What I’ve become

And if you think I ought to be ashamed of myself, I’ll probably agree with you.

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Not being particularly observant

This has been a particularly rough day, and I wasn’t in any mood to deal with someone handing out political flyers at the door. The mind was sufficiently fogged, I think, for me not to notice that I’d gotten to the door wearing nothing but my watch and a pair of sport sandals.

Of course, I was surrounded by my Horrible Walking Appliance, which might have blocked some of the view for the poor woman working the block, and she didn’t shriek in terror or anything.

I am not, you should know, in the habit of doing this: there is a tiny number of people who are aware that I normally don’t wear much of anything and who have let me know that they don’t mind, but the operative word is “tiny.” Fewer than six. I think only one actual current neighbor is clued in, but she’s never had a reason to visit here. (Used to be a woman around the corner who’d chat through the fence, and she was utterly indifferent to my lack of garb.) Still, I have to wonder if I somehow foreclosed a political discussion; and if I did, I have to wonder if it’s justification for doing it again.

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An institution unto herself

Over the weekend, Halle Berry turned 50.

Fifty.

Halle Berry in something shiny

Halle Berry takes a walk

Halle Berry in something else shiny

Halle Berry takes a Lexus

You gotta figure she’ll make it at least to 91, equaling the old Cleveland department store Halle Brothers Company, for whom she was named.

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You’re not dying fast enough

And this sort of thing matters to insurance providers and similar types:

When someone is receiving hospice care, it usually means they’re very close to the end of their life. But what happens if that person simply refuses to die?

A woman who’s outlived her prognosis has lost hospice care for that very reason, CBS New York reports. She wasn’t supposed to still be alive, after doctors gave her less than six months to live … two years ago. But despite battling stage 4 lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she’s hanging in there.

Because, you know, rules:

Medicare rules define hospice care as for the actively dying only, and “terminal” means you have less than six months to live. Now that her hospice provider has done what’s called “graduating” the woman from hospice care, she’ll have to go back to her private doctor and supplemental insurance.

I’m going to ponder that phrase “actively dying” for a while.

And while I do, I’ll think about my dad, who back in 1999 was told he had maybe six months to live.

He made it just past Christmas 2006. Then again, he was a right ornery cuss.

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As the dogs and the cats frolic together

We have here a curious case where The Oklahoman thinks some of us are insufficiently taxed:

[S]ome Oklahoma counties have failed to assess properties at market value and collect the associated property taxes.

A study prepared by the Oklahoma Tax Commission at the request of State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones and Oklahoma Watch found 52 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties failed to collect $192 million in property tax revenue in 2014. That shortfall was created by county assessors who didn’t appraise property at market values.

The big counties, which have their own systems, seem to be doing okay, but the smaller ones, part of a multi-county computer system, maybe not so much:

In Pottawatomie County, for example, the study concluded residential property valuations were 16 percent below market value, and commercial property valuations were 24 percent too low.

In Pittsburg County, residential properties were 19 percent undervalued and commercial property was 54 percent below market rates.

Assessors in 16 counties have done such a bad job that the state Board of Equalization has warned that those counties’ assessors could have their paychecks suspended and their offices taken over by the state. Those counties are Adair, Bryan, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Johnston, Latimer, McCurtain, Murray, Nowata, Okfuskee, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pushmataha, Seminole and Texas.

Of course, trying to fix this will cause all manner of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

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Bar exam evidently failed

Or something like that:

I mention purely in passing that WBBH-TV, the Channel 2 in question, is licensed to Fort Myers, Florida, and that according to Wikipedia, “in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among all Big-Three affiliated broadcast television stations in the United States.” We’re talking 45 hours a week. You’d think they’d have hired someone who passed first-year stats. Then again, this Channel 2 is not on Channel 2 at all, but on 15 (virtual channel 20); the local cable companies have it on 2, so they decided to brand themselves as NBC 2.

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Remote forage

From early on in The Sparkle Chronicles:

Next day at 5:56, the doorbell rang, and my heart did a couple of half-gainers off Kilimanjaro. It was the evening repast: bean sprouts and hummus and stuff Fluttershy wouldn’t dare feed Angel and sort-of-freshly baked bread and a couple of bottles of what was probably filtered tap water from Wichita. I was sufficiently crazed to demand no change from two twenties. The fellow’s truck — what, he didn’t ride a bicycle? — had just barely cleared the driveway when the feeble little bleep of my thirty-year-old wristwatch announced the hour, and an oval of light appeared on the concrete.

This paragraph was done with a local firm in mind, though I admit I hadn’t actually patronized that firm at the time. Now I have.

Dining Delivery Express of Oklahoma City, better known by its phone number — 858-TOGO — takes orders for participating eateries and arranges for delivery to your very porch. For those of us who aren’t in the mood to go crawl across town, this is ideal, if a tad pricey: a flat $5.99 delivery fee, plus an appropriate tip to the driver. Anyway, this was tonight’s decidedly not vegetarian repast:

858-TOGO invoice for Oklahoma Station BBQ

Ended up being close to $30 when it was all done, but it was worth it, and delivery took less than half an hour, competitive with the pizza parlors. Considering that my typical pizza order ends up over $20, and that barbecue joints are not known for being economical, I’m not about to complain.

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Sort of soft-boiled

This year’s winner in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is William “Barry” Brockett of Tallahassee, for this bit of noirishness:

Even from the hall, the overpowering stench told me the dingy caramel glow in his office would be from a ten-thousand-cigarette layer of nicotine baked on a naked bulb hanging from a frayed wire in the center of a likely cracked and water-stained ceiling, but I was broke, he was cheap, and I had to find her.

Honestly, I preferred, or maybe just disliked less, this Crime/Detective winner:

She walked toward me with her high heels clacking like an out-of-balance ceiling fan set on low, smiling as though about to spit pus from a dental abscess, and I knew right away that she was going to leave me feeling like I had used a wood rasp to cure my hemorrhoids.

Courtesy of Charles Caldwell, Leesville, Louisiana.

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I’m all about that baseball

While I was hospitalized, I rediscovered an old friend: baseball. In the period between the time they take the dinner dish away and the time they bring the nightly pain meds, baseball did a wonderful job of filling up the time I would otherwise use bewailing my fate and wishing I was dead.

Unfortunately for me, I managed to be in bed during the All-Star break, so there were a couple of rough nights to be faced. When I finally got out of there, I stayed with it, going back to the ancestral home of baseball: AM radio. No trick to pick up the local Triple-A club, the Oklahoma City Dodgers: they have a deal with one of the smaller stations. Getting the parent club is trickier: they have a nominal local affiliate, but not all the games get through the endless web of tedious talk shows.

When I discovered Sunday that the Pittsburgh Pirates/Los Angeles Dodgers game would not be carried here, I took action. I cranked up the tablet, which doesn’t get enough work, and installed Major League Baseball’s At Bat app, which gives me all the audio I can stand for twenty bucks a year. About halfway through the first inning, I had everything in place and running.

Standard MLB blackout rules apply to the Rangers, the Astros and the Cardinals, though not to the Royals.

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Thereby causing a brouhaha

This is perplexing:

I suspect that this is a regional phenomenon, and that this product can be purchased elsewhere as “Healthy Hoo-Ha.”

Wait, twat?

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Strange search-engine queries (550)

If you’ve seen this before, well, you’re seeing it again. If you haven’t, well, basically we’re going through the search strings that bring people to this site, and puzzling over some of them. Nothing more complicated than that.

foreskin puns:  Sorry, no tipping allowed.

ave maria waterpark and university within minutes of amreican discount pharmacy:  And they say convenience is dying.

“roto rooter” “slut”:  She’s busy having her lines run.

“feckful barged:”  I hate it when people barge in fecklessly.

first time naturists:  Easy to spot: typically, they’re the color of a bathroom sink in a pediatrician’s office.

used laredo fifth wheels for sale russellville ar:  The mind boggles that someone might have more than one.

dampnation:  Appropriate cuss word for when there’s 18 inches of rain.

michel thayer novel no verbs:  Because you know he’s all about those nouns — no actions.

knuckleheads san antonio:  Hey, that’s no way to talk about the Spurs.

is hercules on the commodore 64 supposed to suck balls:  I think you have to have the Bonus Cartridge for that.

stardust rod animus:  Not to be confused with the Legendary Stardust Cowboy.

granny in stilettos:  Hey, if she can walk in the darn things, more power to her.

whigged out:  That’s what they said when Zachary Taylor died in 1850.

too much metamucil:  And then there are those who never Metamucil they didn’t like.

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A long way from Neptune, New Jersey

Also from Jupiter, Florida:

Actually, it’s not technically a town:

Uranus Missouri, often called simply “Uranus,” is a tourist attraction located in the rural area of Pulaski County, Missouri along Route 66. It is a shopping mall consisting of a Fudge Factory and General Store, a sports bar, a nightclub, a tattoo shop, a festival food truck lot, and an outdoor store with a gun range and pro-shop. All the business owned by a single individual, Louie Keen, who proclaims himself the “Mayor of Uranus”. While Uranus Missouri is marketed as a city or town, the commercial development is unincorporated and even proclaims on the entrance sign, “It’s Not a Town, It’s a Destination.”

If you’re looking, it’s near St. Robert, Missouri.

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Fading into silence

A hint at what radio used to be:

Advertisement for radio station KWK in St Louis, 1947

You’d think an original three-letter call from the 1920s would be worth preserving, but apparently not: starting in 1984, KWK went through a dizzying variety of call letters, ending in 2015 as KXFN. Before it was KWK, it was KFVE, and over the years they moved from 1280 to 1350 to 1380. For a while, there was also an FM, at 106.5. This made for some interesting situations:

Since the AM and FM stations were licensed in different cities, KWK was only allowed to simulcast on both frequencies for a portion of the day. John Hutchinson remembered “when the AM and FM broadcasts were split, the FM jock would play the playlist from the top of the page down and the AM jock would play tunes from the bottom of the page up. When the time came to simulcast we would pick a tune over the intercom and try to begin the tunes at the same time so that we could flip the ‘simulcast’ switch and purportedly no one would detect the merge. Of course this did not always happen smoothly … causing much hilarity amongst the air staff.”

The station has been silent since last December. The Mutual Broadcasting System was killed by Westwood One in 1999; the “Muny,” still in Forest Park, continues.

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Quote of the week

Severian sees the problem in a post-scarcity world:

Time was, everybody was fairly “conservative,” as even the richest and most privileged Westerners experienced “tough shit” moments daily. Carriage crashes, polio, no climate control, no running water … unless you actually were the Queen of England, every day you saw some easy, obvious thing that would make your life better, and it was juuuuuuust out of reach … hell, even if you were the Queen — catch Victoria with a toothache, and she’ll make you Viceroy of India for some over-the-counter aspirin.

But now, a level of material comfort that would be literal heaven to 99.9% of the world’s population for 99.99% of human history — and for a great many people even now — is taken for granted. Our “poor” people are fat and have flat screen TVs. I doubt there are more than 1 in 1,000,000 Americans who have ever experienced actual hunger — that is, I need food and have only a very remote possibility of getting any. So why shouldn’t everyone get everything he wants, the second he wants it? It’s no faaaaaair if I don’t!

I’m not suggesting we turn the clock back to the Middle Ages — that’s a liberal preoccupation — but I am suggesting that perhaps the greatest gift you can give your children is enrolling them in Little League. Something, anything, that teaches them that no matter how strongly you feeeeel about it, some people are better at some things than others, and sometimes the ball takes a funny hop.

I’d question that hunger “statistic,” but I think it’s pretty obvious that we have the wealthiest poor people in recorded history.

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Quickly spotted

By gum, here’s another vintage item from The Fashion Capital of Delaware:

Chiffon dress with polka dots

I think you have to be exactly the right age to appreciate this sort of thing.

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A somewhat hairier version

It is common knowledge that I hang with the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom under the name of Dusty Sage, and about four years ago I used one of those cute online generators to produce a ponysona. That was good enough for a while; but I wearied of it, and when the noted artist LeekFish announced she was taking commissions, I asked her to knock out a sketch based on my original design but looking less artificial.

Which she did:

Dusty Sage as envisioned by LeekFish

I am quite pleased.

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