They’re very hard to smoke

Screenshot from KCTV Kansas City: Finding The Right Kitten Barbecue Recipes

And you may need extra sauce.

(Found on Lisa Nicole’s Facebook page; thanks to Dan B.)

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Sticking it to the girls

Conventional wisdom has it that mechanics, assuming women don’t know any better, will routinely overcharge them for auto repair. I don’t have any anecdotal data one way or the other, but I do know of instances where women were actually cut out of the purchasing loop because the salescreature would talk only to their husbands, so it seems at least plausible to me.

Now comes actual data:

A new study by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University finds that when it comes to auto repairs, women who don’t appear knowledgeable about cost may end up paying more than men. However, gender differences disappear when customers mention an expected price for the repair.

Not that anyone knows how much it costs to fix anything on a car these days, right?

The researchers set up field experiments to test the effects of men and women calling auto repair shops to ask for quotes on a 2003 Toyota Camry radiator replacement. The callers either appeared well-informed of the market price ($365), misinformed with expectations of a higher-than-average price ($510), or completely uninformed, with no price expectation.

Among those who appeared uninformed, women fared worse and were consistently quoted higher prices. Women who called and expressed knowledge of the market price received quotes in line with that expectation. Men, on the other hand, were quoted the same price whether they said, “I have no idea what this costs,” or “I know the average cost is $365.” As expected, both men and women were quoted significantly higher-than-average prices when they said their expected price was $510.

These presumably were independent shops. I can tell you that replacement of a radiator on a 2000 I30 at the Infiniti store, per Alldata, runs $515 plus an hour and a half labor, somewhere around $700 in all; when I took the car to an independent shop, I made a point of mentioning that figure. (They brought it in for $525, including replacement of both upper and lower hoses, which would have added $250 to the tab at the dealership.)

But here’s the catch:

When it came to negotiating for a lower price, many shops were unwilling to budge. However, when they did, it was more likely to happen for women than men. In fact, 35 percent of women were able to get their requested price met, compared to 25 percent of men.

“It’s kind of an ironic twist,” says Florian Zettelmeyer, the Nancy L. Ertle Professor of Marketing. “The same kind of cultural expectations that cause repair shops to overcharge women are probably also responsible for showing preference toward women in negotiations.”

I am not much of a haggler, this incident notwithstanding, and I would not be surprised to hear that a woman could do it better than I: shopping is in their genome, after all, or so conventional wisdom has it.

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Hitting the ‘Deck

TweetDeck pushed out a new version this week (3.0.5), and while the improvement is useful, there are a few items from the old 0.38.2 that I’d like to see reinstated if at all possible:

  • Spearchucker Spellchecker, that is. Time being of the essence in the Twitterverse, I don’t have time to do my usual ¾-assed (half again as good as halfassed) editing job.
  • The ability to toggle one’s URL shortener. I send out lots of links via; however, there are people who will not touch a shortened URL, and I’d just as soon not have to reassure them that no, this is not a one-way trip to Virus City.
  • The shortened-URL preview feature, which enables one to see where that (or otherwise) stuff was really going to go.

Surely these can be tacked on without adding more than a few feathers’ worth of program bloat.

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Not a ngrmad condition

This presumably follows the Blue Screen of Apoplexy:

Scrambled Windows reboot screen

(Seen at Miss Cellania’s.)

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Um, yay

Fluttershy sports bra by Hot TopicGiven my fondness for three-word combinations, I am surprised to find myself flabbergasted by this one, which I must admit I never expected: “Fluttershy sports bra.” This can actually be had from Hot Topic, at a price that doesn’t exactly soar, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. At the very least, it’s an acknowledgement, perhaps long overdue, that not all the MLP:FiM adult audience is guys with neckbeards, or guys trying desperately to grow neckbeards, who live in Mom’s basement.

There is, of course, only one way to top that: “Also: Derpy version.”

(Via Equestria Daily.)

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Not stopping

Once again, Rebecca Black teams up with a Cute Guy, and the results are delightfully sonorous:

This is slightly more sanitary than Miley Cyrus’ sort-of-raucous original, which should surprise no one familiar with the awful truth about Hannah Montana.

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Quote of the week

Heather Havrilesky in Aeon, on the crisis usually described as “mid-life”:

Dear sweet merciful lord, deliver me from these deliriously happy parents, frolicking in paradise, publishing books, competing in triathlons, crafting jewellery, speaking to at-risk youth, painting bird houses, and raving about the new cardio ballet place that gives you an ass like a basketball. Keep me safe from these serene, positive-thinking hipster moms, with their fucking handmade recycled crafts and their mid-century modern furniture and their glowing skin and their optimism and their happy-go-lucky posts about their family’s next trip to a delightful boutique hotel in Bali.

I am not physically capable of being that effective or that effusive. I can’t knit and do yoga and smile at strangers and apply mascara every morning. These people remind me that I’ll never magically become the kind of person who shows up on time, looks fabulous, launches a multimillion-dollar business, and travels the world. When I was younger, I thought I might wake up one day and be different: more sophisticated, more ambitious, more organised. Back then, my ambivalence, my odd shoes, my bad hair seemed more like a style choice. When you’re young, being sloppy and cynical and spaced-out looks good on you.

But my flaws are no longer excusable. I need to fix everything, a voice inside keeps telling me. It’s time to be an efficient professional human, at long last, and a great mother and an adoring wife. It’s time to shower on a predictable schedule.

Which seems at odds with the advice she gives — under her old nom de screed “Polly Esther” — at The Awl; but not quite resolving those contradictions is what middle age is all about.

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Meanwhile in the rest of the world

The Fourth of July is pretty much the American holiday, and rather a lot of American history is tied to it. (Who would have thought that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson would cash in their chips on the same day, exactly 50 years after 1776?) However, the date has had its share of non-American events as well:

362 BC: Battle of Mantinea, Thebes vs. Sparta. Officially, Thebes won; however, they lost their leader Epaminondas, and with both sides hurting, the Macedonians, led by Phillip II, wound up conquering the place.

414: Pulcheria, teenage daughter of Arcadius, emperor of the eastern Roman Empire until his death in 408, declared herself regent over younger brother Theodosius II, heir to the throne, and ruled as de facto Empress thereafter, kid brother being sort of a wuss.

1054: Chinese astronomers observe a supernova; the remnants thereof are now known as the Crab Nebula.

1456: Sultan Mehmed II lays siege to Nándorfehérvár in the Hungarian Empire. John Hunyadi successfully repelled the Ottomans, culminating with a fierce counterattack in when Mehmed was wounded. (The site is now the Serbian city of Belgrade.)

1569: Establishment of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1791 the Commonwealth adopted a Constitution, the first in Europe and the second anywhere, following the United States in 1789. The Constitution did not, however, prevent Poland from being partitioned out of existence in 1795.

1918: Sultan Mehmed VI ascends to office by being girded with the Sword of Osman; the Ottoman Empire would be dissolved under the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920, and the sultanate subsequently abolished.

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Task, interrupted

I do, I think, entirely too much of this:

Have you ever been working on something (sewing or any other craft) and you get to a point where the next step is really easy to screw up beyond repair and so you just stop? You tell yourself that you’re just taking a break but you have a really hard time making yourself go back to it?

It’s not even necessary for that step to be really easy to screw up, so long as it appears daunting compared to the previous steps. I suspect a lot of project cars are subject to this phenomenon, often accompanied by the phrase “Well, damn, it looks like we’ll have to pull the engine after all.”

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By the shores of Gimme Gimme

From the “Nobody wants to pay for anything” files:

Greedy SOB wants everything free

Just wait until he finds out that the Tooth Fairy was really his mom.

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Carnival life forever

Early on, Bruce Springsteen made a couple of brilliant albums that hardly anyone outside the Tri-State Area noticed; come the summer of ’75, he was a star. But his catalog was already being ransacked by groups hunting for material, and one of those groups was the Hollies, who, in late ’74, snagged a song off The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. Their version of “Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” was the second single from Another Night, with Terry Sylvester and Allan Clarke splitting the vocal work. It grazed the bottom of the charts for a couple of weeks, peaking at #85.

Herewith, a recent Sylvester appearance in Freehold, New Jersey, where you dare not mess up songs by the Boss.

Works better with one guy and a guitar, anyway.

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Meanwhile in the 512

Raul G. GuerreroDuring World Tour ’08, I got a look at the nascent Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metropolitan Park in east Austin; this was an absolute must, inasmuch as Mr. Guerrero, head of recreation in Austin for many years, was my uncle. That’s him peeking through the doorway off to the side there; there was a big Grand Opening at the park this week, and the flyer announcing the event incorporated that picture, which was nice of them. One thing I learned from him: wear longer ties.

The upgrades to the park are impressive:

Improvements to this large 400 acre park, located along the south bank of the Colorado River immediately downstream of Longhorn Dam, have been completed and the public is invited to enjoy the new amenities. The park has been developed to enhance the natural environment, with walking trails and wildlife habitat areas as primary features of the park. Native and drought tolerant plantings are also featured throughout the park.

The park features includes roadways, sidewalks, parking improvements, multi-use trails, restrooms, 2 multi-use sports field, a group picnic facility, children’s play area, large general purpose lawn area, trees, landscaping, irrigation, and a public art project. Concurrently within the park a new disc golf course was completed in 2012 and a reclaimed water distribution main provided by the Austin Water Utility will supply the park’s irrigation system. Reclaimed water use will save an estimated 10 million gallons at Colorado River Park annually.

Incidentally, there’s a little two-acre “pocket park” in south Austin named for Ricky Guerrero, son of Roy, cousin to me, taken away in his twenties.

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The road trip goes ever on

It ain’t 12 parsecs, exactly, or even all that close to it, but there’s a Volvo out there with 2,998,000 miles on it:

Three years ago, AOL Autos brought you the story of Irv Gordon, a retired science teacher with a very reliable car. Now, on the 47th anniversary of his purchase of a 1966 Volvo P1800, we revisited Gordon as the vehicle approaches the 3-million mile mark.

He’s within 2,000 miles of the goal, and Volvo is hoping he hits the 3-million milestone during a trip to Alaska in September, one of the last states he has yet to visit in his classic car. Already, Gordon holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the most miles driven on a vehicle by a single owner.

Which is impressive, considering that Volvos of this era came with a six-month/12,000-mile warranty, and anything that made it much beyond six digits in those days was pretty darn amazing.

Says Irv: “I’ve been to 48 states and most of Canada.” And, of course, he’ll have to drive through a fair bit of Canada to get to that 49th state. But unless we have worldwide glaciation pretty soon, driving to Hawaii is out of the question. (I’m at 44 myself, though my own ride has a modest 144,000 miles.)

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Snarling equinox

Some things are done because, well, somebody has to do them. And somebody definitely had to do this:

Dr Mark de Rond and Anton Wright will row the entire length of the Amazon River in September of this year. If they are successful, they will be the first in history to achieve this feat.

They aim to start rowing in Peru on 1 September 2013, with the goal of reaching the Brazilian coast six weeks later.

Twenty-two hundred miles!

Actually, this seems too short by half: most non-Brazilian sources list the length of the river as around 4300 miles. But if they’re starting in Peru — well, no matter. This is a major feat no matter how you look at it.

Oh, the title? It’s in here somewhere:

Don McLean did a wonderful remake of this song in 1972.

(With thanks to Fausta.)

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We hate your shoes

Well, not all of them, actually:

In a deeply useless survey conducted by CouponCodes4You — a real website conducting real surveys — non-scientists discovered that straight men hate your wedges. The site polled 2,103 American men aged 18 and over, “all of whom were currently in a relationship” (so they’re experts on how women should look?).

Better, I think, they should ask those of us who are not in a relationship and have no reason ever to expect to be: we’re a whole lot less biased.

Some of the numbers:

Respondents were initially asked if they ever noticed what type of shoes their partner wore, to which 79% said they did; while 12% admitted they only noticed “sometimes”.

When asked whether or not they would prefer to choose what type of shoes their partner wore outside of the house, 43% said they would, while the majority, 52%, said they wanted their partner to choose her own personal style. 5% admitted it depended on the event and situation. Furthermore, only 41% of men said that their partner had good taste when it came to personal shoe style, while 59% disagreed.

Now there have been shoes mentioned in this space that seem to have been designed by guys who had little regard for women’s tastes, but we won’t go there.

And then they broke it down by Quantitative Hatred:

1. Wedge shoes — 71%
2. Uggs — 67%
3. Crocs — 63%
4. Platforms — 58%
5. Flip flops — 55%

Either they quit counting at 10, or guys are obsessed with stilettos. Or both.

I admit I enjoyed this comment greatly:

Please, most men only notice two types of shoes: heels and not heels depending on how tall we look and how fast we complain because our feet hurt.

I’ve been complimented by men regarding my shoes, but for the love of Dior, none of them could tell the name of the style. This study is so stupid because [it] is another way to make women feel insecure about ANOTHER thing with their looks.

And I have reason to believe that at least some women are deeply suspicious of men who do know the styles — except, of course, for the Manolo, who can do no wrong.

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Chalk up a victory

You remember Jeff Olson, right? He’s the guy who chalked some protest statements on the sidewalks outside Bank of America, and got the book thrown at him.

Well, that book is now out of print:

A jury Monday acquitted a 40-year-old man of all charges connected with writing protest messages in chalk on the sidewalk outside branches of the Bank of America.

Deliberating for only a few hours, the jury apparently agreed with Filner — declaring Jeff Olson not guilty on all 13 misdemeanor counts.

That’s Mayor Bob Filner, who didn’t think much of this case:

The case has exacerbated the already tense relationship between Mayor Bob Filner, who called the case “stupid” and a “waste of money,” and City Atty. Jan Goldsmith, who defended it as a legitimate prosecution for graffiti vandalism.

Paige Hazard, lead prosecutor, seemed incensed that Olson didn’t accept a plea bargain:

On May 16, Hazard told Olson the City would drop the case if he agreed to serve 32 hours of community service, attend an 8-hour seminar by the “Corrective Behavior Institute,” pay Bank of America $6,299 in restitution for the clean-up, waive all Fourth Amendment rights guarding against search and seizures, and surrender his driver’s license for three year period.”

Perhaps suspecting that the “Corrective Behavior Institute” might be using something like Ludovico’s technique, Olson declined, and Hazard made a second offer:

Olson would plead guilty to one count of vandalism, agree to serve three years probation, pay restitution — amount undetermined, spend 24-hours cleaning up graffiti, and surrender his driver’s license for 2 years.

Still undetermined: whether Olsen is interested in, um, payback. Says one San Diego Reader commenter:

Squirrel Toupee [presumably Jan Goldsmith] had NO chance of winning, yet went to trial. Jeff Olson now has a right to sue the SDPD in federal court for violating his 1st, 4th and 14 Amendment rights. Good job Squirrel Toupee you just cost the city tens of thousands in a civil judgment and hundreds of thousands in legal fees as Squirrel Toupee will be forced to pay Olson’s attorney fees in any civil rights judgment (42 USC 1983, 1988).

If there’s a suit, there will be Squirrel Toupee.

(Via the Consumerist.)

Addendum: Bill Quick observes: “[I]t looks as if the real vindication was of this guy’s anti-BofA message: BofA is obviously too big if it has the San Diego DA doing its bidding like some kind of bitch.”

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