Hard day with the dog. He couldn’t stand. He didn’t eat. We've gone from helping him up on occasion to helping him up most of the time to being surprised when he gets up on his own, at all. From worrying that he didn’t eat breakfast to assuming he has leftover cereal from a bowl placed on the floor. But I’m always watching for the look. The moment. The plea: I’m done. Help a fellow out.

And so tonight I toted up all the evidence and thought - well, what you think. I carried him outside and stood over him, bracing him as he tried to find his legs. He couldn’t. Took him inside and did the same on the rug, where he has some purchase. He couldn’t.

Backtrack: booster shot at the clinic with daughter. Modern medicine: they gave her the poke before she had time to settle down in the chair, almost. Sit - swab - prick - slap on the bandage, done. I’m serious: when she went down the hall I got out my phone and called up Twitter and was only 75 messages through 1000 unread when she reappeared.

Well, great! Off to Target. I bought two boxes of Orville Redenbacher SmartPop Sensible-Portion Heart-Healthy OH SHUT UP ABOUT IT popcorn, because the last two boxes I bought turned out to be Kettle Corn. That’s the sweet stuff. No. We spent some time in the Christmas aisles, joking over the branding, and I showed her the shelf where they have the stocking stuffers.

Behold, Santa’s workshop. This is where I got the stuff to stuff. We had a laugh over this:

Home, listening to a song she thought I might like. “Out of my League” by Fitz and the Tantrums. She was absolutely correct. Straight-up Eighties. The beat, the synth handclaps, the guitar, the vocals. (And the hair, as I later noted from the video.) I cannot imagine being 13 and playing a song for my dad. It just wasn’t a thing that was possible. Not because he would reject or judge or not get it - his old 45 collection, as I found out, had some pre-Beatles rock I still enjoy. Mostly classic country, though; a novelty song or two (he had “The Thing” - Danny Kaye version - and the most influential record of my very early years, “Tie Me Kangaroo Down” with that unstoppably lunatic B-side, “Big Black Hat.” I hear that song and I’m seven, sitting on the grey nubby carpet, waiting for the end when the heavy plastic tone arm picked up and moved away with robotic indifference and the next platter dropped) and an old, old scratchy copy of “Opus #1.” I listened and absorbed and incorporated, but the idea that I would say “hey, dad, you want to hear this new song?” just didn’t enter my mind.

So we have that.

Home; laughing about something or other, then a shriek! at a bug on the garage wall then she peels off to her room and I put away groceries while listening to a friend on the radio, back in the land of Events of Importance.

Jasper is on his mat in the living room, and I can see him from the stove; he’s just looking at me. So then. Hey there. I figure he might want to get outside again, and pick him up. He can’t stand. I take him outside. He can’t stand. I bring him back to his food bowl. He’s not interested.

I put him back on his comfy cushion.

Wife comes home, phone call, mother-in-law with Christmas travel plans, I hear wife saying it’s best she come here instead of us going there, fares are ridiculous, and we don’t know about Jasper -

I wince. When the call is over I tell her: he can’t stand.

I should note that when I came home earlier I flipped the switch for the ceiling light and it didn’t go on, and I figured the bulb was shot - but a few moments after my wife arrived the light popped on, almost as if she willed it to be. And so it was here: she said he would walk. I brought him outside again, and he stood. But that’s not enough. It’s not that he can stand. It’s whether he wants to go through the bother, isn’t it? To have the day be a long snore punctuated with dinner indifference and tangled limbs?

Is this it?

There’s one way to find out: see if he wants a walk. So I took him down the steps and we stood in the pool of light under the streetlamp and he tottered a bit, taking stock, making a decision. He headed down the sidewalk. The long sloping sidewalk. He went past the triangle down to the end of the street. We did a long U-turn, and headed up; when he got to the house he looked north and kept going.

He kept going. We paused at the house where Juno, the anxious but silent dog, is always standing on the concrete berm by the recessed garage. I was surprised to see her out and said hello Juno. She wagged her tail. We pressed on.

Eventually we looped back and got to the steps and I carried him up. Dumped some of the good stuff in his bowl - disgusting meat-goop - and he ate every scrap. He walked on creaky limbs to his mat and plopped and went to sleep.

Point is, he pushed on. That’s what he does.

But. That was the greatest sadness of the day. The greatest joy was sitting at Starbucks with daughter and dissecting the wall mural and then spilling coffee and shopping and looking at what Finn the Goldfish Cracker Fish was up to in the seasonal department. Life is a relay race. You think it’s about the part where you’re running. Some days it seems like it boils down to two moments: when you grasp the baton from the one behind you, and when you hand it off to the one in front.

Palate cleanser to brighten the mood after all this:


An ad for gas, of all things, takes us to the Computer Assembly Rooms of Yesterday:

Oh, we laugh now. A thousand bits per inch! 250,000 words per platter! No one thinks in terms of "words per disk" anymore. We take these miracls for granted until they stop being miraculous, and after the double-crash of the past fortnight, I have renewed appreciation for that.

You look back at the computers of the era and compare them with the ones of today, and wonder: what did they do with those things? No games, no videos, no graphics programs, no CGI. Did they just collect information and calculate long equations?

Here's the reason the ad stood out. Ahhh. The rational world of the machine and the wise people who build them. The egghead factory.

The IBM Cottle Road Campus was designed in 55 / 56, and opened in 58; more here, including some color shots of the exteriors. The scupture was called the Hydrogyro, according to this page, which has a large collection of color views from 1963. It moved with the wind, as you can tell from different pictures aroud the web.

More here, in glorious modern black and white.

Perhaps one of the most lauded structures was Building 25. Well:

IBM's historic Building 25 in San Jose, California — formerly at the center of a dispute between preservationists and a home repair chain — was destroyed by a fire over the weekend.

The three-alarm blaze substantially damaged the abandoned complex, leaving little in the ruins.

The site had been closed by IBM since the mid-1990s, when Big Blue began to relocate its facilities to other parts of San Jose and Silicon Valley. In a previous life, the complex was an IBM headquarters where researchers developed the first hard disk drive to use a flying head. The advancement greatly improved a computer's ability to search the disk platter for data.

Architecturally, the building has been heralded as one of the earliest examples of Silicon Valley's technology campuses. Advocates of the site champion IBM's use of large glass walls, as opposed to the solid wall construction popular at the time, that provided ties between the landscaping, outdoor works of art and the indoor offices and labs.

Here and there you can still see a few details from the early years, if you zoom in close enough on Google Street view.

According to this page, the Hydrogyro was in poor condition in 2010. Beautiful shot. Take a look at it: the International Style, yes, but there was always something uniquely American about its manfiestations here. Open and strong and optimistic. We built these things everywhere - schools, stores, office buildings - until it wasn't the future but the casually inhabited present. And then it was old and down they went; who'd notice if we lost one or two? There were so many others. The rest were overhauled, given party-hat roofs or moddish hues. The spare layouts were cluttered; classical details were stuck on the lampposts. When you come across the real thing, full strength, it's like looking at a Roman Temple in North Africa. Something came through, ruled, built temples, then declined.

Or, in this case, walked up the gangplank in their one-piece suits into the silvery rocket ship standing erect on three fins, rotated some dials, and blasted off for good.


There's two weeks worth of Restaurant Exteriors up - well, seven pages, including 3 HoJos I could not, in good conscience, pass off as an entire update. See you around!








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