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consolation prize

Well, at least we had a nice party...

my 2 c's

I had a long long well-argued post about the pitfalls of attempting to export a nepotism-based "democracy" to the rest of the world, but I couldn't make it sound un-bitchy, so i will just say this:


VOTE OBAMA TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Watch this video, and see if your heart is still full of darkness afterwards.


This morning we walked through the rain to our local place of polling to cast our votes for the candidate of change, Barack Obama. Change is relative in the political process, you see. I was surprised to see only one sign-holder outside showing support for her candidate, but I suppose the wet weather kept the rest of them away. I was also surprised, as I am every time, that all you have to do to vote is walk in and tell them your name and street address. It warms the cockles of my heart that such an innocent process is still allowed in this day and age, and shows that there might still be hope for our democracy after all.

fat of the land

Traditionally our church has held a pancake supper every Mardi Gras or, as we Anglicans call it, Shrove Tuesday. For some reason this year it didn't come off, or if it did nobody told us about it. So instead we had a little do here at home with a couple of friends. After six pancakes and three strips of bacon, though, I wasn't quite full, and neither was Alan. And you can't have guests going hungry, especially when it's your religious duty to fatten up! Pancakes were done out, so I mixed up some biscuits and scrambled eggs and we made another half-dozen strips of bacon for bacon and egg sandwiches. Then, in a stroke of genius, Alan came up with the idea of making gravy from the bacon fat. It was delicious poured over the sandwiches. My blood feels clotted with grease.

We're going to bed now instead of waiting up for the election coverage, because we can't stand to witness another crushing blow to our hopes and dreams. Two in three days is two too many. America, where is your hope?! Your optimism?! Maybe California will turn things around, but we won't know because we'll be asleep. I guess if you want change you have to make it yourself. Just like with bacon gravy!


some books are bad

I keep a list of what I read, which is nice because otherwise I never remember. The only problem is, I only note down books that I actually finish, which leaves a big hole in the record-keeping for those volumes which I find to be substandard. Now, a book has got to be pretty bad for me to abandon it: I read quickly, so it's not a huge investment to push through a tome of questionable quality in the hope that it might get better in the end. But some are just stinkers. For the record, I would like to note that Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream is one of these.

It's not just because I hate women (a sentiment engendered by this Hillary Clinton business) that I don't think that the primary response to the terror attacks of September 11th was that of anti-feminism. Faludi does. In fact, she can apparently think of nothing else, cherry-picking quotes from several years of newspaper articles published across the country to convey, for example, the idea that men reacted to 9/11 by reviving images of the frontier days. In one paragraph, natch. When you have to try that hard it's not really convincing. It's too bad, because I was really hoping to read a thoughtful account of the real national response to 9/11, which was of course to sacrifice a great deal of liberty in return for what has perceptively been called "security theater." Oh well. This book wasn't it. At least I only wasted fifteen minutes on it.

results of a day spent tweaking layouts

I think I've discovered the secret to cross-browser css compatibility. No more hacks, no more *>html or voice-family or /*//*s (who can remember how that last one is supposed to go?!). No, the solution (which I'm sure thousands of people already found before me) is to absolutely position everything you can, and test in IE7 and Firefox. Then use conditional comments to target IE6, and give it an entirely different stylesheet. The absolute positioning "top" number needs to change by 359px? Who cares why! Just guess at numbers until it looks the way it should! A single minute devoted to trying to figure out what the IE6 renderer is trying to do is a minute too many.

That's all. Oh yeah, also watch out for floats, negative margins, and padding on elements with defined widths. And z-index.


I did not eat well today. Because of my failure to go to the grocery store, there was no milk or orange juice for breakfast. No bread, because I didn't manage to bake any. Can't make biscuits because of no milk. I thought I'd come up with a perfect solution in oatmeal (made with water) and tea, but the oatmeal turned out to be infested with gross worms and their disgusting eggs, and when the tea was brewed I realized that there wasn't any milk to put in it. Disaster. Leah was very kind and patient with me, as she ate her yogurt and banana. Unfortunately, I can't manage eating plants that early in the morning. In the end, graham crackers and peanut butter with milkless tea made a surprisingly satisfactory breakfast.

Needless to say, I visited the store today and we are now well-stocked. No more oatmeal, however, until we can pick up some good solid bug-proof containers to keep it in.

we're giving up church for Lent

I don't know why people don't do it more often, honestly! Our rector announced that the parish would be using more traditional forms of worship during the Lenten season. Considering that anything more traditional than what we were using previously might have to involve Latin, that doesn't sound too exciting to us. Combine that with her additional request that people consider coming 15 minutes early every Sunday to allow the pre-service interval to be a time of quiet contemplation, and you have what is technically known as a bad scene. In light of that, we decided that our spiritual practice would be better served by worshiping at home; because really, you don't get much in the way of props from God if you spend the whole service seething about how poorly things are being run.

Lest you think us the worst sort of heathens, however, it is worth noting that we did sing with the church choir in a festival yesterday afternoon. Also, we're considering breaking our Church-going fast to check out the Methodists next Sunday: they have an awesome choir!


no news is good news

Well, we finally built up enough indignation over its coverage to cancel the Boston Globe: Leah got so angry as I read her a story about the Maine primary that she called right up and told them she didn't want to see another issue of their stinking rag. She said the gentleman she spoke to on the phone was quite nice! The result, naturally, was no paper this morning. So far we are surviving.

While the immediate cause of our annoyance (or fury, in 50% of cases) was the perceived pro-Clinton slant of reporting, it was only the last in a long string of strikes against the paper. There was also the price—$30 a month isn't small potatoes to poor folk like us—and the general lack of applicability to our lives of anything the paper had to offer. Really, their audience is well-off, urban-focused older people, which are three things that we very much are not. Well, I suppose we're older than some, but you know what I mean. We're young at heart, gosh-darnit, and we're not interested in reading about expensive wines or Italian vacations or retirement homes or incontinence treatments or whatever is all the rage these days with the boomer set. Also, there's the environmental impact.

So yes, we are now free of the morning paper and we'll have to talk to each other at breakfast. Or read school work and The Economist respectively, like we did this morning.

another musical effort from the Democratic primaries

Displeased with all the excitement the Yes We Can video brought to the Obama campaign, some Clinton supporters decided to record a music video of their own. The Economist "Democracy in America" blog told me about it. It's really something. All I can think is these folks took that bridge right back to the 20th century and brought us a production from 1983 or so.

Certainly, the Gene Wang Band is no will.i.am, and Mr. Wang does not have Mr. am's production capabilities nor his celebrity acquaintances. Still. Is this the kind of image you want from your president, America? It's just embarrassing.

the V stands for Very yummy

To celebrate Valentine's day today, Dan made a delicious feast of French toast and eggs, and we walked the dog together... twice!!! Then we worked one our respective computers and I went to a class at school and also to the gym and Dan went to babysit. So, you know, like every day except with delicious egg-soaked bread!

No, i kid, it was very romantic. Dan bought me flowers and i made him an embroidered pocket kerchief, and he cleaned the living room for me and i cleaned the kitchen for him, which is how you say "i love you" when you're a grown up and you tend to leave your alloted rooms all messy. Also, Dan made me a card with some very elegant cut-outs of flowers on it, and he wrote on the card, "My love for you grows and grows," and even though i think maybe he wrote that after he decided to cut cut-outs of flowers to find something to say that matched the flowers, i think it was just about the sweetest thing he could have wrote on a card. Because my love for him grows and grows too. Like every day. It's like the magic of being married.

Happy Valentines day single losers!!!! Enjoy your care-free promiscuity while you can!!!!!!

I'm still not voting for her, though

The internets did some research on that "Hillary for You and Me" song I wrote about the other day, and came up with a link to more examples of Gene Wang's oeuvre. I was disappointed to find that none of the tracks listed at that site came anywhere near "Hillary for You and Me" for sheer smooth funk awesomeness—none of them, of course, except "MVP is H-O-T", which is just the same song with different words. Words that are, apparently, about cell phone coverage? I don't know. I suppose that's the original, but it still can't top "our planet's getting hot/ but our global warming plan is not". Jim Morrison, move over: there's someone here to take your crown as the greatest American poet of our times.

"Education, health, and world affairs/ Hillary is the one who cares." Pure genius!

Do I need to mention that this song has been running through my head nonstop for two days now? No, I do not.


Boys Ruehl!!!

This evening we had an exciting night out... to the mall and then the supermarket!!! Well, that's about our speed. And actually, even the mall was a bit too fast for us! Walking away from the food court ($8 Chinese food - what a rip!) we passed a new store whose staging looked straight out of Disney's MGM... A replica facade of a New York City apartment building, complete with wrought-iron railing and three separate address plates! Red brick and everything. Right there on the second floor of the Burlington mall!!!

Turns out the new store is called Ruehl, from the fine Abercrombie & Fitch company which also brought us Hollister. You may remember that Hollister is the fine establishment which surprised our mall experience last year by turning a corner of the bottom floor into a Jamaican Cabana. Not unlike Abercrombie, they make slutty tank-tops for girls with a-cups. And short skirts in plaid and khaki. And boy button-downs wrinkled just enough to give off that special i-just-f——-your-sister look.

After running through the rows of t-shirts in this fake New York loft, beneath the BLARING techno music, I asked the bellboy... er ... greeter... if this Ruehl was owned by the Abercrombie company. Yes, he informed me, the brand portfolio goes in this order: Hollister for pre-teens, Abercrombie for teens through 25, and Ruehl for 25-35 assholes who like ripped khakis and layered t-shirts (actually, that last descriptor I threw in myself; the sales guy was very nice and helpful, except that we really had to stand out in the hallway to have a conversation over the music.) Well fair enough Abercrombie brand managers, although on our way out of the mall we saw three late-twenty-somethings sporting t-shirts with the Hollister logo... guess they didn't get the message that they were supposed to move up the brand hierarchy.

After browsing Ruehl's web property, i discerned no noticeable difference between the actual garment products sold in either of the three stores (Hollister -> Abercrombie -> Ruehl), other than relative the age of the models engaged in various stages of sexual foreplay. (Um, Ruehl, your new target demographic is adults... we've already HAD sex enough times to be not impressed.) As for the produc, all i have to say is Abercrombie corp, if your offerings of mens pants consist only of pre-ripped jeans and plaid shorts, you are NOT targeting clothes to grown-ups. Unless your graduated frat-boys now work in the New York porn industry. In which case, way to go!!!


non compost mentis

We have a compost problem here in the squibix household. Namely, while we are committed to composting we are less committed to walking out to the compost machine in the cold cold winter air. It would be bad enough if we remembered to take it out during the day, but I never seem to be cleaning the kitchen until after dark, when I am even less inclined to want to fight through the raspberry thorns that grow around our patent composter. Then there's the problem of getting the lid of the thing—typically, it's frozen shut. And if you manage to prise it off, you're faced with the increasing mass of vegetable matter that is failing to degrade due to the low temperatures. So at the moment our cute little kitchen compost pail is full, as is a bowl I put next to it to take overflow... and we still keep producing compost! It does smell a little. All this is my fault, but for next winter Leah is in charge of installing an indoor composting system, so we won't have to worry about this vexing compost conundrum any longer.

fast food failure

We're getting a new McDonalds down the street. There was one there before, but they tore it down and put up a new one in its place, a new one much fancier than what it replaced. Even without any landscaping besides the dirt humps left by the construction crews it shines from its spot between the Shell Station and the motel like a gleaming beacon of generic American culture, a shrine to what makes this country great. And we want to go eat there, yes we do. We tried this evening, but it turns out the people I had seen moving around inside were just workers and employees training, and the restaurant is not yet open to the public. So we went to Know Fat instead, and it was Not The Same. While there are certainly good things about that place, it isn't a shrine to anything besides taking a good idea (healthy, vaguely hippyish fast food) and killing it by trying to make it the next big thing. There is such a thing as too much test marketing.

On the other hand, it was awesome to eat fast food without producing any trash at all, besides one small paper napkin. I shared Leah's, when she was done with it. It occurs to me that I can carry a handkerchief for such purposes, and I just might. Leah made me one for Valentines day, but it's much too beautiful to be used to wipe off french fry grease.


Family and family

Happy Birthday Judy!!! Well yesterday, actually, but we got home at a wopping 9:30, and that's past our bed time. David took us all out to the fancy eatery Lex (formerly Aesop's bagels!) and as always, both Dan and I ate more delicious oil and fat than we're accustomed to in our monk-like daily living. We ordered appetizers of clams and cheese-fries (fancy cheese fries, it was a fancy restaurant!) and I ate gnochi pesto, and also all of Dan's brocollini because he said "I can't eat vegetables when I'm eating a steak soaked in bacon!!!" And them some yummy cake that Dan made. And also the drinks. Ha ha, Lent! You lose!!!

When we got home, Rascal was so happy to see us that he didn't want to leave our side and snuggled up right between us in the bed. (He thinks he's people!) I said to Dan, "I know we might have wanted to do OTHER THINGS in the bed this evening, but I don't want to move him now that he's all snuggly like this."
Dan: "It's a hard decisions. I mean, I want to seize any opportunity..."
Leah: "Which is more rare: both of us having sexual desire at the same time, or the dog cuddling at the head of the bed?"
Dan: "Well, he is really cute."

In conclusion, Happy Birthday Judy! It may take you a while to get grand kids out of us, but we've almost taught the dog to drink out of a sippy cup! We have to fill it with runoff from the tuna fish can, but you get used to the smell quickly.

the latest craze

Since I took them out while babysitting on Friday I've been spending alot of time building with my legos. The results so far include only sore fingers and perhaps a little too much time stolen from proper work, but I expect that a finished product (and pics of same) will be forthcoming presently.

cold comfort

As I think I've mentioned before, our house here gets the coldest at the borders between seasons. Not that spring is around the corner, but yesterday was warm enough that we had the door open downstairs (and, naturally, the heat off). Then it got cold at night, outside and inside too. Leah woke up early to go to a 6:00 am class at the gym, and I stayed in bed and pulled the covers over my head. I find that that is only necessary when the temperature in the bedroom drops below 55°, and indeed it was around 52° when I finally worked up the courage to leave my cozy cocoon. Our pioneer forefathers had to deal with water in their washbasins freezing overnight, so we still have a ways to go before we can be said to have measured up to their inspiring example, but I think we're getting there!

And, I baked bread today. Just like the pioneers did. Except using the electric mixer.


what makes a stick?

It is a commonplace observation that dogs enjoy chasing, and chewing on, sticks. Rascal is no exception. It occurs to me to wonder, however, what criteria does he take into consideration when deciding what separates a stick—worthy of notice, of pursuit, of prolonged destructive efforts—from the rest of the woody matter lying around the world? After all, our yard has no shortage of what might technically be called sticks, and the woods where we walk two or three times a day has thousands of times more. And yet he's never distracted by any of that.

The usual thing that, for Rascal, distinguishes what we might term a Stick from the rest of the sticks is, of course, that one of his humans picks it up. Now it's interesting! But there are other ways for pieces of broken branch to catch his attention: a Stick might be lying on top of the snow away from other debris, or protruding dramatically upwards from a larger piece of wood. More reproducibly, anything floating in or protruding from the water is fair game for considerable retrieval efforts, even if the object in question proves to be connected to the better part of an entire tree. Which is at least amusing to watch! And there may be other factors.

Clearly, more study is needed in this area. Perhaps we could charter a journal dedicated to examining it.

Barack Obama fixed your leaky sink

Did we already mention this website on the blog? I can't remember, but it was mentioned today on the economist blog, and also i thought of it as my neighbor Mike came over to fix our leaky sink (he's an actual plumber, not just a random guy who does stuff better than us around the house!) He's going to replace the faucet tomorrow with a new one, which is a big relief to my nerves, which are just about shot this week and can't handle the water-filled sponges piled up on the kitchen floor. You see, the sponges were under the sink in their new-sponge bag, and then the sink leaked from underneath, and then... guess what happened! Anyway, a good plumber is like a good presidential candidate. He comes into a rough situation and makes everything feel okay again. "Barack Obama smiled when I mentioned your name." That's my favorite one. That and "Barack Obama came to see your play" and "Barack Obama skated here all the way from the beach just to see you," but i can't seem to get that last one too often. Also, maybe even though it's a send-up of the reverent tenor of the movement, my simple human psychology can't help but smile when i click on a new one. Like "Barack Obama thought that you could use some chocolate." Oh, that's really sweet!

bonus day

It's late, but I didn't want this extra day to slip by without tooting my own horn by way of noting the forethought I showed by making the 29th day of February show up on the calendar over there to the left (too bad no one will see it before it flips over to March, unless you're up in the middle of the night refreshing your RSS). To celebrate we went into Boston to see Bela Fleck and Chick Corea at Symphony Hall, which was fun, except that the whole expedition took over five hours. Now we sleep.

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