A picture from the provisioning run I negleted to post. The doors confirmed my note on Friday that it's never good when there's lots of paper tapoed up to store doors and windows.

I had never thought they were. Who did?

You learn something about yourself in these days, and among the many lessons, surprises, and confirmations, there’s this: I’m not good at puzzles. This may have something to do with not liking puzzles. I understand completely why some people like them, find the distraction from all else to be calming, and appreciate how the puzzle forces out every bothersome thought from your mind.

To me, though it’s like “if you wanted the picture all together, why did you cut it up in the first place?”

Daughter is better., We were doing a ridiculous puzzle last night (Twelve drawings of birds, small differences between them, similarities in hues and patterns - oh great) and had a good conversation about film and books and adaptations. She filled out a bird; I think I did a beak. Do I look for a specific piece, or do I look at all the pieces and let my mind fall into a blank zen state and see the patterns emerge, or do I stop and say don’t I have something better to do? I should be scanning, to quote the unpopular BeeGees follow-up hit.

Used to be there was only a puzzle on the dining room table in the winter vacation table. Now there's a puzzle in progress all the time. new normal, as we're getting bored of saying. Last week: hey look at that crazy guy with the mask. This week: hey look at that crazy guy without the mask. Next week: I can't beieve they arrested that guy for not wearing a mask. Week after: we should call the cops on this guy who's not wearing a mask.

If I may blather on about the "normal" issue I was blathering about yesterday, as if any of these observations are unique: Adjustment to the abnormal is normal. We want to adjust. The old paradigm gets hip-checked into a cocked hat, and we sit dazed while a carousel of birds and stars circles our heads, and then we get up and recalibrate.

At first we miss the old stuff. Then the memory of the old experiences grows stale; then it crosses over a line and becomes something from a prior set of circumstances that gets filed in the box in the brain, put on a shelf. You think it’s the hall-closet shelf, something you can bring down in a moment’s notice. You never think it’s the warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant went.

Now and then you read a story of a new restriction, and sigh: well, I guess so, yeah. The beaches in Minneapolis will be closed for the summer. You can still walk around the lake, but the halcyon summer days in the sand are cancelled.

Then you read about the state of Vermont issuing orders to Target and Wal-Mart to disallow purchase of anything but Essential Items, like clothes or seeds. Seeds! And you wonder: is there anything in the state constitution that gives them that exact power? Probably not. Is there an agency that has been explicitly granted that power? Probably not. Are there are few vague rules and regulations that allow them to do this? Probably.

Would I support the governor of Minnesota making a speech telling people to, er, target their Target trips and not make it a leisurely outing spent meandering around the store? Absolutely. Would I support the governor forcing Target to wall off the books and toys department? Absolutely not.

Look, I’m Mr. Stay-at-Home, Mr. Mask-and-gloves, Mr. Hand-Sanitizer, all that, I get it, I get it - but I’m starting to chafe, and I have to keep reminding myself: fight the temptation to succumb to the comfort of falling into a new Normal. It isn’t normal. It shouldn’t be normal. It shouldn’t feel like normal. Because it isn’t.

The worst part is when it starts to get better and you cling, by instinct, to the new normal.

And then one day you look at the table, which doesn't have a puzzle in progress, and part of you feels a twinge: ah, bygone days. They had their moments to remember, too. The days of togetherness, when we were all under indistinct siege, experiencing something we'd never known. Memorable times!

Maybe.Pre-post-COVID nostaigia is an issue for later. For now, a welcome sign:

Better we're headed in this direction, instead of the other.

 

 

   

   
   

I finished Picard, and if you’re thanking me for sparing you my ongoing thoughts about the show over the last ten weeks, you’re welcome. But I have to do this.

Before the last ep I was not unhappy with the show, as so many were. I too care about continuity but I didn’t feel as if they were pulling a NuTrek where things that were canon were tossed on the bonfire. What seemed to irritate people the most was the idea that Federation Idealism could retrench after a series of body blows. That seems entirely realistic. JLP may hold the old ideas, and he may be right, and may be a necessary vessel for keeping those ideas alive, but the Romulans are the scorpions on the alligator’s back.

The Federation and the Klingons (old style, not the Disco types) reached an agreement for one reason: the writers eventually decided they were Vikings, not Russians. But also because the Federation did not use the Kronos disaster to press their advantage militarily, and because the Federation behaved with Honor at Narendra III. The attitude towards internal Klingon policy was basically you do you, bro, as long as we can get along and combine to defeat mutual threats.

The Romulans are the guys you save from a lifeboat who climb aboard wondering how they can cut the throats of the officers and take the ship. The kind of civilization that has a super-secret police to police the normally-secret police. The idea that the Federation would say “you know what, you figure it out” might not be morally perfect, but understandable at the time.

Here’s a thing to remember: if the Klingons were Russians, who were the Romulans?

Anyway. I finished watching the last ep, and the first half was pretty much what I expected. We all knew what was going to be the eventual fate of JLP. I don’t think many expected the coda - which cannot be separated from the experience of the writer of the show. It's not necessary to read that, but it explains a lot.

I stand by what I suspected at the start. It’s the best first season of any Trek series. It earned that last ten minutes.

I may have mentioned this before, but one of the things that heartened me about the opening scenes was this:

   
 

If nothing else, the set designers respected the details. That's the Bodun cup Picard had in his ready room. I had a set, back in the early 90s. They were cool.

They were also impractical, and burned your finger.

   

One more thing:

   
  Er, no, I I don't think so.
   

 

 

 

It’s 1950. This is a preview of the upcoming Fifties site, by the way - didn’t set out that way, but I guess while I was sorting things I shunted off a few to do double-duty here.

Just Dad showing his little girl the miracle of modern telephonic switching systems.

I don’t know why they had to advertise. It’s not as if you had your choice of phones.

We never understood why Western Electric had to pretend it was separate from Ma Bell, either.

I always loved these cutaways as a kid. (Larger version here.)

I’m a bit worried by the lack of structural girders, though. That thing’s going to collapse.

She looks like she’s just finished typing the letter her boss writes to his lawyer, announcing his intention to divorce his wife.

heh heh heh

After a while the fresh cement in the basement floor won't look so fresh anymore

Well, she’s got the pot out, but I don’t know if that means coffee - oh, wait, she’s holding what appears from this distance to be an empty cup.”

In other words, not the universal sign of good coffee. If anything it’s the sign that the good coffee’s gone.

Must we tell the story of the margarine wars again?

The pseudo-butter was sold in the handy kneadable bag, so you could rupture the color pill and get the stuff butter-colored without messing up your hands.

Umm. . . meaning?

Meaning, the railroads paid for their own infrastructure. Planes, autos, trucks used infrastructure paid by you, the heavily-taxed citizen! So . . . support Fair Play for America’s Railroads, and don’t vote for those guys who want to tax them more. Leave them alone. What are you, some kinda Red?

The ad seems to suggest that the system accomodates free-loaders who pay no taxes, though.

Ah yes, Willoughby, the gentleman hobo who took the rails for a life of leisure and adventure, and is called by the others Professor! He's also a hopeless alcoholic, that's what happened.

Dammit, Jensen, what the devil were you thinking when you approved this? Did you even look at the prototypes they sent over?

Sir - it’s -

Wait a minute, did my wife have something to do with this?

Sir, if I can explain -

She sat in on the meetings, didn’t she? And you let her? You know how she hates that I’m in oil. Says it’s so common. Always wants to impress her New York socialite friends. It’s about that, isn’t it?

Yes sir, it is

The firm was founded in 1918, and the slang word arose in the 1920s; it’s entirely possible that when people say “malarkey,” they’re saying “flimsy as plywood.”

Now imagine this, with larger pictures, arranged by year and subject, with X100 entries, and you have the 50s ad site, due next year.

You may note something when you consult today's Webster entries!

Or maybe not. I'll just leave that there.

 

 

 
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