Free-Floating Hostility

Monday, January 30, 2006

Epi Shack: Avian Flu in Iraq

Raise your hand if you're tired of reading about Influenza. Now put your hand down and sit on it. I'm going to be working this semester on adapting UC Berkeley's SARS Preparedness plan into a plan for pandemic Influenza. The consequence of which, for you, is that I'm going to be thinking about flu all the time, and will share a small fraction of my thoughts with you.

Here is a link to a Times story about a confirmed case of Avian flu in a human in Iraq. There is one more case whose remains are being tested. Michael shared with me while food shopping that that is how he believes Avian flu will come to the States, via military personnel. That showed me that my job as Epi Educator was not yet done, and here's why:

Avian flu is one particular strain of Influenza. As I've mentioned before, the difference between one strain and another has to do with our immune system's ability to recognize the virus. Viruses are mutating all the time, but if two mutants have the same two types of protein on their surfaces than from the point of view of our immune system, they are the same. We indentify them the same way, and we handle them the same way. [Aside: Those two surface proteins are called, respectively, a hemaglutanin and a neuraminidase, and it is for them that strains are systematically named. Avian flu is technically called H5N1, because its type of hemoglutanin was the fifth to be discovered, while its neuraminidase was the first (the same type of neuraminidase on the strain that caused the 1918 pandemic).]

Avian flu isn't the only strain with the potential to cause a pandemic, but it's dangerous for several reasons. First, almost the entire human population is naive to it, meaning we don't have any immunity either individually or at the population level. Second, it is virulent, which is to say its symptoms are no picnic and it has a high mortality rate. Third, we know it has the ability to infect humans. The good news is that as yet there has never been a case of H5N1 being passed from one person to another person, which is why Michael's theory about Gulf War veterans spreading the flu isn't likely unless they have intense contact with birds. The hundreds of people (which, considering, is still a low number) who have contracted Avian Flu since it first appeared in humans about a decade ago all got it directly from animals. Thus prevention focuses on vaccinating birds, not people, despite the fact that a human vaccine is available (more good news). In order to start a pandemic, the H5N1 strain would have to mutate into a form that made it transmissable from person to person. So far, so not-the-worst, unless you happen to be one of the people who has died from this strain, like 15-year-old Shengeen Abdul Qadr.

The farther the strain spreads in birds, the more people can potentially be exposed. As I have mentioned, near-perfect international cooperation is required to contain an outbreak. The people at greatest risk are those who work or live with poultry, and those people are typically from poor countries. It happens to be in the interest of rich countries to help in this situation, but that's not always smooth sailing, especially in a war zone. Mass vaccination and culling of sick birds is in order in Iraq. But what about the rest of the world? So far we haven't succeded in containing Avian flu in the countries where it first originated. That means it may pop up somewhere else soon. Disease surveillance in this case means keeping good data on how many birds have the strain and where they are before any people in that area get infected, and that, too requires international cooperation.

So the agricultural poor in unstable countries are the most vulnerable right now. The rest of the world is only as vulnerable as they are.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at February 01, 2006 4:32 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Michael's fear about gulf war veterans spreading flu is not completely ahistorical. The 1918 flu is widely thought to have been spread by soldiers not yet domobed from WW I. Whatever population is at ground zero when or if the virus mutates for human to human transmission will be the vector. There's no special reason to fear the middle east, which is only now getting the virus in birds, and bird to people.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

And Speaking of Frames of Reference

We actually peruse Nobody's Perfect on a regular basis, generally reading out loud the way families of yore used to read the Bible. Some number of years ago I was searching the Table of Contents for something new, and I offered to read aloud Anthony Lane's feature on Edward Lear.

"Who's Edward Lear?" asked Michael.
"Oh, you know," I said, as I do far too often.
"No, actually I don't."
"Yes you do. The one with the verses."
"Yeah, you know, those horrible Victorian verses that all go, like, 'Nigel fell down a chute and died, that's what you get.'"
"They go what?"

If it is not immediately obvious, I had confused Edward Lear with Edward Gorey. What is less obvious is what I was hoping to convey by "Nigel fell down a chute and died/that's what you get." When I actually looked up "The Gashlycrumb Tinies" whatever the fuck that means, I was able to show Michael that Edward Gorey wrote, among other things, an illustrated catalogue of 26 alphabetically named children who die in couplets. An example of which: "S is for Susan who perished of fits/T is for Titus who flew into bits." N, it turns out, is not for Nigel who fell down a chute but for Neville, who died of ennui.

What we know about Edward Lear we have learned from Anthony Lane.

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  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at January 29, 2006 6:58 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Do you guys read the ads which come up at the bottom? I hope that my clicking on the ads gives you money.

    A website for christian singles.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at January 30, 2006 12:14 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I went to Edward Gorey's house on Cape Cod this past summer. It was interesting, actually, and they had a lot of his possessions (including a skull!) on display. If you're ever in Yarmouth (sounds like a place where pirates would live, Yarrrrrmouth!), I recommend it.

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Who says Feminists aren't Funny?

"Who is Germaine Sodding Greer, actually?" Michael asked me this morning from underneath a bath towel as he wiped shaving cream out of his ear.

He wasn't being emphatic; that's the only way we refer to Ms. Greer, thanks to Helen Fielding. In the original Bridget Jones' Diary, Bridget's Mum defensively RSVPs in the negative to lunch at Bridget's flat saying, "I'll be alright on my bloody own. I'll just clean the house like Germaine sodding Greer and the Invisible Woman," leading Bridget to conjecture, "Could she possibly, conceivably, have been drunk?" Without going on a tangent about how they normalized that character when making the movie, this is a small but apt example of the genius of Fielding's humor. We've been making jokes about Germaine Sodding Greer for five years now without either of us pausing to consider that, strictly, we didn't know Germaine Greer from Jermaine Jackson. I only reluctantly admitted she was not the same person as Greer Garson.

To find the answer to Michael's question, we turned to Wikipedia, everyone's favorite source of disreputable information. Once I realized Ms. Greer was the author of The Female Eunuch I was pretty well oriented, but the article on her was exquisite. A few highlights:

The Guardian reported that the writer Angela Carter described Greer as "a clever fool", while former British MP Edwina Currie called her "a great big hard-boiled prat". Christine Wallace used the terms "grooviness personified", "anachronistic passivity", and "hegemonic heterosexuality" to describe her subject, to which Greer replied that Wallace was a "dung-beetle" and "a flesh-eating bacterium".

In 2003, The Beautiful Boy was published, an art history book about the beauty of teenage boys, richly illustrated with 200 photographs of what The Guardian called "succulent teenage male beauty", alleging that Greer had reinvented herself as a "middle-aged pederast." [7] Greer described the book as an attempt to address women's apparent indifference to the teenage boy as a sexual object and to "advance women's reclamation of their capacity for, and right to, visual pleasure," (Greer 2003).

On April 23, 2000, Greer was taken hostage by Karen Burke, a nineteen-year-old student from the University of Bath who had been writing to Greer, and who eventually broke into her home in Essex, tied Greer up in the kitchen, and proceeded to smash up the contents of the house with a poker and rip the telephone from the wall. Dinner guests eventually found Greer lying in a distressed state on the floor, with Burke hanging onto her legs, shouting "Mummy, mummy".

In the course of my research, I also ran a Google search for "Germaine Sodding Greer." That led me, somehow, here. Apparently scanned off a library book from the University of Bergen, this pdf called "Kvinner til besvær: Feministiske diskusjoner og identifikasjons--potensialer i Bridget Jones og Ally McBeal" is just what you'd get if the Swedish Chef went back to Grad School for Women's Studies.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Wait until the Goverment Gets ahold of These Searches

Anna and I are currently watching Season 1 of Lost on DVD, which may or may not be better than Desperate Housewives. That's not important. Anyway tonight, Anna tried to find out more information on Jorge Garcia, the actor who plays Hurley. We learned that he is from Omaha and (most importantly) older than we are. But since he is vaguely Hispanic, she wanted to figure out exactly what his ethnicity was.

So it was on to Google, trying out his name and multiple countries in that are south of this country. After Mexican, Paraguayan, Ecuadorian, Nicaraguan, Cuban, Colombian, Salvadorean, Peruvian, Honduran, Venezuelan, Dominican, and Puerto Rican, she had run out of countries. Then it was a Google images search for a map of South America. I, helpfully, had been mocking Anna for much of this time.

"Have you tried Chilean?" I sneered.

We had a winner.

"See how much faster this would have gone if you had helped me instead of taking the piss?" she asked.

Point taken.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Looking Crazy Right in the Eye

Ron Artest has been traded to the Kings, which is good news for both the team and me. Because instead of Sacramento quietly swirling the drain it will go down in a blaze of batshit glory. I'm excited to be along for the ride. The Kings return from their current trip on Tuesday, and I'm already feeling the queasy anticipation of something completely fucking insane happening right in front of me. I'm not looking forward to having beer dumped on my work clothes, but I think this will be a pretty interesting couple of weeks.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More Pie!

The last time we saw Jesse, he offered us two pieces of constructive blog criticism. First, he doesn't like the acronym FFH, because he thinks it sounds like "Feh." Fair point, but convenience trumps aesthetics in this case. Second, he says we don't have enough pie charts. Well, here's a pie chart, copied from SiteMeter. It indicates that about 57% of our hits are from users of Internet Explorer, though it's hard to know how accurate that is. In any case, I am maintaining my position that anyone who insists on using IE gets what they deserve, but I understand that some of you are stuck with it--presumably not all 57% of visits were from random blog-hoppers. So, when I next get around to fiddling with the template I will return my attention to our discordant alignment issues. Ben kindly took some time off of dodging bombs in the dark (do check out that link to Ben and Alice if you haven't yet had a chance) to offer us some code, but unfortunately it wasn't the silver bullet. The first item on my fiddling agenda, however, will be to try modifying said code to suit my needs. I hope everyone will cut me some slack till then, even though my big problems are, like, abstruse genetics papers. Posted by Picasa

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at January 26, 2006 4:20 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • IE saves html pages as a single archive file, Firefox will not.

    IE will send a page as an attachment to an email message in Groupwise with a single click, Firefox will not. Although Groupwise sucks otherwise.

    Why browsers display differently is a subject of some interest to the Dodger. The Dodger wonders why Word lacks a utility to simple write in HTML.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at January 26, 2006 6:42 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • The last time I was in Jesse's brownstone (Petey was babysitting the kids) I ate some delicious apple pie. Funny, that.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Fly is Scraped from the Windshield of Justice

Today I was summoned for jury duty, and my conscience is still strong enough that I answered the call, even though it meant I had to miss my History of Epidemiology seminar with the sweetest man in the field, MD, MPH. I was late (thank you, Amtrak), and as I prepared to race across the crosswalk to the courthouse I was barked at by a uniformed man to stand back as they were transporting prisoners. I looked up, and there were about six guys ankle-cuffed to each other wearing honest-to-goodness striped suits. I was surprised that county prisoners needed such steep security, but what the hell do I know. They shuffled off and I made it just in time to miss a detailed rundown of courthouse parking.

My first observation was that I had found the one corner of Northern California in which people are really quite grumpy. Jurors, defendants, lawyers, security personnel were all in pissy moods. After some waiting the bailiff came for us and led us to the courtroom, which was clean, not too ugly and a reasonable temperature. The two attorneys were there, as was the defendant, though it took me a few minutes to cop on to the fact that he wasn’t just another lawyer, cause that’s how he was dressed of course. The clerk introduced herself and asked which of us needed the hearing aid, which, honestly, was a really stupid way to find out who needs a hearing aid. She made a phone call and then called to the deaf man by name. “Would you like a hearing aid, Mr. M___!” she bellowed. “I’m a little hard of hearing!” he bellowed back. She gave him the hearing aid.

We were sworn in, and then the judge appeared. He cracked a few jokes to warm up the crowd and I decided I liked him, especially when he said that this would be about a two-day trial, but couldn’t possibly go longer than four days because he was going to the Bahamas on Monday. I took an immediate dislike to the defendant, which is what made it so ironic that I was ultimately booted by the prosecutor. When he was introduced as Johnny S., he made a little combination wave and eyebrow raise as if to say, “This is such a waste of time.” He was accused of two counts, one of possessing a sawed-off shotgun, and one of threatening “grievous bodily harm” to his baby mama. I felt sorry for the Defense attorney, who was not far off my own age, and seemed like this could actually be his first case, maybe his third. The DA was thoroughly smug, making a big show of his efficiency, slapping his binder open and manipulating a forest of post-its on the jury chart.

At this point those who wanted to plead hardship were asked to raise their hands and the rest of us were recessed. By now I had decided I wanted to be on this jury, so I left. On my way out, Deaf Mr. M___ yelled, “What’s going on?”
“Could you hear?” asked the somewhat embarrassed guy next to him.
As a notorious buttinsky that was my cue to intervene. “If you have a hardship!” I roared, “You should stay here!”
“Hardship?” he asked.
“Hard! Ship!”
“I’m hard of hearing!” he explained.
“I see! I think you should stay!” I had been out the door less than a minute when I saw him leaving the courthouse.

After a forty-five minute break we returned and the first twelve jurors were selected. The judge explained some stuff, asked them questions like whether they have law enforcement officers in their families and then gave the lawyers a chance to do the same. After about three or four jurors had been excused I was called. It’s kind of funny to realize there’s a real transcript in existence somewhere, but here’s my best recollection of it.

Judge: Ms. Cash have you heard the questions I and the defense and the district attorney have asked the other jurors?
Me: I have.
Judge: If those questions were asked of you would you answer the same or similar?
Me: I would.
Judge: Ms. Cash, would you please state the information on the chart over there.
Me: Actually, Cash is my maiden name, and I’ve changed it [chuckling in the courtroom]. My name is now Anna Mirer, that’s M-I-R-E-R. I live in Davis, I’m a graduate student in Public Health at UC Berkeley, my husband is a sportswriter, I have no children and I’ve never served on a jury.
Judge: Do you know of any reason why you cannot be fair and impartial in hearing the facts of this case?
Me: No.
Judge: Okay, then, voir dire is to the defense.
Defense Counsel: Ms.—um--Mhyrr, what are you in graduate school for?
Me: Public Health. I’m pursuing a Master’s Degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
Defense Counsel: Mm-hmm. [Note: this is in fact the most common response to that information]. Do you belong to any organizations advocating for or against gun control?
Me: No.
[Some stuff happened here, but it was boring.]
District Attorney: Ms. Mirer, what are you planning to do once you get your degree?
Me: Um, well, assuming I don’t go for another degree which is actually what most people do in my program, I might work in like a county health department or state or something in research or—
District Attorney: Right. [Note: this is the most common response to my rambling about career plans] You have no opinion on guns?
Me: I wouldn’t say I have no opinion, but I think I can be impartial.
DA: Do you think, given that sawed-off shotguns are illegal, it should be illegal to have one.
Me: Yes.
DA: You want to say more.
Me: It’s just that coming from Public Health I’m aware that firearms in concentrated urban areas pose a public health threat, but I’m not personally comfortable with the idea of banning all guns.
DA: Hmm.

Anyway, to summarize, I believe this was the comment that got me thrown out. It was the defense’s turn to throw out the next juror, and he picked a woman whose husband was a retired highway patrolman and whose son had been convicted of battery (specifically hammering someone’s head). After the next juror was questioned, it was the DA’s turn to excuse someone and it took him fractions of a second to say, “I would ask the court to thank and excuse Ms. Mirer. Formerly Ms. Cash.” Smirk smirk.

In the hallway the cop’s wife and I did the I’m-okay-you’re-okay. We were both a little hurt to have been rejected. She apparently gets called every six months or so, but never gets chosen because either the defense objects to her law-enforcement husband or the prosecution objects to her criminal son, so she never gets credit and always gets called. She was very nice. As we were kibitzing, we watched as other rejected jurors made their way out. I am fairly sure the defense was trying to weed out Latino jurors because the victim was Latina and the accused was Black. I can’t prove it, but he did excuse two jurors who had said, literally, nothing more than to state their names and demographic information. In the meantime, someone who described his occupation as a Professional Witness and someone who said he might be biased because he’s an “avid hunter” were still sitting on the jury when the nice lady and I left. Hmph. All that because the DA didn’t like the look of me, or cause I talked too much about gun control, or didn’t think to give a nice zippy answer to my future plans like “disease research, sir.” Well, it’s all done now and I wish Johnny luck if he’s not guilty, which I suspect he totally is, although in fact I would have striven not to let that color my decision. I don’t think lawyers actually want critical thinkers on the jury, and it’s got me blue, bluer than I was when I found a jury summons in the mail.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Live on Animal Planet

I don't know how to operate the picture apparatus on blogger, so I'll just tell this brief story with Internet links. So we're watching a brief commercial for animal planet when they show an animal that looks like this.

My first reaction: Is that a chihuahua?

Anna insists it's not a possum, although that's what it looks like to me. Interestingly enough in my search for possum I found this page of squirrel recipes from Texas A&M. If you scroll down to the second picture on that page, you'll see that squirrels have enormous testicles. At the very least, enormous photoshopped-on balls don't look all that out of place on a squirrel.

Just figured I'd raise the tone in here.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

From the Feverish Brain of Easy Lola

My sister sent me this earlier in the week, but I haven't had time to post
it until now. Apparently we both imagine our parents living completely secret
lives. Queenie actually is in Damascus right now, which would certainly lend
some credence to the whole secret agent thing. I don't know if this interesting
to anyone else, but I thought it was pretty funny. It is also funny that Easy
Lola is working as a fundraiser, but I think you'd have to know her to
understand why.

So I have been sick, which has caused me to have really vivid dreams. And I don't know if it is the cough syrup or not getting enough
oxygen or what, but anyway in my dream last night I had uncovered the big family secret that you were never allowed to know. I don't know if you weren't allowed
to know because you are journalistically minded and would want to publish the
truth, although I guess in reality you wouldn't, say, expose the identity of a
CIA agent just to purport your own agenda. I digress.

The point of this is that infant the family business was that Fritz and Queenie (so aptly named that maybe you have known about the spy thing all along) were spies and I was about to discover the family business. Anyway I figure out that our whole lives have been frauds, and that when they "lived in Boston" that was code for went to a spy school that had some other fancy name that had been reduced to so many
different acronyms that they just jokingly referred to it as A (obviously for acronym and because if James Bond had Q they could have A).

So this all unfolds and they induct me into the family secret because it was either that or kill me and, well I suppose they really do like me because I was living. Dad and I were on a spy mission that put us on a train, as spy missions often do. When we got off the train in a station that looked like the Philadelphia art museum we were followed by two assassins who were actually one fellow I had gone to high school with who I will call Rabbi Stabby (for several reasons, first there are never any Jewish references in assigned names and second, he wanted to be a rabbi at the same time you thought about it). The other target was a guy who was a downtown Birmingham [Michigan] fixture that worked at Harmony House and then Lonestar with me who I shall call Shamus Brian Donellon but they just called him SBD on the streets.

So I spot them in the crowd before Fritz does. They are easy to see because SBD is dressed like the Unibomber, and, now that I think about it, Rabbi Stabby looked like an orthodox Rabbi minus the prayer shawl. So Fritz and I run out with Rabbi Stabby on our tails. We do the whole hide-behind-the-corner thing until he runs past us and we sneak attack, I grab Fritz's pistol and shoot him in the calf, which brings him down. And while Fritz holds him I grab Stabby's gun and wait for SBD. Then in true Tarantino fashion there was a scuffle and a good old-fashioned triangle, with the if-you-shoot-he-gets-it-than-you get-it-than-you-get-it standoff and so on. You've seen the movies. I don't know what happened next because I scared myself

So who knows, maybe the lives we've been living are totally untrue. But I thought you might be tickled by this. I would be more elaborate than I already have been but I woke up at 5 am.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

The Softer Side of FFH

We first noticed a roughly thumbprint-sized hole in our bedsheet (the fitted one) around a week ago. We continued using it, however, persisting in our shared denial until the hole looked like this. The situation might have gone on forever if I hadn't been first to call "not it," forcing Mike to take action and change the sheet or forever live as one shamed. Posted by Picasa

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Letter to My Editor

I mentioned David Horowitz in my Golden Globes post and, much like the Candyman, he seems to have resurfaced in my life. Or at least, he showed up in a four-column photo of him that ran on the front page of my newspaper. Horowitz's latest scheme, deemed newsworthy by the Associated Press, is to badger legislatures into enacting an "academic bill of rights," something that would stop professors in college classrooms from espousing their political views in that classroom setting.

According to this editorial, 15 state legislatures considered such a law, and none of them passed it. This shows uncommon good sense on the part state legislators, given that even if most college professors are pinkest of pinkos, it's probably not a good idea to pass laws regulating speech. Chastened, Horowitz and friends hatched another plan, hire students to tape record professors at UCLA in order to catch the teachers in question making such outrageous claims as "President Bush led us to war in Iraq using faulty intelligence," or "Al Gore actually won the popular vote in 2000."

I wish Horowitz well as he makes his rounds, but the "so-called" mainstream press really needs to stop taking him seriously. Because he's not serious. He gets on the news because he screams liberal bias, and the mainstream press, desperate to prove how middle-of-the-road it is, reports on him. And I'm sick of it. Because, hey, newsflash, professors get up in front of crowds and spout off. Lots of people do that. I could say the same thing about evangelical Christian ministers. This is a guy making a fundraising pitch, which works because there are a lot of people who agree that campuses are too liberal. This is bullshit. For the most part, academia is self-selecting. If more conservatives really wanted to be professors, there would be more conservative professors.

Horowitz has been obsessed with colleges since at least 2001, when the Spectator and a bunch of other college newspapers rejected his poorly-written ad decrying potential reparations for slavery. And these things have come once every six months since then. It's unhealthy. I imagine that Horowitz regularly shows up at Tom Wolfe's door begging to sniff his fingers. It's stopped being funny.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

FFH Becomes a Footnote in History

So here's something cool: yesterday the following comment appeared on an old post of mine from September in which I made offhand reference to my dad's army unit from World War II:
Dear Anna:
I was interested in your comment about your father's experience with the 108th General Hospital during World War II. The hospital was sponsored by the medical school of Loyola University Chicago. I am on the faculty of Loyola in Chicago, and the archivist and I are presently trying to complile a history of the 108th. We have located a few staff members who served with the 108th. In cases where staff members are deceased, their children or spouses have been able to share memories that have also been very helpful to us. If you or your father might be able to share some memories about the 108th General Hospital we would really appreciate your help. Please contact me at [address]. Thanks in advance for any information you might be able to provide. Karen
I checked her out and she's actually on the faculty and not, as I initially suspected, pushing a Ponzi scheme. So to my mind, this just proves that blogs are a really good idea and not, as some have suggested, a series of one-(wo)man circle jerks.

P.S. Mike wanted me to title this post "Oral History in the Hizz-ouse" but I refused.

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  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at April 12, 2012 8:47 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Louis J Schilling Jr an ambulance driver in wwII in France, he has since passed on 1976 at an age of 55, I wondered if anyone knew him of that era it would be wonderful to learn about him that way. I know he was flat footed and to get out of pushing paper he botched it up so he could work with the trucks and in the field and feel as he's doing his fellow man some good. He knew German and my brother said dad said he picked up a wounded German had him shut up in german they would be killed by the Americans thinking they were Germans, dad slugged him one to prove the point and he was used to get the men to talk to us while at the 108 ad helped many and his community and was post commander he started his post 3944 in Overland Mo. He was volunteer fireman in scouts and set up a tower as a drill for the troop. He was quite the man. An aura about him. I love and miss him so.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Day in Berkeley: Parking and Porno

For dull reasons involving lying in and comp time, I ended up spending the day in Berkeley. For much of the day I sat in the public health library, which is a nice quiet place to pump out a silly little feature I reported nearly a week ago. That mission was accomplished without much fuss.

Incidental things, like parking, turned out to be big productions. See, parking is at a premium in Berkeley, but we have found a lot that usually has spaces. I will not be telling anyone where this lot is, for obvious reasons. The real issue is expense. My initial purchase of four hours ($6) was not going to be enough, but I just had issues with pre-paying $10 for parking when anything could happen. Anyway, when I went back to lot to parking lot to buy more time, someone asked if I wanted the last 90 minutes of her time. Certainly I did, but I had already fed $5 into the machine. Simple. I'd just cancel it. But instead of giving the money back, it spat a receipt saying it owed me $5. There was a phone number above the machine, so I called it. They told me to come to the office. The office is a depressing place, and was full of students and staff straightening out their parking permits. So I wanted to redeem my coupon, which apparently is not a common request. The woman at my window had no clue how to do it. While I filled out my form, she planned her vacation to Vegas. In the end it all worked out, and feeling good about myself, I strolled back to the library up $5.

Between the door and study carrels were a bank of computers that were pretty much occupied all day with students checking their e-mail and doing adminstrative chores. But there was one guy who spent his time looking at I know this because of the big letters at the top of the screen and the naked asses staring out from his computer screen. I sort of admire the guy for being that brazen, saying "here I am, looking at porn on a public computer in front of everybody." On the other hand, gross.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

In Which I Evaluate my Performance in the Rudeness Olympics

If you have my home number, throw it away. I can't get rid of the line without axing the internet into the bargain, but I can turn off the ringer, or permanently unplug the phone and stomp on it. Probably that first thing.

The last straw was a conversation I had with a telemarketer. I really hate telemarketing, more than the usual amount. But, I make a point of being polite to telemarketers because I feel sorry for them. Also, because it's rewarding; if I just say "No, thank you," and "please put us on your Do Not Call list" they generally comply as per federal law and sometimes even thank me for not swearing at them. Whenever possible, I try to use their names so they'll know I really was listening. That's why I felt so hurt when things went to shit on the phone with Nadia tonight.

She called me. She called me! I did not ask for this conversation. I didn't even want to pick up the phone but I thought it was my mom. If I hadn't been worried about good manners I could just have hung up in the middle of her pack of lies. I would in fact have been within my rights to yell at her that my husband had already asked to be removed from her company's list, but I refrained (I had overheard said request, and as Mike was being simultaneously hounded through the earpiece to participate in a Ponzi scheme, and and encouraged via poking in the ribs to defend our consumer rights, his request was perhaps unclear).

Nadia was calling to say she was sending me free coupons. It is obvious to me that there is no need to call someone to tell them you're sending free coupons. I get free coupons from strangers all the time without prearrangement. I said I wasn't comfortable giving out my address, and she proved that she already had it. I asked where she got our number and she said it must have been from one of the shopping malls or grocery stores where we frequently shop. When I explained that we haven't been to a mall since Scott's wedding and we get our groceries at a food co-op, Nadia got short with me. When I asked her what the purpose of the call was she insisted on going through her script from the beginning, and then complained that I was interrupting her when I pointed out that she had called me and asked her what it was she wanted from me. Then I, to my discredit, got a bit short with her. A bit short. Nothing close to the kind of shortness I display when Scott farts while I have company. What I said was, "Look, I don't want to waste your time, so why don't we get to the point, and by the way I would appreciate it if you would put me on your do not call list."

"I'm not your servant!" Nadia snapped. I spluttered that I was being insulted and was ending the phone call, at which she insisted that she was being insulted and she was ending the phone call.

Why oh why oh why didn't she hang up first? She obviously wasn't going to sell me anything today. Was she still on some level hoping we could be friends if she could just get me to shut up long enough to hear about her Ponzi scheme? Did she lose her temper out of disappointment that I couldn't perceive she was trying to help me? If so, I identify completely.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Laura at January 19, 2006 7:43 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Whoa! "I'm not your servant" is a bit harsh, considering she's in a customer-facing position for which she's getting paid. Granted, it's a crappy position and low pay, but still. If you go to a restaurant and piss off your server, she may get mad at you, she may spit in your food--but she is, technically, serving you. This is involuntary and thus she should be way nicer to you.

    I find it's easier to cut to the chase with the adorable college students who try to get me to save the children when I walk down the street. They can't really deny it when I look them in the eye and say, "Look, you're trying to get me to sign up for something, and I'm not going to do it. Let's just both move on."

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Unmitigated Snark: Golden Globe Edition

FFH spends three nights of the year in full-on starfucker mode, and Monday's Golden Globes telecast was one of them. Anna will follow soon with a fashion roundup. Here's the immediate reaction from our couch:

By our count, during the two-hour E! preshow, at least four different people made jokes about "Golden Globes," in reference to breasts. It wasn't funny the first time. The highlight of preshow was Issac Mizrahi, who, when he wasn't plugging his own talk show on The Style Network, kept grabbing the breasts of various starlets, including the full-on grope of Scarlett Johansson. Hot. And by the way, how shocking is it that Johansson is kissing someone in the clip of Woody Allen's new movie Match Point, but that person on the other end of the liplock isn't, in fact, Woody Allen?

The theme of the night early on seemed to be politics. George Clooney won for Syriana, Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener and Geena Davis (whose acceptance speech was priceless) for Commander in Chief. Clooney opened the night by thanking Jack Abramoff, deftly mixing Republican corruption and masturbation in the same quip. Actually, those two topics don't seem all that unrelated. It should be noted though, that even as the politics of the night came through, the NBC telecast itself was sponsored by Hummer. And by the way, when I watch one of the 24-hour news channels, it just seems as though every time they do the "WAR ON TERROR" graphic it ought to just say brought to you by Hummer.

One imagines that Brokeback Mountain falls into that category as well, given the way it injects homosexuality into the cowboy, a symbol of "red state" iconography. I haven't actually seen the movie, so I can't comment directly on it. But I go back and forth on what I think about political readings of the film. I object to guys like David Horowitz injecting politics into everything, such as his recent claim that Journalism schools need to hire outwardly conservative professors to counterbalance the obvious liberal bias being taught to a generation of reporters. He even had a poll showing that vast most J-School profs voted for Kerry, as though that proved anything. The problem with that suggestion is that it confers legitimacy on the point of view that people can never divorce themselves from their politics. Horowitz probably feels this way because he's an inverted Marxist. He's a conservative partisan, but he can't really get away from dialectical materialism, so suddenly it's Democrats vs. Republicans not Capitalists vs. Proletariat. I believe that everything exists within a political framework. But ascribing coherent political views to works of art is ridiculous, and people that reflexively do that are weak-minded and inherently untrustworthy.

Melanie Griffith's 16-year-old daughter Dakota (is Griffith the one who started the fucking Dakota trend?) got the job of escorting winners off the stage. Mother stood with daughter introducing a clip from The Producers. Daughter looked completely bored. Here's what I imagine was going through little Dakota's head: "Meow, meow, meow meow. ... Hey do you think Adrien Brody can score me some smack after the show?... meow, meow, meow. ... I like corn, except for the carbs." (Simpsons reference intended)

What is this Showtime-winning-awards shit? I thought only HBO won awards. Of course, Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds, whatever that is) probably deserves it because she's fucking awesome pretty much 100 percent of the time. And it was nice that she dedicated the award to John Spencer. Stay classy, Mary-Louise. (Anchorman reference also intended) Also, how the hell is Lifetime (Human Trafficking, whatever that is) getting nominations? The democratization of cable television is really fucking with my head.

Anna insists that Bob Hoskins has had a long and distinguished career, but I only think of him as the guy from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I started to feel bad about that, but a quick trip to IMDB to fetch that link revealed that Hoskins is going to be in next year's Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle, Garfield 2. And suddenly, I don't feel so bad.

If you really needed to re-make The Pink Panther, signing Steve Martin to play the Peter Sellers' role is about as good as you could hope to get. But why would you really want to do that?

Foreign people thanking Focus Films is inherently funny. It's even better when "Fuck-us" film is thanked for making Brokeback Mountain, and you know what I'm talking about.

NBC insists on showing shots of celebrities mingling during the commercials. This is probably meant to establish that stars are real people too, who are really just fans and are thrilled with the opportunity to bounce around and hug other famous people. Given the chance to hug Drew Barrymore (and if you saw what she was wearing, you know what I'm talking about), I imagine most guys take it. But it's hard to imagine getting stuck at a table with someone like Jessica Alba, who clearly has nothing to say. And once you exhausted the topic of her dress, her makeup, her personal trainer and her latest project (which is to say 30 minutes into the evening), all there is to do is sit quietly and chug champagne. So maybe, it's not surprising that everyone is floating around the room during the breaks, trying to escape desperately dull people. I imagine Hollywood has a higher proportion of people who can't string two (unscripted) sentences together than your average cocktail party.

And while I'm not part of the fashion critique on this blog, I will say that I'm heavily in favor of beards, which many of the men seemed to be sporting tonight.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at January 17, 2006 6:10 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Halfway into reading this post, a very annoying ad for dog maulings popped up on my screen (and Safari normally does a good job of blocking ads). You might want to look into that. Google Ads run amuck?

    I will continue to make that joke any time I'm given the opportunity.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Epi Shack: Drug Resistant Flu Strains

I have an update to my previous briefing on Flu Epidemics. As always, you should feel free to ignore this information, but better you hear it from me than some putz on TV. I'm planning to study infectious disease this semester, so the next time I post about this I may have a more sophisticated understanding of Influenza. But for now...

The Event: Last night the CDC called a press conference, notwithstanding the fact that it was Saturday night of a Holiday weekend, to announce that this year's dominant flu strain is almost completely resistant to two of the four antiretroviral drugs used to treat it. Here is the AP article on the press conference.

Skipping to the trolls: Antiretrovirals are used on people who have already been infected with the Influenza virus. The flu vaccine on the other hand prevents infection by giving your immune system good intel on the virus so that when you are exposed you don't have to get sick first to destroy it. This year, as long as doctors get the message in time and can prescribe the two newer drugs (Tamiflu and Relenza), most patients who have not yet died of seasonal flu will have a good shot at recovery. But there are two obvious implications.

1. Drug resistance does not arise spontaneously (see below). Antiretrovirals are probably being obtained without prescriptions as a response to the high publicity this year about Influenza and then misused. If the new antiretrovirals are abused the way the old ones have been it is only a matter of time before influenza strains become resistant to Tamiflu and Relenza as well. It's not that these new drugs are so much more powerful as much as that they're still new that is allowing them to work.

2. In the case of a flu epidemic, we can't count on antiretroviral drugs. Right now the particular strain of flu known as Avian flu (which gets the most hype because it has such a high mortality rate) is not showing high resistance, but that could change in a heartbeat. The finding that prompted the CDC press conference is that 90% of the virus samples of this year's dominant strain of flu were found to be drug resistant. Last year only 11% of the same strain was resistant, and the year before that it was 2%. So just because Avian flu is currently treatable if diagnosed in time doesn't mean that it will stay that way. Near-universal vaccination is the only meaningful preparation, and we still don't have the capacity in this country or anywhere to produce that much vaccine quickly in an emergency. There is an existing vaccine for this year's strain of flu and for the Avian strain, but to make enough for a national or international population requires resources and infrastructure that are not yet in place.

A quick rundown on drug resistance (skip this part if this is old hat to you): Bacteria and viruses both have the capacity to mutate rapidly; that is, when they reproduce, a relatively high proportion of copies will contain a random mis-copied gene. If that new version of the gene inhibits that bacterium's or virus' function, it will die or never live. But if, by chance alone, it conveys resistance against a drug that is designed to kill or inhibit it, then this new mutant will thrive while all of the "correctly" copied originals will be killed off by the drug. A situation is created in which we confer selective advantage on the disease agent that we're powerless to treat (at least with that drug).

The context in which this usually arises is someone failing to take their medication for the full course. Let's say you see your doctor because you're feeling crummy and your doctor diagnoses you with flu. She prescribes an antiretroviral (amantadine, say) and you follow her instructions. The meds work, and your flu symptoms recede. Because you're feeling so much better, you either forget or decline to take the rest of the pills in your bottle. But the bad news is that just because your symptoms have receded doesn't mean your immune system is done; it basically just means the inflammatory response phase is over. So a virus living in your system that would be destroyed if the full dose was taken instead survives in conditions that cultivate the drug-resistant form of the virus. The same, by the way, is true for bacteria and antibiotics, which is why most doctors now warn you to take antibiotics for the full course of the prescription no matter how good you feel.

Take home message: get your flu shot, and do your best to encourage any children (who are the most effective at transmitting the disease), elderly or immunocompromised people in your lives get one too. Do not self-medicate on antiretroviral drugs or antibiotics, do follow prescription labels, do agitate for disease preparedness.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

From the Froufrou Sports Desk

The best of part of the Olympic season is that it brings Anna and me together over the subject of figure skating. It's really the only event she likes during the games. And since it counts as a sport, it makes me feel good about this being a sports-related activity we can do together. Over the past three days, we've been flipping to the U.S. championships during commericials in the other things we've been watching. ESPN's coverage of the event has been a treasure trove of unintentional comedy. There was this exchange, during a discussion of who would take second place in the women's event:

Male commentator: I'm all over the place, orginally I though Kimmie Meissner, but I've watched Emily Hughes and I think she looks great and Alissa Czisny could win it as well.
Katerina Witt: Just like a man, you see one girl, fall in love with her until you see the next one.
Anna: Right, that guy's in love with girls
Male commentator: giggles miserably

Also it seems as though every couple in the ice dancing competition includes at least one person who became a citizen last week, and only then because of some Terri-Schiavo-esqe bill being pushed through the Congress. There was even a story about how the mother of an American-born contender lobbied Hilary Clinton to vote against one of those bills. This is, of course, exactly what the Framers had in mind when they wrote up Article I. Also, where are the U.S.-born ice dancers? Maybe there aren't any, which I actually find sort of reassuring.

I'm off tonight, so I think we're going to watch the women's free skate together. FFH is rooting for Emily Hughes because she has a big nose and because reader all-star Je Negresse profiled her in the Times magazine.

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In Which I Put my Foot Down

So pretend you're me. You have come up with a blog template that is 1) cute 2) functional. It is popular with your readers. It looks gorgeous in Firefox, Netscape, Safari, etc., but in Internet Explorer it's all messed up. Now you have a problem. On the one hand, this is actually not your fault, it's Microsoft's. They developed IE6 at a time when they hugely dominated the market and felt no compunction to live up to W3C standards, such as they were. I believe the sentiment was something like "Now programmers will have to decide if they want their page to look dumb in our browser or dumb in everyone else's and they'll get with the winning team, so no web users will want other people's browsers." On the other hand, their strategy worked.

Real programmers who don't just fiddle with their blogs on their vacations have found ways to make their pages look fine in IE and other browsers, but you are not a real programmer. You are going back to school in a few days, and the probability of your hitting upon such a solution before then is low. Also, unlike most programmers, you are not hikikomori (though your behavior since the alignment problem was brought to your attention would seem to contradict that assertion).

So what do you do? Should you say "fuck it," reiterate your gratitude for the continued existence of the Gates foundation and code your template to look good in the browsers that actually play by the rules? Or should you bow to the fact that most people out there still use IE and punish your smart readers? You actually put up a reader poll for about an hour, but that created alignment issues all its own so you 86ed it rather than take on another alignment project. Lastly, should you abandon your new template and go back to one for which IE's cheating was not a deal breaker legibility-wise?

This is my feeling on the matter:


All of you! There is no reason not to get Firefox and make it your default browser. Occasionally you run into difficulty on sites that have had to come up with circuitous codes to accomodate IE, but that's the exception rather than the rule, and it will fade with time. You can always go back to IE in such rare cases for the five minutes you need that site. Around 30 million people have downloaded Firefox already (says this newspaper; who knows how many it really is), because it's easier to use and it actually obeys the rules established by the boffins who really invented the internet. Everybody wins. And Bill Gates? He'll be okay! He's going to have to come around on this issue sooner or later; you're really doing him a favor. Don't be an enabler.

So, in summary, I choose life. If I change the blog to fix the alignment problem in Explorer, every other browser will display a droopy, flaccid, palsied sidebar, which is most depressing to behold, and tenacious. So I am not going to fix the alignment problem. I'm only one woman, I like my new template, and that's just the way it is. If it doesn't suit you you can kiss my ass crosswise.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at January 14, 2006 1:38 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • With Firefox, the Mozilla folks have made a stronger effort to achieve standards compliance than Microsoft, but I don't think that there's a browser out there that adheres to ever standard endorsed by the W3C. Firefox definitely isn't perfect–try taking the Acid2 test with it. Safari only recently managed to pass the test in one of its latest patch releases.

    Not every web designer is as conscientious as BananaTML, and many of them go out of their way to code HTML/CSS/JavaScript that only looks proper in Internet Explorer, given its still-commanding lead in browser market share. If there are enough sites you visit that only look good in IE, chances are that you won't change your default browser from Internet Explorer anytime soon. I commend FFH for its stance.

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at January 15, 2006 10:54 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • While I use Firefox at home, I am forced to use Internet Explorer at work. However, the alignment issue is really no issue for me, because I read FFH in Bloglines anyway. Although I do not get to experience the backgrouds, I get all my content formatted correctly. And the content is why FFH earned its spot on my Bloglines reading list. (And because I was friends with a couple people on staff way back in college.)

    Regardless, everyone is getting what they paid for.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Some readers are whining helpfully letting us know that the blog alignment doesn't work in their browsers. Blogger itself recommends using Firefox for best results with Blogger in general. If you can't bring yourself to use Firefox when you look at our blog, then you may have to be patient cause I don't really know how to resolve it yet. I will look into it.

Blog alignment is fixed in IE now. The header is kind of off but I'm prepared to live with that.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at January 14, 2006 3:33 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Looks good,actually the title is more centered in my IE view than my firefox view. The colors are a de gustibus issue.

    By the way, the problem with firefox is that it won't save web pages as MHT files, and won't embed a webpage in an email message, while IE will.

    On the other hand, firefox allows much more block and paste into blogger postings than IE.

  •   Posted by Blogger Ben at January 20, 2006 6:47 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • you say it's fixed, but on my ie it's still broken.

    i fooled around with your css a little and i think i found a solution to the ie problem, at least for my version, ie 6.0 sp2. (by the way, i am mozilla all the way. this is just because i was interested). i don't understand why this works, but it seems to.

    just replace these css tag definitions with mine:

    #content {
    MARGIN-LEFT: 163px
    #main-content {
    PADDING-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 0px; FLOAT: left; PADDING-BOTTOM: 0px; MARGIN: 20px 0px 0px 5px; WIDTH: 545px; LINE-HEIGHT: 1.5em; PADDING-TOP: 0px

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Pig! He's a Pig!

Today FFH got lost in the middle of a work at home day on the Celebrity Baby Blog. Truly, alarmingly, fascinating. Anyway, that is how we found out that Yakima Dinos reserve Rachel Weisz is 5 months pregnant, courtesy of Darren Aronofsky's seed. I told Mike the news, and he let fall, "I'm kind of sad about that." Quickly realizing his blunder he changed his mind. "No, no, I'm sure she'll be just as hot after her pregnancy, just like Kate Winslet." So Mike is on the couch tonight.

6 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Unknown at January 13, 2006 8:49 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • My quotes have been taken out of context.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at January 13, 2006 3:46 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Did you guys see The Constant Gardener? Rachel Weisz's character was like, my worst nightmare of a Barnard girl on crack (I can say that because I am a Barnard girl, albeit not on crack) and was also completely annoying.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at January 13, 2006 3:53 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • My quotations of you are verbatim. Now you're both liar and an ignoramus who used "quote" as a noun.

  •   Posted by Blogger Prof. Trixie at January 15, 2006 8:19 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Anna is obviously entirely correct. This is because she is a woman.Trixie

  •   Posted by Blogger Prof. Trixie at January 15, 2006 8:20 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • And, as Florence Zeo can testify, the only thing to do with people who use words incorrectly is to hit them.

  •   Posted by Blogger Alice at January 18, 2006 12:18 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • "Barnard girl on crack" is a pretty good characterization of Rachel Weisz's character in The Constant Gardener, but I don't think it's her fault. The scriptwriters couldn't figure out what to do with that character: make her a scheming whore and you've got an obvious movie, make her a saintly mother and you've got another obvious movie. They couldn't come up with any character in between. Whereas, it's easy to devise a politically ambivalent male character; Graham Greene did it for years. The films of his movies are very good.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill

Lions are fearsome creatures, but white people are stupid. Lion Country Safari, a Florida theme park, is putting up a barricade because people keep getting out of their cars and rolling down the windows. When that happens, animals that are natural predators then to eat other living things. I suppose I'm assuming that it's only white people who are getting out of their vehicles to play with African lions, but I'll wear that.

If you needed any clue as to how dangerous lions are, apparently lions in Tanzania and Mozambique have taken to hunting humans. What worries those who study these things (lionologists I call them) is that it's young lions doing the hunting, not old decrepit lions that need easy kills because they've been cast out. The humans (lunch I call them) are poor subsistence farmers sleeping outside trying to protect their crops from bush pigs. Lions also eat bush pigs. But now the lions like human flesh so much that they are busting into houses and dragging people out. This is sad for the people who are dead. It is also sad for the lions, who will undoubtedly continue to be killed until there are no lions left, or at least until some erects a fence.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that lions should spend more time eating white people.

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I See Scary People

I've been summoned for jury duty in two weeks. That put me in mind of psychopaths, and that put me in mind of how certain people just scare me. Especially people with light eyes.

The following is a list of actors who frighten me simply by their appearing on screen. I always feel like they're sociopathic killers, and they've just set their eyes on me. Which isn't to say I don't also think they're good.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

More Making up for Lost Time

Much like all the 12-year olds I was jealous of back in the day (note my retro phraseology), I have upgraded from Nintendo to Super Nintendo. No longer content with just Super Tecmo Bowl and Double Dribble, I have now added NBA Jam to my collection. This has been an enormous pickup.

For those unfamiliar with the game, this is basically two-on-two basketball with NBA teams. The Pistons have Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer, and so far I've used them to beat seven other teams. It's funny to look back on the NBA circa 1993. Teams like Atlanta are actually decent while Sacramento (this year not withstanding) is the second team you play on your way through the then-27-team NBA. So that's fun. There were two great things about the game, that I have yet to master and discover.
  1. Being on fire, which happened you hit three shots in a row. The announcer, who might have been Marv Albert announced, "He's on fire!," and then you could goaltend with impunity and hit basically any shot you took from the proper side of halfcourt.
  2. The codes. Everyone my age can recite the 30-life code from Contra, but few had as many as NBA Jam. You could type in the all-time fire code, the big head code, the Clinton/Gore code, where the players would switch heads with the President and VP. I learned recently from Joel, who briefly did this for a living, that designers put codes into games expressly for video game testers. That way they could try more things and discover more bugs. I still don't know what keypad button corresponds to what key, so I've yet to experiment with those codes.
I'll keep you posted.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at May 03, 2007 4:13 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • yeah its a year and a half later than this highly insignificant post and its a comment that if you dont get emaiss abou comments you'll definitely never see.

    but its my favorite blogger post in the whole world.

    HE'S ON FIRE!!!

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Picasa's Blue Period

Is anyone else having hella trouble with Picasa? Within the past week or so they did away with the need to use two separate programs to post a picture, which is in theory a good thing, except that this picture of Rich and Jimmy is the only one of about ten attempted pictures that actually wound up on the blog instead of disappearing into the void. I was planning to brag about my score of 425 at Scrabble, but I can't post the evidence to back it up.

8 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at January 08, 2006 3:48 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I have just conducted an inventory of our Scrabble tiles and found that we are missing an R, so that score should really be 425*.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at January 08, 2006 3:50 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Against Petey, though...?

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at January 08, 2006 7:34 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I still stand by my contention that "hier," one who hi's, is not a word. And I think that would agree with me.

    I just tried to upload a picture with Picasa and it got lost as well. Better switch to Flickr. I hope google doesn't delete this post.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at January 08, 2006 10:48 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Don't be ridiculous. It isn't one who his, it's one who hies, that is, one who goes quickly or hastens.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at January 09, 2006 5:23 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Oh, against Rich...

    I like the new curtain-y stuff. It's very, very cute. Hopefully that buys me enough good will to point out that you really need to change the unvisited link color (the a:link CSS selector) from blue(?) to something that is legible on pink(?) without getting called out for being an ass-muncher.

    (All references to colours are approximate.)

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at January 09, 2006 9:32 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • No, no, hier occurred at a separate game.

    I agree about the blue, though I think it's not necessary to call me an ass munch, especially by someone color blind. Blogger was a trifle uncooperative last night and I settled for legible Dodger Blue before giving up and going to bed.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at January 09, 2006 4:53 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I was fearful that I was going to be called an ass-munch for suggesting the colour change. I didn't say that you were one. I will go on the record as saying that you are not a muncher of ass.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at January 10, 2006 2:30 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Excellent. Another molehill mountainized. Our work here is done.

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Jimmy and Rich

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Saturday, January 07, 2006


I've said it before and I'll say it again. The single worst word in the English language, the most foul, obscene, abhorrent, loathsome, contemptible, barbarous, heinous, unwholesome, appalling, insulting, sickening, and frightening word I have ever heard, is--I can hardly bear to type it--"panties."

It's not my own original insight. My senior year of high school I took a class in Political and Social Philosophy with Mr. H, a mild-mannered and brilliant anarchist who was so personally loveable and inspiring that I considered myself a communist from eighth through tenth grade. Mr. H was fond of us, fond of a good debate, and no fool about what happens in the last months of senior years, so toward the end of Spring the class discussions had a way of drifting off of Neitzsche and on to things like "what's the worst thing you can call someone." I believe this was the class during which we were discussing why there was no insult you could give a man even close to as cutting as "bitch." I mostly remember Mr. H saying he didn't think "whore" was that powerful cause you'd never say, "I can't believe you ran into my bumper you whore," which just proves Mr. H was never a woman. Anyway, somebody introduced the topic of "panties" and the room exploded as we interrupted each other, trying desperately to express our individual horrors. "Every time I hear it," said one of my classmates named Annie, "I picture an old man grabbing at the air and groaning Paaantieeees," at which we all agreed she had put it perfectly.

I actually feel nauseated when someone uses it. I think it's the pedophilic implications of it. Like it's a teasing way of saying "underpants." Lookie ookie and my panties wanties, I'm so cute in my ickle g-string, shall I call you Papa? And it's particularly unnecessary when there are lovely normal words for the garment in question. No one ever took offense at the word "underwear." If one feels that's evasive, "underpants" is also perfectly acceptable. "Drawers," though hardly polished, is at least not scary. "Knickers" would really be best, but there's not much point in pretending to be English if you're not. I will advocate for it's adoption over here if it ever comes up.

The very worst, obviously, is when the term is used by male doctors. Female doctors will nonchalantly let you know it's time to take off your underwear and then you have your pelvic exam while you chat about Desperate Housewives or similar. But male doctors, especially the young ones, will invariably ask you to "please slide down your panties now," their tone indicating that the three worst minutes of both your lives are about to commence. It makes me feel like I've just agreed to trade the young doctor a quickie and crabs for a carton of cigarettes and a ration of butter. It makes me want to yank on my clothes and run down the hall shouting "Attention everyone! The Chief Resident is a pervert!"

That is also, by the way, how you can tell the Victoria's Secret catalogue really is intended as pornography.

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at January 07, 2006 8:47 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I'd never thought about the matter, but I certainly will take your word for it. The sheds new insight on why Jerry's "You mean the panties your mother laid out for you?" remark failed so spectacularly as bawdy talk.

    I do have to disagree about one thing though: sometimes it's fun to pretend to be English when you're really not.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at January 12, 2006 9:26 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Okay that's so weird. You're only the second person I know who can't stand that word. Maybe it's an East Coast thing? Hmmm. Anyway, since you are in California, let me offer up another alternative: "chones".
    See you on the train!

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at January 13, 2006 3:57 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I looked this up, and Ada is right. I will try out chones for a while as an alternative to knickers.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Blogger's Convention

After much consultation about the rising flood waters and whether all of the Napa Valley looked like New Orleans, Rich and Jimmy came to visit. They are low-key, self-sufficient guests, which was good news because my break from work was over, meaning they received exactly 1/2 the hospitality we usually offer, especially in the evenings.

We did show them the bowling alley in West Sac, where the automatic scoring was broken so every gutterball registered as four pins. They did hit the lower part of the Napa Valley, returning mid-afternoon yesterday packing cases of wine. And they left predawn this morning, to try and standby it back to New York earlier rather than later. So that was fun.

Rich got some pretty interesting pictures of the rising waters along I-80, but I don't know if those will make it onto his blog or not.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Eve in the Flood Zone

My boss was sick Saturday night, so I drew replacement duty on the desk. The New Year's deadlines were normal (midnight), but informally the plan was to get out by 10 p.m. Mission accomplished. Then we declined an offer to brave the raging waters of the Sacramento River and stayed in to watch recent stroke victim Dick Clark ring in the new year, which was a fairly sobering experience. Luckily we weren't sober.

As we killed a bottle of champagne between us, we also made up a song.

Hemophiliac Farmboy Blues

ADD's a terrible affliction
But not as bad as meth addiction
I don't think that I'd like smack
'Cause I'm a hemophiliac

Chorus: I get cut, and I can't clot
Then I bleed and bleed a lot

Last time my girlfriend called the doctor
That was kind 'cause I'd just mocked her
When I called her Goody Proctor
Could be worse, I could have socked her


Bridge: Platelets, platelets, why are you such bastards?
Platelets, platelets work a little faster

All I need is clotting factor
Then I'd go back to my tractor
But I'll never get into UCD
If I have to go to the ER for every scraped knee

Chorus (X2)

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at January 02, 2006 10:45 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I would like to clarify the method employed in the composition of these lyrics. It was entirely improvised.

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