Ice Station Yankee

This particular manifestation of global warming dumped about ¾ inch of ice over the city, similar or slightly smaller amounts across the rest of the state, and generally made life difficult for as many as possible. As late as Friday noon it looked like an inconvenience, but not much more than that — except for this one Weather Guy who called it Thursday night:

Brace yourself for Epic Ice Storm Impact … tonight’s hi-res model has brought in even colder temperatures and lower dewpoints during this entire winter storm and much farther south and east than before. That’s good news for me because it means my forecast from Monday remains unchanged. It also means you’re about to see everyone else change their forecast at the last minute to follow suit. Either that or they’ll wait one more run (the morning one or wait to see other models come around to the same solution) before going all out balls to the wall. Lets just say everyone better hope tonight’s run is wrong or this will be an epic event roughly along the I-44 corridor.

Ah, the dreaded I-44 corridor. I said this yesterday just before what would have been sunset had we any sun:

ODOT: Call me.

Damage report for the palatial estate at Surlywood: one of the twin redbuds was cut almost in half; a couple of questionable fence panels are now essentially horizontal; I had to remove low-hanging bits of mulberry above the driveway to get my car out. Otherwise, not too terribly terrible, and probably less heinous than the horror that was the December ’07 storm.

Oh, and speaking of the December ’07 storm:

I can only hope that we won’t see another ice storm of this magnitude for another five or six years!

Next time, say “twelve or fourteen.” Or “fifty.”

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When ponies attack

I have to admit, something like this would put me off rather severely:

I had just walked upstairs, into my bathroom, when I heard someone say “la la la la la *giggles*”. Hmmm, that sounds like my daughter’s My Little Pony doll. But … why in the hell is it talking without anyone touching it?

“I love youuu!” it said afterwards.

Now there’s a phrase I don’t hear too often, especially out of the blue. Or, in this case, the pink:

I walked into the hummingbird’s room to investigate and saw that the pink pony was mostly under her bed with just the legs sticking out.

UH UHH, I’ve seen Chucky too many times and there was no way in hell I was going to bend down and pull that damn doll out from under the bed.

I looked at the picture of the pony in question. It’s a G3 So Soft Newborn Pinkie Pie from 2007. Wouldn’t hurt a flea — not deliberately, anyway.

Then again, I keep the batteries out of my own Twilight Sparkle Animated Storyteller, lest she start blabbing in the middle of the night.

(Via The Daily Oat.)

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Neither raptors nor tentacles

Amish Vampires in SpaceThen again, who needs dinoporn or whatever the hell it is the Japanese are putting out these days, when you can have Amish Vampires in Space?

Seriously. A 600-page thriller (I guess) about — well, the title gives it away. And it’s not some kind of send-up: the author plays it straight. In fact, perhaps the only thing that puts me off is the actual author bio, as seen on the book’s Amazon product page:

Kerry Nietz is a refugee of the software industry. He spent more than a decade of his life flipping bits, first as one of the principal developers of the database product FoxPro for the now mythical Fox Software, and then as one of Bill Gates’s minions at Microsoft. He is a husband, a father, a technophile and a movie buff. He has one non-fiction book, a memoir entitled FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software. His first novel, A Star Curiously Singing, was published in October of 2009.

I know better than to recommend this to officemates: they hate FoxPro the way I do — with a purple passion.

(Found among Lynn’s random linkage.)

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An execrable vehicle

He even says so himself:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: My engine keeps dying at low rpms and won't execrate that quickly. Is this an easy fix?

What sort of horrid monstrosity is he driving?

1992 ford explorer v4 engine

Well, no wonder it’s not quick. Somebody stole two of the cylinders.

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A diamond in the flesh

When I first heard that Rebecca Black was covering Lorde’s ineffable “Royals,” something inside of me died just a little.

Fortunately, I heal quickly, and I’m here to tell you that this is pretty amazing, especially given her early history of, um, studio fine-tuning. She recorded it live on her MacBook, with absolutely zero production values.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Truly phone-y

I change cell phones as little as possible, so I knew this item in the mail wasn’t for me:

Thanks for your recent T-Mobile handset order. To complete your order, please click on the link and use the PIN provided to sign your Equipment Installment Plan agreement.

You must complete this process within 48 hours or your order will be canceled.

Besides, (1) it was sent to a mail account TMo doesn’t know about and (2) it was addressed to some guy named Vince Offutt.

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Sufficiently tough

Nicole de Boer, forty-three today, might be best known for her six-year stint as Sarah Bannerman on the USA network series The Dead Zone, though I remembered her better as Ezri Dax, ninth host to the Dax symbiont on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, following Jadzia Dax’s death at the hands of Gul Dukat of the Kardashians Cardassians.

This is apparently a publicity still for the Syfy film Metal Tornado (2011), which is about, um, a metal tornado.

Nicole de Boer 2011

Ezri Dax, at the end of DS9, found herself in a relationship with Dr. Bashir. I’d like to think that worked out, given the problems she had on the station.

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Quote of the week

Ace riffs on l’affaire Phil Robertson, and points out where we’re going wrong:

Yes, A&E has the right to suspend Phil Robertson. A&E also has the right to stand up for a broad and generous principle of Freedom of Thought and Expression.

Why does no one speak of that right? Sure, they have the right to act hostilely towards the spirit of the First Amendment and use coercive power to hammer people into only speaking the Officially Approved Institutional Corporate Slogans.

They also have the right to stick up for people’s right to dissent, to be “weird,” to have unpopular thoughts and heterodox beliefs. And as a media company, they really ought to have an interest in doing so.

Why does no one ever mention this? Why does no one ever push companies to recognize that right, rather than the other one?

It is well-conceded that an employer has the right to fire you for some heterodox belief or some oddball sexual habit, but an employer similarly has the right to foster an environment of self-expression and freedom, and yet no one seems to talk about a company’s capacity to be a Good Actor in the realm of free expression.

Of course not. The people who do support free expression would never dream of screaming at the top of their lungs about boycotts and such. But maybe it’s time they should:

[T]his War on Individuality hurts everyone who considers himself an individual.

It is time to tell these people, with no politeness whatsoever, to Shut the Fuck Up and stop making life awful for everyone else.

They are enemies of freedom — of freedom of conscience, of freedom of thought, of freedom of expression; of freedom, generally — and should be hectored, harassed, and humiliated as such.

They are retrograde simpleton bullies, and bullies requiring the bracing lesson of a punch to the face.

In the meantime, I’ll wait for someone to show me the specific clause in the Constitution that says he has the right to go through life without ever hearing anything that conflicts with his views.

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Primus inter pares sucks

I was coming out of the grocery store last night with my 15 items or less, and in the parking lot I encountered a fairly unhappy fellow with a presumably attached female. The source of his unhappiness? The store’s ATM. “This is the United States of America,” he growled. “We shouldn’t have to push a button for English; they should have to push a button for Español.”

I figured that if Presumably Attached Female hadn’t pointed out to him that both English and Spanish users have to push a button — that’s how the machine starts up — there wasn’t much point in my doing so, so I trotted on, if my typical just-about-twilight-after-a-long-day gait can be considered a trot.

Aside: One of my land-based phones has three-language capability, which has to be reset every time the battery for the Caller ID module is changed out; I don’t even bother, and often as not I get Spanish or French. (Now if it had actual translation capability for calls … but no, not at that price point.)

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Turmoil in Turkey continues

Istanbul chief of police Huseyin Capkin has been fired:

Istanbul’s police chief has been sacked in the aftermath of mass arrests on Tuesday by officers investigating corruption claims, reports say.

Huseyin Capkin’s dismissal comes a day after several senior officers, including his deputies, were removed.

Some 52 people, including three sons of ministers, were arrested in the dawn raids which prompted the dismissals.

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has denounced the inquiry as a “dirty operation” against his government.

In the absence of obvious explanations, there are speculations:

Many believe the arrests and firings reflect a feud within Turkey’s ruling AK Party between those who back Mr Erdoğan, and supporters of Fethullah Gülen, an influential Islamic scholar living in self-imposed exile in the US.

Members of Mr Gülen’s Hizmet movement are said to hold influential positions in institutions such as the police, the judiciary and the AK Party itself.

“Hizmet” — “service to the common good” — would seem at least slightly incompatible with Islam as we know it, but I admit to having read very little of Gülen’s work.

Meanwhile, where there is turmoil, there are jokes:

“How Turkey has regressed,” says Jerry at Commonsense & Wonder.

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Finely ground

If the Bulls without Derrick Rose are hobbled, the Bulls without both Rose and Luol Deng are, um, hurting. Chicago’s defense, at least, was up to par: they fought for every rebound they could get, and they drew fouls at an amazing rate, especially in the first half. But once the Thunder started playing at their own pace, the Bulls were sausage: down three at the half, they trailed by seventeen with just over three minutes left, and OKC pocketed yet another home win, 107-95.

The Bulls did get plenty of second-chance points in the least favorable way: they missed a lot of first chances. They shot 38 percent, versus 51 for the Thunder. The three-ball was not their friend, either: 29 went up, only eight made. (OKC: 9-15, which is almost unheard of for this club.) Still, Chicago did manage to land six players in double figures, led by the indefatigable Joakim Noah, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds. D. J. Augustin, pressed into point-guard service, had a creditable 15 points and five assists; Taj Gibson, spelling Noah and/or Carlos Boozer, paced the bench with 16. And you have to figure, six blocks and eight steals counts as respectable D.

Even with Serge Ibaka having a bad night (early foul trouble, only five points), though, OKC came up with seven blocks and 12 steals. (Steven Adams had four of those swipes, but then he goes after everything.) Another 30+ performance from Kevin Durant: 32 points, nine boards. And another double-double from Russell Westbrook: 20 points, 10 assists. Westbrook looked bent, possibly broken, late in the second quarter and retreated to the bench, but he stayed gone only long enough for the horn to open the third. From the bench, Reggie Jackson had 18 points; Nick Collison rattled down nine, and Jeremy Lamb seven.

So once again, an Eastern foe is disposed of with dispatch. Then again, Western teams only get to play the East 30 times in a season, and the West is full of teams like San Antonio, to whose house the Thunder must hie themselves Saturday night.

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An even more modest recall

Last week there was an item in this space noting the recall of twenty-three cars, which number, said I, suggested that the failure was “evidently not what you’d call a widespread problem.” This is not, however, the smallest automotive recall on record. In fact, a new contender has just arisen:

BMW of North America, LLC (BMW) is recalling certain model year 2013 X3 xDrive 28i/35i vehicles manufactured February 11, 2013, through February 27, 2013. Due to a production process error, the tear seam on the instrument panel was not manufactured correctly.

In the event of a crash, the air bag could improperly deploy, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the air bag’s protection and increasing the risk of injury to the front passenger. In addition, parts or fragments from the air bag system could strike and injure the front passenger or other vehicle occupants.

The punchline:

Potential Number of Units Affected: 3

Then again, they’re having to replace the entire dash on these Bimmers, so this isn’t exactly cheap, even if there are only three of them.

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Despite their obvious greenity

It has been several years since I bothered to dish up a serving of lima beans, and apparently it’s unusual for a civilian to get near the things:

My theory is that they’re sold exclusively to prison cooks, school cafeteria cooks, and people who like to let canned goods ripen in their pantries before giving them to the food banks. And maybe parents who hate their kids. I bet Joan Crawford made her kids eat Lima beans all the time.

Or maybe it’s this:

Like many legumes, the seemingly innocent lima bean should not be eaten raw — doing so can be lethal. (And who wants to die in such an ignoble way as death by lima bean?) Also known as butter beans, the legumes can contain a high level of cyanide, which is part of the plant’s defense mechanism.

Which, of course, mandates some precautionary measures:

[L]ima beans should be cooked thoroughly, and uncovered to allow the poison to escape as gas. Also, drain the cooking water to be on the safe side.

This is probably the point at which I said “Screw it, I’m having Brussels sprouts instead.”

Then again, I have the advantage of not being a cardiac patient.

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Open-door policy

I am generally loath to hang stuff around the door, except for things you really, really need to see — the city alarm permit comes immediately to mind — but maybe I need to rethink this a bit:

[W]e have a sign hanging outside our front door stating this is a nudist household and if you are ok with that ring the doorbell one way, if not ring it the other way… makes confusion and embarrassment a non-issue. We actually bought a “Nudist Zone” sign from and put our own sticker on it saying, “Ring doorbell twice quickly if your comfortable with nudism and we won’t bother getting dressed”.

The downside to this is if someone is worried that they are ringing it wrong it can be a major issue for them. We had someone come by who was afraid of ringing it wrong so drove a couple of blocks away and called us. That’s when we added “Ring twice quickly” to help ease their concerns.

“Quickly,” after all, is fairly subjective.

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.

(Via Nudiarist. Both of these links may have trouble with your workplace filters.)

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Season’s greasings

In the mail yesterday: cards of a sort from local politicians, complete with obligatory Family Pictures.

Jason Nelson, who currently represents House District 87, sent a 6×9 card with “Merry Christmas” on one side and a Bible verse (Isaiah 9:6) on the other.

John Handy Edwards, who hopes to replace the term-limited Cliff Branan in Senate District 40 in 2015, sent a 6.875×10 card, folded once, with “Happy Holidays” on the outside and “Sending warm wishes from our family to yours this season” within.

More as they arrive, if more arrive.

Why, no, I didn’t mention their party affiliations. Did I need to?

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Lots of mice have been plugged into my trusty desktop, and all but one of them have been unplugged for various reasons, the most recent being a Logitech rodent that for some reason couldn’t complete a cut/paste cycle.

So out it goes, in favor of what the label says is a Microsoft Comfort Optical Mouse 3000. Using the same settings as the Logitech, it’s absurdly fast; I had to crank everything back to get to the point where I could keep track of the pointer. What’s more, it’s silly-looking: two-tone silver over black. Still, it works, which the old meece in the cabinet don’t.

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