Zhaba Zhournal
Tuesday, August 31, 2004 
The other flip-flop drops 
I know I'm going to be the bazillionth person to post this, but it's too good to resist:
President Bush, 8/30/04, asked about the war on terror on the Today Show: "I don't think you can win it."

President Bush, 8/31/04, speaking about the war on terror to an American Legion convention: "Make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win."

[ at 12:37 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

This week's McGreevey update 
So, Golan "No, really, I'm straight, I mean it!" Cipel has dropped the sexual harrassment lawsuit against Gov. McGreevey. I'm soooooooo surprised. (Get a bucket, the sarcasm's dripping.)

[ at 9:55 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

"It's my party and I'll decry if I want to..." 
Democrat giving the keynote speech at the RNC—Zell Miller, the senator from Georgia—he gave the keynote speech (or some speech) at the DNC for Clinton; newscaster's teaser: "Why the switch?" ("We'll find out after these messages...")
J.: Because he wasn't a Democrat in the first place?

Me: "We'll see you Ron Reagan and raise you a sitting senator!"

[ at 9:49 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, August 30, 2004 
Olympic fever, belatedly 
I watched the Olympic closing ceremonies last night, with the athletes all down on the field in the middle of the stadium, waving and holding camcorders and mingling with one another, and all I want to know is...how do I get to be an Olympic athlete? I don't even want to win anything; I just want to be able to stay in the Olympic village and be in the closing ceremonies.* Considering my age (29) and known physical limitations (anemic, not tall), it'd have to be equestrian or weightlifting—and equestrian would take a lot of time and money. (But you can do it into your 60's, so if I ever get rich I can try it...) Hm. I wonder how much weight I could lift?

(J., who used to lift weights in an approaching-serious way but stopped before he hit the really serious way, tells me that weight training takes years, and gym fees and trainers and equipment cost less than horses and stables, but still aren't cheap. Well, sure, if you want to be reasonable about it...)

*I think one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Yale more than any of the other schools I visited on the Junior-Year College Tour is that I visited on moving-in day, when the campus was full of enthusiastic freshmen who were absolutely thrilled to be there. All the excitement and energy and enthusiasm made me want to join in, to be a part of it, to move in right then and to hell with my senior year of high school. (Of course, I did go back and finish my senior year of high school...and then I moved in at Yale...)

[ at 5:53 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, August 27, 2004 
Vent like a deep-sea volcano 
J. got this link from The Presurfer and sent it along to me: Clientcopia, a collection of stupid client quotes.
There's no getting around it. At some point in your career, your patience will be tested with a client who is so clueless that you'll question your sanity, career choice, and the future of mankind.

You may have dealt with one already, one that just stuns you like a deer in headlights. Dumbfounded to utter anything but an "uhhh…".


Clientcopia was created to give you an escape. Take joy in knowing you are not alone.
There are 153 quotes as of right now, and you can submit your own. I contributed this one, from—of course—our designated Client From Hell:
We were typesetting a book for a client, and sent them a sample PDF of a typeset page. Client, in a panic: "This looks awful! The proportions are all wrong! It's the wrong size!"

Yes, that would be because they want a 9" x 6" book, but they printed the sample on 8½" x 11" paper.
There, I do kinda feel better now...

[ at 12:35 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, August 26, 2004 
This week's slice of Onion 
It's the little things in the Onion that make me laugh these days: this week's Infograph lists events at the Republican National Convention, including "a spirit-building game of Pin The Blame On The Donkey."

[ at 5:10 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

*crave crave crave* 
Is this cool or what?: ThinkGeek is selling a USB optical liquid mouse with a little floating duck or fish built right into it. (They say it goes well with their USB desktop aquarium.) It's simultaneously the cutest and the coolest computer mouse I've ever seen (well, "the coolest, and the only cute"). I think I need this—not in the same way that I need, say, food or water, but in the way that one only needs the impractical, unique, and slightly embarrassing. (I also need the Showgirls VIP Edition DVD, but I'm going to have to buy it under an assumed name or something. Although J. pointed out that it would be fun to get it at Amazon at the same time as something completely unrelated: "Customers who bought this DVD also bought...'Das Boot'! 'Deliverance'! 'Brideshead Revisited'!")

[ at 1:26 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

"Today is another day" dep't. 
Your Honor, I respectfully request that yesterday be stricken from the transcript.

After the morning suckage, the lunchtime retail therapy helped me get through the workday afternoon fairly well (although I think I overdosed on feta cheese); but I managed to miss both my usual bus (6:15-ish) and my "this is the latest bus I want to take" bus (6:35-ish), and had to wait for the "crap, I'm going to miss the Daily Show" bus (6:55-ish). And then on the second leg of the commute, at the subway platform, I encountered the dreaded Inappropriately-Friendly Crazy Guy: the kind who wants to introduce himself to you, and shake your hand, and hug you, and tell you how sad he is about the World Trade Center (which in his mind seems to have happened very recently), and then he goes and talks to his imaginary friend, or something, and then comes back and strikes up the same conversation—ack. And the subway just would not come. My usual procedure with crazy guys is to humor them as much as possible until I can make a graceful escape; so I kept up my side of the conversation (no matter how many times it happened), and said sympathetic and hopefully soothing things. The subway finally showed up, and of course he wanted to ride with me; I said "I'm getting off at the next stop" (which actually is my stop, although if it wasn't I might have said it was anyway), and decided that I wasn't going to lay down the "you really have to leave me alone now" law unless he got off at the same stop and tried to follow me home. Fortunately he didn't; I said "goodbye, hope you feel better"; then I walked the rest of the way home damn fast (with occasional glances over my shoulder), and arrived just as the Daily Show interview with John Kerry was ending. Oy. Yeah, it was that kind of day.

A hot shower, a bottle of hard cider, and five straight hours of Olympics-watching made the evening the best part of the day; but last night I had a whole slew of anxiety dreams (wearing a bathing suit! there's a hole in the back of my pants and no one told me about it! we're moving to the middle of the desert! endangered birds eating each other's babies!)—so if you don't mind, Your Honor, let's chalk everything from 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to 7:30 a.m. this morning up as a loss, instruct the jury to ignore it, and start over today from scratch, okay?

Oh well; at least I've got a nice shiny rock to show for it all...

[ at 11:51 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 
And an Olympic abbreviation moment 
I'm really way too amused that the tops of the Brazilian beach volleyball team's bikinis say BRA.

[ at 9:45 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Another Olympic commentary moment 
On women's diving, and a particular diver's pike position: "Nothing is going to get between her legs."

[ at 9:36 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Ooohhh, shiny. Mmmmm, tasty. 
After my South Street trip, equanimity mostly restored: I bought an agate/amethyst sphere I've been coveting for months, which is wonderfully shiny and sparkly; and then went to my favorite sort-of-gourmet food market for a do-it-myself Greek salad: fresh feta, kalamata and cerignola olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. (No alcohol, but there's boxed wine and frozen mixed drinks galore waiting at home.) It's actually a pretty nice day out there, too—sunny, not humid, not terribly hot. I gotta do this long lunch thing more often; I think every midday minute I'm not glaring at my computer screen pays off in two or three productive minutes later in the afternoon. (Or at least in two or three minutes in which I don't have to subdue the urge to bite somebody.)

[ at 4:41 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Our Client from Hell has been giving us, guess what, hell; and even worse, my boss is in one of his conciliatory moods towards them. (Blah blah blah customer is always right blah blah yeah, right out of their f!cking minds.) So all morning it's been "yes, that was our fault, no, it won't happen again, of course, I'll talk to the editors"—when the problem is mostly that they give us manuscripts that are crap, change the specs every time they talk to us, don't look at the edits or typesetting samples till the last minute, then say "oh, this isn't what we want, when we said 'make it look exactly like such-and-such a book we didn't mean that exactly," and generally blame us for everything they don't like about their thoroughly crappy books. (The metaphor that those of us who work on the projects use is "when we spend all our time overhauling the engine, there's not much time to worry about painting it the right color." [And, to continue the metaphor, they probably didn't tell us what color they wanted in the first place, and if they did they changed their minds a dozen times and forgot to tell us what the final decision was.])

So it's been "our fault, our fault, our fault" all morning, and I literally can't stand to listen to it; it makes me feel like bursting into tears, or biting my lip till it bleeds, or banging my head against my desk till I pass out. I settled for putting on my headphones and cranking up the volume on my Soothing Ocean Noises CD until I could only vaguely make out the conversations in the rest of the office; wearing headphones always gives me a headache, and loud CD-playing does too, but it beats having to hear Client from Hell conversations.

Errrrggggh. I don't see that I have any choice but to go to South Street and engage in retail therapy; buy myself a shiny rock at Mineralistic, or a tarot deck at Garland of Letters. And I wouldn't be adverse to a long lunch at a place that serves alcohol, although I probably can't get away with that.

Ah, finally, 11:45. An acceptable lunch break time. My credit cards and I are going to take a walk now...

[ at 11:46 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 
Mystery miasma of the day 
Not that you asked, but there's been an extremely odd smell in my office for over an hour now. Sort of "vegetable decay + stale cigarette + distant skunk"—nothing I can quite pinpoint, or identify as something that's likely to be in the office (i.e., almost definitely not skunk). It doesn't seem to be what might delicately be called a "personal" smell, but there's enough of a chance that it is that I don't want to say "Hey, what's that horrible smell?" Ergh. I wish I had one of those Elizabethan nosegays. Or even a strong cough drop.

(It could possibly be very, very bad lentil soup, or some other product from the "it's organic, it doesn't have to taste good" health-food store. Okay, but does it have to make the whole office smell like it's Take Your Flatulent, Cigar-Smoking Skunk To Work Day?)

[ at 3:06 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Keeping the wolf from the door dep't. 
A boon to everyone who's been telling their computers over and over and over not to download that infernal Windows XP SP2 upgrade: Microsoft has released a script for sysadmins to block (or unblock [hah!]) computers on their system from receiving the update. This is on top of their previously-released tools for/advice on individually blocking or disabling the update; now, if only they'd thought of not making it suck in the first place...

(Link goes to a story about it in iTNews Australia; I'm disinclined to link to any Microsoft Web site.)

[ at 10:00 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, August 23, 2004 
"Now turn to Exodus 20:13..."* 
In the department of "yes, God really is out to get you": a Philadelphia murder suspect, who was the subject of an intense 10-day manhunt, was captured after attending a church where the minister also happens to be a police lieutenant. As to what Mr. Murder Suspect was doing at a church service, the story has this quote from the homicide unit captain:
"We speculate that he was there to get some money, but I mean, we haven't confirmed that yet. I don't think he found God all of the sudden, but that's not for me to say."
No, I don't think he found God, but God certainly found him...

*Exodus 20:1–17: the Ten Commandments. Verse 13: "You shall not murder." And no, verse 8, "Remember the Sabbath day," does not cancel that one out.

[ at 5:20 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, August 20, 2004 
Today's McGreevey-scandal-related update  
Now another NJ man says he had an affair with Golan "No, really, I'm straight" Cipel. Cipel, meanwhile, says he's the target of a political plot:
"I am a lone person fighting against a monstrous well-oiled machine of lies and manipulations operating in a methodical manner against me."
1. Excellent deployment of alliteration.

2. If you were involved in a sex scandal, would you use the phrase "well-oiled" in any capacity? I'm just saying.

[ at 1:11 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, August 19, 2004 
Small caps, small (very small) wonders 
This is how dorky I am: I'm removing the small caps formatting from the abbreviations "A.D." and "B.C." in the book I'm working on, and after a couple of quick global find-and-replace searches I wanted to see if I'd missed any, so I did a regular expression for the opening <small> tag followed by any of the letters, and I thought it was really cool that it was <small>[ABCD]—hey, look, the start of the alphabet! (And then I thought "I am such a dork.")

Actually (regular-expression geek alert), it's moderately useful, because I can trim a character from the regex now: [A-D] instead of [ABCD]. Although at the speed level I'm working at, eliminating those eight bits isn't going to make a huge efficiency difference.

Ooohhhh, I just thought of something even better: if I also have to search for the more-secular abbreviations of "B.C.E." and "C.E.," I can use [ABCDE] or even [A-E]. (Other regular-expression geeks will be pointing out that I'm not including the period in that class expression. Theoretically the period wouldn't be directly after the small-caps tag; but to be complete, <small>[A-E.].)

I'm way too excited about that. It's high time I left the office for the day...

[ at 5:57 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Olympic commentary moments 
I should remember to write these down when I hear them—inadvertently dirty-sounding sports commentary. The first one I think I'm quoting accurately:
During one of the women's swim events: "She's going to be playing with this girl for the next 150 meters."
Then there was one during men's gymnastics about a certain pommel horse technique—it started with "This is called a Russian grip" and involved the words "squeeze," "hard," and "long," but I don't remember exactly how they were put together.

A non-Olympic one that's always stuck with me:
During the NCAA basketball tournament: "For a big man, he has such soft hands."
(It only makes that sound dirtier if I add that the commentators were talking about the player's, um, ball-handling abilities.)

Okay, I'm easily amused. It's surprising how easy I am to amuse when I've been watching sporting events from 5 a.m. till after midnight...

[ at 5:07 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 
Office exchange of the day 
Oy, it's been one of those days around the office...
Me: Why is everyone we work for crazy?

Manager: Because the people who are good don't need us.

[ at 3:21 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Oh, the (relative) shame of it 
My favorite McGreevey-related piece of humor so far: an Onion sidebar headline (one of the ones that doesn't actually link to anything), "Homosexual Tearfully Admits To Being Governor Of New Jersey."

[ at 12:14 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, August 17, 2004 
I finally got up the nerve to sign up for the Blogging Ecosystem, and I'm not nearly as far down the food chain as I feared. I'm on the cusp between Flippery Fish and Crawly Amphibian; I'm just glad to be high enough to have a spinal cord and a central nervous system. Since "zhaba" means "frog," I'm perfectly happy at the amphibian level; just gotta watch out for the herons...

[ at 3:28 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, August 16, 2004 
This is my brain on news 
If I saw this headline at home on TV, I'd be able to say my snarky comment to J.; but I'm reading it online, and there's no one to say it to, so just file this under "Thinking to the Web site":
AP Entertainment headline: Report: Michael Jackson Not 'Manhandled'

My thought: No, the problem is he was boy-handled.
(I know, I know, I'm so bad. And innocent-until-proven-guilty blah blah. But my brain just does these things, I can't help it.)

(My personal favorite Jacko-related talk-back: news reporter, "Jackson's family says they'll stand behind him"; me: "But they won't stand in front of him.")

[ at 3:38 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Talking to the TV 
While watching news clips of Dubya visiting hurricane-flattened communities in Florida and promising government assistance*:
Me: Finally, homeless people George Bush doesn't mind helping.
Yeah, I know, I'm just too cynical to live...

* The link actually goes to the official White House transcript of Prez Bush's remarks to reporters while he was in hurricane-flattened Punta Gorda, but that link will stay live longer than any actual TV news story. (I love me those White House transcripts; you get the whole speech, not just the soundbites, and no one can accuse you of misquoting. [At least not without accusing the White House transcript service of misquoting.])

[ at 3:28 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

White Trash quiz 
Via No Fancy Name (than whom I am 2% trashier):
I, my friend, have class. I am so not white trash. I am more than likely Democrat, and my place is neat, and there is a good chance I may never drink wine from a box.
Yes, I mostly vote for Democrats, and you can usually see either the floor or the surface of the coffee table (and sometimes both at once); but hey, don't diss my boxed wine. I'd like you to show me a better way to drink less than 150ml at a time without the rest going sour. Or to be able to use half a cup for risotto or pasta sauce without having to open, and then finish, a $10 bottle. (It's nice to have an opportunity to finish a bottle, but not practical on a weeknight.) And no empty glass bottles to trip over till recycling day; when you finish the box, just cut up the cardboard, stuff it in the trash can, and never think about it again. You can have my 5-liter box of Almaden Chardonnay when you pry it out of my crystal-stemware-clutching hand.

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

More McGreevey 
My favorite thing about the McGreevey situation: since New Jersey counts as local news, on Friday morning the story got the front-page above-the-fold four-column 72-point-all-caps-headline treatment from every newspaper in the city, including the free daily commuter paper that's available in every subway and train station, and which almost everybody picks up when they take public transit. And you can probably guess which five words, out of the governor's entire speech, were turned into those banner headlines. So this is what I saw on the subway on the way home on Friday: just about everybody on the train, from the guys in suits to the guys in overalls, from the women in stilettos to the women in flip-flops, from the people with briefcases to the people with strollers, was carrying a paper declaring I AM A GAY AMERICAN. And you know what? The world wasn't ending. Straight people weren't turning gay, gay people weren't turning lavender, no one was getting propositioned, no one was getting bashed. It was truly a beautiful sight.

My second favorite thing, which I heard on the radio alarm clock this morning when I wasn't entirely awake, and wasn't sure wasn't a dream, but have since confirmed on the radio station's Web site: McGreevey's approval rating has actually gone up since the announcement—two points higher right after the speech than it was two weeks ago. Not that it makes any difference, since he isn't running for election again, but it's an interesting side note to the whole situation.

[ at 11:13 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, August 13, 2004 
Month meme 
Found this over at Tenth-Muse; it's being propagated from La Mancha. You copy the text pertaining to your birth month, then use the <strike> tag to cross out the things that don't apply to you.
Thinks far with vision. Easily influenced by kindness. Polite and soft-spoken. Having lots of ideas. Sensitive. Active mind. Hesitating, tends to delay. Choosy and always wants the best. Temperamental. Funny and humorous. Loves to joke. Good debating skills. Talkative. Daydreamer. Friendly. Knows how to make friends. Abiding. [Editorial comment: Abiding what? Law-abiding? Biding one's time? Abiding by the judge's decision? Gotta be more specific.] Able to show character. Easily hurt. Prone to getting colds. Loves to dress up. Easily bored. Fussy. Seldom shows emotions. Takes time to recover when hurt. Brand conscious. Executive. Stubborn.

[ at 2:37 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The obligatory Gov. McGreevey post 
Okay, the McGreevey thing. Do I have to? Well, let's run the numbers:
You're gay (50) and you live in New Jersey (50) = 100 = You have to talk about it

You're gay (50) but don't live in NJ (0), or you live in NJ (50) but aren't gay (0) = 50 = You probably have to talk about it

I'm sort of gay* (25) and live near NJ (25) = 50 = Yeah, I guess I have to talk about it

(What would be a low score? You're not gay and don't give a hoot about gays (0) and you don't live in NJ and don't care about it either (0) = 0 = You can ignore it. Lucky you.)
So anyway. Yep, he's gay, and yep, he's resigning, but it's not post hoc ergo solum propter hoc.† I think it adds up like this (yes, I'm doing a lot of adding-up today):
"I'm gay."


"I had an extramarital affair."


"I appointed a personal acquaintance to a major government position he was unqualified for."

Oooohhh. That's not good.

"I'm gay and I had an extramarital affair with a guy I appointed to a major government position in the state homeland security office, even though he's unqualified, and now he's threatening a sexual harrassment lawsuit."

Oh. Damn. Yeah, you'd better get out.
Really, I think McGreevey made the best overall decision he could. The guy's not only threatening a lawsuit, he wanted $5 million to quash it—can you say "extortion"?—and by coming out, coming clean, and stepping down, McGreevey took control of when and how the news came out, refused to succumb to $5 million in blackmail, and prevented extremely nasty politicking in the present, by people saying he should step down, or the future, by very nasty campaign ads if he ran for reelection. By making his resignation effective in November, he spares us an interim election, and makes sure a person we all at least know of will become governor (that would be Richard Codey, the state senate president—not a household name, but at least a single person you can point to, not the God-knows-who you could end up with after an emergency election). And, as a person in the New Jersey political campaign ad viewing area, I can't thank him enough for that. Politics around here—NJ, Philly, the nearer parts of Pennsylvania—can get ugly, and the campaign ads are uglier; they're generally along the lines of "my opponent drinks the blood of puppies, vote for me." After last fall's nasty Philly mayoral election, this spring's nasty primary elections, and facing a fall of nasty presidential and congressional and local elections, knowing there's one less campaign to abide counts as a blessing, and there aren't many politics-related blessings to count.

*How can I be sort of gay? I'm absolutely 50-50 bisexual, but I'm married—monogamously—to a man; so I'm not heterosexual, but I engage in heterosexual behavior.

†Hopefully that means "After this, therefore solely because of this." Maybe it should be solus propter hoc; it's been a while since I took Latin, and it's hard to figure out declensions with the Perseus collocation lookup tool.

[ at 10:46 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, August 12, 2004 

The night before the Olympic opening ceremonies; our local news people doing their shout-out from some ancient stone street; J.: "I bet you can't piss on a street corner in Athens without hitting a media person. And actually, that's not a bad idea."

[ at 11:21 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Back in July I posted a lament about how I wanted to be a Firefox person, but couldn't do it without the Internet (H)explorer toolbars I live by. Well, I don't know why it took me so long to find this out, but...those fabled Firefox extensions and plugins of which I've heard (greengrl and j-mo have rhapsodized about the BugMeNot extension) include (drum roll) a Yahoo! Companion emulator, the which I cannot live online without, and a Google toolbar emulator to boot. This made my day. My week, even. I was actually feeling weepy about it: the very things I need and thought I couldn't have, yet here they are, and now I can be one of the cool people too!

So I installed the Google and Yahoo! toolbars as fast as I could figure out how; the browser interface isn't as pretty, and some of the buttons don't do exactly what I expect them to, but it's nothing I can't get used to in a day or two. And now? I'm a Firefox convert. Oh yes. I love it. I want everyone who doesn't know about it to love it. I'm ready to start sending epistles to Ephesus and Laodicea. I'm sold, baby.

The first Mozilla-inspired improvement to my blog: my very own favicon, which I had to get when I realized Mozilla displays them in the address bar and the browser tabs, instead of just the favorites menu like IE. Props to the Web site I used to make it: Chami.com Favicon from Pics turns any image, regardless of size or format, into a favicon and puts it into a ZIP file you can download. It's fast, it's free, and they didn't even ask for my e-mail address. Highly recommended.

(My favicon doesn't always show up on the archive pages, but you should be able to see it on the blog homepage: http://www.zhaba.com/blog/.)

More improvements (and more posting) to come, I expect, once I get past the "omigod let's see what else Mozilla can do" stage and stop spending every free online minute looking for extensions and plugins on Mozilla.org and MozDev.org.

[ at 4:42 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 
No, the other other Simpson 
Reuters Entertainment headline: "Simpson's 'Autobiography' Rebounds to No. 1"

My first thought: "O.J. has an autobiography? Dear God, no."

My second thought: "But I haven't heard anything about him recently. Jessica Simpson's in the news more, anyway. Does she have an autobiography? What would a 24-year-old write an autobiography about?"

Then I actually went to the story, which is about Ashlee Simpson's album entitled "Autobiography." Jeez, what does a 19-year-old sing an autobiography about? But I'd rather have a lot of people buying that than buying anything from O.J. Simpson.

[ at 4:27 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Spies and lies* 
(A day late; I would've posted this yesterday if I could've found a link with an exact quote.)

During President Bush's speech nominating that Goss guy as CIA director (link goes to official White House transcript):
President Bush: Because their work is secret, the men and women of the CIA receive little recognition...

Me: Yeah, except when their names get leaked to the press because their spouse pissed off the administration.
* The unofficial title of a popular poli-sci class at Yale; it was listed in the course book as "Intelligence and Covert Operations."

[ at 11:21 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, August 06, 2004 
Pick a prophet, any prophet 
I'm working on Yet Another Bible ProjectTM, for which we're extracting footnotes from the Quark page-layout files of an NIV study bible and converting them to HTML and thence to a proprietary pocket-PC markup. The Bible, as I may have mentioned once or twice before, is long—66 books in the standard Protestant version—and I spent most of the morning doing the HTML conversion for the seventeen prophetic books of the Old Testament, Isaiah through Malachi. And I was just about finished when I realized that whoever had extracted the text from Quark had wound up creating the exact same file for Zechariah and Zephaniah. I.e., it's either Zechariah twice or Zephaniah twice, with different file names. Oy Bozhe. Fortunately they're not very long books—Zephaniah is three chapters, Zechariah is fourteen—so redoing the work on whichever one didn't get done won't take as long as it would for, say, Isaiah (66 chapters—Bible typesetters really dread Isaiah). But still: even if the names do only differ by two out of nine characters, they're still different books; they've even got Haggai between them, for heaven's sake. (Yeah, okay, I didn't notice the problem all morning either; but I was doing a lot of batch work, not actually looking at the text.)

Zechariah and Zephaniah are probably doomed to always be mistaken for each other; like Slovakia and Slovenia, the presidents of which probably hear the other country's national anthem more than their own when they deplane in a foreign country. Maybe those two should just combine national anthems, have the same tune with different words; and when nobody's looking, we can combine those Z-named prophets into the single book of Zechaniah (or Zephariah; flip a coin). Heck, throw some of the other minor prophets in there too: Zephanahum, Haggakkuk, Hoseamos, Joebadiah. I'm pretty sure no one would notice.

Disclaimer: I'm not advocating taking the books out of the Bible (I think you have to be the Pope or start your own religion to do that); just squishing them together to reduce the number of book titles. I have a similar feeling every time I work on a Bible concordance: I don't necessarily wish the Bible had fewer total words, just that it had fewer different ones.

[ at 2:20 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Today's time-waster 
Via NewYorkish:

Build a Better Bush, a sort of digital Mr. Potato Head with a photo of Dubya. There aren't too many features you can change—just hair, eyes, and mouth—but options include "bad hair dye," "comb-over," "wall-eyed," "needs a shave," and "missing some teeth." (The NewYorkish post laments, "Sadly, this little program doesn't allow you to pierce or tattoo him (or even add a little red string to his wrist), but hopefully we'll get lucky and someone will design one before the election.")

[ at 9:59 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, August 05, 2004 
Advice solicitation 
For the two or three people who actually read this regularly: What's your favorite blogging platform, and why? I've been meaning to get off Blogger for, um, a long time, but haven't ever really taken the plunge. A year ago I downloaded and installed MT, but didn't implement it, and now they want money, which I'm reluctant to pay. Especially since some of the other platforms are getting more widely-used and looking pretty spiffy. I like the look of Expression Engine, as seen at pesky'apostrophe and Sixth World, and popular among the goddesses of Moxie; it costs money too, but every site I've seen with it is just neat-o keen-o, and there's a free 30-day trial. Greengrl is using WordPress, which is free, free, free!, and has some of the functions I've been desperately wanting (categories, a little calendar doofunny), but I'm not sure how good it is with redesigns and skinning (my other majorly-craved feature). That "free" thing motivated me to download and install it yesterday, and poke at it a bit; the PHP-handled stylesheets gave me a headache, and I don't know how much one can do to change the way the comments look, but it has a nice interface and the installation was almost as easy as promised. (It would have been easier if I'd remembered all my database information, which is my own darn fault.)

I'm thinking I'll stick with WordPress, and see what I can do with it; but before I invest heaps of time editing the imported entries and assigning categories and trying to figure out the templates and all that, does anyone have any particular testimonials for or warnings against what they're using, or what they used to use and moved away from? Is ExpressionEngine worth the money, especially since I'm not exactly high-traffic and trend-setting? Is there anything else out there I should look into?

So, hey, talk to me. I'll be here all week, don't forget to tip your waitress, and don't feed the squirrels, even if they ask.

[ at 2:26 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

In my office, during a conversation on crime and punishment (i.e., which counties you're most likely to get fried in) in Mississippi:
A: Justice is not blind.

B. Just cross-eyed.

[ at 9:24 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, August 04, 2004 

A PBS program on the Olympics, with footage from the various modern games; as the Munich tape rolls, J.: "Two words that will only appear in a science-fiction novel: Jerusalem Olympics."

[ at 11:27 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

"Salus populi," but not those populi* 
Dear Missouri:
Yeah, well, we don't like you either.

(I refer, of course, to the vote to amend the Missouri state constitution to prevent same-sex marriage; I think I'll have to start calling it "Mister-and-Missusouri." [Not that I usually call it anything; I can't remember the last time I talked or wrote about Missouri at all. {After a find-in-files search on my entire computer: Okay, once: it's in a New York Times article quote that I posted during the Democratic primaries in February.}])

Although—I'm trying to look on the bright side here—every state that votes to change its own constitution is another reason not to change the U.S. Constitution. Hey, if the states are banning it themselves, the country doesn't need to ban it, does it? And that seems to be the only argument that works right now, anyway, and the only one that conservatives can get behind (including, recently and notably, Lynne "Don't ask about my lesbian daughter" Cheney): Leave it up to the states! Small government, remember? And then, if in two or five or ten or eighty years, the people of the states that vote against same-sex marriage now decide that, hey, maybe it's not such a bad thing after all, it'll be a lot easier to individually amend the amendments of those state constitutions that it would be to change the U.S. Constitution again.

So, apart from this bit of carping, I'm not going to get too bent out of shape about it. I'll reserve that for the president and members of the U.S. Congress and anyone else who's trying to f!ck with us on a national level. And it's not like I was planning to spend a lot of money vacationing in Mister-and-Missusouri anyway...

* Missouri's state motto: "Salus populi suprema lex esto"—"Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law."

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

Monday, August 02, 2004 
Anthropomorphism of the day 
Overheard: two guys talking about the weather (currently 82°, 71% humidity); one of them refers to it as "sultry."

My train of thought: Sultry? "Sultry" is Rita Hayworth. This is just sticky and nasty. This is Christina Aguilera.

[ at 12:03 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yes, that's me.


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