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the terrorists have already won—with lights!!!

I imagine everyone has already heard all about our city's embarrassing day yesterday. Well you know, when people are badly embarrassed they tend to respond by getting angry and looking for someone to blame; someone other than themselves, that is. So now Boston authorities are arresting folks and talking about taking Cartoon Network off the air, and, oh, the other channels broadcast by Turner Media as well. The news outlets, too, are trying to cover for their ridiculous overreaction by playing up the outrage and "in a post-9/11 world" quotes. They are both wrong. Two points:

1. News reports emerging as the story developed contained quotes like the following: "Officials said it contained an electronic circuit board with some components that were 'consistent with an improvised explosive device,' but they said it had no explosives." I can't be the only one desirous of pointing out that, without explosives, what you have in fact is an "improvised device"—which is actually a fair description of the objects in question. Another fair description would be Lite-Brite. Lite-Brite. You know, the toy from the 80s? Many relics of the 80s happen to be quite terrifying today, but I hadn't thought the Lite-Brite was one of them.

2. The placing of the "objects" has been widely referred to as a "hoax". As an internet commenter wrote, "I don't think that word means what you think it means." He's right! I looked it up, in a dictionary. The verdict: "Hoax. -noun 1. Something intended to deceive or defraud." If I leave a cushion in a bag by the side of the road and someone reports it as a bomb (this really happened here in Bedford!) am I guilty of perpetrating a hoax? Or was the person who reported the dangerous-looking package guilty of wildly overreacting? Obviously, neither Cartoon Network nor anyone associated with the network intended—nor even imagined—that anyone would think these harmless-looking cartoon characters were bombs.

Although, maybe they weren't so harmless after all! The newspapers tell us that the characters are depicted making an "obscene gesture"! Ooh, I wonder what it could be! I can't tell, because the Channel 5 website clumsily photoshopped the image of the offending digit. Can we get any more farcical?

This entry would be funnier, but there's just so much wrong with this situation that I'm sputtering with outrage.

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Ashley on "experience"

"People say that the food is really good. Unfortunately, i never got to visit an In-and-Out Burger when i lived in LA."

"I heard about that place from a presentation in Nutrition school. A girl in my class gave an oral on her experience with in-and-out."

"Ashley, before you say something out loud, do you listen to it in your head first? Because that might really make a difference."

revenge of the girlie soaps

Remember a long time ago when I had to use Leah's fruit-flavored soaps, and I wrote about it here? Well, it turns out that there was yet another hazard I should have been worrying about. Recent news reports suggest that, beyond making me smell like a girl, using girlie cleaning products had the potential to begin turning me into a girl. Really! Science says it's possible. Science!

The story is in today's Boston Globe, which reports that "Lavender and tea tree oils found in some shampoos, soaps, and lotions can temporarily leave boys with enlarged breasts." Eek! True, it was "in rare cases" and it happened to young boys, not to full grown men like myself, but it's still something to think about! "The suspected effect in this study is attributed to some chemical within the oils that the body processes like estrogen, the female hormone that promotes breast growth."

Interestingly, there is nothing in the article suggesting that the oils in question might have some effect on young girls as well. An oversight?

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I came home from school and Dan hadn't waited for me

"My mom recorded Heros for us."
"Well I watched it! Do you want me to tell you what happened?"
"No! Don't tell me! Well, unless it's not worth watching. Is it worth watching?"
"Do you want me to tell you?"
"No! Yes! I mean... Okay, well, just tell me who Claire's father is."
"Do you really want to know?"
"I don't! I mean i do! Okay, so just tell me: is her real father her fake father? Are they the same person? Wait! Don't tell me!!! Okay do tell me... i'll hold my breath..."
"No."
"Phew! That's a relief!"
"Do you want me to tell you who her father IS?"
"No!!! I want to watch it. Wait, do you want to tell me? ... You really want to tell me don't you?"
"It's Nathan Patrelli."
"NATHAN PATRELLI!!!!! Seriously?"
"Nathan Patrelli."
"Wow. I gotta go watch that episode."
"No, that's the only interesting thing that happened."

Stopping by a Mouse Hole on a Snowy Evening, by Rascal Archibald

Whose den this is, I think I know
I caught his scent three yards ago
Heíll not suspect my sneak attack
Burrowed beneath his house of snow.

My mommy seems to think itís queer
To hunt when sunset is so near
She doesnít know Iím bout to catch
The tastiest mousey of the year.

Earth clods and leaves fly everywhere
Mom gives a call, and I despair
Heís nowhere to be seen! The rat!
Heís gone, his tunnel now laid bare.

Your hole is fragrant, dark and deep,
But mommy pulls me by the leash.
And I have kibble left to eat.
And squirrels to catch before I sleep.

Economics is more pretty charts than numbers

The Spin teacher yells out the instructions for the next song:
"The first row will sprint for 20 seconds, and then they'll rest for 20 seconds, and then the second row will sprint for 20 seconds and rest for 20. And then we'll go again. So each group does 20 seconds of sprint, 40 seconds of rest."
"60 seconds." I yell.
"What?" He sdreams back over the music.
"60 seconds rest. 20 plus 20 plus 20 is 60," I bellow.
He nods in understanding although he hasn't heard a word i said. Headbanging music pounds our eardrums.
"Okay," he instructs. "Start in three seconds... two, three, one GO!"
"What does this guy do in his day job?" i ask Ashley later.
"Oh," she says, "He's an economist."

the bitter truth

I haven't mentioned anything about the weather for a while now, but I have to say, I'm about the only one to have shown such forbearance. See, it was warm here for the beginning of the winter, but now it got cold. And not just cold, "bitter cold". Circumstances have prevented me from attending to the television at all over the past week (except for Heroes, of course!) but Leah tells me that the tv news made a great deal of the cold weather, up to and including broadcasting a live report in front of one of those big bank signs that shows the temperature alternating with the time. Well, how else are they going to show cold on video?! I did happen to glance at the newspaper one or two mornings, and they also gave the cold "snap" prominent coverage.

Sure, it's colder than it was before. But really, if 20°F is "bitterly cold" then what do you call 5°? Oh sure, there's a little breeze, which allows the excitable news personalities to bring up the wind-chill too, but even then the wind-chill adjusted temperature is still above 0°. You know, that's a warm winter's day in Mongolia! Last time we looked it was the heat, and now this. Weather is fascinating to more than just me, clearly; though my fascination generally manages to involve significantly less panic.

Diet pills kill people.

It's not exactly ground-breaking news, folks, but now at least we know for sure. Diet pills kill people. I knew two women from TriYoga who died from diet pills, and that's just ONE form of yoga; i don't know how many Bikram students died from pills dash heat-stroke. Diet pills are like mini poison tablets that are somehow okay to sell in CVS because their claims have not been approved by the FDA. I'll say it again because fat women are deaf: DIET PILLS KILL PEOPLE!!! That, and america's insane obsession with thinness. Well, but mostly the pills.
J. Howard Marshall, if Jesus is wrong and you DO stayed married in heaven, someone is getting luuuucky tonight!!!!!! Way to go J.!!!!!

watch it, okay?

You know you're in trouble with your diet when you start lying to your online Weight Watchers portal. Like, those three cookies? They were pretty small, so i'll call them two cookies. If i don't, there'll be no more points to fit in that 18-oz glass of wine which i'm calling one serving. Hey, i put it in a BIG glass!

WW Online isn't even like a real person. I could enter my weight as 103 next week and the computer-generated algorithmic text would be like:
"CongraTUlations, LEAH, you have reAched Your goaL weigeht! keep wOrking hArd to maIntain yo'r acTivity and visIT a WEIGHT WATCHERS meeTing in yoUr ARea!"

Either that or it would be like:
"Suck it up, you big fat liar! Fibbing to the internet will not make your husband more attracted to your fat, lumpy ass. Straighten up and fly right, otherwise we're kicking you out of the club!!! And i KNOW about those cookies!"

Woah, Weight Watchers, that's harsh.

all set for another year

It was an epic struggle, but I finally managed it: my car passed inspection! This story is perhaps less funny that it could be if I made it up, but every word of it is entirely true, so I invite you to read it for that reason alone.

The effort started back in December, when I was already a month late, and I received the first (of many) setbacks when the poor vehicle was failed for two sensors tripped, four bad tires, and rusty windshield wipers. Leaving aside the ridiculous fact that having any sensors tripped fails you for emissions (what does having a broken fuel gauge sensor have to do with polluting the atmosphere?!), why do the authorities care whether my wipers are rusty?! They still worked fine, after all!

Nevertheless. After Christmas I took the car in for repairs, which were accomplished very efficiently and quickly by the fine folks at Shimansky Brake and Alignment in Lexington. Then I waited around for a while, having been told that some amount of driving is necessary to reset the sensors and allow for a retest. Who knows how long a while? And, I had other things to do. So give it a month or so.

Finally, I make it into the inspection shop again (I had to go back to the same place if I wanted my free retest). I'm confident, having enjoyed the last couple weeks of driving without a check engine light on in my car, a rarity for me throughout all my driving life. Imagine my surprise, then, when I hear that I failed again on account of that *#á£ï! light! Or rather, I would have failed, absent the kindness of the mechanic who aborted the test in order to give me another free try. The problem, he told me, was the same old fuel gauge sensor. Which had never gone on before (since being fixed), and which never went on again after that!!. Why was this happening to me?! Lesson learned: do not attempt inspection with less than a half-tank of gas.

Long story short, I tried again later but the inspector fellow was just off to lunch; the next time the inspection machine was broken for the day; the next time the line was too long and I had to get to school. Not funny, but all true. Happily, the sixth time was the charm, for this afternoon I finally passed. Now I don't have to go through all that for another 11 months.

"I'm liking that orange," I said to the mechanic when my car finally emerged triumphant. (The 2007 stickers are orange here in MA).

"It's a good look for it," replied he, who had shared my pain.

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grad school is like high school

My class started at 8:30, and because that's an ungodly hour to be at school, i showed up at 8:31. Good think my group members saved me a seat, i thought. Oh no wait, they didn't! The back row is totally full!
Thanks for saving me a seat, bitches. You are totally not going to benefit from my awesome powerpoint skills. From now on, i'm going mediocre!

spudwreckers

How do people generally manage to keep potatoes for any length of time without them going bad in some way? I was under the impression that they were supposed to have a considerable shelf life; isn't the idea that you harvest them before winter hits and then feast on them all winter? I would love to feast on the ones I harvested from the grocery store, but sadly they're all growing sproutsósome of them have reached a length of several inches! I'd just cut off the eyes from the ones that've barely sprouted, but I'm told that they're actually poisonous at that stage. It has something to do with their relation to deadly nightshade, I'm sure. I'd hate to be cut down in my prime by a poison potato, so I decided discretion is the better part of valor and made broccoli instead. Now all that's left is to dispose of the approximately seven pounds of bad spuds we have in various places around here and procure a new bag for further storage experiments. Any suggestions?

please officer, I can explain!

There was a little choral festival at church this afternoon (at which my wee choristers sang divinely, of course). The best part of the whole deal was the reception afterwards, which featured food andówith a special dispensation from the rectorówine. There was some wine left over, and since we're not ones to let good wine go to waste we offered to take a bottle home. As Leah had to go over to a friend's house to do some stamping (which is not related to clog dancing, I discover to my disappointment) I was deputized to take the spoils home; unfortunately from the point of view of strict legality, the bottle had already been opened. I was mildly concerned, but Leah told me it would be no problem. She also told me the bottle would be fine lying on its side, because the cork was in good and tight. I put it on the back seat, because, well, I thought that looked a little better than carrying it in my lap.

Unfortunately, I had to stop the car somewhat suddenly at a light, and the precipitous deceleration propelled the bottle off the seat onto the floor. I was concerned about it spilling entirely, but I couldn't reach it without removing my seatbelt; once I did so and grasped the bottle, I noticed that, while the cork was still firmly in place, a fair amount of wine had escaped in the commotion and was dripping down the neck of the bottle and, now, my hand. So there I was, driving with one hand, with my seatbelt off, clutching a nearly full bottle of wine with wine dripping from my hand. And there had already been a police roadblock in our neighborhood all afternoon!

I made it home safely, of course. Still, that was enough excitement for a whole week!!!

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the big problem with going to the beach in the winter

Sand in your mittens. Really! Leah will post a picture or two tomorrow. Of our beach outing, that is, not the sand in my mittens.

long distance relationships

Ashley: "I don't know if I should go visit this guy in Alaska, I mean, if he only wants me to go for sex. Like, is it bad to accept a trip to Alaska if it's only in exchange for sex?"
Leah: "You're not the first women in history to ponder this question, Ashley. That's why they call it the oldest profession."
Ashley: "I mean, all the way to Alaska! That's a long booty call!"
Leah: "At that distance it's more of a booty HAUL! And then when you get up in the tundra, a booty MUSH."
Ashley: "I know!"
Leah: "Gives whole new meaning to the term: I-did-a-rod."

overheard at the gym

It amazes me when i witness a touching moment of true humanity: a moment that proves that, deep down in our hearts, we are all fundimentally the same. This morning at the gym was one of those moments.

client: "I only really got into Lost in the second season."
trainer: "OH MY GOD! ME TOO!!!"
client: "I wasn't watching it, but then all my friends were watching it and they told me to watch it!"
trainer: "OH MY GOD, THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED WITH ME!!!!! THAT IS SOOOOO FUNNY!!!!!
client: "Really? What a coincidence."
trainer: "OH MY GOD, THAT'S SO FUNNY!!!!!"

Subject: Application for the post of [a work-related position I posted on Craig's list]

"Hi!!

This is according to your posting on leading site for the above mentioned vacancy, I put forward my application for the same...

Looking forward to your earliest meeting I thankyou in anticipation for providing me the opportunity of proving my services to be an assset to the organisation.

If I am given a chance to serve in your organisation I shall spare no pains to justify your selection by my sincerity and honesty. I think the personal interview will be the bridge for you to know me better.

Thanking you
Yours faithfully
[some guy from India]"

an ad for paid bloggers really brings em out of the woodwork

Leah didn't mention it in her previous post, but the position in question is one that involves getting paid to write blog entries! No, they're not paying her for writing: why would they, when the internet knows you can get her posts here for free?! But that she's involved in all is a sign that she's really arrived in the blogging world. After all, isn't getting paid for this everyone's dream, and the reason we all ever got started blogging? Certainly, the only time Leah's dad (hi Ira!) every mentions the squibix family blog to us it's only to ask if we've started making any money off it yet. I believe he thinks we should be running ads. Not yet, but don't worry, if the readership gets high enough I've got a design in the works with plenty of room for banners, skyscrapers, and IMUs. I might even be prepared to deal the naming rights, if I hear a tempting offer! The squibix family blog, presented by Starbucks®? The Subways® squibix family blog? Awesome!

Happy Beach Day!

Sometimes you wanna be where you can see the troubles are all the same. You wanna go where everybody knows your name.

What? No you donít! Who on earth wants that?! Itís like, ìHey Leah, whine whine whine, These are my troublesÖ.î BLECH! Screw that! No, when Iím feeling a little blue I like to go somewhere elseÖ. The Ocean!

a picture (sorry, that's all we got for now)

Because Dan and I had a rough week still being married to each other, we decided to take a short trip to the seaside to clear our heads. That, and to give Rascal enough exercise for the next millennia.

Rascal loves both the beach and the snow with a passion all encompassing. I think itís because both surfaces represent his favorite two activities combined: Running and Digging. If you were to put a microphone to his brain, I believe it would sound something like: ìDIIIIIIIIIGGGG! Dig dig dig dig dig dig dig! Run Run Run Run Run Run DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGG!î

Before I had children, and by children I mean Rascal, I didnít understand how people could live their entire lives vicariously through their kids. Like, ìDisney World was soooo much fun; little Jimmy just adored its-a-small-world-after-all he made us go on it fifteen times!î And Iíd be like, ìfun? Did the birthing experience also include a frontal lobotomy?î

But going to the beach with Rascal and watching him frolic in the sand reminded me that, yes, life is so plain that watching a hound try to catch seagulls in his mouth can make you totally forget that all you got on Valentines Day was an e-card.

Bye-Bye beach. See you next time!

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A candid conversation with the woman from online banking, demonstrating the current zeitgeist

"Hi, i'd like to add my husband to my savings account, and i'm doing it online. What is this contributed-gift column?"
"That's if you'd like to give him money."
"Oh no, i don't want to do that."
"You bet you don't! Husbands are for giving YOU money!"
"You got it."
"Anna Nicole Smith had it right. She did it the right way."
"She was an inspiration to us all."

skiing the dog

It finally snowed here, on Valentines day in fact. We only got about eight inches, but it's thick and heavy enoughóand with quite a crust from the ice pellets that ended the stormóthat when we tried to walk Rascal in the woods the next day, it was a bit more effort than we like to put in when we're not at the gym (which means ever, for me). So the next day we did things right, and brought out the skis. Then we could glide over the snow with ease and comfort (relative comfort for Leah, who needs new ski boots); even better, we could finally almost keep up with Rascal! Without having to wait up for us as much he was able to run even moreóadd to that the fact that he doesn't have skis and so puts his feet through the crust with every third step.

Actually, it's kind of funny to watch: he's just light enough that he can stay on top of the snow if he treads lightly, but if he runs, or tries to traverse a sunny spot where the snow is softer, he drops right through. This gives him kind of an ungainly motion, as you can imagine. And then the crust itself is pretty slippery, so he has his problems up on their too. I thought it might sour him a little on snow, heretofore his favorite unusual thing to appear covering the ground, ever, but it doesn't seem to have at all. So much the better: we like our puppies tired!

crawfish stuffing

Leah's parents are gone to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and in honor of their trip we went out for some Cajun food of our own. Well, Tex-Mex/Cajun anyways; that's about as close as you can get in snowy New England. We didn't have any crawfish either, if you want to be precise about it. Leah mentioned the possibilityóthey were certainly on the menuóbut they seem a little too bug-like to be entirely wholesome to me, even compared to your common run of crustaceans. We did stuff, though, so that part of the title at least is correct.

stuffed... with spam!

My goodness, the spambots like reading about crawfish! I have to say, it's kind of discouraging sometimes to be constantly battling these pointless spam comments, many of which don't even help the spammers because there's currently no way for folks to include links in comments, and even if there were it would be in a way that they haven't tried yet. Plus, I'm now blocking any comment that includes the string "href", so that really cuts down on their linking attempts (my apologies to any humans who had a comment blocked for that reason, but I bet it hasn't happened to anyone yet!). The most annoying are the comments that appear in closed topics. How do they do that?! Clearly, the fact that it happens (though only in a few topics, since I fixed the obvious hole) means that the SBS is not quite ready for prime time.

I'm getting paid to play with WordPress these days, so maybe I'll manage to pick up a few tricks from the fine folks developing that ever-so-complicated platform. I hadn't really heard of it before, and I can't imagine why; it's loads better than Movable Type, and completely free too. But I'm glad I didn't, because if I had I'm sure I would have used it instead of making this little machine here. And this was alot of fun, and continues to be. There's something to be said for making something yourself: then you're sure you know what all the parts do! Most of the time, anyways.

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APA? They should call it gay PA

This APA format is the most pathetic thing I've ever seen in my life! Psychologists must be a bunch of pedantic bores without an ounce of aesthetic sense. I'd write more, but I'm very tired and I'm not yet done double-spacing my paper. The bibliography too, mind!

I don't miss Movable Type

I do, however, miss the times when I didn't have to deal with, or even think about, its terrible templates. All that 'rebuilding' is bad enough, and the default page structure is even worse. All those nested divs, and none of them closing until the end!! It's enough to give you nightmares.

Short, semi-coherent, complaining posts. That's all you're gonna get until I have time to pause and get some sleep.* And you're gonna like it!**

*If that ever happens.

**Or at least quietly put up with it for a couple days. Please?

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SNOOZR

OMG, it's been like so totally long since i rapped a'chall! So much to say! Well, okay so first of all that total hotty finally asked me to the dance...

oh no wait. this is my GROWN UP blog. Um, i guess i gotta write like grown-up news. Hmm, the stock market plunge yesterday? That totally sucked, right? And, oh, my hair? Still brown.

Britney Spears, eh? Wow.

Last weekend Dan and i were entering the front door of a local eatery, and as this other couple walked out of the door i overheard the woman saying, "You know, I really wanted to cut my nails before I came out. I don't know why I forgot." People, it was like i was looking into a fun-house mirror. THAT'S US! i thought. Sharing the most booring possible details of our daily lives? because there is really nothing more interesting to talk about? Wow, it was like looking at myself in five years. Except, like, if we lived in a bizarro world where we ate an hour earlier.

In all seriousness, there is a lot of stuff going on in our lives, like a bajillio-million hours of homework. But if all i talked about on this blog was significance of r-squared in clinical trials, you guys would be like: OMG! snooooze-fest! Except for you Becky. (Hi Becky! My R-square is above .5!!!)

Boycott Movable Type!

Yes, Ben and Mena are cuteóat least, I guess it's cute that they're married and have this big successful new-internet company and all. But taken on it own merits, their company has issues. I mean, the company they run, not the company they keep. I mean, I'd be happy to have them over for dinner or something, I guess; they're fine company I'm sure. Er... But I can't complain too much about their product, and specifically their product's tendency to put two or even three <div>s around every element in the html it produces. And even worse! They're not even around the elements, they... Oh wait. What's that you say? I can complain too much about this? And I am, in fact, doing so now? Well then, don't click on that little link right below this text!

What they do to, for example, a simple post is as follows:

<div class="post">
  <div class="post_body">
    Post Header
    <div class="entry">
      <div class="entry_body">
      Post text blah blah blah
      <div id="more_text">
        I'll leave out the extra div wrappers; you can imagine them all there.
        <div class="post_footer">
          Some links and junk go here
        </div>
      </div>
    </div>
  </div>
</div>

That's not an exaggeration, I don't believe; it's actually even worse than that. I just got wicked board of formatting indents with the space bar. WHICH THEY DO TO!!!!! It's because their whole system is designed to be edited in a web browser, like this post. Which suggests that they want it to be editable by people who don't know how to, I don't know, use ftp. So why do their tags look like "<$MTEntryDate format="%x %X"$>"?! I have it on good authority that dollar signs and percent signs in the same tag are very intimidating to non-programmers. They sure are to me!!

Just in case you thought I was exaggerating about the not-closing-divs-til-the-end thing, I present you a real-life example from a template I happened to have up in my other browser window. It's the end of the master archive template, if you're keeping score at home.

                        </div>
                     </div>
                  </div>
               </div>
            </div>
         </div>
      </div>
   </div>
</body>
</html>

Really. Could that possibly be a fragment of semantic markup? The answer, is no.

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