Fargo got nailed, as the vernacular has it; big storm. You can’t even say it was a snowstorm of Biblical proportions, because it never snows in the Bible. I mention this because the local paper’s online photo gallery includes a shot of three wind-whipped American flags from “R J’s Conoco.” Which would be my father’s station. (I’m J R. He’s R J.) Go here, find the storm link on the front page, and click on “Photo Gallery: Storm photos.” It’s number three. (The site requires registration for direct links, alas.)

I joined Triple A today – for some reason, that looks like it should be Triple AAA, which would of course make it nine As total. (The Aggregate Ambulatory & Anticipatory Assistance Apparatus for American Automotorists Association . . . of Ashtabula) This feels like training wheels for joining AARP. I don’t know why; some ancient connotation, some long-buried memory of seeing the AAA stickers only on cars driven by coots in hats with pants yanked up sternum-high. The sticker seemed to say “I expect to end up in the ditch, and have taken precautions.” But of course in those days you couldn’t get out a phone and call the tow; you had to hike into town and make the call. As it turns out, I never lock my keys in the car, I never spin out, and I never leave my lights on all day, because each has a catastrophic effect on your ability to get to the next designated task. Now, however, I can ignore my car’s beeps and chimes, and steer out of a skid if the mood strikes. I’m protected.

AAA seems rather desperate, frankly; the come-on, which was cheap, also promised $600 in groceries. This comes not in the form of meat or milk, but coupons for things I don’t use and probably don’t want. Ragu-gurt! Frozen tomato sauce and yogurt blended together in a portable tube! At least I get insurance. I have a lot of insurance. If I never need an appendectomy in Lagos, my Amex will help. Of course, they’ll probably use the card to cut me open.

More cold, more snow. I put some more lights tonight – 880, if you trust the count on the boxes – and the effect is nice. It took an hour for my feet to regain all sensation, though. Only 3000 left to go. That was my main accomplishment today, aside from the cleaning and scanning and childrearing and shopping and dinner making. Have to write a column before I got to bed, too. Well. Anything in the brainpan? Let's see.

Note to Steve Jobs: I am using Firefox instead of Safari now, because I am sick of brushed metal. It has become the wood-grained plastic of GUI designs. Please make a note of it.

Note to TiVo: As much as love you, it’s more what you do than how you do it, and any superior interface will get my dollars in a second. I have allegiance to the concept behind your brand, not your brand. That is not good news for you, and as a DirecTV subscriber I am prepared to leave you behind. It’s been nice. But let me explain something. When I enter “Lost” as a season ticket, not only once but twice, so I can get the network AND HD feed, I expect to find, oh, I don’t, know, LOST on my playlist. You declined to record it. I didn’t touch anything – I rope off the TV with yellow police-line tape during crucial broadcasts, so Gnat does not cancel the show to record the 9323rd SpongeBob episode. You whiffed it. You dropped the ball. Screwed the pooch. . Huffed the thinner. Torched the Citroen. I am not surprised, because you are a program that will record EVERY G*($*%#MNED COPS EPISODE BROADCAST except the new ones. Nice work. Also, your interface has not changed in half a decade. And it’s slow. On the other hand, you have recorded one of the “Focker” movies, so now I am looking at Ben Stiller, who looks like something that has been inexpertly skinned, and moves his head like a curious reptile. Please make a note of it.

As the month progresses, you will note that most businesses avoid the term “Christmas” for the generic “Holiday,” not willing to offend the legions of people who react to “Christmas” like vampires who wake up in a cross factory at noon. Well, not everyone feels this way:

That’s right: Playboy is more Christmasy than almost everyone else. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. In the grotto, pal.

Hew Hughitt discussed the Xbox shortage on his show Wednesday, and how it’s a major clusterfarg for Microsoft. He’s not kidding. Amazon sums it up:

I suppose this is how you build demand – the fewer people complaining about crashes and power supplies the size of hobbit coffins, the better. But I tend to think there’s a middle ground – i.e., you sell several million right away, and let the other several million wait a week or two, instead of selling half a million and letting nineteen million stare, gobsmacked at the "Xbox Rain Check" card Mom and Dad put in your Christmas stocking. I don’t think it will sour people on Microsoft, though; that’s like souring people on Ben Stiller. One has to care first. I don’t think there’s this vast reservoir of Hope and Dreams bound up in the Microsoft brand, anymore than people have an emotional attachment to the organization that provides their tap water. It is a utility, and utilities are never cool, even if the water sometimes tastes better than it did before.

Can you imagine the reaction if, in a year, Jobs was touting the latest upgrade to the MiniMac DVR / iPod dock / HD streamer, and said “one more thing,” and showed Halo 3 running on the new version of the Mini? Then held up a really cool controller? Oh, and you can buy games through iStore and stream them to the Mini. Just don't sneeze around the unit, because that leaves horrible scratches.

As seen in People mag!
I have no desire to see the Narnia movie, mainly because it looks as if it takes place mostly in Winter, and that’s where I live at the moment. I read and enjoyed all the books as a kid, although I don’t remember them firing my imagination as much as other stuff. (The Amber series by Zelazny, now that’s different.) Mostly I have no great need for another Good vs. Evil story where orc-hordes battle the good guys to restore order to the cosmos, at least until the sequel. The Lord of the Rings seems to have covered that one well. But I’m not in a mood that seems receptive to epic and uplift thiese days. I don’t know quite what comes next, and the idea of doing the same things again and again for the next 20 – 30 years seems . . . . annoying. It’s like finding yourself hung by the neck, and the noose is a Mobius loop.

Yes, another day ending in boring old existential sludge. Sorry; something about filling out life insurance policies will do that to you. I’m fine! Really. Tomorrow looks spiffy; Gnat and I have two full days ahead, since my wife has holiday parties, and this means Mall time and bonding at McDonald’s and the sheer basic happiness that comes from hanging around with a five-year old who takes you hand when you cross the street. And Friday, with its non-writing non-web pleasures, awaits, followed by the Mall of America book signing. Details on that tomorrow.

I’m happier already!