Zhaba Zhournal
Wednesday, November 26, 2003 
Thanksgiving Eve 
Last night J. and I went on our pre-Thanksgiving shopping trip; my assignment is to make apple and pumpkin pies and bring them to my parents' house in Delaware, where we'll be having the festivities. We wound up buying about 14 1/2 pounds of apples; six Granny Smiths and three Romes for the pie, and an assortment of Romes, Galas, Honeycrisps, and Staymans for eating. J. consumes pretty much nothing but apples, bananas, and distilled water during the workday; he's still avoiding sodium as much as possible, and the food available on campus (he works at a university library) isn't exactly low-sodium, low-fat, or low-anything, except maybe low-nutrition.

Figuring out which aisle the canned pumpkin would be in was a bit of a challenge—is it a canned fruit or a canned vegetable? (Trick question: it's a baking need.) My recipe calls for a 16 oz. can; naturally, they only had 15 oz. and 32 oz. cans. Humph. Their packaging was doubtless designed by the same people who sell hot dogs in packages of eight and hot dog rolls in packages of six. (I settled on the 15 oz. can.)

I'll be baking the pies tonight; J. mixed up a batch of refrigerator biscuit dough last night, which he'll be taking to Delaware as-is and baking when we get there. I also bought walnuts in the shell for our pet mice, so they can have something hard to chew on and something tasty to eat. We cracked the shells to give the mice a head start, but there's still plenty for them to hone their teeth on.

That's about it, I guess. Happy Thanksgiving, all you U.S. people; and, um, Happy Thursday to everyone else.

[ at 12:16 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, November 25, 2003 
Misreading of the day 
If you just glance at it, "Medicare" looks a lot like "Mediocre"; for a brief moment I wondered why Reuters had the headline "Senate Passes Mediocre Reform Bill." Quite frankly, it seems like that would be a better way to put it anyway...

[ at 11:39 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

We are really not amused 
In fact, we are downright pissed off. My whole frippin' computer at work has apparently been taken over by a virus; gggrrrrr snarl snap bite. Hard drive wiping and reinstallation to ensue...

Well, at least that explains how the asshat spammers got into my mail server. I think I'll go assign some random passwords again.

[ at 10:04 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, November 21, 2003 
By virtue of having once mentioned Paris Hilton, I've become a search result for people looking for that sex video. Therefore, this Public Service/Paris Sex Announcement: No, I don't have it. And I'm not going to mention the URL's I've been getting hits from, because then I'll wind up getting search results for that for months, like I did when I mentioned...um, just imagine the letters that the symbols/numbers are replacing: m@nst3rc0cks.c0m. (And I still don't know why I got referrals from there in the first place.)

As long as I've got the words "Paris Hilton" on this page, I may as well repeat what J. said the first time we talked about her:
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?"
The answer may not be "yes," but my oh my, is that implication being made...about as often as she is, apparently...

[ at 8:49 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday Five 
1. List five things you'd like to accomplish by the end of the year.
  • Finish the Christmas stocking I started making for J. last year

  • Make the fruitcake I got the ingredients for two years ago (candied fruit doesn't go bad, does it?)

  • Vacuum (hey, it could happen)

  • Work on my Web site, and maybe get my blog moxified

  • Send my Christmas cards before Christmas
2. List five people you've lost contact with that you'd like to hear from again.

Oh, jeez...I mostly lost contact with them because I wanted to. Next question.

3. List five things you'd like to learn how to do.
  • I'd say "dance," but I believe that's impossible; me:dance :: shellfish:quantum physics

  • Speak Welsh

  • And Irish Gaelic

  • And that African language with all the clicks

  • Anything well enough to get me famous enough to get on the Daily Show (mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...Jon Stewart)
4. List five things you'd do if you won the lottery (no limit).
  • Pay off the mortgages on the houses of all my family members

  • Donate a building to Yale (which I said I'd do on my application, although it was tongue-in-cheek rather than an out-and-out bribe)

  • Upholster a room with cashmere

  • Raise Arabian horses

  • Get my goddamn thighs liposuctioned (they're disproportionately large, so no matter how thin I am I look like a Stone Age fertility goddess from hip to knee)
5. List five things you do that help you relax.
  • Alcohol

  • Xanax

  • Hot baths

  • Orgasms

  • Backrubs

[ at 10:35 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Proofreader, please 
Or at least someone who knows English sentence structure. In the ack-basswards headline department: "Poll: Pa. falling out of favor with the president." The article then says that the president's approval rating is falling in Pennsylvania. So, M(r|s). Headline Writer, what you mean is "President falling out of favor with Pa." (Or maybe "in Pa." would sound better.)

[ at 9:31 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Crime and...something 
I'm going to try to limit the Michael Jackson postings, but I do have this to say: exactly how much of a scumbag are you when a state passes a law specifically because of you? (And how much more of a scumbag are you when you then run afoul of that law ten years later?)

Blah blah blah innocent until proven guilty. I get the feeling that his problem is that he's too innocent, in his own mind; he seems to have an overwhelming naïevté that prevents him from seeing any of his actions as threatening, dangerous, or, heck, even disturbing to anyone else. (The root of "innocent," by the way, isn't "not guilty"; it's "not harming"—"in + nocens," the present participle of "nocere," "to harm." And yes, I know too much Latin.)

[ at 9:20 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, November 20, 2003 
We are not amused 
Okay, I am really disliking whoever's sending zillions of spam messages from my domain name. First of all, it sucks in general; and second, I'm getting all the delivery-failed messages bounced back to me, and having 200 messages of that sort in my inbox is a) a pain in the ass and b) using up big chunks of my allotted megabytes.

I thought I'd taken care of it yesterday by changing all my passwords (twice), and indeed it had tapered off by the end of the day, but this morning I had over 300 returned-to-sender spams. Grrr snarl snap. So I changed my passwords again, and for good measure set up my e-mail aliases so that only the ones I specified would get forwarded to me; the "anything at zhaba dot com" ones—all the "rj_zipwinder-2983-blargthorp86" bogus spam ones—are getting deleted, baby. So whatever happens, I'm not going to see them.

To anyone more hack-savvy than me: Any and all advice is welcome.

To anyone getting spams from my domain name: It's not me.

To the spammer(s): You are so, so lame. A pox on all your IP addresses, and may your servers be infiltrated by wire-eating insects.

[ at 9:54 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, November 19, 2003 
Rush Limbaugh is a big fat criminal idiot 
Am I a really bad person for wanting this to be true?: Rush Limbaugh may have violated money-laundering laws to pay for his prescription-drug addiction.

(J.: I guess that's what you'd call a really white-collar crime.)

[ at 3:44 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Talking to the TV 
On President Bush's trip to London, and the extreme security measures therefor:
J.: It's humiliating to have a head of state who can't visit a foreign capital unless it's in a state of lockdown.
Later, a teaser for the 11 o'clock news on the latest Michael Jackson child-molestation accusation*:
Announcer: Coming up...shocking news about Michael Jackson.

Me: The only thing that would be shocking is if he grew some chest hair and darkened his skin.
*I couldn't find a New York Times link for this story, go figure...

[ at 9:24 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Psst...church and state, anyone? 
President Bush's statement on the Massachusetts same-sex marriage decision:
Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. Today's decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violates this important principle. I will work with Congressional leaders and others to do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage
Ahem. First Amendment, anyone?

(What I really wanted to say was "First fucking Amendment, asshole," but...oh, hey, I just said that.)

[ at 9:14 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, November 18, 2003 
Name of the day 
In the "unlikely name" department: a Biblical archaeologist named P.L.O. Guy. (There wasn't actually an Israel, much less a PLO, in his time; but it's still an odd name to come across.)

[ at 12:36 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Say it isn't so! 
Britney Spears has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I'll just be over here banging my head against the wall.

[ at 11:24 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, November 13, 2003 
You know you're in South Philly when... 
I don't think you can get any more South Philly [adj.] than the line at the pharmacy in the all-night CVS on Passyunk. ("Pass-ee-unk" to anyone else, "Pashunk" down here.) Last night, I overheard a conversation between two archetypally South Philly women—couldn't help but overhear, actually, since one of them was in front of me and the other was behind me. They were somewhere around 30 with 50-year-old skin, hair like a beauty school's oldest mannequin, and the voice of a washed-up blues singer in rehab. And I heard one line that was so classically South Philly I spent the rest of my time in line memorizing it:

"Remember when Billy Potts stole my big Santa and gave it to Weenie to put it on his lawn in Jersey?"

It was one of those sentences I couldn't wait to get to the end of, and couldn't imagine the end of; with every word I thought "Where could she possibly be going with this?" Maybe it's not the funniest or weirdest thing I've heard; but it's just...South Philly. It doesn't get any more-so than this.

[ at 12:51 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, November 10, 2003 
Etymology of the day 
I finally got around to looking up something I've occasionally wondered. It turns out that oranges are not called oranges because they are orange; the color orange is called orange because it's the color of an orange.

The word for the fruit and the color first appear in English in the 14th century; "orange" as a color first appeared in 1542, according to the dictionaries I have on hand. The name for oranges, the fruit, is "narangah" in Sanskrit; it became "narang" in Persian and "naranj" in Arabic, and then followed the Arabs into Moorish Spain. In Anglo-French it was corrupted into "orrange" and finally made it into English as "orange." (Some people say the corruption was in English—"a naranj" becoming "an orange"—but not all sources have that.)

It took me a while to figure out where the name of the House of Orange, the royal family of the Netherlands, and of the William of "William and Mary," came from. It looks like it's from the French town of Orange, so called because it was the center of the orange trade. Hendrik III of the Netherlands, of the House of Nassau-Dillenburg, married Claudia of Chalon and Orange; thereafter the family was known as the House of Orange-Nassau-Dillenburg. (That's according to this page on the history of the House of Orange.)

For a whole heap of the etymology of words for colors, check out The Colour of Words.

One question I still have: how did people refer to the color orange before they had the word orange? Did they describe it in terms of other orange things—fire, amber—or as a combination of other colors, "reddish-yellow" or "yellow-red"? Or did they just not call it anything at all?

Middle Egyptian (the hieroglyphic kind) only has four words for colors, that I remember: green, which covers green and blue; red, which covers red and yellow; and black and white. The Mediterranean Sea was called "Wadj Wer," the Great Green. I don't remember what they called the sky, or lapis lazuli, or anything like that. (It's been a while since I studied Egyptian.)

Gosh, I used up my entire lunch break. I'd best get back to work. Perhaps I'll have an orange later in the afternoon...

[ at 2:07 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, November 07, 2003 
On the news 
Herewith, the top stories on my local TV news yesterday: an update on the couple who [allegedly] starved four of their adopted children; an update on a baby found abandoned on a doorstep; a woman on trial for [allegedly] binding her (former) foster children with duct tape (although her [former] husband was the one who wrapped them up like mummies and took pictures); and a baby who was mauled by the family Rottweiler. And that's all just on one half-hour newscast.

And on the national news? The partial-birth abortion ban.

Now, I am not saying that abortion would have been preferable to bringing the children in the above-mentioned stories into the world; but that, if the Bush administration is so all-fired concerned about the welfare of children, maybe they should be paying more attention to what happens in the world those children were brought into. Okay?

A quote from Bush's speech when he signed the ban: "The real issue is not when life begins, but when love begins." Excuse me, Mr. President, but all too often life begins and love doesn't. Is there anything you can sign to change that?

[ at 12:10 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Talking to the TV 
On the news last night, excerpts from President Bush's speech on "Freedom in Iraq and Middle East":
President Bush: In many Middle Eastern countries...women lack rights.

Me: Yeah, not like here.
(There was a sarcastic snort of laughter in there, too.)

[ at 9:16 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yes, that's me.


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