Not the usual grind

The first half, the Thunder promised to make it a laugher: they led the Grizzlies by as many as 25 before James Johnson nailed a trey with two seconds left before halftime. Nobody was laughing in the third quarter, though: Memphis outscored OKC 31-13 in the third quarter to pull within four, and they narrowed it to two early in the fourth. This is approximately the point where I think Scott Brooks pointed to his wrist and mouthed the words “SPEED IT UP.” Which is what the Thunder did, going on a 13-1 run, and the Griz never regained their momentum. First game goes into the books: OKC 100, Memphis 86, on a night where three other teams with home-court advantage fell.

Seriously. The Raptors, the Clippers and the Pacers all were beaten at home. This, of course, means nothing at the moment. What this game means is something we knew all along: the Grizzlies are befuddled at any pace other than Slow Grind. They did a good job of protecting the rock, giving up only six turnovers, but otherwise they were largely at sea, missing nine of 11 treys, 13 of 31 free throws, and shooting only 36 percent. The statistic I’m staring at, though, is Zach Randolph’s line: he had a team-high 21 points on 7-21 shooting, 11 rebounds, and three assists, despite spending time on the bench with five fouls, and still ending up with 39 minutes. Mike Conley (16 points, 11 assists) also played 39; Marc Gasol (16 points) played 45. Apparently the only reason the bench got any burn tonight was because Tayshaun Prince took ill early and did not return. Tony Allen led those reserves with 13; Mike Miller, the three-point specialist, made exactly one of them.

It was a decent night for Kevin Durant, who knocked down 13 of 25 for 33 points. Russell Westbrook, officially off his minutes restriction, played 33 minutes, collecting 23 points and 10 rebounds; Serge Ibaka, who played one minute more, scored 17 and retrieved nine boards. (The Thunder was never seriously threatened on the boards, finishing 51-41.) Caron Butler and Reggie Jackson each kicked in nine from the bench.

If there’s anything I wonder about, it’s this: would this have gone any differently had Nick Calathes been available? The rookie Memphis guard is a pretty good shooter, but we won’t see him in the playoffs at all: he’s serving a 20-game suspension for violation of the NBA’s drug policy. The drug in question, tamoxifen, is usually prescribed for treatment of, um, breast cancer; Calathes isn’t suffering from that, but there’s an off-label use to reduce the effects of steroids.

Game 2 is Monday night at the ‘Peake; Games 3 and 4 will be played in Memphis, and as Beale Street Bears reminds us: “There is still a ton of basketball left to be played and the Grizzlies are still very much alive in this series.” These are, after all, the same Grizzlies who won their last 14 home games. If they can upset the Thunder at home even once — but let’s not bring back that memory.

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Look away

Not so far away, there’s a blonde in her middle sixties who can rock tight contemporary jeans better than the teenager up the block. She is, of course, spoken for. Even if she weren’t, though, I have no business even mentioning it.

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Still rhymes with “Gosh”

Upon Nina Foch’s death in 2008, I recalled a scene from An American in Paris:

Milo (Foch’s character) has invited Jerry (Gene Kelly) to a party; Jerry is not sure about this sort of thing, but Milo reassures him that there will be an “extra girl” on hand, so it shouldn’t be a total loss for him.

And then he arrives, and:

Jerry: Where is everyone?
Milo: Here.
Jerry: Downstairs?
Milo: No, here in this room.
Jerry: What about that extra girl?
Milo: That’s me.

At the time I first saw this film (late 1960s), I was startled at this sheer demonstration of forwardness on her part, although in retrospect it occurs to me that the only startling aspect of it was that I couldn’t imagine anyone coming on to me in such a way.

And it’s not like Milo didn’t have anything to offer:

Nina Foch circa 1951

Foch was twenty-seven at the time; I suspect they made her look Just A Tad Older to provide contrast with the object of Jerry’s fixation, played by 20-year-old Leslie Caron. This is what he was turning down:

Nina Foch late-1940s photo

Incidentally, the “Foch” pronunciation was probably an invention of Hollywood: her name at birth was Nina Consuelo Maud Fock. In 1954, she married James Lipton, he of Inside the Actors Studio; the marriage lasted five years. Her last role was in 2007, in an episode of The Closer.

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It’s worse with a d20

Dice usually have several sides, the typical cube having six, with various other shapes in general use. Why might you want a die with only a single side? For predicaments like this:

Imagine this all too common scenario faced every day by D&D DMs around the world: your group is in a dungeon crawl. There’s a room with a pie in it, and the pie is guarded by an orc. If the characters open the door, one of these things happen:

1. The orc attacks

That’s it, there’s only the one option. So the characters do indeed open the door and the poor DM consults the chart. Unfortunately the smallest die type he has is a d4, so our DM has no choice but to roll the d4 over and over until he gets a 1 before he knows what the orc is going to do.

This is exactly the situation that 1-sided dice are designed to solve. Now the DM can grab the d1 and quickly roll just one time, see what the orc will do, and get on with the action of the game.

This is why I never became a gamer of any renown: I never could come up with neat stuff like that.

(Via this Dave Richeson tweet.)

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Circumferential evidence

If you’re planning to surprise her with a ring, asking her “Um, what size do you wear?” is one of the more efficient ways to ruin the surprise. It’s possible that she may have acted proactively, so to speak, but you can’t count on that sort of thing. If you happen to be close enough to Germany, this seems like a nifty way to get the information you need:

It’s generally hard to make an impression on a piece of cardstock that’s 3.5 by 2 inches, but German agency Jung von Matt definitely found a winner with its incredible business card for jewelry company Marrying — which, as the name suggests, specializes in engagement rings and wedding bands.

The card rolls up, becoming a handy tool to measure one’s ring size. The idea is that men who are shopping for a ring can use the card at home to subtly check the size of a woman’s current rings.

Assuming this can be done subtly. I’d probably run the risk of “What the heck are you doing in there?”

(Via this tweet by former OKC jeweler Dan Gordon. He’s still a jeweler, but he’s relocated to another state starting with O.)

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Squeaky wheels on the Gravy Train

Right out of the Akismet holding facility, this inexplicable bit of nothing:

Dog arthritis

Somehow I can’t see Fido clamoring for Kibbles ‘n Excedrin ‘n Bits.

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We gotta keep searchin’, searchin’

Although this may be overkill:

Screen shot from Pale Moon browser from www.google.com

If the next question is “Over what period of time?” I admit I don’t know — which, I suppose, makes things worse.

(Thank you, Del Shannon, for the title.)

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Sun tax error

Roger sent me this, and I imagine he was shaking his head as he read it:

Oklahoma residents who produce their own energy through solar panels or small wind turbines on their property will now be charged an additional fee, the result of a new bill passed by the state legislature and expected to be signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin (R).

On Monday, S.B. 1456 passed the state House 83-5 after no debate. The measure creates a new class of customers: those who install distributed power generation systems like solar panels or small wind turbines on their property and sell the excess energy back to the grid. While those with systems already installed won’t be affected, the new class of customers will now be charged a monthly fee — a shift that happened quickly and caught many in the state off guard.

You can read the measure in its current form here. This is how I replied to Roger:

I admit to not knowing what Ann Griffin was up to when she wrote that bill. (Most Republicans in the OK Senate have at least decent ratings from the Sierra Club; Griffin rates a 93% on their scale.)

The bill provides for a surcharge limited to “that required to recover the full costs necessary to serve customers who install distributed generation on the customer side of the meter after the effective date of this act,” which date is the first of November. However, it also expects the utilities to determine the amount of those costs, and implement the appropriate tariffs by the end of 2015. Typically, a tariff has to be approved by the Corporation Commission, and they will generally open a period of public comment before issuing a decision. So this may not be the done-est of deals.

And I’m thinking that, once actually imposed, this fee will probably be on the same scale as what I pay to support the state’s first wind farm. Ten years ago, it was a buck and a quarter a month; revised tariffs make it a bit more variable, but my most recent electric bill, for $56.95, included a “net wind cost” of $3.39. I’m betting they ask for about twice that, and the Corp Comm will approve half of it, and everybody will pretend to be happy.

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Foreign dung

I tell you, dogs can be trained to do almost anything:

A highly specialised detection dog trained to sniff out koala droppings is on the case in Logan, south of Brisbane, Australia, in a bid to boost protection for the vulnerable species. Logan City Council enlisted conservation canine Maya to help identify koala habitats in the area. Maya’s owner is Dr Cristescu, an ecologist who specialises in koala research.

And how did this pound puppy develop her, um, koalafications?

“You need a dog basically with an OCD on a tennis ball, an absolute nutcase on a tennis ball,” [Cristescu] said. “Then you scent-associate the tennis ball with the target odour — which is a koala poop — and then the dog will search for ages just to try to find that odour. She will go into an open area and she just has to find one little koala poop and she will just hit the deck. Maya will do a drop and then when you go up to her she’ll go and put her nose over the top of it and pinpoint exactly where it is. You’ve got a whole acre and you’ve found one tiny piece of koala poop.”

Maya, it appears, will be searching 1200 acres (about 500 hectares) over a two-week period.

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Needs an eye-bleach dispenser

Nissan, perhaps due to rubbing up against corporate cousin Renault for all these years, always seems to have a weird mix of genuinely handsome and downright fugly vehicles. I drive a 14-year-old Infiniti sedan which I think is at least acceptable-looking (apart from a really dumb aftermarket spoiler), especially considering the atrocities that have been vended in this size class in recent years in the name of fuel economy/aerodynamics/designer perversity. On the other side of the divide is the Juke utelet, of which Car and Driver said: “There are no logical reasons for it to look the way it does, so clearly drawn without conventional aesthetic considerations in mind.” And they liked it.

The revised Infiniti QX80, née QX56, née Nissan Patrol, may get similarly blistered in the press. At TTAC, Cameron Miquelon made no particular observation about its appearance, other than to note that the hood was “massive.” However, Michael Zak at Autoblog brought out the pejoratives:

[I]t’s hard to call this SUV anything but ugly. It’s bulbous and almost brutish, which aren’t generally words you want to have to use when talking about any kind of luxury vehicle.

Or even Lincolns.

On the basis that you should be able to make this fine judgment call on your own, here’s the new QX80, as seen at the New York auto show:

2015 Infiniti QX80

No amount of ethanol could persuade me that this thing is desirable. (Your mileage, of course, may vary.) Then again, the driver only has to look at the inside of it, except when refueling — which, given the size of this thing, he’ll be doing rather frequently.

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Spot almost hit

Among the Big Three colas, I’ve pretty much always seen Pepsi as third, maybe even fourth if Shasta was being discounted more heavily than usual; but for no really good reason, I had an urge for a Pepsi yesterday, and the wherewithal to obtain a 20-ounce bottle. Which I did.

While it was occurring to me that I could have gotten the same results by opening an RC Cola and letting it sit until Tuesday, I started reading the label, and discovered something I hadn’t actually noticed before: the full name “Pepsi-Cola” is no longer being used.

When did this happen? According to Wikipedia, it’s been simply Pepsi since 1961. I know I’ve had several Pepsis since the year I turned eight, but maybe it’s a we-don’t-serve-Coke kind of deal.

Come to think of it, in 1961, Pepsi kicked off that “For Those Who Think Young” business, so the actual transition might have been in this very advertisement. That’s Joanie Sommers on the vocal; now I wonder if Johnny got angry because she brought home a carton of Coke.

And anyway, before it was Pepsi-Cola, it was, um, Brad’s Drink. This is Brad.

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You can have it all, my empire of fish

Another site I run got hit with this lovely piece of Russian spam:

РЫБНАЯ ИМПЕРИЯ – онлайн игра с выводом денег. Запуск системы 31.03.2014.

Для регистрации перейдите по ссылке: http://fish-empire.net/

Наши Приемущества: Открытая статистика – Вы всегда будете в курсе о текущем положении золота в системе. В системе нет никаких запретов для продажи золота.

Идеальное сотрудничество – доступность многократно увеличить свои инвестиции. Мы предлагаем от 30% до 100% в месяц.

Рост резерва системы – за счет влива средств на рекламу и приглашения в проект новых участников – пользователями, участвующих по партнерской програме. Оперативная помощь на приветном форуме. Не забываемая атмосфера и ещё разнообразие разных плюсов.

Об Игре: РЫБНАЯ ИМПЕРИЯ – онлайн игра с выводом денег. Войдите в среду экономической онлайн игры и создайте свою Рыбную Империю, которая стабильно будет давать Вам настоящие деньги.

В данной игре Вам нужно приобретать различных рыб. Каждая рыба производит икру, которую можно обменять на золото. Золото можно выручить за настоящие деньги и вывести из системы на свои электронные кошельки.

Любые рыбы дают разное количество икры, чем они больше стоят, тем икры дают больше. Вы можете преобретать любое их кол-во, у рыб нет срока жизни, они никуда не исчезнут и будут давать Вам икру стабильно. Сбор икры осуществляется без потерь и лимитов по времени.

Начни Игру: Начать играть можно без инвестиций. При регистрации мы дарим Всем Щуку. Ежедневные бонусы, лотерея, конкурсы, акции. Так же существует партнерская програма. Призывайте в проект своих знакомых и родных.

За каждое пополнение счета партнерами, Вы будете получать 30% от суммы их инвестиций. Авто – ввод в проект и вывод денег на Ваш электронный счет. Низкая минималка на Паеер, всего 3 RUB. Ваша Рыбная Империя будет приносить прибыль всегда.

Курс игрового инвентаря: 100 гр. икры = 1 гр. золота. 100 гр. золота = 1 RUB.

Рыбы———–Стоимость——–Доход в день-——Окупаемость
Щука——————–90 RUB——————–1 RUB——————–90 дней
Минтай—————–270 RUB——————3,6 RUB——————–75 дней
Лосось—————–810 RUB——————13,5 RUB——————-60 дней
Осетр——————2430 RUB—————–54 RUB———————45 дней
Белуга—————–7290 RUB—————–243 RUB——————–30 дней

Looks like half online game, half multi-level marketing. (I am relying, of course, on Google Translate, because I don’t know enough Russian to find a toilet.)

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Under the bus with you

It seems so strange, at least to Crimsonic, that Kathleen Sebelius would resign:

What did she do wrong? Can someone explain?

I look at Kathleen Sebelius and see a well-coiffed woman in a pants-suit. She seemed to wear that pants-suit successfully. She looks serious and businesslike and even has shortish whitish hair, so as not to be too threateningly feminine. She’s even also skinny for pete’s sake. You could picture her getting invited to a fancy DC-area cocktail party.

Okay, that’s the important stuff. What else?

Kathleen SebeliusWiki says she has a master’s degree in “Public Administration”. You could therefore put some letters after her name. That’s a credential. What more do you need? She should just be kept in whatever position she holds (as long as she wants to hold it) thereafter. (Credential).

To sum up:

All I’m saying is that when I think about whether she satisfies all the criteria for success and qualification and doing a good job that we actually impose when selecting who will be our leaders (in particular female ones), as far as I can tell she passes with flying colors. I can literally think of no single criterion that we currently impose on leaders and authority figures that she doesn’t fully satisfy just fine. With respect to those criteria, she passes with flying colors as far as I can tell.

I mentioned the pants-suit right?

These are not the criteria we claim to espouse, mind you: these are the criteria we actually use.

And as you may have noticed, I am utterly indifferent to pantsuits.

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WordPress ahead

During the Pistons game last night, WordPress 3.9 arrived. (You may remember that 3.8.3 appeared a mere two days before that.) This version is named for the incredible Jimmy Smith, who was taking a walk on the wild side a decade before Lou Reed. I’m not entirely sure I’ve seen all the trickery from 3.8, or even 3.7, yet, but this is promised by Smith:

The updated visual editor has improved speed, accessibility, and mobile support. You can paste into the visual editor from your word processor without wasting time to clean up messy styling. (Yeah, we’re talking about you, Microsoft Word.)

I just felt a pang of whatever it is I feel a pang of whenever I have to contemplate anything in Microsoft Word.

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Had I a clue

I mentioned yesterday that the dealership had lent me a G37 for the duration while my own ride awaits a new and sorta-pricey part ($200+, plus God knows what to install); inasmuch as I have no idea of the duration of “the duration,” I figured that it would be at least two days and therefore I ought to spring for a couple of gallons of gas. Shortly after figuring this, I stumbled upon the Question of the Day: “On which side is the fuel filler?”

Conventional wisdom says that you follow the little arrow inside the gauge. I looked at it, and it looked like the one in my car: pointing to the right. Except that the filler on my car is on the left. Being distrustful of Nissan fuel gauges anyway, I decided I’d wait for the next G37 to come along and take notes. As it happens, the little C-store/Shell station around the corner from me had a G37 at the pump, and it was filling from the right side, so I manuevered into the nearest appropriate position and felt around for the remote fuel-door release on the underside of the driver’s side armrest.

I found nothing there.

Okay, fine, said I, and walked around to the other side of the car, where the glovebox is, with the express intent of consulting the manual.

Which wasn’t there.

My second Mazda had the release on the floor by the seat controls. Not there, either. After about seven minutes of looking just as stupid as possible, I noticed an asymmetry to the door opening. I pushed the side nearest the narrower edge, and yes! There’s the cap. And a tether to keep it from migrating, and a rack to keep it in rather than letting it dangle by the tether.

The clerk, when I presented her a ten-spot, was most amused. I was perhaps a tad less so when I discovered that the difference between regular and premium, recently jacked up to 32 cents at most Shells I see and 46 cents at one I’d passed earlier, was 60 cents. So “a couple of gallons” says it straight: ten bucks bought me just under two and a third gallons at $4.299. I hope they’re grateful at the dealership.

Addendum: The part will apparently arrive today.

Further addendum: Make that a part. Someone at Nissan Double Secret HQ dropped the ball.

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Paying it backward

The wheel of karma is downright speedy at times:

The author of the critically acclaimed graphic novel Fun Home was so horrified by the actions of South Carolina lawmakers and College of Charleston officials that she quickly joined an effort to bring the off-Broadway show based on her book to campus, according to local organizers.

Alison Bechdel and the cast of the New York City show are volunteering to present a concert version of the musical in Charleston. Two performances will be offered, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday, at Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain St.

Origin of the flap:

Fun Home was the selected title for the College Reads! program and made available to all incoming students in the fall of 2013. It recounts Bechdel’s upbringing and explores themes of sexual identity.

In February, some lawmakers took issue with the book, and the S.C. House budget-writing committee moved to withdraw $52,000 of school funding, the cost of the summer reading program.

The censorship controversy flared, prompting acrimony on both sides and concern from supporters of academic freedom.

Next year’s selection, David Finkel’s The Good Soldiers, may be controversial for a different reason: Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning has contradicted some of Finkel’s narrative.

(Via this Will Creeley tweet. Creeley is Director of Legal and Public Advocacy for FIRE.)

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