1 July 2005
Here, have a tablet

If you're a bit baffled by those two Ten Commandments cases fielded by the Supreme Court last week, John Rosenberg proposes to invoke the wisdom of Solomon:

Since the opinions of the Supremes in this area, as in so many others, are more legislative than judicial, balancing interests and splitting fine factual hairs about the degree to which this or that display is really religious as opposed to secular, it would be much simpler for the Court to handle these 10 Commandments cases in the classic legislative manner: by splitting the difference, and allowing the posting of 5 [Commandments] (any 5 will do). That would make as much sense, and would be much easier to understand and act upon in the future, than trying to untangle the lessons of the 10 separate opinions that were just delivered in the recent case from Texas (10 Commandments stone monument O.K.) and Kentucky (framed 10 Commandments not O.K.) Why not just let Texas have five and Kentucky have five?

Which (you saw this coming, didn't you?) leads me to the next question: Which five would Texas, or Kentucky, or your state, prefer?

And if you insist on splitting them right down the middle, what happens to "Thou shalt not kill," which is #5 in Catholic and Lutheran parlance and #6 elsewhere?

(I don't think we're quite ready, or maybe just I'm not quite ready, to drop down to two Commandments, as George Carlin recommends.)

Simplicate and add lightness

There are more than a dozen zoning districts in central Oklahoma City, each of which has its own particular (and sometimes peculiar) set of rules.

That's about to change:

City planners [have] debuted a working draft of an ordinance they believe is needed to make it easier to develop in downtown Oklahoma City.

As presently written, the ordinance reduces the number of zoning districts from 15 to two in the area bordered by NW 13th St. to the north, SW 10th St. to the south, Centennial Expressway (I-235) to the east and Western Avenue.

The districts would be called the Central Business District and the Downtown Transitional District, which would wrap around the CBD and encompass areas south of the Oklahoma River.

The ordinance also establishes design criteria for the districts and creates a new seven-member Downtown Design Review Committee to review all development requests for them.

Public hearings will be scheduled for this summer; the new rules, with modifications if any, are expected to take place this fall.

This will definitely be an improvement when it comes off; the city has more than two dozen different zoning types and overlays and whatnot, and too often that array of regulations discourages redevelopment of an area that could use it.

(Spotted last night by The Downtown Guy.)

Addendum: Steve Felix would like you to know that Simplicate® is a registered trademark of Steve Felix.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:27 AM to City Scene )
We won't even mention that stretch business

Ioan Gruffudd, who plays Reed "Mr Fantastic" Richards in the upcoming Fantastic Four movie, apparently had to undergo more digital effects than had been planned:

I started out wearing a codpiece under the suit. Then memos started arriving from the studio that we needed to make it smaller and smaller until I was like Action Man.

Sue Storm was unavailable for comment.

(Via Fark.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:54 AM to Dyssynergy )
TrackBlocked

The verbose (but accidentally so) Jay says he's having trouble with TrackBacks from Movable Type blogs. (He runs Expression Engine.) I'm not sure what to think, but I'm posting this here as a potential test — at least, of MT 2.64, which I still run.

(Incidentally, he wouldn't take one from me.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:27 PM to Blogorrhea )
Under the general heading of TMI

What this is all about can be found here. Here's the procedure:

===================================================


Overview: This post is a community experiment with two broad purposes. The first is to create publicly accessible data about bloggers' personalities, which may have sociological value in addition to being just plain fun. The second is to track the propagation of this meme through blogspace.

Instructions (to join in the experiment):

  1. Take the IPIP-NEO personality test and the Political Compass quiz, if you have not done so already.

  2. Copy to the clipboard that section of this post that is between the double lines, and paste it into your blog editor. (Blogger users may wish to use 'compose' mode to preserve formatting and hyperlinks. Otherwise, be sure to add hyperlinks as necessary.)

  3. Replace the answers in the "survey" section below with your own.

  4. Add your blog information to the "track list", in the form: "Linked title - URL - optional GUID".

  5. Any additional comments should go outside of the double lines, including the (optional) nomination of bloggers you wish to pass this experimental meme on to.

  6. Post it to your blog!

[My own responses are after the jump, which is also where you'll find the second set of double lines. Delete this paragraph if you're copying from me.]

Survey:

Age: 51
Gender: Male
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Religion: Generic Christian
Occupation: Computer systems operator
Began blogging (dd/mm/yy): 06/23/00

Political Compass results:

Economic Left/Right: -2.00
Authoritarian/Libertarian: -3.90

IPIP-NEO results:

EXTRAVERSION: 6
  Friendliness: 3
  Gregariousness: 10
  Assertiveness: 42
  Activity Level: 29
  Excitement-Seeking: 12
  Cheerfulness: 8
AGREEABLENESS: 19
  Trust: 7
  Morality: 54
  Altruism: 3
  Cooperation: 7
  Modesty: 88
  Sympathy: 33
CONSCIENTIOUSNESS: 45
  Self-Efficacy: 8
  Orderliness: 59
  Dutifulness: 27
  Achievement-Striving: 48
  Self-Discipline: 61
  Cautiousness: 62
NEUROTICISM: 97
  Anxiety: 92
  Anger: 99
  Depression: 89
  Self-Consciousness: 69
  Immoderation: 85
  Vulnerability: 96
OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE: 30
  Imagination: 60
  Artistic Interests: 33
  Emotionality: 78
  Adventurousness: 1
  Intellect: 61
  Liberalism: 18

Track List:

1. Philosophy, et cetera - pixnaps.blogspot.com - pixnaps97a2
2. Pharyngula - pharyngula.org - pharyngula3128d2f0
3. World Wide Rant - www.worldwiderant.com - wwr1004ao
4. dustbury.com - www.dustbury.com - dburyokc12

===================================================

More than you wanted to know, I'm sure.

(Snagged from Andy at WWR)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:32 PM to Screaming Memes )
2 July 2005
Did I miss something?

Pammmela, who slings lattes for the Barista of Bloomfield Avenue, observes:

In the world of dating, women of a "certain age" are faced with less than stellar prospects. Every available female over the age of 40 knows the three types of men:
  • The newly divorced male, who will only date 25-year-olds.

  • The still married male who is looking for a little fun, and will only date 25-year-olds.

  • And the male who has never had a meaningful relationship of any kind, who would date anyone.

Not that there's a thing in the world wrong with being 25 years old, but inasmuch as my daughter is about to turn 27, a fact which injects a certain amount of creepiness into the dynamic as I perceive it (cf. Steely Dan, "Hey Nineteen"), I shy away from women that age, or would if any of them showed the slightest interest, which of course they don't.

Does this qualify me for a fourth type?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:36 AM to Table for One )
And then there were two

The Four Tops got through forty-one years (forty-four if you count their pre-Tops identity as the Four Aims) without a personnel change, and when one came, there was no choice in the matter: Lawrence Payton died in the summer of 1997.

The Tops continued until lead singer Levi Stubbs suffered a stroke in 2002 and retired, at least temporarily, from touring.

Now a second Top has passed on: Renaldo "Obie" Benson, yesterday in his hometown of Detroit.

As a kid growing up on the cusp between rock and roll and R&B, I spun more Four Tops sides than any other Motown act, excepting possibly the Supremes, and while later Tops tracks tended toward All Levi, All The Time, I never forgot the harmonies. And Obie has one other distinction: he co-wrote "What's Going On," arguably Marvin Gaye's greatest record.

It's a measure of the times, and of my time in particular, that I'll certainly miss Luther Vandross, but I'm just floored by the loss of one of the Four Tops.

Fitted for the robe

With Sandra Day O'Connor retiring, and given the somewhat reasonable probability that the President will nominate someone who isn't a white male of European descent — well, how about this?

Bush should nominate Ann Coulter. She is [a] constitutional scholar with a J.D. from a respectable law school. That's more than most of our Justices have had, historically.

I'm serious.

Either they confirm her, or they raise hell. Assuming they raise hell enough to block the nomination, anyone else Bush puts up as a replacement looks moderate by comparison. Then, he can name someone in the mold of Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas, and the opposition will have to give in, since the replacement will be soooooo much better than Ann Coulter.

I have to admit, I like the sound of this. And Coulter's just into her forties, so she'd be around for a long time.

Besides, anyone who objects on the basis of frivolity — Coulter's sense of humor is spectacularly barbed — is a few years too late: Scalia's already there.

(Seen at The Professor's.)

And don't be eating that gingerbread man

I am normally not a big fan of Michelangelo Signorile — in the celebrated dustup between him and Andrew Sullivan, I tend to take Sullivan's side — but sometimes he just nails it, and this is one of those times. In conversation with Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City):

"There's no sex in [King and King] but what the book does is it encourages the lifestyle of homosexuality, which is against the law here in Oklahoma," Kern claims, "because we passed a state law, a constitutional amendment that says marriage is to be defined between one man and one woman. In this book two men get married and so it is going against the law in Oklahoma."

What about all of the violence in some fairy tales? What about Hansel and Gretel? Little Red Riding Hood ?

"Those stories aren't advocating that kids go out and be violent," she explains — even if they are scaring the daylights out of kids — "but the homosexual books are telling children to adopt the lifestyle." And how about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? Isn't that one a hotbed of lust and intrigue? After all, I said to Kern, Snow White kisses the Prince, and at one point the Prince isn't even human — he's a frog! "The difference there," she responded, "is that that is still in the heterosexual lifestyle."

So Cyrus Futz is off the hook, because his beloved pig was, after all, a female.

I'm not sure which of these is more perplexing: Signorile's goofy attempt at relativism, or Kern's desperate attempts to stay on message.

And anyway, State Question 712 may have outlawed same-sex marriages and comparable civil unions, but inasmuch as they weren't legal in this state to begin with, I'd hardly consider the passage of the measure some sort of watershed event, despite Kern's presumed delight.

It is irresistible to point out here that Kern's predecessor in District 84 was Bill Graves, whose greatest distinctions during his tenure (praise the Lord and pass the term limits) were a bill to mandate copies of the Ten Commandments in public buildings and a declaration that feminism caused breast cancer. I've got to assume that this sort of thing went over well with the residents of the district. (And I've got to admit that one of my criteria for househunting in 2003 was "Not in Bill Graves' district.")

And what the heck is a "lifestyle," anyway, and where can I get one?

(Found at Existential Ramble; one paragraph added since publication.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:27 PM to Soonerland )
Pattern mismatching

We get used to what we hear. From a conversation with Michele earlier this year:

MC:  (to this day I cannot hear "Heartbreaker" on the radio without thinking that "Living Loving Maid" should follow)

CH:  That's because it should. And "Ramble On" is next.

Alas, even the purist (admittedly, I'm not the purest purist, but work with me here) can be undone.

While the new recording toy was on order, I suggested to my brother that he work up a wish list, which I would then attempt to fill on a time-available basis. He came up with a goodly number of singles, but for the Beatles, he requested actual LPs. I duly fired up the hardware and bounced Meet the Beatles, Something New and Beatles '65 onto a single CD, in that order, with only minor changes. (Specifically, I dropped "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand," the last track on Something New, in favor of the 45 version of "A Hard Day's Night", largely because much of Something New was pulled from the soundtrack thereof.)

As is my wont, I popped this into the car today for quality-control testing — not so much that the stereo in the car is so wonderful, or that the testing environment is so flawless, but because the combination of the two somehow makes glitches seem more obvious. (I think it's a focus issue: if I'm driving, I'm paying more attention to the road and audio flaws are secondary, while if I'm at home, I'm probably doing two or three things and audio flaws drop to tertiary.)

Around 9000 North Penn, I started singing along with McCartney on "Till There Was You," and as soon as it was over I steeled myself for the shout of "Wait!" that opens "Please Mr. Postman."

Which didn't happen.

Instead, the boys launched into "Hold Me Tight," and I was forced to confront the reality of the situation: I've listened to With the Beatles, the British CD, for so long that it's actually displaced the American Meet the Beatles album in the back of my head.

You know, this might be why I seldom play that Led Zeppelin box set: it follows "Heartbreaker" with "Communication Breakdown," and that's just wrong.

3 July 2005
Press 9 to hear 852 and 1477 Hz

A few years back I disconnected the voice-mail system I had on my landline phone. I've never had it at work. And few things in life annoy me more than having to negotiate someone else's voice mail.

But my annoyance is the chirping delight of Pollyanna next to Matt's reaction:

I despise voice mail. I hate it with a passion usually reserved for terrorists and cauliflower. The beep that denotes a new voice mail creates a fire of loathing so hot, hell would seem like no more than a nice day in Hawaii. When I used to slave away for Giant Evil Corporation and would have to travel, I'd change the greeting on my voice mail to say that I would not be checking it and request that people send me an email. I'd return after two or three days, see the message light blinking and hear those hated words, "You have seventy-three new messages".

I'm no economist, but I'm pretty sure that voice mail is the number one productivity killer in business, period. In the time it takes me to listen to ten VM's, I could have gone through fifty emails, both reading and responding.

I might try that on my cell phone during the World Tour: "Please send me an email. If you don't know my email address, you don't know me and I don't want to talk to you anyway."

So long as they don't figure out that it's possible to send email to the phone, I'm okay.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:40 AM to Dyssynergy )
It's just his neurosis that oughta be curbed

Does Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols have Asperger Syndrome?

His family in Michigan certainly thinks so, and presumably it might explain why he got involved in the conspiracy in the first place.

Nichols, meanwhile, has been talking. No longer facing the possibility of a death sentence, he's opened up to, among others, the FBI.

Wes Lane, Oklahoma County District Attorney, who pushed for Nichols' state trial — Nichols had previously been convicted on federal charges — scoffs:

He has already spun his tale to multiple people. The only thing he is truly afraid of is that people will stop paying attention to him and he will be left all alone in his Colorado prison cell.

I don't know about that, but he does seem to have a knack for getting news coverage.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:09 AM to Soonerland )
Big Brother as back-seat driver

This can't possibly be good:

[R]esearchers recruited 20 volunteers to drive specially modified Skoda Fabias.

Each car was fitted with a black box containing a digital road map showing the speed limits on every road in the city.

A satellite positioning system told the car where it was on the map and alerted the driver, via a digital display on the dashboard, each time he entered a zone with a new speed limit.

If the driver attempted to exceed the limit, a signal was sent to the accelerator or brake pedal to intervene.

"If the driver is demanding something greater than the speed limit, that demand is ignored," said Oliver Carsten, the research leader and professor of transport safety at Leeds University. "In a 30mph zone the car will basically not accelerate above 30mph."

The justification, of course, is that it will save lives. Of course, they could save even more lives by forbidding cars altogether, but that's at least a few months away.

At least someone objects. Jeremy Clarkson, writer for the Sunday Times and cohost of the BBC's Top Gear series, issued the following complaint:

If you put speed limiters on cars so that they can only go to a certain limit you end up with terrible bunching which actually causes more accidents. Tony Blair is not going to tell me how fast to go.

The Department for Transport said there were no plans to make the devices mandatory:

It will be for the industry to take forward the technology in response to consumer demand.

Do you know anyone who would actually demand one of these things?

Aside to Vince Orza, who suggested in the Oklahoma Gazette a couple of weeks ago that PikePass should be revised to trap speeders on Oklahoma toll roads: If you had any notions of running for governor again, you just blew 'em.

(With thanks to TheNewspaper.com.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:42 AM to Driver's Seat )
No deposit

Spotted by LilRed on the Kilpatrick Turnpike, this perhaps-misleading sign:

Failure to pay toll strictly enforced

So if you throw a Sacajawea dollar into the basket, expect to be pulled over for not failing to pay the toll.

Hey, I can dig it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:16 PM to City Scene )
4 July 2005
Shoving off from the Big Desk

Things are running a little behind schedule today because of Serious Stormage — as of this writing, we've had an inch and a quarter of rain so far on the northwest side — but otherwise, it's just a matter of packing 16 days' stuff into enough luggage to hold seven. (One of Stinnett's Laws of Travel: "Take half as much clothing and twice as much money.")

First stop is Independence, Missouri, an appropriate spot for the Fourth of July, and what's more, it's my son's birthday.

WT05 begins now.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:25 AM to World Tour '05 )
A fabulous Fourth

Independence, Missouri — 409.2 miles

I never quite get tired of Route 66. Oklahoma has more of the old Mother Road in drivable condition than any other state, and the stretch just east of Oklahoma City is still great fun, even if they've relocated the actual roadway a few times. And I have a certain amount of resistance to paying the OTA four bucks to shave a couple miles and a few minutes off the drive to Tulsa.

Except that it gets dreadfully dull around Sapulpa, and I dropped off 66 at Bristow to pick up the turnpike, which perked me up somewhat, but not quite as much as listening to Kimberlea Daggy on KWTU, who goes on my list of Voices to Fall in Love With.

I attribute the dullness to creeping suburbia, and it may even be true; just inside Creek County, barely east of Stroud, I spotted a sign for S. 545th W. Ave. Tulsa is spreading.

Sign at a Tulsa church: ETERNITY IS TOO LONG TO BE WRONG.

Unexpected fun stretch of pavement: Lee's Summit Road from the northern edge of Lee's Summit to the southern edge of Independence.

I am encamped at my daughter's place, where we will char the flesh of dead animals and use up a frightening quantity of incendiary devices. As those great Americans, George and Ira Gershwin, once said, "Who could ask for anything more?"

Toll report: Turner Turnpike, Bristow to Tulsa, $1.00.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:08 PM to World Tour '05 )
5 July 2005
Brief interruption

We pause in this travel narrative to bring you the following announcement:

Anyone who uses the domain www.unitedinchristchurch.org for online poker is doubly scummy and deserves to be crucified horizontally.

While rotating over a gas grill.

Can anyone recommend a marinade that attracts fire ants?

Addendum: The corksoaking iceholes struck again around noon. I am killing all pingability for anything posted prior to 3 July. If you actually link to one of the pre-WT05 stories, send me email and I'll put it in manually when I get a chance.

Another addendum: Courtesy of Fistful of Fortnights:

Comment Spam Mogul and admitted thief of blog content gets angry — when his blog suffers a spam attack.

Well then. Thanks to this fellow and his unsavory colleagues, bloggers must repeatedly scrape these barnacles from our blogs on a daily basis — if not more often. Now this poor guy expects sympathy?

I'll be happy to donate some wood for the crucifixion.

Sunshine on my shoulder

Danville, Illinois — 823.7 miles

Unfortunately, where I need it is on my knee, but driving becomes difficult if I so contrive.

In my ongoing efforts to avoid Interstate 70, I took US 24 across most of Missouri. It's a nice road, a little below average in difficulty, a little above average in scenic quality, and quite horribly paved west of about Salisbury. Since points westward are identified as part of Lewis and Clark's route, I'm assuming that they wanted to retain the original 19th-century surface.

Somewhere west of Moberly was a hand-painted sign for "Bloom'n Idiots Landscaping and Lawn Care." This does not inspire the level of confidence I might desire.

I split from 24 near Hannibal and jumped on US 36, which becomes Interstate 72, a perfectly lovely road for the most part and in really good shape in the less-busy western half of Illinois; it goes to hell right about Springfield.

Illinois being renowned/reviled (choose one) for its gun laws, I wasn't too surprised to see BurmaShave-esque signs for a group called Guns Save Life.com scattered along the roadsides.

And the flak over Jack FM has made it to Champaign/Urbana, although for reasons having to do with local history and/or the desire to avoid paying royalties, this version is called The Chief. Same shtick, though: "The Chief Plays Whatever The Chief Wants." I'm surprised anyone is wanting to play "Layla" still.

Addendum: I found this little blurb at the bottom of the left column of today's Commercial-News:

To our readers: Vending machines and store copies will contain advertising inserts when the advertiser supplies enough. To subscribe, call [number redacted].

Maybe it's just me, but I find it hard to believe that this is a problem. (For the record, I got a coupon book from Kirchner Building Centers — "Your Home Project Partner, Est. 1906" — with my vending-machine copy.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:30 PM to World Tour '05 )
6 July 2005
Think Nationally

St Clairsville, Ohio — 1206.4 miles

The National Road, as it was called, was designed to connect state capitals as it headed west from Wheeling, West Virginia, and indeed it goes through Columbus and Indianapolis, then turns southwesterly just enough to miss Springfield and Jefferson City. (It also bypasses Dayton, Ohio, but that's another matter.)

US 40 still carries "National Road" signs, but it's been largely supplanted by Interstate 70; just the same, I decided to spend as much time as I could on the old road, which is mostly still drivable in Indiana and western Ohio. East of Indianapolis, US 40 picks up a series of charming small towns, bracketed by the cities of Greenfield and Richmond; it's a serene little drive if you can handle the speed-limit changes. (There's also a Nameless Creek, or so says the sign.)

It's more problematic in Ohio, where current alignments tend to be tricky. (And in Zanesville, you face a fork in the road — in the middle of a bridge.) Still, if you hate I-70 as much as I do, this is the way to go.

These guys were running a truck called the "Semen Shuttle" about 35 miles west of Indianapolis. I didn't stop to ask.

A couple of things I noticed in Richmond: an actual Bank One sign — I guess the merger is taking longer than anticipated — and, at a brokerage office, what looks like a time/temperature sign, which actually displays the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Ohio had a few stretches of road marked "Warranty Pavement," with an expiration date. I have a feeling some of them aren't going to make it.

Across the bottom of my receipt from a BP station in St Clairsville: THANK YOU / LIVE LONG AND PROSPER. Must be some kind of mining tradition.

(Timestamp below in EDT.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:06 PM to World Tour '05 )
Wiffle ball

Things will move even more slowly around here; my Wi-Fi card has malfunctioned, or something, and won't connect to anything without causing a big-time system crash.

Dial-up still works, and I assume a wired LAN connection will work, but for now, no wireless.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:49 PM to PEBKAC )
7 July 2005
146

In 146, Chinese emperor Han Zhidi was poisoned; he was replaced by Han Huandi. (Hard to keep track of the Han dynasty.)

Closer to home, it's the 146th Carnival of the Vanities, brought to you by Conservative Friends. (Not all my friends are conservative, although when I disclose the amount I spent on this trip, I expect to be lectured on Deficit Attention Disorder.)

I may not be playing this month, but the Carnival goes on.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:13 AM to Blogorrhea )
I'd rather be in Philadelphia

Trevose, Pennsylvania — 1566.7 miles

Okay, close enough. Then again, they're talking heavy rain between tonight and tomorrow afternoon, the remnants of Cindy. (Of course, they define "heavy rain" here as an inch or two; Oklahoma storm spotters will snicker.) And I got some fairly heavy rain yesterday on the road, enough to slow traffic to 45 mph, and almost enough to clean my car, so this doesn't distress me particularly.

I bought a replacement for my Wi-Fi card; it didn't work, but it didn't work differently, so I'm assuming I have port issues. Inasmuch as the software with the new card didn't look anything like the software for the old card, I figure the next step should be to reinstall the software for the old card, which will have to wait until I get home. (The new card was duly returned to the point of purchase.)

It's been four years since I was last on the Pennsylvania Turnpike; I note with some sorrow that while I drove 90 fewer miles this year, the toll was higher. What I wrote back then:

An "easy drive", I was told. Well, some of it is. But the first 160 or so miles could pass for a carnival ride. This road swoops and dives and curls and doubles back on itself so often you wonder if maybe you've gotten on the ramp to a Möbius strip. And that doesn't even include the opportunities to plunge literally into the side of a mountain. After four of these, I was ready to start lobbying Congress for a claustrophobia-care bill.

This year, only three tunnels, though one of them seemed to be leaking, which did nothing for my sense of well-being. On the other hand, there are now areas posted for a 65-mph limit, which I don't remember seeing before.

A shout-out to WRAW radio in Reading, who while I was in their range played nothing newer than 1968 and managed to exhume a Gary "U.S." Bonds record — and not "Quarter to Three," either.

And after I'd proffered plastic to pay for 48 hours in this hotel — well, 44, actually — the chap behind me asked for a quote for a three-hour tour. I am told that there is lodging on this very street that will oblige him.

Addendum: It's pronounced "TREE-vohs," at least by the locals. I distinctly remember an informercial placing the accent on the second syllable, but for all I know they grind those out in a converted porno studio in Van Nuys.

Toll report: Pennsylvania Turnpike, $16.25; total $17.25.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:53 PM to World Tour '05 )
I admit it

Found at Erica's:

If, as you live your life, you find yourself mentally composing blog entries about it, post this exact same sentence in your weblog.

Been there, doing that.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:21 PM to Blogorrhea )
No hot licks, either

The Dan Hicks/Tulsa Zoo dustup made it to NPR this week, which means that I'm almost, but not quite, up on the matter.

The Wallace Perspective follows up:

After giving some thought to Dan Hicks' request for equal representation of his religion, the board felt adding a Creationism display did not meet the criteria of equal representation. Instead, they did an intensive study of the Ganesha statue. Here is what they found:
  1. The statue is near the elephant exhibit.

  2. The god looks an awful lot like an elephant.

So the only way to be fair would be to build a statue of Jesus next to the primate exhibit.

Wallace expects to catch flak for this remark; I figure the least I could do is to help out, especially since I thought essentially the same thing at one point. (If nothing else, this proves that I don't write up everything that comes into my head, for which all of you should be grateful.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:43 PM to Soonerland )
8 July 2005
Wandering around Philly

Still in Bensalem Feasterville Trevose

I'm sure somebody knows how to tell which is which, but I don't.

And actually, wandering will be limited somewhat early today, owing to the rain. (Maybe I'll go up to Upper Moreland and see if anyone has a cat on a leash.) There will be an earth-shattering event later, though: a pilgrimage to Donnaville.

I'm bringing extra socks, in case the first pair is knocked off.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:23 AM to World Tour '05 )
Creeping suburbia

I live in a city of six hundred square miles, in the heart of a metropolitan area of a million souls and more. So urban sprawl to me is more or less an everyday thing: while my particular neighborhood dates back nearly sixty years, I don't have to go very far to see the bulldozers at work.

While reading up on Bucks County, a place I have visited only once before, a place almost exactly the same size as Oklahoma City, I hit upon this piece, which says that Bucks is suffering mightily from sprawl issues of its own. This afternoon, I took some time to take a look for myself.

The first Levittown, of course, was on Long Island, New York; William Levitt then turned his attention to Bucks County, where, said Reader's Digest in 1952, wondrous things would happen:

Four thousand homes will be completed by the end of 1952; in the next two years 12,000 more. In ten short years it is expected to be the size of Norfolk, Va., one of the 50 largest cities in the country. Its creators, Levitt & Sons, have singlehandedly built a metropolis overnight.

Which turned out to be hype, mostly; Levitt built for a population of 70,000, and with the subsequent decline in family size and the constraints of local government — Levittown has no government of its own and is partitioned among four Bucks municipalities — the population is currently around 55,000 or so.

Both Levittowns (and a third, in New Jersey, which no longer bears the name) were derided for their lack of variety: "Little boxes," sang Malvina Reynolds, "made of ticky-tacky, and they all look just the same."

Lewis Mumford's criticisms were less lyrical but no less pointed:

It is a one-class community on a great scale, too congested for effective variety and too spread out for social relationships.... Mechanically, it is admirably done. Socially, the design is backward.

Half a century later, do these criticisms still apply? Yes and no. The houses, after years of customization, don't quite look "just the same" anymore. And of course, the prices have risen from Levitt's original $10,000 price point. But fans of "diversity," presumably either ethnic or socioeconomic, will be no more pleased with the 21st-century version than they were before.

During my 50-mile trek through the southeastern half of Bucks County, I decided I wasn't going to be too alarmist about things. Yes, I'd be despondent if everything looked like Street Road, but then again I'd hate for every street back home to look like May Avenue. And while Bucks County has doubled in population since 1960, the rate of growth has slowed considerably.

Still, I'm persuaded that only part of suburban growth is due to people who are hell-bent on living in the suburbs; the trick is to get people back into the central cities if possible. And the city of Philadelphia, alas, isn't booming at all.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:58 PM to World Tour '05 )
Amazon women on the move

It was six-thirty when I saw them rounding the corner: tall, fierce, formidable. I'd be outnumbered by one, but here were two, and fortunately for me, they were happy to see me.

Donna and her sister Lisa greeted me in downtown Newtown, and we promptly descended upon Isaac Newton's and discoursed on dozens of situations of varying gravity.

Lisa disappeared for a moment and returned with Master Beauregard Duke Bebop W. Le Moko, a charming young fellow who was anxious to make friends. (Bobo also got in a few licks at one Harry, a West Highland White Terrier who was heading in the other direction, or so he thought.) A splendid time was had by all, although one question continues to nag at me: Why aren't the guys lined up at her door yea deep? Did beautiful, smart and funny suddenly become disqualifiers?

For those who demand photographic evidence, be assured that it exists, as surely as the Cake Batter ice cream at the Zebra-Striped Whale.

And just as sweet.

9 July 2005
Has this ever been tried?

This, I mean.

And, were someone truly not interested, would it be treated as spam?

(Via Jacqueline Passey.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:16 AM to Table for One )
Twice blessed, twice

North Bergen, New Jersey — 1828.5 miles

After last night's Major Babe Encounter, it seems almost churlish to mention today's lunch date with Janis and Randye, two friends of long standing who were at the center of the gatherings in Jamesburg, mentioned in previous Tour reports, but hey, I have no fear of being a churl.

(Incidentally, both of them are thinner than they were in '03, for which I offer my congratulations and an only-slightly-muted wolf whistle.)

It actually took me longer to get from off the turnpike to the hotel than it did to drive the turnpike, but this is due to my unerring choice of wrong turns when available — or maybe the mind was clouded by all this sudden babeliciousness, something to which I am not even slightly acclimated.

And it continues. Tonight I am granted a rare privilege: access to the Dawn Eden archives, overseen by the erstwhile Petite Powerhouse herself.

Toll report: New Jersey Turnpike, $4.10; total $21.35.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:22 PM to World Tour '05 )
Spelunking on the second floor

As mentioned previously, I got a peek at the fabled Dawn Eden Archives this evening, and while it's certainly true that I'd have paid her the visit even if all she had was a copy of Sgt. Pepper's, and I mean the soundtrack fercryingoutloud, hanging around Dawn's apartment is one of the best ways I know of to complete your graduate degree in Pop Ephemera. (I, of course, got my sheepskin picture sleeve years ago, magna cum loudest.)

What's more, as I had already learned, she's a first-class dinner companion, which comes in handy if you're going to have a first-class dinner, which we did. (Allow me to recommend the chicken Milanese.) Was it worth two scary cab rides through streets clogged to Bombay standards? You betcha.

Addenda: Dawn has posted an actual photo of the event.

Someone asked me once what she was like. I have now amended my answer to include the following:

"You know someone is knowledgeable about pop music when you find a Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich LP sleeve on the wall.

"Dawn has two of them."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:19 PM to World Tour '05 )
10 July 2005
It was funnier than Pawtucket

Woonsocket, Rhode Island — 2075.4 miles

But let us not make fun of Woonsocket. It is an old, established Native American name that means "You might as well be in Massa-freaking-chusetts already." And really, I can't tell you too much about it, since the hotel is something like three-quarters of a block inside the corporate limits and therefore I haven't seen much of anything other than the faux-aluminum diner on an outlot.

(Addendum: I got out a couple of hours later and saw the town. It's bigger than I thought — 45,000 people or so — and, as in most cities that go back this far, it helps to have lived here thirty years to be able to find stuff. I suspect things would be different in Woonsocket, South Dakota.)

The escape from New Jersey was supposed to have been up US 1/9, which eventually drops one onto the George Washington Bridge, but radio traffic warnings and sudden recollections persuaded me otherwise. So I threaded up the east end of Bergen County, saluted the town of Tenafly, where Lesley Gore grew up, and crossed into New York state.

Yes, I know, I missed NYC again. But there are 19 million New Yorkers, and 11 million of them don't live in NYC, so I don't think I got such a bad deal. Besides, US 6 through New York is quite lovely, if inevitably loaded with traffic.

Seen on 6 near Mahopac: Mr. A's Ice Cream and Chicken. I assume they have both white and dark chocolate.

Priciest gas of the Tour so far was purchased in Southington, Connecticut, for $2.379. Not that I'm complaining, really: this was 15 to 25 cents cheaper than anything I saw in New York. Of course, if I'd waited until I'd had lunch (Wendy's on Queen Street), I'd have found it for two cents less, but life is like that. (In this lifetime, I have yet to buy any gas in New Jersey, despite the obvious novelty value of full service.)

Sublime/Ridiculous Department: A shout-out to Mike West on WDRC-FM in Hartford, a man who has the courage of his request line, a man who followed "Surfin' Bird" with "American City Suite." My initial reaction, per my voice recorder, was "My God, he's got guts."

A pizza place near the Connecticut/Rhode Island line is called "Kikapoo," a name which seems both familiar and slightly deranged. I assume it is not related to either the tribe or to that other fine New England product, Kickapoo Joy Juice Indian Oil.

Toll report: Bear Mountain Bridge, $1.00; total $22.35.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:49 PM to World Tour '05 )
Say something nice, Janet

"Hey, I know! Let's take the kids to see Rocky Horror!"

Oh, lucky them.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:20 PM to Next Generation )
11 July 2005
Deliberately terse

Had a nice little yak (no, not the Tibetan sort) last night with Jay of Accidental Verbosity fame, with Deb and Sadie in the background and Sadie not particularly interested in staying in the background. Seems to me there ought to be a New England Blogger Bash one of these days. (And, well, if the timing is right....)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:31 AM to World Tour '05 )
York, Bath and beyond

Augusta, Maine — 2322.9 miles

Downtown Providence is a hoot. You (or at least I) wouldn't have thought you could have shoved so much stuff into such a small space, but then I live in what some people think of as the Sprawl Capital of the World. And there are limited-access thoroughfares with low speed limits which are apparently routinely ignored; drivers on a stretch of US 6 posted 35 were doing an easy 60. Still, I had to take a look at it: once upon a time, one of those online quizzes — a serious one, unlike the usual blog fodder — told me that Providence was where I ought to live. And, well, I'm sure I could do worse.

One sign I hadn't seen before cropped up right inside Massachusetts: CAUTION / REDUCED SALT AREA. This being July, when road salt is irrelevant, I conclude that either (1) they're too busy to cover up or take down the signs or (2) this is unrelated to traffic and is actually a mandate from the Food Police.

An antique shop in Brookline: "A Room With A Vieux." Really.

And yes, I went into downtown Boston, partially because of sheer insanity, but mostly because I used to hang out there on weekends when I was a grunt stationed at the former Fort Devens and I wanted to see if I recognized anything. The answer is "Not much." Then again, back in those days I took the T; the view is much different from behind a taxi.

On I-93 near Medford I saw a Nissan Altima with a "Kennedy/Johnson" bumper sticker, and that was just the first of half a dozen. I have to assume this is not referring to JFK/LBJ, but with Massachusetts Democrats, I probably shouldn't assume anything.

Near Yarmouth, Maine I saw the smallest freestanding McDonald's I've ever seen. I mean, it could have been a little bank branch, were it not for the fact that it was sitting next to, um, a little branch bank.

And one last sign: "Welcome to Kennebunk, the only village in the world so named." That's even fewer than Woonsocket(s).

Toll report: I-95 through New Hampshire, $1.00; Maine Turnpike, $1.80; total $25.15.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:16 PM to World Tour '05 )
Oh, those crazy Caucasians

Erica was waxing lyrical about the WNBA All-Star Game, and then this happened:

Commentator Mike Jones: "Remember 'Swin' [as in Cash] is short for "Swintayla" which means 'amazing woman' in African." I'm sorry, what language is "African"?

Most of these media types know only one fragment of "African": the chorus of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

Apropos of nothing, but because it sorta fits here, hottie singer/actress (and lately serious evangelist) Lola Falana was doing the Tonight Show one evening and Johnny Carson was speaking the name as she pronounced it to him, trippingly on the tongue. "Lo-la fa-LA-na," he intoned. "What is the origin of that name, anyway?"

With a perfectly straight face, she said, "It's Swahili for 'Debbie'."

The Great Carsoni nearly fell over. (I did fall over.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:12 PM to Almost Yogurt )
12 July 2005
The very ends of the earth

Yeah, I know, spheroid, no actual "ends," yadda, yadda. On the other hand, things that sit on top of the Big Blue Marble do have defined, if occasionally ill-patrolled, boundaries, and as far east as you can get in these United States, assuming we don't annex Iraq or anything, is latitude 44° 48.9' north, longitude 66° 57.1' west.

And that's where I went today, on the basis that if you've seen one charming fishing village with local color, you've seen them all.

Lighthouse at West Quoddy HeadWhat's there is this: a smallish state park with hiking trails and a lighthouse dating to 1858, which replaced one built 50 years earlier under orders from Thomas Jefferson. The lighthouse was automated in the 1980s but is still functioning, and rather a lot of people have been photographed beside it over the years. I asked the volunteers at the Visitors Center, and they allowed that they'd had guests from 48 states. (Alaska? Idaho? Get with it already.) The careful reader will note that this is West Quoddy Head; there's an East Quoddy Head, but it's in New Brunswick, which, last I looked, was in Canada.)

Of course, getting there is half the fun, to the extent that dicing for road room with (other) tourists is fun. One novelty was seeing a prank come to life: in 2003, a radio station in Ottawa mocked the nascent Jack FM format with something called "Frank FM," and today there's an actual Frank FM along the Mid-Coast. (Mostly, I was flipping between WBACH and a little community station in Blue Hill.)

Along US 1 near Machias are two obvious competitors: Cranberry Motors, which sells a variety of GM cars, and Blueberry Ford. How they wound up next door to each other is no doubt the stuff of legend.

Maine 182 from Franklin to Cherryfield is a 12-mile thrill ride, posted 50 when it's not posted 45, and possessed of rapid successions of 30-mph curves. I tried my best to keep it at a solid 60.

And in Lubec, which is the town nearest to West Quoddy Head, I saw not one but two banners promoting University of Connecticut sports. Sounds like it's time to drive back to the Constitution State. (After all, there's no point in going any farther east.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:31 PM to World Tour '05 )
One out of nine

Of course, should Chief Justice Rehnquist decide to hang up his robes after all, there will be two slots to fill on the Supreme Court, but this set of pointed questions from Darleen will be just as pertinent for Rehnquist's replacement as they are for Sandra Day O'Connor's.

(Found at this week's Cotillion.)

13 July 2005
How to bag a Republican babe

After all, it's in the Weekly World News, so it must be true, right?

(Courtesy of Meryl Yourish, upon whom I would not dare try even one of these lines.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:14 AM to Table for One )
It's just illusions, I can't recall

The recall of two Tulsa City Councilors has fallen flat, and considering the lengths to which the opposition went to get the meager results they got — well, they had this coming.

(In Tulsa, it's now Bloggers 2, Old World Order 0. The rest of you, be you in Walla Walla or Woonsocket, should take note.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:41 AM to Soonerland )
Too early for harvest

Southington, Connecticut — 2985.0 miles

(I had to. This town gets such a strong response whenever I mention it.)

Today was a day to explore more of US 202, parts of which I discovered in earlier Tours and which still strikes me as a genuinely spiffy sort of road, even when it passes through New Jersey. I picked it up west of Augusta and followed it all the way to near Ludlow, Massachusetts; of the segments involved, all were new to me except the stretch from Concord to Peterborough, New Hampshire.

The Rent-a-Wreck in Manchester, Maine is advertising: TRY OUR BRAND NEW HYUNDAIS. Does J. D. Power know about this?

I spotted an eatery in eastern New Hampshire boasting RADICAL VEGAN FOOD. I didn't quite have the nerve to drop in and ask for a menu, perhaps because I suspect they could have determined I'd had a steak two nights before.

A T-shirt shop east of Concord makes the following pitch: PREVENT NUDITY. BUY SHIRTS. I think it might also require pants, you know?

And speaking of Concord, one reason I went back through there today was because I remembered its downtown as being a reasonable model for the remaking of Oklahoma City: Main Street is four lanes, there is parking on either side, and pedestrians are accorded the right-of-way. It was blocked off at Park Street, and as I approached I could see why: a small antiwar demonstration — "small" meaning "fewer than ten," at least when I was nearby, which was about 1 pm — taking place. This being New Hampshire, it was a polite demonstration: no bizarre-looking individuals, no signage bordering on the pathological, no screaming unto the heavens. As I detoured around the state offices, I noticed a minivan parked in the space reserved for the Governor. (John Lynch drives a minivan? Who knew?)

And next month there's a chili cookoff in Winchendon, Massachusetts. Admittedly, I don't think first of Massachusetts when I think "chili," but life is full of surprises, none of which were waiting for me at the I-84/I-91 stack in downtown Hartford, which was its usual horrid self.

Toll report: MassPike, 25 cents (one whole exit); total $25.40.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:01 PM to World Tour '05 )
147

I see that and I think of 1:147, which was our local FidoNet network back in the day.

You, however, should think of the 147th Carnival of the Vanities, presented for your reading and clicking pleasure by Wallo World, and occasionally garnished by Famous Movie Quotes, in case you hadn't heard any lately.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 PM to Blogorrhea )
14 July 2005
Quote of the week

Just about any paragraph in this piece by Jen, though at the moment, for perhaps obvious reasons, I liked this one best:

The meaning of life is not in always being sure of where you're going, but rather in never failing to appreciate the journey.

If you're not going somewhere, have your vital signs checked. You have a journey, even when you have no clue as to the destination.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:33 AM to QOTW