Neo-Hippie Ramblings - I'm a Non-Conformist Just Like All My Friends: January 2005

Monday, January 31, 2005

Guerilla Tactics for Getting Our Daughter to Bed

Our four year-old, A., did not want to go to sleep tonight - cranky and overtired. So rather than fight her (with the scolding and the whining and the tears) we said "OK".

  1. I told her she could stay downstairs if she laid down on the couch.
  2. I turned off the lights.
  3. I lit a candle.
  4. I lit a stick of sandalwood incense.
  5. I put Miles Davis on the stereo.

She lasted all of 3 minutes.

Good night, sleepyhead, I love you.

Raised in Captivity

The most frustrating thing, for me at least, is that it's hard to communicate this stuff without putting it into terms that are taken as unreasonably alarmist.

There was a news story today to the effect that many US high school kids don't consider their First Amendment rights to be particularly important: The Bill of What?

It doesn't really surprise me, as many of the kids about to reach legal adulthood have experienced, through the public school system, life without many of the rights we take for granted.

We're talking about kids who, since elementary or middle school, have been conditioned to:

  • A daily pat-down or stroll through a metal detector
  • Random suspicionless searches of their personal possessions, sometimes using drug dogs
  • Mandatory urine tests as a prerequisite to participate in after-school activities
Raised in captivity, as it were.

Joke: Man with a Clipboard

A well-dressed man walks into a bar with a clipboard in one arm. On his other arm is an unkempt, wild-eyed woman who is obviously homeless. They sit at a table and proceed to start drinking beer. Eventually, they're kissing and stroking one another passionately, and they get up and leave the bar abruptly.

The next night, the same guy walks into the bar with the clipboard under his arm. With him, this time, is a parapalegic woman in a motorized wheelchair. They sit at a table and the well-dressed man comes up to the bar.

"Pitcher and two glasses, please", he says.

As the bartender is pouring the beer, he asks "You know that homeless lady you brought here last night? You didn't, um..."

"Oh yeah!" says the well-dressed man, taking his beer and winking.

The well-dressed man and the parapalegic proceed to get thoroughly trashed, and before long they're kissing and stroking one another passionately. As before, they leave abruptly.

The next night, the same guy walks into the bar with the clipboard under his arm. This time, two flamboyantly dressed men are hanging on him. They sit at a table and the well-dressed man comes up to the bar.

"Pitcher and three glasses, please", he says.

As the bartender pours the beer, he asks "You know that parapalegic woman you brought here last night? You didn't, um..."

"Oh yeah!" says the well-dressed man, taking his beer and winking.

"What about those two guys you're with tonight?" asks the bartender. "You're not going to..."

"Oh yeah!" says the well-dressed man, grinning. "And tomorrow night I have a date with a Mexican housekeeper."

"Mind if I ask why?" says the bartender.

"Well", replies the man, flashing his clipboard, "I'm a policy analyst for the Republican Party. We're refining our 2008 platform."

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Snowsaurus Rex

Most people build snowmen. Not us; we build snow dinosaurs.

Fascism Anyone?


Fascism Anyone?
The 14 characteristics of Fascism
by Dr. Lawrence Britt

Free Inquiry magazine, Spring 2003

Dr. Britt, a political scientist, studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile). He found the regimes all had 14 things in common, and he calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism.

Characteristic Example
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism -- Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. Bush w Flags
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights -- Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to 'look the other way' or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long
incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

Supreme Court Sidesteps Guantanamo Bay Case

Government Allows Torture-based evidence in Court

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause -- The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. The War on Terror
4. Supremacy of the Military -- Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. Bush to Seek $80B More for Combat Zones
5. Rampant Sexism -- The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and antigay legislation and national policy. Supporters Push Gay Marriage Ban
6. Controlled Mass Media -- Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or through sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common. Ashcroft Criticizes Opponents of Terrorism Measures
7. Obsession with National Security -- Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. Terror Threat Alert
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined -- Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions. Faith-based Initiatives
9. Corporate Power is Protected -- The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. Duh
10. Labor Power is Suppressed -- Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely or are severely suppressed. Bush Intervenes in Labor Lockout
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts -- Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts. Supreme Court NEA Ruling
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment -- Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses, and even forego civil liberties, in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. Anniversary of Rodney King Verdict
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption -- Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions, and who use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. Oil Drilling Planned for Alaskan Wildlife Preserve
14. Fraudulent Elections -- Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against (or even the assassination of) opposition candidates, the use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and the manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections. Again, Duh.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The speech Bush should have given

Think of it as a cross between Bush's 2002 speech to Congress and Liar, Liar.

Here's Juan Cole's alternative pitch for the war against Iraq.

Digital Thermite

I can't vouch for how well this works yet, because I'm just trying out the demo now, but Terminus 6 looks awesome. (This is a utility suite for secure file deletion.)

From the user manual:

Terminus 6 introduces a new feature called Digital Thermite, which provides a fast quick-destroy for selected files that can be triggered with the pressing of a few hotValues. Digital Thermite makes rapid data destruction possible in the event of a physical security breach.

If you need to trigger Digital Thermite, press SHIFT-CTRL-ALT-BACKSPACE to arm Digital Thermite for two seconds. A small red warning window will appear while Digital Thermite is armed. While it's armed, press the Y Value to activate Digital thermite.

The drama alone is worth the price of the software, I think.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Hacking my employer's intranet - part ii

This time around, it looks like the data entry fields are definitely all sanitized. Anything funky I try to pass through shows up verbatim... Database linkage seems to be solid, too.

Ok, let's mess around with the field edits.... I'm getting several edits for required entries, and one field that requires a single character entry. Everything looks ok so I enter some records.

On one particular record, I enter all the required data to pass the edits, select the date field at the very end of the available date range using the calendar function, leave the cursor at the end of an edited field and press <Enter> instead of clicking the Add button.

Bam: Dialog Box -- 'Delete this record? y/n'. Hmmm... that's weird, I wasn't trying to delete a record. I click 'No' and go back to the record. Change the date to something close to the present, put the cursor back where it was and press <Enter> again.

Dialog Box -- 'Delete this record? y/n'. Ok, so it wasn't the date boundary. This time, I click 'Yes'. A previous entry that I wasn't even editing, the first on the list, gets deleted. Hmmm.... curiouser and curiouser.

Ok, now what happens if there aren't any records to delete? I delete all the existing records, leaving only an active pending record. Enter text to pass all the edits, put the cursor back into the text field and press <Enter>.

Dialog Box -- 'Record Added'.

LMAO Sure, why not!

Ok, it's all starting to make sense now. There's a graphical button at the beginning of each existing or pending record. The first record in the list is somehow retaining focus, even though the cursor is elsewhere and there's no indication of focus on screen. Pressing <Enter> triggers the button.

Write it up and pass it on... tune in next week for more fun with Web-based status reporting.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

George W Bush: Freedom Fighter

Civilian and Military Casualties in Iraq

I had a surprisingly difficult time, initially, finding sites with this information:

Here is a site that is tracking military casualties in Iraq:

And here is a site that is tracking civilian casualties in Iraq:

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Finally - A Book about Marijuana that Even Dubya Could Understand

This is pretty cool, and should cause a fascinating uproar if the news media gets ahold of it:

Sunday, January 23, 2005

In Good Company

My wife and I went to see In Good Company this afternoon. Excellent movie - insightful and character-driven without being 'artsy' or pretentious. That's a rare thing.

It reminded me of The Graduate quite a bit, not because of anything in the plot, but simply because it poses some eloquent and challenging questions about the state of society, the role of technology in business and the issue of work/life balance.

Having once lived through the buyout of a 'small' big business by a massive conglomerate driven solely by short-term concern for its share price and the naked greed of its executives, I got quite a few laughs (if bitter ones) out of it.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Hacking my employer's intranet

The best part about being a software tester is that you get paid to engage in activities that could normally get a person disciplined, fired, and/or thrown in prison. It's kind of like being an undercover narc, without having to destroy peoples' lives. Also without any sort of glamour.

Anyway, enough digression. A month or so back, our status reporting procedure changed. We went from dumping a Word file into a LAN folder every Wednesday afternoon to using a Web-based status reporting application on the corporate intranet. And being quality assurance, my department received the dubious honor of piloting its use.

The thing was, the group that developed the status reporting app didn't bother to investigate what we really needed - they just designed it based on some vague assumptions and their own department's reporting guidelines. End result: more work for the end users of the application and far less functionality than plain old Word.

After a few weeks of wrestling with this thing, I decided to start having some fun with it. My goal now is to find a new bug every week. I'm two for two, so far.

Week 1: Entered an HTML paragraph tag (<p>) into a text field. Clicked the 'add record' link. Bam! Unhandled exception error (bad) with a verbose server side error page (really bad).

Hee hee - did the booty dance in my cube!

Summarized the behavior and steps to reproduce and passed them along to the rep in my department coordinating the beta test. Lead developer's response: "Added a validation to fix the problem. Tell [my name] to do his worst".

Evil grin.

Week 2: Tried SQL injection without success. Bummer. That would have been a beaut, and probably would have worked because of a lookup database link. Should have tried it before I got them to start sanitizing entry fields in response to the HTML tag error.

Ok, time for my next dirty trick: Overflow. Searched through an old project folder for a big, honkin' text file. Bingo -- 10MB of bogus names and addresses. Copied it out of notepad and pasted it into a text field. Waited for the hourglass to flip a few times while the paste operation hogged the processor. Clicked the 'add record' link. Bam! Short lag followed by a 'Page not found' error.

Hee hee - did the booty dance again!

Summarized the behavior and steps to reproduce and passed them along. Lead developer's response: "Field size validation on the database side wasn't getting picked up on the client side. Adding a custom validation to the client".

Hmmm... no taunt this week.

I have a little under 5 days left to dream up my next plan of attack. Some of the javascript field validations are being reported in the status bar, but others are not, so I may be able to find weaknesses there. If not, maybe I'll try messing with duplicate entries.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Bets on the Inauguration

My predictions:

1. Those approaching the parade route will undergo some kind of preliminary screening by police to illegally remove or block as many as possible of those who appear to be protesters. Three months from now there'll be a related ACLU lawsuit that makes page 5 news.

2. The 'peace through freedom' message is going to include a short list of the most likely targets to be 'freed' next using heavy artillery and ground troops.

3. Bush will:

a. Pat himself on the back for the US response to the tsunami disaster.
b. Imply that he was elected by some kind of significant majority.
c. Claim that the situation in Iraq is under control.

So how'd I do?

1. This one was a no-brainer. Details will filter in slowly, but the ACLU should have a report on their Web page soon. In the meantime, here's some info:

2. Yep. Not exactly a list, but a pretty clear message that we're gonna invade someone else, and pretty quickly.

"The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham
Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves;
and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.""

3. a. Nope. Tossed in a reference to it for good measure, though.

"And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good,
and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice,
and the captives are set free." (Did they translate that one into Arabic for the prisoners in Guantanamo???)

3. b. Nope. Speechwriters must've figured that was too much of a stretch, even for Dubya.

3. c. Yep.

"From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America,
which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations
that are difficult to fulfill and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because
we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions
have achieved their freedom. "

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Floor Hockey

We signed G. and A. up for floor hockey at the YMCA a while back and they had their first games on Sunday. Both of them had a blast.

A. is in the 4-5 age group, which is a riot to watch. Most of her game consisted of a stampeding mass of legs and foam-covered plastic hockey sticks chasing the ball up and down the court more or less at random.

G. is in the age 6-7 group, and his game was a little more like an actual hockey game. Still, the defense forgot they were supposed to be protecting the goal from time to time, and there was no real sense of strategy or positions yet. The kids can hit the ball a lot further, though, so they don't clump up so much.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

'Ghost' jailed for haunting castle

And she would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids and their dumb dog...

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Fake News from the White House Reported by GAO

Has Dubya nominated a new Minister of Propaganda yet?


Shortly before last year's Super Bowl, local news stations across the country aired a story by Mike Morris describing plans for a new White House ad campaign on the dangers of drug abuse.

What viewers did not know was that Morris is not a journalist and his "report" was produced by the government, actions that constituted illegal "covert propaganda," according to an investigation by the Government Accountability Office.

In the second ruling of its kind, the investigative arm of Congress this week scolded the Bush administration for distributing phony prepackaged news reports that include a "suggested live intro" for anchors to read, interviews with Washington officials and a closing that mimics a typical broadcast news sign off.

Although television stations knew the materials were produced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, there was nothing in the two-minute, prepackaged reports that would indicate to viewers that they came from the government or that Morris, a former journalist, was working under contract for the government.

"You think you are getting a news story, but what you are getting is a paid announcement," said Susan A. Poling, managing associate general counsel at the GAO. "What is objectionable about these is the fact the viewer has no idea their tax dollars are being used to write and produce this video segment."

In May, the GAO concluded that the Department of Health and Human Services violated two federal laws with similar fake news reports touting the administration's new Medicare drug benefit. When that opinion was released, officials at the drug control office decided to stop the practice, spokesman Thomas A. Riley said.

"Our lawyers disagree with the GAO interpretation," he said. Nevertheless, if the video releases were going to be "controversial or create an appearance of a problem," the agency decided it was not worth pursuing, he said.

The prepackaged news pieces represent a fraction of the anti-drug messages distributed by the office, Riley said. Production and distribution of the video news releases cost about $155,000.

Riley said broadcast stations were fully aware they were receiving materials akin to printed news releases that producers could "slice and dice it however they want."

In one video, titled "Urging Parents to Get the Facts Straight on Teen Marijuana Use," news stations were provided a script for the news anchor. It reads: "Despite the fact that marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug among today's youth, many parents admit they're still not taking the drug seriously. Now, the nation's experts in health, education and safety have joined the Drug Czar to speak directly to parents about the very real risks of teen marijuana use. Mike Morris has more."

After interview snippets with "Drug Czar" John Walters, who heads the drug control policy office, and other experts, the story closes with the voiceover: "This is Mike Morris reporting."

In another, the announcer appears to be "reporting" on a news conference by drug control officials, when "in reality, they are just paid to say a script," Poling said. "In essence, they're actors."

The drug control agency distributed at least seven prepackaged news reports to 770 TV stations. At least 300 news shows used some portion of the materials, though it was impossible to determine how many aired the full prepackaged story or just portions such as "sound bites," Riley said.

If the videos had been identified as coming from the federal agency, that would have been legal, Poling said. But the television package looks like authentic independent journalism.

"The critical element of covert propaganda is the concealment of the agency's role in sponsoring the materials," GAO wrote to Rep. Henry A. Waxman ( D-Calif. ), who requested the Jan. 4 report.

"It is illegal to use taxpayer dollars to influence public opinion surreptitiously," Waxman said yesterday. "Unfortunately, this is the second time in less than a year that GAO has caught the Bush administration violating a fundamental principle of open government."

Sick kids

I was home with the girls Friday because they had some kind of nasty bug that is going around. Only lasts about 24-48 hours, but it just totally incapacitates you.

We were seriously considering taking our 2 year old into the ER Thursday night because she was thirsty and begging for water, but every time we gave her anything it came back up within 5 minutes. After the first 5-6 times it was just clear foam bubbles. We were eventually able to give her teaspoons of Gatorade at ten minute intervals and have her keep it down. Thank god.

Our older daughter only puked once Friday, but she's had the runs ever since. There's nothing worse than having sick kids.

I was talking with some family members prior to my grandmother's funeral last weekend, and it turns out that one of my great uncles died in the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918. My great grandfather realized that his son wasn't going to last the night, so he sent my great aunt to bed and stayed with the little boy while he died. I can't imagine what it'd be like to watch a child slip away like that and know there was nothing you could do about it.

Anyway, my karmic reward for taking care of the girls was to wakeup this morning at 5 am violently ill and spend most of the day on the sofa too sick and worn out to move. I seem to have kicked it now, though, except for a general feeling of lethargy and a hangover-type headache. (That might just be because I haven't had my normal 60-80 oz of coffee today, though.)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

And you thought Ashcroft was bad

Well, he was. But apparently this guy's even worse.

Is there some kind of contest going on? Are there any Nazi war criminals still hiding out in South America that we can appoint to cabinet positions???

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Chest Freezer Water Pipe

In response to an inquiry on ADP, here's proof positive that you can make a pipe out of just about anything (hee hee). This version is updated with Shaun's suggested improvements.


Chest freezer (doesn't have to work, but it'd be a plus)
15 - 20' section flexible plastic tubing - aquarium size
2 -- 6' sections flexible plastic tubing - aquarium size
Plastic laundry basket
Large glass jug with stopper
Large brass pipe assembly (Bowl, screen, elbow, stem with threads, two
threaded rings) with easily removable bowl
Modeling clay
Plumber's putty
Waterproof tape


  1. Lay out the tubing to get an idea of how much you have to work with. The longer section of tubing should be sufficient to loop around the laundry basket several times in a spiral and have enough left to snake down into the liquid chamber and also attach to the brass pipe assembly below. The shorter sections will form a mouthpiece and a carburetor.
  2. Braid or tie the long section of plastic tubing around the plastic laundry basket in a spiral, looping as many times as possible but leaving enough slack to insert into the brass pipe fitting and into the liquid chamber.
  3. Cut a hole in the side of the chest freezer sufficient to fit the brass pipe assembly (making sure you don't puncture a coolant line in the process!!!). Tighten the rings against the freezer wall to secure and waterproof the edges with plumber's putty. Pack modeling clay around the bottom end of the tubing, leaving an inch or so free of clay. Insert the clay plug into the brass pipe stem and scrape away any extra from the edge of the brass stem - the idea is to create a tight seal. Secure the stem to the plastic tubing by wrapping repeatedly from stem to tubing and back again with waterproof tape.
  4. Modify the stopper to fit and make airtight the three sections of aquarium hose (method will vary by type of stopper). Snake the free end of the long hose through the stopper and to the bottom of the liquid chamber. Snake the two short hoses just through the stopper into the top of the liquid chamber.
  5. Decorate the outside of the chest freezer with some suitably melodramatic motif.


Fill the laundry basket with ice packed around the liquid chamber, fill the liquid chamber 2/3 with 100 proof liquor and fire up your favorite herbal blend. ;) Use one free tube as a carb and the other as a mouthpiece. It may take several pulls to get the smoke through the tubing and into the liquid chamber. Enjoy the frosty goodness - Cheers!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Easter Egg - Alternate Google 'Languages'

Many Web users know that Google provides versions of its search engine in a variety of languages. What most probably don't realize is that these include novel offerings like Pig Latin, Klingon, Elmer Fudd, Swedish Chef, and Hacker.

Dubya Joke

Q: What's the difference between Vietnam and Iraq?

A: Bush had a plan to get out of Vietnam.

Monday, January 10, 2005

We buried my grandmother this weekend

My wife and I found out on Thursday morning that my grandmother had died at the age of 81. She had spent the last few years of her life in a nursing home, in a progressively incoherent state of mind.

We drove in for the funeral on Friday and returned Saturday afternoon. The kids stayed with P's mom.

When I went to visit my grandmother a few years ago, she had no idea who I was but talked at length about a series of events that seemed to be about half fantasy and half recollection. These events included moonlight visits from a friendly clown at her window.

Fortunately, as her dementia progressed, she did not suffer from frightening hallucinations, as is sometimes the case. She just kind of got lost in a strange, benign dream world.

I last saw her the weekend of new year's day. She hadn't been conscious for some time and was on oxygen as part of the treatment for the bout of pneumonia that eventually killed her.

My grandparents had saved a great deal of money for retirement, and a few years of nursing care has wiped it out entirely. My grandfather is blind, diabetic, wheelchair-bound and lives in the same nursing home where my grandmother lived. He is now awaiting a specialist's opinion regarding an apparent circulatory blockage in his leg. It is possible that they will have to amputate. If this is indeed the case, the resulting increase in his level of depression will likely do him in.

We are in strange times. We have the technology to keep a person's body alive for a great length of time, though we cannot often halt the degeneration of a mind.

I fear more the possibility that I will have to linger in some incoherent state for years than I do the certainty of death. At the same time, I also fear the possible implications of a state-sponsored euthanasia program.

Where are we headed?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Apparently he DID want fries with that

Customer goes berserk when Burger King runs out of french fries. This simply adds credibility to my theory that they're putting heroin in fast food.

In other fast food news, the drive-thru kid at the Harborcreek, PA Wendy's has a tattoo of the word "Junior" on the right side of his neck. Rumor has it that he's saving up to have 'Bacon Cheeseburger' tattooed on the left side.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Haunted Toilet Seat

Given the popularity (and ending price) of the 'haunted cane' auction on eBay, I think I'm going to start a 'haunted toilet seat' auction. The description will note all of the following, which are absolutely true.

This toilet seat has been associated with:
  • Strange groans, clanking and other unearthly sounds
  • Foul, noxious odors that seem to emanate from beneath it
  • A distinct feeling of discomfort experienced by those sitting there, or about to sit there
  • A shivering sensation upon standing up from it or immediately after standing nearby

Monday, January 03, 2005

Top 13 Reasons why Halloween is Better than Christmas

13. Marshmallow ghosts

12. Roasted pumpkin seeds

11. Mr Bones candy in the plastic coffin

10. Putting out a masked scarecrow in a chair on the front porch two weeks before Halloween, replacing the scarecrow with yourself on Halloween night and waiting for the neighborhood kids to knock on the door

9. Dressing like your favorite sci-fi/fantasy character without 'outing' yourself as the supreme geek that you are

8. The kids don't really need to eat all that candy, but it's such a shame to waste it...

7. Carving pumpkins

6. It majorly freaks out the fundamentalists, but Wal-Mart supports it wholeheartedly (although there is some concern among astrophysicists that this paradox may eventually rip a hole in the space-time continuum)

5. Snack-sized Butterfingers

4. Any adult women's costume involving hose or stockings

3. Deck out your house well enough and the Jehovah's Witnesses and/or Mormons may walk right on past without stopping

2. Flaming poop

1. Zero pressure - if you want to skip the holiday completely (except for maybe handing out candy for an hour or taking the kids around the block once or twice in a storebought costume) nobody cares

Something Awfully Funny

I'm sitting down in the living room alone at 6:30 am, laughing so hard I'm crying. This is better than bong hits of sparkly hydroponic...