Archive for April 2015

Take a walk on the West side

Oklahoman scribe Brianna Bailey this week is walking the entire length of Western Avenue within city limits, which runs from about NW 199th to SW 179th. This is an epic walk, about twenty-seven miles, and you can scarcely blame the paper for scheduling a stunt like this, since it gives her, and her employer, an opportunity to interact with a staggering number of small communities along the way, and besides the Tulsa World did something like this last year.

A single example of said interaction:

I need hardly point out that Bailey is the one in the walking shoes.

The #walkonwestern hashtag will be running all week. After two days, she’d gotten to NW 41st, near where VZD’s used to be, losing me a side bet. (I figured she’d knock off around the Chesapeake campus, a mile and a half to the north.) It’s not been an easy trip, with temperatures about ten degrees above normal and wind, if not howling, certainly growling a bit. Besides, the dearth of sidewalks in the exurbs meant occasional stretches of wet dirt. Mud. Red mud, of course.

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Maybe we knew

Lesley Gore’s last album, Ever Since, came out in 2005 on Blake Morgan’s Engine Company label. (I reviewed it here.) He’d known her for some time: when they first met, he was eleven years old. And she had much to teach him:

More than anything, she taught me … or rather she showed me what being a professional musician really looked like. She showed what taking a Red Eye flight back from somewhere felt like. No matter where she was coming from, she’d refer to as the Land of Cleve — as in Cleveland — even if that’s not where she was returning from.

It was being on the road. She showed me what went on there. What happened backstage at a big show as much as what it looked like at a little one. All of it. The routine. The work that went into it. Not just flashy parts, but the sweat and grime, the not-so-pretty parts of the job; the full range of what this life entailed. I love her for that. I love that she did it. The lesson was invaluable.

She had much to teach us all, I suspect.

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That empty feeling

If you drive an electric vehicle, you may have had flashes of range anxiety: “Do I have enough juice left to get home?” It may not have occurred to you that drivers with gas-powered vehicles sometimes suffer from that same syndrome:

I have really bad Quarter Tank Paranoia. If I am driving a vehicle and the gas gauge shows even a hair below a quarter of a tank of gas I cannot — CANNOT, you understand — continue without seeking out the nearest gas station and filling up. Never mind that I know at that point that it can go another 100 miles or even more; it’s down to a quarter tank so I must buy gas immediately.

My own QTP is not quite so bad, though the moment the horrid orange Low Fuel light goes on, I go into conniptions. It’s happened twice on the World Tours, once in the Bronx, once in west Texas. And I honestly don’t know how much range I have left once it appears. On that Texas run, it had been on for nearly 35 miles when I got to the farthest-east gas station in El Paso, and the tank was refilled with a hair over 14 gallons. Supposedly this tank holds 18.5 gallons (70 liters), so I presumably had at least four gallons of premium left, which would carry me, at the very least, 75 more miles. I was unwilling to trust the signaling mechanism enough to test that presumption.

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Um, not just yet

But you know somebody had to have bitten on this:

Has your credit card been stolen?

(Swiped from American Digest.)

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Hey, nineteen

This here Web site is old enough to vote, though it’s not old enough to drink. Whether this makes any difference or not, I’m not entirely sure.

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Turn off the bubble machine

This wacky track just came up on the shuffle the other day (Capitol F-3815), and now that Stan Freberg has passed from the scene, and everyone is going to mention “St. George and the Dragonet” or “Green Chri$tma$” or the obligatory “Elderly Man River,” I figured I’d go for the sheer farce of “Wun’erful, Wun’erful,” the sad story of an accordion-playing bandleader. Since this was recorded on both sides of a 45-rpm record, there are no visuals; however, the chap who YouTubed this gave us a look at, well, an accordion-playing bandleader:

And even when he was trying to make a serious point, Freberg knew funny. I refer you to “The Old Payola Roll Blues,” in which we discovered that (1) he was no fan of that rock and/or roll stuff and (2) we really didn’t mind.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Expansive thinking

This prodigiously cool Armour Dress comes from an Etsy shop, and yes, I suppose I have a weakness for simulated chain mail:

Armour Dress Feirefiz by Mitmunk

What may be more remarkable, though, is that the sizes don’t stop with a smallish Large:

Armour Dress Feirefiz by Mitmunk

Says a happy customer, closer to Figure 2:

My jaw dropped. The print job is gorgeous. The design is fantastic. AND IT’S ON A PLUS SIZE MODEL. I have gotten used to not even bothering to look at cool geeky print stuff because it NEVER comes in a decent plus. It’s usually juniors, or very small straight sizes. But this sexy, warrior woman dress: it came in MY SIZE.

If I’m reading the charts correctly, she’s a 2XL, and this is a stretchy fabric, but hey, it does look pretty good on her. And realistically, one should not expect a warrior woman to be a waif.

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Apocalypse may be imminent

What we have here is a sport-utility vehicle. From MG. Yes, that MG, kinda sorta:

MG CS concept

SAIC, the Chinese automaker which has owned MG for the past decade, showed off this concept at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2013, and now it appears they’re going to build it:

[The MG CS is] set to debut just after the Geneva Motor Show in March 2016 and will be MG’s first ever entrant into the hotly-contested small SUV segment dominated by the Nissan Qashqai.

It’ll measure up to compete against the larger offerings in the segment like the Kia Sportage and Honda CR-V, and more than likely be offered with a 2.0-litre diesel and a 1.8-litre petrol with two- or four-wheel drive.

Of course, we don’t get the Qashqai here either, ostensibly because Nissan thinks it’s too small for the US market, though I suspect Nissan doesn’t want to have to teach us how to pronounce it. (Hyundai is “HYOON-dye” everywhere but in the States, where we’re considered too dumb to handle Korean names.)

If you’re asking “But where are the sports cars?” here’s your answer, or at least an answer:

MG’s new focus on SUVs has come at the cost of a new MG two-seater roadster. Since the demise of the MG TF in 2010, fans have been crying out for a new sports car harking back to the MGA, MGB, MGF and TF. [MG] told us that a new sports car would arrive in the future, but not for the next five years at least as the brand concentrates on more profitable sectors like the SUV market.

That TF, of course, is nothing like this TF, except for minor details like having four wheels.

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Support your local pony fan

Now here’s a perfectly reasonable question:

I can imagine a Brony scholarship … where maybe I get to give scholarships to the people who drew the cutest fanart or made the fan-drawn comic that made me laugh the hardest. Darn it, why isn’t that a thing?

Well, of course you can make it a thing. But you won’t be the first:

The Brony Thank You Fund is now raising funds to start a permanent animation scholarship to Calarts, the school where such people as Lauren Faust, Craig McCracken, and Tim Burton got their start, among many, many others.

It took a little over a year, but it happened:

Pony makes things happen.

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S-ness

The May InStyle arrived last night, and when I finished my expected Reese Witherspoon-induced palpitations, I plunged further into the book, and found a brief fashion layout featuring a woman identified as SZA. These pix aren’t from that photoshoot, but they ring true:

SZA in orange

SZA headshot

First question answered: not related to Wu-Tang’s RZA, but she derives the name from the Supreme Alphabet. She’s twenty-four. She has freckles. And she’s had three EP-length releases: See.SZA.Run, S, and Z, though Z’s ten tracks run 41 minutes, decidedly long for an EP. (Up next: A.) “Julia” is a track from Z, which came out last year; “Tender” is a fragment from an as-yet-unreleased work that starts about 3:41.

To the iTunes Store I go.

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Quote of the week

Jack Baruth hits up the health-care exchange:

Strictly speaking, I should have signed up for my “Obamacare” when the last dregs of my “COBRA” ran out last year, but after seeing that the best “Bronze option” plan I could find charged ninety-seven dollars per week and didn’t kick in until I’d spent $6500, I decided to wait until I had a new day job.

My new day job was with the same contracting company for whom I’ve done half-a-dozen gigs since 2003. They explained to me that they no longer offered healthcare for full-time employees, but that I was welcome to use their ACA exchange. So now I’m paying five grand a year for coverage that doesn’t kick in until I spend $6500 a year. This is, apparently, Mr. Obama’s miracle. Once upon a time I paid $2000 a year for coverage that kicked in once I’d spent $250. The good news is that, uh, well — every poor person I know doesn’t pay enough taxes to see the ACA penalty, and even if they did it wouldn’t change their decisions regarding healthcare because poor people have low future time orientation. That’s why they are poor.

Unless, of course, they were driven to the poorhouse by medical expenses. Then again:

I have the same problem. The only reason that I am not desperately poor is because I know how to make money in a hurry. Someday I will be desperately poor. I have the mentality of a poor person. That’s why I didn’t sign up for ACA until last month, which meant that I wouldn’t receive any benefits until May, so my dental and healthcare expenses related to this Utah Ebola would be entirely paid by me. Well, they would have been anyway — but now they won’t even count towards my $6500 deductible. Sucks to be me.

Note: He was in Utah; he didn’t exactly contract Ebola.

CFI Care (not its real initials) offers no clue as to the level of metal for which 42nd and Treadmill is probably paying $6000 a year on my behalf, only a certification that the policy adheres to the new rules; but the numbers seem to fall between bronze and silver.

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Open book, it isn’t

I came up with some weird ideas for exam preparation when I was a schoolboy, but I don’t think I could have even imagined a scheme like this:

A German schoolboy has taken exam preparation to ingenious new levels by making a freedom of information request to see the questions in his forthcoming Abitur tests, the equivalent of A-levels in the UK.

Simon Schräder, 17, from Münster, used the internet platform fragdenstaat.de (“ask the state”), to ask the education ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia for “the tasks of the centrally-made Abitur examinations in the senior classes of high school in the current school year.” He was specifically invoking his state’s freedom of information law.

One provision of that law, though, may yet foil his scheme:

Schräder set the ministry the legally allowed one-month deadline — falling on 21 April — to comply, though his first exam is on 16 April.

“If they answer in time it might fit for one exam,” Schräder told the Guardian.

(Via Fark.)

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Purple predators

The Kings have never won in Oklahoma City, and it would have been a genuinely lousy time for them to do it now. But it’s unreasonable to expect any team, especially any George Karl-coached team, to just lie down and die, and the Thunder, still seemingly stunned after several recent misadventures, had a great deal of trouble putting Sacramento away. In the end, OKC prevailed, 116-103, but the Pelicans trounced the Suns 90-75, so no ground was gained on New Orleans, and perhaps worse, Perry Jones came down on his ankle with 24 seconds left.

On the upside, the offense was spread around a bit: Russell Westbrook collected the night’s only double-double — 27 points, 10 assists — Enes Kanter knocked down 25, Dion Waiters 22, and Anthony Morrow 19 off the bench. Inexplicably, the Thunder attempted thirty-one treys, nailing ten. (Half of those were scored by Morrow.) Sacramento led the rebound race, 50-47, but somehow OKC gave up only seven turnovers, the Kings yielding on sixteen.

The Kings’ brace of youngish guards, Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum, scored 20 and 17 respectively. Derrick Williams led the bench with 17. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Kings’ presence was the brief appearance of Gursimran Bhullar, from Punjab via Toronto, a seven-five, 340-pound behemoth on a 10-day contract, who played the last 63 seconds, blocking a shot and serving up an assist. Sim, as they call him, is the first NBA player of Indian descent.

Three games to go: at Indiana Sunday, vs. Portland at the Peake on Monday, and at Minnesota on Wednesday to close it out. Somehow the Thunder must win one more than the Pelicans, who face the Rockets and the Wolves on the road, and then the Spurs at home. I don’t even want to know what the Las Vegas line is.

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Your moment of crypto-Zen

Here we have a question that is not related to the supplemental material — and the supplemental material itself is utterly inscrutable:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: metal or fiberglass

It’s like this, or maybe it isn’t:

i want a older newer truck

No, you don’t. They’re pretty ugly, and they tend to be a little big for your needs.

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When airbags aren’t enough

If a long motor trip is on the agenda, I will try to drive as much of it as I possibly can before giving up the wheel: for somewhere around half a century I have been susceptible to untimely bouts of carsickness. (As though any bouts of carsickness are timely, doncha know.) It didn’t occur to me, though, that occupying the driver’s seat in one of those newfangled autonomous autos might be comparably pukulating:

The excitement over self-driving cars might be vomit-inducing. No, really. Researchers at University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute polled 3,200 people across the world and discovered that between 6 and 12 percent of adults will get motion sickness from riding in autonomous [vehicles].

A lot seems to depend on what those folks are doing when they’re not actually driving:

“Motion sickness is expected to be more of an issue in self-driving vehicles than in conventional vehicles,” [Dr Michael] Sivak said. “The reason is that the three main factors contributing to motion sickness — conflict between vestibular (balance) and visual inputs, inability to anticipate the direction of motion and lack of control over the direction of motion — are elevated in self-driving vehicles.

“However, the frequency and severity of motion sickness is influenced by the activity that one would be involved in instead of driving.”

The U-M report found that more than 60 percent of Americans would watch the road, talk on the phone or sleep while riding in a self-driving vehicle — activities that would not necessarily lead to motion sickness.

Unfortunately, I can barf in my sleep.

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Better watch those English muffins, too

What do we know about Danish butter cookies? They come in this enormous metal tin, they contain no shortening ingredient other than butter, and you should probably keep them away from me.

One of the major distributors of Danish butter cookies is, surprise, Campbell Soup Company, which acquired Denmark’s Kelsen Group in 2013. And Campbell’s was not pleased to see a competitor named Danisa moving into their territory, since Danisa’s manufacturer, “Danish Specialty Foods,” allegedly in Copenhagen, is apparently actually in Indonesia.

Takari, US distributor for Danisa, argued before the National Advertising Division that they’re just the importer and have nothing to do with the contents, and besides, First Amendment. The NAD was not impressed with this argument, and Takari will revise the packaging and advertising.

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Notice to upside-down drivers

The Texas DMV is looking out for your right not to be offended:

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is revoking the personalized license plate issued to a Houston man, because it has now been deemed offensive.

“I had it for more than three years without any problem,” Safer Hassan said.

Hassan recently received an official letter from the state that said his Texas plate, “370H55V,” would be canceled within 30 days.

Believe me, Texas takes inversions of this sort very, very seriously.

(Via Fark.)

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Saturday spottings (dude descending a staircase)

The one spring event I do not miss in this town is the Architecture Tour, put on by the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and from 2007 through 2013 I had the singular delight of getting to take the tour with Trini. She begged off last year — family matters come first, after all — but she was by my side once more this time around, arranging the tour schedule and doing the navigation. (Which latter I should have heeded more often: the answer to the question “Which of these otherwise indistinguishable downtown streets is the one that goes one-way westbound?” is, um, the other one.) The eight tour stops resulted in a 92-mile jaunt, about half of which involved going to and returning from item number three. Without further ado:

1) 3341 Quail Creek Road

Bill Howard home in Quail Creek

A trigonometry test come to life, the Bill Howard home off Quail Creek Country Club is a dazzling array of irregular polygons, reflecting both Howard’s desire to blend into the nearby woodlands and his study under Frank Lloyd Wright. The house was built in 1970, but much of its interior pays homage to mid-century modern, which hadn’t been entirely forgotten by then.

2) 12713 St. Andrews Terrace

House of Good Taste by Edward Durrell Stone

What do you do if the demand for housing on a single block exceeds the space you’d expect to give to a top-rank residence? If you’re Edward Durrell Stone, you create a design that is oriented “inward,” that doesn’t sprawl across the lot. Stone introduced this idea at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, and sold plans for it nationwide under the name “House of Good Taste.” Restored last year, it’s simple but elegant.

3) 5800 South Anderson Road

Exterior of the Buddha Mind Monastery

Altar inside the Buddha Mind Monastery

The campus of the Buddha Mind Monastery, on a 20-acre site on the far southeast side, is oriented “inward” in a different way, in the hopes that the visitor will turn toward inner tranquility. The Abbess and her staff have made use of traditional Zen Buddhist themes, and regular classes are offered to novice and long-time follower alike.

4) 1315 North Broadway Place

Mayfair Apartments

The Mayfair Apartments, located north of Automobile Alley, are a working definition of splitting the difference: the exterior is pure 1930s, the flats — we visited a fourth-floor walkup, and I never want to hear the words “fourth-floor walkup” ever again — utterly contemporary, and the common areas Somewhere In Between. Several visitors seemed ready to sign a lease for one of the 16 units right then and there, though none of us could imagine how we’d get furniture up and down the narrow stairs.

5) 309 Northwest 13th Street

309 Monterey

This postwar Chrysler-Plymouth dealership, now the home of the Oklahoma Public Schools Resource Center, retains the exterior garage doors, but individual offices inside are created out of thirteen repurposed shipping containers. Architect Brian Fitzsimmons, a regular on all the Tours, is happy to show his work.

6) 828 Northwest 8th Street

828 NW 8th St

You can’t have an Architecture Tour without something in SoSA, the South of Saint Anthony district, and here’s the first of two residences therein. This one, from Ken Fitzsimmons’ Task Design, sits on the corner of 8th and Francis, close to the center of gravity of new development in this area, and is designed to fit in both with the new contemporary houses (think “vertical”) and the original pre-1930 housing stock (think “weather-minimizing features”).

7) 925 Northwest 8th Street

925 NW 8th St

Just one block away, and literally right on the corner at Classen, is this Not Really A Shed house; the slope of the roof serves as counterpoint to the slope of the street. The floorplan is Z-shaped, arranged for maximum bedroom light in the morning and as little heat from the setting summer sun as possible, and is about two and half times deeper than it is wide.

8) 30 Northeast 2nd Street

30 NE 2nd St

This is the one non-permanent structure on the tour: once again, stacked shipping containers, occupying a space just across from the Aloft Hotel, which is scheduled to contain office space with above-average amenities and, downstairs facing Oklahoma Avenue, a “gourmet corn-dog” eatery, and what’s a downtown without gourmet corn dogs? Ten years from now, they say, this will be dismantled and rebuilt somewhere else.

Photo credits: 1) Doug Howard; 4) Sam Day; 5) Joseph Mills; others by me (which can be seen in larger size on Flickr).

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Short of a half-measure

Do we have enough mosquito netting to keep the bears away? A Quora user asks:

I am powering a bank’s website using WordPress. What security measures should I take?

At this point, your best bet might to have Montresor brick up the entrance to your house.

(Via Popehat.)

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Oh, citrus

There are lights of various colors on Gwendolyn’s instrument panel, but the color I fear most is orange: the Low Fuel light is orange, the Service Engine Soon light is orange, and the light I saw yesterday for the first time is orange. I explained this thinking to Trini, and she identified the indicator: “You’re low on wiper fluid.”

I hit the lever to spritz the glass. “No, I’m not.”

The working theory, at least for now, is that a particularly bad pavement discontinuity — pothole season in Oklahoma City runs from April 1 through March 31 — had jarred the pertinent sensor. And the light turned off some time in the next half mile. I did, however, pop the hood when I got home, and the fluid level was about an inch below the top, which should have been insignificant considering the fluid reservoir is half a foot tall.

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There’s always another version

Bill Cosby once quoted his old football coach: “You just keep running that play ’til you get it right.” Apparently this philosophy holds sway at Microsoft:

A related genius of Microsoft is its ability to just keep producing new versions of software until a product actually takes root, a process that describes practically every product that Microsoft has ever succeeded with. DOS had some versions that were total flops. The first actually usable version of Windows was 3.1. Before Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel there were Multi-Tool Word and Multiplan. The list goes on.

I think it was Winston Churchill who said that success consists in failing repeatedly without losing heart. If any company embodies that, it must be Microsoft.

I might also add that Multiplan was one of vanishingly few Microsoft products that somehow got ported to the Commodore 64.

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Like the priests for whom they were named

The San Diego Padres are spending about $125 million on player salaries this year, ninth highest in Major League Baseball. And the team is spending money on a pitcher who can no longer pitch, there being no place for his wheelchair on the mound, but that doesn’t matter to the club’s front office:

San Diego has signed former left-hander Matt LaChappa to a minor league deal each year since 1996, when LaChappa suffered a heart attack while warming up in the bullpen for a Class-A game. He was only 20 at the time.

Now minor-league players aren’t exactly rolling in dough, so this isn’t costing the Padres a whole lot. Still, there’s a very good, even very kind, reason for this:

LaChappa, now 39, is now a wheelchair user, and his contract with the Padres gives him access to health insurance.

If possible, this is even more remarkable: LaChappa was pitching for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League, which in 1996 was the Class A affiliate of the Padres. Affiliations change over the years, and the Quakes are now a farm club of the Los Angeles Dodgers; the Padres’ current Class A club is the Storm, over in Lake Elsinore. This doesn’t matter one bit to the Padres. Says Padres director of minor-league operations Priscilla Oppenheimer:

“It’s our way of saying to Matt that you’re a Padre for life. When Larry Lucchino [the team’s former president who now holds the same position with the Red Sox] was here, he said that’s the way it should be. And as long as I’m here, that’s the way it’s going to stay.”

(Via Fark.)

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Spun around in Circle City

It was tied at 88 for a brief moment in the fourth quarter, before the Pacers turned up the pressure. In only two and a half minutes, it was 100-88 Indiana, and Russell Westbrook had been T’d up and advised that he was this close [imagine the gesture] to being broomed. Even then, the Thunder came back, and it was a three-point game, 102-99, with two minutes left. It was still a three-point game after Westbrook uncorked his fifth trey of the night; George Hill got the very definition of a shooter’s roll to run the Pacers’ lead back to five; then C. J. Miles got his sixth trey of the night, and that was the end of that. Indiana’s quest for the #8 seed in the East continues, and Oklahoma City’s quest for #8 in the West is dealt a serious setback. Pacers 116, Thunder 104, and at this writing, the Pelicans were playing the Rockets in Houston; should New Orleans win, the Thunder must win out and the Pelicans must lose its last two. Inasmuch as the next Thunder game is against Northwest leader Portland, you probably should not look for this to happen.

Still, Westbrook did some Westbrooky things, scoring 22 of the Thunder’s 32 first-quarter points and assisting on eight more. In fact, Russ finished with a career-high 54 points. The only question now is whether he’ll even get to play against the Blazers: that technical is his 16th, earning him a one-game suspension unless it’s rescinded. And the problem should be obvious: all those guys not named Russell Westbrook could come up with only 50 points among them. OKC hit at a 43-percent clip, 41-95; the Thunder were 11-28 on treys, a respectable 39 percent, and 11-28 from the stripe, a thousand million times worse than horrible plug-ugly 39 percent. Dion Waiters (7-16) scored 16, Enes Kanter (5-11) scored 13, the entire Thunder bench (5-17) scored 14.

Meanwhile, the Indiana reserves were coming up with 31, including eight from Paul George, who’s been back on limited minutes, for which he’s grateful: that summer leg injury was supposed to have kept him out for the entire season. It was C. J. Miles who did the serious chunking for the Pacers, finishing with 30 and retrieving 10 boards; the towering guys in the middle, Roy Hibbert and David West, hit 17 and 13 respectively, and George Hill came up with 19 while running the point.

The Pacers were not all that swift from the stripe either, hitting only 22 of 35, but 53 percent from the floor — and a 52-43 advantage in rebounding — were more than enough to beat the floundering Thunder.

Last home game in OKC is Monday night. The visiting Trail Blazers will be administering what could be expected to be the death blow. And if Westbrook’s on the bench, he shouldn’t show any ill effects from his 40-minute effort today. Maybe. You never know for sure with Westbrook.

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Strange search-engine queries (480)

Most sites that sift through the logs are looking for patterns of some sort in the hope that they can somehow monetize those particular user behaviors. We do it to find something to laugh at on a Monday morning. And who’s to say which of us is right? (Hint: I am.)

the mouse denny randell copyright:  And you ask me, he’s welcome to it.

older women nudiarist:  Not everyone who doffs her duds at the beach is going to be twenty-three and cute as a button, and you may as well get used to that fact.

how to replace a back of a cloth bucket seat on a fifteenhundred g.m.c. pick up 2003:  As they say to the guys at the nude beach: “Throw a towel over it.”

vanessa steele:  Like vanadium steel, but easier to work with.

breaking trucking news:  This one guy broke his truck while speeding up on the Belle Isle Bridge on a slushy winter day.

ford laser transmission hold light flashing:  Congratulations. You may already have bought a new vintage-Nineties Blue Oval-branded slushbox.

English names of sports teams:  Or, trickier, names of English sports teams.

liverwurst october 1st:  Don’t even be thinking about it in April.

what solenoid causes o/d off light on 2003 mazda:  The one you haven’t replaced yet.

fb_action_types Dog.likes:  There are dogs on Facebook, and I’ve friended one, but he doesn’t post much for some reason.

Jedediah Bila nude pictures:  Well, at least it’s not Bill O’Reilly.

is dustbury own now:  Honey, we’ve been owned for years.

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So totally unwired

There used to be a metal pole west of the driveway that contained a light fixture; the light would go on at dark and turn off at sunrise, or at least it did for a while. Then the bulb socket broke, and I didn’t rush to have it fixed; when the ground to the west began eroding away, the pole began to lean at an embarrassing angle. Finally, on a day of 60-mph winds, the pole loosened up from what little base it had, and a couple of scavengers hauled it off for scrap metal.

I don’t miss it, exactly, but I’m wondering what I should do with this length of cable the thieves left behind. I am loath to call my usual electrician, since he’s fixated on bringing the whole house up to code, at a price that leaves little change from a $10,000 bill.

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Selfie indulgence

“Show business kids, making movies of themselves,” sneered Steely Dan, suggesting that said kids were indifferent to all other considerations. Pertinent observation, or just typical cross-class, and possibly cross-generational, abuse?

When I was a substitute teacher, during a poetry lesson, I read aloud “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou and asked the classes what they thought. Five classes of kids, and four of them would only talk about how cocky and full of herself the author was. They talked about her with disdain, sometimes outright shock. How dare she?

However, one class loved the poem. The kids in that class loved how she owned every wonderful aspect of herself, in spite of what society deems appropriate. They called her a “badass”, and asked me to read the poem again.

Incidentally, this class was also the so-called “remedial” class. It was full of kids who lived outside the box, who spent the majority of their time bombarded by low expectations. Those kids understood exactly what Maya Angelou was talking about.

We live in a world that actively PUNISHES confidence. We’re not allowed to think we’re attractive. We’re not allowed to agree with compliments. I have spent so much of my life minimizing my intelligence, my looks, and my accomplishments; because I was socialized to believe that owning your beauty, your intelligence, your hard won success, equals being “cocky” or “full of yourself”.

Now I’m not the one to argue against humility; I have much to be humble about. But if all you ever do is hide your light under a bushel, eventually something’s going to catch fire, and not in a good way either.

So I don’t sneer at selfies qua selfies; after all, they’re not being done to get attention from the likes of me. And besides:

I see people posting selfies all the time, and I never think they are being shallow or are too full of themselves. I think “That must be nice. To feel so good about yourself in that moment that you freeze it for all eternity and post it for the whole world to see.”

I’m sick and goddamned tired of living in a world where we are forced to minimize ourselves for the comfort of others. Where we have to actively neg ourselves so no one will feel threatened by our worth.

Incidentally, “Phenomenal Woman” dates back to 1978, but its descendants are everywhere. The opening lines:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.

Not so different, really, from these:

Yeah it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
All the right junk in all the right places

The true narcissist is not just a person who takes a selfie; it’s the person who takes a selfie because it matters to him and therefore it should matter to you.

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Just like yesterday

That’s today, and tomorrow will be much the same, and what’s it to you?

I’m giving up feeling bad that I live in routines. I need routines; they give my life structure and they help me keep the illusion that the world isn’t sometimes a frighteningly random place where you have no control over things. So for me, doing the same thing for breaks, or stuff like food-jags (my standard lunch these days: a cup of plain Greek yogurt, a string cheese, a tangerine, a small thing of applesauce and some kind of a cereal or fruit bar) doesn’t bother me. I don’t always crave novelty. (I’m not QUITE to the point of “Four o’clock, time for Judge Wapner” but I do have my routines I like to stick to and I am open about the fact that I get unhappy when someone decides to mess with my schedule.)

Judge Wapner? Oh, my. You gotta be Rain Man to like this guy.

Still, I have to respect this position, since for the most part it’s my position: I figure, once things start working well, changes in those things I deem counterproductive until proven otherwise. I rotate through about eight basic menu items, though I tend to reset on Saturday, as it’s my grocery-shopping day. And as anyone who has watched my Twitter timeline already knows, I get seriously boxer-knotted if someone who’s supposed to get something to me by time T doesn’t deliver until T plus one day.

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Welcome to heck

Even before the game started, weird things were happening. Russell Westbrook’s technical from last night was rescinded by the league, so no suspension. Word came down that the newly-Frail Blazers were going to be missing both LaMarcus Aldridge and Arron Afflalo; what’s more, Nicolas Batum banged up his knee after ten minutes and no points, and was not seen again. This one, pronounced the last Chesapeake Arena crowd of the season, might even be winnable; and the 35-21 first quarter reinforced that possibility. Then the Thunder went colder than a mother-in-law’s kiss, coming up with only 14 points in the second, and Portland trailed by seven at the half. Over the next 12 minutes, the Thunder gradually extended that lead to eleven; over the next six, the Blazers gradually shrank it down to six. (Who knew that Meyers Leonard could shoot the three-ball?) The pivot point, if you ask me, came when the Blazers decided they would foul Steven Adams, who is to free throws what Shaquille O’Neal is to, um, free throws. Adams promptly sank two of them, putting the Thunder up eleven, and they were still up eleven at the horn, 101-90. This puts OKC at 44-37 with one game to go, at Minnesota Wednesday. Meanwhile in Minnesota, the Pelicans were spanking the Wolves, 100-88, pushing their own record to 44-37.

Let it be said, though: Meyers Leonard can shoot the three-ball. The Blazers only had eight makes all night, and Leonard, team-high with 24 points, had five of them, in nine tries. (The Thunder in aggregate made only four.) The only other Portland starter in double figures was Damian Lillard, with 10, but three of the reserves (Joel Freeland, Chris Kaman, Alonzo Gee) combined for 40. (The entire Thunder bench had only 15, 11 of them from Anthony Morrow.)

Hobbled by another lousy shooting night — 41 percent, 4-21 on treys, eight missed free throws out of 27 — the Thunder won this one on the boards, with a startling 58-35 rebounding advantage, 18-3 on the offensive glass, and in transition, stealing the rock from the Blazers eight times while losing it only once. (OKC had only eight turnovers all night, three of them not from Westbrook.) Russ’s line for the night: 36-11-7. Enes Kanter cashed another double-double (27 points, 13 rebounds), and Steven Adams approached one (8 points, 11 boards).

So here’s the situation, how it really stands: For the Thunder to get into that eighth playoff slot, they must beat the Wolves day after tomorrow, and the Spurs must more or less simultaneously win at New Orleans. Will Gregg Popovich idle the big guns just to shaft OKC? Probably not. San Antonio is idle tonight, but Houston won tonight at Charlotte, and both Spurs and Rockets now sit at 55-26, with the Spurs owning the tiebreaker and the #2 seed. I can’t see Pop wanting to give that up, especially with the Rockets closing out against the 37-43 Jazz. All will be known in forty-eight hours, unless of course there’s overtime.

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No place to dive

PB Jams is a little sandwich shop on 38th west of MacArthur, owned by Ashley Jiron. The other day, she was a bit unnerved to discover that someone had been Dumpster-diving on the premises: “I had noticed some bags, when I had taken out the trash, were torn open and some of the food was taken out.”

Someone else might have put up a sign saying Don’t Do That. She chose to do this:

Sign posted at PB Jams

“I think we’ve all been in that position where we needed someone’s help and we just needed someone to extend that hand and if I can be that one person to extend that hand to another human being then I will definitely do it,” Ashley said.

The sign, she says, will stay until the diver returns and takes advantage of her offer.

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Major hotness

I have my doubts about some of this, captured about 10:35 last night:

Screenshot from Weather Underground for Philadelphia

That negative rainfall has got to hurt, especially with 83 feet of it.

(Via John Salmon.)

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Base of the learning curve

Jack Baruth reveals how he learned how to ride a motorcycle:

You probably don’t remember this, but Simon and Simon is basically a TV show about what would happen if Bark M. and I opened a private detective agency. The older brother is an unrefined boor who waves a .44 Magnum around and drives a Dodge Power Wagon — that would be me, of course. The younger brother is very suave and handsome and doesn’t like to get his hands dirty.

In one episode, they’re chasing a bad guy who hops on a motorcycle and rides away. There are two Harleys sitting around so the brothers jump on. Now, of course the younger Simon has no idea how to operate a Harley so the older brother yells, as he’s riding off in pursuit,

“There’s nothing to it! First is down, the other four are up!”

This matters because Jack has a six-year-old:

I wanted a motorcycle for pretty much every moment of my childhood, but my Brooklyn-born father was no more going to get me a dirt bike than he was going to take me to the Grand Ole Opry. It goes without saying that nobody in my entire extended family has ever owned a motorcycle, except for me, the official White Trash Baruth.

50cc motorcycles are very fast and the neck of a just-turned-six-year-old child is fragile and that, to me, is a bad and dangerous combination.

But if he doesn’t learn about motorcycles from me, he’ll do what I did when he’s a teenager — he’ll find a bike to ride and I won’t know about it or have any way to make sure he’s riding safely.

Said six-year-old now has a 24-volt electric dirt bike — and his neck is intact.

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We are become a perennial herb

Submitting scientific papers now apparently requires a sixteen-digit number:

ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) is a nonproprietary alphanumeric code to uniquely identify scientific and other academic authors. This addresses the problem that a particular author’s contributions to the scientific literature or publications in the humanities can be hard to recognize as most personal names are not unique, they can change (such as with marriage), have cultural differences in name order, contain inconsistent use of first-name abbreviations and employ different writing systems. It provides a persistent identity for humans, similar to that created for content-related entities on digital networks by digital object identifiers (DOIs).

Is ORCID pronounced the way you might think? Wikipedia provides no help, so you’re on your own:

I was at first hearing it in my head as being like “orchid” but when I went back to the site, it was ORC (in one color) ID (in another), which looks more like ORC ID to me, like either the identification of an ORC (“Orcs, this line, prepare to present your I.D. cards”) or the id of an orc, which would be a Very Bad Thing indeed. (Orcs are probably ALL id, doesn’t seem to be a lot of super-ego going on there).

Given the nature of orcs — Tolkien once described them as “squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes” — well, short quasi-people got no reason to live.

Still, having an ORC ID perhaps confers some status, however infinitesimal:

I don’t expect fellow scientists to start shoving me around and going, “Oh, you think you’re a big shot, don’t you, with your ORCID number?”

I dunno. I assume that if they’re in the not unusual publish-or-perish environment, they’ll have their own numbers soon enough.

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Less bratty

Wait a minute. This can’t be Da Brat, can it?

Da Brat in VIBE, 2011

I mean, Da Brat has always looked more like this:

Da Brat in VIBE, 2011

Then again, the rapper occasionally known as Shawntae Harris sported orange jumpsuits for much of this century. First incident:

In 2001, Harris pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless conduct after she had beaten a woman with a gun during a dispute over VIP seating in an Atlanta nightclub in 2000. The victim in that incident received six stitches for a head wound. Harris ended up serving a year’s probation, performed 80 hours of community service, and paid a $1,000 fine.

Second, and fiercer, incident:

On October 31, 2007, Harris was involved in the altercation that ended in assault at a Halloween party at Studio 72 nightclub in Atlanta. Harris initially argued with a hostess, and when the hostess walked away to talk to her manager, Harris attacked her from behind, striking her in the face with a rum bottle. Harris entered a guilty plea to aggravated assault charges. She was sentenced to three years in prison, seven years of probation, and 200 hours of community service. In May 2010, she was temporarily released from prison as part of a work-release program, after serving 21 months.

Her formal release came in 2011, about the time of the Vibe photo; she later faced a civil trial by the victim of the assault.

“Is It Chu?” came out on 2013; the second part of it occasionally seems to resemble Suzanne Vega’s innocuous “Tom’s Diner.” (You might not want to play this on your work machine.)

Da Brat turns forty-one today.

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Sudden start

Percy Sledge was working as a hospital orderly in the middle 1960s, and spent his evenings singing in front of a band called the Esquires, but not these Esquires. Three of them — Calvin Lewis, Andrew Wright, and Sledge himself — came up with a doleful tune called “When a Man Loves a Woman,” which they took to local DJ and record producer Quin Ivy. A demo was cut, with Sledge but without either Wright or Lewis, which Muscle Shoals impresario Rick Hall liked enough to send upstream to the bigwigs at Atlantic Records. Reportedly, Jerry Wexler thought the horns were off key, but would be happy to hear a revision, which the guys duly cut — and which ended up in the vault, because somehow the original tape was the one issued as Atlantic 2326 in March of 1966.

So Percy Sledge was off and running, and he continued to chart as late as 1974: “I’ll Be Your Everything” made Top 15 on Billboard’s R&B chart and registered briefly on the pop chart. Still, it was that one song that made him famous, and it never left the scene, even materializing at #2 on the British pop chart — in 1987. Sledge never stopped performing; he cut a gospel album in 2013, and I’d bet he was booked for some concert appearances later this year, which, alas, won’t be happening.

And this is my favorite Percy Sledge number, live a few years ago at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, written by Muscle Shoals stalwarts Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. It’s every bit as good as “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and played so seldom on the radio that it always jumps out at you.

Oh, the spiffy Philadelphia girl group known as Sister Sledge? Real name, but no relation.

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Screw those desktops

Google wants everything to be ultra-readable on mobiles, especially their mobiles, so they’re going to slant their search results accordingly:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

They started making noises like this back in November, so it’s not like this is suddenly being sprung upon us, but I figure I’m already jumping through enough hoops for them, so do not look for sudden design changes around here — for at least a year, anyway.

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Hairier spam than usual

This popped up in the spam trap at the place where I work up my pony tales:

One idea is the fact an alteration with the gene might lead to an amino acid alteration of the TCCH protein which influences how straight or how tresses will appear to be. A number of helpful friends are essential to acquire the various for an upgrade. What was added towards the game caused it to be very enjoyable to learn, and gave additional items to suit your needs to have a great time backyard parties, which has been lacking prior to the addition of these things pack. The reason being these days what a lot of people do is follow trends blindly therefore get the latest trending in-fashion hair-styles and cuts that won’t suit them at all.

So, you really like her mane?

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What light with yonder price breaks?

Meh.com offered some LED floodlights yesterday, and while I didn’t buy, I was heartened by the front-page description:

Description of Optiled LED lights offered by meh.com

They asked four bucks extra for the bulb that dims.

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Progress of a sort

One TTAC feature I’ve always liked is “Junkyard Find,” and the most recent resident of Rustic Estates is a 1993 Subaru Justy, by any reasonable reckoning a horrible crapmobile, but the standards for horrible crapmobiles are much higher these days:

[B]ad as the Justy 2WD was, it was a car. That meant that it beat the hell out of public transportation, and it meant that a working stiff could afford a shiny new commuter (with warranty) on a modest salary. I mention this because I’m still getting shit for having written that the ’14 Mitsubishi Mirage was perfectly tolerable by Miserable Econobox standards, while John Pearley Huffman believes it is worse than taking the bus (Jason Torchinsky, one of the only writers to agree with me that the Mirage wasn’t so bad, tore Mr. Huffman a new one over that). Terrible little entry-level econoboxes today are so much better than their counterparts 20 years ago that everybody who reviews one today should be forced to spend a week in a ’93 Justy prior to driving the new car.

I quote, for the sake of illustration, a Yahoo! Answers questioner:

Does anybody here have a Mitsubishi Mirage? A 2015 model? Is it nice, do you like it? Would you recommend it to someone?

Update: I no longer listen to Consumer Reports reviews on cars. The reason why is because they would make all kinds of nasty reviews of certain car models and I would ride or drive said cars after reading those reviews and I would just scratch my head wondering why CR disliked these cars so much. They were all excellent vehicles. I have also found that some cars that CR recommended I ended up not liking after I got to ride/drive them. The Mirage is an excellent choice for the States.

Perhaps the most reasonable answer given:

The Mirage is arguably the least-recommended vehicle of all the ’15s, though this is due more to obvious cheapness than to actual failures. If you can live with its limitations (noisy and slowish) it’s not an unreasonable choice at its bargain-basement price.

Something this moderate-sounding simply had to be downvoted, and of course it was.

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Gleaner than you ever thought possible

Two versions of The Gleaners by Millet

To the left, “The Gleaners” by Jean-François Millet (1857). To the right, a revision approved for inclusion in the Gluten Free Museum, dedicated to erasing all images of this deadly poison in the documentation of everyday life.

(Via Jeff Faria.)

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