Different grid, same smartening

The frost hadn’t even started to accumulate on my brand-new “smart” electric meter when the Us Too! letter arrived from the gas company:

Oklahoma Natural Gas Company will begin installing an Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system in your neighborhood within the next two weeks. The technology, designed to improve your service, uses a device on your meter that allows us to remotely obtain your meter reading using radio signals. An Oklahoma Natural Gas Company vehicle driving nearby picks up the signal and reads your gas meter.

This is an order of magnitude less smart than OG&E’s smart meters, which can phone home as easily as E.T. On the other hand, it’s going to cost rather a lot less, especially since they may not be upgrading all the hardware:

In some cases, the installer will attach an AMR device to your existing meter. In other instances, the entire meter will need to be replaced and your gas service will be temporarily interrupted.

Just what I needed to hear in the middle of winter.

The existing meter was relocated from the far north end of the yard to up against the back of the house in the fall of 2007, the same time a leaky gas line was replaced. It’s distinctly old-school in appearance, so I suspect its days are numbered.

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Humid Kitty

Old pal (and occasional commenter) Mel sends along this not-exactly-towering presence:

Hello Kitty humidifier

Target.com sells this humidifier on its Web site, but it’s apparently not available at Target stores. You’re looking at $39.99, maybe $5 of which, I’d guess, went to Kittyfication.

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Melo/drama

Radio guy Matt Pinto was showing signs of strain towards the end of this game, and so were the tattered remains of the Thunder defense, which couldn’t stop the Nuggets from closing things out in Denver, 112-107, evening the season series at 1-1.

Perhaps the most heartening thing about this game, even though it was a loss, is the idea that Carmelo Anthony, who’s been the subject of absolutely insane levels of speculation of late — should he stay or should he go? — apparently decided to quit paying attention to the press; the apparently undistracted ‘Melo dropped in 35 points and hauled in seven rebounds. Chauncey Billups and Nene added sixteen each; Denver shot a creditable 51.2 percent, though they were a blah 4-16 from beyond the arc.

If 4-16 is blah, though, what is 3-15? Oklahoma City still can’t buy a long ball, and while the Thunder did manage to outrebound the Nuggets, 46-39, Kevin Durant had an off night (22 points, 6-18 from the floor), and while Russell Westbrook did his best to hold up his end (28 points, 10 assists), nobody else’s line really shone, except maybe Serge Ibaka’s (16 points, 9 rebounds).

Back to the Quarter-Mile-High City for one game — Saturday against the Knicks, who thrashed the Thunder at the Garden earlier this season — and then Monday in New Orleans.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Doody now for the future

Whatever weird crap you might be able to think up, Stacy McCain is not only ahead of you, he’s already planned to monetize it:

If there’s ever a scandal involving “Justin Bieber” and “box of dildos” — and I think the odds aren’t bad — I’ll get all that Google traffic!

And believe me, I know from Google traffic.

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Just back away from the scalpel

Lindsay Lohan is twenty-four, though apparently you wouldn’t know it to look at her:

She had a forehead so taut and shiny it looked like an iPhone 4. Her lips were inflated to the size of a melting Twix, and her cheekbones looked as if they were climbing her jaw in order to dive to their death. Each change to her then 23-year-old face seemed to nod towards youth, but in fact imply age. This isn’t to say she looked old — as she bounced down the catwalk, her hair streaming behind her, she seemed to have transcended age — she looked like lamb dressed as mutton dressed as duck.

Now I would never presume to tell someone that no, you can’t have cosmetic surgery: decrees of that sort are well beyond my pay grade. But if I, with my less-than-perfect vision and perhaps-questionable aesthetic criteria, can see it, I daresay you’ve had too much of it.

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The grid slightly undumbened

A couple of months ago, OG&E advised that the Smart Grid was coming some time in “the next few months.”

My own little node has been established: they swapped out the Stupid Meter some time yesterday and left a note on the door, which I didn’t read until after I’d puzzled over how come the power had glitched and I had to reset clocks again. The new box contains the word “CLOSED,” for now; presumably it’s not reporting to the hive mind yet. And it dutifully informed me that I’d used 1 kwh since it was installed, because, yes, my refrigerator is running.

The note on the door mentions that the new gizmo “contains no personal information about you.” I suppose that depends on one’s definition of “personal”; each of us by now knows someone who’s more than happy to harangue us for our profligate power use, and by “profligate” I mean “running the A/C below 80 in August.”

To address a couple of concerns in the comments to that original post: I’m not hearing any stray noises, and the Surlywood Wi-Fi seems unaffected for now.

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An overdue idea for saving libraries

Ryne Douglas Pearson comes up with an alternative funding mechanism for an institution too often running short of money:

I have an idea. It’s crazy. It takes giants like Amazon and Barnes & Noble and eBook distributors to partner with willing authors, and it goes something like this: bring your Kindle, your Nook, your iPad, your eReader of any kind and purchase your books using the WiFi of your favorite library. You’ll save 10% off the top from the advertised price, and another 10% of your purchase will go directly to THAT library. You get your book, Amazon and its kind get their sale, the author gets a reduced cut, and the library suddenly has a revenue stream.

This would take all kinds of machinations to work. Maybe the biggest would be the author agreeing to take a 20% cut, or the distributor and author splitting that. But what comes from that is a helping hand to help nurture the next generation of voracious readers.

Not being an author, I can’t tell you how well this would go over with people who actually (try to) make a living at it, though I remember a Big Record Company practically giving away prime tracks four decades ago:

We can get away with that low price because these celebrated artists and this benevolent record company have agreed not to make a profit on this venture. We (and they) feel it’s more important that these samples of musical joy be heard.

Said venture, which began in the late 1960s, survived into the early 1980s, though the “low price” wasn’t quite as low towards the end.

Still, the musicians gave up rather a lot more for those records than the authors presumably would be giving up for these libraries.

(Via this @ScrewyDecimal tweet.)

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And here she is

First photos, filched from my ex’s Facebook page because it was faster.

Allison on Day 2

Above, the little lady gets carried about the room; below, big brother Nick marvels at what has happened.

Allison on Day 2

And watch it: he’s big enough to kick your hindquarters if you give his little sister any guff.

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The plain in Jane is mainly on the brain

It is, I suppose, theoretically possible to establish some “objective” criteria for beauty — by now there’s enough research on the matter to fill up a whole year’s worth of British tabloids — but I’m inclined to believe Alte when she says this:

I am strange-looking (I like to say I’m “exotic”, not weird), I’m nobody’s “type”, people squabble over whether I am even attractive or not, but I get hit on regularly by men who think I am drop-dead gorgeous. It is, in short, better for some men to think you’re hideous while others think you are hot, than for nearly everyone to think you are cute. The bigger the disparity, the more you will be hit on.

I have been told more than once that my idea of drop-dead gorgeous is, to be charitable, deeply flawed. Actually, it’s more inconsistent than anything else; while I have, um, distinct preferences in certain areas, none of them really matter all that much in the final evaluation. Then again, since I keep myself at a safe distance from the dating realm, perhaps they don’t matter at all.

(There are well over 100 comments on the linked post, not all of which I have read.)

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And still more battery stuff

Ric Locke contemplates my laptop-battery issue, and points to a complete lack of standardization in the realm:

Every laptop model, even from the same manufacturer, seems to use a different battery — Toshiba are less bad about it than most makers, but you still can’t pop the battery out of one model and have it work in another, at least in most cases. Sometimes the differences are “badgineering”, changing the appearance or feature list to provide the Latest Thing without fundamental changes, and in those cases the batteries might swap. It still isn’t guaranteed.

We had four different models of ThinkPad at the office, and I swear, there were six different battery variations.

And I think about the Tesla Roadster, which runs on the equivalent of 6,831 laptop batteries, minus the individual plastic cases, and I start to wonder how come it costs only $120,000.

I’ve talked up the freezing cycle for a while now, and I must report that not everyone has been successful with this same technique — but when it does work, it beats the hell out of paying for a new battery.

And things eventually will get better, because they have to:

If every part of the car, or the coffeemaker, has exactly the right amount of the right material in exactly the right places to perform its function, there’s no reason for it to break unless you hit it with a hammer — and that means it lasts for a long, long time. The manufacturer might prefer that it break so you have to buy a new one, and people accuse them of that motive all the time, but think: it costs the same to make a defective part as it does to make a good one, and then you have to spend time (=money) sorting the bad ones out. It’s cheaper to let the engineers work as hard as necessary to make all good parts, and that’s what they do.

Then again, this laptop dates to 2001. I’m pretty sure no one expected it to be around after a decade.

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Signs of discontent

Tam and I are years apart, and more important, months apart, but her horoscope sounds a lot like mine:

“You are a surly, disorganized loner with all the finely-honed fiscal acumen of a congressman after a three-martini lunch combined with the driving ambition of a tree sloth.”

Which gives me an excuse to pull this out of the archives:

Once upon a time, for reasons long since forgotten, I engaged an astrologer to do a frighteningly-detailed natal chart for me. Early on, she explained some of the angular momentum, giving special attention to the square, superficially the most negative of all the aspects. “But people with no squares at all,” she noted, “never have to struggle, never have to overcome obstacles, and often as not never amount to anything worthwhile. If you have a square or two, you’re perfectly normal.”

This was before she discovered I had eleven of them, but that’s another matter.

I am not quite sure exactly whose presence in what house confers upon me high degrees of skepticism, but I’m glad he/she/it was there.

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Niche-y and scratchy

A pissing match between Nissan and General Motors? Oh, what fun. Here’s the background:

Back in October, General Motors began airing a series of commercials based around the Chevrolet Volt’s then-new tagline: “More Car Than Electric.” The commercials that later aired for Chevy’s plug-in took a subtle dig at pure electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, while attempting to explain the benefits of range-extended technology.

Nissan did not respond until last week, when one of their execs said this in a speech:

As automakers, we have a duty to communicate with clarity to help customers understand today’s technology. If you’re calling your car electric, and it has one of these, you’re only muddling the message.

“These” were a tailpipe and muffler, which the Volt of course has, since it has an actual engine stuck in there among all the electricals.

Then again, the Leaf has a valve cover but no actual valves, so who’s zooming whom?

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Semi-evenly matched

The Lakers and the Thunder had two things in common: they led their respective divisions, and they’d both suffered embarrassing losses to the not-all-that-lowly Clippers. But when they met at the Staples Center, what you saw were the differences: the wily veterans versus the earnest kids, the perimeter shooters (L. A. went 7-14 from beyond the arc) versus the perimeter non-shooters (OKC made two of 22). And while things never got completely out of reach until the very end, the Thunder never clamped down the way they needed to, and the Lakers held on for the 101-94 win.

Derek Fisher was the secret weapon: a season-high 15 points, including two of three treys, while both Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol picked their usual twenty-plus and Andrew Bynum weighed in with a double-double. The Lakers were weak at the line, but not enough to matter.

The Thunder had double-doubles of their own: Russell Westbrook had 32 points and 12 boards; Serge Ibaka, 11 points and 10 boards. Rebounds were about even (Lakers 41, OKC 40). But L. A. got the long ball to fall half the time; the Thunder were hopeless from downtown, even from Kevin Durant, who shot 8-24 and dropped only one of eight treys. Credit the Laker D for forcing all those outside shots.

Wednesday at Denver. At least I won’t have to stay up so late.

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If I knew what she wants

The aforementioned granddaughter will be wicked cute, of course — all my descendants, for some reason, are substantially better-looking than I am, which I assume is a genetic present from my ex-wife — but it will be at least 18 21 25 [oh, never mind] years before she’s ready for anything Rule 5-ish, and I’d be squeamish about it anyway.

So we bring up someone else with eye appeal born on the 17th of January, and not the obvious (from this vantage point, anyway) someone else, either. You’re looking at a section of the cover of the Bangles’ 1984 album All Over the Place, a year before they started getting major hits; the lady in the flimsy chair is the then-25-year-old Susanna Hoffs.

Susanna Hoffs circa 1984

Which means she’s 52 on this particular manic Monday. Seems impossible, doesn’t it?

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New girl on the block

No pictures just yet, but hey, she’s only been within visual range for the last three and a half hours or so.

We welcome to the world Allison Denise Carson, born at 2:20 pm Central. She’s 20 inches stem to stern and 9 pounds, 11 ounces, which seems like a lot, but then her mom (and said mom’s brother) were both over 9 lb when they were born. (I wasn’t. Go figure.) This alters the Grandchildren Ratio to three boys, two girls.

I assure you, I had nothing whatever to do with her happening to arrive on Zooey Deschanel’s birthday.

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