Zhaba Zhournal
Sunday, June 29, 2003 
Sooooooo lazy 
It occurred to me that one of the reasons I was so depressed during the week was that I was exhausted from staying up too late and getting up too early, and that being tired didn't improve my work any. So yesterday I slept until 1:30; had breakfast (J. made pancakes); went back to sleep till 3:30; then went out for dinner (my grandparents' 62nd anniversary—God bless 'em!). I forget what time I got to sleep last night, but today I slept until 3:30. Yes, I am being very lazy; but I'm not tired anymore, at least...

Today is J.'s birthday; he's 44. (Yes, that makes him 16 years older than me.) We don't particularly feel like going out and doing anything, but we have some steaks and red potatoes and broccoli, so I'll cook them for dinner. (Yes, cook! If I remember how!) And try to get to sleep at a reasonable hour and wake up at a reasonable hour for another work week...a short one, though, since July 4th is Friday. (Last night was the first round of fireworks; July 4th in Philadelphia is a big deal, and there are all kinds of festivities for days on end.)

Yikes, almost 7 p.m.; better see about starting dinner. Bon soir.

[ at 6:56 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, June 27, 2003 
Yeah, it was one of those days. Except for the monumental coolness of the Supreme Court decision, it largely sucked. (Well, at least sucking is legal now...)

On Wednesday we had one of those "Why are we screwing up?" office meetings, and one of the issues was the personal Internet use policy. Some of us (um, yeah, me...) had been using it too much, and the new policy was "before work, after work, and at lunch." Well, yesterday I was not exactly abiding by that, and I got a personal e-mail about it from my manager. I apologized, of course, and reminded him that I have ADD, and asked if I could have a mid-afternoon e-mail break. It's a loooooooooooong stretch between 11:30 and 4:30 (or 5, or 5:15, as is increasingly usual), and I absolutely depend on having a snack, taking some Ritalin, and e-mailing J. around 2:30 or 3. This apparently required a conference with my boss, and I was finally granted a 15-minute break, and I had to say when it was going to be. So I did, and I've been good so far today. But I felt pretty crappy. I really hate being in trouble, and I'm constantly worried about being fired (I guess it's not likely, but I worry), and there was a "discussion" about this last year. And I was getting the feeling that the point of addressing the question in the meeting with the whole office was specifically directed at me. Anyway. I was very good for the rest of the day.

We finally, after two and a half years, got an air conditioner in my part of the office. Except it rattles like crazy. I guess that's preferable to blazing heat, but still, it doesn't improve the atmosphere, or my mood, any.

So I finally got home, and finally got around to reading Harry Potter #5 (I actually got it on Wednesday, but about five pages in realized I needed to reread #4.) And it's good, but it's not very cheerful. I immersed myself in it for hours, during which, in the back of my mind, I felt worse and worse about work. It got to the point that, when J. opened the bedroom door, I screamed and jumped and dropped the book. And then burst into tears. And, feeling stupid, told him how bad (and stupid) I was feeling about work. And how hard it is for me not to be able to use the Internet; as previously mentioned, I have ADD, and I just can't concentrate on one thing for hours at a time. Wound up staying up till 1:30 or so, the third night in a row I've been up past midnight. Had really wretched dreams (including one where I had to walk to work and somehow went blind and got there and was in my bathrobe and couldn't use a computer and fell asleep on my desk [the dream ended just as I was getting fired], and another where I was trying to get the police to arrest a serial killer but they wouldn't and I had to show them the body of the latest victim).

So I woke up this morning, exhausted, wanting to do anything but go to work. Cried into my coffee, feeling stupid again. Got here, was very good about the Internet thing, and I guess I'm doing okay on my probation. Still feeling bad about it, though.

We have a cleaning lady, for the first time since I started working here, and it's nice to have clean floors and desks; but she used a very noxious and smelly chemical, and it gave me a headache. And fresh air isn't an attractive option, since it's fucking hot and humid out there.

Okay, sorry for going on and on about my not-all-that-dreadful misery. I could have worse problems, obviously. But I feel like crap and I'm tired and I'm sick of everything and I suppose I should talk to my psychiatrist about upping my antidepressants...

[ at 12:44 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, June 26, 2003 
The Supreme Court struck down the Texas sodomy law.

I cannot begin to express how terrifically happy this makes me. It's the best news I've heard from the federal government since...um, since...um, I'll get back to you on that one.

If I weren't at work, I'd be popping the champagne.

Update: I e-mailed J. about it; his response: "Well, fuckin' A!" So to speak...

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

One of those days 
Yes, it's gonna be one of those days. I was up late again last night, and had to wake up early this morning, because workmen were supposed to come and change our kitchen window so we could get an air conditioner installed downstairs. (We have them in the bedroom and the office, but not the rest of the house.) And obviously I didn't want to be in bed naked when they showed up. Except, after I'd already awoken at a hideously early hour, they called to say they weren't coming. Maybe Tuesday. Till then, I guess we'll just live upstairs.

Due to being incredibly tired, I forgot to take my morning medications, I left my cell phone on the kitchen table, and, when I got to work, I realized I'd also forgotten to put on deodorant. Which would be slightly less of a big deal if I wasn't wearing a sleeveless tank top. Also it's 86° at 9 a.m. and the humidity is 69%. It's like walking into the shower in a gym locker room. And not a clean shower, either; this is South Philly air we're talking about. Oh well; the office is reasonably cool, and I'm almost done the project I'm working on, which will provide some degree of satisfaction. (And I won't have to work on a medical book again for a while, which is a very good thing indeed.)

Okay, work now. Coffee now, too.

[ at 9:14 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, June 25, 2003 
Q: It's late in the afternoon, I've been working my tail off since my all-too-brief lunch break, I've just finished a file with 259 items to bookmark and link, and I just want to take a few minutes off and update my blog. What time is it?

A: Time for my entire site to go down.

Okay, that was an easy one.

Q: It's the end of a long workday, it's over 90° and about 40% humidity, and I'm heading home on a non–air-conditioned bus. What time is it?

A: Time for the bus to break down.

Just far enough from home that I didn't want to get off and walk (did I mention the heat? and I was wearing five-inch heels, besides), so I sat and the bus sat and fifteen minutes later finally started moving again.

And now I'm home and I'm too hot and tired to write anything else at the moment. Maybe later. I'll be somewhere air-conditioned with a cold cocktail if anybody needs me.

[ at 5:51 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yawn, again 
It's Wednesday, my third-favorite day of the week. My favorite is Saturday, because I can sleep in and stay up late and drink as much as I want to without worrying about going to work with a hangover. My second-favorite is Friday, because it's the day before Saturday, and I can stay up late. And then there's Wednesday. It's the middle of the week—Humpday, or, as J. refers to it, Yom Dingus—and once you get through it, it's downhill to the weekend. And the Onion comes out, and I usually get TV Guide, and it's trash day.

Today, however, is stinking hot. The forecast is a high of 98°. Yuck. Three of my least favorite words: Excessive Heat Warning. This morning, J. said "I know it's summer when taking a shower makes me sweat."

Also this morning: after staying up way too late, we were both very tired this morning, and spent more time than usual lying around in bed before getting up to get ready for the day. Finally, J. said "We must make progress." I said, "Okay, I'll invent the wheel, and you discover fire." (J.: "Hey, I got the hot one.")

Last night, J. added some information to my decorative parasite idea. He said ticks can feed for several days, so your parasite jewelry would definitely last through a night of clubbing. However, ticks will wander around quite a bit before settling on a place to dig in, so it would be difficult to get your parasite where you wanted it. (No, I'm not really serious about this idea, but I like to be thorough in my sarcasm.)

Oh my God, am I tired. I stayed up last night to watch Liz Phair on the Tonight Show; I'll post about that/her later. Now, work. Really. Work. I'll keep my eyes open and everything.

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

I am way too old to be up this late.

[ at 1:23 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, June 24, 2003 
The next level of body modification 
Piercings, tattoos, even tongue-splitting—from this moment on, it's all passé. I have personally selected the next body-modification craze: decorative parasites.

It started, as so many of my workday thoughts do, with the medical book I'm working on. For "Tick paralysis," the recommended therapy was "Remove tick." To which I thought, Well, duh. But then I thought, Well, what if they didn't?

Well, that would be gross.

Yeah, but is it any grosser than those whacked-out piercings?

And an idea was born.

Yes, get yourself some ticks and paint them interesting colors. Put little decals on their backs. Carefully arrange them in patterns. Apply tropical leeches in strategic locations.

Of course, the various critters will fall off when they're done feeding, and eventually die, but you can carry around a little critter-sack so you always have more on hand. (A nice bottle of Evian would be perfect for leeches.)

Come on...you know you wanna.

This idea is copyright © ® TM etc. 2003 Zhaba Productions, and I fully expect the profits to start rolling in as soon as I bring out my line of color-coordinated vermin. My tentative name for my new business: Bite Me. If it works out, I can develop a home decorating line featuring costumed cockroaches. Slogan: "If you're gonna have pests, they might as well be dressed."

Where's a venture capitalist when you need one?

[ at 4:20 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The Paint Game 
Here's a more-than-usually-difficult on-line quiz: The Paint Game. It shows you several colors, and you try to guess which one is "Moroccan Velvet" or "Labrador Sands" or "Fragrant Cloud" or what-have-you. (I got 3 out of 10 on my first try, and two of those involved water, so it was easy to tell they'd have some degree of blue.)

A special shout-out to Sixth World on this one.

[ at 3:21 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Fashion police 
If you are for some reason planning to attend Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, you should check out the Female Dress Code, which shows you modest and immodest clothing, using mannequins. (They seem to have something against knees. Are women's knees really an erogenous zone?)

There is also a much, much shorter illustration of the Male Dress Code, featuring the following mysterious phrase: "Turtleneck sweater properly worn." What's the improper way of wearing a turtleneck?

Now, I realize they are a private university, and they can require any dress code they want, and obviously thong bikinis would be distracting during church services; still, a dress code slide show is a little bit over the top.

[ at 12:48 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Title of the day 
Noticed this morning that J. has a klezmer CD with the title "Rhythm and Jews."

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

Monday, June 23, 2003 
On TV, or not 
The bad people at Comedy Central moved the Daily Show again, from 7:30 to 7. Which is fine, since that means I get to see it half an hour earlier, but I wish they'd advise TV Guide of these things, because today I missed most of the show. Humph.

(This is probably pathetic, but the Daily Show is often the high point of my day. It's certainly one of the few things I look forward to during the work week. [The others being the "Headlines" section on the Tonight Show on Monday, The Onion coming out on Wednesday, and TV Guide arriving, usually also on Wednesday. Oh, and the trash gets picked up Wednesday, so it's safe to open the fridge again. Yeah, okay, I'm pathetic.])

(And also I have a kind of a thing for Jon Stewart, but don't tell anyone.)

[ at 9:26 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Well, just one bug. (Technically a beetle.)

So J. and I are sitting on the futon last night drinking red wine, trying to relax and enjoy the few remaining hours of the weekend, when I feel something tickling my collarbone. I think it might be a strand of hair, glance down, and see a bug. On me. So, true to form, I scream, jump, and spill wine all over myself and the futon, and get some on the carpet for good measure. J. also jumps, since I sound like I've just been bitten by a snapping turtle, and says "What?" I yell "Bug bug bug!" He advances the opinion that I didn't need to freak out that much. I say, "But it was on me." He heads upstairs for the hydrogen peroxide, I head to the kitchen for the paper towels, and we do our best to get everything cleaned up. During the cleaning process, I find the bug, and show it to him. He is unimpressed by its size and ferocity. (Apparently it's a dermestid, a carpet beetle, and entirely innocuous as long as you're not made of wool.)

So, okay, yeah, I wasted a glass of wine and stained the futon and significantly elevated my heart rate and generally ruined our peaceful evening because of a small harmless bug. But did I mention that it was on me?

I don't know when my insect phobia got to its present level; I certainly have extreme reactions to them, and could conceivably do myself harm while panicking over them. (If, for example, the wine glass had broken and I'd cut myself on it.) But it's not like I'm living in the tropics, or even Florida, and I'm not going to go on Fear Factor any time soon. So I guess I'll just live with it.

(Incidentally, the hydrogen peroxide did get almost the entire wine stain off of the futon. But it also left an off-white mark of its own, so now, instead of looking like we spilled wine on the futon, it looks like we copiously sweated on it. I think it's time to reverse the mattress.)

[ at 9:11 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Medical information of the day 
In the book I'm working on, under "Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic dehydration":
Signs and Symptoms: Elevated blood glucose level; glycosuria; osmotic diuresis; metabolic imbalances; lethargy; coma; death.
Y'know, if you're using death as a diagnostic symptom, I think you're waiting a bit too long.

[ at 4:49 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Another Monday 
Haven't had time to post till now. By the time I finished catching up on other people's blogs my lunch break was over and I didn't have time to write. It's another of those "work like crazy" days, too. At least I'm not dealing with any really disgusting parts of the medical book today. (Not yet, anyway.)

I just got an e-mail from Amazon.com informing me that my copy of Harry Potter #5 has shipped. Woo-hoo! (I didn't preorder in time to have it shipped on the day of publication. Yes, now it actually matters how pre you preorder things.) I got the 5-9 day free shipping option. It struck me as odd that when I used that option, I still got my packages in only a few days. Then it occurred to me that, duh, the shipping center is in Newark, Delaware, all of 35 miles away. (I say "duh" because my brother worked there a few years ago.) So I don't need to use the expensive second-day delivery option anymore. Another woo-hoo.

Jeez, is my afternoon break over already? Nearly so. More posting tonight, I guess. (There's a story about a beetle and a red wine stain that I want to record.)

[ at 3:07 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, June 20, 2003 
Ewwwwww, pt. 2 
Did I mention any time recently that I hate working on medical books? (Oh, yeah, I did.) Well, I'm mentioning it again. I will allow the title of the following table to speak for itself: "Characteristics of Genital Ulcers." Just what I need at 4:49 on a Friday afternoon. Well, soon I can go home and have a stiff drink.

[ at 4:58 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Note to self: I MUST wake up before noon tomorrow and make a student loan payment. MUST MUST MUST.

I came perilously close to slipping back into default. The payment's due on the 22nd, which is Sunday; I was going to call them today. Except on Fridays they close at 4:30 and I called at 4:34. I remembered they were supposed to be open on Saturday, and did a panicked Web search till I found the Default (aka Loser) phone number and hours, which are indeed 8 a.m.–12 p.m. on Saturday. Thank you, God. I called J. to tell him to remind me, I'm going to write it on paper, I'm going to e-mail it to myself, and I'm posting this. And I just wrote it on my hand. I absolutely cannot afford to screw this up.

Way too close a call.

[ at 4:48 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Blame Canada 
I realize I'm approximately the zillionth person to post this, but I can't resist (and if I post it, I can easily find it again): the SF Gate article on gay Canadians. If I were going to post my favorite part, I'd post the whole darn article, so I'll just pick one paragraph I particularly particularly like:
In the state of Texas except for Austin which everyone knows is surprisingly cool despite how it's in, you know, Texas, where you still cannot legally buy a dildo or engage in homosexual sex but they pretty much hand you a nice big phallic shotgun as a welcome gift when you visit, the legislature immediately passed a law requiring each and every male to smack any other male they see really hard on the back and buy him a pitcher of bad beer in a manly gesture of football-lovin' patriotic homoerotically repressed solidarity.
a) that's Texas, and b) that's straight men. Mark Morford is my new favorite person in the media. Well, except Jon Stewart, and I don't know if he really counts as being in the media. And Anthony Lane, but he's a critic, rather than a commentator. But anyway: Sarcastic guys skewering the big-budget big-business big-ego behemoth that is corporate, government, and Hollywood culture. I like 'em.

[ at 2:57 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday Five 
Well, I've been meaning to post about my hair, and here's my chance.

1. Is your hair naturally curly, wavy, or straight? Long or short?
Naturally straight, but when I braid it, like I usually do, it turns wavy. It's very, very, very long; 31 inches from the crown of my head, a little past my waist, just at the stage where it gets in the way when I put my pants on. I haven't had a serious haircut since 1995; I just get an inch or two taken off every year, to remove the deadest of the dead ends. Oh, and it's dark brown; very boring dark brown.

2. How has your hair changed over your lifetime?
Obviously, I didn't have much when I was born. It just grew for the first five years or so, then I got a "pixie cut," which I suppose looked cute. Then it grew out again, and got pretty long by the time I was in 6th grade. Then, mostly based on having a crush on Kitiara in the Dragonlance books, I decided it should be short and curly, so I got it cut and permed. Unfortunately, I wound up with the poodle look; it was a hairstyle much like my grandmother's, which is not what you want when you're 12. I let it start growing again. In 9th grade, when I was depressed, I dyed it black. In 11th grade, when I was edging towards manic, I dyed it red, and it stayed red for the next few years. In college, after I figured out I wasn't straight (somehow having a crush on a woman in 6th grade hadn't tipped me off), I got the dyke cut—short as a man's. It stayed that way till the beginning of my junior year, which was my last real haircut. And then it grew. And grew. And grew. Mostly, I just didn't like making phone calls, so I never called to get a salon appointment. And I didn't like having to pay $30 for it, either. So, as mentioned above, it's long now.

3. How do your normally wear your hair?
In a ponytail during the day; braided at night. When it's hot, I twist it up on top of my head; I have to double it back a few times and secure it with two butterfly clips. Every now and then I wear it down, but it gets in the way too much, especially when there's even a breath of wind. (But it does make everyone look at me and say "Wow, your hair is long.")

4. If you could change your hair this minute, what would it look like?
As long as it is now, but as smooth and glossy and mahagony-black as an Asian woman's can be. I have extreme Asian hair envy. Mine's too thick to lie smooth and stay put behind my shoulders if it's not restrained.

5. Ever had a hair disaster? What happened?
Well, the whole poodle-cut thing was a several-year-long disaster. And I did once use overly red dye and have a Bozo-the-clown look, but I fixed that pretty quickly. And every now and then, if I don't use a cloth ponytail holder, it'll get stuck in my hair and I have to cut it out. I even got a hairbrush stuck in it once, but J. managed to untangle me.

[ at 10:56 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Ah, South Philly 
The contracter who worked on our house last year has been arrested for fencing $250,000 in stolen goods. Yikes. We're changing the locks, that's for sure...

We were pretty sure there was something shady about him; for one thing, he only went by one name (Enzo, of all things), and his business card didn't have an address on it, and he wanted to be paid in cash. But I get the feeling he wouldn't steal from "the neighborhood"; that's, well, not how you do things in South Philly. And none of our stuff was missing after he worked for us. Still, I don't want him getting out of prison and deciding he liked the looks of our TV.

Oh well; that's South Philly for ya...

[ at 10:27 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Well, fuck u 2 
Dear person who sent me the e-mail entitled "fuck u, u porn freak":

Just because I mention pornography (as in this entry) does not mean I like, or sanction, pornography. And when people come to my site searching for kiddie porn, I report them (via the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's www.cybertipline.com, also accessible by the phone number 1-800-843-5678). So fuck u 2.


[ at 9:27 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, June 19, 2003 
Pardon me for shouting, but:


I have learned, for instance, how to tell the difference between common scabies and Norwegian scabies by the number of mites and the locations and appearance of infestation, and how to determine the cause of leg ulcers based on, among other things, the exudate, granulation tissue, and type of infection. YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK! I just had to take a break when I looked at the next table: how to identify and treat three different kinds of chronic wounds, depending on whether they're dry, moist, or "heavily exudative." And what, exactly, to do with necrotic tissue. Oy Bozhe. I wish I hadn't had lunch. Thank God there aren't pictures.

(I really hate the medical books with pictures. When the editors of a medical book are looking to illustrate, say, cystic acne, they don't use a picture of mild cystic acne, or moderate cystic acne, or even severe cystic acne. They use the worst case of cystic acne that's ever been in front of a camera. And I'm not even going to get started on the pictures of, um, private problem places. I could so, so not be a doctor.)

(But the medical books beat the forensic books. I outright refuse to work on them; I'm pretty sure I'd faint. Or throw up. Or both.)

You know, I think it's time for a walk around the block. Fresh air. Lots of it. Please.

[ at 1:29 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Summer colds 
J. has officially acquired a cold, and I'm starting to get it; my throat's scratchy and my nose is starting to itch. Feh. Colds ought to stay a winter disease; whenever I get them, I want to have hot tea, and hot water with lemon juice and honey, and hot soup, and curl up under a heap of blankets. And you just can't do that when it's over 80 degrees. (Well, you can, but you won't be comfortable.) J.'s staying home today. I hope he gets better soon. When I get sick, I stay sick. I have an untreatable anemia—the blood can't absorb iron, so iron supplements won't help—and it makes it much harder for me to fight off diseases. If everyone else is sick for a week, I'm sick for two weeks. Or more. I usually acquire a cough in January and keep coughing till April. It sucks.

Oh well. I'll go to a Chinese restaurant for lunch today, and order hot-and-sour soup; it's a sure sinus-clearer. And when I get home, I'll make some hot spiked lemonade: One tablespoon each of honey, sugar, lemon juice, and rum in a mug of hot water. The steam relieves congestion, the honey soothes, the lemon juice dries membranes and adds vitamin C, and the rum just makes you feel good. It's not medicine, but it's a remedy, and sometimes that's almost as good.

[ at 9:45 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Crime and, hopefully, punishment 
Good news on the criminal apprehension front: bounty hunters captured the fugitive Max Factor heir/rapist. (My favorite part of the story, other than the scumbag being caught, is that the bounty hunter is named Duane "Dog" Chapman.) All I have to say is: Have fun in prison, pretty boy.

[ at 9:34 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 
Traffic tie-up of the day 
In Birmingham, UK: a truck carrying sex toys spills its contents all over the highway. (They also burst into flame. Yes, you want to avoid those flaming blow-up dolls.)

The best cargo spill we had in Delaware was 30,000 live chickens. People spent the rest of the day chasing them off of roads and out of backyards and driveways.

[ at 1:21 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Ra Ra Ra! 
Dear Weather Gods:

More days like this, please.


P.S. Sun god, sun god, Ra Ra Ra!

[ at 12:05 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

I did my good deed for the day: I rescued two earthworms from a parking lot. I have an inordinate fondness for earthworms; whenever I see them stranded in puddles or on pavement, I'll rescue them; I'll even go considerably out of my way to do so. I suppose it's odd that I'm afraid of and/or loathe most insects, but like earthworms. It's probably because my parents and grandparents all had gardens, and taught me how beneficial earthworms are, and sometimes set me to gathering earthworms to put in the gardens. I even kind of like the way they feel in my hand; for some reason I don't mind the sliminess and squirminess. They feel very alive, the way mice do when you hold them. They're probably one of the few completely beneficial and harmless creatures on the planet, and that's something to feel good about.

[ at 11:49 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, June 17, 2003 
Strong bad coffee 
I like coffee as much as the next caffeine addict, but the office coffeemaker has been acting really evil recently. For some reason it's producing more steam than hot water, so the coffee is almost undrinkably strong, and nearly opaque. It looks like the waters of the Ganges. Which is not a good thing.

[ at 1:25 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Sock it to me 
Almost nothing to report today. I would, however, like it to be known that last night I spent over $50 on socks. Not just any socks, mind you; the World's Softest Socks, 12 pairs of 'em. Ever since I discovered them they've been the only socks I wear, and the ones I got two years ago are nearing the end of their useful lives. When I find an article of clothing that I like that fits well, I buy it in bulk, in various colors; it makes shopping, and dressing, much easier.

I know, this is a really boring post. But that's about the most exciting thing that's happened since I played Curve Ball last night.

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

Monday, June 16, 2003 
Addictive game 
A completely addictive Flash game that's basically 3-D Pong: Curve Ball. My high score's 15450 (so far). Must...not...play...all...night....

9:38: Level 6, 16350.
9:43: Level 6, 18255
9:47: Level 7, 21070


[ at 9:20 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

My score on Sergeant Safari's Wilderness Survival Quiz:
Congratulations, you passed with a score of 85%. Just brush up on what you missed and you'd make an excellent survivor.

Judging by which ones you got wrong you're likely to die from crying too much because you're stressed out.
I guess that wilderness survival kick I went on in junior high could still prove useful. Especially if I bring along some Xanax.

(Via anything but ordinary.)

[ at 3:49 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Hell is other people and their stereo systems 
Last night, for some reason, a batch of people down the street decided to have a party. I hesitate to call it a block party, because most of the block didn't seem to know about it; but the people having the party did close the street for it (by parking their car across the entrance to the street). And then there was the music. Loud, loud, loud music. So loud it hurt my ears while I was in my house behind closed doors on the other end of the block. Ear plugs didn't help, playing our own music didn't help, retreating to the farthest room didn't help. I was tempted to sit on the front steps and practice the French horn for the first time in eight years, but I figured I'd probably get in trouble for disturbing the peace.

I couldn't find any information on noise ordinances; there's gotta be some law against having hideously loud music outside after 11 p.m. on the eve of a weekday, doesn't there? (I'm going to e-mail my brother, a Philly cop, about it.) At 11:30, when I was on the Philadelphia Police Department Web site trying to figure out who to call to report them, they finally turned off the music and went inside. And we went to bed at last.

I'd wish a pox on them, but since there actually is a pox going around, that's probably not politically correct. So I'll just wish a lightning strike on their stereo system.

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

Biblical studies in the news 
On Saturday, there was an article in the New York Times about Elaine Pagels, a biblical scholar whose work I'm familiar with through working for the Biblical Archaeology Society. I have to quote the following paragraph:
From early on, Ms. Pagels wanted to be a dancer. She studied briefly with the Martha Graham Company in New York but realized, she said, that "I was not going to be fabulous." So she enrolled as a Ph.D. student in the religion department at Harvard and learned Coptic.
Indeed. If I dropped out of an internationally renowned dance company, I don't see that I'd have any choice but to enroll in a Ph.D. program at one of the nation's top universities and learn Coptic. It's a natural progression. If you happen to be insanely intelligent and talented. Oh well...

(I actually took a year of hieroglyphic Egyptian at Yale; I don't remember much of it, but I can read the average funerary inscription.)

[ at 11:31 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, June 13, 2003 
Grammar, or lack thereof 
Here's why I need to be an elite grammar whore (see two posts down):
“When a good boss goes s/he leaves behind an organisation that can run without them
That's the paragraph in its entirety, lone opening quotation mark and missing period included (or not included, as the case may be). Excuse me while I bang my head against...well, no, excuse me while I find the author and bang his/her head against the Chicago Manual of Style.

This is a book by and for library professionals; I'd like to think that people who work with books all day would have some grasp of grammar. (J., who isn't a librarian but works at a library, says that this is all too often not the case. Most of the people he works with pronounce their place of employment "liberry." Oh well; that's why people hire me...)

[ at 2:34 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

From my credit card statement:
Current balance: $13.65
Minimum payment due: $14.00
Excuse me? Oh well, they hold my credit rating hostage, so pay I must and pay I will.

[ at 2:06 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Quizzy goodness 
I've been trying to avoid the LiveJournal Quiz Lemming syndrome on my blog, but I just had to post this one:

[take the test] - [by krystaljungle.com]

Of course, most of my job involves copyediting, and I live by the Chicago Manual of Style, so it's no surprise; but never before have I had a spiffy graphic to proclaim it. (I'm not going to abuse my power and point out all the grammatical errors in the quiz itself, but I do need to mention that the plural of "ellipsis" is "ellipses.")

[ at 1:45 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Really evil spam 
The evillest of evil spam: Spam virus 'hijacks' computers. It allows the spammers to use the virus-infected machine as an e-mail router. (I may have the technical terminology wrong; I'm no Internet guru. But you get the basic idea.)

More on the virus at McAfee: BackDoor-AVF Virus Profile.

I gotta get evilspam.com up and running...

[ at 12:48 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday Five 
1. What's one thing you've always wanted to do, but never have?
Visit Scotland.

2. When someone asks your opinion about a new haircut/outfit/etc, are you always honest?
Yes, but if I don't like it, I find something positive (but still true!) to say about it.

3. Have you ever found out something about a friend and then wished you hadn't? What happened?
Probably, but my tendency is to bury these things as deep as possible in my subconscious and not remember them. And never mention it.

4. If you could live in any fictional world (from a book/movie/game/etc.) which would it be and why?
Robin McKinley's Damar. The horses are beautiful, the cats are two feet tall, and the women not only wield swords, they totally kick ass with them. (Or slice or stab ass, as the case may be.)

5. What's one talent/skill you don't have but always wanted?
To be able to dance. I am so, so unable to dance. It's driven me to tears. In one of my high school musicals, the choreographer was a former student who'd gone on to the Alvin Ailey dance company, and she spent an entire afternoon trying to teach me one simple dance for a big full-cast number, and finally the director just said "Let's get her off the stage before the dance starts."

[ at 11:50 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Stormy weather... 
Thunderstorm last night. A new level of hell: a car alarm that goes off whenever there's loud thunder. I think it should be legal to hit cars with car alarms with a crowbar until they shut up. I would be glad if someone stole a car while the car alarm was going off. More power to 'em. Thanks for getting the fucking thing out of my neighborhood. While you're at it, can you steal my neighbor's dogs? (Which also go off whenever there's thunder.)

Nah, I'm not in a bad mood...

Gray and rainy this morning. And tomorrow, the beginning of the 19th gray weekend this year. Excuse me while I beat my head against a wall. At least then maybe I'd see some bright lights before passing out.

Nah, I'm not in a really bad mood...

[ at 9:40 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, June 12, 2003 
In the news 
Top three headlines on E! Online:One of these things is not like the others...

(I'll probably get my Gen X membership card revoked, but I don't even know who/what Linkin is.)

[ at 3:03 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

X-10 ads: proof that they are evil 
Is there anyone, anywhere, with any kind of browser-based Internet access whatsoever, who doesn't hate those X-10 camera ads? Here's an X-10 pop-up gallery (lacking the animation that adds that extra-special "here's how her breasts would jiggle" touch). They're obviously appealing to the perverts of the world, especially with the ads where the models look like they're about 15.

A point to ponder: Where could you put these cameras where you'd actually get images of scantily-clad women? I'm assuming it's not really in the house of the person who buys the camera, unless his teenage daughter throws a lot of wild parties. A locker room? A college dorm? The alley behind a strip club? Your neighbor's bedroom window? In any event, it's stupid, perverted, and really annoying.

[ at 11:53 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Note to self 
Be very, very careful about entering those zeroes on an ATM. I almost accidentally withdrew $1,100. (Fortunately the machine has a $600 limit.) I don't even know what I'd do with $1,100 in cash; I certainly wouldn't want to carry it around, and there's no bank near here. Take it to the nearest check-cashing/money-order-selling place and get a money order pronto, I guess.

[ at 11:25 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Telemarketer from hell 
Here's someone you don't want to hear from: a telemarketer who, after being hung up on, called the person back and left a threatening, expletive-filled message on his voice mail (Telemarket firm fired by Qwest for menacing call). I once had a telemarketer call me back and say "Rude!" and hang up on me, but that's the worst I've gotten.

[ at 11:08 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Spam satire goes big-time 
The 3rd Annual Nigerian E-mail Conference from the J-Walk Blog, discovered via Presurfer on May 29, has made it to the U.K. Register: Reg to attend 3rd Annual Nigerian Email Conference. Amusingly, the Register article also contains what appears to be an actual response from an actual Nigerian, who says:
However the fact that you haven't made clear that the entire article is a joke only reinforces the impression that it is genuine, and I'm sure our associations lawyers will see what levels of culpability you can face. I will be sending a copy of this message to the Nigerian Embassy in the UK, as well as the CRE and the PCC. You could, however, pre-empt this by simply pointing out on your article that the article is in fact a joke.
The Register's response is a flashing red button saying "JOKE ALERT." (I was going to post it here, but decided it was too annoying for the front page of my blog.) The only thing funnier than spam satire is spam satire satire...

[ at 10:22 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, June 11, 2003 
O Canada 
I'm having serious Canada envy. Prescription drugs are affordable, they're seriously talking about legalizing marijuana, and now this: Toronto declares gay marriage legal. I suppose it will be challenged there, too, but the principle is highly encouraging. Part of it is worth quoting at length:
In a straightforward opinion, the Court of Appeals unanimously dismissed the idea that procreation and rearing children mandate the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from the institution of marriage. "The [Attorney General of Canada] has not shown that the opposite-sex requirement in marriage is rationally related to the encouragement of procreation and child rearing," wrote the Court. "The law is both overinclusive and underinclusive. The ability to 'naturally' procreate and the willingness to raise children are not prerequisites of marriage for opposite-sex couples. ... Simultaneously, the law is underinclusive because it excludes same-sex couples that have and raise children."
Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. I'm really sick of the argument that "procreation and rearing children" is the main, or even sole, purpose of marriage, both because it's often used to argue against gay/lesbian marriages, and also because, yo, not all straight people want to procreate. (Like me and J., for instance.) Does that mean our marriage is less valid? Does it mean the marriages of infertile people are less valid? What's wrong with marrying someone because you love them and want to spend your life with them, and are content with having a family that consists of just the two of you, without bringing more people into this overpopulated planet? (I could go on about this at length, but I've got to get to work...)

Anyway: Go Canada!

[ at 9:50 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Sundry things 
A collection of things, not big enough for their own entries.
  1. I am a total copyediting geek. I dreamed last night about using the Chicago Manual of Style. (And I was using the right style, too.)

  2. Watching TV this morning:
    Weatherman: The sunshine is taking another day off.
    J.: The sunshine is fucking tanned, rested, and ready.
  3. When I arrived at work, there was a young squirrel huddled up with its back to the door. It looked more scared than injured. I directed my foot towards it—I didn't kick it, or even nudge it—and it ran out of the way. I guess it just couldn't figure out what to do when its back was to a wall and a person was coming at it.
Further bulletins as events warrant...

[ at 8:57 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, June 10, 2003 
Actually turned on the air conditioning in the bedroom. (It's not actively hot outside, but it's warm and sticky in that distinctive mid-Atlantic way, and it's stuffy inside the house.) Is it...could it be...summer? (Well, gray and rainy tomorrow; but still in the 80's.)

If it stays damp and gray much longer, we're all going to go moldy. We'll have moss growing on us. Like tree sloths. (Heck, I've been feeling about as energetic as a tree sloth...)

[ at 9:42 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Meme of the moment 
Well, gosh, it's Tag Tuesday and I've been tagged (via greengrl). There's a button and everything: (right-click and save if you want it). Does this mean I get to run around the Internet meme-ing? (Well, there's that work thing...)

[ at 2:36 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The former ImClone CEO has been fined and sentenced to prison. (Good.) I'm somewhat amused by the top headlines from Reuters and AP:

Reuters: Former ImClone CEO Waksal Gets 87 Months in Prison

AP: ImClone Founder Sam Waksal Given 7 Years

Let's guess which one of these offices has a calculator...

(Admittedly, 87 divided by 12 isn't exactly 7; still, it's easier to assimilate "7 years" than "87 months." An ideal headline would be something like "over 7 years.")

[ at 1:20 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Dear Melanie Griffith:

Please, please do not get any more plastic surgery. If your face and breasts get any higher they'll be a danger to low-flying aircraft, and you'll never be prettier than your husband. (Not this husband, anyway.)


[ at 11:29 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

It's sunny. It's warm. What the heck is this? You'd think it was early June in a temperate climate zone, or something.

Oh, wait. It is. I'd almost forgotten.

(The Yale marching band's cheer when the sun comes out: "Sun god, sun god, Ra Ra Ra!")

[ at 9:12 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, June 09, 2003 
Medical directive of the day 
From the book I'm working on (a guide to intravenous medications): "Resuscitate as necessary." Um, yes, I should hope so.

("Doctor, the patient needs to be resuscitated. What should we do?" "Let me check...okay, the book says 'resuscitate as necessary.'" "Never mind, too late...")

[ at 3:35 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Worst. Editing job. Ever. 
I've got an enormous manuscript from a publisher—over 1,100 pages, physical paper pages—which have already been marked up by their copyeditor. What do they want me to do? Go through and highlight the changes, and mark the pages with a Post-It flag. I don't see why they can't just make the changes that are already written down without me highlighting them. (Or have us make the changes, for that matter.) I think it's stupid, my boss thinks it's stupid, my manager thinks it's stupid, but the customer is always right, and all that. So I'm going through page by page and highlighting and flagging. I've used up one highlighter and about ten Post-It flag dispensers; I went out to Staples at lunch to buy more. They're almost $8 for a pack of four; I spent $60.49 on the frickin' things. (My boss is paying me back, of course.) Earth to publisher: It's called electronic publishing. You use computers. And even if you don't, can you honestly not figure out how to make a correction unless it's written down and highlighted and has a Post-It flag sticking out of the page? Yeesh...

[ at 2:10 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Sunday, June 08, 2003 
Note to self 
Consuming nothing all day but Ritalin, coffee, and chocolate makes one very zippy.

[ at 4:29 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Various things on TV 
To my shame, I must admit that I have been watching E!'s Nearly Famous series about Vegas showgirls. It's kind of refreshing, actually; because quite frankly, actual Vegas showgirls are not particularly attractive. They've got decent bodies, of course, but nothing spectacular; and they're rather facially scary. Especially with all that makeup. (Particularly this one, who looks like the offspring of Chelsea Clinton and Elizabeth Berkley.) And they could all use either a natural hair color or a recent dye job. And they can't even dance that well. I no longer feel quite so inferior.

Also, "Austin Powers" on TBS; somewhat oddly edited for TV. You can say "randy" but not "horny," and you can say "Alotta Fagina" but not "Swedish-made penis enlarger." (They sort of elided the "made" to cover the "penis" syllables and turned it into "Swedish-maaaade enlarger.") It's certainly darned funny, and less disgusting and puerile than the two sequels.

And then, Michael York in a much different role: "Cabaret" on TCM last night. Kick-ass movie. What's Joel Grey done since then? It's pretty hard for a man to have a movie career after he's appeared in lipstick, at least if that's his first noticeable movie role (see Tim Curry). (If you're already clearly established as very much straight, thank you, you can get away with it; see "Some Like It Hot," "Tootsie," etc.) I don't know if it was intentional, but Liza Minnelli did a dead-on portrayal of someone in a high mania. Impulsive, self-destructive, high-energy, oversexed. (Been there, done that, got medicated...)

Made me wonder: There's depression, where you're just depressed; there's bipolar disorder/manic depression, when you're manic and depressed; is there a third option, where you're just manic? I suppose if there is, it's not treated as a disease, because, hey, you're feeling terrific and you don't think there's a single problem with you. And everyone else thinks you're charismatic and energetic and fun to be around. Well, until you act like a total asshole to them; but there's always someone new to think you're terrific. If anyone tries to tell you there's something wrong with you, you blow it, and them, off. And eventually you die young and leave a beautiful corpse, I guess. I don't think there are many old, untreated manics around.

[ at 3:13 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Depressing weather 
It's not just everyone's imagination: of the 23 weekends this year, 18 of them have had precipitation. (In the northeast, at least.) And I don't think the other five were any too sunny, either.


If I wanted constant dank gray weather, I'd move to London. At least there I could go to the British Museum in my spare time.

[ at 2:44 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, June 06, 2003 
A bit of self-promotion 
Today's my birthday; I'm 28. I'm not having any getting-older crisis moments; I think those will come at 29 and 30. 28 just sort of...is. We did the official family celebration of my birthday last weekend in Delaware at my parents' house; tonight J.'s going to make dinner, and he bought strawberries and champagne. (Mmmmm...) My birthday's always involved strawberries; they're at the peak of the season right now, at least in this climate. My parents used to have a garden with a big strawberry patch—something like 100 feet long by 8 feet wide—and some of my fondest childhood memories are of being outside picking berries and eating them while they were still hot from the sun. (Mmmmm, again.) They only have a small garden now, and all I have are a few pots of unsuccessful tomato plants in my tiny concrete back "yard." Oh well; even the storebought berries are sweet, though never sweeter than the ones in my mind.

[ at 12:03 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, June 04, 2003 
Dogs, small and large 
Last night
On the street outside our house: a noisy and prolonged dog fight, punctuated by people shouting and doors slamming. It sounded like our neighbor's two detestable small yappy dogs got outside and tangled with one or more large dogs. This probably makes me a terrible person, but I wasn't exactly wishing the small dogs well. (As far as I know they survived, though.)

En route to Wawa for lunch: a woman walking three pit bulls and a Great Dane. I pity the fool who tries to break into her house...

[ at 12:22 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Fun with manic-depression 
In this week's Onion: Manic-Depressive Friend A Blast While Manic. It's funny because it's true.

Well, sort of funny.

Being manic felt absolutely amazing; unfortunately, it nearly completely ruined my life. There are a lot of bipolars who don't take their meds because they like the manias, and I know the feeling; but the risks are just too great.

[ at 12:20 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

AFI's "Heroes and Villains" 
(First, a spelling question: Is it "heroes" or "heros"? Merriam-Webster's 10th Collegiate Dictionary, the publishing industry standard, says "heroes" for people, "heros" for sandwiches; I just think "heroes" looks funny. But anyway...)

Watched the entire three hours of AFI's "Heroes and Villains" top 100 list. As usual, I called the top two: Hannibal Lecter and Atticus Finch. I don't know if it's my knowledge of film, or my knowledge of the film industry, but I always guess the #1 pick on these lists. (For the original Top 100 Films list, I wasn't quite sure if it would be Citizen Kane or Casablanca; Kane was #1, Casablanca #2.)

Links:Oddly, the list of nominees doesn't specify whether the character is supposed to be a hero or a villain. I guess you're just supposed to figure it out from context; but if you haven't watched, say, the 1935 version of Tale of Two Cities, you probably can't vote for the Marquis St. Evremonde. (I guess you can if you've read Tale of Two Cities and remember the names of the characters, but I think that's about as likely, in Hollywood, as having seen the 1935 movie.)

I was rather surprised at some of the movies that qualified as "American" films—Lawrence of Arabia? Goldfinger? Dr. No? Clockwork Orange? The Third Man? But those are all British, and as we all know British film is just American film with accents...

[ at 9:54 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

I realize this just means I'm very easily amused, but the high point of the morning so far is that the local TV morning show anchor announced an upcoming performance by the "Mormon Nabertwacle Choir."

[ at 9:14 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, June 03, 2003 
Isn't it ironic? 
Fred Phelps—the "God hates fags" guy who picketed Matthew Shepard's funeral—was, naturally, there to picket at the graduation of a student who received a college scholarship honoring Shepard. Unbeknowst to Phelps, a gay men's group "organized a fund-raising counterprotest, in which contributors pledged an amount for every minute the Phelps group demonstrated." The group raised $10,000, which will fund future scholarships. And I suppose Phelps will picket them, and so the cycle of life will continue...

Update: Yes, there is indeed an anti-Phelps Web site: www.godhatesphelps.com. Best news I've heard all day.

[ at 12:11 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, June 02, 2003 
Where have all the copyeditors gone? 
Today is not a good day in the history of news proofreading. On the front page of Philly.com:
  • "FCC votes to ease media wwnership rules"
  • "I don't 'really' want to me mayor"
And the BBC's proofreaders were clearly out to lunch, either literally or figuratively, when this article on Mars came across their desks. It's full of grammatical infelicities; I'll only cite the most egregious:
  • "We already know a great deal about the Martian landscape. Images of its desolate and rocky surface having been beamed back to Earth decades ago."
Yeesh. Any copyeditors looking for a job in Britain?

[ at 11:52 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Things that don't work:
  • Honking at the car in front of you in a traffic jam.
  • Standing at the edge of a subway platform looking down the track for the train.
  • Pushing an elevator button more than once.
  • Telepathically willing the phone to ring.
  • Opening the refrigerator door after you've already determined there's nothing you want to eat.
  • Opening the TV Guide after you've already determined there's nothing you want to watch.
  • Yelling "Shut up!" at a car alarm or your neighbor's dog.
Just a random list that occured to me while standing on a subway platform looking down the track for the train...

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

Yes, that's me.


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