Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I stayed in a hotel last weekend where the bed pillows were like this. Square. You know what shape bed pillows should be? Pillow-shaped. Square pillows are for decoration.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm about to leave for the airport to spend Thanksgiving with B's extended family in Florida. Getting up at 3 a.m. was no fun, but meeting the family will be. Also, I'm looking forward to some warmth and sunshine--my year in Texas did not help my tolerance for the cold midwestern weather.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


A little while back, after a tough week at work, I started thinking, "You know what I should do? Drop out of society." My plan was to join a commune and live off the land with like-minded people, or at least people who would not make me do any legal research. Fortunately for my student loan provider, I've gotten over that feeling. But if any of my readers are unsatisfied with their paper-pushing lives, I offer some resources I came across.

Here is a surprisingly reasonable essay about how to drop out of society.

If you want to explore your options for communal non-mainstream living, check out this directory of intentional communities. And if you think you'll have to move to California to do this, think again. Even within a couple of hours of my mid-sized midwestern city in my McCain- voting state, I came across several options. Some examples:
  • East Wind Community: an established, pleasant-sounding community in the Ozarks that runs businesses, shares income and vehicles, and cooks communal meals.
  • Nasalam: a spiritual community based on the power of sex. "People who are polysexual and polyamorous individuals make the best community members, but at the present time we do not require specific sexual practices for general members."
  • Metro Cohousing: a community of private residences in the city grouped around shared common spaces and involving several shared community meals and activities (this actually sounds kind of good to me)
  • Shepherdsfield: a 100-person "Christian fellowship that tries to live as the early Christians did and as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, including the 'sharing of all things in common.'"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Flyers and polls

Today I got a glossy flyer in the mail. It had a photo of Barack Obama's face next to a giant quotation reading, "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough." Small print informs the reader that the quotation is from William Ayres, and William Ayres's photo is also on the page. But it's clearly designed so that at first glance people will attribute the quote to Obama. The back says "This is the story of William Ayers. Terrorist. Radical. Friend of Obama."

The mailing is not from some fringe organization I've never heard of, but from the Missouri Republican Party. Yuck.

Anyway, I clearly need to adjust my group memberships and magazine subscriptions so that I get off of whatever mailing list I'm on where they think I'm susceptible to this sort of thing.

In other news, I got polled today! I wonder how many points Barack Obama's Missouri poll numbers will go up due to my answers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Public Service Announcement

If you haven't had a tetanus shot in ten years or more, you might want to think about getting one. You never know when you might get scraped by a rusty piece of metal, as I did tonight. (As I read on the FDA website when I was researching whether I needed to go to an urgent care clinic last night, "The connection between a wound caused by a rusty/dirty nail and the necessity for a tetanus shot is fixed so firmly in the public mind that even the television cartoon character Homer Simpson knew he had to get a tetanus shot after stepping on a nail.") Plus, you might get a cool Scooby-Doo bandaid out of the deal, as I did.

Cutest. Story. Ever.

If you only read one blog post about baby ducks this year (in addition to the one you're currently reading, I mean), let this be the one.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hometown foods

There are several foods popular in St. Louis and not available in many other places. Here are my thoughts on some of them.

Things I grew up eating regularly and like:
Gooey Butter Cake - A super-sweet, gooey coffee cake made of yellow cake, eggs, sugar, and butter, and topped with powdered sugar. Yummy.
Toasted Ravioli - Deep fried ravioli, typically with seasoned beef filling. It is delicious.
Provel cheese - A processed cheese product. It's an acquired taste, and one which is apparently difficult to acquire as an adult--most people who didn't grow up in St. Louis hate it for its flavor, its texture, or both. I love it. It's most often found on St. Louis-style pizza, but it can also be found in salads or melted on almost anything.
Ted Drewes concretes - Frozen custard (basically ice cream made with eggs) mixed with candy, fruit, and/or nuts. They're sort of like extremely thick milkshakes. I grew up eating them in the Ted Drewes parking lot on hot summer nights, and they are wonderful. Some say the concrete was the inspiration for the Dairy Queen Blizzard (the Blizzard was apparently invented by a St. Louis DQ owner).
St. Louis-style pizza - A super-thin crust topped with sweet tomato sauce and provel cheese. It inspires strong feelings in natives and visitors alike--I think it's great, but I've heard others compare it to "Velveeta and ketchup on a cracker." Imo's is the most popular purveyor.

Things I have not eaten (and may never eat):
Slinger - Eggs, hash browns, and a hamburger patty, covered in chili, onions, and cheese. Sounds disgusting.
St. Paul sandwich - Found at some St. Louis Chinese restaurants. Egg foo yung on Wonder Bread with lettuce, tomato and mayo. Sounds disgusting.
Fried brain sandwich- Calves' brains on white bread. It became popular when St. Louis had a lot of stockyards, but it's not very popular anymore, in part because of mad cow disease. Sounds disgusting.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

How is it possible . . .

that in this day and age, companies are still issuing TV shows on DVD that lack a "Play All" option and/or a chapter skip after the opening credits? HOW???

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The one plate plan

Yesterday, B. and I signed the lease on a charming, spacious, and affordable apartment in a neighborhood we like. It is perfect in every way but one: the lack of a dishwasher. To prevent us from allowing our kitchen to fill up with dirty dishes, we have come up with a plan: we are going to place all of our normal dishes in a difficult-to-reach cabinet and reserve them for entertaining. For everyday use, we are each going to select and purchase one each of the following: plate, bowl, glass, mug, knife, fork, and spoon. We're going to choose weird, interesting, mismatched stuff based solely on how cool we think it looks. Then we are each going to use those dishes to eat on.

This means (1) there will be no opportunity for a building-up of dishes that would necessitate a lengthy dishwashing session, because we will be forced to wash dishes at every meal (or we won't have anything to eat on), and (2) if one of us leaves our dishes lying around, there will be no question about whose it was, because we each have our own (I don't really anticipate the two of us fighting over who leaves dishes out, but accountability of this sort would have been very helpful when warmfuzzy and I were growing up).

I'm actually kind of excited about going to thrift stores and looking for interesting dishes that I think are awesome but which I wouldn't want to (or be able to) buy a whole set of.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

If the Catholic Church really wants to protect and promote heterosexual marriage

One way they could do so is to return the phone calls of heterosexuals who call them to ask what they need to do to get married. Just a suggestion. Though I'm sure fighting against gay marriage is also a really good way.

Tips for stalkers

I came across this website today, ZabaSearch. It's useful for cyber-stalking people whose names are so common they are un-googleable. It's not perfect--the free search doesn't give out my current address, for example, but it does have my last several addresses and names several of my family members. It is fairly creepy. You can also get e-mail alerts when someone searches for you.

The weirdest part of the site is that you can check to see if anyone has left a message for you on the web. For example, someone the following message for me:

Hello, i am looking for the biological father of [John Panda], now John _____ born in ___, 19__. If you know someone or are someone who could provide assistance please e-mail me.

It's odd.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sometimes I love George Will

George Will, a very smart, conservative columnist with whom I usually disagree, has written a good piece on McCain's reaction to the Supreme Court's recent decision in Boumedienne. In that decision, the Supreme Court ruled that detainees at Guantanamo are entitled to seek habeas corpus review (basically, to ask the government to either release them or show, through fair legal processes, why they should be kept in prison).

McCain says this is "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country." George Will points out, among other things, that

(1) there have been many decisions far worse, so stop being ridiculous.

(2) this decision DOES NOT LET ANYONE OUT OF PRISON, so stop being ridiculous.

(3) if you're supposed to be a conservative, maybe you should have a little more respect for a right that has been at the heart of the centuries-long struggle to constrain governments.

Read it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

I don't understand online flight check-in

On most airlines, you can now check in online for your flight up to 24 hours prior to the scheduled departure time. I thought checking in was a way of telling the airline, "I have arrived at the airport, and I am a mere few hundred yards away from the gate. My plans have not changed, and I have not been delayed by traffic. Rest assured, I will be ready to board that plane when my row number is called. So please do not give my seat to a standby passenger." Those are not things you can confidently tell the airline the day before your flight. Am I missing something, or does online check-in largely defeat the purpose of checking in?

Monday, June 02, 2008

How I spend my time

I've been spending a fair amount of time commenting/arguing on internet forums lately, and this makes me laugh.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

John Hagee

In light of keychainfroggy's recent post on inflammatory pastors, I thought I'd post this.

For those who don't know, John Hagee is the pastor of a large megachurch and the head of an televangelism company that broadcasts his sermons across the world. John McCain sought his endorsement and got it, but later rejected it when some of Hagee's more controversial statements about Catholicism and Judaism came to light. The quiz keychainfroggy posted describes him as follows:

Rev. John Hagee -Your friends think you’re pretty intense, but as far as you’re concerned, Hitler was a hunter who was sent by God to hunt down the Jews and send them running to Israel. Additionally, you think the Catholic Church is a “great whore,” though it’s not clear whether you mean “big whore,” or “very skilled and attractive yet reasonably priced whore.”

Anyway, I recently realized that John Hagee's Cornerstone megachurch is about 10 minutes away from my house, so naturally, I decided to go. The church was enormous, and it seemed more like a modern concert hall than anything else. Everyone was super-nice; I think about 17 people shook my hand on the way in. There was singing for what seemed like forever (very good singers, lame lite-pop-style music). Then John Hagee spoke. The sermon was fine, but disappointingly innocuous for someone interested in controversy; the topic was "Stop worrying." There was one line that was questionable, where he seemed to suggest that the Jews made a career of worrying because they wandered in the desert for 40 years, whereas Jesus was more of a problem-solver because he only did so for 40 days. Other than that, pretty inoffensive.

But when I got to my car, I noticed someone had placed some flyers and newsletters on my windshield from this guy, who believes the Pope and the U.S. are part of a Satanic conspiracy. (One contained this headline: "Evil International Roman Catholic Government Agents Are Claiming To Be United States of America Government Agents.") I guess he thought Hagee's church members would be a friendly audience.

Also, here's a story from a reporter who went undercover at a Cornerstone retreat, and it was way more interesting than my experience.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Be a meanie, go to jail

Largely as a response to the horrible Megan Meier incident, the Missouri legislature recently passed a bill expanding the definition of criminal harassment to include the following:

[E]ngaging, without good cause, in any other act with the purpose to frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress to another person, cause such person to be frightened, intimidated, or emotionally distressed, and such person's response to the act is one of a person of average sensibilities considering the person's age.

If the perpetrator is 21 or older and the victim is 17 or younger, or if the perpetrator has committed this crime before, it's a felony that could result in four years' imprisonment.

The Governor hasn't signed the bill yet, but he's expected to. This law is ridiculously overbroad. Is there anyone, ever, who has not intentionally caused emotional distress to another person without good cause? I fear that Fuzzy alone could identify enough instances to get me imprisoned for life. (But she should not mention them in the comments section, because to do so would cause me emotional distress and could land her in jail too.)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Welcome, keychainfroggy

Let's welcome keychainfroggy to the blogosphere! I think you will find that she is extremely hip and with it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

We had the $240 . . .

and we had to have the pudding. As some of you know, I love sketch comedy. I just came across this: Nerve's list of the 50 greatest comedy sketches of all time. It's a great list because it has full videos of almost every sketch. So unlike the usual top whatever list, where you read it and say, "Oh, yeah, I've been meaning to watch that movie" or "Maybe I'll download [/buy/steal] that album sometime," you can just watch everything right there.

I was happy to find many of my favorites on the list (Argument Clinic! Porcupine Racetrack!) and troubled by a few of the choices (I know people like the chicken lady sketch, but as Kids in the Hall sketches go, it's just not as good as girl drink drunk, the bad doctor, the axe murderer, Gavin painting a chair, or anal probing aliens, just to name a few). I also found some sketches I'd never seen that were quite good.


Monday, March 10, 2008

I never get tired of fake memoirs

Most of you have probably seen this, but in case you haven't: a 33-year-old white woman named Margaret Seltzer recently wrote a critically acclaimed memoir, Love and Consequences, about growing up in a black foster family n South Central Los Angeles and getting involved in drugs and gang life. Except that she wasn't ever in a foster family, in South Central or elsewhere, and she didn't get into drugs or gang life. She grew up in the suburbs with her biological family and went to the same private school as the Olsen twins. She was found out when her sister called a reporter and said Seltzer was lying. Here's the story.

This takes some guts. This isn't James Frey embellishing and adding details to a real-life story; it's totally, completely made up. Just imagine what it must take to go on book tours and interviews, telling person after person all of these lies. How could you do it? And how could you think that you wouldn't be found out? Think of all the people who know you--all it would take is for one of them to see your picture in a book review or media appearance, and it's all over. I would like to meet this woman.

Notes on hotels

Last week, for reasons beyond my control, I stayed for a few nights at a hotel that is far nicer than I am used to--one of the best and most expensive in the city where it is located. The hotel was extremely elegant, the rooms lovely, and the service excellent. However, I barely noticed any of this. Instead, I spent my stay there in a constant struggle to obtain cold Diet Coke. This was caused by the fact that the hotel has no self-service ice machines, no vending machines, and no in-room refrigerators. Perhaps this is comforting to patrons who turn up their noses at the vulgar idea of consuming food and drink not presented on an actual silver platter. To me, it was annoying.

At this hotel, a person who wishes to enjoy a Diet Coke in her room must either (1) pre-purchase some Diet Coke, store it warm in the room, call down to room service, request that ice be sent up, wait up to 20 minutes, allow a person into her hotel room, and give them a tip; or (2) call down to room service and request that a can of Diet Coke be sent up for the reasonable price of $3.50 plus an 18% gratuity and a $2.50 delivery charge. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Particularly when you want to do it two to four times per day.

Also, a hotel that costs $60 a night can give me a free buffet breakfast and phone calls, but the hotel that's hundreds of dollars a night charges $12 for a bowl of Cheerios and $1.50 for a local call? Stupid.

It's two stars max for me from here on out.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dewey Defeats Truman

In an effort to avoid some of the intrusive graphics and over-the-top commentary of the cable news channels, I tried watching campaign coverage on PBS tonight. Two things happened:

(1) PBS, apparently relying on the AP, called Missouri for Hillary Clinton pretty early in the night. When it did so, most of the precincts had reported and Hillary had a three-point lead. But St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Columbia (home of the University of Missouri) still had nearly all their precincts outstanding! Unsurprisingly, the call ended up being wrong. It's not good when a news outlet makes a prediction that anyone with access to the county-by-county vote totals on could tell was wrong.

(2) PBS cut away from Obama in the middle of his speech to show us a bunch of random pundits blathering on about the same things they'd been talking about all night.

PBS is now dead to me, campaign coverage-wise.

Also, MSNBC is now noting that a Missouri statute provides for a recount in elections as close as this one, but wouldn't that be incredibly silly in a state with proportional delegate representation?

Monday, February 04, 2008


Those of you in Super Tuesday states should go vote tomorrow. Or, if you're lucky, caucus, because caucusing is awesome.

My state's primary isn't until March, so I will be sitting at home and watching punditry all night, flipping between the sane, thoughtful commentary of Mark Shields and David Brooks on PBS and the enthusiastic, incoherent ranting of Chris Matthews on MSNBC.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Hampshire thoughts

  • What the hell goes through your head when you talk to pollsters, New Hampshirites?
  • Everyone needs to stop being mean. Obama and Edwards, no more ganging up on Clinton, because it's hurting you. Bill and Hillary, no more calling Obama's vision a "fairy tale," because it's pissing me off and making me hate you.
  • McCain's speech (boring, long, read with his head down the whole time) was the worst of the night. He made Huckabee shine by comparison, and he even somehow made Romney seem like an authentic, likable idealist.
  • Clinton is sort of growing on me, but she's no Obama.
  • This is the greatest primary season ever for political junkies. There is no front-runner in either party after Iowa and New Hampshire!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy caucus day!

The Iowa caucuses are tonight! Coverage starts at 7 pm EST on CSPAN. Never have I been more sorry I didn't focus my job search on the Des Moines area.

Some stuff to get you in the mood:

A really excellent article by Andrew Sullivan about Why Obama Matters.

A David Brooks column about why Romney's old-school Reagan Republicanism could make him unelectable in the fall (NY Times free registration required)

In case you haven't seen it, Mike Gravel has given us the single greatest political ad ever made.