Get off her perimeter

Debbie Dompierre is one of the greenest — or greyest — reservists in the Canadian Forces:

A 56-year-old Metchosin grandmother has become the oldest reservist to graduate from basic training with the Canadian Forces, beating 20-somethings in the gruelling training process.

She was sworn in Feb. 3 and joined HMCS Malahat, a Victoria-based reserve division. In June, she started her nine-week training course at CFB Borden, training during a heatwave in southern Ontario in temperatures of nearly 50 C.

Geez. And to think that I griped about Fort Leonard Wood.

She was one of only three people over 25 in the training camp. Five in their early 20s threw in the towel, but Dompierre was determined to keep going.

But this is the point where I cringed:

Dompierre scored high enough on her physical test — 137 when she needed a 75 — that she’s exempt from the test next year.

My evidently-feeble 18-year-old self passed such a test by a margin of, um, eleven points. I am told that female troops are cut a smidgen of slack in the test, but I’m still impressed.

And this is the point where I salute:

“I’ve been a military mom and wife for 15 years, so I’ve always been very proud of the military. So now it’s my turn.”

(Via Fark.)

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Strictly ballroom

Which does not mean that these particular jeans are cut with the tango in mind:

Ballroom Jeans by Duluth Trading Company

On the other hand, you have to assume that Duluth Trading Company (of Belleville, Wisconsin, of course) was not going to label these garments something like “Sack Space.”

(Via the ever-fashionable Nancy Friedman.)

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Platinum plugs

Car and Driver (10/11) interviews Vice President Joe Biden, who turns out to be quite the hotshoe:

“I still have my 1967 Goodwood-green Corvette, 327, 350-horse, with a rear-axle ratio that really gets up and goes. The Secret Service won’t let me drive it. I’m not allowed to drive anything. It’s the one thing I hate about this job.”

Two factoids I found oddly gratifying: Biden used to own a bullet-nose Studebaker, and he has never washed a Trans Am while shirtless.

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Ten years after

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Card swiped

Thursday the bank called my answering machine and informed it, to the extent that information can be conveyed in thirty seconds, that there was some suspected fraudulent activity on my account. On a good day, I’ll get home about an hour after bankers’ hours run down, and this had been not too bad of a day, so I rang in to the bank operator, and finding the caller to have departed, I left a message. I then tried jumping through the voice-mail system in the hopes of finding a customer-service person somewhere in the maze. Which, eventually, I did. We reviewed the last ten transactions, none of which were fuzzy-looking, although the guy did speculate that simultaneous renewals of two magazines from the same publisher at the same price might have looked a little weird to their Central Scrutinizer. Satisfied, I rang off.

Friday afternoon, about the same time as yesterday, I open up the machine and find a message from the same person, who of course had already gone for the day. This should have set off some sort of alarm in my head, but didn’t.

Which brings us to Saturday, when the ATM stubbornly refused to cough up anything beyond “You are not an authorized user on this account.” Perplexed, I sought out a teller, who after punching several dozen buttons told me that somebody in Nebraska was apparently trying to pass my Visa card number, and as a precautionary measure, they had killed the card in its tracks. Well, okay, fine, they didn’t get away with anything. On the other hand, it will take them at least a week to scrape up enough plastic to send me a replacement card with a new number.

None of this presents any particular difficulty, except for one minor detail: one of my automated payments, charged to that card, goes through today. Or, more precisely, doesn’t go through.

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Technically a 911 story

Steve Sailer tells of an experience with a “high-testosterone” boss:

One morning in 1983, after about six months on the job, I was standing on a street corner in Lincoln Park waiting for the bus to work, when the CEO pulls up in his Turbo Porsche and offers me a ride. “Sure!” But, the stoplights on La Salle Street heading toward the Loop are not optimized for a CEO who floors it at every green light and thus gets caught by every single red light. So, every block consisted of us going 0-60 in five seconds, with my head being shoved back into the headrest, followed by 60-0 in five seconds (with my forehead just about bouncing off the dashboard). When we got to work, the CEO offered to pick me up every morning on that corner, but, feeling pummeled by G-forces and whiplash from the ride, I went back to taking the bus.

Contemporary turbo Porsches, of course, will now do this in less than four seconds. Jackasses and jackrabbit starts, however, remain mostly unevolved.

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My baby does Bernanke Panke

While Smitty is happy to be coming home, he’d still like an explanation of this:

[T]he new Chickenfoot release [is] curiously titled ‘III’, as though their command of math in naming their second studio release was a desperate plea for a U.S. Treasury job.

It could have been worse. Says the Wikipedia page for the album: “Other rumored titles that have been mentioned include Chickenfoot IV.”

The 1-3 skip is not unprecedented, though: see, for instance, the Traveling Wilburys. And the first Smothers Brothers best-of compilation was dubbed Golden Hits, Volume 2. (Even better, it contained no previously-issued material.) I forget how many books Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker trilogy contained — five, was it?

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London calling (collect)

Another odd little dream sequence, which perhaps someone can parse. I’m still perplexed by it.

I’d been separated from a tour group somehow, and was wandering around loose on foot in some of London’s less-tony northern districts, though the journey was pleasant, and there were always people to talk to.

And then a series of wrong turns led me back to our West End hotel, where the lifts were out of operation. I headed for the stairs, where a repairman was attempting to reposition a rung — several inches above where I thought it ought to be. “Bloody regulations,” he muttered. I said something to the effect that we had such back home.

Dinner was underway. My daughter was unwrapping her dish; a former crush and her current boyfriend were at the other end of the table. Since the last time I’d seen her, she’d apparently learned how to pass through solid objects: she appeared to be embedded in the table somehow. I opened a box with my name on it and found a rather curious-looking vegetarian dish: the actual vegetables were not identified, though the stuff looked like, and tasted like, shavings from green and orange Lego blocks. It proved to be filling enough, however. The bill was not enormous, and popping open my wallet, I shuffled through my banknotes, some of which inexplicably were not actual banknotes anymore. (This situation has now shown up often enough to qualify as a Recurring Theme.) Former crush and company had just left through the north wall; daughter was out of earshot, so I proffered my American Express card, which inexplicably caused the entire staff to revert from some semblance of English to something I hadn’t heard before.

The story ended there, thanks to a truck bouncing noisily down my actual street.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Enthusiasm uncurbed

Last time I mentioned Freezepop, I said something to the effect that “I am not inclined to underestimate a band with songs in the Guitar Hero series that don’t actually have any guitars in them.” And that’s quite apart from the fact that lead singer/lyricist Liz Enthusiasm looks like this:

Liz Enthusiasm at the Knitting Factory

What shoes do you wear with tights like those?

Liz Enthusiasm at the Knitting Factory

Photos by Violet Shuraka of Cheap & Plastique, appropriately enough. Lots more at the link.

Addendum: Shortly after stumbling across these pictures, I found something even more unexpected: Liz and bandmate Sean T. Drinkwater (the other one) unplugged. Oh, and there’s an actual guitar, too.

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So many more drumsticks

They’ll have to make a pitch like that to sell this European Union proposal:

Experts in Brussels believe that insects could be a vital source of nutrition that will not only solve food shortages but also help save the environment. They have launched a €3 million project to promote the eating of insects.

Proponents of entomophagy — insect eating — argue that bugs are a low-cholesterol, low-fat, protein-rich food source. According to one study, small grasshoppers offer 20 percent protein and just 6 percent fat, to lean ground beef’s 24 percent protein and 18 percent fat.

I can walk into several stores in this town and snag ground beef way leaner than that.

Crickets are also said to be high in calcium, termites rich in iron, and a helping of giant silkworm moth larvae apparently provides all the daily copper and riboflavin requirements.

Something to look forward to: “Just think, if the geniuses at the European Union get their way, roach coaches may soon be selling actual roaches.” In vain will we point out that those creatures aren’t kosher.

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Braai Day

“Braai” is Afrikaans for “barbecue,” sort of, and every September, South Africans chow down on Braai Day:

Braai Day is a celebration of our great country and its unique national pastime. It aims to unite all South Africans on 24 September by encouraging them to partake in a fun and tangible activity shared by all demographic groups, religious denominations and body types.

And there being no Rebecca Black news to speak of — the five-song EP due out in August seems to have mutated into a ten-song album due out around Halloween — here’s the inevitable “Braaiday” video, courtesy of Derick Watts and the Sunday Blues:

(As seen on Memeburn.)

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Quote of the week

The always-thoughtful Roberta X contemplates December 7, 1951:

Undoubtedly there was a somber ceremony at Pearl Harbor, but I wonder, was there a week-long national dirge leading up to the day? We got Tojo; we got OBL. Yeah, there’s still a bunch of wretched weasels out there who hate the West, the U.S. especially, and work to do harm to persons and property; but Americans are not incompetent, and we’re no longer unaware. It might be time to take off the sackcloth and ashes.

A commenter subsequently noted that there wasn’t that much of a ceremony, inasmuch as there was work to be done, what with troops in Korea that needed support. There’s a great deal to be said for keeping busy.

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The best of all possible worlds

Okay, maybe not the best, but the following decrees by our Benevolent Dictatrix have only our best interests at heart:

There would be “quiet hours” in most neighborhoods from 9 pm until 7 am. Anyone caught driving a boom car, mowing, leaving their dog staked outside to howl, whatever…they pay a fine. If they persist in violating, the noise making object is taken away from them. (People who work nights? There would be specially zoned neighborhoods with “quiet hours” from 9 am to 7 pm, with that information posted at every entrance to the neighborhood).

I expect swing-shifters to demand equal time.

Also, grocery stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, megalomarts, whatever — they would not be permitted to mount televisions in their store that would blare advertising at the shoppers. They also wouldn’t be permitted to play music that was advertisement of products they sold.

I wonder: would there be an exemption for record stores? (Then again, would there even be record stores?)

But I’m not complaining. I must note, though, that every time I think that the world would be improved by throwing [name of disfavored group] into the sea, someone reminds me about the hazards of water pollution.

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Infinite perversity in infinite combinations

“The needs of the many,” said Spock, “outweigh the needs of the few.” Or maybe not so much:

Years ago I was pressured to release the confidential medical records of patients operated on at our facility. I didn’t release the records and it got very ugly, but ultimately we prevailed. During the very threatening discussions a physician who was a hired gun by the folks who wanted these records told me that patient confidentiality was not important if this data collection made a difference in someone else’s life. I argued that individual rights distinguished our form of government from those that championed the “collective.” I tried to point out that a possible benefit to one individual doesn’t justify the violation of the rights of another.

He quoted Mr. Spock, as I have above. I pointed out that Mr. Spock’s actions were those of a volunteer. “It is one thing to throw yourself on a grenade to save your foxhole buddies. It is quite another to be shoved onto the grenade against your will,” I said. This hired gun still didn’t get it. We wound up filing a lawsuit against this bunch of fascists and the patients’ data remained secure.

So far as I have been able to ascertain, the fascists did not respond with a countersuit complaining about being called “fascists.”

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Taking arms against Baron von Tollbooth

Well, okay, Sonic Charmer isn’t going that far, but he is definitely opposed to toll roads, and it’s not — well, not entirely — about the money:

It’s the stupidity of the thing. You’re driving quickly, making good time, when oops, time for everyone to slow down, fan out into a highly wasteful 12 or maybe 24 lanes (obtained how? is there no better use for this land?), stop at a little hellish booth in which it’s some poor soul’s actual job to sit 8 hours a day, and hand the poor overweight lady, like, $1.15. Then maybe like 4 miles later, you have to hand over 75 cents to some other poor schmoe.

Is there anything more idiotic? And the entire East Coast is like this!

Before you ask: he doesn’t think the switch to automated toll-collection systems (E-ZPass et al.) is sufficient to boost the concept to the correct side of the Boon/Boondoggle continuum.

What do I think of them? Depends on whether I’m in a hurry.

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