Decided to get Daughter's passport renewed in case I have to take her out of the country at a moment's notice. Hey, you never know. But they make it so hard! Your spouse has to be there, in case you're, you know, planning to take her of the country at a moment's notice. So I had my wife sign a document and get it notarized, and then I waited until the document had expired so I could go through the process of making her do it again because THAT'S SO MUCH FUN TO ASK.

I had the other documents all filled out, and was ready to go downtown to the Main Passport Place, but when I called for an appointment (previous experience told me that all appointments were 9 AM; you were supposed to show up and just sit there) I was told that everything was different. I could go to an Acceptance Facility to have acceptance facilitated. Where were they? The nice lady at the State Department said their computers were all down.

Okay. Well, my wife had forgotten to get the document, so I'll call tomorrow.

FF to Monday; Wife has document, and I'm ready to go. She calls me to say "you didn't get the copies of my driver's license." I did now know I needed them. She offered to fax them. I suggested she send them by telegraph or perhaps log on to AOL to send them as "electronic mail." Hah hah funny. She sent a PDF and I printed it out and was ready to roll! Picked up Daughter! Grand adventure at the Acceptance Facility!

"Slow down," Daughter said. "Relax. Breathe."

I was tense, because this involved paperwork and authorities and standing at a window, something that always makes me on edge. Because something is going to go horribly wrong. In this case, the office closed at 3:30, and they didn't take appointments, but we got there in plenty of time. Our number was called, but since the Passport Lady was busy, the clerk just checked my documents to make sure I had everything. And I did! My papers were in order! I relaxed and waited for Passport Lady to be free, and then I noticed:

I had forgotten to write down Daughter's Social Security Number. It was in the master password data file, and I hadn't been by my computer when I filled it out. crapcrapcrap get out phone, get out the password manager, it'll have it


crapcrapcrap type the password to get to the passwords. Incorrect. Type again: incorrect. And again. It's a long password, and of course - OF COURSE you cannot see what you are typing. Just round black balls.

Our number is called. I ask the Passport Lady if she can just start processing this, and I'll be right back - I can't get the SS number from my phone right now.

"If you stand by the window it might help," she says, and for a second I think - what, I'll remember better by the window? I'll type better? But she means I'd get a better signal. She says she cannot start it and I will have to come back.

Daughter gives me a look that makes me pity future boyfriends and husband, just a little. It's not cruel. It's not disappointed. It's not angry. It's just . . . really.


So I drive home and run in the house and the dog is happy! You're back! Let's do something! And then I go again and make it back in 14 amazing minutes total, and wave my paperwork at Passport Lady.

"If you leave the facility you have to take another number," she says. So I take another number. We wait. We are called at 3:25. Passport Lady looks at my documents and says "I don't why you have these. They're not the right ones," and at this point I feel like a slouched, beaten, balding Eastern European man formerly employed at the University until the purges, a man who has taken so much and will take no more and I want to shout THESE ARE THE PAPERS! MY PAPERS ARE IN ORDER! I HAVE THE NUMBERS AND THE DOCUMENTS! THESE ARE THE PAPERS! She gives me another batch to fill out and I go to the table and fill them out. When I am done it is 3:35.

I walk over to the Passport Department and wave my letters at the workers behind the glass; one of them leans over and says "We're closed."

Buh - buh - buh

"Did you take a number?"

"I had a number. I had two numbers. She - she gave me this to fill out -"

And then the nice Passport Lady, hereafter Happy Passport Lady, said "oh! You were already working on it. Let me come right around" and she guided us through everything with cheer and high spirits.

Until she came to the photograph. It was from last summer. Daughter doesn't like them, because they were from last year and her eyebrow profile was different. (These things matter.) HPL said there was a problem with the pictures, frankly; they weren't sized right. She suggested we redo them.

"All right," I said. Daughter looked at me with astonishment: ALL RIGHT?

"We have to go back to FedEx?" she asked, because we'd done the picture at Kinkos, which had the FedEx logo on the passport-picture envelope for some reason, and she thought that's where you got your passport pictures. FedEx.

"No, we'll do them here." Ah! Relief. She took off her cap, and was a bit distressed to find her coiffure so tousled, but the NPL said "you'll just look like you do when you're coming back from abroad after a long trip on the plane!" And then checks were written and I took an oath and it - was - done.

I'd told daughter that we'd go to BubbleTea if the passport expedition was successful. So we went to BubbleTea.

It's closed M-W.

She put her head on the door like Charlie Brown putting his head on the trunk of a tree that had eaten his kite.

"I hope they don't go out of business."

"Nah. They're probably doing so well they don't need to be open those other days. Come on, we'll go to the grocery store. You can have your choice of silly artisanal soda with a nice label and bizarre ingredients."

"I think I want . . . a coffee drink."

"And you shall," and off we went.

At the grocery store I got bread for Pasta Monday. They have introduced a new mini baguette for take-and-bake. Get this: it's $2.29. The regular size, which is twice as big, is $2.49. I bought the small one. You may ask: Good Lord Why? and I'll tell you: we never finish the big one. We have half. The rest is put into a paper bag where it sits for a day and no one eats it and it's thrown away. They know this. They priced the smaller one for people who do not want to waste all that bread.

When you look at it that way, I saved twenty cents.

And that was my day.

Patreon update:

You are all amazing and generous and wonderful, and it looks indeed as if I'm on target to the target for the annual amount I set by pulling a number out of the cool, clean, fresh air of a Minnesota evening. You can still subscribe for whatever you wish to contribute, of course - but what do you get, aside from this site continuing on in its present incarnation with hundreds and hundreds of new pages per year? Well: I've figured out what the gift to all patrons will be. It's not a link to a secret site. It's not a mug. It's -

Well, you'll have to join the ranks of the Patrons to know. It's coming in mid-June.



From 1949, a feature in Look, the magazine that was Pepsi to Life's Coke. They said nice things about people who had hard-working, succesful, persistent publicists. Today:


Just 19? You had to be a haaaard case if Mike threw you out.

The Snidely Whiplash character was possibly a cliche within a year or two of the first appearance in a heroine-in-peril silent movie.







Say goodbye to those poorly-cemented crowns:


I know some people like them cold. There's an argument to be made. Small peanut butter cups, for example, are great when they're cold, but that's because the peanut butter breaks down easily.

Frozen Milky Ways are like eating glass.

Let's invent a word and hope it catches on and if not who cares people looked because, uh, what?

It's a portmanteau for Stropped and Honed. Stopped on 30 feet of leather. Bet that got a few guys in the audience excited.

This guy, though. Too much of just everything.

Let's take a look at the details of an ad for the word that's on everyone's lips after Stroned, and that's Quadriga:


Duds will not fade; the sun shall not lessen their brilliance. To what do we owe this miraculous advance? Scientific advances backed by Leading Authories:


"Certified Washable" seems to be a rather low bar.

Quadriga had an unnerving mascot, one of those things you see in a stop-motion animation short film:


Ely & Walker, eh. Mr. Walker has a bio on Wikipedia, which includes this passage:

Walker married Martha Adela Beaky. They had a son, George Herbert Walker.

Did he know. That's like three names out of four, right? Well:

Walker died in 1918 at Walker's Point, his son George's seaside property in Kennebunkport, Maine, the modern-day Bush compound now occupied by former President George H.W. Bush. His great-grandson, George H. W. Bush, and his great-great-grandson, George W. Bush, both served as Presidents of the United States.

They made their money in fabric. Who knew.

Yanked from the market after allergic reactions caused swollen extremities:


Chocolate and peanuts. It's always chocolate and peanuts. Ziegler closed in 1977, but the Giant is still made. Note: it's not wrapped, so don't expect the cool package. (It was yellow.) The people who make the current bar?


I'll just put this here because it's an example of old packaging, and old phrasing:

It's not Shampoo. It's a shampoo.

I'd like to think the art director and the photographer based this on "The Awakening Conscience" and didn't tell anyone, and tried not to laugh when it was obvious no one in the room saw the reference.

Speaking of Pre-Raphaelite works: Hunt was my least favorite, and I always found "Conscience" to be overstuffed, pedantic, and sentimental. I mean, it seems like an odd moment for a hooker to find God, but I suppose all things are possible. This page has a great account of the painting's symbolism, and tells me something I never knew:

And here’s a killer detail: The model for the image of the young lady? Well, it was actually Holman Hunt’s own mistress, Annie Miller. Hunt was trying to convince Miller to leave behind her life as a mistress, and reform herself into a good woman of society he could marry with dignity. She never did take to this idea of becoming his Good Wife and they eventually broke up.

Oh for heaven's sake.

Finally: yes, it is. Don't hold it in.

What boy didn't want one? What Mom didn't say no?

Oh, er, ahem:

Enjoy some sci-fi covers, and I will see you around. If not around, well, tomorrow.



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