Zhaba Zhournal
Tuesday, November 30, 2004 
This requires a resounding Nelson Muntz "Ha-ha!": a truly kick-ass "Harvard Sucks" prank from this year's Yale-Harvard football game. (Follow the link for a video of the event unfolding and a picture of the outcome, also available as a full-size poster.)
On November 20, 2004 at the 121st Yale-Harvard game, 20 Elis donned custom made "Harvard Pep Squad" t-shirts, applied enemy-red war paint on their faces, and set out to pull a prank on 1800 Harvard alumni. Like clockwork, these brave Elis proceeded to exude more Harvard spirit than any Cantab ever... tossing t-shirts to the lucky and unsuspecting few, and passing out 1800 sheets of red & white construction paper in perfect order to the cheering Harvard crowd. With 4:47 minutes left in the second quarter of the game, each member of the crowd raised their sheet of paper expecting to spell out "Go Harvard" as they were told by the cheering "Harvard Pep Squad." Instead, the truth was revealed to a laughing crowd of YALE alumni and students who saw the Harvard crowd spell out in clear red letters "WE SUCK."
That is the best Game prank ever. We've pranked the marching band, we've pranked the students, but getting hundreds of alumni to fall for something that makes that good a picture is a real coup. Almost makes up for losing Yale losing The Game 35-3...almost.

("The Game," capitalized, is only and always the Yale-Harvard football game. There are many games, but there is only one Game.)

[ at 2:12 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, November 29, 2004 
Post-holiday "still here" post 
I thought about posting over the weekend, but I was feeling too darned lazy; and anyway, there wasn't much happening. Thanksgiving: Dinner was good, relatives were bearable. Rest of the weekend: Read a lot, slept a lot, stayed up way, way, way too late on Friday and Saturday; watched some of the VH1 "Awesomely Bad" marathons; played computer card games; interacted with the bird (she's starting to molt again). Didn't leave the house after getting back from Delaware on Friday morning; didn't watch the news; didn't go online. I wasn't a total slug—I did five or six loads of laundry—but overall, it was a holiday, and I took it.

I caught up on my e-mail this morning, Fark.com and my LiveJournal friends list at lunchtime, and I'll tackle my RSS blog feeds over the course of the afternoon, maybe into the evening. (You people write so darned much!) And maybe I'll even think of something interesting to post about. (Or at least something to post about; "interesting" might be pushing it in my post-long-weekend mental lethargy.)

[ at 4:06 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, November 25, 2004 
Not quite over the river and through the woods 
My brother, who's a Philly cop (hereinafter "B.", which is his actual initial, not just standing for "brother"), was planning to drive us to Delaware today; he works the night shift—the proverbial third watch—so he said "I'll be there at 9, unless something comes up." This morning, about 7:45, the phone downstairs rings while I'm still working on waking up, and I overhear J. talking to B. (a lot of "Oh, okay" and "Uh-huh" and "Wow"); a little later he comes upstairs to give me the report:
J.: Well, that was B., he says he got caught up in something, he probably won't be here until 10 or 11, "unless the guy dies," then he'll be there all day.
Me: Oh. Yikes.
J.: I'm glad B.'s a cop, or else that sentence would be extremely alarming.
I called my mom and told her about the change in plans, and said we could take a train if we had to. I didn't have a current schedule, so I went to the SEPTA Web site to look up train times; they recently revamped the site, and now it's so frickin' up-to-date it's unusable—the schedules, which used to just be HTML, are in PDF now—only PDF—and only for Acrobat 6.0, which I don't have on my home computer. So of course I had to download it, which over my dial-up connection took over half an hour, while I grumbled and muttered imprecations against them. I mean, c'mon, you can't have HTML or text versions for the visually impaired or people with really old computers? Or at least have versions for Adobe 5.0, which more people are likely to have? Grrr snarl snap humph.

I eventually discovered a train that would leave Philly at 11:34 and get to the station about fifteen minutes from my parents' house at 12:09; at about 10:45 I called B. and said we could take the train if he wasn't going to get out of there anytime soon. He said he was just about done, though—just some paperwork to fill out, so I guess the guy, whoever he was, didn't die—and he can pick us up at 11:30. And knowing the way he drives, we should get to my parents' house at, oh, noon. (While he was in the police academy, he drove very carefully, because speeding tickets can get you sent back to the next class or even kicked out. Now that he's got the badge, though, he basically never has to obey a speed limit again. He drives fast, but very well; I'd say "confident," not "assertive" or "aggressive." It's fun driving with him; it's like being in a video game.)

Okay, 11:11 now; I'd better wrap this up, do the plant-watering and bird-feeding, round up the food we're taking to DE, and get ready to go. Between two cups of coffee and a whole Ritalin tablet, I'm rarin' to go. So another Happy Thanksgiving; I'll see you on the other side of dinner.

[ at 11:18 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

I'm the pie crust queen 
Lots of pre-Thanksgiving baking tonight; we're going to my parents' house in Delaware for the big dinner thing tomorrow, and we've got our assignments. Me: apple pie, pumpkin pie; J.: icebox-roll dough, which we'll take to DE and bake when we get there. So after we both got home—I actually left the office by 5:15, although I did basically get shooed out the door by my manager after everyone else had left—we cleared enough of the sink and the counter to work on and got started. I made the double crust for the apple pie, J. cut up the apples, I mixed the spices, rolled out the crust, put together the pie, and put it in the oven; while it was baking, J. started the bread dough; when the dough was resting, I made the single crust for the pumpkin pie; there was a scramble to prepare a heat-resistant resting place to put the apple pie when it came out of the oven, and then I finished putting the pumpkin pie together, put it in the oven, collapsed on the couch, and realized that it was after 11 p.m. and I hadn't had dinner. (Well, I'll have plenty of dinner tomorrow.)

While the pumpkin pie was baking, we did an abbreviated kitchen clean-up and started getting ready for bed; I was rounding up clothes and meds to take to Delaware, and mentioned, more belatedly than I should have, "We're staying over at my parents' house tomorrow night."
J.: We are?
Me: Yeah.
J.: First I've heard of it.
Me: Oh. Sorry.
J.: It's okay. I'll just dread accordingly.
(He kids, sort of. I'm dreading it a bit too, but we haven't had any really horrible Thanksgivings with my family. It's been over a decade since the last time my dad flooded the kitchen while thawing the turkey.)

Hey, how'd it get to be 1 a.m.? My brother's picking us up at 9 a.m. tomor...um, today, and I've got to pack and put a two-day supply of food and water in all the mouse cages and maybe sleep a bit. Okay, then. Good night, and everyone in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving. (Everyone not in the U.S., Happy Thursday, and be glad you don't have to wake up at dawn to roast a turkey.)

[ at 1:08 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, November 24, 2004 
Onion slices 
I'm lovin' me this Onion article title: White House Thanksgiving Turkey Detained Without Counsel. (The article's mildly amusing, but the title's priceless.)

Other good Onion titles of recent weeks:

[ at 3:30 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

I can't not call this post "get stuffed" 
Oh, heck, a Thanksgiving meme, via Jen at reflections - jmo (who I always seem to have the same quiz results as):

You Are the Stuffing

You're complicated and complex, yet all your pieces fit together.
People miss you if you're gone - but they're not sure why.

[ at 1:59 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, November 23, 2004 
Do they know it's not Christmas? 
No one ever accused South Philadelphians of under-decorating for holidays (if you don't see an animatronic figure for any given holiday in at least one South Philly window, it doesn't exist), but isn't it still a bit early for the full-on entire-neighborhood Christmas lights? Yesterday I encountered their prematurely-blazing glory on South 13th St., and took some pictures to prove it; my camera's too old and low-res to produce a good image after dark, but this gives you an idea of how the neighborhoods do cooperative light-bedecking down the entire block:

click to enlarge

[ at 1:39 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, November 22, 2004 
Don't bug me 
Wee-hawkin': there's finally a Firefox 1.0 version of the super-popular, super-useful BugMeNot extension. Those of you who are more up on these things than I am probably knew that already, but in case anybody didn't, here's the extension info, from the trusty Firefox Extensions RSS feed:

BugMeNot v0.6.1: Avoid website registrations

(Extension homepage)

For Firefox (v0.8), Mozilla

date: 20041115
size: 24KB
uri: http://extensions.roachfiend.com/bugmenot.xpi
ver: 0.6.1

BugMeNot allows you to access bugmenot.com's database of user-submitted usernames and passwords to bypass the login of web sites that require compulsory registration and/or the collection of personal/demographic information (such as the New York Times) via the context menu.

[ at 1:24 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, November 19, 2004 
You're nobody till somebody satirizes you 
The title's a bit satirical itself, but you do know you've arrived when people start making jokes about and/or fun of you.* And BBspot has taken on Mozilla for this week's "Top 11" list: Top 11 Firefox Extensions. My favorite is #11, "GetOffYourLazyButtAndWalkToTheFrontDoorForPetesSake 0.01 - Snail mail notifier." I also like #6, "ExtendItNow! 2.1 - Pings update.mozilla.org every 15 seconds so you'll know when it's back up. Never have outdated extensions again!" and #4, "PopUpEncourager - For those popup lovers, for every popup window on a webpage, FireFox will display 2." So, how long do you think it'll be before someone actually makes some of these?

(I didn't find this link in my own supposed-to-be-working Web-surfing time—my manager actually sent it to me, on his Web-surfing time. I've converted most of the office to Firefox, and I'm working on the rest of them.)

*In my brief summer of moderate media exposure I knew I'd reached a new level of quasi-celebrity when Salon.com accused me of being a fraud. Hey, if they're paying enough attention to attack me, I must being doing something right! (The whole summer of 1999 is a loooong story; maybe I'll tell it sometime. It involves undiagnosed mania and the "Blair Witch Project" online fan base phenomenon.)

[ at 4:49 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, November 18, 2004 
The occasional benefits of late lunches 
I did go to South Street; I did go to Chef's Market; and although usually when I get there after 2:30 I'm left with the pathetic remnants of the buffet table, today I arrived just as they were putting out the new trays—I got the very first crack at the macaroni and cheese straight from the oven. (I'm all about the crusty edge pieces; mmmmm, crispy brown cheese...) And Julie of No Fancy Name supplied me with an online tea-purveyor with the elusive Earl Grey green tea I've been searching high and low for. And there's only an hour left in the workday (well, in the official workday; I'll probably be here till 6 anyway.) All in all, the past hour has beaten the pants off the rest of the day and all of yesterday. Wa-hoo.

(By the way, since I mention Chef's Market all the time as if I expect people to know what it is, here's a link to their Web site. It's a pretty darn boring Web site, but I did learn that they do in-flight meals. [Humph. Not on any airline I've ever been on.])

[ at 4:20 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Warning: Extreme mundanity below.

Not much posting or blog/journal reading this week; I've hardly even kept up on Fark.com and this week's Onion. You know how I keep saying I hate it when I have to work at work? For the past few days I've been frantically catching up on all the work I should have been doing...one of those "By the way, this project is due at the end of the week" things. (Most of my projects don't have solid deadlines, so it's easy to get sidetracked.) I barely got home in time for the Daily Show rerun at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday (it's the only reason I leave the office before 7 sometimes). Yesterday the client actually called at 6 p.m. and told me to go home—"just send me the files and we can run the compiler here, don't stay there all night just so you can compile them." (I haven't heard anything about the files today, so I guess they were okay, and the project actually did get done by the end of the week. I'm fast when I'm actually working.)

J.'s been having one of his quasi-migraines since Tuesday morning—nausea, dizziness, but not an actual headache. He doesn't want to take too many sick days for non-headache migraines, so he's been dragging himself to work this week; I feel really bad for him, but there isn't much I can do when we're not together. (At home, we've been spending lots of time sitting very still on the couch together, reading quietly and communing with the bird; he says he feels okay as long as he's not moving.)

The bird is being even sweeter than usual; on Tuesday she actually fell asleep perched on my finger—I guess that's one of the major indications that an animal really trusts you. Her eyelids are incredibly delicate, almost translucent, with microscopically-tiny eyelash feathers. She's also been pretty good about going upstairs in her carrying cage and perching on my wrist or running around the keyboard while I'm at the computer. (Fortunately she doesn't weigh enough to press the keys down.) After about half an hour she gets antsy and wants to go back downstairs, but she's getting used to the idea that the rest of the house is safe and the carrying cage isn't a portal to a scary alternate universe.

As for me, I'm bored, hungry, vaguely discontent...I've been walking up to South St. on my lunch break every day, but I usually wind up wandering around a store not finding anything I want. I've been on an unsuccessful quest for Earl Grey green tea; I found one box, once, at Chef's Market, and haven't seen it since, there or anywhere else. I bet Twining's has a Web site that I could purchase it from, though. Someone must have a tea-selling Web site, anyway. Yesterday I went to the Headhouse Square Eckerd's and got liquid hand soap for the office bathroom, because we only had dishwashing soap, and my hands were painfully dry by the end of the day. (We kept asking my boss to get real hand soap, and he kept saying he'd get around to it, but what was our problem, the dishwashing soap said it was good for your hands; sure, if you just use it to wash the dishes once a day, but not if it's the only soap you can ever use.) Anyway, for the low, low price of $1.99, I bought actual hand soap and got the fervent thanks of everyone else in the office. (See, that wasn't hard.) I think I'm turning into the office den mother, or something; I'm the female employee who's been here the longest, which apparently makes me the go-to person for organizing goodbye parties, rounding up takeout-lunch orders, and providing any office supplies or domestic items my boss doesn't get around to buying. I guess I don't mind, but it's kind of odd to be considered responsible.

Eck; it's after 2 p.m. and I haven't had lunch. Must eat. Must get up from desk. Must get out of office, if I want to take any advantage of the non-freezing, non-rainy weather. I'll probably go to South St. and not see anything I want and get my default salad at Chef's Market. (Okay, it's been almost half an hour since I started this paragraph and I'm really, really hungry. Must eat. Must go. Really...)

[ at 2:27 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, November 16, 2004 
Random book meme 
Via Psychobabble:
Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 23.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the sentence in your journal......along with these instructions.
The Zondervan NIV Study Bible and O'Reilly's "Writing Word Macros" were equidistant from me on the left and right, so I'm going to do the meme for both of them. Anyone want to guess which quote is from which?
Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arphaxad.
Incidentally, the default font for the module window is Courier, which has a rather thin-looking appearance and maybe be somewhat difficult to read.
(If you ever wondered what I do all day, read those two sentences over and over again until your eyes hurt, and you'll get a pretty good idea.)

[ at 12:20 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, November 15, 2004 
Stop me before I deal again! 
Just discovered this Firefox extension, via the RSS feed from Firefox Help: Extensions:

Cards v0.15: A collection of patience card games

(Extension homepage)

For Firefox (v0.9 - v1.0), Mozilla

date: 20041109
lang: en-US
size: 112KB
uri: http://downloads.mozdev.org/cardgames/cards.xpi
ver: 0.15

A collection of patience (solitaire) card games. Included are: Aces Up, Black Widow, Canfield, Double Solitaire, Grounds for Divorce, Fan, FreeCell, Golf, Gypsy, Klondike, Maze, Mod 3, Montana, Pyramid, Regiment, Russian Solitaire, Sanibel, SeaHaven Towers, Simple Simon, Spider Solitaire, TriPeaks, Wasp, Whitehead, and Yukon.

Features autoplay, hints, unlimited undo, scoring, animation, and "intelligent" moving of cards when you right click on them.

After installing you should be able to play the games by choosing "Cards" from the Tools menu (in Firefox) or the Windows menu (in Mozilla 1.x).
Ack! You know I'm never, ever going to get off the computer at night now, don't you? I can barely drag myself away from Spider Solitaire and FreeCell as it is. (If I were a better person, I would have resisted the temptation to install it. But I'm not, and I didn't. Now, where the heck is that other red ten?)

[ at 5:50 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Dude, where's my weekend? 
I think this weekend was even shorter than the one I lamented about last Monday; are they lopping off some of the hours when we're not looking as part of a fiendish Weekday Savings Time plot? ("It feels like 10 a.m. Sunday, but it's really 6 a.m. Monday WST. So get to work.") It would probably help if I stopped staying up till 2:30 a.m. on Friday night (till the end of the late-late shows, at which point they start running the nighttime talk show loop from 11:30 p.m. again) and 1 a.m. on Saturdays (through "Saturday Night Live" and into "Showtime at the Apollo"—and by the way, isn't "American Idol" just "Showtime at the Apollo" with cell phones instead of an applause-o-meter?). After I turn off the TV, it takes another fifteen or twenty minutes to get to bed; and then I don't wake up until noon or later; and that probably contributes to the weekend feeling short. But still: I'm quite sure the twelve hours between noon and midnight yesterday didn't last nearly as long as they should have. Whereas today has lasted at least twelve hours since I got to work at 9:05. Hey, can we hurry up and have Thanksgiving? I need a four-day weekend. (Maybe it'll even feel as long as a three-day one!)

[ at 5:22 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, November 12, 2004 
M is for meme 
Alphabet meme, via Shut Up Dude:
Press each letter in the address bar of your browser and list what the auto-complete function jumps to first.
Not all of these are blogs, or even blog-related; if the top result wasn't a blog, I'd go down the list to get a blog if there was one, but sometimes there weren't any.

Some of the blog titles don't start with the letter of the alphabet they're next to, but their domain names do; in which case I've added the domain name after the title.

[ at 4:21 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Don't believe everything you don't read 
Skimming fast down a page of headlines; there was one about Bush and Blair's news conference on the Middle East above one about Arafat's funeral, and my eye sent them to my brain as the combined headline "Bush Pledges to Bury Peace in the Middle East."

(I immediately realized that that couldn't be the headline, but it was one of those times when what you think you see is truer than what you actually do...)

[ at 2:47 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

No relation to Jebediah Obadiah Zachariah Jedediah Springfield 
Office discussion of the Bushes; wondering how Jeb Bush got his nickname—we were pretty sure it wasn't short for Jebediah. (Me: "That sounds too Old Testament for the Bushes.")

It turns out that Jeb's full name is John Ellis Bush—hence, J.E.B.; it's an acronym, not an abbreviation. (It's a good thing they didn't try the acronym thing with Dubya—how would you pronounce GWB, "goob"?)

Side note: In the course of deciding on and writing the title, I discovered that I'm incapable of saying/thinking/typing "Zachariah" without wanting to follow it with "Malachi"—because the book of Malachi is right after the book of Zechariah in the Bible. Yeah, I've been working on these things too long.

[ at 2:45 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, November 11, 2004 
Last person out, turn off the lights 
Earlier this week it was Juror No. 7, and now the foreman of the Scott Peterson jury has been dismissed. That's the same as the number of Bush cabinet officials who resigned this week. So what do you think is going to happen first?—the Scott Peterson trial will lose all 18 jurors,* or the Bush administration will lose all 16 cabinet members?

*Jury: 12 original, 6 alternate, only 3 of whom are left (in fact, the just-dismissed foreman was originally an alternate who replaced a juror who was dismissed in June).

Cabinet: 15 executive department heads, plus the Vice President.

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

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead 
Call Schrödinger, Monty Python, and the Munchkins: the cat's out of the box, the parrot's not just resting, and ding-dong, Yasir Arafat is really most sincerely dead. (That's a link to the New York Times "this is what happened last night" story; if you're really ambitious, here's the New York Times obituary, which is eight HTML pages long, and has probably been written and re-written over the course of the past thirty years. Registration required, of course, but that's what Bug Me Not is for.)

The first coherent thing I said today, after "Good morning" and "Coffee": "So last night they said that Arafat was really, truly dead. Is that still what they're saying this morning?"

J. reported that yes, yes they were; then added, in a stentorian news-announcer voice, "Arafat's condition has been upgraded to dead." (Whereupon I snarfed my coffee.)

Keith at Alcohol Was a Factor posted a list of conflicting Arafat headlines on Tuesday, 21 of 'em, from sources ranging from Canada.com (Arafat in coma, hours to live as officials arrive for hospital) to Reuters UK (Palestinian minister says Arafat still alive) to the Skagit Valley Herald (Arafat in a Coma, Condition Getting Worse). (The last link is dead already, but I couldn't resist the name Skagit Valley Herald.) I'm going to try to collect all the Fark.com Arafat headlines from the past few days and post a list of them—my favorite, from Tuesday, is "French medical services insist Arafat is still alive and playing Halo 2."

[ at 12:07 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 
Polly wanna Web site? 
The bird and I had a big breakthrough tonight: after a week of getting her used to being moved around the house in her carrying cage, I was able to take her up to the office and have her spend about half an hour contentedly at my desk, perched on my wrist or shoulder while I typed. She started getting antsy after that, and I took her back downstairs to her regular cage, but it's an embarrassingly big deal that I know I can spend time in the office without feeling guilty for abandoning her. (We leave her alone when we're at work all day, so I want to spend as much time as possible together when I'm home; parakeets are very social, and J. and I are her entire flock.) One of the main reasons I don't blog on the weekends, or more often on weeknights, is that I spend my non-working waking hours in the living room with her. (There are plenty of things to do there—it probably contains more bookcases than any other 14' x 40' rowhouse in South Philly, plus the TV and DVD player—so I'm not just sitting there staring at the bird all night; I'm not quite that bird-whipped.)

Anyway. The horizons of the house have suddenly opened: I can be in the office and with the bird! I can blog and keep her entertained! (She was curious about keyboarding; I think she'll turn into a real terror if she figures out she can move the keys herself.) And if I want to spend all day Saturday reading in bed, I could bring her into the bedroom, too. Ooohhhh, the possibilities are mindless. I mean endless.*

We really need a sign on the front door saying "This house is operated solely for the convenience of the bird"—she rules the roost, and I think she knows it. I can't walk past a novelty shop or toy store without getting her something: today it was a miniature Fisher-Price xylophone keychain. She's also got her own shatterproof cactus-stem margarita glass, to keep her out of my wineglass, and her own espresso cup and saucer, to keep her out of my coffee mug, and every little bouncing ball I ever got out of a supermarket vending machine is in, around, or under her cage. Election, shmelection; our house is governed by a blue-and-yellow fluffball who weighs less than eleven pennies. (I for one welcome our new psittacine overlords!)

*That's a frequent J.-ism; I said it to myself in my head as I was typing, thought "no, don't type that!", then re-thought "oh, c'mon, it's stream-of-consciousness," so I'm sticking with it.

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

Tuesday, November 09, 2004 
Pop goes the culture 
I got a TV Guide and a Star and a Marie Claire (Salma Hayek on the cover—mmmmmm). I stopped at the Headhouse Square Eckerd's first, which, like the supermarket, still had last week's TV Guide; I checked to make sure it wasn't a two-week issue (which they never have anyway) and that I was in agreement with the nearby newspapers as to the date (it's definitely no longer the week of Oct. 31–Nov. 6); then I went to the CVS at the other end of the square, wondering if there was a TV Guide embargo in South Philly or a delivery truck drivers' strike or something. The CVS really did have this week's issue, though—only two copies left; you better believe I snagged one fast. Yeah, I really should resubscribe; buying them at newsstands hasn't been too much of a hassle before, but I feel like I've been hunting the Snark this week.

[ at 3:37 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Checking in 
Blart. I'm kind of depressed. Don't want to write much. Also my office is cold; which I like better than it being hot, but it's so cold the nerves in my hands are dull and my fingers are stiff, which doesn't help my manual dexterity and keyboarding ability.

Just won the first eBay auction I've bid on since last winter (when I got some swan feathers for J.'s calligraphy; it's hard to find those anywhere but eBay). Must. Not. Get. Addicted. But, um, I really wanted it! And it has nothing to do with being depressed, really...well, okay, maybe. But that's better than if it was because I was manic. (When I'm depressed, I don't keep buying things; during my one full-fledged adulthood mania, I got myself $10,000 in debt in three months. Ack.)

I think I'll go to South St. on my lunch break and try to find a purveyor of magazines that isn't out of TV Guides (tried to buy one Saturday at the supermarket, but they didn't have this week's issue; and yesterday the convenience store across the street was sold out of them). And maybe a trashy gossipy magazine, like the Star, which Whitters of Polyester Bride recently wrote a sort of combined paean to/pan of, The not-so-noble printed word. Yeah, actually, I think I need that. Celebrity breakups and diets and fashion and bad plastic surgery, with lots of colorful pictures, and very short paragraphs: intravenous pop culture, please.

[ at 2:10 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, November 08, 2004 
Hello, my name is...wait, it's around here somewhere 
Yeah, it's a Monday. Viz.: I had to fill out a health insurance waiver form for my boss (I'm getting coverage through J.'s employer; for some reason no one can pinpoint, the university library where he works falls under the auspices of the university hospital's healthcare-workers union, and they get good stuff). Anyway, it had a one-letter-per-box thing for your name—last, first, M.I.—which I immediately started filling out with my first name first. Realized I'd screwed up, asked if I could have another form; my boss said "Just write your last name over it." So I did—with my maiden name, which I haven't used on official paperwork for over two years. Me: "Oh, crap, I forgot my name. Now can I have another form?" My boss: Big sigh, gives me the last form in the office. I filled it in right this time, then handed it back and said "Take this away before I can screw it up again."

Yeah. Monday. I don't think my weekend lasted as long as advertised; can I exchange it for another one or get my Saturday refunded? And can I start using the new one right now?

[ at 2:03 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, November 05, 2004 
Deep in the heart of Texas 
Multiple choice: In Dallas County, Texas—the red state to end all red states, the cornerstone and centerpiece of Bush Country—the voters elected a sheriff who is:
  1. a Democrat
  2. female
  3. Hispanic
  4. openly gay
  5. all of the above
And the answer is (e)—yes, really. Lupe Valdez is also the first woman, first Hispanic, and first openly-gay sheriff elected in that county. And no, her Republican opponent wasn't caught three days before the election in a meth lab in the basement of a crack house engaging in a menage à trois with an underage hooker and a Great Dane, or anything less hyperbolic along those lines. A majority of the voters just thought Valdez would do a better job. Well, dang. Perhaps all is not lost after all.

Update: I was so excited I forgot the link. It's from PlanetOut.com, where the writers were apparently also so excited they couldn't figure out what to do with the headline: they probably didn't know which "first" to use, so they just wound up with Lesbian becomes first Dallas sheriff (which implies that there weren't any sheriffs in Dallas County before, but even the copyeditor in me will give them a bit of leeway because the story's so cool).

[ at 3:11 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

At the Chef's Market lunch buffet: a tray labeled "COLLARED GREENS." I can hear the police chief's press conference now: "Yep, those greens thought they were gettin' away from us, but we nabbed 'em and brought 'em down to the lockup."

(They're collard greens, of course, that down-South down-home favorite; and no, it's not a huge misspelling, but it provides more entertainment than other one-letter add/drop/changes would: colard, kollard, collerd—what's the fun in those?)

[ at 2:56 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Due deliberation 
News item: Still no verdict in the Scott Peterson trial, as the jury begins their third day of deliberations.

J.: The jury is deadlocked between "guilty" and "guilty as hell."

[ at 10:58 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, November 04, 2004 
So anyway... 
Now that it's safe to watch TV again, I was channel-surfing (because, while there's no campaign crap on TV anymore, there's nothing else on, either) and came across a hunting show on OLN (which is one of my programmed "favorite channels" because they sometimes have bull riding, which I'm embarrassingly addicted to). There was a map of Africa with a little animated plane flying over it, and the guide/host was talking about how he'd always wanted to hunt in Tanzania, and then you saw him riding across the savannah in a Jeep with herds of antelope in the distance and a giraffe in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro and Masai herdsmen driving their cattle to the waterhole, and he stopped and got out his guns and set up his blinds, and got ready to shoot...really small birds. Sand grouse, about the same size, shape, and color as your basic mourning dove—tiny little birds. I think this may be the first recorded example of under-kill.

(I mean, if you're going all the way to Africa with a TV crew, you may as well shoot something big. Or at least something that looks different than a bird you could accidentally hit with your bicycle without crossing state lines.)

[ at 9:27 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

  • I haven't been happy with the result of any presidential election since Clinton in 1992 (when I wasn't old enough to vote), and I became permanently disenchanted with him after "don't ask, don't tell" in July 1993.
  • I've never voted for a presidential candidate who won: Dole in 1996, Nader in 2000 (long story), Kerry in 2004.
  • It takes up to a year to become a Canadian citizen, and another three years to become a full citizen, and by then it'll be time for the next U.S. presidential election anyway. (Information via that CNN story everyone's linking to, "No Canada safe haven for Democrats.")
  • Also Canada is cold.
I've been trying to think of a spiffy wrap-up line, but I can't. Anyway, post-election letdown isn't exactly new to me; I've been there here, I've done that this, and I guess there's no reason I can't do it again. And again. And again. (Repeat as necessary.) And now, back to my regularly scheduled, typically cynical, unexciting but easily amused, all-around-smartass life.

[ at 12:56 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, November 03, 2004 
It ain't over till it's...oh, wait, it's over. Okay. 
Okay, I've got another good thing: One day after Election Day, and it's actually over. (Well, except for some Congressional run-offs in December.) I didn't think it would be. (Did anyone? Really, deep down, in your heart of hearts, did you think there'd be an electoral and popular vote winner without a recount or a court order, let alone within twelve hours of the polls closing?)

Also, since Bush doesn't have to run for reelection again, he should, theoretically, not have to spend any of the next four years campaigning. Which may result in the government accomplishing more things. Which may or may not turn out to be good, but, um, it'll be something different.

This morning J. and I both considered calling in disaffected, but we both sucked it up and dragged ourselves to work. (My office, mostly Democrat with a few Republicans who were too nice to gloat, was very quiet. A little...too quiet. J.'s office, entirely Democrat and mostly urban-dwelling, middle- to low-income minorities, had an awful lot to say, and said it.) Midway through the morning, I realized I'd forgotten to take my morning medication; by noon, I had a splitting headache and was feeling dizzy and twitchy, and decided the best thing to do was go home, take my meds, and crash for the rest of the day. (If I really, really wanted to, I could have gone home and come back, but the mid-day buses only run every 25 minutes, and I'd have to take four of them for a round trip, so to hell with it.)

So: home, meds, quality time with the bird (she was elated to see me back so early, and it was nice to be in the presence of something elated), then I went upstairs to lie down and wound up actually falling asleep till J. came home after 6. I never, ever take naps successfully, or sleep during the day if it's not a continuation of having slept during the night; I guess my month of up-past-2-a.m.-nights finally caught up with me. I think I might even get to bed before midnight tonight; what the hell, no all-night news to stay up for, and Spider Solitaire's not going anywhere. And if I'm well-rested tomorrow, I bet I'll be in a better mood; and who knows what amazing feats I could do at work?—like, concentrate for more than half an hour without double-doses of Ritalin. Yeah, "sleep is overrated" is overrated. Good night...

[ at 11:41 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Today is another day 
Good things. I'm concentrating on good things. Here we go:
  • Barack Obama beat Alan Keyes by what I think counts as a landslide; I'm surprised anybody voted for Alan Keyes. (Were their tinfoil hats over their eyes?) And it's refreshing to have had a major election where nobody could vote against (or for) The Black Guy because they were both black guys. Yes, it was necessary to make a choice not based on race. Welcome to the post-Reconstruction era.
  • In more local news, Melissa "Queen of Sleaze" Brown (that's the Philadelphia Daily News's description, not just mine) was unable to defeat her Democratic rival, Alison Schwartz, even with the ads that said, basically, "My opponent is in favor of rape and hates America." (See, Schwartz was endorsed by Move On, which opposed military action in Afghanistan, where the Taliban sanctioned rape and sponsored anti-American terrorism, so a vote for her was, according to the Brown campaign, a vote for Pure Evil. In my opinion, that fucking ad was an example of pure evil.)
  • Yeah, so, um, constitutional bans of same-sex marriage were overwhelmingly passed. But those were state constitutions. So maybe the bigots and zealots will decide it's safe not to amend the U.S. Constitution after all. Maybe they'll decide it really should be left up to the states if they think the states are doing what they want them to do.
  • Everyone I personally know voted. Even those who said they didn't think they could or weren't going to. That's the main thing I'm going to remain positive about. Thanks, guys; whoever you voted for, Bush or Kerry or Badnarik or Nader or the man in the moon, you voted for democracy. And, as I said last night, maybe we'll get to do this again in four years!
And, finally:
  • No more campaign ads. Back to junk food and beer and car and reality show and insurance and male-enhancement pill and chain-store commercials. I'm not actually glad they're back, but, after the viral skin infection clears up, the pimples don't look nearly as bad. (After the shark lets go of your leg, the mosquito bites are easier to stand. After the rain of frogs and eyeballs stops, the hailstones roll right off your back. I got a million of 'em.)
Well, that's about all I can think of. There's going to be retail therapy, indulgent food, alcohol, or a combination of all three at lunch, I can tell you that. And in the meantime, I'm resetting my countdown widget:

1462 days till the next presidential election

That's November 4, 2008. Redesign your t-shirts accordingly. Woo-ee! Can't hardly wait. My money's on Kodos.

[ at 11:33 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Can I breathe now? 
Just about 11:45 p.m. EST as I start writing this; the polls closed in Hawaii forty-five minutes ago, and if anyone anywhere in the country is still voting, it's because they've been waiting for hours and they can't legally be turned away if they were physically in line when the polls closed. I've been trying very hard to avoid any news, but I couldn't miss this when I went online: my swing state of residence, Pennsylvania, has apparently gone blue. It got its very own New York Times news alert e-mail and a "Top News" blurb on the AOL welcome screen. (Red letters and all: Top News: Kerry Wins Pennsylvania.) Gosh, I feel so symbolically relevant.

Overall, however, J. and I set about attaining an absolute minimum of political blather awareness: we avoided every part of the 6 o'clock network news except the local weather forecast, and J. bought some pure-entertainment DVDs on the way home. We wound up watching "Hellboy"—my comment: "Oh, good, something that has nothing at all to do with presidential politics." Pause. "I hope." (Not that I'm saying either candidate is the spawn of the devil...hey, look, a squirrel! [runs]) We watched that till 10 p.m., then switched to the Daily Show election day special ("Prelude to a Recount"); in the process, I consumed an entire bottle of red wine and a Lean Cuisine pepperoni pizza; J. made roast lamb, which took a few hours to cook, and which I'm happy to let him eat all of. We watched the Daily Show, then I dashed up to the office to avoid TV news (I think I hear pundits downstairs). I don't want to know, I don't want to know...not till it's a) certain or b) tomorrow morning, whichever comes first.

Random thing of the day: The bird seems not to have liked the Vote t-shirt at all; I think the strong "V" shape may have triggered her Hawk Panic reflex. (Descended from a long line of domesticated budgerigars she may be, but she still freaks out when she sees anything that conforms to the "above me and spread-wing-like" or "near me and squiggly" paradigm—the hawk panic and snake panic reflexes.) She wouldn't step on my hand, fly to my shoulder, or even look at me straight until I changed into another shirt; then she resumed her usual practice of spending as much time as possible on my head, in my hair, clinging to my clothing, and chirping at my jewelry. (You want the maximum amount of pet for the minimum price and total weight, get a parakeet. Our bird is friendly, intelligent, beautiful, interactive, entertaining, and she cost all of $12.99; she's ten pounds of pet in a thirty-gram bag.)

Between interruptions, browser crashes, and my insanely-slow dial-up connection, it's 12:50 now. Still haven't looked at the electoral vote maps or exit poll predictions. I'll have to eventually, I guess. Well, not if I post this fast and don't let my browser homepage open. (Depending on how able I am to get to sleep, I might sneak back online at 3 a.m. or so and see how things are going.) But, no matter what: It's past midnight, EST; it's past the official poll-closing time, HAST (Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time); we made it. And, um, we'll all respect each other in the morning, right? See you tomorrow. Don't stay up all night. (Unless you're on the night shift, of course.) And if we're lucky, we'll do this again in four years!

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

Tuesday, November 02, 2004 
Mix it up 
Non-political, interactive, alcohol-related link: what could be better for mid–Election Day distraction? Mixilator will generate a custom cocktail based on your answers to a few questions about flavor, strength, and complexity. Unlike most online cocktail generators, Mixilator produces results that look like they actually might be drinkable; there's a humor quotient in the drink names and the instructions, but the creator's goal is to generate recipes that are realistic rather than funny. (He goes into astonishing detail as to how he accomplished this in the Advanced Notes page. Sample quote: "To have the machine calculate the measures with so many parameters and conditional algorithms, classic cocktail measurement nomenclature had to start out in decimal form and, once the drink was generated, be translated into fractions and common measures, to maintain classic bar guide style.")

I ran it a dozen or so times; this is the concoction I like best:
Jamaican Amused Dog Cocktail

Chill cocktail glass. Prepare as follows:

In pre-chilled cocktail shaker combine
  • 2½ oz cherry-flavored vodka
  • ½ oz orange juice
  • ½ oz Cora Bitters
Shake your moneymaker with a small iceberg.

Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Add soupçon whole cranberry.
I might actually try it; I don't specifically have all of those ingredients, but I bet Absolut Kurant, orange juice, and Angostura bitters would work about the same. I'm planning on having more than one drink tonight, and I may as well start somewhere...

[ at 3:53 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Exercising my 19th-amendment rights 
Here we are at last: Election Day. Even though I didn't get to bed till almost 2 a.m. last night, I was sitting bolt upright at 7:02 when J. came back from exercising. He did an actual double take and said "Concerned about the state of the republic, are we?" (I usually can't be dragged out of bed till 7:45 or later on weekdays.) We had coffee and breakfast, then went to our polling place—less than half a block away; a benefit of living in a small neighborhood. There wasn't much of a line, and we were in and out in less than fifteen minutes. Back to the house for more coffee, and for J. to take an "I voted!" picture of me. I didn't get a sticker—no one else in my office did, either; what's up with that, Philadelphia?—but I'm offering these pictures as, if not technically proof, an indication that I voted (and hence am permitted to comment on political posts in other peoples' blogs, and have sex with anyone else who voted—that being J. only, of course, who also voted, which works out nicely.)

Here I am in my Vote t-shirt, holding my voter-information postcard (which you can't read in this picture, but I've scanned it below):

me after voting
click to enlarge

Also I'm wearing a beaded American flag bracelet, which you can see a little better here:

vote pic detail

Here's a scan of the voter-info postcard, with the most specific identifying information blocked out, of course, but you get the idea:

voter info card
click to enlarge

Now I'm going to do my darnedest not to post or talk about the election for the rest of the day, and avoid the news as much as possible, and desperately hope the whole thing's over by tomorrow. Just one last thing...

A vote for anyone is a vote for democracy.

[ at 11:50 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, November 01, 2004 
Evening observations 
Went to the drug store to pick up some prescriptions around 8 p.m. En route: saw somebody being ejected from a Republican campaign center—a loud, beefy guy who looked about fifty was bodily pushing out a less-beefy, but even louder, guy who looked about seventy. (Sample shouts: "...but it's my right to..." "...well, whatever you said was the wrong thing to say to him...") I stayed the hell on the edge of the sidewalk and kept my head down; woo-ee, can't wait till the polls open.

At the drug store: Discovered that it's Christmas. The Halloween displays were mostly down, the remaining costumes and candy were on sale racks at the front of the store, employees were sitting on the floor opening cartons and setting up boxes of...Christmas stuff. Christmas cards, Christmas candy, Christmas decorations. Ack! Who the hell starts decorating for Christmas on the first of frickin' November? Can't we at least have some turkey- and Pilgrim-oriented items to ease us from pumpkins to Santa?

Well, I'm going to attempt to get to bed before midnight, in a further attempt to wake up early enough to vote before work. Less than an hour till the polls open in New Hampshire. Less than twenty-four hours till they close in Hawaii. Oh, man, I can't wait for this to be...dare I say "over"? Well, for the campaign ads to end, anyway. See you on the other side of midnight...

[ at 11:29 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

One day more 
A little after 1 p.m. on the day before the election, Eastern Standard Time; it's literally the eleventh hour, because in New Hampshire the polls open at midnight. On the other end of the timeline, in Hawaii, which is five time zones behind the East Coast, the polls close at 6 p.m. So polls will be open in the U.S. from 0500 GMT on Nov. 2 to 0400 GMT on Nov. 3, a total of 23 hours; and it's going to be the longest fucking day in American history. Especially since the political commentators are already champing at the bit to start calling the race at 12:01 a.m. when the first resident of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire steps out of the voting booth. (My personal goal is to vote as soon as I can—hopefully in the morning, before going to work—and then not watch any news coverage for the rest of the day. [At least not until the Daily Show's live election special at 8 p.m.] It's not that I don't want to know what happens; I just don't want to know every talking head's prediction of what the last ten minutes' exit polling could be construed as indicated is going to happen. ["With 10 percent of the precincts in Missouri now reporting, Candidate X has a 60 percent chance of winning that state, but if he doesn't he can make it up with Arkansas and Nebraska, where two percent of the vote is in, or else Oklahoma and Idaho, where we're predicting a ten-point lead as long as the barometer remains steady, or he can trade Delaware and Washington, D.C. to Candidate Y in exchange for Kentucky and one free agent to be named later..."] Also I plan to start drinking as soon as I get home from work tomorrow. If not sooner.)

Some of the less-scientific indicators are already in: the Washington Redskins, whose performance in the last home game before Election Day has coincided with the defeat or victory of the incumbent in every presidential election since 1936, lost to Green Bay yesterday; and I can't read horoscopes, but if you can, here's the star chart for Dixville Notch, N.H. at 12 a.m. on Nov. 2. (Actually, I'm not sure those are less scientific than the first twenty or so hours of Election Day media predictions...)

[ at 1:13 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yes, that's me.


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