Battery-freeze update

Last November, you’ll recall, I subjected the battery of my trusty Toshiba Satellite to a stint in the freezer, with the hope of giving it, if not exactly a new lease on life, something resembling squatter’s rights. At the time, I said:

[O]ver the next few weeks I will be draining, refreezing, and recharging this battery, to make sure I’m not dreaming.

And actually, I haven’t had to refreeze it yet. I let the machine sit unused for an entire week, reasoning that if the battery had been truly shot to hell, there wouldn’t be enough juice left to go through a boot cycle.

Up it came, with about 60 percent left on the meter. I’d say that these results are heartening, as I’d say for anything that didn’t require me to write a large check for a proper fix.

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Over a barrel

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Flat broke, and so forth

A lot of pricey shoes get showcased in these pages, largely because, well, I’m not the one having to pay for them. (Before you or the FTC ask: no, no one is sending me samples.) But there’s another reason lurking in the shadows:

My flats, historically, are never more than $15. Exceed $15, and I will show you a woman making a scene in a shoe aisle. That being said … Sometimes, you get what you pay for. In the unexpected, fantasy land that is Seattle, menacing rain bouts can attack at any time. Newsflash: $8.99 flats from Whatever Discount Store are made from canvas, and those which were once black turn milky, gray-blue — just add water!

This is consistent with my own experience, as detailed here:

The $19.99 pair of shoes … is an essential ingredient in the wardrobe. However, if you buy these things on a regular basis, you know there are hidden costs beyond twenty dollars and change. There is no real social stigma attached to them except in the snootiest circles, yet somehow you feel as though you have done a disservice to your feet. And three months later, when the shoes seem to be disintegrating with every step, you know it.

Higher than her price cap, but then I have way bigger feet.

She ended up recommending this flat ankle boot from Mea Shadow, which lists for $200, but which she managed to score for under $70. It “went against virtually everything I believed in as a cheap-ass,” she said, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

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Run this code when I’m gone, Shawn

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Not a hood ornament

Regular readers will have seen this paragraph at least twice:

The Dodge La Femme was as capable as any top-line Dodge of that era, but it was glitzed up with Detroit men’s ideas of girliness, with “accessories” such as a rain hat, bag and umbrella, which stored behind the front seat. The La Femme moved a mere 2500 copies in two years, or about as many workaday Dodges as fell off the transporter on the way to the dealership.

I was following up stuff from yesterday’s Lawrence Welk item, mostly out of the hope that there might be some Rule 5-worthy photos of Alice Lon, who served as Welk’s Champagne Lady for about four seasons, only to be sacked for excessive display of cheesecake. Accounts vary as to the nature of her offense and the timing of her dismissal. Drew Mackie sums up the story this way:

It seemed that Lon crossed her legs while sitting on a desk, exposing maybe as little as a knee. In Welk’s eyes, this turned his show down from a family-friendly hour of music and bubbles into a raunchfest. I was surprised. As far as the evolution of American sexual mores, 1959 is not really all that long ago, and yet this poor woman lost her job for showing off her legs, possibly accidentally.

Which was odd, since two years earlier, Richard Diamond’s secretary Sam — originally played by Mary Tyler Moore — showed off nothing but her legs: you never saw her above the desk, though you’d occasionally hear her voice.

How these two unrelated items are connected: Alice Lon once did a print ad for the Dodge La Femme. It’s not particularly raunchy:

Alice Lon for Dodge

Drew Mackie quips:

I can only hope that at least one man at some point was stranded with only a La Femme to drive to safety. Ha ha. Mortification.

Given the assiduousness with which males of a certain mindset avoid “girl cars,” even today, “mortification” is just about right.

In the meantime, here’s a bunch of Alice Lon photos.

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A dispatch from eternity

John Paul II will be beatified on the first of May, which puts him one notch below the actual saints: the presence of his name on the tenant list in Heaven is verified, and the Church, having investigated an appropriately-miraculous occurrence, is satisfied that John Paul has risen to a position to intercede with the Lord God, should prayers bearing the name of the much-beloved former Pope come through the firmamental grid. (This latter requirement is waived for actual martyrs.)

And there’s a reason for that particular date, says Dan Collins:

May, of course, is dedicated to the BVM, but May 1 has also been kind of special historically to communists. Benedict, in his in-your-face style, has rededicated the date to the Church in the name of the Pope who did so much to put an end to the Soviet hegemony.

A brief description of the full canonization process can be found here.

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Play that funky Muzak, white boys

Our memories of Lawrence Welk are so inextricably bound up with that darn television show of his — still in distribution, from a seemingly-unlikely source — that we tend to forget the couple of dozen chart singles with his name on them, the biggest of which was “Calcutta” in 1961, which actually made #1 in Billboard. How much Welk himself actually contributed to the recordings is unclear, and he couldn’t have been paying too much attention to the pop/rock scene, but in the Sixties, a lot of money could be made by middle-of-the-road variations on existing Top 40 themes.

Which explains “Breakwater,” a Welk B-side from mid-1963, which is an actual surf record, kinda sorta:

I have to figure that this was probably irresistible for Randy Wood, who in those days ran Dot Records, Welk’s label; Dot had hit it big with the legendary surf instrumental “Pipeline,” acquired from tiny Downey Records in the L.A. burbs, and the Chantays, who recorded it, had actually appeared on the Welk TV show. “Breakwater” barely dented the charts; the A-side, “Scarlett O’Hara,” didn’t do a whole lot better. Still, the idea of Lawrence Welk surfing — well, I guess it would have helped to have grown up in North Dakota to get the full cultural impact.

(Via Kevin Walsh; title poached from Robin Williams.)

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The flow of information

One of the finer aspects of living in this century is being able to pull off something like this:

I was looking for a particular article, and Tweeted my dismay at not being able to get access to it through our various subscription services. One of the people that follows me (and that I follow. There should be a term for mutual following in Twitter) sent me a message asking for the citation, as she might be able to find it.

She works at the Bodleian Library. THE BODLEIAN. As a book-nerd and library-nerd from childhood, that just thrills me.

Indeed. To me, this sounds at least as impressive as making a reference to some obscure nth-century saint and getting a response from the Vatican. And the Bodleian, which in its present form dates to 1602, has had books pretty much ever since there were books to be had; when I was a young, impressionable prep, I was advised that I should regard it with awe, and in those days I actually took advice.

Things change over the years — the Bodleian these days is headed by a woman, and an American woman at that — but apparently The Declaration is still required of visitors to the library:

“I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.”

Then again, you used to have to recite it in Latin.

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A bustle in my hedge fund

Comes now the 401(k) report for the year just ended, and, says the fund manager, my “personalized rate of return” was 9.27 percent, after adjustments, fees, and whatever fudge factors go into these things. This figure is the aggregate from several different types of investment — I tend to hedge rather than to go full-out on any single option — and while bonds and large-cap stocks and an S&P stock fund all improved by double digits, the money-market fund (to which I haven’t contributed in several years, but which is still out there) made a whole 94 cents.

The running gag for several years has been that I could retire now and have enough to last until, say, next Tuesday. This is, of course, an exaggeration; I could easily make it through the following weekend with only minor inconvenience.

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So long as you don’t actually text

TTAC’s Ed Niedermeyer has a nice preview of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK coupe, focusing on cabin ambience, which apparently is way above average for a two-door with sporting pretensions, what with the available glass roof and all.

Most any Benz is out of my price range, and the SLK is surely more so. The interior pictures furnished, however, were quite appealing, though something concerns me about this particular shot:

Command view from 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK coupe

I have reference to the obvious Google screen at the midpoint of the dash. The potential for driver distraction seems obvious to me. Then again, at least it isn’t TVTropes.

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Toxic sock syndrome

Sooner or later, this subject always seems to come around:

Now I know someone probably remembers that at one time or another I said that one should not wear socks with sandals but I also said that it’s okay if the sandals are casual and the socks are the kind that are meant to be shown off — novelty or any kind of print or colorful socks. Besides, how can I be a fashion rebel if there are no fashion rules to break, so I defend and perpetuate the rule and break it at the same time. I think the “no socks with sandals” taboo probably came about because of guys wearing grubby athletic socks with sandals, which is gross, guys. Just stop that. But in spite of my bold talk about fashion rebellion I probably won’t ever go out in public like this. Or maybe I will. Who knows?

Well, I certainly don’t know. But the thing about rules, and not just fashion rules, is that sometimes you break then, sometimes you bend them, and sometimes, in the spirit of defiance, you actually follow them. (I swiped this particular bit of wisdom from Charles Goren, who would probably be amused to see it used in this context, perhaps less so to see me leading the top of nothing against three no-trump.)

As for the origin of the taboo, I blame these guys.

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Gadget reinstated

The old Twitter widget, which I kept on the sidebar until people started complaining about its scrolling, is back in version 2, which apparently can be taught not to scroll. There were some moments during the install when I wondered if maybe I’d forgotten how to work the sidebar code, but things seem relatively placid for the moment.

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Franked assessment

Rather than wait for her Senator to send her the usual form letter, Julie decided to compose one on her own:

Dear Constituent,

We received your letter here at Sen. [Kent] Conrad’s office and are responding back to you mainly because that is one of the job requirements we are paid to do out of your tax dollars. We can’t possibly care about everything everyone writes to us about. We admit we don’t really care about what you wrote about, then, but in an effort to make you think that we do, we want you to know that your letter was received and here we are, responding.

Who knew? This comes off as the hard-copy equivalent of voicemail.

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Behold this, eyes

Another serendipitous (as in “I was looking for something else”) find, this one in LA Weekly:

A lifelong beauty outsider, [Toni Raiten-D’Antonio] was unequivocally informed by her family that she was ugly, and she has adopted that familial candor in a book about her struggle with beauty and the lack of it: Ugly as Sin. In its best moments, D’Antonio’s book cuts to the bone, stripping bare the searing pain that comes with the terror of aesthetic insufficiency, which most often originates in childhood’s unhealed wounds.

Gee, thanks, family. I thought I was supposed to be my harshest critic.

So I figured that if she has a book that gets noticed in LA Weekly, it’s not unreasonable to assume that she’s done a book tour, and that there are therefore publicity photos to be had.

Toni Raiten-D'Antonio publicity photoBingo. But what’s this? At the very least, I was expecting a nose the general shape of San Francisco’s Lombard Street, a replica of the lunar surface only partially masked by half an inch of foundation, and a nest of vipers for a coif. Sin, or at least this particular variety, is evidently a lot better-looking than we’ve been led to believe. Dear Toni’s Family: It appears she blossomed a bit after escaping your baneful influence.

From her bio:

Toni Raiten-D’Antonio, LCSW, is a well-known psychotherapist with a thriving private practice in Suffolk County, Long Island. She is a professor of psychology and social work at Empire State College. Prior to becoming a therapist she worked in television and theater as both a performer and producer. She has two daughters and lives in New York with her husband, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael D’Antonio.

Mirror, mirror on the wall: someday you will take a fall.

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Quote of the week

You may have already heard this one:

At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.

Barack Obama, at the memorial service following the Tucson massacre. Call it a gentle rebuke, in a world that’s seemingly forgotten how.

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It appears, judging from the title of the 408th Carnival of the Vanities, that Andrew Ian Dodge is snowed in.

Having been snowed in a few times myself, I am pretty sure that not much is going on in the midst of all that frozen stuff, so I’m not about to ask, on the basis that I won’t get any kind of response but the most minimal — or, in HTTP parlance: “408 Request Timeout.”

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