December 31, 2003

Top Five of '03

Since either a list of New Year's resolutions or a year-in-review is seemingly mandatory for all bloggers today, I think I'll go with the latter and take a look back at some of the more notable events that transpired in my life over the course of the past year. So, you take the good, you take the bad, you take 'em both and there you have my five most memorable moments of 2003.

5. Getting hit by a car (February)
Here's a piece of advice that I learned from personal experience: just because a car stops for you at a crosswalk, it doesn't mean that the driver won't decide to put the pedal to the metal and run you down anyway. To make a long story short, my wife and I were walking across the grocery store parking lot back in February when we were both struck by a car. My knee was jacked up a bit (nothing serious), but my wife ended up with a concussion. It turned out that the driver was paying just enough attention to what he was doing to stop at the crosswalk, but not quite enough to make sure that nobody was actually crossing it before he continued on his way. Anyway, for about five months after the accident, I still got a churning in the pit of my stomach every time I crossed a street. I think that counts as memorable.

4. Honeymoon in San Francisco (March)
From start to finish, every moment of our honeymoon was a moment to remember--even sitting through the otherwise forgettable Far from Heaven on the flight to San Francisco. Upon arrival, Kourtney and I literally walked the city from end to end, dropping by all the major tourist sites: the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Pier 39, the sea lions, Lombard Street, the Japanese Tea Gardens, Coit Tower, and the rest. More importantly, however, we discovered the divine joys of tapas in a little restaurant called Ramblas in the Mission District. Anyway, after a few days in Frisco (I understand that the locals hate hearing it called that), we drove out to spend the remainder of our honeymoon in the breathtakingly beautiful--even in the off-season--Yosemite National Park. When it was all said and done, we ended up not only with an absolutely spectacular honeymoon, but what was easily the best vacation I've ever taken. Oh, and for those who might be interested, here are a few pre-digital camera photos from our trip.

3. Passing my comps (October, November)
It was a long road, but I finally took the last class of my graduate career (American Foreign Policy) during the summer. Unfortunately, the completion of my coursework meant that it was time for me to take the dreaded comprehensive exams in comparative politics and international relations. As expected, the written comps were positively dreadful. I spent a month studying roughly eight hours a day, seven days a week, reading and re-reading countless books and articles along the way. The hard work paid off, though, and I managed to pass my written comps--with the added bonus of distinction in comparative politics. Of course, as one of my cohorts reminded me, passing with distinction simply means that I studied too much. Heeding that advice, I barely studied at all for my oral comps and nearly had a nervous breakdown in front of my committee when that fateful day arrived. Nevertheless, I passed and received a new title (ABD) for my trouble--not to mention a complimentary audio cassette of my oral comps session. Speaking of which, I really should get around to destroying that thing before I'm overcome with the morbid curiosity to actually listen to it one of these days.

2. Milo passes away, Kip joins the family (October, November)
In October, we had to put our beloved 19-year-old cocker spaniel Milo to sleep after he became ill and just couldn't go on any longer. It wasn't an easy decision--my wife and Milo had been together since she was in elementary school and he was in puppy obedience school--and hardly a day goes by that we don't think back fondly on our little muffin head. Just a few weeks after Milo passed away, however, my wife found a wonderful young cocker spaniel at the local animal control shelter. After meeting Kip (née Ben, a.k.a. the Notorious K.I.P.), it was a no-brainer to adopt him. He's no replacement for Milo--no dog could be--but he's been an absolute joy to have in the family. Here's hoping that he'll make it to at least 19 so we'll have plenty of time to keep spoiling him.

1. Tying the knot (March)
The entry about my honeymoon above probably gave away the number one spot, but what could be more memorable than marrying the most loving, caring, beautiful, intelligent, and all-around amazing woman that I've ever met? You know, the one who let me take a half-hour out of our New Year's Eve festivities to write this entry. 'Nuff said.

In conclusion, an honorable most memorable moment mention should go out to launching this blog back in August. At first, I wasn't sure if I would actually enjoy the whole blogging thing, but I've had an absolute blast over the past five months or so and look forward to many more months to come. Here's wishing everyone who reads Apropos of Something a very happy New Year! I'll see you in 2004...

Posted by Jess at 10:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Over twice as evil as the average Doug

Quite possibly the funniest person I've ever met, the inimitable Evil Doug, has launched a new LiveJournal, so go and check it out. The Evil One is just getting started, but I'm willing to guarantee that good things are in store from his blog. Oh, and thanks to Kara for passing along the news.

Posted by Jess at 08:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 30, 2003

Jess goes to Jersey

I've been promising photos from my holiday travels, and the first set is here! These shots were all taken in and around Princeton, New Jersey--some by me and some by my wife. First up is this shot taken at a fresh fruit market in downtown Princeton (click the thumbnail for a larger image).


We liked that one so much that we already have a copy framed and hanging on the wall here in our house.

Next up is another picture from downtown Princeton, this time of a beautiful old barber pole. If you look closely at the full-size image, you can see our reflections in the metal dome on the bottom of the pole.


Finally, here's one the zillions of photos we snapped of beautiful architecture on Princeton University's campus. Sure, it's no football gargoyle, but what is?


If all goes according to plan, I should have some photos and a story or two from my visit to Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash in Red Bank posted tomorrow.

Posted by Jess at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If you're a fellow Simpsons fan..., don't walk, to the nearest purveyor of fine PC and console games and pick up a copy of The Simpsons: Hit & Run today. Why must you own this game? Let me put it this way: earlier today, I was helping Homer (who, I should add, was driving Barney's "Plow King" truck and wearing the stylish muumuu and cap ensemble from the episode where he attempted to put on weight to get classified as disabled and work from home) race to work at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, knocking over mailboxes, ramming other cars, "nudging" such familar pedestrians as Milhouse and Hans Moleman, and hearing Homer shout "I have no insurance!" over his shoulder all the while. Then, just when it looked like I wasn't going to make it, I took a shortcut through the Stonecutters' secret traffic tunnel and made my way on foot to Section 7-G just in time. And that's just one short mission. What fan of The Simpsons could resist?

Posted by Jess at 12:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 29, 2003

Back in action

I'm finally back home in the land of broadband Internet connections (with a brand new PC to boot), so expect my regularly scheduled blogging to resume tomorrow with some stories and photos from my recent travels.

Posted by Jess at 07:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 26, 2003

Better than a lump of coal--and it moisturizes!

Despite what the Onion and might suggest, there are certain advantages to having your mom read your blog. For instance, I woke up Christmas morning to find a stocking hung by the chimney with care, overflowing with the various shaving products mentioned in this post from a couple of weeks ago.

Is it a little strange to receive an assortment of personal care products in one's Christmas stocking? Then again, now that I think about it, maybe it's a little strange for a 26-year-old to still receive a stocking in the first place.

Posted by Jess at 11:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 24, 2003

Merry Christmas!

It's been a crazy week of traveling with stops in Philadelphia, Princeton, and now my parents' house in Southwest Virginia. While the opportunities for blogging have been scarce, I should be back to my regularly scheduled ramblings within the next couple of days--complete with plenty of stories and photos from my trip. In the meantime, merry Christmas!

Posted by Jess at 04:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 22, 2003

Three observations

First, the talking trash cans in the Atlanta airport seem somewhat unnecessary (and a bit creepy). Do I really need to be told to "please press down the lid and ensure that the trash in completely in the receptacle" every time I walk by--especially when it's someone else's trash in the first place?

Second, if you're ever in Philadelphia, the best cheesesteaks are at Pat's King of Steaks, not Gino's.

Finally, a can of water chestnuts--organic or not--should never cost $7.50. Never.

Posted by Jess at 09:13 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 20, 2003

Frosty the Gunman

I just thought I'd pass along this helpful piece of holiday advice that I heard on a radio advertisement yesterday: "No Christmas morning is complete without a gun under the tree." Thankfully, we still have four shopping days left until Christmas.

Posted by Jess at 06:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 19, 2003

Just in time for Christmas: Satyr Satire

Is it just me, or does this 2003 holiday postal stamp have a weird pagan vibe to it--what with the anthropomorphic reindeer, antlers, hooves, and Pan flute?


I'm just saying. Of course, I'm still not quite sure how the gaudy purple and yellow pants and suspenders fit in to the overall Dionysian allusion. Maybe it's actually a depiction of the dreaded Luchataur--the half-deer, half-Mexican-wrestler creature of legend.

Posted by Jess at 08:10 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

There and Back Again

Oh, I almost forgot to mention one of the best parts of my theater-going experience today. During the tense scene where Shelob is silently stalking Frodo, a guy in the audience stage-whispered to the screen, "Frodo, there's a giant spider sneaking up behind you!" Normally, I'm not a fan of audience participation, but that one actually got a chuckle out of me for some reason.

Posted by Jess at 12:01 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 18, 2003

Fool of a Took!

I caught a showing of The Return of the King this afternoon, and I was completely blown away. Even though the film managed to exceed my ridiculously high expectations, it was still a bittersweet experience to watch the series wrap up. The whole time, I couldn't help but feel a little depressed knowing that it could feasibly be decades before I see anything else on the silver screen that rivals both the epic scope and nuanced storytelling of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I want The Return of the King to win the Oscar for Best Picture. I want the Academy to name Ian McKellan Best Actor and Sean Astin Best Supporting Actor. Heck, give Peter Jackson the Oscar for Best Director while we're at it. I want the Academy to figure out some way to honor Andy Serkis and the special effects wizards at Weta for bringing Gollum to life and making him one of the most compelling characters I've seen on film in years. I want to hear Theoden's rallying speech to the troops at Minas Tirith again. I want another chance to watch Gandalf share his insights on the adventure beyond death with Pippin just when it looks like all hope is lost. I want to go back and re-read the trilogy for the first time since my sophomore year of college.

Most of all, though, I want a copy of the Extended Edition DVD the moment it's released next year. Oh, and I wouldn't mind seeing Peter Jackson secure the rights to The Hobbit either.

Posted by Jess at 10:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Burrito economics

There's a locally-owned chain of burrito restaurants here in Athens that my wife and I frequent from time to time. Basically, the place works like this: you pick what kind of tortilla, beans, and meat you want and then choose the remaining toppings--cucumbers, black olives, freshly chopped jalapenos, etc.--Subway style. Here's the strange part, though; while all those toppings are included in the base price of the burrito, the restaurant charges an extra 30 cents if you want to add lettuce. How can you charge extra for lettuce when you're giving away olives? Olives! I thought restaurant suppliers gave restaurants a couple of complimentary trash bags full of lettuce when they ordered their real vegetables.

It's like buying a car and having the salesman say, "We'll throw in the custom floor mats for free, but we're gonna need a buck fifty for the Coconut Breeze air freshener."

Posted by Jess at 07:55 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 17, 2003

Toss another entry on the bonfire

Each week, the Bonfire of the Vanities "honors" the worst of the blogosphere, and it seems that the judges agree that it doesn't get much worse than my Freaky Friday entry from last week.

Posted by Jess at 06:32 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 16, 2003

Justify Her Love

Howard Dean may have Al Gore's endorsement for the 2004 presidential election, but Wesley Clark has the Material Mom in his corner. Take that, Carol Moseley Braun!

Posted by Jess at 11:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Behold the Football Gargoyle

Kourtney is spending the week visiting her parents in New Jersey, and she just emailed me a few photos she took earlier today. First up is a shot she snapped in Princeton of, believe it or not, a football-playing gargoyle (click the thumbnail for a larger view):


I guess it's not any stranger than the Darth Vader gargoyle that perches atop the National Cathedral in Washington.

What's that you say? The gargoyle is pretty cool and all, but what you really want to see is a photo of a cabbage?


No problem!

Posted by Jess at 04:38 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tales from the Classroom VIII: The End of the Semester

I'm staring down a stack of 110 essays, roughly four to five pages each, that need to be graded by Thursday morning. All the end-of-semester work seems worth it, though, when I receive emails like this one:

Hey there, just wanted to write and thank you for a great semester in discussion. For someone like me who is not all that big into politics, you made the subject understandable and enjoyable. You always helped lead our discussions without being overbearing and you were always open to everyone's point-of-view. I felt like you really respected each student and made yourself avaliable for help for our benefit. I wish you the best of luck next semester with your own class, they are lucky to have you. Take care and have a nice holiday.
Now, where did I put my favorite grading pen?

Posted by Jess at 11:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 15, 2003

The future is now

I was just picking up some groceries at Wal-Mart and heard this announcement over the store PA: "Virtual reality sales associate needed in Toys."

So, do they do that with, like, holograms or something?

Posted by Jess at 09:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 14, 2003

Blizzard of Oz

If you weren't already convinced that Ozzy Osbourne is a ridiculously overexposed sell-out, I submit the Osbourne Family Christmas Special that's currently running ad nauseum on MTV (check your local listings). The lame sketches, Kelly's shrill rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and the neverending parade of B-list celebrity cameos speak for themselves, but the special just goes from bad to worse when Ozzy is asked to record a duet of "Winter Wonderland" with the similarly overexposed Jessica Simpson.

After his producer explains the whole concept to him, Ozzy goes on an obviously staged--if not outright scripted--tirade and pulls his "I'm the Prince of F---ing Darkness" catchphrase out of the mothballs, stopping just short of winking at the camera each time he reassures us that he's Satan incarnate. He then proceeds to record the song anyway--with the voice filter in the studio turned all the way up to "Britney Spears." And there's another season of this increasingly self-aware nonsense on tap? You've gotta be kidding me.

Posted by Jess at 07:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We got him

Of all the mornings to sleep in, I picked the one when U.S. forces finally captured Gimli the Dwarf.

Posted by Jess at 11:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Around the blogosphere

Today is the last day to vote for Apropos of Something in Wizbang's 2003 Weblog Awards. It's probably too late for the site win in the Slimy Molluscs category, but there's still room to move up a few notches in the rankings.

Meanwhile, Jim at Snooze Button Dreams is looking for submissions for the second week of his Bestofme Symphony. Information on submitting your own classic entry is available here. Hurry, though--the deadline is fast approaching.

Oh, and I also got two submissions accepted at Slashdot (here and here) in the past day or so. For those of you visiting the site via Slashdot, welcome! Feel free to stick around and enjoy a recent post or two.

Posted by Jess at 11:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 13, 2003

One man's fight to end razor bumps in our time

There's not much in this world that I hate more than shaving--due in large part to a history of annoying razor bumps. Unfortunately, my facial hair tends to grow just enough to necessitate shaving every other day, but not enough to keep any attempt at a beard or goatee on my part from being a complete embarrassment. Anyway, as part of my ongoing battle against razor bumps, I've gradually added several additional steps and countless personal care products to my shaving regimen over the course of the past year.

The rigmarole begins the night before I plan to shave with me washing my face using Aveeno Clear Complexion foaming cleanser and applying a healthy dose of Neutrogena Healthy Skin face lotion. The next morning, I get up early and scrub down with ultra-gritty St. Ives facial exfoliant to get rid of as much of that pesky epidermis as possible. Then, I wash up with St. Ives moisturizing facial cleanser--and I'm almost ready to shave.

With my triple-blade razor at the ready, I lather up using Aveeno therapeutic shave gel for sensitive skin (with natural colloidal oatmeal, of course) and begin to shave--methodically and always with the grain, as instructed by Kyan Douglas. After about ten minutes, I'm finished and it's time for the post-shave wrap-up.

First, I wash my face again--this time with Neutrogena skin clearing face wash for men. Then, I splash down with a faceful of cold water to close the pores before beginning to mop up the puddles of blood that are typically beginning to form on the bathroom countertop by this point. When all that's done, I finish up with a generous coat of a Nivea after-shave balm that allegedly "moisturizes the skin and helps soothe the irritations caused by shaving," but in fact tends to leave me running around the house with my hands on my face and screaming like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.

The end result? I still get razor bumps, although not quite as many as before. On the downside, the entire shaving process now takes about six hours to complete by the time I factor in all the pre-shave prep, the shave itself, and the post-shave denouement--not to mention requiring about $40 worth of facial products. Oh, and I'm completely emasculated now. I almost forgot that last part.

Why do I sometimes get the feeling that soaping up with a bar of Irish Spring, shaving with a single-blade disposable, and splashing on some Aqua Velva when I'm finished would be just as effective? Then again, those new quadruple-blade razors are pretty tempting.

Posted by Jess at 07:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 12, 2003

A study in uncool

Which is lamer: A) deciding to catch a late showing of Freaky Friday alone at the local dollar theater on a Friday night when your wife is out of town, or B) purchasing a ticket for Once Upon a Time in Mexico and sneaking into Freaky Friday instead just to avoid saying the phrase "One for Freaky Friday, please" to the high-schooler working the ticket booth?

This scenario, of course, is completely hypothetical and should not be confused with any events transpiring in my own life.

Posted by Jess at 11:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mr. Picassohead and his bucket of fun

Gaze upon the wonders of my Mr. Picassohead. Feel free to create your own and post a link in the comments. Thanks to Kottke for the URL.

Posted by Jess at 07:50 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 11, 2003

Hard Drivin'

Whenever I spend any appreciable amount of time playing an arcade-based racing game (lately it's been Re-Volt on my PC, not to mention a brief dalliance with the Mario Kart: Double Dash demo at Best Buy), I find that the line between fantasy and reality inevitably begins to blur. In turn, the next time I get behind the wheel of an actual car after playing one of these games, I start thinking thoughts like "Hey, that collapsed tree would make a great ramp!" or "I could pick up a little speed if I could just powerslide out of this turn!"--and let's not forget the ever-popular "That guy's going for the inside lane; a little nudge with the old bumper will teach him a lesson!"

The moral of the story? I should never, ever play the Grand Theft Auto series.

Posted by Jess at 08:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Broadcasting live, coast to coast

Capitalizing on the wonders of RSS and other technologies that I don't entirely comprehend, teedz has devised a way to syndicate this site on LiveJournal. So, any LJ users out there can now add apropos_jess to their friends list to have my entries show up via syndication. Come on--you know you want to.

Posted by Jess at 07:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 10, 2003


This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up at Signal + Noise, and it seems that my recent entry discussing my short-lived career as a fragrance model made the cut. Meanwhile, my "classic" (and I apply that term as loosely as possible) rant on fast food advertising is linked in the first edition of the Bestofme Symphony at Snooze Button Dreams. In related news, Jay insists that the new burgers at Hardee's are actually pretty good, but I'm still not sure that I'm convinced.

Since I'm already in a linking mood, I should also point out this story at Yahoo! News (link via teedz). Apparently, Colin Powell has appointed James Brown "secretary of soul and foreign minister of funk." I had intended to provide a bit of commentary on this news item, but I now realize that there's nothing I could possibly add to the story.

Posted by Jess at 11:33 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Pop culture souffle

I have to admit that there was something infectious about Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie's gleeful insubordination while working at the local Sonic drive-through on last night's episode of The Simple Life.

Meanwhile, this Dark Horizons report suggests that Star Trek: Enterprise is quite possibly calling it quits next season due to low ratings. You know, there's still time to implement some of my suggestions to save the series.

Finally, there's a hilarious (albeit R-rated) review of The Return of the King Hobbit-Man: The King Returns by Neill Cumpston up at Ain't It Cool News. A brief excerpt: "This movie starts with the origin of Golem--that creepy guy who looks like Iggy Pop and wears Tarzan pants and wants the invisible-ring. He's still on a quest with the two hobbits--Rudy from the film RUDY and Fredo--to throw the ring into a volcano (this is like a serious version of JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO)." Good times.

Posted by Jess at 07:01 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 09, 2003

Good things come to those who wait?

I've had a day of waiting today. First, I had an appointment at nine o'clock this morning to proctor a two-hour make-up exam for a student who never showed up. Then, I had to stick around the department until one o'clock to meet with another student and talk about the upcoming final exam. She didn't show up either. After that, it was off to Wal-Mart to wait around for two hours while their automotive department changed my car's oil and rotated the tires. As an added bonus, I even got to watch most of The Santa Clause 2 with a couple of preschoolers while hanging out in Wal-Mart's "automotive customer hospitality room."

Posted by Jess at 08:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I thought it was a euphemism. A euphemism!

In downtown Athens, about a block from my department, there's a dingy little Chinese restaurant that everyone I know refers to as "bad Chinese"--as in "I'm in the mood for bad Chinese!" or "Who wants to go downtown for some bad Chinese?" Before I finally tried bad Chinese for the first time yesterday, I had operated under the assumption that the nickname was in jest since my friends seem to eat there all the time. After all, who would eat at a Chinese restaurant that he or she consciously acknowledges as not being good? Having sampled their cuisine, however, it looks like it's time for a new working theory.

Posted by Jess at 08:13 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 07, 2003

Bees, horses, and vermouth

Kourtney and I took the digital camera out for a spin today and came back with what I think are some pretty good photos. For instance, here's a shot that we took on campus (click the thumbnail for a larger image):


But, wait--there's more!

Here's a photo of a locally-famous sculpture that's located just outside of Athens:


Abbott Pattison sculpted the two-ton "Iron Horse" in 1954, and it was placed in a prominent spot on the University of Georgia campus. Students didn't exactly take a shine to the abstract sculpture, scribbling on it with paint, shoving hay into its mouth, scattering manure on the ground behind it, and finally placing a mattress under it and setting it on fire. Amidst student protests, the "Iron Horse" was eventually moved to its current location in a remote field 18 miles outside of Athens.

Finally, here's a random and somewhat creepy photo of a poster that's in our living room:


Something tells me that I need to just take the plunge and launch a photoblog.

Posted by Jess at 07:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Parental Advisory: Explicit Campaigning

According to the New York Post, Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry employed the f-bomb in a recent Rolling Stone interview to describe Bush's Iraq policy (link via blogbandit). Then again, it's the New York Post--a tabloid that ran with the headline "I was Paris Hilton's farm boy!" on the front page of this week's Sunday edition--so it should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

Posted by Jess at 11:24 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Bear versus Tiger

It's that time of semester when conversations get a little strange among the term-paper-addled students who hang out in the graduate lounge at school. On Friday, for instance, we somehow ended up on the topic of which animal would win in a one-on-one fight to the death--a bear or a tiger. On the one hand, a bear obviously holds advantages in terms of size, strength, and endurance. On the other, a tiger has an edge in terms of its superior speed and agility.

Among the ten or so people who debated the issue--none of whom were comparative biologists, I should note--the consensus seemed to be that the bear would win easily due to its presumed ability to sustain more injury. I still contend, though, that the tiger would win, not only thanks to its speed, but also due to the fact that tigers are natural hunters with an inborn killer instinct. Sure, a bear might win in a grabbing-salmon-out-of-a-stream contest, but a fight to the death seems like a tiger's time to shine. Before I had the chance to plead my case fully, however, the conversation moved on to a debate over who would win in a fight to the death--Count Chocula or the Frankenberry Monster. Duh! You should never bet against a chocolate vampire!

Nevertheless, the question remains: bear or tiger?

Posted by Jess at 09:12 AM | Comments (66) | TrackBack

December 06, 2003

In space, no one can hear you clean

To help celebrate the eighth anniversary of my other website, a guy going by the handle of "Marty McFly" sent me this image depicting a cartoon version of yours truly dressed as Roger Wilco, space janitor extraordinaire and star of the Space Quest games. If you ask me, the likeness is pretty eerie. Thanks, Marty!

Posted by Jess at 11:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 05, 2003

Rock the Vote: The 2003 Weblog Awards

Wizbang is hosting the 2003 Weblog Awards and this site is nominated in the "Best Slimy Molluscs (and below) Ecosystem Level Blog" category--an award established to recognize the very best of blogs that absolutely nobody actually reads. If you get a chance and feel so inclined, why not take a few moments to head on over to Wizbang and vote for Apropos of Something? My category is listed all the way down at the bottom of the page. Thanks!

Posted by Jess at 09:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Getting envenomed

Venomous Kate of Electric Venom is giving her fellow bloggers the opportunity to siphon off some of her site's traffic today via Trackback ping. Being the shameless self-promoter that I am, how can I resist? So, if you happen to be dropping in via EV, feel free to look around a bit and enjoy a recent post or two.

Posted by Jess at 07:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 04, 2003

Blogging pet peeves

Sugarmama has a great post up today discussing her current blogging pet peeves (as well as some of the things she actually does like to see in a blog). The only thing I can think of to add to her list of annoyances is the kind of blog that not only relies almost exclusively on quizzes ("Which character from F-Troop are you?") for its content, but that also posts tons of the always-tacky graphics announcing the results--typically complete with misspellings and bad JPG compression to boot. Oh, it's even better when the graphics are remote-hosted and show up as broken images when the host server is inevitably down.

Posted by Jess at 02:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 03, 2003

Smelling good for fun and profit

Every time I see Ally Hilfiger prancing around on MTV's latest so-bad-it's-good reality series, Rich Girls, I can't help but reminisce about the brief period that I spent as a foot soldier in the Tommy Hilfiger empire. In fact, it was right around this time of year in 1996 that I began working as a Tommy Hilfiger "fragrance model" in a department store at the local shopping mall.

For those who might not be familiar with the fragrance modeling industry, I was that person who wanders around the store spraying cologne on little cards and attempting to pawn them off on unwitting shoppers. Or, to put it another way, I was a scented magazine insert come to life. To draw yet another analogy, the fragrance modeling biz--and make no mistake, despite all the glamour, it's still a business--is surprisingly similar to telemarketing. Basically, one's entire job as a fragrance model consists of rudely interjecting oneself into people's lives in an attempt to sell them a product that, far more often than not, they have no interest whatsoever in purchasing. Unlike telemarketing, however, fragrance modeling transpires face-to-face, so the would-be customers (or "marks," as we called them) don't have the easy option of simply hanging up--or even slamming their doors as in the case of door-to-door salesmen and proselytizers. Needless to say, this can create a wide range of rather uncomfortable scenarios.

In my experience, most shoppers recoiled in an odd mixture of fear and disgust when offered a card that I had generously sprayed down with Tommy cologne, shouting "No, thank you!" over their shoulders as they ran away to hide in the shoe department. In other words, they reacted just slightly more positively than if they had been offered a vial containing a live strain of the bubonic plague. We usually referred to these customers as "maybes."

On the other hand, a sizeable portion of the shopping populace apparently suffers from severe allergies, and they're not at all afraid to share this fact with a well-intentioned fragrance model if he or she approches them with a sample. In fact, it wasn't uncommon to receive a thorough dressing-down right there in the middle of the store. It usually went something like this: "How dare you, you insensitive clod! Get that freaking card out of my face this instant, or I'm going to have a talk with your manager!" Meanwhile, the customer would cover his or her mouth and nose with one hand while clutching their children close with the other to protect them against my olfactory assault. I can't really blame them, though. By the end of my eight-hour shifts, I would inevitably end up with watery eyes and a sinus headache to end all sinus headaches thanks to the noxious wares I peddled.

Finally, there were the customers who simply walked by and pretended they could neither hear nor see (nor smell) me. If I had my guess, these were the customers who were in fact most likely to buy a bottle of the cologne when it was all said and done--assuming, of course, that anyone actually bought a bottle of the cologne as a direct or indirect result of my efforts.

To add insult to injury, since I was selling a Tommy product, I also had to sell the "Tommy look." This meant dressing head to toe in Tommy Hilfiger couture, which at the time consisted primarily of button-up shirts emblazoned with unspeakably gaudy red, blue, and yellow flags and chinos featuring an almost implausible number of pleats. At first, I was somewhat comforted by the assumption that I would be taking these hideous garments home with me as a perk, where I could then properly dispose of them with a ceremonial burning. Much to my surprise, however, at the end of each day, the store manager would simply reattach the tags to whatever clothes I had just worn for eight hours (and in which I had presumably perspired) and place them back on the racks.

Needless to say, it wasn't the most fulfilling job I've ever worked, but as a poor college sophomore, I certainly couldn't complain about making $15 an hour. Plus, I can't overemphasize the added bonus of being able to spend the rest of my life telling stories that start out, "Back when I was a fragrance model..."

Posted by Jess at 05:54 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

December 02, 2003

Wintertime in Georgia

Not to turn the site into a photoblog or anything, but I thought I'd share this shot that I snapped on campus earlier today with our new camera. Clicking the thumbnail will produce a larger image.


Flowers in December--you've gotta love Georgia.

Posted by Jess at 10:18 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The Apropos of Something Book Club

I just logged into to order a Christmas present or two, and the book recommendation that popped up on the front page was Interaction Effects in Multiple Regression by James Jaccard and Robert Turrisi. Here's the book's description:

Text introduces the reader to the basics of interaction analysis using multiple regression methods with one or more continuous predictor variables. Includes new topics such as interaction models with clustered data and random coefficient models. For practicing researchers.
I'm a little self-conscious now that I know thinks I'm a nerd.

Posted by Jess at 10:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 01, 2003

All dogs go to heaven

Here's one of the better snapshots from the first set of pictures taken with our new digital camera (click the thumbnail for a larger image):


Thanks to everyone who offered their insight on choosing the right camera. In case anyone else out there is shopping for a digitial camera, we ordered through and had a terrific shopping experience.

Posted by Jess at 07:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Just a couple of drinks to steady my hand

An actual question from my wife's veterinary board exam practice book:

Dr. X resects a large tumor from a dog's abdomen. The dog later dies of complications. At a state veterinary board hearing initiated by the owner, testimony reveals that Dr. X was impaired by alcohol at the time of surgery. Dr. X is censured by the board. In a subsequent lawsuit for malpractice against Dr. X, the court:
  1. must find Dr. X liable for malpractice because he was drunk at the time of surgery
  2. must dismiss the case because it has already been decided by the state veterinary board
  3. must find that Dr. X was not negligent if he used the same degree of surgical skill as other veterinarians practicing in the community who do surgery while not so impaired
  4. must dismiss the case if Dr. X provides proof that he has enrolled in an American Veterinary Medical Association-certified alcohol rehabilitation program
The correct answer, as it turns out, is 3. Translation: if you're as good when you're drunk as the veterinarian across town is when she's sober, you're in great legal standing.

I have to admit, however, that I'm rather intrigued by the prospect of taking my pets to a veterinarian named Dr. X.

Posted by Jess at 06:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Entry collapses, entry expands. Entry collapses, entry expands. Entry collapses...

Here's a "shout out" (with optional "big ups") to TweezerMan of The Tweezer's Edge for his improved extended entry script and template code for MT--already put to use in yesterday's entry. For those keeping score at home, this version fixed a few minor problems with ScriptyGoddess' popular script, which had its origins in a script by Aarondot.

Posted by Jess at 06:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack