Archive for April 2014

The once and future (maybe) Kings

It is a measure of something, I suppose, that the last time the Kings were in the playoffs, they finished fourth in the Pacific. Today they’re fourth in the Pacific, having demonstrated that they’re at least somewhat better than the Lakers, but they’re mired deep in the lottery. Inconsistency consistently befalls Sacramento: down twelve at the half, they fought back to within three, ended the third quarter down eight, and then didn’t score a point for six minutes — well, 5:59 — in the fourth against the Thunder bench. At the time, it was Oklahoma City 101, Sacramento 79; had a faith healer suddenly brought Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas to life, it wouldn’t have made a whole lot of difference. Thunder 107, Kings 92, and that’s the season sweep.

How good was the OKC bench in that fourth quarter? There was no reason to bring in Kevin Durant, who finished with 23 points, ending his streak of 25-plus at 41. And Caron Butler, more or less the official sixth man when Reggie Jackson starts, also finished with 23, hitting six of six treys. (Jackson, of course, started under Restbrook conditions; Russell is being saved for the, um, “big” game tomorrow against the Clippers.) Butler had a ridiculous +28 for the night. And Steven Adams, keeping Kings out of the lane, blocked three shots, three more than Serge Ibaka. Then again, Ibaka scored 19 points, Adams 5.

The Kings, though, had the two top scorers: DeMarcus Cousins (24, 14 rebounds) and Travis Outlaw (24, a season high). Further, the Kings outrebounded the Thunder, 44-39, having demonstrated, at least early on, a talent for second-chance points. But shooting was an issue: 41 percent, only 3-14 from outside. And unexpectedly, the Thunder didn’t give them a whole lot of opportunities to cash in on mistakes: OKC had zero turnovers in the first half and finished with a mere six.

The number to watch, though, is 1.5. OKC is now 56-21; the Clippers, who had the night off, are 55-23. A game and a half. (The Timberwolves, now officially a lottery team again, vented their frustration on the Spurs, which had to be fun.) Can the Thunder win 60? They’ll have to beat the Clippers first. (Four games after that — New Orleans twice, Indiana and Detroit — and the Pacers, despite recent slumpage, are 34-6 at home.)

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Baby’s brain and an old man’s heart

Took eighteen years to get this far.

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Now featuring a face

Yesterday I posted something about perceived invisibility, accompanied by a picture of someone who was “actually” invisible. This was, of course, motion-picture special-effects work; but for 1940, those were damned good effects. (In fact, John P. Fulton was nominated for an Academy Award for them.)

I was tempted to turn that in for a Rule 5 roundup — she does look good, to the extent that she looks at all, in that dress — but decided that might be a bit too hard to deal with, so here’s the visible Virginia Bruce (1910-1982):

Virginia Bruce at the beach

Really good shots of VB are hard to come by; I am indebted to Dr. Macro for this one:

Virginia Bruce not at the beach

So how does a Hollywood-pretty actress end up in a role where she can’t be seen? It went something like this:

Deadly serious fans of the Universal horror films have never quite come to grips with The Invisible Woman; somehow its screwball farce just doesn’t seem to fit into the rest of the series. They’re missing the point. Invisibility of any sort is bizarre; the original H. G. Wells story was full of weirdly humorous bits, and James Whale’s 1933 film, which launched Universal’s Invisible series, successfully translated that weirdness into visuals. Even the more formulaic later pictures in the series still contained scenes that inspire giggling, and not always by accident.

It was this sort of whimsy that, judging by her previous appearances (consider, for instance, The Shop Around The Corner), you might think would have appealed to Margaret Sullavan, Universal’s first choice for the role of Kitty Carroll. But Sullavan refused to take the part, which got her suspended by the studio, and Virginia Bruce was chosen to replace her. The actress formerly known as Helen Virginia Briggs grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, moved west as a teenager to attend UCLA, but wound up doing bit parts in pictures instead, graduating to leads shortly thereafter. She was thirty years old when she signed for The Invisible Woman. It’s not likely that she considered it anything more than a paycheck, but today it’s one of the roles for which she’s best remembered. Her last appearance was in Strangers When We Meet in 1960, playing Kim Novak’s mother; she died in 1982.

“Appearance,” he says. Haw.

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While you’re at it

WordPress announced the release of version 3.8.2 yesterday; I was planning to do the update later that evening, but an email around dinnertime announced that the dirty deed had already been done. Three others followed in short order, for some other sites I maintain, and one of them deviated slightly from the formula by telling me that “You also have some plugins or themes with updates available.”

Heck, you’d think that if they could update the whole WordPress core remotely, they could also update those plugins — especially since those plugins are their plugins (Akismet and Jetpack). But this is just grousing; anyone who updated WordPress in the old days, by which I mean before about 2010 or so, isn’t likely to complain about the automatic (or is it Automattic?) core-update system.

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I before E, if you must

I admit that this made me laugh:

The computer came with Chrome and he installed Firefox. I said I didn’t care as long as it wasn’t Internet Explorer and he fistbumped me over that (heh. I guess no one likes that browser).

This may be a case of “nobody likes it, but everybody uses it.” From NetMarketShare:

Screenshot from NetMarketShare March 2014

One might ask, I suppose, how many of those folks using IE actually know they’re using IE?

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This gets an #FFF

Some students at Dartmouth produced what they call a “Freedom Budget,” justified by the following:

This Freedom Budget focused on redistributing power and restoring justice for communities who suffered economic oppression at the hands of rich, white power structures. This budget was not a proposal for better interpersonal interactions, but a proposal to transform oppressive structures. Dartmouth epitomizes power being isolated to rich, white males. As such, there is no better place than this campus to campaign for a Freedom Budget that will address the consequences of white male patriarchy today.

Robert Stacy McCain questions that “no better place” bit:

Why are these kids so obsessed with white people? First, it’s “rich, white power structures,” then it’s “rich, white males” and “white male patriarchy” — white! white! white! The repetition conveys the intensity of their fixation, but why? Let’s see: Dartmouth College is in Hanover, N.H., and the census says New Hampshire is 94.4% white. So if you have a problem with white people, maybe Dartmouth isn’t the place you want to be, but since you decided to go to Dartmouth, whose problem is this? It’s as if you moved to Tijuana and then started complaining, “Hey, why are there so many Mexicans around here?”

Oh, but they love Mexicans. Well, except maybe these guys.

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A close clipping

This was one of those games when you wonder just what the heck is going on. For one thing, the Clippers occasionally got fouls called on them, something experience says is nearly impossible. Oklahoma City had a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter; they ran it to 15 in the second before the Clippers started clawing their way back. At halftime, L. A. had cut that lead down to five. The Thunder then pulled away to a 17-point lead in the third; the Clippers started clawing their way back, and had closed to within nine when Reggie Jackson made a 28-foot jumper just ahead of the horn. In the fourth quarter, the Thunder had a 15-point lead when, yes, the Clippers started clawing their way back; they ran off 14 consecutive points to pull to within one. Creeping fatigue? Radio guy Matt Pinto certainly thought so. In the last minute, it was all free throws — two by Kevin Durant, one by Chris Paul, one by Russell Westbrook — and then J. J. Redick put up a jumper, blocked by Serge Ibaka. Westbrook snagged the rebound, dropped in two more freebies, and that was it: Oklahoma City 107, Los Angeles 101, splitting the season series at 2-2 and leaving the Thunder needing only one more win in four games to clinch the #2 seed in the West.

Durant, in fact, had a sub-Durant outing: 27 points, but it took him 26 shots and ten free throws to get it. Maybe he was the tired guy. Westbrook didn’t seem too worn out, collecting 30 points and 11 rebounds. Ibaka came up with 15 points and four timely blocks — though really, almost any block is timely. And maybe the issue for the Clippers was their lack of prowess at the stripe; they clobbered the Thunder on the boards, 52-44, shot about the same percent (41 versus 42), but made only 21 of 34 free throws while OKC was hitting 26 of 32. That’s a seven-point difference right there.

Blake Griffin got the sort of numbers Blake Griffin gets: 30 points, 12 rebounds. (DeAndre Jordan matched him for boards; Chris Paul tossed in 25 points.) The benches: OKC 26, Los Angeles 25, though Darren Collison led all reserves with 12.

Two and two isn’t the worst road trip in the world, and the Pelicans will be in OKC Friday.

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Peripheral vision

The “desktop” metaphor for our computer rigs fails here:

[I]n the old days of a real desktop, they did not bother extending desks out to 10 feet long in a lame attempt to maximize productivity. Having too many separate sub-areas of the desktop makes it hard to focus on the one at hand. About the only task that truly benefits from two separate areas visible at the same time is manually copying a target document onto a blank one, analogous to dubbing cassettes. Otherwise, the world churned right along — and saw greater productivity gains over time — with just one central work area on their desks.

As a non-multitasker from way back, I can testify to the ease with which I am distracted.

And this is even less comprehensible:

Something similar is going on with the phenomenon of “twenty tabs open at a time,” as though keeping twenty books open on a real desktop would somehow make you absorb information more efficiently. Or as though playing twenty TV channels simultaneously would make for greater entertainment. In Back to the Future II, that was presented as satire; today it has become the unremarkable reality.

If I have more than five or six tabs open, I get antsy (not to be confused with ANSI). I know people who can do ten or twenty or forty; I’m simply not one of them.

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Wind up

There’s got to be some reason why all the tornadoes around here head straight for Moore, and maybe this has something to do with it:

Areas where landscape shifts from urban to rural or forest to farmland may have a higher likelihood of severe weather and tornado touchdowns, a Purdue University study says.

An examination of more than 60 years of Indiana tornado climatology data from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center showed that a majority of tornado touchdowns occurred near areas where dramatically different landscapes meet — for example, where a city fades into farmland or a forest meets a plain.

You mean, something like this?

Google Map of Moore, Oklahoma and points west

Those of us in the middle of the Big Town are even now emitting unseemly sighs of relief.

(Via Instapundit.)

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Zombies would starve

The administration has been conflating health care and health insurance for so long that most people, or at least most people who get TV cameras shoved into their faces, actually believe that the two products are one and the same. So questions like this go unanswered:

[E]levating “being insured” to some kind of holy, sanctified, sought-after-at-any-cost status ignores ways of dealing with things that, nevertheless, don’t qualify as “insurance” on technical grounds. We are constantly told that people who “weren’t insured” would use the ER and Medicaid and whatnot. But now they will “have insurance,” so that’s better. But wait: why is that better? For whom? By what standard? No explanation is proffered. Who needs one? “Being insured” is good and “not being insured” bad, period, say all the Smart People. And nevermind the fact that (in a sense) all those people were “insured,” it just wasn’t by an insurance company, it was by taxpayers-and-whoever.

But I went too far with that “at-any-cost” part, didn’t I? Cost is not even mentioned in the first place. As far as I can tell, I’m supposed to think that increasing the percentage of people who “are insured” (whatever that means) by one basis point is worth spending X dollars — for any value of X whatsoever. The ledger of this retarded debate, as conducted by (retarded) Smart People, has only one side to it.

But there’s one serious problem with these Smart People:

You build a movement by increasing buy-in, and “all smart people agree we’re right” is great for that. To acknowledge contrary evidence — any evidence at all — is to tacitly admit that one isn’t as smart as one claims to be. And who here, in this glorious year 2014, is going to admit that?

Which is why I’ve been arguing for some time now that Republicans need to start arguing, not that liberals are wrong (though, of course, they are), but simply immature… I might not always get it right, but I’m far, far likelier not to get it disastrously wrong. The whiz kid can run circles around me, cerebrally, but there’s no substitute for decades of real-world experience. And it is a truth universally acknowledged, at least by anyone who has ever been around teenagers, that the smartest kids make the dumbest mistakes, because they overlook the most obvious points.

William F. Buckley, Jr. had similar reservations about Smart People:

I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.

Buckley wasn’t always prescient, but he nailed this one cold.

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The primates are revolting

Not that we’re such hot stuff ourselves, mind you:

Kansas City Zoo officials have confirmed with 41 Action News that there are chimpanzees on the loose.

Zoo Spokesperson Julie Neermeiyer says the chimps are in the zoo, in a behind-the-scenes area. It’s unclear at this time how many chimps are on the loose. They are working to determine how they may have escaped.

Zoo visitors have been taken indoors for protection. The zoo has closed for the evening.

Is it just me, or is there something amusing about the humans being locked up while the chimpanzees roam about?

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A report in the public interest

Utility construction has made life difficult for a pub in Truro, despite its reputation as one of the best eateries in all of Cornwall. Their first order of business was to put up a sign to let their customers know that the Wig & Pen was still open, construction or no construction:

The Wig & Pen is open for business

Word spacing, one assumes, was not quite so high on their list of priorities.

The sign is now gone, perhaps because it was mentioned by Ricky Gervais, making some of these same points.

(Via Fark.)

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Meanwhile in Corvetteland

UAW Local 2164, which represents workers at GM’s Bowling Green Assembly facility, home of the Chevrolet Corvette, has voted nearly unanimously to authorize a strike:

93 percent of the workers who submitted ballots voted in favor of authorizing a strike. Still, the decision needs to be booted up to the regional and then national levels before any action can actually be taken. Eldon Renaud, the president of Local 2164, seems to think that the strike authorization will serve as a sort of saber rattling, getting the “immediate attention” of the facilities management.

“We’re like everybody else, we’re strike-shy,” Renauld told the media, according to the Associated Press. “Nobody wants to have a strike. Who really benefits by it?”

The union’s complaints:

Renaud said issues involved were safety and quality control.

He said there have been several “near misses” that could have resulted in serious injuries for assembly line workers at the Bowling Green plant. The union also worries that the elimination of quality control positions will affect the integrity of the plant’s quality procedures, he said.

Presumably the “near misses” do not include the sudden appearance of a sinkhole in the plant in mid-February, from which the last car was retrieved this week.

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Leave me alone, but not now

As a species, we like binary — it makes counting so much easier, if a trifle unwieldy — and we especially like to be able to classify people as either A or B. Actual people, however, don’t necessarily fit well into pigeonholes:

Everyone is either an introvert or an extrovert right? Could it be that’s not true — that maybe some people are somewhere in between or a little of both?

Suppose nature made you an extrovert. You like attention and love being around people. But then you go to school and the other kids reject you or even outright bully you. In time you come to feel that being a loner is safer. You discover that being alone with your own thoughts can even be pleasant. You are an introvert. But if this happened to you couldn’t you still retain some latent extrovertedness? Because it’s your nature, crave the company of others and secretly long to be the center of attention but because of your experiences never be comfortable with the attention you crave?

I can speak only for myself here, but I am very much an introvert — unless I have something resembling total control of the situation, in which case I will emerge from my shell. (Those who have encountered me in person on Tour will note that I didn’t have control of those situations, but that I figured it was safe to cede it for the moment.)

Besides, there’s that whole lonely-nights thing, and once you get past a few thousand of them, you start assuming that it’s the default.

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An inline something-or-other

Toyota is showing off a couple of new engines, designed to be downright miserly with precious fuelstuffs. Here’s some of the release:

One of the engines is a 1.3-liter gasoline engine in which Toyota is employing the Atkinson cycle — normally used in dedicated hybrid engines. Use of the Atkinson cycle provides an increased expansion ratio and reduces waste heat through a high compression ratio (13.5), resulting in superior thermal efficiency. Toyota aims to further improve the fuel efficiency of the engine by utilizing other innovations including an intake port with a new shape that generates a strong tumble flow (whereby the air-fuel mixture flows in a vertical swirl) inside the cylinder, and a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system paired with Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Electric (VVT-iE) technology to improve combustion and reduce loss.

Pretty neat, if it works, and I tend not to bet against Toyota. The other engine is even smaller:

[A] 1.0-liter engine jointly developed with Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd. has achieved maximum thermal efficiency of 37 percent due to a similar tumble flow-generating intake port, a cooled EGR system, and a high compression ratio. Combination with the idling-stop function and various other fuel consumption reduction technologies allows vehicles to achieve a maximum fuel efficiency improvement of approximately 30 percent over current vehicles.

The 1.3, they say, will reach 38 percent. Most of us out here in the old Teeming Milieu are getting 20 percent, maybe.

Still, there’s one thing I want to know that Toyota for some reason didn’t put in their press release: How many cylinders? Eventually, Cameron Miquelon at TTAC ferreted out the numbers: the bigger engine has four cylinders, the smaller one three. Not entirely unpredictable, perhaps, but you’d think Toyota would be telling us this up front.

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Unfuzzy logic

Jennifer is not impressed by your armpit hair:

Neither feminism nor some photographer is going to make me see hairy armpits as beautiful. Sorry, not gonna happen. You want to grow them out, fine. They’re your armpits to do with as you like. I’m sure it’s because I’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy, but I don’t find that attractive and no amount of edgy photography or handwritten signs is going to change that.

Working definition of “edgy photography” is “Good Lord, don’t let Emily see this, she’s only seven.”

And this particular tango, like most, requires two:

Beauty and attraction take at least two participants, the actor and the audience. If the actor wants to be attractive to a particular audience they will have to conform to the beauty standards of that audience. If person x’s definition of a beautiful woman is tall, blond with big boobs, I’m never going to reach that standard. I’m at peace with that. I fit just fine into other standards of beauty. I will never fit them all and neither will you.

Should I see someone who matches up 100 percent (or even 99.5) to my list of desiderata, I will (1) become immediately suspicious, and then (2) depart hastily, before I start paying attention.

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Wounded birds

“Decimated” doesn’t even begin to describe the parlous state of the New Orleans Pelicans’ health: they started the night with four players sidelined and ended it with six. Worse, one of the casualties was Tyreke Evans, one of their more proficient providers of points, lost in the middle of the third quarter; down by 19 already, the remaining Birds put up a decent effort the rest of the way, but they were sent home with a 116-94 loss. You may have noticed that there has been no mention of their opponent so far in this paragraph, and that’s because the Thunder really didn’t do anything remarkable: they just played their usual game and made sure it was enough.

Okay, maybe there are a couple of remarks to make. We must note the remarkable line by Serge Ibaka, who had 16 points on 6-8 shooting, 10 rebounds, and eight blocks. This is not record-setting material exactly — Elmore Smith rejected 17 Trail Blazers shots in one game for the Lakers in ’73 — but still, that’s a lot of swats. The more worrisome statistic is Kevin Durant’s: yes, he had a game-high 27 points, but he also collected his 15th technical foul of the season. The 16th earns a one-game suspension. Admittedly, there are only three games left in the season, and the clock restarts for the playoffs, but the new, mouthier KD may be in trouble. For Westbrook watchers: Russell played 28 minutes, scored 24 points. Off the bench, Reggie Jackson popped up 11.

Darius Miller and Austin Rivers both contributed 18 points for New Orleans, Rivers playing 40 minutes for the shorthanded (shortwinged?) Pelicans. Evans had picked up 13 before his injury; reserves Alexis Ajinça and James Southerland picked up 12 and 10 respectively. The Pelicans did make some three-pointers (9 of 18, versus 5-13 for OKC), and turned the ball over only twelve times, but Thunder defense picked off most of the rebounds (47-39) and there were those four blocks other than Ibaka’s.

Two road games follow: Sunday afternoon at Indiana, Monday evening at, yes, New Orleans; the season finale will be at the ‘Peake on Wednesday against the Pistons. The Thunder will have to sweep all three to beat last year’s 60-22 record.

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A decision has been made

Today Rebecca Black announced “ROADTRIP!!!!!!” with exactly that many exclamation points. She’s headed to the Coachella Valley, probably not for the big Carrot Festival therein, and which seat did she take?

Rebecca Black and friends

I’m guessing the driver might be older than sixteen.

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Up is not given

From this very site, November 2012:

Last time we heard from former County Commissioner, occasional money-grubber and comic-book publisher Brent Rinehart, he was trying to ease his way back into public office.

Truly, the man is nothing if not persistent:

Former Oklahoma County Commissioner Brent Rinehart, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor campaign contribution violation in October 2009, filed Friday to run for the Oklahoma House.

Rinehart, a Republican, is seeking to replace Rep. Charlie Joyner, R-Midwest City.

I don’t live out that way, and I don’t have a problem with Joyner being primaried, particularly, but drawing Rinehart for an opponent — well, if Joyner has the normal complement of brain cells, he should be able to dispatch Rinehart with little difficulty.

(And yes, Rinehart can run despite his record: it’s a misdemeanor that did not involve embezzlement.)

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And yet I’ve never been to Spain

The last time we looked in on Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, Princess of Asturias, spouse to the heir apparent to the Spanish throne, she was inducing apoplexy in some HuffPo fashion scribe for having the temerity to come out in public in flats. Not this time:

Princess Letizia wearing white before Labor Day

I include, in full, this write-up at GFY:

Ahem: “Princess Letizia of Spain receives organizing committee of the ‘World Championships Artistic Roller Skating'” !!!!!!!!! Why didn’t I watch that?!

How could you resist? And then she admits: “I am into these shoes.” Shall we take a look?

Princess Letizia's decidedly nonflat shoes

And I admit: the Palace at Zarzuela has some nifty carpeting.

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Awfully forward of them

From the sports section of the Oklahoman this morning:

Clipping from the Oklahoman 4/12/14 citing Kendrick Perkins as a forward

Perk, of course, is a center; I don’t think he’s played power forward, let alone small forward, for even a minute since he decamped here from Boston.

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Three decades out of whack

Now if you tell me about a musical act called the MonaLisa Twins, I am not going to assume that they’re even twins, let alone that one’s named Mona and the other is named Lisa. And I would, of course, be wrong.

Minor details: they’re Austrian, their father owns a recording studio (which never hurts), and they play their own retro-ish guitars. Mona is the blonde, Lisa the redhead (and the older, by five minutes). And while they may have been born in 1994, their hearts clearly belong to 1964: they’ve recorded several Beatles covers. Still, goofy video and all, this is my favorite item in their repertoire, a Graham Gouldman tune that became a Hollies hit:

Maybe they were both quite insane. I don’t care. I adore this.

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Saturday spottings (I am a Tour-ist)

The Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects conducts Architecture Week every year about this time, and on Saturday it culminates with the Architecture Tour, a look at what’s being done around town, and occasionally a chance to talk to who’s doing it. I’ve attended every year since 2007, and plan to continue so long as I can still climb stairs. (Why haven’t I moved into one of those spiffy downtown lofts? Now you know.)

In the order visited:

1) 430 Northwest 12th Street

North side of 430

430 — that’s the name of it — was on last year’s Tour in the larval stage; it’s now complete and completely occupied. This former nondescript office block in the nascent Midtown area was turned into 26 residential units, none of which have windows to the west, important if you’ve ever endured an August afternoon in this town. Flats are at street level; upstairs you’ll find two-story units. I rather like the interplay of the diagonals and the trees. Brian Fitzsimmons was on hand to take questions, as he always is when one of his projects is on the Tour, as one seemingly always is.

2) 1117 North Robinson Avenue

Alley view from Guardian Lofts

Once upon a time, the Guardian was a warehouse; now it’s 37 apartments with that good old industrial feel and a fair amount of individual reconfigurability, by which is meant that, for instance, you can actually move the closets — they’re on wheels. If your lifestyle demands grittiness, and it would be great if there were a burgers-and-beer joint downstairs — this is where you might want to be. Brian Fitzsimmons (yes, him again) has an overview of the project for your inspection.

3) 300 North Walnut Avenue

Sanctuary of Calvary Baptist Church

Russell Benton Bingham’s Calvary Baptist Church has been a fixture in Deep Deuce since the 1920s; Martin Luther King Jr. came knocking on the door in 1954, looking for a preaching gig. (They sent him away: too young, they thought.) As Deep Deuce declined, so did Calvary; a couple of years ago, the building was acquired by Dan Davis, an attorney familiar to local TV viewers: he’s the one who has Robert Vaughn as a celebrity spokesface. Davis, however, did not plan to gut the place and turn it into a wonderland for lawyers in love: he wanted just enough room for his offices, and to leave the sanctuary more or less intact. MODA, architects on the project, are happy to show you more.

4) 726 West Sheridan Avenue

Signage at Hart Building

Many years ago, this was Hart Industrial Supply Company, vendor of, well, industrial supplies. I actually temped there, circa early 1990. Now part of the Film Row redevelopment, Hart houses several office tenants plus the Oklahoma City studio of KOSU-FM, the radio station of Oklahoma State University. I suspect that they know where this contraption came from:

Old RCA radio gear at Hart Building

5) 6219 Riviera Drive

Northeast corner of David Walters' house

David Walters, 24th governor of Oklahoma, lives here with his wife Rhonda and his memories. The 1963 house was originally the home of Robert A. Hefner III, founder of GHK Company and inventor of deep-gas exploration as we know it, and the courtyard shown here was intended to be its focal point. A fire in 2001 led to massive renovations and, in several rooms, ceilings raised to accommodate new skylights: the interior feels particularly airy despite the size and the convoluted floor plan. (And it’s for sale for $1.275 million, one of the pricier prices in my ZIP code.)

6) 108 South Broadway, Edmond

Conference table at Small Architects

“Mr. Small,” I said to the tour guide after looking at this conference table, “is obviously a whimsical sort of guy.” Thomas Small, AIA, seated off to the side, was amused by this remark. This old (1906) storefront in downtown Edmond, originally occupied by a jeweler and a funeral director — simultaneously, in fact — is in fact small, but it doesn’t seem so during a walk-through, and much of the original structure — tin ceiling, concrete foundation/floor — is still in place. As for whimsy, well, those are Matchbox cars embedded in that table. (If you’re interested, here are some other Small projects.)

7) 2801 Northeast 120th Street

Corner view of Kliewer home

Architect George Seminoff, back in the Sixties, built an 800-square-foot cabin out in the woods for himself; once married, he set about turning it into a suitable family residence, and there they remained — for a while, anyway. New owner Brent Kliewer, circa 2010, ordered renovations, and they wound up being substantial. (This is yet another reason to call Brian Fitzsimmons.) Oh, and there’s a cedar tree. Indoors. The old atrium had to be rebuilt, they planned to build around it, but instead incorporated it into the design. Seminoff died in 2013; I’m almost certain he would have approved.

8) 1721 Northeast 63rd Street

The edge of the Mass home

Up on Persimmon Hill you’ll find the National Cowboy Museum, Coles Garden, and this five-acre plot, which used to be occupied by a small 1920s cottage, expanded a few times, and then rebuilt following the December 2007 ice storm. Somehow the place looks both traditionally rural and up-to-date suburban, which I attribute to the fact that they didn’t raze the original storm-damaged structure, preferring to incorporate it into the new one. (Reuse, I always say.) Mass Architects have this to tell you.

This is the first Tour in several years I’ve had to undertake without Trini, who was busy with family matters; I missed her presence and her navigational skills. (Interestingly enough, at a couple of places on the Tour I was asked about her; apparently they’re used to seeing us as a unit.) And I think she would have appreciated the fact that this tour, unlike last year’s, fit into less than 55 miles.

(All pictures by me. Embiggened versions, plus some I didn’t include here, can be seen in this Flickr photoset.)

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Mopzilla

October 2003, seeing the kitchen floor in this house for the first time: “Oh, what beautiful white tile!”

No later than December 2003: “What were they thinking?”

Keeping this floor clean is much more of a chore than I’d like, not that I particularly like any of my chores or anything. And mops tend to be either (1) ineffective or (2) made of cheap crap that breaks in no time flat.

I am here to tell you that the Libman Tornado Mop is not ineffective:

Many cleaning pros swear by cotton string mops for making short work of big spills, but then they have those clunky wringer pails to roll behind them. Who wants to unknot wet tangles and wring a dirty mop head by hand? The Tornado packs the power of traditional yarn-head mops, but its built-in wringer pulls the strings extra tight and twists them a full 360 degrees, meaning less excess gray water to muddy the task. It also spreads water evenly, so there are no puddles or dry spots. Three heavy-duty cloth bands stitched across the yarn bundle keep strands tangle-free.

As for (2), well, I’ve only had it a week.

The instructions are a bit obtuse; they should probably just provide this video link. And no, I have no idea if these Libmans are related to Andrea Libman, the voice of Fluttershy and (speaking only) Pinkie Pie.

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A halal bark

This isn’t ha-ha funny, but sort of rueful funny:

I have a vision of what the suicide bomber’s version of Jumble would look like. It would look just like the regular version of Jumble, but the “SOLUTION” to the puzzle would always be “ALLAH AKBAR”.

Okay, maybe a little ha-ha.

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Meanwhile in Circle City

Coming into this game, the Pacers and the Heat were tied at 54-26, though Indiana owned the tie-breaker. Still, nothing invigorates a team quite like beating the tar out of a really good opponent in the last home game of the season, and that’s precisely what the Pacers were planning today. They had all the ingredients: board dominance, shooting over 50 percent, and a capacity crowd. And up until the last five minutes, the formula was working nicely. Then the Thunder put together a 7-0 run — Russell Westbrook knocking down a trey and assisting on two more, to tie the game. Undeterred, the Pacers came back, and in the last minute held a three-point lead; a Lance Stephenson jumper put the game out of reach, and free throws — one from George Hill, three from David West, one from C. J. Watson — salted it away, 102-97, splitting the season series and sending the Thunder away still looking for a place to clinch the #2 seed in the West.

Nine Pacers hit the floor, and six of them made double figures; Stephenson rang up a triple-double on 17 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. West led the attack with 21 points, though Watson and Paul George were right behind with 20 each. Indiana shot 52 percent from the floor, 45 percent from outside, and, as mentioned, outrebounded OKC, 46-32. The Pacers are hard to beat when they’re playing their own game, and for the most part, the Thunder were unable to keep them from doing it.

Still, the Thunder generated spurts of offense, led by (of course) Kevin Durant with 38; Russell Westbrook added 21, and Serge Ibaka dropped in 11. Caron Butler came up with 13 from the bench; Reggie Jackson was rather badly pounded in what was deemed a sub-flagrant foul and was held to eight. OKC shot only 42 percent from the floor, 25 (7-28) from the outside, but somehow managed to hold on to the ball: consistent with recent trends, they committed only nine turnovers.

It’s tomorrow night in the Big Easy for another shot at clinching #2; after that, a lone home game with the Pistons, and the playoffs begin next weekend against [insert as-yet-undetermined team name here].

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Where you used to be

You were here; and then you weren’t. But it didn’t happen overnight:

… an occurrence that took place over time, little by little, so I didn’t notice it was happening until someone asked me about you and it took me a minute to recall all the details necessary to answer the question.

Is this happening to me? I’m not entirely sure.

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How about in your face instead?

This was the title: “#1 Anti-Aging Tip As seen on CNN ABC — CBS”. Of course, that gave the game away right away: the only anti-aging tip CNN has given is “Don’t be on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370,” and who’s going to believe those other guys anyway? Not anyone who has successfully resisted aging, you damn betcha.

The scheme was, I concede, semi-clever: they sent you two broken-image links, followed by “If you cannot see the images below, click here,” which of course gives them confirmation that hey, we’ve got a live one here. (Clicking on the broken-image icon has the same effect.) There followed, hidden away, this piece of unrelated household information:

A serving of legumes a day may keep bad cholesterol at bay, a new study has found.

Researchers in the United States and Canada have found that daily consumption of non-oil-seed legumes — like chickpeas, lentils or peas — can significantly reduce “bad cholesterol” and cut the risk of heart disease.

And so on, for about ten paragraphs. I assume this is “unrelated” because of the sender’s claimed domain, which contains the word “phytoceramides.” Now a ceramide is a waxy lipid, and “phyto-” implies plant origins. At this point I felt, well, insulted: are there no vendors of snake oil who actually use proper snakes anymore?

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Strange search-engine queries (428)

The Polar Vortex rears its ugly head, or heads its ugly rear, and once again we bring in the logs, not so much for warmth as for amusement value.

protege valve body:  Truth be told, I’m still snickering about the possibility of a protege valve: one can only take so many of them, I suppose.

thad balkman adultry case:  Never heard of it, though I will concede the possibility that Balkman is in fact an adult, and probably not a baseball mascot in the Sally League.

brown shoed square:  Make it a cube if he uses the word “cordovan.”

Brussel practice of kung fu Vedio:  Even if the Euroweenies are doing martial arts, I assure you, I don’t want to see it.

entirely symbolic:  For instance, the middle of the “wish sandwich” in “Rubber Biscuit.”

is 2000 mazda 626 v6 automatic a better trans than the 4 cylinder auto trans:  If you define “better” as “harder to fix,” then yes.

ARE WE HAVING FUNDS YET? Solution:  You solve this by, um, obtaining funds. I would think that would have been obvious.

many people hang up on telemarketers but other will listen politely to their pictures even though they are not interested in the product. know that any one who agrees:”  is probably silly enough to think pictures (except motion pictures) can be listened to, politely or otherwise.

I use the 5 speed gearbox Ford Escape for mazda tribute:  Yes, but do you wear sunglasses at night?

what is fair to all corncerd of the four way test:  If everybody gets 25 percent, but thinks he got 30.

what does the fax say:  Not much, though it screeches a helluva lot.

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See my wheels

Bark owns a Screaming Yellow Zonker Boss 302 Mustang — he describes it, more calmly, as “School Bus Yellow” — and he cares what you think about it:

“Who would buy a car based on what other people think?” is a refrain that is repeated again and again and again. Is it wise to buy a car based solely on the opinion of others, to opt for a model other than the one that you would personally prefer due to what amounts to grown-up peer pressure? Of course not. To do that would be to deny one’s own self worth.

But to pretend that we just don’t care? Come on. Be real. To act like we don’t care what the world thinks of our car is equivalent to walking out the door every day without making an attempt to match our shoes and our belts. Sure, kids and people who have no ambition do it, but grown-ups don’t. The vast majority of people in the business world dress in a way that signifies their position in life. I choose to wear Hart Schaffner Marx suits and sportscoats and Allen Edmonds shoes almost exclusively in the workplace. Why? Because it shows people around me that I am a (moderately) successful man with a sense of style. Why would I risk that professional image by walking out to the parking lot and getting into a 1996 Camry?

I’m not sure this works in reverse, though: I see plenty of Junior Samples lookalikes in Escalades.

For myself, I don’t think I really did give that much of a damn, until I paid however many extra bucks for a premium-brand badge — and then all of a sudden I had to determine if I was living up to the standard being set by my car. Truth be told, I found that wearying, especially for a guy who wears pocket Ts and khakis to work. Moreover, I’m not sure anyone cares all that much; I don’t have much of a reputation to uphold, and I presume no one has any serious expectations of me at this point. I don’t, however, feel compelled to bark at Bark: he’s made his calculations, and he’s acting in accordance with them, which, outside of politics anyway, is a laudable approach. Besides, it’s his dream car, and you don’t scream on someone’s dream car, especially if he knows how to drive it.

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Incumbency ho!

When people say they can’t stand the Legislature, what they really mean, often as not, is that they can’t stand your legislator; their legislator is just wonderful.

Which may explain why so many members of the Oklahoma legislature drew no opponents this fall. Half the Senate (24 of 48) and all of the House (101) must be picked, and these incumbents will be automagically returned to office:

  • S2: Morty L. Quinn (R) Claremore
  • S10: Eddie Fields (R) Wynona
  • S16: John Sparks (D) Norman
  • S24: Anthony Sykes (R) Moore
  • S30: David Holt (R) Oklahoma City
  • S34: Rick Brinkley (R) Owasso
  • S38: Mike Schulz (R) Altus
  • H2: John Bennett (R) Sallisaw
  • H4: Mike Brown (D) Fort Gibson
  • H8: Ben Sherrer (D) Chouteau
  • H11: Earl Sears (R) Bartlesville
  • H13: Jerry McPeak (D) Warner
  • H15: Ed Cannaday (D) Porum
  • H18: Donnie Condit (D) McAlester
  • H19: R. C. Pruett (D) Antlers
  • H21: Dustin Roberts (R) Durant
  • H22: Charles A. McCall (R) Atoka
  • H23: Terry O’Donnell (R) Catoosa
  • H24: Steve Koupien (D) Beggs
  • H25: Todd Thomsen (R) Ada
  • H30: Mark McCullough (R) Sapulpa
  • H33: Lee Denney (R) Cushing
  • H34: Cory T. Williams (D) Stillwater
  • H37: Steven E. Vaughan (R) Ponca City
  • H39: Marion Cooksey (R) Edmond
  • H42: Lisa J. Billy (R) Lindsay
  • H44: Emily Virgin (D) Norman
  • H47: Leslie Osborn (R) Mustang
  • H48: Pat Ownby (R) Ardmore
  • H50: Dennis Johnson (R) Duncan
  • H51: Scott R. Briggs (R) Chickasha
  • H52: Charles Ortega (R) Altus
  • H55: Todd Rush (R) Cordell
  • H57: Harold Wright (R) Weatherford
  • H58: Jeff Hickman (R) Fairview
  • H59: Mike Sanders (R) Kingfisher
  • H60: Dan Fisher (R) El Reno
  • H64: Ann Coudy (R) Lawton
  • H66: Jadine Nollan (R) Sand Springs
  • H67: Pam Peterson (R) Tulsa
  • H68: Glen Mulready (R) Tulsa
  • H70: Ken Walker (R) Tulsa
  • H71: Katie Henke (R) Tulsa
  • H72: Seneca Scott (D) Tulsa
  • H73: Kevin L. Matthews (D) Tulsa
  • H74: David Derby (R) Owasso
  • H75: Dan Kirby (R) Tulsa
  • H77: Eric Proctor (D) Tulsa
  • H78: Jeannie McDaniel (D) Tulsa
  • H80: Mike Ritze (R) Broken Arrow
  • H81: Randy Grau (R) Edmond
  • H84: Sally Kern (R) Oklahoma City
  • H90: Jon Echols (R) Oklahoma City
  • H92: Richard D. Morrissette (D) Oklahoma City
  • H94: Scott Inman (D) Oklahoma City

That’s 55 seats with no race, out of 125. For an angry electorate, we sure are complacent.

(A similar list from 2012.)

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Have you promoted a Ford lately?

Received from one of Ford’s social-media mavens:

We think 50 years of service warrants 50,000 best wishes, don’t you?

For half a century, Mustang has gifted drivers with a gracious mix of style, power and performance.

Now, as we greet the all-new 2015 Mustang, it’s time to say thanks.

Join us in celebrating this milestone by giving Mustang the biggest virtual party in history. That’s right — we’re aiming to crush the Guinness World Record for Most eCard Signatures by April 16.

In other news, there’s a Guinness World Record for Most eCard Signatures.

Still, half a century is several lifetimes for lesser vehicles, so:

Wish Mustang the best:

http://action.ford.com/mustang50signthecard

Yeah, I did. It’s a pony car, after all. I think I had #29,846. Besides, it enabled me to empty out the inbox without pressing the dreaded Delete key.

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They get lost so easily here

The wire-service story:

A California-bound Southwest Airlines flight was diverted to Omaha, Neb. on Sunday after witnesses said a passenger tried to open a door.

The captain of the Chicago-to-Sacramento flight landed on Eppley Airfield to “have an unruly passenger removed” before continuing on to Sacramento, the airlines said in a statement.

The flight with 5 crew members and 134 passengers arrived safely at its destination about two hours behind schedule.

And where is this mysterious place called “Omaha”? Don’t ask CBS News:

CBS This Morning screenshot placing Omaha in eastern Kansas

(Via this Blake Waggoner tweet. Waggoner hails from, yes, Nebraska.)

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Beak production

Didn’t we just dispose of this team a couple of days ago? But this was different: the Pelicans were at home, the Thunder were worn out yesterday by the Indiana Pacers, Russell Westbrook was resting, and Tyreke Evans, despite a bone bruise, was playing through it all. And from the How Is This Even Possible department: Nick Collison got broomed. Four minutes into the second quarter, he and Austin Rivers got into it; Rivers, by all appearances, was the major aggressor, but presumably in an effort to appear “fair,” the officials tossed them both. No matter. This was Tyreke’s night: whatever pain he might have been in, he ignored, while putting up a career-high 41 points. It was 75-75 with eight minutes left; New Orleans won it going away, 101-89, with Evans playing the entire second half.

But let’s face it: the Pelicans didn’t look all that depleted, even down to nine players after Rivers’ unexpected departure. And if Luke Babbitt was the only other Bird to score more than ten, well, New Orleans did shoot 44 percent, four percent better than the Thunder, and OKC was in one of its Desperation Trey modes. (Nine of 32? Sheesh. The Pelicans weren’t that much better, at 9-29, but still.) Serge Ibaka had some vim and/or vigor, producing 22 points while gathering 16 rebounds, and Caron Butler did serious sixth-man work with 19, but take those two out of the equation and you’re left with a team that went 18-55 from the floor. Reggie Jackson mustered only four points; Kevin Durant managed 25, but it took him 23 shots to do it.

So happy times in the Big Easy, which hasn’t seen a lot of them of late. Not only did the Thunder fail to clinch the #2 seed in the West, they also assured themselves of a poorer record than last year: assuming they beat Detroit Wednesday, they finish 59-23. (They won 60 games last season.) And if tonight is any indication, the Pistons might actually pull off the upset.

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Welcome to Drosophiladelphia

It’s a place where the agriculture is booming, the produce is headed for your table, and the fruit flies are the best damn stunt flyers you ever did see:

Fruit flies could make some talented fighter pilots. Scientists who had the insects wing it through two laser beams watched the bugs make hairpin turns at blazing fast speeds, by banking in the same way that fighter jet planes do. The findings, published in the journal Science, shed light on these tiny critters’ remarkable ability to evade predators (and fly swatters).

Like there’s a chance you’re going to swat this guy:

When trying to escape from a threat, the Drosophila hydei flies turn at a speed that’s five times faster than their normal turning speed, according to researchers from the University of Washington. Instead of turning right or left on the “yaw” axis, like a boat in the water, the flies execute banked turns, by rolling and pitching their bodies at the same time, which supercharges their turns. They can execute one of these within less than one hundredth of a second after seeing a threat, the scientists said. That’s 50 times faster than the blink of an eye.

At this point, about all you can hope for is that they won’t be teaching these techniques to their slower friends among the common houseflies. Or you might invest in one of these.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Eternity isn’t what it used to be

I was looking at the Wikipedia page for April 15, and this line turned up in the midst of Births:

Birth and death of Kim Il-sung

Turns out the DPRK is serious:

As of 2014 there is no President of North Korea, as the office was left vacant from the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994, and was abolished with the 1998 constitutional changes. Instead, the functions and powers previously belonging to the President were divided between three officials: the head of government, the Premier of North Korea; the speaker of the legislature, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly; and the head of the military, the Chairman of the National Defence Commission and Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army, currently held by Kim Il-sung’s grandson, Kim Jong-Un. The latter Kim is also the First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and is reckoned as “Supreme Leader” with absolute control over the country.

I always figured it would take three people to replace me, not that you could find three people to work that cheap.

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Not a flower girl

Eliza Doolittle — this Eliza Doolittle, anyway — is twenty-six today. I think of her as Amy Winehouse without the pharma, Adele without the drama. And in this shot, she looks, well, maybe not twenty-six:

Eliza Doolittle on stage

“Walking on Water” is the third single from her 2013 album In Your Hands, and it goes like this:

Weirdly, her Twitter account appears under the name “Eliza Fancies You.” Not me, she doesn’t.

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Fast fixing

“Didn’t we just get 3.8.2?” I mused as the email notifiers came in last night to tell me that 3.8.3 had just arrived. There was, of course, a reason for that:

The “Quick Draft” tool on the dashboard screen was broken in the 3.8.2 update. If you tried to use it, your draft would disappear and it wouldn’t save. While we doubt anyone was writing a novella using this tool, any loss of content is unacceptable to us.

We recognize how much trust you place in us to safeguard your content, and we take this responsibility very seriously. We’re sorry we let you down.

Now what kind of nimrod writes novellas in the WordPress editor?

Oh, right. Never mind.

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Bon^2

In the foreground here is the pony commonly known as Bon Bon. The fans gave her that name, based on her cutie mark, but Hasbro prefers that you refer to her as Sweetie Drops:

MLP screenshot featuring Bon Bon

Viktor & Rolf, who in 2006 gave us a fragrance called “Flowerbomb,” have just introduced this:

New ad for Bonbon by Viktor & Rolf

Now obviously this concept predates both V&R and MLP:FiM; still, you should have seen the spit take I did when I found that advertisement on the back cover of Vanity Fair.

And now I need to write up a background pony and call her Flowerbomb. Because silly.

Addendum: Maybe we can talk this model into some of that Twilight Sparkle eyeliner.

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Here comes the grump

Right on schedule, too:

The approximate moment when grumpiness kicks in for men, according to a recently released report, is around age 70.

Then you’d better get off his lawn.

At a mere sixty, I’m not seeing this on the horizon just yet. Then again, at a mere sixty, I’m busy denying there’s a horizon at all.

Researchers found that as men grow older — from, say, 50 on — they have fewer obstacles and annoyances to worry about in life and, furthermore, they are more equipped to deal with adversity. But around age 70, life — or at least the perception of happiness — begins to go downhill.

The study, published in the March 2014 issue of Psychology and Aging, examined 1,315 men — mostly military veterans who participated in a 15-year survey — between the ages of 53 and 85. Some 80 percent said that at age 50, life became easier. About 20 percent said they were happier after they retired.

Both groups, however, agreed that good feelings about life began to decline at age 70 — for myriad reasons, including health problems, cognitive slide and the losses of loved ones.

I should point out that rather a large percentage of us in the 53-85 bracket are military veterans: there was a war on when we were what we now quaintly call “draft age.”

I’m not sure what to expect at 70, or even if there’s a 70 I can expect to expect. I do know that Zooey Deschanel will be 44.

(Via Fark. And this is where I remembered the title.)

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