Limited memory

Something else I need to think about:

Imagine that you lost your cellphone with its built-in address book. How many phone numbers you remember and can dial by yourself, no cheat-sheet involved?

I have actual data, or at least an anecdote, on this, from the time my original phone from the days of VoiceStream (!) went south and no new model would accept its ancient SIM card. Of 24 numbers in storage, I was able to remember exactly nine.

Fortunately, I heard from enough of the missing over the next few days to (mostly) replenish the contact directory.

(Current contact list: 28, though one I deem expendable and will delete one of these days.)

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Needful markup

J. Random Dullard, whom you’ve seen all over the Interwebs complaining about huge — nay, yuge — corporate profits, is of course full of it:

When a random sample of American adults were asked the question “Just a rough guess, what percent profit on each dollar of sales do you think the average company makes after taxes?” for the Reason-Rupe poll in May 2013, the average response was 36%! That response was very close to historical results from the polling organization ORC’s polls for a slightly different, but related question: What percent profit on each dollar of sales do you think the average manufacturer makes after taxes? Responses to that question in 9 different polls between 1971 and 1987 ranged from 28% to 37% and averaged 31.6%.

How do the public’s estimates of corporate profit margins compare to reality? Not surprisingly they are off by a huge margin. According to this Yahoo! Finance database for 212 different industries, the average profit margin for the most recent quarter was 7.5% and the median profit margin was 6.5% (see chart above). Interestingly, there wasn’t a single industry out of 212 that had a profit margin as high as 36% in the most recent quarter.

Nor can you assume that Dullard is a left-leaning, gun-fearing Pajama Boy, either:

The seller had a wildly optimistic $485 on the tag but allowed as how he’d let it go for $425 out the door. Considering a brand new one retails at our shop for $499.95, Glock’s minimum advertised price, that was a less than attractive deal.

I did look around for a new one at the show, because retail profit margins on new base model Gen 3 Glocks are so razor thin that even my employee discount only saves me ten bucks or so, which would have been outweighed by instant gratification.

Most people have no idea how thin the margin on new guns is. I’m not aware of any similarly-priced consumer good that sells at retail for so little markup.

Truth be told, I wasn’t aware of the margin on new guns, though if you’d asked me cold a couple of days ago I’d probably have said “Maybe 10 to 15 percent.” Certainly nowhere in the 30s.

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Strange search-engine queries (520)

According to the Weather Guys, who start their figuring from the first of December, we’re now in the middle of winter. From here on out, it can only get better, right? Never, ever assume that. In the meantime, let’s look at the latest search strings.

“enter this code to prove you are not a robot” mazda 6 lease price:  This practice discriminates against driving robots, and will not be tolerated in the Xeljanz administration.

pop tarts 2004:  Long since expired. Throw them away.

tinder verified:  Not as meaningful as being the Mayor on Foursquare.

readme.html wordpress vodka flavored vodka  Delete “readme.html”; it is of no use to anyone except malware distributors. Now pass me some of that vodka-flavored vodka.

invisible bikini prank:  Never knew the Emperor was trying on swimsuits.

warren has been struggling to eat healthier, but he forgot to pack a lunch and he is starving. he pulls into the fast food drive-through lane, and as he ponders the options he decides to go for a hamburger instead of a cheeseburger. he gets a small order of french fries instead of a large order:  All he had to do was order a Diet Coke, which eliminates all calories, amiright? shrill:  You obviously haven’t been on Tumblr lately.

jason hangs sheetrock for a local contractor. his job requires him to hang the sheetrock overhead on ceilings. what type of ergonomic-related hazard is jason likely to encounter?:  Severe headache, gravity-assisted.

geometry works:  It does! Ask the guy standing under the Sheetrock.

trying to be less of an asshole than i was yesterday:  Call back in three weeks.

amos moses was a cajun:  And a one-armed Cajun at that.

not superman:  This describes every one of us, except maybe that Clark Kent guy.

mary’s parents bought her a used bicycle for her birthday. she was thrilled until she learned that her best friend received a brand new bicycle to celebrate ground hog day. mary’s declining satisfaction illustrates:  That you should never buy gifts in February.

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Playing them cool

One expects, in these post-LeBron days, games with the Heat to be titanic defensive struggles, and the first half of this game was exactly that: a low-scoring (44-42), high-friction contest. Miami pulled to within one early in the third quarter, but someone somewhere turned on a switch, and the Thunder pounded down 31 points in those 12 minutes to go up 18. Radio guy Matt Pinto pointed out that the Heat were playing the last game of a six-game road trip, and maybe Miami was tired; but I’m thinking the Thunder finally figured out how to break the turgid pace and play its own game — and, purely incidentally I’m sure, ruin Dwyane Wade’s birthday. (Wade had 18 points by halftime, but was held to four thereafter.) The final was Oklahoma City 99, Miami 74, the 30th win for OKC out of 42.

There was a brief incident of specsmanship in the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant (24 points) had already retired for the night; Russell Westbrook stayed in long enough to finish up his second consecutive triple-double (13-10-15). Dion Waiters is still on a hot streak: 6-11 for 18 points. But the man with the Big Plus was +20 Andre Roberson, who bothered Wade as much as Wade could possibly be bothered.

Miami was missing a couple of warm bodies: neither Goran Dragić nor Beno Udrih was available. Still, Tyler Johnson competently filled in for Dragić and Hassan Whiteside was good for a double-double (14 points/11 boards). If there’s a Telltale Statistic, it’s this one: Miami got their 42 percent from the floor on 30 made shots out of 72. The Thunder, at 46 percent, hit 40-88. Sixteen more made shots. This is the benefit of playing at Thunder speed, and tonight Miami wasn’t dialed into it — at least, not in the second half.

Weird schedule next week: at Denver Tuesday, at home against Charlotte on Wednesday, then out to Dallas (Friday), Brooklyn (Sunday afternoon), New York (Tuesday), and Minnesota (again!) on Wednesday. Doable, but lots of potential for trappage.

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The sameness of the sky

The line between “mostly cloudy” and “partly sunny” is apparently even finer than I thought it was. From the National Weather Service’s local forecast today:

Forecast for 17-18-19 January 2015

Can you tell them apart? I certainly can’t.

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The alarmist

It is of course inevitable that something will eventually kill me; this is the fate of all of us, and God knows there’s no reason I ought to be spared. But I have this unfortunate tendency to see my eventual demise as, well, imminent. And it’s not. (I think.)

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Fark blurb of the week

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The relocated malcontent

In fact, the Local Malcontent may already be moving:

[We] have sold our home in Yanush to a lovely, young, immigrant Muslim couple from Qatar and Pakistan, and we two+ are going to move into a newer, larger home in LeFlore County, Ok.

Effective late January.

So I will be away for awhile, until AT&T U=verse connects us to the InterWebSuperHighway — they claim it will be on February 2 … but they wouldn’t say which year.

(Emphasis added.)

The community of Yanush isn’t big enough to be mentioned in Wikipedia, though it does have a Facebook page.

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An item for your bucket list

Current ice buckets, says Suzette, are pretty good:

And why wouldn’t they be? They’re made by local ice bucket artisans. In New Brunswick NJ. Right off of Rt 1. But I see that they change their line frequently to keep up with design trends and probably to create desire in ice bucket consumers for continuing ice bucket acquisition. In fact, the one I just bought as a Christmas gift doesn’t seem to be in production any longer.

So that got me to thinking that since this company has been making trendy ice buckets since 1965, there must be some vintage psychedelic or pop-art ones still floating around.

And you want to act now to get your hands on your favorite bucket, before summer and the return of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

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Lead to this conclusion

Another classic Roberta X footnote, appended to a piece about an Indianapolis gun show:

ATF-looking d00ds and even mopier sorts are always generally hanging around Indy 1500 shows. With my round eyeglasses and Bettie Page bangs, I don’t look like a “typical” gun-show attendee and sometimes they’ll chat me up. This can be great fun — for me. “And how long have you been with the Agency?” is usually good for a sharp look and an abrupt departure.

She can probably outshoot them, too, but nobody wants to go there (I hope).

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Holy flurking low-octane schnitt

This needs no introduction:

Never mind what I paid for it, several hundred miles away.

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Ma, it’s the revenooers

iTunes Radio is being folded into the larger Apple Music service. What does this mean? Exactly what you think it does:

iTunes Radio, Apple’s ad-supported streaming service, will soon no longer be free.

The company plans to make the service part of Apple Music, which costs $10 a month, beginning Jan. 29, according to BuzzFeed, who first reported the news. The update means that Beats 1, which launched last year alongside Apple Music, will be the company’s only free music streaming offering.

Apple launched iTunes Radio in 2013 in the United States and Australia. The streaming service is similar to Pandora and other Internet radio services in that you can create custom stations based on genres or specific songs. The service is ad-supported and didn’t allow on-demand access to music.

I have no idea whether Friday Radio, the custom station I started in 2013, will survive in any recognizable form.

(Title from Snuffy Smith. Feel free to Google it.)

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Your best Bai

“One of these days,” I said to myself, “I’m going to do a post of nothing but Bai Ling tweets.”

This is the day. Enjoy.

A chronic hashtag and/or emoji abuser, she is, but I’ve never regretted following her.

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Detangle in the night

If turning a skein of yarn into something wearable is a relaxing endeavor, wouldn’t turning a big ball of tangles into a proper skein be the antithesis of relaxing? The answer is apparently no:

Many knitters find their craft a tranquil and even meditative pastime — until knots and tangles in their yarn send them into a fury. But for one group of fanatics, there is nothing more satisfying than a hopelessly tangled web.

Daphne Basnet of Melbourne, Australia, once paid about $50 on eBay for a 25-pound box of snarled yarn, simply for the pleasure of untangling it. “I was so happy, I can’t tell you,” recalls the 58-year-old of her purchase, a mess of about 120 knotted balls. Finding such tangled treats got easier when Ms. Basnet joined Knot a Problem, a seven-year-old group of more than 2,100 “detanglers” on the online community for knitters and crocheters called Ravelry. Frustrated yarn-lovers from around the world post pleas for help undoing their knottiest knots, often created by children, pets or yarn-winding mishaps. Devoted detanglers typically offer to take on the projects for the cost of shipping.

Alexander the Great, who according to legend sliced through the Gordian Knot rather than try to detangle it, would presumably not have approved.

(Via American Digest.)

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You again

Halfway through the season, and the dreaded word “pace” appears: the Thunder, now 29-12, are on pace, as they say, to win 58 games, which would probably get them third place in the West, what with the 35-6 Spurs on track for 70 and the Warriors headed for possible hoop history. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls went 72-10; Golden State (now 37-3) could conceivably make it to 75 or 76 wins. There is, alas, history at the opposite end as well: the 76ers are 4-37, which doubles to 8-74, one game worse than the futility of 9-73, set by the 1972-73, um, Sixers.

With that minor detail out of the way, let it be noted that the second Timberwolves-Thunder game in three days — there will be a third before the end of the month — was much more one-sided than the first: the Wolves didn’t even score until almost four minutes in. The Wolves, however, throw in no towels, and after their last rally, an 8-5 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter, was thwarted, they kept on banging. The biggest difference from that previous game: the Oklahoma City bench did much better this time, with Dion Waiters coming up with 20 points, only one short of the mighty Kevin Durant himself. And Russell Westbrook posted yet another triple-double, 12-11-10 in a mere 27 minutes. The 113-93 win was, as the sports dudes say, wire to wire.

Still, the game-high scorer was Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins, who calmly nailed 25 points, and not so calmly tried to rip an arm off Steven Adams, for which he got a Flagrant One. And the Wolves were way better at the foul line, making 20 of 23, and outrebounded the Thunder by five. Plus there’s that no-towels thing, and the formidable presence of Damjan Rudež, who played 12 years in Europe before coming to the NBA last season. Rudež was on the floor for only the last couple of minutes, and he took one shot, which he made — which gave him a +5 for the night, best of any of the Wolves.

One last game on this homestand: the Miami Heat will be here Sunday. (Miami won the last outing, in South Beach.)

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Feature not featured

I have entirely too much reason to trust Jack Baruth on this matter:

Like most cars built in the past 60 years or so, the VW Phaeton has a movable driver’s seat. Like the vast majority of the cars built in the past 30 years or so, the VW Phaeton has a center console. Now pay attention, because this is the important part. In pretty much every car I’ve driven since the day I got my license, ranging from raggedy old Escorts to brand-new Rolls-Royces, there is a small gap between the driver’s seat and the center console. If you are sitting in any of those cars and you are holding your phone, or your keys, or your wallet, or anything else that is less than an inch and a half wide, and you drop that item, it will fall between the seat and the center console. At that point, you will discover that, although the gap between the driver’s seat and the center console easily accommodates a smartphone or, say, an ex-West-Berlin-Police Walther PP pistol in caliber .32 ACP, it does not accommodate the hand of an adult male. Not without scratching and/or cutting it into ribbons.

For example: there was the time I dropped my phone during World Tour ’08, and the retrieval of same unearthed a wallet belonging to a teenaged girl, which had been hiding in the gap for over two years.

The gap also attracts coins; I think I’ve lost about $30 in change over nine and a half years.

So maybe I should have opted for the most expensive Volkswagen in creation, huh?

In the VW Phaeton, however, there is a thing. It’s a velour-covered molded piece and it fills in the gap between the driver’s seat and the center console. It’s made to flex a bit so even though the relationship of the seat to the console changes a bit throughout its range of travel, that piece still prevents anything from falling between the seat and the console. If you drop your phone or your keys or your Walther, it will land on that piece and there it will stay in easy reach of your hand.

This would not seem difficult to replicate in less-costly models, but so far nobody, not even Volkswagen, has seen fit to do so.

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