Two-minute warning, more or less

At twelve noon every Saturday, weather permitting, the city of Oklahoma City tests its warning siren. I’m only two blocks from it, so I hear it just fine, thank you very much. And it’s a common topic of conversation; why, it even has its own Twitter account.

And while we’re talking sirens, Roberta X dropped this bit of historical detail into a footnote:

Some years ago, the city of Kokomo found their siren system had major gaps in the form of failed units and shifting population, and after crunching the numbers, realized it was more cost-effective to hand out a weather radio to everyone in town! Hey, whatever works.

I have two of them, one built into a combo TV/radio/siren/floodlight once sold by Coleman to suburban paranoiacs. (The TV, a purely analog device, is now redundant, since every station likely to carry weather warnings has migrated to digital.) You’ve already heard about the other one.

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Last night’s (and tonight’s) downtime

I duly reported it on the backup blog, before any official explanation was proffered.

Now there is one:

At this point, we are suspecting our Cisco router to be the cause of the incident. As the final portion of our Network Improvement series, this is the last piece of our core network infrastructure that remains. We’ve run into some problems getting it out of service in normal maintenance windows, before last week’s outage we were poised to finally pull the trigger and remove it but ended up having to postpone it yet again.

Then again, it’s kind of hard to rip out everything at once without ticking off the customers.

They announced today that the replacement hardware will be installed tonight after 8 Pacific today.

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Groovus maximus

“Wish me luck,” says Bill Quick: he’s ripping vinyl. I am confident that he’ll do just fine: admittedly, it’s not exactly rocket science, but it does require some tech smarts, the ability to pay attention, and a good ear.

The major drawback is the fact that doing a 40-minute LP will take all 40 of those minutes, and probably a few more besides. He’s not, however, as anal as Your Humble Narrator:

You’re supposed to go through and “clean it up,” but my vinyl is already pretty clean, and I sorta like the occasional pop or hiss — that’s what records sounded like when I was a kid, and I find it sort of comforting.

And if you’re used to hearing a pop at a particular place, not hearing it will mess with your head. In the original single of the Troggs’ immortal “Wild Thing”, during the brief break between “You move me” and the return of the guitar riff (about 1:49), there’s an audible board click. I played a declicked version for my brother, and he swore there was something wrong with it, though he wasn’t sure what.

Then again, I once sat down and declicked an actual cracked 45. Took me sixty-two minutes, or sixty minutes longer than the song itself. Why I did this, I’ll never know: I have the darn track on CD, fercryingoutloud.

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The PDF word

Another disgruntled Adobe Reader ex-user:

Seems like whenever I want to use it, it decides it needs to update itself, which means I have to wait, and when it is done updating I find that someone has moved the controls and I have to go look for them, which means more time wasted. There are probably ways to get around these problems, but I’ve had enough, and I just don’t care, not when I can use Google. Google has its own problems, but at least it doesn’t change their user interface every six weeks. In this case I just download a 14 megabyte PDF file, just to see if it might contain anything interesting, and when I tried to open it I remember that I don’t have Adobe Reader installed, so I upload it to Google Drive (which is their new name for their document service). Drive offers to convert the document to Google format. This has its pros and cons. On the pro side, the space used to store the converted file doesn’t get charged against your allotment. On the minus side, the conversion isn’t always perfect. In this case the conversion didn’t work at all: FILE TOO LARGE it tells me after it has been grinding away for a few seconds.

A recent addition to the Firefox arsenal is a JScript-based PDF reader that works in the browser. Unfortunately, it’s dog-ass slow, and I mean one of those lethargic-looking hounds, like the basset.

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What they left behind

Children grow up and move away — they do if they have their own health insurance, anyway — but the trappings of childhood remain behind, as Tad Maudlin can tell you:

Eventually, the toys will get cleaned up and donated to a church sale or some such collection, but the last bottle of Mr. Bubble will just migrate to the rear of the cabinet. Periodically, I’ll clean and rearrange the contents of the cabinet, but I won’t want to dispose of half a bottle of Mr. Bubble. Eventually, I’ll say I’m saving it for the grandchildren, but I’ll not really know if I’m to have my line continue or if I’ll live to see it.

Lest Tad become glum about this prospect, I will mention a product that remains on my shelf: it’s Dow Hospital Germicide and Deodorizer (Citrus Scent), EPA Reg No. 464-400. Active ingredients: good old alcohol, plus a dollop of 2-phenylphenol. This came home from the hospital with my daughter in 1978, and I am not giving it up. For one thing, the can is still about one-third full, though the propellant has long since given up propelling. The citrus scent, however, is alive and well.

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A hard-headed approach

The new NFL rule banning crown-of-the-helmet hits, intended to reduce concussions, will probably do nothing of the sort, suggests KingShamus, considering the enforcement mechanism:

Yes, these very same fallible close-enough-for-government-work referees. So on top of every other judgment call the zebras have to make in the course of a nanosecond — Was that a catch? Was that an illegal hold? Was that ball going out of bounds because of a forward pass or a lateral in the final moments of the game while the defenders were being held in the endzone? — they’ll now have to discern in the blink of an eye whether or not a ball carrier lowered the top of his helmet and used it as a weapon against another player. That sounds totally easy.

In reality, this new diktat is going to be incredibly difficult to enforce. What we have here is not safety. It’s more like safety rule theater. Much like the Transportation Safety Administration’s airport security theater, the NFL’s attempt to stamp out crown-of-helmet hits has all the trappings of a rule designed to keep players safe, but nothing that actually makes that goal happen.

Memo to NFL commish Roger Goodell: If you’re being compared to the TSA, you’ve already lost the battle.

As for the helmets themselves:

They’re still basically the same amalgamation of hard plastic shell and interior foam padding that they were in the Reagan Administration. In other words, they can still be wielded like a cudgel.

And they still sound nice and weapon-y during the game telecasts — assuming those are real noises and not some sideline Foley art.

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I occasionally grumble about comment spam, but seldom like this:

Sorry about turning the Turing test back on in comments, but Blogger’s spam comments filter has just completely collapsed under the onslaught recently. I woke up this morning to find twelve digital turds plopped in the latest comment threads since 0100, and that’s not counting the sixty more in the spam traps.

Google jiggled their search algorithms back some time last year to more heavily weight backlinks in “social media” and news article comments sections, and even-less-scrupulous-than-usual SEO types responded by unleashed hordes of gibberish-‘n’-backlink-spouting ‘bots on the Blogosphere. Comment spam had been a desultory sort of thing before that, sort of the universal background noise of blogs, but by the end of the year I was scooping as many as 300 spam comments out of the trap first thing every morning. It wasn’t so bad as long as they were getting caught in the trap, but now they’re getting past the filter and I won’t stand for that.

That’s Blogger. How’s Movable Type doing? Not so swiftly either:

Starting last Friday there has been a continuing attempt by spam comment creators (Blotted be their names from the Book of Life, and may a thousand weasels nest in their pants for eternity!) to overwhelm the Spam filters. Some inevitably get through and I have to weed those out by hand.

Total spam comments usually run to a total of a few hundred a day for both the main column and SideLine. Irritating but manageable. The recent onslaught, however, is running up to five or six thousand a day. This tends to overwhelm the site with read/write/filter operations which slows down legitimate comments as well as the site in general. There are fixes for this that I’m working on, but for now it is going to a slow going.

Hmmm. I’ve had fifteen since the first of March.

Then again, I’ve had my own godawful months — December 2008, with about 3,000, was the worst — so I have no reason to assume I’m immune to this sort of thing, though I’ve taken rather a lot of precautions.

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A store in Brisbane, Australia is sick of people coming in to look at stuff and then go buy it from Amazon or wherever, and is doing something about it:

As of the first of February, this store will be charging people a $5 fee per person for “just looking.”

The $5 fee will be deducted when goods are purchased.

Why has this come about?

There has been high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere. These people are unaware our prices are almost the same as the other stores plus we have products simply not available anywhere else.

This policy is line with many other clothing, shoe and electronic stores who are also facing the same issue.

Exactly when is this fee collected? Do you have to peel off a fiver the moment you cross the threshold? Or do they wait until you show up at the exit with no purchases?

I can’t see how this model can generate any additional revenue, unless they’re counting on this, um, gesture to bring them a whole lot more publicity. Viral whining! You gotta love it.

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Waste not

When some relative of Bambi’s decided to take out my car in the summer of ’06, I placed a call to the Highway Patrol, who in turn passed the word to the Department of Wildlife Conservation, which would deal with the remains — if there were any left when they got there, since it was at least plausible that someone might back up a truck and haul away half a freezerful of fawn, which is legal, in the sense that it’s not illegal: as Al Gore used to say, there is no controlling legal authority.

There’s about to be, though, in Montana, where House Bill 247 — “An act creating permits to salvage certain game accidentally killed by vehicles” — is on its way to the governor’s desk. How this happened:

[I]t took someone quite familiar with deer-car encounters to bring it up in the Legislature: state Rep. Steve Lavin, who also is a Montana state trooper.

“I was at a troopers’ meeting last summer and another trooper brought up the idea. I thought, ‘It’s kind of a good idea’,” he said on Friday.

“I was thinking, how many times have I had people ask me, “Hey, can I take this?” and I’ve had to say, ‘No it’s illegal’,” he continued, relating his own skirting of the rules in making roadkill available to a food bank.

As in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Montana’s bill would grant a permit or a tag to people who want roadkill for food. State Sen. Larry Jent is a co-sponsor.

“It passed the House and needed a sponsor in the Senate. I was laughing uncontrollably, so the chairman assigned it to me,” he said from Bozeman.

You can check your own state laws here.

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A popular model

Says so right on the promo:

Roz Greenwood in Cartoon and Model Parade

You may recognize the name of Irving Klaw, who had long billed himself as the Pin-Up King; IMDb’s scanty report on Roz Greenwood describes her as “Circa 1950, black hair photo model, and exotic dancer, featured in several of Director Irving Klaw’s 8mm silent films.” Most of those were made in 1954-55, after Klaw’s success with Strip-O-Rama, a B-film featuring several strippers alongside his “bondage” model Bettie Page. (One of them has the curious title Second Initiation of the Sorority Girl, featuring Page and Roz Greenwood.)

There exists footage of Roz solo, which you can see after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Too old for linky love

One of the features of the current WordPress admin is a section called Incoming Links, which uses Google’s Blogsearch function to tell me who, if anyone, is linking here. Sometimes it works perfectly well; sometimes, not so much. Last I looked, I had four incoming links, one from this past week, one from last summer, one from 2011, and one from 2007.

In case you’re curious, that most ancient of links came from a formerly obscure local social blog that gets about 26 times my traffic. By coincidence — at least, I think it’s coincidence — they threw me some Twitter traffic today.

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Diminished accessibility

From Saturday’s business section in the Oklahoman:

Work will start this week on a new home for the Oklahoma City office of the U.S. Social Security Administration at Market Center, an office park by PrecorRuffin on the northwest corner of NE 122 and Kelley Avenue. The work will begin with a small ceremony at 1 p.m. Wednesday at 12301 N Kelley Ave. Clyde Riggs Construction is the general contractor. Bockus Payne Architects designed the 23,000-square-foot office building.

I understand why SSA would want to move — the old Shepherd Mall has seen better days, and foreclosure proceedings are underway — but the old Shepherd Mall is actually on a bus route, while the new digs are at least two miles from any other transit stop in town. (Route 18 goes straight up Kelley, but turns left at Britton Road, the 9400 block; Route 5 actually makes it to 122nd, but along Pennsylvania, three miles west of Kelley.) You’d think that Not Making People Drive might have been one of their criteria for site selection, but evidently not.

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Yet still not analog

You might as well get as much out of those bits as you possibly can:

Parasound, a purveyor of fanatically high-end consumer audio equipment, has introduced a CD player that’s controlled by an internal Mini-ITX computer running embedded Linux. Using a CD-ROM drive for playing CDs, the “Halo CD 1” sucks in the CD’s contents at 4x normal speed, giving its CPU time to detect and eliminate disc errors before outputting near-perfect audio.

By reading data from the disc at four times the speed of a conventional CD player, the device’s embedded Linux computer can read each section of the disc multiple times, checking for discrepancies between the reads.

Hmmm. Just what do they mean by “fanatically high-end”?

The Parasound Halo CD 1 CD-player comes in silver and black, and is priced at $4,500.

Think how much it would have cost if they’d tried to run it on Windows 8.

(Via Fark.)

Addendum: I went back and read the associated Fark thread, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a Windows 8 joke halfway down the page. I am not alone.

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Strange search-engine queries (373)

The last weekend of winter — then again, that was supposed to be the weekend before last, and we all know how well that worked out — is finally behind us, and before us stretches a week’s worth of logs. Was it worth the wait? Let’s see:

nice legs and nice shorts:  Well, you see, that’s why we were waiting for the end of winter. Some of us, anyway.

siteontheface porn pics:  Some sites you might want to keep your face out of, know what I mean?

I made him feel small:  The pressure of having a site on one’s face, I’d bet.

rose mcveigh having naked sex in casanova:  In days of old, they’d dress for that sort of thing.

a mineral that is not a silicate is:  Probably going to oxidize your face off.

can going to an indoor waterpark give you bronchitis:  Doubtful, since it’s not on the list of things for which they charge extra.

San Francisco hellhole apartments for the fucking poor–from riches to ratholes:  Perhaps if they quit doing that, they could afford to move someplace better.

why have local methamphetamine labs disappeared:  Because you wanted to save a few cents and decided to shop at a national chain like Tweakers R Us or the Boned Depot instead.

too stupid to love wiki:  Plenty of new material, the editors having lots and lots of free time to kill, much to their despair.

fonts that say stupid:  Call me when they bring out Tragic Sans.

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The trail stops here

Right about now, LaMarcus Aldridge is wondering where that straitjacket came from. The Blazers’ forward did nail down a double-double — ten points and 12 rebounds — but usually Aldridge is good for 20, even 30 against those OKC ruffians, even if the Thunder did win the last five games against Portland. Besides, the Blazers had a two-point lead at the half, and while the Thunder rallied, there wasn’t too much to sweat: with six minutes left, Aldridge took a pass from Nicolas Batum and dropped it into the bucket from 19 feet out, and Portland was down only 88-83. Little did he know that the game was over right then. The Fail Blazers, normally a good fourth-quarter team, did not get so much as a single free throw for the rest of the game, and were sent back down the trail with a 103-83 loss and their chance at the #8 seed decidedly diminished.

Damian Lillard, the Blazers’ #6 pick in 2012, is officially declared the Bright Spot of the game: he rolled up 19 points, right at his average, and served up six assists. Portland had five in double figures, including Lillard’s backup point guard, OKC expat Eric Maynor, who led the bench with ten. Still, 40.5 percent shooting is fairly terrible, and while they were doing well with the long ball early on, eventually the treys quit falling — they wound up 10-26.

Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were feeling it tonight, Batman 10-17 for 24 points, Robin 9-18 for 21. And the bench, give or take Derek Fisher, was hitting, led by Kevin Martin with 11 and Nick Collison with 10 on 5-6 from the floor. Up front, the Serge Protector was working up to speed: Ibaka had 16 points, only three boards, but five blocks.

You want better news? The Rockets edged the Spurs, 96-95, on a James Harden (of course) pullup with 4.5 seconds left. (The Beard finished with 29.) So the top of the mountain is now only a game and a half away. Not that the much-improved Wizards, 3-2 in their last five and 1-0 against OKC this year, will care when they come to town Wednesday.

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They’ve devoted their lives to Changing The World — but not, of course, to the extent that the change would put them out of work or anything.

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