Is this the best Facebook status ever?

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Carpe the crap out of this diem

Sometimes a noise wakes you; sometimes the absence of noise wakes you. I stirred this morning, rolled over enough to see the clock, and saw — nothing. The fan in the corner was dead. Great, thought I. Power outage. I duly punched up OG&E on the phone, reported the calamity, and after a few minutes the Brain Ready light finally came on.

You may remember this incident from the spring:

There used to be a metal pole west of the driveway that contained a light fixture; the light would go on at dark and turn off at sunrise, or at least it did for a while. Then the bulb socket broke, and I didn’t rush to have it fixed; when the ground to the west began eroding away, the pole began to lean at an embarrassing angle. Finally, on a day of 60-mph winds, the pole loosened up from what little base it had, and a couple of scavengers hauled it off for scrap metal.

I don’t miss it, exactly, but I’m wondering what I should do with this length of cable the thieves left behind. I am loath to call my usual electrician, since he’s fixated on bringing the whole house up to code, at a price that leaves little change from a $10,000 bill.

At the time, I covered up the bare ends of the wires and tucked the cable behind a shrub. Now, however, was a real opportunity. I threw on just enough clothing to avoid arrest and went at it with a pruning hook. Got the stub down below ground level, and then dropped a large rock over it.

As I was tossing that length of cable into the trash bin, the lights came back on. Had I dawdled three minutes more, you would presumably not be reading this.

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Kerry aloft

So this arrived in the mailbox a few days ago, and all of a sudden I’m thinking Tony Goldwyn as Consummate Actor:

Entertainment Weekly cover issue 1380

I mean, if I have Kerry Washington on my shoulder, her knee at my eye level, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have difficulty looking straight at the camera. (Bellamy Young is no slouch either, but we’re talking Kerry freaking Washington here.)

This led me to wonder if I reacted similarly to dissimilar poses with similarly charming displays, and:

Kerry Washington reads the news

Kerry Washington in InStyle May 2013

Damn, that Goldwyn guy is good.

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Muttered under his breath

Because Bertie Wooster was not given to such utterances if they could actually be heard:

Besides, Jeeves knows everything. Just ask him.

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Emissions: implausible

You’ve seen this said here before: There is no system that cannot be gamed. This particular example is fiendishly clever, if definitely illegal:

The Obama administration on Friday directed Volkswagen to recall nearly a half-million cars, saying the automaker illegally installed software in its diesel-power cars to evade standards for reducing smog.

The Environmental Protection Agency accused the German automaker of using software to detect when the car is undergoing its periodic state emissions testing. Only during such tests are the cars’ full emissions control systems turned on. During normal driving situations, the controls are turned off, allowing the cars to spew as much as 40 times as much pollution as allowed under the Clean Air Act, the EPA said.

The tradeoff? Better fuel economy, apparently. VW evidently wanted big numbers and was willing to do whatever it took to get them.

In other words, it’s the automotive equivalent of “teaching to the test,” and it’s not at all surprising in a society that values the letter of the law far more than the spirit.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Lookin’ out my backdoor

Cisco is attempting to deal with something called SYNful Knock:

SYNful Knock is a type of persistent malware that allows an attacker to gain control of an affected device and compromise its integrity with a modified Cisco IOS software image. It was described by Mandiant as having different modules enabled via the HTTP protocol and triggered by crafted TCP packets sent to the device.

Security type Blind Seeker opines:

There are really only two host-based artifacts that can give away the implant; the modification of the TLB (Translation Lookaside Buffer) attributes from Read-only to Read/Write, and the fact that the actors will ascertain what features of the IOS are not being used to determine what functionality to remove in order to fit their backdoor into the IOS image, without affecting the size of the image. Your network admins aren’t ever going to care about the memory attributes of the TLB, and unless there is a sudden need to change their entire network, those unused features that were deleted to make room for the backdoor aren’t gonna be missed either. Even assuming that the network admin notices that a particular feature isn’t working on a router, they’re more likely to go “Huh, that’s weird..” and engage Cisco technical support and/or just nuke and re-image the router than they would be to say ZOMG NATION-STATE BACKDOOR.

This is consistent with standard network-admin practice:

Networking gear exists in a realm of if it ain’t broken, save the running config, back it up somewhere, and NEVER TOUCH THIS AGAIN.

Exactly so.

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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Antique fuel

Not an unreasonable question, this:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How do you know when gas has gone bad?

And then we launch into Too Much Exposition:

I have a 79 Firebird that has sat for about 5 years and I am starting down the road to running it again. I filled it with the good stuff before parking it. I am assuming that after this long it has gone bad but considering that I paid over $4/gallon for it at the time I hate to just dump it unless somebody has a good idea on how to save it.

Sorry, pal, but old hydrocarbons are not worth saving no matter what you paid for them. (Why do you think we burn ’em in the first place?)

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Look in the Basement

A small piece of my biography:

During my days in New England, I discovered something called Filene’s Basement, oddly enough underneath a Filene’s store. Items relegated to the Basement were marked down some startling amount, and further markdowns were taken if they survived ten, then twenty, days. After 30 days, anything left was donated to charity. I learned to keep well back as shoppers fought each other for items on Day 29.

“Fought,” incidentally, is no exaggeration. It was fierce in there sometimes.

Weirdly, Filene’s Basement, at least in its latter days, was not owned by Filene’s, but both companies ended up dead. And while Filene’s isn’t coming back — Macy’s made darn sure of thatthe Basement will return as a Web storefront:

[T]he chain is back from the dead, re-launching next week as an online-only business that will have the familiar mix of home goods and apparel that customers remember from its previous incarnation. Even “Running of the Brides,” a blowout wedding gown sale at which women were known to throw some elbows in the name of nabbing the perfect dress, is being reintroduced.

Filene’s Basement was always known for having an unusually loyal customer base, so many shoppers will likely welcome its return to the marketplace. And yet their new position as an e-commerce store may make it difficult to replicate perhaps the most beloved part of shopping at the old Filene’s Basement: The thrill of the hunt.

Somehow, it doesn’t seem the same. Still, you gotta, or at least I gotta, root for the Basement. I’m still mildly buzzed that Montgomery Ward 2.0 yet survives.

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Quote of the week

The future of the sports car, says Jack Baruth, looks bleak indeed:

Of all the objects we use in our daily lives, only the automobile is truly expected to suffer in perpetuity for its ecological doubleplusungoodcrimethink. My God, for three dollars I can buy a bag of razors and use each one of them like four times and just pitch it in the trash when I’m done. Why it is that I can buy twenty pounds of plastic razors a year but Porsche has to geld the 911 in order to satisfy the unelected bureaucrats of the European Union? What if I could arrange to shave with a straight razor and sharpen it myself and keep it for like ten years? Could I, at that point, have a 2017 Carrera GTS that is just like the 2015 Carrera GTS, only maybe with more logical satellite-radio controls?

Here’s the worst part, and I swear to you that I will be proven right on this: it will all be for naught, in the long run. You cannot successfully appease the tyranny of the environmentalists any more than Neville Chamberlain could wheedle and kneel his way out of the Anschluss. More concessions will be necessary, and the pace at which the goalposts are moved — the rate of change, the acceleration of aggression towards our beloved internal combustion — will increase until it cannot be satisfied. In the long run, we will be confined to vomit-colored plastic transportation modules and if your behavior is exceptionally deferential towards your betters you may be granted a transparent roof so you can watch them fly overhead.

In the longer-than-long run — well, you have to Read The Whole Thing. I hope he’s right about that, because he’s almost certainly right about the near term.

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So much for Extra Lean

Vegans may want to click on something other than thisanything other than this — right about now:

Location based dating apps like Tinder are great for assessing prospective dates based purely on their looks and proximity, but sometimes you can’t help but feel like it would be nice to know a little bit more about this person before you swipe them into your life. Sometimes you have want the answer to some deeper questions, like “do you prefer turkey bacon or pork bacon?” If the answer to this question is make or break in your prospective relationships, you might be interested in Oscar Mayer’s new bacon-based dating app called Sizzl.

Possibly the most ridiculous but admirable marketing product of all time, Sizzl will allow you access to a network of bacon lovers, which makes your chances of finding that perfect someone look pretty good.

There are people who love bacon even more than I do, but they’re probably wearing the stuff already; it hardly seems necessary to develop an app to find them.

There is, of course, a subtle form of discrimination afoot:

Right now Sizzl is available exclusively on the apple store for free on versions iOS 8 and later, so sorry Android users, it looks like you’ll have to eat your bacon alone this evening. We feel a bit left out.

It’s always something, isn’t it?

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An enterprising young ghoul

Anyone who has more than a smidgen of archives — well, anyone who has more than a smidgen of archives and is goofy enough to disclose an email address — gets the occasional letter from someone more than happy to point out a broken link and suggest a replacement. Sometimes the replacement is relevant. Then there’s this earnest letter from one “Marlene” in Britain:

Good afternoon, I have found a broken resource on your site, I have listed all the details below so that you can find it and fix it easily. I have also included a link to an article that I wrote and as you will be fixing the broken link anyway, I thought you may like to add a link to my article about “The definitive guide to funeral flowers”.

What was fun about this was the nature of the rotted link: it connected to an old story about disgraced forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist, who passed away earlier this year. Some of Gilchrist’s more dubious findings resulted in having to obtain funeral flowers, but somehow jamming Marlene’s article into the piece seemed just a hair inappropriate.

That said, however, it’s a very nice article, so should you be interested in funeral flowers — keep in mind, I am very old — this is the piece she offered. Meanwhile, I replaced the old Gilchrist link with a new Gilchrist link.

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Assign it to my holding company

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me, um, how about this?

From the story:

The famous psychedelic Porsche convertible driven by late singing legend Janis Joplin is going up for sale.

Auction house RM Sotheby’s said the Porsche 356C 1600 Cabriolet would go on the block on December 10 in New York and estimated the sale would generate more than $US400,000.

Joplin’s family, after lending it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for the last couple of decades, has decided for some reason to sell the car. A ’65, this was one of the last 356 models to be produced, after which Porsche moved on to the 911. Presumably, her friends all drove these.

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With the wind in your hair and everything

Turns 8 and 8A at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are referred to as the Corkscrew, because — well, try to watch the background here while this five-year-old gets the ride of her life:

Now technically, that’s a half-bike; it’s connected to her dad’s two-wheeler up front, where the camera is. So she wasn’t going anywhere for those few seconds she let go of the handlebars. But damn if that doesn’t look like fun.

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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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