I have a sprinkler system, but it’s best for maintaining pre-existing grass. I don’t trust it to coax new grass out of fresh dirt. For the back and front I’ve been using two sprinklers with timers, and I like them: gadgets! Knobs to set, calibrations to make. Why, it’s the future, right here - set the timer, tell my watch to remind me in half an hour, and there you have it: a timeless summer job, complicated for no good reason.

Both sprinklers broke. One decided not to oscillate anymore. I will oscillate no more forever, it said to itself. The water goes up, leans over, stays there. Lifetime guarantee, though! Let’s look at the website to see if there are tips for unsticking it. A google search for the brand-name / stuck 3-1 timer brought up a page where people complain about the brand, over and over. IF I COULD LEAVE ZERO STARS I WOULD

Okay, I’ve heard this so often it’s time they allow us to leave Zero Stars. And I’m going to stop with that idea right now because it’s probably next week’s Monday column. Anyway, people said the company didn’t answer the phone, customer support was no help, and I figured I was out of luck.

Wife: I never liked it. It was cheap.

Me: It had a lifetime guarantee! Granted, no one seems to answer the phone.

Wife: Ah hah!

Me: ah hah what?

Wife: it was a scam.

She wasn’t entirely serious, but now I’m defending the stupid thing that just broke. Possibly because I bought it. Bought two, as I said. The other was out front. I had to go buy another (“Get a heavy one,” Wife said) so I got in the car, drove down to the bottom of the hill, picked up the sprinkler that was irrigating the new seed, and it broke. The connector snapped off and doused my leg. I got it back on, but my whole left leg was soaking. Got back in the car and drove off to the big-box store.

They had one sprinkler left. Last chicken in the shop. Took it to the register, and said to the clerk: “You can tell it’s time to get a new sprinkler when the old one does this.” I pointed to my leg.

She stared at it and stared at me.

“The sprinkler just snapped. Broke.”

She stared at me. “Why didn’t you change?” She said.

Uh. Hmm. “Well, I was . . . my car was running. I was on my way here, and stopped at the edge of the lawn to move the sprinkler.”

She looked at my purchase, which consisted of one (1) sprinkler, and processed the story: he was on his way here to buy a sprinkler when he stopped to move a sprinkler and that sprinkler broke.

If she considered that I was able to see the future, it was a brief consideration, and obviously I couldn’t because I wouldn’t have begun this awkward conversation.







Not a review. Who cares. Just some notes. I’ve been watching the Jack Ryan series on Amazon, not because I love the character, but because we all loved Jim From the Office and it’s still a bit difficult to see him as an Action Hero. He’s a Sheepish Decent Millennial! But he had that other action role, so now he’s remade, and that’s fine: it’s a living. I wish someone had done a Dick Powell poster congratulating him on his reinvention, though.

You know, that poster. Do I have to google it? I tried once. I couldn’t find it. In the 80s I had a book of movie posters, cheap, monochrome, and there was an example of Powell’s first hard-boiled movie. Previously, rich but decent crooner musical guy. Now, two-fisted private detective. It was akin to Jim from The Office turning into an action hero. Anyway, the poster said “Congratulations, Dick, you’re terrific in your new hard-boiled role” or something like that - as if the whole world was bursting with pride, and it was generally agreed that he was terrific.

Did they actually use the word terrific? Or am I thinking of the ill-advised Citizen Kane campaign? Doesn’t matter. Point is, the last episode of the Jack Ryan series will not see the terrorist facing a missile he launched head back at him, and there will not be the Islamic crescent on the tip.

Some of you know exactly what I mean.

I’d like to say I remember noticing this when I saw the movie in the theaters, and it’s possible I did; it was brief, but BIG. It was meant to register on some level.



After a few eps of the Jack Ryan series I stopped and rewatched “Hunt for Red October,” which is a perfect piece of 80s action “technothriller” movie-making. It is now a relic of a bygone age we did not think would ever end. The Soviets, as presented, are fully human - venal, noble, aspirational, cynical, bureaucratic, et cetera. There’s hardly any ideological prattle - we sense nationalism and cultural pride on the enemy’s side. They seem our equal, technologically, and in one key sense our better - but also they can’t put a nuclear pile in a boat without it malfunctioning, so there’s that. They sing! They smoke and shrug Slavically! They’re the enemy, but we’re rooting for them - except the grunts and swabbies who don’t know better, and we laugh at them.

Anyway. The cast is - well, terrific, and the surface vessels aren’t CGI, and you feel privy to secrets. Whoa, is this what we have? Is this what we know? Is this what we can do? It’s a patriotic movie, but not a jingoistic one, and you can’t help respect the Soviets as worthy adversaries.

In the new Jack Ryan, the adversaries are Islamic terrorists - at least so far; I expect at the end the attacks will be the work of a corporate elite who want to manipulate currency - and while the soundtrack tries to give them Mournful Dignity, and the backstory seems designed to make us sympathetic (the kids were dancing to Men Without Hats when Western jets killed their mother!) the terrorists operate in a world in which their culture has contributed exactly zero to the advancement of mankind. They operate from sandy castles from the Middle Ages, and everything they use - cars, guns, motorcycles, phones, clothing, toys, any sort of tech - is the product of the West.

You can’t help escape the impression that the West is objectively more conducive to fulfilling every possible human aspiration. The frigid landscapes of France (yes, that’s what I said) seem infinitely more hospitable than the empty sandy expanses where angry men drive around in dusty trucks. The show, after a few eps, seems to making the case that the adversary’s culture is not deserving of respect, because it is patriarchal, violent, misogynistic, tribal, unproductive, and besotted with vengeful monotheism that regards nonbelievers as disposable pawns.

It is possible that this is exactly what the series intends to say. Unless Jon Voight shows up and we see he’s been pulling all the strings, because modern stories have to locate the primary sin in our own hearts. The fault, dear Horatio, is in our stars. Or at least their agents. And the writers.




It’s 1922.

I’m thinking this is a magazine for rich homeowners. What do you think?

Absent, of course, are all the patients who didn’t survive the operation. It’s odd to think that this view today would be similar and completely different, all the trees replaced by new ones.

Davey is still around:

Corporate Vision Provide solutions that promote balance among people, progress and the environment.

Mission Statement
Deliver unmatched excellence in client experience, employee strength, safety and financial sustainability as we advance the green industry.

Corporate Values
Integrity, safety, expertise, improvement, leadership and resolve.

Sorry, but that’s just someone sawing wet wood.

Uh - how?

Create an impression of appetizing daintiness without the offense of moist food on linens. If you say so. Moist is one word many find a tad distasteful; dainty would soon have its career changed forever when it was drafted into use as a synonym for “feminine freshness.” Women were meant to ask themselves constantly if they were sufficiently dainty.


Vudor, the first name in names that mean nothing:

2012 obit:

JANESVILLE — John Hough told his lunch buddies earlier this year that he was moving into a senior living center because it was closer to his office than his home on Janesville's east side.

That's vintage Hough, a man described as a quiet gentlemen with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and an immense dedication to his family and the business that bears its name

Hough, chairman of the Janesville-based Hufcor, died Sunday, a few weeks after returning from his 75th class reunion at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and a subsequent celebration of his 96th birthday in Virginia.

While Hough retired in 2009, he continued to be heavily involved in the company that his father founded in Janesville in 1900 as the Hough Shade Corp.

Bet this is news to you:

Hufcor is an American company based in Janesville, Wisconsin. Founded in 1900, Hufcor began as Hough Shade Corporation when founder Azel Hough started the company as a manufacturer of wood slat porch shades. Hough was a pioneer in the industry developing the products, machinery and processes that shaped what the construction industry knows today as operable partitions.

Because knowing them as “blinds” would be too common. People would know what you were talking about.

White House line? Say, that’s a bit much. Who gave you the right?


Adrian Janes (February 4, 1798 - March 2, 1869) was the owner of the iron foundry Janes, Kirtland & Co. in The Bronx, New York, the company which created iron work for the Bow Bridge in Central Park, the railings of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Capitol dome of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C


Homespun, honest furniture for the plain American:


Or the American who wanted a certain pretension to plainness as an artistic statement. Certainly better than the heavy, brocaded, beaded stuff from the 20s. You can find a catalogue here.

We’d call it wicker now, right?

I’ve nothing to say about this, except I don’t know why I snipped this ad. But: the site is now the IBM building, and this makes me raise an eyebrow:

590 Madison Avenue also known as the IBM Building, is a 603 feet (184 m) tall skyscraper at the corner of East 57th Street and Madison Avenue in New York City, New York. It was completed in 1983 and has 41 floors. The building cost US$10 million, has 93,592 square metres (1,007,420 sq ft) of floor area, has 24 elevators, and is the 89th tallest building in New York.

Uhrm . . . Ten Million Dollars? The Empire State cost $40 mil in 1929, and while it’s twice the height, that would be half a bil today. Citcorp, finished in 1977, has ten more stories and cost $195 million.

There’s no way that entry is correct.

You can see how the smart set went for the simple, natural looks. This was a sign of class and taste.

Years later it would be your basic Pier 1 showroom.

Excelsior! Meaning, “used in the names of hotels, newspapers, and other products to indicate superior quality.” Also, “softwood shavings used for packing fragile goods or stuffing furniture.”

The site today:

An old industrial building, I think. Zoom out, and you'll see a modern building intersection the site like something that materialized from another dimension.

That'll do. Scoop's merry vacation continues - this is the penultimate collection.


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