Pi, schmi

To some of us, Pi is Very Special Indeed:

To others (after the jump), maybe not so much:

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Down for the rebound

Tristan Prettyman, mentioned here about as often as I can work up an excuse, was dumped by Capitol Records yesterday.

She blames, um, me:

(Decidedly favorable review of Cedar + Gold — which I did actually buy, admittedly in the quantity of one — here.)

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Snow is still a four-letter word

The winter of ’14, as seen from Chicago:

Sounds a little funny to my ears. But over these last few months, I have moved several thousand pounds of snow with my shovel and my back, and you don’t soon forget such things. I have also, I discovered yesterday, personally witnessed the five snowiest winters in Chicago history, according to this list. Four of which occurred during my schooling years, including the last two, in 77-78 and 78-79, when I was trudging around college campuses in frozen outposts in Illinois. Gosh, thanks, I just don’t know what to say …

Wait, yes I do. Where is that damn global warming everyone keep yammering on and on about? This is also one of the coldest winters ever — it was below zero on March 3rd, with the first day of Spring just three weeks away.

On the third of March down here in the tropics, we had a nice, toasty six degrees. (Second occurrence of 6° this winter; we got down to 4° in late January, though in classic Oklahoma fashion, the next day we had a high of 67°.)

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SubQuil

Lileks on Nighttime Pain Relief Fluids:

There were the usual choices: The Real Stuff, and the Store Brand that Tastes like Donkey Sputum. Everyone knows it. They could probably make the store brand taste better, but why? You’re buying it to save money. Suffer. The Nyquil had words printed on the security wrapper: VICKS DOES NOT MAKE STORE BRANDS. A bit defensive, eh? Google VICKS DOES NOT MAKE and it autocompletes “store brands.” It’s been on the wrapping for a few years, I gather. It’s a smart move — inserts the seed of doubt, lest anyone thinks they sold the crown jewels to maximize market share, but everyone knows the store brands are reverse engineered, and possibly use Mexican methoholodyexophine-2 made in shoddy factories where the manager periodically relieves himself in the vat. It’s always the same percentage as the real thing. I’d more impressed if it had the same chemicals but twice as much, and they were proud of it.

I’d even pay brand-name prices if they did that.

I’m still waiting for WeeQuil, which is not a tonic for the youths, but a perhaps-possible NyQuil variant that lasts one full week (or seven days, whichever comes first). I figure it would have to be sold in 750-ml bottles like Two-Buck Chuck, though the price will likely be closer to $30. Maybe $300. And it would be darn well worth it, too.

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I might have known

Every month, it’s a new story, simply because health writers always need something to write about, and because their readers, or a substantial percentage thereof, are just this side of full-bore hypochondria. The current Amazing Revelation is that unless you have an actual deficiency, you probably don’t need to take vitamins.

I was in Target last evening, picking up a couple of prescriptions and, yes, a bottle of a particular vitamin which, says the doctor, I somehow don’t get enough of. Usually I pay cash for such stuff, but today I whipped out the Visa, and as always, I scrutinized the receipt when I got home.

An X in the right column, apparently, indicates a “health item.” Both prescriptions were deemed health items. The vitamin, which was labeled “Health-Beauty-Cosmetics,” was not. Maybe I’m reading too much into this — or maybe I need to put more things on plastic.

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Dredge report

The last game with the Lakers this year — oh, come on, there’s no chance they’ll make the playoffs, even if they’re not mathematically eliminated just yet — was widely seen among Loud City residents as mandatory payback for that debacle this past Sunday at the Staples Center. Certainly the Thunder acted like they wanted it: ten steals and eleven blocks — Serge Ibaka had seven swats — demonstrate some serious desire. Once garbage time ensued and everybody got some minutes (new hire Reggie Williams made his OKC debut, knocking down five points in five minutes), attention, mine anyway, turned to the box score. Would the Lakers get six players into double figures? (They would.) Would the Thunder reach 60 rebounds? (They would.) Can OKC possibly break 130 points in 48 minutes? Yep. 131-102 was the actual final.

If ever you wondered whether Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were spiritually joined at the hip, consider tonight’s lines: KD, 8-17 for 29 points; Westbrook, 9-17 for 29 points. (Russ also served up nine dimes.) Ibaka came up with a double-double (15 points, 13 rebounds) to go with those seven blocks; the bench contributed 46 points, led by birthday boy Caron Butler with 11. (Is it just me, or is Butler gradually displacing Jeremy Lamb in the rotation?)

Still: six Lakers in double figures, topped off once again by Jodie Meeks. I think I speak for everyone here in town when I say that I’d much rather Meeks got 19 than the 42 he got on Sunday. And L. A. got 13 treys in three fewer attempts than OKC did. But their three-point prowess was to some extent undercut by their futility at single points: the Lakers missed 10 of 25 free throws. (OKC put up 30 and missed only two.)

For the rest of the season, “L. A.” denotes the Clippers, whom the Thunder face once more. (The Clips are up 2-1.) But that’s not until April. In the meantime, the Mavs will be here Sunday, and after that it’s a week out East, against Chicago, Cleveland and Toronto.

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Roxanne the Casbah

If you’re pregnant and headed for, or already in, Saudi Arabia, you might need to know this:

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has banned 50 given names including “foreign” names, names related to royalty and those it considers to be blasphemous.

Saudis will no longer be able to give their children names such as Amir (prince), Linda or Abdul Nabi (Slave of the Prophet) after the civil affairs department at the ministry issued the list, according to Saudi news sites.

It justified the ban by saying that the names either contradicted the culture or religion of the kingdom, or were foreign, or “inappropriate”.

Inexplicably — at least to yours truly, with little knowledge of Arabic — “Lauren” and “Sandy” are on the proscribed list. Best guess: a traveling prince got dumped by a Lauren once upon a time, and, well, the whole darn country is already Sandy.

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Rather expansive

A little over a decade ago, before I moved into the palatial estate at Surlywood, I lived in a two-bedroom apartment of approximately 925 square feet: it wasn’t huge, but it was enough for my modest needs and maybe a little extra.

I can’t, however, get my mind around the idea of living in a space a hundred times as large:

There are plans to build the country’s largest single family residence in northeast Edmond.

Last year, the Edmond Planning Commission was asked to give approval to a mega mansion on the northwest corner of Sorghum Mill Road and Westminster Road.

“It’s truly a castle,” says Bob Schiermeyer, who saw the first renderings late last year and tells News 9 the plans call for a drawbridge and spires that reach 90 feet.

Schiermeyer says original plans called for a home that was around 75,000 square feet, but the home’s architect says the home has now grown to 92,650 square feet. That architect says, if completed, the castle home will be the largest single family residence in the U.S.

The owner of this Disney-From-Hell place — which will not, I suspect, be on the Architecture Tour anytime soon — made his bazillions off a buy-here-pay-here used-car operation.

And anyway, “largest” is highly arguable: the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina (see my World Tour ’07 report) checks in at 178,926 square feet, though it’s more museum than actual living space these days.

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From the As If files

Something styling itself “Facebook Spy” had the temerity to send me this:

chaz, we have detected that your profile was viewed by following user:

Nickname: SquigglyNoodles99
Gender: female
Possible age: 27 years
Last view: 14 minutes ago

There followed a t.co link which of course I refused to click, and come to think of it, why would a “Facebook Spy” send out a link shortened with the Twitter shortener?

Be assured, future spammers, that no 27-year-old woman on the face of the earth is going to be looking in my direction.

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Don’t forget seat warmers

What was the defining factor in this winter’s auto market? New models? Deep discounts? How about frigid temperatures?

The harsh winter, during which many areas of the United States saw temperatures dip well below zero degrees, changed car shopping preferences, according to a new study from Swapalease.com, with utility vehicles replacing certain other car segments as a popular choice in several locations.

“While it makes sense to see the winter elements encourage a shift to larger utility-type vehicles, the most recent winters did not have this effect on shopping patterns,” said Scot Hall, Executive Vice President of Swapalease.com. “However, a consistent wave of arctic-type conditions may have contributed to this winter’s shift in shopping preferences in many parts of the country.”

Midsize sedans remained the most popular segment for consumers, but utility vehicles saw big spikes in interest over the course of this frosty winter. About fourteen percent of car shoppers preferred midsize crossovers (up from 9.2 percent last winter), 13.2 percent preferred full-size crossovers (up from 7.5 percent) and 11.8 percent preferred midsize SUVs (up from 6.9%).

Now that the roads are (mostly) clear, let’s get out there and burn some hydrocarbons!

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Babe magnets, how do they work?

I really hate to dash anyone’s hopes — no, really, I do — but I don’t think this will end well:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I am a 27 year old black male and drive a 2007 glacier pearl white nissan murano sl. am I going to get ladies?

It’s not entirely stock, either:

It has tints and a mesh grille and a black hood deflector instead

James, my man, I hate to break it to you, but the woman who falls for you because of your wheels won’t last beyond a couple of oil changes. Sorry.

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Life continues to pound

This day, I knew, would not be good.

The Win7 migration continues apace. There is one hyper-complicated piece of software that we’re using to prepare mailings, and last time, it took a full day to install and test. On the new Win7 box, a full day proved to be not enough time to install and test — unless you don’t care whether the test is passed or not.

For reasons other than that, I’m a couple of hours behind. (Short version: this is the price one pays for catering to morons with more money than brains, and they’re not exactly bucks up either.) I couldn’t wait to get out of the shop.

And when I got out of the shop, I discovered a tire with maybe 16 psi pressure. I do carry a pump of sorts, but this was going to require professional attention, which I got on the way home. I pulled into the garage, and I heard water running — though there was no visible evidence of a leak. Turning off both faucets in back of the washing machine quieted the noise, so I figure one of them is shot. I’m not sure which nerve is the last one, but I’m definitely on it.

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Mulch ado

You gotta give these guys credit for a little bit of enthusiasm:

Excitement is where you find it, after all.

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Meanwhile at the Conversion Bureau

The sysadmin expects to have every last one of us onto Windows 7 in the next four weeks, reasoning that the day after Microsoft pulls support for XP, we can expect a massive attack on any and all XP machines remaining. I’m not so sure — I figure the malware artists will wait forty-eight hours instead of twenty-four, just to lure the suckers into a false sense of security — but there’s no sense asking for trouble, and since most of the XP machines we have online are between four and seven years old, there’d be a reason to replace them even if we had to replace them with Vista.

Or maybe not. Trini, when she was running our hardware support, refused to allow any Vista machines in the building. I keep meaning to call her and ask what she thinks of Windows 8, though I suspect I already know the answer. (There was a time when we were pretty adept at finishing each other’s sentences, a neat trick for two people nearly two generations apart.)

So it’s going to be Win7. I left Microsoft Easy Transfer running over the weekend to move my stuff to a new work box; it took six hours to push files around, but only about an hour or so to restore the functionality to which I am accustomed. I’ll take that. I expect most of the other upgrades will be easier; they’ll certainly be for me, since I won’t have to do them.

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Now with extra morning darkness!

I didn’t do a DST rant this year, perhaps dimly sensing that this idiotic government scheme, like most idiotic government schemes, will outlive me by many decades.

However, I’m happy to give you someone else’s DST rant:

I dislike these first few weeks of it (that it starts so early, too): I go from driving to work when the sun is up to driving to work in the dark. I was rather frustrated with the Weather Channel the day or two before, when they were talking about how we all got “extra sunlight” after the time change. No. There is no “extra” sunlight, absent the few seconds we gain with each day we get closer to the summer solstice. The only people who get “extra” sunlight are those who sleep in late enough to be up after the dawn during standard time. And, perhaps, the people who can get in a round of golf after work instead of having to grade or attend to life-chores like laundry or marketing. (And really: how many people in today’s America get to sleep through the dawn? And how many have enough free time in the afternoon to go have fun? Probably not most working people; probably not most parents.)

TWC’s absorption into Comcast/NBC killed what few brain cells they had.

Sunrise this week in Oklahoma City has been around 7:50. Pretty much everyone I work with has to drive in the dark to get there by eight. (I show up in the general vicinity of six-thirty, so I seldom see any sunshine on the morning commute: sunrise never comes earlier than about 6:15.)

And besides, laws are not enacted for the benefit of working people and/or parents, unless there’s some way to obtain the requisite quantity of graft and/or egoboo for the elites.

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Where have all the Lortabs gone?

Long time disappearing, it would seem:

The L.A. Times’ David Lazarus reports that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the California Board of Pharmacy are investigating the disappearance of prescription pain meds from four stores in California.

The DEA served the stores with warrants almost a year ago after learning about prescription drugs like Vicodin that were not present and accounted for.

The company now faces up to 2,973 separate violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act because its records don’t match the actual inventory of the drugs in question. CVS could be forced to pay upwards of $29 million in penalties for these possible violations.

Apparently they’re not going out the door a few at a time, either:

The DEA investigation has been going on since 2012, when a DEA investigator learned of missing hydrocodone pills from a store near Sacramento. A pharmacy worker at the store eventually admitted to her employers that she had stolen some 20,000 pills.

Checking the temperature of other stores in the region, the investigator looked through the records of other CVS stores in the area and found 16,000 pills missing from one CVS; 11,000 from another and two additional stores with around 5,000 missing pills each.

The cynic in me goes “Harrumph,” and asks “Where was Walgreens during all this?” In their own little bit of trouble, it seems.

I have to figure that interdiction of drugs is a complete waste of time, if only because supply restrictions have not resulted in higher prices: last time I picked up any of these tabs, I paid something like $2.90 for fourteen of them.

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