Zhaba Zhournal
Thursday, October 28, 2004 
Does the one on the red horse wear red socks?* 
Everyone and their dog has posted about the Red Sox winning the World Series—I have some pen-and-paper notes from last night and this morning, mostly pertaining to J.'s reaction, which I'll type up later. (As I've mentioned, he's originally from Wellesley, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, and he's lived through 45 years of The Curse. Sample quote: "I'd be less surprised if someone had discovered a new continent. One of the fundamental axioms has been overturned.")

In the meantime, I do feel compelled to mention that this has long been considered one of the signs of the Apocalypse—not as much as it would have been if the Cubs and Red Sox had faced each other in the series last year, but certainly one of the things that people used the "...and if that happens, the world will end" joke about. (And there was a lunar eclipse involved, too; the "moon turning to blood" that apocalyptic literature is full of. If anyone shows up on Halloween as an angel with a trumpet or on a pale horse, I'm going to start stocking up on canned goods with a thousand-year shelf life.)

*The second of the Four Horsemen; see Revelation 6, specifically verse 4. (My last post linking to a chapter of Revelation was on September 3, when I noticed that the number of jobs created in August—144,000—was the same as the number of people redeemed in Rev. 14. [Hey, I just report these things.])

[ at 3:05 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Day off-ish 
Stayed home, under the weather, if not terribly sick, yesterday; on Tuesday I was feeling pretty run-down and on-the-verge-of-a-cold at work, and I decided to stay home and try to head it off at the pass with lots of rest and orange juice, rather than come in, feeling moderately miserable, and wind up making it worse and getting the entire office sick too. (Don't you hate it when people with contagious diseases drag themselves to work, demonstrating their martyrdom, and stay just long enough to infect everyone else before saying "Actually, I should have stayed home in the first place"? And they also serenade you with hacking coughs or explosive sneezes or sinus-clearing snorts, so you can't concentrate on whatever you're doing for more than five minutes. Just stay home! Really! The moderate amount of productivity you provide by not missing a day or two of work is nothing compared to the lack of productivity caused by everyone else having to miss work because they contracted your disease. Okay?)

Anyway. Stayed home yesterday; you'd think it would have given me time to blog, but even though I spent some time in front of the computer, I didn't go online; I just hate my dial-up connection and getting mugged by Microsoft updates that make my whole system swim-through-molasses slow. So I guess today I'll try to catch up on the things I was hoping to write about yesterday; although, of course, I've also got that Actual Work thing to do. (I've got a t-shirt idea: "Will work for DSL.")

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2004 
One week and counting down 
One week before Election Day. ("60 Minutes" ticking-watch noise.) And that means only eight days until the recount! (She said pessimistically.)

This morning:
J.: I'll be happy when this election is over. I hope I'll be really happy, but I'll settle for it being over.
I had a dream about it being a week before Election Day; in the dream, I said "I'm glad there's only a week left, I'm really sick of all the negative ads and constant media coverage and spin-doctoring and everyone arguing about politics all the time." And then I woke up and it was August, and there were three months until Election Day. And that was one of the most depressing waking-up realizations I ever had. (Among the others: I can't fly, I'm not on the staff of the Daily Show, and I wasn't a member of Monty Python.)

By the way, I know that you are all registered (right...?), but as a service to humanity, here are the states where there's still time to register: Maine (register in person up to and including election day); Minnesota (election day registration at polling places); and Wisconsin (in person at the local voter registration office up to 5 p.m. the day before the election—Nov. 1st, in this case). (Links go to official state election Web pages; information via Fark the Vote, which is a much more serious, useful, and well-designed site than the name would imply.)

[ at 1:21 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, October 25, 2004 
She bangs, she bangs 
So, Ashlee "The Other Simpson" Simpson got caught red-handed (and red-faced) lip-synching on "Saturday Night Live"; it's really just ineffably amusing, and so much fun to have the Internet abuzz over something not related to politics. (I love the title of the Chicago Sun-Times article: Ashlee Simpson flees after talent malfunction on 'SNL'. Bwa-ha-ha!)

It's not quite Milli Vanilli redux—she was at least lip-synching to her own voice—but it's the worst kind of publicity for an aspiring performer (rejected words: "singer," "recording artist") promoting her first album, especially when she already faces snake-belly-low expectations. And if you are going to lip-synch, couldn't you at least try to make your voice sound better on the recording? One thing you gotta say for Jessica "The Original Simpson" Simpson: the girl has pipes. Her voice can raise the roof, and usually not in a bad way. Same thing with Christina Aguilera: in all her incarnations, from sweet to skank to retro-starlet, she's got the vocal power to back up the recording contracts she keeps getting. She might even grow into a better Madonna replacement than that desperate Madonna wannabe Mrs. Federline. (Not that we really need another Madonna, but there's an ecological niche for a sexed-up female pop singer who can still look good in a bustier when she's 40, and reedy-voiced Mrs. Federline it ain't gonna be.)

P.S. Ashlee, honey, blaming your band is not cool. They didn't start playing the wrong song; whoever pushes the buttons pushed the wrong prerecorded-vocals button, and if you want to blame anyone, blame a) that person and b) yourself for having a frippin' prerecorded vocal track. But lay off the band, okay? They're musicians, they're professionals, they're well-trained and hard-working, and none of those applies to you. So shut up; you're used to not using your voice, aren't you?

Update: Is there a video? Of course there's a video. From CNN.com, via Bonnie: She Bolts, She Bolts; or, The Walk of Shame.

Updated Update: The CNN.com video requires registration; here's a link to the free, non-subscription-requiring iFilm Simpson Snafu page. And while I was getting that, Kurt of b4yp posted a comment with a link to the also-free eBaum's World Ashlee Simpson Screw-up page. (This is going around the Internet almost as fast as the Jon Stewart Crossfire interview—hey, wouldn't it be great if we found out that Tucker Carlson was lip-synching his talk show?)

[ at 4:35 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Played out 
Friday night: Finally won a game of Minesweeper at the Expert level—after only a week of staying up past 1 a.m. every night trying to beat it. Now I must never play it again. (Current staying-up-late obsession: Spider Solitaire. I've won with one suit numerous times, two suits twice, but four suits continue to elude me. I hope it takes less than a week to get this one under my belt.)

[ at 1:25 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, October 22, 2004 
Where loyalties lie 
President Bush and John Kerry Loyalty Quizzes—swiped from Bonnie, whose results are rather different than mine (and the descriptions of them are considerably funnier; feh, being moderate makes you look so boring!)

The George W. Bush Loyalty Quiz: 10 Questions to Test Your Allegiance to President Bush
Your score is 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. You think Bush has some redeeming attributes, but generally speaking you are not a fan. You may have supported him at one point, but now you have misgivings about the job he has done as president. There's a chance you could bring yourself to vote for him, but at this point you are leaning against him.
The John Kerry Loyalty Quiz: 10 Questions to Test Your Allegiance to John Kerry
Your score is 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. You're leaning toward John Kerry, although you have some reservations about him. You believe he's presidential material, but wonder if he truly has what it takes to defeat President Bush. He's a bit uninspiring and makes you wince on occasion, but you're willing to suck it up and vote for him anyway.

[ at 1:28 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Sportin' life 
I don't think I've ever gotten as many comments on my blog as I did on yesterday's Red Sox post; I guess people really do like to talk about this sports stuff, huh? I've concluded that the reason the Red Sox pennant victory has elicited so much discussion and celebration is that it makes two classes of people very happy:
  1. People who like the Red Sox.
  2. People who hate the Yankees.
And between the two of them, they account for just about everybody in the entire country, except for the actual Yankees team members and their immediate families and maybe 10% of the people in New York City. Everyone else? Happy as clams in a federally-protected watershed. Julie of No Fancy Name sums it up nicely: "We should start a 'my team's not in the playoffs but I'm rooting for the Red Sox' group." So, unless you're a Cardinals fan...let's crack a Sam Adams and say "For the next four-to-seven games, we're all New Englanders!"

[ at 1:18 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, October 21, 2004 
On South St.: a business called "Locksmith"—and it's a hair salon. I actually stopped in front of it and say "Hey, that's pretty clever." (And when I say "say," I mean it; I often talk to myself, mostly sotto voce, a habit I picked up when we first got the bird; talking to a pet feels less silly when the pet can talk back. [Not that she does talk, but eventually she probably will. And she'll hold up her end of the conversation with twittering and chattering for as long as your voice holds out.])

This one wasn't an official business sign, but it can still go under a "Signage" title: a for-sale-by-owner truck, with the usual soap-writing on the windows: phone number, asking price, mileage, and the claim that it "RUNS EXCEL." My immediate smart-ass thought: "That's pretty impressive, most used cars only have Lotus 1-2-3." (I didn't say that one out loud. And yes, I know that "EXCEL" was short for "EXCELLENT.")

[ at 4:35 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Sticker shock 
Bumper sticker, seen on the way to work this morning: "God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts." That's the first anti–religious-whackjob bumper sticker I've ever seen that appeared to belong to a genuinely religious, God-and-fellow-man–loving person. Go you, whoever you are.

(Most anti-whackjob bumper stickers/t-shirts/buttons seem to belong to people who aren't particularly religious, if they're religious at all [and if they're not actively anti-religious]: "My invisible friend can beat up your invisible friend," "I like God but I hate his fan club," "The Christian Right is neither"; and most genuinely-religious, non-whackjob paraphernalia simply affirm the owner's devoutness while not indicating the presence or absence of whackjobbery: "Honk if you love Jesus," "God is my copilot," the ever-popular Jesus fish.* Not that religious non-whackjobs have any kind of anti-whackjob responsibility; it's just a very refreshing thing to see print.)

*Fact o' the Day: the Jesus/fish connection started as a piece of Greek wordplay. In Greek, the word for "fish," ichthus, is an acronym for the phrase "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior"—iesous christos theou huios soter.† See, every now and then I learn something not-completely-esoteric from all the Bible-related projects I work on. (For "esoteric," see, for instance, my post on the link between Biblical Hebrew and marshmallows.)

†Yes, the transliterated word for "son" starts with "H," not "U," but that's just an indication of how it's pronounced; the actual Greek character is the same upsilon that's in "ichthus."

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

The Sox sock it to 'em 
Well, dang, the Red Sox finally did it: as everyone who's ever paid attention to baseball knows by now, they came back from 0-3 to spank the Yanks last night and win the pennant. J., a native New Englander, reacted with actual wonderment: "F!ckin' A, they finally did it. I haven't rooted for the Red Sox in 35 years. They f!cking broke my heart when I was eight." [Pause, looking positively beatific.] "You know, the response of the average New Englander, when they tied the series, was summed up by a Fark headline yesterday: 'Red Sox win Game Six. Now one game from gut-wrenching heartbreak.' But they won the pennant, and no one can take that away from them." [Pause.] "There weren't any Olympic judges involved, were there?" [Beat.] "No one can take that away from them."

I feel like New Englanders should be congratulated—as if they were responsible for the Red Sox finally getting into the World Series—heck, maybe it was their collective karma that finally did it. (I know I'm using the word "finally" a lot, but I can't think of a better one.) And certainly they deserve to be congratulated for putting up with The Drought and The Curse all these years. Good on ya, people. Enjoy it while it lasts; and may it last.

(Another thing J. said: "If they have any foresight at all, they'll arrange the seating for the World Series so no one's close enough to the field for fan interference." I don't know if that's possible—I think it's a safe bet that the stands will be full—but, say, a Plexiglass shield in front of the first row wouldn't be a bad idea.)

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 
Crossing fire 
Yeah, okay, I'm about the only person online—and almost certainly the only professed Jon Stewart fan—who hasn't mentioned his soon-to-be-legendary "Crossfire" appearance.* But I have better things to do with my life than watch "Crossfire" (like cleaning the mouse cages and watching silver tarnish), and I almost never go online during the weekends, so I didn't even find out about it till Monday; and I've been engrossed in that working-at-work thing, and have hardly had time to read much about it, let alone write about what I've read. And since everyone else has written about it, and probably better than I can or will, what can I add, other than, even more than ever, I heart Jon Stewart?

Adding to the "other people's writing that I can't compete with," the New York Times had a piece on it today, No Jokes or Spin. It's Time (Gasp) to Talk. It's highly gratifying to see a major and mostly-respected newspaper come right out and say what Daily Show watchers—stoned slackers and otherwise—have been trying to get people to realize all along:
All late-night talk-show hosts make jokes about politicians. What distinguishes Mr. Stewart from Jay Leno and David Letterman is that the Comedy Central star mocks the entire political process, boring in tightly on the lockstep thinking and complacency of the parties and the media as well as the candidates. More than other television analysts and commentators, he and his writers put a spotlight on the inanities and bland hypocrisies that go mostly unnoticed in the average news cycle.

Mr. Stewart is very funny, but it is the vein of "a plague on both your houses" indignation that has made his show a cult favorite: many younger voters are turning to the "The Daily Show" for their news analysis, and are better served there than on much of what purports to be real news on cable.
There, can I stop being defensive about my viewing choices now? (That sounded a bit defensive.) At any rate, as the major newspapers and magazines spend time and column inches analyzing the Daily Show and parsing its appeal to realize its relevance, when I do get defensive, I'll be able to provide citations. As the "Reading Rainbow" catchphrase goes, you don't have to take my word for it.

(By the way, if I hadn't let my TV Guide subscription lapse because I hadn't ordered checks with my married name on them and therefore couldn't mail in payments, I'd have been able to add the cover story of TV Guide to my ongoing Jon Stewart Media Watch last week. As it is, if you get TV Guide or have walked past a newsstand, you already know he's on the cover. The New York Times—or even Rolling Stone—it ain't, but it's got a much wider subscription base and vastly greater readership. And it's of a more convenient size to keep under one's pillow. [Um, not that I'm doing that. But one could, is all I'm saying.])

*I don't think I can actually call it "legendary" yet, since it happened less than a week ago; I'm not quite sure how soon after it happens something can be legitimately called legendary, but in relation to television it's probably a year or two. And in relation to legends that's soon, and yes, I do think the JS Crossfire will still be in the annals of great television talk show appearances, so I'm ending this footnote now.

[ at 11:48 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 
Two years 
Second wedding anniversary for me and J. today; we're doing the Big Expensive Dinner on Friday night (so J. doesn't have to go to work with a salt hangover), but tonight there's ossetra caviar and champagne at home, and I have a lacy thing or two to wear. I wish we had a whole day off today, and that it weren't raining, and I didn't have to go to a coworker's going-away party immediately after work; but what the heck—at the end of the day, and the end of every other day, I get to go home to J. (Okay, PBDA [Public Blog Display of Affection] over now; we now return to our regularly scheduled irreverence and sarcasm.)

[ at 1:34 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, October 18, 2004 
Two immediate discoveries when I arrived at work today:
  1. Dead mouse in the spiny mouse cage—and not only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead. (Like, chewed on.)
  2. The Isaac Mizrahi "Vote" t-shirt I ordered from Declare Yourself had arrived over the weekend, and the package was at my desk.
I think they balance each other out. Ooohhhh, I can't wait to wear the t-shirt. (And just over two weeks till I get to vote; and, hopefully, till the election is actually over. Please let it not drag out till December this time...)

  1. The mouse had had a big slice at the back of its neck on Friday; it didn't look like it had been inflicted by other mice—it was a clean cut, not toothmarks—and small animals can heal remarkably well (I've had other mice with similarly-deep cuts who recovered just fine), so I figured I'd leave it in the cage over the weekend, and if it looked on Monday like the other mice had been picking on it, I'd take it home and put it in a separate cage. Well, I guess they picked on it—after it was dead, if not before—so, um, misjudgment on my part there. I feel moderately guilty, but don't think I made an inappropriate decision based on the information I had at the time and the past information I'd accumulated. (Could be worse. One morning a few months ago I came in and was greeted with "Abby, there's a dead mouse in there." Pause. "Actually, it's more like half a dead mouse." Ew. [It is, of course, somehow solely my responsibility to deal with the mice after they're dead. I'm afraid the funeral arrangements are pretty minimal: plastic bag and the trash can of the convenience store across the street {the office trash pickup isn't till Friday, which is a long time to leave a dead mouse in an indoor trash can}.])
  2. I ordered the t-shirt on October 11th—last Monday—so it arrived in exactly a week. The Mizrahi shirts had been sold out in September, when I originally tried to order one, and now that they're back in stock, they still say "Allow two weeks for delivery in the USPS system," and you can only choose U.S. mail for shipping; so I was worried that it wouldn't arrive in time for the election. But, obviously, it did; so if you want one, there's still time to order it and have it in time to wear on Election Day.

[ at 1:26 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, October 15, 2004 
"Three things" meme 
How come when I don't have time to write anything, I have time to do memes? Maybe because they don't require me to think of something to write about; it's just answering questions or clicking buttons or checking off boxes. Anyway, here's the "three things" meme that's been going around, swiped in this instance from reflections:
  1. Pet Peeves: People keeping noisy dogs in houses/apartments that are obviously too small for them, especially if they're next door to me; car alarms; the vagaries of public transportation.
  2. Favorite Sounds: As the "noisy dogs and car alarms" answer above might suggest, I much prefer the lack of sounds. If I've got to pick something: the beach in winter when there aren't any people there, and it's just the water, the wind, and the birds. (I'm not sure if that's one or three; I declare this category done, though.)
  3. Favorite Flavors of Candy: Sour apple, root beer, butterscotch (not all at once).
  4. Biggest Fears: I'm assuming this is different from "phobias," which are irrational fears (the top three of those are tornadoes, arthropod pests, and bumper cars); let's see, rational fears: getting depressed or manic again; forgetting to pay bills and screwing up my credit rating even more; goofing off at work so much I get fired. (She said, at work.)
  5. Biggest Challenges: Keeping my mood stable (especially as the days get colder, shorter, and darker); managing money in even the loosest sense of the word "manage"; maintaining anything like a regular sleep schedule. (Lack of sleep can trigger mania, which can lead to spending money with wild abandon; it all ties together.)
  6. Favorite Department Stores: Lord & Taylor is the only one I go to in the city; department stores don't crop up in urban areas very often. I'd rather be in a bookstore anyway.
  7. Most Used Words: Probably "okay," "well," and "um," but if you mean real words...let's see, I just ran a program on the file I type all my blog entries in, and the top three words that aren't articles, conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, or forms of the verb "to be" are "people," "know," and "actually." Which makes sense, actually (there's another one!): I'm always starting sentences with "You know, people, [subject] is actually [my take on subject]..."
  8. Favorite Pizza Toppings: Pepperoni, mushrooms, broccoli (again, not all at once).
  9. Favorite Cartoon Characters: [blank stare]
  10. Movies Recently Watched: You had to ask. Um...I'm trying hard...okay, "Singin' in the Rain" a few weeks ago on TCM, "The Fellowship of the Ring" with the designers' commentary track sometime since Labor Day, and the "Showgirls" DVD with the "Greatest Movie Ever" commentary track, also sometime since Labor Day. (One of the things I picked up in film school is a very strong disinclination to watch movies.)
  11. Favorite Fruits: Generally, whatever's in season; in early summer, I can't get enough strawberries; in late summer, you can't get between me and a peach; in fall, I'm all about the orchard apples; and in winter, hand over the citrus fruit and nobody gets hurt. (I really, really liked mangoes before I realized I was allergic to them; if I could still eat them, they'd probably still be my favorite, but I can't, so I try not to think about how good they are.)
  12. Favorite Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes—yes, I'm the weirdo who actually likes the stuff on the top of the "Vegetables People Automatically Hate" list. (I like brussels sprouts, too, and I think cabbage is highly underrated, but I had to put the sweet potatoes in the top three so it wouldn't be a Brassica family sweep.)

[ at 5:21 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

And because work's been so crazy... 
...I haven't had time to think of anything interesting, let alone type it, let alone post it; so in lieu of that, here's a quiz from BBspot.

You are .exe When given proper orders, you execute them flawlessly.  You're familiar to most, and useful to all.
Which File Extension are You?

[ at 11:45 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Red ten, c'mon, I need a red ten! 
Remember back before every computer was, or at least could be, connected to the Internet, before easy access to the World Wide Web, when the only way to goof off on a computer was the built-in card games that came with your PC? The granddaddy of them all, Solitaire; its evil descendent, FreeCell; its "let's pretend I have friends" cousin, Hearts; and their token non-card-game companion, Minesweeper. Well, last night I was up late, I didn't feel like going through the hassle of going online with my dial-up Internet connection, I'd finally finished the backlog of New York Times crosswords I'd downloaded from the summer; so I clicked on the long-neglected "Games" shortcut on my desktop, and lo and behold, there they all were; and, almost an hour later, I'd determined that they were as addictive as ever. I was never a fan of Hearts, so I didn't revisit it last night; but I played a few rounds of Solitaire, one of FreeCell, two of TriPeaks (FreeCell's live-in friend, which didn't come with the computer but has lived there for five years), and a whole lot of Minesweeper. Man, I used to love Minesweeper. And I think I may have rekindled the affair. I think I might even forego some of my usual workday-break Internet time in favor of it. It'll be just like 1995. Pass the caffeinated water, and does anyone have a red ten? (There's two in every deck, there's gotta be one around here somewhere...)

[ at 11:32 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, October 13, 2004 
The office programming guy, asked when some part of his project would be done: "Hold on, let me check my hell thermometer."

I want that on a T-shirt.

[ at 5:34 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, October 12, 2004 
Belated as usual 
If I were a better person, I'd probably have something to say about Christopher Reeve's death. I guess I'm not, though; I was surprised, I am saddened, I am already cynically thinking "Reagan in June, Reeve in October, we just need a famous person to die every four months to keep stem-cell research in the news." (Anyone want to sign up for February '05?) And I bet when that Ken Caminiti was at the steroid-fueled height of his professional-baseball career, he thought he had much better long-term health prospects than Christopher Reeve.

I guess those were some things, actually. Although not necessarily "I'm a good person" things, especially the last two.

[ at 4:22 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, October 11, 2004 
Columbus who? 
Oh, yeah, and it's Columbus Day; it's a federal holiday (as seen in Title 5, Section 6103(a) of the United States Code; it comes in handy all the time), but otherwise it's so non-holidayish a holiday that Google isn't even doing a special logo for it. So all it really means to anyone who's not a federal employee is "no mail today and the trash pickup will be a day later than usual." Yeah, there's a rip-roarin' good time to be had over that.

The "who really discovered America?" issue is the kind of thing that people punch each other about, especially since the farther back you go the less hard evidence there is, and the less hard evidence there is the more wacky theories can flourish (no, there were not Phoenicians in Brazil!). And, certainly, the results of the discovering of America on the people living there at the time ranged from "awful" to "catastrophic," and I'm not going to get into that. (A New Yorker cartoon: store with big banner advertising "Rape of the Americas Day Sale!") What I do want to say is a quote, probably paraphrased (I couldn't find it in a bookshelf-raid this morning), from the early-20th-century humorist Will Cuppy: "America had been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up." The point isn't who was there first as much as who went back and told everyone first. It's probably not worth a federal holiday, but it's at least worth more than Leif Erikson Day would be.

[ at 4:16 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Talking to the TV (and who, on TV, does the talking) 
Attack ad on TV; after voiceover (not the candidate's voice) implying, basically, "my opponent is in favor of molesting children and killing police officers," candidate comes on to do the "I approved this message" bit:
Candidate: My name is Melissa Brown...

J.: "...and my fingerprints are on this icepick."
Incidentally, this campaign, in which two women running against each other, is the only one I've noticed that has male voiceovers for all the attack ads—I've been wondering if it's because a female voice saying bad things about a female candidate would just be perceived as bitchy. A male candidate, of course, couldn't use a male voiceover in an attack ad against a female opponent, because he'd sound like a big meanie who beats up girls, and probably kicks puppies; but a male voice speaking on behalf of a woman is a sober and authoritative intercessor. Or something. (Hey, I haven't been in a media studies class for four years; my analytical vocabulary isn't what it used to be.)

[ at 10:45 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thinking towards the TV 
Commercial for tooth-whitening strip (I forget exactly which one); voiceover: "What if every woman in the world had a [product name] whitening strip?" My thought: "Some of them in poorer countries might ask if they could exchange it for food, or medicine, or the right to vote."

[ at 10:30 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, October 08, 2004 
If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold an election? 
Another belated New York Times article link, this one from Tuesday (but I couldn't post it till I'd posted the one from Monday, which I didn't do till Wednesday, and then yesterday was crazy). It'll be payment-only by Oct. 12, but even then, the title says it all: Strip Club's Cover Charge Is Voter Registration Card. Yow, talk about rocking the vote. Bumping and grinding it, even.

Which brings me to the other thing I was going to post after I was going to have posted that:

The enormous number and variety of voter-registration drives—from P. Diddy's "Vote or Die" bling to the strip club registration revue—have been successful beyond expectation or precedent, and election offices across the country have record numbers of new-voter forms to prove it. The next thing is, how do we get people to actually go vote? I know you can't pay people to vote for a specific person or party, but how about providing incentives for them to vote in general? J. and I, in conversation, came up with these:
Me: Make Election Day an official national holiday,* but people can only get off from work if they can prove they voted.
J.: Open bars on Election Day, but you're only allowed in if you've voted.
Me: And there could be voter-only sales at shoe stores. That'd get the women in.
(And other stores too, of course, and not just for women; and I'm not trying to be genderist; but honestly, is there any woman who can resist the siren call of a shoe store?)

Anyway: I'm not talking bribery, I'm talking incentives. Encouragements. Something. Even just more-attractive "I voted" stickers. J. and I went to see a stand-up performance by Lewis Black on Sunday, and he had a particularly good line about voting, paraphrased here: "How are we going to convince the people of Iraq and Afghanistan that democracy is such a great thing when only 45 percent of us vote?" (It was like that, but funnier. Shoot, I wish I'd written it down when I heard it.)

*In some states it's an official holiday, but not in all of them. So technically it shouldn't be capitalized, except in those states, but I don't care. (I had to deal with this while editing a book about holidays, along with other nitpicky copyeditor issues like where the apostrophe goes in Presidents' Day [that there is correct; it's not Presidents Day or President's Day], whether to use hyphens or endashes in Id-al-Fitr [Id al-Fitr/Id–Ul–Fitr/Eid–Al–Fitr; hyphens, lacking any evidence to the contrary], and whether there's a comma in Martin Luther King Jr. Day [not according to the latest Chicago Manual of Style guidelines; in this case the government's own list of holidays {Title 5, Section 6103(a) of the United States Code} was no help, because the official designation is "Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr."]. If you were ever envying me my job, this is when you can stop.)

[ at 4:30 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Late-night, last night 
Good night for late-night TV yesterday: Bill O'Reilly on the Daily Show (he didn't quite retract the "stoned slackers" comment, but he was otherwise—I can't believe I'm saying this—a pretty good sport), and the JibJab guys who did the "This Land Is Your Land" Bush-Kerry animation this summer did a follow-up (I hesitate to call it a sequel) that debuted on the Tonight Show. ("It's Good to Be in D.C.," to the tune of "Dixie"; having made its debut on TV, it's also now available at JibJab.com.)

The 11 p.m. Daily Show is rebroadcast at 1 a.m., 10 a.m., and 7 p.m. the following day, so if you missed last night's, you can still catch it this evening; and since they don't do a show on Friday, the one they rebroadcast during the day Monday is likely to be the O'Reilly one too.

A media-watch update for the other Jon Stewart fan-geeks out there: there's a cover story about him in the new Rolling Stone, and an interview in whichever issue of GQ has Lindsay Lohan on the cover. (I found that one in the dentist's office; probably the September or October issue.) And you've bought "America (The Book)" by now, haven't you? If not, for heaven's sake, go get it: from Comedy Central, from Amazon.com, from Barnes & Noble, or go look in your neighborhood bookstore. (I'd loan you mine, but however generous my conscious mind was feeling, my subconscious would cling to it and refuse to let go, and you'd have to knock me out and then pry my fingers off it one by one while fending off attacks by one parakeet and nine spiny mice. And J. would probably back me up too.)

[ at 3:27 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, October 07, 2004 
So how long until Friday? 
Oy. One of those days when, as soon as I walked into work, I was accosted by two people with problems they needed me to look at and, ideally, solve; I barely got through my usual morning e-mail check before noon. I haven't had any time to work on my project yet today, either; and I don't think I can bill for things like "spent about 20 minutes rewriting a regular expression for someone else's project for another client" or "used three different computers to find the correct combination of programs to extract correctly-formatted text for someone else to work on." (Acrobat 6.0, which most of the office has upgraded to, doesn't have a useful feature that Acrobat 5.0 does; the Mac version of Acrobat 5.0 doesn't have the same features as the PC version; and before I could put Acrobat 5.0 back on my computer I had to install Acrobat 4.0 because our 5.0 installation disk is technically an upgrade and wouldn't work unless it could find 4.0 on the hard drive.) And my boss has been on the phone since 10 a.m. with our not-very-partner-like partner company having a conversation that sounds an awful lot like "partnership, shmartnership, straighten up or we're ditching you"—and, however this winds up playing out, it's darned hard to get any work done when there's a heated conversation in the background (especially one about work not getting done). Oy. I think I'll just keep my head down and pretend I'm invisible. If nobody sees me, they can't ask me to fix their problems, can they? And if I'm not working on their projects, I might actually have time to do mine...

[ at 2:01 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, October 06, 2004 
Eyes and antennae and legs, oh my! 
As promised/threatened, here's a picture of the alarming shrimp from yesterday's lunch, as seen on a separate plate after I carefully picked them and all their body parts out of the soup container:

scary shrimp
click for even bigger shrimp

I mean, even if you like shrimp...that's a bit much to deal with on a Tuesday lunch hour, isn't it?

(By the way, I think they might technically be prawns; but they're shrimp-like, and that's as much as I care to know.)

[ at 1:12 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

We do declare 
This article is from the Monday New York Times, so it'll be non-free in five, rather than seven, days, but I didn't get around to posting about it then, and I really want to:

Monday was the deadline to register to vote in 16 states, including some of the big swing states: Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and my own place of residence, Pennsylvania. The article reports that there have been record numbers of new voter registrations—I feel the need to quote at length:
[I]n Philadelphia, overtime and weekend duty began in July to deal with what is now the highest number of new voter registrations in 21 years. The office says it is still six days behind the flow, and the last two days have brought about 10,500 new registration forms. At 204,000, the number of new registrations has already surpassed that of the last big year, 1992, which had 193,000.


In Cleveland, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has spent $200,000 on temporary workers this year to deal with a wave of 230,000 new registrations, more than double the number in 2000. The number of registrations in Tallahassee, Fla., is up 20 percent since the presidential primary in March. And St. Louis is reporting the largest growth ever in potential new voters.

"We are moving toward having the largest number of registered voters in the history of St. Louis County," said David Welch, one of the directors of elections.

Las Vegas added 3,000 to 4,000 voters a week in 2000 but is doing triple that this year, forcing the office to hire 30 additional workers. The elections director said he was getting 3,000 new cards a day last week.
To all of which I say two words: Woo. Hoo. (Also "Yee. Haw." And "F!cking. Awesome.") For my part, I finally got J. to register this year; I think he'd been operating under the "it doesn't matter so why bother" cynicism that probably comes naturally to a guy from Boston who lives in Philadelphia. But I don't care: You gotta do it. You can vote and be cynical, you know. (And how many times have you heard or said this: "if all the people who think their votes don't count voted, their votes would count.")

I do have one tiny quibble with the NYT article I quoted; describing the additional staff and equipment brought in by the Montgomery County, PA, election office, it refers to "one of the technicians whose usual job is fixing voting machines at the warehouse." Hey, couldn't you have used the word "repairing" instead of "fixing"? This is Pennsylvania we're talking about, and near Philadelphia, too; we have a reputation to live down. And I don't think we've fixed an election since...um, since...um, are there any electronic listening devices in the ceiling here?

[ at 11:44 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, October 05, 2004 
When lunch attacks 
For lunch, me and another guy in the office ordered takeout from a pan-Asian restaurant I've never been to before. I got tom yum—spicy Thai seafood soup—which is ideal for head-clearing, and which I've been craving since the allergy onset yesterday. And, don't get me wrong, it's good. But, dude, the shrimp have eyes. And legs, and antennae, and everything else they'd have if they were swimming out in the ocean. (The mussels have shells, too, but those are actually attractive: they're the iridescent green New Zealand mussels.) I'm not a big fan of shrimp in the first place; I don't see why people think it's weird to eat bugs when shrimp with their shells on look nastier than just about any terrestrial arthropod, and with their shells off they look exactly like the kind of giant grub you'd yelp and kill with a trowel if you found it in your garden. When presented with them, I'll eat them (shrimp, not grubs); but getting these bad boys out of their shells is a bit more than I think I'm up to at the moment.

I've been carrying my digital camera around for the past few days, so I took some pictures of the shrimp (and the mussels); I'll post them when I get home, where the camera-to-PC software is. (Because if I have to look at a plate of eyed, legged, antennaed shrimp, I think everyone else should, too. I can tell you're all really looking forward to it, right?)

[ at 2:52 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Commence the unfreezing process 
Vice-presidential debates tonight; I guess they're thawing out Edwards and Cheney from the underground bunkers they've been stored in for the last month. (Seriously, has either of them appeared in public for more than two minutes since the conventions?)

It's occurred to me that, if you combined Edwards—youthful-looking, disarmingly cheerful, and energetic—and Cheney—ancient-of-days–looking, dour, and android-like—you'd get one normal person. (Unfortunately I lack the Photoshop skills to accomplish this personally.)

[ at 12:42 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

And by the way... 
Sorry if any of you encountered the fifteen or so previous attempts to get the "Head(line)s up" post published, with all the crappy-looking versions of the table. Blogger has been reeeeeaallly slow for the past two days; maybe I'll have to make the mythical future date when I work on my Web site a sooner mythical future date when I work on my Web site.

[ at 11:37 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Head(line)s up 
Yesterday was a great day for Fark.com headlines—to heck with the stories, these tell tales on their own:

[AP][Interesting]Poland to pull out of Iraq. Bush: "Don't forget Tonga"
[USA Today][Followup]Latest poll shows 49 percent for Bush, 49 percent for Kerry. In other news, 49 percent of U.S. voters are morons
[Yahoo][Asinine]This week's headline: Onlookers flock to Mt. St. Helens. Next week's headline: Onlookers critical of government's inability to rescue them from oncoming lava

I bet that last one actually is going to be the gist of a headline next week. (It's a volcano, people! Not a tourist attraction!)

[ at 11:35 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, October 04, 2004 
Fall's fallen 
Hi, October. Nice to see you. You're my favorite month, really. (We even had our wedding in you!) But one thing: Could you ease up on the allergens and the early-season colds? Nothing spoils a gorgeous blue-sky crisp-air autumn day like that nagging itch at the back of my throat and the front of my sinuses that says "You're going to be coughing your lungs up by the end of the week, you'll stop being able to breathe through your nose by Wednesday, and you'll have a sore throat as soon as you wake up tomorrow that will last until St. Crispin's Day. Tell all your friends to buy stock in Benadryl and start using NyQuil as a cocktail mixer, 'cause the Season of the Post-Nasal Drip is just beginning."

Disclaimer: No, I don't really drink NyQuil recreationally. Hot rum and lemon juice is much better.

[ at 4:52 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Bad headline alert 
Reuters headline: In Rural USA, Republicans Win with Guns, Abortion. I know what it's trying to say...but doesn't it sound like there are Republicans banging on farmhouse doors, holding people at gunpoint, and threatening to give them abortions if they don't vote for Bush?

[ at 3:13 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Feed of the Day 
Those of you who are cooler than me probably already know this, but I just found out about it (via cheryln, one of the LiveJournalers I Bloglined this morning): the "What's New" page at Snopes.com has an RSS feed, which, as Cheryl says, "makes it a lot easier to check up on the breathless rumors that flood the rest of your friends list and your inbox."

[ at 2:02 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Where's your line? 
How massively cool is this?: Bloglines can subscribe to public LiveJournals, not just blogs whose authors* have created their own feeds. Since I got my online-journal start on LJ, and still have friends with whose lives I want to keep up who use LJ, I'm tremendously psyched that I can add them to Bloglines and have convenient access to them in a browser sidebar, instead of having to make a separate trip to my LJ friends page (which, I fear, I haven't been doing nearly as often as I should). Of course, I'll still have to check the private journals and friends-only entries by hand, but hopefully having the other journal feeds and public entries right there in front of me will remind/encourage/shame me into signing in and reading the rest.

*Anyone have a better word for "person who does the blogging"? I tried "owner," "proprietor," and "creator," but none of them felt right. "Blogger" is the default, of course, but "blogs whose bloggers..." was too redundant, even for a Monday morning.

[ at 12:31 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, October 01, 2004 
Political potpourri 
Well, for the first election year since 1988, I didn't watch a presidential debate. For one thing, I was painfully tired (I accidentally took my nighttime medication in the morning yesterday, and the side effects had me just about falling face-first into the keyboard until early afternoon); I wasn't in the mood to stay up till 11 watching anything. For another, I just can't stand listening to George Bush talk, and after months of swing-state campaign ad saturation, I'm not too interested in hearing Kerry talk, either. (I don't mind hearing what they have to say; I just don't like hearing their actual voices.) And, theoretically, J. and I already know who we're voting for; there isn't much that could change our minds. (J.: "John Kerry would have to tell me, in person, that he went to Thailand to f!ck small boys to make me vote against him. And even then I might reconsider because of the Supreme Court.")

And, goldang it, I'm tired of the sniping and the back-and-forth soundbites and the taglines that have been said so often they don't mean anything anymore. A thought I had this morning on the whole waffling/flip-flopping/inconsistency issue:

Are people supposed to go through life without ever changing their mind about anything, regardless of their maturation process and personal experiences? If people never changed their minds no matter what happened, Saul wouldn't have let being stricken blind on the road to Damascus make him give up his busy job supervising the execution of Christians.

I forget exactly who said this about Bush—I think it was Jon Stewart, but whoever it was, I like it: "He drove straight into a brick wall, but he didn't blink." And while I casting about for "Republican for Kerry" gear, I saw this on a t-shirt: "Bush just flopped."

(Republican? Me? Well, technically; I'm registered as one. [No! Wait! Come back!] There's going to have to be a lengthier "Me and Politics" post pretty soon, I think. If I try really hard, I might even be able to piece something together before the election. [Try really hard, or get really liquored up; the latter sounds more fun than the former, and whatever I write would probably be a lot more fun to read.])

[ at 12:19 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yes, that's me.


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