things that angry up the blood

Conservative Texas school board members are attempting to rewrite textbooks with a slant toward “conservative values”—evolution as just another theory, Joseph McCarthy as a stand-up dude, and civil rights as having been handed to minorities by whites. This is the money quote:

In late 2007, the English language arts writing teams, made up mostly of teachers and curriculum planners, turned in the drafts they had been laboring over for more than two years. The ultraconservatives argued that they were too light on basics like grammar and too heavy on reading comprehension and critical thinking. “This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook,” grumbled David Bradley, an insurance salesman with no college degree, who often acts as the faction’s enforcer.

As you can see, there’s quite a bit of editorializing going on in this article, which is bad, but what’s worse is that it’s not even necessary. David Bradley and the others don’t need any sort of reporting slant to appear ridiculous. What also sucks is that pieces like this make people from other states think that everyone in Texas is like this. We’re not, I swear! Except that some of us are.

Silver lining: A person who is of the opinion that critical thinking is gobbledygook is bound to slip up sometime, right? Right?

H&M slashes big holes in the clothes they can’t sell and throws them out instead of giving them to someone who could use them. ARGH waste! ARGH consumerism! ARGH first-world bullshit! I’m not innocent of shopping for mass-produced clothing at big chain stores sometimes (though I’m trying to avoid it), but Jesus, that’s ridiculous.

Silver lining: One of my goals for this year is to make more of my own clothing. I’ve put myself on a shopping embargo* until at least April, so I’ll have to sew any article of clothing I want between now and then. I’m a pretty good seamstress, so I think I’ll be able to do almost anything. And then, unless fabric manufacturers start slashing and trashing their unsold products, I’ll stop being part of the problem.

Food, Inc. All of it. The whole thing made me angry**. And sad. And grossed out. A couple of times I had to close my eyes and wait for Brendan to tell me that some particular gross scene was over. There wasn’t a lot in the film that I didn’t already know (a few months ago I subjected Brendan to a lengthy rant about THE TRUE AND TERRIBLE COST of fast-food dollar menus), but seeing the actual conditions to which cows and pigs and chickens are subjected was a whole different thing.

I’ll admit that one of the reasons I’ve sort of stopped eating meat*** is Maude. I can’t think about how poorly factory-farmed animals are treated without picturing my little dog’s face instead of theirs. Maude’s been the best thing for my depression besides therapy and medical treatment, and imagining her at a factory farm makes me feel a little sick.  It’s not too hard to imagine, either, since she was rescued from factory-farming’s pet equivalent, the puppy mill.

Look, I know that it’s not accurate to compare dogs to chickens and cows. And I don’t even think eating meat in general is wrong. I just think that whether it’s eaten afterwards or not, I don’t want any animal to have such a shitty life.

Silver lining: Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to watch Food, Inc. without having a panic attack.  While watching it the other night, I was able to remain calm. Progress!

*Except for books. Books don’t count. Especially sewing books.

**Except that it was beautifully shot. That didn’t make me angry.

***On a normal day, I don’t eat any meat besides seafood, and then not terribly often. On special occasions—a fancy restaurant for a birthday, when I’m a guest at the home of someone who’s cooked meat, etc.—I’ll eat beef or poultry or whatever.  But after watching Food, Inc., I might change parts of this policy. The non-sushi parts, anyway.

my site was in SoHo/Lofts

From this article about the end of GeoCities (via):

“My strongest memory of GeoCities was that it was a sort of web ghetto for people who didn’t know how to or didn’t want to bother to get their own URL and ISP,” says web design guru Lance Arthur ( “It did not, as I recall, offer any tools or help, or if it did they were the sort of tools and help that were unhelpful. Its main advantage was cost, being that it was free.”

That’s not how I remember it.  Well, GeoCities’ main advantage for me was indeed cost, as I was a sophomore in college when I set mine up in 1997.  As such, I didn’t fall into the “didn’t know how” or “didn’t want to bother” camp, but in the “couldn’t afford to” camp.  I didn’t know how/didn’t want to bother to investigate free student web space at my school, though, so I signed up for GeoCities.

As I recall, GeoCities didn’t offer any tools or help, UNTIL!! Until it came out with this sort of WYSIWYG-precursor where you could choose backgrounds*, fonts, colors, images, etc, make different sections on the page for different topics/paragraphs, and then look at a preview of your work before confirming it.  That was all I knew how to do on the web, so that was what I did for awhile, and I really enjoyed it.  And then I noticed a little link at the top that said, “View HTML.”  Curious as to what that would look like, I clicked on it.

Of course I was hooked. It wasn’t too hard to figure out which pieces of code did what.  All the images started with img src, all the links started with a href, and the fonts started with font face.  Everything had quotes and brackets, and it wasn’t long before open bracket a href equals quote quote close bracket made sense to me.

So I had images and fonts and links and text down, but I had one problem I couldn’t solve. I asked a friend on IRC for help:

Me: How do I make things go next to each other? Like if I want one image on the left side and another on the right and some text in between?
IRC Friend I Don’t Remember Anything About Except He Loved Jewel And His Name Was Tom: Ah! For that, you’re going to need tables.**

And I was off.  I learned more tips from some HTML tutorial sites, and from there I graduated to a few other free web-hosting sites before getting a job as a web designer in early 1999. In 2000, I bought this domain and started this website.

My point, I suppose, is this: if people think GeoCities didn’t offer any tools, that’s all right. The way I used it, it was a tool, in and of itself.  It’s the whole reason I learned HTML and fell in love with web design, and as such it’s indirectly responsible for my career.

I’m not sure whether to thank it or blame it for that last part.

It’s both sad and not-sad when something like GeoCities goes away.  It’s pretty obsolete now, but it’s importance in web history won’t be forgotten, at least not by me.  Thankfully I have all my old websites stored away on a hard drive somewhere–all their bad poetry, their homages to Ani DiFranco, their dead links, and their seizure-inducing animated gifs.

Rest assured, I will never, ever show them to anyone.

*I chose a ridiculous lurid orange with some prism-like shapes in it. It did not tessellate properly, and it haunts my dreams.

**I was kind of sad when everyone stopped using tables for layout, only because I’d become really, really good at coding multiple levels of nested tables by hand.  But I’m definitely not sad now.

dog bunches

Brendan came over yesterday after work and told me that the Taco Bell dog died.  I don’t remember my exact words to Brendan about it, but I can sum up my general statements thusly:

  1. I hated those commercials.
  2. I hated it even more when people would meet Maude and be all “Yo quiero Taco Bell,” like that joke was
    1. funny or
    2. original.
  3. How sad for the owner of that dog.
  4. But at least she had a good long life and was well cared for.
  5. Oh no, that makes me sad about when Maude’s going to die! And that makes me want to hug Maude! C’mere, Maude!

To which Brendan said, “Yeah, that’s why I broke the news to you in person instead of e-mailing it to you. Since I knew you’d be sad hearing about a dead Chihuahua, I thought I’d make sure I was here when you found out. You know, for moral support.”

How well does that guy know me?  Damn.*

Oh, and 6. Maude’s cuter than the Taco Bell dog, but I don’t think she has the mental acumen to perform for cameras.

*And then this morning Brendan told me that last night he had a dream that he was growing dogs in a garden. Each row of his garden had a different breed–collies, German shepherds, Chihuahuas, etc.

“The garden wasn’t too big, so I guess it was a small operation. I was like a subsistence-level dog farmer.”

“You ATE them?”

“No, I think I sold them. But the funniest part was seeing this collie sticking halfway out of the ground, barking at me.”


“I know! Oh, and the Chihuahuas grew in bunches.”

The image of Chihuahuas growing out of the ground in bunches is totally making my day.