Zhaba Zhournal
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  ]

Yes, that's me.

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