Note: the Great Internet Catastrophe of 2013 is underway here at home; for reasons unknown to all - most certainly including the internet provider - my interest is going out every 43 seconds or so. My Twitter app will not let me post. It’s like being buried alive and banging on the coffin lid: I’m here! Really I’m here!

If I can get this up at all it’s between outages, like timing a moon shot. This may have to do for a few days; the repairman is coming on Friday, and I’ve no idea what he will actually do. The idea of a house call from The Internet Repairman seems ridiculous. “What seems to be the problem, sir?”

My internet comes and goes.

“Comes and goes, eh. Well, let me take a look at your regulator. Half the time it’s your durned regulator. Or a squirrel got a nut in the pipe. Just point me to where your Internet is, and I’ll see what I can see.”

As you may have surmised, I was away. Alas, no Disneyworld, but yay Arizona. I wrote this earlier, in something of a state.

So the party was going to be at the big house but that had to be moved because reasons.

Don’t you love that sort of sentence? It begins with “SO,” which appears to be a prerequisite suffix in modern writing (I’m guilty) and concludes with “because reasons” which makes everyone sound like a 22-year old writing for a blog in New York that provides “what’s buzzin’ and viral” to an audience of 4,375 bots who hit the site because someone tweaked the SEO to make the page appear as the third choice when you google “Beiber.” The phrase “Because reasons” is a way of saying “There were reasons there are always reasons but like you care whatever.” It’s also a way of saying that you don’t have an argument, just circumstances, and you don’t have to have an argument, because what’s the point?

This is different from something like this:

The Dale does look pretty much exactly like what you'd think a mid-70s "revolutionary" car would look like: a Corbin Sparrow, basically. It was a three-wheeler, because of course it was, but at least the wheels were in the preferred "tail dragger" configuration with two up front. The car was made of something that seemed like fiberglass but was referred to as Rigidex, an entirely impregnable "rocket structural resin." Because rockets, of course.

It’s certainly efficient; to explain why a car’s 3-wheeled design was emblematic of the time, or why “rocket structural resin” had resonance with an audience looking for new tech would take time and words. “Because rockets of course”, like 47% of all writing on the web today, is shorthand. Or rather flashcards.

The article also includes a graphic that says “UM, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG,” for that “Internet circa 2009” feel. Um is how you start any correction, to indicate you’re shy and better with parts and tools than human beings. You could use “Say” or “hey there” but these are jaunty things used by people who can throw a baseball without hitting their ear.





Anyway. As I was saying. The surprise party had to be moved to the house of the person who was being surprised. This isn’t the sort of thing you can finesse. You just have to come out and say it. “We’re having a big party at your house, for you, even though you’ve just been admitted to the hospital. Can you sign yourself out for a while? We’ll have EMT on speed dial. Which is silly, because 911 isn’t exactly one of those international numbers with country codes and all that.” Yes, the guest of honor was in the middle of a medical misadventure, but her daughter is a nurse and her son is a doctor, and she was as hale as ever. So Thunderbirds are GO.

The guests were told where to go; the caterers were informed of the adjustment; the chairs and tables were set up, and then the guest of honor went back to the hospital for a while and my brother-in-law almost got bit by a rattlesnake. Because reasons and reason #1 is because Arizona. Yes, he was sunning outside, heard something move, saw something move, heard a rattling sound, and MON DIEU! (he’s French) there was a five-foot-long rattler a few paces away. It was not happy with him.
Animal control came to control the animal; by then the caterers had trapped it in a garbage pail. They used a stick with a rope on one end to get a grip, then threw the beast over the fence. If you wanted someone to take it far away you had to pay, I guess.

Back up a bit. Spring break. School's out. Daughter went ahead with sister / brother-in-law, a painful thing where I bade her goodbye at the airport in the company of others, noting her radiant delight at taking a trip by herself!!! sort of. Key detail: Mom & Dad not along. Well, this I understand, and am amused at her consolation: I'll see you tomorrow, don't make such a fuss.

Child, I am a fuss-generating system. And have been since your appearance as a wet squalling rutabaga.

The next day we go to the airport with plenty of advance time, because I cannot bear to endure the miserable anxiety of long lines when the clock bongs close to door-close time. Consequently we have an extra hour and half to kill . (Note: on the way back, the lines are akin to Parisian refugee columns prior to Nazi occupation; wife admits I was wise to build in an hour. VIN. DI. CATION) Long trip out - a flight to Denver at sunset, which was lovely - watched the lights of civilization appear, first the outlying hamlets, then the bright arteries, then the dazzling sprawl. Some time in Denver, then up and out to Phoenix, arriving at 1 AM by my body’s time. Bed. Tomorrow we will wake to the bright clear blare of the Arizona sun.

In the morning I tried to make myself useful by cleaning up after breakfast. Made a mistake with the dishwasher - the bottle that looked like the stuff I used for dishwashing fluid was actually dish soap, which meant the damned machine went full rabid and leaked foam out the door. Ha hah! A story, there. The weekend Uncle James put the dishwashing soap in the dishwasher! If you’ve ever made that mistake you know that the suds are just relentless. They will not go away. Three rinse cycles, scooping out soap and water with buckets and bowls.

Then my other brother-in-law arrives, and he has a toilet seat. My sister-in-law wanted to replace two toilet seats in my mother-in-law’s house, now that company was coming over, so we went to Home Depot and tried to decide whether the one we had - I’m standing in the aisle with my M-i-L’s toilet seat - was either discolored from time, or was actually “Biscuit,” a color the manufacturer uses for off-white. Biscuit. Since you don’t want to blow that choice, and have company come over and wander into the back bathroom and say “oh, poor dear, she can’t tell her toilet seat is mismatched; what’s become of her?” there was phone consultation with the Wives, and eventually we got dispensation to err on the side of Biscuit. It doesn’t matter whether it was correct. What matters was that we did what our wives said. This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be wrong, but now the blame was apportioned. Insurance.

Off to Safeway to buy wine; there was a fellow with samples. Three tiny samples + no sleep + no food and I’m in the bag. We stock up on spirits and head over to the house and installed both toilet seats, so we’re good. Back to the house. Run the dishwasher again. Nap.

When I call back to the house to see how the set-up is going, and when I should come over to pitch in (before you suck in some air through clenched teeth and think really? You let others do the setting up and you’re checking in to see when you should amble over? I should tell you that the event was catered, the caterers set up the tables, I had installed two toilet seats, and done a video that consisted of all the photos of MiL sent by her kids, keeping in mind that there must be an equitable distribution of grandchildren, and that the slideshow would be naturally affected by who had sent the most pictures, AND I did a Shutterfly book for her too, so shut up) and that’s when I hear about the rattlesnake.

But everyone’s relaxed now because hey, got the snake thing out of the way. No more possible snake problems. Sunset comes and the party begins and it's as lovely as life gets.


The party is a great success, but not all the wine and water is drunk, so the wine and water we brought over goes back into the car, and we drive back to the other house. (There are three Bases of Operation for this event, each 20 minutes apart.) My wife is driving, and notes that we are low on gas. We should stop and fill -

Are those cop-car lights in the rear-view mirror? They are cop-car lights. We pull over. The car we have - whose car is it, anyway? There were so many when the party broke up, keys were just flying everywhere. I’m looking through the glove compartment for documents. Turns out the tags were expired, which is good; not a moving violation on my wife’s record, but on the other hand “this isn’t our car, it’s someone else’s, really” makes a cop’s hink-o-meter needle twitch a little. We are cut loose without a ticket. The low gas light goes on. So we find a place and I pump in a ridiculous amount of money into the vehicle.

It didn’t get any worse for us at all, because we didn’t go out to the Mexican restaurant the next day with other members of the group. The shrimp was bad and provided its consumers an insistent, series of porcelain oratories, and to my chagrin it was at another house, so the toilet seats I installed didn’t see any action.

What else did I do? I sat in the sun and read an entire SPQR book, which I always do on holiday. We went to Easter sevice. I drove here and there on errands and things, because I had permission to use my sister-in-law's Benz convertible. Sunset and heat and a straight road and a fast car:

It was as far away from Minnesota right now as you can get, and that's what a vacation's for. Right?

Plus, I had internet.

Well, if you're reading this, I was successful shooting in the graphics in between the outages, so there might be something tomorrow. All should be well by Monday, and it'll be back to normal for the Bleat. Thanks for the patience! See you around.

(Note: no updates this week. Work blog resumes tomorrow, as well as Tumblr et al.)










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