The word is “execution”

There were moments tonight when I thought the Thunder might be expecting to be shot at dawn: tentativeness reared its ugly head through much of the second quarter, and worse, the last four minutes of the fourth. Considering OKC had a 17-point lead late in the first — but never mind. We won’t go there. With 13 seconds left, Russell Westbrook, who had been sporadically brilliant this evening, inexplicably fouled Mario Chalmers as the shot clock wound down, and Super Mario sank both of those plus one more on the next possession to put it out of reach. It was Miami 104, Oklahoma City 98, and the Heat are one away from putting it away entirely.

Chalmers did more damage in that last frame, in fact, than did LeBron James, who had a team-high 26 but departed a couple minutes early, apparently suffering from a bad cramp. Mario, who rolled up 13 points in the fourth, finished with 25, same as Dwyane Wade. But let us not minimize King James’ contributions: he hauled in nine rebounds, tied with Chris Bosh, and served up 12 assists, one fewer than the entire Thunder team.

Westbrook, I think, was wanting to prove something to his detractors: he put up 32 of OKC’s 82 shots, and made twenty of them. Forty-three points. (Kevin Durant went 9-19 for 28.) But James Harden is still struggling: he was 2-10 from the floor — 1-5 for two, 1-5 for three — although he did bring down 10 rebounds, more than anyone else. Still, the Heat had the rebounding edge (40-35), and perhaps more important, they had the intangibles edge: even when trailing by 14 after the first quarter, they were purposeful and focused. And in a matter of not very many minutes, they weren’t trailing at all.

So it’s down to Thursday night. And you know, if you’re gonna lose, you might as well do it on the road: you hate to disappoint the hometown fans. At least, you’re supposed to hate to.

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Family resemblance

While Phylicia Rashad, whose birthday this is, most likely is best known for her years as Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, she paid plenty of dues on Broadway both before and after, including a stint as Sheryl Lee Ralph’s understudy in the original production of Dreamgirls.

Like mother, like daughter, perhaps: Condola Rashad, Phylicia’s daughter, is starting to make a name for herself in the theatre, earning praise for her role in Lydia R. Diamond’s Stick Fly, which ran for ninety-odd performances on Broadway this past winter. It was only her second role after finishing college.

Condola Rashad in Flaunt Magazine

And Condola apparently shares her mother’s work ethic as well:

“She knows it’s the work that matters,” Phylicia Rashad said. “If not for the work, no one would be a celebrity, except for the Kardashians.”

(Picture snagged from Complexitii…)

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No password required, either

Yorkshire Building Society — over here we used to call such organizations “savings and loan associations” back when people actually did some saving — reinstituted the old-style passbook savings account last year, and it’s been a smash hit:

Yorkshire Building Society’s “back to the future” passbook account has become its most popular savings offering since its launch twelve months ago, despite offering no internet access and requiring people to bank in their local branches.

Almost three times as many people are opening these accounts, which pay 2.25 percent, than any other Yorkshire Account, the mutual said, proving that the old-fashioned passbook is still popular in today’s world.

“So is getting a yield recognizable as a yield,” says the guy over here earning a whole six bucks a year in interest.

Oh, and there’s a formal name for this account, just in case McFly shows up with a team of lawyers:

Yorkshire Building Society’s Triple Access Account, which allows three withdrawals a year without penalty, can be opened and operated at branches of Yorkshire, Chelsea or Barnsley building societies, and the Yorkshire’s agencies. The minimum opening balance is £100.

Were it not so darn far … no, never mind, I’m just asking for trouble that way.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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And there was light

Leah Libresco, a fixture at the Patheos portal for atheists, is leaving that spot, on the basis that she’s no longer qualified:

I’ve heard some explanations that try to bake morality into the natural world by reaching for evolutionary psychology. They argue that moral dispositions are evolutionarily triumphant over selfishness, or they talk about group selection, or something else. Usually, these proposed solutions radically misunderstand a) evolution b) moral philosophy or c) both. I didn’t think the answer was there.

And thinking it over further, she decided that the question wasn’t “Where?” but “Who?”

I believed that the Moral Law wasn’t just a Platonic truth, abstract and distant. It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person, as well as Truth. And there was one religion that seemed like the most promising way to reach back to that living Truth. I asked my friend what he suggest we do now, and we prayed the night office of the Liturgy of the Hours together (I’ve kept up with that since). Then I suggested hugs and playing Mumford and Sons really, really loudly.

Her blog continues, on the Patheos Catholic channel.

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Meanwhile in the frozen-food aisle

This promotion went over better than they anticipated:

A supermarket on the German-Danish border was stormed by a horde of naked shoppers on Saturday after offering free groceries to the first hundred punters willing to get their kit off.

Customers had camped outside the new “Priss” supermarket in the hope of being among the lucky first hundred who had been promised a basket full of free groceries worth €270 if they came in the nude.

Doesn’t sound, um, prissy to me.

And this apparently doesn’t imply a pent-up desire to go shopping in the altogether:

The police placed the number at 250, mostly Danish shoppers, who often take advantage of the cheaper alcohol and confectionary on the German side of the border.

Ah, the lure of the discount. Now that’s an incentive.

(Via this nudiarist tweet.)

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Rot around the clock

The Friar’s father is flabbergasted:

[M]y dad cannot understand why an oldies station would play Bill Haley or Pat Boone instead of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis or Fats Domino. That, of course, was back when oldies stations played music from the 1950s, which they don’t anymore.

Short answer: Program directors as we know them today were not around in the 1950s and have no sense of history. They do, however, have access to historical charts, and they know that Chuck Berry never had a #1 song in Billboard — until 1972, with the loathsome “My Ding-a-Ling.” Fats? Peaked at #2 (“Blueberry Hill”). The Killer? #2 (“Great Balls of Fire”). Meanwhile, anyone who had a #1 song gets preference. Bill Haley had one. Pat Boone had six, fercryingoutloud.

People who actually listen to the music, as distinguished from people who merely select items from a database, generally pay little or no attention to the charts. The poster child for this phenomenon might be “I Put a Spell On You,” which failed to chart at all, either pop or R&B, for singer/songwriter Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in 1956. Yet everyone knows the song, because it’s been covered by everyone from Nina Simone to Creedence to Zooey Deschanel, the latter in her capacity as half of She & Him.

And radio stations don’t seem to have record libraries anymore: instead, they have hard drives full of compressed tracks, a couple hundred of which might be in actual rotation. I have occasionally referred to my work box as the Radio Station from Hell, ostensibly because at least once every hour it’s guaranteed to play a song you hate. The actual motivation is this: inasmuch as it contains something like 6700 tracks, it takes about three months to cycle through the lot, and any contemporary radio program director who proposed something like that would be charged with heresy and summarily dispatched to Sheol within three hours. This is not the circumstance that led Morrissey to call for the hanging of the DJ, but it might as well have been.

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Aren’t you special?

There apparently exists something called the Female Privilege Checklist, posted last spring. Up front (well, several paragraphs down) is the following: “Women are requested to consider whether they can answer ‘yes’ to these questions.”

Andrea Harris notes that they’re not actually questions, and then utterly destroys the rest of it in six thousand words. So thorough, so awesome a fisking, I have seldom seen.

(Apparently Dean Esmay precipitated this, though I think I may have played some small role somewhere.)

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The vintage has been doubled

Last week’s Vintage Hosiery Ad went over well enough that I figured I’d throw in another one. This one I’ve posted before as a link, but never embedded in a post. From 2004:

True Perfection is not bestowed upon mere mortals, and the distribution of fragments thereof seems random at best. An appearance by sitcom creator Diane English in the new Entertainment Weekly struck me similarly; while Hanes thought enough of her to feature her in a hosiery ad some years ago, the EW head shot reveals the facial expression of a basset hound in pain.

I think this was the EW article in question, though the archive copy is missing the photos. Someone out there likes the ad, though: there’s been scarcely a week in the eight years since I first sent it up that it didn’t draw a couple of hits.

Diane English in Hanes

This series, tagged “The lady prefers Hanes,” featured then-fiftyish women in the creative arts: I’ve seen the ones with Judith Jamison, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre from 1989 through 2011, and Hollywood costume designer Milena Canonero, who at the time had won two Academy Awards. (She’s since won a third, for Marie Antoinette.)

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No skirt, Sherlock

James Lileks is willing to accept a certain amount of revisionism, but the line must be drawn somewhere:

I’m not one of those people who insists that Sherlock conform to my preexisting parameters, but there are limits. He cannot be a woman, for example. Retrograde and sexist though this may seem, I am equally stern on the concept of turning Nancy Drew into a boy. He cannot be married; he cannot speak in slang; he cannot be a relaxed fellow full of bonhomie, just as likely to spend the evening at the theater enjoying a musical as he is likely to sit home playing his favorite instrument, the accordion. You can tweak the character, update him, shave off some minor quirks and add others, but you can’t ignore the core of the character. You might have a fascinating, delightful figure, but it won’t be Sherlock.

Which prompted this reply from Amanda Jean Carroll:

I imagine that for a guy the idea of gender swapping a beloved character would just seem silly or pointless or annoying or like a lame attempt at cleverness. And it can, of course, be all of those things. But for nerdy ladies there’s a sort of gleefulness to it because it eliminates the need to search and search for well-written characters we can actually relate to or maybe even aspire to be like.

A lot, I suspect, depends on the perceived motivations of the swap. In 1973 Bryan Ferry put out an album of covers, separate from his work with Roxy Music, and one song he essayed was Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party,” which he sang perfectly straight, so to speak, without changing any of the pronouns. Were Ferry a Sensitive Folkie, we’d assume that he was simply honoring the words of the original; but since Ferry was a medium-level minion in the glam-rock army, we’re more likely to assume, justified or not, a pancake-makeup-thick layer of irony.

That said, there’s still, says Carroll, an argument for “Shirley” Holmes:

[M]aking Sherlock Holmes a woman would be a way to create an amazing female character who wasn’t defined by femaleness the way Nancy Drew or Elizabeth Bennet or Jane Eyre or any other beloved heroine is (Though of course, Nancy Drew isn’t on the level of those two any more than she’s on the level of Holmes. She’s on the level of the Hardy Boys, because there isn’t truly any feminine analogue to Sherlock Holmes). It would mean having a female character who is all those things you described — scientific and obsessive, prepared to engage in fisticuffs, manic-depressive — all things women can relate to, and all things women are rarely portrayed as because they aren’t considered feminine. And it would mean enjoying fantastic classic characters in a way we ladyfolk usually can’t.

On the upside, our cultural arbiters would be at least marginally accepting of that sort of thing, though they likely wouldn’t extend that acceptance to males enthralled with female characters.

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Strange search-engine queries (333)

A thousand or more searchers land on this site every single week, which means that there’s a good chance there will be enough weird stuff to fill up this Monday-morning roundup. There is, of course, only one way to find out, and we shall do exactly that.

what brand of pantyhose does ann coulter wear?  I have no idea. I assume she selects for run resistance, unless Romney is running.

divorce changes people:  Sometimes more than marriage did.

download like a pirate:  I have it saved as a keyboard macro: Ctrl-Arrr.

i have no business breeding:  Oddly, people who don’t think that are more likely to have no business breeding.

why does nobody sell vanishing cream:  It’s apparently hard to find on the shelf.

what does double secret probation mean:  It means we can’t tell you, even if you ask twice.

is over 500 dollars too expensive for a tranny service, coolant flush, rotate tires, change air filter, inspection sticker at a dealership:  No. Now how come you didn’t have them change the oil?

why don’t vicky from fairly odd parents wear a bra:  It’s against the by-laws of Babysitters Raging Against Twerps (B.R.A.T.).

air conditioner victoria secret bras:  The effect is pretty much what you’d expect, even on Vicky from Fairly Oddparents.

down under shoes:  Ewww. Scrape that stuff off before you come in the house.

naming a baby shillelagh?  Works for me. Don’t be surprised, though, if she beats you up when she’s grown.

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Mass confusion

Scott Brooks might have yelled “Doesn’t anybody know how to play this game?” Actually, he might not have, since he’d already been T’d up once already tonight. But the Thunder’s execution tonight was, to be charitable, inconsistent, and while they managed to creep out to a ten-point lead briefly in the third quarter, things unraveled quickly after that, culminating with a four-minute dry spell midway through the fourth. But this being a Thunder game, there’s always a rally, and OKC put together a 6-0 run (in 45 seconds!) to pull within one with a minute and a half left. That was all, though: the Heat knocked down five of six free throws, versus nothing through the net for the Thunder, and Miami goes up 2-1 in the series with a 91-85 win.

Speaking of free throws, isn’t it about time Oklahoma City actually started making a few? They were below par from the stripe in the first two games, but 15 of 24? That’s nine points they gave away. Add to that being outrebounded 45-38, and a wretched 4-22 from beyond the arc, and it’s a wonder they lost by only six.

The Heat, meanwhile, were taking care of business. They weren’t shooting all that well — 38 percent, five less than the Thunder — but they collected on the fast break (19-12) and cashed in at the foul line (31-35). LeBron James, Mr. Methodical tonight, wound up with 29 points and 14 rebounds; Dwyane Wade picked up 25 more, and Chris Bosh, starting again, logged a double-double of his own, with 10 points and 11 boards.

To some extent, the Thunder did what they could. Kevin Durant, in foul trouble much of the evening, still managed to drop in 25 points; Russell Westbrook checked in with 19, and Kendrick Perkins turned in a Boshlike 10 points and 12 boards. But James Harden’s shooting hand was cold, and Miami expat Daequan Cook, brought in for a couple of possessions, landed a single brick. It was not pretty.

The battle resumes Tuesday in the City of Vice. Methinks the Heat smell blood.

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Just wear what you’re told

Cadenza suspects the marketroids who sell “plus-size” clothing for women of thinking along these lines:

“Well, I guess we need models and such for our clothes. Hrm. We *could* pick models 5’11″ or taller. At least that way nobody can bitch that we are using models who are less than a size 10. Because, you know, even though the average female is 5’4″, we wouldn’t want our models to represent our clothes the way they would fit the average customer. Yeah. I think that we should stick to models who are technically bigger than a size 10, but whose bodies look nothing like the average person buying our clothes. Because we don’t want our models to make anyone feel good. Mostly we just want them to function like every other model. To make women feel like they *neeeeeed* our clothes to be pretty. Oh, and if we can’t find any women much taller than average, let’s find women with really exaggerated proportions. And if, on the off chance they bitch anyway, we’ll just say it is the modeling industry’s fault.”

As a Person of Size in my own right (and in a different gender), I suppose I should be grateful that vendors will attempt to sell me the same sort of stuff worn by my thinner brethren — at 1.9 times the price, of course.

Warning: Not all of Cadenza’s posts are safe for work.

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We manly men

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Wright he was

MGM Records’ hotly-hyped Bosstown Sound promotion yielded up lots of recordings, from sorta soft-rock to just over the edge of psychedelia, but not a whole lot of sales: perhaps the biggest hit of the lot was “Can’t Find the Time to Tell You” by Orpheus, which on its second chart run managed to make it to #80 in Billboard. Still, if you could get around group names like Phluph and Chamæleon Church and Ultimate Spinach, you’d find some interesting ear candy, including this ’68 track by Beacon Street Union:

BSU made three albums before breaking up, and lead singer John Lincoln Wright decided to go in another direction entirely:

I remember seeing Wright and some grouping of his Sour Mash Boys one evening at a bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1973 (I think), a night when I was drinking too much Harp and working diligently to avoid being seen by the resident caricaturist. (The bunch with whom I was running had tried to talk me into actual Guinness, though I drew the line at ingesting anything that brackish-looking.) The sound, of course, was nothing like BSU, but Wright could sing up a storm, and we had a few words after the show. I’m reasonably certain he wouldn’t have recalled me, though.

Wright died last December at sixty-four, still a fixture in the New England country-music scene but far from a household word anywhere else. Peter Kinder posted this reminiscence:

The last time I saw Lincoln — as he was known, just “Lincoln” — play was at a dance in some North Cambridge hall. It must have been the late 90s.

He was drinking too much. But when he went on… The man could sing and that band could play and harmonize. What that deep, rich voice could do with lyrics meant for this listener the hall’s dreary half-light and aging and aged dancers disappeared into story and sound.

We didn’t have dancers that night in Cambridge, but otherwise, it’s the same story I could have told a quarter-century before. Says one-time Sour Mash Boy Glenn Shambroom: “John never got beyond being a regional act, because he wasn’t going to stop writing songs about New England and wasn’t going to be a cracker.” It might even be true; he never decamped for Nashville or Austin or any of the other cogs in the star-making machinery, country version.

I got thinking about BSU and Wright, in case you’re wondering, because of a message-board thread about a new CD release of some medium-level psychedelia from those days. Someone brought up an Ultimate Spinach epic, I cited a source for it, which happened to be a Bosstown Sound anthology containing the above BSU track, and, as the phrase goes, one thing led to another.

Random last-minute addendum: The drummer and occasional keyboardist for Chamæleon Church was Chevy Chase (and you weren’t).

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Smaller block

The small-block Chevrolet V8, introduced for the 1955 model year, was an immediate hit. It did what GM wanted it to do — give Chevy an image as something more than just one of the low-priced three — but I’m pretty sure the General never anticipated it would still be around in 2012, a hundred million engines later. That mill was so successful over the years that eventually we started thinking of it as the first small-block V8, which would surprise your local Studebaker fan, who knows better.

That 232-cubic-inch engine (3.38 x 3.25) was first dropped into the 1951 Commander, the last of two years of “bullet-nose” Studes. Its power output was what we would consider modest — 120 horsepower — but that was 0.52 pony per cube, a figure you’d need the Chrysler Hemi (0.54), also introduced for 1951, to beat. And Studebaker didn’t stint on the details: this mill had a forged steel crankshaft, gear-driven cam, and mechanical lifters with self-locking adjusting screws. (Anyone who’s ever had to mess with shims will appreciate the latter.)

The ’55 Chevy V8, with more displacement yet less weight, started at 162 hp from 265 cubic inches, though a 283 version was also offered, which, when suitably hotted up, could deliver 283 hp. Studebaker had to respond. In ’55 they had bored out the 232 to 259, which in the top-of-the-line President Speedster was good for 185. Not enough for the Horsepower Wars, so for ’56 they stroked the engine to 289 (now a tad undersquare at 3.56 x 3.63). Two hundred ten out of the box, 225 with some tuning, 275 with the McCulloch supercharger offered in ’57 and ’58.

With the arrival of Studebaker’s one and only sports car, the ’63 Avanti, came the R-series engines, still 289, but starting at 240 hp in base (R1) form, supercharged (R2) to 290, and tweaked further (R3) to 335. A few R4 and R5 engines were built for competition, but supposedly were not installed in any cars sold to civilians. (An experimental R5, displacing 304 cubic inches and sporting twin blowers and fuel injection, reportedly made it to 575 hp.)

But Studebaker by then was not long for this world, and when they fled South Bend for Canada for the 1965 model year, they left their engines behind. If you wanted a ’65 or ’66 Ontario-built Stude with a V8, you could get one — but it would be, perhaps ironically, a small-block Chevy under that clean, uncluttered nose.

(With thanks to Bill Jackameit and Bob’s All quoted horsepower figures are SAE gross; net figures, more strictly comparable to contemporary net numbers, would be less.)

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Sean Gleeson, always up to something new, has now given us something old: the Latin prayers from the Catholic tradition, plus English translations, plus massively-configurable options. For instance, you can suppress ligatures and accent marks by simple checkboxes, in case you’re flustered by, say, “Dómine Deus, Rex cæléstis” from the Gloria. As always with a Gleeson production, the design is stirring, but the content is more so.

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Veni, vidi, Vicodin

This pitch landed in the spam trap last night:

Discount Hydrocodone 10/325, 60 p. – $199
NEW !!! Hydrocodone 10/500 mg (WATSON 540) – 60 pills $249, Hydrocodone 10/500 mg (WATSON 540) – 90 pills $339. Buy NOW!

Now any combo with under 15 mg of the opioid glides onto Schedule III, flying under the Feds’ Schedule II radar, presumably a Good Thing for prescriptions filled without a prescription. Still, this seems awfully spendy: last time I bought any of this stuff — admittedly, only 5/500, which is generally all I need, as my dentist understands by now — I shelled out just under 15 cents a tab, so low, even in aggregate, that the insurance doesn’t even notice it. Then again, I fall short of the level of addiction typical of the poor shlub who actually responds to such ads.

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First you must have Faith

Oh, wait. Tim McGraw has Faith. Doesn’t mean we can’t take a look now and then, though. On stage at the CMA Music Festival last week, here’s Faith Hill making some perhaps joyful noise:

Faith Hill at 2012 CMA Music Festival

I don’t know what she’s singing, but I’ll bet it’s not Taylor Swift’s song “Tim McGraw.”

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Dressing up to par

The 112th U.S. Open is taking place in San Francisco, and Lisa thinks she probably didn’t have to worry so much about What To Wear:

There were people in jeans, wearing crocs and even dressed in full on Larry the Cable Guy regalia. Not to say I looked out of place in my skort, collared golf shirt, tasteful cotton cardigan, spectator pumps and pearls. I’m just saying the Grumpy Old Rich White Men that I thought would be working so hard to enforce Eisenhower-era dress codes seemed to be asleep at the switch. Or maybe, their desire to have a sell-out event — which they did — and a massive buying spree in the merchandise tents — overrode their normal standards.

I can imagine no circumstances in which she’d look out of place, so I’m attributing this to a light case of Fear of the Unknown, coupled with her admission that she doesn’t know jack about golf. Besides, I seriously heart spectator pumps, Jazz Age throwbacks that they are. And it’s not like golfers themselves are exactly garbed in carefully-coordinated Garanimals.

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With the new HaltGrinder app

Day before yesterday, two other sites I run had bogged down to slower than a crawl, while this one, which gets roughly 100 times the traffic of the other two combined, was whizzing along as usual. I assumed this was a cache issue, inasmuch as this site is cached and the others aren’t, so I duly installed a cache plugin, and, while I was at it, moved up to WordPress 3.4. The gain in speed was microscopic, and after sweating it for entirely too long, I turned in a trouble ticket to the host.

The response was quick, and somewhat unexpected. The nature of WordPress is somewhat bifurcated: you have your Web server, but most of what it’s serving is coming from a separate database machine. I had guessed that communication between the two boxes had been severed, or at least impaired, and when a couple of tracert runs timed out, I was sure of it. Well, no: the requests weren’t getting to the database because procwatch was killing them. It goes like this:

The problem is not necessarily with either of the domains you listed, but with any domain or combination of domains hosted under [user name]. If domain-A is using 99% of the allotted memory and domain-B uses the other 1%, it will be domain-B’s scripts that get killed, even though domain-A is the one using all the memory. (For this reason, it may be sufficient to simply split up some of your domains among multiple users.)

See “100 times the traffic,” supra. And, of course, being lazy, I’d set them up over the years under the same user name, failing to anticipate that for convenience in administration they might eventually put them all on the same shared server. (I don’t have the traffic to justify anything more than that.)

So new users were created, and behavior returned to normal in a matter of minutes. And I’ve installed a little gizmo that calls out the memory usage at any given moment, along the bottom of the admin screen. (Which, of course, uses some memory, but TANSTAAFL applies, as it always must.)

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