Meanwhile at the Conversion Bureau

The sysadmin expects to have every last one of us onto Windows 7 in the next four weeks, reasoning that the day after Microsoft pulls support for XP, we can expect a massive attack on any and all XP machines remaining. I’m not so sure — I figure the malware artists will wait forty-eight hours instead of twenty-four, just to lure the suckers into a false sense of security — but there’s no sense asking for trouble, and since most of the XP machines we have online are between four and seven years old, there’d be a reason to replace them even if we had to replace them with Vista.

Or maybe not. Trini, when she was running our hardware support, refused to allow any Vista machines in the building. I keep meaning to call her and ask what she thinks of Windows 8, though I suspect I already know the answer. (There was a time when we were pretty adept at finishing each other’s sentences, a neat trick for two people nearly two generations apart.)

So it’s going to be Win7. I left Microsoft Easy Transfer running over the weekend to move my stuff to a new work box; it took six hours to push files around, but only about an hour or so to restore the functionality to which I am accustomed. I’ll take that. I expect most of the other upgrades will be easier; they’ll certainly be for me, since I won’t have to do them.

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Now with extra morning darkness!

I didn’t do a DST rant this year, perhaps dimly sensing that this idiotic government scheme, like most idiotic government schemes, will outlive me by many decades.

However, I’m happy to give you someone else’s DST rant:

I dislike these first few weeks of it (that it starts so early, too): I go from driving to work when the sun is up to driving to work in the dark. I was rather frustrated with the Weather Channel the day or two before, when they were talking about how we all got “extra sunlight” after the time change. No. There is no “extra” sunlight, absent the few seconds we gain with each day we get closer to the summer solstice. The only people who get “extra” sunlight are those who sleep in late enough to be up after the dawn during standard time. And, perhaps, the people who can get in a round of golf after work instead of having to grade or attend to life-chores like laundry or marketing. (And really: how many people in today’s America get to sleep through the dawn? And how many have enough free time in the afternoon to go have fun? Probably not most working people; probably not most parents.)

TWC’s absorption into Comcast/NBC killed what few brain cells they had.

Sunrise this week in Oklahoma City has been around 7:50. Pretty much everyone I work with has to drive in the dark to get there by eight. (I show up in the general vicinity of six-thirty, so I seldom see any sunshine on the morning commute: sunrise never comes earlier than about 6:15.)

And besides, laws are not enacted for the benefit of working people and/or parents, unless there’s some way to obtain the requisite quantity of graft and/or egoboo for the elites.

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Where have all the Lortabs gone?

Long time disappearing, it would seem:

The L.A. Times’ David Lazarus reports that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the California Board of Pharmacy are investigating the disappearance of prescription pain meds from four stores in California.

The DEA served the stores with warrants almost a year ago after learning about prescription drugs like Vicodin that were not present and accounted for.

The company now faces up to 2,973 separate violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act because its records don’t match the actual inventory of the drugs in question. CVS could be forced to pay upwards of $29 million in penalties for these possible violations.

Apparently they’re not going out the door a few at a time, either:

The DEA investigation has been going on since 2012, when a DEA investigator learned of missing hydrocodone pills from a store near Sacramento. A pharmacy worker at the store eventually admitted to her employers that she had stolen some 20,000 pills.

Checking the temperature of other stores in the region, the investigator looked through the records of other CVS stores in the area and found 16,000 pills missing from one CVS; 11,000 from another and two additional stores with around 5,000 missing pills each.

The cynic in me goes “Harrumph,” and asks “Where was Walgreens during all this?” In their own little bit of trouble, it seems.

I have to figure that interdiction of drugs is a complete waste of time, if only because supply restrictions have not resulted in higher prices: last time I picked up any of these tabs, I paid something like $2.90 for fourteen of them.

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Show fizzle

I think we were all preparing for the worst tonight: Thunder defense has been conspicuous by its absence of late, the Rockets are known for their offensive prowess, and besides, James Harden. The 26-24 OKC lead after the first quarter was, let’s admit it, reassuring; 56-41 at the half was more so. Still, Houston does not take these things lightly, and a one-time 18-point Thunder lead was shaved to five late in the fourth quarter. Patrick Beverley, no friend of Russell Westbrook, had cozied up to Russ in the first in pretty much the same way he’d attacked him many games ago: he got a tech for his trouble. So it’s probably apropos that with 91 seconds left, Beverley fouled Westbrook in the act of shooting a trey, and Westbrook calmly — for Westbrook, anyway — sank all three of the free throws to push the OKC lead back to eight. For Beverley, it was his fifth foul; he finished with two points. And for Houston, it was their third straight loss to Oklahoma City. The final was 106-98, which, now that I think about it, is about what it ought to have been.

Oh, yes, Harden. A dull lump in the first half, he was Mr. Excitement in the second, leading the Houston attack with just shy of a triple-double: 28 points, eight rebounds, nine assists. The Beard played 44 minutes; Chandler Parsons trumped that with a 46-minute enduro collecting 19 points. Dwight Howard, freed from the necessity of having to deal with Kendrick Perkins, turned in a vaguely Dwightish performance: nine points, ten boards, hit one out of six free throws. The threat in the late going, however, proved to be Francisco Garcia, who ratcheted up 11 points, including three treys, in a mere 14 minutes, and who made a futile attempt to rip Kevin Durant’s arm off.

KD, incidentally, went off for 42 tonight on a 12-22 binge. Westbrook, allowed to play for half an hour, finished with 24. Serge Ibaka had a so-so night from the floor, a big one on the backboard: ten points, including the turnaround jumper that finished the Rockets for good, and 16 rebounds. Weirdness from the box score: OKC was 27-34 from the foul line, and that was divided among only three players: Durant (13-16), Westbrook (11-14), and Derek Fisher (3-4). It’s like Kevin McHale pointed to the bench and said “Don’t foul those guys.” Meanwhile, Steven Adams, tasked with keeping Howard at bay, wound up with four fouls, including a Flagrant One. Almost what Perk would have done, come to think of it.

The Lakers will be here Thursday. Payback, as a wise person said, has its byotchitude.

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Comfy can be cute

So said San Diego fashion blogger Cyrillynn, who runs Any Second Now, and who let everyone know via Instagram what shoes she’d just bought:

Honiton by Hotter

“Honiton,” by UK shoemaker Hotter, is described as “the all day everyday moccasin”:

You’ll love the pillow soft cushioning of blissfully soft classic moccasin Honiton. Revel in the butter soft leather and ultra lightweight sole for sublime casual comfort.

Black, beige and tan variants are offered as well, at the $115 price point.

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Zooeypalooza 20!

It’s about time, right?

Zooeypalooza 20!

Embiggenment via the handy CLICK method.

Paloozas of the past: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, ZP 8, ZP 9, ZP 10, ZP 11, ZP 12, ZP 13, ZP 14, ZP 15, ZP 16, ZP 17, ZP 18, ZP 19.

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Lynn goes to the Tulsa Home and Garden Show, and finds it mostly meh:

There was very little that you couldn’t see any day at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Fifty flooring companies with the exact same hardwood flooring; fifty countertop companies with the exact same granite counter tops; fifty window and siding companies with essentially the same windows and siding; and 500,000,000 tornado shelter companies… Okay, I might be exaggerating a little bit on that last one.

Maybe a little bit. I think there were half a billion roofing companies out here answering the most recent Hailing Frequency.

They also had a few things that don’t have anything to do with “home and garden”, like vehicles, and, because this is Oklahoma, by “vehicles” I mean big-ass pickups that are big enough to live in and you’ll probably have to if you buy one because they cost as much as a decent house, which you won’t be able to afford and make payments on the pickup too.

Not to mention the question of parking the damn truck somewhere near the house — or somebody’s house, anyway.

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There’s been a murder

You may even have seen one:

In a Time Magazine article titled “The Mystery of Animal Grief” by Jeffrey Kluger, scientists explain that animals do grieve — and that they honor and mourn their dead with an intensity some people don’t even display.

For instance, researchers have observed how crows will gather around a departed crow and call and call until hundreds of flock mates arrive. They will then stand surrounding the dead crow and maintain total silence, broken only by occasional approaches to offer odds and ends to the corpse — for instance, pebbles or short sticks. After a period of time, they will depart, never to return.

More turnout than I could ever dare to expect, even allowing for the people who were just wanting to make sure I was dead.

(Plucked from Georganna Hancock’s writing research.)

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Let’s talk about a Rocket

No, not a Houston Rocket. Think Lansing, Michigan, home of Oldsmobile since Ransom E. Olds himself starting building cars in 1897.

Nineteen fifty-eight had not been a good year for General Motors: it was a down year for Detroit generally, and one brand — Packard — actually perished. (Nash and Hudson had expired after the 1957 model year; Ford had yet to learn the fate of its shiny new Edsel.) The General’s own ’58 models were mocked for their bloat and for their ridiculously overchromed flanks; the ’58 Olds perhaps got it the worst, with stylist Alex Tremulis, then best known for his work for Preston Tucker, satirizing it by drawing musical notes in that rear-panel staff. Worse yet, the daily driver of a Ford designer in the early 60s was a ’58 Olds with its nameplate letters shuffled: the Ford man tossed an I and rendered the name as “SLOBMODEL.”

By then, of course, Oldsmobile had moved on. At the time, the division’s big dealer promotion each year consisted of a small-scale Broadway-style musical, often based upon a large-scale Broadway musical. For 1959, Good News about Olds debuted with a catchy little number that demonstrates that Bill Hayes and Florence Henderson definitely knew the territory. Turned into a TV commercial, it looked like this (after the jump):

Read the rest of this entry »

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Asymmetric intubation

The major obstacle to transparency in the health-care market — apart from the presence of government, which is an obstacle in its own right — is the fact that nobody knows how much anything costs:

One thing that might help is if people knew how much their health insurance company was paying for their drugs. I consume a handful of pills which costs me a dollar or two every day. I don’t really know because it’s always different, depending on whether I have satisfied my deductible or not, or maybe it’s by the phase of the moon. I gave up trying to fathom the workings of the insurance companies a long time ago. So I have to pay some money for these drugs, but I have no idea what the pharmacy is charging my insurance company. I’m pretty sure someone doesn’t want me to know, but they are cloaking this secrecy in the name of “you shouldn’t have to worry about the money when you’re sick, that’s what insurance is for”. Well, that’s BS.

CFI Care [not its real initials] is presumably not paying a whole hell of a lot for my daily dosages, inasmuch as my designated copays start at $15 for the lowest tier, yet most of these drugs run $10 or less for a 30-day supply. The pharmacy does supply an insert with “Retail Value,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything: you might perhaps assume that this is what the uninsured have to pay, but this particular chain offers lots of $4 generics, and nobody will put up with paying, say, $28.67 for a drug advertised at $4 — unless someone else is shelling out the $28.67.

There’s got to be a better way. I’ll continue to push for my single-payer scheme: everybody bundle up your medical bills and send them to George Soros.

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Time as a Veblen good

Jack Baruth lays down the smack on the ultra-expensive Swiss watch:

If you wear a Swiss “luxury watch”, you’re a douchebag. (Full disclosure: I have a few of them myself.) The bigger the watch is, and the more elaborate/flashy it is, the worse you are. The newer and more quick-bake the brand is, the more horrifying your personal presence is to people who weren’t raised in a trailer prior to the IPO/Goldman bonus/first-round draft pick/real-estate deal/personal-injury settlement. I’ve complained about this before, but wearing a watch that is unnecessarily complex and impossible to fix amounts to a Nero-esque destruction of capital without the attendant flair. This goes double if your watchmaker’s brand was “dormant” for fifty years or more before being pried out of the hands of someone’s step-great-grandchild by a venture-capital firm, triple if Nicholas Hayek imagined your brand while he was having a “speedball” medically administered by a twenty-two-year-old Italian nurse who does figure modeling in the evenings.

I’m pretty sure my watch, the very antithesis of Swiss craftsmanship, isn’t fixable, unless what ails it is a dearth of battery power, which can be replenished for $5. Then again, it only cost me $30 to begin with, thirty-odd years ago, and maintenance — it’s on its fourth band now — has run less than $100.

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Wouldn’t want to lose patients, either

In these grammar-challenged days, it took guts for the Oklahoman to put up a story with a title like this:

Oklahoma City treatment center neighbors lose patience over loose patients

The actual article in question deals with runaways — or, more commonly, walkaways — from a psychiatric treatment center located in a predominantly rural area of the city.

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Strange search-engine queries (423)

If you’re new here, and by “new” I mean within the last week, because otherwise you’d certainly have seen this before: this is a weekly compendium of odd search strings, actually used by real Web surfers, which may or may not have been supposed to land here, but did.

nothing up my sleeve striptease:  Eventually, of course, there is no sleeve.

sylvia label blind artest:  They say that if you lack one of the senses, the other four will compensate. People with no sense at all, however, run for political office.

97 ford thunderbird lx v6 67,000 miles o/d light blinking:  This phenomenon is described in your owner’s manual. If you do not have an owner’s manual, you have no business driving.

wheres the fuse for forth gear on a 2003 mazda:  Gears don’t have fuses. You obviously need an owner’s manual.

bread without no meat:  Modern-day equivalent: “We doubled your premium, but now your deductible is three times as high.”

where is “34th and vine” from the old song located:  Just outside the gypsy’s place. You can’t miss it.

bad mlp, no idicator light cd4e:  The only really bad MLP was Equestria Girls, where the girls didn’t seem to be getting much in the way of idication.

should i play mono remixes in mono:  If that’s the way they’re mixed, it’s the only way you can play them.

rape and torture of diana ross and the supremes:  Either somebody is spreading sick rumors, or somebody really, really didn’t like “Reflections.”

bess myerson wore a swim suit that was too small:  This is a hell of a time to start complaining, don’t you think?

sex women next door impugn:  Ha. Not with that impugny thing, Buster.

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Let us move you

Does this makes sense to you?

Reacting to criticism from customers that upgrading from Windows XP was “impossible,” Microsoft [last week] announced it would give away a limited migration tool to help people move to a newer operating system.

The tool, PCmover Express for Windows XP, is one of several migration utilities from Laplink, a Bellevue, Wash. company whose offices are near those of Microsoft.

I ask this because Microsoft already has a limited migration tool to help people move to a newer operating system; it’s called Microsoft Easy Transfer, and the price is the same: zilch, if you can find the download page. I used it myself to move 130 GB or so of data off my old home box to my new home box, which runs Win7 Home Premium. Someone wanting to move from 7 to Win8, assuming there exists someone who wants to move from 7 to Win8, doesn’t even need the download: the tool is built into 7.

But maybe there’s something else at work here:

The free PCmover Express transfers files and users’ settings only from an XP PC to one running Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. It does not migrate any applications, just files and user settings, a ploy to prod people to pony up for PCmover Professional, which will transfer an unlimited number of applications from the old PC to the new machine, as well as migrate files and settings.

Several caveats apply: “Antivirus and Anti-Spyware programs will not be moved to your new PC,” noted Laplink as one.

Apparently people were scared stiff about reinstalling their applications — or perhaps those apps were obtained through, shall we say, non-standard provenance.

The Professional version of PCmover is $60; multiple license packs are available at a discount. Meanwhile, as I write this, Easy Transfer has finished up migrating my work box to the new work box (running Win7 Pro).

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Overcoming Meekness

The last-place Lakers are still depleted, missing Nash, Young, Crosby, Stills and Kobe, and a snapshot of this game halfway through the second quarter would show them getting themselves thrashed to the tune of 44-28. I imagine the Ghost of Phil Jackson, hovering over the Staples Center, spake an incantation unto them. (Only Phil Jackson could do this while he’s both still alive and considering a position with the Knicks.) By the end of the half, the Lakers were within five; L. A. outscored the Thunder 36-19 in the third quarter and opened up a lead as big as 18 in the fourth. Open looks began to appear for the Thunder. At the :54 mark, OKC had pulled to within three, but Kent Bazemore, on a personal 7-0 run, put the game out of reach, despite a nice 30-footer by Russell Westbrook: the Lakers won it 114-110 and took their first game in the season series, leaving the Thunder to wonder just what went wrong.

Two words: “Jodie Meeks.” Installed in the Kobe Bryant slot, Meeks put up a very Bryantoid 42 points, more than he’d ever scored before in the NBA, and while he wasn’t much of a factor in the fourth quarter (four points), he’d done all the damage he’d needed to do. Five other Lakers hit double figures: Pau Gasol with 20, and a smattering of 11s and 12s. And we must mention starting point guard Kendall Marshall, who didn’t score once — but dished up ten assists and nabbed five boards.

Still, it wasn’t just Jodie Meeks. The Thunder put up 100 shots in 48 minutes: only 42 of them fell. (From three-point distance, they were 12-35; the Lakers were a little better at 13-31.) And the Thunder enjoyed a whopping 59-36 advantage on the boards, 19-1 offensively. But read down the box, and you’ll see 14 made free throws out of 21 attempts. Seven points left at the stripe! (Again, L. A. was a little better, hitting 25 of 30, with two of them, a pair of Marshall bricks, coming very late.) We can point to a Kevin Durant triple-double (27 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds), a 21-point outing by Serge Ibaka (plus 15 rebounds and two blocks), 20 from Westbrook — but of the three, only Serge knocked down as many as half of his shots. (KD and Russ between them were 15-42.)

So the Spurs vault, or crawl, back into the Western lead, and guess who’s waiting for the Thunder when they get back home? The third-place Rockets. When you’ve just lost to #15, #3 looks all the more daunting.

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Fully locked and upright

You’re probably not going to see anything like this on our domestic carriers:

The meaning of “super mini” in this context is 15 cm (six inches) above the knee.

The Japanese government takes no official position on such matters, but:

There is no rule to regulate crew’s uniform under the aviation law, so the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism made a comment that they will keep their eyes on the campaign.

(Via Flight Club. Am I allowed to talk about Flight Club?)

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