Finely ground

If the Bulls without Derrick Rose are hobbled, the Bulls without both Rose and Luol Deng are, um, hurting. Chicago’s defense, at least, was up to par: they fought for every rebound they could get, and they drew fouls at an amazing rate, especially in the first half. But once the Thunder started playing at their own pace, the Bulls were sausage: down three at the half, they trailed by seventeen with just over three minutes left, and OKC pocketed yet another home win, 107-95.

The Bulls did get plenty of second-chance points in the least favorable way: they missed a lot of first chances. They shot 38 percent, versus 51 for the Thunder. The three-ball was not their friend, either: 29 went up, only eight made. (OKC: 9-15, which is almost unheard of for this club.) Still, Chicago did manage to land six players in double figures, led by the indefatigable Joakim Noah, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds. D. J. Augustin, pressed into point-guard service, had a creditable 15 points and five assists; Taj Gibson, spelling Noah and/or Carlos Boozer, paced the bench with 16. And you have to figure, six blocks and eight steals counts as respectable D.

Even with Serge Ibaka having a bad night (early foul trouble, only five points), though, OKC came up with seven blocks and 12 steals. (Steven Adams had four of those swipes, but then he goes after everything.) Another 30+ performance from Kevin Durant: 32 points, nine boards. And another double-double from Russell Westbrook: 20 points, 10 assists. Westbrook looked bent, possibly broken, late in the second quarter and retreated to the bench, but he stayed gone only long enough for the horn to open the third. From the bench, Reggie Jackson had 18 points; Nick Collison rattled down nine, and Jeremy Lamb seven.

So once again, an Eastern foe is disposed of with dispatch. Then again, Western teams only get to play the East 30 times in a season, and the West is full of teams like San Antonio, to whose house the Thunder must hie themselves Saturday night.

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An even more modest recall

Last week there was an item in this space noting the recall of twenty-three cars, which number, said I, suggested that the failure was “evidently not what you’d call a widespread problem.” This is not, however, the smallest automotive recall on record. In fact, a new contender has just arisen:

BMW of North America, LLC (BMW) is recalling certain model year 2013 X3 xDrive 28i/35i vehicles manufactured February 11, 2013, through February 27, 2013. Due to a production process error, the tear seam on the instrument panel was not manufactured correctly.

In the event of a crash, the air bag could improperly deploy, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the air bag’s protection and increasing the risk of injury to the front passenger. In addition, parts or fragments from the air bag system could strike and injure the front passenger or other vehicle occupants.

The punchline:

Potential Number of Units Affected: 3

Then again, they’re having to replace the entire dash on these Bimmers, so this isn’t exactly cheap, even if there are only three of them.

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Despite their obvious greenity

It has been several years since I bothered to dish up a serving of lima beans, and apparently it’s unusual for a civilian to get near the things:

My theory is that they’re sold exclusively to prison cooks, school cafeteria cooks, and people who like to let canned goods ripen in their pantries before giving them to the food banks. And maybe parents who hate their kids. I bet Joan Crawford made her kids eat Lima beans all the time.

Or maybe it’s this:

Like many legumes, the seemingly innocent lima bean should not be eaten raw — doing so can be lethal. (And who wants to die in such an ignoble way as death by lima bean?) Also known as butter beans, the legumes can contain a high level of cyanide, which is part of the plant’s defense mechanism.

Which, of course, mandates some precautionary measures:

[L]ima beans should be cooked thoroughly, and uncovered to allow the poison to escape as gas. Also, drain the cooking water to be on the safe side.

This is probably the point at which I said “Screw it, I’m having Brussels sprouts instead.”

Then again, I have the advantage of not being a cardiac patient.

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Open-door policy

I am generally loath to hang stuff around the door, except for things you really, really need to see — the city alarm permit comes immediately to mind — but maybe I need to rethink this a bit:

[W]e have a sign hanging outside our front door stating this is a nudist household and if you are ok with that ring the doorbell one way, if not ring it the other way… makes confusion and embarrassment a non-issue. We actually bought a “Nudist Zone” sign from Amazon.com and put our own sticker on it saying, “Ring doorbell twice quickly if your comfortable with nudism and we won’t bother getting dressed”.

The downside to this is if someone is worried that they are ringing it wrong it can be a major issue for them. We had someone come by who was afraid of ringing it wrong so drove a couple of blocks away and called us. That’s when we added “Ring twice quickly” to help ease their concerns.

“Quickly,” after all, is fairly subjective.

Actually, this is not an issue for me: I keep a robe by the door, just in case. (There were these two Jehovah’s Witnesses that one time, but that was years ago.) As a general rule, I am disinclined to outrage the neighbors. That said, it must also be said that there used to be a woman around the corner who in two years saw me dressed exactly once: there has always been a small number of people who have given notice, one way or another, that they won’t be perturbed at the sight. The operative word, though, is “small”: I don’t think there’s ever been more than four or five names on the list, and most people just call first so I’ll have time to feign decency.

(Via Nudiarist. Both of these links may have trouble with your workplace filters.)

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Season’s greasings

In the mail yesterday: cards of a sort from local politicians, complete with obligatory Family Pictures.

Jason Nelson, who currently represents House District 87, sent a 6×9 card with “Merry Christmas” on one side and a Bible verse (Isaiah 9:6) on the other.

John Handy Edwards, who hopes to replace the term-limited Cliff Branan in Senate District 40 in 2015, sent a 6.875×10 card, folded once, with “Happy Holidays” on the outside and “Sending warm wishes from our family to yours this season” within.

More as they arrive, if more arrive.

Why, no, I didn’t mention their party affiliations. Did I need to?

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MSC3K

Lots of mice have been plugged into my trusty desktop, and all but one of them have been unplugged for various reasons, the most recent being a Logitech rodent that for some reason couldn’t complete a cut/paste cycle.

So out it goes, in favor of what the label says is a Microsoft Comfort Optical Mouse 3000. Using the same settings as the Logitech, it’s absurdly fast; I had to crank everything back to get to the point where I could keep track of the pointer. What’s more, it’s silly-looking: two-tone silver over black. Still, it works, which the old meece in the cabinet don’t.

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Maybe just a sip

Apparently Costco carries Château Mouton Rothschild 2010:

I was impressed that they let me in the same room with it. It was locked in glass case. I wonder how many of the people who drink this wine appreciate it. I am sure it is very good, but it would be wasted on me with my barely functional nose. I bought a magnum of Cook’s Champagne for $7.

Which works out to $3.50 a (standard 750ml) bottle. Costco was asking $1,150 for the good stuff.

Oh, wait. This is a big-box store. They were asking $1,149.99.

I did enjoy the description:

This strides in with distinction, starting off with a showy but integrated layer of espresso-infused toast, followed by plush tiers of crushed currant, plum and blackberry fruit interspersed with cocoa and well-roasted.

Well, it sounds wonderful, anyway. I wonder how these experts would describe Dr Pepper (750 ml for 74 cents), which claims to have 23 different flavor notes.

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To the manner born

In other news, Walter White was convicted of dealing in meth and drew a 12-year jail term.

Yes, really:

Like the Bryan Cranston antihero-turned-villain, White allegedly dabbled in the illicit crystal trade. Federal court records show that the DEA found four ounces of meth at White’s Billings, Montana home earlier this year. Afterwards, White reportedly “copped to receiving up to two pounds of meth a week from one supplier,” “accepting a firearm as payment for the drug,” selling some of the meth and fronting some of the drug “to others for distribution.” The Smoking Gun reports that White slept with a gun under his pillow as “protection from other individuals involved in drug trafficking who may intend to rob or shoot him.”

White was also sentenced to five years probation after jail and to forfeit over $15,000 in cash and two handguns. Criminally, the report does not note whether White was familiar with AMC’s Emmy-winning drama and its similarly named, similarly career-situated lead character.

Next guy I meet named Don Draper, I’m going to ask if that’s his real name.

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Here’s dirt in your eye

A little over a decade ago, Chevrolet put up a billboard (with a Corvette on it, natch) to the effect that “they don’t write songs about Volvos.”

Do take a while to consider the following songs about Volvos, and then come back to the first TV ad I’ve seen with that much sheer snottitude:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Or perhaps a young lion

Diversity by Emily BearThe following things you need to know about Diversity by Emily Bear:

  • This is her sixth album, though her first on a major label (Concord Jazz);
  • All thirteen tracks are her own compositions;
  • She turned twelve at the end of August.

While a lot of her YouTubage shows her in front of orchestras, she’s fronting a traditional jazz trio here, with Carlitos del Puerto on bass and Francisco Mela on drums. Zuill Bailey drops in for cello parts on four tracks. And it’s a very traditional sound indeed; you could imagine this fifty years ago on Verve with Creed Taylor at the board. It’s not, however, particularly diverse. Not that I mind; I could listen to this stuff for hours on end. Quincy Jones, Bear’s producer and mentor, has provided a particularly lovely acoustic aesthetic. Oddly, the weakest number here might be “Q,” her tribute to the master, which never really gets off the ground. Favorite track? Perhaps the leadoff, “Northern Lights,” which does an admirable job of setting the stage for what’s to come. And I admit to cracking several smiles at “Salsa Americana,” which opens up wildly like an old Tito Puente record and then suddenly heads downtown.

You can hear all thirteen of these tracks (via Soundcloud) on emilybear.com; I decided I wanted a copy for my shelf, and bought the CD.

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In back of the Front Range

Any Thunder/Nuggets game is likely to contain remarkable moments, but you don’t generally expect actual fisticuffs. Early in the fourth quarter, Denver’s Jordan Hamilton was sufficiently vexed with Steven Adams to throw a punch at him; Hamilton was tagged with a Flagrant Two and thumbed, and Adams promptly missed the first of two free throws. Then someone woke up Nate Robinson, who knocked down all ten points in a 10-3 Denver run. This, as you might expect, woke up the OKC offense, which ran the lead from six to 18 in two minutes flat. It wasn’t going to stay there, of course, but the Nuggets had whittled it down only to 12 by the time the horn sounded: Oklahoma City 105, Denver 93, and another 2-0 series lead.

The Nuggets did get five into double figures — four starters plus Robinson — led by J. J. Hickson, who came up with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Ty Lawson also double-doubled: 17 points, 13 assists. (Hamilton had four points and five boards before getting tossed.) Denver did leave six points at the foul line, but OKC did too, so that’s a wash.

The Thunder outshot Denver 48-41 and outrebounded them 53-43. The numbers went about the way you’d expect: Kevin Durant had another 30-point night on 11-23 shooting; Russell Westbrook, who came up big in the fourth quarter, had 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists; Serge Ibaka returned to form with a 17-point outing, during which gathered 10 boards. Jeremy Lamb headed the bench with nine.

It’s in and out of town for the rest of the year: against Chicago at home Thursday, to San Antonio on Saturday, back home against Toronto on Sunday, an afternoon match in New York on Christmas Day, followed by a trip to Charlotte, and then two home games: the Rockets and the Trail Blazers, the latter on New Year’s Eve. Seat belts should be fastened at all times.

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A very modest recall

The details, admittedly, are a little scary:

Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling certain model year 2014 Infiniti Q50 vehicles equipped with Direct Adaptive Steering. The affected vehicles received a power steering software version that, should the engine compartment reach freezing temperatures, the power steering software may disable the electric steering system and also may delay the engagement of the mechanical steering backup system.

And this isn’t some electric-assist steering job like you see elsewhere: this is true drive-by-wire, with only a stream of electrons connecting the tiller and the rack. (Which is why there’s a mechanical backup, which also seems to be tetchy.)

This line provides a (small) quantity of reassurance:

Potential Number of Units Affected: 23

The local Infiniti store has at least that many units sitting on the lot, so this is evidently not what you’d call a widespread problem. Still, we’re talking software, goshdarnit, and I’m not sure I want to steer with software, now or any time soon.

(Via Autoblog.)

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Harmonization now

UNICEF, one of the zillions of United Nations alphabet agencies, doesn’t get on my radar much anymore, what with kids no longer trick-or-treating for it, the way they (occasionally) did when I was of an age to tote a sack. They did, however, hold the Snowflake Ball, presumably a fundraiser, in New York a few days back, and here’s Angie Harmon looking wonderful in an Angel Sanchez frock:

Angie Harmon at the Snowflake Ball

Now let’s turn her ninety degrees, and — oh, my:

Angie Harmon at the Snowflake Ball

Bless you, Angel Sanchez.

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It could always be worse

And when (not “if”) it is, well, Jeni told you so:

In 2012, German researchers conducted a study of elderly citizens and concluded that pessimists are often happier in the end. The study reveals that “understanding that although things are fine right now, they might get worse” seems to have “a positive effect” on their quality of life. The study notes that pessimistic people can actually benefit from a this outlook. The researching psychologists acknowledge that while the results “fly in the face of ‘positive psychology’,” the results make sense because being pessimistic helps you prepare for bad things, even if they never come. I agree completely. Pessimism is at the heart of why we contribute to retirement plans, build well-stocked pantries, wear sunscreen. I dread the hard times, but dreading them makes me think about them and thinking about them makes me DO something. A dreamer — a true dreamer — doesn’t worry about these things too much, instead choosing to spend energy on other pursuits like making wildflower bouquets and starting mason jar Pinterest boards.

Which will be so helpful come the Zombie Apocalypse®.

But don’t cry for me, optimists! While I will never be a member of your club, I may come to your annual picnic if I’m invited. I’ll be the one with a rain cover, bug spray, poison ivy cream, and extra water bottles. Who’s going to be okay when the skies open up and killer bees hunt you down on your nature walk? Me, that’s who! Because I knew these things were likely and I made provisions for them. I’ll be dry and bite-free while you’re trying to soothe your itchy, hungry children with songs about magical fairies who shit jelly beans.

This is perhaps one of the few extant examples of Good Parenting that can (maybe) be attributed to yours truly: my itchy, hungry children prefer death metal. Then again, they’re in their thirties now.

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Another reason for the season

I don’t know if I can make a meme of this, but let’s see what happens:

Nancy Kwan in Keep Kwan in Kwanzaa

(Via — no, actually, I did this myself. I have no idea why.)

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Still not a mail-enhancement product

The Canada Post Mass Shrinkage Maneuver (or, probably, Manoeuvre) apparently has a distinct, and weirdly American-sounding, bias:

Canada Post president and CEO Deepak Chopra is a board member of the organization that highlighted the financial plight facing the Crown corporation and suggested eliminating door-to-door delivery as a way for it to save money.

In announcing Wednesday a five-point restructuring plan that includes ending door-to-door residential mail delivery in urban areas, Canada Post repeatedly pointed to a Conference Board of Canada report released last spring that documented challenges facing the postal service. That same report included options such as eliminating door-to-door service for urban residential households and increasing postal prices as ways to cut costs and improve the bottom line — options the Crown corporation has now adopted.

And Chopra, of course, sits on the CBoC board.

Oh, and now there’s a petition to Canada Post calling for a halt to the job and service cuts and an investigation into Chopra’s apparent conflict of interest.

(I had a Twitter source for this, but in the time it took me to write it, she’d deleted the tweet.)

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