Retention to detail

Melanie Sherman reminds us that what we remember we did is not necessarily what others remember we did:

Something that was so unimportant that you don’t even remember it, can color a person’s entire perception of you for years to come. What brought this to mind was a co-worker’s story not long ago, when I was training a new person. Someone I’d worked with for years said to the new employee, “Oh, Melanie is a good person to have train you. She knows how to make you feel at home.”

I stared at her, puzzled. I couldn’t remember ever making an effort to make someone “feel at home.”

Sounds like me, kinda sorta. But then this happened:

“It was my first day, and Melanie was showing me how to do the invoicing. I was very nervous, and at some point I opened my mouth and my gum fell out.”

You’d think I’d remember that.

Of course, this is a positive reflection. The Inner Magpie promptly brought forth a negative reflection I’d seen about a third of a century ago. No, it wasn’t one of mine: it was an installment of Mule’s Diner, a comic drawn by Stan Mack for the old National Lampoon.

The original strip wasn’t to be found on the Web, but I turned up a “semi-short story” by Jeffrey Sears which turns out to be a retelling of that very tale in prose form. The protagonist had hoped he’d lived down a certain incident which he thought was unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

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Right past me

Oklahoma City government has its own TV channel — channel 20 on Cox Cable, or on if you install Microsoft Silverlight, which I’d rather not, thank you very much.

As of yesterday, channel 20 has moved, and yet it hasn’t [pdf]:

Effective December 13, 2011, education and government access channels in Oklahoma will be converted from an analog format to a digital format.

Which means either you get a box for the top of the set or a TV that can tune QAM, or you’re out of luck:

Cox is required to provide capacity for access programming on its TV Starter package. However, there is no obligation that educational or government channels be transmitted in a particular format (analog or digital). Cox’s TV Starter package is composed of both digital and analog channels, and all such channels are transmitted to every subscriber as part of the package.

Eventually, of course, all the analog stuff will be thrown away, so as to make more room for more channels I don’t need. (The Hub, I note, is three tiers up from where my current service ends.) And why didn’t I notice this before?

Cox has made several efforts to notify our customers about this transition including a bill message, web update and a notice in the Oklahoman.

This is where I admit that (1) I get a paperless bill from these guys and (2) I never read anything past the amount due, which is, as it should be, on page 1.

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Part of your complete breakfast

In general, my work hours of late make it difficult to pay attention to any of the TV morning shows, so I managed to go for a rather long period of time without noticing this person:

Chiquinquirá Delgado

Chiquinquirá Delgado, thirty-nine, is currently a host on Univision’s morning show ¡Despierta América! and has done some film work, including this Sergio Briones film that somehow escaped the eye of IMDb. In her younger days, she was first runner-up to Miss Venezuela 1990.

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Where did this come from?

De-Chapeau’d in Deschutes brings back an old favorite:

You would think they’d never seen snow before the way they react when there’s a storm coming in. It’s a weird phenomenon that strikes whenever more than five inches of snow is predicted around here. People start acting as if they had lived in pure sunshine and heat the whole time. OMG! White stuff falling from the sky! We’re all gonna DIE! Please. You all drive Lincoln Navigators and Hummers with twelve-wheel drive. The town will clear the roads within 24 hours and your kids will be pelting the toddler across the street with snowballs within two.

The magical phrase around here is “freezing rain,” and it doesn’t matter how many driven wheels you have when that stuff shows up.

Incidentally, the above paragraph is from:

(a perennial favorite rant of blogs and email forwarders. source unknown, slightly edited.)

Assuming I sourced it correctly when I posted it four years ago, this is the work of ex-blogger Michele Catalano.

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Title of the month

I’ve had a few that I liked, but I haven’t come close to topping this one from Lynn: “Men Are From Lowe’s — Women Are From Macy’s.”

Especially since, unlike some of mine, her title is actually relevant to the post. Useful excerpt:

Men will come right out and tell you what they want — model numbers and everything. Don’t be shy about asking. He would rather get what he wants than to be surprised. Women also will tell you what they want but they’re more subtle about it. In fact, your wife or girlfriend has been telling you all year what she wants; you just weren’t paying attention. If you have to ask you’re probably in trouble.

Read and heed.

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Surely he must be mad!

Well, let’s just say he’s not pleased:

A scientist denied the love of a selfish, gold-digging woman decides to end it all … and take us all with him by plunging the earth into the sun.

Meanwhile, his dowdy assistant … but never mind. Read the whole thing. It’s a twelve-page comic from 1950; it’ll be over with quickly enough. And don’t call him Shirley.

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And who are we this week?

Nancy Friedman reports on The Contractor Formerly Known As The Contractor Formerly Known As Blackwater:

Blackwater, the controversial security contractor that changed its name to Xe (pronounced “zee”) in February 2009, announced [Monday] that it’s changing its name yet again: to Academi. Or, as the company’s press release prefers to call it, ACADEMI.

Three names in less than three years? There’s got to be something else going on here besides being bored with the letterhead, and of course there is:

One of those “extraordinary changes,” unmentioned in the release, was the departure in 2010 of Blackwater founder Erik Prince. Prince moved on to Abu Dhabi, where he created a mercenary army for the crown prince. Other changes at Blackwater/Xe/Academi include the composition of the board, whose members now include Bush Administration Attorney General John Ashcroft. Ashcroft is serving as the company’s “ethics adviser.”

And besides, “Qwikster” was already taken.

Note: Having refined my own thinking on this subject, I think a more descriptive name might be, oh, “Global MFs,” which conceivably might be available by the time Blaxemi, or whoever the hell they are, are ready for the next name change in January 2013.

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Determining the Envy Quotient

I really can’t see any other useful information obtainable by surveys like this:

Gallup has surveyed Americans to ask what they believe the cutoff for being “rich” should be. The median response was that a person would need to make at least $150,000 to be considered rich.

Only 15 percent of respondents specified a threshold of $1 million or more. Still, this is an income figure, not a wealth figure, which may be why the Times didn’t bother to mention Gallup’s question on how much in the way of savings and investments it takes to make one rich, for which the median was indeed $1 million.

The trouble with all such surveys is that they’re all based on money, and money, these days, is based mostly on wishful thinking: It’s not worth anything except to the extent that the Fed says it is. But pollsters will not be able to quantify my own answer, which would go something like this:

“Yesterday I had to write a check to the garage-door repairman to replace a broken spring. Is this check in any danger of bouncing? No. Will this expense throw me out of the current budget? No. Will this expense impair my ability to do other things I’d hoped to do this month? Yes.”

You can see the pattern here: keep escalating the conditions until one of them applies. Stopping on the third question implies something not exactly poverty, but well short of wealth. How much would I have to have backstopping my current income to keep worries at an absolute minimum? (I have just defined “wealth,” at least according to my lights.) It would have to be enough to restore my current, um, lifestyle with no discernible compromises — twice. (Because after the first restoration, I’d be on edge about every little thing.) I am loath to declare a dollar amount, if only because some of what is lost is time, and I can’t buy that for any number of dollars.

(Suggested by Half Sigma.)

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Thorne Smith, line one, please

It was Turnabout, back in 1931, that set the tone for all the subsequent body-switching (or whatever) stories to come. Smith’s original story was made into a movie in 1940, then a short-lived TV series (1979) starring John Schuck as Sharon Gless, or something like that. (For the moment, we won’t mention a certain episode of Star Trek.)

Of course, nothing says you can’t swap individuals of the same gender; in fact, it’s actually an older premise, dating to F. Anstey’s 1882 Vice Versa, which interchanges father and son. (Mother and daughter, you’ll remember, were swapped out in Freaky Friday.) Best buds were transposed this year in The Change-Up.

Which brings us to the case of two women who aren’t exactly friends, in Kevin Bleau’s musical If You Want My Body:

[It] tells the story of Mildred, a rich but overweight lawyer who yearns for her first relationship. Annelies, a slim dancer, is about to be evicted from her studio. The women make a deal with witch Lorana to swap their brains into each other’s bodies. Annelies’s brain will lose 50 pounds from Mildred’s body. Then Lorana will return the brains to the original bodies and Mildred will pay both women. The women question their philosophies on life as they “walk a mile in each other’s bodies.”

Act II is playing tonight in Boston, with David Reiffel directing, which is why I’m bringing it up now.

(Via this Deborah Henson-Conant tweet.)

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Do not reMitt at this time

Cover of The Week magazineThe cover of this week’s US edition of The Week shows a robot Mitt Romney “blowing a circuit,” and the accompanying story says out front that Romney’s nomination can no longer be considered inevitable. Ric Locke offers this explanation why:

He chooses to appeal to the media gatekeepers, and thereby chooses that I (and a lot of people) will stay home rather than voting for him. Choose the action, choose the consequences.

And this particular consequence, says Locke, also explains the rise of Newt Gingrich and the persistence of Ron Paul:

Whatever else can be said of those two, it is impossible to visualize either of them performing the full proskynesis on the sidewalk in front of 620 Eighth, piteously imploring Pinch & Co. to say something nice about them. The primary difference between McCain and Romney in that respect is that John would try hard to build a wall of bystanders to prevent public notice, whereas Mitt would call in the cameras before heading for New York.

Not that John McCain had any problems sucking up or anything.

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DJ on a chip

I’m not above listening to dance tracks in the car — it’s not like I’m going to go dancing, after all — but this unnerves me just a little:

Autoblog explains, sort of:

Pioneer is set to introduce a new functionality to a few of its stereos — including the much-hyped AppRadio — that mixes the songs on your iPhone, iPod or USB drive on the fly.

By measuring beats per minute and other data, MIXTRAX can supposedly beat-match and add effects and transitions into songs to create a seamless mix, all while animating the cover art to match the tempo.

Well, as long as you don’t have to keep punching buttons to get the desired effect. We have enough distractions already.

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No suitable thermometer exists

The basic problem with making a list of “the hottest women of all time” is that, well, it’s going to be biased toward those we see every day and against those whom we’ve never seen at all because they died in the 1840s or the 1440s or in 40 BC or whenever. There has already been backlash of a sort from blogdom: neo-neocon — fairly hot in her own right, I suspect — asks “Are you kidding?” and Morgan Freeberg makes a list of women not on the list who ought to be there ahead of Jennifer Aniston.

I’m arguing a slightly different point: Jennifer Aniston isn’t even the hottest woman of all time named Jennifer.

Exhibit A:

Jennifer O'Neill

With, um, supporting documentation.

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Strange search-engine queries (306)

December tends to be low on blog traffic anyway, and being snubbed by Google doesn’t help in the least, but, as the phrase goes, you carry on regardless.

famous ten sentences about of jhunjhunu:  Were they that famous, you could probably write about ten sentences on your own, don’t you think?

worlds funniest cats:  On the other hand, cats don’t think we’re amusing in the slightest, especially if we’ve been less than attentive to our primary purpose, which is of course fawning over cats.

Electronic Youth Debbie Gibson:  Um, no. That was Electric Youth. Although if someone comes up with an electronic Deb-bot some time in the near future, you know where to find me.

words to start sentences with becides with:  What say we get the words correct before we start trying to make sentences out of them?

piture of mazda 626 cronon manual transmittion:  See above on getting words correct.

power shift here we go:  Guy’s obviously suffering from torque pique.

fakekrab:  Now wait a minute. Fake crab is “krab.” So basically we’re looking, not for real fake crab, but for fake fake crab. Sheesh. No wonder we’re crabby.

“indoor naturism”:  Almost as much fun as the outdoor variety, but it doesn’t do a thing for your Vitamin D levels.

chris in okc nancy’s lighthouse fight last night:  Assuming this actually happened, you might want to check Facebook — or Bros.

carousel “as long as someone alive remembers”:  And if not, there’s always the cached copy.

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This sucker is tall

I mean, really, 48 feet?

Sports Illustrated screen shot

We’re talking serious defense here, guys.

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Perhaps a timely tune

RCA EP by Amalia MendozaWhen this EP sleeve showed up on the LP Cover Lover site, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who thought this, but apparently I’m the only one who had the temerity to tweet it: “My name is Amalia Mendoza. You bought my album. Prepare to die.” (It did earn an actual retweet, though.)

Pop-culture in-jokes aside, Amalia Mendoza was a major name in the Mexican genre known as ranchera, and on the evidence of this 1995 appearance, when she was in her seventies, she deserved to be. (“La Tariácuri” is a nickname she inherited from her brothers’ musical group, Trio Tariácuri, which in turn had been named for a figure in Tarascan history.)

“Amarga Navidad” — “Bitter Christmas” — which she recorded on the very EP pictured, is a standard of the genre, written by the wonderfully prolific (over a thousand songs, says Wikipedia) José Alfredo Jiménez.

And what’s up with that dagger, anyway? “Puñalada Trapera” means, more or less literally, “Knife in the Back.” You can probably guess what that song is about. (Hear it here.)

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Today’s least-timely news leak

For some reason, this was number one in the news feed:

German maritime archaeologists claimed to have found a urinal used by Kaiser Wilhelm II lying on the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

The piece of porcelain history was discovered in the wreck of the Udine, a light-cruiser which was sunk in the First World War by the Royal Navy, that now lies 28 nautical miles off the German island of Rugen.

“It was sunk by the British in 1915,” said Reinhard Oser, the archaeologist leading the expedition. “We managed to take some great photographs, and made this unusual discovery.”

Kaiser Bill’s batman was not available for comment.

(Via Christopher Johnson.)

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