The young lady in front of me in the grocery store this evening had a single flower. That’s all. No bread, no napkins, no cans of chili. Just a flower. She bought it, had it wrapped, and left. I said to the clerk that it was a nice change just to see someone buy a flower, and she said “I know!”

Sweet and normal. And, you think, “why would you risk going out and not bring back some powdered milk, at least?” And then you think: don’t go there. Don’t be that. As the sign said, Keep Calm and Carry On. And if you think this is comparable, remind yourself you’re not being bombed nightly.

But still. I think it goes without saying that we’ve never seen anything like this, eh? I went out to the grocery store, and it felt both normal and ominous, as if I was going through the old habits of the Before Times to pretend nothing was different. Lunds & Byerlys had been hit throughout the day, with all the bagged salads gone, the bread mostly gone except for one loaf of low-cal white, the eggs gone except for one lone six-pack of Brown Organic eggs, the ground beef gone (but lots of cuts of steak.) Frozen foods in abundance. Canned chili: gone. And so on.

I saw this depleted state the day before, elsewhere, and so this was not surprising. It took one day for the end-of-the-day shortages not to be surprising.

Went to Kowalski’s to look for something daughter wanted - they didn’t have it - and almost wept when I went in, because the produce department was absolutely full to bursting, colorful, bountiful. The way it always is, but this was the first time I hadn’t taken it for granted. It was so reassuring.

They weren’t out of meat, but only the organic grass-fed expensive ground beef was left. People are buying it to freeze, I expect; I think people have moved the slider in their heads from “A week” to “Two, maybe more.”

Perhaps it’ll be three, maybe less. Predictions are unwise, but it seems as if we have moved directly into the Anthrax Phase of a national panic, the part where prudence is redefined as utter over-reaction in the name of safety (call the FBI if you see powdered sugar) and all news is alarming. Somewhere in the back of our head, we sometimes interpret the words “has tested positive for coronavirus” as a death sentence, no? It’s like we hear AIDS or EBOLA.

There’s no way to have testimonials from people who got it and shrugged it off, because they don’t know. All those people who had serious colds and flus last Christmas? Do we know it wasn’t COVID-19? My wife had a dry cough, a fever, and was done for days. Do we know for sure it wasn’t COVID-19?

More important, why is no one photoshopping Product 19 cereal boxes? Is it because Product 19 was the most depressing name for a cereal ever conceived, and we’ve shoveled the memory out of our brains en masse?

The bright side is staying home with Daughter, who so far exhibits no symptoms. We argue and joke and laugh and keep each other company just by being on the other end of the hall. (The arguments are stimulating and interesting, and half the time I swear we’re not actually arguing.) The fellow who’s fixing the kitchen came today, and things were nice and normal. It snowed, which felt clean.

Except: For breakfast I didn’t have a sausage, because, well, just don’t, because that’d be one less sausage you’ll have in the stocks tomorrow.. I put fewer grounds in the coffeemaker. I didn’t drink the canned fizzy water, but filled a glass from the faucet.

Last night I heard geese come over, and you wanted to wave them away - you don’t know what you’re getting into! But it was probably the same where they’d been. Maybe it’s better there now. Perhaps it will be better here sooner, rather than later. I know I won’t forget for a long time the sight of the grocery store looking completely normal, and how it amazed me compared to where I’d been, and how I felt a bit foolish for ever taking this for granted.

But what else can you do? Hold a certain amount of gratitude in your heart, yes, but no one’s going to shout Hallelujah and wave their hands every time they go to the grocery store and they have bananas.







On a friend’s recommendation I started watching “The Pharmacist,” a Netflix doc about a remarkable fellow. His drug-addicted son was killed in a drug deal; he found the man who did it. That’s episode one! Then he goes after a shady pill-mill doctor. Along the way you meet people who did not start taking opioids because they were in pain. They wanted to get high

This is not about that.

Why, it’s almost Thursday material. At one point in the second ep the camera went down Menteur Blvd in New Orleans.

, I felt a slight sad pang at the sight of an old defunct True Value.

Then - a second later - the camera flicked past . . . this.

There are two kinds of people: those who have no clue why this building looks like this, and this who have strong suspicions that there’s a very good reason why it looks that way.

Which one are you?

It’s like a word everyone knew and now only a few people can pronounce it. Does it matter? Probably not. But it deserves to be noted, doesn’t it? You can read the fortunes of the street and the composition of what surrounds it by that True Value and that restaurant - what it was, who was there, what happened.




It’s 1924.

To be honest, I still don’t know how this stuff works.

A reminder they had Secret Service then, too. Litle curly wires that went from their ears to hidden telegraph receivers.

That’s a robust product line-up:

Look at those styles! When we see a movie set in the 20s, we don't expect trucks like this.

Get this - still around. With a website! Not a trace of the factor shown on that page remains; burned in 1956. Some history of the brand:

The Autocar Company is an American specialist manufacturer of severe-duty, Class 7 and Class 8 vocational trucks, with its headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. Started in 1897 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as a manufacturer of Brass Era automobiles, and trucks from 1899, Autocar is the oldest surviving motor vehicle brand in the Western Hemisphere.

The last cars were produced in 1911 and the company continued as a maker of severe-duty trucks. In 1953 Autocar was taken over by the White Motor Company which made Autocar their top-of-the-line brand. White was taken over in turn by Volvo Trucks in 1981 with Autocar continuing as a division.

In 2001, Autocar was acquired by GVW Group, LLC, which revived Autocar as an independent company. Autocar now builds four models of custom-engineered, heavy-duty trucks and has regained leading positions in several vocational segments.

I’m sorry, but these cars are as dintinguishable to me as PCs were in the 90s.

Telephone wires were manually inserted into lead pipes to sheath them; laborious work.

Now, it’s done with Modern Processes! And hence we have more phones. MORE THAN ANYONE.


Here, try this habit. It’s better than other habits.

Breathes there a soul who wasn’t impressed by Beeman’s as a kid? It didn’t taste like all the other gums, although I was more of a Black Jack guy.

Wonder when they dropped the PEPSIN idea.

It was, after all, Dr. Beeman’s original distinguishing characteristic. Who did? He did!

Wikipedia on the gum today: good thing they removed the pepsin, because “the presence of pepsin in the throat is known to be injurious to throat tissues.

Jeez, did they get any of that stuff right


Annnnd what was the point of this?

Was it Mr. Collins’ act of philanthropy, to help everyone read Shakespeare?

And apparently the Collins Shakespeare is still the definitive collection?

Oh so Iverson’s getting all the press with their accident-proof gun? We’ll show them.

Buy one so you can shoot anyone who breaks into your home. They’re quite up front about it.


Having just bought a new boiler, I am pleased to see they’ve been improving for decades, and making the same pitch.

Buy one so you can shoot anyone who breaks into your home. They’re quite up front about it.


That'll do - see you around, if you haunt the deserted grocery store at the end of the night.





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