My wife left this on the table before she went off to Bunco.I have no idea.

Possibly it means there’s a light out somewhere, and this is a marker so she’ll remember it later. If so I will replace it with an LCD; I’ve been upgrading all the lights all over the house with LCDs, which I like as much as I loathe CFLs. How I hate those swine-tails - from their light to their flicker to the fear of inhaling mercury every time I change one. There aren’t many in the house. Soon there will none. I like the heft of an LCD, too; it feels like a Lightbulb for the Ages.

At the moment I am attempting print a paper for daughter’s school. It’s a rather exhaustive account of the geography, customs, and foods of Cameroon. The information flows in through the eyes and exits via the fingers, with only a few scraps left behind like rags on branches after someone falls through a tree from a great height.

Of course, the printer does not work as it should. There’s a general agreement among printer manufacturers: everyone shall be equally wretched, so no brand has an advantage. This year’s detested piece of despicable keep is an Epson, which worked fine until it didn’t. Today it prints blank pages. Why? Who knows.

But if I take a screenshot of the page and open it in Photoshop, it prints.

Makes perfect sense. Oh, and the ink is low. I replaced the Black, which is the only thing I ever use. It was fine for a moment, but its slakeless thirst meant that it wanted more Cyan. This I replaced, knowing well it wasn’t empty. “Low” is the term they use. “Low” means “has some.” It means “has lots more than the machine is letting on.” We know our printers are lying to us, and that’s why we hate them.

Apart from the whole “eventually it ceases to work after minimal use and the expenditure of a hundred dollars on ink that is apparently drawn from the glands of whales and comet dust collected by interplanetary probes” part. I know there are good fine people who work in the printer business but I suspect that most, when questioned at a party about their occupation, prefer to say they test cosmetics on the eyes of bunny rabbits.

Of course there are diagnostics, which I am doing now. Printing a verticle alignment sheet. Here are the instructions for that:



I did. I think. It printed a blank sheet. Then it printed a sheet with blue squares and there was the same bit about selecting something that had the least or thinnest lines, with cryptic drop-down menus. Did that. Tried to print again: now the thing just won’t print black at all. So it’s useless, in as much as it’s a printer, and doesn’t print.

Stupid buck-sucking fail-boxes, all of them. I’ve tried Epson, HP, Canon, Kodak, Lexmark - shite tech, the lot. Each failure poisons the brand, so you move along until you’ve tried them all; then you think, well, maybe I should get the more expensive one, because it has Color-Brite matching technology with their special paper and High-Capacity Lo-Drain cartridges (TM) and a bloody LCD screen that shows the progress of yoru printing job in 256 colors and a slot for your camera card - whoopdi whoopdi fargin’ do, like you print a 7.1 MB picture directly from the card, ever - and maybe wireless that doesn’t suffer from dementia, and has a power plug that fits so poorly it doesn’t dislodge if a truck drives past your house, and so on. But then you think: what guarantee do I have that the more expensive unit isn’t just the guts of the last piece of beveled crap they dumped on the market? None. It’s all about the ink, after all. As long as you buy the ink. The machines are just middle-man vampires.

For heaven’s sake, when I saw that my daughter’s project had the national flag of Cameroon, I blanched: no! Not color! That tiny image will consume $4.23 worth of precious chromatic ichor! Because we all know ink is INCREDIBLY RARE and that’s why books cost $529.23 per copy.


Okay, I’m calm, he said, lying.

Other notes: cold. About seven degrees today; minus seven with the wind, so, minus seven today. Picked up daughter from after-school and went looking for supper; we’d never been to Jimmy John’s, and she wanted to go. Meh. Interesting pre-fab “retro” signage everywhere, including one long parable. Wonder if googling “Jimmy John mexican story” will get it. . . . Yep. This site was kind enough to transcribe it.

The American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while. The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The American then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time?

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.” The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?” To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said that’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.

“Millions, senor? Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

O the irony. First of all, Jimmy John himself sold a 33% stake in the company to a private-equity firm in 2007. Second, the two situations are not analogous; the American has resources that cushion him against many things, from the illness of his chidren to the downturn in the local market for fish to the decision of the government to confiscate boats, etc. But most important, he accomplished something. The boats he bought, the factory, the cannery, the distribution network - by dint of his initiative he multiplied his money and created things and employed people.

If you apply this story to Jimmy John himself, then there was no point for the guy to build a franchise whatsoever.



Now, the Cues! BOILERPLATE: As I say every week: if you're just joining the Listen project, it includes a selection of music cues gleaned from old radio shows In this case, "The Couple Next Door," the wonderful 1958-1960 radio show written by, and starring, Peg Lynch. It's library music the producers dropped in to get them in and out of scenes. It's the background soundtrack for mid-century life.

THIS WEEK: Over the course of a few days I was able to piece together some snippets from a suite; it was the same thing tweaked and reorchestrated and sped up and slowed down, so one theme could fit the emotional needs of the entire plot. That starts at #268. But first:



CND Cue #265 I can’t quite figure out where this one goes, but it plugs into some larger suite.


CND Cue #266 Misery and woe and all is lost - but my, how quickly things turn around! (Some dialogue left on the end for amusement purposes.)


CND Cue #267 Happy busy music, in stinger form.


CND Cue #268. Now the fun, in four cuts. This is a wary cut, and brings to mind an old horse tromping along.


CND Cue #269. Listen close to the melody at the start. Sound familiar?


CND Cue #270 Now let’s slow it up even more and change a few notes . . .


CND Cue #271. . . . now let’s run it through the Busy City filter.


CND Cue #272. And let’s end the week on this happy note.


MYSTERY. A rather dull show called "Justice Was Served" or "Was Justice Served" or something like that. Real-life cases from the pages of etc. etc. Ah, but who's doing the music?

This should sound familiar.




1959: Nichols and May for . . . well, you'll see.


More on Nichols and May next week. I think you'll find it interesting. If I remember to bring it up, that is. You never know.

That's it for this week! Column up here; scroll down to the COLUMNS pane.








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