A halal bark

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

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

Okay, maybe a little ha-ha.

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Mopzilla

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday spottings (I am a Tour-ist)

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

In the order visited:

1) 430 Northwest 12th Street

North side of 430

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

2) 1117 North Robinson Avenue

Alley view from Guardian Lofts

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

3) 300 North Walnut Avenue

Sanctuary of Calvary Baptist Church

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

4) 726 West Sheridan Avenue

Signage at Hart Building

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

Old RCA radio gear at Hart Building

5) 6219 Riviera Drive

Northeast corner of David Walters' house

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

6) 108 South Broadway, Edmond

Conference table at Small Architects

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

7) 2801 Northeast 120th Street

Corner view of Kliewer home

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

8) 1721 Northeast 63rd Street

The edge of the Mass home

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

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

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

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Three decades out of whack

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

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

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

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Awfully forward of them

From the sports section of the Oklahoman this morning:

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

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

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And yet I’ve never been to Spain

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

Princess Letizia wearing white before Labor Day

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

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

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

Princess Letizia's decidedly nonflat shoes

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

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Up is not given

From this very site, November 2012:

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

Truly, the man is nothing if not persistent:

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

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

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

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

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A decision has been made

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

Rebecca Black and friends

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

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Wounded birds

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

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

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

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

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Unfuzzy logic

Jennifer is not impressed by your armpit hair:

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

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

And this particular tango, like most, requires two:

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

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

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An inline something-or-other

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Leave me alone, but not now

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

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

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

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

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

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Meanwhile in Corvetteland

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

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

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

The union’s complaints:

Renaud said issues involved were safety and quality control.

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

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

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A report in the public interest

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

The Wig & Pen is open for business

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

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

(Via Fark.)

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The primates are revolting

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

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

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

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

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

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Zombies would starve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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