Double-column day, so I’m up against it. Oh, I could’ve planned better, could’ve written something for the top this afternoon. GUILTY. But when I had a spare moment, I did the one thing I did not need to do at all. This is how you keep yourself sane and happy in the writing game: you write, but it’s not what you need to write.

I wrote the Clippings text for a future installment. For the third week of the month, to be more specific.

For January, to be precise.

Don’t know how this started. I used to do the matches the night before. Now I’m up to 2023. Perhaps if I get struck by lightning tomorrow the site will still grow, like fingernails after death.

ACKSHUALLY that’s not true, it’s a matter of the finger tissue contracting, so it looks like they’re growing.

One note on modern frustrations: it is difficult to find working phone numbers for people in a certain age group. They may have landlines, but they went private. If they have a cell, they never set up voicemail, and it’s full. I was trying to find the number for my 5th grade teacher. No particular reason, except it’s probably been ten years since I talked to him. I was writing something last night about the American Grade-School Experience, with all its bright mid-century modern glazed tiles and glass-block windows, and was reminded that I had called him a long time ago, told him what an impression he had made and how I had been lucky to be his student. When I googled him again, wincing against the expectation of a rote obit page from the funeral home, light-brown header with floral accents, script typeface.

But no, he's still with us, and won an award last year for a lifetime of service in education.

Directory service was no help. It always feels pathetic when you use it, as if you don't know any other way than 411. AT&T assured me that I would not be charged if they couldn't find the number. Great. Why charge me in the first place? Yes, yes, because they can. Because I didn't want to sign up for one of the 1,395 "people finder" sites that give you additional information.

I will try again tomorrow. Had work to do, so I called the City Government to ask a question, and was informed everyone was working remotely because of COVID-19, but I could leave a number and a message and someone would get back to me. Right. I called another number for something else and was informed, to my surprise, that the people at the office were working remotely, but if I left a number and a brief description of what I wanted, someone would call me back. Right.

Hung up. Phone rang. Picked up. Laughter, boiler-room ambience, foreign languages. Then an Indian-accented guy named "Mike" from "U. S. Medicare" asking whether I had recieved my card.

Poor Mike got all my phone frustrations compressed into two syllables.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The anticipatory cringe.

I mentioned last week, and before, the AppleTV show “For All Mankind.” It’s an alternative history. The USSR got to the Moon first. They put a female cosmonaut on the Moon first. How would this change US history? I love the period detail, the revisitation of 70s and 80s culture (Reagan is president ahead of schedule; bulky cellphones are more common), but I keep waiting for the instructive revision, and hence have the anticipatory cringe.

By “instructive” I mean something that tweaks what happen to tell us what should’ve happened, or what the writers thought should've happened. Warning, spoiler, etc.

In season two one of the characters is heading off to South Korea for a space conference, and the set-up is well-done: we think it’s about this thing, until the moment when we see a Soviet fighter close in on a commercial aircraft, and realize it’s about that. Flight 007.

Subsequently the characters discuss the shoot-down, and wrangle with the NASA military liaison about whether it was a spy mission; he insists, with muted, angry disbelief that it was not.

Here’s the thing: as much as I have enjoyed a lot of this show, I don’t trust it.

I don’t believe it would give up the chance to turn the tables and make the 007 shutdown the fault of the US, just like the sinking of the Lusitania was really the fault of those who stuffed it with armaments.

Right now I’m still watching, so I don’t know. I just don’t trust it.

OFFS There’s a debate about the Russians using stolen plans for the shuttle, and they’re not aware of the O-ring problem, so we have to warn them! The Military Liaison says no, that’s on them. Why do I the the feeling that the Good NASA Woman will warn the Russians?

Because I don’t trust the show.

Why do I watch it? Well, space, Moonbase, Ronald D. Moore, and moments like a long-retired astronaut returning to the moon, in a shuttle, while "Back in Black" plays on the soundtrack. Also:

Reagan on a videophone with a 386 computer in the background with a floppy-drive, so yes, I can forgive almost anything.

 

 

It's 1947.

The most exciting thing about this foodstuff? NEW PACKAGE

But don’t sneer. It was your guarantee of sanitary meat. Wrapped for your convenience and safety - no grubby hands had sullied it, no spoilage from improper storage. (Probably.) All this, and dinner quality meat. Your family will love them!

Really, they will. Because they’re hot dogs.

Here are three ways to try them, and believe me, we spent a lot of money and time to come up with these ideas:

They’ll move the mail, too, if you know what we mean. So yeah, three times a day. Until.

Spee-DIE

What will you do with all that time you save by cutting your hot-cross-bun making time in half?

A rather modern ad for a modern assertion: Automatic control produces uniform results:

It sounds soulless to modern ears, which believes that beans roasted by hand in small batches under the careful supervision of an expert produces a better coffee than these institutional roasts.

And they’re probably right.

There were actual Hills brothers, by the way. Austin Herbert Hills (1851-1933), Earnest Hills, and Reuben Wilmarth Hills I (1856-1934).

Where was it? And is sis drunk again?

Note how easy everything has become. No cooking, no laborious prep - the eggs and milk and noodles and vegetables have been made ready for you, and all you have to do is add water.

It’s so easy!

But is it satisfying? Do you feel as if you’ve really accomplished anything? And does that matter, in the end?

 

Libby’s and Gerber, locked in a titanic struggle for decades. There would be only one winner.

Do you remember this crisis?

In November 2009, Libby's announced that because of poor weather on its Illinois pumpkin farms and a depleted back stock, a canned pumpkin shortage was likely as Thanksgiving approached. Libby's accounts for the vast majority of canned pumpkin production in the United States, and the shortfall prompted Libby's to establish farms in multiple states as a hedge against another mass shortage like the one that happened in 2009.

In many ways 2008 - 09 felt like a dry run for 2020-21. Things fell apart. The ground moving under our feet in great shakes and small tremors.

That'll do; our weekly visit with Mr. Williams awaits.

 

 

 
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