How cool is this?

An unusually warm October — the temperature has yet to drop below 40° F (4° C) — has encouraged the late-season roses to go flat-out while they still can:

Roses on the 29th of October

There are several other budding clusters elsewhere on this bush: it’s not exactly Spring finery, but it’s not bad.

(Other sizes at Flickr.)

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Rather low interest

My bank, I am told, continually seeks “ways to enhance our products and services to meet your financial needs and provide you an improved banking experience.” This sort of statement is usually shorthand for “We’re about to jack up fees,” and that’s what it proves to be here:

On December 7, 2016, your account(s) will be converted to a new Personal Savings account. Your ability to earn a competitive interest rate won’t be impacted by the change, and no immediate action is required on your part.

The major change: a $5 monthly service fee.

Now do the math. The current interest rate I’m being paid is, um, 0.03 percent. Last month I earned a whole four cents on this account. Five bucks will eat that up rather quickly.

In practice, I will not be affected by this fee: a $10 transfer from checking per month, or an average balance of $250, will get the fee waived. In the six years this account has been open, the balance has never been as low as $250. So this is apparently aimed at the folks who keep ten bucks in savings just to say they have a savings account. I’m told there are some such.

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Going to Kathmandu

Hey, it worked for Bob Seger, didn’t it?

This is Sitashma Chand, born on Halloween in 1983, who speaks several languages, played basketball in college (she’s 5’8″, I am told), and won the title of Miss Nepal for 2007:

Sitashma Chand on the pier

Sitashma Chand on the couch

Sitashma Chand with her husband

The chap in the last photo is Benjamin Zachary Price: he and Sitashma were wed in 2013.

The sponsor of Miss Nepal 2007 was Dabur Vatika, a brand of toiletries, which of course sought to maximize its exposure:

One of Sitashma’s languages is English, which she uses on her Twitter account, most recently here:

The last we’ve heard from her, regrettably.

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Not to be chewed

The annual Termite Inspection came yesterday, as it has every October since 2003. Usually I follow the inspector around the premises, but that wasn’t happening. And it’s probably just as well, since anything I’m likely to say is going to be a variation on the theme of “Sorry about the mess.”

They’ve changed one protocol since last time: instead of a paper receipt, they email you a PDF. As always, they asked whether this is the correct billing address; as always, I wrote out a check rather than wait for the bill. But this chap seemed surprised at my, um, “low account number,” giving me the impression that a lot of their customers move on after a few years, while I’ve been here for thirteen.

Me, I’m thinking warranty: if I keep this up, and some year they actually find the hungry little bastards on the premises, the contract says that they will remediate at no additional cost. Over the years I’ve forked over a little more than a grand, which is trivial next to the average Kill The Damn Bugs bill.

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Overly Chromed

Our very own sysadmin circulated this warning late yesterday:

We have discovered today that a recent update to Chrome has caused it to have problems with the data it pushes through a print stream. It isn’t consistent, a reprint of the same screen report produced different results almost every time. If chosen to save as a PDF instead of written to a printer it would save the PDF correctly. The PDF would print without issue as long as you told the reader to print the page full size instead of fit to page. Be cautious if using Chrome for printed reports. If you notice any unusual blanks within the document you can save the document as a PDF and print it that way instead. Or try another browser. We have not verified but have no reason to suspect that the issue is across multiple browsers at this time.

This is, as the poet once said, a Known Issue. I have not encountered it personally, but then I hate Chrome. (How much do I hate Chrome? I print reports out of Lotus Notes, fercrissake.)

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Issue forced

I have occasionally grumbled at how CVS has handled the legacy of Target Pharmacy, but not enough to get me to change drug stores, and certainly not loudly enough to draw anyone’s attention.

Or maybe it was. Received in the mail:

Beginning January 1, 2017, CVS Pharmacy #16007 will no longer be a part of your pharmacy network. This includes all CVS-owned pharmacies and CVS pharmacies in Target stores.

Why would CFI Care (not its real initials) do this? They’ve hired something called Prime Therapeutics to run their pharmacy-benefit operation, and it turns out that they own a piece of Prime. And there’s already bad blood:

Prime Therapeutics is suing CVS Health Corp. after the drugstore chain claimed generic drug payment changes will cost it more than $100 million annually.

CVS is seeking about $19 million outside of court from Eagan [Minnesota]-based Prime, claiming the pharmacy-benefits manager violated terms of a 2007 agreement plus federal and state laws, according to a lawsuit filed [in December 2015]. Prime disputes those claims and is asking a Minnesota federal judge to rule that it did nothing wrong and doesn’t owe CVS money.

I do not comprehend, however, how it was that the eight prescriptions filled yesterday at that specific CVS location, official copays totaling $103, were turned over to me for a mere $45. Surely they’re not bidding for my non-network business.

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Dinner without Drac

“Cool Ghoul” John Zacherle died Thursday at the age of 98:

Wearing ghoulish garb, Zacherle hosted horror movies on Philadelphia and New York television beginning in 1957. He likewise hosted the fondly recalled Newark-based dance show “Disc-O-Teen” in the late ’60s, and was a WNEW-FM disc jockey. From 1990 until 2015, Zacherle met fans old and new at the Chiller Theatre convention held in various New Jersey towns, chiefly Secaucus and Parsippany.

I refuse to believe that his death on 10/27 had anything to do with his having been a DJ on WNEW-FM, which historically was at 102.7.

Away from Jersey, Zacherle was probably best known for “Dinner with Drac,” ghastly limericks fit into a rock-and-roll background, a #6 pop hit in 1958:

Zacherle’s niece Bonnie, you may want to know, was the original designer of the My Little Pony line. Call it Generation 1.

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Earl Watson has taught the Phoenix Suns one thing: don’t ever slack off. After the first quarter, in which the Suns and their three-guard set simply outworked the Thunder to the tune of 40-25, Oklahoma City began getting the occasional stop, and Phoenix led by only four at the half. Still, they kept working it; the Thunder didn’t get any kind of lead until a one-pointer with 4:45 left. One ongoing problem was T. J. Warren, who knocked down a career-high 30 points. Russell Westbrook had taken 40 shots in 48 minutes; everyone assumed he’d take the last shot with 1.1 seconds left in regulation. He didn’t, but the Suns were not fooled, and overtime ensued, with Westbrook noticeably fatigued. But In Russ We Trust: Westbrook sneaked one past a curious Suns lineup with no actual shot blockers, and the Thunder went up 111-110 with seven seconds left. Andre Roberson swatted away a Devin Booker shot, and with 3.5 left, Westbrook delivered two foul shots. A Phoenix buzzer-beater did not land, and it was OKC 113, PHX 110.

And let’s face it, we needed Westbrook to be heroic. (51 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists: by any definition, that’s heroic.) Victor Oladipo came up with 21 points, but no one else managed double figures, and the bench in aggregate scored a whopping 15 points, four less than Suns sixth man Brandon Knight all by his lonesome. It wasn’t a good night for three-point shots for either side: Thunder and Suns made five each, but it took OKC 21 tries — and Phoenix 28. For that matter, it wasn’t a good night for free throws either; many were taken, and lots were missed. (Suns 21-32, Thunder 28-38.) Still, the number that jumps out at me is +21: Kyle Singler in 33 minutes, despite 2-6 shooting for four points.

And there’s that don’t-give-up air about Phoenix that tells me they’re not destined to be a doormat this year. Three of their five starters finished with five fouls, but at no time did it look like any of them would actually foul out. Earl Watson, a wily guard — for a while, a wily Thunder guard — in his playing days, has plenty of wisdom to share.

The not-as-horrible-as-they-were-last-year Lakers (how could they be?) will be in town Sunday. I have to figure that the combination of Nick Young and Luol Deng has to be at least slightly daunting.

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Do the Titan Up

Somebody may have been Kraken wise:

(Via Shipwreck, logically.)

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High suds

These guys followed me on Twitter, perhaps thinking I might throw them a link. And you know, I just might:

This will be happening the 10th of December at the Cox Center. Down at the bottom of this page you’ll find a list of brewers to be represented.

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Pocket-sized opera

Peter Reynolds, who died earlier this month, is credited with having written the World’s Shortest Opera:

This particular performance, as it happens, runs slightly long:

At three minutes and 34 seconds, it is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s shortest opera. “The librettist, Simon Rees, came up with the idea of an opera whose duration should match the boiling of an egg,” says Reynolds. “So we created a domestic scenario of a couple having an argument over breakfast. It starts with the sand-timer being turned, and ends with the egg coming out of the saucepan.”

You may wonder how a three-minute item qualifies as an opera rather than, say, a song, but Reynolds had all the requirements covered. “The intention was to create a piece which bore the same relationship to opera as a miniature does to a full-length portrait,” he says. “It included all the component parts of an opera — overture, introductory chorus, arias and recitative — though in highly condensed form.” It had its premiere in Cardiff city centre on March 27 1993, conducted by Carlo Rizzi, in the presence of two invigilators from the Guinness Book of Records and a bewildered crowd of shoppers.

The second shortest opera, should you care, is The Deliverance of Theseus, Op. 99, by Darius Milhaud (1928), which plodded along for seven and a half minutes, just slightly longer than “MacArthur Park.”

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Mix and match and mix some more

Not so long ago, I showed you a Simplicity Pattern advertisement from 1974 which proposed nine different skirts that could be worn with the same top.

The next step was obvious. One pair of jeans, ten tops:

Simplicity advertisement from 1974

I tracked down the next issue of the magazine where I found these; there was apparently no third entry in the series. Too bad.

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Dead man answering

It takes a lot to stand out in my email box these days. This item today definitely stood out:

Your Facebook friend Jeff Borland is on Quora

Now on Quora? Have you ever met anyone who waited until he had been dead for two years before signing up for a Web service?

Mind you, I’d love to see the guy there; Jeffro had a way with words and a willingness to shoot down total idiots, both of which are useful commodities on a Web site devoted to answering questions, and I’ve missed having him around. But somehow this rubs me the wrong way: if this is a family member using the man’s name, this is Bad Form, and if it’s just some scrub who hacked his way in from Jeffro’s FB account, this is unforgivable.

Incidentally, the Borland account is “following 26 topics.” And there is a function in Settings called “Find Facebook friends,” which makes me wonder if this might be sub-Turing-level bot work. He has 8 followers, one of whom I know.

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You’re not getting enough fiber

Google Fiber, once believed to be coming to OKC, is apparently not coming to OKC:

Google parent company Alphabet has halted its plans to expand fast Google Fiber internet service to Oklahoma City and other cities throughout the country, the company confirmed Wednesday.

“Going forward we’re focusing on new technology and deployment methods to make superfast internet more abundant than it is today,” a Google Fiber spokeswoman said in a statement. “For now, that means we’re going to pause our operations and offices in Oklahoma City while we refine our approaches. We remain grateful to the city electeds and staff, and especially the communities, for their ongoing partnership and patience, and we’re confident we’ll have an opportunity to resume our discussions once we’ve advanced our technologies and solutions.”

Fiber guru Craig Barratt, then CEO of the Access subsidiary, did not explain, but perhaps this has to do with an earlier acquisition:

The future of Access, to a large extent, seems to lie in wireless. Access purchased the internet provider Webpass in June, giving it the technology to begin deploying over-the-air gigabit internet to homes. In theory, it provides the same service that fiber would, but without as many deployment hurdles.

What I want to know, of course, is whether this will delay Cox’s rollout of Gigablast.

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Looking out for Number Three

There are alpha males, and there are beta males, and the two are generally fairly easily distinguishable from one another.

SF writer/philosopher Vox Day offers a definition for gamma males:

The introspective, the unusual, the unattractive, and all too often the bitter. Gammas are often intelligent, usually unsuccessful with women, and not uncommonly all but invisible to them, the gamma alternates between placing women on pedestals and hating the entire sex. This mostly depends upon whether an attractive woman happened to notice his existence or not that day. Too introspective for their own good, gammas are the men who obsess over individual women for extended periods of time and supply the ranks of stalkers, psycho-jealous ex-boyfriends, and the authors of excruciatingly romantic rhyming doggerel. In the unlikely event they are at the party, they are probably in the corner muttering darkly about the behavior of everyone else there … sometimes to themselves. Gammas tend to have have a worship/hate relationship with women, the current direction of which is directly tied to their present situation. However, they are sexual rejects, not social rejects.

I suppose I escape this definition by dint of never actually “hating the entire sex.”

But a lot of that hits just a hair too close to home.

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Not quite replicated

Having dropped the print edition for lack of ability to walk down the driveway to pick it up, I generally find myself reading what the Oklahoman calls the Print Replica: it’s a fairly accurate copy of the paper paper, available in some obscure native format or as a PDF. The Print Replica, however, is out of its depth when it comes to those little half-pages of advertising that wrap around other pages now and then, so I missed this miscall. The Lost Ogle, fortunately, did not:

Front page of the Oklahoman, 10-26-16

At least it’s kerned, and I don’t mean Sally.

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