Devoid of buzz

Most of this game, it seemed, consisted of watching the Thunder retrieving a Hornet miss: Charlotte’s two heavy hitters, Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker, were held to 10 points between them. (Walker had 6.) Then again, all you really need to know is this: both Lance Thomas and Grant Jerrett played. In fact, no starter for either side played in the fourth quarter until Perry Jones was reinserted with three minutes left, perhaps to give him some simulated crunch-time experience. The Hornets, who’d won four straight coming into this game, looked pretty much stunned by halftime, at which point they trailed 59-40. The final was an almost-embarrassing 98-75.

There was some Charlotte offense: reserve point guard Brian Roberts knocked down 17 points in less than 20 minutes, and Marvin Williams added 11. (Cody Zeller and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were the top-scoring starters, at, um, nine each.) The Buglets shot a dismal 29 percent, 21 percent from outside, and while they did pull off eight steals, they lost the rebounding battle 57-52. And if 52 sounds like a lot of rebounds for the losing team, well, the fourth-quarter version of the Thunder obligingly missed a lot of shots, dropping OKC to under 41 percent. (Jerrett put up five treys, none of them actually going through the net.)

Russell Westbrook, who sat with three minutes left in the third, still racked up 29 points. Serge Ibaka put together another double-double: 13 points, 14 rebounds, along with four blocks. (The Hornets had two blocks total.) Anthony Morrow led the OKC bench with 11. And a 44-24 advantage in points in the paint never hurts.

So it’s back to Not Quite .500, by which we mean 15-16. Next opponent, however, will presumably be a little tougher: the Mavericks, in Dallas on Sunday.

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Standing in the draft

It is seldom a swell idea to antagonize visitors, though some folks can shrug it off [link NSFW]:

A few nudists I have spoken to tell me they answer their doors naked, and they have given pretty good reasons for doing it, and that I should too.

I just don’t have the nerve to do it though. I’d probably just collapse laughing if I did.

I’d like to hear some of those reasons, because I can’t think of any just now. This is not to say I’ve never done it before, but there are good reasons not to. Said I, about a year ago:

Actually, this is not an issue for me: I keep a robe by the door, just in case. (There were these two Jehovah’s Witnesses that one time, but that was years ago.) As a general rule, I am disinclined to outrage the neighbors. That said, it must also be said that there used to be a woman around the corner who in two years saw me dressed exactly once: there has always been a small number of people who have given notice, one way or another, that they won’t be perturbed at the sight. The operative word, though, is “small”: I don’t think there’s ever been more than four or five names on the list, and most people just call first so I’ll have time to feign decency.

And there’s perhaps another issue. I have developed a decent, so to speak, relationship with a pizza joint, based on (1) never ordering at inopportune moments and (2) being generous with tips. As a result, I tend to get my pizza somewhat faster than predicted at the time of ordering. I would hate to jeopardize this sweet deal by flashing the delivery person.

Now if sister Joni (1962-2003) were still around, I’d have to ask her about those reasons; she seemed to have no qualms about answering the door in whatever state she happened to be in. (She was on my list, and if she had had one, I was certainly on hers.)

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Importuning the Googlebot

Sent to the help desk in just this side of despair:

Why is help chat unavailable? How do I turn off the blinking (that’s a euphemism) touchpad? How do I correct spelling errors? Nevermind, a mouse will fix that. Why isn’t touchpad in the dictionary? But that is all incidental to main issue. Why aren’t local files automatically uploaded to the net? And did you really download all of my documents from the net to my Chromebook? By the way I plugged the charger into an adapter and plugged that into the wall and I was rewarded with a big fat spark. I suspect the charger is toast, but I am loath to try it in case something worse happens. BA is a big city, but I am afraid finding a replacement charger is liable to take all my available time and cash. P.S. I was going to say chromebook isn’t in the dictionary, but it was only the lower case ‘C’ that was clamoring for attention. And why do I think adaptor should be spelled with an ‘O’?

BA, incidentally, denotes Buenos Aires, not Broken Arrow.

The result:

Update: A Google-bot called me back immediately after I sent my message, only to tell me that my wait time would be 30 minutes. Are you kidding me? I am going to hang on hold for half an hour waiting to talk to someone about something simple? Well, thanks but no. I will figure this out on my own.

This is the new standard for customer service: get on it right away, and then cough up the answer at about the time you probably would have gotten to it anyway.

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She still gotta be

Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be” was one of my favorite songs of 1994, and after it popped up in the shuffle, I played it a second time, and started wondering whatever happened to her: she definitely had the songwriting chops, and she was certifiably photogenic, so where the heck is she?

Des'ree

The answer, apparently, is “In Canada, without a recording contract”; Sony dropped her after her 2003 album Dream Soldier failed to make any waves.

Dream Soldier by Des'ree

One single was issued from Dream Soldier: “It’s Okay,” which barely charted in Britain and never made any headway in the States. It deserved better:

Most of her catalogue is on YouTube from, um, unofficial sources, though she did upload a video of her appearance at cd:uk, which was live in the same way American Bandstand was live. I’m guessing this was taped in 1999, after Ford used “You Gotta Be” in a commercial for the Focus, prompting Sony to reissue the single:

Despite dumping Des’ree, Sony subsequently issued an album called Endangered Species: The Best of Des’ree, which includes some alternate versions from the vault and a selection of live tracks.

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Premium inversion

In the fall of 2008, I said something to this effect about my insurance bill:

For the car, that is; I’ve already gotten the notice for the house. (The car, incidentally, costs more, probably because it’s easier to steal.)

After the last few years of, um, rate adjustments, it now costs nearly twice as much to insure the house as it does the car.

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18 holes and quit digging

Some people must simply hate the idea that Barack Obama plays golf:

More people than I can count have taken to social media in the aftermath of the shooting to complain that once the president condemned the shooting, he went back to his vacation schedule, and specifically, that he had the temerity to play golf during that vacation.

This reaction is ridiculous beyond belief, spectacularly juvenile, and should stop at some point before the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. Here is why:

First of all, if the world stopped for an American president every time a police officer is killed, the world would stop an awful lot and the president’s job would become nothing short of impossible to do. I do not write this to diminish the deaths of police officers; whenever a police officer loses his of her life at the hands of some hoodlum, the proper response should be outrage, not resignation. But after the shooting occurs, what is the president supposed to do? Call a meeting of the National Security Council? Go to DEFCON 2? Ask Congress for a declaration of war? What?

And it’s not like he takes that many vacation days, either.

Still, I’m not betting on the Cubs in ’15 or ’16, and in ’17 it won’t matter.

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Holiday brawl

How evenly were these teams depleted? Kevin Durant is still out for the Thunder; San Antonio was missing Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw, and in the fourth quarter Gregg Popovich pulled Tim Duncan, perhaps thinking of tomorrow night’s game at New Orleans. (Duncan eventually wheedled his way back in.) Weirdly, Pop pulled all his starters except Danny Green with 1:26 left with the Spurs down six. I’m guessing psy-war, because seven seconds later, most of them were back, the reserves having scored two points. There were few large leads all afternoon; the Thunder were up by three at the half, but it took a 38-point fourth quarter to dispatch the Spurs, 114-106.

As always, the Spurs came from all directions: Pop deployed 11 players, nine of them scored, and seven of them scored in double figures: four of the starters, plus Matt Bonner (a team-high 17), Manu Ginobili (11, plus 13 assists) and Cory Joseph (14). Time management was definitely a factor: only Bonner and Marco Belinelli played more than 30 minutes. But this is your Telltale Statistic for the day: Tim Duncan, highest-scoring starter for the Spurs with 15 points, finished with a -34.

Once again, Russell Westbrook did that dazzle thing, collecting 34 points and serving up 11 dimes. Steven Adams tied his season high with 16 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds. Serge Ibaka had only the one block, but he was good for 21 points and nine boards. Inexplicably, Perry Jones was scoring big-time: 5-7 for 14 points. In fact, this was not really a day for missed shots on either side: both teams shot 42-81, 52 percent. The Thunder, surprisingly, were better on treys (9-15 vs 7-23); however, OKC was terrible at the foul line (21-38 vs 15-21).

And let’s face it, it’s always fun to beat the Spurs. The Thunder will come home for a Friday game with the Hornets before heading down to Dallas for a Sunday clash with the Mavs.

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Kicks far from pumped up

Robert Stacy McCain, still amused by feminists, tossed out this line:

[S]tand-up comedians have endlessly mined the female obsession with shoes. I’m convinced that every woman, no matter her socioeconomic status or cultural background, secretly yearns to be Imelda Marcos. Even the wealthiest man is probably content with owning two or three pairs of shoes (dress shoes in black and brown for business, plus a pair of sneakers for the weekend) while his female office assistant owns a closet full of shoes in every color and style imaginable.

I left him a comment to the effect that I had, in fact, seven pairs of shoes. The breakdown, should you be curious: sneakers (2), walking shoes (2), sport sandals (1), black wing-tips (1), slides (1). In those cases where I have two pairs of a type, one is newer and the other is awaiting demotion to yard duty or lower.

In fact, I’ve been at between six and eight pairs for at least a decade. I note with no small amount of amusement that so far as I know, Trini has never owned more than five.

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Right smack in the puss

I have owned three cars equipped with Supplemental Restraint Systems, a.k.a. airbags. I have never seen them deploy, even in the car that was wrecked. (That said, I walked away from that wreck without a scratch, which I attribute to the use of the Standard Restraint System, a.k.a. the seat belt.) In this case, one might argue that the airbags didn’t actually work; then again, that these things work at all, says Mike Smitka, is fairly miraculous in itself:

A car going 30 miles per hour is traveling 44 feet per second. If you hit a tree, the worst sort of accident, and are sitting 5 feet behind your car’s bumper, the airbag has 5/44 = 110 milliseconds to do its thing. Your airbag sensor needs to detect a sudden deceleration within 20 milliseconds, has to start the propellant igniting in another 2-3 milliseconds, and the airbag (some are over 20 gallons = 70 liters!) must inflate into the proper shape in another 60 or so milliseconds.

Airbags ignite with the bang comparable to a fair-sized firecracker. Those who complain of airbag burns after an accident — not that such burns aren’t real, I’ve been at accident scenes — should be made to go to their local gym and have a boxer hit their face with a steering wheel to see what they missed. That airbags can be made to work, yet seldom cause serious injury, is to me pretty amazing.

I have a 70-liter (closer to 18.5 gallons) gas tank, and something that size in my lap is hard to imagine, especially if it wasn’t there a tenth of a second ago. Fortunately, I’ve never had to experience this sort of thing. (And they totaled my car anyway, once the repair estimate went over five grand or so.)

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The Christmas truce

Brief once-over:

The “Christmas truce” is a term used to describe a series of unofficial cessations of hostilities that occurred along the Western Front during Christmas 1914. World War One had been raging for several months but German and Allied soldiers stepped out of their trenches, shook hands and agreed a truce so the dead could be buried. The soldiers also used that truce to chat with one another and, some claim, even play a football match. Unofficial truces between opposing forces occurred at other times during World War One but never on the scale of that first Christmas truce.

You’d think an event such as this would be widely celebrated in media a hundred years later. So where’s the celebration?

Which it is, and it came out in 1967, almost half a century ago. The writers — producing team Hugo & Luigi, and lyricist George David Weiss, also known for ginning up an English lyric to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” at the behest of H&L — made this fit into the existing Snoopy vs. the Red Baron template with the greatest of ease. Billboard scorned it, as it did all Christmas songs in those days, but it made the Top Ten in rival Cashbox.

That said, there are some commemorations, though inevitably this one drew my attention:

In 2014 Gavin Marriott, a New Zealand member of The International Military Music Society and The Passchendaele Society, came up with an idea of commemorating the centenary of the historical origins of this song. It was promoted to play or sing “Snoopy’s Christmas” before Christmas dinner in people’s homes in honour of an event which could have changed the world. A reading has been suggested for people in conjunction with the playing of this song. As an alternative he suggested people could sing “Silent Night” … “This song reminds us before our Christmas feast, that a century ago today, soldiers, as depicted in this song, lay down their arms in Flanders Belgium for a truce, in the spirit of the Christmas we now all enjoy today. If allowed to continue, this truce could have meant 100,000 New Zealanders not going to war and there may not be 18,000 of those not returning. This song reminds us of the sacrifice of those that did go, so we can enjoy this song, this day a century on and our Christmas feast.”

“Snoopy’s Christmas” was even more popular in New Zealand than in the States, charting several times in the 1980s and again in 2013. It does, however, have its detractors.

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Beyond comprehensive

One of the arguments in favor of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act — which, to the surprise of no one actually paying attention, required a mere 67-percent increase in my annual deductible to qualify the corporate policy without sending the premium to the stratosphere — was that “it’s just like car insurance, nobody has a problem with that being mandatory.”

Well, no, I don’t have a problem with that. I’d point out that rather a large percentage of drivers have been ignoring that particular mandate all along, but ultimately I suppose I need to be more concerned about people who simply can’t read policies:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: My motor is messed up in my car will my car insurance pay for it to get fix?

Short answer: no. And there’s really no need for a long answer.

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Alternate choices

She loves me; she loves me not. It’s a lot easier for me to believe the latter.

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Less-competent thieves

Um, yeah:

And now, so does the whole world.

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Although not Rainier

Not only do we obsess over the weather forecast, we’ve been known to review old forecasts:

For more than three weeks Oklahoma has been wrapped in fog, dark clouds, and just a flannelly cocoon of winter weather. We are not built for this much darkness! I really don’t know how people in the Pacific Northwest cope with it. So yesterday we all felt refreshed just seeing the sun. I went for a quick little 3 mile run wearing only a light jacket, and I had thoughts like better get the pool opened up soon!

“Light jacket” makes sense: the inversion layer sitting above us has produced indifferent highs but uncharacteristically above-freezing lows.

The National Weather Service properly caters to this tendency:

I missed that little bit of sunshine, being stuck in Post-Vacation Recovery Mode, but we’re actually getting some today. Which is good, since I am told that there’s no parking left at Byron’s, or as no one dares call it, Booze R Us.

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Filet-O-Fishy

Consumerist must have been getting serious mail about this, else they wouldn’t have come back with an article titled “For The Love Of God, McDonald’s Is Not Getting Rid Of The Big Mac Or Apple Pie.” Seriously:

You’ve probably seen your Facebook news feed overrun in recent days with people bemoaning the death of the McDonald’s Big Mac and apple pie. But there’s no need to start a petition or put on mourning garb, it’s just another hoax… [T]he McDonald’s Twitter feed is now working overtime (but probably not getting paid for it; after all, this is McDonald’s) reassuring folks that the fast food chain’s signature sandwich and dessert aren’t going anywhere.

The source of the hoax is a story on a site called Daily Buzz Live, which displays a faked Tweet from the same McDonald’s account stating, “It is with a heavy heart that we must announce that the Big Mac will no longer be apart of our menu. It is our sincerest apologies.”

Sheesh. Even the Hamburglar is more articulate than that.

Now if I could only find a freaking McRib.

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Long-ball blues

Says it all:

“Here” was a 98-all tie after 48 minutes. And with 1:39 left in overtime, Russell Westbrook, having scored a season-high 40 points — with 10 rebounds, no less — fouled out. In the last ten seconds, LaMarcus Aldridge and Serge Ibaka got into a brief altercation; a foul was called on Ibaka, his sixth, and Aldridge, who threw the first punch-like exchange, was thumbed. Even sillier, a skirmish broke out in the stands. The Blazers already had this one won, having tossed in a remarkable 17 points in the overtime period for a 115-111 triumph.

And there wasn’t much anyone could do about Damian Lillard, who dropped in 40 points — three short of his season high — on a mere 21 shots. (We’re talking 8-12 from outside the circle and 10 of 11 free throws.) It was Lillard who forced overtime with a three-ball with three seconds left, and it was Lillard who got seven of those 17 overtime points. Wesley Matthews added 22. And Aldridge, however rotten he may have felt, put up 28 shots, making only nine, but still clocking 25 points.

With Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez out, Portland didn’t have much of a bench, and the Blazer reserves contributed only 19 points, or two fewer than Reggie Jackson. The OKC bench popped up 46 points. Then again, Andre Roberson and Perry Jones combined produced only two.

Still: Thunder 54 points in the paint, Blazers 24. The offset: Blazers 17-31 from outside, Thunder 6-19. Which supports a premise I’ve long believed, to the effect that the three-point shot works better as fanservice than an actual tool for winning — unless you make a hell of a lot of them. Portland, which collected 51 points from beyond the arc, did exactly that.

How blue a Christmas? Ask the Spurs. The Thunder have to go to San Antonio to find out.

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