It’s all in the name

Especially if it has a Z in it:

I had to buy both Zanfel (poison ivy remedy) and Zyrtec (antihistamine, 45 tablets) today. The generic version of Zyrtec is over $18 and Zanfel is over $35! WTF?! Do they charge extra because their names begin with the last letter of the alphabet? I’d hate to see what they would charge for a really exotic letter like Q.

The only Q stuff I’ve ever taken was quetiapine, which is still brand-name only (Seroquel) in the States; CFI Care (not its real initials) considers it Tier Two, which means I pay $35. I suspect that the retail price is around $80-ish.

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Not for walking on water

According to Thumbelina Fashionista, “women don’t buy enough blue shoes.” I’ve certainly never seen these around:

Sandal by Proenza Schouler

I do like this style, though the Proenza Schouler brand (these are presumably made by Giuseppe Zanotti under license) averages around $700 a pair, meaning I’m not likely to see any of my friends in these. The heel, which is not easy to make out in this shot — see the above link to TF’s site for a close-up — has cutouts of its own; it looks like a conic section sliced from the Capitol Tower.

And maybe blue isn’t that unpopular: a Google search for “i hate blue shoes” produced very few hits.

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Quote of the week

You may as well cut up that tattered old Race Card, because it’s expired:

Jesse Jackson Jr. is being investigated for giving his wife close to $250,000 in campaign funds. John Edwards is being investigated for giving his mistress approximately the same amount of money (or possibly even more). Two crooks of different colors being investigated by the government. This is post-racial equality, people, where both are being held to the same standard for their despicable behavior.

And Jackson, for one of the first times in his life, is not able to scream RAAAAACIST! and get away with this anymore.

For this, we thank Barack Obama:

Ironically, the people who race-voted in unprecedented numbers to send Dr. Utopia to the White House are the ones who will, in the end, have lost all their mojo and favorite political tools because his “historic presidency” means race-baiting’s effectiveness is now indeed history.

It will take some time for all of this to sink in, as history lessons always do.

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At least he wasn’t using his cell phone

Jack Baruth planned a three-part series for The Truth About Cars about “Maximum Street Speed.” I quote from Part the First:

Let us begin with this: it is possible to go much faster on North American public roads than the law allows. Much faster. If you are interested in exploring the upper limits of this possibility, read on. If you find this idea morally, legally, ethically or spiritually repugnant; please return to your regularly scheduled bailout coverage. If you’re a member of law enforcement, please consider this a work of fiction.

The outcry from TTAC readers was loud enough that before Part Three appeared, editor Robert Farago decided it was necessary to justify the series:

We did not get where we are today by excluding thinkers with controversial, often polarizing opinions. The brand demands that we encourage strong voices, and err on the side of outrage. And so we shall.

Actually, I had exactly one problem with Baruth’s series: the fact that the first part was billed as an “editorial,” which technically it wasn’t. It was indeed an opinion, occasionally buttressed by facts here and there — but not the opinion of TTAC or of Farago. It was listed as such, I suspect, because it wasn’t news or a car review or a product review, the other categories on TTAC‘s menu bar. This would suggest that a category called “Op-Ed” or something functionally equivalent be introduced; since TTAC runs on WordPress, this would be a relatively trivial implementation.

As for How To Drive Ridiculously Fast, well, I don’t do that. Never. Well, hardly ever. Okay, there was that incident, which everyone somehow survived. And I don’t buy the notion that Baruth (or Farago) is endorsing this sort of thing or, worse, inciting the readership: anybody dumb enough to pull those stunts after reading those pages is dumb enough to pull those stunts without reading those pages. Still, as I said in a piece about the even-faster Alex Roy:

It is de rigueur at moments like this to remind you that this sort of thing is highly illegal, possibly even dangerous, and you should not try this yourself, especially if you’re not as capable a driver as Alex Roy, which very likely you’re not.

Then again, neither is P. J. O’Rourke.

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You oughta see his adverbs

Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, describing Carmelo Anthony of the Nuggets, as reported by L.A.’s Daily News:

“He’s a strong (dude),” Bryant said of Anthony on Wednesday afternoon, using a far more colorful adjective for the word “dude.”

Which is a neat trick, considering “dude” is a noun — unless you’re talking about a dude ranch, which Kobe surely isn’t.

I don’t pretend to know what Bryant really said, though I suspect it has four syllables rather than four letters.

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And that would seem to be that

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad will indeed get to abandon some tracks, and ODOT, which was depending on that abandonment to build the new alignment for Interstate 40, will now apparently be able to proceed.

Rail fans got the back of the Surface Transportation Board’s hand:

Certain parties argue that the particular alignment chosen for the relocated highway is contrary to the public interest because it will displace the rail yard at Oklahoma City’s Union Station, thereby undermining that now-shuttered facility’s potential to serve as a hub for freight (civil and military) and for commuter rail service in the future. But even assuming without conceding that the potential need for rail service at Union Station is relevant to the exemption of the abandonment of the middle segment from [49 U.S.C.] sections 10903 and 10904, we find that that need is far too speculative to overcome the valid and immediate public purpose of relocating the I-40 highway.

(Previous thoughts here.)

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The kindness of strangers

I remember, the day World Tour ’06 crashed and didn’t quite burn, that no fewer than eight trucks full of good ol’ boys and/or girls stopped to offer assistance before the arrival of the tow. It was a June morning, warm going on hot, and there was occasional traffic.

Which means my tale is insignificant next to this one:

I hit my brakes in the darkest hour before dawn on I-70 that late bitter cold December morning, backed up, then drove into the rest stop in the wind and freezing snow. What had caught my attention from the corner of my eye and now loomed dead ahead of me was nothing short of amazing. It was certainly the unexpected answer to my prayers.

But I was running out of time. Could I get the help I so desperately needed before my car lost all power again?

All I could do was go for it.

I pushed my automatic shift into park, jumped out of my barely idling car and ran around in front of it. Then I started screaming at the top of my lungs over the blizzard. I stood on my tip toes and reached up to pound the bottom of a large tractor trailer cab door, screaming as loud as I could, “Hello! I need help! Anybody up there?”

You really must read the whole thing. I’ll be here when you get back.

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Rebate and switch?

A reader reports that his Verizon rebate wasn’t exactly what he expected:

Salesman: And that little hummer comes with a $50 rebate.

Me: Yeah, yeah. Those rebates are designed to confuse and not pay out. Kinda like a bad slot machine.

Salesman: No really, it’s totally guaranteed. Comes right away. Just send in information requested.

Me: sure, sure.

A little bit later than “right away” — we’re talking six weeks — in comes the check. Only it’s not a check:

I get a VISA debit card with my name on it from Citibank. Guess what, it’s for 50 bucks… I demanded and got Citi to send me the check. Only cost me 5 minutes of ranting on the phone.

Now to me, $50 is $50. (At least they got the amount and the recipient right.) But it seems to me that they should have told him up front the rebate was going to be sent in debit-card form: some people simply don’t like plastic and won’t accept having it forced on them.

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It’s the 335th edition of Carnival of the Vanities, which Andrew Ian Dodge has distinguished with the title “Prop failure.”

I assume he’s referring to the various referenda on the California ballot this week which went down to resounding defeats, a reference which would make sense. Not being bound to make sense in these pieces, I’m pointing to the infamous Dornier Do 335, a heavy fighter built for the WWII-era Luftwaffe with a push-pull configuration: one engine in front, one at the back of the fuselage. Unlike your usual twin-engine planes, this one wouldn’t go into a spin if you had a prop failure.

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Spellcheck blues (or greys, actually)

Open coughed up the following when it couldn’t comprehend “weimaraner”:

  • trimaran
  • marathoner
  • Maharanee’s
  • Weisenheimer
  • submariner
  • warmongering

I hope I never have to write anything about a Xoloitzcuintli.

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Retrograde, eh?

Dear Canada Post/Postes Canada:

Your old postal-code lookup page was clumsy and erratic, but speedy.

Your new postal-code lookup page might not be clumsy or erratic, but after the first nine minutes of waiting for it to load, I really don’t give a flip. Or a tuque.

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Still messing with the feed

I’ve never been able to quantify how many people actually read my feed (as distinguished from those who hoover it up via whatever semi-nefarious tools come to hand), and I toyed briefly with the idea of pasting the SiteMeter code into the feed itself, but decided that was more trouble than it was worth.

So now I have something called Feed Statistics, which counts these things so I don’t have to. The instructions say it takes a few days to get something resembling an accurate count, so the current count is probably on the low side. Interestingly, about two-thirds of the subscribers are using either Google Reader or Firefox’s Live Bookmark tool; most of the rest are signed into Bloglines. (There are a couple of diehards using IE 8.)

As with all WordPress add-ons, mostly I hope I haven’t hosed things up further.

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I suppose it’s easy if you try

Cathedral bells in Liverpool resound with John Lennon’s “Imagine”:

Churchmen in Liverpool say they carefully considered “sensitivities” surrounding the lyrical content of the former Beatle’s 1971 hit — which begins “Imagine there’s no Heaven” — before allowing the performance at the city’s cathedral, which boasts the highest and heaviest ringing peal bells in the world.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the cathedral to hear the tune, which Lennon, who was murdered in New York in 1980, described as “anti-religious, anti-conventional and anti-capitalistic”.

And he should know, right?

I’m a tad baffled by this. On the one hand, it’s a genuinely lovely tune, and I trust the ringers did it justice. (And the Liverpool airport, renamed for Lennon in 2002, already quotes from the song: “Above us, only sky,” says the logo.) But there’s something a trifle unsettling about it, like sending KFC coupons to all your vegan friends.

(Via Christopher Johnson. Previous thoughts along these lines here.)

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Before you could Google yourself

There was this time-honored technique:

Wandered around the ASM bookstore. Saw some old guy deliberately looking for all the books that he wrote chapters in.

Wonder if he bought any.

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This week’s Gazette cover story names names: specifically, the names that go with the city’s fastest-spinning water meters.

Beer baron John Cresap won the title by a slender margin: last year he went through 2.26 million gallons of water. Of the Top Ten, all of whom were at 1.3 million gallons or above, four were located in Gallardia and two in Heritage Hills. The average residential customer in Oklahoma City uses 84,000 gallons a year, so Number 10 is using about 15 houses’ worth, and Cresap, in his capacity as Number One, about 27. These are numbers worthy of Lance Armstrong.

The city says that presuming a 1.5-percent increase per year, the local supply should be “adequate for the next 50 years.”

Disclosure: I average right around 25,000 gallons a year, a figure equivalent to a mere 0.3 average city homes despite my Fergusonesque toilet; to borrow a phrase from Dawn Eden, I’m trying to uphold the highest American Standard.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Prayer of the Webdev

our browser, which art in memory, mozilla be thy name
onLoad run, thy layout done, exactly like the PSD.
render us fast this gmail thread,
and forgive us our standards violations,
as we forgive those who use IE against us,
and lead us not into quirks mode,
but deliver our content
for thine is the pingdom
and the browser and the glory,
forever and e
            what():St9bad_alloc Abort trap (core dumped)

(From Machine Text via Giant Robot Lasers.)

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Pick me up by the refrigerator box

“Got used prom dresses? Why not donate them to homeless girls all around Marin County?”

David reports seeing that on a poster, and he is not impressed:

[E]ven if there were homeless people in Marin, I doubt any of them are going to prom. You see when your homeless the first thing on your mind isn’t “Oh Crap! I can’t afford a prom dress for prom next week.” It’s something more along the lines of “Oh Crap! I can’t afford food to stay alive till next week.” So maybe we shouldn’t be collecting used prom dresses and instead start collecting donations. Next, and I mean this with no offense to anyone, but when you’re poor chances are you’ve had a little bit of trouble finding a prom date, especially if you’re a girl. Most dudes are shallow and aren’t all lining up to have their shot at taking “Down on her Luck Donna” to prom.

I’d certainly agree that the prom is probably not the highest priority for these folks, but I keep remembering a song I grew up with: “Patches,” sung by Dickey Lee, about a dude, not so shallow perhaps, who fell for a girl from the wrongest possible wrong side of the tracks, only to have the parental units forbid him to venture into that awful place — and despairing, she threw herself in the dirty old river that flows by the coal yards in old Shantytown.

And there is precedent for collecting prom dresses, even. So maybe it’s not quite the waste of time and effort David might think.

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Doofus saving time

Earlier today I said something about time being in short supply for all of us, and indeed it is, but some guy in a Mercedes-Benz is not conserving it effectively:

I wasn’t amused when you cut me off as you weaved in and out of traffic in your oh-so-important way. I suspect the other drivers you cut off weren’t amused either. What was amusing was your reaction when the blue lights popped on back in the crowd you slalomed through. You immediately pulled into the far right lane, trying to blend in with the line of slower moving cars.

Guess you forgot about that bike racked up on the roof, eh? You stood out like a punker with a mohawk at a bald men’s convention. That attempted bit of camoflage amused me, as did the cop’s reaction.

As well-hidden as an ostrich buried beak-deep in the sand. (For some reason, that phrase from a Mary Stewart novel — This Rough Magic, I think — has stayed with me for many years, probably because I never could figure out which end was up.)

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The power of bacon

Can your flavor-free, government-approved snack do this?

I was that dog … running laps around a table saying “baconbaconbaconbaconbaconbacon … BACON!!” So I had some bacon. You know, prior to vegetarianism I hated bacon. When it came to pork I was disinterested. Chops were rammed down my throat with a side of menacing threat and sausage could only be in link form. But once I took a bite of that bacon today? Everything gray turned to a beautiful blue. The sun peeked out a little more and birds chirped on my shoulders. And little mice started doing my chores while dwarves whistled while I worked. I think “delicious” is the word I’m looking for here.

There exists fake bacon — let’s call it “facon” — but don’t even think about it.

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