For those who think dung

Okay, it may look funny, but it makes a certain amount of sense:

The OCWC Manure Share is a free manure exchange program for Arizona Residents and Business Owners that brings gardeners and landscapers searching for organic materials for use in composting or field applications in contact with farmers and livestock owners who have excess manure.

This benefits the water quality of the Oak Creek Watershed by removing excess nutrients from farms and ranches and by lowering the amount of commercial fertilizer used by gardeners and landscapers.

The more I think about the idea, the more I like it. (Let’s face it: the material in question is seldom distributed optimally.)

Still, there’s always going to be a punchline quality to it.

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On time and moving along

The yutzim of Yahoo! Answers fear timing belts the way political operatives fear subpoenas: how could anything good come from them?

This ought to exasperate a few of them:

I just realized our Mitsubishi Endeavor was overdue for a timing belt. The factory maintenance schedule calls for replacement at 105,000 miles and we are at 113,000. Not something you want to stall on as failure of this $2 part will destroy your $5,000 engine, so belly up to the bar and flex your credit card or prepare for two days of hard labor.

It probably costs more than $2, but it doesn’t really matter how much it costs because the big pain is the time and effort needed to do the work. The Endeavor, like most modern cars has the engine mounted transversely, which means the front of the engine (where all the belts are) is pushed up against the right front fender. A whole boat load of stuff has to come off before you can even see the timing belt, much less get to it. A shop will charge 5 or $600 just for the labor.

For what it’s worth, several Ferraris require that the engine actually be removed to change out the belt, which if you’re really lucky will not run you more than four figures.

“Lucky you,” they say to me. “You have a chain.” Yeah, but chains have tensioners too, and tensioners are no more reliable in this application, and if the chain goes, about the top 40 percent of the engine goes with it. (Part price: $121. Book labor: 12.8 hours. So in the unlikely event that nothing else broke, a bad chain is $1500 to start.)

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Slightly less nude

We are fans of Stuart Weitzman’s deliciously insubstantial “Nudist” shoes, though admittedly we’re not likely to see them often in the circles in which we usually travel. This year there’s a variation on the theme with the name “Nudistsong”, sporting a couple new colors and a slightly lower heel (3¾ inches).

Nudistsong by Stuart Weitzman

The price is not even slightly lower, at $398. If you want this look but want to hold on to more of your hard-earned cash, listen up to Cristina:

Although there have been a vast array of less expensive “nudist” copycats around, the knock-off sandal style that comes the absolute closest to Weitzman’s more expensive version, is Steve Madden’s “Stecy”. Not surprising, really, as Madden could easily be crowned King of designer shoe knock-offs (well, maybe? possibly? second to Jeffrey Campbell?). The Madden brand is really, really good at their unrelentless copying (see its take on Brian Atwood here!), which is more than evident with the outcome of the “Stecy”. Online reviews of Madden’s $80, more affordable shoe version have been mixed, as it seems to fit a slimmer foot & ankle, which from what I understand is a close fit to the actual Nudist itself.

Differences? She found a few, and really not too few to mention:

[T]he Madden version has a slightly lower heel & padded insole (which can be considered added value, allowing for greater comfort!). It has a synthetic lining & outsole vs. leather ones. The toe strap is slightly thicker. But all in all, it’s an aesthetically pleasing duplicate & if the fit of the shoe works well for your foot, it’s definitely a bargain at 1/5 of Weitzman’s original. Definitely a great look for less! Unless, of course, you’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street & have a developed a deep-seeded issue with Madden’s shady past.

My seeds are shallow as can be.

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The Gas Game (rebooted)

Last year about this time, I signed up for Oklahoma Natural Gas’s Voluntary Fixed-Price Plan, which guaranteed me a price of $5.349 per dekatherm no matter what the spot price might be. Since I pay only cursory attention to the spot price — and since ONG’s gas contracts can date to pretty much anywhere in the calendar — I have no good way of knowing how the Plan is going to work out a year in advance, so it’s pretty much a crapshoot based on a gut instinct, and let us not mix that metaphor further.

Spot price, as it happens, is hovering around $3. This means that at any given moment, ONG’s gas supply can be billed at anywhere from $2.99 to about twice that. This year’s Fixed Price offering is $3.751 for twelve months, which I’m going to take, based on last year’s experience:

Last winter [2013-14], which was a sumbitch by any standards, my worst-case consumption was 12.3 Dth over 32 days, including several days which dipped well below 10°F. At $5.349, including all the taxes and charges and fees and whatnot, this volume works out to about $110, which I consider in the bearable range.

Exclusive of all those taxes and charges and fees, 12.3 Dth would be $15-20 cheaper still. And spending less, I submit, has a great deal to recommend it.

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Porked over

The eternal struggle to obtain the McRib just got more complicated:

The McRib is back on the McDonald’s menu (McYaaaay), but this year, only around 8,000 of the roughly 14,000 restaurants will be serving the cult-classic sandwich (McNoooo).

CNBC reports that McDonald’s gave franchisees the option to decide whether they want to carry the McRib or not, and only a little over half of them said yes (McWhyyyy).

What were the other ones thinking?

As of today, there is no McRib to be had within a couple hundred miles. This cannot be allowed to stand.

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Purell you say

Ramones Leave Home is one of those albums that got edited shortly after the original release, owing to serious pearl-clutching over track 5, “Carbona Not Glue,” the lyrics of which expressed a definite preference among major juvenile huffing substances. Certainly, though, none of these young punks would actually drink carbon tetrachloride.

But hand sanitizer? That’s different:

A new report is cautioning parents about the risks of seemingly harmless liquid hand sanitizer, after an increase in calls to poison control centers about children who’ve ingested enough of substance to make them dangerously drunk.

Since 2010, poison control center hotlines in the United States have seen almost a 400% increase in calls related to kids under 12 consuming hand sanitizer, CNN reports, citing new analysis by the Georgia Poison Center.

The high alcohol content in liquid hand sanitizer — ranging anywhere from 45% to 95% alcohol, compared to wine and beer at 12% and 5% alcohol — can easily cause alcohol poisoning with just two or three squirts, experts say. Children may become confused, vomit or experience drowsiness, and in extreme cases, a child might stop breathing.

Obviously the kids would be better off buying beer — even Oklahoma 3.2-percent quasi-near-beer. And it wasn’t that long ago I, a person of Obvious Age, got carded for purchasing a can of Krylon spray paint.

There needs to be a central database for all the stuff kids will attempt to ingest in a desperate attempt to get a buzz. I suggest they call it the Huffing (Some) Post.

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Iron Man, Jr.

First name is “Soldering.”

Actually, if it had been, the poor kid might have gotten off easier:

Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High on Monday.

Instead, the school phoned police about Ahmed’s circuit-stuffed pencil case.

So the 14-year-old missed the student council meeting and took a trip in handcuffs to juvenile detention. His clock now sits in an evidence room. Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock.

In the meantime, Ahmed’s been suspended, his father is upset and the Council on American-Islamic Relations is once again eyeing claims of Islamophobia in Irving [Texas].

This would never, I suspect, have happened to Joe Sixpack’s kid Ethan. Meanwhile, school officials have already sent their CYA letter [pdf] to district parents.

Inevitably, POTUS has weighed in.

I think I need more clocks around here.

Updates in the comments.

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So young, she was

Memory Alpha reports:

Over the years, some had found a way to circumvent the energy barrier and reach the surface. They were part of a rebellious minority who wanted to explore other possibilities, and no longer wished to remain dependent on the Caretaker. Among them was Kes. She was frustrated that the Ocampa had been dependent on the Caretaker for so long that they couldn’t even think for themselves anymore. She knew that before they had given up their independence for comfort and security, they had been a people with full command of their minds’ abilities, abilities they had lost because they stopped using them and began to just take what they were given. Kes did not want to walk the path the Caretaker had set for her and other Ocampa anymore; she believed her people needed to evolve, and that they could only do so by learning to survive on their own and on their own terms.

Evolution evidently doesn’t work consistently throughout the known universe:

Jennifer Lien, who played “Kes” the Ocampa medical assistant in the first three seasons of “Star Trek: Voyager” was arrested on September 3 for indecent exposure.

Lien, who recently turned 41, was arrested at her home in Harriman, Tennessee on September 3. According to deputies, Lien had an active warrant in Roane County on two counts of exposing herself to a child under the age of 13.

In a strange twist to an already unsettling story, while delivering a Detainer Summons, Lien allegedly yelled to the deputies to come in after they arrived at her residence. Deputies said Lien was on a couch only covered by a blanket. When they told her about the warrant, Lien is said to have told the deputies that they needed to leave her alone. After repeatedly asking her to put on clothes, Lien is said to have them she would have all of them shot and killed, according to the police report.

Never got over the loss of Neelix, I suspect.

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Beyond any possible quantity of Kool-Aid

Whatever this nimrod has been drinking, it’s done hellacious damage:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Reasons why the rich and famous won't leave earth due to a supposed asteroid. Also reasons why the world WON'T end in Sept 2015 please read

If you insist on reading:

So many celebrities are my role models like Patricia Hodge and Ashleigh Ball (‘Littlest Pet Shop’), and you have no idea how hurtful it is that they use all their hard work to keep a secret with the government and leave earth. I feel betrayed! I hope to heaven it’s not true! Also, I need scientific reasons why the world won’t end this month. Scientific and mature reasons for why the world isn’t going to end. Thank you for your time adressing this.

Were there true balance in the universe, this kid would be stumbling in front of a speeding bus on the first of October.

And even the Sweet Meteor O’Death isn’t due until after the first of the year.

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Otherwise occupied

I’m taking this at face value, so to speak:

New York Fashion Week is a busy time for models, and Kendall Jenner is proving just how hectic it can be. On Sunday, the model of the moment took to Instagram to share a video of herself shaving her legs, which she captioned: “so much fashion, not enough week #YouGottaDoWhatYouGottaDo.” And while the fact that the reality star was performing this mundane personal hygiene task wasn’t all that surprising, it was where she was doing it that had us doing a double take: in a car. That’s right — Jenner was shaving her legs in the back of a car, presumably en route to a show. Talk about a multi-tasker.

On the upside, at least she wasn’t driving.

(Know Your Jenners: Kendall is a year and a quarter, more or less, older than Kylie.)

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Choosy beggars

As long as we’re talking about panhandlers, and we were, not so long ago, here is the encapsulated experience of our man on the downtown streets:

He continues:

I do think our society does way too little and has a poor understanding of issues involving poverty, mental illness and substance abuse. And I will acknowledge that some panhandlers are either poor or struggling with illness or abuse — but I believe they are the minority.

I used to carry a packet of free bus ride tickets, etc. to give to panhandlers who claimed they needed money for transportation, food… The passes, etc., were turned down all but one time — and the guy who took the pass still wanted money.

I have long suspected that some variation on Gresham’s Law was taking place: the truly needy are being crowded out by the scamsters. Not that this would be entirely unpredictable, of course: there is, as I always say, no system that can’t be gamed. Still, a few hardy souls persist:

A year ago today, Calvin was sleeping outside in a tent. TODAY Calvin is sleeping in his very own apartment! Congratulations, Calvin! We are so proud of your hard work! Calvin uses the income he earns from selling Curbside to afford all of his rent and expenses. Thank you Journey Home OKC and OKC Housing Authority for helping Calvin find affordable housing and making this possible. And thank YOU for helping Calvin achieve his financial goals by supporting him through sales. Calvin has worked extremely hard to reach this goal. You can find him selling at NW Expressway and Classen on the daily.

I’ve bought from Calvin before, in fact. And I’d just as soon not see him put out of a job, however tenuous it may seem, just because some people find it easier to beg than to work.

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Unbespectacled

I’ve seen just enough Gossip Girl to be able to recognize Yin Chang as bookworm Nelly Yuki; she did the first two seasons, departed, and returned in the sixth, having become a fashion reporter, as does every Merit Scholar, right? (Hmmm. I won … um, never mind.) There is, of course, no reason a bookworm can’t look like this:

Yin Chang in a director's chair

Yin Chang for Mochi

I had a few more pictures in the archive, but in each and every one, “the girl behind the glasses” was not wearing glasses, which perplexed me enough to go looking for screenshots where she was. And so we have:

Yin Chang in Nelly Yuki's spectacles

This humongous metal contraption around her neck is, I am told, from Oscar de la Renta, and a budding fashionista would of course have to wear such a thing, am I right?

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Now don’t be a species-ist

About three years ago, I wrote an overly long short story about a man and a unicorn and the love they came to share. The reception it got was better than I had expected; still, I concluded from this experience that inter-species romances of this sort were not ready for prime time.

But that was then, and this is now:

Becky is a young woman living in the Los Angeles area in the 2015 TV series The Muppets.

Beginning with the pilot, she is dating Fozzie Bear, and introduces him to her parents for the first time. Holly and Carl have a hard time understanding how the relationship can work, questioning how they’ll raise their children.

At San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Bill Prady stated that Becky’s relationship with Fozzie would continue to be explored in the series.

Becky will be played by Riki Lindhome, the taller half of Garfunkel and Oates, and it occurs to me that this might make some sort of sense after all: in the all-but-forgotten Hell Baby (grossed about $5000 total), Lindhome has a brief (three minutes) scene with Rob Corddry, who looks a bit Fozzie-esque, or at least would if you put a hat on him.

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Wielder of the monkey wrench

Author Deborah Harkness (A Discovery of Witches and two sequels) finds herself sitting in the dark:

“Power poles and lines down”? That’s some big damn animal.

It gets weirder. Reports the SCE Outage Center:

As we continue to improve, SCE.com will be undergoing maintenance starting at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 17 through 6 a.m. on Friday, September 18. Please note that during this time you will not be able to view pages and will be unable to complete transactions. Thanks for your patience while we work to improve your experience!

No comment from Mr. Edison himself, though reports from outside his home in West Orange, New Jersey suggest that he’s doing about 1200 rpm.

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This should not be considered nostalgia

From fifteen years ago, something I did not want to come home to:

Two guys from the property-management office corralled me as I pulled into the parking lot and announced that they were bearing bad news: someone had kicked in my front door.

It was a pretty efficient kick, given the size of the deadbolt; the jamb was nicely splintered. The perp’s efficiency, however, stopped there; not only did he overlook the camera hanging right beside the door, he didn’t get much of anything other than frustration. I calculate my losses at $3.25, from a dish of quarters I was saving up for laundry, and about five minutes’ time to tidy up. The onsite staff will take care of the repairs. Still, this is a frightening sort of thing to contemplate just the same — suppose this dirtball had been interested in something other than ready cash?

There has been much said of late about “non-violent” offenders and how they’re occupying too much expensive space in the corrections system. This was about the point where I decided that it might be better just to hang them on the spot. Defenders of the putatively downtrodden took umbrage at this idea, of course.

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Hardware issues

“Shopping, sex, and shopping for sex,” said Penn Jillette once upon a time, “propel all new technology.” Today, gender-swapping is cumbersome and expensive; tomorrow, maybe not so much. In the meantime, there’s always Adobe Photoshop.

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