From the As If files

Something styling itself “Facebook Spy” had the temerity to send me this:

chaz, we have detected that your profile was viewed by following user:

Nickname: SquigglyNoodles99
Gender: female
Possible age: 27 years
Last view: 14 minutes ago

There followed a t.co link which of course I refused to click, and come to think of it, why would a “Facebook Spy” send out a link shortened with the Twitter shortener?

Be assured, future spammers, that no 27-year-old woman on the face of the earth is going to be looking in my direction.

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Don’t forget seat warmers

What was the defining factor in this winter’s auto market? New models? Deep discounts? How about frigid temperatures?

The harsh winter, during which many areas of the United States saw temperatures dip well below zero degrees, changed car shopping preferences, according to a new study from Swapalease.com, with utility vehicles replacing certain other car segments as a popular choice in several locations.

“While it makes sense to see the winter elements encourage a shift to larger utility-type vehicles, the most recent winters did not have this effect on shopping patterns,” said Scot Hall, Executive Vice President of Swapalease.com. “However, a consistent wave of arctic-type conditions may have contributed to this winter’s shift in shopping preferences in many parts of the country.”

Midsize sedans remained the most popular segment for consumers, but utility vehicles saw big spikes in interest over the course of this frosty winter. About fourteen percent of car shoppers preferred midsize crossovers (up from 9.2 percent last winter), 13.2 percent preferred full-size crossovers (up from 7.5 percent) and 11.8 percent preferred midsize SUVs (up from 6.9%).

Now that the roads are (mostly) clear, let’s get out there and burn some hydrocarbons!

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Babe magnets, how do they work?

I really hate to dash anyone’s hopes — no, really, I do — but I don’t think this will end well:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I am a 27 year old black male and drive a 2007 glacier pearl white nissan murano sl. am I going to get ladies?

It’s not entirely stock, either:

It has tints and a mesh grille and a black hood deflector instead

James, my man, I hate to break it to you, but the woman who falls for you because of your wheels won’t last beyond a couple of oil changes. Sorry.

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Life continues to pound

This day, I knew, would not be good.

The Win7 migration continues apace. There is one hyper-complicated piece of software that we’re using to prepare mailings, and last time, it took a full day to install and test. On the new Win7 box, a full day proved to be not enough time to install and test — unless you don’t care whether the test is passed or not.

For reasons other than that, I’m a couple of hours behind. (Short version: this is the price one pays for catering to morons with more money than brains, and they’re not exactly bucks up either.) I couldn’t wait to get out of the shop.

And when I got out of the shop, I discovered a tire with maybe 16 psi pressure. I do carry a pump of sorts, but this was going to require professional attention, which I got on the way home. I pulled into the garage, and I heard water running — though there was no visible evidence of a leak. Turning off both faucets in back of the washing machine quieted the noise, so I figure one of them is shot. I’m not sure which nerve is the last one, but I’m definitely on it.

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Mulch ado

You gotta give these guys credit for a little bit of enthusiasm:

Excitement is where you find it, after all.

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Meanwhile at the Conversion Bureau

The sysadmin expects to have every last one of us onto Windows 7 in the next four weeks, reasoning that the day after Microsoft pulls support for XP, we can expect a massive attack on any and all XP machines remaining. I’m not so sure — I figure the malware artists will wait forty-eight hours instead of twenty-four, just to lure the suckers into a false sense of security — but there’s no sense asking for trouble, and since most of the XP machines we have online are between four and seven years old, there’d be a reason to replace them even if we had to replace them with Vista.

Or maybe not. Trini, when she was running our hardware support, refused to allow any Vista machines in the building. I keep meaning to call her and ask what she thinks of Windows 8, though I suspect I already know the answer. (There was a time when we were pretty adept at finishing each other’s sentences, a neat trick for two people nearly two generations apart.)

So it’s going to be Win7. I left Microsoft Easy Transfer running over the weekend to move my stuff to a new work box; it took six hours to push files around, but only about an hour or so to restore the functionality to which I am accustomed. I’ll take that. I expect most of the other upgrades will be easier; they’ll certainly be for me, since I won’t have to do them.

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Now with extra morning darkness!

I didn’t do a DST rant this year, perhaps dimly sensing that this idiotic government scheme, like most idiotic government schemes, will outlive me by many decades.

However, I’m happy to give you someone else’s DST rant:

I dislike these first few weeks of it (that it starts so early, too): I go from driving to work when the sun is up to driving to work in the dark. I was rather frustrated with the Weather Channel the day or two before, when they were talking about how we all got “extra sunlight” after the time change. No. There is no “extra” sunlight, absent the few seconds we gain with each day we get closer to the summer solstice. The only people who get “extra” sunlight are those who sleep in late enough to be up after the dawn during standard time. And, perhaps, the people who can get in a round of golf after work instead of having to grade or attend to life-chores like laundry or marketing. (And really: how many people in today’s America get to sleep through the dawn? And how many have enough free time in the afternoon to go have fun? Probably not most working people; probably not most parents.)

TWC’s absorption into Comcast/NBC killed what few brain cells they had.

Sunrise this week in Oklahoma City has been around 7:50. Pretty much everyone I work with has to drive in the dark to get there by eight. (I show up in the general vicinity of six-thirty, so I seldom see any sunshine on the morning commute: sunrise never comes earlier than about 6:15.)

And besides, laws are not enacted for the benefit of working people and/or parents, unless there’s some way to obtain the requisite quantity of graft and/or egoboo for the elites.

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Where have all the Lortabs gone?

Long time disappearing, it would seem:

The L.A. Times’ David Lazarus reports that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the California Board of Pharmacy are investigating the disappearance of prescription pain meds from four stores in California.

The DEA served the stores with warrants almost a year ago after learning about prescription drugs like Vicodin that were not present and accounted for.

The company now faces up to 2,973 separate violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act because its records don’t match the actual inventory of the drugs in question. CVS could be forced to pay upwards of $29 million in penalties for these possible violations.

Apparently they’re not going out the door a few at a time, either:

The DEA investigation has been going on since 2012, when a DEA investigator learned of missing hydrocodone pills from a store near Sacramento. A pharmacy worker at the store eventually admitted to her employers that she had stolen some 20,000 pills.

Checking the temperature of other stores in the region, the investigator looked through the records of other CVS stores in the area and found 16,000 pills missing from one CVS; 11,000 from another and two additional stores with around 5,000 missing pills each.

The cynic in me goes “Harrumph,” and asks “Where was Walgreens during all this?” In their own little bit of trouble, it seems.

I have to figure that interdiction of drugs is a complete waste of time, if only because supply restrictions have not resulted in higher prices: last time I picked up any of these tabs, I paid something like $2.90 for fourteen of them.

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Show fizzle

I think we were all preparing for the worst tonight: Thunder defense has been conspicuous by its absence of late, the Rockets are known for their offensive prowess, and besides, James Harden. The 26-24 OKC lead after the first quarter was, let’s admit it, reassuring; 56-41 at the half was more so. Still, Houston does not take these things lightly, and a one-time 18-point Thunder lead was shaved to five late in the fourth quarter. Patrick Beverley, no friend of Russell Westbrook, had cozied up to Russ in the first in pretty much the same way he’d attacked him many games ago: he got a tech for his trouble. So it’s probably apropos that with 91 seconds left, Beverley fouled Westbrook in the act of shooting a trey, and Westbrook calmly — for Westbrook, anyway — sank all three of the free throws to push the OKC lead back to eight. For Beverley, it was his fifth foul; he finished with two points. And for Houston, it was their third straight loss to Oklahoma City. The final was 106-98, which, now that I think about it, is about what it ought to have been.

Oh, yes, Harden. A dull lump in the first half, he was Mr. Excitement in the second, leading the Houston attack with just shy of a triple-double: 28 points, eight rebounds, nine assists. The Beard played 44 minutes; Chandler Parsons trumped that with a 46-minute enduro collecting 19 points. Dwight Howard, freed from the necessity of having to deal with Kendrick Perkins, turned in a vaguely Dwightish performance: nine points, ten boards, hit one out of six free throws. The threat in the late going, however, proved to be Francisco Garcia, who ratcheted up 11 points, including three treys, in a mere 14 minutes, and who made a futile attempt to rip Kevin Durant’s arm off.

KD, incidentally, went off for 42 tonight on a 12-22 binge. Westbrook, allowed to play for half an hour, finished with 24. Serge Ibaka had a so-so night from the floor, a big one on the backboard: ten points, including the turnaround jumper that finished the Rockets for good, and 16 rebounds. Weirdness from the box score: OKC was 27-34 from the foul line, and that was divided among only three players: Durant (13-16), Westbrook (11-14), and Derek Fisher (3-4). It’s like Kevin McHale pointed to the bench and said “Don’t foul those guys.” Meanwhile, Steven Adams, tasked with keeping Howard at bay, wound up with four fouls, including a Flagrant One. Almost what Perk would have done, come to think of it.

The Lakers will be here Thursday. Payback, as a wise person said, has its byotchitude.

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Comfy can be cute

So said San Diego fashion blogger Cyrillynn, who runs Any Second Now, and who let everyone know via Instagram what shoes she’d just bought:

Honiton by Hotter

“Honiton,” by UK shoemaker Hotter, is described as “the all day everyday moccasin”:

You’ll love the pillow soft cushioning of blissfully soft classic moccasin Honiton. Revel in the butter soft leather and ultra lightweight sole for sublime casual comfort.

Black, beige and tan variants are offered as well, at the $115 price point.

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Zooeypalooza 20!

It’s about time, right?

Zooeypalooza 20!

Embiggenment via the handy CLICK method.

Paloozas of the past: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, ZP 8, ZP 9, ZP 10, ZP 11, ZP 12, ZP 13, ZP 14, ZP 15, ZP 16, ZP 17, ZP 18, ZP 19.

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Suburbling

Lynn goes to the Tulsa Home and Garden Show, and finds it mostly meh:

There was very little that you couldn’t see any day at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Fifty flooring companies with the exact same hardwood flooring; fifty countertop companies with the exact same granite counter tops; fifty window and siding companies with essentially the same windows and siding; and 500,000,000 tornado shelter companies… Okay, I might be exaggerating a little bit on that last one.

Maybe a little bit. I think there were half a billion roofing companies out here answering the most recent Hailing Frequency.

They also had a few things that don’t have anything to do with “home and garden”, like vehicles, and, because this is Oklahoma, by “vehicles” I mean big-ass pickups that are big enough to live in and you’ll probably have to if you buy one because they cost as much as a decent house, which you won’t be able to afford and make payments on the pickup too.

Not to mention the question of parking the damn truck somewhere near the house — or somebody’s house, anyway.

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There’s been a murder

You may even have seen one:

In a Time Magazine article titled “The Mystery of Animal Grief” by Jeffrey Kluger, scientists explain that animals do grieve — and that they honor and mourn their dead with an intensity some people don’t even display.

For instance, researchers have observed how crows will gather around a departed crow and call and call until hundreds of flock mates arrive. They will then stand surrounding the dead crow and maintain total silence, broken only by occasional approaches to offer odds and ends to the corpse — for instance, pebbles or short sticks. After a period of time, they will depart, never to return.

More turnout than I could ever dare to expect, even allowing for the people who were just wanting to make sure I was dead.

(Plucked from Georganna Hancock’s writing research.)

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Let’s talk about a Rocket

No, not a Houston Rocket. Think Lansing, Michigan, home of Oldsmobile since Ransom E. Olds himself starting building cars in 1897.

Nineteen fifty-eight had not been a good year for General Motors: it was a down year for Detroit generally, and one brand — Packard — actually perished. (Nash and Hudson had expired after the 1957 model year; Ford had yet to learn the fate of its shiny new Edsel.) The General’s own ’58 models were mocked for their bloat and for their ridiculously overchromed flanks; the ’58 Olds perhaps got it the worst, with stylist Alex Tremulis, then best known for his work for Preston Tucker, satirizing it by drawing musical notes in that rear-panel staff. Worse yet, the daily driver of a Ford designer in the early 60s was a ’58 Olds with its nameplate letters shuffled: the Ford man tossed an I and rendered the name as “SLOBMODEL.”

By then, of course, Oldsmobile had moved on. At the time, the division’s big dealer promotion each year consisted of a small-scale Broadway-style musical, often based upon a large-scale Broadway musical. For 1959, Good News about Olds debuted with a catchy little number that demonstrates that Bill Hayes and Florence Henderson definitely knew the territory. Turned into a TV commercial, it looked like this (after the jump):

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Asymmetric intubation

The major obstacle to transparency in the health-care market — apart from the presence of government, which is an obstacle in its own right — is the fact that nobody knows how much anything costs:

One thing that might help is if people knew how much their health insurance company was paying for their drugs. I consume a handful of pills which costs me a dollar or two every day. I don’t really know because it’s always different, depending on whether I have satisfied my deductible or not, or maybe it’s by the phase of the moon. I gave up trying to fathom the workings of the insurance companies a long time ago. So I have to pay some money for these drugs, but I have no idea what the pharmacy is charging my insurance company. I’m pretty sure someone doesn’t want me to know, but they are cloaking this secrecy in the name of “you shouldn’t have to worry about the money when you’re sick, that’s what insurance is for”. Well, that’s BS.

CFI Care [not its real initials] is presumably not paying a whole hell of a lot for my daily dosages, inasmuch as my designated copays start at $15 for the lowest tier, yet most of these drugs run $10 or less for a 30-day supply. The pharmacy does supply an insert with “Retail Value,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything: you might perhaps assume that this is what the uninsured have to pay, but this particular chain offers lots of $4 generics, and nobody will put up with paying, say, $28.67 for a drug advertised at $4 — unless someone else is shelling out the $28.67.

There’s got to be a better way. I’ll continue to push for my single-payer scheme: everybody bundle up your medical bills and send them to George Soros.

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Time as a Veblen good

Jack Baruth lays down the smack on the ultra-expensive Swiss watch:

If you wear a Swiss “luxury watch”, you’re a douchebag. (Full disclosure: I have a few of them myself.) The bigger the watch is, and the more elaborate/flashy it is, the worse you are. The newer and more quick-bake the brand is, the more horrifying your personal presence is to people who weren’t raised in a trailer prior to the IPO/Goldman bonus/first-round draft pick/real-estate deal/personal-injury settlement. I’ve complained about this before, but wearing a watch that is unnecessarily complex and impossible to fix amounts to a Nero-esque destruction of capital without the attendant flair. This goes double if your watchmaker’s brand was “dormant” for fifty years or more before being pried out of the hands of someone’s step-great-grandchild by a venture-capital firm, triple if Nicholas Hayek imagined your brand while he was having a “speedball” medically administered by a twenty-two-year-old Italian nurse who does figure modeling in the evenings.

I’m pretty sure my watch, the very antithesis of Swiss craftsmanship, isn’t fixable, unless what ails it is a dearth of battery power, which can be replenished for $5. Then again, it only cost me $30 to begin with, thirty-odd years ago, and maintenance — it’s on its fourth band now — has run less than $100.

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