BBC radio-drama description that did not make me want to lend an ear: “Coming-of-age climate blogger drama.”

We’ve had 50 days below zero this season. For those who never experience such things, let me remind you that this isn’t below the point at which water freezes; it’s 32 degrees below that. Fifty days when the temperature could not muster a Null, let alone a single shivering digit.

We all know it will melt, and it won’t be long, but right now the snowbanks look like they’re carved from white marble.

I am not saying anything optimistic around the family, because they are sick of it. Hah! I’d like someone to take the household’s emotional temper if I decided to join the Grump Guild; there would be knife-fights in a day. It’s not like I want to be optimistic. It’s easier to be pessimistic, but if low-level existential despair is where your brain goes when it’s in neutral, best you train yourself to be optimistic.

Here’s something I’ve learned that really annoys Daughter: saying, on Tuesday, that we are but two days away from Friday. That strikes her as the most ridiculous expression of optimism she’s heard since I said we were but three days away on Monday. But it’s true.

Okay. I have 17 minutes here. Pieces due every day this week and that means every night is a frenzy of grant-0-type at the kitchen table, standing up, before I give myself the nightly ration of TV and microwave popcorn. Based on that paragraph, GO:

Traders Joe has denied that their microwave popcorn ever existed. Winston Smith put it down the memory hole, which would be amusing if you saw the 1984 John Hurt version, because it’s literally a hole with a fire at the bottom that incinerates documents; microwaved popcorn would start to pop.

I say “Traders Joe” because that is how my French Brother-in-law referred to it once, and that has become the default term in our house now. I used it in his presence recently and got no response.

At Traders Joe on Sunday I bought a wedge of cheese my daughter likes for lunch. Old Amsterdam. At Cub on the next stop of the errands I saw a slender wedge of the same stuff, and thought In Case We Run Out, and threw it in the basket. When I rang it up it was nine dollars. I had just paid six dollars for a slice four times thick. I called over the poor guy who has to man the self-serve checkout, and told him that this was mislabeled. No way it cost that much. Really, I just paid less at Traders Joe.

He looked at me as if to say “then why are you buying it here” but just nodded, because this was the fourth time I’d called him over. Once when the machine locked up because it thought I hadn’t bagged and item. THERE IT IS, I said. “You have to hit the button that says you don’t want to bag it,” he said. I noted I had done that, wanting to say “get CSI in here to lift prints and you’ll find multiple attempts to engage the option.” The second time was for the same thing, and I said look, I know these things are flaky. I have arranged my bag so it doesn’t hang off the scale and I push the items done” and he’s, well, he’s a guy whose job it is to press a special code and let me go. The third time: I couldn’t find a coupon for the cheese. I mean, I looked in the book they mailed me, and looked twice, and couldn’t find it. He found another ad that had the coupon. So the fourth time I ask for assistance he just wants to taser me, but nothing was my fault. Nothing!


The nightly ration of TV will be an extra ep of “Walking Dead,” which I was done with completely but somehow kept watching, and now there’s New Hope. If I cannot finish the piece tonight it will be one Judge Judy’s Bark and Glare show, where big swaggering dudes who have lived their entire lives without anyone telling them they’re wholly deficient in the most basic attributes of adulthood are whittled down to a sweaty squinting nubbin by a woman the size of a toy dog.

This is looking more likely; I have 950 words to file and only 673 written. But I’m on a roll. Or was, until I stopped to do this.

Grant-0-Type was autocorrect; I meant to say frant-o-type, which was a term used at the TV Guide office in 1986, when we had to get our code into the system so RADNOR would accept it and generate the listings. RADNOR was not the name of some ancient computer OS; that was the home office. RADNOR PA. You did you work on thick dot-matrix print-outs, arranging the scheduled for your editions, then entered the codes for the syndicated shows into the system, thereby ensuring that the proper two-line text for the Dukes of Hazzard show would be accurate. God forbid you entered the 20236 code and it spit out “The boys are in trouble with Boss Hogg” when the show was really 20263, which was “Boss Hogg is in trouble with the boys.”

Because I was bad at that job and hated it I was always banging my codes into the system at the last moment, which my co-worker dubbed frant-o-type. It’s stayed with me to this day. We follow each other on Twitter. He left for a writing gig, too. Everyone else? In the wind. Well, except for the highly efficient young lady who sat on the other side of my partition and endured my smoking. He married her.

Full stop, recall: you could smoke in offices. As I noted in the Sunday column, it’s like telling my daughter “in my day, people urinated in the corner of the elevator cars.”

The new microwave popcorn is Orville Reddennbacchher SmartPop, I think. 120 calories per bag. It goes in a bowl which goes in the sink which I put away the next day after lunch, a constant transit that runs through the days like a yellow thread. Perhaps in the afterlife you can treat yourself to compilation videos of recurring actions, and I’ll able to see myself taking out the bowl, putting it in the sink, putting it away the next day, 365 times per year, year after year, with periodic variations in late-night garb (sweatshirts come and go, seasons noted by the sudden appearance of shorts) and so on

Ding! Seventeen minutes are up. Good thing I wrote everything below yesterday. Enjoy: I think this is a particularly fascinating trip down the rabbit hole of Products.

There will be others. This will always be the first.



A spare anount of Products! today because one image sent me off into a completely different direction, and if I use all the items I'd prepared for this week the Bleat would be about a mile long.

The weekly Borden takes a break from the tension-fraught life of the Elsie household.

Fear! Fear she will hurt herself? Fear that her own reputation as a great skater will be overshadowed by the new Hemo-infused rival?


It's possible that the house still exists, but if you think I'm going to Google Earth up and down Center Street in Dover MA, forget it:

Oh, okay. Sigh.

View Larger Map

Hodgson Houses made prefabs, as you can surmise. This site is devoted to curating the company history. It has a larger picture of the one in the ad, here. Believe it or, I found the Google Street View before I found the Hodgson site; only took a few minutes, and I skipped up and down the street impatiently, looking for a reason to declare the search bootless. But there it was!

Here's the detail that makes it all worthwhile: the one in the ad was built for Mr. Hodgson's daughter, Geraldine. If you google her name, you'll be directed to a famous Philip Johnson International Style house built for Richard and Geraldine Hodgson. Can't be the same person. It would be great if it was.



Can you tell why I loved this one? Not just because I'm getting over a cold. Not because I was introduced to the Kade portion of "Seeck & Kade," who turned out to be a wealthy philanthropist. It's the illustration.

Was it simply assumed that we would know who did this, or did they cheerfully swipe Ripley's idea and dare anyone to make a fuss?



More Shefford, which I've done before, but I don't think I've presented such a complete arrangement of 1940s cheese packaging as this.

If I have, I am so very, very sorry. Redundent cheese-packaging arrangements are not my intention.

Curious again who made it, I searched - and this time, up pops a Library of Congress picture.

(The original was 640 pixels wide; this is 600.) Ah: There's an option to download a Tiff, which I do. It's huge. It yields so many details. I'm assuming it's DC; looks like DC. Computer, magnifty, upper left-hand corner:

Enhance, please:

Computer, zoom in on middle.

Ah. That should be enough. A Google Search takes us to a book called "The New Washington," (note: pdf will automatically download) a 1913 piece of boosterism; there's a picture of the building and an address. 618 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Alas:

View Larger Map

So that's that. But now let's look elsewhere in the picture. A humble storefront:

But there's more. In the corner, a moment of bygone DC life frozen at the moment the man seems to look at the camera.

Above his head you can see "63 King & Co" and the carvings on the stone around the door.

Having brought this fellow back to life, I'm not sure there's anything else we need to do today.


Usual usual here and there; see you around.



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