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Iseema bin Laden

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Sexist? Moi?

A couple of days ago, I was in the lunchroom at work, standing in line to pay for my purchase. I work at a college. You need to know that, because the age of the person in front of me was approximately college-aged boy. The age of the person he was talking to (manager of the lunchroom; cashier) was estimated to be a few years out of college, or maybe still in college, too. The student in front of me was discussing his class with the manager, and then quickly devolved into puns about his lack of class, which moved to how that helped him in spitting contests. At which point the manager said, "I knew two guys who got into a puking contest once." I listened in horror, then College Boy left and it was my turn to pay. And I found I couldn't keep still. I said to the manager:

"You aren't just another gender, you guys are an entirely different species. There is not a woman in the world who would ever even conceive of getting into a puking contest." The manager laughed. I shook my head.

It's true. Men really are a different species.

Welcome, new users

Wow, so many new people are showing up here, I think I'd better go over the rules again. We don't want anyone getting hurt, or suing us, especially since we don't have a whole lot of money, and, frankly, there isn't even a "we" here, only "me", but "Me don't want anyone getting hurt" sounds like I'm writing a script for Bizarro Superman, or for Superbaby, and trust me, I never have and never will write a script for either Supercharacter.

You know, that was one of the things that bothered me the most about any DC portrayal of a toddler. They thought comics readers were too stupid to figure out that they were children, so they had Superbaby and any other toddler always use "me" for I. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Now, look. I've had a lot of contact with toddlers over the last 14-15 years, what with all my friends and relatives going out and having kids, so I know that although some toddlers go through a stage where they substitute "me" for "I", most of them get the distinction fairly quickly. So what is with DC Comics, anyway, and why--oh, wait. I forgot. The scripts were all written by men.

Never mind. I rest my case.

But we were talking about the rules, weren't we?

Hm. Um. Yeah. Right.

Just look below at the last entry for yesterday. We'll make those the rules.--MAY



It's that unexamined life thing

I was wondering: Now that my blog is becoming more bloglike, perhaps I should make some changes. I don't intend to change the page much--this blog is still about the writing, and I don't want to add a right column of links. It would take away from the text area on the page, and I've noticed that one of the things I like about reading is, well, being able to read the text easily. Must be from my print publishing background.

So I thought that instead of changing the left and right columns, maybe I'd change my tagline. So then I sat down and thought of a few possibilities, and figured I'd run them by my regular readers out there. Remember, they're a work in progress, and we just may stay with the current tagline, but you never know. One might just leap out at me.

  • It's all about me
  • Either Yourish, or you're not.
  • I write what you're thinking.
    Do too.
  • If I wanted your opinions, I'd have comments.

As always, I'll do anything I can to improve the blog and draw in new readers. Because, of course, where would this blog be without me you?

Wow, look--permalinks!

Because I love you all so much, and because so many people using those wussy blogging tools keep insisting they need permalinks to point to my blogs, I've installed HTML permalinks, thanks to Rebecca Blood, who is also a Real Woman who runs a blog with only her HTML muscles and programming wits.

Mind you, her programming wits are a hell of a lot better than mine, but we'll just pretend I didn't say that, pat me on the head, and say, "Good Meryl. Now we can point to your blogs."

I'd tell Dave I have permalinks now, but he's kinda busy with the new Radio 8 stuff and the fact that his servers are committing suicide or something over there. Ah, the life of a software giant. <snicker>

A real Weiner

I babysit my next-door neighbor's son every week while she takes a class at the local college. I pick up James, who is ten, from aftercare at his school, and we go to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and then we hang either at my apartment or theirs until his mother gets home. Sometimes we watch TV, sometimes we play computer games, sometimes we do homework, if he hasn't finished it in aftercare.

Tonight, we did homework, because his teacher--whose name is Mr. Weiner--made James write a two-page essay on "Why I should not talk during recess". I had to hear that one twice before I could believe it. Apparently, the children in fifth grade at James' school only go out for recess when the Weiner sees fit to let them, and when they stay inside, he makes them be quiet and read, instead of letting them shoot the breeze and take a break from schoolwork. I was so incensed I told his mother she should send a note to school and then rip Mr. Weiner a new asshole tomorrow, but she's going to make James do a one-page essay instead, since James insists the Weiner will take it out on him.

And this is on top of our dinner conversation, where I told James the next time he played basketball on a warm day, he should take his shirt off and play in his t-shirt, because he was drenched in sweat when I showed up. "You're not allowed to wear a t-shirt in school," he told me. You're also not allowed to run on the playground, wear a hat to school, jump rope anywhere but on the blacktop--or talk during recess.

No wonder we're raising kids to take a gun to school. They're not even allowed to talk during recess.--MAY



Calling all information junkies

Ed Yourdon has a great blog about research on the Internet, although the main point of his blog is the added plus of having 24-hour instant access.

Serendipity is a wonderful thing. I saw Ed's site on the Winerlog referer list (okay, I'll spell it wrong, geek-style), clicked because his last name and mine are so similar, and found another good read.

I'm starting to wonder what, exactly, I read before I discovered all these weblogs.

The rainy day blog

I've been saving this one for a rainy day, and it's raining here in NJ right now. Plus, I'm absolutely refusing to talk about Googlewhacking, which is apparently starting to run through the blogging community like wildfire (go here, I'm not going to talk about it, really I'm not).

Nope, I'm gonna write that rainy-day blog, the one that I've been keeping in the wings for a day when I can't think of anything else to write. Yep. The rainy-day blog.

It took me fifteen minutes before I got a Googlewhack. I have the screenshot to prove it. Shinto defenestration, and the score for that is 1,075,230,000. You won't be able to duplicate it after Google crawls this page. So if you're reading this around 8:45 EST, hurry!--MAY



Unintended faux pas

I frequently check the news via AP via, and, as anyone who uses Windows does, I often have several applications open at once, as well as several browser windows.

So today, I had a few browser windows open, and the title of the AP window was "News from the Ass..."

News from the Ass...

Gotta watch those titles, people.

Where the heck are you?

Webtrends is a very amusing program that my ISP uses to keep statistics on its sites. Today's amusing statistic: 18% of my visitors are from "Region Un-Specified". Webtrends does not, of course, go into specifics about the specifics of the Un-Specified Regionnaires, but you have to wonder why they can't pin these folks down when they can track people from Qatar and Sao Tome and Principe. You'd think they'd be able to track down everyone. Even Anonymizer's hosts come up as Anonymizer's. So here's what I think "Region Un-Specified" might mean:

  1. They're the CIA, FBI, and other super-secret spies keeping tabs on the Internet, particularly on dangerous bloggers like me and the Meryl Webring.
  2. Webtrends really just lost the data and don't want to tell, so they're pretending they don't know where the callers are from
  3. There really aren't any callers; Webtrends uses this statistic to inflate everybody's stats, thereby making us think we need more stat-tracker services, like, oh, Webtrends
  4. There's a country named "Region Un-Specified", but nobody knows where it is.

I tell ya, this is the kind of stuff that makes me realize all those years of school, teaching me to think critically, were worth it. You just can't beat this kind of research. Mark Twain would have called it Arkansas journalism.--MAY

Guantanamo Bay, redux

Hm. Is anyone else getting really annoyed at the shock tactics of the various newspaper articles that are horrified at the conditions the Taliban prisoners are "enduring" at Guantanamo Bay? The one that annoys me the most is the insistent and repetitive use of the words "open-air" and "exposed". So I went to and checked on the weather for Guantanamo Bay. The five-day forecast: Highs--90, 87, 85, 87, 87. Lows--68, 67, 69, 70, 70. Then I went to check the five-day forecast for Kabul, where they would be housed in medieval splendor in tiny, fetid stone cells with little or no food, water, health care, etc. The highest it's going to be there is 44 degrees Fahrenheit. The lowest will be 3 degrees on Sunday.

Chicken Littles: The sky is not falling. Get over it. The weather in Cuba is just fine this time of year. Well, unless there's a hurricane. One can always hope. (Sorry, Jonathon, but sometimes I just have to get in a wisecrack. You'll be able to tell the difference when you get to know me better.)

Getting out of scrapes

There's something I forgot to mention yesterday. It's in the form of gloating, which is, frankly, something I can't prevent myself from doing every so often.

But yesterday morning, while I was eating breakfast, I heard my upstairs neighbor leave the apartment building. Then I heard his car alarm, since he evidently was too tired to know what he was doing. But the sound that was sheer music to my ears: I could hear him scraping the ice off his windshield. I smiled happily to myself, as my Jeep was snug in its garage, iceless, warm--warm enough, in fact, to drive to work without having to put on the heat.

Damn, I like having a garage. I can't wait until tomorrow morning, when I hopefully get to gloat some more.--MAY




Peggy Lee, the author and singer of so many great songs, including "Fever", died last night at the age of 81. A New York Times article (registration required) has a more thorough obituary, including the details on how Peggy was one of the few who beat the Disney monolith. She wrote the songs for Lady and the Tramp, and when Disney put the film out on video, they paid her no royalties, insisting the contract didn't include videotape, notwithstanding that it didn't exist when the contract was signed. Peggy took 'em to court and won, setting a precedent and getting millions in back royalties and making the world a little better for copyright holders. Rest in peace, Peggy. You gave us fever. Disney, too.

Birthday greetings

I was going to send this story to TX Meryl in a letter, but then I realized it'd make a great blog, so here it is:

I was staying at my favorite aunt's house in San Diego, and it was just me and my aunt and uncle, as all the girls were living elsewhere. I used to go there a lot--it was my haven, my favorite vacation spot. They had a built-in pool in the backyard, complete with a floating chair we called "the garcon chair". There's a picture of me floating in it with a sign saying "Garcon!" It was Uncle Lee's idea.

My time there was always relaxing. I generally spent the week floating in the pool on and off during the daytime and chatting with my aunt and uncle in the evening, with occasional trips to the San Diego Zoo or Wild Animal Park or the ice cream parlor if we felt like it. There was a restaurant called The Elephant Bar that we particularly liked, and I brought home several elephant's feet from it. (That's a story for another day, the tale of the elephant's foot and Bring Your Daughter To Work Day and a coworker's six-year-old.)

The room I was in during this particular time had a poster hanging on the wall opposite the bed. I looked at it and couldn't figure out what it meant. It had a picture of some hippopotami, some ostriches, some sheep, a deer, the number 2 a few times, and the word "Mom". I knew there had to be a trick to it, but I was unwilling to give in and ask my aunt and uncle, because I'm stubborn and it was the kind of puzzle I knew I'd kick myself over if I didn't figure it out. So the week wore on, and after about four or five days, I was lying in bed, reading before going to sleep. I looked up at the poster, something finally clicked, and I said, "OH!!", loudly enough that my aunt and uncle came running into the room to make sure I was all right. "That damned poster," I said, pointing. "I finally get it!"

Which is when Aunt Edith and Uncle Lee realized that I'd been puzzling that thing out all week without asking for help, which they'd have given in a second. We all had a huge laugh over it. And got another family legend, to boot. It goes along with the Horsehair Cake, which is somewhere in my archives, I think.

Oh, the poster? My cousin Ellen had seen a similar poster in a store once, and wanted to give it to my aunt for her birthday. But she couldn't find a copy. So she and her friend made one up with the pictures, but without the words below them as a hint, as you can find on the poster and birthday card:

Hippo birdie two ewes
Hippo birdie two ewes
Hippo birdie dear Mom
Hippo birdie two ewes

Another friend of mine, after hearing this story, bought me a mug with the words on it. Hippo birdie a couple of days late, TX Meryl.--MAY



Words of wisdom

Found a great essay by Steven Den Beste responding to a Matthew Parris article in the Times of London. You don't need to read the Times article to get the essay. His take on American and world history is one I've never seen before. I like it.

And I believe that yesterday's blog tapped out all my words. Oh, that, and the fact that I still have one Buffy DVD to go, and frankly, I like her better than I like blogging. Okay, maybe not. But I have four episodes I've never seen, and a day off from work. Hm. What would Giles do?--MAY



Actually, it's more like "plodding through the snow"

Our "snow event" in NJ was more of a non-event, which is non-surprising, particularly with the non-skill of the weather forecasters, who rarely call a snowfall correctly.Snow on the Parkway

But I was off to my friends' house in the Princeton suburbs, which, come to think of it, is a silly term, as Princeton is a township, not a city, and yet when you say "the Princeton area", people in several states know where you mean, and nod sagely.

Oh. So, I was invited to my friends' yesterday because we're all Babylon 5 fans, and the new Babylon 5 series pilot, "The Legend of the Rangers," was on the Sci-Fi Channel, so we figured we'd watch it together. And it just happened to coincide with the release of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season one DVD, which I bought for them for Christmas and me for, well, me. So we planned to watch as much Buffy before and after as we could.Playing footsies

And since I also happened to have a digital camera on the trip, I have pictures. The slipper shot would be the three of us relaxing with our feet up, getting ready to watch a Buffy episode.

The snow wasn't that bad, but the other drivers were. I have a Jeep Wrangler, and I put it in 4WD as soon as I got onto the Turnpike, which proved once again that the Garden State Parkway is probably one of the most expensive roads in the nation, but damn, it's really well maintained. Not a speck of snow on the ground there, and the Turnpike was not in good shape at all. Of course, the other drivers were idiots. I stayed in the right lane for most of the trip, and watched in awe as people without 4WD vehicles passed me at incredibly unsafe speeds during what was, at times, a pretty rough snowstorm.

Snow on the TurnpikeThe biggest jerk, as usual, was behind me. There was a small Toyota Something in front of me with a smart snow driver--that is to say, she went slowly and carefully and didn't sway across the lane out of control. There was a man behind me in a car that was like one of those old Ford Fairmonts--as huge as a Cadillac and probably just as useless in the snow, as, if I recall correctly, they had simple rear-wheel drive. Those are the ones that scare me the most--the idiots on my tail. Even with a police car in front of us, he was a total asshole and did not leave enough space to not smash into me from behind if I had to brake suddenly. Not that he would have been able to stop, what with his lame-o in the snow car, and his excessive speed. Luckily, I ditched him a mile after I picked him up, and arrived safe and sound at my friends' home. Where I was welcomed by them, their rabbit, and a roaring fire in the fireplace.

My Jeep, my babyThe day after wasn't so bad--my car didn't collect a lot of snow, most of the roads were clear, and we went out for breakfast in a diner that had--I swear to God--funnel cakes as an item on the breakfast menu. I absolutely could not resist, and had funnel cake and ice cream for breakfast. It was either ice cream or blueberries or some other fruit, and I just didn't see the point in putting something healthy on such a decadent breakfast. Yum. It was great.

And so, home again, blasting the various rock music stations in my car on the way, and reflecting on the fact that no matter how much older I get, I don't think I'm ever going to lose my taste for head-banging music, or pure rock'n'roll. I think I'm going to be an eighty-something at some wedding or bar-mitzvah or something one day down the road, and I'm going to yell "Free Bird!" to the band when they ask for requests. Or sing along with the Allman Brothers (the originals). Or know the first few chords of "Frankenstein". Or the dirty words in the Tool songs.

Yup. A good day and night, overall.--MAY