A new Madrid

No, Spain is not moving its capital, nor is that scary fault line through the Missouri bootheel attracting more than perfunctory attention, except among geologists. “Madrid,” in this context, is a shoe from Klogs, which doesn’t appear to be an actual clog — I suppose we could see if there’s enough wood content to make them float — but which have a charm of their own.

Madrid by Klogs from their Villa Collection

From the Klogs Villa Collection, “Madrid” is available in Coffee Metallic (as shown), black, and white. The latter two colors have silver buckles. A Zappos customer likes them:

[I] have a high instep, wide toes, narrow heel, and I supinate and pronate. I have a history of falling arches with hairline fracture and tendonitis, not to mention diabetes and RA. The pain, swelling and fatigue in my feet, ankles, knees, hips and back are gone.

And Fillyjonk likes them:

I know there’s a school of thought that says women’s shoes should be alluring and “sexy.” And yeah, these shoes begin to approach the territory of what a college friend used to call “B.C. Shoes” (B.C. for “Birth Control,” as in “No man will look twice at you when you’re wearing these”).

But to be honest, any more, I dress to please myself rather than to please anyone else, and I like these shoes. I think they’re cute. And they’re definitely comfortable, which is a consideration when you spend multiple hours in a day standing on floors that are a thin layer of tile over poured concrete. They have good support built into the footbed, and I need that. They’re also not too flat, which is something else I need.

“Not too flat,” in this case, is about half an inch of heel rise.

The Villa Collection includes a couple of men’s shoes as well; assuming similar prices, they’d be worth my consideration if they made sizes larger than 13.

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Say hello, Bob

Up to this point, pretty much all the spammers putatively offering sexual services of one sort or another have claimed to be persons of the female persuasion. Then there’s “Robert,” who sent me this Thursday night:

My name is Robert, and this is the first time I write to a guy first. But I find you attractive and would like to chat about your interests.

Historically, men who find me appealing have been even rarer than women who find me appealing, so this was amusing for about forty-five seconds.

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Nikolina

Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva is not that overwhelming of a name, but it’s hard to fit on a marquee, which may explain how she became Nina Dobrev. Born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1989 — yesterday was her birthday, in fact — she grew up in Toronto. After several years as an unwed teenage mom on Degrassi: The Next Generation, she got the lead in The CW’s The Vampire Diaries, which has run six seasons so far.

I don’t think she’s changed much by all this exposure to the seamier side of (fictional) life. She’s a regular at the Coachella Music Festival, and in this shot from 2011 she looks all of eleven:

Nina Dobrev at the 2011 Coachella Music Festival

The chap with the hat is Vampire Diaries co-star Ian Somerhalder; they dated up until 2013 or so.

Nina Dobrev in a 2014 New York Post feature

Next up: The Final Girls, currently in post-production, about which we can say only this:

Max, a young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself transported back in time to 1988 and into the world of her mother’s most famous horror movie. Reunited, the ladies must fight off the film’s maniacal killer.

Probably not too serious, I surmise.

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A vaguely spiritual quality to it all

High weirdness all night. We begin with this revelation on Twitter:

Um, no, he’s not. And anyway, Waiters’ undistinguished Thunder debut on the Left Coast was pretty much offset by his second appearance: in 11 first-half minutes, he went 4-7 and stole the ball three times.

But Waiters won’t make the highlight reel, and Trevor Booker’s late-second-quarter bucket will: with 0.2 on the shot clock, Booker got the inbound facing away from the basket, and without turning around, he tipped the ball in the general direction of the rim. And it went in. “Grandma shot,” quipped Brian Davis.

The Jazz didn’t work too many miracles tonight, but they outworked the Thunder in the first 44 minutes or so. Finally OKC scraped to a 92-90 lead. Conspicuously, Waiters was playing and Reggie Jackson wasn’t. And with 23 seconds left, Waiters served up his first successful trey of the night, making it 97-93. Gordon Hayward made one of two foul shots, pulling the Jazz to within three; Russell Westbrook put down one of his patented dunks, Serge Ibaka swatted away the last Utah shot, and Westbrook dribbled it out for the 99-94 win.

Waiters ended up with 15 of the 26 OKC bench points and four steals. Among the starters, Westbrook posted a double-double (25 points on 9-17 shooting, 12 assists), and Kevin Durant turned in a very Durantean 32 points on 14-21. Possibly alarming: Jackson was 2-6, Anthony Morrow was 1-6. And while Serge Ibaka did grab 12 points and seven boards, he blocked only one shot.

Speaking of blocks, the Jazz practically monopolized them, to the tune of 11-5; Rudy Gobert had seven of them. Utah also controlled the boards, 44-38. Three Jazz starters broke the 20-point mark: Hayward with 27, Booker with 20, and Derrick Favors collected a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Where did the Jazz go wrong? They left seven points at the stripe, 15-22 on foul shots. (Then again, OKC was 8-9, scoring, um, seven points fewer.) And while Utah put up 11 treys in the first half and scored seven of them, all 10 of their second-half three-pointers failed, which I suspect was at least partially due to Scott Brooks making some noise at halftime about how little long-ball defense the Thunder were showing.

And now: six days off. What are we to do? Speculate, of course.

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As distinguished from “card-carrying”

This is a press release, of course, and like most of its ilk, it assumes that those who read it will be overly impressed by it. Include me out:

Popular nudist dating site NudistDatingSites.net recently launched a new feature named “Certified Nudist.” This feature is similar to the verification option available on most dating sites.

Translation: “We’re adding a feature that everyone else already has.”

Now this next bit seems indisputable, which is probably why it was buried in the third graf:

Whilst online dating has certainly made it convenient for users to find their ideal match from the convenience of their couch, it has also given rise to several issues. “A lot of people confuse nudism with exhibitionism. They fail to understand the core idea behind nudism and look at it as a way to find a sex partner. When such people get onto nudist dating sites, it creates inconvenience for genuine nudists,” said psychologist Pauline Brown.

I am, I admit, curious about what goes into this “verification” program, because surely it has to be more than this:

The primary motive behind the launch of this feature is to differentiate a genuine user from a scammer. In order to become a certified nudist on this website, a member would have to put up their real photo. On the other hand, if the profile belongs to a couple, both the individuals need to be present in the photograph.

This invites a couple of obvious questions:

  • What’s to stop a scammer from disrobing?
  • If couples are allowed on a dating site, should we assume that either swinging or polyamory are on the agenda?

Disclosure: Once upon a time, I was a member of a social network aimed at this subculture; it folded after a couple of years. They didn’t require photos, but photos were, let us say, strongly encouraged.

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Reporting from a very wet garage

At some unknown point between 10 last night and 6 this morning, my garage began filling up with water. I’m not at the point where I have the plumbers on speed-dial, but I do have their phone number memorized, and they dispatched, luckily for me, a chap who’d been here before.

Now this house was built in 1948, and a garage was added on in 1951; when the big boom in home laundry equipment came, the path of least resistance was to install the washer/dryer pair in the garage. It’s only two steps from what used to be the back door, but there’s a substantial environmental difference. In 1997, in an effort to reduce that difference, the owners installed batt-type insulation along the outside garage walls and sheathed it with plywood. This works better than you might think it would: on the coldest day I can remember since buying this place in 2003 — this would be 10 February 2011, when the mercury dropped to -5°F — the garage was still in the upper 20s. Still, there’s always the danger of water-line freeze, even with the lines tucked away into that insulated space.

Freezing, however, didn’t seem likely: it was 27°F this morning, so it would have to have been a byproduct of yesterday’s low of 11°F — though garage temperature that morning was a balmy-ish 38°F. And no, it was not frozen: I had the unfortunate combination of a rubber line to the washing machine that had split, and the faucet to which it was connected following its natural Spew procedure. New lines were obtained — I figure, if one’s gone, the other can’t be far behind — and the faucet was inspected and found merely to be full of looseness. Things are gradually returning to normal, though the concrete floor (and the rug that sits over some of it) will remain wet for a few hours yet.

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Improper use of force

The Thin Blue Line gets thinner, but better:

The Oklahoma City Police Department has fired an officer accused of rape and other misconduct last year.

Daniel Holtzclaw was arrested in 2014 in the parking lot of Gold’s Gym in northwest Oklahoma City… Police say Holtzclaw stopped women, threatened them and made them expose themselves and perform sexual acts. He pleaded not guilty to 36 counts of sexual assault.

An example:

One alleged victim was a 44-year-old woman who says Holtzclaw pulled up next to her, found a crack pipe, and told her “you know you could go to jail.” She says Holtzclaw then forced her to perform oral sex.

The Department has made public the letter dismissing Holtzclaw [pdf], which contains this statement by Chief Bill Citty:

Your offenses against women in this community constitute the greatest abuse of police authority I have witnessed in my 37 years as a member of this agency.

Words unminced.

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Not one mention of vodka

The derisive term “Safety Nazis” has yet to make any headway in Russia, but their regulators are even wackier than our regulators:

Russia has listed transsexual and transgender people among those who will no longer qualify for driving licences.

Fetishism, exhibitionism and voyeurism are also included as “mental disorders” now barring people from driving.

The government says it is tightening medical controls for drivers because Russia has too many road accidents.

I can see wanting to put the voyeurs and the exhibitionists on the bus — maybe even the same bus — but trans people? Are they mistranslating the term as “transit”?

“Pathological” gambling and compulsive stealing are also on the list. Russian psychiatrists and human rights lawyers have condemned the move.

In other news, there are psychiatrists and human rights lawyers in Russia.

(Via Jen Richards, who quips: “I have both the poor driving skills of a woman and the aggressive rage of a man. Please stop me from #drivingwhiletrans!”)

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Don’t blame Canada

Usually when it gets this cold, I start grumbling about the Great White North and the denizens therein for their failure to keep the damn cold air where it belongs, somewhere in the general vicinity of Baffin Bay.

I am told that this time, anyway, the stuff is coming from much farther away:

The cold comes courtesy of this wobble in the polar vortex, which is enabling pure, Arctic air from Siberia to migrate across the North Pole, head south across Canada, and cross the border at high speed — like a tourist without a passport. The Arctic invasion is occurring in the wake of a phenomenon that is well-known to temporarily destabilize the polar vortex, which is a sudden stratospheric warming event.

The unusually cold air mass is rotating around Hudson Bay, Canada, with spokes of frigid air descending into the U.S.

I guess the Russians should be grateful that their Arctic air is “pure.”

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It’s Deb, Jim

The disappearance of one-time mall stalwarts continues apace:

[A]nother mall staple is putting down the store gate for good: Deb is liquidating and closing all 295 of its stores.

You know, Deb. That store where you tried on a bunch of prom dresses but ultimately didn’t buy any of them. Or maybe that was me.¹ The chain was still in existence and almost 300 stores strong, but sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of 2014. Without a buyer, the company will close all of its stores and liquidate.

And actually, it’s not just Deb; dELiA*s is dead, and Wet Seal is shedding two-thirds of itself. This is not to say that retail targeting teens is in irreversible decline, but there seems to be a serious squeeze-out going on.

¹ [It wasn’t me.]

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The paper gets pricier

An unsigned letter from the circulation department (I assume) at the Oklahoman:

You will note that subscription rates are slightly increasing this renewal period. The increased rates are the result of the economic realities associated with publishing a newspaper 7-days a week that contains quality investigative journalism, like our coverage of the problems at the Department of Human Services, along with the extensive information we provide each day about community news, sports & events.

Has to be circulation: nobody on the news side of the business writes with so little flair.

“Slightly,” incidentally, is just over 11 percent. Then again, without going through a box of bank statements, I couldn’t tell you the last time they raised the rates, so it’s not like the price is suddenly spiraling out of sight.

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Bacteria put on notice

The major problem with antibiotics, as you know, is that the biotics are actually alive, and therefore evolve; bacterial strains with the greatest resistance to the drugs survive, and eventually resistance becomes the rule rather than the exception. (Viruses just laugh at antibiotics.) The result: a continuing need for new antibiotics. Unfortunately, creating new antibiotics in the laboratory isn’t especially simple or particularly inexpensive.

So when you find one out in the yard, it’s a big deal:

Scientists have discovered an antibiotic capable of fighting infections that kill hundreds of thousands of people each year, a breakthrough that could lead to the field’s first major new drug in more than a quarter-century.

The experimental drug, which was isolated from a sample of New England dirt, is called teixobactin. It hasn’t yet been tested in people, though it cured all mice infected with antibiotic-resistant staphylococci bacteria that usually kills 90 percent of the animals, according to a study published [Tuesday] in the journal Nature. Bacteria appear to have a particularly difficult time developing resistance to the drug, potentially overcoming a major problem with existing antibiotics.

Magic bullet? Not really. It’s not by any means a universal treatment:

The drug worked best against what are known as gram-positive bacteria, which have weaker cell walls and includes streptococcus and MRSA. Gram-negative bacteria have stronger walls and include pathogens such as E. coli.

Teixobactin was also able to successfully attack drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, which is neither clearly gram-positive nor gram-negative. The researchers are working on adaptations to make teixobactin effective against gram-negative cells as well.

There are hurdles yet to come. Said the nearest microbiologist with whom I’m on speaking terms:

I’m not really impressed by the latest news that a new antibiotic has been discovered. Tell me again once it passes human clinical trials… In that paper, they tested their new antibiotic against lab strains rather than bacterial strains isolated from patients.

And if it’s ever going to be approved for human use, those clinical trials are a must.

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A couple of grand

Which is kinder than the more obvious answer:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Whats the difference between a 4 CYL AND A 6 CYL?

It’s just a darn shame that Volkswagen quit sending us five-cylinder cars.

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When it’s good to be the Kings

Sacramento, which has not been enormously successful against Oklahoma City in recent years, tonight managed to leverage these two possibly unrelated circumstances: a hitherto-unnoticed ability to draw fouls in mass quantities, and some downright clumsy play by the opponents. Multiply by the turnover differential, season with Michael Cage intonations of “Tough call,” and the Kings take a surprisingly easy win, 104-83.

As Royce Young put it ¾ of the way through: “Never seen the Thunder quite this discombobulated.” At the 3:45 mark, Scott Brooks opted to empty the bench; the Kings followed suit shortly thereafter, and life went on at subsonic speeds. The Thunder, who shot 31 percent against the Warriors night before last, managed to bring that up to almost, but not quite, 33 percent. Sacramento defense was okay, but not brilliant; OKC simply went through long periods of inability to buy a bucket. Kevin Durant was 8-20 (24 points), and that was one of the better showings: Anthony Morrow was 3-12 (8 points), and newly arrived sharpshooter Dion Waiters was 1-9 (4 points). To be fair to Waiters, who is widely considered to have next to nothing in defensive skills, he did come up with a block and a steal. What I want to know, though, was who was that wearing Russell Westbrook’s jersey? Westbrook himself would never tolerate 3-19 from the floor.

By general agreement, Sacramento has three starting scoring threats, and all lived up to their reputations tonight: both Rudy Gay and Darren Collison were 9-19 from the floor; Gay, who hit all three of his treys, finished with 28, and Collison, 5-10 from outside, with 24. In the middle was DeMarcus Cousins, who did not shoot well — 6-23 — but who still scored 23 while pulling down 15 rebounds and sinking 11 of 13 foul shots. And treys mattered: while the Kings shot only 39 percent, they knocked down 10 of 19 three-pointers. (The Thunder, should you ask, went 9-30.)

About the only good thing about this horrific road trip is that it’s only two games long, and therefore over. The Jazz will waltz into OKC Friday night, followed by a truly scary back-to-back: at Houston on the following Thursday, and back home to face the Warriors again. By then, perhaps, someone will have taught this team some offense, and it won’t be Josh Heupel. Meanwhile, I cede the last word to Royce Young: “The Thunder are 0-2 with losses of 26 and 21 since trading Lance Thomas. I think you can read between the lines here.”

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It’s crummier in the colonies

Having never stopped off in the UK to buy sweets, I wouldn’t have thought of this. A English journalist in Las Vegas started it off:

If you read the whole thread, you’ll hear that the American version of an English candy — like, for instance, Skittles — will be “always nasty in comparison,” and American Nutella is apparently something to be avoided.

[insert vague “spotted dick” reference here]

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One would certainly hope so

You may actually need this service more than you think:

We are a full laundry service that includes free pickup and delivery. Yes, you read correctly. Full. Delivery. Laundry. Service. No half jobs here! We will pick up your messy, wrinkled, and dirty laundry. All you have to do is throw them into a large bag(s) and schedule a pickup online or give us a call. We will come by and pick up your items. At our discussed delivery time, we will then return your items washed, folded and smelling fresh; all at a low rate.

And, as noted, no poop stains. The rate, at this writing, is a buck and a quarter per pound; there is a 30- to 60-lb minimum load depending on where in Los Angeles (hey, I know from 310) you happen to be. The driver does have a scale, but here’s a rule of thumb:

13 gallon (home) trash bags full of random clothes such as jeans, shirts, towels, and shorts … each bag weighed approximately between 10-13 lbs. So, roughly 2-3 full bags should typically meet our minimum in certain areas.

More than you’d spend feeding a laundromat, probably; but your time is worth something, is it not?

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