Dissipated fizz

Last time this state scratched around for a new plate design, I proposed something like this:

Oklahoma Sonic plate, drawn by me, never used

It never occurred to me that Texas would actually do something like that:

Dr Pepper plate issued by Texas

And now they’re undoing it:

The Dallas Morning News broke the news over the weekend that the state of Texas is planning to kill off its least popular specialty license plates, and we couldn’t be more thrilled… We were, however, dismayed to notice that Dr Pepper is … on the chopping block.

How does this happen? How is it that the most Texan of non-alcoholic carbonated beverages, which, if it didn’t help sustain the last defenders of the Alamo then definitely should have, failed to meet the 200-plate threshold put in place by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles?

Did it ever occur to anyone in either state that there might simply be too damn many plate designs?

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Reblogged down

Well, they’re doomed. People are actually starting to notice:

[S]ometimes I wonder if Tumblr is actually just eight or 10 blogs with original content, and all the other Tumblrs are just endlessly linked resharing of that content.

Oh, I’m sure there are at least twenty.

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And then he wasn’t

“Tiburon,” he said of his home in Marin County. “From the Spanish tiburoni, meaning to overcharge for no reason.”

When word came down the line that Robin Williams had died, seemingly everyone in my tweetstream posted a favorite comedy or dramatic bit — and in a full hour, there were no duplicates. I couldn’t pick one of them to, you should pardon the expression, save my life.

So I’ll quote Sheila O’Malley, perennially wise, who offered up this personal recollection:

Robin Williams talked at my school. He was otherworldly in person, on some other plane of listening/humor. Also very caring. Sad… He was like a master chess player, 14, 20 moves ahead of everyone else. He felt the joke 20 minutes out. And he made sure it landed … and this was just chatting with the students. He wasn’t performing for us. He was just talking. But he heard shit on a higher frequency.

This is the kind of thing that can drive you to madness if you’re not careful. And Robin Williams, damn his brilliant hide, was never, ever careful.

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Brief exercise

Interstate 35 northeast of downtown, once it splits away from 40, is cursed for several miles with the penury-induced deficiency called Onrampus insufficienti, which imposes certain conditions on the driver wishing to climb on. Chief among these is “Accelerate like a sumbitch.” In the case of the US 62 onramp, this has a prerequisite: make the right turn onto the ramp and hope you can see what’s sliding down the hill at you.

I was transitioning between these two modes when I saw it. A minivan. Worse, a white minivan. The Anti-Destination League gives these out as longevity awards. And it wasn’t going to budge horizontally, what with an 18-wheeler in the fast — well, the less-slow lane. Okay, fine. I pushed the loud pedal once more, and Gwendolyn’s ill-bred four-speed slushbox, having just climbed all the way to fourth, was in no hurry to drop back to third.

So I readied myself for the Killing of Overdrive, which is faster than waiting for the machine to shift on its own, when a 2-series BMW rocketed toward the right and into the space I’d chosen for myself. Oh, great. The van, meanwhile, had managed to creep above the speed limit. I began calculating closing distances and where I’d end up in the breakdown lane, such as it is.

Fortunately, Bimmer Dude was paying attention after all, and he opened up more space, mostly by scaring the Mazda in front of him into cranking it up. I duly slid into the flow, reached for my hat to tip to the guy, realized I wasn’t wearing a hat, and staked out a place in front of the big rig. The van, down to 45 mph or so, departed at the next exit, short-circuiting any plans I may have had to curse its driver for staying in the lane.

This sort of thing is consistent with what I’ve been telling the road-building guys: we have enough highway capacity. What we don’t have is a way to sweep away the people who think the D on the shift lever stands for “Dawdle.”

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Lose that boy

Don’t wait for it to happen on its own, either:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: He's going to die, help?

Taste considerations require this go below the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Fark blurb of the week

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A cellarful of noise

You may recall the Cavern Club, a music venue at 10 Mathew Street in Liverpool which lived up to Petula Clark’s description in “I Know a Place.” The Beatles played there upwards (or downwards, being in a basement and all) of 250 times.

The MonaLisa Twins, major Beatles fans from Austria, have now settled in Southport, a few minutes up the coast from Liverpool, and have begun a residency at that very same Cavern Club, playing a two-hour gig every Saturday afternoon. They’ll also be playing, with and without their backing band, at International Beatle Week, later this month.

Which is as good an excuse as any to trot out Mona and Lisa doing a Beatles track:

Unexpectedly, there are pronoun adjustments.

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Strange search-engine queries (445)

Last week, a couple of thousand people wandered onto this Web site. But only a handful were looking for stuff like this:

generic limerick:  This is not the one that begins “There was an old hermit named Dave…”

girl drinks invisibility potion stories:  And she dies and the medical examiner just shakes his head.

96 mazda 626 transmission bands or plates:  [buzz] “Name two things I can’t possibly fix on my own.”

f3a transmission and tcm wiring:  [buzz] “Name two more things I can’t possibly fix on my own.”

brumstidk in sight:  Initiate evasive actions.

What is recombinant b n a:  The genetic code you must have to be able to change planes in Nashville.

brina flashong hold light on dadh:  You just let your mom worry about that, honeychild.

96 cougar od button:  That’s all we need: somebody OD’ing in a Cougar.

george washington’s axe for sale handle replaced:  Yes, but is it the original blade?

vo tech tanya tucker sussex vo tech nj:  Because if there’s one thing Tanya Tucker reminds you of, it’s vo-tech in New Jersey.

nokia komposer ambulan dan lowbat:  Because, as Weird Al says, “I paid good money for this ringtone.”

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Super freekuency

This is worth the link just for the title — “On That List of Excuses for Not Having Sex Floating Around the Interweb” — but the discussion is not at all frivolous, and the last paragraph is highly quotable:

[A] mismatch must be seen as just that. There’s no right amount of sex to have, so someone agreeing to it three times a month must be accepted as much as someone wanting it several times a day or never at all. It just is what it is. A mismatch is a problem for both the person not getting as much as they desire, and for the person denying the request, but it’s only a problem at all if people hold sex in their relationship as more important than care, respect, and love. If you care enough, you can become attuned to one another’s needs. It might mean not asking even if you’re feeling it, and it might, for some people so inclined, mean doing things you’re not really into right now. Love isn’t about giving everything of ourselves to another person, though, or solving all their problems ourselves, it’s about caring about their issues enough to be there while they find their own way.

So there.

In fact, it’s not even necessary for the schedules to be out of sync for there to be a problem, as Woody Allen noted back in the day:

[Alvy and Annie are seeing their therapists at the same time on a split screen]

Alvy Singer’s Therapist: How often do you sleep together?

Annie Hall’s Therapist: Do you have sex often?

Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.

Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I’d say three times a week.

Never you mind why I’d remember this after, oh, thirty-seven years.

Oh, this is the list being referenced.

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Fan disservice

Bayou Renaissance Man and Miss D. are once again Not Sweating:

To my surprise (and irritation), we learned that modern A/C motors are no longer the simple units of old. Apparently one has to tell the supplier the type of unit (manufacturer, model, etc.) in which it’ll be used, and it’s then “programmed” to work in that particular system. I can see how making a single motor that can be programmed to work in 20 or 30 different units is easier from the factory’s perspective, but it means one can’t just walk in, buy the motor one wants, and take it out the door. Now one has to provide the necessary information and wait two to three hours until the supplier can put it through the programming process — and pay rather more for the motor as a result. I’m not sure this is an improvement from the user point of view.

It’s not. Then again, the last motor I had to buy (back in 2009) was specifically designed for this oddball unit: there are others, much more common, with exactly the same specifications, but the output shafts are something like a quarter-inch too long, so they won’t actually fit. This could not possibly have been good for the price. (I asked an HVAC tech once if the shaft could be filed down a bit: he looked at me as though I’d asked him for a Federal unicorn license.)

The only time I’ve come close to this sort of predicament before was with my old Toyota Celica. Apparently at the beginning of model year 1975 they changed the starter design, and then midway through the year changed it again because the newer design sucked the Japanese equivalent of donkey balls. Replacements, therefore, were difficult to come by. In the twenty years between Off The Showroom Floor and Off My Hands Entirely, little Dymphna went through four starters, and judging by the scratches in the paint, her fourth one was her first one, rebuilt. Too bad they can’t rebuild air-conditioner motors — or at least they say they can’t.

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Why is this month different from all other months?

By now you’ve seen this, probably stuck into your Facebook feed:

Claims about August 2014

Ancient Chinese secret, eh? I’ll have you know I’ve lived through half a dozen of these already, and I may well be around for another one in 2025.

You don’t have to believe me. But Cameron Miquelon has done the heavy lifting already.

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Tanks for the mobility

So I’m sitting here, wondering if my knees are going to be acting up again next week, as they often do in the presence of serious damp, and it occurs to me: Why shouldn’t someone who uses a wheelchair be able to go way the hell off-road?

And this is why I’m thinking that:

The low-suds version — there are three in the line — packs a 16-hp electric motor. And it can take a 60-percent grade, something I can’t do walking these days. Yes, it’s expensive, and Medicare won’t pay for it. I don’t care. (Yet.)

(Via Autoblog.)

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Because terse

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You’re watching GOTV

Does the process of Getting Out The Vote require that you, you know, actually get out once in a while? I’m one of those weird people who thinks it does.

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The point being gotten to

Back in ought-seven, I did a brief writeup of something called Short Attention Span System Radio, which sought to compensate for listeners wandering away by cramming twice as much music into the same space. The results were curious:

I sampled some SASS, and I think I’d notice that they’d boiled down Manfred Mann’s take on Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light,” which runs around 7:05 in its LP incarnation and 3:48 as a single, to a startling 1:45 — but it would take probably half a minute for it to sink in, and by then they’re a third of the way through the next song.

Truly revved up like a douche, as the kids used to say. I imagined there might be a place for such a format, but I couldn’t imagine where.

The answer, it turns out, is Calgary:

Top 40 station 90.3 Amp Radio has started to cut off the songs played on air halfway through, allowing for twice the number of songs to be played each hour in a bid to cater to their listeners’ ever-shortening attention spans.

“We’ve got so much more choice, we’ve got less time (and) our attention spans are shorter,” Amp Radio’s Paul Kaye told CTV Calgary. “We are observing people with their iPods, playing their favourite songs and skipping them before the end because they get bored.”

The station used to play about 12 songs an hour, but the new “QuickHitz” format allows for 24 songs each hour by re-editing the tracks.

It was a lot easier to do 24 songs an hour, I submit, when (1) songs were barely over two minutes and (2) you didn’t have to sell 15 minutes of ad space.

Still, having created what I think is the definitive two-minute edit of “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida,” which runs seventeen minutes if you don’t put your foot down, I’m probably the wrong person to complain about this.

Admittedly, I’ve gone the other direction as well. Once upon a time, after listening to the Gentrys’ 1965 version of “Keep On Dancing,” which came out of the studio running barely 90 seconds, prompting the producer to start the song over and run just enough of it to break the two-minute mark, I hacked up a 3:42 extended version in which I did the same thing the producer did, only twice. Amp Radio wouldn’t play it, of course, but at least they’d have an obvious place (or two) to edit it.

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Sentenced to retention

There is no way I could do this:

I was not even a retention specialist. Part of my job, though, was to prevent calls from having to go there. Which is to say that someone would call in wanting to either scale back or cancel service, and my job was to either (a) convince them not to or (b) wear them down to increase the chances that the retention specialist would succeed. As near as I could tell, if they wanted to cancel the account, I would present a whole bunch of reasons why they shouldn’t, and then if I failed they would go to a retention specialist who would then say all of the same things (maybe in a different order, maybe not).

It is generally believed that it costs less to retain a customer than to acquire one, which, if nothing else, makes me wonder how much it costs to acquire one.

I am temperamentally unsuited to this sort of job, and I am not alone:

There were a lot of things that I didn’t like about the job. I am not a phone person to begin with. I am not the most social or friendly person, and I was in a job where both were expected of me. Over the phone. I had angry customers, demanding customers. I was cursed and yelled at. Even one guy who liked me started cussing me out when he found out that he could not direct future customer service calls to me specifically.

Fortunately, no one calling the organization to complain has demanded an audience with me. The spectacle would not be pretty.

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