Archive for April 2013

Dullard sings what?

This BuzzFeed title is intriguing: 27 Of The Most Mind-Bogglingly Stupid Song Lyrics Of All Time. They could easily have come up with 270, or 2700, but these few are pretty bad.

To save you some scrolling time, here are the worst offenders: the Black Eyed Peas (two), Rihanna (two), Nicki Minaj (one and a half). One of the Peas’ tunes, in fact, manages to recite days of the week:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (Do it!)
Friday, Saturday, Saturday to Sunday (Do it!)

This is at least three days’ worse than whatzername.

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A piece of the cloud

Just signed up for DreamObjects, a cloud-storage solution offered by the surfer dudes who host this site. I figure, at some point I’ll need it, and I might as well take advantage of the promo pricing.

I have no idea how much stuff I plan to store up there, but they have storage plans from 20 GB a month (a buck thirty-five) to 100 TB a month ($4,500). Alternatively, there is usage-based billing, which costs a flat seven cents per gigabyte, plus seven to retrieve it. (Uploading it costs nothing.)

Ideas from the ground are of course welcomed. There’s already a plugin to back up the Web site from the WordPress admin. (The site runs about 2 GB.)

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At seventeen

Surprisingly, this Web site is still not old enough to drink.

(This being a blogiversary of sorts, an Open Thread is proclaimed.)

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A side glance

Lots of things happened on the 9th of April that were far more important than the opening of a Web site. On that date in 1947, tornadoes swept through Texas and Oklahoma, killing 181; on that date in 1989, the Soviet army broke up a demonstration in Tbilisi, Georgia, killing 20. On a happier note, on that date in 1965, supermodel Paulina Porizkova was born.

Paulina Porizkova

That’s funny, she doesn’t look happy.

Then again, she has some reservations about the industry in which she used to work:

When I was modeling in the 1980s, retouching was very expensive. It was hardly ever done. The models had to be a certain size, have perfect skin. Then along came Adobe Photoshop, and suddenly a 55-year-old actress can be doing a beauty campaign. I’m happy for her. But it did kill the model. Now models are nothing more than coathangers — skinny coathangers for hanging clothes on. It’s the designers’ fault. They’re designing with no regard for real women. They’re designing for a model who looks like a crow on a stick.

See also her 2007 novel A Model Summer.

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For all the new soldiers

I simply must link to this post of Tam’s, not only because it contains an epic ambush drill, but because it’s titled in Turkish, and correct Turkish at that. (Not all of us consistently get the dotted and undotted I sorted out. Even if it was just a cut/paste job, it’s easy to mess up.)

“Kapalıçarşı yeniçeri” she translates as the closest available equivalent to “ninja.” Fair enough. And I’d bet just about anything that she said it out loud and immediately recognized that second word as the source of our term “janissary.”

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He was touching his device

A section of the California Vehicle Code:

“A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.”

What if you’re neither listening nor talking? This was the pitch made by a defendant, who said that he was looking up something on Google Maps.

Not so fast, says the court:

“Our review of the statute’s plain language leads us to conclude that the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction the driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone. That distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock, or a device for sending and receiving text messages and e-mails.”

(Full text of decision [pdf].)

But then there’s this:

[A] new law went into effect during January 2013 that allows hands-free voice calls and texting. In order to accomplish this, the driver must use voice-operated applications that allow them to dictate, send and listen to wireless communication while driving.

So you’ll be slightly less distracted. Yay.

(Via Autoblog.)

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Alert spoilers

About an hour and a half before tipoff, I found myself with a vaguely defeatist outlook, based on the notion that hey, if the Jazz win, that makes things so much more difficult for the Lakers, and there’s a lot to be said for making things more difficult for the Lakers. The Jazz, however, did not win, the Thunder once again cranking up the fourth-quarter defense and taking a 14-point lead, though Utah rattled down the next seven points to slice that lead in half, and inside the 25-second mark they’d pulled to within four. In response, Kevin Durant knocked down a pair of free throws; then Russell Westbrook swiped a Jazz inbound pass and delivered it to the bucket, drew a foul, and knocked down two free throws of his own to ice it, 90-80.

It was not a particularly good night for either bench: 14 points for OKC, 11 for Utah. Nor did either side shoot well: OKC 39.5 percent, Utah 39.2. The Jazz did land four of five starters in double figures, led by Mo Williams with 19, and big Al Jefferson banged his way to a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds). The Thunder, meanwhile, landed four of five starters in double figures, led by Russell Westbrook with 25; slightly less big Kevin Durant just missed a triple-double (21 points, 12 boards, nine assists.) If this sounds like it was pretty close, well, it was; the Jazz were never really out of it, but they didn’t ever catch up either.

And allow me to say a few words about the much-misunderstood Jamaal Tinsley, whose seven years with Indiana ended with his being epoxied to the pine while the Pacers begged for some team to take him off their hands. The Grizzlies flirted with him for a while, but at the beginning of the 2011-12 season he was down in the D-League. The Jazz watched him play, signed him, and this year gave him a one-year contract extension. He missed his only shot tonight, but in ten minutes he came up with three boards and four dimes. Not a bad comeback for a 35-year-old.

The OKC road trip ends in a flurry: Thursday at Golden State, Friday at Portland. Games 81 and 82 are back at home: the Kings on Monday, the Bucks on Wednesday.

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Making it up in volume

This Vi Hart video evidently went over a lot of heads:

Reel from Vi Hart on Vimeo.

It cost her a few subscribers, leading her to muse:

Most of YouTube seems to be going for having 10 million subscribers and leeching a few cents out of each. If I can just keep making bad videos that refine my subscriber base into increasingly smaller and more invested groups, I can aspire to someday have just one subscriber, who is willing to pay one million dollars for my videos, and then I will be more successful! So there! :D

I, of course, immediately subscribed.

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Introducing Schedule FB

The IRS routinely looks at your W-2 and that fistful of 1099s. And now they’re reading your social-media accounts:

New reports brought to light by one privacy and data security expert suggest that this tax filing season the Internal Revenue Service may be monitoring social media for any clues of tax cheats.

According to Kristen Mathews, a partner attorney at law firm Proskauer Rose LLP who specializes in privacy and data security, there are reports that the IRS will be checking into individual Facebook and Twitter accounts for improprieties.

Though the agency says that it will only conduct such monitoring if a tax form raises a red flag, it is somewhat unclear to what extent it will be capable of delving into social media accounts.

You think maybe that drunken debauch in Dayton you plastered (while plastered) all over Facebook might get your expenses disallowed?

(Via this Jules Shapiro tweet.)

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Hilarity ends suit

Women, men are routinely told, are looking for partners with a sense of humor, which prompted this outburst from me many years ago:

[This] undoubtedly explains all the girlfriends Gilbert Gottfried has stolen away from Eric Bana.

The Advice Goddess tries to enlighten a reader on this very subject:

You’re unlikely to score a second date by pelting her with jokes and one-liners, which suggests you prepared for the evening by memorizing the joke book on the back of the toilet.

Which is exactly where most joke books should be kept, if you ask me.

What impresses a woman are shows of wit — spontaneous expressions of humor in response to something she says or something around you. Wit reflects intelligence while communicating your worldview — telling her who you are far more interestingly than droning on about your major and your dream to someday get your boss to assign you a better parking space.

Some majors today won’t even get you a parking space to begin with, but that’s neither here nor there. (Okay, it’s there. Happy now?)

And really, you’ve got to have more than one arrow in your quiver: if a pocketful of wry is all you have, you shouldn’t expect anything more than the occasional necessity to vacuum out the crumbs.

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Let there be slight

Screenshot from Oklahoma MesonetThis is, by no small margin, the nastiest 10th of April since they started keeping weather records in 1891, and it appears that the Spirit of Nasty hath caused much confusion at the Oklahoma Mesonet, which was displaying that forecast graphic this afternoon. To borrow a phrase, they keep using that word; I do not believe it means what they think it means.

(The mercury struggled to get up to 45 degrees on this date in 1958, a mere two dozen or so below average; we will fall short of that today by about eight.)

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Counting for much

Shortly after the 2008 election, I complained that “actual knowledge of mathematical concepts is inimical to political success.” If one assumes that we get the government we deserve, it’s no trick to conclude that the Great Unwashed are utterly immune to arithmetic.

Not too similarly, from Roger:

There are people who actually don’t understand that math is everywhere. The old recipe book says that I require 10 32 ounce cans for a bunch of lasagna I’m making. But they don’t make 32-ounce cans anymore, they only make 28 ounce cans. How many cans will I need?

Ah, the ever-popular Grocery Shrink Ray, which is used on things other than groceries; in 2007 I bought a replacement for my 30-gallon water heater, which holds, um, 28 gallons despite being almost exactly the same size.

And Roger needs twelve cans, though he’ll use less than half of the last one. After a brief flirtation with online operations, I do my tax returns by hand, though I suspect I may be one of a dying breed.

Isaac Asimov was available for comment.

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Some of his best friends, and so forth

A grabber of an opening paragraph:

I am not a misogynist, but… Of course, if I say that, immediately you think either the next words out of my keyboard will be, or that I am learning the proper obsequiescence of a Sensitive Nineties Man (SNM) too late for it to do any good for the nineties, but I am not a misogynist; I think women are one of the top two genders in the world.

One of the earliest posts by Brian J. Noggle, who hoisted his blog banner ten years ago this week.

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Taller than a kitten heel

It’s a poodle heel:

Poodle heel platform sandal by Charlotte Olympia

This sandal by Charlotte Olympia is guaranteed to be noticed, not just for its vaguely canine underpinnings, but for the little charm that hangs over the top of your foot. (It’s a golden heart that says LA VIE EN ROSE.)

The ever-tasteful Nancy Friedman, who tweeted the existence of this shoe in my general direction, says: “Maybe at 50% off…” At Neiman’s, that would be $847.50.

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Even finer print

Bill Quick proposes a Constitutional amendment:

Anything we have to pass in order to find out what it is … should not be passed.

I’d like to see a constitutional amendment mandating that every bill except for declarations of war must undergo a waiting period of at least one day for every page of the bill prior to any final vote on it.

There’s something vaguely karmic here: all the lunkheads who used every typographical trick in the book to make a “five-page paper” out of maybe 2.3 pages of text all of a sudden would be calling for six-point type and margins no wider than a gnat’s ass.

The sideways approach — elect a President who will veto anything it takes longer than fifteen minutes to read — is probably not going to happen either.

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What’s that hitting the fan?

It was 80-ish a couple of days ago, and we had a freeze warning this morning, so obviously one of you has been screwing with the Global Thermostat again:

I guess there is not much in Science that is fixed in stone.

Except the temperature. The only thing that Science knows for sure is that the temperature was exactly right about 100 years ago. Now of course, the temperature is almost a little hotter and we’re all going to die. But thank goodness civilization lived long enough to find that one exactly right temperature. I hope Mr Obama chisels the number into some sort of monument so that, should humans evolve again from the wreckage, they won’t have to waste their energy determining The Proper Temperature and they can get right down to blaming each other about just who is responsible for ruining everything this time.

Fortunately, Mr Obama has at his disposal an entire battalion of chiselers.

(Via Monday Evening.)

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Something besides 206th Street

The city of Edmond is getting a new subdivision called Thunder Canyon, which I suspect is probably about 50 percent accurate — I’m pretty sure you can hear thunder up there now and then. This is, of course, in character for this part of the world:

In the 1970s a subdivision went in west of Ski Island called “Canyon North,” and threading down the middle of it is something called Basswood Canyon Road. Quite apart from the fact that we’re not exactly overrun (underrun?) with canyons in that part of town, basswood doesn’t grow here: it tends to show up in the Midwest and points east, also places not known for canyons.

More surprising is that it’s in Edmond and no trees are mentioned:

The city of Edmond, on the other hand, likes trees. Loves trees. The joke a few years ago was that there was a City Council motion to ban all further street or subdivision names that contained any mention of “oak”, before the entire population wound up living on Something Oak Drive. At least, I think it was a joke.

Coming back down Covell Road, I happened upon a subdivision that probably should have been called Ashford Oaks, but was in fact called “Asheforde Oaks”, with a double helping of that Olde Englishe Codswallope that presumably impels people with ancestors named Martinez (such as, well, yours truly) to look elsewhere for housing.

But give them this. At least they’re not being blatant about that “Thunder” business:

There will be no Durant Drive, Rumble Lane, Westbrook Pass or Collison Court in Thunder Canyon, Edmond’s new housing development on the east side of the city.

The project with 188 lots near Covell Road and Midwest Boulevard will not have any ties to Oklahoma City’s professional basketball team.

There’s a Harden Drive just south of Nichols Hills, but I’m not going there either.

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Peaceful upheaval

The last thing I would have predicted in a Thunder-Warriors game is garbage time, and even if I’d imagined it, I never would have figured on nearly six minutes of it. But OKC, up six at the half, ran that lead to nineteen after three, and they were still up nineteen six minutes later. (That 36-23 third quarter was almost — not quite — a thing of beauty.) Almost as unlikely: holding the Warriors under 110. But it happened: the Thunder got their 58th win, 116-97. and a half-game edge over the Spurs, and the Warriors dropped to half a game in front of the seventh-seeded (so far) Rockets.

It was not a good night for starting big men, with both Kendrick Perkins and Andrew Bogut exiting early. And Golden State’s two-guard knockout punch was running at barely 50-percent efficiency: Stephen Curry came up with a better-than-decent 22, but Klay Thompson was bottled up all night and went 2-10 for six points. David Lee struggled a bit at times, though not enough to keep him out of a double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds), and both Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry hit double figures in reserve.

Still, there’s a Telltale Statistic. The Warriors went 7-16 from deep space, which isn’t bad percentagewise, but you tend to expect them to put up twenty or thirty. Maybe forty. (OKC went 12-27 from out there.) Kevin Durant once again finished just shy of a triple-double, bagging 31 points, ten boards and eight assists; just as exciting, Kevin Martin was on the beam, 8-10 for 23. Russell Westbrook fumbled the rock rather a lot in the first half, only once in the second, and finished at 18. I did lose a side bet, predicting that Hasheem Thabeet would foul out in 18 minutes. (Got the minutes right, but The Dream kept his fouls down to five.)

Tomorrow night: last road game of the regular season, against the Trail Blazers. Will they be swept? One can only hope. Weird things have happened before in the Rose Garden, although the Blazers losing their tenth in a row seems unlikely. Then again, I also thought the Warriors would score about 110 tonight.

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Quote of the week

Jimmie Bise thinks it’s time we invested in stocks.

No, not those stocks. These stocks:

Once upon a time, we had a way to punish miscreants who broke minor laws or did something so amazingly stupid that the community felt a need to make a public example of them so that others would be less inclined to break the law or be quite so dumb.

Pillories. The stocks. Public shame for a short period of time, occasionally punctuated with the application of rotten fruit to or about the face of the shamed, and sanctioned by the community. Ruthless public mockery of the sort seen in Billy Madison, where the person being mocked has to stand there and take it.

Appropriately, he has several individuals deemed worthy of this treatment. And the advantage of so doing, apart from getting your vegetable crisper cleaned out, is simply this:

We wouldn’t put it on someone’s permanent record as we do a criminal conviction. After a few days, we’d largely forget it happened. But — and this is the important thing — the person who spent those hours with rotten tomato juice dripping from their forehead would not forget. They’d try very hard not to end up there again. We’d move on to the next person and do what we could to make sure we didn’t end up there one day.

Well, maybe there should be some permanent record — say, excerpts on YouTube.

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General Lee was not available for comment

This is, the government of Dubai informs us, a legitimate police vehicle:

Lamborghini Aventador police car

To explain:

The 700-horsepower [Lamborghini] Aventador has a starting price in the US of nearly $400,000 and can reach speeds up to 217 miles per hour. Reports, however, say that the Dubai police force won’t be using the car’s 0-60 performance of 3.9 seconds to catch any crooks, but rather that the supercar will be used in tourist areas to impress foreign travelers.

And there’s no back seat to accommodate the perps, anyway.

Still, given Dubai’s urge to splurge, this is probably a bit easier to justify than, say, faking the appearance of economy by rebadging a Mercedes as a Honda.

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News you can’t use

The problem with national media, apart from the fact that television looks pretty much identical whether you’re in Concord or Capistrano, is that they make for national causes and national haranguing on behalf of same. You could ignore the lot of them, I suppose — apart from the random afflictions on the set in the office breakroom, I watch basically nothing anymore except basketball and ponies — but the tube has insinuated itself so far into the culture that for all I know, I may be the last remaining outlier. (We all know people who say they “never” watch television; want to guess what’s in their Netflix queues?)

There’s probably no cure for this, either:

I could suggest that we start more locally-oriented papers, radio, and television stations, but such things have been made into guaranteed losing propositions: acts of civic charity that few persons will bother to read, listen to, or watch. Similarly, I could suggest that the civic-minded resolve to ignore the nationalized media, but in our era that’s like asking a man to hold his breath for a week. Now that all politics is national — sorry, Tip ol’ buddy — inattention to the national news would be catastrophic for such freedom-loving Americans as still remain. For now, all I can do is point at the cancer; I know of no tool capable of excising it.

The FCC destroyed “locally-oriented,” at least the over-the-air type. Consider these rules, in effect through the 1970s:

  • No entity could exceed the rules known familiarly as “7-7-7”: seven AM stations, seven FM stations, and seven TV stations (no more than five of which could be VHF — channels 2 through 13);
  • No owner of three VHF stations in the top 50 TV markets could purchase other such stations without a showing of compelling public interest;
  • Newspaper owners could not acquire radio or television stations in the same market;
  • No owner could operate more than one station of the same service in the same market.

“VHF,” of course, is meaningless today: the vast majority of stations claiming a channel between 2 and 13 are actually out in the same UHF cloud as their no-longer-lesser brethren. And the chances that these rules will be reinstated are essentially nil. But other than doing my part to encourage the wielding of the sword of bankruptcy, I don’t see any way to untie this particular knot.

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Woofers and tweeters, living together

Becoming a fan of BT of course meant I had to pick up his Twitter feed, and yesterday he was thinking out loud, starting here:

I’ve just come up with a theory. I’ve noticed women are more sensitive to high frequency information and men to low frequency information… And in fact I bet on average, women have a higher range of hearing than men. (anyone can corroborate this awesome). Okay that’s idea one…

Next thought, I believe this is why girls are nearly always aware of lyric and meaning whereas guys focus on rhythm and harmonic structures… It’s funny to hear a couple discuss a song. Guy “Hey sweetheart you know the song that goes baah baah bash boom!” Girl “You mean Forget Me?”

Overheard this convo a million times. So, it hit me the “why”. I believe our hearing has evolved (as other traits) to sustain our species… I’m sure most would agree with this. So I believe men focus bass and sub information as they represented things like earthquakes & predators… Things that were a threat to survival and would provoke fight or flight response in men. I also believe women hear mid and high frequency… information more clearly as the tone of the human voice falls in this range (especially children) & without mom 1000 years ago, you’d die.

Someone (not I) sent him this in support of his notion.

And I’d point out, as though you didn’t already know it, that 99 percent of the time, the $500 car with the $1000 stereo that’s rattling your windows from two lanes over is not being driven by a female.

On the other hand, I’ve observed Trini’s ability to identify a record, even one that’s older than she is, just from the bass line, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t pick that up from me.

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Even fewer thorns

I was all ready to trot out a Frail Blazers joke, what with Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and J. J. Hickson all ailing. Well, Hickson did show up, pulling down seven rebounds in 13 minutes, and right before the first-half horn, the Blazers were up by two. As the horn sounded, Thabo Sefolosha dropped in a trey, and that was pretty much it: Oklahoma City outscored Portland 26-7 in the third, and the Blazers never quite got back into it, the Thunder handing them a 106-90 thrashing.

And anyway, OKC was off two players also: Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Martin were both out, meaning that Hasheem Thabeet got the start at center and someone else would have to do the scoring for the bench. That someone else, mostly, was Reggie Jackson, who knocked down 17 points, alongside Derek Fisher with nine. And we got to see Ronnie Brewer for more than a second or two: he missed the two shots he took, but he gathered seven rebounds and executed two steals, just what a defense-minded swingman ought to be doing. We can probably count out Kevin Durant for the scoring title this year, unless he goes off for 50 against Sacramento next week: he had a modest 16 tonight, with Russell Westbrook doing the heavy lifting (33 points, three steals).

Weird but nonetheless Telltale Statistic: last time OKC came to Portland, rookie guard Damian Lillard scored nine points on 3-14 shooting. This time, Lillard bagged ten points — on 3-14 shooting. Will Barton, starting in place of Batum, had a team-high 18; LaMarcus Aldridge was held to 12, seemingly about one-sixteenth of his average. On the upside, the Blazers coaxed 40 points out of their reserves, led by OKC expat Eric Maynor with 11. At least he’s getting some playing time in Portland: you, or at least I, hated to see him riding the pine.

And that’s the last road game of the regular season. The traveling Thunder went a highly respectable 26-15; they’re 33-6 at home with two games left. (Denver obligingly lost tonight, so OKC clinches the Northwest.) San Antonio, half a game back, has three games left, two on the road. I’m starting to like OKC’s chances for the #1 seed, especially since #8 is going to be either the Lakers or the Jazz; I just don’t see Houston dropping their last three, and truth be told, I’d rather they had to play the Spurs in the first round.

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8 is enough

The traditional personal computer is being challenged by tablets and phones and various and sundry other devices. And for “traditional,” I tend to read “Windows-based,” since I don’t know anyone who’s actually retiring a Mac.

Into this maelstrom, Microsoft introduces another version of Windows. How is it being received? At my shop, it’s a lot like this:

Windows 8 was never, ever going to save the PC, because Windows 8 represents an abandonment of the traditional PC. It is essentially a touchscreen tablet OS forced onto the desktop. Like Windows Vista, it is an absolutely awful OS that our company has banned any employee from using on a company machine. Fortunately, we can still buy a few Dell computers with Windows 7, and when that is no longer possible, I will go back to building our company machines and putting Windows 7 on myself, the same thing I did to survive the Vista nightmare (hanging on to XP until Windows 7 came out).

And you know what I thought of Vista.

Microsoft will end support for XP in the spring of ’14. I suppose I’ll either have to hunt down a license for 7, or buy a Mac.

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Everything is the highest priority

I regret to inform you that this situation is a long way from being unique:

Several years ago, I worked a job where we had a queue of assignments and a pool of workers who would take the first item from the queue that was fed by various account managers. It was first-come-first-serve unless there was something in the “Rush” queue. Sometimes, when we were short-handed or had too much work to do, we would get backed up. It would take longer and longer for items to work there way through the queue. Except for the Rushes, which would initially be done right away. Of course, as time progressed, more and more would become listed as Rush jobs because, while they didn’t technically need it tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, they couldn’t wait the 6-8 weeks the normal pile was taking. There came a point where 80% of the items in the queue were labeled “Rush.”

Before long, we had a new stack: “Super Rush.” This, shockingly, didn’t actually solve the problem.

This may shock some middle-management types (and I thank whatever deities saw to it that I don’t have to deal with them), but everything you do can’t be the most important thing you do, not even if you’re running the Lake Wobegon branch.

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Figures to keep in mind

File this under Things You Need To Know:

There are, it must be conceded, incidents in which calling 911 should be your first priority: a handgun can’t do much for your sudden myocardial infarction.

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Reasonably discreditable

Recently arrived in the mail, allegedly from “Credit Updates 360®”:

There’s a 30-day delinquency added to your credit report recently.

We recommend you to check your credit report immediately & request for removal if you believe its an error.

If the 30-day delinquency is correct, it may remain on your report for seven years or more.

You can check your report at no cost by Visiting HERE.

I need hardly mention that HERE is no place you, or I, want to visit. Props, though, to whoever wrote the scheme to echo the email address of the recipient in the actual body text, thereby adding a (very) thin veneer of believability.

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Saturday spottings (we got your sprawl right here)

One hundred thirty-seven miles.

This year’s Architecture Tour started in far-northern Edmond and ended in far-eastern Norman, leaving me with a real concern as to whether we’d make it to all seven sites in time. I needn’t have worried. Trini takes her job as navigator very seriously, and by the time we first entered the Norman Traffic Death March, we were practically assured of our completion ribbons. (Okay, we don’t get ribbons, exactly, but they mark off each site you visit with a highlighter, and this year they used four different colors.)

Given the geography involved, we followed the ticket order exactly, and this is where we ended up:

1) 1701 Woodhill Road, Edmond

Hiltgen Home

The owners of this stone-over-wood-frame Colorado contemporary, circa 1976, started planning to remodel in early 2009; then a rare late-winter tornado took out 75 percent of the house, and they were more or less forced to update everything ahead of schedule. The exterior was pushed about one notch in the direction of Rustic, though the fittings are clearly contemporary. (Here’s how it looked before the reconstruction.) Positioned on top of a hill at the end of a twisty road, it’s the sort of house you hope your eccentric aunt leaves you in her will.

2) 1000 Northwest 37th Street

7 at Crown Heights

You saw 7 at Crown Heights, to give it its formal name, on last year’s tour; the exterior is much the same as it was then, but the interiors have been filled in nicely, and the courtyard and pool are now finished. The “7” designation comes from the fact that there are seven units, spread over two buildings at a right angle to one another. It still amazes me that the city ever wanted this torn down.

3) 430 Northwest 12th Street

430

It wouldn’t be an Architecture Tour without something from Brian Fitzsimmons. This year’s former sow’s ear is a Midtown two-story office building, dating to the 1950s, somewhere between retired and ruined. Fitzsimmons’ silk-pursification was audacious enough to add a third story and recasting the building into 26 apartments, not all of which are flats. We saw a unit facing downtown, and the view of course was fabulous. (Covered parking, we are told, is in the works.) As always with Fitzsimmons, natural light is a given; every angle is chosen to maximize the value of incoming sun without boiling you to death in the summer, which is why there is as little glass as possible on the east and west ends.

4) 123 Northwest 8th Street

Lingo Construction

Perhaps by coincidence, Lingo Construction, whose offices you see here, is doing the heavy lifting on 430 NW 12th, supra. This was a 1930 auto-supply operation — being around the corner from Automobile Alley made that almost a given — and its redesign is an ingenious combination of both vintage and vintage-looking structural components, either exposed or, as in this shot, covered with clear polycarbonate. On the east exterior wall is some sort of faded-beyond-recognition painted advertisement, presumably for something automotive, a reminder that this is downtown, dammit, and we don’t cover things up with EIFS if we can help it.

5) 1729 Northwest 3rd Street

WestTown Campus

I wrote about this neighborhood back in 2004: “Professional worriers, faced with a few blocks like this, would undoubtedly start screaming ‘Blight!’ and calling for intervention.” One of the problems is that gentrification of downtown has gradually pushed much of the city’s homeless contingent to the near west side. The Homeless Alliance operates WestTown Campus, which consists of two structures, a Resource Center (seen here) and a similarly designed Day Shelter. The idea was to make it look like less of a large impersonal institution, and I believe they succeeded.

6. 1009 Woodland Drive, Norman

Woodland Residence

Brent Swift, who owns 7 at Crown Heights, also owns this Mid-Century Modern house in near-west Norman, a lovely little L-shaped ranch (not entirely unlike my own) with a lot of improvements made and a lot of accumulated non-improvements removed. The west wall of the east wing is set off with a line of exterior windows each set at about a 25-degree angle, with concealed storage space along the entire hallway. Trini spotted a For Sale sign; I think she’d have bought it if she’d thought the check would have cleared.

7. 3200 Sexton Drive, Norman

Underground Loft

Just the idea of an Underground Loft is intriguing, and this home, built into the side of a hill off a gravel road south of Lake Thunderbird, is fascinating because of its origins — the original architect wanted the advantages of semi-buried construction, but he wanted the place to look absolutely ordinary otherwise. The current owners have redone it to look more like the concrete-and-steel “bunker” that it really is. (We looked at vintage photos on display, and the major virtue on display is innocuousness.) This old-construction look gives the interior the appearance of, yes, a loft. The owner told us that he bought the place more or less on sight, despite not at all being in the market at the time; he saw something in it that no one else had.

(Photo credits: 1, yours truly; 3, rendering by Brian Fitzsimmons; 5-6, Joseph Mills Photography; others furnished by Central Oklahoma Chapter, American Institute of Architects.)

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Disclose make the man

Thinking about running for office, Bunkie? How’d you like a nice background check?

The notion that government officials should have greater rights to privacy than private citizens is one of the reasons we have such lousy government officials. I’ve been saying for years that if you want to run for public office, you forfeit your right to any privacy. Voters have a right to know any and everything about you that might influence their voting decisions.

The key word here is “influence,” both verb and noun: not since Mr. Smith went to Washington has there been a tabula rasa of a politician, and I don’t expect to see another in my lifetime.

There will be, of course, some resistance to the idea:

The common objection to this is that it would prevent talented people from running for office. No, actually, it would prevent politicians whom their constituents would not cross the street to piss on from gaining the power to rule us.

Talented people are already prevented from running for office by the existing party machinery. Should one somehow sneak by, the mistake will almost certainly be corrected at the next election.

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Non-matching Tumblrs

What do you do when two women for whom you hold high regard come to diametrically opposite positions? If you’re wise, you run like hell. Not being wise, I post their positions.

Nicole wants to know:

[W]hat the hell is Tumblr good for? Seriously, if you know, share because I don’t see the point. Is it like having a blog with no content other than things you reblog (not to say I’m not seriously guilty of that) where you don’t have to respond to any comments or interact with anyone?

Vi Hart, who just started a Tumblr, ponders:

My question, for now, is whether tumblr is a better place for me than a regular ol’ blog. It seems like it has all the functionality of a blog plus more, even if the bonus sharing/discussing functionality is severely crippled. Tumblr does seem to be designed for spreading photography (of people), photography (of animals), photography (of architecture), and photography (of sculpture), but like most successful internet tools it finds its success in the fact that people can repurpose it to serve their needs. No one cares what twitter or youtube are “for,” anymore, and as long as the creators don’t mess too much with what people do with their tool, it will keep being useful.

Tumblr “notes” can be construed as comments in the canonical sense, but the platform’s structure does allow for comments identified as such, as seen on a few blogs I read now and then. Still, I tend to see Tumblr more as a meme-propagation service than a blog platform.

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Sickening news

More often than not, it’s literally so.

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Counting coupes?

Paul Simon once droned on about counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, but at the time he was interested in making Big Cultural Statements.

These days, when you count cars, they’re apparently inside other cars:

[T]o kick off season two of HISTORY’s popular car restoration show Counting Cars, the network is bringing the “Count the Cars Tour” to the Oklahoma City Thunder Game in Bricktown tomorrow.

The exhibit will feature a 1966 Cadillac Coupe de Ville customized by Counting Cars star Danny ‘The Count’ Koker and filled with thousands of miniature cars. Fans will have a chance to win the Cadillac by accurately guessing the number of miniature cars inside.

Here’s a picture of the Caddy in question. It was here this weekend for the NSRA Southwest Street Rod Nationals; if you missed those — and how could you? — it’ll be parked in front of the Harkins Theater, a couple blocks east of the arena, tomorrow between 4 and 8 pm.

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A man on a mission

There’s something in the Unwritten Law — I’m sure Murphy influenced it in his own inimitable way — which says that appliances are more likely to fail on weekends, when you can’t get someone to work on them. (I await a study which tries to explain this away by “Well, they’re used more often on the weekends.”)

My trusty old (9½ years) Kenmore duly filled up with water this morning, and then refused to do anything else. Now had I done my usual Thursday-evening wash, I might have simply shrugged, because I’d had enough stuff on the hanger to last me several days. But no, I blew it off, and now, I decided, was the time to panic.

Enter this guy, who listened to me whine, asked me to run a simple diagnostic, and then said he’d be out that evening. Which he was. For those keeping score: the switch that tells the timer when the lid is up or down had fragged. This is about a $40 part, so I figured, okay, $150 if I’m lucky. It could be worse, and anyway, if I take off from work for a day it will cost me about that much anyway. Twenty minutes and $115 later, good as new.

He asked if I’d seen him in the Yellow Pages, which I had; “but I also went out to see if you had a Web site.” He seemed surprised at that: hardly anyone, he said, used the site as a referral, and he was wondering if it was worth it. I assured him, that yes, it was. I did not, however, tell him that I was going to throw him a link. (And, yes, a tweet.)

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Strange search-engine queries (376)

In this world, Ben Franklin told us, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. I’m not saying that this Monday-morning roundup of oddball search strings deserves to be added to that list, but still: three hundred seventy-six of them.

97 mazda 626 rear tires face inward:  So turn one of them around.

is there a turbo that will fit a 1993 mazda 626 v6:  Well, sure, if you want your tires facing the wrong way.

is it true that ding dong the witch is dead in the charts at the moment:  Made #10, says the Official Charts Company, in the wake of the Baroness Thatcher’s death. It is not, however, the Fifth Estate version that was a 1960s hit in the States.

neon bra panties naked girls:  If they’re wearing neon bra and/or panties, they’re hardly naked, are they?

Today’s Secret Word is sponsored by Fungi-Nail. What is today’s Secret Word (aired on GSN between 3-6pm ET?)  If you expect me to watch television for you, that’s $150 an hour plus expenses. Today’s Secret Word must be something like “indolent.”

don’t play that song midi file:  In fact, don’t even download it.

advantages of western civilization:  It was nice while it lasted, but it assumed each individual was capable of acting in his/her own best interest, a notion that could not be allowed to stand.

what is the ritual for an 2010 infiniti ex35 canada:  In Quebec, anyway, it’s time for the Ritual Removal of the Winter Tires.

dustbury ratios:  About one of these per week, generally.

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It happens to the best of us

Surrounded by weasels, we are. Rob O’Hara set up a new site for future use, and when he decided to work on it a bit, he discovered that the weasels had already been there:

Crap. I know WordPress has been under attack lately, so my first assumption was that the site had been compromised. Bypassing Chrome’s warning, I opened the site and searched for any sign of malware. I couldn’t find any. I then clicked “View Source Code” and quickly found the problem — links to a “posh laptop bag” website. While viewing the page itself I couldn’t see the link, but while viewing the code there it was, plain as day. A quick Google search shows that I’m not the only person running WordPress with the issue.

This sounds painfully familiar. He was, however, able to identify the source:

After a few minutes of research I tracked the problem back to the free WordPress theme I had downloaded. The theme was injecting links to sites hosting malware in the theme’s footer, and the links were encrypted (technically, obfuscated) making them difficult to find while sifting through the code.

There are something like twenty bazillion WordPress themes out there; they can’t all be trustworthy. I’ve stuck with this ancient theme for nearly five years, and it was two years old when I got it. And it’s hardly immune to weasels.

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IM through

I hadn’t thought about it lately, but it’s true: I haven’t so much as clicked on my instant-message client in months. I suspect I have seen the wisdom of this viewpoint:

One thing I hate about the electronic age is the expectation of immediacy. Some forms of electronic communication, however, have greater expectations of immediacy than others. Like instant messaging, for instance. I once had instant messaging eons ago, but I am prone to multitasking and getting distracted by more important things than random chitchat. This, of course, pissed off people I was IMing with so I ended up not doing any sort of instant messaging at all. E-mail, on the other hand, is more flexible. I respond fairly quickly if it’s from family or work, but otherwise I can put it off for a couple of days. Or respond not at all. (Or pretend that it got lost in the aether if it’s from someone I don’t really want to talk to.) Twitter is a mix between the two. While I like the IMing aspect of interacting with other people online in a semi-immediate way, I don’t think many people would get really angry with me if I get distracted and respond two hours later.

I am not particularly adept at multitasking, so I probably pissed people off even more. And I have informal Response Times for email, depending on my own priorities: six hours is a hurry, 24 hours is more likely, and 48 hours is the default for some high-volume correspondents. (It does nothing, I have discovered, to reduce their volume.)

The record for slowest response to one of my tweets? Two hundred fifty days: 29 July 2012 to 5 April 2013. “Sorry, I totally just saw this!” she explained. I understood: I’m easy to overlook, and it wasn’t like the matter was urgent.

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Cruelest Month update

If April had Ides, they’d be today, and the 15th of April has not been the happiest of days in world history, quite apart from the fact that if you’re in the States, your income-tax return is probably due today. For example:

1865: Death of Abraham Lincoln.

1912: Sinking of RMS Titanic.

1927: Beginning of the Great Mississippi Flood.

1936: Arabs in Palestine revolt.

1989: Tiananmen Square protests begin.

2013: Whatever it was that happened in Boston today.

Perhaps a happier moment, from 1930: the birth of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, fourth president of Iceland, and the world’s first democratically elected (as distinguished from, say, the accession of Eva Perón) female head of state.

President Vigdis of Iceland

Vigdís was elected to her first term in 1980, and served until 1996. In this 2011 picture, there’s a lovely serenity to her, no doubt attributable to having governed a literal volcano of a country for sixteen years.

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Kings deposed again

On the line tonight: the #1 seed in the West and the 60th win of the season. Sacramento would have been happy to play spoiler for both of those, and after Tyreke Evans hit four out of five in ten minutes, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that they might actually pull it out. Then Evans went down with a blow to the quads, and the Kings started falling behind, dropping to 24 back. The starters went to the bench. The Kings started catching up, and the starters were called back to work, though the margin at the end was a modest nine points, 104-95.

Kevin Martin and Kendrick Perkins were still out, and Derek Fisher was scratched before game time, so the big questions were “How long will Hasheem Thabeet be out there?” and “Will we actually see Ronnie Brewer?” The answers: 12½ minutes, and Yes, with a capital Y. Brewer’s shot wasn’t going in, but he was gathering everyone else’s shots, finishing with two points and 13 rebounds. What’s more, the Thunder got twenty minutes out of Daniel Orton, a third of what he’d played in the preceding 59 games, and he and Reggie Jackson wangled ten points apiece, more than compensating for the Sixth and Seventh men. Kevin Durant, having pretty much cinched 50-40-90 for the season, turned in 29 points, a little above his average but not enough to put him back in contention for the scoring title. And while we’re talking contention, let’s talk Russell Westbrook, who was contentious enough to bag two technicals, which earned him a free trip to the locker room. He’d already picked up 21 points.

If you’re a Kings fan, here’s the fun part for you: ex-Thunderer Cole Aldrich got the only double-double of the night: 12 points, 13 boards in not quite 23 minutes. In fact, the Sacramento bench was quite a bit more productive than the starters, bagging 53 of the Kings’ 95 points, though Isaiah Thomas did come up with 16 running the point. (Still, Thomas was -4 for the night, while Aldrich was +17.) And Sacramento was slightly less inept at shooting the long ball than Oklahoma City: 7-27 versus 5-23.

Still undetermined: whether there will actually be a Sacramento team next year. (If not, will Bill Simmons call the new Seattle entity the Zombie Kings?)

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The contrite of spring

Recently arrived in the spam folder:

Dearest one, I’m Barrister Evelyn Johnson. I have a confession to make. It’s about something wrong i did against you in the past without your knowledge. I have taken a bold decision to confess everything to you, but i don’t really know if you will forgive me?

I will wait to hear from you upon receipt of this email.

Well, Ms J, you can start by telling me why this message was supposedly from the Gmail account of “Mrs Ella Melvin.” That’s kinda hard to forgive.

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Take a walk

The last time I mentioned Propét shoes, it was in connection with their Edgewater Walker slide, and it was the first time I ever wrote up a shoe post based on the Zappos Order Map.

This item appeared on the map yesterday:

Propet Surf Walker

In fact, I was the person who bought it. It’s Propét’s Surf Walker, the one surviving item after I patiently drilled down through Sandals/Men’s/Sized for Sasquatch. The purchase motivation was twofold:

  • I figure, as much as I rely on these guys for blogfodder, the least I can do is buy something fercrissake;
  • My old Nikes are starting to disintegrate.

Interestingly, they carry a six-month/1,000-mile guarantee. I don’t know how long it will take me to put a thousand miles on them, but I’m certainly willing to try.

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