Yes, there’s a major site upgrade today, and it contains exactly one (1) new page. The deathless details await at the bottom of the page. Meanwhile, it’s a late-night no-time-to-edit patch of blather. Apologies in advance.   

         So I’m standing by the Water Feature with G. Burl, and he says again that they want to make everything top-notch, just the way I want it. A thing of beauty, an object of pride. I say I don’t want it to look like the Belagio fountain, synchronized to Celine Dion songs, partly because I can’t stand her but mostly because I don’t want to be unreasonable. I’m not going to ask them to do all sorts of things that weren’t in the original plans. (Which they can’t find, incidentally.) If it works, I’m happy. Well, not happy, but disinclined to do something nuclear like put up all the pictures of the job site, the craptacular early construction, the Bobcat that sat in my yard so long we started bringing it in for evening meals, and then put the company’s name on every page and every picture and every meta tag.

         I didn’t say that, but that’s in the back of my mind.

         Then he said he was hoping that once the project was done, they could use me a reference.

         Oh, my. Well. I told him that I couldn’t do that. I could give him a reference, personally, since he’d been great: showed up every day, did the job, kept me informed, kept a neat worksite, and cared about the project. G. Burly Mofo? Anytime. He finished up today, caulking a leak (thanks to their choice of stone, there’s a problem with the caulk bonding; it flakes, and expands and contracts during winter. Good thing we just got done with the only winter we’ll ever have, so that’s not a problem anymore.) He left around 4, and said he’d be back in May to do some more final caulking. In the meantime, enjoy!

          I turned it on and enjoyed it. It’s nice to sit up here in the studio, windows open to the lovely spring air, and hear the sound of rushing water.

         The problem is that I stopped hearing the sound of rushing water about 15 minutes ago.

         I really don’t want to go down and look. But I must, mustn’t I.

         I’m back. The water has ceased to flow. It is trickling down the stones as the upper tank empties out; in half an hour I expect to hear the horrid death-rattle gurgle of the lower pump.

         You know, I’m almost glad. It was too good to be true. This feels normal. I feel vindicated for putting that schlocky ? at the end of The End on yesterday’s movie, too. I’m about six inches away from demanding they rip it all up and rebuild it. And this time I want the big timed fountains that shoot up nine stories. To Cheap Trick songs! Dude. Okay, they lost it after a few cuts of “Dream Police.” But “Just Got Back” from the “All Shook Up” album could have come from the “In Color” album. Really. It’s that good. Anyway, start digging.

         All in all, though, a good day; still has that May vibe that makes me wonder what cruel price we’ll pay when May truly arrives. The bushes are budding; the grass is taking its time, but it’s Nature’s Stoner. Never quite on schedule. Never quite with the program. The sidewalks in the neighborhood are decorated with chalk drawings and hopscotch grids. Hopscotch! I expect to see kids with jagged-point hats festooned with bottle caps playing stickball in the street, shouting GWAN, YA MUDDAH at each other. From six to twilight it’s dog-walk time; you realize again how many people have canine compadres, and how outsized the beasts are. For city living you think people would scale down, but I see people trailing behind creatures I could ride to work. And the Queen of England, with all those vast mansions, keeps corgis. Go figure.

Grilled some steak. First of the year. Marinated it for an hour in Lawry’s new Italian Steak potion; contains olive oil and pepper, which I could have figured out on my own, but it also has magic ingredients with savory names like FD&C #4, or partially hydrogenated uranium, and “spices.” I love that one. Spices. A multitude of trade secrets are hidden in that single word. Like what? Bits-O-Myrrh™? Flecked ambergris? Stood over the steaks while I listened to an old air force general discuss military options about Iraq. I’m somewhat frustrated by people who say we can’t do everything, and therefore should do nothing. For heaven’s sake, we are the UNITED STATES. We’re going to BOMB THE MOON in 2009. But we can’t build a fence to prevent immigration, eh?  We could build a fence on the moon. And then we could blow it up. If we wanted.

“Why are you yelling at the steaks?” my wife asks from inside.

“Nothing, honey. Just thinking out loud.”

It’s moments like these that make for that curious daily disconnect: everything’s fine, the weather’s great, everyone’s healthy, Gnat is a daily delight (even if she insists on eating Ice Age 2 cereal, which is about the worst grain-based CGI spin-off edible I’ve seen; the grain element is “ice cube shaped,” but it’s a flat ice cube, more of a reminder of those annoying and inevitably infuriating hotel bar ice cubes that melt almost instantly and turn your drink into broth. The marshmallow items are shaped like acorns. Small pastel-colored non-acorn-shaped acorns. Gah) but the news gathers and roils and darkens, and all you can do is wait. The other day I heard Sen. Boxer insist that Iran is “five to ten years away” from developing a nuclear device, and thus our current focus should be on Congressional hearings to investigate the manipulation of intelligence that led us to invade poor old irrelevant Monaco in the sand, Iraq. (I’m paraphrasing.)

She may be right. I assume her projections were based on information to which Senators are privy. If so, did she just leak classified information? If she is wrong, might we ask if she ignored contrary reports and cherry-picked the data? If she is wrong, and Iran not only has a bomb in, oh, 16 days, and uses it down the road, will there be an investigation to determine why and how she came to her conclusions and voted accordingly?

Yes, I’m being facetious. It’s just an odd time, that's all. You fear something will happen. And you fear nothing will happen. I understand there are a variety of learned opinions on the question, but I am disinclined to believe that sanctions or a concerted round of international scowlings will make make the mullahs (if only they were Serbian fundamentalist Christians! How much easier this would be!) decide to smelt all the centrifuges.

I remember when Khomeini came to power.  Made his triumphal return. A friend – a sweet idealistic young lady just back from doing undefined good things in Belize – remarked how wonderful this was, how the people were taking their country back. I nodded, not wanting to get into a fight – she was the roommate of a girl who’d broken up with me, so I didn’t want to cash that chit. But that guy spelled Hard Times to me from day one, and that took no special insight. The same people who would have freaked if some grim dark Pope took over France and put the women in Hefty bags nodded approvingly, because The Shah Was Worse, and it fit the tidy narrative. And if the SAVAK is replaced by something worse, but doesn’t have an acronym that sounds like meany Vulcans? Nevermind.

In any case, Bush speaks of the Long War as if it’s something we’ve just begun. It’s been going on for quite a while. Interesting fact: tomorrow is the anniversary of the largest naval battle since WW2, Operation Praying Mantis.

And who did we fight? Well.

The steaks were good, if a bit dry. My fault. Walked the dog, went home, booted up the new Quake 4 game. Just played a few minutes. You’ll be pleased to know that every single cliché of futuristic bug-hunt games AND “Aliens” is recycled in the opening scenes. It ain’t Doom 3, but that’s because it’s Raven, not ID. But Raven’s still pretty good. I was only five minute into the game before I recalled the feelings I had in Quake 2: I’m on the Planet Stroggos. I hate the Planet Stroggos.

Please note that this is a game, and does not reflect my desire to recontextualize the Dusky Other as an alien culture so I can train myself to accept their extermination. We're talking about grunting milky-white-skinned bald cyborgs running around rusty corriders shooting bazookas surgically attached to their arms. Okay? Jeez. Then I worked on some other stuff. To wit:

Ta-da. The New Institute. And a small update to the Institute. It was a mess for too long; now it lives again! Enjoy; see you tomorrow.

Oh: it’s a quarter to midnight. The pump is gurgling and gasping. Excellent.





c. j lileks. email may be sent to first name at last name dot com.