Oh, jeez

Light dusting in the morn, but then it started coming down thick and heavy, and did not stop. You might be saying HELLO IT IS MINNESOTA but this isn’t right. Probably record amounts for this early.

It’s the instantaneous imposition that galls. A few days ago, nice weather, feeling good about a lovely autumn. Today: cursing as I hit a low-hanging evergreen branch and the snow goes down the nape of my neck. The snowblower was packed away, so I removed a ton of widow-maker snow with my own brute strength, thinking why do I have so much sidewalk.

Got out the ladder to haul the snow off the gazebo roof, and that means using a long brush to pull it towards myself, and put it all over my pants, which get sopping wet, then freeze, so I walk around like the Tin Woodman. But it wasn't cold enough to freeze, so I just felt like someone who'd been to Oktoberfest and didn't relieve himself until later in the day.

But, but, you say, isn't it lovely?

It is. That's irrelevant. We have a calendar in our hearts here, and there are some things that should not happen before we turn the page. We would all be fine with this on November First, or at least resigned: well, it is November. We absolutely detest it on October 31st.

The older I get, well, the older I get. Also, the more the last two months of the year feel like walking forty miles to the base of Everest. When Christmas is over, then the climb begins.











Downtown was extra bereft today, it seemed. Even the people who would go in decided “nah, I think I’ll work from home today.”

Eventually that mentality balloons to fill the parameters of every day.

Why? Well. When I entered the office the other day I saw this . . . this thing.

The screen shows an abstraction of a camera lens, looking, searching for something to see and grab. When it wakes, it turns on a bright light and displays a human shape, so you can fit yourself into its contours for evaluation.

It takes your temp. Okay. Question: let’s say you wake, in November of 2020, the Plague Year, and you’re a bit achy and hot. You have two options: work from home, as you’ve been doing since March, or drag yourself to the office. Who’s going to do the latter? I mean, I think I could beg off a Zoom call because I felt a little feverish.

But let’s say you’re a hard-charging sort who just has to go to the office and be a world-beater, bark orders, shove around subordinates. Push! Push! Push! And you’re a bit hot. Do you stop at this thing to get evaluated? No, because you’re important and have things to do. You’re fine and you’re wearing a mask and everyone else is wearing a mask, and besides, there’s not more than six people in this part of the office, because everyone’s working from home.

Will that happen? That will not happen.

It’s there just in case. A reminder. A tool. An assistant. What’s the problem? No problem. Except that it’s off-putting in a way I can’t describe. It’s like a judgment device. A purity monitor. It suggests that it somehow has authority. It presumes I need interrogating. I don’t think it’s connected to the office security database that logs my card-beep on the entrance pad, but why wouldn’t it, some day? Wouldn’t that make sense? Wouldn’t that help with tracking and DEFEATING COVID?

Why wouldn’t you put your face in that thing every time you entered the area?

What’s wrong with you that you’d react with anything but relief and gratitude?

It’s this: I don’t think that thing is ever going to go away. I can’t see a point where building management says “oh, we don’t need those anymore.” Someone pipes up: it’s flu season. You’re right, best keep them there.

At some point in a pandemic, the suspicion of infection morphs into the presumption of infection. That’s smart if it’s bad and widespread and raging. Hospitals overwhelmed, the sick hacking on every street, clinic corridors jammed with the rheumy victims, cordwood stacked like bodies in the morgue, or something. But this is not that. What’s more, this was never that. It was apparent months ago that this is not that. It’s not mild flu, but it’s not that.

The presumption of infection in a situation where A) it’s not the case, and B) the consequences for infection are statistically nominal, well, this is injurious to society, and every incremental introduction of something that bolsters the accumulated paranoia makes it more difficult to surpass the sense of constant suspicion.

These devices become talismans of safety. You start to distrust places that don’t have them. You resent the suggestion that you submit to them, but you go along - it’s anti-social to do otherwise. It just becomes part of life: standing in front of the device and fitting your shoulders to the contours of the anonymous human shape on the screen.

So the casual rote submission is a loyalty oath, of sorts. It’s not some part of a grand scheme. Doesn’t work like that. Doesn’t have to. It’s a series of assumptions and well-intentioned ideas and precautions that nevertheless have the effect of shaping how you feel about the world outside your door.

We’ll get used to it. And then we’ll get used to the next thing.

Note: today I noticed that the secondary entrance to the office has been closed, channeling everyone to the Purity Monitor. This means that a six-elevator bank has been closed, pushing everyone to a four-elevator bank which will pack more people into a confined space.

So no one can use this door? What the hell?

That was today. Tomorrow, I'll be used to it.





It’s 1931.

Hey, anyone lose any slain bandits?

The story does a bad job of explaining how he was slain. From what I can tell, some yeggs on a spree knocked over a bank in Menomonie, and plugged the bank president after one of them was “felled by vigilante bullets.” So the townsfolk took matters in their own hands as the heist was in progress. The one who was found dead may have been hit by those vigilante bullets. How many robbers made up the gang, it doesn’t say.


Oh, Wilbur.

He went to the big house for that one. One of his company executives lived right up the street from my house. Don’t know if he fell.


Oh, well, if the League of Nations is on the case, everyone can relax.

And how did jaw-jaw work? Poorly.

A Red-Letter Day in movie history. A team so big they didn’t even have to ballyhoo the movie's title.

Larger version here. It was a huge ad buy.

The only movie they made. The creators - Gosden and Correll - were reportedly displeased with the movie, and declined to do another.

Daze! Get it? DAZE! It's like DAYS except confused!



So . . . prostitutes, or not



When it came to sparkling wines, Mumm was, if you’ll pardon the expression - well, you know.

There were a lot more barons around in those days.

Anyway, wasn’t his first whiff of gunpowder: “Between meeting and marrying Frances Scoville, von Mumm became involved with Marie van Rensimer Barnes, who later shot him in her Paris apartment in 1912.”

Last words seem contrived.


After the war, von Mumm salvaged little of his fortune, and lost what remained in the 1929 Wall Street crash. Thus, the "champagne king" saw his fortunes wither until he was living in a $10-a-week Manhattan boarding house.

In 1931, he tried to take his own life by shooting himself above the heart in the Long Island home of his old friend William H. vom Rath. His suicide note read: "Bury me as I am and keep this out of the newspapers."

But: Von Mumm rallied and recovered. He went on to compete in the Olympics, in bobsledding, and died in 1959.

Ripley recognized a fat paycheck when he saw it, and there was no credibility to lose. Heck, DOCTORS said so.

There was an aviation adventure strip, with real gee-whiz technical stuff for the kids.

  So much of the newspaper was hand-made.

That will have to suffice, and if it doesn't, I'm at an utter loss.




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