Curve negotiation

Don Gammill has a nifty weekly column in the Oklahoman called “Traffic Talk,” much of which is devoted to answering questions from people who are tired of being stuck in it. This particular example wasn’t, but it was pertinent to me for other reasons. Sharon writes:

When … on Interstate 35 going north and turn(ing) west onto I-44, you curve off to the left and go on a large curve above I-44 and nowhere is there a sign to reduce your speed in the curve. I don’t feel the speed should be the same as on I-35 as it is in that curve. The same is true when you exit I-44 from the west to go south on I-35, again there is no reduce speed sign of any kind. As an experienced driver, I know to reduce speed, but young drivers don’t necessarily know or realize this.

You may remember this little expostulation from 2009:

The ramp from I-44 eastbound to I-35 southbound, which I use five days a week, sometimes six, is about a 75-degree curve that I routinely take at 60 mph unless it’s wet or the 6:30ish traffic doesn’t permit. (I’m going from a road where the speed limit is 60 to a road where the speed limit is, um, 60, so 60 seems like the most logical speed.) In fact, I consider this a test of car and/or tires: if there’s any squeal, it’s a fail. Hardly anyone else pulls this sort of stunt, which makes me wonder if I’m pushing too hard.

Since then, I have switched to tires with a little more cushiness and a little less stick, so I’m usually taking that ramp at 55 now. Curiously, the other ramp in this stacklet, from I-35 north to I-44 westbound, I seldom take at faster than 50. There are two reasons for this: on the return trip, there’s generally a lot more traffic, it being on the bleeding edge of rush hour, and what’s more, this ramp is very narrow and lined with Jersey barriers, which allow for a whole lot less slop.

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Quote of the week

I know, it’s only Wednesday, but we’re not going to top this description of a quadrennial revulsion:

The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

It’s the most nauseating display in American public life — and I write that as someone who has just returned from a pornographers’ convention.

A friend of mine, before the “event,” said that she didn’t subject herself to such things anymore:

I used to, believing “This is something grownups are supposed to do.” Now I look to see what’s on Cartoon Network instead.

Which makes perfect sense, since Cartoon Network, unlike the participants in SOTU, has effective adult supervision.

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Be sure to brush after brushing

I’m used to fluoride treatments in fruit flavors, but that’s a dentist’s-office thing: citrus-y toothpaste is a non-factor in the marketplace.

And what’s beyond citrus? How about — chocolate?

Chocolate mint, anyway. Like brushing your teeth with a Junior Mint. It’s part of a new line of Crest toothpaste called Be. On a recent earnings call, the company’s finance chief told the reporters and analysts who hang out on earnings calls about this exciting new product. He says that the new line was designed for “experiential consumers,” whoever that is. People who like to experience things? Isn’t that “everyone”?

Anyway, Crest Be will start with the chocolate mint thing, then introduce “Lime Spearmint Zest” and “Vanilla Mint Spark.” Both bold new flavors, but they can’t quite let go of mint.

I imagine four out of five female dentists will happily recommend the choco-Crest. Me, I’m holding out for bacon.

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Two roads diverging

A couple of members of the state House, noting the absurdly high divorce rate in these parts, have come up with schemes to make it harder to split up. Arthur Hulbert (R-Fort Gibson) has proposed a minimum six-month waiting period for a divorce — maybe, just maybe, you’ll change your mind — and Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) has called for “incompatibility” to be stricken from the list of legal grounds.

To Patrick of The Lost Ogle, who has at least as much legal background as any of these guys, these approaches are bass-ackwards:

Instead of spending so much time on draconian legislation that makes it harder for unhappy people to get a divorce, maybe our legislature should make it more difficult for people to get married. Crazy idea, huh? Maybe introduce a 6-month to 1-year probation period before a marriage becomes official, or raise the legal marriage age to 25? I bet that would lower the divorce rate.

Or, lacking that:

Another solution would be to make a couple pay a $1,000 marriage deposit. If a couple stays married for 7 years, they get the money back with interest. If they divorce prior to the 7 years, it goes into a marriage education fund. Who would be against that? It would make people seriously consider whether or not they should get married, and encourage them to make it work if they do. It’s an idea so logical and brilliant it will never see the light of day.

Make it $5,000, and this state will never have another budget deficit.

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You too can be Zooeyfied

Amazing how these things find their way to my inbox:

To Tommy, From Zooey.

It sounds a bit like a love note, but is in fact something different altogether — the name of a new capsule collection designed by Tommy Hilfiger and Zooey Deschanel, the doe-eyed actress, musician and star of the hit TV show New Girl. The collection, which will mainly consist of flirty dresses, will make its debut at Macy’s this spring.

Well, this certainly seems flirty enough:

Dress from To Tommy From Zooey line debuting spring 2014

We will try to overlook the miraculous job they did of transferring every last sign of age from ZD to the steamer trunk.

The dresses will be priced at retail for between $98 and $199, and 14 of the 16 styles will launch at 200 Macy’s stores beginning April 14.

On April 21, the entire lineup is set to reach tommy.com and Tommy Hilfiger anchor and specialty stores in North America, Europe and Japan. Select Tommy Hilfiger stores will also carry Deschanel-designed jewelry and handbags.

Tommy has an outlet store here in Oklahoma City; I expect to see these dresses no earlier than Memorial Day.

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Such preserveness

This was dropped into the spam trap yesterday, and I suppose there are posts it might fit:

What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable know-how about unpredicted emotions.

I mean, if there’s anything I know about emotions, it’s unpredicting them.

(Is it just my imagination, or is comment spam starting to converge with doge?)

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Chins less bared

Yours truly, from the summer of ’11:

[G]uys have only a few square inches to scrape off every day, if they bother to scrape at all.

And they’re apparently bothering less often:

Movember — the non-profit effort to get guys to let their mustaches grow to raise money for prostate cancer research — got some of the blame for softness in razor sales when [Procter & Gamble] reported financial results [Friday]. In an earnings briefing with reporters, P&G Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller blamed the razor market’s “contraction in developed regions” cited in P&G’s press release in part on “reduced incidence of facial shaving, and that was exacerbated by the quarter we were just in because of the prostate-cancer related movement in North America not to shave facial hair in the month of November.”

That “reduced incidence” seems to apply to all twelve months, in fact:

Consumer Edge Research analyst Javier Escalante said in an email that Movember “possibly contributed,” but that long-term decline in shaving frequency is the real issue. A Consumer Edge report Jan. 22 found average shaving frequency declined from 5.3 to 4.6 times weekly in the U.S. between 2000 to 2013, particularly in the 18-to-24 age group, where it fell from 4.5 to 3.4.

To contribute a lone data point of my own: 5.9.

(Via this Virginia Postrel tweet.)

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Life continues to find ways to kill you

Over the years, they — you remember “them,” don’t you? — have been differentiating between “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. Apparently, though, the “good” isn’t always so good:

The evidence shows that having a high ratio of good to bad cholesterol is good for health.

However, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic say trials aimed at boosting levels of HDL have “not been successful” and the role of good cholesterol is clearly more complicated.

In their study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, they showed how HDL cholesterol could become abnormal.

One of the researchers, Dr Stanley Hazen, said HDL cholesterol was being modified in the walls of the artery.

There is but one God, and Steve H. Graham is His prophet.

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Fine feathered fiends

This did not begin well. The Thunder jumped off to a 2-0 lead on a Kendrick Perkins turnaround fadeaway. The Hawks responded with a Kyle Korver trey, and from that point continued to knock down three-pointers seemingly with impunity. Atlanta was up seven at the half, eight after three; the Thunder finally tied it up at 107-all with 2:11 left, and took the lead with 25 seconds left on a jumper by (who else?) Kevin Durant. It took only three seconds for the Hawks to come back with a Paul Millsap layup; Durant pulled up with 1.5 left to make it 111-109 Thunder, and Atlanta’s last try ended up out of bounds.

Let us not minimize this Hawk effort. Mike Budenholzer played only nine men, and seven of them made double figures. (Gustavo Ayon didn’t score ten, but he got ten rebounds and the highest plus/minus on the floor.) It was Millsap who got team-high honors, with 23. Atlanta owned the boards, 40-33. And the Hawks connected on 12 of 25 treys — though the box score won’t tell you that at one point in the second quarter they had seven of nine.

Still, nobody closes out a game like Kevin Durant. KD wound up with 41 points on 15-25 shooting and five of seven three-pointers. (When it was all over, OKC actually had one more long-ball make than the Hawks.) Jeremy Lamb went 5-8 to lead the bench with 14; Reggie Jackson knocked down 18, and Serge Ibaka, just for funsies, blocked six shots, four more than all nine Hawks.

It’s not going to get any easier, though. The Heat await in Miami Wednesday night, and either KD or LeBron, or both, will take it personally.

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You’ve got pricier mail

As of today, it costs 49 cents to mail a letter through the Postal Service. You can no longer do what I did, which was buy up a bunch of “Forever” stamps at the old rate at the last minute — save that idea for the next increase — but there’s one step you can take to minimize your expense:

Discount postage exists primarily because of stamp collectors. When I was growing up in the 1960s, the popularity of the hobby was rising; advertisements for collectible stamps were in every issue of Boy’s Life and in comic books. Increased participation in the hobby generated drove prices higher, so many collectors began to put away sheets and blocks of mint stamps as “investments.”

However, as the decades went by, the interests of young people shifted toward pastimes that required electrical outlets. The demographic profile of the average collector got older, so that now many of the stamps saved as investments are coming back on to the market, and are for sale at prices below their “face” value.

There are other reasons for the availability of discount postage, such as scrap left over by current-day collectors of plate blocks and plate number coils, or mistakenly large purchases for business use (and see the addendum at the bottom of this post), but to make a long story short, postage stamps can easily be purchased today at discounted prices. This is perfectly legal. The stamps were originally purchased from the postal authorities as advanced payment for future service; a stamp issued in 1953 is just as valid for postage now as it was then.

That Addendum suggests that you watch out for very recent stamps being offered at discount; there’s a chance their original acquisition may have been, um, questionable.

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Read instruments

This chart from Pew Research has been making the rounds, and I suppose it’s intended to be reassuring to those of us who really don’t have a good reason to assume our fellow Americans are as brilliant as we are. (Not that anyone is ever going to accuse me of brilliance, but work with me here.) Anyway, these are the numbers they churned up about America’s Reading Habits:

A snapshot of Reading in America in 2013 from Pew Research

And then the complaints came in. From syaffolee, a member of None of the Above:

This is interesting, although I’m annoyed with the race/ethnicity category. How hard is it to include “other”?

Bill Quick suspects something:

My guess is that there is a fair amount of lying going on. Admitting you haven’t read a book in the past year is tantamount to admitting that you’re a dumbass.

One of the reasons I slapped that “Currently reading” gizmo on the sidebar was to make sure I actually got around to reading some books; there are, I have discovered, people who notice it. (Week before last, someone actually quizzed me about it on Twitter.) I’d be interested to know how many of the respondents to this survey read at least two books last year.

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Just don’t call it “support”

As everyone knows, after the 8th of April you and your antiquated Windows XP box are on your own: Microsoft assumes no further responsibility for the safety of your data.

Well, except for this:

Microsoft will be able to silently reach into Windows XP PCs for more than a year after it stops patching the aged OS to clean malware-infected machines, sources close to the company confirmed Friday.

The Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) will continue to be updated and deployed via Windows Update through July 14, 2015, 15 months after the Redmond, Wash. company serves its final public security patches for XP on April 8 of this year.

By extending the life of the MSRT — and more importantly, automatically running it each month — Microsoft will be able to clean some PCs if massive malware outbreaks hit Windows XP after it’s retired from support.

“If”? The phrase “sitting ducks” comes immediately to mind.

What’s more:

Previously, Microsoft said it would stop shipping Security Essentials’ signature updates to XP PCs after April 8. But in a tacit nod to XP’s widespread use, Microsoft postponed the cut-off until July 14, 2015.

This will do wonders for Redmond’s public image. Now if they could just vend a few more Windows 7 licenses…

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Strange search-engine queries (417)

Monday morning brings a fresh load of wacko search strings from the week’s logs. And sometimes I’m not sure whether the operative word is “fresh” or “load.”

where’s the transmission dipstick for mazda 626 lx 5 speed:  You want a dipstick for a manual gearbox? Sheesh.

susan sarandon bow legs:  Yeah, but no one looks that far down.

i seen enough hen:  So you oppose the Urban Chickens initiative?

It’s hot in there apartment but it’s freezing in mines. The damn radiators is not even hot I don’t care what Lynn said about her apartment mines is cold. I’m letting you know today I’m moving on the first of the mont:  Trust me, you won’t be missed, and Lynn doesn’t give a damn one way or another.

post menopausal closet communist hag:  Well, there’s always the Democratic convention, where — oh, wait, you said “closet.” Never mind.

u tube in car trans rebuild probe mazda:  Oh, yeah, like you’re going to rebuild a transmission by watching YouTube. Go do something useful like mine bitcoin.

sundi varjan tum hi ho:  Well, it’s about time they brought back Carnac the Magnificent.

“pointy toe” “her feet” 2014:  I’m sure Wikipedia has an article on podiatry.

the american dream is not fundamentally about stardom or extreme success. in recalibrating our expectations of it, we need to appreciate that it is not an all-  inclusive mechanism; it specifically excludes people who try to do term papers by combining half a dozen Google searches and calling it “research.”

why does laura san giacomo wear baggy clothes wear baggy clothes:  Because she damn well wants to wants to.

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A finite list

Jack Baruth explains the bottom of the Infiniti car line — the truck line makes no more sense, but that can wait for another time — thusly:

The G37 is no more. Enter the Q40, which is basically last year’s stripper-model G37 with a different badge. Supposedly an entry-level compact-lux car is coming, which would be named Q30. Think of the Q30 as being the old G20, the Q40 as being the old G37, and the Q50 as being the new G37.

You already know what I think of this scheme. We can only imagine what names they threw away to arrive at this point:

  1. T42
  2. asi9
  3. EcoBurst
  4. 1WK
  5. Z71
  6. 4.9GX
  7. Aluminum Duke
  8. 10.2.4
  9. 2002ti
  10. WD-40

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More random rants

You’ve seen this concept before; I’m hoping that enough time has elapsed since then to allow me to do the same thing again.

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We can’t thrive (65)

This minor statistical factoid was stuffed into one of those staggeringly popular OMGWTFBBQWAGD weather articles:

The natural gas-weight heating degree days value for January is expected to reach 1,062.9, higher than the five-year average of 949.5 and the coldest since 2001.

Um, say what?

The value is determined by subtracting the daily average temperature from a base of 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the resulting number is a measure of how cold it is and how much energy is needed to keep homes and warm.

There are also cooling degree days, derived in almost the same manner, which will explain why you spent so much for air conditioning in July.

I just wonder where that 1062.9 figure comes from. Is it a national average? Because the January average in Oklahoma City is 798, and we have 651 through yesterday.

(I’ve attempted to explain this before, with arguable results.)

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