Itchy twitchy feeling

The other day, some yahoo on Yahoo! was looking for “a car that could go 100,000 miles without requiring service.” He has a better chance of landing a date with a model. (Or, I suppose, an ex- model.)

I mention this because Gwendolyn, my long-suffering I30, went in today for a spa day or two, and she has just under 170,000 miles. The major issue to be addressed was a small power-steering fluid leak, which motivated the following prayer: “O Lord, I’m okay with having to replace the whole pump, but please, please, please don’t let it be a bad steering rack.”

And lo, my prayer was answered. It was the high-pressure line in the steering system, which is pricey, but not rack-and-pinion pricey. Still, if you add to this the de rigueur oil change, the replacement of a fried headlight, a new serpentine belt — the old one was starting to crack — and a new passenger-side mirror to replace the one that was sheared off by a semi who insisted on outrunning my approach via a left-turn on-ramp, you come up with a hell of a lot of money, at $1350 or so, or almost exactly two-thirds the price of a new steering rack. And I probably could have taken it somewhere else and saved a couple of coins. But Bob Moore has been good to me this century: they serviced my second Mazda and sold me this Infiniti, and I’ve seldom had any reason to grumble. And they sent me off today in a Q50 while they minister to my car.

This is my third experience with the Q50, and I didn’t like it as much as its predecessors: the steering felt somewhat twitchy, which suggested I keep the speed down, not an easy task with a 3.0-liter turbo. (I think this is the first turbo anything I’ve ever driven.) Still, it was comfy, though the ride is a bit stiff; the A/C was properly glacial, the stereo was Bose, and the controls were comprehensible. But that keeping-the-speed-down business irritated some jerk behind me who thought I should be tailgating the guy in front of me as much as he was tailgating me. As I exited, he showed me a finger other than his ring finger. Just as well: I’d hate to imagine that jerk actually wearing someone’s ring.

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This is an ex-model

Really. Wikipedia’s entry for Frederique van der Wal describes her as a “former model.” And since she turns fifty tomorrow, she’s probably at least somewhat relieved to be off the treadmill.

Frederique van der Wal wants you to try these on

Frederique van der Wal in the obligatory swimsuit shot

Frederique van der Wal at rest

And the obligatory Save the Something or Other appearance:

Further goodies await at Really.

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Meanwhile on the Gulf

Several Facebook friends with Houston connections posted this. I’m not sure of the original source.

Things non-Houstonians need to understand:

1. The streets and many of the public parks here are designed to flood. We sit just 35 feet above sea level, and most of the city is as flat as a pool table. We average about 50 inches of rain a year. The streets and parks serve as temporary retention ponds, accommodating slow, steady drainage through our bayous.

2. We average about 50 inches of rain a year, but in the last 48 hours, many areas of greater Houston received 25 to 30 inches of rain. That’s six to nine months’ worth of rain, in two days. The drainage system, which works well in normal conditions, was overwhelmed. Officials are calling this an “800 year flood”: that means there was a one in 800 chance of its occurrence. Even with advance notice, there was little means of preparing for this.

3. It is impossible to evacuate a city the size of Houston. Harris County is 1700+ square miles, with a population of 6.5 million people. How do you evacuate 6.5 million people? During the hours leading to Hurricane Rita’s landfall, tens of thousands of Houstonians attempted evacuation. The traffic jams lasted for days. One hundred people died. So far, six Houstonians have died in Hurricane Harvey, all of them (as far as I have heard) drowned in their automobiles. For more than a decade, the local mantra has been “shelter in place and hunker down.” That’s hard, but it’s the right approach.

4. Some outsiders are treating this disaster with schadenfreude: Texans helped elect an anti-big government president, and now we’re going to need big government help. Houston is one of the bluest spots in Texas, and voted Clinton in 2016. Suggesting this is karmic payback for backing Trump is as inaccurate (and offensive) as Pat Robertson’s suggestion that Hurricane Katrina was God smiting sinners. We really aren’t thinking Red or Blue right now. We are taking a royal beating, all of us. Disasters don’t care about ideology.

5. You are going to feel this. Gasoline and other oil-refined products (everything from PVC pipe to dry cleaning fluid) will rise in price. The stock market will take a hit. New Orleans is a fantastic city, but it’s not a major economic force. Houston is the center of the nation’s energy industry. It’s home to dozens of Fortune 500 companies. And 85% of it is under water. It may be this way for weeks.

And in the meantime, there’s baseball, somewhere:

I checked this with a sports guy at Fox 26 Houston:


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It’s still just a number

Some thoughts by fashion blogger Wendy Nguyen on becoming one year older:

So … I have this fear of revealing my age. Someone once told me that the entertainment industry is ageism (which is true) so letting people know my age will lessen my chances of working with some brands, growing my business, etc. I can understand why he grouped me in the “entertainment industry” category, this was before there was a “content creator/blogger industry” category. Thank goodness I’m not in the entertainment industry!

Spoiler: She reveals.

You may have seen her, from about here down anyway, in this video from last summer.

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Breakup alert

You always wonder what someone like this is up to:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can i see private facebook timeline?

The correct answer, already given, is “What part of “private” don’t you understand?”

And so our forlorn questioner tries again:


And this time he proffers an excuse:

My wife blocked me from seeing her secondary profile.

Which leaves only one question: “Can this marriage be saved?” I’m thinking hell to the no.

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Fire all of your guns at once

Once the song gets started, dial over here and join in with a new set of lyrics:

“True nature’s child,” indeed.

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You otter know

A recent mental floss piece on underrated dog breeds includes these uncommon hounds:

Soon, the Otterhound may join the ranks of the Paisley Terrier and Braque du Puy as an extinct dog breed. Fewer than 1000 of the rough-coated hounds are presently accounted for, making the breed rarer than the Giant Panda.

Their origins can be traced back to Medieval England. During that time, most English families relied on stream-caught fish as a dietary cornerstone. Any decline in the local fish stock could spell disaster for entire communities — so, naturally, carnivorous river otters weren’t too popular. Enter the Otterhound. Bred with webbed feet and powerful tails that could act as rudders, the dogs were great amphibious hunters. Also, their keen sense of smell made them expert otter-trackers. (Other traits are less utilitarian: Many keepers have commented that otterhounds have a habit of sleeping with all four paws in the air.) When the English government banned otter-hunting in 1982, the breed became scarce and its long-term survival is now very uncertain. As owner Betsy Conway put it to The New York Times, “You’re talking about an ancient breed that no longer has a job.”

Here, Ms Conway shows you one of these critters:

I’ve seen only one Otterhound in my entire life, and that was a quarter-century ago. Six of them made it to Westminster this year.

Of the 189 breeds currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Otterhound ranks 160th, meaning there are 30 breeds even rarer, at least according to their records. Of the three at the bottom, two are foxhounds, in American and English versions. You don’t see a lot of fox hunting these days, either.

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Cheezit, the fuzz

“Rueful” + “funny” = this Instagram from Jessica Simpson:

Missed a spot

Inexplicably, used that picture as a hook for an article on how to clear the brush off one’s knees.

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In color where available

This dates to about 1965, or nine years before our thrifty-or-else family actually got a color TV. And yes, it was an RCA Victor.

1965 advertisement for RCA Victor color TV

Most of those sets were 21-inchers; the console with the stereo system says specifically it’s 25 inches. As always, the screen measurement is taken along a diagonal, since Pythagoras promised them it would be a bigger number.

And if you were alive in ’65, you might have seen these on the Big Three networks:

Of course, I got to see them in black and white.

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Strange search-engine queries (604)

Welcome to Monday. Please have exact change. And stay tuned for some of the more bizarre search strings that somehow point to this site. Deschanel 160-68684.html:  All I can say is that the link worked when it got here.

megadonk:  1024 kilodonks.

on march 1 1982 john deposited $2250:  And he sure wishes he had it now.

in this stanza, prufrock repeats “do i dare?” three times. what does the repetition indicate about his state of mind? he is indecisive. he is adventurous. he wants to be on time. he is worried about the stairs:  And he wonders if that peach in the bowl on the table is still good.

rektful banned for showing young girl pretty much nude:  Yeah, pretty much.

from the albums released by a musician, the recording company wishes to release in a boxed set. how many different boxed sets are possible, assuming that the order in which the albums are chosen for a boxed set is irrelevant?  As many as the customers are willing to buy.

the money collected from selling bacon at a butcher store:  However much it was, it was worth it.

dumpster rental haiku:  A long metal box / You may fill it to the brim / With all sorts of crap.

cooties übersetzung:  Believe me, you’ll recognize them when you see them.

the thermometer hanging on jessica’s patio reads 18°c on a cool autumn day. the temperature on jessica’s patio in fahrenheit is °f. use this formula to convert the temperature:  On the other hand, it’s her patio and presumably her thermometer. Maybe she doesn’t want Fahrenheit.

petula clark topless:  Aw, come on, she’s over 80.

colonel sanders rule 34:  Now those breasts, you can look at.

bcbsok integris:  Sorry, they’re not speaking to one another.

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A situation of surpassing stickiness

Does your chewing gum lose its flavor when it traps an unsuspecting hummingbird?

A lot of work to extricate the poor bird. (I suspect I’d be too clumsy, and would make matters worse.) As expected, the youngster got the best lines.

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Another fable created

It’s Robyn Adele Anderson vs. System of a Down:

Close enough for jazz, am I right?

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A toot on the Yugoslavian crotch bugle

Author Alyssa Cole shares a piece of negative feedback:

Says Kirkus Reviews of this book:

A spy posing as a slave in Civil War Virginia risks her own life and the outcome of the war by falling in love with a fellow spy of another race. After being freed from slavery as a child, Ellen “Elle” Burns has one purpose. She is “going to help destroy the Confederacy.” But to do that, she has to do something she never imagined possible — pose as an enslaved woman on loan to a family of spoiled whites. Her “masters” are living the high life in spite of a punishing Union blockade that’s causing widespread suffering and starvation in Richmond, Virginia. Elle’s photographic memory makes her extremely valuable to the Loyal League, a network of black spies working to undermine the Confederacy. But her careful work is thrown into disarray by the arrival of Malcolm McCall, a detective in the Pinkerton network who is posing as a Confederate soldier paying social visits to the household where Elle works. Malcolm is a skilled spy and a good person, but Elle has a hard time bringing herself to trust a glib and charming white man whose job requires him to be a gifted liar. Little by little Malcolm wins her over, but the painful racial dynamics around them threaten to poison their relationship. Malcolm must treat Elle as less than human in front of others while convincing her in private that he values her as highly as any white woman. The first installment in Cole’s (Mixed Signals, 2015, etc.) Loyal League series defies genre stereotypes at every turn. It’s both a romance and a spy novel, with a healthy dose of adventure thrown in, and it offers a nuanced portrayal of Civil War-era racial politics. Any reader who thinks romance novels are pure fluff will be schooled by Cole’s richly drawn characters, who must overcome generations of trauma in order to let themselves love each other. A masterful tale that bodes well for future work from Cole.

It appears that Kirkus wasn’t overly put off by the phallic referemce.

(The YCB hardly needs explanation.)

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Who saw this coming?

Someone lent me an appropriate pair of glasses to observe the eclipse; I was going blind long before the moon moved into position. And most people probably observed the appropriate precautions. “Most,” however, is not “all”:

Those experiencing blurred or impaired vision after watching the solar eclipse may want to see an eye doctor.

Nurse Practitioner Trish Patterson at Prestige Urgent Care [Redding, California] said it usually takes 24 hours before people start noticing symptoms, including visual defects or blurriness.

Pain is not expected because there aren’t pain receptors in the retina.

If there were, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened:

So far, she said they haven’t had any patients with damage from looking at the eclipse, but they’ve had a few customers experience pain after they put sunscreen in their eye Monday since they did not have protective glasses.

“One of my colleagues at moonlight here stated yesterday that they had patients presenting at their clinic that put sunscreen on their eyeball, and presented that they were having pain and they were referred to an ophthalmologist,” Patterson said.

Sunscreen? On one’s eyeballs? What were they thinking?

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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The joys of simulating Uranus

This sounds almost too weird to be true, and yet …

Scientists have long theorized that the icy giant planet Uranus could have diamond rain showers due to the immense pressure in its atmosphere but none have actually come close to confirming the idea since mimicking the harsh conditions of the planet is necessary.

A team of researchers, however, has recreated the atmospheric conditions of Uranus at Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and successfully observed a rain of tiny diamonds.

As hard as it must have been to create that artificial atmosphere, I figure the hail of diamonds was a satisfying payback, except for these minor details:

The researchers say that, considering its size, the diamond rains in Uranus are probably giants reaching up to a few million carats in size. However, there are also two things to consider with ice giant diamonds: the first is that it probably has impurities, and the second is that they’re not cut and polished.

Probably no jewelers this far from Earth, either.

(Via Darlene.)

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Bond. Lilian Bond.

The billing seemed to vary from time to time, depending on how many L’s you think are in her first name, but Lilian Bond spelled it that way. Born in London in 1908, she did stage and panto work before coming to the States in the late 1920s. Her career took off in the early Thirties, perhaps peaking in 1940 with The Westerner, in which she played English actress Lily Langtry, object of a crush by Judge Roy Bean (Walter Brennan). Things tapered off quickly thereafter: by 1946’s The Jolson Story she was reduced to uncredited status, and in 1958, after a so-so period of TV appearances, she retired.

Lilian Bond works that 1930s look

Lilian Bond stretches out

Lilian Bond with George Raft

The chap in that last shot is George Raft, who starred with Sylvia Sidney in Pick-Up, a pre-Code thriller from 1933. In this clip, Bond and Sidney are having a few words, and you’ll be forgiven if you think she comes off like Jane Leeves:

Her IMDb bio contains the following throwaway line:

A beauty in her time, [she was] once photographed in the nude by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

Absolutely true.

Lilian Bond died in 1991 at the age of eighty-three.

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