Before you can walk

Roberta X has adjusted nicely to one of the newer features of urban living:

On the subject of ADA compliance, let me just say, as a somewhat clumsy person, that I like curb cuts — and they mean that every block, there are three squares of actual decent sidewalk, instead of tilted, battered slabs. (OTOH, around Roseholme Cottage, many of the curved curbs at the corners are large lengths of what appears to be cut stone! I’d miss them.) In Indianapolis, you’ve got to add, “…where there are sidewalks.” Outside of Downtown, they’re kind of optional.

She’d be amused, I think, to hear that while Oklahoma City has similar sidewalk density — which is to say, Not Much — we’ve been duly installing curb cuts, even in places where sidewalks don’t actually exist. I’m guessing this is a byproduct of having seen too many reruns of Field of Dreams.

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Horrible gases

Wired has a regular feature called “What’s Inside,” which runs down the ingredient list of something you probably didn’t want to see the ingredient list for, and tells you what you’re getting.

For April, it’s the ever-popular anti-flatulence tablet Beano, a large component of which is relatively inert:

Much like a Jennifer Aniston film, industrial-grade potato starch is a flavorless, odorless, colorless substance that exists mainly to take up space.

That’s going to leave a mark, though not a blatantly obvious one.

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Just above the killing floor

Contemporary cars have a panoply of warning lights, some pretty standard, some model-specific. My first Mazda 626, for instance, had a warning light to tell you if one of the exterior lights was burned out; this was apparently decontented away in the next generation. One I’ve never seen, though, was Nissan’s FLOOR TEMP warning, which is explained thusly:

The thing that really put the malaise into the Malaise Era was the inability of the automotive industry to meet US federal and (in the case of cars sold in California) state exhaust-emission regulations without crippling the vehicles (whether this inability was due to Naderite anti-progress bomb-throwers infesting the government or corporate mismanagement and the over-reliance on lobbying to fend off emissions regulations is your subject to debate). While Honda’s CVCC engines managed to beat the tailpipe test without the use of the early, incredibly inefficient catalytic converters, just about everybody else had to bolt a super-restrictive and surface-of-sun-temperature cat onto the exhaust. On low, sporty vehicles that didn’t have a good location for the catalytic converter, an overheating cat could set the car’s interior on fire. Nissan’s solution to this was the FLOOR TEMP indicator light, which used a temperature sensor near the catalytic converter to warn the driver to slow the hell down.

My primary Malaise Era ride was a ’75 Toyota Celica, which, in 49-state mode, lacked a cat altogether. (Despite the absence of the oft-derided device, minor tweaking of the rudimentary engine controls enabled this car to pass — barely — California emissions in 1988.) There was a lamp on the dash labeled EXH. TEMP, which I assume would have served the same purpose; I never saw it glowing.

The Italians, apparently, took a more direct approach:

Fiats, Ferraris, and (I’m pretty sure) Alfa Romeos of the late 1970s got this lovely and equally confusing “SLOW DOWN” idiot light to warn drivers of overheating catalytic converters; at least this light gave the driver some idea of the remedy for the problem. Some Fiats and British Leyland cars got a similarly cryptic (yet technically more accurate) “CATALYST” idiot light. Perhaps a really big idiot light reading “CATALYTIC CONVERTER OVERHEATING — SLOW YOUR ASS DOWN OR PERISH IN FLAMES!” would have been best.

They couldn’t do something like that today; why, that message is just as long as one of those wicked text messages and would thereby almost certainly constitute Deadly Distraction.

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Of course it’s premium

To some people, pretty much everything is an opportunity to accessorize. Hence this midweek paparazzo shot of Paris Hilton, who incorporates both the gas pump and the Ferrari into her look.

Paris Hilton at a Union 76 station

Besides, that’s a majorly cute dress, and I’d like to encourage wearers of hats.

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Playing the Hef card

Robert Stacy McCain notes in an addendum to a post about Gillian Anderson’s, um, interesting past:

It might be worth pointing out that I once got a lot of traffic for the headline: “Dana Loesch in Playboy?”

Which reminded me of this item from 2004:

File this under “Once in a Lifetime”: there’s an actual (albeit very small) picture of Michelle Malkin in Playboy.

No, not like that, ya perv. In the annual The Year in Sex roundup (January ’05), there is, not entirely unexpectedly, a marginally-raunchy picture of Jessica “Washingtonienne” Cutler, and to give credence to her particular transgressions, there’s a clip from the Post (which Post, I couldn’t say) with Ms Malkin’s column, complete with standard photo of the columnist.

Which Post, as it turned out, was the New York Post.

Malkin linked back to that, generating my single largest traffic day up to that point. Which suggests that even in the thinnest of posts, Hef adds heft.

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Colt in Manehattan

This PMV made the rounds of the pony-based community earlier in the week, and since that time it’s absolutely refused to get out of my head. One contributing factor, I suspect, is the fact that it’s the correct voice: Michelle Creber does the singing voice of Sweetie Belle on MLP:FIM, though obviously none of these clips were done with a Sixties soul classic in mind. I think. It’s hard to tell these days. A so-called show for kids that can do a visual homage to The Big Lebowski is capable of just about anything.

Michelle Creber, incidentally, is twelve years old. (She has one other commercially-available recording: a cover of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” I am not making this up.) And you may remember MandoPony from “I’ll Be Waiting,” aka “Derpy’s Song,” a few weeks ago.

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Next time express yourself in American

Once in a while Windows Live Mail calls out an obvious phish, though it’s not unfailingly reliable at spotting the non-obvious ones. Still, this one, purporting to be from American Express, was rather easily detected:

Because of unusual number of invalid login attempts on you account, we had to believe that, their might be some security problem on you account.

So we have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure your identity and your account security.

Please click on continue to the verification process and ensure your account security. It is all about your security.

There’s even a (possibly unconscious) punchline:

Thank you. Open In Internet Explorer Only.

I have to figure that anyone who closes some other browser and then opens up IE as directed probably deserves to be phished. Because, you know, it’s all about your security.

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Decidedly unmatched

It’s spring-ish, and I’ve had a wealth of shoes shown me of late; these two have nothing more in common other than the fact that women to whom I pay attention have mentioned them this week.

Shoes by GOLC and Stella McCartney

On the left is “Samantha” by Mariana by GOLC. WTF is GOLC? According to the company:

The name GOLC is Clog spelled backwards. The first products developed were clogs and as the market needs changed new Brands were developed.

This etymology does not impress Nancy Friedman:

“Clog spelled backwards” is a terrible explanation for a company name. “Clog” sounds bad enough spelled the right way.

The shoe, however, seems to win her endorsement: “Pretty! No gag reflex at all.” Endless.com stocks more than a dozen colors of “Samantha,” at prices running from $70 to nearly twice that. (The green is among the less expensive variants.)

To the right is a shoe from Stella McCartney’s 2012 Resort collection, priced at $1025; a Facebook friend from NYC posted the photo and bewailed that price, which motivated me to ask if she’d buy them at $125. She replied, reasonably, that a $125 version would be complete and utter crap, and then listed the things she liked about the original, one of which was “Jetsons by way of the 1940s (Bladerunner aesthetic another personal favorite).” There’s no way I could avoid mentioning that here. (A look at the rest of the collection, if you’re curious.)

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It’s that spiky thing on a boot

Some of the discussion this week, with Thabo Sefolosha back in the lineup, was what Royal Ivey would do. Tonight we found out: stick to Tony Parker “like Velcro,” in the words of radio guy Matt Pinto. This is important, because as we all know, when Parker really gets going, he’s going to run up Chamberlain-like numbers. (We’re talking basketball here. Behave yourself.) You don’t want to know what the local Twitter stream looked like when the Spurs were up by 27 points. And you can’t imagine the noise level when the Thunder cut that lead to two early in the fourth. Comeback of the year? San Antonio wasn’t buying: the Spurs took the rubber game, 114-105, to pull within three games of OKC in the Western standings.

What made this work, of course, is the standard Spurs M.O.: they come at you from every direction, and everyone is a threat. All five starters posted double figures; Parker had 25, DeJuan Blair 22 (and 11 boards), Danny Green 21, Tim Duncan 16 (and 19 boards), Kawhi Leonard 15. The entire bench, however, kicked in only 15. The Spurs shot over 51 percent, and hit nine of 19 treys.

There was a brief period when I thought Russell Westbrook was going to go all “Screw this, I’m taking over.” He finished with 36 points, though it took him 29 shots and ten free throws to get them. Kevin Durant produced a Durantesque line with 25 and seven rebounds, while Serge Ibaka doubled up with 12 points and 12 boards. But here’s your telltale statistic: Lazar Hayward, who played eight minutes while Scott Brooks was trying to find something resembling matchups, went 0-3, fouled twice, and finished +10, the highest on the team. The Thunder were outrebounded 49-37, and shot 44 percent. They also got nine treys, albeit in 25 attempts. Fortunately — or it could have been a lot worse — the Spurs showed a talent for clanking free throws, missing ten of 25; OKC missed only two of 20. And this is the part that hurts: all this happened with an inactive Manu Ginobili.

At least we’re done with the Spurs until the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Nate McMillan-less Trail Blazers beat the Bulls tonight, and they’ll be in town Sunday. Probably too much to hope that they implode.

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Quote of the week

My current ride, when it was brand-new, was hyped as the most powerful in its class. Today, any number of workaday vehicles will blow its clearcoated doors off. Along these lines, Jack Baruth points out that you can’t rely solely on performance figures anymore:

Power and raw speed may have distinguished “enthusiast vehicles” in the past, but we live in an era where a Camry on DOT slicks can rip a thirteen-second quarter and your ex-wife’s SUV can bully the air at a buck-forty or above. Ford and Chevrolet both sell ponycars that would humiliate my old dream Ferrari 575, and they sell them brand new for half of what the Ferraris still cost on the used market. The Porsche PanArabia Turbo S Carrera GT2 Orthodontist Edition handily outpaces its own Cayman R on the racetrack. Numbers aren’t telling the story any more. In 2012, enthusiast vehicles are ones which whisper to the driver with steering feel and predictable trail-braking, not scream at him with six hundred horsepower and single-use ceramic brakes. Forget the numbers.

Which is not to say that you should turn up your nose at 600 ponies and such, but they shouldn’t be the overriding consideration. My own car, had it a little more steering feel and slightly less side-to-side bump, would be worthy of consideration despite less than half as much horsepressure.

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Maybe I shouldn’t have done this on Thursday

“Everybody in the world really hates my ringtone,” sang Weird Al, and I of course have no idea what that’s like.

Maybe. I was at Target last night picking up a couple of prescriptions — $4 generics plus cute pharmacists, so don’t judge me — and as I slid the trusty Amex through the reader, a random Seattle-area (maybe) cold-calling clod dialed in, and out pops, at 8 out of 10 volume, “It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday…”

Now I’ve admitted to having this as a ringtone before, though I don’t get so many phone calls that it’s an issue or anything. Still, I wasn’t prepared for the stares of disbelief from behind the counter. Finally, someone broke through with a variation on Minnesota Nice: “Well, that’s certainly different.”

I probably ought to supplement it with some of the unearthly shrieks RB emits during this impromptu video. As for whoever that was from the 425, he/she/it left a blank voicemail.

Addendum: From the Rebecca Black Kitchens:

[M]y favorite burger is on a brioche bun with a beef patty, with 1000 island dressing, sauerkraut, grilled onion, and dill pickles.

Sounds plausible enough.

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And less is mower

Five years ago, I spent a smallish bunch of money on a lawn mower from Black and Decker, utterly lacking in engine: it has a little electric motor and a place to attach an extension cord. Gas prices were on the rise back then, and were worse the following year, so I was able to console myself with the thought that 12 amps times 120 volts equals 1440 watts times one hour equals about a quarter’s worth of electricity.

The Lawn Hog, as it was designated, held up decently well, though it has what I consider an irritating design flaw: unless you’re in the habit of carrying around calipers and maybe a small scale, you’ll never know if the blade is properly balanced on the motor shaft. This is usually what happens when it isn’t; if things are sufficiently out of plumb, the machine gives off a belch worthy of a Hungarian dinner and then flings the blade and its fittings in some random direction. The last time it did that, I flipped the box on its back, and noted that the little plastic fan that is supposed to circulate air to create mulchitude had a broken blade. Well, geez, no wonder it’s out of balance.

So I detached the handle, kinda sorta, and hoisted the machine into the trunk, grateful for its low mass (about 50 lb, plus several ounces of what used to be topsoil). That was Wednesday evening. Thursday afternoon I ditched work early, motivated by the following considerations:

  • No one will work on this little darb except B&D factory service;
  • There’s only the one service depot in town, and it closes at five;
  • It’s damn near the Cleveland County line, which I generally am not.

Arriving after a half-hour trip that would have taken 18 minutes were it not for random appearances of members of the Anti-Destination League, I pulled the creature from the trunk, attached its handle upside down, and wheeled it through the doors.

Estimate was $90, which didn’t sound bad; advised there’d be about a week of turnaround time, I responded jauntily, “A week is good. Take your time.”

“We get a lot of that,” said the tech.

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Get out and walk, deadbeat

I fork over somewhere around $300 a year to insure against the peril of uninsured drivers, of which we have an abundance in this state: depending on whose estimate you believe, somewhere between 20 and 30 percent on Oklahoma drivers don’t carry even a minimum liability policy. Efforts to put Big Brother to work on this problem have thus far proven futile.

England, however, having largely embraced Eric Blair’s design for the future, may have better luck:

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are already fitted in thousands of petrol station forecourts. Drivers can only fill their cars with fuel once the camera has captured and logged the vehicle’s number plate.

Currently the system is designed to deter motorists from driving off without paying for petrol. But under the new plans, the cameras will automatically cross-reference with the DVLA’s huge database. When a car is flagged as being uninsured or untaxed, the system will prevent the fuel pump being used on that vehicle.

No petrol for you, old bean. This is apparently a major problem in the UK:

One in 25 drivers in the UK do not have insurance — one of the worst records in western Europe.

And to think we complain about one in four.

(Via Autoblog.)

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Lowish fizz

Normally, one does not simply walk into the Pepsi Center. The Thunder were up four after the first quarter, and then went on a 10-0 run — and then totally fell to pieces, as Denver dominated the rest of the half and went into the locker room up one. (“To pieces”? How often does Scott Brooks get T’d up?) Whatever Brooks said at halftime, though, it worked: OKC took the third quarter, 28-14, and held the Nuggets at bay for the last twelve minutes to walk away with a 103-90 win.

This game marked the return, albeit limited, of Thabo Sefolosha, who put in twelve minutes and sank a trey. (Interestingly, Daequan Cook, rotated back to the bench, had a pretty decent night: 11 points in 16 minutes, including three trademark treys.) The scoring stalwarts were up to snuff: Kevin Durant 24, Russell Westbrook 23, James Harden 18. And, significantly, no one played over 35 minutes, an important consideration with the Spurs due in tomorrow night.

Denver didn’t do a whole lot wrong, but they didn’t throw up a whole lot of defense either: they blocked only two shots all night. Come to think of it, they didn’t throw up a whole lot of offense either: they made four 3-pointers in the first half, and only one in the second, while seventeen fell harmlessly away from the cylinder. Andre Miller was the Nuggets’ top scorer, with 17 off the bench, and while rookie forward Kenneth Faried acquitted himself well (8 points, 9 rebounds), he’s a long way from being Nenê.

For the season, the Thunder are now 2-0 against Denver, with the rubber game to come at the literal end of the season (25 April, at the ‘Peake.) This weekend, though, there’s San Antonio to deal with, and the question of whether the Trail Blazers get a fired-coach bounce when they come to town Sunday.

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Water logged

Last September, a report with the dryly scientific name “Hydrogeology and Simulation of Groundwater Flow in the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, South-Central Oklahoma” [pdf] was published, and the abstract thereof began this way:

The Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer in south-central Oklahoma provides water for public supply, farms, mining, wildlife conservation, recreation, and the scenic beauty of springs, streams, and waterfalls. Proposed development of water supplies from the aquifer led to concerns that large-scale withdrawals of water would cause decreased flow in rivers and springs, which in turn could result in the loss of water supplies, recreational opportunities, and aquatic habitat. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board, in collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma, studied the aquifer to provide the Oklahoma Water Resources Board the scientific information needed to determine the volume of water that could be withdrawn while protecting springs and streams.

The Board has now rendered its decision, and while public hearings are still in the offing, it’s clear that the Board thinks the aquifer is being too rapidly depleted:

The board approved recommendations from its staff that would lower the amount of water that can be withdrawn from the aquifer in a single year from two acre feet per acre to two-tenths of an acre foot per acre.

(Emphasis added.)

This 90-percent reduction would be phased in over five years.

On one side of the issue: municipal water supplies, who see stabilization of the aquifer as a major priority, even if it costs them some money in the short run. On the other: agriculture, which needs, or at least says it needs, pretty much all the water it can get.

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All by herself

The young lady below is actress Eva Amurri, last seen in isolation. No, wait: she was last seen in Isolation, a very creepy-looking 2011 film by Stephen Fry, in which she plays a patient quarantined for reasons no one will disclose.

Hence the trying-on-shoes photo, which is of course the very antithesis of being locked away in a hospital:

Eva Amurri

Eva, born on this date in 1985, is the daughter of Italian director Franco Amurri and American icon Susan Sarandon. I note purely for the sake of completeness that she was born before Susan took up with Tim Robbins — and that Franco and Tim are about a month apart, agewise.

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