(21 February - 1 March 2004)

1 March 2004
-Feeling apprehensive about work today, for obvious reasons.  I sure did want a job that changed from day to day!  & it's still better than sitting around collecting dust, but sometimes I just want a day off.  This would clearly be the worst day to take off, because then it will get in my head that what happens on about 5% of the days is all that happens, & that would be an unnecessary inaccuracy of perspective.  So back I go.
-Meanwhile, the Book Quiz stats have been updated to reveal that as of the end of Saturday, we were over 350,000 book quizzes (in 17 days ... an average of over 20,000 quizzes/day) taken.  This week, the average was closer to 28,000 quizzes/day.  I'm almost tempted to do a round or two of Country Quiz stats as well, just because it's pulling about the same numbers of late.  But since I lost track of accurate totals on that, it would be a little strange to start updating it again.
-JSegal tries a nifty sidestep of my arguments, but I'm not biting.  My challenge was twofold... first I showed that Nader will draw conservatives away from Bush as well as liberals from Kerry (unrefuted).  But the actual challenge I threw down was to show why Kerry was going to do anything positive, especially better than Bush on the issue of militarism, when he has specifically said he wants to increase forces in Iraq.  Segal brings up tax cuts, which is a decent point, although if those extra taxes are just going to more troops in Iraq, I don't really think it's much help.  He also mentions the Patriot Act, which running-mate-to-be John Edwards voted for.  Why do I feel that's not going anywhere under a Kerry/Edwards administration?

29 February 2004
-Leap this.
-Well I wouldn't have minded a bit if they had left this one off the calendar.  Suffice it to say that if you went to work with me today, you got assaulted & if you were me today, same.  Such is the work that I do.  It's amazing what kind of visceral memory that experience brings back almost the instant of first contact.  It was like being in two places at once, & felt almost transcendent.  In a profoundly negative way.

28 February 2004
-I helped Em update today.  It was most amusing.  I also reminded her that she has not, in fact, been to Oklahoma.
-Signing later today.  Let's hope we can use the super-sticky ink that actually makes the contract binding.
-This seems to be a popular way of tracking website popularity as well, where the BP & the Book Quiz both get mentions in their top-five trend sidebar.  Additionally, this does NOT come recommended, but is sending ridiculous amounts of traffic to the Country Quiz via one of their "hotlinks".

27 February 2004
-JSegal has taken his lack of posting so seriously that he's posting almost more than he ever did.  He challenges me to explain why voting for someone who isn't going to win isn't a vote for someone who is going to win.  If this sounds confusing, that's my point.  Americans have a diseased mentality about voting... as with so many arenas, they're just looking for a winner.  It's like everyone goes to the polls with the goal of being a gloryhound sports-fan.  I keep coming back to the fact that exit polls in 1992 revealed that a MAJORITY (in a 3-person race) of voters said they would've voted for Perot if they felt he had a shot at winning.  Um.  So the only thing holding him back from winning was that Americans feel they have to vote for someone who can win, which has nothing to do with who can actually win.  That's amazing.  So my answer to JSegal is that a vote for Kucinich or Nader is just that, a vote for Kucinich or Nader.  Voting is not supposed to be some strange utilitarian calculus of how to pick your 99th choice over your 100th choice, it's supposed to be a poll of who people think the best person for the job is.  If you insist on viewing votes not for Kerry as votes for Bush, then you should also realize that votes not for Bush are votes for Kerry.  As Nader pointed out, he has a lot of support from conservatives who can't stomach Bush but refuse to support Kerry.  Join these people in abstaining from an LBJ/Nixon (it was technically HHH/Nixon in '68, but Bush hasn't been embarrassed enough yet to drop out) "choice".  Meanwhile, Segal, I challenge you to show me why a vote for Kerry is anything better than a vote for Clinton malaise mixed with Bush militarism.

26 February 2004
-So we got the house.  Yay.  Forgive the anticlimax in my undertone here, but we've "gotten the house" before (please see the events of the 18th & then 23rd of this month).  This one is just off of I-580 on Macarthur, where said street is basically a frontage road.  That's the big downside.  The upsides include that it is an absolutely palatial apartment, a 3-bedroom with vastly high ceilings & just enormous rooms.  It's the 2nd floor of a gargantuan 3-story Victorian-style in the middle of a very strangely zoned area (not many other residences around).  Despite the incredible amount of space it has, it's actually cheaper than the last place we signed a lease for.  So there is plenty to be excited about, as long as no one backs out of this one...  I'll miss Berkeley, but it's just a quick jaunt up the freeway still.  Moving begins at the top of next month.  That's extremely soon.
-Otherwise, an uneventful but enjoyably chill day.  Many long-lost people of my past keep writing me, having recently run across one of the quizzes.  Having a unique name has its great advantages.  Jenny also tells me that this page (with this entry) is the home of a well-regarded author.  I was starting to wonder why that particular page was referring hundreds of people a day over to the BP.
-Also, via Mesco, the good ol' HRC is starting up a petition on that whole civil rights thing.  You too should sign the Million for Marriage petition.
-While we're on politics, I actually watched a bit of the Democratic debate tonight on CNN.  If I had been wavering on my support of Nader at all, the debate would've sealed the deal completely with me in the Nader camp.  It's bad enough that the Kerry/Edwards ticket both voted for the war.  It's worse that neither of them regret the decision, even with the knowledge of how erroneous everything Bush said has become.  Oh yes, that's the kind of person who is so much better than Bush... the kind who gives him a blank check to go to war & then feels good about it after the whole country realizes it was a mistake.  Score!  Watching Kerry tonight illuminated how things must have looked in 1968 when a country sick of LBJ's war politics turned to a two-faced person whose plan for exiting the war involved getting more invested in it.  Hearing Kerry explain how adding 2 more divisions to the Iraq campaign was necessary to successfully withdrawing from it brought back memories of Nixon I don't even have.  You folks can keep him.  I'll be over here urging people to vote for Kucinich or Nader.  By the way, why didn't the media make a big deal out of Kucinich's massive challenge to Kerry in Hawaii?  Oh that's right, because he's not a Kerry-clone.  If the media were even halfway fair, Kucinich would have a shot at pulling 25% or more of California.

25 February 2004
-There's a few reasons to be excited about politics again today.  Not only is Nader scaring the daylights out of everyone (I'm so amused that people think Nader running cosmically raises thousands of votes from nowhere rather than understanding that individuals are casting those votes of their own free will because they prefer him to the duopoly...), but Kucinich got a big 2nd-place finish in Hawaii & now has quintupled his delegate count!  It's almost enough to make me want to register to vote, even though I won't have a social contract with the USA till 2006 at the earliest.
-As the Book Quiz continues to spread around the world, it's gotten a link at a part of Law.com, which seems a little random (scroll down to "Diversions").  No columns written about it yet, but it does seem to have potential.
-Beth has one of the most accurate refutations of egg donation (it applies to sperm donation too, of course) I've ever seen.  I have all sorts of issues with both practices, which have somehow become fairly mainstream & acceptable in our society, but she states the heart of my objections quite well.
-Lisha & Zimmy discuss adoption as an issue with egg/sperm donation as well & they're right.  Well, Lisha's right... as long as kids need to be adopted in the world, egg/sperm donation should probably be illegal (Lisha didn't make this argument, but I'm a big fan of applying the law to encourage peoples' compassion).  Certainly in vitro fertilization - which entails the creation of many fetuses for the purpose of destroying them - should be illegal, as I've discussed earlier.  Em & I once ran a case about anyone unable to conceive naturally having a moral obligation to adopt before pursuing in vitro or donation routes.  Zimmy talks about putting a kid up for adoption in the same vein as donating sperm or eggs... it seems different to me when one life was already on the way to being created while another was created specifically for the purpose of being given up.  I'm not sure if I can further explain that intuition other than the idea that adoption seems like making the best of a bad situation while donation seems like creating a bad situation for the sake of a bad situation.  Especially if cash is involved, or categorized specifications like the one in the 'Deis newspaper ad that Beth cited.  The main point is, I can't believe how cavalier our society has become about these donations & their validity. & why doesn't anyone find it strange to have a child that is genetically half of one of the partners in a relationship and half some total stranger?  I would love to see an examination of the home life & emotional feelings of two-parent households where one parent is genetically bound to the child & the other had a random person fill in.
-Also in dialogue with both Lisha & Zimmy, there's a good answer to the question of what Nader's been up to for 4 years when you scroll down his FAQ page.  One might not have heard as much since so many have blamed him for costing Gore the election & the media refuses to portray him in a positive light.  When you stack his list against what John Kerry has done since 2000 (no legislation, ever, despite being in a position to introduce it... oh yes, & voting for the war & only backing off that position when it looked politically viable to do so), it seems like the choice is pretty clear to me.  I feel like Clinton had a chance to prove that the Democrats really were substantially better than the Republicans & after 8 years of inaction (yes, it was better than the last 4 years, but not by a ton), he failed.  Somehow I don't trust Kerry with all his inaction in Congress to really buck the trend of nothingness.  I suppose if I were a lesser-of-two-evils person, I could support it, but I really prefer to stay away from evil.  & if I thought that Kerry would pull out of Iraq immediately & refrain from starting any more wars, then maybe my tune would be different.  But I don't think that, & given how many wars/bombings Clinton initiated, I don't think there's a good reason for thinking that way.  The bottom line is that third parties are the only hope left for viable leadership in America.  This is why Nader, despite the almost universal hatred of Bush, scares Democrats to death.  Because enough people believe in voting their conscience over some Faustian political bargain... that's not Nader's fault for running, it's the Democrats' fault for being lousy.

24 February 2004
-Rather weary & a little miffed about certain communication issues.  But in general very satisfied that my weekend begins soon.  Also grumpy over the Saturn getting a ticket for having no plates while I was at the DMV turning in the one plate that wasn't stolen in exchange for 2 new ones.  Give me a break.

23 February 2004
-Disaster.  Our new landlord backed out on our lease, putting him in breach of contract.  We were able to stop payment on the largest check I've ever written, but his total disregard for the law is troubling.  & now we need a new place to live.  Very fortunately, our 2nd choice place hadn't gone through yet, so we still have a chance to apply there.  But I'm really steamed.  I think what bothers me the most is the power dynamic in this situation... if we had pulled the same stunt as this guy, we never ever would have had a chance at doing anything but lose money hand over fist.  He backs out on us, & is offering to give us a hundred bucks or so.  Ridiculous.  It could have come at worse times, like evicting us as we were moving in, or after a month, so there's some stuff to be thankful for amidst this.  But good lord.  I just start thinking about how much I was mentally adjusted to the new place & then I start swearing again.  Dammit.
-On the brighter side (but more trivial, of course), the Blue Pyramid is soaring on the charts.  Of note especially is the fact that the BP is in the top 7,000 of all websites for number of page views (in the last 24 hours).  Pretty spiffy.  I'm getting a "small world" story on either the Book Quiz or Country Quiz almost every day now from friends.  You can also check out the updated results of the Book Quiz, which reveal that though my "exit polls" indicated 100,000 Book Quizzes were taken last week, it was actually over 150,000.  Wow.
-It also seems that Loosely Based sales at Amazon have taken a significant up-tick.
-I also have to say a big Hooray for Ralph Nader!  As much as I hate Bush, I think it might be even more exciting for this country if Nader were again attributed for costing the Democrats (presumably the Kerry/Edwards ticket) the victory.  At that point, even after 2000 seemed like a leftist disaster, it would be obvious to everyone that the Democrats had become the "compromise where everyone loses" centrist party & some real hope for the left might emerge.  How many times does this have to happen before the Dems move left enough to take back the constituents they feel entitled to?
-& in other political news, it seems that America's second haven of gay marriage is in Sandoval County, New Mexico!  Good for Nuevo.  I don't have a link handy at the moment, but I remember reading a quote by a county clerk saying she found no law on the books prohibiting the practice.

22 February 2004
-A long ol' grumpy day.  Punctuated by a migraine.  At least we had a chance to play Boggle with a couple of the kids while on shift for "Game Night".  On days where it seems they just aren't making an effort, I think I get the most aggravated.

21 February 2004
-Em had plenty of surprises for me last night, including ice cream with a candle & singing at Celia's (even if they sang "Happy Birthday dear Stuart" after a botched consultation) & then "50 First Dates".  Which I had wanted to see despite Adam Sandler's presence in the film & I ended up really enjoying the plot, but hating so many of the jokes & lines that were thrown in.  It occurs to me that most of America has a crass & lousy sense of humor, & so much of the film was trying to appeal to that, while still having a really worthwhile storyline.  Still was fun overall.  & now I am old.
-It seems that whenever I'm feeling too old, I shave.  So it is again.
-I meant to post on this earlier, but I kept forgetting amidst my obsession with the Quiz & such.  In return for me leaving extensive, rambly messages on his phone, Gris called me a couple days ago & left a brief message, followed by reading East of Eden until the machine cut him off.  He of course first sought a copy of The Grapes of Wrath, but settled for the lengthy description of the Salinas River instead.  I have the funniest friends.

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