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The plan: get up at the crack of eight, have a nice morning with Gnat, get her back to school, spend the day at the office, hit the grocery store, blab on the Hewitt show, write another column, relax. Reality: wife wakes me at 9:30. She’s got Gnat’s gut-bug. Check school schedule; it doesn’t start until Wednesday. Of course. Hmm. Well. Call up previous night’s work, edit, file Sunday column. Leave Gnat home with wife, because I have to go to office today. Promise I will be gone no more than 2 hours. Check mail; read angry letter from someone who thought I was abusing Jasper by not giving him all the Jell-O, and hence will never read me again. This is my life: a stranger took me off her bookmarks because I didn’t let my dog gorge on half a pan of frozen dairy-topped Jell-O.


Check Dave Barry’s blog, read a similar letter, marvel at the depth and breadth of misinterpretation one encounters. Or encourages: other letters took me to task for a variety of good reasons, and I’ve only myself to blame, either for saying something harsh, stupid, ill-considered or a unique & piquant assemblage of all three.

Note to the folks who responded to my remarks in Barry’s blog comments: Jasper did not throw up, but he did firehose out the strawberries on someone’s boulevard the next day.

I can’t believe I not only wrote that but felt compelled to pass it along.

Next: Realize I am spending time writing comments in Dave's blog instead of working quickly so I can relieve my wife. Bang out a column, go home to wife and Gnat on the sofa watching TV, having a fine, if dyspeptic, mommy-daughter day. Feel comfortably irrelevant. Decide to shift tense. I replaced another headlight in her car, and this time I knew how to do it. But this time it was colder; my hand slipped while attempting to loosen a screw, driving the blade of the screwdriver into my hand. I think I actually came up with a fresh curse, right then and there, unuttered by anyone before, a unique combination of the sacred and profane. Good oaths spring from surprise; no one ever produced a horrid and satisfying curse while lost in placid contemplation. Then I finished taking down the Christmas decorations. It’s a bittersweet and necessary thing; it feels like you’re taking down the bunting from a victory party for a candidate who lost. That’s the odd thing about Christmas; it always wins and immediately concedes.

Next: replace the Tivos. I haven’t bored you with the latest contrusions, because it’s more of the same. To wit: everything crashed. All three receivers. It happened during a big wind storm, so I assumed the dish was knocked out of alignment. A tech was dispatched, and concluded – of course! – that two units had shorted out. (The third one, which had first alerted me to the problem, now worked fine.) Keeping with the tradition laid down by last summer’s Endless Parade of Half-Assed Techs Making It Up As They Go Along, he removed the gigantic wall-wart multiplexer the previous tech had bolted to the wall, explaining that it wasn’t really necessary. Anyway, I needed new Tivos. They were sent. Meanwhile, the problem resolved itself. Everything worked. Another call to DirecTV said the problem was probably the weather, but hold on to the Tivos just in case. Four days later, the two Tivos failed. So today I opened the box –

But tarry. Stay thy hand. I turned on all the receivers, tested for signal strength. Everything worked. So I called DirecTV and said, in effect, I am considering going back to magic lantern pictures and 3D stereograms for family entertainment, unless you send someone over to look at my dish. I was calm and polite and they rewarded me with a free week of Showtime, just like a big wet fish gets tossed to a seal who performed his tricks without complaints.

Dinner: spaghetti! What a stunning surprise! Didn’t see that one coming! Of course, wife and child have the flu, or the rotovirus, or the Belgian Bowel Harangue, or whatever it is, so they just looked at the meal. That's fine; that's why I sprinkle the rim of the plate with parsley and use coarsely grated mozarella that melts ever so nicely: so it looks good. I'd be content if they got out cans of shellac and saved the dish for posterity, as long as no one complains at ten that there's nothing to eat.

Walked the dog. Wrote the Newhouse column. Now I’m here. Anything else?

Oh, right. I’d promised Hugh Hewitt I would pose My Size Barbie with his new book. I got a copy at the office today, so I can make good on my promise. We will have many such pictures. First in the series, it’s Barbie in Gnat’s bathtub, in a picture I call The Ophelia of the Blogosphere.

Click on the book to go to Hugh's site, where you can buy it.

What’s next for our hero? Oh, I don’t know. I have to finish the Thursday column now, this being Three-Column Monday. Maybe I’ll watch some TV, although I have nothing good Tivo’d. Watched all the Enterprise episodes this weekend, and while I enjoyed the Vulcan arc, it did seem to consist mostly of Archer striding through tunnels with Melissa Etheridge, looking nearsighted. And no one seems to have picked up on the political undercurrent – so the Vulcan top guy wants to make a “pre-emptive” based on falsified evidence that the other side has weapons of mass destruction, and has paved the way for his evil plans by staging a terrorist attack on an embassy he uses as a pretext for a domestic crackdown.

Nope, NO PARALLELS intended there. It does fall apart if you look at it closely, but the whole story betrays an interesting aspect of the Trek backstory. The Vulcans not nly follow Surak’s teachings, they have built up what appears to be a religion around them - but there’s no element of the divine. Everyone gets to act like true believers, and everything sounds and feels like a religion, but it’s not. And that's fine; I don't care, but it's instructive: the writers seem to want all the trappings of a religion without, y'know, the God thing. It's like the Force. They have statues and chants and monasteries and devout unblinking acolytes who are Very Serious, but no God. It's like Amway with Gregorian Chants. You can boil the entire Vulcan philosophy down to one word: Chill. Yes, I know, it’s more. IDIC, logic, all that, but it’s useless unless everyone CHILLS THE FARK OUT. Otherwise you have Vulcans in bar fights saying dude it is so totally logical that I turn your face into sehlat meat.

Incidentally, I am not so far gone that I know the exact name of a Vulcan animal. But this being the 21st century, I could type “spock’s Vulcan pet” into Google and get "sehlat" in .24 seconds.

I love the 21st century.

Also the 20th. Let’s go back, via the matchbooks of Joe Ohio. Keep in mind this is not intended as literature. I’m not spending any time on this; if I did, I’d think about it too much, and that would ruin it. It’s just typing. See you tomorrow. (And new Fence today.)