Put away that sprinkler

In case they didn’t make it clear the first time, the city has sent out a brochure linking back to their water-consumption site — and it’s a neat trick, putting a link in a brochure, n’est-ce pas? — saying straight out that watering restrictions are never, ever going away.

What they’re not saying, at least for now, is the actual aggregate lake level, which is presumably over 50 percent or we’d be in Stage 2 (two days a week instead of three or four). Canton Lake, tapped during the dry winter, is not much over 20 percent, though the local reservoirs are, um, flush for the moment, what with rains out the wazoo of late.

Oh, and I went to okc.gov to see if there was any supplemental information to be had. There wasn’t, but there was this tornado-related announcement that struck me as a trifle, um, insensitive: “Call 297-1030 if your home was destroyed.” (This is the newly-minted Storm Debris Line, and rather a lot of folks have rather more storm debris than they’d like.) At least it’s not on the radio.

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Smaller Government Motors

Fifty million shares of General Motors go on the block today, thirty million from the Treasury, twenty million from the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, in the hopes that the General’s return to the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (also today) will hype the price a bit.

Of the $49 billion taxpayers put up to bail out GM, almost $32 billion has been recovered; assuming a price in the low-to-mid-30s, the Treasury offering should bring in a billion more. Officially, Treasury plans to exit GM entirely by next April; it’s not likely they’ll break even, but the company may well be helped by losing the stigma of being “Government Motors” — at least in the States. Canada and the province of Ontario, which hold about 9 percent of GM stock, aren’t selling at this time.

Treasury, I have to figure, isn’t particularly thrilled by the fact that much of GM’s market momentum is being propelled by the arrival of new trucks, but I also figure that fiduciary responsibility trumps green posturing elsewhere in Washington. And if it doesn’t, well, it should.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Living large-ish

Brylane Home, whose parent company once upon a time was associated with Lane Bryant but is no longer, now has a catalog called “plus+size living,” which opens with several pages of the same flimsy-looking patio furniture everyone else sells, but with higher weight capacities: the semi-traditional outdoor rocking chair made of funny-colored resin is expanded to 19½ inches wide, wider than some of the seats in Kansas City’s Sprint Center, and holds, they say, up to 600 lb.

Just for laughs, I decided to see if they had a bathroom scale. They have a couple. One maxes out at 550 lb, the other at 400.

Some of the kitchen stuff, like the double deep fryer, drew mirth. Then there’s the electric mandoline, which grates or juliennes or just slices; it’s the first such I’ve ever seen, irrespective of size considerations.

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Drive toward Google

T-Mobile is killing off its MobileLife Album at the end of this month, so people who have used that online photo storage facility will have to find some other place to play. Now obviously I’m not hurting for storage space — I can get a terabyte from Flickr — but T-Mo has offered to set me up with Google Drive, about which I know nothing except that it’s a cloud-based service. (I experimented briefly with cloud storage, decided it was too cumbersome, but figured maybe it was just the implementation.)

So this is a tech bleg: if you’re using Google Drive, I’d like to know what you think of it, and whether it has any worthwhile advantages to offset its parent’s Skynettish tendencies.

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Heartier parties

I admit to having never really been a Scene Kid, inasmuch as when there became things recognizable as a Scene, I was no longer a kid. However, I do try to pay attention to cultural phenomena, and with that in mind, I direct you to this historical artifact featuring local DJ Ed Crunk:

The current social media and flow of fashion and ideas come from the new aged generation that just breached adulthood. We are the unrecognized leaders of ideas and movements that create what we know as “the scene”. Now think about it, 20 years ago, the 80’s just ended and 90’s taking music to a completely new idea. I wish I could go back to this time. Spending most of my days worry free doing whatever I felt like as long as it didn’t bother anyone else. Which is where the drugs took their part in the creation of the sound we have today. Metal and Hardcore on the rise going harder than ever before. For the scene it was a peak and it seems we are climbing back to that peak.

I didn’t see the Nineties as being particularly worry-free, but then I was fat and fortyish and worried about everything imaginable. But that 20-year timetable makes sense: it’s about a generation wide, about the distance from your first cry in the delivery room to the first time no one questions your fake ID. (By no coincidence, Ed’s been DJing here for just about 20 years.)

After the jump, Ed at work.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The wide, wide whirled

The National Weather Service ruled yesterday that the El Reno tornado on the last day of May, the one that briefly was headed toward me before turning away and then fizzling out, qualified for EF5 status with winds briefly clocked by mobile radar at 296 mph. Or more.

Further, the width of the thing maxed out at 2.6 miles, which is considered the national record for such things, although mobile radar (again!) suggested the width of the storm that took out half of Mulhall on 3 May 1999 (there’s that date again) might have been as much as 4.3 miles. At this point, can you even call it a funnel?

As for the controversy over whether it was appropriate for a local TV Weather God to suggest trying to flee the storm, I’m going with “In times of dire emergency, lots of things are said, some of them stupid.” I may say some of them myself. But I’m not about to go outside in that stuff. Mere hail — which did a mere ten grand worth of damage to my roof three years ago — will bring traffic to its knees as people look for something they can hide under. And this was several thousand times OMGWTFBBQ worse than mere hail. I knew traffic wasn’t going anywhere, and neither was I. Your mileage may vary.

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Circular firing squad

There are several reasons why a Democratic candidate might lose an election, ranging from failure to secure the correct endorsements to insufficient bribery. However, there’s only one way for a Republican candidate to lose. Robert Stacy McCain reports from the sideline:

This never changes — the Articulate Elite point the finger of blame at the yammering mob of right-wingers as scapegoats for the defeat, while the yammering mob claim they were betrayed by fainthearts and establishment insiders who rigged the game to nominate a weak-kneed RINO who proves that there’s Not a Dime’s Worth of Difference, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

A lot of this is really just the Dougherty Doctrine: “At the end of the day, the arguments all seem to boil down to something similar: If it were more like me, the Republican Party would be better off. It’s failing because it’s like you.”

Bottom line: The Democrats have enforcers who can actually enforce. The GOP? If they had an actual machine, it would spend most of the time in the repair shop.

As for the proverbial Dime, it takes at least a quarter to impress the likes of me.

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Not in Constantinople

When someone says “telenovela,” I start thinking in terms of the TV dramas popular in Latin America, sort of like soap operas but with an actual fixed conclusion. I don’t remember seeing any such in Turkey, but they apparently do exist: Yaprak Dökümü (The Fall of Leaves), the saga of a family newly arrived in Istanbul, ran for 174 episodes.

Fahriye Evcen, born on this date in 1986 in North Rhine-Westphalia, not the first place I think of when contemplating Turkish actresses, played the next-to-youngest daughter, Necla, who swipes a boyfriend from Leyla, a couple of years her senior, and winds up in a classic downward spiral after they split.

Fahriye Evcen in Marie Claire

The series ended in 2010, and Evcen has since done film work. The above photo comes from a December feature in Marie Claire. Who knew that Marie Claire had a Turkish edition? Probably the same person who knew that there were telenovelas in Turkey.

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Thou shalt take heed

Something perhaps lost in translation over the millennia (well, two of them, anyway):

[J]ust about any time I teach from the Scriptures I have to point out a place where the English Bible says “you,” but the original Hebrew or Greek indicates you plural rather than you singular. This means the original author was addressing to a group of people, but a modern English reader can’t detect this because in common English we use “you” for both singular (“you are awesome”) and plural (“you are a team”). This often leads modern readers to think “you” refers to him or her as an individual, when in fact it refers to the community of faith.

Here in Texas (and in the Southern US more generally), I tell my audience that we have a perfect equivalent to the original Greek/Hebrew second person plural: “y’all” the contraction of “you all.”

In some particularly Suthun climes, it’s even more subtle than that: there is Singular (“you”), Specific Plural (“y’all”), More Generalized Plural (“all y’all”). This inevitably baffles New Yorkers and such, who are used to constructions like “youse.” However, with a little practice, anypony can get used to a new set of pronouns.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Curtains drawn

A harrowing, yet sort of happy, tale of being thirteen and confronted with “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”:

I didn’t even know what despair was at that age. It was just a feeling I had no words for, a weighing down of my soul that kept me from being truly happy. And here was Elton, so obviously unhappy with things in his life. Was he fleeing from the thing that made him unhappy or was he fleeing from his unhappiness in general? I dug deep into the words, trying to decipher them. The thought of him walking head on into the deep end of the river filled me with dread yet at the same time I thought about how freeing that would be, to just slip into the water and let it take me.

It’s facile to say that there’s no existential dread like teenage existential dread. Which doesn’t make it any less true.

And really, who was expecting something like this so soon after “The Bitch Is Back” or “Philadelphia Freedom”? Yeah, there was “I Think I’m Going To Kill Myself” way back on Honky Château, but we all knew this was just temporary discomfort; at worst, he had a busted wing and a hornet sting.

Still, the river would not be claiming her:

I knew I’d never have the guts to kill myself. But I also knew my first time thinking about it would not be my last. And there was some small comfort in the fact that this musician I idolized shared what felt like a sacred moment with me; that moment when you think maybe enough is enough. I thought about how many other people in the world have felt like ending it all and how many actually did it. It was a sobering thought and I pushed myself into thinking that it could get better, it would get better. After all, Elton John walked away from that river and freed himself from his unhappiness. If he could do it, so could I.

From a point closer to the end than to the beginning, let me assure you: this isn’t a sentiment you have to be an adolescent to appreciate.

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Returning to that foreign-transaction business

Mr. Peabody says we have to turn the clock back to 2007 for this one:

Subject to final Court approval, a settlement has been reached in In re Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation (MDL 1409).

I filed an original claim, with the expectation of scoring a refund, or at least a card credit, of $25 or so. In late 2011, this happened:

[A] check for $18.04 arrived. Says the fine print: “All refund amounts are reduced because the full amount of all the claims exceeds the amount in the settlement fund.”

Okay, fine. I’m not going to sneeze at eighteen bucks. Then this past Monday a check for $8.23 showed up, per this instruction:

On April 16, 2013, the Court approved a second distribution of checks for monies remaining in the Currency Conversion Fee settlement fund. This second, “residual” distribution will be coordinated with the distribution of funds in connection with the settlement in the related matter, Ross, et al. v. American Express Co., et al.

Apparently no actual Amex cardmembers were charged dubious fees; however, the plaintiffs in this matter argued that Amex had nonetheless conspired with all the other defendants. And despite the original statement that the settlement fund was insufficient to pay all the claims in full, evidently they had something left. I attribute this to the fold-over post-card format in which the checks were issued; how many recipients looked at it, deemed it junk mail, and tossed it into the can with the potato peelings?

Needless to say, I’m not going to sneeze at eight bucks. (Which now gives me $26.27, actually in excess of the $25 projected. Go figure.)

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A possibly discouraging lead

Vice, apparently concerned for your safety, bills it as The Worst Music Video Ever Starring The World’s Biggest Dickhead. I’m not bringing it over here, though I will concede that I can imagine something worse.

Not much worse, though. I did note that comments are disabled on the YouTube page, and thumbs are about evenly split between up and down.

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We’re having leftovers

Actual Nissan ad from Fark.com, screencapped on Sunday, 2 June 2013 at just after 11 pm:

2012 Nissan Frontier for lease

Hope they can unload some of these before the ’14s start showing up.

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The career path not taken

Reader Mark Eveleigh sent this along, and asked if by chance I might be going into the banking business:

JPMorgan Chase Bank sign

This is the branch at 6303 North Portland, which is supposedly important enough to house an actual JPMorgan facility, for the one-percenters who’d rather not deal with the peasants in the lobby.

But no, I don’t see myself as a banker, not even for a game of Monopoly®.

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And you are…?

Jack Baruth recalls his early days doing that Social Media thing:

Once upon a time, by which I mean the year 2010, I accepted every Facebook friend request I got and I kept my Twitter feed public. Then I was part of three separate incidents in which my social media “friends” pulled various details of my employment, my family life, and my most embarrassing photos (which is to say most of them, really) in a couple of attempts to get me fired from my job, affect my personal life, and/or incite people in my general neighborhood to vandalize my cars/house/already-questionable lawn.

And he did what you’d probably do: backed off and went private. But this, too, has its disadvantages:

It frustrates me to no end that I can’t use social media to connect with the people who legitimately enjoy my writing — or even the people who legitimately dislike it and want to share their concerns and/or criticisms. I’ve been told to convert my Facebook page to a “fan page”, which seems repugnant. I cannot imagine that I have any “fans”. By the same token, I’d like to make a comment on a movie on Twitter without being the target of a sack full of shrill invective from somebody who’s still angry about something I may or may not have done with the wife of somebody he doesn’t even really like. You get the idea. What’s the point of being on FB and Twitter if you’re just building the proverbial walled garden?

Emphasis added.

I am able to deal with this only because I lead a relatively uninteresting life and have accumulated few detractors. (Who was it who said “Friends come and friends go, but enemies accumulate”?)¹ And I’m still, I think, fairly compartmentalized: I tend to treat Twitter as general distribution and Facebook as friends only, though inevitably there is some overlap on both ends of the line.

¹ I’ve seen this quotation, or an approximation thereof, attributed to Thomas Jones, to Arthur Bloch, and to Jayne Ann Krentz.

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Some of the Turks’ business

I can personally vouch for this opening statement:

Spread across some of the most beautiful land in Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is a huge country with a jaw-dropping number of incredible sights. Visiting all its highlights would be a project that takes a lot longer than 91 days.

I admit I didn’t see even a third of them, and I was there for a whole year. Then again, I was, um, working.

And they hadn’t quite gotten around to this yet:

Opened in 2003, Miniaturk is a bizarre theme park that reproduces the wonders of Turkey in miniature. And it’s exactly as kitschy and fun as you might expect. Found at the end of the Golden Horn, across from Eyüp, the park is worth a visit if you’re in the mood for something totally different.

Miniaturk is split roughly half between the sights of Istanbul and the rest of Turkey. It was fun looking at detailed recreations of the mosques and monuments we’d spent the last couple months exploring. Even in miniature, the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are impressive, and Miniaturk allows you to see them from a bird’s eye view. You can walk across a miniature version of the Bosphorus Bridge, listen to football chants at Atatürk Stadium, and even pay a lira to steer a model ferry across a mini-Golden Horn. Inside a darkened room, there’s a “Crystal Collection”, with holographic carvings of Istanbul’s monuments in big glass bricks. Weird? Yes. Cheesy? Maybe a little. Awesome? Definitely.

Lots of pictures at the link, of which I’m going to borrow just one: this sort-of-HO-scale version of the Sultan Ahmed (“Blue”) Mosque.

Replica of Blue Mosque in Miniaturk

(Photo by Juergen Horn of Istanbul for 91 Days; link via the Presurfer.)

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