Truth stumbled upon

Live TV coverage of just about everything these days is steaming, if you ask me.

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PSY. See?

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Please don’t go

How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Portlandia? This particular item comes from Long Island, but you can hear it in this town just as loudly:

Advocate: Let’s keep our young people from leaving! There’s a … brain drain!

Public: How do we stop it?

Developer: Build denser housing! Let’s make it … affordable! Walkable! Let’s make it … mixed-use sustainable smart growth … with a downtown, pedestrian-friendly feel.

Municipality: Development approved!

Seriously. You could sell the idea of an abattoir in Bricktown if you promise to make it “mixed-use.”

The inspiration for all this flapdoodle, apparently, turns out to be the Underpants Gnomes:

Phase 1: Create a cool city.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Retain talent.

That will be $500,000.

Don’t get me wrong. I like busy street scenes and weird little shops and, yes, bike lanes. But the idea that the creation of busy street scenes and weird little shops and bike lanes will make Joe Average, Jr. shout “Huzzah! I don’t have to leave this crappy little burg after all!” is risible in the extreme, even if you trot out that half-million-dollar research study showing potential diminished crappiness.

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On the keeping of cool

We’ve had only a couple (okay, four) days of 80-plus temperatures so far this spring, so I haven’t yet had to crank up the A/C. To the south, folks are not so fortunate:

My body does not like heat, humidity, or steeping in my own perspiration. (I took out a thermometer in the lab where I taught yesterday afternoon. It read 33 C, which, if my hand-calculated conversion was right, was about 91 F.) [Close enough. — cgh] I may eventually have to consider a life-upheaval of moving to a cooler climate if this continues. I don’t like that thought. (My ideal summer room temperature is 72, but I rarely get that. I don’t even have that at home; it’s too expensive to run the air conditioning that much).

The office runs at 71 year-round, inasmuch as the hardware likes it that way. Sometimes I think it’s quite comfy, sometimes I feel the chill. I keep the house around 74-75 (to the extent possible) in the summer, since (1) that’s an electric bill I have to pay and (2) the dress code is a bit more, um, relaxed.

Still, this isn’t a bad idea:

I’m still contemplating buying a small window unit for my bedroom and retreating in there when it gets so hot — it’s probably cheaper to cool one room with a window unit than to try to cool the whole house, even with shutting off a couple rooms.

This is especially true when the bedroom is the warmest room in the house, as mine is six months out of the year, and unfortunately, it’s those six months.

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The Advice Goddess weighs in on those Three Little Words:

It is wise to avoid spewing mush all over a woman on, say, the third date. The premature “I love you” tends to translate as “I really don’t know you, beyond how you like your steak, but I love any woman who doesn’t block my calls or spot me coming down the sidewalk and duck into a real estate office and beg them to hide her.” Of course, what really lowers a man’s “value in the woman’s subconscious” is being someone who needs a “dating guru” to help him be calculating; he can’t just be. Women value men who don’t seem to be living by others’ dictates — men who are spontaneous and fun and don’t have a faraway look in their eyes because they’re trying to recall something they heard on some dating webinar.

In other news, apparently there are dating webinars.

My own rule of thumb — and given my track record, it should clearly be a thumb down — is this: “If you’re wondering whether it’s the right time to say it, it’s not the right time to say it.”

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Princess Wa-Xthe-Thonba

The Osage Nation bestowed this title (“She of Two Standards”) on one of their own, the late prima ballerina Maria Tallchief, born 1925 in Fairfax, Oklahoma. It’s hard to imagine something in the realm of dance that she didn’t do, up to and including marrying George Balanchine, which she did in 1946. (They split in 1951.)

Here, we see her with Rudolf Nureyev in 1962:

Tallchief took a fall last December and broke her hip; complications from the injury caused her death Saturday.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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The Harold Stassen of ISPs

The late Roger Miller once gave us a list of things we can’t do, such as roller-skate in a buffalo herd. It was a very short song — under two minutes — so the list of Undoable Things was not exactly all-inclusive. He did not, for instance, mention that you can’t cancel Earthlink:

I had thought I cancelled Earthlink something like 8 years ago (I certainly have not used it since about 2003). That is several credit cards ago and so I have absolutely no idea how they were able to continue to bill me, but they were, right up to this month when my corporate card number changed due to a fraud alert.

Then again, there have also been times when you couldn’t not cancel them.

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Fresh bots

If you happened to encounter a “Comments off” message on a couple of posts yesterday, it was a temporary measure: they were getting hit with approximately three spam comments every two minutes. (Yes, folks, even I get hit once in a while.)

After shutting down comments on those two posts, I banned the three worst-offending IP addresses — there’s a plugin for that — and waited ten hours, then reopened comments. The swarm has yet to return.

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Take a walk

The last time I mentioned Propét shoes, it was in connection with their Edgewater Walker slide, and it was the first time I ever wrote up a shoe post based on the Zappos Order Map.

This item appeared on the map yesterday:

Propet Surf Walker

In fact, I was the person who bought it. It’s Propét’s Surf Walker, the one surviving item after I patiently drilled down through Sandals/Men’s/Sized for Sasquatch. The purchase motivation was twofold:

  • I figure, as much as I rely on these guys for blogfodder, the least I can do is buy something fercrissake;
  • My old Nikes are starting to disintegrate.

Interestingly, they carry a six-month/1,000-mile guarantee. I don’t know how long it will take me to put a thousand miles on them, but I’m certainly willing to try.

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The contrite of spring

Recently arrived in the spam folder:

Dearest one, I’m Barrister Evelyn Johnson. I have a confession to make. It’s about something wrong i did against you in the past without your knowledge. I have taken a bold decision to confess everything to you, but i don’t really know if you will forgive me?

I will wait to hear from you upon receipt of this email.

Well, Ms J, you can start by telling me why this message was supposedly from the Gmail account of “Mrs Ella Melvin.” That’s kinda hard to forgive.

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Kings deposed again

On the line tonight: the #1 seed in the West and the 60th win of the season. Sacramento would have been happy to play spoiler for both of those, and after Tyreke Evans hit four out of five in ten minutes, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that they might actually pull it out. Then Evans went down with a blow to the quads, and the Kings started falling behind, dropping to 24 back. The starters went to the bench. The Kings started catching up, and the starters were called back to work, though the margin at the end was a modest nine points, 104-95.

Kevin Martin and Kendrick Perkins were still out, and Derek Fisher was scratched before game time, so the big questions were “How long will Hasheem Thabeet be out there?” and “Will we actually see Ronnie Brewer?” The answers: 12½ minutes, and Yes, with a capital Y. Brewer’s shot wasn’t going in, but he was gathering everyone else’s shots, finishing with two points and 13 rebounds. What’s more, the Thunder got twenty minutes out of Daniel Orton, a third of what he’d played in the preceding 59 games, and he and Reggie Jackson wangled ten points apiece, more than compensating for the Sixth and Seventh men. Kevin Durant, having pretty much cinched 50-40-90 for the season, turned in 29 points, a little above his average but not enough to put him back in contention for the scoring title. And while we’re talking contention, let’s talk Russell Westbrook, who was contentious enough to bag two technicals, which earned him a free trip to the locker room. He’d already picked up 21 points.

If you’re a Kings fan, here’s the fun part for you: ex-Thunderer Cole Aldrich got the only double-double of the night: 12 points, 13 boards in not quite 23 minutes. In fact, the Sacramento bench was quite a bit more productive than the starters, bagging 53 of the Kings’ 95 points, though Isaiah Thomas did come up with 16 running the point. (Still, Thomas was -4 for the night, while Aldrich was +17.) And Sacramento was slightly less inept at shooting the long ball than Oklahoma City: 7-27 versus 5-23.

Still undetermined: whether there will actually be a Sacramento team next year. (If not, will Bill Simmons call the new Seattle entity the Zombie Kings?)

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Cruelest Month update

If April had Ides, they’d be today, and the 15th of April has not been the happiest of days in world history, quite apart from the fact that if you’re in the States, your income-tax return is probably due today. For example:

1865: Death of Abraham Lincoln.

1912: Sinking of RMS Titanic.

1927: Beginning of the Great Mississippi Flood.

1936: Arabs in Palestine revolt.

1989: Tiananmen Square protests begin.

2013: Whatever it was that happened in Boston today.

Perhaps a happier moment, from 1930: the birth of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, fourth president of Iceland, and the world’s first democratically elected (as distinguished from, say, the accession of Eva Perón) female head of state.

President Vigdis of Iceland

Vigdís was elected to her first term in 1980, and served until 1996. In this 2011 picture, there’s a lovely serenity to her, no doubt attributable to having governed a literal volcano of a country for sixteen years.

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IM through

I hadn’t thought about it lately, but it’s true: I haven’t so much as clicked on my instant-message client in months. I suspect I have seen the wisdom of this viewpoint:

One thing I hate about the electronic age is the expectation of immediacy. Some forms of electronic communication, however, have greater expectations of immediacy than others. Like instant messaging, for instance. I once had instant messaging eons ago, but I am prone to multitasking and getting distracted by more important things than random chitchat. This, of course, pissed off people I was IMing with so I ended up not doing any sort of instant messaging at all. E-mail, on the other hand, is more flexible. I respond fairly quickly if it’s from family or work, but otherwise I can put it off for a couple of days. Or respond not at all. (Or pretend that it got lost in the aether if it’s from someone I don’t really want to talk to.) Twitter is a mix between the two. While I like the IMing aspect of interacting with other people online in a semi-immediate way, I don’t think many people would get really angry with me if I get distracted and respond two hours later.

I am not particularly adept at multitasking, so I probably pissed people off even more. And I have informal Response Times for email, depending on my own priorities: six hours is a hurry, 24 hours is more likely, and 48 hours is the default for some high-volume correspondents. (It does nothing, I have discovered, to reduce their volume.)

The record for slowest response to one of my tweets? Two hundred fifty days: 29 July 2012 to 5 April 2013. “Sorry, I totally just saw this!” she explained. I understood: I’m easy to overlook, and it wasn’t like the matter was urgent.

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It happens to the best of us

Surrounded by weasels, we are. Rob O’Hara set up a new site for future use, and when he decided to work on it a bit, he discovered that the weasels had already been there:

Crap. I know WordPress has been under attack lately, so my first assumption was that the site had been compromised. Bypassing Chrome’s warning, I opened the site and searched for any sign of malware. I couldn’t find any. I then clicked “View Source Code” and quickly found the problem — links to a “posh laptop bag” website. While viewing the page itself I couldn’t see the link, but while viewing the code there it was, plain as day. A quick Google search shows that I’m not the only person running WordPress with the issue.

This sounds painfully familiar. He was, however, able to identify the source:

After a few minutes of research I tracked the problem back to the free WordPress theme I had downloaded. The theme was injecting links to sites hosting malware in the theme’s footer, and the links were encrypted (technically, obfuscated) making them difficult to find while sifting through the code.

There are something like twenty bazillion WordPress themes out there; they can’t all be trustworthy. I’ve stuck with this ancient theme for nearly five years, and it was two years old when I got it. And it’s hardly immune to weasels.

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Strange search-engine queries (376)

In this world, Ben Franklin told us, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. I’m not saying that this Monday-morning roundup of oddball search strings deserves to be added to that list, but still: three hundred seventy-six of them.

97 mazda 626 rear tires face inward:  So turn one of them around.

is there a turbo that will fit a 1993 mazda 626 v6:  Well, sure, if you want your tires facing the wrong way.

is it true that ding dong the witch is dead in the charts at the moment:  Made #10, says the Official Charts Company, in the wake of the Baroness Thatcher’s death. It is not, however, the Fifth Estate version that was a 1960s hit in the States.

neon bra panties naked girls:  If they’re wearing neon bra and/or panties, they’re hardly naked, are they?

Today’s Secret Word is sponsored by Fungi-Nail. What is today’s Secret Word (aired on GSN between 3-6pm ET?)  If you expect me to watch television for you, that’s $150 an hour plus expenses. Today’s Secret Word must be something like “indolent.”

don’t play that song midi file:  In fact, don’t even download it.

advantages of western civilization:  It was nice while it lasted, but it assumed each individual was capable of acting in his/her own best interest, a notion that could not be allowed to stand.

what is the ritual for an 2010 infiniti ex35 canada:  In Quebec, anyway, it’s time for the Ritual Removal of the Winter Tires.

dustbury ratios:  About one of these per week, generally.

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A man on a mission

There’s something in the Unwritten Law — I’m sure Murphy influenced it in his own inimitable way — which says that appliances are more likely to fail on weekends, when you can’t get someone to work on them. (I await a study which tries to explain this away by “Well, they’re used more often on the weekends.”)

My trusty old (9½ years) Kenmore duly filled up with water this morning, and then refused to do anything else. Now had I done my usual Thursday-evening wash, I might have simply shrugged, because I’d had enough stuff on the hanger to last me several days. But no, I blew it off, and now, I decided, was the time to panic.

Enter this guy, who listened to me whine, asked me to run a simple diagnostic, and then said he’d be out that evening. Which he was. For those keeping score: the switch that tells the timer when the lid is up or down had fragged. This is about a $40 part, so I figured, okay, $150 if I’m lucky. It could be worse, and anyway, if I take off from work for a day it will cost me about that much anyway. Twenty minutes and $115 later, good as new.

He asked if I’d seen him in the Yellow Pages, which I had; “but I also went out to see if you had a Web site.” He seemed surprised at that: hardly anyone, he said, used the site as a referral, and he was wondering if it was worth it. I assured him, that yes, it was. I did not, however, tell him that I was going to throw him a link. (And, yes, a tweet.)

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