Zhaba Zhournal
Tuesday, December 30, 2003 
Side effects 
The small-print writers at CVS have changed their phraseology: where my prescription drug side effects lists used to say "sexual side effects," now they say "changes in sexual ability." Which, for women, doesn't necessarily mean anything. ("Have you noticed any changes in sexual ability?" "Nope, I can still lie there.")

(Not that "sexual side effects" is a very useful description in the first place. It very seldom means "You'll have orgasms every time you set off your car alarm" or anything entertaining like that.)

My absolute favorite side-effect warning is the one I get on my birth control pills: "Do not use if you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant." Well, isn't that the point?

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

Friday, December 26, 2003 
On December six-and-twenty 
It's the day after Christmas, and that means another winter holiday in some parts of North America. Not just Boxing Day in Canada—Junkanoo in the Bahamas.

I discovered it when copyediting (by which I mean "practically rewriting") a book for teachers about holidays, which I briefly posted about back in August. The book mentioned it in two paltry sentences at the end of the section on Kwanzaa, but didn't actually explain it, so I did some Web research so I could provide more (and better-written) information. It turns out it's an Afro-Caribbean holiday started by slaves as early as the 16th century. The day after Christmas and New Year's Day were the two days on which they could hold traditional African celebrations, and the holiday has long outlasted slavery (which ended in the Bahamas in 1838, by the way, 25 years before the U.S. Emancipation Proclamation went into effect).

Anyway, Junkanoo sounds like a heck of a lot of fun. Parades, costumes, music and dancing in the streets—this Bahamas travel guide says "Junkanoo is reminiscent of New Orleans' Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro's Carnival, but it is distinctly Bahamian and exists nowhere else." Certainly more fun than wassailing in the snow. I love Christmas, don't get me wrong, and the Philadelphia Mummers Parade on New Year's Day is a, um, unique spectacle in itself; but one of these late Decembers I want to betake myself to the Bahamas, where the weather is warm and the art doesn't involve snowmen and the music doesn't involve reindeer or the words "fum fum fum."

[ at 3:41 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Groan-inducing neologism of the season 
Headline on AOL (yes, I use an AOL connection on my home computer): "Seize the Shoppertunity." Ugh. (Even "Shopportunity" would be better.)

Another one, not quite so bad: "Once Again Into the Mall." That would be "Once More," if you're going for the allusion I think you are; and "Unto" rather than "Into" as well. "Once Again" doesn't even scan, at least not in iambs.

(I'm being picky because I'm bored, and I'm bored because I'm home alone; J.'s employer has revoked the usual Christmas-to-New Year's break and is making them come in every weekday from the 26th to the 31st. "Them" meaning "Everyone who doesn't have as much vacation time as we managers do." Grumble. Well, it'll build camaraderie, if not morale...)

[ at 2:39 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, December 24, 2003 
Cashmere me 
For family scheduling reasons, J. and I exchanged our Christmas gifts to/from each other at home tonight; and I would just like it to be known that, at this moment, I am wearing nothing but a full-length long-sleeved burgundy cashmere robe.

Since the only reason I can think of for getting rich is to be able to wrap oneself in cashmere, I think I'm all set.

That is all.

(And to all a good night!)

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

Work, sort of 
I am very unenthused about being at work today, along with five other employees and the six office mice. (Who aren't stirring, incidentally.) All the supervisory personnel have already disappeared on their vacations, so there isn't quite as much work getting done as there might be. We did get permission to go home at 3; and we'll have to actually stick around till then, because I'm sure one of the supervisory personnel will call the office at 2:59 to see if anyone answers the phone.

Well, gotta get back to work. No, really, I mean it.

[ at 12:25 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

'Tis better 
Maybe I'm crazy—I have been wondering if I've got a manic or hypomanic episode coming on—but, dang it, I'm actually buying things from the wish lists of people I know solely online. Or planning to, anyway. I've tracked down the Amazon wish lists of everyone I've blogrolled who has a wish list link I can find, or whose name or e-mail enables me to search Amazon for one. Because I feel like it, darnit. And because, for a change, I have the financial wherewithal. And because I actually do like giving things more than receiving things. (I like receiving things, don't get me wrong; but giving is my favorite part of the holiday season.)

So if you get a package from Amazon in the next couple of weeks and wonder "Who the heck is this from?" it might be me. Happy assorted holidays—Christmas, the brief remainder of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Saturnalia, Boxing Day, New Year's, Epiphany, Junkanoo, whatever—and rest ye merry, and to all a good night, and [deity of your choice] bless us every one.

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2003 
Sort-of correction of the day 
I have previously asserted, with some asperity (okay, a lot of asperity), that there is no such fucking thing as African moldavite. It turns out, however, that there is such a fucking thing as African moldavite (read the comments to the entry I just linked to). Or, at any rate, there are meteorite tektites in Africa that are similar in chemical composition to those found in the Moldau region of the Czech Republic from which the name "moldavite" is derived; although meteorite purists, like this guy on Meteorite Central's meteorite mailing list, say that "moldavite" is "solely associated with the Ries impact event," which the Lunar and Planetary Institute has more to say about here (PDF link).

So, in a limited way, I stand corrected. But I'm going to stand firm on the Moldavite Fragrance Collection—or any gemstone-derived "fragrance"—as being a big load of hooey. (There are a lot of perfumes that advertise themselves as having an amber scent, including this one from the ever-so-reputable Burberry's. I've actually burned amber, and believe you me, it's not something you want to smell like. But then, venerable perfume bases like ambergris and civet, in their natural states, are also pretty nasty; maybe they do something to the amber so it doesn't reek of burned pine tar.)

(I sincerely apologize for using a Wal-Mart link for that fragrance, by the way, but the actual Burberry's site is so overproduced and Flash-intensive that it would be even more annoying to link straight to them.)

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

Monday, December 22, 2003 
The sky (is|isn't) falling 
Top headline on AP: Terror Alert Prompts Tighter Security.

Top headline on Reuters: Americans Urged to Go on with Holiday Plans.

Perhaps I'll hide under a desk with a festively-decorated gift bag over my head.

[ at 4:59 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The year in searches 
From a Hollywood Reporter article on the year-end report of search requests from AOL, Yahoo!, and Lycos:
  • Paris Hilton had the biggest increase [your sex joke here] in search requests since last year—212,000%.

  • A quote: "Lycos is predicting, based on its growing number of searches, that the movies 'The Passion of the Christ,' 'Troy' and 'Catwoman' will be hits." I wonder what the market overlap on those is going to be.

  • Another one: "'Finding Nemo' has the dubious honor of being probably the year's most downloaded movie at peer-to-peer file-sharing services." Hm. It's stealing; but it's a family-friendly children's movie. Does that balance out? (I suspect the Paris Hilton video is really the most downloaded movie, but I guess that doesn't officially count.)

  • On Lycos, Michael Jordan was the third-most-searched-for athlete. What, is he still around? I thought he and all his championship rings had retired to Planet Nike.

  • Britney Spears actually "fell off Lycos' top-10 list of search terms for several weeks" (somehow I feel like "fell off" deserves a sex joke too), until she did that kissing-Madonna thing and some sexy magazine covers and rocketed back to the top. Yes, when in doubt, and when unsupported by talent, the best way to grab the spotlight is to take off most of your clothes and engage in para-sexual activity with anyone in sight. (Well, it's less bizarre than when she humped that snake at the 2001 Music Video Awards.)

  • And, finally, perhaps the most surprising thing of all: "Al-Jazeera...generated three times as many search queries in April than did the word 'sex.'" I didn't think anything could knock off "sex" as a search term. Wonders never cease.
One of these days I'll have to figure out the most frequent search requests for my site; I fear "m0n$terc0ck$" is going to be one of them. (Characters replaced to avoid further search requests.) I wonder where that ranks on AOL, Yahoo!, and Lycos...

[ at 10:20 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, December 19, 2003 
More spam names 
This week's spam names:
  • Shelby Gamble

  • bagron schreier

  • lessa urena

  • Tightrope S. Ferociousness

  • Alfonso Koenig

  • milam louthan

  • Felecia Medrano

  • Lazaro Pendleton

  • shively vecchione

  • Bemoan T. Timbered

  • casavez grannum

  • Mary Mento

  • villada ortman

  • Aubrey Friedman

  • Regretfully J. Individually (clearly not trying very hard for this one)

  • Spencer Macias

[ at 4:43 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, December 17, 2003 
Cool Google logo 
One of my favorite things about Google is their holiday/commemorative logos, but I'm usually not Web-searching on holidays, so I always miss them. I got a kick out of today's, though: in honor of the 100th anniversary of airplane flight, they've got a Wright Brothers' plane logo.

(If you're reading this any day other than 12/17/2003, the logo will probably be archived on their holiday logo page.)

[ at 9:14 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, December 16, 2003 
A whale of a funeral 
This is perhaps not ironic, but certainly counterintuitive: the Free Willy Keiko Foundation, which campaigned for the (sadly late) orca movie star to be released into the ocean, has now successfully campaigned for him to be buried on land. In a very, very big hole. (Insert willy/hole joke here.)

What I want to know is, what do they think is going to happen to that six-ton body? If it's been embalmed, it's got to be filled with such a huge amount of chemicals that it can't possibly be good for the environment. And if not, I'm sorry, it's going to rot. They're going to have a 30-foot-long, 15-foot-deep hole full of ever-more-foul-smelling decomposing flesh. And either way, I am not going to visit that grave.

(Since it's in Norway, the freezing weather may preserve the body in a reasonably stench-free state for a long time; still, it seems like a remarkably bad thing to do with a corpse of that size, especially one belonging to an animal that—are you with me, Free Willy Keiko Foundation?—belongs to a sea creature. You were clear on that when he was alive; why did you change your minds, and your mindset, now that he's dead?)

[ at 9:04 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, December 12, 2003 
Spam names 
I've been keeping a list of the most bizarre or amusing fake names I'm getting spam from; today I noticed a trend away from the "Random Foreign Name" paradigm—which looks as if they chose a first name from a phone book in, say, Antwerp, and a last name from one in Ulan-Bator—to a new "Random Slightly Obscure English Word" one. Which is certainly amusing, but I'm a bit disappointed; what, you ran out of phone books and languages?

But anyway, here's what I've collected since December 4th:
  • almengor freiheit

  • torset mcclafferty

  • Lidia Guerra

  • stiehm zacarias

  • andrew niheu

  • gammons birdine

  • swoopes doop

  • Curring L. Cessna

  • Estelle Pham

  • Porfirio Mccauley

  • Abdul Swift

  • Showman P. Scrawl

  • Earline Joseph

  • Foothold G. Heuristic

You gotta give 'em credit for digging up "Heuristic," but as bizarre names go, I haven't heard anything better than "Porfirio." Who wouldn't want to have a name that sounds remarkably like that of the horrible hereditary disease that caused the infamous madness of George III?

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

Another misreading of the day 
D'ja ever quickly glance at several lines of text and have the words on two separate lines seem to converge? I looked at these headlines:and my mind registered it as "Halliburton Headquarters." Which isn't all that far from the truth anyway...

[ at 11:10 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, December 10, 2003 
An imponderable that's not as flippant as it sounds: who do the Polish tell jokes about?

(Brought about by channel-surfing my way to "Polish Kaleidoscope," which was broadcasting some kind of concert featuring Polish rock groups, Polish rappers, and a Polish stand-up comedian. My pan-Slavic language exposure was just enough for me to not quite know what they were singing/saying: "Something about his girlfriend leaving him and he's pissed off, I think.")

(Polish rap is extremely amusing, by the way; the people doing it are very, very serious and very, very white. And not a bad-ass Eminem kind of white, either; an "I look like a lawnmower salesman from Ohio" kind of white.)

[ at 12:15 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Fake headline of the day 
From this week's Onion: "Report: Poor People Pretty Much Fucked." You could just about run that on the front page of the New York Times and be censured for vulgarity, but not inaccuracy.

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

Thursday, December 04, 2003 
'Tisn't always better to give 
I know everyone with anything to sell is trying to make the increasingly-extended holiday shopping season work for them, but really, you can't just repackage everything as a present. Case in point: I just received an e-mail with the title "Unique gift ideas from Equifax"—the consumer credit report agency.
Giving an Equifax Gift Certificate is a unique way for you to empower friends and family to understand and manage their own credit standing. Share the importance of good credit health with those you care about!
Yeah, "unique" is one word for it. It's also a unique way to make sure your friends and family never buy you anything again.

I'm not saying people shouldn't get credit reports; it's just a really crappy gift. It's like giving someone a gift certificate for a Pap smear. You need it, but you don't necessarily want someone to tell you you need it, much less inflict it on you while everyone else is opening their computer games and gadgets and toys and jewelry.

(If you actually do want to inflict it on someone, go here: Equifax Personal Solutions.)

[ at 12:52 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Temperature, inside and out 
So it's finally gotten around to being cold; which, regardless of your feelings about cold weather, at least has the advantage of being seasonable. It's just weird having 75° weather in November; and I was completely not in holiday-shopping mode. ("Christmas presents? Why? It doesn't feel like it's getting close to Christmas. Oh...twenty-eight days? Crap.")

Yesterday morning, outside: 18°. Yesterday afternoon, in our house: 60°—the heater was being uncooperative. J. fiddled with the heater and by bedtime it was up to an entirely acceptable 70°.

This morning, outside: 30°. This morning, in my office: 80°. Eighty? I'd almost prefer 30; I'd certainly prefer 60. At least when it's cold you can always put on more clothing; when it's hot, there's a limit to how much clothing you can take off, especially when you're at work. I wish I'd worn a t-shirt under my long-sleeved shirt and sweater and coat, so I wouldn't be sitting here feeling almost faint with the heat.

Just something in the middle would be fine. Really. The average of 60 and 80, the average of 30 and 80...just something bearable, not too extreme one way or the other. Haven't we reached a sufficiently advanced stage of technology that the weather inside doesn't have to be frightful?

[ at 10:03 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yes, that's me.


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