Getting there is half the battle

It started, as so many things do, with a smartass remark on Twitter:

Given airport travel time, security, runway delay, etc., I’d bet a good cyclist could travel BUR to LGB faster than Jet Blue. #carmageddon

In the wake of Los Angeles’ horrific descent into Carmageddon, alternative modes of transportation had their day in the Southern California sun. JetBlue had set up a flight from Burbank to Long Beach, but ultimately the quickest way from BUR to LGB turned out to be, yes, the bicycle.

There were four entries in this ad hoc competition: @wolfpackhustle (experienced cyclists); @garyridesbikes (who didn’t ride bikes, but took the Metro rail system and/or walked); @jennix (on Rollerblades), and two guys on JetBlue Flight 405.


Cyclists will depart from a residence near the intersection of Cahuenga and Chandler Blvd. in North Hollywood at 10:55 AM PT (Saturday, July 16) Flight Departs 12:20pm and we’re basing the cyclists’ departure time on the airline’s recommended passenger arrival time of 1.50 hours before departure. (we’re doing a little less to be fair) Cyclists will be required to follow all traffic laws. The finish line is the light house at the Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach (adjacent to Aquarium of the Pacific) Ezra and I [aboard JetBlue 405] will take a cab from LGB to the finish line courtesy of GaryRidesBikes FIRST TO ARRIVE AT THE LIGHT HOUSE WINS!

It wasn’t even close. The cyclists made it across town in 1:34; Gary-not-riding-bikes showed up ten minutes later, and JenniX hit the lighthouse at 2:40. The airline passengers still hadn’t arrived; they turned up at 2:54, their cabbie evidently having had no idea where the Shoreline Aquatic Park was.

I remember my own battles with Los Angeles-area surface streets, two decades ago. I’d say you couldn’t pay me to do it again, but that probably depends on how much you were paying me.

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Strange search-engine queries (285)

Of every three visitors to this site — apart from feed subscribers, who are counted separately — one will have arrived here after conducting a Web search. That’s around a thousand people a week. Of those thousand, maybe 990, plus or minus a handful, don’t rate a second glance. Then there are these:

how many trans came in a 1996 mazda 626:  With very few exceptions, modern cars have a single transmission, which will break if you don’t take care of it, which you probably don’t.

“wear slips” skirt comments:  Were I in the habit of wearing slips, I’d definitely want to skirt any comments about it.

woody allen mary sue:  A couple made for each other.

pesky defined:  Any Woody Allen character who isn’t getting any, which means pretty much any Woody Allen character.

how to hack a og&e smart meter:  Replace its outgoing signal with one of your own — and hope you didn’t miss a byte, or you’re going to end up with an electric bill that looks like the national debt.

“lickable beater”:  We seldom got a chance at these unless Mom was making something like a squash soufflé, in which case we didn’t want it so much.

i’m losing my social skills:  Perhaps you’re spending too much time on Google.

“april winchell” schwanz alot:  Honestly, I have no idea if she likes schwanz alot.

i had sex whit a bline women xxxx viode:  Yeah, but she could spell.

what is ed ames’ net worth:  His cup runneth over.

“if you buy gas you support terrorism”:  Yeah, like siphoning it is better.

ways to cut down on housework:  Have you tried living in a cave? Low maintenance, for the most part, although you’ll have a hell of a time getting cable.

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Sticking with shtick

Prepare to see things you’ve seen before.

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Pretty much hosed

Last month, I grumbled ever-so-slightly about one of Zooey Deschanel’s outfits: “[T]he dark tights really don’t work here, though I’m starting to believe she had them tattooed on.”

Close enough, apparently:

I am a year round tights girl. I will wear tights even if it’s 100 degrees outside. Tights are my safety blanket. In them, I know that I can do a sweet row of cartwheels anytime, anywhere without anyone catching a glimpse of my knickers.

From almost anyone else, this might sound fatuous.

Then again, it’s not like they’re perfect or anything:

My biggest complaint with tights is that they do not accommodate skinny-ankled people like myself. I spoke with Hello Giggles BFF and designer Kate Harmer — a fellow tights lover and skinny ankle-haver — about this recently. We are tired of being judged for having bunchy tights. We don’t want to be held accountable for our lazy stockings.

I duly combed through the archives for a shot of ZD not wearing dark tights, and in no time at all came up with this one, taken at the BAFTA Brits to Watch event earlier this month:

Zooey Deschanel at BAFTA's Brits to Watch

And you know, as Hillary Clinton never said, there are worse things in life than having skinny ankles.

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A few moments later at 1900 MHz

A couple of days ago, I reported on my new cell phone:

So I have a shiny new LG flipper, which if anything is a step down from the old one: there’s no place for a MicroSD card, so people will be spared my “Friday” ringtone. (For now.)

During the next 48 hours, I ran up against its limitations: the internal memory is extremely meager (hint: the SIM card holds a whole lot more than the phone itself), and the camera was below average, even for a below-average price point. I returned to the Big T, paid the restocking fee, and came away with a three-times-as-pricey Samsung with almost identical key functions, a well-concealed but usable MicroSD slot, and a better, if still not wonderful, camera. What’s more, it does 3G, though I wouldn’t know one G from another.

And yes, that ringtone is in place, though I admit I’m pondering the idea of knocking out another one with the voice of Cee Lo Green, for use with Certain Less-Favored Callers.

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I was looking for a euphemism for the state or condition of being batshit crazy, and that’s what I came up with.

(Who gave me this idea.)

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I’m not as nutty as they think

As it happens, I do use SquirrelMail, so I did actually read this one:

Due to the package compromise of 1.4.11, 1.4.12 and 1.4.13, we are forced to release 1.4.15 to ensure no confusions. While initial review didn’t uncover a need for concern, several proof of concepts show that the package alterations introduce a high risk security issue, allowing remote inclusion of files. These changes would allow a remote user the ability to execute exploit code on a victim machine, without any user interaction on the victim’s server. This could grant the attacker the ability to deploy further code on the victim’s server.

Which is actually sort of plausible, except for a couple of minor considerations:

  • What, no 1.4.14?
  • Version being used at the mail server is 1.4.21.

Oh, and here’s why no 1.4.14:

On May 27, 2008 the SquirrelMail Team announced that, while the latest released version of their software was 1.4.13, a spammer was sending unsolicited email messages to various recipients about a 1.4.14-rc1 release candidate version which didn’t really exist. The messages (usually titled “Internet Users Email Upgrade (IUEU)”) urged recipients to upgrade immediately (because of supposed security issues) and contained a web link for users to do so. However, that web link pointed to a page where the spammer was collecting email addresses and passwords. Beside the fact that end users are not responsible for upgrading such software, that the “upgrade” page was merely a mock SquirrelMail login page made it clear that this was a Phishing attack. The “upgrade” page has been hosted on various compromised systems across the Internet and the attack has continued at least through July 2009.

As a result, the SquirrelMail team skipped version 1.4.14 and its next release after 1.4.13 was 1.4.15.

For “July 2009,” read “July 2011.”

Incidentally, 1.4.22 was released last week.

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What would Zeus drive?

Hera, of course, has a Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, and who’s gonna tell her she can’t? Not I.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Someone to look up to (part deux)

You might remember this from the fall of ought-eight:

At my current five-foot-twelve, I’m not considered “shorter” by most of the fairer sex, but I did once discuss this matter in person with a startlingly-lovely six-footer, and she said much the same thing: she’s dabbled in the Realm of the Average, but what she really wanted was someone taller than she is. And given my own slightly-askew preferences, I can’t possibly fault her for that.

She’s now refining the technique, kinda sorta, on

I performed my first search in 5 years. I had a couple of requirements. One of which was that he needed to be my height (5’11.5″) or taller. I would willingly allow a deduction of 1 inch in height for each million in his bank account but unfortunately this function is currently unavailable on I also had a couple political/religious requirements. At any rate, there was a total of 0 men at a 5 mile radius. I began expanding the radius and all I found were douche bags. I do love that term, Douche Bag. At one time I would NEVER ever use it. Now it feels positively natural.

Last I heard, Flat Stanley was trying to scrape up $72 million.

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Brooklyn girl makes good

This is Ruby Catherine Stevens, born on this day in 1907, though by the time she was twenty she’d already acquired a stage name: Barbara Stanwyck.

I have no idea what circumstances led to the picture here, though I’m pretty sure it’s not a promo for Jean Negulesco’s Titanic (1953). Then again, I’ve seen B&W shots of her in this same swimsuit, and they’re dated 1953, so…

Barbara Stanwyck on the beach

Yeah, we should all have looked so good at 46.

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Deicide markers

Some of the new hyper-quiet electric (and semi-electric) vehicles have little noise generators up front, the better to alert pedestrians to your presence.

If your EV doesn’t have one of those gizmos, here’s an alternative that requires no retrofitting:

To alleviate this danger, it is important that you play music very loud, preferably with the bass turned to the maximum, with your windows down to improve safety.

They’ll owe you for saving their lives, even as they revile you for playing death metal.

(Title inspiration here.)

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A post-Murdoch future

What would News Corp. be without, well, news? Perhaps better off, at least in the bottom-line sense, suggests Jeff Jarvis:

You might say that Rupert [Murdoch] would have his newspapers pried from his dead hands and that might well be the case. But know well that he is not loyal to media. I used to work for TV Guide. He loved magazines then. Things turned sour. He got rid of them. He worked his ass off to get satellite TV in the US. When he had it, it turned out to be inconvenient; he got rid of it. When he had a choice of owning TV stations or newspapers in Boston and Chicago, there went the papers.

So I could see stockholders and managers and heirs pressure Murdoch to get rid of his news properties.

Only problem is, who’d want them?

Which suggests that commenter Dan Farfan may be right on target:

Any major player in a last century industry could pioneer the game-changing future that leaves competitors scrambling (and competitors’ investors fleeing) with some philosophy help from outside, but it is rare. Rarer still is closing a 168 year old business.

By which he means the weekly News of the World, which published its last issue Sunday.

I get the distinct impression — reinforced by this Guardian piece — that the heirs to the family fortune have neither the tenacity nor the business acumen of Rupert Murdoch himself, and I’m guessing they’d be, if not necessarily happy, perhaps relieved to get out of the news game altogether.

Then again, the Simpsons might have anticipated this:

Lisa: Wow, dad, you’re surfing like a pro.
Homer: Oh, yeah. I’m betting on jai alai in the Cayman Islands, I invested in something called News Corp…
Lisa: Dad, that’s Fox!
Homer: Augh! Undo! Undo!

Well, maybe they’ll keep The Wall Street Journal.

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I should have taken my own advice

On Lamar Outdoor’s Live Twitter billboard, about 11 pm Wednesday:

Warning: Do not look directly at the electric bill.

Normally it’s no big deal if they read the meter on the 33rd day, but 23 of those 33 days, we had high temperatures of 100 or over. So the A/C has been busy.

Or I can think of it as “five bucks a day to stay out of the heat,” and it doesn’t feel quite so bad. (And then, of course, I wrote the check.)

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Gotta get down on – Tuesday?

My Moment by Rebecca BlackBecause real records drop, not on Friday, but on Tuesday.

From the details of “My Moment” in The Hollywood Reporter:

Written by Brandon “Blue” Hamilton, whose credits included a track on Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never: The Remixes, and Quinton Tolbert, and produced by Charlton Pettus (Tears for Fears, Hilary Duff), its accompanying video features footage of Black receiving an award at her junior high school and attending red carpet premieres to “tell the story of her sudden rise to fame,” according to a statement. “It’s a fairytale story, but it happened in real life.”

Said video will be out the night before, on her YouTube channel and on her official Web site.

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Quote of the week

Lynn has figured out a way to deal with our reprehensibles representatives in these trying times:

[A] mob of angry Americans barricades all the exits of the House and Senate chambers and refuses to let our lawmakers leave until they come to an agreement on the current debt problem. We not only do not allow them to leave, we do not allow them to have anything to eat nor anything to drink but tap water. Bathroom visits? Absolutely not. This shouldn’t take more than a few hours and besides, I imagine that peeing one’s pants would be a very humbling experience and nobody needs humbling more than the members of Congress.

I dunno. Some of those guys may have learned to filibuster from the likes of Strom Thurmond, who probably could have gotten into Guinness if they’d had a category for Bladder Control, Greatest.

And besides, once they realized they weren’t going anywhere, the first thing they’d do would be to kill the C-Span feed, so we couldn’t enjoy their discomfiture.

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Meanwhile at 1900 MHz

I’ve never owned a Windows-based phone, but I imagine that when they die, they die in a manner similarly to the way my Nokia did: white power-up screen, then fade to black, then back to white, then back to black, repeat once more, and then assumption of paperweight status.

So I was in the T-Mo store yesterday afternoon, exploring options, of which I had basically one and a half: get a new phone, and do I want a new contract or not?

“It’ll be at least eighteen months,” I said to the clerk, “before the Death Star takes over.”

He nodded sadly. “I am not looking forward to that.”

So I have a shiny new LG flipper, which if anything is a step down from the old one: there’s no place for a MicroSD card, so people will be spared my “Friday” ringtone. (For now.) To the Big T’s credit, they didn’t segregate the Phones For Cheap Bastards: this one was right in the middle of the display. And I apparently had had the foresight to copy most of my contacts to the SIM card, because I lost only a handful. And my contract goes into its eleventh and twelfth years, because these people have yet to shaft me for anything substantial, which is practically unheard of in the wireless business.

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