Yesterday was all new, in case you were perplexed by the big WEDNESDAY graphic. And for some reason the NEW link went to the Matchbooks, instead of this week's thrilling addition, Murder in the Tank. The usual mess, in other words.

Today is all new as well. Just like those TV shows: tonight, on an all-new West Wing! They wouldn’t have to say that if they hadn’t come up with the abomination know as the Compilation Episode, where you get highlights of shows you liked when they first aired, with 11% new footage to tie it all together. In any case, I doubt whether any “West Wing” is all new, since I guarantee they use conjunctions and adjectives employed in previous shows. And if it was truly all new, Martin Sheen would be replaced by Yahoo Serious, and it would all take place in the Kremlin.

Just put Gnat down, and no, not in the animal sense. That’s the difference between kids and horses; your child breaks a leg, and your first thought isn’t where you keep the shotgun. Mom’s off with friends for the night, so we did our usual fun time-killer: the mall. Bought a My Little Pony dish and cup set; went to the Apple store, and agonized; went to The Bathery or the Great American Soap Place or Surficants R Us or whatever the hell it’s called – they have some soaps I like. Yes, yes, I know. Men should not have soap preferences. We should be content to scour our skin with Lava until we bleed. Fine. You can either use what your wife uses, and smell girly all day, or you can choose your own. And the aromatic palette for men is rather constrained; most of the stuff leans toward the Hai Karate / Brut end of the spectrum, and I hate those scents. This place has a line of pretentious potions dubbed “Aromatherapy,” complete with Cds to listen to while you rub soothing anti-stress balm on your shoulder and gently mist your pillow with the Room Conditioner. And the names sound like alchemist’s potions – eucalyptus peppermint, for example. But I like it. And when I saw a big sign that said they’d dropped the price by 60% on this stuff for a limited time, well, in we went. So now I will exude a faint hogo of peppermint, and should you meet me on the street you’ll know that it has nothing to do with gum.

Gum has CARBS, you know. And carbs are from SATAN.

Earlier today I was playing with Gnat, and she took two rag dolls and pressed them together. “They’re married now,” she said. Then she took another girl doll and said “she doesn’t have anyone to marry. No – she can marry a My Lil Pony.”

“No, hon. Girls can’t marry horses.”

“Why not?”

“Because they’re different species.”

“My Little Pony is made out of glass metal.”

“Uh – yeah.”

“She can just ride her around then.”

“Okay.” And I thought: if I write this up tonight, some people will think I’m trying to make an analogy to current events.

Okay, here’s half the good news I alluded to before: sold the next book to Crown / Random, the third in the Institute of Official Cheer series. Now comes the scanning and writing and the printing and the GLAVIN and all the rest. This one will be different than the first two – it’s going to be trade paperback, because the source material doesn’t require the elaborate printing of its predecessor, and the nature of the subject (can’t say yet; deep secret) apparently requires paperback: so studies show. I’m serious. So it’ll be cheaper, too. You’ll love it. Due late late next year, if all goes well. There’s more news on the book fronts as well, but I’ll save that until it’s a done deal.

The other half of the good news comes Monday.

Since I sold the book, we decided to pull the trigger on some improvements to Jasperwood we’d been planning for a while. And I wanted to do them on the off small chance that Kerry wins and my taxes go up. Because if my taxes go up I can’t spent the money on home improvements. I know what some might be thinking: what, you’re spending your tax cuts? Aren’t you using the money to construct a large incinerator in the back yard so you can burn future tax increases while wearing your Monopoly Man costume and eating “Diamond Jim” brand oysters? No. Part of the improvements are simple enough – we’ve had the same rugs for 15 years, and they’re almost translucent. But the big project is the garage and the connecting tunnel, which is still in the rough unfinished state from its conception. Back then they lacked the material to finish such a thing, because of the humidity and seepage problems, but Today’s Modern Techniques scoff at such problems. Scoff. So I’m going to finish the tunnel, and finish the garage as well. New walls. Since that’s our primary entrance into the house, it makes sense to beautify it.

Is it falling down? No. Is it ugly? Yes. So I fully admit that I am using my tax cut for a non-essential aesthetic upgrade of my life. It is not something I need, but of course I don’t need this computer, either; I could etch the Bleat on a clay tablet with a stylus, put it the yard and you could come by to read it at your leisure. The point is that I’m going to be employing quite a few people by the time this is done. It’ll be like the last big improvement to Jasperwood, The Stairs. I’m still amazed at how much economic activity that job produced. This is why I won’t vote for anyone who raises my taxes. It’s not fair to the rug salesman and the day laborers and union electricians. Or to the people to whom they will give the money I give them. And so on. I’m always a bit bemused by people who say well, if you can afford those stairs, you can afford to pay more taxes. Yes, but if I pay more taxes, I can’t pay the people to pay the stairs. So? The old stairs were ugly and crumbling, but they worked. But the new stairs increase the value of my home, in addition to putting money in other people’s pockets – seven people worked on those steps. And got paid. And paid taxes on what they got paid. Why does this sound like radical heresy?

Anyway. Kid’s in bed, Wife isn’t home yet, and a long week concludes with some simple stupid TV. See you Monday.
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