Way above their pay grade

There are meteorologists, and there are Big Media types who try to report on the weather. Nobody with a lick of sense will ever confuse the two, but unfortunately, sense is in short supply these days, so here’s an actual meteorologist to point out some minor details:

In January of this year, Diane Sawyer of ABC News went on a nightly network news broadcast and reported that a fatal Alabama tornado had “struck without warning.” Makes for great TV — it immediately incenses the audience and satisfies the desire to search for someone to blame. The only problem is that it was dead wrong.

A tornado warning had been issued well before the tornado struck. The average lead time that night was between 20-30 minutes.

Of course, Diane Sawyer is a Big Media star, so she can’t be expected to bother with trifling things like, um, facts.

More recently:

Oklahoma and Kansas just had a big tornado outbreak. In April. The national media calls it “cataclysmic, weird, extreme” … meteorologists call it “Spring.”

Then again, the national media have been possessed by the notion that anything that doesn’t look like Arbor Day in San Diego is part of that whole “climate-change” thing — which explains in part why so many of them are about to be repossessed.

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It’s a Young world

Nick Young, that is, the Clippers swingman who ran more or less roughshod through what passed for Thunder defense tonight as the Clips came back from an eleven-point deficit to tie the game at 66 after three quarters and utterly crush Oklahoma City in the fourth, 92-77, winning the season series and clinching a playoff spot in the process.

And Young, who got 19 points on 7-10 shooting, deserves as much credit as you can give him, because the L. A. offense was maybe half a tick better than meh. Still, Chris Paul moves the ball like nobody else — he had ten assists — and Blake Griffin mostly played like Blake Griffin, who scored 17 and retrieved 11 rebounds.

Apart from not being able to guard Young, Oklahoma City’s major problem was the inability to generate any offense in the second half. Kevin Durant, who had 19 points at halftime, finished with 24; Russell Westbrook, who had nine, finished with — nine. And the Thunder missed 11 of 29 free throws and 17 of 22 treys on the way to their worst numbers of the year.

But hey, it’s after midnight. Bring on the Suns. It can’t possibly get any worse. (Famous last words, indeed.)

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Doctor, please, some more of these

And as I discarded the empty pill bottle, I thought that someone, preferably someone other than myself, should write a story, a poem, something called “The Last Ambien.”

Zero point eight seconds of search later, here’s the poem.

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But how does it look?

Cameron Miquelon, last mentioned here in connection with Tabitha St. Germain’s favorite gladiator sandal, reminds us that cars just might require more than mere engineering:

Fashion and the automobile have been hanging out with each other since the first flapper stepped out of a Ford Model A back in the 1920s. Sometimes it works — any Bugatti that’s not a Veyron, Duesenberg or Talbot comes to mind — and sometimes it misses; AMC and Oleg Cassini, for example. Either way, both examples still have that certain zazz that a lot of today’s vehicles lack. And no, silver paint will not make it any better, I’m afraid.

El Camino by the Black KeysI can also tell you that there are people who view cars differently. They use adjectives like “cute” and “pretty.” They see cars not as appliances per se, but as accessories, as reflections of their own style. Maybe they’re into tech, or they want to be more “eco-conscious.” Maybe both. They could even be “ironic” in their love of minivans, if the album cover of El Camino by The Black Keys is anything to go by.

These people aren’t necessarily women, by the way.

Much as I’d like to earn a point or two on the Man Card by officially denouncing everything in a motor vehicle that isn’t routinely covered in grease, I must point out here that a major reason — apart from penury, of course — for keeping my current largish sedan, now in its twelfth year, is that unlike just about all the modern-day largish sedans, it doesn’t have that tortured-wedge cat’s-ass-in-your-face stance, which I freaking hate and always will, and I don’t give two-thirds of a damn what it does for the drag coefficient. (“Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines,” said Enzo.) It’s enough to drive me into a Lincoln Town Car, which, you’ll remember, offered a Cartier-branded trim package for two decades. And it will have to be a used one, because Ford, forced into TW-CAIYF cars by CAFE, dropped the Town Car after 2011.

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Of interest

Reuters finance blogger Felix Salmon snapped this on the tube in London:

QuickQuid advert in London tube

Said he: “Yes, it really does seem to be offering loans at 1,734% interest rates.”

Well, sort of. What we’re actually seeing here is the result of new British regulations, which state:

Under the new Advertisements Regulations, if an advertisement includes an interest rate or any amount relating to the cost of credit, it must also include a representative example. This must contain certain standard information including a representative APR. The example must be clear and concise and must be more prominent than the information that triggered the inclusion of the example.

The representative APR must reflect at least 51% of business expected to result from the advertisement. The standard information must be representative of agreements to which the representative APR applies.

This is, as one might expect of a EU-inspired regulation, simultaneously perfectly clear and incredibly obscure. A British credit guide attempts to explain it:

[W]hat the BSI is saying is that because APR rates can fluctuate so wildly between individual customers, the number that is put on billboards, fliers, and other forms of advertisement must represent the APR rate that the company expects to use on over half, or 51% of the business they get from those advertisements. If they only expect to get 15% of their customers that qualify for the lowest APR rate they offer, they can’t advertise that lower rate just to bring in more customers, because in a way it can be very misleading.

This is advantageous because it really helps out consumers who are often pulled into a loan office because of a low rate they saw and then find out that they are going to have to pay nearly twice that advertised rate. Thus, the advertised figure is “representative” of the rates that the majority of their customers will be receiving. Other charges are also taken into account with the Representative APR, including balance transfer fees that were previously never included.

This is an actual offer from this specific lender:

Representative example: Borrow £50 for 30 days. The total charge for credit is £14.75. Interest is fixed at a rate of £14.75 per £50 loan (359% per annum). The Total Repayable is £64.75.

While this particular example has a 359-percent APR, close to the number you might expect for short-term “payday” loans, more than half the lender’s customers for loans of this type end up paying an effective rate of 1734 percent, for whatever reason — historically, payday loans are often late, incurring late fees, or rolled over into subsequent loans, incurring further interest charges — and presumably that’s the “representative” APR being quoted in the ad.

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Nine Inch Pushrods

Saturday’s five hours’ worth of Architecture Tour involved about three hours of driving, and since Trini hadn’t yet heard it, I schlepped along the CDs from the Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross score to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Somewhere north of Norman, we reached the following conclusion: the biggest problem with listening to Reznor or any NIN-related project on the road is that at some point, you’re going to hear some strange noises, and unless you’re intimately familiar with the music in question, you’re going to respond to those noises with “What the hell just happened to my car?”

This might be especially true, I suspect, of my car, which is twelve years old and has tweeters at the base of the A-pillars.

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Strange search-engine queries (324)

Some of you have read about Big Farking Storms that descended upon us during the weekend, and yes, the carnage was dire in some locations, but less so in others. (Total losses here at my place: about 12 feet of dead elm branch, freshly separated from a still-living tree.) Not enough, in other words, to discourage rummaging through the server logs in search of cheap japes.

anvil draw:  The intermediate evolutionary stage between well drinks and the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster (q.v.).

“she’s wearing bike”:  Oh, come on, it’s not that tight.

deep cerebral intj ponder:  The peculiar genius of the INTJ is that he makes the shallow sound deep.

“no woman ever shot a man” “while he was doing the dishes”:  Unless, of course, he was doing them in such a manner as to insure that he never, ever had to do them again.

charles hill bastard:  I assure you, my parents were married. They told me so.

did margaret atwood receive a response to her letter to america:  Actually, no, since she didn’t enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

flirting with women is degrading:  Um, you’re doing it wrong.

car restoration from wreck to perfect:  And it will cost only four and a half times what the car cost originally, adjusted for inflation.

four letter word for smog:  For instance, “smog.”

16 april future predictions:  Whoops, too late for that now.

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Meanwhile in 66043

Kansas City real-estate man Mike Nielsen snapped this at the post office in Lansing, Kansas, up near Leavenworth:

New hours for the Lansing Post Office

This just reeks of “You’re lucky we didn’t close up shop entirely.”

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The Ides of April

Thoughts upon writing a rather large check and expecting the proceeds thereof to be utterly wasted.

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Advice to the young spammer

Links to this bit of verbiage were swimming in the spam trap this morning, and I got the semi-bright idea of actually trying to see what was being hawked. “Amazon Money Machine” contains the following advice:

The following step will probably be so that you compose the ebook and also accomplish it, making sure that you will find absolutely no spelling errors as well as grammatical faults in it. Bear in mind, this can be distributed to the common people and Amazon is not going to allow any kind of stories that contain grammatical faults only if they really are intended kinds (for example those used in fiction novels for talking). To prevent errors, use an experienced to verify and also revise your ebook for you to ensure a brand new point of view could be presented. Moreover, it could be wonderful when you can seek the services of one to build a story book cover to suit your needs particularly if you aren’t any good with artwork or design. A cover is very important because that could be at which your prospective buyers are going to analyze you to start with. Having an ill-drawn design would move clients off from your e-book, regardless of precisely how decent it will be to read.

You think maybe “Karl Daniels” read this?

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A marquee for which I am not prepared

“Zooey Deschanel is Twilight Sparkle.”

Hmmm…

“Dear Princess Celestia: What is your stripper name?”

I’m not seeing it. Though I appreciate the effort to push two of my smaller obsessions into a larger one.

(This is not going over well at EqD.)

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Reawakening the Ship of Dreams

We pause for just a moment to give James Cameron’s Titanic the attention it deserves:

Shined up like a new penny, it is.

(Bob Wayne of Big Daddy, who sang backup here, sent me this, and I thank him.)

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Saturday spottings (ahead of the storm)

The local chapter of the American Institute of Architects schedules several events during its spring Architecture Week, the last of which is the Tour, in which several members get to show off some of what they’ve been up to. This is my sixth time on the Tour, and I was delighted to see that they were allowing an extra hour — noon to 6 pm — since there were nine exhibits this year instead of the usual eight, and they were all over the map, from east Edmond to downtown Norman. They decided to cancel that last hour due to Impending Dreadful Weather, but no matter: we were done before five. Some of what we saw:

1) 104 East Main Street, Norman

Nichols Law Firm

It wasn’t easy to get to downtown Norman today: tornadoes ripped through the town last night and several roads were closed due to downed power lines. Attorney Drew Nichols owns this former storefront, redesigned for maximum modern efficiency without sacrificing that turn-of-the-century (and that’s the last century, not this one) look: that aisle to the left is red brick on the outside, lovely wooden storage walls on the inside. A very nice place to conduct business. (Photo by Butzer Gardner Architects.)

2) 2116 Covell Lane, Edmond

Creek House

This sixty-foot-long bridge starts at the deck of this rural residence, and finishes somewhere out in the woods: the ten-acre site features a fair-sized pond and more trees than you can possibly count. Still under construction — the SIPS exterior is done, the interior just begun — this is the sort of place that Trini aspires to: not far from anything, but far enough from everyone. I can appreciate her thinking. (Photo by me.)

3) 2801 Northeast 120th Street

Kliewer House

George Seminoff (see the 2007 Tour) built this place for himself in the late 1960s; over the years, it had deteriorated to the point that extensive reconstruction was deemed necessary. This is what it’s supposed to look like:

Original Kliewer House

(First photo by me; second courtesy of the Getty Foundation.)

4) 6614 North Pennsylvania Avenue, Nichols Hills

Weiland House

Nichols Hills is an enclave of old money and mostly old houses, and this one, on the town’s main drag (and at 25 mph all the way through, a drag it is), is getting a refresh from Brian Fitzsimmons (see the 2007 Tour). The old Colonial was lovely but outdated and seemingly light-resistant; the Fitzsimmons plan was to open up the place with more glass and to break up the perceived monotony with an off-center front porch. (The house used to look like this.) Lots of work still to do, but the result should be delightful. (Rendering by Fitzsimmons Architects; I took several shots, but none of them proved satisfactory.)

5) 1000 Northwest 37th Street

1000 NW 37th

Marked for demolition by the city, this fourplex on the edge of Crown Heights was taken over by Brent Swift, the same Norman developer who worked with Drew Nichols on his law office (see #1 above), and Butzer Gardner were brought in for the design work. The late-1930s apartments will be updated with as much of the original floor plans intact as is feasible, and a similar structure with three units is going up on a side lot. (Rendering by Butzer Gardner Architects.)

6) 1228 Northwest 36th Street

1226 NW 36th

This house, a 1916 Craftsman-turned-duplex owned by architect Kenneth Fitzsimmons (not connected to architect Brian Fitzsimmons), was on the 2010 tour; in the two years since, they’ve further spruced up the interior and turned a 1940s building on the back of a lot into a proper studio.

1226 NW 36th

(Exterior photo by me; interior shot courtesy of TASK Design, Inc.)

7) 1300 North Broadway Drive

Saxum HQ

John Kirkpatrick — residents of OKC will say “Oh, that John Kirkpatrick” — ran his oil company from this vintage-1950 building between Broadway and the Santa Fe tracks. (George Seminoff — see #3 — had an office in the building at one time.) When the company moved north, the building was donated to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, which rapidly outgrew it; Saxum, a public-relations firm headed by Renzi Stone, acquired it in 2010, and engaged HSEarchitects to open up the inside while preserving the exterior look. (It did not occur to me that “Saxum” is in fact the Latin word for, um, “Stone.”) (Photo by Nick Archer.)

8) 21 North Lincoln Boulevard

Fire Station 6

The last time I mentioned Fire Station #6, it was at 620 Northeast 8th, and um, it was on fire. Which is not why there’s a new Station #6 on the eastern edge of Bricktown, which was in the planning stages already. However, nobody seemed to like the original design — for a Bricktown structure, it was deemed deficient in brick — and a new proposal was submitted by Norman-based LWPB. The new station has individual dorm-type rooms and the latest support gear, and was built to LEED standards. (Rendering courtesy of Steve Lackmeyer; the history of Station 6 is worth a read.)

9) 824 Northwest 7th Street

824 NW 7th St

If you’re paying attention, you might have noticed that this is the fourth house within one block of 7th and Francis in the last six years of the Tour. The availability of relatively cheap (for close to downtown) lots and the fabulousness of the views obtainable thereupon have made this section of the Cottage District relatively hot, architecture-wise. Randy Floyd, a major player in this district, came up with this nicely-stacked “urban cottage” that feels a lot larger than its stated 2230 square feet. (Photo courtesy of Leonard Sullivan.)

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Far from extinct

I might have mentioned last time out that the Timberwolves were hurting for personnel, but I’m pretty sure I also suggested that they weren’t going to roll over and die. Which they didn’t. The Thunder kept running up the score on Minnesota, and Minnesota kept coming back: it was 34-31 after the first quarter, 59-58 at the half, and with 15 seconds left, 112-110. Russell Westbrook, who’d helped enable the last Wolves rally with two last-minute fouls, subsequently drew two fouls himself and cashed in three of four free throws to put the poor growlers out of their misery, 115-110.

Worse yet for the Wolves, they’d outshot the Thunder, hitting an even 50 percent from the floor, though they were outrebounded 52-39. J. J. Barea, always a threat, racked up 24 points and 10 assists; Nikola Peković also double-doubled with 14 points and 13 rebounds. And the two mainstays of the Minnesota bench, Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph, rolled up 26 and 22 points respectively; Randolph also picked up 11 boards. (Weird plus/minus statistic: the Wolves starters were all minus, the reserves all plus; the exact reverse was true of Oklahoma City.)

The usual suspects weighed in for OKC: Westbrook finished with 35, and Kevin Durant wound up with 43, twenty in the fourth quarter despite being in foul trouble for most of it. James Harden did return as predicted, but he was off his game, shooting 1-11, though he did hit all four of his free throws. The bigs reeled in their share of boards: Serge Ibaka had 12, Kendrick Perkins 10, Nick Collison 8. Collison also dropped in 10 points to lead the bench.

You could look at this and say “Big deal, we swept the Wolves. We swept ‘em last year.” Which is true; but at no point in those two seasons did the Wolves act like a team you could beat seven times in a row. It is, as the local broadcast crew said, never easy against Minnesota. Nor is it easy against the Clippers, next on the schedule, Monday night in Los Angeles.

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A melody looking

A couple of years ago, I got my first taste of Cantopop, and I was quite unreasonably delighted: I speak absolutely no Cantonese, but I know bubblegum when I hear it, and I’ve always been a sucker for breathy girl singers in foreign tongues. (I blame Jane Birkin.)

Appropriately enough for a performer of Timeless Teenage Music, here’s Janice Vidal with a prop tube of skin cream:

Janice Vidal for H2O

And while we’re at it, here’s an actual song, from her 2008 album Serving You, which appears not to be a cookbook:

Two things you should know: (1) she just turned 30, and (2) her Cantonese is apparently not much better than mine.

And that title: a long-form music video I haven’t seen.

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Not that flashy thing again

Liam (see announcement here) is home, and evidently none the worse for wear, though he seems uninterested in this whole photography business:

Liam at 11 days

Then again, this family has always learned the concept of boredom quickly, and I’m not at all surprised he’d discover it before finishing two weeks on the planet.

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