Presumably eligible

Candidate by Stuart Weitzman

“At the moment,” says the Manolo, “everyone is taking their cue from the new First Lady, and thus the Camelot-era-ish low pump has returned.”

This seems a bit pointy for Jackie, maybe a bit too blunt for Michelle, but there’s always a market for a low-frills, low-rise (two inches) pump in a neutral shade, and I figure Stuart Weitzman will sell lots of this model, which is called “Candidate,” even at a price point perilously close to $300. If you think it lacks flash, scratch this “soy” nappa finish and get it in kid, in either gold or pewter.

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Assuming we aren’t being buffaloed

The new Oklahoma City Thunder mascot will be a bison.

I just hope they don’t name it “Tennial.”

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Speaking of death

Those employee benefit plans can be wonderful things, provided they’re not administered at the employer end by complete and utter morons.

Which obviously lets me out. Received today from a life-insurance outfit:

Your policy has terminated because your premium due Nov. 1, 2008 has not been received.

You may apply today for reinstatement without showing evidence of insurability by remitting your payment of [amount redacted] to us immediately. Later application for reinstatement may require you to provide evidence of insurability.

I checked, and yes, they’re taking the prescribed amount from each paycheck, and have been since March 2005. Christ only knows what they’ve been doing with it lately.

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Slow death update

I was worse today, and the doctor does not know why. I am to be scheduled for a CT scan, and I’m getting a new set of pills. (Specifically, Darvocet, with which I have no experience.)

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Keynes unable

That said, there must be 50 ways to stimulate the economy, and Marcel lists eight, four of which are good, the rest not so good. This one might be the best:

Put a ten dollar bounty on newspapers — after the trash is all picked up, people will subscribe just to collect the money.

Beats the heck out of a formal newspaper bailout, I’d say.

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A little song, a little dance

Fajita fixings down your pants:

I did a mystery shopping assignment at a grocery store back up here on the north side of the city. You know those things many stores have at the exits that go off if you try to steal items with sensors in them? Since when do grocery stores have them? The store now puts those sensors on their raw meat, like roasts, steaks, chicken, etc. I bought a package of fajita meat, and the cashier apparently did not wave it over the deactivator because the alarm went off when I tried to leave with my meat. Who would steal raw meat? I mean really? Those packages often leak blood. I wouldn’t want blood running down my leg if I stuck a package of meat down my pants (ok that sounds really bad doesn’t it?)

As regular readers will remember, lots of people steal meat:

Loss-prevention specialists note that a large number of meatlifting incidents, if not the majority, involve the pilfering of meats associated with luxury dining: rib-eyes, filet mignons, or lamb chops, among other treats. Stores have had particular problems with cuts bearing the Certified Angus Beef brand, which are often displayed near ostensibly less succulent offerings. With only enough money to purchase an ordinary chuck-eye roast, many otherwise ethical shoppers make a snap decision to lift the Angus instead. Store detectives speculate that these meatlifters feel entitled to have steak instead of hamburger on occasion, as a reward for their hard work; swiping an expensive bottle of dish soap doesn’t provide the same sense of satisfaction.

And women are more likely than men to filch the filet:

Though men and women shoplift in equal numbers, such aspirational meatlifters are most likely to be gainfully employed women between 35 and 54, according to a 2005 University of Florida study; men prefer to lift Tylenol or batteries, often for resale and often to support a drug or alcohol habit.

Then again, if batteries leak on you, you’ve got even more of a problem.

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Strange search-engine queries (158)

When in doubt, they say, fall back on something that works, and this has been working for quite some time now. And it’s so simple: look over the log of visitors from search engines, and pick out the silliest search strings therefrom.

politics “science fiction”:  Lately, it’s more like dark fantasy.

18 years old cutie verified by a doctor to be a virgin and then deflorated by the doctor’s husband at the clinic:  And they say there are no advantages to government-run health care.

immovable type:  Now you know why I run WordPress.

Lobo: I’d Love You To Wand Me:  Myself, I have no desire to be wanded.

opus bill the cat implant card:  Myself, I have no desire to have Bill the Cat implanted.

wesson oil on naked women:  Well, yeah, considering what it does to clothes.

met trent reznor and his wife:  Were they, you know, doing it like animals?

badass bible tattoo:  That Saul of Tarsus was meaner than a junkyard dog, I hear.

Mary Fallin nude:  Finally, a Congressional stimulus package I can support.

justification for a statuette of limitations:  As sculpture goes, it’s necessarily a tad abstract, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

are there real woman that are care and under standing that would like date crossdree man and maybe married no games in new jersey:  Grammatical expertise not required.

Is the term “senior citizen” offensive?  No. Now get the hell off my lawn.

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Peppered by treys

Sometimes you have to wonder how it is that the Sacramento Kings lost 40 games out of 51 with this dazzling array of shooters: they sank 12 out of 18 from beyond the arc, and shot 55 percent overall. Then you realize that weird things had to have happened, and indeed weird things happened tonight. With a 116-113 lead over this array of downtown snipers and next to no time to play, Jeff Green missed the second of two free throws, giving the Kings another chance once they called timeout, which they did. Thunder defense prevented anything resembling an inbound, so the Kings called another timeout. One problem: they didn’t have another timeout. Discussions were held, and a technical was assessed. Kevin Durant stepped to the line — and missed the freebie.

So 116-113 it was, the Kings lose their 41st out of 52, but oh, the points they scored. Beno Udrih had 29, including three treys; John Salmons had 23, including three treys; Kevin Martin had 23, including two treys; Spencer Hawes and Francisco Garcia were also in double figures, including three treys between them.

The Kevin Durant Show was in good form: 39 points, despite that missed technical. Four other OKC players were up into double figures: Jeff Green and Nick Collison with 15; Nenad Krstić, back from a bout with the flu, with 14; and Russell Westbrook with 11. As usual, the Thunder got the better of the boards: 41 rebounds to 34. But they had no real answer for the constant barrage of three-pointers from Sacramento. (OKC managed four of 11.) And before that collapse at the charity stripe in the final moments — Collison missed two, Green missed one of two, Durant missed one — the Thunder were 21 of 24 from the line. From the floor, OKC shot 52.9 percent.

Two out of three at the Ford, but now it’s on the road again, and it’s never a good sign when you have to start a back-to-back with the Lakers (Tuesday). Worse, it’s Portland on Wednesday, and you know they’re spoiling for a fight.

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Now I’m scared

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And the winners are…

…already posted for the 2008 Okie Blog Awards. It’s a good mix of old-guard and up-and-comers — I’m a firm believer in “Let’s not always see the same hands” — and best of all, the competition points the way to a lot of high-grade reading material that you, or I, might otherwise have missed.

Congratulations to the winners, to the almost-winners, to those who at least got a traffic spike out of it — and as always, thanks to Mike for putting it all together.

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Aerial pandemonium ballet

The Army may be getting frickin’ Humvees with frickin’ laser beams attached to their frickin’ beds:

Boeing’s Direct Energy Systems project recently concluded a test in the New Mexico desert where the Humvee-mounted Laser Avenger system successfully shot down three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in a demonstration for U.S. Army officers.

The Laser Avenger was initially created to dispose of unexploded ordnance (bombs that didn’t detonate) lying on the ground, but given the proliferation of UAVs for both surveillance and weapons deployment, Boeing adapted the lasers to shoot the UAVs out of the sky. The benefit over shooting down the drones with guns or missiles — in startling contradiction to the red lines depicted in the old G.I. Joe cartoons — is that the enemy can’t see where the laser beam is coming from, thereby keeping the ground troops’ position secure. Pretty awesome, unless you’re a UAV. Fortunately UAVs are unmanned by definition, so what we’re looking at here is lasers shooting down flying robots.

Still pretty awesome, if you ask me.

(Title swiped from the late Harry Nilsson.)

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Hold your dung

Otherwise, this could happen to you:

A British graduate student was left “reeling” after his university threw out a bag of lizard excrement he had spent seven years collecting in the rainforests of the Philippines.

Daniel Bennett had collected 35kg of faeces of the rare butaan lizard during field work abroad, as part of his PhD research at Leeds University in northern England.

But he was devastated on returning from the Philippines to find that the bag, which was unmarked, had been thrown out with the rubbish in a clear-out of his laboratory.

“To some people it might have been just a bag of lizard s—,” he told Times Higher Education, which ran the story under the headline “Oh crap, there goes my work”.

“But to me it represented seven years of painstaking work searching the rainforest with a team of reformed poachers to find the faeces of one of the world’s largest, rarest and most mysterious lizards.

“Its loss left me reeling and altered the course of my life forever.”

A settlement has been offered and deemed inadequate:

The University has offered him £500 ($A1120) in compensation and an apology, after the student lodged an official complaint about the loss.

But Mr Bennett says this is not enough, and has vowed to “see them in court”.

(Via JammieWearingFool.)

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Deal or no deal?

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix sees four Thunder players who could be on the market between now and the trade deadline on the 19th: Chris Wilcox, Nick Collison, Joe Smith and Earl Watson. His analysis:

Because interim coach Scott Brooks has done a good job settling players into their roles, a major shakeup is doubtful. But don’t expect GM Sam Presti to pass up a cost-cutting, draft-pick-returning deal for Watson or one of his big men.

Of the four, two — Wilcox and Smith — have expiring contracts. With Smith currently pulling more minutes than Wilcox, I have to figure Weezy is considered the more expendable. Watson’s contract runs through next season; Collison’s, the year after that.

Assuming, as I do, that the Thunder will re-sign Desmond Mason and will turn the remaining free agents loose, Oklahoma City will have about $45 million in salary next year, leaving $15-20 million in cap space. (The NBA trade rules are just this side of Byzantine.)

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Volunteering for the fire

It’s been a frying pan over at the Oklahoma City Public Schools of late; the dust-up over Superintendent John Q. Porter ended in 2008 with the departures of both Porter and Board of Education chairman Cliff Hudson. Karl Springer, highly-regarded head of the suburban Mustang district, took over as Superintendent in September; former Mayor Kirk Humphreys succeeded Hudson as board chair.

On Tuesday, Humphreys seeks a full term; he is challenged by former Sen. Angela Monson. (I live in District 2, which is represented by Gail Vines; she drew no opponent.)

This is a tough call. I used to live in Monson’s Senate district, and her dedication to duty is, I think, pretty much unquestionable. Humphreys, who gave up his seat as Mayor to run for Senate — he lost to Tom Coburn — had previous school-board experience in the Putnam City district. The Oklahoman has endorsed Humphreys, citing a need for “continuity” on the board.

Two things concern me about Humphreys: his status as a Good Ol’ Boy at the Chamber of Commerce, and his manifest phobia regarding Teh Ghey. And Monson, unlike Humphreys and, well, me, is not a big fan of school-choice measures, though she concedes that expanded choice is the way of the future.

The perfect chairperson, I conclude, has yet to appear.

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Working for scale

Prompted by Michele, I have determined that as far as the Chinese are concerned, I am a consumer of cheap crap a Snake. Let’s see about that:

Snakes have always been the seducers of human beings. If you know the story of “The White Snake”, you will understand what I mean. In reality, Snake people are born charming and popular. Snakes are spotlight magnets, and they will not be ignored. Peer group attention and public recognition are the least of what he expects. Yet Snakes are never noisy or deliberately outspoken, and they have have excellent manners.

This has, of course, nothing to do with Whitesnake. And while I insist that I don’t seek the limelight and don’t care a fig for fame, readers might point out that not only do I have a SiteMeter, but I actually pay for it.

I have been outspoken at times, occasionally even deliberately.

Most people are secretly or hopelessly in love with Snakes. Gather those frustrated folk you know and most likely, they are probably in love with a Snake. Irresistible as they seem, the Snake never wastes time in idle gossip. He thinks often and deeply. He is an intellectual, a philosopher, a cerebral person. Snake people rely heavily on first impressions, on their own feelings, on their sympathies, rather than on facts, on the advice and opinions on others. He seems to have a kind of sixth sense in this way.

If I seem to have a sixth sense, it’s because the other five aren’t working correctly, or something. And this description seems to conflict with my established INTJ status.

In money matters, the Snake has good luck: he doesn’t have to worry — he’ll always be able to lay his hand on money when he needs it. Generally, Snakes are careful but generous with friends and family. The Snake should stick to careers that won’t involve him in any risk — even the risk of working too hard, for to tell the truth, the Snake is a bit lazy.

I think I have all of $35 in my PayPal account. (I suppose I could stash a few more dollars in there, but I’m too lazy.)

In love, the Snake male is romantic and charming. He has a sense of humor and the female is usually beautiful and successful. but if a Snake chooses a partner, he’ll be jealous and possessive — even if he no longer loves her. Rejection is the worst blow his delicate ego can suffer. The Snake must be received, welcomed, accepted and approved by those with whom he comes in contact. They need a lot of security.

Hmpf. If it weren’t for rejection, I’d get no reaction from those beautiful and/or successful females at all.

As with real snakes, which hibernate in the cold season and come out when it’s warm, Snake people shine in the hot months. And the Snake born at midday in the heat of a tropical summer will be happier than one born in the middle of an icy night in winter. The destiny of those born under this sign is so sensitive to the inclemencies of climate that the almanac warns Snakes born on a stormy day that they will face danger throughout their lives.

Well, I do have a fairly-advanced case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. And I don’t recall what the weather was like the day I was born; I wasn’t allowed to go outside back then.

There’s a lot more to the description, but I think I can dismiss it with a hiss or two.

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Hope floats away

Proffered treatment for what allegedly ails me was, to be charitable, ineffective. At 3:30 this morning I finally fell asleep in the big chair in the living room, and after two and a half hours of fairly fitful slumber, if little thrash, I woke up dizzy and disoriented, and stumbled twice on the way to the bathroom.

As the phrase goes, I can’t go on living like this. In fact, this may be even more appropriate a description than I thought: while combing through the insurance materials online — I still haven’t received anything resembling a card from the bastards — I discovered that they will not cover my antihypertensives unless I throw away 120 days of my life experimenting with stuff that may or may not work, but which will cost less. It is precisely crap like that which will drive us into some form of government-inflicted health care; right now, the system we have is about as popular as Rod Blagojevich, and for many of the same reasons.

(Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m lucky to have anything in this day and age, especially this day and at my age. It’s probably just a matter of time before they put a bullet in my head, or someplace equally nasty, in the name of the Holy Bailout.)

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This one I didn’t expect

We’ve seen it before: Oklahoma City jumps out to a huge lead — in this case, 60-40 at the half — and then the opponents whittle away at it. And the Trail Blazers have some serious whittlers: Brandon Roy got hot in the third quarter, Travis Outlaw in the fourth, and Portland managed to pull within eight. But that was as close as they’d get: the Thunder, for the first time in recorded history never trailing in a game, won it by nine, 102-93.

Two factors helped sink the Blazers: Greg Oden got into foul trouble early and only played sixteen minutes, and they missed rather a lot of free throws in the fourth quarter. Still, they made big shots, Roy finishing with 30 points, Outlaw with 20 off the bench, and LaMarcus Aldridge with 18.

But OKC had big numbers, even outrebounding the Blazers 43-37. Nick Collison got 13 of those boards and 21 points, one of two double-doubles for the Thunder. (The other: Earl Watson, with 12 points and 11 assists.) Kevin Durant knocked down 31 and Jeff Green 20. And OKC kept the turnovers down to twelve, six of which came from Russell Westbrook, who finished with 10 points.

If there was a signature moment, though, it was late in the third quarter, when Earl Watson did a no-look pass to Jeff Green, whose subsequent slam actually ripped the net away from the iron, delaying the game about ten minutes while the basket was repaired.

The homestand is now even at 1-1, with the Kings coming in Sunday.

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In the beginning there was 405

In 1947, when the system of area codes was established, Oklahoma got one for the entire state: 405. (Florida had one; California had three.)

This proved to be not enough, and 918 was carved out of the northeast part of the state in 1953. A third code, 580, appeared in 1997, comprising areas in 405 beyond the Oklahoma City metro.

Come 2011, there will be a new number in the northeast, which may be 539, 572, 578, or something else entirely. There are two ways to handle these changes today: a split, in which part of the existing area is given the new number and the remainder of the area retains the old one, as 580 was split from 405. There’s also the possibility of an overlay, in which two (or more) codes exist in the same area: nobody has to change numbers, but everyone has to dial 10 digits instead of seven.

Before you ask: 666 is not available at this time.

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The beat goes on

Xarcadia on migraine:

I have spoken to a lot of people who have migraines and who have suffered from this illness for months or years. After having seen doctors who prescribe medications that don’t work on a consistent basis migraneurs begin to get disheartened. If you see the wrong doctor, or the wrong type of doctor, or just too many doctors who don’t know what they are talking about — eventually this begins to cause a feeling of despair to emerge. Your perspective changes from “Well one day I will get the right medication and this pain will finally end” to “Well, I suppose this is my life, so I had just better learn to deal with being in pain all the time”. The realization that you are probably going to be in pain for the rest of your life is staggering. You think of all the days ahead of you and wonder what the point is if you are just going to get up and be in pain every day. Why bother? May as well just stay in bed. You can’t really enjoy anything, food has no flavour and you worry that you will throw it up anyway. You can’t go out and socialize anymore and slowly your network of friends shrinks until there is no one left. If you have a really really bad day at work, you can’t just come home and have a glass of wine to unwind if you choose to, because now it may no longer be a choice. One glass (or even half of one) may be enough to trigger a migraine that could last for weeks. It is an extremely isolating feeling.

What’s scary is how close this is to traditional depression — except for the blinding pain. “And if all I have to look forward to is more of the same, then the best I can hope for is not having to live through it,” said I; add to that the incessant pound, pound, pound, and I’d be almost ready to look through the PDR to see if I had the right combination of ingredients on hand to put myself out of my misery.

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Filling in Schedule DD

Tax tips — that’s tips, mind you — from Lynn:

I have a tip for any adult heterosexual male Americans who might be reading this. Go get your taxes done at Jackson Hewitt. For the past three years the woman who did our taxes (a different woman every year) has had a fine big pair of boobs, prominently displayed either in a tight sweater or a low cut blouse. This year’s young female tax preparer had a somewhat smaller pair but still nicely displayed in a tight white sweater. And she had on a blue bra.

It’s not that I go around noticing such things all the time but when you’re sitting there for fifteen minutes or so with nothing to do but watch someone typing and that person has gone to the trouble of making it so obvious, you can’t help but notice. And what is it with Jackson Hewitt anyway. I don’t notice this anywhere else. I go to Wal-mart or the grocery store or any other store and the female employees are almost always dressed modestly. This is the Bible Belt after all so that’s what I normally expect but for some reason Jackson Hewitt consistently, year after year, hires women who are not shy about displaying what God gave them.

Now she tells me.

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