Many nice racks

That’s the only way you can score like this:

Laurie Cohen, a Tempe resident and founder of Tempe Scrabble Club, called her mother in New York at the close of the 25th Annual Phoenix Scrabble Tournament held at Grace Inn in Ahwatukee last weekend.

“I told her, ‘I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is I did really crappy in the tournament; the good news is I might have gotten in the Guinness Book of World Records’,” said Cohen, who became the newest member of the Competitive Scrabble 700 Club by scoring 725 points in one game.

There are, in fact, rather a lot of members in the 700 Club, but Cohen’s distinction is shared with her opponent:

Cohen and her opponent, Arizona State University sophomore Nigel Peltier, scored a total 1,127 points, surpassing the previous Guinness record of 1,108.

I feel for Nigel, really: scoring 402 and losing?

Personal best: 515, including one 203-point play. I am reasonably certain that several of you could beat the socks off me, were I wearing socks.

(Via Fark.)

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Well, of course

The whole point of “Phoenix” is the rebirth, and if there was any question whether the Suns could compete for that eighth playoff spot with Amar’e Stoudemire out for the rest of the year, the answer came tonight: a 140-118 win over the Thunder, which gives Phoenix 422 points in its last three outings. Usually when you see numbers like that, you look around for the Washington Generals.

If there’s any consolation for OKC fans, it’s that the Thunder managed to pull within six points early in the fourth quarter, only to see Phoenix start peppering the bucket again. Leandro Barbosa hit 16 of 21 from the floor, including five treys, and four charity tosses, winding up with 41. Jerome Richardson added 34; Shaquille O’Neal was good for 22. Overall, the Suns shot 58.2 percent, and they pulled off 14 steals; Barbosa got six of them.

Still, Oklahoma City brought most of its A-game. Kevin Durant got 35, a smidgen above his average these days; six of the Thunder were in double figures, and Jeff Green got a double-double, with 10 points and 14 boards. (As usual, OKC dominated the glass, 47-40, including 19 offensive.) Nenad Krstić started at center, perhaps because of a perceived need for additional height. And the Thunder got just as many treys — twelve — as the Suns, and with one fewer attempt yet. Still, they shot only 45.8 percent, which you can’t do against a team that can score 140 on a semi-regular basis.

Neither of the New Guys got deployed tonight: we’ll see them later. (Side note: Both Malik Rose and Thabo Sefolosha will be wearing single digits; I’m wondering if OKC, at 14.6, has the Lowest Average Jersey Number. Elias Sports Bureau, where are you?)

Tomorrow night at Golden State, where there likely will be more big numbers.

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O mighty tablets

I mentioned yesterday that treating the pneumonia was going to require “industrial-strength” antibiotics. At the time, I was told only that a prescription was being called in.

Apparently I may have underestimated this stuff. It’s sold under the brand name Levaquin, and in the big boys’ size — 750 mg tablets — it’s twenty-four dollars. Each. (I was prescribed a total of 5.)

And this is a serious sort of drug: it comes with a Black Box Warning that tendons may be inflamed, swollen, or even ruptured. (Oh, joy.) As a result, indicated uses have been cut down to a mere handful, including pneumonia, exposure to hostile forms of Escherichia coli, or — this is the fun one — anthrax. Still, I have to figure that something which will stand up to anthrax probably stands a good chance of wiping out pneumonia.

Incidentally, it’s still on patent, following an extension granted by the government ostensibly to encourage drug makers to develop pediatric uses of drugs. Trust me: you don’t want kids anywhere near this stuff.

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Alternate routes may be preferred

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On a roll

A question from Syaffolee:

Sometimes I look at other people’s blogrolls, but they’re pretty much impossible to interpret. Does the blogger actually read these blogs or are they just there for reciprocal linking?

My own collection being rather impenetrable and cumbersome, perhaps it’s time I made with the explanations already.

Most of the sites I list, I make an effort to read on a regular basis, though some bases are clearly more regular than others. There are, in general, three overlapping groups:

  • Local-ish bloggers;
  • People I actually know;
  • People I read because I think I get something out of the reading.

For instance, there are upwards of 50 Oklahoma blogs on the list; I’ve met at least twenty of the bloggers behind them. (And there are more than a dozen bloggers who aren’t from around here whom I’ve met.) Obviously I can’t read everyone on the list every day and still keep a day job; I’m not the most efficient when it comes to pruning links.

And there is, yes, one reciprocal link, though I’m not going to tell you who it is.

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Stimulus you can believe in

In fact, you can practically feel it:

Fund Bikini Wax Now!

Estimated taxpayer cost: about a brazilian dollars.

(Seen at Michelle Malkin’s place.)

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In the interest of consistency

Usually I hop onto I-44 eastbound at the Classen ramp, which has two disadvantages for the hopper: there’s a blind spot almost exactly the size of an eighteen-wheeler, and it feeds into the left lane. Generally, if you see this out-of-the-blue merge coming at you, one of two things happens: you maintain your speed, and I beat you to the end of the ramp because I’m already going faster, or you slow down a bit, which is not kind to people behind you, but I beat you to the end of the ramp because I’m already going faster. (It is one of my cherished beliefs that it is the responsibility of the merger, not of the extant traffic, to get his own fat ass out of the way and into the flow.)

Today, I got to see Plan C: somebody decided to beat me to the end of the ramp. Not gonna happen, I said, and nudged the loud pedal. Bastard responded with his own Burst O’ Speed. Gwendolyn, perceiving the need, dropped into second, and I ran the revs up over 5000 for as long as it took to leave the interloper in his own farging dust.

Let it be known that I do not particularly enjoy 100-mph bursts half an hour before sunrise. But, as the phrase goes, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

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Black Spot evaded

Surely you remember the Black Spot:

It was some time before either I or the captain seemed to gather our senses, but at length, and about at the same moment, I released his wrist, which I was still holding, and he drew in his hand and looked sharply into the palm.

“Ten o’clock!” he cried. “Six hours. We’ll do them yet,” and he sprang to his feet.

Even as he did so, he reeled, put his hand to his throat, stood swaying for a moment, and then, with a peculiar sound, fell from his whole height face foremost to the floor.

I ran to him at once, calling to my mother. But haste was all in vain. The captain had been struck dead by thundering apoplexy. It is a curious thing to understand, for I had certainly never liked the man, though of late I had begun to pity him, but as soon as I saw that he was dead, I burst into a flood of tears. It was the second death I had known, and the sorrow of the first was still fresh in my heart.

Obviously we’re not at the Admiral Benbow Inn, but I’ve often wondered if, when my sentence was pronounced, I would immediately keel over. So when word came down that they’d analyzed those two CT scans, I took the call in the car, on the dubious reasoning that having to pay attention to my surroundings, as a driver must, might trump an oncoming stroke. (Were I wrong — well, I wasn’t in gear yet. I’m not completely mad.)

In the meantime, my condition has been upgraded to Not Quite Dead Yet, although the perversity of things has seen to it that I suffer from two simultaneous ailments, thereby quadrupling the symptoms. The less severe of the two is a case of diverticulosis, which isn’t particularly treatable but which demands a dietary alteration: no more Rocky Road, no more Braum’s Raisin Nut Bread, no more sunflower seeds. ["You hate sunflower seeds."—ed. Shaddup. I'm trying to make a point.] This, however, doesn’t cause me recurrent pain in the side; pneumonia does. According to one of those Severity Indices, I score in Class III, with an estimated mortality rate of 0.9 percent, odds no scarier than, say, the New Jersey Turnpike. On the assumption that this is bacterial rather than viral, I will be plied with industrial-strength antibiotics for ten days or so. (And apparently Ye Olde Family Doctor has pulled off another coup: who would have thought to schedule upper and lower scans?)

The only concern here, apart from the humongous bill for the CT scans (do they take PayPal?), is that this is my third bout of pneumonia in ten years, after not having it at all for almost forty. It’s never severe, but that doesn’t mean it’s never going to be.

I thank you all for your concern, good wishes, prayers, and other often-underestimated benefits of life.

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Program littering

As far as antivirus programs and the like are concerned, my current favorite is Eset NOD32, which I use on the laptop; it’s unobtrusive and efficient, two things I admire greatly in a security package, especially one I’m relying on when I’m on the road and exposed to God knows what.

At home, though, I’m still fiddling with CA’s desktop package, which is a notch down from the top choices but which so far has yet to brick my system. (Don’t laugh. I managed to brick a fricking mouse this week.) CA has one nice plus: a spam-blocking system that integrates into (sigh) Microsoft Outlook. And the newest version has one small but annoying minus: at bootup it drops something onto the taskbar that reads “CA ISS Dashboard” which doesn’t do a thing except eat up screen space; you can’t even right-click it out of existence. To clear it off, you have to open up their full-sized desktop interface and subsequently close it, which is a waste of time if you’ve automated all the major functions.

I will give them not quite one year to fix this — after all, their licensing is for 365 days, not a year — after which, if they haven’t, I will buy an extra NOD32 license and be done with it.

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Meanwhile, back in the woods

Just about this time last year, a state measure to allow limited black-bear hunting was being contemplated, though nothing ever came of it.

Well, it’s back:

A bill that would allow hunting of black bears passed the Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 450, filed by Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, would allow hunters to get a permit to hunt black bears. Corn said the Department of Wildlife requested a bill as a way to manage the growing black bear population in southeastern Oklahoma.

The Senate vote was 37-7. According to Corn, the bears live in the Ouachita Mountains, straddling the border between Oklahoma and Arkansas; now that Arkansas has passed similar legislation, the bears are moving westward to avoid hunters.

There appears to be no truth to the story that PETA is buying weapons for the animals, claiming a right to arm bears.

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This week’s Carnival of the Vanities is “slushy”, says Andrew Ian Dodge; it’s the 322nd in the series.

You’d have to work pretty hard to get slush out of a clay tablet, so let’s be grateful that the G. A. Plimpton Collection at Columbia is preserved in conditions where slush is unlikely. Plimpton #322 appears to be a list of Pythagorean triplets in Babylonian cuneiform. The Plimpton in question is not this guy.

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More famous than Amos

It’s the Oreo Sextuple-Sextuple Stuf!

(Actual quantity of Stuf may vary. Poster is not responsible for mathematical errors.)

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Well, that didn’t last long

The Tyson Chandler/Chris Wilcox-Joe Smith trade has been rescinded, following what appears to be unfavorable information disclosed in Chandler’s physical exam.

Said GM Sam Presti:

“There were some things in the medical process and outside consultants that gave us some concern.

“We have to listen to the people (conducting) our medicals. We feel the right decision for us was to move in another direction. We’re disappointed it did not work out.

We already knew Chandler had a bum ankle — he’s been sitting a month with that issue — but apparently this is more serious.

And being the worrywart I am, I keep thinking: “Cuttino Mobley.” In November, Mobley and Tim Thomas were traded to the Knicks, Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins becoming Clippers. There were unspecified issues with Mobley’s physical, though the Knicks made no move to rescind the trade; shortly thereafter, Mobley announced his retirement, blaming hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Poor guy never even got to play for New York.

So I hope it’s nothing horribly serious for TC, and that both the Hornets and the Thunder can get past this weird little contretemps.

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TV on the radio

Not the band, but an artifact of the Analog Age from the city of Tulsa:

What happened to the TV sound on 87.7 FM? Afternoon drive was a peak time for people to listen to Channel 6 on the radio when they were driving home from work. That ended yesterday with the end of programming on analog Channel 6.

Many Channel 6 viewers were also Channel 6 listeners on 87.7 FM. But, that ended Tuesday with the switchover to digital only broadcasting.

“When we changed the program on analog Channel 6, 87.7 followed suit and so now the program that’s on that channel now is what you hear on the radio,” said KOTV Chief Engineer Gerald Weaver.

They might be pulling KDIM (88.1) from Coweta.

It probably wasn’t a good idea for KOTV to promote that accidental FM audio in the first place.

Channel 6, incidentally, is actually on channel 45.

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Did you ever have one of those days?

The surfer dudes who run my Web host have been, and they liketh it not much:

Our central database that controls panel has crashed again and is recovering right now. This is a very large database so it can take some time, but we are estimating that it should complete in an hour or less. We will update this post as things progress. Hopefully our experience from yesterday’s outage will help us get this back up more quickly this time. We apologize for the inconvenience!

About an hour later:

UPDATE: 11:28am PST It’s back up again! We’re keeping a close eye on the database server for a while though, just in case.

And then things start to get complicated:

UPDATE: 12:16pm PST Looks like it’s down again. The admins are investigating. Stay tuned for more updates.

UPDATE: 12:40pm PST It’s UP again.

UPDATE: 12:57pm PST It’s down again. Admins are still investigating the cause of these outages.

UPDATE: 1:15pm PST It’s UP again.

UPDATE: 1:30pm PST Basically what’s happening is we’re 99% sure the memory (RAM) issue has been resolved. However the database process keeps dying without any useful information as to why. Fortunately however it seems to recover automatically in about 10 minutes or so without any data corruption (which is awesome). Our top database guru is on the case monitoring it very closely to try to figure it out and get it stable again.

And so on, and so on, and scooby-dooby-doo. Last I looked they were taking the beast offline in hopes of whipping it back into shape.

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Can we afford these guys?

Tyson Chandler’s $11-million-plus salary seems alarming, especially on a team that hadn’t had anyone over $7 million all year, but the signing puts next year’s Thunder payroll just barely into the $50 million range, leaving room for one more unexpected Presti deal and still allowing the team to sign Desmond Mason for another two years.

These numbers assume that:

  • Neither Robert Swift nor Mouhamed Sene, whose contracts expire this year, will be re-signed;
  • Both Chucky Atkins and Damien Wilkins will be retained for next season;
  • They don’t retrieve Serge Ibaka from Spain.

Both Nick Collison and Earl Watson have trade value, and one or both of them could be dealt, either this week or during the off-season. In the Chandler era, Collison would presumably return to power forward, alternating with Jeff Green; I’m pretty sure Atkins was acquired from Denver to make sure there was someone to run the point if Westbrook went down and Watson went elsewhere.

One point worth remembering about the Chandler/Smith-Wilcox trade: it leaves Oklahoma City with a vacant roster spot. I see this as an emergency landing place for 10-day contracts late in the season.

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There are only so many records

Regardless, you’re not going to hear that many of them on the radio, and it doesn’t matter what radio either:

[W]hen you listen to a [Sirius XM] channel all day for several days, it becomes obvious there is a fairly limited playlist that isn’t changed all that often. The old AOR stations with actual DJs played a much wider variety — tell me “Bob” or whatever plays whatever they want, oh yeah. Not so much.

Maybe they don’t want much.

Anyway, it’s not like any of the stations have to make room for tedious anachronisms like record libraries, fercryingoutloud: even your classical stations have gone to digital storage.

Still, as long as there’s one record out there I don’t have, and I suspect there always will be, there’s a reason to go searching outside my own collection. Even, yes, to the radio.

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Bridge of size

I could be wrong, but I think she’s kidding:

In the event someone says to you, “It’s not broken but we’re sending you for a surgical consult to see about having the bone in your toe shaved down” and says so with enthusiasm because orthopedics is fun, kids! Then the proper response is a polite, “No thank you” because that person is holding your foot in their hand and touching each and every toe including the one that ate roast beef. And each time he suggest ‘surgery’ and ‘bone scraping’ with glee he presses down on the most painful part of your arch. But after saying, “No thank you” do remember to ask if shaving the bone might bring your shoe size from a hefty 11 to a more delicate size 10. He might just say yes as you look at him with your big brown eyes as you describe the cutest pair of mary janes. Be sure to add a gentle tear rolling down your cheek on cue.

It is indeed true that most of your “fashionable” shoes don’t appear in 11 and up. And having had my own orthopedic surgery (albeit on a knee), I don’t believe I can sneer at someone else’s pain.

But neither do I believe that size 11 is some sort of deformity, either, especially not this size 11.

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Throwing Oscar overboard

The little gold fellow is actually something of a boat anchor:

In the past, I’ve been inclined to “educate myself” about the Oscar pix. There must be something marvelous in them to deserve the nomination, right? But this year I find myself steaming about it. The filmmakers want my money, but they don’t care a whit about what motivates me to loosen my purse strings. I’m sick of making an effort to see the nominees only to wind up sorry I did. Oscar has become torture for me, a “what not to do” of filmmaking. It’s fuel for the fires of indies going digital over the internet. As much as I greatly admire and respect the technical work — the hardworking picture editors, sound editors, musicians, crew members, wardrobers, etc. — if the story stinks, everything else is in vain. Some people laugh at me because I believe that stories should have happy endings. Or at the very least, hopeful. My philosophy is, if I want bad news or tales of hopeless human woe, I’ll turn on the news or look in the mirror. I don’t need to pay someone $10 to depress me.

As though $7 popcorn wasn’t depressing in its own right.

I should point out, though, that Hollywood has had weird ideas about stories for decades now. Case in point: 1973′s Last Tango in Paris. In America, it wangled a Best Director nomination for Bernardo Bertolucci; in Italy, it got Bertolucci a four-month suspended sentence. I have no idea what it did for butter sales.

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The only winning move

It’s not to botch your desperate pop-culture references:

Brad Blakeman, a senior aide to Mr. Bush from 2001 to 2004, said the new president’s language is immature.

“It’s not presidential. An American leader needs to be hopeful and optimistic — and truthful. Everything he says is parsed; everything he says is searched for deep meaning. When he goes to ‘DefCon 5′ on the economy and says that we’re on the brink of catastrophe, it’s absolutely insane.”

DefCon wha?

Correction courtesy of Brian J. Noggle:

As anyone whose life was changed by the 1983 film WarGames can tell you, the DEFCON scale goes from 5, the lowest which is used during normal peacetime conditions, to 1, which means the mountain is closed, brother.

There’s a lot to be said for “deep meaning,” but if you can’t get the shallow stuff straight, you’re not the guy to be saying it, even if you are a former “senior aide to Mr. Bush.”

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