JULY 1999 Part 4
Met a guy in the woods today, a fellow who always walked an old creaky black mutt. He was alone.

“M’ dog died,” he said. I knew the dog was old and had been sick, so I wasn’t surprised. He wasn’t despondent, or even noticeably sad, but people up here can be taciturn about the things that matter. As people always do, I advised him to get a new dog, and as people in his state always do, he said he didn’t know. Sometimes you don’t know if they’re glad to be shot of the responsibility, or just too busted up to even think about it. I figure it’s hardly a dishonor to your old dog to love a new one, and a puppy can heal any number of big red wounds. But I really don’t know what I’m talking about.

He walked on, alone, as if he was taking the walk out of duty to duty itself. Not looking up at the trees, not looking down as most dog owners do, watching what their dog watches. He looked straight ahead. Hands in his pockets.

Enough holy high-mindedness: it was cheap pop culture day today. First, write a cheap mass-market column, which I did. It amuses me that I really have to watch what I say, since it’s a family newspaper, but sometimes I think I should just yank the chocks and let it alllll roll downhill and enjoy the crash. Today I got a call from a kindly old lady who wanted to know if my story about the Minnesota Orchestra merging with the Cleveland Orchestra and outsourcing all the second-violins to Mexico was really going to happen. I called her and assured her that it wasn’t. Even when my stuff is patent nonsense, there’s always someone who believes it, and like many writers, I am more likely to believe the one carping voice than the dozen friendly ones. I. e., the person who says You Suck! is just echoing what the writer hears in their own head, and is hence more believable.

Anyway, my own self-doubts are zip compared to the paralyzing self-doubt of Chris Ware, Cartoonist. One of the items I purchased today (on pop-culture day! Balloons for the kids.) was an issue of The Imp, a yearly magazine devoted to slavish, minute examination of the various Gods of contemporary comics - ah, sorry, Graphic Novels. Very well done, but mortifying to find that Mr. Ware regards his work with a mixture of shame, embarrassment and resignation. Mortifying, but understandable, and one of the reasons he’ll probably be the regarded in retrospect as one of the finest talents of his generation. (If they ever get around to according the comics medium the same respect as, say, novels or movies.) (Which they should.)

Also bought two CDs: something-or-other by buzz-fuzzy techno assemblers The Chemical Brothers, and the movie soundtrack to West Side Story. I saw a Chemical Brothers video the other night, and it was astonishing; no one ever needs to take hallucinogenic drugs anymore, because computers are now capable of doing more for your brain than LSD ever could. I had no memory of the song, except that I liked the video. I do not especially like the CD, which seems to lack the furious density of the previous one, and is full of tinky hippie sounds; but what can you expect from a song titled “Sunshine Underground?” The very name conjures up Donovan, white men in afros, filthy feet. I did like the third song, because it sounded like a decent New Order tune. (Checked the liner notes; it was written with and played by . . . Bernard Sumners of New Order. Settles that.)

I bought West Side Story because the classical station had played an excerpt the previous day - Quintet, that fabulous medley sung by everyone marching off to the rumble. The version on the radio was sung by opera stars, and it was . . .okay, I guess; they all enunciated too well. The only version I care to hear is the movie soundtrack; I wore that record out as a kid. Hadn’t heard the whole thing in 15, 20 years. Listened to it tonight and was in this strange state of tearful exultation: I always knew it was good, but I didn’t know how good it really was. There are things going on that the family’s murky mono console record player never revealed. The music is the best thing Bernstein ever did - Copland meets Gershwin in a dark alley, and they both blow reefer while taking notes at a be-bop club. The melodies are effortless, unerring, inevitable and fresh. And for the first time I figured out a few lyrics that had always mystified me.

I don’t want to, and won’t, go on another today’s-culture-stinks rant, but: at the time it was released, West Side Story was middlebrow culture. In fact it took low culture (street music, music inflected by - gasp - blacks and latinos) and high culture (Shakespeare, classical conventions) and fused them into a perfect package. Today WSS is considered high culture, because middlebrow culture has pretty much disappeared altogether, and what once was the middle now looks like up.

I’ll stop there.

Spent the night on the Fargo site, which now is fun to do, since I’ve settled on the look & feel. Played frisbee in the front yard with Jasper while Sara talked with a neighbor - she learned that nearly everyone on the block has visited the house that’s for sale around the corner. And everyone said: no. The neighbor’s dog kept coming over to me for pats and scratches - she’s big and dumb but so lovable and loving, and naturally Jasper stands there and shouts NO NO NO ME ME when I pay attention to another dog.

Now off to read the e-mail. Not necessarily answer it all, but at least I’ll read it.


The more I work on this Fargo site, the more I like it, and the more disgusted with myself I become - the entire enterprise, when looked at from a critical vantage, could be seen as the worst sort of adolescent nostalgia. Mewling for the womb of the past. That’s not my intention, but . . . tonight I got out some ancient flaking Fargo Forums my mom had saved, each tied to some epochal event: the Great Tornado, JFK’s assassination (one of them had the picture of John-John saluting, and that gave me pause) and my birthday. These were the three Big Moments, I guess. Death, 2, Life, 1. Paging through the papers, I was struck by the same emotions I feel when I go back into the Star-Tribune archives - a self-congradulatory feeling of superiority over the clueless past, and a desperate desire to spend a week, maybe two, in the world these papers describe. It’s nothing unusual. If gas went up to 9 bucks a gallon and the suburban malls died, the inner city bloomed and the outlying towns withered, kids who were born last year would be nostalgic for the perfect world of the climate controlled mall. Everything was always better then, if you take off your glasses.

What a day. What - a - day. It’s hot; 94 degrees, humid. I sat outside and sweated buckets; drank half a gallon of water in an hour as I finished the exceptional book on the ENIAC computer. Then I went to work, full of determination. I’ve been turning out the words at an unusual pace, and as ever I must note that productivity has no inherent relationship to quality, but I’ve been pleased with this week’s stuff. Especially the Newhouse column, which will probably peeve some people who expected me to flail the media for the excessive JFK Jr. coverage. I’ve listened to a lot of my favorite talk show hosts natter about the matter this week, and I kept snapping off the radio in disgust. I mean, if you’re going to spend 15 hours a week talking about excessive JFK coverage, you’ve just proved why the coverage is excessive: because it’s the topic du jour. In any case, it seemed a slim reed on which to hang the usual old screeds of media castigation - which I happen to agree with, in general; I’ve been inside daily journalism for the last 12 years, in local and DC forms, and I know how it thinks and instinctively acts. But let’s save the outrage for the big issues, okay?

Anyway - one acceptable Newhouse, one book review, one game review, one computer essay for the Tech section, five bleats, and one column - that was the week’s work as of 2 PM today, when I turned on the office machinery to write Friday’s column. I decided to go deep into my old mail for material; I have over 1000 unused letters in my Backfence archive, and there’s great stuff back there. So I started pulling up letters, and writing, and the words & ideas just flooded out. When I stopped two hours later I had 71 inches of copy, almost three columns’ worth. I chopped and reformed it into two columns, one for Friday, one for Sunday, and left the office two hours later than usual, whistling “Tonight” from West Side Story. It’s not all entirely crap, I hope.
God, I love the manic phase; it’s worth being bipolar. Shallow lows and fabulous highs: I’m blessed.
Went home, ordered pizza, scanned some art while waiting for Jasper to bark his small brown head off as he saw the pizza man approach. Did the BBC interview. I wonder if anyone in England looks forward to those. I’d be content if there’s one fellow or woman up all night in some nocturnal job who, over the year, has come to look forward to my spots. Possibly; anyone who listens to a particular show becomes attached in odd ways to all its regular features, and as long as they don’t actively dislike them, they become part of the furniture. I get mail from England occasionally, forwarded to me by the show’s host, and it delights me to read it. Always literate and always clever.
Hung up the phone after saying goodnight to all the underpaid dedicated young Beebers on the other end, then went outside to find my wife hosing down the flowers, and my dog waiting with his frisbee. So we played frisbee. The entire day boils down to that, and that means the most, in a way. Absolutely everything I do is removed from everyone else by a few steps - I don’t see anyone read this site, or read the Backfence, or read Newhouse, or listen to the radio, but I do see the glint in the dog’s eyes and the smile on my wife’s face when the mutt presents his toy and barks PLAY. At that moment, with the disc in the air, the water hissing from the hose and misting my face, the dog leaping in the twilight, the shouts of the kids on the sidewalk, the sound of a radio in a car in the alley, everything is perfect.
It’s summer and I don’t have to go to work tomorrow. That about sums it up.


Hot? You just have no idea. The citronella candles on the deck have puddles of molten wax. The flowers in the window boxes look like criminals who’ve been tied to sticks and shot in the head. Too hot to sit outside and read, too hot to do chores, too hot to move. We have one room with an air conditioner, and it’s like the safe room, a place to hide. The air conditioner has three settings,: Low Cool, Medium Cool, and SuperCool. I feel like I should be whistling Curtis Mayfield tunes and doing a Richard Roundtree imitation when I turn it on Supercool.

Unfortunately, the air conditioner is having an argument with the fridge downstairs, and the fuses blow about six times a day. The house is wired in a peculiar fashion, wired like a dog - scratch the spine and the leg jiggles. Same here - the air conditioner is on the same circuit as my computers in another room, and the basement lights. And, I believe, the fridge. The door to the fridge has lost its seal, and no longer closes tightly unless you give it a hearty slam. So if you forget to slam it, the fridge motor has to start up again to fight the influx of warm air, and at that point half the house crashes.

Right now I have two fans going - one aimed at my neck, and a window unit that cools the right side of my face. The left side is still sweating. I could be a Batman character. It’s cooler outside than in my studio; up here, the accumulated heat of the last four days seems to have pooled.

I don’t mind it that much. Better this than 60s. Last time I was in Fargo, in June, it was unseasonably cool - high 50s. Better heat than dirty skies and meek dank air.

Had an alarming taste of the worst-case Y2K scenario today. Went to Lunds to do the grocery shopping, and the meat racks were empty. Acres of empty white shelves. Looked at the milk and juice coolers: same thing. The cheese, pasta & refrigerated sundries coolers: empty. They’d had power problems, and had to remove all the merchandise. It was alarming to see the ceramic cornucopias barren and forlorn. This is America. This isn’t supposed to happen. Ever. That’s the deal.

Good weekend, all in all. Began on Friday. Having done my part for God, Country and Newspaper all week, I just stayed home. I’d written seven pieces that week. I earned my Friday. I spent it in the cool basement, painting the woodwork. It’s so nice and cool down there. I plan on finishing the basement just when the temps get to the point where the basement is cold again. Sigh.

Friday night we went to Ciao Bella, an Italian place in Edina. Great-looking restaurant, the best of 90s style, to quote some vapid magazine headline. Modern and traditional at the same time. Too bad they don’t know how to cook pasta. I had a shrimp and pasta dish, and the pasta was pasty. Gummy. Like eating twizzlers made out of flour and Elmer’s glue. So I sent it back. They brought another iteration. Same thing: pasty gummy noodles. Whereupon I had the salmon.

But it was good to be out - went with the Giant Swedes, Crazy Andy & his wife (who is the sister of Mrs. Giant Swede) and just enjoyed myself completely. As the designated driver, I had lots and lots of coffee, guaranteeing I’d be up until four in the morning. So I turned my energy to the Fargo site, writing & tweaking & laying out. Answered 49 e-mails, watched 30 minutes of TV and expired at 3:45 AM.

Saturday it was too hot to go outside, but I did. Then upstairs to scan and layout and tweak. As long as I have initiative and energy to work on this site, I’m going to do as much as I can. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant for supper, and were served food that had all the flavor scientifically removed. I had enough soy sauce to cover my salt needs for the next two months. Sara went to see a friend that night; when she returned we sat outside in the relatively cool evening and reminisced over our early years of marriage. That was fun.

Just lost all power again. Everything clicked off and went dark. It’s a bother.

Sunday: also fun. Went over to Mr. & Mrs. George’s for brunch; it was George’s birthday. A great feast of eggs, bacon and French Toast: my favorite. As usual, they had another bag of recipe books they’d found in estate sales. (It’s frightening to consider, but I now have about 20 times more books than I had when I did the Gallery 2.0. I mean, I have some ghastly stuff, and I’m tempted to roll out 3.0 sooner than advertised. But we’ll see.) Home to sweat. I waited until eight then cut the lawn, working up a drenching sweat. Now this, then mail. Visit the Fargo site - it’s new! And if you came in by an old bookmark and bypassed the main index page, there’s some spiffy new art there, too.

Will the power go out while I’m uploading the Fargo site? Guaranteed.


C, F, C, G, C.

I wrote a song tonight, and to my dismay it followed the same old ancient path that the piano prescribes to us all: C, F, C, G, C. And so on. I like the melody, but you can’t help but think it’s been done before. I did not have this feeling with last week’s composition, which was Fm7, Gm7, Cm7, and so on. Someday soon I’m going to record these tunes, make MP3s out of them and put them on the web so everyone can assure me: yes, this has been done before.

Full moon now, or nearly so. I stood outside and stared at the moon until I could make out a face. Never really have found the Man in the Moon. (Why “in?” Why not “on?”) Tonight I saw a face that appeared to have its mouth open in shock or distress, but perhaps that’s just my mood.

This day was hosed from the get-go. It’s gotten better - in fact right now, with a cool night outside and most of the day’s work finished, it’s about as good as it’s gotten. But it began with dire thoughts. Last night Jasper Dog developed a limp, and I could find no cause, no soreness, abrasions, swellings. This morning as he went down the stairs, he fell, unable to run down the steps with his usual vigor. We went for a little walk - had to, since he won’t void or deposit in the yard; must be done Out There in The World - and he limped the whole way. I figured he had some horrible, horrible disease. I catastrophize for myself, so naturally I was doing the same for him. I practically had his ashes scattered by the time we got home. Oh, I could handle it, stoically, busted up inside but strong on the outside, so as to console my wife, who would be inconsolable . . . I made a vet appointment, and got ready to leave the house.

As I was leaving I decided to take one last look at his paw. I discovered he’d ripped a pad open. Ouch. Great! Just a nasty deep paw-wound! Hooray! But I would still take him to the vet, so they could sell me dog-salve, or something. I gave him a little treat and hit the highways, heading towards the western burbs to meet my cousin-in-law, who’s also my broker.

The receptionist at his office had given me directions: take the 101 North exit, go under the bridge, bear to the right. I got off on 101 North, and drove . . . no bridge. This didn’t look familiar - granted, I hadn’t been there for two years, but this was wrong. Maybe she meant I should stay under the 101 North bridge and keep going. Back on the highway. After seven minutes I was bouncing down a single-lane rural road. Things get feral out here, real quick. Of course, behind the trees were billion dollar homes, but that’s another matter. Back on the highway. Retrace steps. Head north on 101 again until I was stuck in another SUV convoy on a single-lane road. Turn around. Go back.

The sec’y had omitted two key pieces of information:
1. When I got off on 101 North, I should actually turn South, and
2. There is no bridge.

I don’t blame her. Perhaps I misheard her directions.
Damned if I know what bridge she was talking about, though.

Had a good lunch; Brett gave me a batch of financial material full of charts and graphs. According to most of the illustrations, I will be rich someday, just in time to have the bulk of the estate demolished by capital gains tax. But that’s okay; I don’t mind paying taxes on my money two, three, four times. I just hope there’s enough left over to pay the estate tax. It’s very important that at least half my income goes to Uncle Sam. Any less, and it would be unfair.
I don’t mind paying taxes; I regard it as a civic duty, part of the social contract. But I do worry that my taxes will be reduced. If my taxes were halved, for example, I know what I’d do with the money: burn it. Or bury it in the backyard, for example. I certainly wouldn’t put it back into the economy by building an addition to the house or buying a car or a TV, or saving it so I don’t need to rely on other people in the future. Heavens, no. If I could change one thing about the tax code, it would be this: people who support the estate tax to fund their favorite programs would be required to show up at funerals and remove the money from the wallet of the person in the coffin. In view of the relatives. Relying government to take the money makes estate-tax advocates look cowardly, and I’m sure they’re brave enough to show up and personally rifle through a dead man’s pockets.

Sorry. I’ve heard just a liiiiitle too much propaganda today about how the “rich” are going to make out under proposals to ease the estate tax burden. Watching the contortions my Dad’s gone through to ensure the tax hit on his estate does not require the liquidation of the business - well, it’s instructive. I’d like to take a few politicians to the station, line up the trucks with their drivers standing by the door, and have the politician choose the driver he wants to lose his job. We’d have to sell a truck, after all, and that means letting a driver go. And that also means the business would shrink, making it smaller and less competitive, so choose another driver to lose his job, while you’re at it. Oh, and here’s the owner’s daughter, and her husband, and their two kids: if the business folds, Mom will have to go to work instead of raising the kids, so get down on one knee and explain why it’s important that Mommy leave the house for eight hours a day so you can have the money for GOD KNOWS WHAT specious and inefficacious application.

Vultures. Thieving, mendacious, cowardly vultures.

There. I’m better now.

Really! I feel pure. Back to work.


The heat wave, it appears, is permanent. The weatherman today said that the 80s and 90s are due to linger through most of August, and I nearly danced a jig: hoorah. Real summer, true stern withering summer. A hot August makes the end of summer a welcome relief; when the sun blares nonstop like a moron with an amplified megaphone you’re grateful for the cool calm tones of autumn.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to hit 99. I’m rooting for 100.

Of course, I can wear shorts to work; I pity people who have to clamber into suits and walk around feeling like someone who’s exploring the Amazon in a biohazard suit.

I have nothing to report. Nothing of consequence elapsed today. I walked the dog, had lunch, sat outside and finished the Barneys book; went to work and wrote a review of the book in 17 minutes. My entire day’s work, done in 17 minutes. What the hell do I do now? I’m not saying it was a good book review, only that the book was so fresh in my mind I could spew-type and get it all out. I don’t get paid for these reviews, and they’re not part of my job description; I do them just to ensure a constant stream of fresh free books. For every book I review I get three I don’t have to review. And they’re never books I intended to read, and probably wouldn’t buy, but want to read. Next up is a book about Pushkin’s last two weeks on earth, right before he went bezoomy and got himself shot. It looks like an exceedingly tedious read, but I love Pushkin, so here we go.

Sara stayed home today sick, but rallied at four PM and washed the dog. He needed it. He stank. I forgot to ask her how she managed to get him upstairs and into the tub; when a bath is nigh, the dog is suspicious, even though we don’t say the word or bring out any of the hated implements. There’s some combination of vocal tones, postures, etc., that he knows means BATH. Twice I tricked him by pretending to play, and running upstairs. That worked twice. No more. Now I have to pick him up, all 58 pounds, and carry him up the stairs. You’d think we were subjecting him to vivisection.

He is a willful beast. Lately he doesn’t want to go to the creek for his morning walk, because he knows that will be a short walk. (Only 25 minutes.) This morning when we crossed the street and stood at the threshold of the parkway lining the creek, he dug his paws into the ground and sat down: no. Not this way. That way. This routine works with my wife, whose evening walks with the dog practically take her to Iowa, but it doesn’t work with me. I permit no challenges to authority. I don’t care if he wants to go elsewhere; my day begins with a trip to the creek, and that’s the end of it.

Jasper also has decided he no longer wants to go to the lake. It’s boring: been there, sniffed that. He’s a very smart beast; he knows what means what, and what he wants.

Too bad.

Spent the night dumping video into the PC, scanning, working on the Fargo site, and preparing graphics for more Mpls updates. Tonight will be the last time I use the PC for video capture; I ordered a USB video device for the iMac, as well as a CD-RW drive. I was using the Snappy to get video, and that meant transferring pictures to floppies, and then putting the floppy in the iMac drive - one big botheration. No more. Can’t wait for the iBook - if I had it now I’d be writing this on the deck, in the midnight breezes, pausing to hear the wail and hiss of copulating cats in the alley. But I’m upstairs, sweating, dreading the e-mail box . . . every night it’s the same. Twenty out, 35 in. But I will answer them all.

See? Nothing to report. I warned you.


Went to Subway tonight to pick up supper; too hot to cook. Too hot to microwave. Something about a pound of cool shredded lettuce sounds right on days like this. The staff at the Subway is constantly changing, but uniformly efficient; it’s amazing how a difference of 20 blocks can make for a different fast-food experience. The Subway on Nicollet, where I used to go, had two kinds of employees - brisk Asian kids, probably sons & daughters of immigrant Hmong; they did the job and did it fast, unfriendly without being hostile. The job mattered; having a job mattered; the job would lead to other jobs, and jobs were what you had to have. Period. Thank you. Next. The rest of the employees were there for no discernible reason, and radiated a bored bureaucratic contempt that could not be thawed, no matter how gracious you were. The Subway in Edina - an upscale suburb that abuts Minneapolis - had stoned slackers with goatees and piercings, and the day one of them sneezed on my sub and burst into laughter was the last day I went there. This new Subway seems to be staffed entirely by the children of the neighborhood - no goofy overpriviledged pimply slacker-dorks, but an interesting multiracial mix of kids and young adults. A while ago I was made a sandwich by a young Black man who displayed such skill and attention to this simple enterprise I wanted to shake his hand when he was done. No matter what he thought of the job, he made the sandwich they way he’d like to have it made. He’s gone now, probably doing a summer internship somewhere, and if anyone at that company has 1/4 a brain, they’ll hire him. Then for a while there was a short dark woman who projected an air of great gravity. Took me a while to figure out her accent, until I discovered she was Italian.
“Molta bella,” I said, when she had finished.
“Grazie,” she smiled.
Today the shift consisted of a kid with Chinese features and Caucasian eyes, a Slavic blonde with her hair done in long, long cornrows, and a standard-issue towhead Midwestern guy with wire-rimmed glasses and bangs. They all worked on my sandwich, diligent as surgeons in the ER, all business. I make a point of being a Good Customer: I know what I want when they ask, and I break down the order according to their production terminology. The nightmare customer says: Ah, I’ll have a turkey sub, and, ah, roast beef.
To which the Sandwich artist must ask: 6 inch or 12? Round bun? White or wheat? There’s no end to the options.
So I start: I’m going to have two sandwiches. One is a white 12 inch turkey. The other is a chicken Parmesan wrap, tomato basil. I establish myself as the Artist’s Friend. I know the drill. I do not hesitate when naming my fixin’s: lettuce. Onion. Salt and Pepper. Mayo, one pass. Green peppers. That’s it. No chips, no stamps, no drinks.
As I was paying I noticed a little piece of paper taped to the sneeze guard:
In Memory of Andrianna. We will always remember your smile. July 18, 1999.
I pointed to the paper, and asked the cashier: What happened?
“She died,” he said.
“Car accident.”
“Good Lord.”
“That’s $8.42.”

Everyone who works at Subway dies eventually. The customer rarely thinks of such things while waiting for a foot-long; you can’t. You’d never get anything done if you saw the simplest transactions as something freighted with inevitable mortality. You’ve no idea of the push and pull of the lives behind the counter; you just put up your best face, hope you get the same in return, and off you go.

I never want to go back to that Subway, because the next time the little memorial will be frayed; the next time it’ll be ripped; in month it will be gone. In a way, steady customers will be silently glad it’s gone. After all, we’re still here. The faces behind the counter change, they come, they go, but our needs, our hunger, our posture of want and haste stays the same. It is inconvenient to attach actual human stories to the people who make your dinner. It’s fun if you want to speculate, make up stories, but you don’t want those stories forced on you.

How the hell did a 40-year old Italian woman end up making subs in Southwest Minneapolis?

I’ll be damned if I leave it at this. She was a sweet person, and if I can put her name into the newspaper, she’ll be immortal, a quiet set of consonants and vowels waiting for Lexus-Nexus to pluck her up from the darkness. And if her name is never called, and least she’ll be in the banks, at rest, undisturbed, unforgotten as long as the machines tend the shape of her name.

There’s no work done tonight, no letters answered, no scanning, no HTMLing. Fine with me. I’ve spent the night doodling on the piano, playing with the dog - who is now an inert panting slab of furry meat - and reading James Brovard’s new book, “Freedom in Chains.” To say it’s dense would be a mild understatement, like saying the ocean is damp. But it’s a good vigorous screed, and I need to read it.

Can’t work, because the computer is Busy. There’s nothing so minutely irritating as downloading a large file from the net. You could just start the process and go about your business, but your eye is constantly drawn to the progress bars, keen to note any slowdown, any pause in the transfer that indicates the entire enterprise is doomed. I’ve been downloading Mac OS 8.6 update for the last - oh, half a day now, and any minute I expect the machine to seize up and die, or the server to crash. It started with high hopes; the transfer rate was a blistering 10K per second, but now it’s down to a dribbly 3.5K. I wouldn’t be doing this at all, but my new video digitizer simply DEMANDS 8.6, so there we are.

All these new toys, and no way to use them. I also bought a Que drive - CD-RW - and I don’t dare use it tonight, because the temperature & humidity in my studio exceeds design parameters. Besides, I’m sure it will crash everything, anyway; probably doesn’t work with 8.6. So I’ll have a million new video grabs and no way to archive them.

In the beginning was the Mac IIcx, and yea, it was good. I had a digitizer card that let me grab frames by clicking and dragging in the preview window, and voila! A new image. Granted, they were crappy images, 256 and blurry, but they sufficed. Then I upgraded to a 660AV, which had video inputs built right in. Surely goodness and mercy would follow me all the days . . .but the image capture software had no provision for still images. Just movies. So I would run the camcorder, hit the START button to capture a movie, then hit the STOP button. The software didn’t always get the message right away, and I’d have 2.5MB movies. Oh well. Save the movie, change the depth to thousands of colors, use a shareware utility to make a picture of the picture I wanted, dump it into Photoshop. Voila!

Strangely enough, the amount of video captures I did during this period shrunk to almost nil.

When I got the 7300/200, I bought a digitizer from the same company that made the board in my old IIcx. ComputerEyes. (Get it?) It was, and is, a complete piece of crap. Ugly SCSI junk that turned out hideous grainy images. One day it stopped working. I shed no tears. I bought a Snappy! for the PC, since it was cheap; now I was dumping vidcaps into the PC, putting them on floppies, transferring them to the iMac, where they looked nothing at all like the versions on the PC screen.

That’s why I bought this sleek cheap digitizer for the iMac - $95 with StrataVision included. I was all set to get to work when I discovered I needed 8.6.

That was three hours ago.

I’m now 52% of the way through the download.

And when this is done, I have to get the new iMac firmware. I love that name: firmware. Sounds like a Nazi bra.

Do not send me e-mail suggesting I get a cable modem or DSL. Do not send me e-mail gloating that you have the same. You will not get a reply.

So there’s no work done tonight, no letters answered, no scanning, no HTMLing. Fine with me. I’ve spent the night doodling on the piano, playing with the dog - who is now an inert panting slab of furry meat - and reading James Brovard’s new book, “Freedom in Chains.” To say it’s dense would be a mild understatement, like saying the ocean is damp. but it’s a good vigorous screed, and I need to read it.