical emergency. On Wednesday, she regained consciousness and indicated that she knew her name. Yesterday they took out the feeding tube, and she's able to talk a little. She can't stay awake for very long, but she's awakening more frequently. She's having an MRI today to see how much brain damage there was; a CT scan has indicated that she only had a "very small" stroke.

It's not like this is one of my 13 aunts, or something; my family is pretty darn small. My father is, for all intents and purposes, an only child (he had a brother who died in infancy before he was born); my mother's only sibling is her brother, and my only sibling is my brother. My aunt and uncle have two children, who are both married—so I guess I have two cousins-in-law—and one of them has a baby, who I believe is my first cousin once removed. (Although for some genealogical reason I'm the baby's second cousin.) So, in short, one medical emergency has a big effect on everyone else.

Well, as I said on Monday, the condition (an aortic dissection) is frequently immediately fatal, and not many people make it through the surgery, so it's good she's gotten this far. We're all staying hopeful. We're good, hardy, Eastern European peasant stock; we're hard to keep down for long.

[ at 10:18 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, May 22, 2003 
Search requests 
At last, something to be proud of: I'm the #1 result for the Google search request huge black cockroaches.

We actually haven't had any of those huge black roaches recently, thank God. (Now I make J. check the mouse room before I go in to feed them; let him open the door and turn on the light and see if anything scuttles...)

[ at 10:36 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Another problem I don't have: a French woman served up a can of beans with a mouse in it. (The picture is adorable, though. It does not show a dead mouse in a can of beans.)

I think the really odd thing about the article is this statement from the consumer group she complained to: "while frogs were not all that uncommon in canned vegetables, the mouse was a first."

Um...frogs are not uncommon? Eeewwwww...

[ at 2:19 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Name of the day 
In the PCWorld article Will Taxing E-Mail Stop Spam? (a proposal that has led to a debate that I don't feel like participating in), I found the following line: "Commissioner Orson Swindle of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission..."

Orson Swindle. You couldn't make up a better name for a federal trade commissioner.

(I hear it's pronounced "swin-DELL," but then, he would say that, wouldn't he?)

[ at 2:05 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Dear person who came to my site looking for child pornography (which I absolutely do not have):

You are so reported.

(That would be via www.cybertipline.com, also accessible by the phone number 1-800-843-5678, which is not actually part of the FBI but is linked from the FBI Web site. They said it's probably not technically illegal just to look for child porn, but it's definitely something they want to be informed of. And informed they are.)

I was somewhat leery of calling them—I didn't know if they'd want to prowl all over my site and get into my logs and somehow keep track of me—but they didn't even ask for my URL. And they asked for my contact information, and I volunteered it, but I think I could have said "no." So it seems that even the most paranoid person doesn't have to worry about calling them to report this kind of thing.

Well, that's my good deed for, at the very least, the day.

[ at 1:47 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Stupid headline of the day 
From the Washington Post: Ruben Studdard Squeezes Into 'Idol' Pantheon. Never mind the cheap shot at his weight; what makes this stupid is the phrase "'Idol' Pantheon." Um...two people isn't much of a pantheon.

AOL's "Idol" headline yesterday was "Move over, Kelly Clarkson!" Um...she didn't have too far to move, did she?

(I watched about 15 total minutes of "American Idol," in the first and last episodes; I really tried to watch it last night, but wandered upstairs to my computer and got totally sidetracked. I found out who won from Fark.com.)

[ at 9:37 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 
Depressing weather 
I was alerted to this on Fark.com: the 10-day forecast for Philadelphia on weather.com is solid rain. (Well, rain, showers, scattered showers.) That link there is the actual weather.com site; if it's not May 21, 2003 (or thereabouts) anymore, it's preserved for posterity here.

[ at 10:06 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

How wise is it to put an ad with a flashing color background on a site about color blindness? ("Do you see anything? I don't see anything.") Even if you're not colorblind, it was counterproductive: it was one of the ones that flashes so violently you can't even read the text on the rest of the page, and I just gave up and left the site.

(I'm very mildly colorblind, or at least I don't see color quite the way everyone else does: my right eye perceives things as more green than they really are. The only time it caused a problem was once in high school, when I was accused of breaking the dress code for wearing blue jeans that I thought were green. I argued my way out of a detention, though.)

[ at 3:14 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

So. The threat level's up to orange. We're supposed to look out for suspicious activity; um, don't most people do that anyway? ("Well, I did see the guy in the black mask put the ticking package under the car, but the threat level's only green, so I figured there was nothing wrong.")

J.: "The public is advised to stay clear of all phallic buildings."

[ at 2:58 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The Microsoft virus 
I've gotten the "support@microsoft.com" virus four times at three e-mail addresses. Even before I heard it was a virus, I knew it wasn't legitimate...since when does Microsoft spontaneously provide support?

[ at 10:36 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

They beep out "shit" on Comedy Central, but not CBS. The world has officially turned upside-down.

Watched the rest of the Hitler miniseries. They were laying on the "parallels to current events" pretty thick. Did Hitler ever actually use the word "terroris(t|m)"? Because in the miniseries he used it twice.

I'm glad their closing titles acknowledged that the "Final Solution" included gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, the mentally ill, and the disabled. Especially since there are U.S. lawmakers who don't acknowledge that.

(I wonder if Rom/Roma will ever become a widely-known/used term for gypsies [it being the one they use themselves]. Probably not; we call Deutschland "Germany" and Suomi "Finland," and they're actual countries.)

[ at 10:28 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Not good 
On Monday my aunt had an aortic dissection (that's something the heart does on its own, not something a doctor does with a scalpel). It's very serious and frequently fatal. Most people don't survive the surgery, and she did, which is a hopeful sign; but no one knows if, or how well, she'll recover.


Well, there's nothing to do but wait and see. And hopefully I won't have to go to any funerals.

[ at 9:31 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, May 20, 2003 
Yet another "ew" post 
This has been all over the Web, but I may as well post it here too: the giant cockroach pet story. If you've been paying attention, you know how I feel about cockroaches. I'm downright phobic about them. I see them, and I scream, and probably jump, and run if there's room. I'm a bug wimp, yes; at least a nasty-bug-in-my-house wimp. I don't know how I got started on the cockroach thing, as opposed to any other bug. (Insect, for you purists out there.) Well, I had a panic attack over the ants in the kitchen last summer, and when my former housemate (in a different house) had a flea-ridden ferret, I pretty much refused to step on the carpet until we'd bug-bombed the whole house. But cockroaches are big, and fast, and, well, creepy.

Cockroach story:

I'm on a train in Ukraine (the train in Ukraine stays mainly on the...um...steppe) with my college singing group; I'm sharing a sleeper compartment with three guys. There's a fold-out tray table under the window, and we've got some breakfast food on it. A cockroach comes out to investigate. I scream. One of the guys, in a show of machismo, whips out his big-ass knife and cuts the cockroach in half. Okay, grisly, but at least it's dead. Or at least I think so. Until, a few minutes later, the front half starts walking away from the back half.

I scream. The guy whacks the roach, both halves, with something large and heavy, so that it is totally flat, and, presumably, really most sincerely dead.

I didn't like cockroaches before that, but I really didn't like them after that.

[ at 1:32 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Another service to humanity 
Not depressed enough? Get obituaries e-mailed to you daily.

[ at 12:17 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, May 19, 2003 
An "ew" follow-up 
A while ago, I posted about a site selling washable pads (as in menstrual-blood-absorbing pads). And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the Net, I came across this: Eight Myths About Washable Menstrual Pads Dispelled. I will allow the following quote to speak for itself:
If you’re like me, and many of the washable pad users I’ve spoken with, you might actually grow to enjoy the time you spend dealing with your pads.
No, no, no. No, I won't. (Pssst, pad people: o.b.)

[ at 9:54 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Blink blink blink blink 
Has anyone, ever, in the history of the universe, actually clicked on one of those Tripod/Angelfire/Geocities pop-up ads? And if anyone actually has, have they then gone on to spend any money on the product/company being advertised?

Someday the entire Internet is going to curl up and die when everyone simultaneously realizes that advertising doesn't work.

Well, except for porn. But that's exactly the impulse-driven, visually-oriented thing that does inspire (horny) people to click on a flashing—dare I say "throbbing"?—banner featuring a naked woman or women, possibly a male sex organ but definitely not an entire male person, and the letter "X" at least three times.

Someone's probably studied what features are most attractive to porn-site-banner-ad-clickers; it would make an interesting media arts project, if I were still studying media arts. (And it would be a lot of fun to leave the research on the department computer, too.)

[ at 9:23 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

In film 
Soon to be the subject of a protest near you: a film entitled Nine Dead Gay Guys. (It doesn't matter what it's about; the title alone is going to spawn flamewars aplenty.)

[ at 8:13 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

What we need... 
...is more suicide bombers like this one: he failed at the "bombing" part, but succeeded at suicide—by drowning.

I have often wondered: if you're a suicide bomber who doesn't kill anyone, are you still a martyr? Do you still get your virgins?

[ at 2:03 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Watched the first part of the CBS Hitler miniseries last night. (Dear God, don't let me start getting Hitler search requests.) People accuse CBS of being uncool and geriatric, but jeez, where else on network TV would you hear Hitler say "shit"? (Well, "scared shitless," specifically.) Da-yamn.

[ at 9:58 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The morning-after pill 
Also from the New York Times: Morning-After Pill May Go Over the Counter. Cool. Even the anti-abortion people are, for the most part, not opposing it. Which is good, because if more people had ready access to the morning-after pill, I bet there'd be fewer abortions.

[ at 9:44 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Blogs in the news 
The old gray lady, she ain't what she used to be: the venerable New York Times has an article on blogs: Dating a Blogger, Reading All About It. (You have to have an account, but it's free and I've never gotten spammed from it.)

The proliferation of personal bloggers has led to a new social anxiety: the fear of getting blogged.

"It's personal etiquette meets journalistic rules," Mr. Denton, the blog publisher, said. "If you have a friend who's a blogger you have to say, `This is not for blogging.' It's the blogging equivalent of `This is off the record.' "
I like the phrase: "Oh no! I've been blogged!"

[ at 8:54 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Sunday, May 18, 2003 
Looking to buy a fur coat? Don't want it to be made of dogs or cats? Look out for the following euphemisms/trade names (courtesy of the BBC):

Dog fur sometimes labelled as: Gae-wolf, sobaki, Asian jackal, goupee, loup d'Asie, Corsac fox, dogues du Chine, or simply fake or exotic fur.
Cat fur sometimes labelled as: house cat, wild cat, katzenfelle, rabbit, goyangi, mountain cat.

(Hm. "House cat" isn't a euphemism at all. It's truth in advertising.)

Find out more in this truly disturbing article: Cats 'farmed for skins in EU'

[ at 3:33 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Headline of the day 
Saudi diplomat dispatched on secret terror mission. Um, it's not exactly secret anymore, is it?

[ at 12:24 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The Hollywood ladder
An ad for a God-awful lowbrow "comedy" starring Rob Schneider leads to this conversation:
Me: I guess Rob Schneider is the new Adam Sandler, now that Adam Sandler is...
J.: The new Jim Carrey.
Me: Who is the new Tom Hanks. Who is...who is he, anyway?
J.: An elder statesman, at this point.
The name game
Beyoncé has dropped the "Knowles" from her name, thus signalling her hopes of ascending to the ranks of the one-named, instantly-recognizable star: Cher, Madonna, Prince, Secretariat. I guess she doesn't have to worry about being confused with all the other Beyoncés out there, anyway.

The label game
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos was introduced on the Tonight Show as an "actress." Not an "actress/model" or a "model/actress" or a "model turned actress"; a plain, unqualified, honest-to-God actress. (It occurs to me that "unqualified" can have more than one meaning in that sentence...)

Name recognition
Flipping through the movie section of TV Guide; I glance at a listing for a movie starring Julia Ormond, and the immediate image that comes to mind is of Julia Stiles. Clearly, Julia Ormond's impression-making days are behind her. (What the heck happened to Julia Ormond, anyway? A couple of high-profile movies, a lot of "Hollywood's newest star" publicity, and then nothing. You'd think she'd won an Oscar or something.)

[ at 11:42 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Are they even bothing to target spam anymore? I don't suppose they ever really did; still, what on earth do they hope to gain by offering me "explore some lovely russian brides (yQp)"? I'm a) married and b) female. (If I were not married, and lived in Denmark, I suppose I could have a Russian bride; but that, too, is not the case.) And what the heck does the "yQp" stand for? Is it an abbreviation? An acronym? A secret code? A way to distinguish this particular Russian bride mailing from, say, "explore some lovely russian brides (qGy)"? Or do they just like the way the uppercase rondure of the Q complements the angularity of the y and the vertical descender of the p?

Ah, but the best is yet to come. The address that this is from: "HSjVnaY4lg2J6n78A8H@40yT62OjR7D.oogle.com." Just think how many permutations their random number-and-letter generator had to go through before coming up with that one! And the domain name is a real winner: a shadow of legitimacy from its similarity to "google.com," a hint of prurience from its similarity to "ogle." (If you look up "oogle.com" you are redirected to "f3k.com," which stands for "fusion 3k"; isn't it a bit early to be advertising the third millennium?)

And who is the name behind this address? Why, none other than Mengarelli Schan. And it is addressed to one Vandresar Docherty. Ah, the international cameraderie that is implied by these names! The Italians and Germans, Indians and Irish, all happily intermingling in their quest to bring Russian brides to the sex-lorn men (and women, apparently) of the world.

Unfortunately, this will all be for naught. I will click "This is spam" and "block address," and that will be that. Until, that is, they e-mail me again from, say, "HSjVnaY4lg2J6n78A8H@40yT62OjR7D.orgle.com."

God bless the Internet.

[ at 11:30 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Saturday, May 17, 2003 
Watched a long block of forensic shows on Court TV; there seemed to be an awful lot of ads for cleaning products. (At least none of them made any claims about blood removal.)

J.'s advice to aspiring criminals: "If you want to kill people, start with yourself, and then branch out." (Similar to my thought about murder-suicides: just do the suicide part first.)

[ at 11:24 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The next day 
Stiffness? Soreness? Yeah, I've got that.

Woke up around 9:30 feeling like...well, like I got hit by a car. Really sore, all my joints stiff and cracking. I felt like everything was just slightly out-of-place, like none of my bones quite wanted to fit together. Took some painkillers and went back to sleep. J. woke me up again at 1:30, brought me coffee and breakfast; I took more painkillers, and the usual morning meds. (Better late than never.) Pretty much just lay around in bed for the rest of the afternoon, and spent the evening in front of the TV. Didn't get dressed, didn't shower, didn't do laundry; yes, I was a tremendously lazy slug, but I did feel like I deserved to take it easy.

Oddly, I have hardly any bruises; just a green smudge on my left shoulder, the place that hurts most. The hip that hit the fender is sore but not bruised at all. The other place that hurts most is my right foot, which I pivoted on and twisted almost backwards when I fell. Other than that, nothing specific; just sore all over. (The phrase that just came to mind is that my joints are disgruntled. As good a way of putting it as any, I guess.)

[ at 11:18 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, May 16, 2003 
Well, Jesus Christ. I got hit by a fucking car.

I'm basically fine, as far as the medical staff at Pennsylvania Hospital can tell. (I think my headache and the pain in my right eye are alarming, but they don't.) It's mostly just bruises and stiff joints. They did check my eyes, and shone bright lights into them, and said they didn't see anything like swelling or a hemmorhage, so I guess they're okay. Just kind of...shocked.

I didn't get hit hard or full-on. I was hurrying to catch a bus, and wanted to cross a street. A car was coming, but I figured that, since it had a stop sign, it would stop. Nope, it did one of those two-mile-an-hour "rolling stops," the kind where drivers slow down but don't actually stop all the way and cruise right through the intersection. I, not very brightly, kept going, thinking it would at least stop when I got in front of it; nope. The fender hit my left hip, I fell down on my right side, then fell back on my left side. To her credit, the driver did stop then, and asked (sounding more annoyed than anything else) if I was all right; I felt okay (from sheer adrenaline and shock, probably), and just said "I'm fine, I want to catch that bus." (No, it didn't occur to me to get her name or license plate or anything.) The bus driver, to his credit, waited for me, and also asked if I was okay. I said I was. Got to my stop, walked to the office, walked in, said "I got hit by a car," and asked if there was anyplace I could go to freak out in private; the shock was wearing off and I knew I needed a place where I could just break down and cry. My boss also asked if I was okay; I said "I think so." (Yes, the doubt was finally creeping in.) He said there were some empty rooms on the second floor (we're on the first story of a rowhouse), so I went up there and closed a door and had a fifteen-minute silent-crying-and-screaming jag. Went back downstairs, said I felt okay, and started working. I was sore and stiff, but that wasn't too bad; then I started feeling dizzy, and my right eye hurt, and I kept forgetting things: I thought I'd done something, then looked back and saw that I hadn't; someone asked me a question about something I've been doing for two years and I didn't immediately remember how to do it, and when I did I had trouble getting the words right to explain it. And at that point I decided that I should go to a hospital. I didn't think there was anything really wrong, but I figured it was much better to get checked out than ignore it and wind up in more trouble later.

I was going to call 911, but my boss said he'd drive me. So we went there—I kept apologizing for missing work, and actually said "I'm sorry I got hit by a car"; he said he didn't care if I missed work, he just wanted me to be okay. We got to the hospital and I did the whole sign-in-and-wait triage thing. I kept saying "I thought I was fine but I just feel kind of weird." Like I didn't want to bother anyone, like I was embarrassed about coming there without an obvious major trauma. Like I'd be wasting their time. Still: head injuries are not good, and I wanted to make sure I didn't have one.

I got checked by a nurse, and then by a resident, and then by a doctor, and then the resident came back and finished up. As I said at the beginning of this post, they said I was basically fine; just bruised and shaken up. They offered to write..."write a note" sounds so grade-school...well, write something official to tell my boss I didn't have to go back to work. But I decided to go back. Went outside—it had just started raining and getting really windy—got a cab (staying well out of the way of other cars) and went back to the office. I told everyone I was, yes, basically fine, and asked them to keep an eye on me in case I started acting strange or forgetting who I was or falling down or anything.

J., of course, has been rattled by all this; although we usually just e-mail when we're at work, we talked on the phone three times so far—once when I first got into work, once when I was at the hospital, and once when I got back to the office. He told me to take care of myself and not work too hard and if I felt any worse let someone know, rather than just keep it to myself because I didn't want to bother anyone. (That's one of my real flaws: I hate to bother people, even if it's completely justified, as in, "Hey, I just got hit by a car!")

I forewent my usual healthy lunch for some nice hot Chinese food: hot-and-sour soup and General Tso's chicken. I'm doing some quiet, steady, mostly easy work (just making some corrections to the almost-final version of a manuscript). The headache and dizziness and eye pain have mostly subsided, but my bruises are starting to hurt more. My left shoulder, in particular, has some really sharp pain. Oh well; I guess they'll keep getting worse until they reach their full purple bloom, then go into a slow yellow decline. (Lovely imagery, I know.)

The moral of the story is:

Waiting another ten or twenty minutes for the next bus and being a little late for work is not as bad as getting hit by a car and missing a whole morning's work.

And also:

Just because the car has a stop sign doesn't mean it will stop.

And also:

The car usually wins.

[ at 1:57 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, May 15, 2003 
Apparently freediving is an honest-to-God sport with a world cup and everything. That's gotta be one boring sport to watch:
Announcer: He's going into the water!

[Six minutes go by.]

Announcer: He's coming out of the water!
Well, there's always the excitement when people's hearts stop and they have to be dragged out of the water and resuscitated. (Or, sometimes, not. A well-known freediver [well-known among people who know about freediving, anyway] died last year during her "No Limits World Record" attempt. The investigator's report talks a lot about ascent bag lift and cable tension and hydrodynamic instabilities, but I can't help thinking that perhaps part of the problem was that, for God's sake, she went 169 meters down and had been under for nearly four minutes when she lost consciousness. Not to put too fine a point on it but...apparently there are some limits.)

[ at 10:59 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Dear Comedy Central,

Do you have to show "Saturday Night Live" reruns up to, and including, 8 times a day? I hate to be the one to break this to you, but, well, it's mostly not very funny. It has, to be sure, been funny in the past; but most of the funny people either die or get fired or leave the show to pursue lucrative movie careers (and for the most part, it's "pursue," not "attain"). And the guest hosts. Who the hell picks these guest hosts? Some of them are comedians who can act, which is good; some of them are people who can act but aren't very funny, which is okay; but then there's the people who can't act and aren't funny, which is...all too common.

I realize you have to fill the air time up with something, and that you do after all have twenty years' worth of episodes* that you have to do something with, but still...couldn't you at least try to pick the good episodes?

(Or just run "Daily Show" reruns eight times a day—a) it's funny, and b) I have kind of a thing for Jon Stewart.)


*I know, "Saturday Night Live" has been on for more than 20 years, but according to Comedy Central's Web site they only own the 1980-81 through 2000-01 seasons; viz.

[ at 10:21 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

No, no, dear God, no: Fox Brings Back 'Joe Millionaire' in Fall. (You know, to find women who will fall for that again, they're really going to have to scrape the bottom of the intellectual barrel.)

On the bright side, according to the same article, Fox is developing two sitcoms with Latino leads. (Well, I'm assuming "The Ortegas" has a Latino lead.) If they both make it into the fall lineup, that'll bring the number of prime-time network shows with Latino leads to...um...three. (Four if "Greetings from Tucson" is renewed, which it hasn't been yet; and five if you count "The West Wing," starring Ramon Estevez...no, wait, he changed his name to Martin Sheen. [So does that make him a closeted Latino?])

Fact of the day: Hispanics and Latinos make up about 13% of the U.S. population, but only about 5% of the roles on prime-time network TV (according to this article in Hispanic Magazine). (And it seems like about 80% of those are played by Hector Elizondo.)

For more on ethnic characters on TV, from 1947 to 2003, go here: TV Acres: Ethnic Groups.

[ at 3:41 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yesterday was a great day in the history of my office: the spiny mice arrived. My spiny mice, specifically. When three of my female spinies had babies, I asked if my boss—who's previously said he likes spiny mice—if he wanted any; he said we could actually have them in the office. (Like a fish tank, but, um, spinier.) I wanted to make sure we had a tank of all one gender, so as to avoid further spiny generations, but it's really hard to sex them. For one thing, their genitalia aren't very easy to distinguish; and for another, their tails are extremely fragile, so you can't use the usual mouse-sexing method of picking them up by the tail and looking. Anyway, on Tuesday J. and I finally made our best attempt at separating them by gender and prepared a tank of six probable males. Yesterday my manager and I drove to my house and conveyed the tank to the office in the trunk of his car, and put it on top of a bookcase next to my desk. The spinies were notably underwhelming; they mostly just sat there, like, as J. put it, soft rocks. (Or, as I put it, spiny mushrooms, with their feet tucked under them.) I assured everyone that they would become more interesting when they got over being traumatized by being put into a new cage and carried around and put in the trunk of a car. (Today they're starting to poke their heads out and move around more.)

One thing that was particularly amusing: there were three toilet paper tubes for them to hide in, and they all wanted to go in one, so each of them wound up halfway in a tube, nose to nose with the mouse trying to go in the other side. Which meant there were mouse butts sticking out either end of each tube. Like little spiny dumbbells.

Now my house contains only, let's see, fourteen mice. (Domestic mice, anyway.) That's almost a reasonable number. (The most mice we ever had at one time was 27. The largest litter one of our mice ever had was something like 19 [it was hard to count, and they didn't all survive]. When you're the potato chip of the animal kingdom, you have to reproduce pretty darn comprehensively.)

[ at 12:25 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Search requests 
Gosh, I'm becoming the result of choice for people searching for Scott Peterson naked. Yikes. (I told J. about the search; his comment was, "Then you'd be able to see if the carpet matched the drapes after he dyed his hair." Yuck.)

If only I had a picture of Scott Peterson naked with Farruquito: I'd make these searchers so happy.

[ at 12:10 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, May 14, 2003 
Today's show... 
...is brought to you by the word "fucking."

Sorry. It's been one of those days.

[ at 9:26 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Dumbfuck author nomination 
Okay, I'm not writing this at work. And, to avoid being sued and/or fired, I will disguise the author, subject, and publication date of the book I'm about to rant about. Let's see...by randomly opening the "biography" section of my dictionary, I have selected a name; by randomly opening the New York Public Library Desk Reference, I have decided that the subject will be patent law; and the date is the year I graduated from college.

So! I'm working on this book on patent law, converting the print copy into an electronic version. It has short-form bibliographic information at the end of each chapter, and the publisher wants us to expand this using the full bibliography in the back. Fine. I'm going through the chapter bibliographies, comparing the authors and dates to the full bib., and cutting and pasting the information. Except that, wait, I can't find an entry in the full bib. for "Collier 1997." There is no one named Collier in the entire bibliography. And no one in the bib. whose name begins with "C" published anything in 1997.

Okay, I'll run a search through a good college library, like Yale, for a guy named Collier who wrote a book about patents. Ah, here's a person name Peter Collier who wrote "Your Guide to Patent Law," although the publication date is 2003, not 1997. Well, maybe it's a reprint. I'll look up the title on Alibris and see if there are any older editions.

Okay. Here's the book. And...hey, that cover looks familiar...it looks just like...

...the book I'm working on.

Yes, I am working on the 2003 book "Your Guide to Patent Law" by Peter Collier, in which he cites one of his previous works. The dumbfuck didn't include full publication information for his own book.

Using the high-tech sleuthing method of reading the author biography on the back cover, I determine that he did indeed write another book on patents...in 1992, not 1997. The dumbfuck not only didn't include full publication information for his own book, he got the date wrong.

Further Web searching is fruitless; I make a reasonably non-snide note in my error log and move on. Tomorrow I will write an even-less-snide e-mail to politely ask the publisher to ask the author to take his fucking copy of his own fucking book off his own fucking shelf and look at the copyright page, for God's sake.

Without the word "fucking," of course. That's professionalism for you.

[ at 9:25 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Dear AMC,

Gesu Christo, do you have to show Casualties of War every fucking week? (Twice today, once tomorrow, again on May 24, June 6, and June 13, which is as far ahead as their Web site lists shows.) I mean, how many times do we really need to see a woman raped and murdered by U.S. soldiers? I know, I know, just because it's on TV doesn't mean we have to watch it; but still, couldn't you present more options? Or at least not push this one so much?


[ at 8:37 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Car alarm + ice cream truck + baby next door screaming its head off for, as of right now, 18 minutes = Hell.

Well, actually, the dogs next door barking would really make it add up to hell. So let's just call this the seventh circle.

South Philly has its advantages—low rent (we've got a two-story, three-bedroom house for $700 a month), convenient to public transportation, great pizza shops on every other corner—but then, well, there's the Hell Aspect. When you're in a rowhouse, there's about twelve inches of lathe and plaster between you and...God knows who. You can't hear everything (thank God), but barking dogs, crying children, loud TVs or music, people arguing, or, for that matter, people engaging in noisy sex—it's all right there. (I, personally, once had sex so noisy that it made the dogs next door bark. But for once I didn't give a damn about the dogs...)

Oh, hey, since I started writing this, the baby's stopped crying. But there's a dog yipping—two houses down. At least the Next Door Dogs haven't picked it up...

[ at 6:44 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Some hope for humanity after all: for the first time, a spammer has been arrested for spamming. (Or perhaps it's just for the first time in New York; the article is a little unclear.) At any rate, it's a good sign.

[ at 2:55 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The only new country is Ireland. Quite a few hits from the Netherlands. No interesting searches so far, although someone else searched for Farruquito; perhaps, as a public service, I'll provide some links to him. (If I can find any; people wouldn't be winding up on my page if there were any good Farruquito pages out there, would they?)

[ at 12:52 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

On Tasker, in the block before the school: a group of kids, probably about 13 years old, beating up another girl. The bus driver stopped and honked, loudly and repeatedly, but they didn't stop. Then the bus driver drove as far as the crossing guard and told her about it; I'm not sure what a crossing guard can do to break up a fight, but anyway, someone in some degree of charge was alerted. I considered calling 911 but I didn't think they'd get there before the fight broke up and the kids disappeared into the school. I couldn't have described them, anyway; just a bunch of girls in uniforms. I don't know. Maybe I should have done something. But sometimes there's really not much you can do.


I am just filled with hope for the future of humanity.


[ at 11:58 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, May 13, 2003 
In the news 
Michael "Fictitious President" Moore is making a movie about 9/11, funded by Miramax, which is a unit of Disney. (Viz.) I see boycotts...

[ at 10:15 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

News link of the day 
This is possibly the best first sentence of a news article I've ever read:
It was the public that transformed Potawatomi Zoo's infamous wallaby massacre in August 2002 from a tragedy into a triumph.
The article in question, from the South Bend Tribune, is here: Return of the wallabies.

Incidentally, the South Bend Tribune does not make it very easy to find out where South Bend actually is. Indiana, apparently; but I had to do a lot of clicking to figure that out. I guess they figure that if you live in South Bend you know where it is, and if you don't, you aren't reading the South Bend Tribune.

[ at 10:04 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Consistency, please 
Facts on File book today—Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Kinda cool to work on it after all that Biblical archaeology; I actually know who, say, Sennacherib was. And therein lies today's complaint: they're not consistent about using common/Biblical names vs. actual closely-transliterated names. (I'm not sure how to phrase that; original names? Real names?) Anyway, the entry for the King Commonly Known As Sennacherib is in fact under "Sennacherib," and if you are such an overeducated snob that you look up his real name, Sin-ahhe-eriba, you will be directed to the Sennacherib entry. However, if you are such an uneducated galoot as to look up the common/Biblical name Nebuchadnezzar, you will be directed to the entry for "Nabu-kudurru-usur." (C'mon, who doesn't know that?)

I realize this is not a big deal, in the grand scheme of FoF screw-ups; at least they've got the important kings in the book. (In one of their encyclopediae, either on ancient Egypt or ancient Africa, they left out Hatshepsut.) Still...is a little consistency too much to ask?

(From FoF? Yes.)

Disclaimer: This isn't libel. At least I don't think so. And I am happy that FoF keeps sending us work. Still, this is the publisher who allowed a book referring to Chekhov's play "The See Gull" to get into print.

[ at 4:23 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Question of the day 
Why do they call it a "funeral home"? There's nobody living there.

[ at 3:28 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Denmark, Sweden, Israel, India. (Mostly thanks to Fark.com and Disturbing Search Requests.) And I think someone in China is stealing my bandwidth. Grr. Or else s/he has just bookmarked large numbers of pictures on my site. In which case thank you, I guess. (, are you out there?)

No disturbing search requests today; just someone looking for Morocco, which I'd forgotten even mentioning.

[ at 3:28 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

CNN.com has posted actual-size images of the new $20 bill. As a poster on Fark.com put it, "Fortunately NO ONE will ever be able to figure out how to remove small red text labeling it a 'specimen.'" Indeed. I think this falls somewhere between "attractive nuisance" and "soliciting criminal activity."

Disclaimer: Of course, counterfeiting is bad. Very, very bad. So don't do it.

[ at 2:21 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Upon reflection, I think my problem spelling "controll(ed|ing)" is due to looking up "cancel" instead. It's the only word I can think of that looks even vaguely similar that has a single "l" for the "-ed/-ing" endings. But still. I looked up the wrong word twice?

This and other stupid work mistakes is due to lack of sleep, I think. I got a prescription for a higher dose of Seroquel, which is supposed to help. Not staying up late would help too. Maybe I should switch from an 8:30-4:30 workday to something more in line with my actual sleep cycle. (My boss is not picky about when you get in, as long as you put in an 8-hour day; people show up any time between 8 and 11 a.m.)

Taking my Ritalin would help, too. But I've become unaccustomed to the high dose, and it gets me overly zippy and makes my heart race distractingly. (Ritalin is basically legal speed.) (Great for the kiddies!) (Actually, while searching for something to link to here, I discovered a lot of anti-Ritalin sites. Including how it can be used for "non-medical purposes." I repeat, legal speed...)

[ at 1:52 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

More signage 
In Wilmington: "Dynamite Family Christian Center." One of these words is not like the others...

Also in Wilmington: "El Amiga" (a restaurant, I think). I don't know Spanish, but shouldn't that either be "El Amigo" or "La Amiga"?

On I-95 between Wilmington and Philly: an official black-and-yellow traffic sign for a "Weave Area." I think most of I-95 between Wilmington and Philadelphia is a weave area, but I had no idea there was a sign for it.

[ at 1:23 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, May 12, 2003 
On Penrose Ave., deep in South Philly: "Gentile Tax Services." Me: "You don't see too many of those."

(J. pointed out that it's an Italian name, probably pronounced "jen-tee-lay"; I figured as much, but it's still an amusing sign.)

[ at 2:19 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

When I get tired, I sometimes hallucinate. And I was very tired all last week. However, I have never previously hallucinated a dictionary.

The approved dictionary for copyediting, according to the Chicago Manual of Style and most of our clients, is the Merriam-Webster 10th Edition Collegiate Dictionary. (That's what the link up there was to.) When there's more than one spelling of a word, use the first one listed. So I looked up the spelling for the past tense of "control" and determined that the first listed spelling was "controled"; "controlled" was second. So I changed it in the manuscript, as well as changing "controlling" to "controling." I am absolutely certain that I saw this in the dictionary. In fact, I looked it up twice. However, today my manager told me that it was, in fact, not in the dictionary. I said it was, and looked it up, and danged if it wasn't in there. Not in the physical book, not in the on-line one, not even in the on-line subscription-only unabridged one.

I saw it. I absolutely know I saw it. There's no other dictionary in the office. Was I perhaps looking up the wrong word? (But what other word looks just like "control" but has one "l" in the past tense?) Was my work area briefly a portal to some alternate universe where spelling is different? Or do I just have the world's most boring hallucinations?

[ at 11:55 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

search requests! 
At last! I've gotten disturbing search requests! You can see them on the DSR Web site, but, in the interest of complete preservation of these historic searches, I'll list the three best [worst?] ones here too. And my oh my, they're disturbing indeed.

naked pictures of scott peterson
Ew ew ew ew ew! The only one I can imagine wanting to see is the [allegedly {ha!}] murdering scumbag getting strip searched in prison.

"farruquito picture" and (13 min. later) "farruquito pictures"
The request itself isn't disturbing—from what I hear, Farruquito is a pretty hot guy—but it's odd that this person searched once, got to my page, saw I had no Farriquito picture, and then 13 minutes later, searched again (for "pictures," not "picture") and came to my page again—as if I had several pictures, but not one? As if I'd suddenly posted Farruquito pictures in those intervening 13 minutes? (Maybe I'll post some, so future searchers aren't disappointed.)

brazil adultery stats
I don't know, I've never committed adultery in Brazil.

[ at 10:31 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, May 09, 2003 
A discovery 
Last night, I made another amazing alcohol-related medical discovery: a glass of white wine completely wiped out my menstrual cramps. (I promise not to talk about menstruation too much more.) Must be that muscle-relaxant thing. Can I get a grant to study it?

(My other amazing alcohol-related medical discoveries: red wine is darned good for sore throats, and the best thing in the world for colds is my personal recipe for hot spiked lemonade.)

I'll get out of that parenthesis and provide said recipe:
Put 1 tbsp. each honey, lemon juice, sugar (white or brown), and rum (light or dark) in a mug. Fill with hot water. Garnish with cinnamon and/or nutmeg, if you feel like it.
It clears congestion, soothes sore throats, and generally makes you feel about as good as you can, considering that you have a cold.

While I'm talking about alcohol, here is my Handy-Dandy Super-Duper Surefire Hangover Preventer: For every shot of liquor, glass of wine, or bottle/can of beer, consume a full 8-oz. (or more) glass of water. Yes, you have to get up and pee a lot, but that beats having a hangover.

[ at 1:39 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

On TV 
This anecdote demonstrates a) the importance of actually paying attention to the news, and b) the importance of capital letters. I was half-listening to the local news and heard the anchor say, "Will snow be back?" And I thought, "Jeez, isn't it finally too late for snow?" (This was not the stupidest thought in the world; for the past month or so the weather's fluctuated wildly between 30 and 80 degrees.) And then I realized the sports reporter was answering, and that the anchor had actually asked "Will Snow be back?"—the 76ers basketball player Eric Snow. (This is also not the most ridiculous mishearing I've had in the past few days: when I was half-awake and listening to the news on the radio a few days ago, I heard "tomatoes" instead of "tornadoes.")

I also did some talking back to the TV (which J. and I engage in from time to time), when a U.S. soldier was talking about a detained Iraqi who was suspected of being a spy:

Soldier: He was answering our questions in a suspicious manner.
Me: In Arabic.

(Probably unfair, but it amused me at the time.)

Then we watched the Discovery Channel's David Attenborough series, The Life of Mammals (the first three of ten hours, anyway). Amazing filmmaking: I can hardly imagine how they got such great footage of such rare animals. I mean, he was frolicking with platypuses. (Platypi?) I had a complete Cuteness Overload for much of it. J. had to keep telling me "no, we cannot have [x] for a pet" (echidna, raccoon dog, numbat, serval...). (A raccoon dog, incidentally, is not the same as a coon hound: it's a wild dog that looks, well, like a raccoon, with thick fur and short legs; J. said it looks like a "walking ottoman.")

I also had one of my bonk-on-the-head revelations: I realized halfway through the third hour that David Attenborough and Richard Attenborough are not the same person. I'd sort of lumped them together as one eccentric gray-haired knighted British guy who somehow found time to act and make nature documentaries. J. opined that they were brothers; I did some on-line research, and, yes, they are. (Also, Richard is no longer a "Sir," but a "Lord.")

(As I write this, my boss, who also works as a professor, is chewing out a student who turned in a plagiarized paper. I'm very glad I'm not at the other end of that phone line: "Why would you think you could get away with that? Why would you jeopardize your college career for it? In my opinion you no longer belong at the college. It's useless to talk to me at this point.")

I have some other things to write about, but I'll do them in separate posts. And, oh yeah, my lunch break is over and I have to do that Work Thing.

[ at 12:15 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, May 08, 2003 
Poetry generator 
I promise not to do this too often. I plugged my blog into one of those poetry generators—specifically, this one—and ran it a few times. Usually the results of these things don't do much for me, but this one is actually pretty appealing; nice beginning, great ending, and some not-too-bad stuff in the middle.
Zhaba All the
bad mood last night:
the same with
the horror of film school
was actively attempting
to meet with
the Lemon, which you
when the new Directions! ! Now According
to the build with Squish it, of the gem.
but the preparation
of Croatia is .
cr; when I thought it I
typed the
thing in black rider of a
similar word for approximately $1 43
PM Zhaba Dear Wawa:touchscreen ordering system? next,
to early, late, to do it its lovely scent
and North African parts of to
be a
warrant.If you by 7:30
a long disturbed me; anywhere; when left my
response to 99.
4% 47 PM Zhaba Yes, I think
down the Matrix Well, Links:to
Center City
and angels. #

[ at 4:04 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Damn, this is hard 
If you want to see just how well-informed or ignorant you are of the Middle Eastern, South Asian, and North African parts of the world that have been so much in the news in the past few years, take this test. I did very well on the countries that are popular for Biblical archaeology (big surprise), and I got Morocco because of Casablanca and Algeria because of Algiers, and Turkey because I don't like it and Armenia and Cyprus because they're right next to Turkey, but other than that, um, I didn't do so well. I had another of my temporary-dyslexia things, getting Iran and Iraq mixed up; and all those -istans were pretty darn hard. (The blog I swiped this from speculated on how well Bush would do on the test. Not very, I suspect.)

[ at 12:00 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, May 07, 2003 
Ew ew ew ew ew 
A bonanza of new links on Weird Links, including the following: Many Moons Washable Pads, as in "menstrual-blood-absorbing pads." (Marketing genius behind the company name, clearly.) Okay, okay, for millennia women have been using natural materials that they had to reuse over and over because they only harvested the flax once a year, or whatever, blah blah blah...but hello, twenty-first century here! I believe personkind has come far enough that, whenever possible, we should take advantage of not having to hand-wash menstrual blood out of our clothing and/or accessories. (I think the average woman spends quite enough time over the course of her puberty-to-menopause years washing blood out of her clothing due to early, late, or unexpectedly heavy periods anyway.)

My favorite part of the Web site is that their answers to the question "Why use washable pads?" come under the headings "Earth Friendly," "Body Friendly," and "For Women." Ummm...aren't menstrual-blood-absorbing products always for women? (Intended for women, anyway; if there are men who use them for any reason, I don't want to know about it.)

My second-favorite part is that, should you choose to purchase these washable pads, you can get them in leopard print. (You have to scroll down the page a bit.)

I, however, will continue to get my leopard-print-undergarment-wearing fix from Frederick's of Hollywood, and my menstrual-blood-absorbing products from o.b.

[ at 9:35 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The Patriot Act 
Herewith, the gist of the two-hour Patriot Act meeting J. (who works at a university library) attended this afternoon:

If someone comes in asking for information about a patron:
  • Ask them if they have a warrant.

  • If they don't have a warrant, tell them to go get one.

  • If they have a subpoena, say "I'll take this to our lawyers. Have a nice day."
Now our libraries will be safe for democracy. Or something like that.

[ at 8:12 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Temporary (I hope) dyslexia 
This was very odd: I had to rebuild BAR 23:06 (a two-step, 5-10 minute process). I went through the whole process and belatedly realized I'd built 26:03 instead. So I built 23:06 for real—at least for the first step. Then I blithely finished the build with 26:03 again. Having belatedly realized that, I successfully built 23:06. Then, when I went to copy the files from the Output to the Resources folder, I decided to clean up the folder first, and get rid of those 26:03 files, so I wouldn't get confused anymore. Whereupon...you guessed it, I deleted half of the 23:06 files, along with half of the 26:03 files. At which point I just made sure to really, really, really copy 23:06 to the Resources folder and close everything else the hell down.

It's weird, and unsettling, because I've never had anything remotely resembling dyslexia, that I can recall; reading is perhaps my greatest skill. Admittedly I'm much worse with numbers than with letters, but I've never had this degree of difficulty. It's striking because it wasn't just once; it was three times, during the second two of which I was actively attempting to do it correctly. (And never mind how many times I typed the two numbers wrong while e-mailing J. and writing this.)

Well, hopefully it was a one-time thing. Or maybe it only relates to multiples of 3, or something. Anyway, it's one of the stranger things my brain has done since getting all the medication stabilized.

[ at 3:36 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

More Santorum 
This has been around for a few weeks, but I only recently discovered it: Santorum Denounces "Icky Kinds of Sex." (Brought to you by The Lemon, which is kinda like The Onion, except that it's written by one guy and it's only been around since March 27th.)

[ at 1:43 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

My missing diamond earring finally turned up. I felt like a complete moron for losing it; but I did so on a day when I'd left my house, gone to work, gone to the train station downtown, taken the train to Delaware, gone to my parents' house, and gone to my psychiatrist way out in southern Pennsylvania. I had no idea when in the course of the day I'd lost it, so I thought it was hopeless. But my mom's cleaning lady found it on the floor of my room in my parents' house. Very cool. (I'm glad she didn't vaccuum first.)

[ at 12:17 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Nah, we don't have too many deer 
Video: Deer visits downtown Wilmington. Runs down sidewalk, jumps off overpass, dodges traffic on busy street; is finally caught so it can be released into the wild and shot by hunters.

I heart my home state.

[ at 11:46 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

A teenage girl and her supportive mother 
On the Today show's "Nips, Tucks and Teens" series (oooohhh, what a clever title): an interview with a teenage girl who said her mother had been telling her since she was 13 or 14 that she would get plastic surgery. (I'm pretty sure it was "would," not "should.") The girl said she resisted the idea at first, but changed her mind when she realized she continued to have low self-esteem. Ummm...could her low self-esteem not be related to having an imperfect nose, but to having a mother who's been telling her for years that she's so hopelessly unattractive she needs surgery to be presentable? Just speculating, mind you...

[ at 10:08 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, May 06, 2003 
Who doesn't need to know this? 
All the drug slang terms you'll ever need (at least until next week, when there'll probably be a few dozen more): the official government list of Street Terms: Drugs and the Drug Trade.

[ at 5:02 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Angel Snot. I'd heard of it, but I didn't expect the product description to be so, well, earnest:
Heaven Scent
In our busy world it's easy to forget that miracles really do happen. With its lovely scent and comforting texture, Angel Snot is a heavenly reminder of the magic at work in our everyday lives. We say "Bless You" when someone sneezes because medieval folk believed a sneeze was the soul escaping the body. Clearly, there is a strong connection between nasal mucus and the miraculous power of heaven's messengers. This beautiful jasmine-scented pearlescent substance is both sacred and fun to play with. Squish it, bounce it, stretch it -- just don't wipe it on the back of the couch. You get two packages of Angel Snot, each with approximately 1 ounce of precious fluid in a plastic egg.
And I bet if you look at it while thinking about rocks or elements or angels, you can sell it as an essence.

[ at 4:22 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Well, maybe I'm not such a bizarre, hideous freak of nature: Studies show that couples who choose not to have children are happier than those who do. (If you don't subscribe to Salon.com, you have to watch an annoying commercial before you can read the article.)

I don't know if we'll be happier than any given couple, but we'll certainly be happier without children than we would be with them. Especially since I just plain don't get children. It's not a matter of like or dislike, but of sheer indifference. You know the "awwww" reaction that people get when they look at something cute or appealing? I get that over rats, but not babies. I just...I just don't get it.

I find the idea of pregnancy repulsive (think of that scene from Alien), the idea of childbirth both repulsive and terrifying, and the idea of actually having children...just plain unappealing. The only reason I can ever think of to have children is so I can have somebody to take care of me in my old age, which is clearly not a good reason.

This has long disturbed me; it seems like I'm fundamentally lacking one of the most basic aspects of any living being. But apparently I'm not alone:
Cain has come to believe that lack of interest in childbearing might be biological, like being gay. "Researchers have found that within mice there is a gene, the Mest gene. When it was in place in mice, and the mouse gave birth, it was a nurturing mother. When the mouse was Mest-deficient, it was a non-nurturing mouse. I think down the line we're going to discover that just as homosexuality is something that's physical, the same thing will be discovered about women. Why do some women melt at the sight of babies while other women are indifferent? It would seem to me it's something innate."
I've seen those mice; what this article fails to mention is that, not only are they non-nurturing, they tend to eat their babies. And I've used the same metaphor before, talking about how I feel there's something wrong with me: "If I was a mouse, I'd be one of those ones who eats her babies."

Fortunately, unlike a mouse, I can choose not to bear offspring. And if it's biological, it's as much a part of me as my non-heterosexuality; and yes, that's not normal (or at least not typical), but it's not the most incredible bizarre horrendous thing in the world, either.

Sigh...I've always known I'm not normal; it's just nice to know that not being normal doesn't necessarily mean I'll be miserable.

[ at 3:33 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Just what we need 
A new species of giant jellyfish. Fortunately it's a deep-sea critter, so you can't get stung by one at the beach.

[ at 2:49 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

World's dullest crime 
The mayor of Norristown, PA has won a lawsuit against the creator of an unofficial Norristown Web site. Yes, those visiting www.norristown.com will no longer experience the horror of seeing a picture of the mayor and an incorrect e-mail address. I suppose this represents a major victory for the official Web site, www.norristown.org.

Um, we're not talking about an unauthorized Web site infringing the copyright of a major company. We're not talking about Photoshopped naked pictures of a celebrity. We're talking about Norristown, PA. Good Lord, I didn't know there was one Web site for Norristown, let alone two. (Let alone two with a feud between them.)

Incidentally, they both suck, but the unofficial one is better. At least in terms of not being hideously pixilated. Although they could do away with that flashing banner. Flashing banners are so 1999.

[ at 11:43 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Gray day 
Just one of those days: cool bordering on chilly, raining or threatening to rain, and gray, gray, gray. (Just like my mood last night. I'm trying to keep my mood this morning a little brighter.)

I figured out at least one reason I was in such a bad mood last night: the bad people at Comedy Central rearranged the afternoon TV schedule, depriving me of my usual 5:30 Daily Show fix. For weeks I've been making sure to get out of work by 5:15 so I could make it home to see the 5:30 repeat of the previous night's show. Now they've moved it to 7:30; I can still watch it, of course, but by 7:30 it's a bit late to chase away the end-of-the-workday blues.

They are bad people and God will punish them.

I thought I had something to write about but I forget what. Guess I'd better do that work thing.

[ at 9:00 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, May 05, 2003 
Secret code for "guilty as hell" 
In the Wife-Murdering Scumbag Dept., Scott Peterson's lawyer vows to find the real killer. Hm, maybe he can team up with O.J.

[ at 10:28 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The Matrix 
I've finally joined the '90's and seen The Matrix. (Well, at least the parts that happened when my eyes weren't closed.) I wasn't in an especially good mood going into it and I didn't find anything particularly interesting in it. Four-word summary: Berkeley in black leather. I suppose it wasn't worse than oral surgery, but at least for that you're medicated.

I think all I really got out of film school was a deep and abiding dislike of watching movies. (That, and the ability to coil an electrical cord like nobody's business.)

I've been in a fairly low mood all afternoon/evening; I shouldn't read about Santorum too late in the day, it just ruins my dinner.

[ at 10:05 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

More Santorum 
Yes, Mr. I.H.I.D.V.F.H. is back in the news. He apparently held his breath and disinfected himself long enough to meet with the parents of lesbian and gay children. According to the parents, it did not go well. Links:

Philadelphia Inquirer: Santorum meeting went badly, parents say; and the more blunt Philadelphia Daily News: Parents of gays: Santorum stunk.

[ at 4:47 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Dictionary fun 
Don't worry, I'm not going to start posting obscure words-of-the-day. But I do find this amusing. I did a search for "cardreader" in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged on-line (subscription only, so I'm not linking it); it wasn't included, but they gave me the following suggestion as a "similar word": "swartrutter." The entry for which is:
Main Entry: swart·rut·ter
Pronunciation: sw(r)t.rd.(r) [there's supposed to be some schwas in there but they didn't copy right]
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): -s
Etymology: alteration (influenced by Dutch swartrutter black rider) of German schwartze rotte, literally, black gang
: a member of any of various 16th and 17th century marauding bands in the Netherlands who blackened their faces and wore black garb
Their idea of a "similar word" is clearly not the same as mine...

Update, 01/20/04: Hey, why are so many people searching for "swartrutter"? I've gotten 16 search requests in the past four days—most of them from the UK, with one each from Australia, Canada, and the U.S. Did it show up on a quiz show, in a crossword puzzle, on a history program? If anyone knows, drop me a comment.

[ at 2:03 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Dear Wawa:

No, I do not want cheese. No, I do not want extra meat. No, I do not want frickin' bacon. I just want a plain turkey sandwich, okay?


Really, what is it with the new Wawa touchscreen ordering system? What's next, "would you like your sandwich smeared with lard?" If I want fattening add-ons, I'm perfectly capable of selecting them myself without being prompted by more and more screens. Jeez.

Presumably this is actually helping them make money. It's depressing how impulsive and receptive to suggestion consumers are getting. Of course, we're being conditioned by hearing about it all the time. "Supersize that?" "It's only 50% more if you buy another one." "Free shipping for an order of $150 or more." "Would you like to sign up for our in-store credit card?"

Bozhe moy...

[ at 11:47 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

A problem I don't have yet: 30,000 mice.

[ at 11:06 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Google search of the day 
"attention deficit" child children: 246,000 hits. (Adding other keywords like "teen, teenager, kids," and the like, gets more.)

"attention deficit" adult adults: 76,300 hits.

The Yahoo! Health entry for ADD doesn't even have the words "adult" or "adults" on it.

I know it's a problem for children (and sometimes an overdiagnosed one), but it's not like you outgrow it the minute you hit voting age. And in kids, I think the disaster scenario is "s/he will fail in school and never get into college and never get a good job," which admittedly would be a bad thing; but in adults, the disaster scenario is that you can't keep a job if you manage to get one. Who cares what your third-grade math test scores were if you get fired for never getting any work done?


[ at 10:12 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Sunday, May 04, 2003 
Apocalypse right this minute 
It's here. The end of the world. The pale horse, the sky rolling up like a carpet, the stars dropping like figs from a tree, the whole deal. The Olsen twins are on People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People list.

So's Susan Sarandon. That's going to piss some people off. (Although I have to say that, altogether, the anti-war protesters are a good deal easier on the eyes.)

And so is a flamenco dancer named Farruquito. There's a stage name for you. (At least I hope it's a stage name.)

[ at 11:23 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Saturday, May 03, 2003 
Hello, image searchers 
(Actually posted January 27, 2004.)

Hi there. Are you here for the increasingly-popular "li'l kim burqa" picture everyone's been searching for and linking to? The post I included it in is way down the page, "The letter of the law," from April 30, 2003. I actually found it on another site, but I downloaded it and put it on my server, because (rather ironically) I didn't want to steal the other guy's bandwidth.

So anyway. You're here. Feel free to stick around and browse for a while. And, while you're at it, if anyone knows how or why this particular image on my server got so popular, drop me a comment, okay?

P.S. If you're one of those people who thinks women should stay in burqas, you'll probably find my opinions...uncongenial. Don't bother telling me I'm going to hell, okay?

[ at 9:25 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Stats (curiosity, too) 
Netherlands, Taiwan, China, Korea. And, somewhat alarmingly, state.gov and nipr.mil. (Did you ever get the feeling that you're being watched?)

The state.gov one came from the Blogger home page, so I'm guessing it's just a person at the State Dept. who surfs blogs in his/her spare time. But the .mil one came from a U.S. Navy IP, which, when I plugged it into an address bar, didn't get me anywhere; when I did a Google search on it, I found that someone else had contacted the military saying he'd been finding the IP in his logs, and was wondering what it was; he got the following reply, which I quote it its entirety:
F ...

You know all you need to know.

Alrighty then! I'll be on my way now...

According to my log, the referrer was an archive page in another blog, which had a lot to say about 9/11 and Saddam Hussein, and had a random Blogger link button. I'm guessing this guy's page sent up some very red flags for the military Web search people/engine, and they just followed the links to see where they went.

Hm. I haven't said anything incriminating, have I? I've expressed certain doubts about government military policy, and if you've been paying any attention you know how I feel about Mr. I.H.I.D.V.F.H. Santorum, but that's about it...

Oh well. That's the thing about the Worldwide Web: it's worldwide.

I've spent too much time sitting in front of my computer already—you'd think I got enough of that during the work week—so J. and I are going to go to Center City and hit some bookstores. He's looking for a book on ADD, and I need some more Michael Connelly novels. (Well, I don't need them, but I want them.)

Okay. Getting up. Logging off. Really.

[ at 3:46 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The Kentucky Derby 
Postulate: The Kentucky Derby has the highest ratio of analysis and blather to actual sporting event time. On ESPN, there's a three-hour Kentucky Derby Preview; on NBC, a one-and-a-half-hour "Kentucky Derby" block, featuring the actual running of the race; and on ESPN2, a one-hour "Kentucky Derby Recap." And that's just today; I don't know what might have been going on previously. So that's five and a half hours of programming time for an approximately two-minute race. I'm not especially good at division (I think I missed that day in third-grade math class), but I believe that works out to 99.4% analysis/blather and 0.6% sporting event.

(There may be a similar/higher percentage for the Super Bowl, since that has an entire week of run-up time for an approximately four-hour game [although that includes time-outs and half-time in addition to on-the-field playing time], but I don't feel like looking it up and figuring it out now.)

[ at 1:36 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, May 02, 2003 
Bunkum alert 
Man, what a scam this is: Essences Online. Selling flower essences—okay, fine, they're obtained from actual, physical flowers—but also "environmental essences" and "gem elixirs." There is no such goddamn thing as a gem elixir! You cannot extract juice from a gem! The dictionary definition for elixir does indicate that it can be a powder, which you could indeed get from a gem; but powder is not what they're selling. Nope, it's a liquid that has somehow been infused with the properties of the gem. In other words, it's water that they've looked at while thinking about gems. Same with the "environmental essences." I have to quote this, it's too priceless to paraphrase:
The preparation of an environmental essence begins with the identification of specific elemental qualities in the environment that we wish to enter into a co-creative healing agreement with. We then extend an attunement from our hearts to the devic and elemental beings that represent these qualities. Through this attunement we communicate our love and blessings, and ask that the energies we have identified be transferred into the bowl of water that we have prepared. We accept the essence gratefully as the environment responds. The resulting essence is totally unique, as the vibrational qualities it contains can never be duplicated in exactly the same way.
(This particular description is from the Alaskan Flower Essence Project.)

So...yes, they are selling water. For approximately $11 an ounce!

Oh, here's a quote from the Angelic Essences seller:
Angelic Essences produce no harmful side effects and will do nothing if not needed.
Right...because it's fucking water!

Damn, I wasted all that time on a Yale education and I could've just been looking at water while thinking about gems and elements and angels.

[ at 3:20 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Something overdue but interesting 
This would have been more relevant in 2000 (or 2001, when the census results came out), and I've been thinking about it for a while, but for some reason I decided to do it today. And this is my response to people talking about the 2000 election and saying "the majority of people voted for Gore."

Voted for Bush: 50,456,002
Voted for Gore: 50,999,897
Voted for Others: 3,949,201
Total who voted: 105,405,100*
US population: 290,867,001**
19 and under: 78,537,000+
Total of voting age: 212,300,001
Percentage who voted: 49.65

So, as I suspected, the answer is...The majority of Americans didn't vote for anybody!

Regardless of what you think of the 2000 election results, that's pretty dispiriting.

*From Official 2000 Presidential Election Results
**From Census Bureau.
+Based on Census Bureau's 2000 estimated U.S. population by age (estimated from 1990 results). This is slightly skewed because it doesn't have 18 and under, just 19 and under.

[ at 11:37 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Hey, someone actually went from here to New Directions! Woo-hoo! (Now let's see how long it takes to get into Yahoo!) (Question of the day: When you end a sentence with "Yahoo!" do you put a period at the end of it? Probably not.)

[ at 10:14 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Costa Rica, Taiwan, Australia. (I think Costa Rica was just a robot, though.)

Costa Rica's TLD is .cr; when I saw it in the log I assumed it was Croatia. But, no, Croatia is .hr. Which I thought was strange, so I looked in up in the CIA World Factbook, wherein I learned that the official name of Croatia is Republika Hrvatska. I'm guessing that H is pronounced "kh," hence the hard C sound at the beginning of the English version. (It's not the strangest discrepancy between official name and English name; there's Deutschland-Germany, Ellas-Greece, Sak'art'velo-Georgia, and, my favorite, Suomi-Finland.)

[ at 9:59 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, May 01, 2003 
The latest Bush speech 
Well, I've downloaded the transcript and haven't found Syria, Korea, or Iran in it anywhere. Good speechwriter. You get a biscuit. (He did mention Palestine, but immediately preceded by the adjective "peaceful," as opposed to the verbal phrase "bomb the hell out of.")

Quote of the day:

"American values and American interests lead in the same direction. We stand for human liberty...."

...unless you are an adult who wants to have consensual sex with another adult who is not your legally-married only spouse of the opposite gender.

Well, that's another fight (PDF link).

Immediately after the speech, someone actually set off firecrackers outside. That's South Philly for ya. (The noise then set off the dogs next door. If only the firecrackers and the dogs had been in closer proximity...)

[ at 10:55 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

People who suck 
This list will doubtless grow as I think of more of them. At the moment, my list of people who suck includes:

  • Whoever decided to reduce yogurt container sizes from 8 oz. to 6 oz., and, in some cases, 4 oz. I'd rather they had raised the price and kept the same amount of yogurt. Maybe it's a fiendish plot to make people have to buy two containers of yogurt to get as much as they actually want.

  • Whoever first started using capital letters in the middle of names. I'm copyediting a book about software, and I'm constantly checking company Web sites to find out things like "Is it PrintQuest, Print Quest, or Printquest?" I think that person should be beaten with a BigStick.

  • Whoever decided the official, formal spelling of a site on the Web should be "Web site," and whoever at the University of Chicago press decided to recommend it in the CMS. C'mon, hurry up and change it to "website"! (This is probably not annoying to people who don't copyedit.)

  • Whoever bred the first small dog. "Hm...what we really need are yappier, more annoying animals that can easily bite our ankles."

  • People who buy small dogs. Especially my neighbors.

To be continued...

[ at 1:07 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yes, I have become stats-obsessed. Not that I'm getting thousands of hits, but I'm collecting some nice international IPs. So far, Ukraine, Lithuania, UK, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and, of all things, the Seychelles. (I'm guessing they've sold their TLD to someone.) Whence/whyfore cometh the Eastern Europeans? (Is Lithuania officially Eastern European? "Baltic" is more accurate. Well, it's one of those ex-Soviet places, anyway.)

Dear Google:

Hurry up and index me, I want to get disturbing search requests.

[ at 12:56 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Well, the shirt I'm wearing has turned out to be somewhat more daring than I anticipated. (Well, what did I expect from something I ordered from Victoria's Secret?) Still, it looks more daring on me than on their models, who are somewhat below me in the full-bosom category. I'm wearing a light sweater over it, but if it gets warmer I suppose I'll take it off, and then the guys in the office will pretend not to be looking. Ever since the Summer o' Mania I've been toning down the physical-appearance stuff; and especially over the winter, when it's all turtlenecks and sweaters. Well, what the heck, I'm wearing what I'm wearing. And it's not like that shirt I had in college, which I referred to as the "taking my breasts for a walk" shirt. (I'm not too old for this, am I?)

Long pants, though. Long pants now and forever. Maybe long skirts. Long dresses. But no short dresses, no shorts (unless I'm not leaving the house), and no bathing suits. At least not until I'm reincarnated as Cindy Crawford's stunt double.

[ at 10:13 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yes, that's me.


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