Zhaba Zhournal
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.

Moral:

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  ]



Blart. 
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  ]



Style 
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  ]



Mice 
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  ]



FBI 
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  ]



Advertising 
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  ]



Orange 
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  ]



CBS 
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.

Feh.

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 youíre like me, and many of the washable pad users Iíve 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  ]



CBS 
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.)

Quote:
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 
Fur 
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  ]



Hollywood 
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  ]



Spam 
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  ]




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