Zhaba Zhournal
Friday, August 29, 2003 
Mink gone wild 
More about the 10,000 ranch mink that were released by animal-rights whackjobs: those that haven't died of starvation or dehydration, been hit by cars, or been rounded up and returned to the fur farm are doing quite well, thank you, on a diet of domestic poultry and house pets. One farmer estimates his losses at $2,000, which, for those of us in the real world, is a lot of money. And I suspect the native wildfowl and other small animals will be suffering a rapid population decline, too. And the native mink will be crowded out or bred out. Yep, those activists did a lot of good for animals.

American mink released in Britain in the 1980s competed fiercely with the smaller native mink, and almost wiped out many species of ground-nesting birds. Nothing like inducing a vicious, predatory non-native species to an isolated habitat for some good clean extinction-inducing fun!

Yeah, I'm pissed off. Regardless of one's opinion about animals raised for fur, meat, or lab experiments, releasing them into the wild isn't doing anybody any favors. Most of them won't be able to survive; and those that do can wreak havoc on the local environment. Even if they're small and fluffy, like mice and rabbits, they can spread diseases (especially if they've been used in medical research) and compete with their wild counterparts; and if they're vicious and predatory, like mink, it's a death sentence for anything smaller or less aggressive. Yes, raising mink by the thousands in cages isn't natural. But neither is releasing mink by the thousands into an unprepared ecosystem. Okay?

Disclaimer: When I say "animal-rights whackjobs," I'm not referring to everyone who supports animal rights; just those who do fucked-up things like release vicious predatory species and firebomb research labs.

[ at 3:14 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Who needs genetic engineering? 
These are supposed to be rabbits. Dear God, what's happened to them? Have they been cross-bred with dust mops? Tribbles, perhaps? Can they see? Can they hop? And how on earth do you keep them clean? Vaccuuming? Dry-cleaning? My God. They've attained such a level of hyper-cuteness that they're not even cute anymore.

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

Thursday, August 28, 2003 
Quote of the day 
Arnold Schwarzenegger, in an interview with Sean Hannity: "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."

Did I mention the importance of word choice...?

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

The importance of word choice 
From yesterday's New York Times, in the article Two Former Priests Moved by a Massachusetts Prison: discussion of how inmates in protective custody should be kept away from other inmates who are likely to, say, kill them. Which makes sense, and which I'm not debating; I just want to call attention to these paragraphs:
Professor Austin, an expert on classifying inmates, said the two [pedophile Geoghan and the neo-Nazi homophobe who killed him] should not have been in the same protective custody unit. But he added that assigning inmates to avoid confrontations has become the "No. 1 topic of conversation" among prison administrators as a result of mistakes that led to serious injuries and killings...

After serious incidents, several states, have installed computer systems to ensure that inmates who are natural enemies are not assigned to the same unit, he said.
Um..."natural enemies"? I've only heard that term used to describe animals—"the cobra and the mongoose are natural enemies," "use natural enemies like assassin beetles to fight insect pests," and the like. I'm not going to get into a discussion of whether equating prison inmates with animals is appropriate in the grand scheme of things; only that it's not appropriate in a non–op-ed article in one of the nation's leading newspapers. (Since the sentence ends with "he said," it could be inferred that the term is the one used by the professor; but if so, I'd have put it in quotation marks to make it very clear that that was the case.) Personally, I'd have gone with "inmates who are likely to pose a danger to each other," or—as an op-ed piece in the Times today did—inmates with "perceived antipathies." No, that's not as dramatic; but drama and loaded language have no place in a news article.

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2003 
Oh, shut up. 
First it's O.J. feeling sorry for Scott Peterson, and now we have Mike Tyson expressing sympathy for Kobe Bryant. Boo-fucking-hoo, guys.

Disclaimer: Innocent until proven guilty etc. Still, as I said in the O.J. post, "you're feeling the wrong person's pain."

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

Two for Tuesday 
Via Jewdez:

1. I totally cannot stand...

Cockroaches, car alarms, my neighbor's dogs, people who step on worms, homophobes, fast food, glue traps for rodents, people who don't vote, hot weather.

2. If I wrote an autobiography, I'd call it...

Not Quite. (As in, "Not quite [whatever] enough...")

[ at 9:37 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, August 25, 2003 
And having writ... 
Okay, yesterday was not a particularly good day. My dad got laid off; none of us are going to wind up in the street, or anything, but it's a definite shock, and will require a lot of mental adjustment and lifestyle changes. Feh.

Assorted impressions:
  • When my mom got the Republican National Committee's request for their usual generous donation, she wrote back "Unable to donate this year because of husband's job loss." My dad asked, "Did you write 'It's the economy, stupid'?" (No, she isn't that direct.)

  • Dad: "When your neighbor loses their job, it's a recession. When you lose your job, it's a depression."

  • My brother (hereinafter B. [his actual initial, not just standing for "brother"]) is a cop, as I've mentioned; he always has his gun on him, although when he leaves Philly he takes out the bullets. Anyway, Dad said, "I decided that I wasn't a suicide risk, so you could bring your gun." B., matter-of-factly: "You couldn't get it away from me."

  • At his now–former company, they don't make you walk out with your possessions in a box. You can go back to your office for your wallet, keys, and briefcase, and then they box up the rest of the stuff and ship it to you. At least it's a more dignified exit.

  • Back at home with J., talking about it: He kept reassuring me that things would be fine; they've saved a lot of money, they own some property they can sell, and my dad will get severance pay until the end of the year. "Nobody's bulletproof, but they're in the Popemobile."

  • Also: "They don't have to worry about supporting their kids anymore. B.'s launched out on a new career, you're doing well at work, and I'm not too much of a disgrace..."
As for me, I'd better not get manic and get $10,000 into debt again, that's for sure...

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

Saturday, August 23, 2003 
Dept. of Justice And/Or the Law 
So, the pedophile ex-priest has been killed in prison. I'm going to repost the comment I made over at redsugar muse: Some people say this is while child molesters shouldn't be put in the general prison population. Some people say it's exactly why they should be.

(Yadda yadda murder is bad yadda yadda illegal yadda yadda it's for God to decide yadda yadda maybe He just did.)

[ at 9:47 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The cost of...reading? 
Hey, the book I'm working on has a pre-order page on the publisher's Web site, and, good Lord, it's $59.95. What are they going to print it on, shatoosh? I sure wouldn't pay that much for it.

(No, I'm not posting the link. I fear that would lead to a good deal of trouble for all concerned.)

[ at 5:14 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

It's damn hard to work at home on a sunny and not-oppressively-hot Saturday. So here's some links.

First, it looks like Fark's not going to front-page this, so I'll just preserve my headline here: Now–ex-serviceman learns that for the Navy, appearing on "Boy Meets Boy" is in the "tell" category.

A bear who tests bear-proof camping equipment can open an ice chest bound with nylon rope in 90 seconds.

Here are some people making a counterintuitive entrance to their health club.

And here is a picture of a decontamination process that will be stuck in my head for far too long.

Never mind rats, it's the growing population of feral dogs that cities have to start watching out for.

And finally: you know you've got a flood problem when you have to watch the roads for salmon crossings.

[ at 3:31 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

What, he's in the news again? 
This just in from the [alleged {ha!}] Wife-Murdering Scumbag Department: O.J. Simpson expresses sympathy for Scott Peterson. Yo, dude, you're feeling the wrong person's pain.

[ at 2:54 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Democracy: 1. Hypocrisy: 0. 
You can all put your thesauri down: a federal judge has ruled that it is legal to use the phrase "fair and balanced" to describe something other than Fox News.

The article is eminently quotable, but this one really tickles me:
Although Franken has appeared as a guest on Fox News Channel at least 10 times in the past five years, according to Fox, he is not affiliated with the network, which, in court papers, called his commentary "not good enough to be endorsed by Fox News."
I believe that's what you call "praising with faint damns"...

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

Friday, August 22, 2003 
In the movies 
From the New York Times movie review section:
Marci X and My Boss's Daughter are not reviewed because there were no screenings for critics.
No, I guess there wouldn't be...

(I'm more ill-disposed toward "My Boss's Daughter," because I have a visceral reaction to Tara Reid—I just can't stand white women whose skin is darker than their hair. I.e., blondes with very dark tans. It just looks skanky. And, not coincidentally, it reminds me of most of the girls who went to my high school...)

(Apropos Onion article this week: Local Woman Proud of Horrible Tan.)

[ at 8:57 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, August 21, 2003 
I'm drunk. Bear that in mind. 
So I'm drunk.

Every now and then, J. and I split a bottle of wine (or so) and solve all the problems of the universe, or at least talk about them till we're sick of them.

So today we got on the topic of holidays (via the book I'm copyediting), which led to religion in general, which led to the Catholic Church, in the tradition of which we were both raised. (He's been confirmed; I haven't.) And we were talking about how the Catholic Church is virulently opposed to homosexuality and birth control and masturbation, and yet has been covering up for pedophile priests for decades. And I suddenly thought, and said, "You know, I don't think the Bible actually says anywhere that you can't rape children."

(Note to all the perverts and/or FBI investigators who have found this entry via search engines: No, I'm not saying or doing anything illegal. Go away.)

Anyway...that would be interesting, wouldn't it? There's "wrong" and there's "illegal" and there's "sin," and depending on your religion or lack thereof they don't necessarily mean the same thing. You can sin to your heart's content, say a thousand Hail Marys, and you're good to go. And go. And go... And if something is illegal, but not a sin, why shouldn't the Church cover up for you? It's not like you broke God's rules, after all...

(Random bit of information: J.'s mother was actually excommunicated for marrying his father, who was a Protestant. And this was in Massachusetts in the 1950s.)

(This has significantly influenced both of our opinions on the Catholic Church.)

Sigh...I'm drunk. I'd better not say anything that'll get me flamed. And I'm damn-sure not going to run any searches on the Bible and pedophilia on the Internet; I'll check it tomorrow on my computer at work, where I've got a KJV on my hard drive. It would explain a lot, though...

[ at 9:46 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

No, no, no! 
Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's remake? No, no, no, please God, no! What do I have to do, sacrifice chickens, self-flagellation, a thousand Hail Marys? I'll do it, just make this go away!

Update: Judging from all the other blogs, journals, and message boards on-line, I'm about the only person who doesn't think this is just the cat's knees and the bee's pajamas. Well, I like the original just fine, thank you, and it's hard to improve on Gene Wilder. I also think Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have both been getting increasingly mannered and creepy over the years, and I'm not sure how eager I am to see what happens when they get together again.

[ at 11:22 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Dead man talking? 
I guess you've all heard by now that we've captured Chemical Ali, which is quite a coup, since he's supposed to have been dead since April 5. (I've been looking for a contemporaneous link, but they seem to have all gone dead by now. Except the Fox News one, which I'm not going to link to.) Anyway, better late than never.

Amusement of the day: when you enter "Chemical Ali" in this Anagram Generator, you get "CIA call me hi!" (I wish could take credit for that, but I found it in this Fark.com thread.)

Update: I do, however, take credit for this improved rewrite: "Hi, CIA, call me!"

[ at 11:15 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, August 20, 2003 
My life is complete: there is, indeed, a Web site called shoes.com. Oh boy oh boy oh boy...

(If this does not excite, nay, drive you wild with joy, you are clearly not a woman.)

[ at 12:58 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Build your own hell! 

Parents who bring squalling brats to R-rated movies
Circle I Limbo

The inventor of car alarms, My neighbors and their awful yappy dogs
Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind

Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow

Circle IV Rolling Weights

Qusay Hussein, Uday Hussein
Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled

River Styx

George Bush
Circle VI Buried for Eternity

River Phlegyas

Saddam Hussein
Circle VII Burning Sands

NAMBLA Members
Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement

Osama bin Laden
Circle IX Frozen in Ice

Design your own hell

[ at 10:32 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, August 19, 2003 
Rodents (not mice) 
J. sent me this link: rat-sized gerbils are decimating grasslands in north-western China. His accompanying e-mail:
They belong to the genus Rhombomys, and really ought to be marketed here in pet stores as the "Rambo Gerbil". They'd sell like hotcakes, only they're colonial and live in burrows. They sound a bit like prairie dogs, in a way. The story doesn't address what people might have done to cause a huge rodent population explosion. Like kill off all the local predators for the fur market, or start irrigating desert for grain production? Inquiring minds want to know. At least, this one does.
Hm, maybe the giant gerbils could be funneled into the fur market...

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

Unfortunate name of the day 
Man, this poor guy: a British actor named Ray McAnally. (I'm going to start getting some unfortunate search results, too, I think...)

[ at 9:23 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, August 18, 2003 
The "From" names cobbled together by spam programs are frequently amusing; this one's so good I had to preserve it before trashing the message: Litherland Struzzi.

I love it. It sounds like a Tolkien elf who married an Italian alpinist. I'll file it away for that grand fantasy epic I don't know I'll never write.

(Oddly, Mr./Ms./Sr./Sra. Struzzi's return address is "BoylGantzler@[snipped].com," which sounds neither Elvish nor Italian; kind of Irish by way of the Netherlands...)

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

Adventures in policing 
My brother, a Philly cop, told us about another officer who got in an altercation with a deer. It was in a cemetery, I think, or a small lot; the deer jumped over the guy's car, and he got out and chased it around and shouted at it. He claimed it was a "vicious animal." (Me: "I don't think deer are particularly vicious." J.: "I bet they're pretty irritable after you've been chasing them for half an hour.")

The deer eventually got away. The kicker is, the officer actually filed a report about it. The offender was described thus: "Deer. 5 feet tall. Brown in color. White tail." The report, my brother said, spread very rapidly through the rest of the department. (I don't think civilians can get a copy, alas.) And the guy's high on the list of Who Not To Be Partnered With.

[ at 4:11 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, August 15, 2003 
What not to say 
What not to say when drawing cards for a tarot reading: "Whoa, that's not good."

(I actually did this to someone during one of my very few readings-for-other-people, but he took it in stride.)

[ at 3:27 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Power, again (or not again) 
Dear everyone who lost power,

That sucks. I'm sorry.

I'm glad Philly didn't; twice in three days would have been a bit much. (Okay, a lot much.)

J. pointed out that millions of people, south to New Jersey, north to Ontario, and west to the Great Lakes, have lost power, but it's being treated like a New York story. Of course, most of the U.S. national media is based in New York, so anything that happens there is local news to them, and they get as excited as Channel 17 Podunk on a snow day. And I guess that they have trouble connecting via satellite or Internet or whatever to anyone anywhere else. And, since New York is an island, anyone who's stuck there is stuck there; it had never occurred to me that, without electricity, the only way out of New York is by boat. The sight of thousands of people lining up for the ferry was amazing.

I mentioned in my power-outage post that I was surprised (okay, "depressed" is the word) about how many things are impossible without electricity. And there were other things mentioned on the news last night and today that I hadn't thought of: ATMs, for instance. No power, no money. (And ergo no way onto the ferry if you don't already have the fare in your pocket.) Toilets at airports and other large facilities: many of them are run by electric pump systems. (And the ones with the electric eyes wouldn't work at all, I guess.) It's also distressing that many of the power companies themselves rely on the Internet to relay information...um, guys, that's not such a good idea...

Anyway: to those of you affected, as I said, it sucks. I'm sorry. I hope you got/get time off from work, at least. Forsan et haec.

[ at 9:09 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, August 14, 2003 
I'm copyediting a book for teachers about holidays. Today, I've run into the surprisingly thorny issues about the official and/or approved names of holidays. The author has "Grandparents' Day," or sometimes "Grandparent's Day"; the National Grandparents Day organization (yes, there is such a thing) doesn't have an apostrophe anywhere. (I used their version; it's their holiday, they decide what it's called.) U.S. federal holidays have official names designated by the laws establishing them—technically, it's "Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr." (The author has "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day" and the Chicago Manual of Style has "Martin Luther King Jr. Day" [no comma]—I'm going with CMS.) The day on which elections occur is, in CMS, not capitalized (it's just "election day"), and it isn't capitalized on the Federal Election Commission Web site; but I think it looks pretty stupid that way. But, aha!—in certain states it is an official holiday. Capitalization can stay. The author has "Three Kings' Day"; I wanted to get rid of the apostrophe, but alas, the Vatican Web site provided no guidance; they use the more common Epiphany. The Spanish name, el Dia de los Reyes, doesn't provide any help. (I kept the apostrophe.) And who has the final say on April Fools'/Fool's/Fools Day? (CMS has "All Fools' Day," so I guess I'll use the final apostrophe.)

Bozhe moy...I guess I can't make everybody happy. I'll just try to maintain a balance between being technically correct, editorially correct, and not looking too funny.

[ at 3:11 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

At a Starbucks in Center City: a group of women, presumably lawyers, discussing their clientele.

"He says she doesn't appreciate him. C'mon, you're in prison. What's she going to appreciate, that you made her a personalized license plate?"

"He says 'You're not a real lawyer, you're just a public defender. You're wasting my time.' I said 'You're in prison. You've got nothing but time. You're wasting my time.'"

[ at 11:26 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Half-Assed Apology Dept. 
Well, anti-gay Minnesota legislator Arlon Linder, a.k.a. the frickin' Holocaust denier, has, after touring an exhibit from the Holocaust Museum that provides photographic and documentary evidence that gays were indeed persecuted, imprisoned, and killed by Nazis, said that, okay, yeah, he was wrong about saying they weren't. (At the time of the writing of the first article, he had refused to attend the Holocaust Museum exhibit. So apparently, eventually, you can lead a whore to culture.*)

Anyway, despite this "eye opener" on the "homosexual perspective," he still says that gays and lesbians shouldn't have civil rights protections, are sinful/wrong/perverted (all three, in case just one didn't make his point), and that he's not going to "go against my maker" by believing, saying, or acting otherwise. But at least he's not a frickin' Holocaust denier. Not about this, anyway. (Has anyone asked him about gypsies and Jehovah's Witnesses?)

*Dorothy Parker, after being asked to use the word "horticulture" in a sentence: "You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think."

[ at 9:24 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, August 13, 2003 
I am so, so pathetic. I was held at bay by a cockroach for nearly 20 minutes last night.

I woke up at 3 a.m., hungry and edging towards a hangover—I'd eaten practically nothing all day, and gone to a concert and drunk two five-dollar beers and inhaled lots of cigarette smoke. I decided to go downstairs and have some bread. I went into the hallway and was reaching for my robe when I saw a huge frickin' cockroach at the top of the steps. It had frozen when I turned on the light; I froze when I saw it. I edged towards it and made a sweeping motion in its vicinity, and it scuttled down the top stair. And clung to the underside of the lip of the step. So I was stuck.

Well, if I'd been a normal person, I wouldn't have been stuck. But I didn't want to walk down the stairs with the cockroach there, in case it...I don't know...did something icky. (That's really what I'm afraid of, with most bugs: not that they'll harm me, but that they'll be...icky.) I stood. It clung. I tried to figure out if I could go downstairs without using the top step, and decided I'd probably fall, which would be exceptionally humiliating. I stood. It clung. I tried turning off the light, then turning it on again, hoping the roach would scuttle again; it didn't. Finally I decided to try to poke it out of the way; I grabbed a toilet plunger and ran it back and forth under the lip of the step. The roach scuttled and disappeared. I don't know where. I didn't care. I couldn't see it.

So I went downstairs, and realized that I hadn't actually put on my robe. I didn't want to go back upstairs for it—I didn't want to push my cockroach luck, and didn't want to wake J. by going up and down stairs too much. But I didn't want to go into the kitchen with no clothes on. (I guess it's unlikely that anyone would be looking into my kitchen window at 3 a.m., but I didn't want to push my luck with that, either.) I found a towel that hadn't made it all the way upstairs after being laundered and wrapped it around myself and went into the kitchen. Turned on the light—roaches scuttled. But they went under the fridge and I didn't worry too much about them.

Ate bread, turned off lights, went back upstairs, took off towel, went back to bed. Felt pathetic. But, hey, at least I didn't scream or fall down the stairs; and I didn't wake up J. and ask him to kill it, which he would not have appreciated.

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2003 
Power: off. On. Off. On. Off. Fuck it. 
(Cross-post from my journal.)

Bozhe moy. Herewith, today's timetable:

8:45: Get to office.
9:00: Start work.
11:00: Go to store for lunch.
11:10: Get back to office, start eating lunch. Prepare to do lunchtime e-mail and online mucking-about.
11:15: Power goes out. All of it. The entire block. The next block over. Everything.
11:20: Go outside and finish eating. Talk to coworkers, walk around the block, wish I had something to read. Call J., tell him I can't e-mail.
11:45: Word comes that the source of the power failure is 9th and Lombard—seven blocks west and about ten blocks north—and won't be back on for an hour.
11:50: Boss tells us all to go to lunch and be back in an hour. Then he goes to do some errands.
11:55: Go to bus stop. Wait.
12:15: No bus in sight. Coworker walks by and tells me power's back on.
12:20: Back in office. Turn on computer, load workstation. Decide that although I haven't done any work since 11, I didn't really have a full lunch break—I need my time online, dammit!—and do some mucking-about.
12:30: Power goes off. "Oh shit," we say.
12:31: Muck about office looking for something to read. Ponder wisdom of drinking beer in fridge. (Boss still absent.)
12:45: Power comes on.
12:46: Upload all the files I'm working on to my own server, so I can work at home if need be. Start to e-mail J.
12:50: Power goes off. "Oh, give me a fucking break," we say.
12:51: I announce I'm going home, taking the Chicago Manual of Style with me, and working from there.
1:00 and after: Take bus. Get home. Turn on air conditioning. Turn on computer. Download files. E-mail J. Post this.

It was really rather depressing to realize exactly how little there was to do without power. No work, obviously. But also no e-mail, no blogging/journaling, no reading news, no playing games, no listening to music...

(Yes, I work at a publishing company, but that doesn't mean there's anything to read. Either it's stuff I've edited and am thoroughly sick of, or stuff I'm not interested in, like science textbooks and evangelical magazines.)

[ at 1:59 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Music, or whatever, for the masses 
A few months ago—not on-line, so I can't link to it—I wrote, "The next stage in music: Asian rappers. Within five years." Well, I was off by...about five years. In today's New York Times: Slim Shady, Watch It: Asian Rapper's Got It. (Their title, not mine.) His name is Jin, he's Chinese-American, and he's been on BET and an MTV tour. And he seems to be holding his own pretty darn well both...um, musically? Lyrically? Performance-ly?...against more established rappers, and against ethnic insults. ("You wanna say I'm Chinese/Sonny here's a reminder/Check your Timbs/They probably say made in China"—"Timbs" being Timberland shoes, which I gather have street cred.)

I, personally, know next to nothing about rap, or rap culture (whatever that is), and I don't see myself buying his album or anything; but I think it's pretty darn cool.

Note: I'm not dissing rap by being unsure that it's music; as I said, I know next to nothing about it, certainly not enough to diss it. But when I think "music," I think instruments and singing, not spoken-word performances. It clearly is a form of performance; as far as I can tell, it involves music; but it's not, in my opinion, music per se.

[ at 9:21 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, August 11, 2003 
Ticket for tomorrow 
Hey, Philly-area people: I've got an extra ticket for the Jason Mraz/Liz Phair concert tomorrow at 8:30 at the Electric Factory. Anybody want it?

(I'm cross-posting this in a couple of places, so first-come, first-serve. Although if no one wants it, I suppose I can drag a very reluctant J.)

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

Size matters 
Does anyone in the fashion industry or the media remember what "plus size" actually means? I'm really tired of women who are size 8 or 10 or 12 being called "plus size," because, dammit, they aren't. As I recall, the term arose back when women's sizing went like this:

If you went into your basic women's clothing store or women's section of a department store, sizes 2-4 were "small"; 6-8 were "medium"; 10-12 were "large." You'd find those everywhere. Sometimes you'd find 14, which was "extra large." And very rarely, you'd find 16, which was "extra extra large." But usually, for sizes 16 and up, you'd have to go to The Special Store. And that—16 and up—was "plus size."

Since then, most manufacturers have adjusted their size charts, so now small is 4-6, medium is 8-10, large is 12-14, and extra large is 16; sometimes large is even 14-16. So now "plus size" is generally 18 and up.

Which, you will notice, if you are capable of comprehending Arabic numerals, is bigger than 8 or 10 or 12. Okay?

I suppose, since regular-women's-clothing models are four or six sizes lower than the women the clothes are intended for (size 0 models for size 4-6 women), it's only consistent for plus-size models to be four or six sizes lower than actual plus-size women. But still: Emme is not frickin' plus size. Steven Tyler's other daughter (the non-Liv one) is not frickin' plus size. Anna Nicole Smith...well, she's very, very far into plus size territory by now, but I don't even want to think of her modeling anything.

Anyway. I know the fashion industry and the media aren't anchored in reality; and I suppose it's good that they've noticed that there are women in the world who are larger than Jennifer Aniston; but still...can't they be frickin' consistent in their inaccuracy?

[ at 11:57 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Saturday, August 09, 2003 
More than six words 
The somewhat cryptic entry below refers to last night's Friday Night Stand-Up block on Comedy Central, which was a Denis-Leary-o-thon leading up to the Denis Leary Roast tomorrow night. I was somewhat dubious—"four hours of this guy?"—but the first two hours were tapes of hour-long benefit performances by a whole slew of comics, one of whom was Jon Stewart. Who I've never seen anywhere but behind a desk, in a Canali suit, wearing a tie, with mousse in his hair. And here he was doing stand-up in jeans and a slouchy sweater and a leather jacket and tousled hair and...well...damn. (Yeah, I know, I'm married and he's married and he doesn't know who I am. I don't care. I'm allowed to have some irrational interests, aren't I?)

The entire Denis Leary evening was actually remarkable entertaining; J. and I went to bed with the "I'm an Asshole" song firmly stuck in our heads. ("A—S-S—H-O—L-E...") And if our schedules allow, we'll definitely watch the roast tomorrow. I suspect that the whole "let's make fun of Denis Leary" project is actually a "let's make people want to watch Denis Leary" project. I'm sure going to look for some of his albums. (Especially one with the "Asshole" song on it.) I don't know if I'll go so far as to watch his movies, but at least I'm going to be aware of him.

(Besides, I don't know if I'll go so far as to watch Jon Stewart's movies. A good comic doesn't necessarily a) make a good actor or b) get parts in movies that are actually funny. [See, for instance, most of the movies made by Saturday Night Live cast members.] No, I'll take my stand-up comics and sketch artists and late-night talk show hosts in their media of choice, thank you very much.) (Ideally in leather jackets...)

[ at 6:50 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Dear Comedy Central:

Six words:
Jon Stewart.

Leather jacket.

Thank you.

[ at 6:33 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Department of Let's Get Real 
In the New York Times: Scientists Warn That Visitors Are Loving Titanic to Death. Quote:
The Titanic, assailed by rust as well as by hundreds of explorers and moviemakers, salvors and tourists, is rapidly falling apart.
Um...excuse me, it's a frippin' shipwreck. It's supposed to fall apart. It's been falling apart since about 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912. Okay?

I suppose it could be compared to, say, the ruins of the Coliseum—that's a famous historical landmark that's falling apart, and we're preserving it—but the reason the Titanic is famous at all is because it sank. (And actually, it's only a landmark because it sank; non-sunken ships don't have a fixed position.) (Except dry-docked ships, but only because people put them there.)

Well, it does have an important place in the history and imagination and even philosophy of the 20th and 21st centuries, so yes, it's legitimately an object of interest. And it's true that, barring human intervention, probably nothing would significantly change it for centuries. But still...it broke in two. It sank. It's falling apart. It's a shipwreck. That's what shipwrecks do.

[ at 5:51 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, August 08, 2003 
Hey, I'm not stupid! 
Or lazy or ditzy or willfully disobedient or not trying hard enough. Yes, I do believe I have a learning disability: dyscalculia. It's the math-related version of dyslexia, defined by Merriam-Webster as "impairment of mathematical ability due to an organic condition of the brain." (I like that definition. "Organic condition of the brain." Thank you.) Here's a symptom list that fits me to an almost frightening degree. It's one of those personal Newton-under-the-apple-tree moments: "Suddenly everything makes sense!"

Can't write about it much now, since I'm at work and my lunch break's almost over (and I haven't even taken a bite of my lunch), but it's gotten me thinking a lot, and feeling a lot of different emotions, and I'll try to write more later.

[ at 1:11 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Hey, I'm not unattractive! 
I've lost quite a bit of weight (25 pounds since January 1st, last time I checked), and have been dressing more...interestingly (i.e., not trying to hide everything from my ribcage to my knees), and today I wore one of my more...interesting tops (close-fitting and pretty low-cut), and I got a "Hi, gorgeous" and a wolf whistle on the way to work, and turned at least one head on the way to lunch. Blah blah objectification blah blah being shallow blah blah men are pigs shut up. It's just nice to get some evidence that, hey, I'm not unattractive.

(Nothing like being a depressed, anemic, overweight teenager to make you feel like pond scum for the rest of your life. My weight's fluctuated wildly with every medication I've taken; I gained forty pounds on Lithium, and was so miserable I told my psychiatrist, "I hate myself more on this medication than I did when I was untreated." Zoloft took off about thirty pounds, mania took off fifteen more, recovering from mania and a variety of bipolar-treating drugs put on fifty, Ritalin took off ten....so at various points I've been more or less unattractive, and at some points even pretty darn hot, but I've never really internalized the idea.)

But anyway. I'm not unattractive. Go me.

[ at 1:05 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

When nature messes with man's messing with nature 
I really, really hate small dogs (especially those belonging to my neighbor), and I cannot say I am unsatisfied by this: a hawk used to kill rats mistook a rat-dog for a rat. (Okay, it was a Chihuahua. And it survived. And the hawk-based rat-killing program has been called off. But it's still satisfying.)

I spent most of my early adolescence being passionately interested in hawks and falcons and falconry. It's a darn good thing the Delaware falconry laws prevented people under 14 from getting licenses, or I'd have been nagging my parents for a backyard mews and my very own large predatory bird every day between fifth and eighth grades. (My friends just wanted ponies...)

[ at 12:57 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, August 07, 2003 
Headline of the day 
On Fark.com:
Gore will not run in 2004. To summarize so far, Gore - No ; Schwarzenegger - Yes ; Jerry Springer - No ; Gary Coleman - Yes ; Larry Flynt - Yes ; California Voters - Oh Shit

[ at 3:14 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Overengineered product of the day 
Now really: who needs a mouse pad with a built-in calculator, digital clock, FM radio, and headphones? If you've got a computer—which presumably you do, if you're using a mouse pad—you've got a calculator and a clock; if you have Web access, you have a radio; if you have an electronics store within walking or driving distance, you can get headphones. If you don't have Web access, you can get an FM radio pretty easily and inexpensively too. And, more to the point, what good is a single product that has that many disparate properties? One of them's going to break faster than the others, and probably they'll never all work correctly at the same time. The radio's going to lose reception, the calculator batteries will die, the LED display will fade out, your mouse hand will hit the keys, the mouse cord and the headphone cords will get tangled...

It's pretty much a floor wax that acts like a dessert topping. The cost of doing several things at once is usually not doing any of them particularly well.

Oh well; people like gadgets, or the idea of gadgets; the idea of saving time and energy is very appealing. But it usually just winds up being a headache that doesn't save much of anything.

[ at 9:24 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, August 06, 2003 
Glowing mice 
In the "still no cure for cancer" department: scientists have created fluorescent mice. I guess there's no way for me to get them as pets.

[ at 3:07 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

On TV, barring act of God 
Oh Lord, excuse me while I vomit. NBC is still going ahead with the Jessica Lynch movie—despite minor details like, oh, no one knowing exactly what happened—and Britney Spears is in talks for her own talk show. (The report says she wouldn't necessarily be the host, but "might make an occasional appearance." So it's not as bad as I thought at first. Still...who the heck wants to hear what she has to say about anything?) Well, at least the plans for an O.J. Simpson reality show have been squashed.

[ at 12:06 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The media and the message 
Well, another woman has murdered her child, a tragic event with a great deal of social and psychological significance that I don't particularly feel like talking about; a) it's grim, and b) I don't think I have the time or mental energy to treat it fully. What I want to mention is the media shorthand for these kinds of things.

Since it was in the Philly area—the woman was a Villanova professor—it was on the front cover of the Daily News. Specifically, a full-page color picture of a teddy bear was on the cover of the Daily News. And I bet if I watch the local news tonight, the picture in the upper right-hand corner of the screen will also be a teddy bear.

It's one of the default child-tragedy media images: teddy bear=dead child, empty swing=missing child. I'm not sure if they're just visual clichés, or if they've moved to the level of cultural signifiers.

There are probably plenty of others that I'd notice if I started paying attention to the local news: fire helmet=dead/injured firefighter, police badge=dead/injured police officer, corner picture half-full of flames=major fire, corner picture entirely filled with flames=fatal fire.

If I was still studying film and media arts, I could write a heck of a paper on it. But I'm not. So I'll just keep it in mind and maybe post about it occasionally.

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

Tuesday, August 05, 2003 
I can't be the only one who gets this: pineapple makes my mouth hurt, and kiwi doesn't hurt but just...feels funny. I mentioned this to J., who's got a degree in botany; he told me that pineapple contains bromelain, which is a protease enzyme—a digestive enzyme frequently used as a meat tenderizer. Yikes. No wonder it makes the roof of my mouth feel tender; it's trying to digest it! (Bromeline is specific to pineapples; I couldn't find the exact chemical in kiwi, but it does contain protease enzymes.)

I'm trying to find a good link, but I keep getting the Web sites of health food/natural product/beauty supply/nutrition supplement companies touting the bazillion all-natural ingredients in their latest product. I can see why protease would be useful in beauty products; it would be a heck of a facial cleanser, if you didn't leave it on too long. And I guess if you were missing some digestive enzymes taking supplements would be useful—along the lines of Lactaid for lactose intolerance.

But anyway. I think I'll be avoiding pineapple.

[ at 3:17 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

By the...sea? 
Oddly, the air today has a seaside smell—not in a particularly good way, I guess; the way it smells when a lot of seaweed has washed up on the beach, an edge of salt with a muddy undertone of vegetable decay. Probably the extreme humidity is carrying the smell from the Delaware River, which is about half a mile away. And probably the cause of the smell isn't anything as wholesome as seaweed—there's gotta be at least some sewage out there—but I did have some pleasant beachy associations on my walk to lunch.

(When I left the office, it wasn't raining, so I didn't bring my umbrella; when I left the store, it was raining. Feh. But I didn't get too wet, just annoyingly dampened.)

[ at 12:26 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, August 04, 2003 
Spiny mice 
Well, it turns out J. and I aren't as good at sexing spiny mice as we thought. (No, that doesn't mean anything kinky; it just means determining their genders.) After the last population explosion (one male in a cage with three females, one of whom got pregnant twice), we tried to separate the males from the females; we kept the females, and the males became office mascots. (As recorded in an entry back in May.) And there didn't appear to be any frisky business going on. Until, two nights ago, I went in to feed our "females" and discovered that there were three babies. And many of the other adults were looking pretty darn pregnant. Oops...

So last night we rounded up the males, and I think we were successful this time. It looks like there's four pregnant females; it could be worse. The office mice don't have any babies, and none of them look pregnant, so hopefully we won't wind up with more than we bargained for here. Although I suppose it would make the office more interesting.

[ at 3:24 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Editing: the aftermath 
The publisher is very, very happy with our work. Which is good, because otherwise I'd have to hunt him down and bash his head in with the Chicago Manual of Style.

[ at 9:32 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Sunday, August 03, 2003 
Awake now 
Yawwwwnnnn...okay, just about recovered from last week. The deal was, my company and the publisher we were working for had a different definition of "light copyedit." In my irreverent summation of our copyediting levels, "light copyedit" means "You give us crap, we make sure it's spelled right." "Medium copyedit" means "You give us crap, we make it not suck." (I don't think we've actually defined "heavy copyedit," but I imagine it would be something like "You give us crap, we rewrite it and your author gets paid for it.")

Anyway, after we'd (i.e. I'd) made sure this book was spelled right, the publisher told us that they wanted the book to not suck, and unfortunately they only told us this a week before the fucking book goes to press. The 600-or-so-page book. Which has to be a) copyedited, b) approved by the authors who made it suck in the first place, c) designed, d) flowed, and e) printed. Um, yeah, sure, we can do that...

So I and our other copyeditor got three, count 'em, three days to get the fucker done. Which was difficult, since I was going at a rate of about three pages an hour, and I'd been assigned three chapters that were about sixty pages each. Bozhe moy...

Well, anyway, as I said previously, we knocked the bastard off. And although I felt bad about not getting a really good job done by 9 a.m. Friday morning, I'm glad we didn't get the weekend to work on it; then the weekend would have sucked, and I wouldn't have gotten to sleep in until 1 p.m. yesterday and 11 a.m. today, and drunk three or possibly four glasses of wine last night. (This morning I had the first hangover I've gotten in years; I didn't use my Handy-Dandy Super-Duper Surefire Hangover Preventer, which is: for every shot of liquor, glass of wine, or bottle/can of beer, drink at least one 8-oz. glass of water. It works perfectly; I haven't had a single hangover when I've used it.)

Anyway...went to Center City today, finally bought new shoes (I've been wearing the same pair of black stack-heeled loafers every day since last September, and they're much the worse for wear), got some tops at the Ann Taylor Loft in Liberty Place, and spent a long time in Border's trying to find something to read. If I ran the entire publishing industry, two of my immediate decrees would be: no more fantasies based on King Arthur, and no more mysteries with Sherlock Holmes. If you're not Arthur Conan Doyle, I don't want to hear your latest brilliant idea about how Sherlock Holmes goes to upstate New York and solves some crime involving an Erie Canal shipping magnate, or whatever the fuck these people come up with. And I think Malory, T. H. White, and Marion Zimmer Bradley have covered the Arthur waterfront just fine, thank you. So no more mist-enshrouded fantasies where all the names are spelled funny, please. (Uythyr Pendraghon and Mworgayn L'Faye and so forth...yeesh, authenticity is all very well and good, but since you aren't writing in Anglo-Saxon, could you kindly make the names comprehensible?)

Okay, I think I'll lay off the publishing industry now. For the most part I suppose it does very well. And I do someday hope to be published, so I don't want to jinx my karma. But still...if only people who couldn't write couldn't get published, the world would be a little bit of a better place...

[ at 8:15 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, August 01, 2003 
Not much time on-line in the past few days. Big project. Worked like crazy. 9 a.m. to midnight Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. yesterday, 7 a.m. to 10:30 this morning. Project done. Sleep now. More later.

Quote of the day: Edmund Hillary on the way down Everest: "We knocked the bastard off."

[ at 10:41 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.