Gotta get down to the bus stop

Public transit nationwide, says the Brookings Institution, is by and large a “missed opportunity,” and few metropolitan areas miss it by as much as Oklahoma City, which they rank 84th among 100 major metros. Coverage is below average — only 42 percent of working adults live near a transit stop — and waiting time is about double the study average.

Rick Cain, director of COTPA, isn’t too surprised by the findings:

“When you have to wait an hour for the bus, and you have a car option, you are going to choose the car,” Cain said. “The problem our board faces is do you try to cover a large area and not do it very well, or do you cover a small area and do it very well? That decision was made a long time ago and now it is very difficult to change.”

One problem that exists in most metros, not just here, is adherence to the old hub-and-spoke model:

Most transit systems still have a design that brings suburban workers into downtowns for higher-skill jobs in industries such as finance and health care, but fails to connect them to growing suburban employment centers.

For myself, I’m probably in the 90th percentile locally in terms of Low Walking Distance to Transit: I’d have to walk at most three blocks a day. But I live on one spoke and work on another, meaning I’d have to travel to the hub and make connections every time. This is a tedious process, and if I can drive the whole route, out and back, in 35 minutes for $4 worth of gas, the bus doesn’t look all that welcoming. (There are, of course, other costs involved with driving, but that’s the most visible at the moment, inasmuch as the car is paid for and the insurance bill is still a couple weeks away.)

Note: Despite the title, this is not the Rebecca Black update. This is.

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Ticking on and on

It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get to that Rebecca Black update.

Two items of note:

Oh, and Glee has done a typically Glee-ful version of “Friday.”

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Not to mention fire ants

If you came here from MSNBC or (via this item by Laura T. Coffey), this is the original post she’s quoting.

Which, incidentally, doesn’t mention fire ants — at least, not directly.

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Life imitates Disney

Yeah, right, so what else is new?

Royal Weddings then and now

I vaguely remember some slightly-different colors in the feature film, but maybe that’s just me. (Or maybe that’s just Adobe.)

(Via Nikki McLeod’s Facebook wall.)

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DOS 4, you old-timers will remember, sucked rocks, and not pretty rocks at that; it’s no accident that Digital Research, then selling a DOSalike called DR DOS, went straight from 3.x to 5.0.

Ever since that debacle, I’ve been leery of Version 4 of anything, and that includes Firefox. Eric Scheie says there’s a very good reason for that particular aversion:

A few days ago I downloaded Firefox 4, and ever since, it has been a nightmare of constant freezes and endless glitches.

“Support” says that Google is making it freeze. Others say Firefox needs to be uninstalled and redownloaded and reinstalled. (I did the latter and it made very little difference.)

Well, there’s always something making it freeze; this is the Standard Operating Disclaimer. If, for instance, somehow WordPress gets hosed, the dehosing instructions start with “Remove all plugins, in reverse order of activation.”

Still, Mozilla has been offering me 4 for some time; I finally checked the “Go away” box. Eventually, I suppose, they’ll force it on me, just as Adobe keeps threatening me with Adobe Reader 10. At that time, I’ll just switch to Safari, which is well into the 5s.

Incidentally, DR DOS is at version 8 7:

In October 2005, it was discovered that DR-DOS 8.1 included several utilities from FreeDOS and other sources and that the kernel was an outdated version of the Enhanced DR-DOS kernel. DR DOS Inc. failed to comply with the GNU General Public License (GPL) by not crediting the FreeDOS utilities to their authors and including the source code. After complaints from FreeDOS developers (including the suggestion to provide the source code, and hence comply with the GPL), DR DOS Inc. instead pulled all 8.x versions (including the unaffected DR-DOS 8.0) from their website.

In this case, 8 was twice as bad as 4.

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All FUDsy

An excerpt from a letter to an unspecified magazine for women:

Most of the women, and certainly most of the adolescent girls in the United States, do not feel completely secure with their appearance; is insecurity something you want to advocate?

Well, Mrs Gibbard, it’s not that they want their readers to be upset or anything; it’s just that much of their business model depends on the sale of beauty products, and M. Random Cutie, were she perfectly happy with her appearance, might not feel compelled to buy any. You, of all people, should know that.

Nor, I might add, is this sort of thing restricted to women, as anyone who’s seen a guy distracted by something shiny and/or noisy at the Home Depot can tell you.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt: these are the building blocks of our economy. For now, while we still have some semblance of an economy, anyway.

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And they say print is dead

Broke & Beautiful — a concept I simply have to endorse — has a list of 20 summery printed dresses, of which this was my favorite:

Delia*s Tropical Feather Print Dress

“Feathers,” says Jennifer Nicole, are “a great way to do animal print without ‘doing’ animal print.” They found this one at dELiA*s, which generally markets to the under-21 crowd — hence the weird typesetting — but I’m thinking this might be too good for teenagers, and it’s only $39.50, which at first I thought was a typo. Nope. (Nothing over $140 in the entire list, in fact.) This isn’t the sort of classic you’ll cherish forever, but cheerfully cheap can be a pretty good recommendation.

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Thrash collection

I think this can be answered “No”:

Is there anything worse than having pain when you’re trying to sleep? Especially pain where you can find NO sleep position that remains comfortable and have to wake up and move every couple hours.

For about two years, there’s been a bottle of something or other sitting in the medicine cabinet, claimed to be intended for “pain with sleeplessness.” The reason it’s been sitting there so long is simply that it doesn’t work worth a hoot, at least for me. (If you’re curious, it’s a knockoff of Excedrin PM: I have to take four to get any results at all, and that’s a lot more acetaminophen than I want to deal with, and besides, that much diphenhydramine will turn my airway into a Krazy Straw.)

The knees, they vibrate, or so it seems. It’s an osteoarthritis thing: the joints are just this side of shot. Six years ago, I had arthroscopic surgery on one of them; at the time, the surgeon told me, “You’ll have to have it replaced. I’d rather replace it when you’re 60, though, than when you’re 50.” Fifty-eight is staring me in the face, which somehow doesn’t distract me from the handwriting on the wall.

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Seemingly eternal obtuseness

Web sites operated by newspapers are occasionally put behind paywalls, which almost everyone decries, and for which almost no one volunteers to write a check. Having never been on the far side of a paywall myself, I’m really not in a position to speculate as to what it’s like for the online staff, but I imagine that if your customers are actually paying for the product, there’s less pressure to gin up the maximum number of eyeballs, and therefore less reason to listen to people like this:

At the national College Media Advisers conference, students attend sessions like “SEO 101 for Journalists,” where they are told not to be “tempted” (the word used by one session leader) to write funny headlines.

“People are flat-out less likely to read funny headlines,” says session leader Aram Zucker-Scharff, an SEO consultant who works as the community manager at George Mason University’s office of student media. “You have to be transparent.”

Maybe (maybe?) I’m a grizzled old mossback, but I think stained glass is a lot more interesting than flat panes. And if I can stain it effectively myself, so much the better — though I’m not above borrowing someone else’s pigments.

Admittedly, I don’t have to compete for those eyeballs to support my business model; in fact, should someone ask, I’ll deny even having a business model. I do this because, well, this is what I do. And while I hate to agree with someone at Slate, I find this well-nigh indisputable:

“There are headlines you can write which, because they’re so clear and have so much of the subject in them, you will get a little bit more SEO,” [editor David] Plotz says. “But if you write a really clever headline that your most Slate-like readers love, and they think, ‘I’m so in on this joke,’ you will deepen that relationship with them.”

No consultant can teach you that.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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Open the garage door first

The next-generation Prius is due somewhere around 2014. What I expect: 55 mpg, maybe even 60. What I didn’t expect: handy disaster capability. TTAC’s Bertel Schmitt explains:

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami will get Toyota customers a unique feature: A genset, free with purchase of a hybrid. Toyota was moved by the fact that people who had not electricity, but who had gasoline, rigged their hybrid to produce at least a little power. Akio Toyoda announced that “all Toyota hybrids will receive a new function that allows them to be used as emergency generators.”

One guy who’s tried something similar with a current model:

I hook up a few inverters to my Prius, and it runs maybe 5 minutes every four hours or so to keep the battery charged. Was very handy last week when the power was out for 3 days when the tornadoes ripped through.

Estimated gasoline use for the period: around half a gallon.

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Just don’t take a Pomeranian bowling

The Dude, as we all know, abides. Apparently so does his sweater:

Since it debuted in 1998, Joel and Ethan Coen’s movie has built a fervent cult of followers who have seen it a zillion times, can recite dialogue from memory, and worship the Dude, the slacker character played with shaggy aplomb by Jeff Bridges.

But even the most diehard Lebowski scholars may not know that the Dude’s cardigan was made by Oregon’s Pendleton Woolen Mills. Or that the original sweater worn by Bridges in the movie is going to be auctioned off May 14-15 in Beverly Hills.

This particular vintage cardigan — three copies were made for the film, but Bridges wore only the original — will likely go for four figures, if not more. If you’re more the type to end this thing cheap, Pendleton’s revival of this style comes out this fall at a relatively modest $188.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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Pretty much drowned out

The Grizzlies got out of Memphis before the muddy Mississippi came close to escaping its banks; perhaps the inch and a half of rain today perplexed them a bit. The broadcast team, for its part, figured it was fatigue. Whatever the reason, the Griz were adrift most of the evening, and the Thunder rolled up a surprisingly-easy 99-72 win in front of a damp but happy home crowd.

It was 17-17 after the first quarter, and things remained close for about six minutes after that. Then Memphis began to implode: easy shots were missed, silly fouls were charged. The Griz wouldn’t get 20 points in any quarter but the fourth. They shot less than 36 percent, collected only 33 rebounds, and gave up an uncharacteristic 14 turnovers.

Radio guy Matt Pinto says the difference was in the bench personnel: OKC reserves scored 53, versus 27 for Memphis. (Or you could look at it as 46 for the Thunder starters, 45 for the Griz.) Nobody hit even 20 points, though Kevin Durant managed 19, and Daequan Cook shot 6-7 for 18. And no double-doubles, though Nick Collison pulled down 10 boards to go with nine points.

So it’s 3-2 Thunder going into Game 6, back in Memphis Friday night. Me, I’m just grateful that this game ran about 100 minutes shorter than Game 4.

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Back to the future, sort of

In an effort to boost its economy, Samoa is jumping forward in time by one day. And no, it’s not an effort to beat the stock market:

Samoa will do this by switching to the west side of the international date line, which it says will make it easier for it to do business with Australia and New Zealand.

In 1884, when the Date Line was drawn, Samoa was on the west side; eight years later, the country, which already had signed an alliance with what was then the kingdom of Hawaii, decided the take from foreign trade would be better if they were on something resembling American time, and the line was duly moved.

But alliances — and trade partners — change. Said Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi: “We’re losing out on two working days a week. While it’s Friday here, it’s Saturday in New Zealand and when we’re at church Sunday, they’re already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane.”

The change will go into effect on the 30th of December, previously known as the 29th of December.

(Via Sunday Monday Evening.)

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Weedman, spare that dandelion

Ford might need it for a floor mat:

“We’re always looking for new sustainable materials to use in our vehicles that have a smaller carbon footprint to produce and can be grown locally,” said Angela Harris, Ford research engineer. “Synthetic rubber is not a sustainable resource, so we want to minimise its use in our vehicles when possible. Dandelions have the potential to serve as a great natural alternative to synthetic rubber in our products.”

Not just any dandelions, though:

The suitable species for this project is the Russian dandelion, Taraxacum kok-saghyz, which is being grown at The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). A milky-white substance that seeps from the roots of this species of dandelion is used to produce the rubber.

Of course, the real advantage of using a dandelion for synthetic rubber is that it’s not particularly hard to cultivate. I put absolutely no effort into the ones I grow (albeit the wrong variety, alas).

(Via Autoblog.)

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Just one of the gyaru

This is yet another example of what happens when I get a single idea in my head and end up opening half a dozen browser tabs to follow up.

The idea was to find someone to bring up in the weekly Rule 5 sweep who hasn’t been there a dozen times before, and to have something to talk about besides “Isn’t she cute?” This being the 11th of May, I went first after women born on this date, and settled on Shiho Fujita, twenty-six, a singer/songwriter in the J-pop orbit who is known professionally as “sifow.”


Except that she’s dropped out of orbit: her last album came out in the summer of ’07 [warning: autostart video], and in early ’08 she announced she’d be taking a hiatus from her musical career to start a school for gyaru. And who are gyaru?

Gyaru is a Japanese transliteration of the English word gal… The name originated from a 1970s brand of jeans called “gals”, with the advertising slogan: “I can’t live without men”, and was applied to fashion- and peer-conscious girls in their teens and early twenties… The term gradually drifted to apply to a younger group, whose seeming lack of interest in work or marriage gained the word a “childish” image.

Which group would once have included sifow herself, although she apparently vowed to break out of that particular stereotype.

For further reference: sifow’s “Rule,” from MTV Japan. Apparently MTV Japan, unlike its American counterpart, occasionally airs music videos.

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This has got to gomance

If “bromance” is high on your Least-Wanted Neologisms list, you will probably not like “homance” any better:

I understand the urge to tag Bridesmaids with a category name. But homance? Not only does homance dispense with the R of romance, thus muddying the semantic waters, it also replaces the chummy, G-rated bro with the decidedly less family-friendly ho — which, lest we forget, is a truncation of whore. I haven’t yet seen Bridesmaids, but it’s pretty clear that this isn’t a movie about the misadventures of a gang of streetwalkers.

As it happens, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, who had a lot to do with Bridesmaids, weigh in on the -mance suffix in Entertainment Weekly (#1154, 13 May):

EW: I’ve already seen this movie labeled a sismance, a sistermance, and — yikes! — a womance.

Rudolph: Sismance? That sounds like something that’s wrong with your urinary tract.

Wiig: [laughs] The problem is, it alienates viewers. If you say this movie is a chick flick, guys are going to not want to go. And we definitely didn’t write this movie just for women.

Rudolph: Let’s think of a new one now. Lady…mance? No, that’s a terrible one. I hope nobody calls this a ladymance.

Wiig: It’s better than womance. [laughs] How about it’s just a comedy? We wanted to write a comedy.

Rudolph: A comedy, with vaginas everywhere.

I’m just grateful no one came up with “vulvariety show.”

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