Safety considerations aside

Breda happened upon this still from Yes Man, and observes: “Zooey Deschanel nails that New Shooter grin.”

Yes indeedy:

Zooey Deschanel on the gun range

Looks vaguely Palin-esque in a way, if you ask me.

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Take this thermostat and shove it

Some months back, it was decided that the thermostat in my office — your standard Honeywell T87 eyeball — had gone troppo, and the HVAC techs duly fetched a replacement: a rectangle with a biggish LCD panel and a bunch of Web 2.0 buttons and a manual consisting of one piece of paper folded at least seven times. At the time, I scoffed:

Note to self: Do not buy a programmable thermostat that has the programs already set up and running in firmware. (And if they’re all like that, simplify this to “Don’t buy one.”)

Because, doncha know, once I set the time and date, it defaulted to, well, its default configuration, which during the hours in question scales back the A/C to 85 farging degrees. For a server farm, this is the epitome of Not Good. Eventually, I learned that any configuration changes would launch this schedule, and thereafter made only two a year, the ones mandated by DST, followed quickly by the button sequence that aborts the schedule.

So I can appreciate this:

This weekend, I’m going to go buy one of the old manual analog thermostats. You know the kind — one with a dial where you set the bloody temperature and when you put it there, the damned thing won’t make an executive decision and boil you in your bed at 3am when the house’s temperature has gone up to meet the pre-set 85 melon-farming degrees that it decided to switch over to even though you told it to hover somewhere in the lower 70s. One that knows its place. One that I can be sure will be set on the temp I left it.

Not that you can actually do that anymore:

Oh, and just try finding a plain-jane model thermostat on the site at Home Despot — you have to go through a rattletrap round-robin of what a Great Thing™ programmable thermostats are. I finally figured out how to get the comprehensive list, and I found one just for me. One that will do what I tell it to. One that won’t give me no lip. One with absolutely NO frelling digital display.

Eventually, of course, our soi-disant betters will rule that we must bend, that we must allow the grid to control us, that 85 is a perfectly reasonable temperature so long as you’re out of the house long enough to take out the separated-into-seven-piles garbage recyclables. Fortunately, the Honeywell T87 and its spiritual heirs, while smoothly round, tend to have hard plastic teeth around the periphery of the dial, meaning said device will cause considerable discomfort when applied to the appropriate orifice of the officious official who dares come to the house to demand its removal.

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Taking that one chance

Yours truly, two years ago:

A long-running advertisement from the Rosetta Stone language-instruction service contains a photo of a young fellow and the following description: “He was a hardworking farm boy. She was an Italian supermodel. He knew he would have just one chance to impress her.”

What the ad doesn’t say, of course, is what happened after that.

Rosetta Stone, this past January, asked for continuations to the story; they got almost 300 submissions. The ending to this one (#29) I liked particularly:

“And that,” said the old lady in the rocking chair to the group of small children sitting on the ground around her, “that is how your grandfather and I met.”

“Next time,” said the old man sitting in the corner. The children spun around to look at him. “I’ll tell you about our honeymoon in China. I’m still amazed I was able to learn Chinese as well. Language certainly opens doors for people. It did for me.”

He looked into the old woman’s eyes, the same ones that captivated him that day long ago, and smiled.

This update was brought to you through the kindness of Nancy Friedman.

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The paper is on a roll

I hate to respond to a perfectly good blog meme with a “Not Applicable,” but truth will out: I don’t actually read anything while seated on the throne.

The reason for this is twofold:

  1. The Army used to allow us something like 240 seconds to perform the Three S Functions (the other two being “shower” and “shave”) at 0-dark-hundred, and it got me into the habit of doing this sort of thing as quickly as possible;
  2. The otherwise-spacious layout of the palatial estate at Surlywood fails to put much “room” in “bathroom,” which may be one reason why the previous owner decided to sell. Little reason to linger when the walls are closing in on you.

Besides, as noted before, I don’t multitask very well.

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The numbers tell some of the story

But seldom all of it. Tam links to a recent ad for the Dodge Challenger that’s more than a trifle goofy, but has its heart in the right place.

And then comments further, from a place closer to her heart:

I had a street car that would run deep thirteens in street trim and, with a bit of fiddling and some slicks, could crack into the twelves at the track, and it was an ill-tempered beast. Loud. No A/C. All the sound deadening and the carpeting and the back seat and the radio ripped out. You needed to squirt ether down the Holley double-pumper to start it on really cold mornings, and the race-ready Modine radiator meant it took forever to warm up, and it balked and spat until it did… And there is probably double handful of cars on dealership lots these days that would smoke it at the drag strip with the air running and the iPod blaring.

On the other hand, you can’t measure the sound of air being sucked through eight carburettor throats while the skinny bias-plies turn to blue haze with a yardstick or a stopwatch. The only tape measure you can use is your soul, and that’s a hard thing to plug into a spreadsheet…

Part of this, I think, is the fact that quarter-miles like that were unheard of in those days unless you had loads of track experience, no comfort features whatever, and a fair bit of change to spend on marginally-reliable go-fast bits, and J. Random Observer, at best, could sigh and wonder where he’d gone wrong with his life.

Today, Observer’s progeny can wander into any Toyota store and drive away in a V6 Camry that does zero to sixty in the middle sixes and still gets 20 mpg around town with the A/C running full blast. And nobody is going to stand there in awe of his appliance.

Meanwhile, as a public service, here’s an ad for the same Dodge that’s just as heartfelt and a trifle less goofy:

Toyota could easily build something like this, but they dare not.

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The other other white meat

Dr. Weevil happens upon an observation by Galen:

“When people unwittingly eat human flesh, served by unscrupulous restaurant owners and other such people, the similarity to pork is often noted.”

The Soylent Corporation was not available for comment.

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The expurgated version

Most of the time I prefer the record that wasn’t sanitized for airplay, but in the case of “Big Bad John,” by the late Jimmy Dean, I’m going the other way.

Perhaps “At the bottom of this mine lies one hell of a man” was a bit much for 1961 sensibilities, but I’m thinking that Mitch Miller, or whoever was doing A&R for Columbia back then, had simply pointed out that “you already have one ‘hell’ on this record.” Which they did:

Through the dust and the smoke of this man-made hell
Walked a giant of a man that the miners knew well

So the single came out with “At the bottom of this mine lies a big, big man.” Which Big John was. And which has always sounded better to me, since it nicely recapitulates John’s essential, um, bigness before going into the outro.

Just don’t get me started on Lou Christie’s “Rhapsody in the Rain.”

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Still no sign of Jimmy Olsen

No trip to Metropolis is complete without seeing the statue of Superman in the town square.

Then again, it is not meet that man, even Superman, should save the world alone, so now there’s a statue of Lois Lane, based on Noel Neill, who had played Miss Lane in a 1948 film and for most of the run of the Adventures of Superman television series.

Retired Planet editor Perry White muttered something about great Caesar’s ghost, I imagine.

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No relation to Buffalo Bill

On a whim, Monday I dialed over to Wikipedia for June 14 birthdays, and found the likes of Boy George, Donald Trump, and Che. (Che, of course, rates a footnote.) None of these fit into Rule 5, not even Boy George, so herewith I give you a 2008 shot of Oscar®-winning screenwriter (and former stripper) Diablo Cody, who lately seems to be sporting more of a blonde ‘do. A couple of years ago she managed a Quote of the Week on this here site, making fun of her appearance. She still does that now and then:

I started getting cellulite when I was 9; how is that even possible?

Whatever. I still think she’s kinda hottish, and heck, she’s only 32. People have survived two decades with cellulite before. Please note that this angle was specifically chosen to avoid the humongous tattoo on her other shoulder.

Diablo Cody

(Photo by John Shearer, at the 19th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala Presented by Cartier, January 2008.)

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Milk and honey

You can get milk from any of several sources, but for honey, you need bees. And in biblical Israel, they had them:

Archaeologists discovered the remains of the oldest earliest known apiary during an excavation of Tel Rehov, an important city during the Israeli monarchy located in northern Israel. The ancient bee colony dates to around 3,000 years ago.

The structure consists of three rows of clay cylinders — which researchers believe are man-made bee hives — situated within a courtyard. Some thirty hives were unearthed, but researchers expect up to 100 hives once existed.

Which is nifty enough, but consider this:

The architecture of the ancient hives is similar to bee farms found in modern-day Israel. But bee remains found at the site are from a variety of bee native to Turkey, not Israel.

Turns out the Syrian bees native to Israel are aggressive and hard to manage. Turkish bees, on the other hand, are calmer, making them more desirable for urban farms such as the one found in Tel Rehov.

The author of Exodus 33:3 (“a land flowing with milk and honey”) is now apparently entitled to say “Told ya so.”

(Via Scribal Terror.)

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Still more from the Department of Nomenclature

This started out as an addendum to a previous post, but grew enough to be sent out on its own.

Andrew Wasson, writing in Dairy River:

Given the general meaninglessness of suburban street names it is easy to dismiss them as devoid of meaning. Not so fast. Given the myriad of vaguely identical street names out there, it is just plain unlikely that so many names could turn out so similar. There must be a subconscious rubric. Their striking uniformity belies some pattern. Sort of like the time that guy tried to defend against plagiarism because his mind just happened to work like an encyclopedia. Suspicious.

Yet, the more one canvasses the universe of possible street names, the more one realizes that the canonical suburban street name typology only occupies a fraction of that universe. Consider a few neutral but rare examples. Body parts are usually disfavored. There are not many streets named after the kidneys or the liver, for example. In fact, streets are generally not named after scientific jargon of any discipline: Endoplasmic Reticulum Terrace, C. Elegans Street, Shannon-Weaver Theory of Information Drive. Although a biotechnology office park named the Golgi Complex would be rather sweet.

Indeed, although I wouldn’t expect anyone to try that in Real Life™. (Then again, Apple does its business from 1 Infinite Loop. The traffic is unbelievable.)

In Oklahoma City, you can name your north-south streets whatever you like, so long as your east-west streets appear to follow the grid, which simplifies matters for people who live in places like, say, the Rivendell subdivision, where new homes are going in at 130th and Doriath.

Austin, on the other hand, runs out of numbers after 56½, so different rules apply:

We are purchasing some acreage lots in Oak Hill, and I just found out that other buyers on my street don’t like the name of the street on which our lots are located and have requested the developer to change the name. The street name is ‘Sisquoc’, which I think is a cool name. Sisquoc is a Chumash Indian (from California) name that loosely means “stopping place”. There is a Sisquoc River in California. The developer told me other buyers thought it was too hard to say and spell. Jeez, give me a break! The street is now in the process of being renamed to “San Lucas”.

What with calls for traffic-calming all over Austin, I’m surprised that Speedway is still allowed to exist — although “Avenue E” wouldn’t be all that wonderful either.

Still, this Sisquoc thing led to some seat-of-the-pants research I found interesting:

[T]he Shady Hollow subdivision in South Austin has streets with names including ‘Shoot Out’, ‘Six Gun’, ‘Gun Fight’, ‘Ammunition’ and ‘Shotgun’.

Regrettably, none of those fall into the 1900 block; I would love to have seen something at 1911 Ammunition Drive.

I performed an MLS search for homes in Shady Hollow that have sold since 2000 [through mid-2006] which are located on the aforementioned streets with gun related names. There have been 71 sales on those particular streets. The average sales price is $179,677, which equals $98 per square foot. I then searched the rest of Shady Hollow, filtering out homes newer than 1993 since all of the aforementioned homes are built before 1993 and we don’t want to pollute the results with more expensive newer homes. There were 606 sales of homes with less overt western names. The average sales price is $225,713, which equals $103 per square foot. It appears that the homes with politically incorrect names do not sell for as much compared to other homes in the same subdivision.

The interesting thing is, however, that the politically incorrect homes sold in an average of 37 days while the others took an average of 50 days to sell. This seems counter-intuitive based on the price gap. The politically incorrect homes were an average of 1811 square feet while the others averaged 2144 square feet, which would account for the sales price gap. But smaller homes, in general, sell for a higher per square foot price, and in this case they don’t, which suggests something is out of balance.

Which tells me that there is a small subgroup of home buyers who actually want to live at a distinctive address, and will pay for the privilege. Abbey Road runs for three discontinuous blocks through The Village, about three and a half miles from me; not only are houses seldom for sale there, but the street signs don’t give it away.

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Colors for $200, Hallux

“I can’t imagine anything profound about painting one’s toenails,” says Fillyjonk, and then retreats a bit:

Then again, I’m a biologist, not a semiotician, and it’s entirely possible that someone somewhere has written a treatise on what polished toenails mean, including what it means when you don’t also do the fingernails AND when you opt to do it yourself, rather than going to one of those Happy Pretty Nail Fun places where they do it for you.

What I know about biology and semiotics combined could fit into a thimble and still leave room for a couple of mustard seeds plus about 535 Congressional senses of ethics, but I’ll give it a try anyway.

I think we can eliminate the simple desire to attract attention, because if you were so inclined, the sheer ubiquity of said Happy Pretty places has forced the price down to levels so low that it’s not worth your time to do the job yourself, and they presumably have madder painting skilz besides.

Angie Harmon from here down in Manolo BlahniksNow your hands are always on display. Your feet, maybe not so much, probably even less so during the winter months. So if you skip doing the hands, because it will wear off in a hurry what with everything you have to do, but you do up your feet, which hardly anyone will see, I tend to think in terms of a little something special, more than a little bit girly, that you do just to reassure yourself that you haven’t put that part of yourself into a stasis field to get through workaday life — unless, of course, you do them up in blue, in which case all bets are off. This is a perfectly lovely pair of Manolo Blahniks, occupied by the perfectly lovely Angie Harmon, and I honestly don’t understand why she’d opt for an enamel color more appropriate for minor trim pieces in a pediatrician’s office. (Not even Shoebunny, who is supportive of all manner of shoe-related phenomena, is willing to accept this shade.) That said, the function of attracting attention is certainly, um, functioning here, and I’ve seen darker blues than this on a fairly regular basis around town. Not that I’m suggesting in the least that anyone should take my preferences into account.

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More from the Department of Nomenclature

Tony Woodlief, filling in for Mrs Peter Suderman [sigh], contemplates the names we’re given and the names we assume:

We tend to get the big stuff right when it comes to names, in other words. And people can’t help it if they’ve been given a last name of Head, or Dick, or Putz. They certainly have it within their power, on the other hand, to think carefully about the first names they give their children. As with so much else in life, it’s not enough to choose a name with noble thoughts, one must choose a name and imagine what a cabal of twelve-year-old twits will do with it on the schoolyard. The average child does not have the wherewithal to muscle past a snicker-drawing name the way the makers of the iPad seem to be doing.

All of which makes me think of a job application I reviewed once, everything about which seemed to be in order except her email address. It combined a fruit with a lovey-dovey name that freshly in love people might use with one another when no one is listening. Something like peachybear. Or persimmonboo. I winced when I read it. And I couldn’t help but think less of the candidate.

If you have one of the disfavored surnames, even innocuous first names will not save you. Tim Allen was born Timothy Allen Dick; once in an interview, he said that his wife at the time was happy to point this out to people. “Oh, he’s a Dick, all right,” she’d say. “In fact, his whole family are Dicks.”

I always wondered if Karl Rove ever got any email at turdblossom @

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As the animals start to pair off

A plunge into the weather records suggests that the 24-hour rainfall record for Oklahoma City is 7.53 inches, set September 22, 1970.

I think we can kiss that record goodbye. One of the Mesonet stations in town has already made it up to 8, the others aren’t far behind, and it’s still raining. The office ranges from 0.5 to 4.5 inches of water inside. Jesus Christ could walk through the parking lot, but He’s just about the only one.

Travel is discouraged, so I’m probably not going to be able to go home, either, at least until some of this runoff actually starts to run off.

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And descended into Helvetica

Papal infallibility is not invoked very often: in all the years of my life, the Pope has spoken ex cathedra exactly zero times. (“The Pope,” Benedict XVI once said, “is not an oracle.”)

And assuming God can confer infallibility on computers, it’s obvious that He has not done so. From the Vatican’s online version of Sacra Virginitas, a 1954 encyclical by Pius XII:

Indeed, right from Apostolic Times New Roman this virtue has been thriving and flourishing in the garden of the Church.

Later in the document, quoting St. Paul:

Several Times New Roman in the course of his comparison between marriage and virginity the Apostle reveals his mind…

For some reason known but to the Almighty, whoever assembled this page managed to substitute “Times New Roman,” the name of the font used on the page, for the ordinary word “times,” search-and-replace supplanted by search-and-destroy.

I note that Firefox’s spellchecker didn’t think much of “cathedra,” either, suggesting, among other things, “Catherina” and “catheter.”

(From Catholic Culture via Christopher Johnson.)

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Strange search-engine queries (228)

In this weekly feature, we analyze all the stuff in the server logs, and then reproduce whatever’s most likely to garner a few cheap laffs. There’s no particularly good reason to do this, but I suspect if I stop doing it, someone will probably want to kick my ass.

tall, ten young and lovely:  She may be only ten, but she has the body of a woman of thirteen.

teen girl lift carry:  She may be only ten, but she has the mass of a woman of thirteen.

chuck berry naked with white woman:  All the cats wanna dance with Sweet Little Sixteen.

“my lawn” artificial turf installed:  All the more reason for you to get off it.

Newscaster forced to take clothes off:  Dear God, let us hope and pray this isn’t Brian Williams.

google 10 strange queries man boobs:  Dear God, let us hope and pray this isn’t Brian Williams.

man in black shirt in dinkytown in the 60s:  Boy, that narrows it down.

faux skin k9 dildo:  Then again, I’d rather not imagine a real one.

Anvil Identification:  You’ve just plunged off the cliff. See that large metal object over your head that will hit the ground slightly after you do? That’s an anvil.

whale foreskin leather chair for sale:  File this under “dorksploitation.”

I don’t know either, actually:  That makes two of us.

93 dakota’s oil pressure guage fluctuates from low to high:  Yeah, that’s kind of what “fluctuates” means.

dustbury excessive plunging mid-90s:  I don’t think I’ve done any plunging since the mid-90s, if you know what I mean.

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