The house that Aubrey built v2.0

When word came down that American Energy Partners, the operation founded by Aubrey McClendon after departing Chesapeake Energy, was winding down toward an orderly end of business, the first thought that went through my head was something along the lines of “Well, at least they’re not filing for bankruptcy.” There have been a lot of restructurings, even a few liquidations, here in the Oil Patch, what with crude ranging from below $50 to way below $50.

My second thought was perhaps a tad more crass: “What happens to that supercool fitness center the company owned?”

But now, having had a night to think it over, what I really wonder was if McClendon had been anticipating this right before driving his Tahoe into a bridge abutment back in March.

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More than just lost in translation

This could have been one of those “You had one job” deals, if we knew whose job it was to do Column B:

Back of Walmart tape package

Wonder if they sell this product in Francophone Canada.

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

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Presumably feeling their oats

Absurdity? But the steel-cut variety:

Apparently Quaker Oats is not busy enough handling the lawsuit disputing its “100% natural” claim, or busy enough recalling Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars “due to a possible health risk,” or busy putting out PR fires about rejecting an 80-year-old man’s recipe for a contest because it was handwritten. Now Quaker Oats is trying to sue actual Quakers for infringing on the company’s trademark.

The notice “Quaker Oats threatens to sue us” was posted on the Orange County Friends Meeting, which is a religious society of Quakers. Quaker Oats objects to the business name “Quaker Oats Christmas Tree Farm” and demanded the Quakers immediately stop all use of the “Quaker Oats name” because it says using the trademark is misleading.

Um, no. For one thing, they got the business name wrong, as the society tried to explain to Quaker Oats:

[Y]ou have misspelled our company name which is Quaker OAKS Christmas Tree Farm. Our farm was so named because religious services were held outdoors on this farm under a great oak tree until about ten years ago when we were able to move into our new Meetinghouse on another corner of our farm.

Our business is 100% owned and operated by Quakers. I suspect that your firm employs considerably fewer, if any, Quakers. We trace our Quaker ancestors back 320 years and they were mostly farmers, but I don’t know how many of them grew oats for your company. My guess is that you may be selling far more Lutheran oats, Methodist oats, or maybe atheist oats. Could your company be guilty of product source misrepresentation?

Shouldn’t have taken more than 3 minutes to clear this up.

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Meanwhile on the Distressway

This is going to screw up traffic at least through the summer:

This is approximately the 5500 block of May, about half a mile from me.

I suppose the only real question is why it took so long: the ratio of pavement to patches dropped below 1:1 several years ago.

Addendum: I’ve talked about this bridge before. Apparently someone not capable of judging heights tried to drive under it.

Further addendum: Says it all, doesn’t it?

Screen cap from KOKH-TV

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Tomorrow the wrinkles

I had to look twice at this to believe it even once:

Underarm sweat is one of life’s annoyances that we’ve pretty much come to accept as inevitable. But a New York-based dermatologist named Whitney Bowe thinks she might have found the solution. It’s called “microwaving,” and if you’re picturing someone sticking their arm and shoulder into a microwave, you’re not too far off.

The practice actually involves a device called MiraSmooth, which uses the same technology as a microwave to help prevent both underarm hair and sweat from creeping out at inopportune moments. We’ve heard about people getting Botox in their armpits to prevent excessive sweating (called hyperhidrosis) and this seems like the same idea.

It is, of course, pricey:

Microwaving our armpits certainly sounds like a miracle procedure for those of us who choose to shave or are frustrated by our underarm sweat, but we’re not sure we’re ready to shell out thousands of dollars for it. We have more important things to microwave (like popcorn).

Then again, badly-microwaved popcorn smells as bad as, if not worse than, your underarms.

(Title swiped from Stan Freberg.)

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I ain’t ‘fraid of no downvote

The response to the first trailer from the Ghostbusters reboot was so negative that Sony spent a few bucks making another one:

That first trailer drew three downvotes per upvote. This one is getting four.

Still, if these are the second-string jokes, they can forget about billing this as a comedy.

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Another satisfied customer

Wouldn’t be this guy:

Twelve dot four has little to recommend it, unless you were horribly put out by the cavalier treatment of the sidebar in earlier versions. And it’s already ticked me off for something entirely different: if I decide to add an entire album to the Play Next function, the album will be played in reverse order, last track to first. Abbey Road, for instance, will start with “Her Majesty.” Worse, I happened to find this out on the Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross soundtrack for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which has 39 tracks.

Dear Apple: I’d tell you to quit when you’re ahead, but you’re not ahead anymore.

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Swift and ferocious payback

Monday night, some folks were wondering when Stephen Curry would finally get hot. The answer turned out to be tonight in the third quarter, in which Steph knocked down something like a hundred points in a row. More or less simultaneously with this eruption, the Thunder went totally to pieces; after that 31-19 quarter, OKC was down twenty, and the Warriors opened the fourth with an 11-2 run. That was it for Billy Donovan; to give the man credit, he always knows where his towel is, especially when it’s time to throw it in. Golden State 118, Oklahoma City 91, the series is even, and, well, hey, no one figured the Thunder would win one in Oakland.

Pretty much everything went the Warriors’ way: OKC held a one-point lead for all of twelve seconds, late in the second quarter. Seven Warriors scored in double figures. (The Thunder had two, exactly the two you think.) The usual Thunder strength — rebounding — failed them tonight: the Warriors had a 45-36 edge on the boards. The long ball, which did not serve Golden State particularly well Monday night, was deployed effectively this time around: 13 of 28. (Curry was 5-8 from distance; the Thunder in aggregate was 7-23.)

So what happened? Various Twitter wags will blame it on Kyle Singler, who played the last eight minutes and collected one rebound, one steal, and one foul. But the game was already lost before Singler ever made it to the scorers’ table. The OKC defense didn’t defend when they had to — Golden State shot 51 percent for the night — and while once again Curry missed game-high honors, which went to Kevin Durant with 29, there didn’t seem to be much of anything Steph couldn’t do tonight, which demonstrates why of recent MVPs, he might be the M-est.

The series resumes in Oklahoma City Sunday and continues Tuesday. No predictions: frankly, I feel like I’ve been kicked in the crystal ball.

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Not so bouncy

Last check I bounced, if I remember correctly, was about 1983. So I had to look up my current bank’s overdraft-protection scheme:

Overdraft Protection provides convenient automatic transfers from your linked savings or money market account to your checking account to cover transactions, should your checking account balance drop too low.

Simple enough. I don’t have a money-market account with these guys, but I do keep some savings there. There’s a fee — $12.50 maximum — though this is only a third of what you’d pay for the dreaded Insufficient Funds items.

Not everyone is copacetic with this idea, though:

While offering an overdraft protection plan that links to a secondary account might be convenient for consumers, Rebecca Borne, senior policy counsel for Center for Responsible Lending, tells Consumerist the best approach would be for banks to simply stop charging high overdraft fees.

Instead, banks could decline point of sale transactions that would create a negative account balance.

At 42nd and Treadmill, those declined POS transactions end up on my desk; the only redeeming social value comes from the customer-service crew passing on the sob stories from the SOBs. For sheer effrontery, you can’t beat the guy who closes his checking account — or for some reason has it closed involuntarily — but continues to try to use the debit card linked to that account. These are identified with a very specific code (52) which invariably inspires staff mirth.

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Fresh spring scrutiny

I am billed for auto insurance every six months, and every six months I go over the bill with a jaundiced eye. This time I had to look at it twice, because it was exactly the same as last time, and I mean no changes.

Now one could argue that the price has actually gone up, since the amount collision coverage will pay has diminished over the years: this little sled is worth maybe 20 or 25 percent what it was a decade ago. Then again, depreciation isn’t linear: it’s a lot slower now than it was then. (One could also argue that based on that observation, I shouldn’t even carry collision coverage at all; I figure it’s a relatively small percentage of the total premium, and I’d rather get a ridiculously small check after a crash than nothing at all.)

And I’m still unnerved by how much of said premium goes to cover costs inflicted by uninsured motorists, about a quarter of the state’s drivers. (Hint: It’s quite a bit more than collision.)

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It’s magically malicious!

After a horripilating session of “Meet the Beetles!” I ordered up a grub treatment for the lawn, and there was spritzed upon the turf a product called, um, Malice. It fit my mood of the moment, and it’s claimed to be relatively non-nasty for an industrial-strength insecticide, but while the flowers and the trees can deal with it, the birds and the bees aren’t keen on the stuff at all.

In the case of bees specifically:

Experts believe that imidacloprid is one of many possible causes of bee decline and the recent bee malady termed colony collapse disorder (CCD). In 2011, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, no single factor alone is responsible for the malady, however honey bees are thought to possibly be affected by neonicotinoid chemicals existing as residues in the nectar and pollen which bees forage on. The scientists studying CCD have tested samples of pollen and have indicated findings of a broad range of substances, including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides. They note that while the doses taken up by bees are not lethal, they are concerned about possible chronic problems caused by long-term exposure.

Apparently not doing this all the time, as I don’t — this is the first time I’ve had the stuff on site in several years, and I may well wait for several more before doing it again, because it’s kinda pricey — was the right thing to do, or not do, all along.

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A sweet little car

Literally so, it would seem:

Now I wonder what a High Fructose Corn Syrup conveyance might look like. (Probably a slammed Civic with fart-can exhaust and a wing the size of a slab of drywall.)

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Zizi

Peter Sarstedt’s epic “Where Do You Go To My Lovely” opens with this line: “You talk like Marlene Dietrich / And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire.”

Which is high praise indeed. Zizi’s breakthrough ballet was Carmen, choreographed in 1949 by Roland Petit, who also danced the role of Don José, and to whom she was married five years later.

Zizi Jeanmaire in Carmen 1949

Although we will note for record that Zizi was still officially Renée Jeanmaire in those days.

Zizi Jeanmaire strikes a pose

Zizi Jeanmaire whirls

In addition to ballet, she would appear in films through the 1950s, and actually cut a few records in the Sixties, the biggest of which might have been “Mon truc en plumes” (“My Thing With Feathers,” 1961). In this twelve-minute clip from 1979, she sings two songs, neither of which are “Mon truc en plumes,” and dances up a storm:

Zizi retired in 1982; she was widowed in 2011 when Petit died. She lives in Geneva, and she just turned 92 last month.

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We build nations

Except for the minor detail that actually, we don’t:

I was one of the fools who believed in W’s grand “nation building” project in the Middle East. I know more history than the average guy, and yet I was fooled, too — such is the power of wishcasting.

In reality, representative government is an Anglo-Saxon thing. And given the problems we have with it — our current election is between a criminal narcissist and a narcissist criminal — it’s no surprise that cultures with no tradition other than the despotic can’t get the hang of it in just a few years, despite the best efforts of National Review and the Peace and/or Marine Corps.

This is not, you should note, some kind of ethnic thing:

[N]one of this should be taken for an argument that only white people can do democracy — as if the ability to mark a ballot is somehow genetic. Again, see Presidential Election 2016, or any of the literally Caucasian countries surrounding the former USSR. The point is that representative democracy is the result of a long, long, long history, a unique combination of circumstances stretching back to the Greek polis (and, again, if you want to maintain that white folks have a “government” gene, imagine what would happen if you time-warped Demosthenes into modern America and told him that this is representative government. The poor dude would stroke out). Other cultures simply don’t have that history, and even the best-intentioned attempts to impose a facsimile from above give you — at best — India. Which bills itself as “the world’s largest democracy,” and it is … sort of, if you add a list of qualifiers about the size of the Chicago phone book.

Still, if India is the best-case scenario, and you can make a case that it is — well, you don’t want to think too hard about the worst-case scenario.

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All nice and smuggly

The illicit-bullion business, it appears, is full of assholes:

At least three airline passengers have been caught smuggling bars of gold in their rectums in recent days, say authorities in Bangladesh.

One man had eight gold bars concealed inside his body, while an X-ray revealed four bars inside a man who was in a great deal of pain, said customs officials.

This case from Friday sounds, um, excruciating:

[C]ustoms officials detained a person who had eight gold bars hidden inside his body at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, the Daily Star reported.

The man had just stepped off a flight from Dubai and admitted to carrying the bars after being challenged at border control.

Later, at the airport toilet, he pushed out eight bars worth nearly £40,000.

If nothing else, now we have a better understanding of the phrase “shit a brick.”

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Without filtration

At first, I thought this was just another Sign of the Times:

The Houston Chronicle has apologized after publishing an article that directly quoted broken English from Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez.

In the article written on May 4, Brian T. Smith placed much of the blame for the Astros’ early struggles on Gomez.

And what did Smith say Gomez said?

“For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed,” said Gomez as he roamed center field against the team with which he spent 2008-09.

I suppose I could point out that baseball been berry, berry good to Gomez, but actually we’ve been here before, a hell of a lot earlier than any SNL catchphrases. The setup:

We pick up the story from H. Allen Smith, live from 1934:

You may remember that Mr. Baer struck Mr. Carnera with great force and great frequency around the face and head. When the Italian giant reached the dressing room he had large lumps all over his forehead, and his jaws were swollen. They took his ring clothes off and propped him up on a rubbing table, and he kept looking around the room without apparently seeing anything. His handlers faded back and left him sitting there beneath the light. Nobody made a move to do anything, so I stepped up to him.

“Did he hit you hard?” I asked him.

He stared at me for a full minute. Then his lips moved.

“Holy Jesus!” he said.

“Do you want to fight him again?”

“Holy Jesus!” mumbled Carnera.

“Do you think you could lick him if you fought him again?”

“Holy Jesus!”

“Does your head hurt?”

“Holy Jesus!”

“Do you think Baer can lick Schmeling?”

“Holy Jesus!”

At this point half a dozen or so of Carnera’s proprietors came crashing in, and the press was ordered out of the place. I was well satisfied. It was one of the most revealing interviews I had ever had. I was quite startled, however, the next day when I picked up the papers to see what the sports writers had to say about it. One of them quoted Carnera as having said:

“Max’s blows were very hard. He hurt me several times — I have to admit that. But I sincerely believe that I could defeat him and I would like to have another chance. I want to regain the championship.”

Carnera couldn’t have uttered those thirty-eight words in that sequence if he had gone four years to Harvard. Yet the other sports writers had composed the same sort of sheep dip with slight variations.

Boxing been very, very good to Primo Carnera. And Baer had licked Max Schmeling — the year before.

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