Zhaba Zhournal
Wednesday, July 30, 2003 
Flying pigs 
Stop the presses! President Bush has taken responsibility for the "African uranium" claim! (I spent a while on the Merriam-Webster site picking a noun; among the rejects were "mistake," which I deemed too innocent; "error," which implies only ignorance or imprudence; and "deception," which I decided would get me in trouble.)

Why should it be headline news for a president to take responsibility for his words and actions? Heck, Clinton needed a prime-time address just to own up to the Lewinsky affair. I'm not expecting every president to measure up to Honest Abe, but seriously...

(Or George Washington. "Did you chop down that apple tree?" "No, the CIA did." "Did you chop down that apple tree?" "That depends on how you define 'chop.'")

[ at 2:10 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, July 29, 2003 
Okay, okay, change really is money. I, personally, never treat it as such; I get it, I throw it on a table or a dresser or in a drawer, and I forget about it. J. actually uses his to purchase things occasionally, but also has accumulated a large change collection. Yesterday he hauled most of it to the bank—just the dimes and quarters, not the near-worthless pennies or the disproportionately large and heavy nickels—and dumped them in the change-to-real-money machine. When I got home, we had the following conversation:
J.: Guess how much money all that change turned out to be worth?
Me: Um...fifty dollars?
J.: Pfft!
Me: Seventy-five? A hundred?
J.: Two hundred and forty-one.
Me: Shit.
So, okay, yeah, it's money. At least if you wait long enough. Maybe in two or three years we'll have collected enough for it to be money again.

[ at 1:13 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, July 28, 2003 
Whoa. Fuck. 
If you don't get motion-sick and aren't prone to seizures, check out this bizarre optical illusion. My eyes still hurt.

[ at 9:40 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Groan-inducing neologism of the day 
Neologisms are invented words (the second definition in Merriam-Webster is "a meaningless word coined by a psychotic"), and I generally dislike, and occasionally actively despise, them. Recently I have been loathing the word "tween." But here's an even more annoying one: "celebutantes," to describe wealthy young women who are famous for being wealthy and young. (Fox coined it for their show "The Simple Life," in which hotel heiress Paris Hilton and Lionel Richie's improbably blonde daughter Nicole take the incredibly daring step of living on [gasp!] a farm for several weeks.)

Incidentally, what the hell is up with the name Paris Hilton? As J. put it, "Do you really want to give your daughter a name that implies that thousands of people have slept in her?"

[ at 9:21 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Saturday, July 26, 2003 
Another one 
Aw, shoot. John Schlesinger has died. I'm linking to the story on PlanetOut, because, unbeknownst to me, he was gay. (I thought I knew all the more obvious non-heterosexuals in show biz, but apparently I'm not as up on them as I thought.) Anyway, requiem aeternam.

[ at 2:30 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, July 25, 2003 
Just when you thought Nigerian spam scams couldn't get any sillier: turns out at least one of the spammers is actually living in Texas, where he and a British citizen have been indicted. Yeesh. The least they could do is actually be in Nigeria.

[ at 9:42 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Various things I and my family have wondered about:
  • How did they describe distances before there were football fields?
  • How did they describe the sound of tornadoes before there were freight trains?
  • Where do they send people who commit crimes in Siberia?

[ at 9:29 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, July 24, 2003 
Irony of the day 
Oh good. Nigeria is sending peacekeeping troops to Liberia. I suppose as long as they're in Liberia they won't be committing human rights violations in their home country.

[ at 9:05 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, July 23, 2003 
Bugs. And their ilk. Terrestrial arthropods. I have this phobia.

Usually it just makes me embarrassed, and the people around me either amused or annoyed; but it's really rather debilitating. For the past month or so, we've been having small, harmless beetles around the house, and I've been moderately freaked out about them. Two nights ago, when I was feeding the mice, I noticed that one of the cages was crawling with the frippin' things. I kept myself under control, finished the mouse-feeding, and went to bed. Last night, however, when I was preparing to feed the mice, I remembered the bugs and just started shaking and hyperventilating at the very thought of going into the room with them. J. said "I've had that kind of reaction after surviving car crashes, and you have it every few weeks. Do any of your therapists know about this?"

I've talked to them about it, but, again, it usually just sounds like something minor, more embarrassing than anything else, not like a serious, life-affecting phobia. But I guess it is. The world is full of insects (and their ilk); they pretty much own the planet. I don't mind them when they're outside, where they're supposed to be; but when they're in my house, or in my office, or actually on me, I just can't handle it. And since I'm living and working in South Philly rowhouses, roaches and ants and centipedes and so forth are a fact of interior life.

I don't really know what to do about it; when I went through therapy for social phobia, it was all about exposures—"go out and do the thing you're afraid of so you know it's not so bad." I just can't imagine doing that with bugs. Maybe I'm catastrophizing, but I imagine having to go to a pet store and stick my hand in the cricket cage, or to a university entomology department to handle Madagascar hissing roaches. I'd rather have teeth pulled.

Oh well; I've got an appointment with my therapist today, and I'll bring it up, and see if she has any suggestions for serious phobia treatment.

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

Ad, nauseam 
Are advertisers just trying to induce epileptic seizures now? I refer specifically to the multicolored spiralling Flash ad in this week's Onion, which you cannot turn off. The least they could do is have a "Stop this fucking spiral" button so people don't have fits or vomit on their keyboards.

(If you want to see the hideous thing for yourself, check it out now; I don't know if it'll still be there after this Friday, when the movie it's advertising opens.)

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2003 
Slammed the front door on my finger this morning. Broke neither bone nor skin, but there's a nasty red sore spot, and it hurts when I type. And it hurt like hell when it happened.

I seem to bruise remarkably easily these days; I keep discovering big blue or green spots on my legs that I don't remember incurring. (I had a friend in college who called these UBIs—"Unidentified Beer Injuries"—but I no longer drink to the point that I injure myself and forget about it.) Nothing on the Web suggests it's a side effect of any of my medications; nothing clinical, anyway. Maybe I'm just lucky that way...

[ at 3:42 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Is Paris burning? 
Yes, apparently. (I posted this almost solely so I could use the title.)

[ at 2:23 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, July 17, 2003 
For your own good, part 2 
My boss just got back from Florida, whereto and from he traveled on U.S. Airways. He spent a good half-hour this morning on the phone trying to get a refund, or at least some kind of recompense, for their delaying his flight and losing his luggage. And he pointed out that, if you complain while you're on the plane, or even near the plane, or even in the airport, it's a federal offense; or at least it'll be treated as one. But, you know, it's for your own good. You let people say "Hey, this flight's an hour late and my luggage is on a tarmac in Atlanta," and next thing you know they'll be saying "Death to the capitalist pig infidels!" and starting uprisings in economy class.

(J. and I are flying U.S. Air to Miami tomorrow, and this has not made me very optimistic about it. We're not going to check any luggage, which should help, unless they decide we're running drugs in our prescription medication bottles.)

[ at 11:48 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

It's for your own good 
I'm all for preventing terrorists from blowing things up, but really; citing 9/11 as a reason to ban outside food from the new Eagles stadium? Why not just say "We're a bunch of price-gouging bastards" and leave it at that? But no, that hoagie you bought down the block could be a weapon of mass destruction. It's for your own good.
In a testy press conference at the Eagles' South Philadelphia training facility, [team president Joe Banner] accused critics of putting snack food ahead of fan safety.

"You're putting the fans' lives at danger," Banner said.


Was he worried about terrorists smuggling a bomb inside an Italian hoagie?

Banner wouldn't say. Visibly annoyed, he stormed out of the briefing.
Yes, I bet he did. Don't you hate it when people refuse to go blindly and unquestioningly along with your ridiculous, self-centered, completely dumbass regulations?

Just say it. Try it out first. "We're a bunch of price-gouging bastards, and we own the stadium, so fuck you." Was that so hard?

[ at 11:41 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, July 16, 2003 
A dark and stormy night 
The results of the 2003 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest are up—that's the one for the worst first line of a (hopefully) unwritten novel. Sadly, a great many of them are better than the crap I have to edit, at least in terms of spelling and grammar.

[ at 1:52 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, July 15, 2003 
Dear RIAA:

I have not, formerly, shared the loathing with which most of the on-line world views you. However, it is beginning to rise up within me. I have, till now, been a model consumer of music. I buy new, unopened CDs from licensed retailers or, occasionally, the artists themselves; I do not download music on-line or trade it with others who have done so. I share a general righteous indignation about your attempted crackdowns on other music consumers, but I have not previously been personally offended by it.

However. About this "CDs that can't be played on computers" thing. The only way I ever play CDs is on my computer. I put them in my CD drive, put on my headphones, and listen to them while I'm at work to entertain me and make the day go by faster. And when you computer-protect CDs, I can't fucking listen to the damn things. And do you know what that means? I'm pretty much going to stop buying CDs, because they don't do much good if I can't fucking listen to them. (I am aware of the Sharpie trick, but haven't tried it. Yet.)

You really have an astonishing capability to turn consumers against you with a violence unsurpassed since the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed. Including, now, me.



[ at 11:40 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, July 14, 2003 
Somewhere in Maryland: A Taco Bell advertising its "Stuft Burritos."

Not far from there: "Thunderbird Dental Clinic." I don't want to know what they use for tooth extractions...

In South Philly: I walked down a different side of the street on my way to lunch, and noticed that a sign I've passed by every weekday for over two years does not actually say "KEEP DOGS OFF LAWN," but "KEEP DOCS OFF LAWN." Yeah, I hate it when doctors get into the yard, start diagnosing left and right, refer you to an HMO for crabgrass...

[ at 11:56 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, July 11, 2003 
Title? Nah. 
It has occurred to me that, gosh, I'm probably depressed. (When I said this to J., he responded with a polite equivalent of "Well, duh!") What finally tipped me off was that I have almost no appetite. I've had the feeling before, I just didn't put the name to it. I figured "loss of appetite" meant that you weren't hungry. And I've spent a lot of time over the past few weeks being very hungry. I just haven't felt the desire to do anything about it. And that, apparently, is what "appetite" actually is. (After figuring this out last night, I still didn't eat anything.)

Of course, loss of appetite has the pleasant side effect of loss of weight. I'm down 21 pounds since January 1; for the first month or so I was on a diet, but then I stopped making an effort. My clothes fit better, and I am particularly pleased with the reappearance of my collarbones.

But anyway. Depressed. I just saw my psychiatrist on Wednesday, and said I was doing fine, and I thought I was. But last night I started thinking that maybe the reason I felt fine was that I was just accustomed to, well, being depressed. My life is completely blah, but it doesn't occur to me to change it. I wake up, I sometimes have breakfast, I go to work, I go home, I sometimes have dinner, I watch TV or do crossword puzzles or read, I go to bed, da capo. On weekends I sleep till noon or so, sometimes eat something, watch TV or do crossword puzzles or read, go to bed... My major social interactions are being at work and being on-line; and since my boss has cracked down on Internet use at work, I've lost one of them. (Yeah, I could do it at home, but that requires too much initiative.)

So. I should probably do something, right? I guess I'll call my psychiatrist and say "Um, you know, I'm not so fine after all." (Unfortunately, my therapist is on vacation next week.) Talking about it with J. has helped a great deal, if only in making me recognize the symptoms and think about doing something.

Yep, I'm just a big barrel of cheer today. Well, I'd better eat lunch and get back to work, since my half-hour of approved Internet use is almost over.

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

Thursday, July 10, 2003 
Apt name of the day 
The guy who won the $2.5 million World Series of Poker is named Chris Moneymaker. (He's also an accountant; or he was, before he won $2.5 million; I suppose he might be quitting his day job now.)

[ at 9:13 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, July 09, 2003 
Answer of the day 
To the question "Why don't spiders stick to their own webs?"—they do; they just know where the non-sticky strands are, and walk on those.

[ at 11:36 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Cryptic directive of the day 
My boss: "If someone Italian-sounding calls and you can't understand him, I definitely want to talk to him."

[ at 11:35 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, July 08, 2003 
Conservative windbag Michael Savage has finally shown his true colors so vilely that MSNBC fired him: he told a gay caller to "get AIDS and die." Now, is there anything we can do about Ann Coulter?

[ at 11:32 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, July 07, 2003 
Car alarm hell 
I have figured out how someone can make lots of money: Invent a universal remote for car alarms. I suppose it would be illegal, but so are radar detectors, and people still use those. And I guess it would help car thieves, but what the hell; when I hear a car alarm, I'm hoping the damn thing will get stolen.

A few nights ago, some guy had either gotten a new car or borrowed someone else's car, and couldn't figure out how to turn the alarm off. And he was parked right in front of our house. So it'd go off, then stop, then go off again immediately, then he'd say "Damn it!" and go into his/his friend's house, come out a few minutes later, open the door, the alarm would go off, he'd curse and hit various buttons, it would stop, then go off again...

It went on for an excruciatingly long period of time. I was seriously considering going outside and offering him $20 to park somewhere else. (But that probably wouldn't encourage good neighbor relations.)

[ at 3:01 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Urban thoughts 
A kneeling bus pretty much defeats its purpose when it tilts so suddenly it causes the elderly and the infirm to lose their balance.

It's not the fault of the pigeons that the environment we've created for ourselves exactly duplicates their natural habitat.

[ at 2:55 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, July 03, 2003 
On music 
My boss's comment on a singer he doesn't like:
This woman should never be allowed to open her mouth, except to eat and maybe breathe when her nose is stuffed up.
Applicable to pretty much any singer one doesn't like, and to certain politicians, too...

[ at 9:37 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, July 02, 2003 
Copyediting hell 
More of what I have to deal with:
The practice arose from researchers doing research for outside agencies and the work was not directly related to the parent institutions purpose and the overhead rate was/is rather high.
Bangs. Head. On. Desk.

[ at 3:33 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Fun with telemarketers 
I like this: a guy who called a telemarketer who was annoying him (months after he'd registerd on a do-not-call list) more than 100 times in two days. I like this quote:
I just called them every five minutes and let them know that, no, I don't have a crack in my windshield, because this seems to be something they are very concerned about.
I'm a fan of understatement and being annoying by being overly polite. (I have said of myself that, as long as people treat me well, I am polite; when they treat me badly, I am really polite.)

[ at 12:13 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Question of the day 
Why does the machine-ruled world of the future keep producing Terminators with Austrian accents?

[ at 12:02 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, July 01, 2003 
This whole "working at work" thing really takes up a lot of time...

Looks like I might not be able to take Thursday off, as I'd planned (I need to [finally] get a Pennsylvania driver's license and change my name on my bank account), and might have to take work home over the weekend. Feh. The book I'm working on is appallingly written, and it's taking forever. It doesn't help that the chapters are an average of sixty pages long. And they contain sentences like this:
They report the findings in detail but, taking data from one table, this indicates that for all but students the first priority value of professionals from different sectors of librarianship was service to the user. 62.5% of the law librarians recorded the highest percentage—and after the students, the library school faculty.
Law librarians recorded the highest percentage of what? Or is 62.5% the highest percentage of librarians whose priorities were students, and those librarians were law librarians? And are students not users? Bozhe moy...

Oh well; gotta do that Work Thing. Feh. More later, if I ever have time...

[ at 9:13 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yes, that's me.


JanFebhome (i.e. right now)

about zhaba
what the heck is "zhaba"?
amazon wish list

feed me
  Subscribe with Bloglines

who's got the button?
sign my guestmap  
join us
Get Firefox   Get Thunderbird
days till the next U.S. presidential election

>=recently updated
>Blogroll Me!<



even more buttons
Feedback by backBlog

© 2003–05 Zhaba Productions, so don't steal anything.