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And we’re off like a dirty shirt, my dad would say when the car started to move. We would respond: and we’re off like a herd of turtles. Of course the two concepts don’t jibe; a dirty shirt is removed with a quick efficient motion. A herd of turtles gets off the block at a glacial pace, with a multitude of limbs moving in accordance with the dictates of the individual creatures. But you don’t question these things at the time. You don’t even question them the first time you say them to your own kid. It’s just a fun thing to say.

We got in the car around 3:15 to run the afternoon errands. I buckled her in, hit the garage door opener, adjusted the heat, checked my six: daylight in the rear view mirror. And we’re off like a dirty shirt! And we’re off like a herd of tuttles, gnat said. Shift reverse, gas, BANG.

And I mean BANG. What the hell? WHAT THE HELL? I looked in the rear view mirror: daylight. Had Wile E. Coyote come by and painted a big picture of the scene across the street on the inside of the garage door? Having no roadrunner DNA, I would have smacked right into it instead of sailing blithely through, of course. I got out and saw to my boundless dismay that the garage door had stopped 2/3rds of the way up. The good news: I’d run into the steel crossbeam, which kept me from splintering the door, but the force had crumpled the top of the cargo door and bent the tracks on which the door rode. It took 10 minutes to get the door up so I could back out, and I was able to get the door down and lock it. But it will take a service call to get it working again, and a lick of paint on the frame where a metal wheel splintered some wood.

You just feel stupid for the rest of the day after something like that. Stupid. I don’t see how I could have avoided it; it’s not like I don’t check for daylight every time I back out. I’d just never assumed that the door might stop in its transit. And of course now I will have to assume that every time, and I’ll be eternally gunshy when backing out. Grr.

Bought a new printer the other day. Ah, once that was a great moment in a geek’s life, back when the improvements in printers were substantial. My first printer I remember well – an Apple ImageWriter II that used the paper with the holes in the margin. The big advance was Microperforations! that allowed you to rip off the margins and leave a clean edge. Coff. Right. All my early manuscripts were as jagged as well-used hacksaws. Subsequent printers I don’t recall as well; they came, they went, with incremental increases in quality. I bought an HP ink-sucker less than a year ago. It replaced a sturdy Epson that made nice prints, but took a fortnight to do so. The HP was pressed into service on the new book and quickly revealed its main flaw: the sheet feeder. It was both blind and rapacious; it pawed and swallowed without thought, leading to the most hideous jams I’d ever seen. Big thick ink-sodden wads rolled up like black sopping logs inside the machine. After the last jam the printer head could never find its way again; pictures came out wavy and drunk, and no matter how many calibration pages I printed it was utterly incapable of producing anything other than a funhouse-mirror version of the original image. So.

Back to CompUSA. Bought a new Canon with five ink tanks. It’s networkable, so Gnat can print off pages from her computer downstairs to color at her leisure. And we all know where that’s going: I put in 30 sheets of expensive glossy stock for a project, and she prints off 30 black-and-white line drawings of My Little Ponys.

The printer has the regrettable retro-70s styling – looks like a computer for a Cylon child – but since it’s on a shelf under the desk, I don’t care. It’s incredibly fast, and

GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY HOW DO I CHANGE THE FARGIN’ DEFAULT SOUND THAT WORD MAKES WHEN IT SAVES A DOCUMENT, and DON’T TELL ME to TURN IT OFF, because I like the feedback. But the sound is so Microsoft: a bright chang! that sounds cool the first time you hear it, and ends up being the audio equivalent of a wad of tinfoil on a filling. A simple blip or pong! Or peem would be sufficient, but now: I get the end result of three guys who spent a year figuring out the perfect sound, all the while knowing that if they set foot in Apple’s interface department they would feel like pimply mouth-breathing nerds with pocket protectors and damp cheesy skin who’d stumbled into an all-girl sorority kegger. Criminey. And I can’t find the frickin’ file anywhere; if I could, I’d change it. But they’ve hidden it away in a nested folder so deep I would need a bathysphere to reach it, and even then it would have some file extension I’ve never heard of. Provided it's not embedded in some file with an intuitive name like wrdsv.dpl.

No – this is a challenge. I will find it. Be right back.

Later. Nope. Looked everywhere it could possibly be. T’aint there. You know why Clippy, that little animated helper in Wizard, is drawn that way? He has no head. He has no neck. So there’s nothing to strangle.

Anyway. Didn’t mean to go off on that; I just saved and heard that sound again. The only reason I ever hit my volume control on the laptop is to turn the “save” sound down from “cracks plaster” to “bothers dog, deeply.” It’s just annoying.

Nothing much else to say about today; the morning was spent cleaning up the columns, the early afternoon spent cleaning up the house. The sunlight at 1 PM is brutal; it illuminates doghair tufts and isolated sand-granules and streaks in the windowpane. You have to clean. You just HAVE TO. Then, of course, I ran the car into the garage door. Went to Sam’s Club, where the clerk made the fatal mistake of telling me I did not need to show my card to shop at the liquor annex. “Anyone can shop here,” she said. “Thank you!” I said, ecstatic at the thought that my membership would lapse and I would never again feel compelled to trawl the halls of the Sam’s Club itself, wondering if I should take advantage on these great deals – hey, Chicken Soup in 32-gallon drums. Stock up! No, I can just drop by every other week and stand in amazement: one liter of Maker’s Mark for twenty dollars.

Cheaper than ink. There’s something wrong here. Something very wrong.
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