1 July 2007
Perhaps surprisingly, Triumph is not involved.
(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)
Requiem for a format
Admittedly, that's a tad misleading, since the format isn't actually dead. On the other hand, it seems like every year a commercial station that used to play classical music starts playing something else.
In the city of Milwaukee's second radio format change in a week, WFMR-FM (106.9) is dumping classical music in favor of the "smooth jazz" that WJZI-FM (93.3) dropped last week.
The move marks a return to the smooth jazz format that the station now known as WFMR said it pioneered in the mid-1990s. The station hit the air in 1995 with a playlist that included David Sanborn, George Benson, Kenny G and Al Jarreau, all of whom will be featured again at the station.
This is news you wouldn't even tell Tchaikovsky.
I should note that there was a brief period when you could tune in "smooth jazz" in Oklahoma City; it was on my first group of presets at the time, although I reserved the right to push the next button at the first sign of the strangled-duck noises made by Kenny G. I wouldn't mind if it returned, subject to the same provisions. And anyway, our classical station, noncommercial as it is, isn't going anywhere.
A shore runs past it
Realty affiliates of The Prudential produce a freebie magazine with real-estate listings in this market and some others; sometimes I remember to pick one up on the way out of the supermarket.
On the cover is a nice faux-Spanish Mediterranean west of Edmond near the Rose Creek golf course. It's quite lovely in that slightly-overwrought way too derivative to make Architectural Digest but more interesting than the palace-from-Dallas stuff that prevails in the newer 'burbs and is priced high enough to insure that any prospective owner won't flinch at the prospect of a Titleist bursting through a first-level window. It's located on Shorerun Drive, and the first time I saw that I read it as Sho Rerun Drive, like they were repeating the first season of The L Word or something. Now I've been out this way once or twice (call it 170th and May), and I don't think of it as being, well, on the shore. The usual Google check (I'd drive out there myself to take a look, but I just got out of the shower) produced a suitably-dated satellite picture; apparently Shorerun Drive runs by the shore of a water hazard, or maybe a retention pond.
Which, by the standards of Oklahoma City suburbs, makes this an unusually-appropriate name for a street: in Edmond, for instance, there are more streets named Oak something, or something Oak(s), than there are actual oaks.
Addendum: Apparently this sold in mid-June, for not too much below the asking price, which explains why I couldn't find a picture in the agent's portfolio of listings.
Not so complicated
"Why did you shoot at us?"
Two for Téa
Before you vote for a candidate, consider how he or she will look after four or eight years in office. It's unlikely to be a welcome sight, so therefore I call on the lovely Téa Leoni [to] run for the highest office in the land. Her qualifications may be mostly visual, but most of a Prez's real work is done in TV appearances anyway.
Hmmm. Let's see:
And there's one other advantage: you'd have freaking Fox Mulder on the premises, a boon to today's conspiracy-theory-driven politics.
2 July 2007
Strange search-engine queries (74)
We must emphasize that each of these items is a real query, posted to a major search engine during the past week, which led the searcher to one of the ten thousand or so pages on this site; from the hundreds of queries, we've specially selected these for maximum smartass-remark potential.
nair for men on penis: You don't want to be a smoothie that badly.
what benefit does the light train transit have: It doesn't weigh as much, therefore it doesn't use as much fuel.
can i put mayonnaise in my hair: The Condiment Police won't bust you, if that's what you mean.
into you she is: So Yoda gives dating advice now?
mac sucks put gum in the floppy drive: That would suck with just about any operating system.
bodice ripper fantasies: Honestly, I don't know anyone who fantasizes about having her bodice ripped.
Mutt Lange buys Dr. Phil: Must have been a present for Shania.
is it illegal to clean houses in the nude: Not necessarily, but you can't assume the occupants of those houses will approve.
"lindsay beyerstein" "penis size": I've never met Lindsay Beyerstein, but I'd be willing to bet she doesn't have a penis.
can a woman use a epilator in islam: Not on her eyebrows, anyway.
joseph lieberman at nudist beach: Gosh, he's more independent than I thought.
"tears on my pillow" and "maureen dowd": Love is not a gadget / Love is not a toy.
condoleezza rice pedicure: If you're gonna wear Ferragamo, you might as well do it right.
will the salon wax my rectum: Not until they're done with Condi's pedicure.
We'll need new plants, then new plants
They're called GRAIN, and this is what they're about:
GRAIN is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) which promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity based on people's control over genetic resources and local knowledge.
And they take a dim view of the Rush to Ethanol:
[T]he stampede into agrofuels is causing enormous environmental and social damage, much more than we realised earlier. Precious ecosystems are being destroyed and hundreds of thousands of indigenous and peasant communities are being thrown off their land.
Worse lies ahead: the Indian government is committed to planting 14 million hectares of land with jatropha (an exotic bush from which biodiesel can be manufactured), the Inter-American Development Bank says that Brazil has 120 million hectares available for biofuels, and lobbyists in Europe are speaking of almost 400 million hectares being available for biofuels in 15 African countries. We are talking about expropriation on an unprecedented scale.
And we've heard that word "expropriation" before:
[T]he push for agrofuels amounts to nothing less than the re-introduction and re-enforcement of the old colonial plantation economy, redesigned to function under the rules of the modern neoliberal, globalised world. Indigenous farming systems, local communities and the biodiversity they manage have to give way to provide for the increased fuel needs of the modern world.
One of the main justifications for the large-scale cultivation of agrofuels is the need to combat climate change, but the figures make a mockery of this claim. According to the US government, global energy consumption is set to increase 71 per cent from 2003 to 2030, and most of that will come from burning more oil, coal and natural gas. By the end of this period, all renewable energy (including agrofuels) will only make up 9 per cent of global energy consumption. It is a dangerous self-delusion to argue that agrofuels can play a significant role in combating global warming.
They can, however, play a significant role in pushing up food prices, which doesn't strike me as a particularly useful goal.
When I was still in school, back during the Pleistocene era, they took the trouble to impress upon us the value of crop rotation and the folly of expecting the same land to produce the same stuff year after year after year. But hey, we can't waste time on that sort of thing: we need fuel, dammit.
Sheesh. I think I need a drink. Which, incidentally, would contain ethanol.
Old phones never die
Well, okay, they do, but mine hasn't, and, well, I refuse to play Mr Hardware Early Adopter Guy for Apple, especially if it involves getting involved with AT&T.
The iPhone is the trophy wife of the cellular world. It's gorgeous to look at, interesting and amusing at parties, but at the end of the day it's going to fark your gardener, take your money, and leave you unfulfilled.
None of these features is worth the expense to me, and I speak as someone who just ordered a lawn mower off Amazon.com, fercrissake.
I grill a pretty mean ribeye
(Okay, I'm not that mean. Come to think of it, I'm not the least bit pretty, either.)
I thought there were no second acts
TV Guide polled its Web readers: "Who do you think has a greater chance of bouncing back professionally?" The choices: Isaiah Washington or P*** H***** (I can't even bring myself to type her name).
Fifty-five percent of the respondents voted for H*****, which compels me to ask: "Bouncing back to what?" What exactly is it she does, beyond the production of headlines and carbon dioxide?
3 July 2007
I have to figure that neither S. Duncan Black nor Alonzo G. Decker ever imagined that their company would be selling something like this: it resembles an electric drill (which Messrs. B and D invented ninety-odd years ago) in no way except for the fact that it has a power cord.
Still, one of these LawnHogs will be taking up residence at the palatial Surlywood estate as soon as Amazon.com can get it on a truck and into my hot (okay, tepid) little hands. Lowe's Web site has it for the same price, but Amazon was giving away free shipping, and they claimed to have it in stock; Lowe's won't tell you if they have any on hand until you actually push the Add to Cart button. Besides, this gives me more than enough reward points on Amazon's Visa to get me a $25 gift certificate.
Yes, I have an extension cord. There's a GFCI-equipped outlet on the front of the house, another just inside the garage, so I'll have a place to plug in the beast. And I'm sure I can find a use for the approximately 1.2 gallons of gasoline that won't be going into the old mower.
When you're young and in uniform
I had some fleeting and absurd (patently so to me even at the time) visions of one of the NCOs looking cock-eyed at my Berkeley t-shirt and cargo shorts and saying, "Well, well, well, looks like we already got ourselves a troublemaker," or some such. Instead, they found me someone with an extra set of clothes I could borrow.
Then, another NCO pulled me aside and told me my hair was too long, and I should get it cut as soon as possible. Another strike, also insignificantly minor in any reasonable scheme of things, but consider: I'd now been there a whole 15 minutes or so and my sole interaction with the Army thus far consisted of being told what I needed to fix. At the time, I was glad they weren't handing out guns yet or else I'd probably have blown my own foot off.
It turns out that there were multiple people who needed haircuts. And they apparently hadn't been distressed by the fact that the barber shop was closed. There were also some who showed up the next morning in the wrong PT uniform. But I didn't see any of that that afternoon, I saw only well-prepared people who made me look like a slacker or an incompetent, and I thought to myself that it would be a real shame if they figured that out about me so soon. I'd been hoping to space out revealing those facets of myself over at least a few months.
Of course, I went through this in 1972, arguably a nastier time to be joining the Service. But it's perversely gratifying, I suppose, to see that the same sort of effort to rip the new arrivals out of their comfort zones is still being made today.
And best of all, this chap is heading for the Judge Advocate General's Corps. An officer, natch. We lowlifes in the bottom enlisted ranks always assumed that butterbars and such were getting an easier time of it: sometimes it was quite a while before we learned otherwise.
Moore than usual
Sicko took in a modest $4.5 million in its first weekend, a bit under some of the wilder predictions, but still within the Exhibitor Relations Top Ten (at #9). On the other hand, it's not like Michael Moore spent Jerry Bruckheimer-level money on it, and apparently Moore, or at least his agent, is one sharp negotiator:
Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel at Endeavor, negotiated one hell of a deal with the Weinstein Co. for his client. Moore is in line to receive 50 percent of Sicko's gross profits (that's after the theater owner collect their take of ticket sales), arguably one of Hollywood's most lucrative deals for a filmmaker. To put it in perspective, it's well beyond the cut that Tom Cruise used to receive in his heyday on films (and big-name actor deals are usually much richer than directors, but Moore obviously works both in front and behind the camera).
But the place where Moore's deal is most noteworthy is in his DVD take. A-list actors and directors usually get a small slice of the proceeds, which is taken from only 20 percent of the total DVD revenue (the studio would hold back the other 80 percent). These numbers have pretty much been sacrosanct in Hollywood for years and have allowed the studios to recoup any theatrical losses with their homevid take. But in Moore's deal, he'll be receiving 50 percent of all DVD revenues.
According to traditional Hollywood accounting, if you get profit points at all, they're out of the net, after every conceivable cost has been deducted. Moore's getting gross points, most likely more than enough to constitute what some of us in different walks of life used to call FYM. He says so himself:
Nothing can ever be held over my head in the sense of "If you don't do this, we won't give you your money!"
Which is an exceedingly comfortable position to be in.
Memo to a disgruntled customer
If you're going to blame PayPal's debit-card unit for two consecutive declines and the abuse you heaped upon our poor, unsuspecting customer-service people indicates that you are you probably ought not to use that same card again the same day.
Which, by the way, was declined. Again.
The Big O on the draft
As far as the NBA draft goes, this year marks the beginning of the era of "one and done": high-school graduates can no longer place their names in the hat until they turn 19, which generally means one year of college before jumping to the ostensible Big Time, a major change from the thirty-year-old Oscar Robertson Rule which stripped away most draft restrictions.
Robertson himself has misgivings about "one and done," but perhaps not the ones you'd think:
For every LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, there are hundreds of other teenage athletes who have been mistakenly led to believe they're ready for the NBA. Once they enter the draft and find out they’re wrong, it's too late: they're not allowed to attend or return to college on an athletic scholarship.
In no other line of work is someone penalized for leaving or delaying school and returning later. Besides, college coaches who can make millions of dollars negotiate with other colleges, or with NBA teams, all the time. They don't forfeit their employment if they decide to stay put.
Athletic scholarships should be guaranteed for four years, instead of renewable year to year by the college. College athletes should also receive a modest stipend and more realistic expense money. If athletes have to struggle to get by, of course they will want to turn pro as soon as possible. They're also more likely to accept money from agents who want to sign them, although agents aren't the only people who slip money to college athletes. (Signing with an agent makes players ineligible for the college game, whether or not money has changed hands but coaches are allowed to collect fees for referring agents to players!)
The NBA and the NCAA have brilliant people working in management. Certainly they can come up with a better system than "one and done" that is equitable for the colleges and the athletes, gives athletes an incentive to stay in school and reinforces the value of education.
And maybe the NBA, which has an obvious interest in this sort of thing, can kick in some of those scholarship dollars along the way.
(Noticed by Henry Abbott.)
4 July 2007
It seemed improbable, but there it was on the water bill: PLACE BULKY AT CURB BY 6AM (WED) 07/04/07. The first Wednesday of the month is our usual day for Bulky Waste pickup, so that wasn't a big deal, but it's the Fourth of July, fercryingoutloud.
So yesterday afternoon I wheeled the old lawn mower to the curb and folded down its handle, lest anyone think I was just taking a break, hoping the city would pick it up in the morning. I needn't have worried: it's not 6 am yet, and already someone has hauled it away.
The new one, says Amazon, has been shipped.
The National Weather Service outpost at Will Rogers World Airport, where official readings for Oklahoma City are obtained, reported no rain on the 3rd, the first time they've issued such a report since the 12th of June.
Which means that it rained on twenty consecutive days. (Total June rainfall was 10.06 inches, about twice the usual.)
And time can do so much
Time has run out for lyricist Hy Zaret, who died this week about six weeks short of his 100th birthday.
Zaret put out lots of words over the years, but the ones you probably remember were the words he put to Alex North's theme for the 1955 motion picture Unchained, notable both for containing serious emotional content and for never mentioning the film's title even once in the lyric.
"Unchained Melody," as it was called, hit the charts in four versions in '55; Les Baxter (Capitol 3055) took it to Number One, but his version was more or less an instrumental (there's a brief chorus), leaving the vocal prize to Al Hibbler (Decca 29441), who coaxed it to #3 and bestowed upon it pop-standard status. Lots of people recorded it over the next decade or so; Phil Spector tossed it into a 1965 Righteous Brothers session as the B-side to "Hung On You" (Philles 129), the intended follow-up to "Just Once in My Life." But "Hung On You" never broke Top 40, and DJs turned the 45 over to find, not the usual Spector throwaway instrumental, but a lovingly-produced Bobby Hatfield solo performance in front of the Wall of Sound at its lushest. (This being a B-side, rumors persist to this day that the other Righteous fellow, Bill Medley, actually produced it; I have my doubts, though Medley's production for the Brothers' post-Spector discs for Verve demonstrates his mastery of the Wall.) "Unchained Melody" climbed to #4; its inclusion in the 1990 romantic fantasy Ghost led Verve to reissue the single, which reached #13. (A re-recording by the Brothers also charted, reaching #19.)
Zaret, of course, approved. He was reportedly not amused by a George Martin-produced version by the Goons, which Parlophone stuffed back into the Abbey Road vaults before it could see the light of day, prompting the Goons to move to Decca. The recording finally surfaced in 1990, and apparently not even Dr. Demento would play it.
(Note: MP3s expire eventually.)
We don't even have a Beltway
Washington D.C. should be turned into a giant prison, and the capitol should be moved to Oklahoma City, but that's a discussion for another day.
Top Ten ways the government would be different if the capitol were moved to Oklahoma City:
Not to discourage them or anything.
Systems of infinite complexity
Or at least priced like that. Lachlan shakes her fist at the Automotive Gods:
Last month, I paid off the car. Today, it’s in the shop with a tentative estimate of $1321.00.
Which seems like a lot of money to pour into a Ford Focus, fercrissake, but just about anything you drive these days is going to run up some serious bills when it breaks down, and sometimes when it doesn't. When I bought my current ride at 88k, I expected to fork over $1500, maybe $2000 to get it back into tip-top shape; it turned out to be twice that. (Geez, they have a lot of emissions equipment in these damn cars.) On the upside, there's no timing belt, the regular 90k service was under $500, and most of the 105k service is the replacement of the original spark plugs, which admittedly cost fifteen bucks apiece, but there's only six of them.
I did, however, look around for a Focus maintenance schedule, and it doesn't look that horrible:
100,000 Mile Service
The timing belt shows up at 120,000 miles.
It occurs to me that (1) Lachlan is female and (2) it's not unheard of (though it is reprehensible) for service shops to put the figurative screws to female customers.
Disclosure: When I went car-shopping in 2000, I test-drove two Foci, and came this close to buying one, but wound up with a Mazda 626.
I forget how many times I've quit
I suppose I might as well face it:
Mingle2 - Online Dating
(From Steph Waller, who evidently has more of a life.)
5 July 2007
I screen, you screen, we all screen
Ten years ago, Susan and I purchased a talking caller ID box. It's one of the greatest inventions ever, and I'm not sure why they didn't completely replace normal called ID boxes. When our phone rings, a pleasant female voice speaks the number aloud, area code first.
Whenever a long distance caller is announced, there's a little game I play. If I'm sitting in my lounge chair near my laptop, I'll click on Google whenever I hear the phone begin to ring. At the end of the first ring, the box begins to announce the number. "Four, zero, five ... " During the second ring I'll type the phrase "area code 405" (or whatever area code was just announced) into Google. During the phone's third ring, Google spits back the results. Typically I don't have to click on any of the links; the information should appear somewhere in the first hit or two. That gives me the fourth ring to determine whether or not I know anybody from that area code, and if I should pick up the phone.
Apparently it's still possible to buy a Caller ID unit with a voice box, though I have no idea whether its voice is pleasant, or even female.
And this, in turn, suggests a new Google application: a Caller ID box which connects to Google and immediately returns the appropriate information. Ultimately it could be incorporated into a VoIP phone or even a Web-enabled cell phone.
Or how about this: the box connects to whocalled.us and sends up a query. If there's a match in their database, the call is automagically hung up before you ever hear the ring.
Chicken in the Rough to get rougher
I reprint this Oklahoma Gazette item with a certain level of sadness:
[F]or those who heard rumors, it is true: the much-loved Beverly's Pancake Corner, 2115 Northwest Expressway, is closing, and the area will be rebuilt, possibly as a clothing district.
Customers have the end of the year to eat at the location, but then Beverly's will move and reopen at a new, as-yet-undisclosed location on Northwest Expressway.
Beverly and Rubye Osborne originally opened the Beverly's concept as "Chicken in the Rough" decades ago.
For "decades ago" read "in 1921." Here's what I said in 2004:
Beverly Osborne's first restaurant ... was just north of the State Capitol on Lincoln Boulevard; eventually there were half a dozen across town, the last to be built being the Pancake Corner at Northwest Expressway west of Pennsylvania, which sports red floor tile almost identical to the tile on my bathroom floor. Time, attrition and urban renewal took their usual toll, and now the Pancake Corner is the only Beverly's remaining. Still, it's hard to imagine that it was much different in the Good Old Days than it is now: it's a classic diner of the old school, everything happens right up front so you can see the level of chaos for yourself, and while prices are inevitably higher, the menu and the recipes are largely unchanged. I should be in such good shape when I'm eighty-three years old.
The current building dates to 1958. The furniture store next door, I assume, is equally doomed.
Massive internal torment
Not a function of taquitos for lunch, but of a so-far-unresolved conflict: World Tour '07 is supposed to begin Tuesday (I have medical stuff to take care of on Monday) and I am no nearer to setting an itinerary than I was a month ago.
The basic criteria are as follows:
One possibility under consideration is a sort of Reverse Trail of Tears route, which ends up somewhere close to North Carolina. Advantages: there is much of this area I have not seen in years, if at all; roads tend to get interesting as the mountains get closer; a lot of bloggers along the way. Disadvantages: a lot of this may end up on I-40; if it doesn't, I may run perilously close to a sixteenth day; a lot of bloggers along the way.
I've also considered a Trans-Texas Tour, looping through the Lone Star State. Advantages: I never get tired of Texas; the variation in scenery is considerable; Texas road discipline is something to respect. Disadvantages: Texas in the summer is either hot or damned hot and the endless rains won't help; tricky to make that loop through Kansas City.
Other possibilities present themselves, but these are the front-runners right now. Suggestions are welcomed.
Finally, something to like about Sprint
It is said that 20 percent of the customers cause 80 percent of the work, and where I work it's more like 13/87. There is, of course, nothing that can be done about it.
Or is there?
Our records indicate that over the past year, we have received frequent calls from you regarding your billing or other general account information. While we have worked to resolve your issues and questions to the best of our ability, the number of inquiries you have made to us during this time has led us to determine that we are unable to meet your current wireless needs.
Therefore, after careful consideration, the decision has been made to terminate your wireless service agreement effective July 30, 2007. This will allow you to pursue and engage with another wireless carrier.
There's a simulated buckpass here, in the form of the passive voice "the decision has been made" rather than "we have decided" but otherwise this is the sort of thing I would love to do to certain of our stragglers: "You are causing us more trouble than you are worth. Go away."
I expect Sprint will be reviled for this action, if only because it's shown up on Consumerist, where denouncing Evil Corporations is a way of life, but in my capacity as a person who (1) doesn't make incessant demands of the firms from whom I buy service and (2) has to put up with an amazing number of people who do, I'm giving them somewhere around 2.25 cheers.
Hither and yawn
Pepsi-Cola has introduced something called Diet Pepsi MAX, which contains 46 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces, a jolt just this side of, well, Jolt. They're pitching this stuff as an antidote to the Great American Yawn, and according to their survey, as recounted by Popgadget:
That last, I think, I'd rather not have known.
Oh, and one hundred percent of women who have dated me have yawned during the proceedings. (Warning: this may not be statistically significant due to painfully-small sample.)
If you were wanting to compare caffeine counts, try this.
6 July 2007
Just a little something I found in the City Council minutes:
Resolutions authorizing sole source purchases, fiscal year 2007-08:
The ATTACHMENTS are attached, not to the minutes, but to the agenda; apparently these beverages are for use at municipal golf courses.
And no, you can't have a Pepsi. Not even at Earlywine.
Ceci n'est pas une Hyundai
This is, in fact, a Bentley Continental GT with Hyundai badging. And not just on the deck lid, either: the familiar H also adorns the nose and the wheel hubs. What's more, "Hyundai of Bel Air," the ostensible dealer named on the plate frame, does not actually exist.
Precisely why someone would do this is something of a mystery. Autoblog (which has more pictures) speculates:
[W]e're thinking this guy lost a bet with his Ferrari buddies and was forced to transform his six-figure Conti into a Tiburon wannabe.
I suppose the next step would be to affix a HYBRID badge.
Nor are they worth a plugged nickel
Joanna looks at both sides of the issue and decides we should dump the penny:
[T]here’s absolutely no way that it's not more expensive to have pennies than to not have them, both from a consumer and a taxpayer standpoint.
Still, she has ideas for the least-valuable coin in your pocket:
As a fundraiser, I see the penny thing as a huge opportunity. Charitable organizations themselves like Goodwill and the Red Cross could advertise getting rid of pennies by donating them and not using them anymore. That would represent a lot of cash and would incite the social movement against pennies for a good cause. Then people can write off the donation, the organizations could turn them over to banks, banks exchange them with the Treasury for higher coinage, and the Treasury can sell them to private companies who make tacky commemorative plaques that tasteless people can buy from QVC late at night. Everybody wins!
It's either that or melt them down into clean copper clappers, an idea that leaves me with that zinc-ing feeling.
Quote of the week
Le Guin clearly prefers Indian culture (especially that of the California tribes she grew up being told about by her anthropologist father) to that of her own people. She has one of the worst wannabe complexes in the country. (I wonder if the fact that Ward Churchill has actually had a successful career as a pretend Indian drives her nuts.)
This leads me to another Le Guin topic. A couple of years ago, the SciFi channel did a trashy miniseries based on her Earthsea Trilogy book. It was clear from the trailers that it was going to suck, so I gave it a miss. Le Guin hated it, of course but the funniest reason she had for hating it was that they didn't hire Indian actors to play the parts of the Earthsea-ers, all of whom (except for the Kargad, who were a blond, white, Viking-like tribe) she had described as being brown-skinned and black-haired (though the fantasy culture she cooked up for them was clearly European; castles, merchants, prices, wizards, etc.), and revealed were her way of writing about her beloved Indians in her favorite genre. Though except for skin color there was nothing remotely "native American" about any of the fantasy people in the novels. This is a turnaround of the usual liberal/progressive argument that actors can play anyone no matter their skin color we can have an all-Chinese cast do Macbeth in clown suits and speaking Gujarathi and it will be just as profound and meaningful as in Richard Burbage's day. It's funny how, suppress it how they may, the Judeo-Christian underpinning to a multicultural academic's worldview will pop out.
Point of order: if the Chinese do Macbeth, do they still refer to it as the Scottish Play?
Push this way and that way
Well, the mower arrived yesterday, and by the time I got it home (thank you, Trini) the rain was coming down half-fast and semi-furious, so it stayed in its cardboard box.
Today there were traces of solar radiation, so I performed the ritual unboxing and stretched out the extension cord. Initial findings in the front yard:
I think I could get used to this pretty easily, once I figure out a reliable system for keeping the cord out of my way.
7 July 2007
Thirty months old, and already he's wearing glasses? Bad eyes must run in the family or something. Anyway, here's Jackson, just shy of 2½, getting a good look, which would have been a better look had there been a real camera instead of a cell phone handy.
Disclosure: I got glasses at fifteen. Horn rims, because I aspired to wear tweed jackets and date girls who could write sonnets on short notice.
Stretching the point
In general, I've been a fan of cable barriers in highway medians, if only because they're substantially less unsightly than the usual concrete blocks; I said so here, though an incident in which an 18-wheeler on the Lake Hefner Parkway managed to get through one of them caused some concern locally.
Which, I assume, motivated an Australian fellow to send me a comment that was unrelated to the topic to which it was affixed, but which I hated to throw away, so I'm reprinting it here:
This video may change your opinion on wire rope safety barriers (cable barriers).
See, the problem with cable barriers is the same as with any other product: They are not the same! You have some cheep "cut corner" solutions and you have the original design with genuine developments. In my opinion it would be seriously unfair and bad for human society to ban cable barriers before even realizing what the differences are.
The Australian fellow in question identified himself as Daniel Chmura, who is a transport engineer for Brifen's Oz branch, so his interest is clear. And frankly, I was impressed with the video (it requires QuickTime), though a car weighing maybe 1500 kg is going to be a lot easier to restrain than a tractor-trailer rig: laws of physics and all that. That single incident aside, the cable barriers (mostly built by Brifen) have done well here, as they did in an extended test in Indiana.
I should point out that motorcyclists in various parts of the world have objected to them, occasionally suggesting a similarity to a cheese slicer; their deployment has been stopped in Norway. All I can say to that is that our bikers don't seem to be running into them.
Scenes from the abyss
In 1990, Jeff Jarvis invented Entertainment Weekly, and one controversy immediately sprang up: their reviews were summed up by a straight-outta-high school letter grade, a grievous affront to the creative community especially the segment of the creative community who got C-minus or below.
Over the years in EW, there have been a number of A's, even an A-plus once or twice, and rather a lot of F's. I've read every issue I was one of the very first subscribers, and make of that what you will but I don't remember ever seeing an actual F-minus.
Until issue #943, in which Ken Tucker describes "a book that should never be published":
You just knew that O. J. Simpson's aborted book, If I Did It, his "hypothetical" account of his role in the 1994 murder of Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, was going to be leaked. I've read a version of the manuscript from Judith Regan's now-defunct HarperCollins imprint and am here to tell you, there is no guilty pleasure to be gleaned from these ramblings of a craven, whining, self-pityingly aggrieved man.
I think I've just been talked out of writing a memoir.
As for the rest of the mag, my favorite section is getting to be Alynda Wheat's What to Watch, which I suppose is an odd choice since I seldom watch much of anything on television, but her single-paragraph distillations are always fun, and she doesn't even have to assign letter grades. On the Food Network's new series Simply Delicioso:
Believe it or not, when you need Latina cred for your network you actually do wanna hire someone named Ingrid Hoffmann.
This is a show it would never occur to me to watch, and yet suddenly it appears almost ... interesting. Which, of course, makes me worry if Ms Wheat is in fact the creature I fear most, the woman who can talk me into anything.
In the summer of 2005, Jack FM came to New York, and Michele said this:
I never thought I'd be saddened over the loss of a radio station, especially one I rarely listened to anymore I've been angry and pissed off and cynical every time a station I like changed formats, but I've never been so sad to see something go.
I wonder what she'll say when it comes back:
New York is getting its oldies station back. WCBS-FM will return to the oldies format sometime next week, according to an industry insider with knowledge of the decision. A spokeswoman for the station's operator, CBS Radio, declined to comment.
And it's not hard to see why:
Jack's ratings plummeted to a 1.5 share of listeners from the 3.9 share the oldies format had. In the most recent Arbitron survey, 101.1 had a 2.2 share. The move to Jack also hurt ad billings. Revenue for 101.1 plunged 31% in 2006, to $16.1 million, according to BIA Financial Network.
Explanation of title: "Alternate Title" was a record by the Monkees. In the US, it was titled "Randy Scouse Git", but this probably would not have gone over well among some of the snivelling little rat-faced gits in the UK, hence the "Alternate Title." And frankly, I had no reason to believe anyone would think kindly of the first title I'd chosen for this piece, which was "Jack off next week in NYC."
Behind the 8
First, the damn rules:
So be it.
Of course, if you want to, I won't stand in your way.
Don't you dare talk to us
Cerulean Studios had a recent security update to the Trillian IM client: ever since installing it (on two different machines), I can no longer connect through Trillian to Yahoo Messenger.
And apparently it's not Cerulean's fault:
Yahoo has begun blocking Cerulean Studios' Trillian software from communicating with its own instant messaging software as part of its plan to limit third parties from piggybacking on its service.
On Thursday, some Trillian users began reporting an inability to communicate with their Yahoo Messenger contacts. A Yahoo spokeswoman on Friday morning confirmed that Trillian users' inability to access Yahoo Messenger was the result of recent policies put in place by the Web giant.
Yahoo last week announced that it would require people who use older versions of Yahoo Messenger to upgrade to more recent versions. Coinciding with the upgrade, Yahoo said it would likely disable access to outside IM services such as Trillian. Yahoo set a deadline of Wednesday for its forced upgrade and its intention to disconnect Trillian.
I'm setting a deadline of right now for my intention to avoid using Yahoo Messenger ever again.
Meanwhile at Altamont
We're about halfway through the 24 Hours of LeMons, not to be confused with any haute-shaute French event: this is a race for cars worth $500 or less, not including the mandatory safety gear. Last year's inaugural event was won by Road & Track's Team Corsa Uber Fantastico in an '82 Corolla, completing a full 1189 half-mile laps, sort of, and beating out two groups of Frito Banditos, a team from "Eyesore Racing," and something called "Pirate Ninjas With Lasers" (which wore number 86½ for some reason).
8 July 2007
High ceilings are a must
Houston Rockets center Yao Ming will marry Ye Li of the Chinese national team on the 5th of August. Both Yao and Ye had played for the Shanghai Sharks in their younger days; they've been dating for about eight years.
Gottlieb "Fred" Fischer (8 feet 1 inch) was born in Vienna, Austria, and his bride Elfriede (7 feet 11 inches) hailed from Bernstadt, Germany which makes their outrageous "wild west" cowboy costumes all the more bizarre.
Gottlieb and Elfriede met when both were booked in a London dance revue. A romance bloomed, followed by a wedding in November 1933. In 1937 the giant couple made their way to America, where they were initially billed as Mr. & Mrs. Long on the Hagenbeck-Wallace and Cole Brothers circuses. When picked up by Ringling Brothers, they resumed their actual names and affected western attire.
The Fischers retired from show business in 1948 to run a motel near Sarasota, Florida.
Mr. & Mrs. Long? Now that's truth in advertising.
Anyway, all the best to Yao and his lovely bride.
In spite of all the danger
Stones people, Beatles people and people who divide the world into two groups of people, which is three groups, so there's really a fourth which consists of people who cannot count. I am firmly in the Beatles camp. I'll be friends with you if you're a Stones kinda kid, but I will never date you (probably for many reasons which are my fault, but let's not get into that). And if you've no opinion one way or another, that's a total deal breaker except right now I don't have a lot of friends, so I'd probably let it slide. For now.
Despite the fact that the very first record I ever bought was a Stones single ("Satisfaction," in the summer of '65), I am more of a Beatles person, if only because I bought everything they put out, whereas I bought only most of the Stones' stuff. There is inevitably some overlap, if only because the Stones' second single was a Beatles song: "I Wanna Be Your Man." (In the States, the first Stones release was their third single, "Not Fade Away," their Buddy Holly remake, which was issued here with "I Wanna Be Your Man" on the flip.)
Blythe also lists her top ten Beatles tracks, two of which are also on my list, which follows in no particular order:
I hasten to add that this in no way constitutes a bid for a date.
The official WT07 FAQ
When does the World Tour actually happen?
It begins on 10 July, and continues for somewhere between two and three weeks, though closer to two.
What makes it a World Tour, exactly, since you're not leaving the States or anything?
Two things: it's awfully damned long, and much of it is through relatively unfamiliar territory.
How long is "awfully damned long"?
I expect somewhere between 4000 and 4500 miles.
You've done this five times before. Why do it again?
Because I can. More to the point, it's good for me to get out of town, and it's good for my car to get a serious workout once in a while.
Will you be blogging every day?
That's the plan, anyway. You can still read the reports from 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. (The 2006 version ended in semi-tragedy.) I have Wi-Fi capability, I carry a spare CAT 5 cable, and if all else fails, I have a dial-up.
What's the shape of this year's route?
It's an irregular polygon.
How much of this is copied from previous World Tour FAQs?
Rather a lot, actually.
Is there any chance you'll say "Screw it" and not go home?
I would have to be extremely fortunate, in the winning-lotto-ticket sense, or extremely smitten, in the "I've been waiting for you all my life" sense. Don't count on either of these actually taking place.
How come it took so long to post this?
Two factors: I couldn't reconcile my desire for a shorter Tour with the fact that I've seen most of what's close by, and I have lingering concerns about my car, which has performed admirably on 400-mile days in the past but whose ailments, once manifest, tend to be hyperexpensive to cure.
What finally made you settle on a route?
It's been this way all my life: no one comes to Florida.
I can't believe you'd actually plan a whole trip over an offhand (maybe) remark.
That's not a question.
Or you could just take the train
I think we're at a point technologically where we could have vehicles that are completely programmable and self driving.
Imagine a vehicle a kind of personal pod that can come in models for any # of people; one person, two person, six person, whatever, pods that all you do is get in type in your destination, and sit back and let it take you there. In the pod there is wi-fi, music, video, whatever you'd like for entertainment, or even just space to sleep until you arrive.
And the payoff is huge:
I know the initial cost would be massive.
But ... just think what it would be worth to never have to pay for car insurance, or traffic tickets, or to sit [in] traffic, or have another crash or fatality due to vehicles.
I suspect it would take a lot more than robot cars to create this Utopia. For one thing, they'll be operated by computers, and computers crash. Rather a lot more than cars do, in fact. If anything, this will force the price of insurance upwards.
Besides, some of us crazy fools like to drive.
9 July 2007
Strange search-engine queries (75)
For some reason, this feature has picked up an occasional fan, but I suppose I can keep doing it anyway. If you're new around here, this is what happens: I comb through the last week's worth of Site Meter listings, note the arrivals from search engines, and make fun of the goofier ones. It's a good way to kill a Sunday evening, and it gives me a fresh post on a Monday morning.
pictures of a kid getting a reactal themometer stuck up their butt: Obviously this person isn't anal about spelling.
marie antoinette transvestite: "Let them wear drag."
the bustiest senior citizen in america who is she: The winner, who prefers to remain anonymous, is a 94-year-old widow living near the Teton Range in Wyoming. She still has her original bison-hide implants.
horrible looking cakes: Maybe someone left them out in the rain.
Vickie's Valences: Minus three, alongside nitrides and phosphates.
sex with bag over head: So much for sucking face.
"big flaring nostrils" -dog -cat -bird: Perhaps you should put a bag over its head.
What do a Cadillac Escalade and C3PO have in common? You probably shouldn't park either of them near the Mos Eisley Cantina.
definition of doomaflatchie: It's like those thingumabobs and those other gizmos.
mean bitches crushing mens balls: Yeah, I'd say that's mean.
yogurt of the eighties: Surely it's spoiled by now.
5 inch penis is satisfying: "And who do you expect to satisfy with that?" she asked. "Me," he replied.
president united states america country marine corporation bank of america corporation buyers at 6% wait for buyers at 3% conceal buyer human flesh livers penis and hearts bank of satan chruch employees masonic members 59th lodge israel trade switzerland from murder incorporated liberia human flesh language of human consumption locate correct address bank of america within san francisco california human flesh buyer corruption bribery the popatoe industry as front money increase too buyer human body parts for satanic rite cheifton dinner buyers consumers bank of america canobolism employees location usa fbi gov directer 14155537400? Somebody's working on a Conspiracy Theory of Everything. (The phone number, as it happens, reaches the FBI's San Francisco office.)
Well, we got no class
And I don't have a whole lot of principal, which brings down my overall results in The New York Times Social Class Calculator.
Nor am I alone. Erica notes:
I think people in my particular demographic are seeing a huge discrepancy between occupation / education / income and wealth. At least I am, anyway.
In their case, it's likely because they simply don't own a lot of the stuff that is considered "wealth." I have more of it, I suppose, but I also have more debt than they do (two words: "Surlywood mortgage"), so I come out around the same place. I may own six figures, but I also owe six figures. (Fortunately, what I own is still more than what I owe.)
And I used to have the same obsession with class as the Times has:
When I was younger and, let's face it, up to now I always was younger I was convinced that the world, or at least the part of it that was relevant to my existence, operated on a caste system, and that movement across those social strata was less common than the American We the People mythos would have us believe.
I perceived three subsets: lower, middle and upper, each of which was divided into three further subsets: lower, middle and upper. The bottom of the range was therefore Lower Lower (duh), while the top was Upper Upper (double duh). I should have known that there was something askew with this scheme when I couldn't locate the dividing line between Upper Lower (#3) and Lower Middle (#4), despite the fact that crossing that line was high on my list of Things to Do; I saw myself as Middle Lower (#2), and that sight made me ill.
Fortunately, I got over (most of) it.
Have some beef and don't crack a smile
In 1485, the Tower of London was first surrounded by Yeomen Warders, whose functions included looking after any prisoners in the Tower and keeping an eye on the Crown Jewels.
The Warders (there are thirty-six of them, one of whom is designated Chief) all come from the ranks of the Royal Armed Forces, where they served with distinction for at least twenty-two years. For the first 522 years, they were all men.
[S]oon Moira Cameron will be resplendent in the traditional scarlet and blue livery of the Beefeater when she makes history as the first woman to join the oldest corps in the world.
The 42-year-old from Argyll, Scotland, beat five men to secure the post as a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London, and yesterday she said she could not wait to start in the summer.
The admission of a woman into the ranks of the Beefeaters did not sit well with some traditionalists:
John from Tendring has said: "That's 500+ years of tradition gone and a large tailors bill to show for it." Rose Howard from Milton Keynes also thinks Moira is ruining tradition: "Just does not look right, why can't we hang on to our traditions, what is the point of this 'updating' ... because they can ... but whenever did a woman fit into the history of the Beefeaters at the Tower. That is what it is all about, it's not an ordinary day job."
Then again, she paid the same dues as the men at the Tower, served the Crown just as long, just as honorably. I really don't see why this would be an issue, unless they're worried about whether she has the capacity to behead someone, a one-time duty of the Warders that has long since fallen into desuetude. (There have been no prisoners held at the Tower for half a century, and no executions since 1941, when German spy Josef Jakobs faced, not the mighty blade, but a firing squad.)
Last week Venomous Kate asked me for "three things that make a blog suck," and this was the first:
Neglect: failure to update on something resembling a regular basis. (A subset of this would be "inadequate spam controls": nobody wants to read your archive pages if they’re filled with offers to sell Tramadol.)
To test this theory, take a peek at this page from a WordPress blog operated by the National Endowment for the Arts. I suspect a peek is probably all you'll need.
(Swiped from Don Surber.)
Here, hold my beer
I have this feeling that if the very last human being to ever die is a male, his last words and thus the final words of our once-promising species will be some variant of "Hey, watch this!"
Of course, if he is the final member of the species, there remains the question: "To whom is he saying this?"
Similarly: Frederic Brown's short story Knock, which begins like this:
The last man on earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.
(Seen at A Sweet, Familiar Dissonance.)
10 July 2007
An open thread for the first day
Because, well, it's not like I'm going to have a whole lot of stuff today otherwise.
Bringing in the Shreves
Shreveport, Louisiana 400.2 miles
I note with limited glee that I disregarded the route proffered by the New! Improved! Yahoo! Maps, and saved a whole half mile in so doing.
The magic number today was 115, as in "Will I get farther this year than I did last year?" And I admit to breathing a bit easier after the 115th mile. At that point, of course, it started to rain.
It had occurred to me that I'd never actually driven the Indian Nation Turnpike, so I gave it a spin. It's a nice little road, a bit over 100 miles, posted for 75 mph, and given that it's a toll road, the state maintenance on it is slightly less haphazard than on those crummy "free" roads. Indeed, two interchanges appear to be getting an upgrade this summer. Where the turnpike ends, US 271 kicks in, and almost immediately the sun came out. (Didn't last.)
First stop of any note was in Mount Pleasant, Texas, a pleasant (well, it is) little town where 271 crosses Interstate 30. I'd been there once before, mostly because I'd married a girl from there. (We all know how that worked out.) The north side, near a probably-artificial lake, has some really spiffy new homes; downtown is pretty much your standard small town in Texas with a lot of the age spots covered over. The chatter around the lunch counter was about half drawl, a quarter Spanish-accented, and a quarter actual Spanish, so that much hasn't changed.
Two bits of weirdness today. Just east of Longview I encountered an appliance-white Ford Crown Victoria with a ginormous antenna on the back and a Louisiana plate, doing a solid 74. Something official, I figured, and dropped back a hair. Suddenly it lurched over into the left lane, and as we rounded the curve I saw what was going on: a rest area disgorging half a dozen trucks at once. He knew. I got close enough to pull alongside and read the legend on the door: Halliburton. Not knowing which version of the death ray they had on hand, I did not further challenge them.
And as I was entering the hotel, a teenaged girl, teasing her little brother, released some spinning-top toy into the air. Gravity introduced itself, and the plastic whatever-it-was landed with a thump on top of my head. Children and parental units looked equally appalled; I said something to the effect that it couldn't hurt me where it landed.
Toll report: Indian Nation Turnpike, $4.75.
Held up by many columns
I picked up a copy of The Times here in Shreveport, and took a look at the editorials: one actual editorial (on the burial of the N-word), one local column, Leonard Pitts and Jonah Goldberg. Not too unusual an array.
But on the second page of the section (which is dubbed "Conversations"), there is a complete list of all the columns carried by the paper, on what days of the week they appear, and, if syndicated, a "liberal" or "conservative" tag as appropriate. Ellen Goodman (Wednesday) is "liberal"; Michelle Malkin (Saturday) is "conservative." I wouldn't argue with any of these, particularly, though David Broder (Friday) is marked "liberal/moderate," which almost demands a "Since when?" Still, this is a peachy idea, and kudos to The Times for implementing something I haven't seen anywhere else.
Where quality is a slogan
Remember this? Alvy Singer has to see the entire film from the beginning:
Alvy: Because ... because I'm anal.
Annie: That's a polite word for what you are.
Over the years, I've been described in terms of comparable politeness. Case in point: over the weekend, it suddenly occurred to me that I might have Done Something Wrong on my last day in the salt mine. I emailed the two people who would have to straighten out this mess, explained my inexplicable lapse, and recommended the appropriate fix. I was subsequently informed that I had done it correctly in the first place.
Which ultimately means only one thing: I will probably not be featured on Brian J. Noggle's QA Hates You blog, which exists to demonstrate that there are people far sloppier than I am. "Those who can, do; those who can't, QA."
11 July 2007
Since there is some peripheral interest in where I'm going, here's what's mapped out so far (actual hotel reservations are lagging by a couple of days so far):
And thence into Tennessee.
Details on request, or watch this space.
No sign of W. C. Fields anywhere
Philadelphia, Mississippi 727.8 miles
Two anomalies this morning before I ever got underway. First, the father of the two kids in the Infamous Spinning Top Incident caught me at the door and offered profuse apologies, and said "I know you said it was no big deal, but they have to learn not to do stuff like that." With this sort of thinking around the house, I think they'll learn just fine. Besides, what is life without the occasional risk?
About twenty-five feet later, I looked over at Gwendolyn's flank, and the left rear tire seemed flatter than usual. (I've had radials long enough to know that appearances can be deceptive, but work with me here.) I muttered something under my breath, popped open the console, and withdrew my pencil gauge. The results were discouraging. And if you were thinking "Yeah, but this is the kind of person who brings a freaking air pump with him," you get the gold star. (It hadn't lost any more air by the time I gassed up, so I assume that this was just a failure of my pre-launch countdown procedure.)
Two universities live, cheek by jowl, in the middle of northern Louisiana, and I saw them both: Grambling, an historic black college, is only a few miles from Louisiana Tech. Tech is neat, almost antiseptic; Grambling is rambling, and the legendary old football stadium has seen better days. (On the other hand, the new Assembly Center is pretty spiffy.) I saw lots of Tech students, not so many at Grambling, but everyone seemed bright and neatly-pressed, probably because it was still pretty early in the morning and the humidity hadn't kicked in yet. Were I the cheapskate I profess to be, I'd probably wonder why these schools, five miles apart, weren't merged. But their missions are altogether different, and I certainly wouldn't want either of them to go away.
Canton, Mississippi is the home of Nissan's US truck plant, which you'll find out quickly enough if you come up 55 from Jackson: the exit right before Canton proper is marked "Nissan Dr." The plant itself is huge, and has the capacity to produce 400,000 vehicles a year. (And if you want the tour, you need to request it a lot earlier than five minutes after you arrive.) Canton itself is full of "Home of Nissan" banners, but there were a lot of other manufacturers' trucks downtown, although I did spot two Infinitis in one block, one of which was a loaner from the Jackson dealership.
Mississippi 16 is a lovely, if unchallenging, two-laner that starts in Canton and took me to Philadelphia, a town of about 8000 that probably wouldn't have so many hotels were it not for the Choctaw Nation reservation just to the west, a veritable Casino Heaven if you like that sort of thing. Me, I shrug.
While I contemplate a paint job
Homeowners Association: brilliant invention or instrument of torture? Joel at the Oklahoma City Real Estate Blog has looked at them from both sides now:
To some there is no greater violation then to be micro-managed in the affairs of one's own castle. To others there is no greater transgression then to have one's greatest possession degraded by another's poor behavior. These feelings about one's home are at their root emotional and personal.
Which presumably explains why they've ended up in a blog. Not being a member of an HOA, I really can't say much: we have a Neighborhood Association around here, but it's not in a position to micromanage things for the residents. And there isn't a whole lot of "poor behavior" around here, either; most of what there is can be traced to nonresidents skulking about, or to a small segment of apartment dwellers (we have a fair number of apartments, but few actual thugs) on the edge of the neighborhood.
Whatever your perspective, consider this a call for dialogue. (I have readers who sell real estate, and I'd particularly like to hear from them.)
12 July 2007
To the person sitting in wonderment
No, I'm not feverishly looking for new topics each and every evening; when I left on Tuesday I had four or five posts still in the can, and rather than face the possibility that the less I post the greater my traffic, I'm gradually releasing them into the wild.
Waiting for the stars to fall
Newnan, Georgia 1056.5 miles
Old 80 and I go back a long way. I can remember being sprawled on the floor of a VW Microbus (to the extent you can sprawl at all in a VW Microbus, which isn't much) all along Old 80 from Savannah to God knows where. Probably Shreveport. We made this cross-country run I don't know how many times, and somehow Old 80 became more than just a road: it became a memory.
The eastern edge of Mississippi twisted itself into the leading edge of Alabama, and something was different somehow. It didn't take too long to figure out what it was: one of the last segments of the old two-lane was being upgraded to a full-fledged four-laner. This will no doubt improve the road; it may even make it safer. But it basically killed the emotional connection: it's as though they'd actually continued building I-20 along Old 80 instead of detouring it through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham on the way to Atlanta. This may not perturb you particularly, but I'll miss the way it used to be.
One thing I won't miss is I-65 through Montgomery. There would be suicide on a Guyanese scale in ODOT had Oklahoma City's soon-they-say-to-be-supplanted Crosstown Expressway deteriorated to this point: the speed limit is down to 45, and even that's a pain in the ball joints.
Just beyond the Georgia line, I filled up Gwendolyn's tank with another shot of 93 octane, a rare commodity back in Soonerland. (We're a quarter-mile above sea level, which I assume is the reason most vendors offer 91 at the most.) She seems happy with it, returning almost 28 miles for each gallon, and it's not much more expensive than the alleged premiums in Oklahoma except in Georgia. The person who had filled up at this pump before me left her receipt behind, and I don't know why. I do know, though, that in the three hours and odd between her fillup and mine, the price went up six cents a gallon. I blame McGehee.
Newnan, focal point of the McGehee Zone, is named for road engineer Alfred E. Newnan, whose I-85 project has been going on for what seems like decades. But don't bother asking him about it: he'll just shrug and say "What me hurry?"
Beyond mere sustenance
At least once in your lifetime you should eat at a place which has a Lewis Grizzard special on the menu, especially if Alan Jackson used to wait tables there.
McGehee confessed to some misgivings about the recommendation, but here in the real world, I wouldn't pass up such a thing. (And we had a wonderful time; I swear he almost cracked a smile.)
DNS of iniquity
Once in a while, my broadband connection at home refuses to serve up some Web sites. And by "some," I mean this: about two-thirds of the sites on my blogroll become inaccessible, but the others work just fine. This happens just often enough to be annoying.
So I'm considering pointing my router to OpenDNS, bypassing my ISP's DNS server. If any of you have tried this particular expedient, I'd appreciate hearing about it. (Not that I'm going to be doing this any time soon, what with being on the road and all.)
Share the drought
Noontime in Alabama:
"Doesn't look like rain," I said to her as she was cleaning up tables.
"Too bad." She shook her head. "We need all the rain we can get."
I told her where I'd come from, and that we'd had a year's worth of rain in less than seven months. She asked if we were going to plant rice next year. I said I'd certainly suggest it.
In the meantime, fashionable Oklahoma women (yes, there are such, now shuddup) have begun wearing these:
Click to embiggen. (Thanks to S.M.)
13 July 2007
Going the distance
Through the first three days, I've traveled 1056.5 miles. How does this look compared to previous Tours?
Remind me to order a "Slacker" T-shirt.
Heed the calendar
Longwood, Florida 1539.2 miles
Things started out innocently enough. I had gotten to within a hundred miles of the Florida line when I saw Hugh Hefner's trademarked Rabbit on a billboard. Who knew that (1) there was a Playboy Outlet Store (2) in Georgia? I pulled up, decided the place looked too depressing, and drove off. What's within, said this traveler:
It was … disappointing. I was really hoping for more variety but honestly? It was all scary leather 'clothing' with the bunny head in contrasting leather colors. And the shoes … oh, my, nothing like the Playboy brand shoes you find in the local stores, no, these were jelly heels. Heels, y'all. Jelly. Heels. Oy to the vey. But I did pick up a pair of pink and silver bunny post earrings. Of course, because of the big biker party that weekend the cash register wasn't hooked back up yet so I had to go to the adult store next door to pay for them.
Apparently I didn't miss much.
Closer to the border was a place advertising thousands of books, none over $3. Which is true, sort of: they have two storefronts, one at each end of the strip, and one of them has more conventional (and higher-priced) remainders, but the other one is indeed $2.99 and under. (Yes, I hit them both.)
Then I entered Florida, and there was a billboard that read "Welcome to Florida. Mortality rate 100%. Are you ready?" Pertinent Bible verse affixed near the bottom. Then the rain started. And got worse. Visibility dropped to zilch. I said, mostly out loud, "Do I really want to die this way on Friday the 13th, fercrissake?" So I pulled over and waited it out.
Interstate 75, incidentally, is like the New Jersey Turnpike with crummier pavement; getting off of it was the single most relaxing thing I did all day. And due to people testing that mortality rate, it took an hour to get across Orlando. I suspect, though, that this is the norm for Mausplatz.
Toll report: Florida's Turnpike, $3.00; total $7.75.
At 1 am Saturday (Central), and for several hours thereafter, this site will be offline while the hardware is physically (as opposed to virtually) relocated.
Things should be back to normal by daybreak.
14 July 2007
Is this still Friday?
Hardeeville, South Carolina 1835.7 miles
Actually, things started out pretty well: breakfast with the Twisted Spinster.
No, really. And her vaguely pixie-ish appearance would seem to conflict with that whole Right-Wing Death Beast thing, but that's not important. What matters here is her demeanor, which is Seriously Genial. Besides, she can discourse on a ginormous (there's that word again) number of topics, something I always appreciate. (And she got a ride from Gwendolyn, albeit short.)
There's more to tell, but my wireless card isn't working (again), and there's no local dialup number to be had, so I'll have to pick this up tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll pull another post from the can so you'll have something to read.
And it's not even gender-specific
There is one universal pronoun in English, and, like an infinitive, it takes two words: "your ass".
With heels of tar
Tomorrow, barring catastrophe (I use that phrase a lot these days, I've noticed), I begin the North Carolina Slag. First stop, for no good reason, is Fuquay-Varina, mostly because I've always been curious about a town that would keep a name like Fuquay-Varina. (Mental note: Here's an excuse to go to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico next year, or whenever.) This will be followed by a run to Asheville, and then into deepest Tennessee. If you're on the way and would like my cell number, drop me an email.
Addendum: Because I wanted to know:
Fuquay Springs received its name from a farmer named Stephen Fuquay, great-grandson of settler William Fuquay, who discovered a mineral spring while plowing his fields in 1858. This spring eventually attracted attention from people living in other parts of North Carolina, for it began to develop a reputation for its healing properties.
Meanwhile, Varina was affectionately named by a Confederate soldier in honor of the pen name used by his sweetheart in their wartime correspondence. Initially, this name was applied to the first post office, but later the Varina Mercantile Company was formed. In time, a community developed around this store and adopted the name Varina as its own.
Over the years, these two towns grew by commercializing the popularity of the mineral springs and capitalizing on the profits associated with the tobacco industry. In 1963, the two merged into one town.
And now you know.
Who knew I had a social calendar?
So this evening I met up with the lovely (well, she is, dammit, and I refuse to believe she's that old) Deb from Boondoggled, and not only can she put up with me for an hour or two, she's a pretty fair raconteur (I refuse to turn this into "raconteuse") in her own right. Over Mexican food and beverages I will not describe, we swapped tales about all manner of things, a task made easier by the fact that most of her pre-Suthun life was spent in good ol' Oklahoma. (There's a funny Wayne Coyne story, but I'd rather she told it.)
Which means that the middle of the day, which was marked by thunderstorms and traffic and more thunderstorms, will eventually be forgotten, while the memories of two remarkable women (here's the first) will remain. I wouldn't have it any other way.
15 July 2007
Not that anyone would have thought so
Out of sight, out of shorts
Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina 2166.8 miles
No rain, and no impediments to high-speed driving, so I got here about an hour before check-in, decided not to wait around, and backtracked about seven miles to a coin laundry. Five days' worth ran me a solid $6.75.
Also no bars: contrary to T-Mobile's coverage map, either there is no GSM 1900 east of about Nashville, or they lost their roaming agreement with whoever does have it. Either way, I got no phone, so I dug out a TracFone (I do try to anticipate these things) and put myself through the activation process, which is a genuine pain. The phone, or Fone, is kinda cute: it's a Moto V170.
Oh, about that "high-speed" business: I didn't think I was going that fast, and I made several stops along the way, yet the desk clerk seemed amazed that I could get from north of Savannah to south of Raleigh in five hours forty minutes. It's only 300 miles, for Pete's sake. (Today's mileage total reflects both the retrace to the laundry and a tour of downtown Fuquay-Varina and nearby Holly Springs, which pushes the day's work to about 331.) I don't think I ever once (okay, twice) hit over 80 mph.
Overheard in a Wal-Mart: "Why is it 'men's wear' but 'women's fashions'?" I suspect this will be someone's thesis someday.
Tonight: meeting with Dr. Weevil; other possibilities present themselves.
Garden of Weevil
Erudition I expected; a puckish sense of humor I expected. But I didn't envision the man's capacity for pizza, which exceeds even mine own. (The operative word is "hefty": we ordered a large, they brought a small followed by a large, and we did make a dent in the big one before senses were regained and/or acid reflux was remembered.)
And I didn't count to be sure, but I suspect he has more books than I have blood cells. What's not to like?
16 July 2007
Strange search-engine queries (76)
I may be on the road, but the Googlers and Yahooligans and whatever keep coming, so, with apologies to Russell Cardwell, here we go again.
good pair of nude hose that look invisible: Might as well get a can of spray and be done with it; at least it won't run. (You hope.)
how to tell the difference between a girl finch and a boy finch: I'll just bet it's somehow pecker-related.
scoreboard bedroom light: I wouldn't know. I seldom score there.
"nine years old" 36c bra: If it's that old, you might as well throw it away.
cocaine lye: But J. J. Cale told me she don't lye.
used jockstrap lou christie: No wonder the gypsy cried. She could barely breathe.
male enhancement 5 seconds: If it's only 5 seconds, it's not much of an enhancement, is it?
is modern lyric writing just blither: No. It also contains bathos, pretentiousness, and dubious rhyme schemes.
claims adjuster nude: Honey, that wasn't a claim he was adjusting.
is there anyone who likes working in retail: That character who wangled the 90-percent employee discount, maybe.
What Is Octagon Soap Used For? Among other things, washing stop signs.
transvestite women welding while at weddings: Insert "hot rods" joke here.
girls in bikinis knock on my door and ask for condoms: Right. Sure they do.
r'lyeh mcgehee: Cthulhu comes to Coweta!
Asheville, North Carolina 2462.4 miles
First order of business after leaving Fuquay behind was breakfast with Bigwig, who tore himself away from the usual sysadmin stuff to trade stories and reminisce about blogs gone by and stuff like that. (You could tell he was a sysadmin just from the uniform. I'll let you wonder about that.)
Today's route will make life complicated for the cartographers in our midst. I took US 64 west from the Triangle to the Triad. (North Carolina: The Threesome State.) From Thomasville, more precisely, NC 109 north to Winston-Salem (didn't see so much as a pack of camels), and west on I-40, partially to see if it was as drab as Jennifer warned (it was) but mostly because Interstates have that Holy Grail of travelers: rest rooms. I was sufficiently bored by around Statesville to drop onto US 70, which was mildly entertaining for a few miles but eventually reconnected to I-40. And then, mirabile dictu, the Interstate became interesting: the ups and downs and almost-off-camber curves made poor Gwendolyn have to work for her BP Ultimate, and truckers were falling by the wayside left and right. (Mostly right.)
Still no official phone coverage, but I have the little Dispos-A-Phone up and loaded with 120 units, which may or may not be minutes, so I'll at least have some form of voice connectivity for the next couple of days. I have five months to use it up. And since it has a 919 area code, it will be interesting to see how much they're going to soak me for roaming. Cute little Motorola, it is; unfortunately, its ultrasleek design makes it a poor choice for leaving it on the car seat. One good curve, and NC has plenty of them, and the phone is under the seat. (Another disadvantage of automotive leather.)
A thunderstorm brewed up about ten minutes after I got here; the rumbling seems so much louder than usual. Of course, I'm in the mountains: I'm closer to the source.
Random statistics: I have spent $274 so far for gas. Total expenses, here near the halfway point, are hovering around the $1000 mark.
I meant it about that altitude
Still raining outside, but here's a straight horizontal shot, give or take a degree or three, from the hotel room, which should give you an idea of how far up this place really is.
17 July 2007
Being a grown-up sort of girl is not one of them.
(Via Brian J. Noggle.)
Speaking of expenses
At least someone is buying me gas.
I probably won't redeem the points until after I get home. Still, fifty bucks is fifty bucks.
The shape of things to come
This is the schedule from here out, subject to minor alterations for logistical reasons and, as always, barring catastrophe:
Inasmuch as the first item here reads "Knoxville," here are the Top Ten things I'm more likely to get than an audience with Glenn Reynolds:
Jagger's Law "You can't always get what you want" applies.
Update: It didn't come off, and the Interested-Participant thinks he knows why: "I personally believe that Reynolds wants cash."
Knoxville, Tennessee 2642.2 miles
Well, maybe not so much: the Professor is still unaware of my existence, and the lovely Tamara K. is otherwise occupied. (I think, though, I caught a glimpse of her about 3:35 Eastern on I-40 westbound, and if she really looks that good, maybe it's better I keep my distance.)
A lot of driving today, but not much actual distance. I spent the morning at the Biltmore, about which more later, and there was a nasty wreck on I-40 west of Asheville which closed the eastbound lanes for about three hours. I was westbound, but I decided I didn't want to deal with it anyway, and dropped down 23 to 74, taking a side trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway, where 45 mph is more than just the law: it's a survival mechanism.
I came back to I-40 about mile 20 and discovered that inasmuch as the trucks can't hold to 50, what with gravity and all, it's pointless to try to keep it at 55. Not that it's any less scary at 70, and if you're in the fast lane, those concrete barriers in the median seem a whole lot closer.
Mixed bag here at the hotel. The chair is too, too short; on the other hand, there's a hot tub. Let's see if I can be inventive after a seven-day slog.
On the verge of a Great Truth
After a few radio commercials, I determined that Asheville doesn't have a Lexus dealer but does have a Land Rover dealer. And judging by this view from the Blue Ridge Parkway, I find this perfectly understandable.
18 July 2007
The big house
At the time, it was the largest personal residence in the country, and despite the best efforts of Hollywood types and other dealers in delusion, nobody's yet built one bigger.
There are many reasons why there will never be another Biltmore. For one thing, nobody, not even Gates or Buffett or Carlos Slim, has this kind of money anymore: George Washington Vanderbilt's nine-figure wealth of the 1890s would easily equal twelve figures today. And even with a hundred billion dollars at hand, you're not going to find any 200-square-mile tracts in highly-desirable areas.
Perhaps more to the point, styles have changed, and not for the better. The Biltmore House is imposing, but it's not ostentatious. For one thing, it's a three-mile drive from the gate to the house, which means that the house is not exactly scowling down on the rest of town. For another, with the possible exception of the 70-foot ceiling in the Banquet Hall, nothing is really oversized or overdone: everything is where it is, and everything is the size it is, because Vanderbilt specified exactly how many guests he might wish to accommodate, how many servants would require quarters, how many objets d'art he expected to be able to display. Among the fifty-odd rooms open to the public, I found very little wasted space.
(Okay, maybe one bit of excess: before I got to the appropriate section of the audio tour, I said something to a guide to the effect that having one's own pipe organ was probably as luxe as one could get. The guide gently corrected me: while the pipes indeed had been installed at Vanderbilt's request, the actual organ, a vintage 1916 Skinner, was not put in place until 1999.)
In 2005, the restored quarters for the female servants were opened to the public for the first time. They were not as fancy as the rest of the house, but they were likely better than anything their occupants could expect to find elsewhere, and Vanderbilt apparently paid them above the prevailing wage for their hard work and long hours. What's more, Biltmore's advanced technologies the house had elevators, refrigeration of a sort, electrical wiring, hot and cold running water, and a complex call system might well have made life a bit easier for the housemaids.
Vanderbilt's original plan called for the estate to be self-sufficient: Biltmore had its own livestock, its own truck farm, even (during its construction) its own brickyard. And the estate is still self-sufficient: there's a winery, an inn, lumberjacks Biltmore was practicing serious forestry from day one, and founding forester Gifford Pinchot went on to head the US Forest Service lots of activities, and almost three thousand visitors a day. I suspect most of today's were as impressed as I was.
Among 1352 guitar pickers
Nashville, Tennessee 2876.7 miles
Says Tamara K.: "I check my email once a week, whether I need to or not."
Late yesterday, she did, and after a bit of voice chatter, we met for breakfast at a Cracker Barrel. Like many Southern women I know she describes herself as an Atlanta girl she carries the wisdom of the years, but it's not visible as lines on the face: you read it in her eyes, and you discover that someone who is probably smarter than you and who can probably kick your butt nine ways to Sunday is someone you ought to cherish. Besides, she seemed amused that I had a small grasp of the importance of Kingston Pike, a few blocks away, and I think I didn't bore her too much:
He's as witty in person as he is online and, despite having been blogging since the web was steam-powered and data was transmitted by banging two rocks together, modestly starts hardly any stories with "When Glenn Reynolds was a pup..."
I suggested that she could write rings around me: consider that an arc.
The run to Nashville was largely inconsequential; I dropped off I-40 at Lebanon and entered Music City by way of US 70, and inasmuch as I'd gained an hour by crossing back into Central time, I decided to see if I could get myself into a Nashville frame of mind. When I was a pup, WSM used to pump out the Opry on weekends and good C&W the rest of the time; on the other hand, WLAC, the other big radio blowtorch in town, had the legendary John R., rock and roll, and R&B. But WLAC is talk these days I dialed over and found Rush Limbaugh so WSM it was, and they obliged me with Hank, and I mean Hank Sr. I drove around for about an hour and a half, and I suspect I'm no closer than before to understanding that which is Music City, though I did wander over to the fortress of Gaylord Entertainment just for, um, laughs.
Winston Rand of nobody asked offered me the Grand Tour, about which more after it happens.
Take a swing at it
Regular readers will recall that I have been a registered Democrat for thirty-five years, and while I have had substantial differences with some of the party's stated goals recently, it has never quite occurred to me to bolt for the door.
But this analysis of the Designated Hitter rule [link to PDF file] makes me wonder:
[W]e find that self-identified Democratic Party members are more likely to support the DH rule than are either independents or Republicans; the odds ratio of 1.90 suggests that, on average, Democrats are 90 percent more likely to support the rule than are independents.
And why is this?
Social–psychological studies of political conservatism note that one of the central principles of that philosophy is reverence for tradition and a corresponding resistance to change. Conversely, those on the political left are typically more accepting even welcoming of change, particularly when those changes can be shown (or are believed) to yield tangible benefits. This line of reasoning suggests that those on the political right will be less likely to favor the DH rule, while those on the left will be more likely to support it.
Reinforcing our change-based rationale for the right's opposition to the DH rule is its effect (actual or perceived) on the culture of the game. Opponents of the DH often make the claim that the practice seems to condone a lack of personal responsibility from the very players who play a pivotal (if not the pivotal) role in the game pitchers and sluggers. One of the bedrock Judeo-Christian values woven through American history and society, they argue, is the notion that individuals take responsibility for their own actions and fulfill their obligations to community and country. By allowing pitchers to avoid hitting, and some batters to avoid fielding, the DH rule is suggestive of a larger-scale decline in the culture of personal responsibility in America over the past several decades. To the extent that political conservatives are more likely than liberals to be receptive to this line of reasoning (cf. Feldman and Zaller 1922), it reinforces our expectation that it is political conservatives including individuals who identify with the Republican party who most strongly oppose the rule.
And what are these "tangible results"?
In nearly all circumstances, teams substitute pitchers who, lacking the motivation to practice batting, are often notoriously poor hitters with individuals who excel at the plate but who may be lacking in defensive skills. This means that, since 1973, teams in the American League have sent roughly 12.5 percent more true hitters to the plate (Freeman 2004, 94).
I must point out here that it's not how many hitters you have: it's how many runs you score.
Still, if ever I decide to become a one-issue voter, this is the issue.
(Via Rodger Payne at The Duck of Minerva.)
Doing Music City
I had the honor of being shown the town, the town being Nashville, by Winston Rand, and he knew almost instinctively what would interest me: the hustle and bustle of Broadway at the official beginning of nightlife, the upscale West End, the not-so-upscale underbelly of downtown, a life-sized replica of the Parthenon, and for extra pleasure: ribs, fresh from Calhouns. It's a slighly crazy place, and I was glad to see it, and I was happy to have his enthusiastic guidance. And if you're a blogger, there's a small chance we didn't talk about you at dinner.
Tomorrow I leave the South behind once more, knowing that some day, Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I'll be back again.
19 July 2007
Quote of the week
The theory taught in graduate schools of modern literature is like mortadella: it's expensive, imported, beautifully packaged, made with loving care by experts who have devoted their lives to their work and do it very well ... but it's still bologna.
Think about that next time you feel compelled to deconstruct the sandwich you just made.
Just got home to Illinois
Urbana, Illinois 3260.1 miles
Actually, that line, a variation on a theme by John Fogerty, just doesn't sound right, even though I was born in Illinois fiftysomeodd years ago: I've never quite felt any gut-level connection to the Land of Lincoln. For one thing, I wasn't here long enough for the place to imprint itself on me: before I was two I was whisked off to Maryland. And it's not like I have any relatives around here: neither of my parents had any Illinois roots.
On the other hand, there are some nice things about Illinois. For one thing, I get to stifle a giggle when I have to write to a place called Springfield (I imagine Patty or Selma sitting on the request for a week) for a copy of my birth certificate. For another, so long as you're not in the shadow of Chicago, it's sort of wide-open and innocent. (Chicago has charms of its own, but that's a tale for another time.) And while I'm not overly fond of Governor Blatherskite, not a whole lot of politicians impress me anyway. Besides, Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, fercryingoutloud.
The route up from Nashville was uncomplicated: I-24 to I-57 to I-74. A little rain north of Effingham, but otherwise uneventful. One thing I did notice down in Music City: apparently almost everyone in the hotel had checked out before I did, which was 8:30 am. I mean, there wasn't even a straggler for the waning moments of the Free Continental Breakfast. (Like they have biscuits on the Continent. As if.)
Trini wrote to tell me that I'd missed a Woot-Off. Just as well. You don't want me constantly hitting F5 while driving; I might hit something else. (And someone took out a deer on 57 this morning. Wasn't me.)
La belle dame sans culottes
I couldn't ignore the pangs of jealousy. At 18, each girl was vibrant and colorful. Their eyes sparkled and their hair was shiny. I have no idea how they managed to eat crabs without getting butter on their silk-clad bosoms. What's more, I couldn't remember a time when I could get away with wearing anything silk, much less silk sans undergarments (as these young ladies were so obviously doing).
But the appeal was, so to speak, all on the surface:
As a spectator, I was privileged to witness the decline in the girls' appeal. The wait staff grew weary of their endless requests and began voicing their unease over the fate of their tips. Every time a would-be suitor cashed out, hat in hand, the waiters lost heart. Their unease grew to anger and, before I knew it, I was hearing words that the devil himself would have cringed over.
This made me giddy. I realized that I may not be able to wear silk and will always need to wear undergarments, but I have staying power, baby! My charm at the end of the evening was just as strong as it was at the beginning. The smile I got from my waiter was genuine from start to finish. I may not giggle like I once did and my hair may be unruly, but by God, I am still vibrant.
Let's hear it for non-instant gratification. (And really, who wants ruly hair?)
I'm still a wee bit jealous (because c'mon, don't we all wish clothing-minus-undergarments was possible?) but I am so insanely glad that I'm not 18 anymore.
Well, it's possible; it just isn't advisable.
This particular inn is located very close to the University of Illinois, which may or may not have something to do with the fact that every time I've approached the lobby I've been fortunate enough to catch a glance of some remarkably-attractive women.
The fact that the one I thought was, um, most appealing also appeared to be the oldest of the bunch may or may not be relevant.
20 July 2007
Ground control to major heartache
Memphis' Tiger Time Lawn Care is pretty much like most of its competitors: they send someone out to cut your grass.
Except that they can charge you more for sending a young woman in a bikini to do the yard work.
I'm not sure what I think about this. The main reason I'd hire someone to mow my lawn is so I wouldn't have to think about it myself: a scantily-clad female out front for half an hour would definitely violate the sacred principle of "out of sight, out of mind."
Having so said, I am compelled to admit that on a previous trip to Illinois, I employed the services of a number of teenaged girls in swimsuits. Okay, they were doing a car wash to raise funds for their athletic teams; still, I could have done the job myself for a lot less than $20.
And it's not like I would ever have tried to pick them up or anything.
We have a winner
Congratulations to old friend Michael Bates, named by the readers of Urban Tulsa Weekly as "Tulsa's Absolute Best Blogger".
Meanwhile, if the Gazette ever gets around to putting a "Least Relevant" category in the annual Best of OKC competition, I should be a shoo-in.
What a Whole
Oklahoma City's hipsters (all 19 of them) are champing at the bit at the (currently remote) possibility of a Whole Foods (or similar) store in town. But Blythe isn't so sure:
[A]s Whole Foods continues to ignore it's northern neighbor (WF is headquartered in Austin) and as it was revealed that the CEO is a serious tool, I am over it. Turns out, Forward Foods, right here in Norman, can provide me with all the Boylan Seltzer and FAGE Total 0% yogurt that I need to sustain my ailing liver. Also, they have tons of cheeses and will give you samples! I bought some delightful Gouda yesterday. Delightful! Seriously, what is better than cheese? Olives (well, close second). They have olives. And pasta in bulk. And Mrs. Meyer's products so my whole life can smell like geraniums! I could have spent a lot of time in this tiny shop, but people were starting to look at me funny. Also, it's right next to the local record store, so I can feed all of my addictions (well, the legal ones anyway) in one stop. So, basically, screw you Whole Foods. I don't need you anymore.
However, I wouldn't turn down a Trader Joe's. Not gonna lie. I could survive on an IV of the Roasted Corn Tortilla Chowder.
Raise a glass of Two-Buck Chuck, and smile.
Oh, Cedar makes your life easier
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 3550.9 miles
Maybe the Cedar noise-reduction system might simplify my life, once I spent the ten or twelve years it takes to get good at such things. In the meantime, this is Day 11 of 14, and there are things to report, starting with the Car Wash Incident in Urbana.
Five bucks to use the automatic wash in back of the Mobil station, and I had exactly five singles. The third one wouldn't take. There was no indication that a fin would be more acceptable, so I kept trying. No luck. A Ford van pulled in behind me. Finally I gave up and drove through the wash. The clerk at the counter was bemused, but she allowed me a code for the usual price, minus the two bucks I'd already dropped into the machine. The Ford owner was right behind me, asking "Is it broken?" It was not broken, but I waited until the van was finished before I punched in my code.
I was going to start out on I-74, but it was shut down for about twenty miles, so, map in hand, or at least on seat, I plunged into the cornfields. And there were a lot of cornfields, occasionally interrupted by soybeans. I couldn't help but wonder just how much of that stuff was going to end up in gas tanks. Not being a big fan of nondrinkable forms of ethanol, I found myself wishing that we'd give up the whole idea and return corn to its proper place in American life: taco shells, Fritos®, and whiskey. At about thats moment I passed a soybean field which bore a sign reading BIODIESEL and a URL. I like that better: the big rigs might be able to run on it, and I won't care if the price of tofu goes up.
Iowa is offering free Wi-Fi at Interstate rest areas, so I pulled in to try it out. No soap. (Not a lot of soap in the actual rest room, either.) Admittedly, I was at a fairly distant picnic table, and I've had wireless issues on this trip before (maybe I just don't have much of an antenna), so I am loath to pronounce it a failure. (Something like this is what comes up when you log in.)
The sweet (apart from one item of roadkill) little town of West Branch vends both historical color and Herbert Hoover, who was born there in 1874. Hoover had the misfortune of having had the Great Depression hit during his watch, which no doubt explains why he served only a single term. (Were that term today, Hoover would probably have been blamed for Hurricane Katrina.) But Iowa, for all its vaunted progressivism I spotted a "Welcome Home John Edwards" sign on a fence does not turn its back on an honored son.
Cedar Rapids bills itself as the City of Five Seasons, after this stylized tree. I liked this quote from Jack Kerouac better:
[I]t was getting better as I got deeper into Iowa, the pie bigger, the ice cream richer. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future.
When you're on the road, you tend to make statements like that. I know.
(Title suggested by Jan.)
Speaking of road trips
Not only does this guy take a lot more of them than I do, he takes them on a motorcycle.
Given the sheer number of guys (and girls) on bikes I've seen lately, I suspect that there are probably a lot more logs like his floating around.
(Seen at Daily Pundit.)
As the Blue Book lops off another grand
Gwendolyn clicked over her 100,000th mile today.
Keep in mind that I'm the second owner, and that I've done less than 12,000 of those miles and about thirty percent of those 12,000 were in the last twelve days.
21 July 2007
Biltmore: the local angle
One thing I brought up with a staffer at the Biltmore Estate: "How is it that Oklahoma City, a place not exactly crawling with Vanderbilts, wound up with a Biltmore Hotel?"
Mr Vanderbilt, said the guide, actually granted the right to use the name "Biltmore" to some of his friends, so long as they did so far from Asheville. This was apparently done in lieu of proper trademark registration. George W. Vanderbilt died in 1914, so I have to wonder how many friends he had in Oklahoma City, and why they took so long. From Doug Loudenback's history pages:
Construction of this lost treasure was done in 1932 and, at 26 stories (not including basement and sub-basements), it boasted that it had become the tallest building not only in Oklahoma City but in Oklahoma whether true or not (both the 1931 1st National Center and the Ramsey Tower were 33 stories). A March 8, 1932, Oklahoman article says that it had 619 rooms. Built at the southeast corner of Grand (Sheridan) and Harvey, it eventually fell prey to Urban Renewal (though in the Pei Plan that was not planned) and was destroyed on October 16, 1977, as thousands of onlookers watched. In its latter days, it became the Sheraton Oklahoma before its doors closed for good in 1973.
An image from a hotel flyer from the 1950s shows a crest similar to, but not identical to, the one I saw at the Estate.
The present-day Biltmore Oklahoma City still has a lot of rooms, but it's located out in the Reno/Meridian corridor, and its only distinction these days is that they hold the occasional dog show on the premises.
Greater than the sum of its parts
As I was trying to remember the other day, the follow-on machine, the Commodore 128, had 128k of RAM, of which 122365 bytes were available for BASIC.
Brian J. Noggle has a fresh set of C128 screen shots, one of which contains the dire warning: (C) 1977 MICROSOFT CORP. (For that BASIC, of course.)
Goin' to Kansas City
Independence, Missouri 3909.5 miles
The last stop on the Tour, before I go home Monday morning, and an opportunity to drop in on the young'uns and see what sort of mischief they've been up to. (Okay, the younger of the two is twenty-six, but still: mischief. These are my descendants, after all.)
Judging from this map, I wouldn't have expected to see a Terrible's in Iowa. Then again, I have to admit that I didn't anticipate seeing anything called "Terrible's" at all.
Nor did I anticipate this little concrete flower box, at a nearby rest area (click for larger version):
While loafing around the north end of the Kansas City metro this afternoon, the radio picked up a continuous ticking noise on 1140 and 1160 kHz. This is not what one expects to hear on 1140, anyway, so I conclude that this was a very brief anomaly.
And speaking of Kansas City, no, I am not going to the corner of 12th Street and Vine, mainly because they don't intersect anymore. (Run up "1200 Vine St Kansas City MO" in Google Maps and you'll get something like this.)
Presumably right after "You may now kiss the bride":
Single cat is, um, still single.
Loud, fast, and out of control
Dinner this evening with Russ and Alicia and their three quasi-hellions at O'Charley's, a place Russ suggested, I suspect, for its noise level: whatever unearthly shrieks the children emitted would scarcely be noticed. And actually, the two boys were relatively placid, comparatively speaking.
I shot this in front of Gwendolyn's rear bumper right afterwards. You'll notice that Laney is trying to bounce out of the picture, that Jackson won't give up that last chicken strip, and that Gunner is trying to ignore the whole procedure. (Click to embiggen.)
Later they were bribed with ice cream, I am given to understand.
22 July 2007
Just when I was getting used to thongs
It's called, um, Backless Lingerie:
Designed by a woman, Backless Lingerie was crafted to enable fashionable girls to wear anything, from low-cut jeans to evening gowns, with class, comfort and confidence that you will not show your thong.
And God forbid anyone should detect a VPL.
(Seen, so to speak, by Wild Bill. Possibly not safe for work.)
At least he wasn't using Mapquest
In the Swiss town of Sempach, a German truck driver, convinced that his GPS couldn't possibly be misleading him, pointed his vehicle down an obvious pedestrian path, and after finally realizing the error of its ways, backed up into a cherry tree.
The municipal government freed the driver from the tree, then fined him $540.
Next: Bill Gates trademarks "BSOD"
Four inmates face new charges from their cells in [FCI] El Reno, authorities said.
Investigators have accused the men of copyrighting their names and demanding millions of dollars from El Reno prison leaders for using their names without permission.
Court papers showed the inmates filed liens against the warden's property and then actually hired somebody to seize his vehicles, to change the locks on his house and to freeze his bank accounts.
The inmates were identified as Russell Dean Landers, Clayton Heath Albers, Carl Ervin Batts and Barry Dean Bischof.
If these guys ever get out of stir, they have lucrative careers waiting at the Recording Industry Association of America.
The statue of Patton is snickering
Now this is productivity. Not only does this fellow go out of his way to tell us that Rudy Giuliani once said "Bullshit" in public, but he manages to produce a pretty good quantity of it himself:
I thought it might tell us something about the reliability and temperament of this man who is asking us to make him our next Commander in Chief especially now that he's trying to win the support of GOP "values voters."
Two words: "Howard Dean."
And while I am not numbered among the ranks of the GOP, I value very highly the ability to recognize bullshit, and even more so the willingness to describe it as such.
(Via Emperor Misha, who has never had any problems doing so.)
Reasons to be kind to your ex
#2,613: Occasional free food.
In fact, my first wife* and her third husband invited me over to a cookout today: steaks and the stuff that goes with them, and it went very well indeed. My daughter was on hand for a while, but then headed off to work. The happy couple complained a bit about their stodgy old PC, and I figured the least I could do was see if I could get it to behave itself. The following High Truths quickly presented themselves:
I figure any machine that takes nine minutes to bring up the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs applet is in serious disarray.
A couple of hours later, I had banished the offending stuff, installed AVG antivirus and OpenOffice, and gotten the start time for that applet to twenty seconds or so. (You can do only so much with 256 MB of RAM on an XP box.)
The steaks? Just fine.
* This is not intended to indicate that I have, or have had, or expect to have, a second wife.
23 July 2007
Strange search-engine queries (77)
As usual on Monday morning, we present entirely too many examples of the search string at its strangest: each and every one of these showed up in my referrer log during the last week.
menendez brothers clemency: For what? Because they're orphans?
"elton john" boron: A major component of Crocodile Rock.
is subaru for democrats? They don't ask your affiliation at the dealership.
"car that runs on" "fairy dust": Must be a Subaru.
antique pictures university of oklahoma athletics: From a time when they weren't under NCAA investigation, I assume.
i-65 traffic accident outside atlanta georgia on 16 july: Since I-65 doesn't come close to Atlanta, this must mean all of them.
peter noone nude: I'm Henry with 8, I am.
she was too sexy to be a librarian: So they hid her behind the reference desk and hoped no one would notice.
Dan Blocker penis size: Didn't you figure there was a reason they called him "Hoss"?
am i gay for getting a brazilian bikini wax: Not unless you got it from Glenn Greenwald.
walt disney is a perv: But he's a dead perv.
chemical formula C3PO: Tricarbon oxyphosphate? Doesn't look stable to me.
why are we here: Because we were already over there.
The line forms on the right, babe
Dustbury, Oklahoma 4333.7 miles
Yes, I'm back in town. I have a stack of mail half my height, a yard nearly as tall, two loads of wash going, and just enough grocery shopping done to fill that empty aching void in the fridge.
It wound up being a foursome for breakfast today: Becky and her pride and joy (I remembered being a seven-year-old boy, and I'm surprised any of us were allowed to live to eight), her mom (the aforementioned ex), and me. I checked out at 10:50; I crossed into Kansas at 11:00 on the dot and it rained on me for the next fifty miles.
Originally this was supposed to run around 2500 to 3000 miles, so you can see how well I planned things. On the upside, the massive fatigue that normally hits on day 15 will get to me this evening.
Toll report: Kansas Turnpike, $5.25; total $13.00.
(Aside: Kansas, dammit, puts their money to good use: the horrid THUMPTHUMPSCRITZTHUMP that sets in the moment you hit the Oklahoma line is both disconcerting and annoying. Even the segments of I-35 ODOT has redone recently aren't as slick as the K. Since Brad Henry doesn't read this, here's a hint for gubernatorial candidates in 2010: consider sacking ODOT outright and outsourcing the whole thing to Topeka. If this requires a state question, I'm for it.)
Fuel consumption: 151 gallons; 28.7 mpg. (Tanks ranged from 26.5 to 31.0.)
Total expenditures: $2,135.43, including all cash spent, all charge slips signed, $485.14 worth of gas, and $13.08 to run a long-distance dialup the day my Wi-Fi wouldn't work at all. This is about sixty-five bucks less than I anticipated.
Regular programming will resume once I get some shuteye.
And solitaire's the only game in town
After my marriage unraveled, I quit wearing jewelry of any sort, unless you think my watchband is shiny enough to qualify. On the other hand, I can see a reason for this bauble:
The Security Ring slips over your finger and looks mighty snazzy too. The base stays next to your computer. When you move more than a user set distance away from it, the computer locks down. Go to the restroom knowing prying eyes will be kept away from your secret stash of non work related websites.
For now, this is apparently just a design concept, but I think there will be some major demand for this technology, either as is or reshaped into a bracelet or brooch or a tie tac, assuming you can get someone who works on a keyboard to wear a tie.
24 July 2007
And you thought the double-nickel was bad
On one street in one Chinese town, the speed limit is 3 mph:
The locals did a test, if the driving speed is 3 mph, you're going about 1.39 meter per second, which is close to an adult's normal walking speed. So be careful walking there as you might get a speeding ticket from the local police.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, having failed to get initial approval for his congestion fees, might consider moving to a 3-mph limit in Manhattan as an alternative. It would have much the same deterrent effect on entering the borough, and in some parts of town traffic is already moving at this speed.
I mention in passing that the top speed I reached on the World Tour this year was 92 mph. I was nowhere near New York at the time.
A woman of some importance
Your reading assignment for the day: The Photoshop of Dorian Grey, by Rachel.
Seldom will you see a classic fable updated so skillfully.
It can't happen here
How slow a news day?
A mysterious blonde paid a visit to a petrol station shop in the small eastern German town of Dömitz on Sunday wearing nothing but a pair of golden stilettos and a thin gold bracelet. The tall, tattooed woman (pictured) strolled into the shop ... and bought cigarettes, petrol station employee Ines Swoboda told Reuters on Monday.
"I wasn't surprised because she's come in naked before she's a very nice woman," Swoboda said, adding none of the other customers were bothered by the appearance. The woman could have faced charges of creating a public disturbance if anyone had complained. A quick-witted customer did, however, snap pictures of the woman believed to be about 30 years old as she walked back to a waiting Ferrari and climbed into the passenger seat.
The likelihood of this happening in my neighborhood is next to nil; I can't even imagine said mysterious blonde showing up at a Circle K in a '94 Ford Escort. Still, one question nags at me: the EU still allows cigarette sales?
Disclosure: I have operated a motor vehicle while unclothed, though never a Ferrari, and never in the company of someone else.
Your dog wants steak
Especially if this is the alternative:
A recall of canned meat products and dog food made at a Georgia plant due to botulism fears could involve tens of millions of cans that pose an urgent public health threat, U.S. officials said on Monday. U.S. food regulators appealed to consumers and retailers to find and dispose of the cans.
Two people in Texas and two others in Indiana remain seriously ill and hospitalized with botulism poisoning associated with eating Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili Sauce, officials said.
Actually, there's nothing wrong with the lede. It's just the actual fact of the two products being made at the same plant. And that there's a photo of "Chili, with beans" at the start of the article.
So wrong. So many levels.
A phrase you maybe don't want to hear
A flip with a twist
The guy who bought the house across the street has reconfigured it: instead of three smallish bedrooms, it now has two bigger bedrooms with walk-in closets. Which might not be a bad idea, since there are relatively few families with children in this part of town: we have singles, young couples and empty-nesters, but Ward and June and the boys moved out to the 'burbs years ago.
Anyway, the list of improvements, as posted in his information tube, is substantial, and while I haven't seen the interior, the exterior is definitely spruced up. Still to be answered: whether a two-bedroom, 1300-square-foot house on an 8300-square-foot lot is more salable at the $130k price point than a two-bedroom, 1300-square-foot condominium. I figure if it sells for that price, it's worth $5-10k to me just for being in the neighborhood.
Now why didn't I think of this?
I demand more traffic. And more traffic I will have.
Under The Americans With Disabilities Act, it's demonstrable that I suffer from "Dull Blog Syndrome." For which I deserve compensation.
It's only fair.
Per Site Meter, the Professor is averaging 193,280 visits per day over the last seven days; Deadspin, 219,582; Kos, 524,123. The actual calculation is left as an exercise for the student.
25 July 2007
An informal survey of 2500 women by a British shopping center suggests that after age 28, it's time to toss out the miniskirts.
I am of course distraught at the possibility that someone might actually take this seriously: as Bill Blass is supposed to have said, the legs are generally the last things to go, and I've seen some spectacular stems on fiftysomethings. I continue to believe, however, that every woman has an ideal skirt length, and it's usually not around mid-thigh. (And if it is, you know where to find me.)
It seemed like a good idea
I certainly thought it was. A Danish drivers' association offered to insure its members against speeding and parking fines:
For just 2.50 Danish crowns [46 cents] per day, the club will pay up to four speeding tickets and four parking tickets per year, up to a value of 10,000 crowns [$1856].
The idea, Fartklubben founder Poul Winther told Danish daily Politiken, is not to give Danes license to put the pedal to the metal, but rather to protect motorists from over-zealous traffic cops.
"We're a solidarity club where each member is jointly liable for one another," he said. "We believe that photo speed traps and parking companies have become pure money machines."
I suspect that this did not go over well in Copenhagen, because the club has temporarily ceased operations, perhaps because the government is looking for a way to tax it out of existence.
Still, the club made its case:
In support of his insurance offer, Winther points to the fact that 840 drivers who had been charged with speeding in the Copenhagen suburb of Gladsaxe were exonerated this year because the radar guns used by the police were defective.
I haven't had a ticket in twenty-seven years; what's more, I don't own any radar detectors or similar gizmos. But as the revenue from fines becomes more important to governmental bodies Virginia, starting this month, is collecting civil penalties in addition to fines in an obvious effort to fatten the exchequer I can see myself paying for a program like this.
(Via Hit & Run.)
A higher-level language
It was just a matter of time: programming in LOLcat.
No, I mean really:
HAI CAN HAS STDIO? I HAS A VAR IM IN YR LOOP   UP VAR!!1   VISIBLE VAR   IZ VAR BIGGER THAN 10? KTHXBYE IM OUTTA YR LOOP KTHXBYE
(Suggested by Mark Alger.)
Addendum: Lynn links in, and Fillyjonk comments: "[I]n fifteen years or so, someone will get a Master's Degree with a project entitled I Haz a Thesiz: the Semiotics of LOLCat. Or, perhaps, Oh, Hai, I Made U a Thesiz: The History and Meaning of LOLCat."
At least they didn't blame global warming
Three individual gasoline consumers and an Oklahoma City business have filed a lawsuit against oil companies and station owners, claiming the retailers are overcharging customers for hot fuel.
And they don't mean high-octane stuff, either:
The lawsuit centers on the fact that gasoline expands when hot, reducing the energy provided by a set volume. The expansion means more gasoline is needed at higher temperatures to produce the same energy as gasoline at lower temperatures.
One gallon of gasoline at 60 degrees produces the same energy as one gallon and 2.2 ounces at 90 degrees, the lawsuit claims.
"The sellers of 'hot' motor fuel are able to pocket these billions of additional dollars in temperature-inflated profits merely because the fuel they are selling is warmer than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and customers are ignorant of the truth," the lawsuit claims.
Plaintiffs are evidently ignorant of the fact that almost all the gasoline sold in this state is stored in underground tanks, where the temperature is generally around wait for it 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
The papers were filed by lawyer Jona Hefner. I wait with gleeful anticipation for the moment when the judge tells her, "If you're that worried about it, buy your goddamn gas in the morning."
Update: the Dispos-A-Phone
During the most recent World Tour, the inexplicable failure of my regular wireless provider to come up with even the slightest bit of roaming coverage anywhere east of Cookeville, Tennessee led me to unbox and activate a TracFone, which worked just fine in this dead zone and which works pretty well out here, except for the minor detail that since it was activated in central North Carolina, it carries a 919 area code, which can be offputting to the people I know who don't actually know anyone in central North Carolina.
I figure I'll handle it this way: burn up the remaining minutes (around 100), let it die, then reactivate it from here with a fresh fill. Presumably they'll have to fork over a 405 number at that time.
The phone itself is actually pretty decent, and it's dual-band, so I should be able to roam even into those mysterious 850 MHz areas where my old Nokia just glares at me.
A thousand belligerent bees
Last night I got most of the stuff I needed to accomplished. I epilated my legs like a thousand bees descended onto my legs in a mad fury of activity. I do it because I find when I shave, the hair grows back almost instantaneously. When I epilate, I get a good hour of depilation.
I've heard of this phenomenon before: a woman once told me something to the effect that she needed to shave again within seconds of leaving the bathroom after the first shave.
The closest male equivalent, I suppose, was the six-thirty stubble (five o'clock was obviously too early) sported by Richard Milhous Nixon. And my daughter claimed this past weekend that I seemed unusually clean-shaven, which I was unable to explain satisfactorily.
(This is the second post about women's legs in less than twenty-four hours. Draw your own conclusions.)
26 July 2007
The Sixties abide
Musical Exile with hideelee is one of my favorite podcasts, at least partially because I am bemused by the idea of a woman born in the 1980s (which makes her even younger than Dawn Eden) with a fondness for the music of the 1960s.
In a different twist, the current edition has a bit over half an hour of newish indie acts devoted to That 60's Sound, leaning to the psychedelic side of things, and while it's not quite the equivalent of being thrust into the Summer of Love, I found it fascinating.
Besides, according to her MySpace page, her heroes are Ray Davies and Kermit the Frog. It's not easy being the Village Green Preservation Society.
The warmth of the sun
Before leaving on the World Tour this month, in addition to the usual steps one takes to create the image that someone's still at home, I set the air conditioner at 82 degrees, at least somewhat motivated by the idea that if the machine is running, local crackheads and other miscreants would be less inclined to field-strip it for scrap metal.
(Aside: This situation may have been made less likely by HB 1399, a bill promoted by Rep. Guy Liebmann and Sen. Cliff Branan, a pair of Oklahoma City Republicans, and passed this spring. Under the rules, effective the first of July, if you sell copper coils to a scrap dealer, you must somehow prove ownership of them and if it's over $25 worth, the dealer writes you a check instead of handing you cash. This is a stricter standard than the existing Oklahoma City ordinance.)
It dawned on me today that this year I'd bought a weather gizmo that records the highest and lowest temperatures (and relative-humidity levels) during the life of its batteries. I duly punched up the numbers, and as warm as it got in here was 82.1 degrees. Not too awful, and the electric bill should be a bit less horrendous than usual. (Normally I keep it around 75-76; this is warmer than I'd tolerate the office, but the office has a dress code of sorts.)
You're drinking too fast
Gwendolyn has a spa day today 97,500-mile service, a mere 3,388 miles late and the dealership saved me a 2007 G35. This one is mostly the same as the last '07 G I got to drive, but one of the fifty bazillion display settings has caused an annoying MPG meter to be parked right in the center of the gauge cluster, a big red bar graph that spends a lot of time at 0 mpg, mostly because traffic isn't moving at that exact moment. I suppose this is intended to make people aware of their fuel consumption, but believe me, every time I fill a gas tank (fifteen times this month), I am acutely aware of how much I'm using. This might be more useful were it set for something other than instantaneous fuel economy, which, after all, is rather transient. (It's maybe 6 mpg during half-throttle acceleration in first gear, but this condition seldom lasts more than a couple of seconds, inasmuch as the car can reach 60 mph in less than six seconds, during which time it's upshifted to second.)
In a vehicle designed for maximum fuel economy as the primary goal your Priuses (I refuse to say "Prii") and such this sort of gizmo might be fun to play with. (And with the engine stopped at traffic lights, you're dividing by zero, so MPG is undefined at that point: it should be literally off the scale.) In a sports sedan, it's just one more distraction.
Addendum: On a trip up the Lake Hefner Parkway, I decided to see what I could get the MPG display to do. With cruise set at a stolid 65 mph, the bar contracted and expanded with every little speed adjustment, from the low 20s to around 30. I did better, or at least with less irregularity, just holding the pedal in place. Cruise off, I passed a sluggard in an Expedition, and the bar practically disappeared as the G boomed up to a quick 80 mph, only to stretch itself out to full length, an implausible 60 mpg, as I dropped back to a speed less likely to attract the attention of John Law. Over on the data screen (which doubles as the nav screen, had they installed the nav system, which they hadn't) I found a cumulative mileage readout, which sat at a solid 18, and the declaration of 275 miles left on this tankful. I suppose if I obsessed about gas prices I would make use of this tool, which requires you to reset it at appropriate intervals, but I'm more the grumbling type.
Degrading on the curve
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars,
Are we done making fun of Hillary's rack yet? Please. There are plenty of reasons to object to Senator Clinton and her Presidential aspirations, but possession of standard female hardware should not be one of them. I mean, it's not like she's wandering around the Capitol wrapped in a Canadian goose pretending to be Björk's insane big sister.
We wouldn't treat a guy this way. Well, maybe John Edwards, and even he doesn't always deserve it. Of course, this may be due to the fact that for most of our history we've entrusted our government to guys in suits, and indistinguishable suits at that. (There was a brief period in the late 1960s when we saw an occasional dashiki, but otherwise, it's been one long Botany 500 parade.) And contrary to what we'd prefer to think, we pay a lot of attention to appearance:
Many analysts suggest that the decisive battle in the  campaign was waged during the televised presidential debates. Kennedy arrived for the debates well-tanned and well-rested from Florida, while Nixon was recovering from a knee injury he suffered in a tiresome whistle-stop campaign. The Democrat was extremely telegenic and comfortable before the camera. The Republican was nervous, sweated profusely under the hot lights, and could not seem to find a makeup artist that could hide his five o'clock shadow. Radio listeners of the first debate narrowly awarded Nixon a victory, while the larger television audience believed Kennedy won by a wide margin.
And since that day, there's been a tendency to overanalyze a candidate's wardrobe, from Hillary's neckline to John McCain's totally-gay sweaters. (No, I'm not above this sort of thing either, in case you were wondering.) About the only saving grace in any of this is that low video resolution insures that nobody looks good on YouTube.
How the NBA got into this fix
And one of the finest conspiracy theories of our time, I am forced (don't ask) to concede. It begins thusly:
Tim Donaghy's bookie had a side interest that few people know about. He ran a cabbage farm just outside of Poughkeepsie, New York. Even fewer people know that said cabbage farm is actually a cover for one of the largest government-sponsored remote viewing stations in the country. Remote viewing, as you may know, is where specially trained operatives use the power of their mind to view a specific point in space and time. They cannot control what they view, but they're pretty good at where and when.
That's the easy part.
Later findings: Cuban cigars (in Turkey!), an abandoned cistern, and a photo of actress Marsha Warfield.
It just doesn't get any truthier than this.
27 July 2007
One way to cut down on housework
Cut down the size of the house. Apparently it's possible to live in 84 square feet.
The house cost $10,000 to build, largely from reused materials. That's less than $120 a square foot, which is certainly competitive with, um, more conventional housing.
More important, she likes it there.
The price is wrought
Or at least the person paying it will be put through the wringer.
After the World Tour, I noticed that the little red cap on top of the coolant reservoir (not the tank itself) had a crack in it. Oh, it screwed down tight enough, and I never lost any of the precious green fluid, but on the basis that "this can only get worse," I asked the parts guy if the cap could be ordered separately from the actual reservoir.
He looked, and discovered he had one in stock, and although it was yellow, it was still a perfect fit. (Apparently most Nissan-built vehicles use this same reservoir cap.) Having just had the oil changed, and noting that the oil filter cost somewhere in the single digits, I figured this little piece of threaded plastic couldn't be too awfully expensive.
In fact, it was $10.21. Plus tax.
Lesson learned: parts you never replace cost a heck of a lot more than parts you replace all the time. For comparison, I looked up the vacuum pump on the cruise control, something I've never heard of anyone having to replace, and it was upwards of four hundred bucks. After replacing the front catalytic converter on this wee beastie a mere 5000 miles after replacing the pre-cat, I looked rather forlorn, and asked if the rear cat was next. Said the service manager, he's never had to replace a rear cat. According to Alldata, the rear cat costs $684, a fair chunk more than its brother in front. What's more, aftermarket replacements evidently someone has had to replace a rear cat come in upwards of $500.
On the other hand, Mazda part prices, as I recall, were even stiffer than Nissan's, so maybe I shouldn't complain.
Speaking of overemphasizing appearance
Which, you'll remember, I was.
Fifth District Representative Mary Fallin, I note in passing, was named by D.C. news site The Hill (no relation) as one of the "50 most beautiful people on Capitol Hill." What's more, at 52, she's the third-oldest of the bunch. (Perennial hottie Nancy Pelosi, 67, is the oldest.)
Says the article:
When Rep. Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) was in her 20s, she was an extra in a movie starring Molly Ringwald.
Fallin, 52, doesn’t remember the film's title, but was also an extra in several other independent, "walk-by-type" movies and did some modeling, too. The stylish blonde, with bangs and blue eyes, is still a knockout.
"I'm 5-foot-6, but I'm not going to tell you my weight," Fallin said, giggling.
This is almost not quite enough to make me miss Ernest Istook.
(Via Mike McCarville.)
Quote(s) of the week
We begin with a notion by George Leef:
[R]ather than assuming that all professors have plenty of brilliant ideas in them that they will be able to research and write about when given a sufficiently light teaching load, the assumption should be that professors will devote their time to teaching unless an outside party thinks highly enough of some research proposal to buy their time from the university.
I have little truck with a large majority of what passes for the academic elite these days and I'm especially scornful of the entire concept of collegiate tenure but there is sufficient intellectual spark in the ashes of my brain to believe that the expansion of knowledge should not have to be commercially attractive in order for it to be nourished and nurtured.
Emphasis added. An example:
Imagine if Mozart had been a tenured professor of music at the University in Vienna would you have insisted on him teaching freshmen students the principles of harmony and composition for three hours a day? And let's be honest again: brilliant people are often lousy teachers. Why burden them with a task which, in the end, benefits nobody?
I'm generally in favor of finding a decent compromise between two extremes; but in this case, between the extremes of "commercial appeal" and "academic navel-gazing", I'm tugged far more towards the latter than to the former.
No matter how much the system is abused by the mediocre, the slothful and the incompetent.
I admit to some reservations about this conclusion, perhaps informed by this scene from Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle. Thomas Mortmain has just locked his father, a writer suffering seemingly-terminal block, in the old tower of the castle, and sister Cassandra takes exception to the idea:
"Personally," [said Thomas], "I think knowing he won't be let out until he's done some work is almost more important."
"That's nonsense," I said. "If it doesn't come right psychologically from the depths of father it won't come right at all. You can't trammel the creative mind."
"Why not?" said Thomas. "His creative mind's been untrammelled for years without doing a hand's-turn. Let's see what trammelling does for it."
And while the fact that I remember this passage after reading it forty or so years ago suggests that its premise has taken hold very deeply indeed, I would truly hate to be the administrative type who wound up trammelling a Mozart.
Bridgeport Development operates three different home-building companies, each aimed at a different price point. In today's Oklahoman classifieds, Bridgeport has a full-page ad supporting all three: Newhaven Homes, the middle child, has eleven units for sale in the Williamson Farms area, near SW 119th and Meridian. Seven of those units are denoted "villas" in the ad; the other four are listed as "estates."
The line of demarcation isn't quite as obvious, though, as I might have anticipated: the largest "villa" (1764 square feet) is bigger than the smallest "estate" (1702). Then again, I'm still trying to figure out "cottage," which, perhaps due to too many fairy tales, I tend to think of as a smallish sort of place, although houses sold as "cottages" around here tend to look about the size of Costco stores. (Disclosure: We don't actually have any Costco stores in these parts.) The only thing I'm sure of these days is that four houses equal one hotel.
And keep in mind that there are smartasses out there who have the temerity to refer to a house barely over 1000 square feet, on a lot just over a quarter of an acre, as an "estate," and "palatial" at that.
Bonus: This is the sort of house I dreamed about when I was much younger. The drawing is cropped from a 1948 Packard brochure found at The Old Car Manual Project. By coincidence, the palatial Surlywood estate was constructed in 1948, to, shall we say, a smaller scale.
Hoping Christmas is late for once
I just watched the trailer for Alvin and the Chipmunks, due out in December, and while the voices are blessedly correct IMDb credits them to Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., and wife Janice Karman, who've done them ever since 1972 I've got a very bad feeling about this.
Maybe it's because the Chipmunks, who originated on black and white television, are just not supposed to be three-dimensional; more likely, it's the coprophagia joke in that trailer. The real David Seville (Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.) would never have countenanced such a thing.
28 July 2007
Be prepared, as the Scouts said
It was mentioned in the comments to this item that a friend of mine had just bought an Infiniti M35, the less-expensive version of the marque's senior sedan. The M45, the pricier version, is the same car with a 4.5-liter V8 instead of the 3.5-liter V6; inasmuch as this is a superior V6 Gwendolyn has an earlier 3.0-liter version and they charge many thousands extra for the V8, buying the M35 makes more sense to me, and made more sense to her. In fact, she reports, the dealer let it go for a bit over $37k, putting it almost in the range of the current G, which gave me all kinds of ideas I didn't need.
(If you're wondering what happened to the Q45, it was dropped from the lineup after 2006.)
Instead of a key, they handed her something I once described as Not The Key in a G35 story:
To start this little darb, Not The Key must be brandished, your foot must be on the brake (I figure manual-transmission models have a slightly-different regimen), and a button to the right of the steering column must be pushed.
Noting that this was a battery-operated device, she asked, sensibly enough, "How do I start the car if the battery is dead?" The salesperson gave her exactly the funny look you think he did.
Turns out that there's a slot somewhere on the dash in which you can shove the gizmo and still start the car. The slot in Nissan's Altima looks like this.
I should point out that the first time I drove a 2007 G35, they warned me not to let that thing get too close to a cell phone, or its little brain could be fried.
Do the walk of life
Here at Surlywood, we rate a 78, which seemed a trifle high to me I had guesstimated somewhere in the upper 50s so I punched in what was once my parents' house (my stepmother lives there now) to see if its more-suburban character would cost it points. It scored a 43. With a little fiddling, I was able to locate an address with a 98 score*, though not anywhere near here. And don't do too much playing with it: they have a connection limit to Google Maps which they're not allowed to exceed.
The creators explain their thinking here.
* 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10103.
Ticketing the unclicked
The City Manager reports that 1468 individuals were issued seatbelt citations in the second quarter of 2007.
Per Council request, these citations are broken down by race, as follows:
White 876; Black 319; Hispanic 213; Asian 37; Indian 19; Unknown 4
My congratulations to the "Unknown"s.
This is about the distribution I'd expect, given the demographics of the city, though I am startled to see that there are sixteen people a day being busted for seatbelt violations. The report does not make clear whether these are primary busts driver pulled over specifically for lack of belt or if they include busts which only incidentally include seatbelt citations. More surprising: 444 of these busts, a good 30 percent, came from the Hefner Division, which covers maybe a fifth of the city.
There'll be a Fury if they fail
Miss Belvedere, the 1957 Plymouth buried in a Tulsa time capsule and unearthed in 2007 with serious corrosion problems, is relocating to Hackettstown, New Jersey, the center of gravity of America's Rust Belt, where Ultra One Corporation will deploy their Safest Rust Remover product and, it is hoped, take the first steps toward restoring the Mopar marvel to some semblance of its original glory.
Robert Carney, nephew to Catherine Humbertson Johnson, sister to the late Raymond Humbertson, who submitted the winning entry in the Guess Tulsa's 2007 Population contest and was declared the winner of the car, has agreed to turn the vehicle over to Ultra One for extensive de-rusting. It's not a restoration process, per se:
According to an article in the Tulsa World, Carney has no plans to restore the car. "We're not going to take it apart and try to restore it," he told the newspaper. "Ideally, what we'd like to see is that when it's in pretty good shape, the car would go back to Tulsa for another unveiling."
One image has implanted itself in the back of my mind: a late-night commercial for Tarn-X in which the filthiest silver spoon you've ever seen in your life, encrusted with God knows what, gets dipped into the mystery liquid and comes out in two seconds ready for dinner with the Duchess of Earl. Getting the crud off Miss Belvedere is going to take more like six months, mostly because they can't just dip it in a vat, unless they have a vat the size of a parking space.
Ultra One says before the next unveiling, they plan to have the engine running and all the lights working.
Saturday spottings (transitional period)
I hadn't done one of these for a while, and the weather didn't look like it was going to turn horrid on me, so out I went though the first order of business was to do the grocery shopping, and sometime during the past week the store I used to go to turned into a store I won't ever go to again.
The Homeland that used to be an Albertson's hasn't changed much: prices are within a few percentage points, generally, and other than a switch from one store brand to another, the shelves look much the same. But somebody isn't sweating the details: an access point in the floor near the meat counter, normally screwed down tight, wasn't for some reason, and some poor woman rounding the corner knocked the metal lid out of position, something that couldn't have happened if it had been screwed down tight. I don't think she was injured the cart caught most of the impact but still, this is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Worse yet, getting the sale price on sale items is apparently contingent upon possessing one of their cute little datacards, and I object to this on a couple of grounds: first, I resent the idea that I should pay more for something because I'm not giving them personal information; and second, at some point there will be another Democratic administration they can't lose all the time and some miscreant thereof will decide that in the interest of keeping down the health-care costs they just inflated to Hindenburg size, it will be necessary to tap into supermarket records to see what people are eating and take the appropriate action, and I simply refuse to expedite the collection of this sort of data. So as of next week, I'm looking for a new grocer, and no, I'm not considering Wal-Mart.
McGehee, responding to this post, asked: "Well, in my mind 'estate' in this context implies a house on a fairly sizable piece of land. Is there any correlation between the terminology and the size of the yard?" I was unable to coax this information out of the Cleveland County Assessor's Web site, so I drove down to the subdivision in question, which is just west of the mostly-deserted South Lakes Regional Park (on the other hand, Earlywine, on the opposite side of I-44, was pretty busy). It's hard to tell, there being relatively few structures so far, but it looks like the estates are farther apart than the villas, which indeed suggests that they're on larger lots. Incidentally, there's another community of "villas" a couple of miles east on 119th, which was locked behind a gate but which looked awfully condo-esque to me.
Back through downtown, where the Reggae Fest is going on, and apparently also some sort of Southern gospel gathering. I admit, I saw lots more folk in their Sunday best than in rasta regalia. And I took a look at the slightly-renamed Legacy at Arts Quarter apartments just north of the Civic Center, which came under fire from some of our New Urbanists for not looking, well, urban enough. Given the total lack of setback from the street, and the fact that the buildings mostly mask the parking garage, I think they fit in well enough, and they were sensible enough to save the lower level for retail. (Local favorite Velvet Monkey has already taken part of the area for their third salon.)
Also downtown, the Kerr-McGee block letters have been scraped off the stone in preparation for the arrival of SandRidge Energy, which bought the old KMG HQ from Chesapeake Energy about three minutes after Chesapeake acquired it from Anadarko Petroleum, which took over Kerr-McGee some months back. Also included in the deal is Kerr Park, which is in need of some TLC.
And somewhere around town is a woman with really dark sunglasses and a pink scooter. I spotted her today on 50th near Independence. If you check the back tire on this particular vehicle, you may well find tiny little pieces of my heart stuck in the tread.
According to Ben Smith's The Politico, the Clinton campaign released this flyer prior to the Senator's speech to a convention of beauticians.
Well, I thought it was funny.
(Via Princess Sparkle Pony.)
29 July 2007
Before there was an Escalade, a Navigator, or even a Range Rover, there was the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, created in somewhat less Grand form by Kaiser-Jeep in 1963 and perpetuated for twenty-eight years with relatively few mechanical changes, a feat made even more remarkable by the fact that Jeep changed hands twice during that period.
The Grand Wagoneer was dropped by Chrysler in 1991. A couple of years later, a Texas feedlot operator named Leon Miller, who had owned a series of them, called the company on the phone and complained. They put him through to Brooks Stevens, the original designer of the Wagoneer, who said something to this effect:
"You could bring these things back, redoing them and selling them. There's a market out there. People ask me all the time, 'Why did you quit making them?'"
Miller thought this wasn't a half-bad idea, and he rebuilt an old Wagoneer for himself. Then another, for a neighbor. In a year's time, he'd restored a dozen of them.
By contemporary standards, the Grand Wagoneer is, well, old: even in 1991 it still had solid axles at both ends, a pushrod V8 with a two-barrel carb, and a three-speed automatic. But it had its virtues: world-class rock-hopping ability, reasonable size barely fifteen feet long, and weight just upwards of two tons and the ability to tow 5000 lb. Besides, it's a woody, and who doesn't love a woody?
Today Miller has rebuilt over 1200 of these trucks to better-than-new condition. I picked one at random from his current inventory: it's an '88 with a shade over 20,000 miles in Dover Grey with a Burgundy interior. The list of refurbishments is considerable, and the price, $31,000, reflects that high level of work: this is not some used car, after all. (Active military get $500 off.) And if you'd like some more recent amenities, they can add CD players, satellite radio, sunroofs, and rear-seat entertainment systems.
I'm not really a Jeep person, but this was always my favorite of the line, and the fact that you can buy one today for about the price of some lesser SUV impresses me greatly.
Let's get digital
While there was television to be watched before that, TV as we know it arrived in 1941, with the adoption of the technological standards proposed by the National Television Standards Committee.
And it departs in February 2009, superseded by purely-digital transmissions, motivated largely by the desire to free up spectrum space. So the frequencies occupied by channels 2 through 6 and 52 through 69 (70 to 83 disappeared years ago) will end up doing something else. This will likely accommodate more stations, which seems odd until you consider that it's possible to put digital stations in the same area on adjacent channels, something you could never do in the old analog system. (Before you write in: there's a 4-MHz hole between 4 and 5; 6 and 7 are on totally separate bands; likewise 13 and 14.)
I have an antenna on the top of my house and I get the broadcast channels, thank you very much. And really I don't want anymore than that because I actually have to get something done with 227 channels my ass is glued to the barcalounger and only moves for snacks. What about us? Well, we get a $40 coupon from the government (or so they say) with which to buy the converter box which will likely retail for $60. Though something tells me, that if you're not low income or can't prove you're needy you'll end up paying the full $60 out of your own pocket. Just a feeling I have so don't quote me.
Apparently the "air" they now use to broadcast television signals the old-fashioned way will be auctioned off for other use. Now, don't you have to wonder who is going to bid on that air and what the heck are they going to do with it? It seems to me that every square inch of space doesn't have to be used. We could just let it be, couldn't we? Nope, it's going to be auctioned off and it wouldn't surprise me [if] Lil Kim of Korea or Imajihad of Iran or Chubby Chavez bought it all up and piped in subliminal messages to us yuglee Americans.
This seems unlikely, since it's unnecessary: bad actors on the world stage have an automatic audience in Washington and need only persuade them. This requires no spectrum space at all.
While this "transition" is ostensibly a done deal, not everyone is thus persuaded:
[T]here are way too many people who still own analog TVs. My dad is one of them. He's using a TV that I bought him back when I worked at LZ Premiums back in the 1980s. He'd like to get a new HD TV, but he comes from a generation that doesn't throw things away just because a better one comes along. Not to mention that his house isn't setup for a big screen. Oh, and older people vote, and vote more often than younger people. He also has a lot more resources than my generation does resources that can go into getting heard. But, you try taking away analog TV from people like my dad and you watch the political uproar.
My own thinking:
About the only thing that is certain is that they're not going to turn the whole damn thing over to Google.
Soy tu hombre del boogie
One in the morning, I can't sleep to save my [insert description of doomed body part], and I click on the television. Up come K. C. and the Sunshine Band, and yes, it's another disco compilation. I rouse myself just enough to notice that wait a minute, this is different.
It is, and yet it isn't. I know all these songs yes, I admit it but the usual unctuous Time-Life announcer is sucking up in Spanish.
It would never have occurred to me that Time-Life would buy space on Univision and Telemundo to hawk these same old wares you've already seen a hundred times on English-language channels, but there it is just the same.
Still, it would have been interesting to have heard some of these songs actually translated into Spanish. Especially "Y.M.C.A."
Blocking the blockquotes
There is now a very faint border surrounding the actual blockquoted material here. It's faint because I didn't want to add a layer of clutter to what by all accounts is a tolerably-clean design, but I still thought it was worth adding a smidgen of distinction besides the perhaps-obvious font change. If you like this, hate this, or didn't even notice this, I'd like to know.
Here's one line of text with the border, in case you missed it elsewhere.
(It's one line of the stylesheet, so it's easy to tweak.)
Update, 31 July: I've replaced the border with
Nice idea, but....
In 2004, the city came up with the idea of teaming up the Fire Department with Neighborhood Services in an effort to improve response time on local code violations. The pilot program was set in a near-northside area. Under the program, OCFD, rather than Neighborhood Services, would post courtesy notices at locations where violations were taking place, in the hope that the property owner would take steps before Neighborhood Services was called in for legal action.
It apparently didn't work. The City Manager reports that no real improvements have been realized:
[B]etween July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2006, the Fire Department responded to approximately 2,453 code violation complaints, 1,241 of which were found not to constitute a violation. In cases where violations were verified, a courtesy notice advising the property owner of the violation was posted; however, the courtesy notice did not result in a significant number of violations being corrected. Thus, approximately 1,109 violations had to be addressed through legal notices issued by Neighborhood Services.
Staff's evaluation of the program concluded the Fire Department did assist in identifying properties where no violations existed; however, for a majority of the properties in which violations were present, the courtesy notice actually extended the length of time required to resolve the code violation by an average of 14 days.
While increased customer satisfaction was the primary goal of this program, the resultant delay in correction of code violations caused citizen dissatisfaction with the overall response by the City.
Chalk this one up to the Law of Unintended Consequences, and move on. (This item will be on the Council agenda Tuesday.)
30 July 2007
Strange search-engine queries (78)
Yes, it's time once again for the roundup of the wackiest search strings plucked out of a week's worth of referrer logs. Keep in mind, we're making fun of the search, not of the searcher. (You think they bought that?)
diane rehm mark twain huckleberry finn In fact, Diane was the original Becky Thatcher; her 21st-century voice problems can be traced to spending all that time in a damp cave with Tom Sawyer.
good and bad effects of maggots as a burger additive: There are good effects?
drawbacks of being well-hung: There are drawbacks?
Oklahoma City Jesus cries: You'd cry too if you had to deal with the traffic at Penn and Memorial.
10 ways the amish party like it's 1899: Hint: the barn door is open.
Republicans drive a Subaru: It could happen. I once saw a Volvo with no bumper stickers.
witch spell reduce penis size: Laughing and pointing is usually enough.
can you get chlamydia through thongs: Okay, it's official, the Classic American Dry Hump is dead.
Where is the jacking point: I'm partial to the bedroom myself.
a tulsa church that isn't scary: This guy takes "scare the hell out of you" literally.
"where are the horniest women": Attending church services in Tulsa.
unclothed not safe at work: Depends on whether you have the air conditioning cranked up.
baby boomers hope they die before they get old: Is that a statement or a wish?
search engines strange front ends ms dewey: Ms Dewey's front end looks fine to me.
mayonnaise penis: Um, that ain't mayonnaise.
Trees indirectly saved by naturists
As The New York Times goes, so goes the nation, at least in terms of pulp volume. From The Bulletin, the monthly tabloid published by the American Association for Nude Recreation, this front-page announcement by James Banttari, who heads up commercial printing at The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida:
It was recently announced that The New York Times will be making the move that the majority of U.S. newspapers made in the early part of this decade a reduction in the size of its newspaper. As The Ledger serves as a Times national edition print site that prints The Bulletin, we also will be making this change effective with the September issue.
We firmly believe the end result is worth the investment. The resulting product will have the ability to lower printing expenses and showcase a new look to readers. The decrease in weight may mean additional savings. This change will result in a more reader-friendly publication a benefit to both members and advertisers.
Link added by me. Mr Banttari doesn't mention it, but The Ledger is more than just a remote print site for The New York Times: the paper is actually owned by the Times company. This isn't a problem, really, but perhaps he should have said so.
As for The Bulletin, my main concern, of course, is whether the present level of coverage will be changed.
Upon returning to the salt mine
First thing this morning, staff informed me that (1) from their perspective, this was the most successful period of dealing with my absence since I started disappearing for long periods around the turn of the century, and (2) everything was just absolutely a thousand million times worse than horribly godawful.
These observations are not in fact contradictory.
It's not how long you make it
The World Tours so far:
Which, fractions discarded, comes to 28,266 miles, or once around the world and then some. (The 2006 total includes the first day through The Incident, and then a subsequent trip to see the young'uns; it does not include the length of the tow.)
You know, it's a darn shame they don't have frequent-driver miles. On the other hand, I did come up with $100 in gasoline credit while wandering about this year, which is probably as close as I'm going to get.
[W]e've harnessed the mighty forces of technology to bring you a new, life-changing feature. Stalkers have been around since prehistoric times, quietly eyeing their prey, waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Now, unlike the woolly mammoths of yesterday, you can find out who's watching before they stick something pointy into you! That's right: with our new Stalker service, we show you who's viewed your profile.
Of course, nothing is without its caveats. You can opt to browse anonymously, which means that your profile views won't be recorded. If you do, though, you'll lose the ability to see who has stalked you. You can modify this setting at any time, on your settings page.
I am compelled to point out that I would not be aware of this feature had there been no entries in the list. (Okay, there was one.)
They also have a service called Dead To Me, in which you place names you never, ever want to hear again. From the site, that is; it doesn't work in Real Life, and if it did, I'd pay them a whole bunch.
Fighting to save the humans
Received at the door yesterday they didn't knock, or I'd have seen it before a flyer from this church announcing a Back to School Extravaganza called Transformed.
Now that's prime one might say, Optimus prime marketing. And, well, it's probably not above the Prince of Darkness to deploy an occasional Decepticon, if you know what I mean.
31 July 2007
We all know what New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks about guns:
By now, I'm sure you’ve heard details of Michael Bloomberg and the city of New York hiring private investigators to conduct a sting on out of state gun dealers that are the source of crime guns in New York.
Okay, fine, Bloomberg doesn't like people who shoot guns. In fact, he doesn't even like people who shoot film:
[N]ew rules, which were proposed by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a public place for more than 30 minutes to get a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance. The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment. The permits would be free.
The Mayor's Office of Film deals primarily with big film shoots (i.e. commercials, features, TV) where permits and insurance are, understandably, a given. However, many photographers and filmmakers carry on an equally vital tradition in which spontaneous documentation of the urban environment is at the very heart of our work. Being a street photographer often means standing in a random location and waiting: for the right activity, the right light, the break in the traffic; the countless other unpredictable factors that need to fall into place to make a shot worthwhile… Permits would have to be obtained for specific dates and times and exact locations, and the insurance would be out of reach for many individuals.
The fact is that we simply CANNOT predict where, when, and how long we are going to film or photograph; we CANNOT afford expensive liability insurance policies; we occasionally NEED to work with other people or to use tripods to support our gear.
And what's perhaps most exasperating is that while you might not be able to take pictures in the city, the city has no problem taking pictures of you.
(Via Lindsay Beyerstein, an accomplished photographer in her own right.)
I wouldn't have dared predict this
The Oklahoman embraces WordPress, sort of.
Cooper than thou
Sir Alec Issigonis' original Mini dates back to 1959; by 1961 it was considered a serious competition vehicle, thanks to some demon tweaks by race-car manufacturer John Cooper. Cars thus enhanced were officially badged "Mini Cooper," and continued to be so up through the death of the original Mini (and, coincidentally, of John Cooper) in 2000.
BMW, having acquired the manufacturer, issued its first new batch of Minis in 2001, all of them wearing a Cooper badge under the previous license, so any recent Mini is in fact a Mini Cooper, some with additional designations.
This matters at the moment because it hadn't really sunk in that our local Mini dealer, spun off from the BMW store, is Jackie Cooper, and suddenly I happened to see on I-44 a Mini with the standard Cooper badge, a different Cooper badge (from the dealership) and a license-plate frame screaming COOPER. This was about the Coopest vehicle I'd ever seen; if only it had been a coupe.
Worst. Shoes. Ever.
Well, maybe not the absolute worst you might have to go back to Chinese foot-binding days for that but this pair of whatever the hell they are demands a full flushing with eye bleach. Remember when "cruel shoes" meant "uncomfortable"? These are cruel to the observer. I imagine some wan fellow in the studio, feeling the pressure of a deadline, when suddenly it occurs to him: "I've got it! It's a boot and a flip-flop and a floor wax and a dessert topping!" Then, of course, his head explodes, because there is balance in nature. You can look at the entire outfit if you're so inclined, but trust me: it's not going to help. (There's also a snarky poll at that link.)
The Big Ticket proves transferable
Somebody stayed up late working up this deal:
The Boston Celtics announced today that they have acquired 10-time All-Star and 2004 MVP Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 first round draft pick (top three protected) and a return of Minnesota’s conditional first round draft pick previously obtained in the Ricky Davis-Wally Szczerbiak trade. Minnesota also receives cash considerations in the deal.
Okay. Do the Celtics have any money left to fill up the roster? I mean, they're giving up five players to get Garnett, who probably earns as much as any four of them put together.
In lieu of a ten-foot pole
Your physical distance from someone, it is said, is indicative of how close you are in other ways. With this in mind, David Seah introduces the Social Yardstick:
Physically, The Yardstick is a measuring device that collapses to fit in your pocket. The prototype here is constructed out of popsicle sticks and packing tape. Each popsicle stick is labeled as listed below:
Use of The Yardstick is commendably simple:
To use The Social Yardstick, merely unfold its length and stretch between yourself and the person you are standing near. Read the label on the segment that is closest to the other person, and adjust your distance appropriately.
This strikes me as far too useful to be dismissed as mere "chindōgu."
(Via Bill Peschel.)
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