mamamusings: humor

elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Saturday, 25 October 2008


Back in 2000, Budweiser ran an ad called “Whassup?” that became a bit of a phenomenon.

Recently, the cast of that ad was brought back together (not by Budweiser) to film an “8 years later” version that’s pretty powerful.

Posted at 11:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | politics

Thursday, 23 October 2008

friendship zero

What follows is a light-hearted parody of Ed Vielmetti’s suddenly-popular “Twitter Zero” post, followed by some commentary of my own.

Disclaimer: I love my friends - I love being in the flow of the world with the comments of friends around the world triggering all sorts of warm feelings and thoughts about how lucky I am to know so many people in so many places.

For that very same reason, I’m working towards getting rid of my friends, my “friendship zero” project, where I stop being friends with everyone I know.

It’s nothing personal.


Friendship Zero is inspired by a few other “zero” projects, including Ed Vielmetti’s “Twitter Zero,” Merlin Mann’s “Inbox Zero” and Alan Gutierrez’s “Reader Zero”. The basic idea is that in systems where there is an infinite capacity for the world to send messages to get your attention, the only reasonable queue that you can leave between visits to the system is zero, because if you get behind you will never, ever, ever catch up gradually. Never. No matter how much time you put into it, there will always be more to do, and you will lose sleep over it.

What’s that you say, you love your friends, why make them go away? For the same reason that I love my family (really I do) and I don’t let any of them visit my house. And I love my colleagues (really I do) and spend too much of my time ignoring them.

I can’t keep up. No one can keep up, actually - we look at someone shiny and say “ooh shiny” and start being friends with them because they were shiny then (and shiny once) and then suddenly you look back a week later and note to self “hm, not shiny any more, but it’s a lot harder to stop paying attention to them once you’re connected to them”.

So, go to zero. Stop making friends, don’t let them interrupt you any more. But still listen.

Friends are great for ambient awareness of things around your neighborhood, perfect actually. With a few phone calls or conversations you can see at a glance when there are parties, what television shows they’re watching, who’s winning what football games, when the Mormon Church is having a global conference, Girl’s Night Out, you name it there’s some super-cool local event that you can tap into without having much more than a few friends.

Friend friend friend friend…

I’ll argue for the sake of arguing that we as human beings have a finite supply of attention for ambient awareness of friends around the world; there’s only so many neurons that can fire in one moment to keep track of what’s happening, and my poor aging brain has some finite ability to keep track. You make tradeoffs, you have to. And the fact that I know just a little bit too much about popular television due to my friends has to be responsible for some other deficit in my life, like not getting quite enough sleep, or not cleaning the garage (or even more to the point noticing that there are parts of it that need attention).

Or paying attention to my boys. They are little. They won’t be little forever. They don’t have friends, yet - yet? - though the older one was asking about connections between the kids in his class.

Attention is a precious resource. Friends are a distraction. Family is a distraction. Work is a distraction. Pretty much everyone is a distraction in the real world, either designed to capture an eyeball or rewire a neuron or to short circuit the brain to wallet function. And sometimes the only reasonable response to a thoroughly enjoyable distraction is to make a very visible, very annoying, very painful decision to skip this particular distraction and move on.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Why this particular post of Ed’s is getting so much attention is beyond me. It’s the kind of silly generalization that I think of as essentially curmudgeonly. It’s a dismissal of an entire ecosystem because you haven’t found a way to make it work well for yourself.

Here’s the thing—Twitter doesn’t have to be a time suck that distracts you from the things that really matter. It can be a tiny investment of time that instead connects you more deeply to the people you love who don’t happen to live in your house. The choice doesn’t have to be between overload and nothing. That’s a false dichotomy. It’s about learning how to live a balanced and healthy life both online and off.

With email, with blogs, with Twitter, with games, with real-life friendship, we have choices to make. We can choose to use them, or to let them use us. We can lose sleep over the things we missed, or we can focus instead on the things we see.

I was telling danah the other day about how I use my delicious inbox. It’s my start page in Firefox, and when I launch my browser I glance at the items on the first page. Often there are interesting, useful, important things there, and it’s the launch for a brief morning exploration. I miss a lot of things that people in my network bookmark because they’re not on the first page, and that’s totally okay. I don’t lose sleep over the ones I didn’t see. Instead, I’m grateful for the ones I do, since they keep me in touch with the zeitgeist of the technical world I’m most interested in. (And, in fact, that’s how I saw the Twitter Zero post to begin with.)

I do the same thing with Twitter. My twitter page is the default page in my mobile phone browser. The number of people I follow is under 100, and I seldom page back through old tweets. I pop in to see what’s at the top of the stack, I occasionally go to a close friend’s feed to see what they’re up to, but again I don’t really worry at all about what I missed. I tap in for some of what Clive Thompson so beautifully termed “social propriception,” I post an update or two of my own, and I move on.

Ed’s post reads a bit to me like how an alcoholic might write about alcohol. “Admitted I was powerless over social media and my life had become unmanageable.” Yes, there are obviously people who can’t effectively manage their use of these tools and integrate them into a rich and full life. But it’s important to remember that some people really can have just one glass of wine, too.

Posted at 7:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
categories: friends | humor | social software

Monday, 26 March 2007

geek humor starts early

On the way to Buffalo yesterday, this conversation took place in our car. (Context: I was grading student websites on the trip while my husband drove…yay Verizon broadband card!)

Lane: Why aren’t your students using Flash on their websites?
Me: Because I don’t let them use Flash in this class. The focus is on HTML and CSS techniques. They study Flash in other classes.
Lane: That’s stupid. Why do you discriminate against Flash?
Me: (exasperated) I don’t discriminate against it, it’s just not appropriate in this class.
Gerald: (fanning flames) Admit it, you’re discriminating!
Me: No, I’m not. Flash gets “separate but equal” treatment.
Lane: We already know that doesn’t work. Just watch—pretty soon there’ll be an “Actionscript vs. Board of Education” lawsuit!

Posted at 3:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | kids

Thursday, 21 December 2006

videos that made me laugh today

A comedian rants about the cello part in Pachelbel’s Canon. Fabulous.

And, if you haven’t already seen this (and according to the New York Times, that would make you unusual), the uncensored version of the Justin Timberlake “Dick in a Box” video from Saturday Night Live:

Ho, ho, ho!

Posted at 8:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor

Thursday, 14 December 2006

grading as a text adventure

Oh, this is so wonderful!!!

From eye of a cat’s LiveJournal:

>look at stack
It's not getting any smaller.

>pick up essay
You lift one essay off the pile.

>read essay
With trepidation, you lift aside the cover sheet. Suddenly, 
the world around you  seems to melt away...

You are in a maze of twisty little paragraphs, all alike. 
The path ahead of you is littered with sentence 
fragments, left broken and twitching at your feet as 
their pathetic spaniel eyes implore you to put them 
out of their misery. Dangling modifiers loop happily 
through the branches overhead. In the distance, that 
sound of undergraduate feet has turned into a heavy, 
erratic thwump - swoop - THWUMP you recognise 
immediately - it's a badly-indented long quotation, 
and it's coming  closer.

Go there. Read it. What a treasure!

(Thanks, Steve!)

Posted at 9:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | teaching

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

okay, so maybe youtube is the best thing ever

Posted at 11:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor

Sunday, 19 November 2006

history translated into IM speak

Last night, Lane showed me a project he’d done for his social studies class. He had created a fake chat room transcript in which the participants were America, England, France, and Spain during the events of colonial times.

Gerald and I both loved it, so I convinced Lane to link to it from his blog.

Go read it, and if you like it, leave him a comment!

Posted at 9:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | kids

Friday, 14 April 2006


You Are 40% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.
In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.

How Evil Are You?

And yes, I answered every question truthfully.

Posted at 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor

random scenes from my week

Scene: Lawley Living Room

Lane: Was Michelangelo’s name “Michael Angelo,” or was it all one name?
Me: All one name.
Lane: (after a pause) Cool. I think I’d like to change my name to “Bobjimmy”

Scene: Rosenblum/Lawley Family Seder

Me: We’re thinking about a trip out to Ellensburg (WA) next month.
My Aunt: Why’s that?
Me: I have a friend there who directs the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, and we wanted to boys to meet him and attend one of their “chimposiums.”
My Aunt: (clearly interested now) Who’s your friend?
Me: Roger Fouts
My Aunt: Really?!? How do you know him?
Me: (awkward pause, while I figure out how to say this in a way that doesn’t sound too weird, and fail) We met in a video game.

Scene: IM with a friend

Me: [long story about frustrating negotations surrounding my return (or not) to RIT]
Her: That’s ridiculous. They should absolutely give you more money.
Her: And a lower teaching load.
Her: And…and…a PONY!!!

Posted at 10:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | idle thoughts

Tuesday, 27 December 2005

caution: this medication spoof may cause serious laughter

Via 37 Signals, this side-splittingly funny faux pharmaceutical ad: Panexa (Acidachrome Promanganate). I laughed ‘til I cried.

Posted at 12:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor

rockin' around the menorah

Yesterday afternoon on NPR’s All Things Considered, I heard a short piece on the spelling of Hanukkah (or is that Chanukah?). It was a lovely little piece, which had a nice interview ith Rabbi Daniel Zemel. But the best part was the mention of a great duo called The LeeVees, who’ve done bunch of what they call “great, rockin’ Hanukah songs.”

You can listen to their music on the web site, and I heartily recommend it—song titles include “Goyim Friends,” “How Do You Spell Channukkahh,” and “Applesauce Vs Sourcream.”

Their album, “Hanukkah Rocks,”  is also available over iTunes…I’m buying it today, to add to my ever-expanding collection of holiday music, which the boys have noted is sadly lacking in “channukkahh” songs.

Posted at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | music

Wednesday, 21 December 2005

fabulous honda commercial

A must-watch.

The ending is particularly wonderful.

(Thanks, Alex!)

Posted at 10:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor

Tuesday, 29 November 2005

revenge of the grownups

My father just sent me a link to a NYTimes piece called “What’s the Buzz? Rowdy Teenagers Don’t Want to Hear It” that totally cracked me up. Here’s the key concept:

Mr. Stapleton has taken the lesson he learned that day - that children can hear sounds at higher frequencies than adults can - to fashion a novel device that he hopes will provide a solution to the eternal problem of obstreperous teenagers who hang around outside stores and cause trouble. The device, called the Mosquito (“It’s small and annoying,” Mr. Stapleton said), emits a high-frequency pulsing sound that, he says, can be heard by most people younger than 20 and almost no one older than 30. The sound is designed to so irritate young people that after several minutes, they cannot stand it and go away.

Oh, I so want a room-sized version of this. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a room that kids couldn’t stand to go into, but grownups could sit in and relax? Or to turn this on in my office at RIT when I’m willing to talk to colleagues but not students? The possibilities are endless…

Posted at 1:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | kids | technology

Saturday, 29 October 2005

liz needs...

Via Weez, a silly meme. Type “yourname needs” into Google, and list the resulting suggestions. (I skipped other people’s compilation of the same phrase, which turned up quite a bit in my results.)

  1. Liz needs catchy slogan
  2. liz needs to be laundered
  3. Liz needs help, but she doesn’t want to involve the police.
  4. LIZ needs teeth
  5. Liz needs more coffee
  6. Liz needs to increase her food uptake to at least 2000 calories a day.
  7. Liz needs to get that one frame from out of her old animated gif avatar
  8. Liz needs real love to keep going
  9. Liz needs to take on some projects before Mike starts to nag
  10. Liz needs the rest of us

Here’s the same thing run through MSN Search, again discarding the other meme posts:

  1. Liz needs some alone time.
  2. Liz needs compensation
  3. Liz needs to get a reality check
  4. SOMEONE named liz! needs a life
  5. Liz needs to devise a budget and stick to it
  6. Liz needs my help again
  7. all Liz needs is your full name and your date of birth
  8. LIZ needs to recruit members
  9. Liz needs to increase her food uptake to at least 2,000 calories a day
  10. Liz needs paying

Only one in common between the two! How ‘bout Yahoo?

  1. Liz needs our prayers everyone!!!
  2. Liz needs to seek counseling for her aggressiveness
  4. Liz needs to calm down
  6. Liz needs to remember
  7. Liz needs to write a book on what a woman does to get such jewels
  8. Liz needs to increase the dividend
  9. Liz needs to be visible and she is
  10. Liz needs this birthday party

Fun. :)

Posted at 4:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (3)
categories: humor

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

joel spolsky on splogs

Joel Spolsky has a great post on problems with AdSense, click fraud, and splogs. Especially splogs. I love this passage:

First, they create a lot of fake blogs. There are slimy companies that make easy to use software to do this for you. They scrape bits and pieces of legitimate blogs and repost them, as if they were just another link blog. It is very hard to tell the difference between a fake blog and a real blog until you read it for a while and realize there’s no human brain behind it, like one of those Jack Format radio stations that fired all their DJs, or maybe FEMA.
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categories: humor | technology

internet librarian 05: fabulous flickr meme

Librarians with giant calculators.

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categories: conferences | humor

Tuesday, 12 April 2005

laughing out loud

Via Weez, a wonderful collection of IRC conversations guaranteed to make geeks fall on the floor and roll around laughing.

My favorite thus far:

<Cthon98> hey, if you type in your pw, it will show as stars
<Cthon98> ********* see!
<AzureDiamond> hunter2
<AzureDiamond> doesnt look like stars to me
<Cthon98> <AzureDiamond> *******
<Cthon98> thats what I see
<AzureDiamond> oh, really?
<Cthon98> Absolutely
<AzureDiamond> you can go hunter2 my hunter2-ing hunter2
<AzureDiamond> haha, does that look funny to you?
<Cthon98> lol, yes. See, when YOU type hunter2, it shows 
 to us as *******
<AzureDiamond> thats neat, I didnt know IRC did that
<Cthon98> yep, no matter how many times you type hunter2, 
 it will show to us as *******
<AzureDiamond> awesome!
<AzureDiamond> wait, how do you know my pw?
<Cthon98> er, I just copy pasted YOUR ******'s and it appears 
 to YOU as hunter2 cause its your pw
<AzureDiamond> oh, ok.
Posted at 12:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | technology

Monday, 21 March 2005

slacker tracking

A former student of mine, now part of the tech corps in SF, has a funny post on his site. He constructed Google and Technorati queries to find all the people who’ve posted something along the lines of “sorry I haven’t been posting more lately”. Heh.

Posted at 6:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | on blogging

Tuesday, 1 February 2005

the mouths of (other people's) babes

I took a brief break from my organizational frenzy today to read some favorite blogs, including Bad Mother by the brilliant and funny Ayelet Waldman. I probably shouldn’t have, though, because her Potty Mouth post made me spit coffee all over my nice clean desk. Apparently she and her husband had a bit of a quarrel this morning, which was followed by this conversation with her son:

Zeke, age seven says to me, “Daddy is not a dick, mommy. If Daddy is a dick, then you are a bush.”

I stared at him and said, “What? What did you say? How do you even know that word?”

He replied, “What word? You know, Dick Cheney and George Bush.”
Posted at 2:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor

Wednesday, 19 January 2005

ninja wizards! bears with lasers! w00t!

I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time.

Best. Animated GIF. Evah.

(Via Angie McKaig, in my inbox.)

Update: Apparently the first link died. Probably too many visitors. I’ve replaced it with a link to another site with the same animation.

Posted at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (4)
categories: humor

Sunday, 5 December 2004

stupid mommy tricks

For those of you who are always so impressed by how well I manage all my various roles, here’s some evidence that I don’t always manage them all that well.

On Friday, Lane was diagnosed with a case of walking pneumonia, and the doctor prescribed a five-day course of antibiotics for him. He started them Friday, and today after brunch he needed to take his third dose. Gerald was out, the boys were fighting, and I’d just sent Lane upstairs after scolding him for whacking Alex with a plastic sword. I decided to take the pill upstairs rather than calling him back down, so I popped it out of the pack, grabbed a drink, and started to go up. But then Alex distracted me because he wanted ice for his foot, and somehow in the confusion I took the damn pill rather than carrying it upstairs. I realized mid-swallow what I was doing, but it was too late.

So now we’re one pill short, and I’m going to have an upset stomach all afternoon (my digestive system doesn’t take well to Zithromycin). And tomorrow I’m going to have to call the doctor’s office, admit to my stupidity, and see if it’s possible to get a prescription for just one pill (I have no idea if they even sell them singly, since this was a packaged set.)

I hope that makes those of you who envy my multitasking abilities feel a little better. :)

Update, Monday morning: I stopped by the pediatrician’s office on the way into work and told them my tale of woe. After they stopped giggling, they gave me this. Problem solved.

Posted at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
categories: curmudgeonly | family | humor

Thursday, 2 December 2004

word of the day: mondegreens

Ah, the fun of following a trail of links.

Anil had an interesting comment thread—he asked people to share what was in their Google search box (assuming that they had either the Google toolbar or Firefox running). One of his commenters (“hitormiss”) wrote “‘bathroom on the right’ - I was trying to figure out if the concept of misheard lyrics had a specific name.”

I was pretty sure that there was a word misheard lyrics, but I didn’t know what it was. So I typed “misheard lyrics” into Google, and followed one of the first links to, which collects many misheard lyrics. They, in turn, had an FAQ that linked to an SFGate column by Jon Carroll entitled “Mondegreens Ripped My Flesh.” It’s wonderful. Highly recommend for laugh-out-loud reading (in other words, don’t read this during class, or a staff meeting, or anywhere else where muffled giggles might get you in trouble).

Posted at 8:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)
categories: humor

Friday, 12 November 2004

fascinating msn beta search result

Via a student, this extremely entertaining query on the MSN Search beta.

(Thanks, Brian!)

(Update: More on this from Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineWatch…)

(One more update: John Battelle comments, as well. Now that my initial fit of giggles has subsided, I have to say that I share some of John’s concerns. I believe that the 1999 Google version of this was a genuine algorithmic result, based on the often-negative comments that people post online about Microsoft. But I find it hard to believe that this turnabout version is also a legitimate algorithmic result. And while it’s funny at first glance, it does lead to deeper questions about the integrity of the results.)

Posted at 2:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | technology

Saturday, 23 October 2004

i love the internets

Via defective yeti:

Person 1: Knock knock.

Person 2: Who’s there?

Person 1: Control freak.

Person 1: Now you say “control freak who?”
Posted at 1:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (1)
categories: humor

Saturday, 2 October 2004


Via Joi, this excellent remix of Republican scare tactics.

How do you run a convention on a record of failure? Play this movie to find out.


(Joi has a mirror if the link above doesn’t work.)

Posted at 5:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (5)
categories: humor | politics

Thursday, 9 September 2004

best weblog redesign ever

Anil, you rock.

Posted at 8:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | on blogging

Thursday, 8 July 2004

too close for comfort

After seeing the link to 20 Questions to a Better Personality on both Joey and Alex’s sites, I felt compelled to avoid a little more work and take the test myself.

Unlike Joey and Alex, who both test as “golden gods,” I appear to be a “dictator.”

You are an SEDL—Sober Emotional Destructive Leader. This makes you a dictator. You prefer to control situations, and lack of control makes you physically sick. You feel have responsibility for everyone’s welfare, and that you will be blamed when things go wrong. Things do go wrong, and you take it harder than you should.

You rely on the validation and support of others, but you have a secret distrust for people and distaste for their habits and weaknesses that make you keep your distance from them. This makes you very difficult to be with romantically. Still, a level-headed peacemaker can keep you balanced.

Despite your fierce temper and general hot-bloodedness, you have a soft spot for animals and a surprising passion for the arts. Sometimes you would almost rather live by your wits in the wilderness somewhere, if you could bring your books and your sketchbook.

You also have a strange, undeniable sexiness to you. You may go insane.


My only consolation is that I’m exactly on the border between “constructive” and “destructive,” so I could also be classed as a “politician”:

You are an SECL—Sober Emotional Constructive Leader. This makes you a politician. You cut deals, you change minds, you make things happen. You would prefer to be liked than respected, but generally people react to you with both. You are very sensitive to criticism, since your entire business is making people happy.

At times your commitment to the happiness of other people can cut into the happiness of you and your loved ones. This is very demanding on those close to you, who may feel neglected. Slowly, you will learn to set your own agenda—including time to yourself.

You are gregarious, friendly, charming and charismatic. You like animals, sports, and beautiful cars. You wear understated gold jewelry and have secret bad habits, like chewing your fingers and fidgeting.

You are very difficult to dislike.
Posted at 1:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor

Saturday, 26 June 2004

roundup of blog posts that made me laugh this week

In Which Dr. Indifferent Pushes His Luck
From Chez Miscarriage—one of the funniest blogs I’ve read in a long time, and one that (thanks to Allison) has been added to my daily reading list. (This may only be hysterically funny to those of us who’ve had mammograms. And the rest of the post may only be funny to those who’ve had pelvic exams. Consider yourself warned.)

For all you women out there who have never undergone a mammogram, here’s what happened once they got me into the imaging room. Other mammogram survivors can back me up on this.

First, a cadre of drunk fraternity boys dangled handfuls of Mardi Gras beads in front of my bewildered face and screamed, “SHOW US YOUR TITS!” And I took off the hospital gown, because I wanted those bead necklaces. They were colorful and shiny and plastic, and it’s not like I could just buy sixty dozen of them at the dollar store. So I disrobed. The fraternity boys cheered. I smugly dropped some necklaces over my head and moved closer to the imaging machine.

“Hold still! Don’t move!” the technician instructed, and then - without warning - Muhammad Ali began to pound on my right tit with an enormous mallet. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!” he sang, “Take this mallet, flatten your titty!” My right breast fell onto the floor.

Bladder Lad
From Defective Yeti by Matthew Baldwin, a regular read.

So I got some popcorn and, of course, several cubic feet of cola. All I wanted was a “small,” honest, but you know how these things are rigged against you, where it’s, like, you can get an addition 128 oz. for only seven cents, and if you don’t go for it the cashier looks at you like you must be the stupidest thing ever to claw its way out of a grave and wander around in search of brains, so you’re, like, “oh, what’s seven cents compared to the withering scorn of a nineteen year-old making minimum wage?” and the next thing you know you’re staggering away with cup of Dr. Pepper the size of Kirsty Alley.

(You should also read Matthew’s LiveJournal-style recreation of H.P. Lovecraft’s story The Shadow Over Innsmouth.)

By The Power of Stipulation: I Have The Power!
From Belle Waring of Crooked Timber. Funny and brilliant—a wonderful combination.

Now, you may object to the aliens in my example above, but of course you can just replace them with a genocidal tyrant and his henchmen, and the whole world with your entire ethnic group, and mind-control rays with hideous torture under which you will beg for death but it will be denied. See? All tidy. So, basically what I’m saying is, shut the fuck up about that bomb.

Since You Asked, Vol. II
By the incomparable Dooce.

When you call Child Welfare, PLEASE get the story straight. Not only do I leave her alone with paper towels, I set her in the middle of a flea-infested floor and surround her with sharp objects and porn. Then I turn on a wood-burning stove in the corner of the room and seal all the windows. Before I leave the room and lock the door, I stick a bottle full of vodka in her mouth, you know, to muffle the screaming.
Posted at 11:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (2)
categories: humor

Friday, 9 April 2004

early birthday gift

LAFJust received a Librarian Action Figure in the mail. It was a gift from my new friend, the delightful Linda Stone (aka "The Valley Node").

Thanks, Linda! I love it!


Posted at 1:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
categories: friends | humor

Wednesday, 7 April 2004

eggs to spare

If you’re craving an invitation to Breedster (a combination multi-player game, tamagotchi system, and social networking service in which you are a bug that can ingest, defacate, and fornicate), I have some extra eggs (which serve as invitations). Let me know.

Posted at 7:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor | social software

Saturday, 3 April 2004

pledge of allegiance, rendered in powerpoint

This is fabulous. Slate has provided us with a powerpoint version of the pledge of allegiance.

(via Jenny Levine)

Posted at 2:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor

Friday, 19 March 2004

cult member and proud of it

Via my friend (and sxsw roommate) Kelly comes this article from The Black Table entitled “The Cult of Diet Coke.”

The Cult of Diet Coke is strong and slavishly devoted, making their beverage of choice the undisputed leader in diet sodas for the last two decades and the third-most popular soda in the United States, trailing only Coca-Cola and Pepsi. And nowhere is this cult stronger than in the worlds of media and politics, where publicists, pundits and the people they orbit demand the Real Thing.

The list of who’s addicted ranges from REO Speedwagon and Elton John to Donald Trump and the Clintons.

Since my husband and I go through cases of the stuff each month, I’m glad to know we’re not alone in our devotion.

(And, of course, my first contact with Joi Ito was over his Diet Coke post, so it played a significant role in my social networking experience.)

Posted at 3:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)
categories: humor | unclassifiable

Wednesday, 17 March 2004

never a dull moment in the life of a frequent flyer

So I got safely to Dulles…where, as expected, things didn’t go according to anybody’s plan. Here’s a peek into my evening. As Dave Barry says, “I am not making this up!”

You’d think that transferring between flights on a single airline would be pretty straightforward. Not at Dulles. I arrived in D terminal, and had to leave from A terminal. However, they don’t have shuttle buses from D to A at night, so instead I had to ride from D to C, and then from C to A. During each ride I got to listen to a chirpy recording of a female voice saying “Thank you for riding in this Dulles airport mobile lounge! This method of travel reduces your travel time and exposure to inclement weather, as well as allowing you an unobstructed view of airport operations and a wide range of aircraft here at one of America’s busiest airports.” Whose bright idea was it to try to make this airport bug seem like a feature?? “Mobile lounge,” my ass.

After twenty minutes of riding “mobile lounges” and walking endless corridors, I finally arrived at my departure gate…at what I thought was moments before departure. But what I saw at the gate was lots of unhappy people milling around, and a small army of gate agents were looking confused and distressed. I heard vague mumblings from passengers about not wanting to volunteer their seats.

Gerald had already called to tell me that there’d been a foot of snow in Rochester already, and that I should plan on taking a cab home rather than trying to dig my car out of the satellite parking lot, so it occurred to me that volunteering my seat for an overbooked flight on a snowy night might be very wise—theoretically, I’d get a free ticket, a hotel room, and a flight out in the morning. What wasn’t to like? (You sense trouble coming, don’t you? Of course you do.) I elbowed my way up to the desk and offered up my seat, and the inarticulate agent thanked me and added my name to the list.

After a few minutes, the captain appeared, and announced that the weather was still acceptable for landing in Rochester, but was forecast to get worse. We could leave, but there was a possibility we couldn’t land, which meant they were required to have two backup airports, which meant they needed more fuel. More fuel means fewer passengers, so not only were they oversold, they also had to leave with empty seats. (*Big* kudos to the captain for actually coming out to the gate and telling people this. It’s amazing how a little honesty and face-to-face communication can defuse an angry crowd.)

So now I’m thinking I’m guaranteed a quiet night in a DC hotel, and flight home in daylight when the storm is over. I started feeling relaxed. I shouldn’t have.

At this point, I overheard a gate agent tell a woman that there were no hotel rooms in the area, due to weather cancellations and local events. (No, I didn’t believe her either. But that’s irrelevant.) They’d offer an extra $50 in addition to the usual vouchers to compensate, she said. Ack. I started mentally going through my head, trying to figure out who I knew in DC that would be willing to put me up for the night. (Yes, Jared, you’re the first one who came to mind, since as I recall your new house is very close to Dulles! But I don’t have your phone number, dude. You need to send me that.)

Now, anyone who travels regularly knows how this kind of thing goes. They start with the people who’ve volunteered. They make a few announcements to get more volunteers, gradually upping the ante. Not these guys. They never acknowledged that a group of us had already offered to give up our seats. Instead, they announced that they were going to board the flight one person at a time, by name, using frequent flyer mileage status and check-in time as their ranking tools. WTF?!?

Ten minutes later, with 20 angry people still waving their boarding passes and demanding to be let on the plane, they called my name to board. “Are you sure?” I asked…”I did volunteer.” They waved me on board, while the angry mob at the gate scowled at me.

I walked through the sliding doors, and was confronted with three possible directions I could walk. There was no sign of a gate agent to direct me. (They were all too busy standing at the desk looking confused, it seems.) “Is my plane behind door number one, door number two, or door number three?” Suddenly one set of doors opened to a darkened exterior hallway, so I took a chance and headed that way. At the end of the walkway, confused tarmac workers asked me why so few people were ocming through. They clearly didn’t believe me when I told them how boarding was being handled, then asked for my boarding pass. I handed to them. “Why do you have the whole thing?” they asked, looking at me suspiciously. “Nobody asked me for it,” I replied. Looking appalled, they tore off my stub, and motioned me towards the Canadair regional jet on the tarmac. I climbed aboard.

A few minutes later, I was followed onto the plane by a young man clutching a cell phone. “Dad, I swear, that’s really what they’re doing. No, I’m not kidding. Dad, they really are boarding people by name. I don’t care, Dad, that’s what they’re doing!” He finally hung up, and settled himself in the seat next to me.

Thirty minutes later, as they finally prepared to close the doors, the flight attendant made an announcement. “I know y’all have had a rough evening, so tonight we’re going to play a little game I like to call “boarding card bingo.” Anybody every played this before?” Silence. “Okay, here’s how it works. I have… [she looks in the galley]…seven bottles of red wine, seven bottles of white wine, five bud lights, six buds, and…uh-oh, this will cause some fights…four heinekens. When we land, I plan to be fresh out of all of those. I’m going to collect your boarding cards and drop them in this bag. After we take off, I’ll pull cards and you get your choice of what’s left, no charge. Drink it fast, it’s only a 40 minute flight to Rochester!” After a moment of stunned silence, the airplane erupted in laughter.

(Now, those of you who know my stepdaughter Erin can simply imagine Erin at age 45 with dark hair, and you’ve got a spot-on vision of this flight attendant. It was spooky.)

A few moments later, she came down the aisle, collecting our cards. When she got to the row behind me, she said “Okay, y’all are in the exit row. Hush up now, and listen.” Then she rattled off the exit row speech (“are you able, here’s what you have to do, etc etc”) faster than the fedex guy in the classic fast-talking commercial. I have never heard anything like it. All of us in earshot were listened in disbelief. When she finished, we broke out in a rousing round of cheers and applause.

The flight was uneventful after that. We landed safely in a very snowy city, and trickled out to the terminal. Before we disembarked, I handed my card, with my blog address, to the young man next to me. “Give your dad—and your professors at Geneseo—this address if they don’t believe your story, okay?” (Blogs as fact-checking mechanisms; shades of Accordion Guy and the New Girl, no?)

Gerald had instructed me to call a cab to take me home, rather than trying to dig my car out of the lot, so I went to the taxi stand. There were 15 other people there, and no taxis to be seen. Ugh. So I decided to hop the shuttle to the lot, and hope for the best. Bad idea. She pulled up in front of my car, and my nifty new remote starter did absolutely nothing to elicit signs of life from the car, which had a 2’ snow drift behind it, as well. After a few other tests made it clear that the car was dead as a doornail, I headed back to the airport and got in line for a taxi.

At about 1am I paid the cab driver the extortionate fare he’d demanded to take me home in the snow, and dragged my sorry self in the door of my house. And ten hours later, I’m starting to feel almost human again.

Was sxsw worth all that? I think so. But I hope it doesn’t become an annual travel-from-hell ritual, that’s for sure.

Posted at 11:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)
categories: humor | travel

Friday, 20 February 2004

here come the badgers

I didn’t blog about the badgers, since it’s the kind of meme that spreads best person-to-person. But I can’t resist pointing to this delightful merging of LoTR and the badgers, which I found via a comment on Weez’s blog.


The rest of today is hereby devoted to packing, prepping, and panicking—not necessarily in that order. Blogging before departure is unlikely, but blogging from the other side of the world, starting this weekend, is extremely likely.

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categories: humor

Wednesday, 21 January 2004

defective yeti on pregnancy

This is so good, it must be shared. A fragment:

But only one person is the appointed bearer. And that poor sap has to carry the burden the entire way, a burden that just gets heavier and heavier as the weeks wear on. The bearer gets increasingly tired and cranky as they approach their destination — and who can blame them? Their good-for-nothing companion doesn’t do anything useful, except flit about and say things like “jeeze, I wish I could carry the burden for a while!” and occasionally fight off an enormous spider and/or fetch chocolate ice cream.

Anyone who has ever been pregnant, or lived with someone who was pregnant, should read the whole thing.

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categories: humor

Monday, 1 December 2003

giving a whole new meaning to "blue screen of death"

From Wired News:

First Microsoft set out to put a computer in every home. Now the software giant hopes to put one in every vehicle, too.

“We’d like to have one of our operating systems in every car on Earth,” said Dick Brass, vice-president of Microsoft’s automotive business unit. “It’s a lofty goal.”
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categories: humor

Tuesday, 11 November 2003

this one's for you, o great seer

what kind of social software are you?

“You find yourself in the beta of some game where you can’t kill anything. You get sprinkled with pixie dust, and get scared at the sheer goodwill.”

What kind of social software are you?

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categories: humor

Tuesday, 30 September 2003

libruhls, my precioussss!

From Andrew Shorter, a wonderful post entitled “Shorter Right-Wing Punditry’s Reaction to the Valerie Plame Affair: An Internal Dialogue.”

Why would master do this? Why he tricks us, and betrays us?

No, it couldn’t have been master! Master is good and kind, and gives us wriggly fishes from his table, so juicy sweet! No, no, never master!

But why would the names of lady spiesies be in the newspapers? It’s so confusing, it makes our brainses feel all swirly and bad!

Read the original, which has lots of embeded linky goodness.

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categories: humor

Thursday, 11 September 2003

accordion guy makes me laugh

Days like today, which are shot all to hell by meetings and administrivia, are when I most need a good laugh.

Today’s good laugh was brought to me by Accordion Guy (aka Joey deVilla, who I sure hope will be in Accordion City when I’m there next month for AoIR).

He blogged about an accident at Lockheed-Martin involving a satellite. According to the news report,

The mishap was caused because 24 bolts were missing from a fixture in the Ďturn over cartÓ. Two errors occurred. First, technicians from another satellite program that uses the same type of Ďturn over cartÓ removed the 24 bolts from the NOAA cart on September 4 without proper documentation. Second, the NOAA team working today failed to follow the procedure to verify the configuration of the NOAA Ďturn over cartÓ since they had used it a few days earlier.

Here’s how Joey ended his post:

I can see the instant message chatter going on at Lockheed right now: [RocketMan23] SRRY BOUT BORRWING BOLTS WITHOUT TELLING U BUT U SHULD HV CHEKD LOL
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categories: humor

Monday, 8 September 2003

the book of my enemy

Crooked Timber quotes one of my all-time favorite poems today, Clive James’ “The Book of my Enemy has been Remaindered.” Here’s how it begins:

The book of my enemy has been remaindered And I am pleased.
In vast quantities it has been remaindered
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
My enemy’s much-prized effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.

I don’t know whether to be delighted or dismayed that I find such enjoyment in this poem.

Posted at 7:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor

Wednesday, 6 August 2003

what a friend we have in jesus

In today’s email:

From: Tribe <>
Date: Wed Aug 6, 2003 2:07:19 PM Canada/Eastern
To: Elizabeth Lawley <liz [at]>
Subject: New Invitation from Jesus Christ

Jesus would like to add you to their personal friend network at Please use the following URL to log on to and approve or reject this request:
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categories: humor

Monday, 4 August 2003

new competition for our grads

primates.gifVia Pete Bevin, I found Primate Programming, Inc., which “is dedicated to the advancement and gainful employment of non-human great apes within the United States information technology sector.”

According to a recent press release, “experiments last month with baboons have proved that higher primates can perform software testing, traverse complex menus, and code simple XML schemas. The finding have implications for the entire software industry, with some scientists predicting routine programming such as maintenance and report writing will be performed by teams of primates within 10 years.”

I particularly liked this passage:

McAuliffe discovered the subject baboon behavior did not include the sharing of source code. In fact, many subjects were territorial, in some cases blocking the progress of other animals, with aggressive and subtle passive-aggressive behaviors. Males who could manipulate the laptop keyboard and traverse complex, multi-way menus gained an immediate increase in social status within the group. This led to some social friction, as more knowledgeable males enjoyed higher social status at the expense of then-alpha, more physical males. None of the baboons, regardless of rank, could perform an error-free compile or handle Windows registry tasks.
Posted at 11:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor

Sunday, 20 July 2003

why i don't watch the news

During tonight’s NBC Nightly News we caught this priceless line, uttered by reporter Shellee Smith:

“Experts say when you hear thunder, lightning isn’t far behind.”

(We replayed it three times to be sure we’d heard her right.)

Posted at 6:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (1)
categories: humor

Saturday, 19 July 2003

words of wisdom

Via Simon Phipps, these quotes from a conversation Phil Wolff had with an IT guru:
Beware the tyranny of bad tools and bad management.

You spill milk to discover how big the table is.

Nothing brings the experts out of the woodwork like an idiot speaking his mind.

Kill your UI people. If you fire them, they’ll go to work somewhere else.

Asking programmers to make social software can be like asking deaf people to make violins.

Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity or lack of serotonin uptake.
Posted at 12:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)
categories: humor

Wednesday, 16 July 2003

fab five, make over my man!

Last night, Gerald and I watched Bravo’s new show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. What a great show!

If you’ve missed the pre-show hype, the show’s premise is that five gay men are given a mission to makeover the clothes, grooming, behavior, living space, and food of a scraggly straight guy.

I was wondering if they could pull it off, without making the gay men into caricatures, or the straight man into the butt of a nasty joke. They did. It was a perfect balance. The casting was superb, the dialogue was too funny, and the editing was brilliant.

One of the best lines of the first show was when the clothing and grooming guys (Carson and Kyan) returned to the apartment with their charge, Butch. The place has been completely transformed from its original cluttered appearance by Thom, the designer. Carson is delighted, and exclaims “Oh my God, you’ve put a living room where the crack den used to be!”

Another nice touch is how the last part of the show is handled. Once they’ve dressed, groomed, and tutored their charge, they do not accompany him to his evening out. Instead, the five of them sit in a living room, watching the activity on a big flat-screen tv, and providing running commentary—sort of MST3K style. The audience gets to enjoy the jokes, but it doesn’t intrude on the made-over man’s experience.

Towards the end of the evening, I turned to Gerald and said “so, would you kill me if I sent them your name?” He laughed and said “of course not.” Alas, it’s limited to NYC-area men, so we can’t do it.

All in all, the show gets a 5-out-of-5 rating from both me and my husband, which is a rarity. And we’re even dumping the episodes to tape because we expect we’ll want to lend them out occasionally as well as saving them to watch again.

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categories: humor

Sunday, 29 June 2003

geek humor

You know you’re really a geek when this Clay Shirky line makes you laugh:

If you thought that all that was wrong with RSS 1.0 is that RDF didn’t make it confusing enough, attach the twin boat-anchors of OWL and the Semantic Web to Echo and see what happens.

From Sam Ruby’s wiki on the emerging Echo RSS replacement project. (And yes, I know that just reading that wiki is enough to push me way too high on the geek-o-meter.)

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categories: humor

Wednesday, 7 May 2003

the laugh i needed tonight

Via Grumpygirl, this incomparable site-eating tool.

You feed it a URL, and it…well, it’s hard to explain what it does. Here’s its version of my blog. Wow.

Posted at 9:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (2)
categories: humor

Monday, 21 April 2003

passover reporting, cnn style?

Via Allison Kaplan Sommer, this gem of a spoof on how CNN might have reported the Passover story:

The cycle of violence between the Jews and the Egyptians continues with no end in sight in Egypt. After eight previous plagues that have destroyed the Egyptian infrastructure and disrupted the lives of ordinary Egyptian citizens, the Jews launched a new offensive this week in the form of the plague of darkness. read more…

It’s part of a post entitled “The IDF Does Not Get a Passover Vacation,” in which Allison points out one of the many aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict that go unreported in American media.

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categories: humor

Friday, 18 April 2003

"let's do some data mining"

My sister is getting married on June 1st, and she’s just started a registry on (at my suggestion, since our family is spread out, and I thought that would make it easier for folks to find things for her).

So tonight Gerald and I logged onto to see what she’d picked out. My father had said he’d had trouble finding her in the registry, so I tried searching on her name. We realized pretty quickly that he’d probably searched on “Jenny” rather than “Jennifer,” and the system doesn’t seem smart enough to match those up.

But in the process, we noticed how many Jennys and Jennifers there were with her last name. And even more interestingly, we found someone on the list with a variation on her last name…who was getting married to a man with the same last name. (We’ll leave out their exact names in a feeble attempt to protect their privacy. Resourceful readers, I suspect, will be able to track them down.)

“They must be from Alabama,” said Gerald. “But that’s not what it says on the screen,” I pointed out. “Bullshit. They’ve got to be from Alabama.” (Disclaimer: He’s from Alabama. Born and bred, with most of his family there. So he can get away with remarks like that when I can’t.) “Click on their registry. Let’s see what they asked for.”

So I did. Four pages of stuff. The first page included Scooby Doo dishes. “So they’re a brother and sister who already have a kid,” he said. (I will admit that at this point I was pretty much consumed with giggles.) “Keep going…let’s do some data mining.”

The next page had both a Scooby Doo bed quilt and Barbie twin bed linens. Two kids? Or just one slightly odd child? Hard to tell. Until we got to the third page, with three alarm clocks. Definitely two kids.

But it was the last page where we really lost it. Right there on the wedding registry, there it was: PEPP FARM 38OZ CHEDDAR GOLDFISH. Even better, it was marked “fulfilled.” They had asked for—and received—a giant package of goldfish crackers as a wedding gift.

So the next time you find yourself wondering if all this technology has really improved our lives, think of Jenny and Jim and their goldfish. Could life really get any better?

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categories: humor

Saturday, 5 April 2003

note to self...

…must become widely-sought-after speaker RSN, so as to garner invitations (read: waived registration fees) to events like ETCON, SuperNova, and Pop!Tech.

An assistant professor’s salary doesn’t cover these kinds of events, alas.

Our department has been wonderfully generous on travel, which is how I’ve managed to get to Pop!Tech for the past two years. But budgets are shrinking—not just at home, but also at work—and I suspect the glory days where we could send seven faculty members to Camden are already over.

Do you suppose I could play the gender card to get myself in some of these doors? (She said, reading through yet another description of an all-male panel at a cool conference…) Nah, probably not. Meg’s on enough of the marquees to negate that approach. :-)

Damn. Guess I’ll have to keep using real-time conference blogs for vicarious attendance.

Posted at 4:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (1)
categories: gender | humor

Wednesday, 19 March 2003

on the lighter side

We all can use some levity today, I think. So, in lieu of a Homeland Security icon, or a “countdown to the showdown” clock, I present the following things that made me smile today:

Posted at 1:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
categories: humor
Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna