This way to the grindstone

I understand this complaint better than I’d like to admit:

… sometimes I get a little tired of who I am: rule-bound, attentive to deadlines, fearful that without a Plan B things will go very wrong and I will be left stranded and no one will be able to help me. And, I don’t know, I’d like to be more spontaneous and “fun” but I don’t quite know how. (I don’t know how much of this is “brought to you by” the meme that men like the manic-pixie-dreamgirl type who is fun but a little flakey, but are mostly bored by the woman whose pumps are firmly planted on the ground and who gets her checkbook to balance every month)

I have long suspected — and it’s purely a suspicion, because I have no actual experience to support this premise — that no man can stand more than one MPDG, because the first one he meets will lay waste to his heart, and perhaps other parts as well.

Then again, I was married, for a while, to someone far more sensible than I. Which is perhaps one reason why it didn’t work out: all the maturity in the household was hers.

This hits me in the heart, though:

I’m not spontaneous and not good at being spontaneous.

I suppose I have it worse; I can be spontaneous, occasionally have been — but I’m not particularly good at being spontaneous. After a while, one learns to keep those jets cooled.

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The op-ed page in yesterday’s Oklahoman contained this excerpt:

Gleanings from the Oklahoman 11-6-13

Here’s the whole of that USA Today piece, from the original Instapundit link.

It occurs to me that Glenn Reynolds is probably the kind of guy who doesn’t much care what they say about him so long as they spell his name right.

Which, you’ll notice, they didn’t.

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At least it’s in order

The other day, I said something to the effect that Paris Hilton’s current single was “a bit less cerebral than, well, almost anything in existence.” There’s a reason for that word “almost,” and this is it:

You’ll perhaps remember Miss Gold from her debut, “Chinese Food,” also a product of the unparalleled imagination of Patrice Wilson.

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There should be a bridge just overhead

How would you design something called the International Troll Registry? Let’s see:

[✓] Pure Nineties aesthetic;

[✓] Gratuitous use of Marquee tag;

[✓] At least some text in Comic Sans;

[✓] Old Internet Explorer and Netscape buttons;

[✓] Graphic element obviously poached from somewhere else.

Yep. That just about covers it.

(Via this Julie R. Neidlinger tweet.)

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Above Maverage

The ability to beat the Dallas Mavericks on any given evening is not an inconsiderable weapon to have in one’s armory. This is something the Thunder have been perfecting over the last few seasons, despite the best efforts of Dirk Nowitzki and some of the best tricks pulled out of Rick Carlisle’s hat. Exactly how it’s done on any given evening will vary; tonight, it was simply executing better in Game 4 than in Games 1 through 3, assuming “executing better” can be stretched to include 23 turnovers. OKC was up five at the half, ran it to nine after three, and won it by 14: 107-93.

Then again, this version of the Mavs differs much from previous editions: Samuel Dalembert, sort of a faster-talking Kendrick Perkins, anchored the middle, and José Calderón ran the point. What’s more, they’ve acquired Monta Ellis, who could play 53 minutes a game if he had the chance. Ellis led the Mavs with 20 in a mere 40 minutes. But for sheer ferocity, you have to go with Vince Carter, scoreless in fourteen, who drew a foul from Steven Adams, then directed an elbow in the general direction of Adams’ schnoz. Carter was escorted to the exit with a Flagrant Two. Oh, and Dirk had sixteen despite being bottled up at every turn.

Obvious points of Thunder failure have been addressed: Serge Ibaka not only seemed to have his shot back, he posted a double-double (17 points on 8-10 shooting, 13 rebounds). Russell Westbrook, who did everything well Sunday except shoot, shot well: 10-20 for 22 points. And Kevin Durant paired up a game-high 23 points with 10 assists. Reggie Jackson looked like he was going for a big line, but a hip contusion sent him to the locker room. Jeremy Lamb hit three of five treys for a bench-leading 13 points. Any day they want to shoot 54 percent from the floor is fine with me.

Next outing: in Auburn Hills against the Pistons, who by all accounts have had their rods polished, or something.

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Surprisingly often, covered in tree sap

This is where it started:

After a little more contemplation, he added:

An oak tree is considered an epitome of mightiness and dignity. It stands on its own terms, casting shade and acorns as nature intended.

It may be unfair of me to put it this way, but a maple tree is … a sap donor.

Maybe “donor” in the sense of “having a hole drilled into your trunk and then having your vital fluids removed.” Synonym: “taxpayer.” No wonder Washington is always telling us to get bent.

(Title source.)

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And best of all, it’s orange

World's largest orange diamondAs a carbon-based life form, I have a peripheral interest in diamonds, which are, after all, a highly stylized form of carbon; I even bought one once. (It was stolen during a late-Seventies break-in.) I admit, though, I never have seen an orange diamond, let alone an orange diamond this size: 14.82 carats. (Picture is not necessarily actual size.) And this one’s going up for auction later this month:

The largest orange diamond to come to auction will go on sale next week in Switzerland, with the rare gem expected to fetch a record $17-20 million… It was found in South Africa, but the name of its seller has not been revealed by Christie’s.

This is perhaps the showcase item in Christie’s Magnificent Jewels collection, to be offered in Geneva. But fancy-schmancy auctions would be nothing without good old-fashioned oneupsmanship:

The following day, rival auctioneers Sotheby’s are to sell a flawless 59.60-carat pink diamond, which has an estimated price of $60 million.

[sigh] Cubic zirconia, anyone?

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Oh, for a gay mechanic

Preferably one that can make your brakes bleed:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: 
What would cause my car to make a really loud grinding noise when I step on my breaks?  My co worker says it might be my brake pads but he's a homosexual so I don't think he knows what he's talking about

Gay or nay, I’d bet he could spell “brakes” correctly more than 50 percent of the time.

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Restoration and then some

We’ve talked before about the Ship of Theseus, rebuilt plank by plank by the Athenians, until it eventually contained no original parts; it was Hobbes who asked that if the old planks were gathered together and assembled, would that not be the Ship of Theseus?

I was not, you may be certain, expecting an example of this dilemma in my lifetime. As the phrase goes, imagine my surprise. Dave Kinney, who covers the major auto auctions for Automobile, tells the story of a single — maybe — Jaguar D-type in the December issue:

In the world of classic racing cars, engines, rear ends, transmissions, and other parts often got changed out. After the race cars were done with their careers, no one cared what happened when two or three major components — all claiming the same serial number — were separated. That’s what happened when this D-type’s ice-racing career in Finland ended. Two cars held a claim to the same serial number, which hurt the value of both vehicles because originality was in question.

In other news, they (used to, anyway) race Jaguars on the ice in Finland.

The solution was simple yet fiendishly complex:

“It seems difficult to rectify the situation,” wrote one D-Type collector to another in 1995, “unless some benevolent person should decide to purchase both cars, exchange the front subframes and the legal documents, resulting in only one single car claiming to be XKD 530.”

That’s essentially what happened. In 1998, a collector acquired one of the cars. In 2002, he acquired the other. Then he had both cars meticulously disassembled, and all the various parts and pieces identified and catalogued, and assigned to the correct chassis. In 2003, this amazing reconstruction was completed when the original, fully restored monocoque was lowered onto the original chassis frame; the bolt holes were a precise match.

The newly-rebuilt original brought $3.9 million.

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Somewhere out there is a ticket

Someone in Switzerland — specifically, in the canton of Valais — won 114 million francs in the Euro Millions lottery back in August, but hasn’t come forward to claim the prize:

Willy Mesmer, a spokesman from the German-language lottery organization Swisslos, told [a Swiss tabloid] that 80 percent of lottery winners claim their prize within two weeks of the jackpot being announced.

Winners have up to six months to collect their cash but after that it’s too late.

Then again, there might be a reason for the delay:

Le Matin said the winner may have good financial reasons for delaying picking up the windfall. The newspaper cited a tax expert who noted that by waiting until next year to claim the prize, the winner could escape tax on assets for the 2013 income tax year.

One should never be in a hurry to pay one’s taxes.

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There’s one in every rush hour

Why is this annoying bint always right in front of you at Bob’s Burger Barn?

“What’s wrong with you people?! I just sat in the drive thru for ten minutes and now I have to come in here because you guys can’t understand f*cking English! I ordered this burger with NO ketchup but of course I get it with gobs of ketchup. Unbelievable. This happens every f*cking time!”

Wait, it’s unbelievable yet it happens every time? Hmmm. And your ketchup specifications are this important to you, yet you continually come to the one place in town that apparently has a ketchup obsession? There are literally 6 other fast food joints within a 2 mile radius, but here you are at the one place that screws up your order “every f*cking time.” Interesting. Logical thinking isn’t exactly your forte, is it?

Of course not. She doesn’t give a ruddy rat’s rear about the burger or the ketchup; she just wants you to know how superior she is.

“No, I don’t want a new burger. Give me your name and the number to corporate. I’m sick of this sh*t. Give me my money back and the number to your corporate office! Why can’t I ever f*cking get good customer service?!”

Because you don’t deserve it. At the moment, you’re lucky you’re not staring at point-blank range into the bottom of the fry vat.

Next time, order it with no mayo. You’ll be much happier, and the counters will be much quieter.

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That last syllable is “Boo”

Regular readers will recall that I reworked my little Sansa ClipZip with a third-party operating system, for one very good reason:

[I]t patches the Sansa firmware to hand over to the Rockbox OS, which has a much grottier, Unix-y interface, but which can update its database in three minutes rather than three hours.

Automotive systems, you’d think, would have a little more brainpower. Turns out that the Mazda6 doesn’t, and guess what happened to Jack Baruth in his ’13 Chevy Malibu rental?

My admittedly formidable 18,023-song iPod Classic proved to be almost unusable with the MyLink system, requiring up to ten minutes of indexing every time the car was started before any music would be available. A full index never occurred; during three hours of continuous operation, the MyLink climbed to 10,000 songs exactly and quit. When the Malibu was restarted, it locked-up the iPod, requiring a reset of the iPod and another indexing session.

I should note here that I have Rockbox set for a 6000-item database, of which I’m actually using a shade under five thousand; normal start time is about 15-20 seconds.

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Wielding the shield

After paying entirely too much attention to Paris Hilton over the past decade or so, I have decided that her true strength is her ability to appear thoroughly detached from whatever it is she’s supposed to be doing. Consider this Halloween garb:

Paris Hilton as a gladiator

For all I know, she has a Blackberry tucked into the edge of that shield.

The single “Good Time,” featuring Lil Wayne, is out now — warning: several F-bombs, mostly from Wayne — and it’s a bit less cerebral than, well, almost anything in existence. Still, her ability at 32 to decorate a set is still pretty formidable, and her “Honey Bunch” (!) clothing line is decidedly on the cute side.

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Fark blurb of the week

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I am still not prepared for this

About a year ago, Buzzfeed wanted to cast name-brand actor types as My Little Pony characters, and the very first one they came up with was Zooey Deschanel as Twilight Sparkle. Said I at the time: “I appreciate the effort to push two of my smaller obsessions into a larger one.”

Which I promptly forgot about, until Sarah Lovell took this picture at DragonCon and it showed up — as usual, uncredited — on Derpibooru.

It must be said here that I look at a lot of cosplay pix, and Rarity and Applejack always seem to come off well, but I’ve never been particularly keen on any of the Twilights — until, um, now.

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Code comfort

Regrets? I’ve had a few, but not this one specifically:

If there is anything I regret, it is not writing my own operating system. If I had started at the beginning and kept after it, I could have a pretty decent system right now and I would not be dependent on the crap produced by all these amateurs. I was looking at a piece of JavaScript code yesterday and I suddenly realized that trying to decipher it was a waste of time. There was no accompanying explanation of what the functions did or why they were even there. If I wanted to figure out how to do something, I should start from scratch and write my own.

I have long suspected that scripts of this variety aspire to obtuseness, if only to discourage people from “borrowing” the code: if you’re going to plagiarize, you might as well plagiarize something good, no?

It’s bad enough that JavaScript shares part of a name with Java: the two have essentially nothing in common other than a few labels.

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