Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Friday, April 30, 2004

Moving Day - Part 6

Yesterday's move took almost 12 hours, and we were nigh unto exhausted when we returned the final time from picking up the cats and the refrigerator food, but nothing's broken and everything's pretty much where we'd planned it to be. Uh, except for all the boxes, of course. :) Datsa kept us up most of the night mewling happily about the house (is he the only cat who marks his territory verbally, or is this common?), so we're a bit bleary today, but pretty much on schedule. The cable got hooked up this morning, so all I missed was Bob Woodward on The Daily Show last night, but I'm sure by the time we have DSL next Friday someone will have it online somewhere. All the finances are sorted and May rent check went out to the new landlord today, the bedroom's pretty well set, and my project for this weekend is unpacking the kitchen stuff. But first we had to come back here to the old place (which totally doesn't feel like home any more!), pack up the computers and do a quick Swiffering and vacuuming.

Remember the water department folks from Wednesday? They're back. How lucky are we that we moved out right between the two days they were working? The road outside this building is closed because they're paving over whatever they did on Wednesday, but we were still able to get in the service entrance, and I feel like we can pretty much take our time (if we weren't so exhausted). Of course, we still need to do our food shopping so we have something to eat that we don't need to heat or cook (the microwave and oven area are inaccessible at the moment due to unpacked boxes), and I'm not relishing climbing those 28 steps with shopping bags, but honestly, it's no worse than climbing out of a subway station, and I won't be using those any more for the most part so I think I can deal with it. :)

So I'll be checking my e-mail one last time before signing off for the weekend - with all that needs organizing in the new place, and considering our lack of sleep, it's just not that much of a priority at this point for us to hook up the 'puters, at least until we get DSL. Hanan, keep up the great work, and thanks again! See y'all on Monday!
"Fill Me With Love" Cheesecake: A breathtaking edible gift box of white- and bittersweet-chocolate cheesecake swirled with raspberry on a chocolate/macadamia-nut crust.
• Lid is hand-sculpted of the finest Belgian white chocolate adorned with dark chocolate scrolls.
• The gold-edged ribbon is edible satin-finished white chocolate.
• The finishing touch, a lifelike rose, is also chocolate. Price $124.00

The Meaning of happiness

A touching, short film about a guy looking for a dictionary meaning of Happiness, and finding it where he least expects it…

On a similar fashion (?) -

Do not Zen

On message”, the latest animation from cartoonist Mark Fiore, about those ubiquitous TV ads.

The human Kleenex” is making the rounds these days. And no, this is not a cartoon or a joke, at least, it doesn’t look that way.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Silly Site o' the Day

It might be a rerun but I'm not really equipped to think straight at the moment; if so, once again (this time via Ken DeBusk from the Firesign Chat, which I'm afraid I shall have to miss this evening) it's the Rumsfeld Fighting Technique!
Moving Day - Part 5

The couch made it! It was touch and go for the sofabed, between the narrow stairwell in the house and the lack of any sort of turn ratio to get into the low-framed front entrance of our new apartment. But these guys were amazing. Seriously, anyone planning a move ought to consider them, they get my highest recommendation. They're taking a samwich break now before returning to the old place to get the boxes. We've let the cats out to roam, and they're terribly freaked out at the lack of furniture here, but I think they're really going to love the new place, I do already. The minute the furniture started coming in, it felt like home.
Moving Day - Part 4

Wow, Hanan, you're doing a great job so far, thanks! The movers are just about done with Round One, packing the furniture onto the truck, 'cause it'll make more sense to get all the furniture set up in the new place before the boxes are brought in. The cats have been holed up in their carriers and put in the tub; at first they each escaped once from the top zipper so they're now staying shut; then Datsa figured out how to unzip the front portion, and he actually broke it the second time (fortunately it was a two-zippers-meet-in-the-middle thing so we were able to move the remaining good zipper all the way 'round). We'll be leaving shortly, after which of course the cats will be holed up in their carriers (if the zippers hold!) in the new place's bathtub... Update: Okay, lesson learned. You don't want to leave cats in their carriers for too many hours on end if they're not sedated or on a plane or something. We've cleaned up Datsa's, um, enthusiasm, and his carrier is airing out in the kitchen, and the bathroom door is now closed with the cats inside (with their extra litter box) until the end of Round Two, at which point we make sure the outside door is closed before we corner them and put 'em back in the carriers for the journey up to the new place.
Extra – Extra – Breaking news!

In a bold political move, the president formerly known as George W. Bush today announced that he had legally changed his name to Jesus Christ Almighty and would be running thusly on the November ballot.

President Jesus then told news services that he decided to make this change after hearing the voice of his higher father tell him "even a saintly Beatle's name is not fitteth for the world's savior."
(Ok, it seems to be working!)

Here is a photo from the March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC this weekend. Abortion rights activists wave placards as they participate in a show of force designed to stave off any election-year assault on women's right to choose.

Yahoo often remove the photos after a while. Enjoy it while you can.
Test…test – 1-2-3

Hello there, everybody,

My name is Hanan Levin, and this is my first gig as a guest blogger. I hope that I can do a decent job at it, since I volunteered to perform on a whim, but hey, what the heck, and why not?... By performing I don’t mean to say that I can’t express myself, but that I can adjust to the needs & expectations of “Pen-Elayne on the Web”s readers.

I myself run a real estate blog called “Grow-a-Brain”, which I’ve been publishing now for just over a year. It had been reasonably popular, with over 300,000 visitors during this time. “Real estate blog” may sound boring to most people, and I try to make it interesting by digging daily content that you often won’t find anywhere else under the same roof.

“Grow-a-Brain” is considered a “Link-blog”, and I usually post there shorter items of little personal content, and with LOTS of unusual links to many eclectic subjects. I have well over 120 categories, and each collection is chock-full with dozens, if not hundreds, of unique and mostly weird links of these subjects. Here are two random collections, the one about beautiful Ice sculptures and the other about Insect food (No, not the powder that insects eat, but rather insects as food, as in bugs & caterpillars that YOU may or may not wish to consume)… See, I told you they are “eclectic”…

What I like about Elayne Riggs’s blog is the sense of community that seems to exist between her & you, the readers. Even though I have a thousand daily readers or so, very few ever leave any comments there, and I actually have no idea who they are or what they think.

So, you may notice some difference in subject matter & style here in the next few days & I won’t attempt to change it for this gig. This will be the longest post you’ll read, the rest are going to be shorter & sweeter. Hopefully this will work well for all concerned.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Moving Day - Part 3

I guess I'm a bit out of practice, all that driving took a bit much out of me. The semi-wasted trip of the day was to Home Depot via local roads and wound up far north of where we needed to be, when I should have remembered that they're in that same complex with Stew Leonard's and CostCo right off the Thruway. No parking spots at all in South Riverdale when we returned, so we sort of made one of our own by moving a traffic cone left there by the water department folks. My wardrobe, our paintings, the small catbox, and various cleaning stuff all reside in the new place now; we didn't have enough time before dark to make a third trip with the dishes and refrigerator food so that'll be either tomorrow or Friday; I'm glad I took three days off! Not sure when I'll next have a chance to post, so if I don't see you again until Monday, please welcome Hanan Levin and/or welcome back Laura Gjovaag, and don't forget May Day's White Rabbits!
Moving Day - Part 2

The workmen from the water department were super! They don't think they'll be here tomorrow, and even if they are there will be no problem letting the moving van through. I just got through to the service entrance with our rental car - a brand-new Hyundai Elantra (only 900 miles on it!), courtesy of the good folks at Enterprise (tell Kevin or John that I sent ya!), who picked us up right on time about a half block away from the new apartment. I always forget what a pleasure and convenience it is to have a car at my disposal, particularly on a gorgeous day like today. The first thing I did was tool around lower Westchester County (I plan on doing that a lot on Friday as well) to see where our new offices will be in downtown New Rochelle, and even with traffic lights I figure my commute (once I have a car) won't take me more than 20 minutes total, particularly once I get more familiar with local roads.

We stopped by our old post office to mildly complain about mail still being sent to this address, and now we're resting for a bit (Robin with his coffee and I with my blogroll reading) before packing up the Elantra for the first trip up north, with various and sundries that we want to take ourselves (including the vacuum cleaner to get the detritous from the carpet installation), then I think we'll travel around Yonkers and find a place to eat lunch. Oh, and Robin received a notice from Verizon that our DSL order has been received, and we should have it activated by next Friday. I think I can deal with only a few days of AOL dial-up until then. :)
Moving Day - Part 1

Today we pick up the rental car and try to park it somewhere near our current apartment building, so we can load it up to make a few trips to the new place before the movers come tomorrow. The water department people are back again, so our water is about to be shut off here again (only about the 12th time this month) and the service road is blocked. I hope to God they're not back tomorrow, or the moving van will have a very difficult time of it. Good job we're paying a flat fee rather than a per-hour rate. I'm feeling ill, partly from the Indian food we had last night and partly from nervousness, I suspect. Not the best way to start the day. Verizon should be calling us today to confirm the DSL order; we're leaving the computers here and hooked up through Friday - it'll be weird typing on the floor! - after which I'll attempt to install AOL so at least I have dial-up until the DSL kicks in again. Will be posting sporadically...
Silly Site o' the Day

Via a few bloggers, like Rana (and I believe my upcoming guest blogger Hanan had it too), it's the Eats, Shoots & Leaves Punctuation Game! Cool way to advertise a grammar book.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

RIP Carrie Nodell

Just heard the news that Carrie Nodell passed away. Mrs. Nodell was probably my favorite pro's wife to talk to at comic conventions (she was also a very talented colorist in her own right), and the one with whom I identified the most. I never saw her when she wasn't smiling or having a good time. We'd chat about Brooklyn, about her husband Martin (creator of the Golden Age Green Lantern), children and grandchildren, about other acquaintances in common. There's a very lovely picture of her here. To say that I'll miss Mrs. N every time I walk into a convention hall is an understatement. My deepest condolences to the Nodell family.
Silly Site o' the Day

Via Clonecone at It's Craptastic - did you know that God Hates Shrimp? It's true!

Monday, April 26, 2004

The Bombs Bursting in Air

My cats are totally freaked out at the moment. Not because of all the moving boxes around, but because some idiots are shooting off fireworks very close by. At night. In the rain. Chances are the idiots are pro-Israeli right-wing Jews, 'cause when I went online I found out that it's Yom HaAtzma'ut (Israel Independence Day). Yet another reason to disdain the politics of the "Jewish state" and those who support its constant militarism.
Photomosaics Revisited

Joe Wezorek at American Leftist updated the info on his War President photomosaic after it got lots of international publicity and even made it into the end of Take Back the Media's Murder by Numbers piece (and, oddly enough, generated lots of hits for me since I seem to be one of the few bloggers who uses Joe's surname, so, um, thanks Joe!); and now Eric M e-mails me that he's put together a photomosaic he calls Death's Head Bush "made out of small photos (from the memoryhole) of the flag-draped coffins of the soldiers who've died for his lies."
Light Blogging Ahead

Robin just finished a marathon ping-pong phone session with Verizon (i.e., the first person passed him onto someone else, who passed him on yet again, etc.) about our DSL. The target date they're giving us now for home DSL is May 6, which means I'll be without online access this coming weekend. We've decided to keep the computers at our soon-to-be-ex-apartment through Friday, the last day of the month when we officially need to clear out, and we'll pick them up in the rental car when we drop off our keys. So Hanan and/or Laura, feel free to jump in any time Thursday and Friday, but it looks at this point like I may only need a weekend blogger. Next Monday I can take care of a few blog things at work, but not too many because, as I've mentioned previously, our office is moving as well. They'll be keeping me hopping here, between new job duties and anticipated packing, and I expect my online leisure time to be severely limited, so I don't expect to be caught up on my blogroll again for at least a few more weeks. Apologies and congratulations in advance to everyone whose milestones (and wonderful blog entries!) I'll be missing during that time.

Update: Well, because it took Verizon so long to get our line working, they've cancelled our DSL order. That's right, it's their fault the line wasn't operational, so we pay the penalty. At this point we have no idea when we'll get online again from home after month's end. If anyone needs to get a hold of Robin by e-mail, please e-mail my Yahoo account (which I'll check weekdays from work) and I'll pass on the message. Stay tuned to this blog for further developments. Maybe I should have kept those AOL coasters after all...
Silly Site o' the Day

This one's making the rounds a lot - I saw it mentioned by Roxanne Cooper, Hanan Levin and Dave Johnson. I guess people who actually watch reality shows would get more of a kick out of this than me. It's The Apprentice: Guest-Starring George Bush.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The March

Just taking a break from C-SPAN's coverage of the March for Women's Lives. Based on the speakers' estimations of a million marchers, the Times seems to be downplaying the numbers a bit but nonetheless hedging their bets:
Organizers obtained a permit for 750,000 people and say they exceeded that goal. The 1992 march drew 500,000, according to the National Park Police, which no longer gives official crowd counts. CNN, citing local police, estimated that at least 250,000 people participated today.
Lots of very inspirational words from women and men alike - I thought Julian Bond particularly eloquent, with his tying-in of the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the 50th of Brown vs. Board of Ed, mentioning how the NAACP is also fighting for the right of "two humans to marry" (nice official confirmation that the NAACP is in favor of gay marriage!). I also liked the woman who did the cell-phone-call-to-Bush schtick, although I thought her delivery was a bit off. And Jerry Nadler talked about how pro-choicers don't mind religious folks having their personal beliefs, but that the problem arose when they used the political system to force those beliefs on others - which I thought dovetailed interestingly with the religious discussions currently taking place in the left blogosphere. Back to see if C-SPAN's coverage break is over...
The Next Best Thing to Being There

We're a bit knackered after yesterday's marathon packing-and-throwing-away session, so Rob's sleeping and I'm catching up on blog-reading while I still can (there's a good chance I'll be without DSL at home for far longer than originally anticipated; more on that as it develops). And since I can't be in Washington today for this:

...I figured I might as well watch and listen to the streaming video clips provided by Planned Parenthood (click the above graphic to get to the video) whilst I catch up. Just saw a really keen interview snippet with a woman whose grandmother co-founded PP with Sanger; keen!

[Speaking of choice, I've been wondering whether I should weigh in on the debate du jour among the liberal and left blogosphere, which started off as musings about tolerance toward religious bigots (for the record, I don't get why anyone should feel the need to tolerate bigotry) but quickly shifted into some bloggers saying things about religion which upset other bloggers who perceived the discussion as being about them when I figured they were directed against people like those currently in power who pervert religious messages of love and compassion and caring for those less well off than oneself... Anyway, my whole take on the "kerfuffle" is that I consider religious belief itself - as opposed to rituals and customs, on which I do comment often in this blog - to be a sensitive and private matter, between a believer and his or her deity of choice (even if that deity is "the God within"), and just as I think consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want behind closed bedroom and bathroom doors, I think they should also believe whatever they want behind closed temple doors - as long as it doesn't get in my face, I'm cool with it. Once it does get in my face, I have every right to counter a religious fanatic's free speech with some choice words of my own.]
Silly Site o' the Day

Via Budgie, it's the They Fight Crime! randomizer - the variation I learned of this always ended with "Together, They're Detectives!"

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Yay Julia!

And yay Torsten and yay Ash and of course yay John and Her Maj but mostly yay Julia! Thanks so much for helping us pack! (The fact that she's standing behind me as I type this has nothing to do at all with my thanking her, by the way. At least that's what she says.)
Party for One

Twice, Robin checked with Verizon to make sure he didn't need to be at the new apartment when the phone's finally turned back on. Twice, Verizon assured him it was solely an outside problem. This morning the technician called from the new place asking where Robin was, as he needs to get inside. Robin's on the way up there now (it's only a 10-minute drive but as we don't have a car yet we need to allow a half hour by bus) to await the techie's return. I have no idea when I'll see Robin again, and the party's in four hours. We have no ice, no paper cups or paper plates, we were going to schlep up the hill this morning to get all that. I'm not exactly physically fit on the best of days, and even less so today. I have no idea who's coming - I know Torsten is as he's renting a van, and DocTech and Lili (I think) and Dexter from the Firesign chats, and Julia and maybe Seth, maybe Jose from the comicart list... it's hard to plan when it's so up in the air. But as they say, improvisation is the mother of a nervous breakdown, or something like it... Update: Yippie - after three weeks the phone line in the new place is finally operational (now for the DSL; with any luck it'll be working by moving day!) and Robin's coming back!
Silly Site o' the Day

Just in time for today's Pizza/Packing Party (and I want to thank all attendees in advance, I'm feeling really physically run-down today and we could really use the help!!), it's Virtual Bubble Wrap! Via Terri at frogblog, who actually found three other virtual bubble wrap sites.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

Moving can be pretty stressful for household pets.

On the other hand, Datsa was pretty thrilled to actually have boxes as stepping-stones to the top of this bookcase, a place he's never been before!
Silly Site o' the Day

Via Marlana at Just One Girl, from the same people who brought you the Pledge of Allegiance PowerPoint presentation (March 29th's Silly Site), take a look at the PPT version of the infamous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing.
Brushing Up

Since this morning I'd been trying to remember why April 23 is a significant day, and only after Arthur Hlavaty's blog reminded me did I realize today commemmorates both the birth and death days of William Shakespeare, still making news after all these centuries. And in the public domain, so you can read his complete works online for free! I'm partial to this one, m'self. Any questions? Try this site. Update: Oops, forgot it's also St. George's Day (thanks, anonymous commenter!). Tch, and me married to an Englishman...
No Sense of Decency

Kim Davis reminds us that yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the start of the Army-McCarthy hearings. Not coincidentally, I suspect, last night's M*A*S*H rerun on the Hallmark Channel was "Are You Now, Margaret?", and given current Ash-holes now in power the parallels with today's paranoid atmosphere were, naturally, inescapable.
News from HIM

Happy blogiversary to Mark Evanier's News from ME! Mark is, as you know, on my Top Six blogger list, one of my blog parents, and a true inspiration as both a writer and a friend. He provides indispensable information on entertainment greats and industry news; I particularly appreciate his various updates on what's going on with the Writers' Guild and other unions. Now if only he'd get a comment section and stop all that cyber-begging he'd be perfect. :)
Archives Fixed

Thanks to both Steve at Blogger Support and Laura for helping fix my Archives so they show up again on the sidebar, and a special thanks to Steve Bates for figuring out how to separate the months correctly and helping eliminate that stray "a" that was making the template all wonky!

Thursday, April 22, 2004

RIP Mary McGrory

Times obit here.
Looking Up

I was called into my boss' office this morning along with the COO and asked to close the door. He smiled at me and said "I'm either going to fire you or give you a raise." Based on how I've been knocking myself out the past couple weeks, I was fairly sure it wasn't the former. :) I haven't had a raise since before 9-11, and I'm still not making "my age in thousands" (near as I can figure it's around a 1% increase, which will more than offset the health insurance hike), but considering this country's economic situation I count myself damn fortunate. Between this, Robin's recent rate increase, and our upcoming rent decrease, it'll be a lot easier to budget for new clothes and electronic stuff after the move, insurance payments and petrol once we get the car, and maybe even a trip to San Diego this summer.
Silly Site o' the Day

This has made the rounds for awhile - I saw it on LeanLeft courtesy of T. Girsch a few weeks ago - but I thought it was appropriate for the day: The Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division! Considering my day job, I think it really strange that I never stumbled across this site erroneously whilst searching for dental health maintenance organizations. :)
Big Blue Marble

Well, according to Google,

today is Earth Day. But if you click on the above graphic, one of the links that pops up is the official site for International Earth Day, which proclaims that Earth Day is Not April 22! Most people in the world celebrate Earth Day on the date of the spring equinox in March. But the mighty steamroller of North American culture has obliterated that inconvenient fact, so many folks in the US and Canada are celebrating it today.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Obligatory Canadian Comics Content

A very belated congratulations to Liam, Chris, Lorcan and Matylda on the birth of the newest member of the McCormack-Sharp family, Jeffrey!
Vanunu (Partially) Free

One of the top stories on EuroNews that, near as I could tell, wasn't even mentioned during the top hour of this country's morning "news" shows was the release of Mordechai Vanunu from the Israeli prison in Azkaban Askhelon after 18 years. He'd been imprisoned basically for revealing that Israel has tons and tons of nukes, which the country has never confirmed. "Israel maintains a policy of 'strategic ambiguity' about its supposed nuclear arsenal and it has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which would open Dimona up to international scrutiny." Because, you know, God forbid they hold themselves to the same standard as that to which other civilized countries are held. Sometimes this sort of thing makes me ashamed to be a Jew until I realize that sometimes what the U.S. does makes me ashamed to be an American, yet I love the idea of both countries (the US as a real democracy that leads by example and takes care of all its citizens and residents; Israel as a secular-leaning Jewish homeland co-existing peacefully with non-Jews in its midst and as its neighbors) no less. For Vanunu, his treatment by the so-called "Jewish state" led to his conversion to Christianity (which led to even harsher treatment, he says). And he's still restricted from travelling outside the country.
Putting out the APD

Today's "Administrative Professionals Day" which of course should be called "Secretaries Day" only God forbid we elevate the largely-female pink-collar ghetto to any point of permanent recognition without also including the boys. I bitched about all this last year, but my Archives section is apparently down so you can't look it up. But I can; I wrote that APD occurs
...the day before Take Our Daughters To Work Day, recently morphing into "Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day" even on the official Ms. site, which completely negates the original point of the day - "to introduce girls [my emphasis] ages 9 to 15 to the workplace, and to help them feel that their future participation in the labor force is both expected and welcome" because studies have shown that girls' self-esteem plummets at that age, whereas boys' self-esteem is just fine because, after all, they know they're inheriting the upper echelons of the business world...
Where women will continue to be screwed out of having their own made-up days of recognition, even as they're screwed out of ever hoping to make a smidge of what their bosses make.

But not that I'm bitter (okay, mildly annoyed that the Pen-Elayne Archives aren't visible on the sidebar, which I'm fairly sure is a Blogger thing and not an Elayne thing). Because not only will my boss not be in today, but he just called me from the new building, standing in what he says will be my new office! Yes, after over three years in a claustrophobic cubicle I'm finally going to have a for-really office again, with privacy and everything! Given how he's pretty much ignored Secretaries Day through the years anyway, this is absolutely the best present for which I could hope. Now I have to get back to my new major project for the COO...
Silly Site o' the Day

Feeling creative? Then build your own e-scene! Over 100 backgrounds from which to choose! Via Carolyn Ibis.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Both Sides of One's Mouth

This great and funny analysis by Adam Felber of how the Bush administration "clarifies" matters reminds me a bit of what Jon Stewart observed on yesterday's Daily Show (and I paraphase 'cause I don't have a tape or MP3 handy) about Bush's most recent "press conference." He showed a clip of a reporter asking about mercenaries, then Bush's response, and said something like "See what he just did? He took a legitimate question, turned it into a perceived insult, and thus refused to 'dignify' that 'insult' with a response." And it occurred to me that this is something the radical rightists have done time and time again, but I can't recall anyone actually pointing it out in such stark and obvious terms. Goodness, this show was missed last week!
Stress Relief

Thomas Armagost reminds us that April 19-25 is the 10th annual TV Turnoff Week. Sorry, but I need something on in the background to get me in that calm alpha state whilst packing. Besides, The Daily Show is back after a week off. Tell ya what - I'll celebrate it on our moving day, since the cable folks aren't hooking us up again until the following day.
Packing Upon Packing

Party Reminder:
Five more days until the Riggs "Packing" and Pizza Party on April 24!
Please RSVP soon!

To reiterate, it'll be more a "throwing stuff out and taking home freebies" party, as we hope to have most of our stuff packed by then (although I'm not sure yet about the kitchen, that might wind up being the day's other big project). Check the sidebar for a list of what we're getting rid of if you want anything. First wave (which so far consists of two Firesign friends) starts at 2 PM, second wave sometime in the evening when two Comicart list friends arrive after a show in NJ.

Once I get through personal packing, my next worry becomes packing my boss' stuff for our office move, which I've just been informed will take place the weekend of May 22-23, far sooner than I'd thought possible. The good news is, I'm beyond weary of commuting to and from Manhattan, and I look forward to seeing what the bus commute through southern Westchester County will be like. Not to mention the new building itself (which my boss has bought; the closing is tomorrow, which means he'll once again ignore Secretaries Day as usual) is said to be very spiffy indeed. The bad news is, I haven't actually tried the bus commute yet (I think it's around an hour each way) so I'm a little unsure as to where I'm going, and I won't yet have a car (which should cut the journey to more like 15 minutes). Plus, as my boss insists on my presence during the weekend of the move, I'll have to miss WizardWorld East.
Silly Site o' the Day

Via Avedon Carol, here's a cute little Flash animated fly swatter game, although you may want to mute the buzzing after a bit...

Monday, April 19, 2004

Nose to the Grindstone

So I'm in Typing Hell today, and my boss' wife e-mails me to say that she's taking the Metro North train into the city to meet him and that I should check with them to make sure there are no problems with the line given the Amtrak/LIRR accident at Penn Station. And I'm like, "What accident at Penn Station?" This one. This is how out of touch I am. I currently work a block away from all this, and I didn't even know about it. Doesn't look like the subways are affected either, but dang, I'm glad I won't need to commute into Manhattan any more in another month or so...
More on Morford

Thanks to Bill at Mermaniac (love the blog name!), who wrote in my comments section referring me to this article explaining why SF Gate columnist Mark Morford was gone for over a month...

Happy blogiversary to Hanan Levin at Grow-a-Brain! I can hardly wait to see what kind of surprises Hanan has in store for Pen-Elayne (Hanan, you should try doing a test message) when and if I have to go on my enforced hiatus at the end of this month. Still no word from Verizon on when the phone in the new place will be operational... Update: Okay, at least they called, but they still couldn't tell us when the cable splicing will be done...
Smurfy Silly Site o' the Day

Via Scott at the Gamer's Nook, it's the Smurf Name Generator. Mine is "Pimpin' Smurf," for some odd reason...

Sunday, April 18, 2004


Every now and then I come across a blog reference that actually has something to do with my day job. Susie Madrak points to this Washington Post article about the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' efforts at regulatory reform, trying to create a system whereby insurance law is the same in every state. I've mostly dealt with the NAIC's licensing division, and I can confirm that these folks are sincere in wanting to standardize as much as they can as efficiently as possible. When I first started coordinating agent licensing, every state had its own application and rules, you needed fingerprints for some and background checks for others and the rules changed at whim, it seemed, every six months or so. Then the NAIC came along, established the National Insurance Producer Registry and its State Matrix of Business Rules (look at that map, only two states are still holdouts! I remember when it was like 20, then 15, then a half dozen...) and their Uniform License Applications for non-residents, and now agents can even apply for a non-resident license online in 30 states plus the District of Columbia! As far as I'm concerned, these people have performed absolute miracles in actually getting most state insurance bureaucracies to agree to the same sets of rules, and if the country ever does evolve to the point of a national healthcare system I can think of no one better to help coordinate it.
Cultural Hubris

Via Roxanne at Rox Populi (dig the new name and cool design!), Frank Rich says our current situation in Iraq conjures up Lawrence of Arabia. I really have to watch that movie one of these days.
Silly Site o' the Day

Via Laura Gjovaag, another Bookworm convert (heh), it's There She Is, a boy (cat) meets girl (rabbit) story courtesy of Flash animators SamBakZa!

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Hatred Breeding Hatred

Not only are we failing to put genies back in bottles, we keep creating more malevolent ones. Self-described "secular leftist" Iraqi Raed Jarrar vents his anger at the latest assassination of a leader he calls "another safety value that the Bush and Sharon administrations destroyed." The theory that killing people solves problems rather than creating even more is, I fear, a political strategy I'll never begin to understand.
Silly Site o' the Day

Sorry, been packing on and off, and trying to catch up on all the blog reading I've missed most of the week. Light blogging ahead, as they say. Via Oliver Willis, a recent Photoshop Phriday at Something Awful had participants designing unlikely political campaign posters.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Morford's Back!

But the intro my first Morning Fix e-mail in a month and a half is very peculiar: "We're happy to announce that Mark Morford is again writing his irreverently witty twice-weekly Notes & Errata column for SF Gate. We appreciate the loyalty and support of Mark's many readers, including those of you who contacted us during his recent absence. We're currently evaluating aspects of the Morning Fix newsletter and hope to be able to return it to you soon. In the meantime, for your convenience, here's a link to Mark's latest column. -- Vlae Kershner, News Director, SFGate.com" No word from Morford himself as to what happened; maybe he's subject to a non-disclosure agreement...
Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

We have no idea yet what Robin's studio setup will be like in the new apartment, but I think the cats are hoping the drawing board and lightbox are still near each other:

Please don't tell Robin's editor that Amy likes to sit on his pages. :) Posted to my Buzznet homepage as usual. (Yeah yeah, another game of Bookworm on my computer in the background, wanna make somethin' of it?)
Silly Site o' the Day

Yeti Sports, the people who brought you the game that launched a thousand mirror sites, Yeti-penguin baseball, there are now two new games. Orca Slap is probably the sicker of the two: "The second part of the yeti-cult demands enormous capabilities of coordination. Become one with Yeti to redirect the penguins to their target. 100 phat points for Bulls Eye!" And then there's Seal Bounce: "Catapult-Dash-Throw! The third part wants you to push the little penguins up as high as possible. Get a good wave and find the best point to release..." I'm waiting for them to come up with the penguins' revenge. :) And doesn't the Yeti remind you of the Abominable Snowmonster (aka "Bumble") from the Rankin/Bass Rudolph cartoon? You can see some close-ups here on the Yeti Sports e-card page.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Blogiversary Notes

Why does everyone celebrate blogiversaries when I'm so hopelessly behind in blog-reading that it's often too late to congratulate them? It's all about me, isn't it? :) Happy belated blogiversary to Jim Capozzola's Rittenhouse Review, and happy upcoming second blogiversary to Atrios at Eschaton!
Silly Site o' the Day

Yes yes, everyone and their blogger has linked to it by this point, but I have a cold and my wrists ache and I have lots of job-typing ahead today and I'm sooooo behind in my blogging and nobody's formally e-mailed me an RSVP to our April 24th throwing-things-out-and-giving-them-away Packing and Pizza Party (see sidebar) yet so I'm in kind of a pissy mood. I found the site via T.Girsch at LeanLeft - it's the latest Planned Parenthood effort, Right-Wing Eye, a worthy follow-up to their April Fool's "Wombland Security" bit.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Tracking It Forward

Via Max Sawicky, apparently you can install code on your blog template that uses "the Technorati search functionality... so a blog can provide a distributed commenting system that incorporates transparency and accountability." I think that means it can show remote comments from other blogs; a sort of trackforward instead of trackback. People like Brad DeLong are wondering if this will signal the end of comments sections, but I doubt it - people enjoy two-way (or many-to-many) conversation too much to give it up even if the signal-to-noise ratio becomes annoying. Anyway, here are the codes to enable a "Link Cosmos" on various kinds of blog templates. On Blogger it seems to be something like this; I'm substituting square brackets for the usual carats (and your blog URL for an actual blog URL) so if you copy and paste this you'll have to change "[" and "]" back to "<" and ">" and of course put in your blog URL where apropriate:

[a href="http://www.technorati.com/cosmos/search.html?rank=&sub=mtcosmos&url=your blog URL[$BlogItemArchiveFileName$]%23[$BlogItemNumber$]" title="Technorati Cosmos" target="_blank"]Technorati-Trackforward[/a]

Does an enterprising Blogger user (Laura?) want to experiment with this and see if trackforward capabilities work? I'm not entirely sure how to test them...
Possible Unplanned Blog Hiatus

Just got a call from Verizon. The cable outside the house into which we're moving, leading into our top-floor flat, is defective and will have to be replaced. They're working on it but the fellow who called said it might take until the 27th, and they cannot order the DSL until our phone line's operational. As I've taken the 28th through 30th off work, with our actual moving date being the 29th, and of course taking into account the following weekend, there's a very good possibility I won't be able to blog from April 29 through May 2. I would, however, like to ensure that this blog still has new daily content. Anyone out there interested in a possible guest-blogging spot for those four days? (No guarantee our home DSL will be ready by Monday 5/3 either, but at least I'll be able to touch base from work then.)

Update: Hanan Levin, the brains behind Grow-A-Brain, has graciously volunteered to handle this guest-blogging stint! Thanks again, Hanan!
The New Liberal Vision

[About a week ago, Jeff Alworth asked a number of liberal bloggers to discuss "our thoughts on a vision for liberalism in the 21st Century... Whether or not John Kerry wins the presidency, we still have a huge amount of work to do. Conservatives have been setting the intellectual table for a generation, and liberals have mostly been playing defense. Even the DLC and Clinton presidency took as their starting point the politically popular premises (this alliteration isn't intentional) of small government and fiscal and personal responsibility--variations on a conservative theme. It's the 21st Century. Should liberals be trying to re-establish FDR liberalism? What does liberal foreign policy look like in the age of globalism? Should government be picking up the tab for health care? If we want to dominate the next generation of politics, we need to do more than play defense. We need to have a large, coherent picture if we're going to accomplish that. I don't see why it shouldn't come from bloggers and blog readers."]

Ever since I first saw "Olive Oyl for President" (a cartoon made in 1948), I've occasionally fantasized about what I would do with the highest administrative office in the land. Now, not to discount any of Olive's ideas...

If I were president, if I were president,
There'd be at least ten months of June,
For folks to spend their honeymoon,
And night winds would all have the sweetest scent.
If I were president.

If I were president, if I were president,
Silk worms in every house would grow
And they would all be on the go
(In case there were a stocking accident).
If I were president.

There'd be lampposts like you've never seen.
And streets would all be spotless clean!

If I were president, if I were president,
I'd have a cure that would work right,
For those who couldn't sleep at night.
The time they spent awake would be well-spent.
If I were president. If I were president.

If I were president, if I were president,
The dogs whose habits all were strange
Would undergo a brand new change.
An all-day cone would cost a cent.
If I were president.

If I were president, if I were president,
Each bus would have a smoother run,
With lots of seats for everyone.
Apartments once again would be for rent.
If I were president.

There would be no wrangling anymore,
For drumsticks that fell short before.

If I were president, if I were president,
I'd pick up feminine morale,
And get a man for every gal.
More holidays would get my strong consent.
If I were president.

She's a jolly good female,
She's a jolly good female,
She's a jolly good female.
We love our president.

...'cause, you know, more holidays are cool, and I like the stuff about public transit and apartments (although I don't remember the visuals well enough to remember what's up with the dogs or the cure for sleeplessness). But my list of "why don't we"s usually featured more concrete (though admittedly simplified) visions of how to make things better in order to live up to the ideals upon which this country was founded.

And I think that's what a liberal vision needs to be about. Modern-day Republicans, particularly the radical right-wingers currently in power, have not only co-opted the language of hope and ideals (a language which by rights belongs to all of humanity), they've almost irretrievably twisted it so that just about everything they spout is the opposite of what they're actually doing (or have already done). This territory-staking has (temporarily) solidified the idea in so many people's minds that not only does "hope talk" belong to the right wing but that the ideals don't mean anything anyway that it becomes an uphill battle to convince/remind voters that yes, ideals do mean a lot to us all and, lo and behold, in recent history it's mostly been liberals who've actually taken steps toward reaching these ideals. Reaching toward the future is laudable and necessary, but it's better accomplished by acknowledging the gains of the past and how we all need to work together to sustain and improve upon those gains. You need a solid foundation in order to build upward, and liberal accomplishments more than provide that foundation.

The other aspect of a liberal vision that I'd dearly like to see implemented is a playing-up of liberals' inherent sense of fairness and positive thinking. Jeff also says, "Liberals, being devoted to inclusion and freedom of expression, are always somewhat reluctant to return mean-spirited, mendacious assaults in kind. In a perfect world public discourse would be improved if we didn't just holler at each other. But come on. The GOP not only have all the power, but there are no tactics beneath which they won't stoop (dig?) to keep it. At what point do you admit that it's time to fight back?" Well, as we know from reading superhero comics, the big difference between the good guys and the bad guys is that the heroes doesn't stoop to the villlains' tactics, no matter how much more difficult that makes it to bring them to justice. I think more citizens than we often credit (more about which below) have an instinctive feeling that they're being lied to and manipulated by politicians, particularly those who are so nakedly obvious and arrogant about their desire to hang onto power ("I don't plan on losing my job," indeed). And I think citizens want to believe - I think, in fact, it's a basic human desire to believe in the inherent goodness of people, and that public servants actually want to serve rather than rule. That desire has just been thwarted so many times that it's hard to sustain.

Hard, but far from impossible. (And few worthwhile struggles have been easy to begin with!) One thing I'd like to suggest is the downplaying, of not outright elimination, of negative words. This is a technique I learned awhile back in a former job as part of switchboard training. For instance, instead of saying "He's not in the office" you say "he's out" and you always add "may I take a message? I should be hearing from him shortly" or the like. This way you've eliminated the "no" word and reached out to the caller by inquiring as to how you can help them. The shift in language is often undetected on a conscious level, but the result is remarkable. And it takes a little practice but it's absolutely possible (and, I believe, utterly necessary) to do this. Any fear of sounding wimpy (which, let's face it, is just a lack of confidence in one's speaking abilities, and compared with the right-wingers' lies and distortions what's there to fear, really?) will be more than offset by the positive tone conveyed.

Lastly, there's always humor as well. Liberal humor just works better than conservative humor, for reasons I enumerated in my humor essay back in January but which essentially boils down to "an audience responds better and a humorist is more successful when the targets of humor are the 'haves' rather than the 'have-nots'." Puncturing pomposity is one of the main jobs of comedy, and taking the people in power down a peg or two through the use of observational witticisms and sly satire is infinitely more satisfying than the mean-spirited "frat-boy joke" tone which our current administration has made its hallmark.

I sincerely hope that the visions articulated by the other folks in this roundup contain these elements of sound foundation, positive verbiage and humor. The complete list of "New Liberal Vision" participants is:

  • Kevin Drum at Political Animal
  • Mark A.R. Kleiman at his eponymous blog
  • Lawrence Krubner at Less is More
  • Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla
  • Max Sawicky at MaxSpeak
  • Bill Scher at Liberal Oasis
  • Jesse Taylor at Pandagon
  • Anne Zook at Peevish
  • And of course, Jeff's own Notes on the Atrocities

    Everyone except Lawrence has been on my blogroll (and has working RSS feeds for my Bloglines newsreader!) for awhile, so I look forward to reading their visions as well!

    Update #1: Susie's contribution is up, beating mine by about half an hour. :)

    Update #2: Lawrence and Jeff have both weighed in, and as Jeff is keeping track of other entries I don't have to any more.
  • Silly Site o' the Day

    In honor of my parents' 47th wedding anniversary today, and the fact that they seem to really like mass-emailed jokes, here's a nice anniversary joke page that doesn't have pop-ups or stick annoying programs onto your computer unbidden. All best on this special day, Mom and Dad - love you!!

    Tuesday, April 13, 2004

    Dream a Little Dream of Me...

    Heh, I crept into Lis Riba's night musings. Now that Rob's got his green card, it's the perfect cover for him to seize New England in the name of Old England if Lis ever gives us that "come stay here for awhile and feed my cat" opening...
    Bake for Democracy!

    Via Amanda Marcotte at Mousewords, this Saturday, April 17, "all across the country, thousands of people will organize bake sales to raise money for MoveOn PAC's campaign to Take Back the White House. While George Bush raises money mostly from wealthy donors, we will demonstrate the broad-based grassroots support supporting MoveOn PAC and John Kerry." Here are the ones around me (mostly in Manhattan). I'm not normally a cake-y kinda person but I figure I may need a break, and some refreshment, in between packing...
    Silly Site o' the Day

    Via Eszter, posting at Crooked Timber - if you're not sick of all that Easter chocolate yet, or if you just want to get rid of the detritous, why not visit the Chocolate Wrappers Museum? Mmm, wrappers...

    Monday, April 12, 2004

    On Residing Permanently

    Called our new postal carrier this morning to make sure he had the right mailbox for us; changed the home address on all my financial accounts; and even got out to lunch before my boss came in (then it was 7 straight hours of typing for him, hence the lack of blogging). Meanwhile, Robin did the Verizon thang today since that didn't work out for me last Thursday, and naturally the technicians arrived within an hour of him. There's good news and bad news - while the inside connections are working fine, the points where they connect outside the house are dead, as are the backups, so they needed to call in another crew to install new points (for which they don't need either of us on the premises, fortunately), which should take about 48 hours at the most. So by Thursday when Rob returns to take care of other internal matters, our new phones should be working and the DSL all ordered up. With any luck I won't miss a day of blogging. :)

    But the most wonderful news is that Robin finally received his permanent residency ("green") card!! He'd never received a conditional one due to address mixups which were never corrected, and his passport (which has been his only form of ID this past few years) expires next month, and of course we were very anxious that the card arrive before we vacate these premises. So we're celebrating with sushi tonight, and the only important piece of mail we're still awaiting at this address is our tax refund.
    RSS Reminder

    I'm delighted to remove the "RSS Feed Wonky" asterisks from some of my favorite News+Views guys on the blogroll. Eli Stephens, Hesiod, Roger Ailes and Skippy all have working RSS (the acronym stands for Really Simple Syndication or RDF Site Summary, depending on which site you're reading) feeds now, which means my Bloglines aggregator (which operates not unlike a Usenet newsreader program) can now scan their blogs correctly and let me know every time they have a new entry so I don't miss it! RSS is remarkably easy to set up if you have a Blogspot blog, by the way; it's just a matter of toggling the Atom site feed to the on position. Go to the Settings tab, then the Site Feed sub-tab. Next to "Publish Site Feed" select "Yes," next to "Description" select "Full," save your changes, republish and voila! you're done! More and more I'm neglecting to read blogs that don't have proper feeds (due to time constraints if nothing else; at almost 300 blogs to view, this was my main impetus for getting Bloglines in the first place), so if you still have an asterisk next to your name on my sidebar, chances are good I'm not checking your blog.
    Silly Site o' the Day

    Now you can be like Dick Cheney and put words in George W. Bush's mouth as well, with George Says! Four backdrops and 23 poses to choose from, too. Via Moi at Bloggg.

    Sunday, April 11, 2004

    The 18½-Minute PDB

    Good heads-up by Louise at the Daily Kos mentioning that, "according to an article published in Die Zeit, the German newsmagazine, in October 2002, the original PDB is 11½ pages long." The article's timeline for that particular date is as follows:
    Crawford, Aug. 6, 2001. U.S. president George W. Bush is on vacation. He wants to spend the whole month at his ranch in Texas. Every morning, however, he still receives his Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB, wherein the CIA informs the president about the country's security situation. On this morning, the report is straight from the CIA director. His PDB runs 11 and one-half printed pages, instead of the usual two to three, and carries the title, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."
    Boldfaced type mine. As Louise says, "If 911 is becoming Watergate, then the 9-page gap is a weirdly creepy version of Rosemary Woods' '18 minute gap'." Actually I'm pretty sure it was 18½ minutes, but hey, who's counting... a half-minute or 10 pages here or there, it all just runs together...
    Silly Sites o' the Day

    The EasteRover (aka "Opportunity got bored"). Also, you too can now pommel the Easter Bunny, just like the folks in Glassport, PA. Okay, maybe not just like them... Update: Very funny Easter post by Norbizness, complete with recipes!

    Saturday, April 10, 2004

    Show Me The Way...

    Happy blogiversary to Billmon and Whiskey Bar! An indispensible part of my blog-reading day.
    Timely Chapter

    Atrios points to the Operation: Ignore excerpt from Al Franken's book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, all about what the Bush administration should have known and when regarding the terrorist attacks that happened on September 11, 2001. My jaw dropped when I read,
    On August 16, the INS arrested Zacharias Moussaoui, a flight school student who seemed to have little interest in learning to take off or land a plane. The arresting agent wrote that Moussaoui seemed like "the type of person who could fly something into the World Trade Center." Trying to pique the interest of FBI Headquarters in Washington, a Minneapolis FBI agent wrote that a 747 loaded with fuel could be used as a weapon. lf this information had been shared and analyzed, for example by a newly founded Homeland Security Agency, it might have sparked memories of the Clinton-thwarted 1996 al Qaeda plot to hijack an American commercial plane and crash it into CIA Headquarters.
    Check out the whole thing; utterly fascinating reading, and very relevant to what's gone on these past few weeks with the 9-11 commission hearings.
    Silly Site o' the Day

    Scott at the Gamer's Nook found an Orgulator, a browser toy made by Alan Taylor and his business, Kokogiak Media.
    Phun with Photomosaics

    Photomosaics are making a comeback in the progressive blogosphere lately. First Joe Wezorak at American Leftist (whose permalinks are screwy at the moment, scroll down to Sunday, April 4) made this composite of our "War President" using photos of the American service men and women who have died in Iraq. "No photograph," says Joe, "is used more than three times." Then Wonkette decided to fetishize Ashcroft with a mosaic made up of porn pictures. And just yesterday, Tom Tomorrow noted the Ashcroft composite as well as the Bush Asshole Mosaic. Apparently there are people making a living from this, but you can also download free software from here or here to create your own. Here's a tutorial. Robin says this is his favorite photomosaic, and I agree that it's quite memorable.

    Friday, April 09, 2004

    Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

    We got out early today for the Christian holiday, so the sun was still in full force by the time I sat down in Robin's studio to snap a picture of the cats:

    I love Amy's shadow, it's about as big as Datsa's body. Also posted to my Buzznet homepage as usual.
    Maintenance Notes

    There's still a bit of fallout from my template problems of a couple days ago. The page generates an error message upon loading, and I have no idea why as it looks okay to me. My WCC feed is no longer working properly, but my Atom feed is, so if you have a news aggregator please use the Atom feed. (Update: Patience pays off; the WCC feed should be okay now as well. Error message still baffling...)

    Meanwhile, I've added a few ladies to the blogroll (Amanda Marcotte and Roxanne under News+Views, and Hanan Levin and Kathleen Pearlman under Kultcha) and chosen a template in Haloscan to make the comments windows look spiffier.
    Allons Ententes de la Patrie...

    I was a little out of it yesterday, so apologies for failing to note the the centenary of the Entente Cordial between England and France. Celebratory events will be going on throughout the year.
    One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

    Isn't an SUV hybrid rather missing the point? I mean, I applaud the fuel efficiency efforts, but it's still the most dangerous vehicle on the roads, y'know?
    Statuesque Doings

    Been meaning to write about this, as Robin mentioned it to me a few days ago, but I've been a bit preoccupied, so I'm grateful for the e-mail reminder from Lis. I first expressed trepidation here last Christmas Eve about what was up between the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and the National Park Service (writing "Shouldn't the upkeep of infrastructure at national treasures like the Statue be the responsibility of the federal government anyway?"). Well, turns out the Senate Finance Committee has begun an inquiry into why the NPS hasn't put the required 85% of its $15 million take over the last five years towards expediting the Statue's opening. In addition, the foundation itself is also being investigated, as it never tapped its $30 million endowment; paid its president, Stephen Briganti, 62, a salary of $345,000 a year (far more than is paid to chief executives at other parks' nonprofit foundations); and made risky investments which contributed to a nearly $10 million drop in the value of its assets in the last two fiscal years. Already corporate "partner" Wal-Mart has suspended its fundraising for the foundation, and it wouldn't surprise me if others like AmEx follow.

    On a somewhat lighter note, seems a French stuntman snared the sail of his paraglider on the torch of the Statue earlier today. Seeing as how that part of the Statue won't be reopened for the foreseeable future, maybe the guy figured that was the only way he could see it up close...
    Silly Site o' the Day

    Hayom arba'ah yamim la'omer. Or should that be, l'Homer? Via Lis Riba, with all due apologies to Matt Groening I'm sure, it's the Homer Calendar! It not only explains this whole counting-the-omer stuff, but even contains a photo essay on "Jewish Life in Springfield" and written essay on "All Things Jewish and Simpsons"! Really cute idea.

    Thursday, April 08, 2004

    Packing Party Postponed

    Okay, apparently there's a big comic convention in Atlanta the weekend of the 17th so most of our comic book friends have declined our party invite. And for one reason or another almost nobody else has that weekend free.

    Therefore, the Pizza & Packing Party will be held on Saturday, April 24th instead. (As Rob says, we'll have more stuff packed by then so there'll be less for partygoers to do in that respect, just come in and have pizza and help us get rid of furniture and other stuff we're not taking with us!) Click on the sidebar mention for details. Please RSVP as soon as possible so we can start to get an accurate count. Thanks!!
    If Elected, Marc Wilkofsky Will Be Extremely Surprised

    And so will I. Congrats on getting your picture in the Onion, Marc. (Via the eagle eyes of Dave Roman on the FoL blog.)
    Obligatory Canadian Comics Content

    From Ken Gale:
    'Nuff Said!, the comic book interview/talk show, is still off the air as a regular show, but we still show up on the airwaves every once in a while and thus also on the internet through the live stream (see our web site for details). The WBAI-FM schedule is being re-worked and though I was once told 'Nuff Said! would return when that happened, 'Nuff Said! is not on the new schedule. I am still at the mercy of other producers giving me time on their shows. And one is doing that soon.

    The next 'Nuff Said! installment is part of Sidney Smith's show "Carrier Wave," Sunday night (Monday morning), April 18 (19), 2004 between 1:00 and 3:00 AM. That's North American eastern time. So it starts 10:00 PM on the west coast. Tell your friends and e-lists.

    I interviewed Danny Fingeroth, author of "Superman on the Couch, What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society." (He's also the editor of Write Now and former editor of Spider-Man, but we just discussed his new book.) We went into detail about several of the chapters, such as why so many orphan superheroes and how female superheroes have changed.

    For those of you in the listening area who won't be up that late, you can tape the radio using a VCR by simply connecting the input of your VCR to the output of your stereo. There is a more detailed description of this on our website.

    I've been doing comic book-oriented radio shows since 1993, live-streamed over the internet for the past several years, usually interviewing a creator. I've covered all styles and all eras, pointing out the diversity of the art form to a radio audience who was often unaware of the versatility of sequential art. For the past year and a half, I have done occasional specials, fill-ins and guest stints, keeping the show alive (see http://www.comicbookradioshow.com/nsgl17.html for a recent list and links to the past Guest List). Many other WBAI producers have welcomed 'Nuff Said! segments on their shows and I can't thank them enough. WBAI-FM is a listener-supported Pacifica Network station.

    WBAI-FM, 99.5, is a 50,000 watt station broadcast from the Empire State Building. The signal usually gets out to New Haven, CT; Westhampton, L.I.; the Poconos of Pennsylvania, Orange County, NY and Trenton & Princeton, NJ. But via the internet for an even greater distance, natch.

    Bernard White, the program director, said on the air June of last year that 'Nuff Said! was not canceled, just put "on hiatus," but he's brought out a new schedule and 'Nuff Said! is absent from it. Among his criticisms of comic books are that they are "narrow-focused" and only appeal to "middle-class white males." Even mainstream comics don't deserve those criticisms (except for "male") and nearly every African-American who works at the station is into comics and has told him so, sometimes on the air. It seems to fall on deaf ears.
    If Air America ever branches out into cultural stuff, maybe there'll be a place for Ken there...
    For Whom the Bell Tolls

    I wasted 4½ hours this morning sitting on the stoop of our new apartment, waiting for Godot Verizon to come and turn on/test the phone line. I arrived at 8:00, called at 10:30 to see what was up and was told "we told you between 8 and 12," called again at 12, was told I'd be called back on my cell within five minutes, called again at 12:30 and was told all the technicians were out to lunch and they'd call me back at 1. It's almost 1:30, I'm still waiting for their call, and I've pretty much missed a day of work. To add insult to injury, the customer service person who spoke to me during that third call said I might not even need to be there, the techie might be able to turn on the line from outside the apartment. I still want to be there to test the phone jacks inside, though. So I'm back home, about to go to the kitchen for some breakfast, grateful it was a nice day outside, and utterly unsure of what to do when they call back, since it may only be a 10-minute drive with a car but I have to allow half an hour for bus travel time... Update: They called at 2:30 to reschedule because they'd had "an unusually large volume of repair calls, and we're obligated to do repairs before we do new installations." All well and good, but you know, they're the phone company, they couldn't have called me by noon to let me know?
    Silly Site o' the Day

    As long as I'm feeling kinda Maundy, as Clonecone at It's Craptastic! said, "Check out the commercial for the Jesus Christ Action Figure."
    A Dingo Ate My Template

    Okay no, but I somehow managed to delete most of it. I grabbed what I could from a Google cache to fix the sidebar, but the cache didn't include the code for the actual content, which I had to improvise using the template from a group blog to which I belong. So the font and some of the design is screwed up and the posts will kind of run into each other until Laura can help fix it, but in the meantime at least I have content again. You know you're addicted to blogging when template problems lose you an entire night of sleep. Update: Okay, I think we've got it; a little less space between entries than before, but I actually like that... thanks Laura, and you too, Budgie!

    Wednesday, April 07, 2004

    Another Julie Remembrance

    A terrific six-screen tribute to Julius Schwartz by Peter Sanderson, one of those people who blew me away when Robin and I first met him by already knowing who I was, but that's Peter for you. Via Neil Gaiman.
    Blogs in Space!

    Thanks to Linkmeister for passing along the Dr. Fox listing of the LiveJournal blogs "written by" various space exploration objects. I blogged about the Spirit and Opportunity journals back on January 28 (thanks again, Lis!), but I had no idea there were so many others! Here's a partial listing; almost all have been added to my Bloglines subscriptions, as LiveJournal seems to have a good RSS feed set up:
  • Almost at the Heliopause (journal of Pioneer 10 - no entries at present)
  • Cassini's Big Adventure (Cassini mission to Saturn)
  • Contour's Journal - A Probe Scorned (NASA's Comet Nucleus Tour)
  • eo1_sat (journal of Earth Observing-1)
  • Far Far away... (journal of Voyager 2)
  • Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (musings on life in low Earth orbit)
  • For Soviet Interplanetary Glory! (journal of Mars3 orbiter; funnier than Yakov Smirnoff!)
  • Gravity Probe B (best to check around April 17)
  • Mars Beagle (*snif* I miss that li'l Beagle)
  • Neo Inbound (your guess is as good as mine)
  • Opportunity Rover (working on Mars)
  • Sibling Rivalry: Satellite Style (from the Geosynchronous Operational Environmental Satellites)
  • SOHO (exploring the sun)
  • Sojourner's Journal (Mars Pathfinder)
  • Spirit Rover (also working on Mars)
  • Star Dust (NASA's comet sample return mission)
  • The Hubble Blog (journal of the space telescope)
  • The view from 90 AU (journal of Voyager)
  • Transmissions from a hot planet (journal of the Venera 14 Venus probe)
  • uf0's Journal (not really sure what this one is but it's cute)
  • Viking1's Journal (Viking mission to Mars)
  • Would you like bits with that? (journal of the Hughes Global Satellite)
    Kudos to the Spacers Journal Community. I just think this is such a neat idea, to combine a personification of the objects in question with actual information. A great way to entice kids to learn more about science and space! Oh, Mars has its own blog too.
  • Richard Perle's "Pogo Moment"

    "The Iraqis know who their oppressors are in their midst," says the PNAC co-conspirator. They sure do, Mr. P. They have met the enemy, and...well, you know the rest. Via Julia.
    Silly Site o' the Day

    Via Wonkette, the Sloganator is back! Well, not on the official Bush "re"-election site, so they're calling it "Son of Sloganator," and you can find it here, at least for the moment...

    Tuesday, April 06, 2004

    Eleven More Days...

    ...until our Packing & Pizza Party (click sidebar for details)! Alas, not a single RSVP in my e-mail in-box yet. :( While I was learning new job skills today Rob had a weird new-apartment day, but you'll need to come to the party to hear the entire story, from the Great Key Mix-Up to Amy's Narrow Almost-Escape to the Dreaded Deadline Doom. I will mention that he met our new landlord for the first time and says he's real nice, they got along very well. As for the current place, our soon-to-be-ex-landlord (actually ├╝ber-tenant) rep told me yesterday that we've been such good tenants (and we have) that they'll let us use our security deposit as our final month's rent; and the workers who'd left the windows open in the upstairs apartment on Saturday, leading to 2½ days of loud intermittent door banging every time the wind picked up (there always seems to be a reason to keep my earplugs handy in this place!), returned this afternoon and presumably will finally remedy that situation as soon as they leave. And once again I note how wonderful it'll be in a few short weeks to have nobody living above us...
    Silly Sites o' the Day

    I got a little frustrated with Dollz, which I found via Karin Kross, because it's pretty much one-size-fits-none - only one body type to play with, and it ain't mine by a long shot. Much more satisfying is the Ultimate Flash Face maker which Neil Gaiman mentioned; it only took me about five minutes to come up with a pretty good approximation of what I think my face actually looks like.

    Monday, April 05, 2004

    Maintenance Note

    Put the two Air America blogs on the sidebar, and moved 'em up above the Liberal Coalition. Really enjoying Majority Report tonight; great job, Kos!
    Hey Kids! Blogging!

    Long-time friend Heidi "Ace" MacDonald has been added to the blogroll! (So has Joey Manley!) Thanks for the heads-up, Johnny! (Update: Blog currently not operational, but I'm sure Ace will have it up again soon...)
    CrossGen Update

    Two more executives have resigned from CrossGen, VP of Publishing Bill Rosemann and VP of Sales Chris Oarr.

    Update #1: More on Graeme's blog.

    Update #2: And from Graeme again, the American Power series I mentioned here "has been shelved in favor of another project ... Sources close to CrossGen said new investors thought the book was in poor taste... When questioned, CG offered 'no comment'." Emphasis mine. It does seem a shame that CG didn't deem the book inappropriate until their investors pointed it out to them.
    Airing in America

    According to the Majority Report blog, well-known sheigitz Steven Colbert will be subbing for Sam Seder on Air America this afternoon while he, um, has his Seder. (Does this mean no new Daily Shows as uber-Jew Jon Stewart celebrates as well? Should this be the fifth question?) Also coming up are Barry Crimmins (who writes for the station!) and Markos Zuniga.
    Bon Voyage

    The best of luck and all good things to Michelle as well as to Bob Goodsell, as they both embark on vacations that include current hot-spot Venezuela. Maybe when they return they'll both get RSS feeds so I can better keep up with their new blog entries. :)

    Yeah I know, I used that header last year, but I'm a big fan of recycling. Tonight begins the Jewish festival of Constipation Week Passover, about which I wrote last year on April 16 and April 17.

    "Forbidden foods" vary depending on Jewish heritage (Ashkenazi and Sephardic strains have very different eating customs although most of the rituals remain the same), but I love looking around the blogosphere for Passover recipes, and this year Budgie presents Laura's Matzo Pizza and Eszter (who also talks about feminist Haggadahs the way I did last year) recommends a chocolate seder plate for dessert! Update: And I agree with Lis Riba - I think an Edible Book Festival is a cool idea, but Jewish folks have had to get rid of those chumatzdich cakes pretty quickly after April Fool's Day this year. On the other hand, you tellin' me matzo doesn't look and taste enough like parchment that you can't make some barely edible book art from it?
    Silly Sites o' the Day

    Julia (who's coming to our Packing & Pizza Party, yay!) has a great suggestion for, as the site says, "A fun and educational way to involve children in the Passover experience." It's the Bag of Plagues! Um, Julia, the sunglasses symbolize #9, #9, #9... And here's how you and your kids can re-enact the Plagues as a fun activity! I think my favorite was #5: "Disease afflicting the Egyptian livestock--put stuffed animals in different areas of the house, upside down." Creepily cheerful.

    Sunday, April 04, 2004

    Raed in the Middle and On the Nose

    The events of today, as seen (and earlier predicted) by Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar. As he notes, "When the CPA decides to close the AsSadr newspaper and arrest his assistant, they should expect to have real clashes…"
    Cool, Conservative Fairfax County Men

    I guess Virginia really isn't for lovers. At least sexual-Lee! Or was that "Social-Lee, political-Lee, financial-Lee, natural-Lee, internal-Lee, external-Lee, fraternal-Lee, eternal-Lee..." oh well, so much for the Lees of old Virginia... Via Neil Gaiman's blog.