Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I stand corrected (again) ...

In my little rant earlier today about a certain diet, I suppose I may have misspelled it: It's Atkins, not Adkins ... but oh, whatever. It's stoopid no matter how ya spell it!

Awwww ....

I just saw a cat get hit by a car in front of my house. I'd seen him hanging around a lot before--he (actually could've been a she, I never got close enough to tell) was a great big grey tabby with a bobbed tail. Sometimes he'd be hanging out at the top of my driveway when I got home from work, but he always ran off right away.

The really sad thing is that if I hadn't stepped out my front door right when I had, he probably wouldn't have gotten hit. I think he must have come up onto my porch to escape the rain (it is a dark and stormy night), and then he bolted when I opened the door. I saw him running toward the street right as I heard the car coming up the street, and I knew exactly what was about to happen, but of course it happened faster than I could do anything ... not that there was anything I could have done. Even if I'd been inclined to throw myself in front of the car to save the cat it all happened about 50 feet away from where I was standing. I just stood there and watched.

Then I rushed back inside wailing to Mark that I had just seen a cat get hit by a car. My distress threw my dogs into distress and they immediately crowded around me as if they were trying to make me feel better or something. So then I had to act all happy to get them to calm down. Mark moved the body to the edge of the street so it wouldn't keep getting hit, but I have no idea what to do with it now. I couldn't just toss what may have been someone's cat into the trash can, and besides I don't even know if that would be legal. Lucy killed a bird once and I put it into the trash ... wrapped in a few plastic grocery bags. A squirrel met his end in the street and we got tired of looking at the carcass, so it went in the bin as well. But cats are just different. Their dead belong buried in the yard with some flowers planted over them (illegal inside city limits, so of course I would never do that ...)

I posted to the neighborhood e-mail list what had happened in case this was someone's cat. A guy on my street wrote back that he had put food out for the cat over the past two years, but he thought maybe it belonged to someone up the street somewhere. From the looks of the cat he'd been eating at several houses, so I suppose his life hadn't been too terribly hard. And I'm pretty sure he died instantly, which would be the best way to go, I guess.

Rambly soapbox thing ...

My listening pleasure is currently provided by MC Frontalot.

It was someone’s birthday yesterday, so I went with some co-workers to Generic Chain Restaurant, home of The Giant Platters of Fried Things Covered In Cheese and Ranch Dressing. Several of said co-workers are on the Adkins Diet (or variations thereof), and I’ve just got to say that the Adkins Diet is dumb. These people actually count the "net carbs" in their lettuce and cucumbers. Vegetables are good for you! Vegetables do not make you fat, you idiots. A diet that encourages you to go to the salad bar and load a plate with ham and boiled eggs while skimping on the lettuce, green peppers and tomatoes is just wrong.

But criticize the Adkins diet and all the people on it start squawking about how it works, it works, so-and-so lost X lbs on it! Well, I could consume nothing but beer for two weeks and I’d lose weight, but does that make it good for me? Could I keep it up, make it a "lifestyle" and keep the weight off? Will it make me healthy, or just a few pounds lighter? The rationale behind the Adkins diet is that the body, deprived of its preferred fuel--carbohydrates--will turn to fat instead ... presumably the fat already residing on your frame and not the fat in that bunless bacon cheesburger you’re eating. For some reason this idea is more appealing to people than the simple formula of eating fewer calories than you burn (and, optimally, getting off your ass and burning a few more calories than you did while you were busy putting the weight on).

Adkins has a brilliant hook, of course: it appeals to the kind of people who would really rather stay fat than give up bacon. And isn’t it more pleasant to think you got fat by following the wrong formula rather than because you just plain ate too much? All of the people I know on the Adkins diet are either the sort of folks who otherwise would have never considered a diet, period, or the kind of people who found that other diets just didn’t "work" for them--as if it’s the diet and not the dieter who needs to do the work and actually follow the diet. Like "A," a person I know who went on Weight Watchers, ate Krispy Kreme doughnuts a lot, and then complained that she’d gained weight. She’s on Adkins now (actually, she’s been on it for a while and has reached the stage where she’s started putting some of the weight back on.) Everyone I know on the Adkins diet is still fat, either because the few pounds they lost didn’t make much difference, or because they gained it back.

I think one of the reasons Adkins has become so popular is because "low-carb" is a great food marketing ploy. People appear to be more willing to pay for a "low-carb option" than to just choose smaller portion sizes or maybe eat salads that aren't covered in cheese and ranch dressing. It’s been noted by many people that Americans have big appetites for big plates of food and generally like to feel they're getting way more than their money’s worth at restaurants. Ask people what they think of a particular restaurant and the answer will often hinge on whether or not the place gives you "enough" food (meaning "way too much" food). So all the chains have found that the key to packing in the people is to give the people a lot to pack in. "Diet" and "low-fat" carry implications of deprivation that "low-carb" seems to evade, and people are apparently buying it.

Meanwhile, those of us looking for a sensibly-sized meal containing a little bit from all the food groups should just stay home. Restaurants usually offer salads of course, and some even feature a couple that aren’t covered in meat and cheese, but they’re often flavorless and semi-fresh because they’re intended to be smothered with a half-cup of ranch dressing. Nobody tastes the vegetables anyway. The Generic Chain we went to yesterday also had an "All You Can Eat" salad bar, featuring the same tasteless vegetables and lots of stuff made with tons of mayonnaise. Although that would seem to be the best option (provided one skips the mayonnaisy stuff and actually stops eating before reaching the "All You Can Eat" threshold), I always think about how many people don’t wash their hands after using the toilet and then go pick up the shared salad bar utensils ...

Anyway, so I had a chicken quesadilla. It wasn’t huge. There were a few vegetables involved: lettuce, tomato, pico de gallo and jalapeƱos.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Before I forget ....

Congratulations to Grace on her new job!

Obseession of the moment ...

I'm curently trying to find every Beatles mash-up I can. I mean in addition to Danger Mouse. (And in addition to the Kleptones, which are just so-so, in my opinion--more like remixed pastichers than actual mash-ups.)

So far I've found:

Go Home Productions "Karma In the Life", which mashes "A Day In the Life" vocals with Radiohead's Karma Police (with some "I am the Walrus" and a little Paul Weller dub tossed in).

GHP's "Paperback Believer,", mashing 'em up with the Monkee's.

GHP's "Beatleg Bootles Part 1" (which includes part of "Karma In The Life.")

Soundhog's A Day in Tracey's Life (The Beatles vs Mogwai vs Kid Loco). Soundhog says he (she?) doesn't mess around much with Beatles stuff " 'cos it's generally perfect as it is." That's bullshit. Sure The Beatles were great, but they really weren't the be all and end all that people build them up to be.

Lazy Tramp's "Happy Birthday Jealous Lover" (The Rapture - House of Jealous lovers vs The Beatles - Happy Birthday vs The Cardigans - Love Fool ).

I guess this would be a good time to have commenting ability here--I could tell people to post links to their favorite Beatles mash-ups. But I haven't been convinced to add comments, so I just have to ask that people e-mail me their mash-up links.
I'm exhausted. I worked in the yard all weekend, cleaning up the remainder of winter's detritus and planting stuff. It was a beautiful weekend for it. Today I'm just sort of half-awake and useless. But my yard is lovely.

Yesterday's New York Times had an article (link will eventually expire) about Billionaires For Bush. I'm amused. (They used to be called "Billionaires for Bush or Gore." I'd love to see them throw a little support toward Kerry as well ... he loves billionaires, too.)

Friday, March 26, 2004

No adventure...

I went to the Farmers' Market, but it was no adventure. I bought some plants, which I will plant this weekend. It's part of my landscaping "Master Plan," which consists of buying plants and putting them where I think they will do well. If they do well, they get to live happily ever after, and if they die then clearly they are more trouble than they are worth.

The one exception to this plan are foxgloves, which I will continue to buy and plant (in a new place every time), because I'm determined to grow them even though they are equally determined to die on me (and never come back from seed despite expert pronouncements that they readily do so.)

So I'll be planting some stuff this weekend. Captain Pants is in Oriental sailing with his first mate, so I'm pretty much free to do what I will with the yard and he's powerless to stop me.

Things are going a little better ...

I think the demon from yesterday has left my body, at least temporarily. It's Friday, it's beautiful out, and I'm going to go to the Farmers' Market during lunch. Maybe I'll have an adventure.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Update ...

Listening to the Pixies Surfer Rosa over and over again makes things go much better ... it may keep me from going all bone machine on a certain Shrek-like co-worker ...

Must write something ....

I've been lax. Today is Thursday. I last wrote something on Monday. What's my problem? Must write something ...

Here's what's up: I'm an in a little Reagan from The Exorcist mood this morning. If pushed, I could rotate my head 360 degrees and spew green bile on someone. I was fine when I started out this morning, but several things lept onto my nerves at work in rapid succession, and I will now tear off any limbs that come close to me.

Earlier I was putting a bunch of data cds back into the cabinet where I store crap that I probably don't need but keeps appearing on my desk anyway, and they all tumbled to the floor. That was the very last straw, and I decided they could sit there and rot all day for all I cared--which would be their punishment for disobeying my will and falling out of the cabinet. I just shoved them aside with my foot so that I wouldn't roll over them with my chair. Later, I got up to go check on a project that was printing in the room full of high-tech annoyances, and when I came back two of my co-workers were picking up all the cds and putting them into a neat pile on my desk. That pissed me off more than just about anything so far, but as I knew they meant well, I had to clench my jaw to keep myself from yelling "Get the hell away from those--they are being punished!" Instead I did my best fake-nice voice and said, "Oh, you didn't have to do that ..." Several hours later I'm still stifling the urge to knock the stack of cds back onto the floor ...

So anyway, I made it to lunchtime, and then I figured I'd go peruse the writings of people who sometimes make me laugh. I started with Big Stupid Tommy, who had a link to something that's not new, but is new to me: 213 Things Skippy is No Longer Allowed to Do in the Army. Now my lunch is almost over and I've only gotten halfway through the list, but it's already made me feel a little better. I'll save the rest for later ... I'm sure I'll need it.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Why Pants?

A couple of days ago I promised an explanation of the name "A Complete Bunch of Pants." It's not a terribly exciting story, but people do ask. Here's the deal: A few years ago I worked for a British company in Chicago (actually a British ex-company--they went belly-up a little over a week ago. I was surprised they lasted that long.) Anyway, every day I worked with, spoke on the phone with and e-mailed lots of Brits, so I got to hear words and phrases I wouldn't ordinarily hear. One day a guy referred to some management foolishness or another as "a complete bunch of pants."

I was intrigued, and I adopted the phrase as my personal mantra. I decided that if I were ever to have my own business, I'd have to name it "A Complete Bunch of Pants." In fact, whenever I filled out any sort of form that asked for a company name, I put in "A Complete Bunch of Pants." When we took in a stray dog whose name we didn't know, I named him ... no, just kidding, I named him Dave*. I think Mark would have vetoed the name "A Complete Bunch of Pants," but it would have been a hell of a name for a dog. (We later found Dave a permanent home with his very own boy to play with.)

So then along comes the idea to start one of these blog things, and I didn't have to think long for what to name it. After all, I have no theme and honestly, for all anyone knows, I could be making up everything as I go along. It could very well be a complete bunch of pants.

*Yes, as in "Dave's not here, man."

Sunday, March 21, 2004

My 8th Grade gym teacher was right ...

... I'm just an "instigator" (I had to go look it up the first time she said it).

Just now I couldn't stop myself from (possibly) stirring up more trouble on our neighborhood crime e-mail list. (I had sort of instigated a minor kerfuffle there last month over reports of "suspicious" people in the neighborhood.)

This morning I had followed a link from another blog (thanks Southpaw) to this article in the Dallas Observer about what happened to a "suspicious" guy in one Dallas suburb. So of course after I read it I had to e-mail the link to the neighborhood crime list, where people are reporting just about everything that happens as "suspicious." I did add that I was sure nothing like that would ever happen around here (I was being sarcastic, but I'm sure most of the people on the list won't pick up on that).

To be sure, we do get a fair number of break-ins, car thefts and the like (we're on our third leaf mulcher in two years, the first two having been stolen from our backyard shed). But our neighborhood is the kind of place where lots of people pass through the streets and alleys on foot, and some of them aren't always as well-heeled (or as white, it seems) as many residents would prefer. And I actually think the neighborhood crime list, with all its good intentions, feeds residents' hysteria about the mere possibility of crime and makes them more prone to suspicion. At times the list will go quiet, and then someone will post about a "suspicious black male," and all of the sudden three or four other people are saying they saw a "suspicious black male" as well.

Recently there was a spate of posts about a black guy who was going door to door fund-raising for some church group. That's perfectly legal here as long as you have some sort of certification or license from the city, and the guy either showed or offered to show it to one resident (who called the police on him and reported him to the list as "suspicious"). After that post, several other people posted that the guy had knocked on their doors as well, and they dutifully called the cops and reported him as "suspicious," too--particilarly because he was knocking on their door after dark (which will continue to fall early in the evening until Daylight Savings time kicks in).

Now I have no problem with people keeping an eye on things in the neighborhood and looking out for their neighbors (we routinely share "vacation duty" with neighbors, letting each other know when we will be out of town. I'll walk around outside of vacationing neighbors houses just to make sure no one has broken in or attempted to.) But too much suspicion and fear is just a bad thing--it makes people so afraid of people and situations that they turn their homes and neighborhoods into fortresses and don't want to come out. It makes me think of Kitty Genovese, who in 1964 was murdered in Queens while neighbors who heard her cries for help for almost an hour (the attacker fled and returned twice during that time) did not even even call the police until after the attacker finally finished her off.

Of course nothing like that would ever happen around here ...

Friday, March 19, 2004

Frograbbitmonkey pointed me toward an article about this asshole, and it prompted me to want to exercise my First Amendment right of free speech, albeit in an admittedly juvenile way (I think this image would make a great T-shirt):

Thursday, March 18, 2004

This word is for Paul The Postman: tosser.

I'm not quite sure exactly what "tosser" means except that it's not a compliment to be called one. See, P the P had mentioned your humble narrator's blog, and noted that the name is a British term most Americans haven't a clue about. (I'll explain the origin of the name shortly.) He then wondered what other Britishisms are unfamiliar to most Americans. So his pal Jess at Circle of Fools put up a list. Then I happened to be reading Cooking With The Mental Office Girl, where she noted that a Google search for the string "Get Off My Ass" yields My Boss Is A Tosser, among other things.

One also would not like to be called a "git" in England, but say it to a typical American and you wouldn't get much of a reaction (unless the person were a Monty Python fan, in which case he or she would probably launch into the Argument Clinic or Dead Parrot sketch).

Now "shag" is an interesting one. Post-Austin Powers, every American knows what a Brit means by this word. But here there are two meanings I know of:

1) In the southeastern coastal states (especially NC & SC), old-school Motown/R&B music is typically referred to as "Beach Music" (not to be confused with California-style surfer music), and the dance one does to it is called the Shag or Shag Dancing. (Here's a little explanation about how R&B became known as Beach Music around these parts.)

2) In baseball, part of outfielders' practice is "shagging flies," which translates to catching fly balls.

Also, in the dog sport of flyball, each team designates a person as a "ball-shagger," which delights our British counterparts. The job of the ball shagger is to collect the slobbery balls after they exit the dogs' mouths but before they cause a human to break an ankle.

Well, I know I had promised an explanation of the origin of this blog's name, but it will have to wait. Tune in tomorrow, or maybe the day after ...
Yet another article about Wal-Mart. I must be fair: the other big retailers, particulary Target and Home Depot, are just as vehemently anti-union (actually, what company is pro-union?), and the article points out that Target is stealing a page from Wal-Mart's "squeeze the profit out of the supplier" book.

Just for the hell of it ...

These are the last seven search strings that brought someone to A Complete Bunch of Pants:

smug bastard record mystery
intellectual diversity duke university davidson provost
estate sale giving numbers
triangle freecycle raleigh
how can you move? the emergency
yo marco el minuto
i want to be a big fat bellied guy

I'm so controversial ...

I'm about to write something that could get me kicked off of the North State Blogs list: damn I hate Carolina barbecue! Basically they roast a pig, pull the pork off the carcass, chop it up and dump some vinegar on it. (sometimes for fun around here people will have a party they call a "Pig Pickin'," which is exactly that. I've never gone to one, because I just don't think I could handle it.) I prefer whatever kind of barbecue it is where you have a nice tomato-ey sauce mixed in with the meat, which would be beef if I had my druthers, on a hamburger bun. (Carolina barbecue is always pork. ) But around here they are so proud of the stuff--sort of the way Norwegians up in Wisconsin would go on and on about their ability to stomach lutefisk, which sounds even more disgusting to me.

I'm thinking of this because tomorrow someone is retiring (she's only 47 and she's put in her 30 years and gets to be free now), and her request was that her retirement festivities be held a a local barbecue joint. I'm going because I like this person very much, but I'm not looking forward to the food part of it. It's turning my stomach, in fact. For $10 I'll probably get a typical barbecue meal: a pile of vinegary pork, a glop of cole slaw (also usually disgusting), boiled potatoes and a bland white bread roll. Maybe if I'm lucky they will have banana pudding for dessert.

I suppose I'm too fixated on food if I'm already thinking about tomorrow's lunch and I haven't even eaten today's.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Yes, we have no comments ...

It has been suggested to me by more than one person that I'm a total loser for not having comments on my blog. OK, I exaggerate, no one has actually called me a loser, but when all the blogs have commenting ability and mine doesn't it's pretty obvious that I'm out of sync with the cool crowd. But I just can't talk myself into doing the whole comment thing. Part of it is that if I write something about fascists the last thing I want is for actual fascists to post. I'm not interested in opening any kind of dialogue with their ilk unless it's something like "Have a nice trip ... see ya next fall ..."

Plus, there are hecklers and cranks who think it's so funny to put stupid juvenile crap in people's comments, and I just don't feel like dealing with that. I'd rather go around thinking that nobody on earth is reading my blog than to get moronic or just plain mean comments. And then there are conservatives who think their right to free speech means that I should actually have to listen to them (as if I'm not inundated with their point of view all day anyway).

Then of course someone might post a well-thought-out counter-argument to something I've posted, and I would feel compelled to counter their well-thought-out comment with something well-thought-out of my own, but what if I don't feel like thinking or engaging in civilized adult discourse? It just wouldn't be right to ignore someone worth conversing with but the truth is sometimes I just don't feel like it. What if my mind has already wandered away to someone who's been mixing Jay-Z with Weezer to get Jay-Zeezer (thanks to In My Room for pointing me toward that one. I agree that Jay-Z+AC/DC should be attempted by someone.)

And maybe I just don't want to share my little soapbox with anyone else. I know, that's just against the whole good interconnected spirit of the blogosphere. I guess I'm just a rebel. Or a loser. But you can always e-mail me.

Still nothing ...

Nope, still not writing, kinda working. Try me later. But during lunch I stumbled on a humorous read: "The Real Reason the Bush Administration Has Been Stonewalling the Sept. 11 Commission."

But coming soon: Another explanation of why I haven't added commenting to this here site.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Mixed-up priorities ....

I feel bad because I have been working, working, working very intently all day and haven't given a thought to my dear little blog. I even took a short lunch and didn't use the time to write something, preferring to read the NY Times instead. Tonight I'll be teaching flyball and taking an agility class and I won't have time to write. It's just as well because I would probably write about how annoying one of my co-workers is, and I'm trying to stay (mostly) above things like that.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Sauerkraut accomplished ...

I can now form sentences again.

I just got finished reading The Working Poor: Invisible In America by David K. Shipler. I would love to make this required reading for anyone who babbles about how poor people are just lazy and that all one needs to succeed in this country is a willingness to work hard. There's an idea of the "deserving" poor that seems to exclude most poor people (even working ones) from consideration based on behaviors and decisions that would likely be overlooked or considered benign in middle-class or wealthy people. I'm sure this entire book would cause such cognitive dissonance in so many people that it probably wouldn't make much difference even if it were hugely, widely read. (And with a name like "The Working Poor," the people already content to let the poor starve, be homeless or die of easily preventable diseases aren't likely to see this as a book even worth reading).

Anyway, the last chapter of the book infuriated me. Shipler presents the obligatory "What can we do about it?" suggestions, the main one being that poor people should turn out and "vote their class interests" (which by his implication would mean voting Democratic). So all he did was further push the lie that the Democrats represent the interests of the working class. Sure, Bill Clinton felt your pain as he kicked you off welfare to take a job picking up garbage or flipping burgers for $5.15 and hour while businesses were posting record profits and executive pay skyrocketed.

Some president (I think it was either Herbert Hoover or Calvin Coolidge) once said: "The business of government is business." The only time the business of government concerns itself with the working class is when they present any disruption to business, which brings me to the subject that occupies just one sentence of Shipler's conclusion: unions. He dismisses them as a factor by pointing out that even some union workers are low-paid. It's true: marginalized, weak and bureaucratized, present-day unions are a far cry from the powerhouses through which the workers fought for and won 8-hour days, minimum wages and other laws curruently (mistakenly) taken for granted. The unions need to be rebuilt.

These gains were not won by voting for Democrats and then begging them, they were won by striking, which is what current labor bureacrats are loathe to do (and which is why they should be tossed out and replaced with people whose main ambition is not to go golfing with the Democrats). A lot of people these days have this idea that unions are just some sort of middleman, instead of correctly seeing the union as a collective extension of their power as workers. A union exists because collectively workers have a power they don't have individually: the power to withhold their labor and bring production and profits to a halt. That's why we have to build and rebuild unions in this country, and that's the only way the working poor will ever show up on the radar.

People are always talking about boycotting Wal-Mart or whatever in the mistaken belief that their power is as consumers. But what would really get the attention of Wal-Mart management is a picket line around their stores that no one dares cross, with Teamster drivers refusing to deliver to the struck stores and longshoreman hot cargoing their containerfuls of junk coming in from China. That would rock.

I want my sauerkraut ...

I brought turkey polish sausage and sauerkraut for lunch today, to be eaten on a multigrain roll with some mustard. So all morning I've been thinking about the sauerkraut I get to eat at lunch. I can't go ten minutes without thinking about my sauerkraut. I want to write something about a book I just read, but I won't be able to form actual sentences about it until I get my sauerkraut.

I consider a great tragedy in our relationship that Mark likes neither guacamole nor sauerkraut.

Here's a web page devoted to sauerkraut recipes.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Another lovely weekend ...

I've hardly glanced at any news this weekend, preferring to pretend I'm in a sunny little bubble, but Mark has been giving me hourly reports on the elections in Spain. Interesting outcome ...

My sunny little bubble now includes a new bowling ball. I hadn't heard from the pro shop by Friday morning, and I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on the ball in time to practice with it Friday night. Since it was a very pretty day and I didn't feel at all like being at work, I arranged to take a couple of vacation hours and leave early. I figured that if my ball was ready I'd use the time to go pick it up, and if it wasn't I'd just sit out on the deck and let the sun hit my face. I called the guy when I got home, and he said it was there and he'd have it drilled within the hour.

It's lovely, like a big shiny heavy marble ... with finger holes of course. When Mark got home I told him to eat quickly because we were going bowling. The first two frames were pure magic--it rolled fairly straight until a few feet in front of the pins when it suddenly hooked right in to the pocket. Bam! Bam! Two beautiful strikes in a row. I bowled well in the first game (somewhere near 180 ... I can't find the sheet where I wrote it down) and I had visions of shaking up the league on Saturday night. Didn't happen. After that first game I just fell apart--missing my mark, not getting the beautiful hook, leaving splits and missing my spares. I hated that stupid ball.

So Saturday night I didn't light the lanes on fire. My high game was 169 (or something like that), and the other two were fair to dismal. I missed some easy spares & got very few strikes. We lost two out of three games by margins that wouldn't have been there if I had bowled better. I sucked. I had always thought that being able to drink beer was just a bonus in the sport of bowling, but last night I discovered it's sometimes a necessity.

So today I went and practiced more, and I figured out how to get the magic ball to work. Apparently it involves bowling correctly. There's always a catch, isn't there?

Friday, March 12, 2004

Pessimistic ...

Yesterday's bombings in Spain have made me feel nothing but pessimism. Since I don't want to be mistaken for someone who is calling on the state, whether it be US or Spain, to mount an equally bloodthirsty response, I'm going to mostly just say nothing ... except to note that in contrast to the response of the world after the events of 9/11, I've yet to run into many people who appear to give a shit. I suppose some of them are thinking "Hmmm, Spain, Spain ... I've heard of that place ... somewhere in Europe, maybe?" The exception would be people like one of Mark's co-workers, who was almost gleeful at the thought that this might propel more people to support Bush.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Argh ...

I had just written most of an entry about today's bombings in Spain when my browser crashed, obliterating all my scribbles. (I had meandered off mid-post to read something else and opened up a Washington Post photo gallery, which was probably the crash-inducing agent.) I'm feeling demoralized anyway, so I'll just pick it back up tomorrow.

Duhhhh ....

OK, I never claimed to be an actual intellectual myself, so I'm going to beg forgiveness for a moment of stupidity yesterday: Dan Quayle was not Ronald Regan's sidekick, Bush The First was. Dan Quayle was Bush The First's sidekick. In my defense, the Reagan/Bush I era has sort of all blurred together in my mind, bolstering my belief that Republicans make you stupid. But to be fair, so do Democrats--a lot of people have forgotten how completely bogus all the talk about national health care was during the first Clinton campaign, or that he was the one who began the "end of welfare as we know it."

Anyway, I need to make mistakes more often, because it gets me e-mail! Thanks to Emily of It Comes In Pints? for writing in with her gentle reminder of which stupid person was which. I had realized my error last night as I was falling asleep--that's the point in the day when my mind starts randomly tossing things around and then taunting me with my errors: "You idiot! Reagan/Quayle?"

But the funny thing about my memory of that era is that one single phrase always pops up when I think about it: "White House Spokesman Larry Speakes." I almost always chuckled when I heard or read that phrase, which was often because he was the White House spokesman, after all (for Bush I, I think ... or does it matter?). Heh heh, he's a spokesman and his name is Speakes ... So that should give an idea about what kind of mind I have and why certain things get wadded up in its corners.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

You don't have to be British to be against the BNP ...

So even though I'm not British, I've decided to stick my nose into their politics and sport an anti-BNP button on this here site. I've already made my anti-fascist sentiments very clear, and fascism really is like a fungus--it will creep and creep unless you neutralize every spore. (Thanks to It Comes In Pints? for tipping me in the direction of the Bloggers Against Fascism site.)

Those poor, oppressed Republicans ...

There was an editorial in today's Durham Herald Sun (warning: link will probably expire ... the Herald-Sun apparently thinks people will actually pay to read their old crap) about how Duke University doesn't have enough "intellectual diversity" because most of the professors are registered Democrats.

The writer took offense at the explanation offered by Philosophy Department Chairman Robert Brandon, who said Duke tries to hire the smartest people around. "If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire." According to the editorial, the remark "mocked and stereotyped a minority on campus -- conservative Republicans. Substitute any other minority and imagine the outcry."

Yeah, being Republican is exactly like being black, Asian, Latino or native American. So many poor Republicans grow up disdvantaged, ghettoized in crappy neighborhoods and separate-but-unequal schools that don't prepare them to compete with their more advantaged peers in college or the job market. They are always getting followed around in stores by salespeople who think they're out to steal something. Putting a "Bush/Cheney" bumper sticker on your car is like screaming "Hey cops, please pull me over and search my car!" And the job discrimination the poor things face ... I'm sure more than one has balked at wearing a "power tie" to an interview lest it give him away. The downtrodden thin-skinned conservatives have to face every day knowing that some mean-spirited liberal may mock them and, horrors, perhaps even argue vehemently against them.

So the editorial sort of proved Prof. Brandon's point. As does the fact that the Republicans have chosen as their figurehead perhaps the most anti-intellectual president this country has seen since Ronald Reagan and his sidekick "Einstein" Quayle. Now please don't mistake me for a Democrat (I think it's pretty obvious I'm not a Republican either), but at least Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar and Al Gore was mocked for his hyper-intellectualism.

The editorial went on to quote another Duke bigwig, Vice Provost Cathy Davidson, who suggested universities could attract young Republicans to the humanities by offering programs for "affluent, gated communities, so baby Republicans can learn the joy of the classics." She was obviously speaking tongue-in-cheek, but the really funny thing is that we already have a program like that in Durham, and it's called Duke University.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

And speaking of memes (ick, I just used that word again) ...

Are the "A-List" bloggers stealing your memes? Maybe, according to a Wired article. (Just you wait--screen replacement is going to be next week's hot topic, I'm sure of it ...)

But , see, even though I hate the word "meme," I just participated in an act of "memery," if there is such a word (or mimeticism, perhaps? Mimetic event? Who knows.) I had visited Daypop to see if there was anything interesting to read there (Daypop lists the 40 links most popular with bloggers around the world.) So then I see the Wired article mentioned above, and then I go on and link to it, thereby kicking it's popularity up a notch, making it more likely that some other someone will see it and maybe link to it, which would kick it up again, and so on ...

Yep, we bloggers are pretty much a bunch of sheep just like everyone else.

I'm tired of seeing the word "meme" ...

... and it sounds so silly when people start babbling on about "wiki" this and "wiki" that.

And I have a bit o' headache which renders me unable to think about anything, making it hard to write about anything. So instead I'll just toss a link at you. It's to another anti-blogging rant, directed specifically at Movable Type Users. I personally have nothing at all against Movable Type users, I just like finding and reading anti-blogging diatribes--it's like collecting baseball cards only more pointless and less remunerative.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Home improvement ...

It was such a great weekend and I didn’t feel like sitting in front of my computer, so I didn’t write about what a great weekend it was. It felt like spring was here to stay, until a cold front blew in last night. Today is a little chilly, but still more or less springlike.

It was so nice yesterday that I realized I could no longer put off a necessary task: I had to replace the screen in the screen door because the mosquitoes are going to turn up any day. This is something Mark could have done, but I wanted it done right away, and he was off seeing to his mom.

The last little thing I’ve done requiring tools and whatnot was the assembly of my new wheelbarrow last fall. That wasn’t a flawless procedure, but I do have a functioning wheelbarrow now. I had seen screen replacement demonstrated on HGTV before, and it looks like a snap. I didn’t remember the precise directions, but I knew you needed some screen, some rubbery stuff that holds it in the groove, and a tool to help you shove the rubbery stuff into the groove. So I took a trip up to the Big Home Improvement Store, where I purchased my supplies and learned that the rubbery stuff is called spline.

Even though I didn’t remember all of the directions from HGTV, I was able to quickly suss that I should remove the screen frame from the door before attempting to re-screen it. Upon so doing I discovered that the screen frame is very flimsy. Although the frame itself is made of aluminum, the little pieces that hold the corners together are plastic, and will break with the slightest torsion. Once the corners break, the task of holding the frame still and keeping it together while you stretch the screen across it and shove spline into its groove seems a little more daunting than it looked on TV.

One of the steps I didn’t remember from the TV program was probably something like: “Clamp the frame firmly into place on your specially constructed screen-frame clamp table.” I didn’t have a table or any clamps, which were clearly necessary. By the time it dawned on me that I was too ill-equipped to complete the task, I’d already taken down the screen frame, stripped out the old screen and spline, and broken two of the frame’s corners. I was too far into the project to just give up now, but I knew I needed some specialized equipment. That’s when I went and got the duct tape. I put a little piece on each of the broken corners to stabilize them and then taped the whole frame snugly to the deck. Then I positioned the screen and anchored it with duct tape.

Another thing I don’t remember from the TV program is any kind of warning about how if you slip with the little spline-shoving tool it’s quite likely to cut the screen, or any indication that the spline likes to twist around a lot, making it quite likely that the tool will slip and cut the screen. So my screen has a few security breaches likely to be exploited by particularly industrious mosquitoes. I also stretched the screen a little too tight (the program actually did warn me against that) and as a result my frame was a bit out of whack and did not want to fit back into the door correctly. I wasn’t taking no for an answer, however. At that point I would have destroyed my handiwork before I let it get away with defying me, but fortunately I was able to muscle it back into its place. There is a small gap where the bottom edge is bowed in slightly, but I figure a piece of duct tape will cover that right up.

Another excitment of the weekend was that I finally ordered my new bowling ball, a Brunswick Power Groove.

This ball was recommended to me by two guys from my league, and it's very affordable. I'm having it drilled for a semi-fingertip grip. I really can't wait to get practicing with it, but it won't be ready until Thursday or Friday. I hope it helps. I was back to scrounging for the odd strike here and there Saturday night. Mark tolled a 214 in the first game, though.

Friday, March 05, 2004

More Photo Phun ...

I was able to squeeze one more gallery of photos onto our dwindling server space. These are some of the shopping photos--where I try to capture the feeling of going shopping so you can just stay home.

Dispatches from the land of the humor-impaired ...

Sometimes I'll come up with some elaborate conspiracy theories to explain the status quo, but I don't consider myself a conspiracy theorist because I don't actually believe any of them (or do I?). But one day I was recounting one of them to co-workers--thinking that because what I was saying was very silly they would understand that I was kidding (mostly). A couple of them did, but one guy, who's a little thicker than the others, apparently was quite offended. I just learned that after my little tale he had run into the office of a very literal-minded co-worker, said "You'll never believe what Lisa just said! She doesn't believe in Osama Bin Laden!" The two of them clucked and tsked about me for quite a while, I'm told.

I guess I need to say "LOL!!" after all ....

Thursday, March 04, 2004

As if I don't fixate on the weather enough ...

Here are a couple of indicators that spring has arrived, photographed today in Raleigh:

One more baby to go ...

So this woman at work is going to have a baby one of these days (actually, she's not due for another 2 months) and we're going to have a shower for her tomorrow. I can't wait, because it will mean the last baby shower for the forseeable future. People have just been popping them out left and right, and I'm so tired of the whole subject.

I'm also tired of having pregnant women around, talking about how the young'un is pressing against this or that vital organ, or about the reflux, gas and whatnot that all pregnant women get. Of course after the little bundles of joy are born one gets to hear all about the effluvia they produce--my co-worker Tracey just told a story about how her little jewel managed to spew poo all over her while they were on their way somewhere, and her husband had to run into a store and buy her some clothes that weren't covered in poo (fortunately they had some in stock).

Anyway, our current pregnant woman was having some strange goings on with her body today, all consistent with what happens when one starts to dilate. So now we're thinking the shower will be called off because the showeree will be in the hospital receiving drugs designed to keep the little larva in there a while longer. It's probably just as well--she's been in a positively evil mood lately and I expect the shower to be a complete debacle.

So all this being surrounded by pregnant women and babies has firmly reinforced my desire not to have kids. I just don't get how people see the whole thing as some sort of "miracle." If it's so miraculous, why does it happen with such astounding regularity? And sure, kids can be really cute, but wouldn't they be so much cuter and more precious if there were fewer of them?

This is freaky ....

Radio Vox Populi.

It reminds me a little of the computer voice that gives the marine weather report for the National Weather Service, except that you know what the NWS computer guy is talking about.

Yes, I think it's a rant coming on ...

OK, I've just got to disagree quickly with a quote in the article I mentioned in my last post. Some Rutgers professor said: "In public life in America, the shift has been away from child-centeredness." Oh if only ...
Here's an article about people who choose not to have kids. I don't have time right now to go into one of my anti-breeding diatribes, but posting the article makes me feel as if I've done my propagandistic duty.

I want to get on an airplane right now. It's such a gorgeous day out--we've hit 80 degress (with a "heat index" of 81), and it makes me feel like the world is all mine. When I went out for lunch, I smelled a woodsmoke/barbecue smell and it, combined with the bird sounds and the smell of diesel, reminded me of the Caribbean and/or Central America. So now I feel like I should be at the airport waiting to board a plane out of here.

It's a gorgeous day and I'm at work.

(Warning, the following is likely to bore people who don't do the kinds of things I do for a living. Oh well.)

I have a lot of work to do, but I had to stop for a moment because I needed to say "Dammit, dammit, dammit."

I have to send things out for people to proof, and the quickest way to do this is to make an Acrobat PDF of the file and e-mail it. But Acrobat keeps making my PDFs upside-down or sideways, depending on what I select for the "auto-rotate" preference. But no matter what I select, it won't make me a right-side-up PDF. Now I wouldn't consider this a problem if the PDF were for me, because I know I can go to the "View" menu and rotate the PDF on screen, or print it and rotate the resulting paper copy so I can view it correctly. But I have to assume that the person I'm sending the PDF to will be too stupid to figure that out, so I want to send them a right-side-up PDF to eliminate any confusion.

(a few moments later ...)
After some (OK, a lot) of futzing, I figured out how to make it work. Instead of selecting 11x17 paper and "landscape" orientation, I have to choose 17x11 paper and "portrait" orientation. I just love how easy technology makes everything ...

I wanna go outside and play now.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Here's another person who doesn't like blogs. Actually, it's not so much that she doesn't like them as she says they are ruining her life because, not being a blogger, she's sort of being left out of the reindeer games that all the other NY bloggers are privvy to. Apparently all the hip young bloggers in NYC only want to hang with other hip young bloggers, and consequently her underfunded literary magazine Pindelyboz gets no attention anymore. Her blogger "friends" don't want to go to her literary events and she doesn't get invited anywhere anymore.

I don't care for literary magazines, so I'm no judge, but I wonder if it ever occurred to her that people think her magazine is just boring? (I looked at it, and like most literary magazines it made my eyes glaze over so I couldn't tell if it was interesting or not.) Maybe her friends find her literary events boring. Maybe she should dump the blog friends and look for some literary friends instead.

At any rate, maybe after getting her bit published in the Village Voice she'll be the hot topic in all the hip NYC blogs. Oh the excitement of it all.

Meanwhile, here in NC I'm as happy as a fishmonger's cat that it was 79.3 degrees while I was out during lunch. Oh the excitement of it all.

Me like pictures

A co-worker just sent me this link to some good photos.

It's already 60 degrees out. It's supposed to get up into the 80s tomorrow. I am in weather heaven.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Just thinking ...

I was asleep by 9 pm last night--I was just tired and figured that nothing beats sleep when you’re tired--and as a result I awoke early, at about a quarter to five this morning. I wanted to sleep longer, but for some reason I started thinking about an article I had read about homes sinking in Pennsylvania because of coal mining. (That link isn’t to the actual article I read ... I just can’t remember where I actually read it. Maybe it was in my old-fashioned tree-killing print copy of the Wall Street Journal?)

Anyway, thinking about the sinking houses reminded me of something I read about Centralia, PA, a town that has been evacuated because the coal seams underneath have been burning since 1961, releasing smoke and toxic fumes into the town. (I first heard of Centralia in the intro to Jake Halpern’s Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales. He had visited Centralia after learning about it as a fact checker for The New Republic, and it inspired him to seek out the stories of people living in difficult places.)

Then I thought of a story I heard on NPR about mountain-top removal mining in West Virginia and how it’s changing forested mountain landscapes into fields of sparse grass.

So that made me think of a story I read recently in the Wall Street Journal about homeowner associations and neighbors in places like Arizona and Florida trying to get people to hide or remove solar panels from their homes because they are ugly. (Sorry no link--WSJ bastards make you pay for their online content, but here's a similar story.)

And then I thought about all the people up on Cape Cod who are vehemently against locating a wind farm there because it would ruin their view.

Anyway, I don't think I need to belabor the point I'm trying to make ... or maybe I do, but I'm not gonna. But I will point out that thinking about outrageous things doesn't help one get back to sleep when one awakens a little too early. So I got up, did the morning routine, and came to work early.

I would also like to point out that I was early to bed and early to rise and I don't feel any more healthy, wealthy or wise.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Nothing ...

People always say that Seinfeld was about nothing, but I've decided that it was really about everything. A co-worker and I realized that no matter what happens, someone can usually say "It's just like that episode on Seinfeld where [insert appropriate reference]." Therefore, Seinfeld is about everything, not nothing. I'm imagining some day several million years from now when archaeologists unearth a cache of Seinfeld scripts and set about deciphering them ... they're going to think it's some kind of gospel.

But I've got to go now, someone's retiring and they are having cake, which reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine gets sick of all the birthday cake they keep having at work ...