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Sorry about Friday; went dark for a while. Blame thieves in Amsterdam. The ones who stole my credit card number. That was the card I used to pay the website bills, and I hadn’t updated my information. (Am I the only person who feels slightly insecure about PayPal? There’s something about that site that just looks flimsy, like those sites that pop up when you misspell a name and land on some jacked domain that consists entirely of search engines. “Do you want to make Your home page?" Oh yes, by all means. Spray my drive with venomous cookies, replace all my favorites with Czech shaved-penguin prOn sites. Anyway, everything is updated now, and I can continue doing whatever the hell it is I do here. Which includes gratuitous backyard nature shots:

Ahh. Anyway: I may have mentioned that I illuminated the backyard with many low-voltage lights. This was stage one. Stage two was running lights along the side of the house and the path that leads around the Cliff. I took Gnat to Home Depot on Friday, part of our series of endless errands (really, the day was loaded: piano lesson, then Target, then the World Market for sandwich shaped gummis and Australian wine (the former are her reward for practicing well, and the latter my reward for being 46), then Office Max to get binders (I’m getting rid of all DVD boxes and putting the discs in sleeves, and please – if you have technical warnings, such as disc warpage or some nefarious interaction between the plastic of the sleeves and the tender surface of the DVD, don’t tell me. Besides, if it’s a movie I really want to see again – as opposed to one I will never watch again, but am content merely to possess – I will end up buying it again in whatever new format comes out in the next few years) then Home Depot, then the grocery store. Friday night I put up the lights in half an hour, and waited for the Magic of Dusk; whoa. I’m going to light this joint up like Hearst’s mansion on Christmas.

Which also means I need a new grill, since the venerable Weber is a complete wreck. The auto-light function hasn’t worked in years - s I have to turn on the gas, light a match, poke it through the hole, watch the match go out, light another, poke it through again, then run around the yard batting at my face to extinguish the eyebrows I set on fire when all the accumulated propane ignited. The insides have completely rotted away; apparently the grill is not meant to withstand, you know, fire.

After I get the arbor and the grill? I have to dig up the south side of the house and put down gigantic slabs of stone, since I’m making a little porch area. The gazebo is nice for privacy; the porch will be for those moments when I want to sit outside and watch the passing parade of life. Which usually amounts to three guys having a smoke while walking the dog, and the occasional knot of teens giggling their way down to the creek to do things they think they’re ready to do, but will not master for decades. If ever. Then, I have to dig up the front of the house by the cliff and replace the ground cover. Then I have to remove the grass from an area in the backyard and replace with something or other – gravel, cedar chips, crushed bones, Pez heads, whatever. THEN I have to order about 75 bags of cedar chips for the backyard, because they have to be replaced every other year.

And why? So I can walk around at dusk and say: home. Sometimes I think that everything I do is just for those moments when I can walk around and say it’s done. Factum Est. Disorder has been poked back in the cave for another day.

Friday night I was downstairs with Gnat while she watched a Veggie Tales DVD. I was putting DVDs in folders and sorting the insert art in another expandable folder. (Don’t ask. I have my reasons.) After the show was over she wanted to have a theological discussion. “So first came God and then dinosaurs and then giant beetles then small beetles then people.”

“Yep.” You can have those conversations forever, and we’ve had them before. But they take unusual turns.

“God looks after us all the time and protects us,” she said, probably repeating a Veggie Tale bromide.

“Well, yes, and no.”


“If you’re crossing the street and a car is coming, do you think God moves the car so it doesn’t smack you?”


“That’s right. He gave you a brain and eyes and ears so you can see cars and get out of the way. He helps you by giving you things so you can help yourself.”

“Does He help ants?”

“Yes, but it’s not high on His list.”

The ant farm, incidentally, is beginning its inevitable decline, proving my point. (And God's.) About 14 ants are left. They’ve been at low tide for a while – they went nuts a few days ago when I gave them some sugar water, but they seem to have come to the conclusion that they’re trapped in a Beckett play. My wife can’t stand to see the thing; she wants me to end their misery.

“They’re not miserable,” I said. “They’re ants, for heaven’s sake. As long as they can build another pointless tunnel and stack the heads of their dead brethren, they’re content.”

We tried Sea Monkeys the other day, but they didn’t come to life. Just as well. I would have been tempted to put some in the Ant Farm to see if the ants would fight the brine shrimp, or perhaps cross-breed in some unholy experiment that would create socially-organized amphibious insects.

Watched “National Treasure,” which was brisk fun. It wasn’t dumb. Charming, in a way. The director’s commentary was interesting – the original ending had the main characters arguing about whether there was a treasure map on the back of the Constitution, and he said audiences rejected it because it seemed like they were setting up the sequel. I wouldn’t mind a sequel, but no part of me will die if such a thing doesn’t happen. What’s amusing is that the audience said No! Leave it alone. That was nice. Don’t screw it up with a noisy, boring rehash we will feel obligated to see, because it’ll come out on a weekend when there’s nothing else but a Vin Diesel grunter and Barbershop 4.

The movie relied on a plot device that has always seemed implausible: incredibly old huge stone doors that open when you push the right brick. I mean, my electric garage door balks, and it’s six years old.

Well, that’s enough babble for now. Have to finish the Sunday column and make a run at that Screenblog piece. In case you missed it – last Friday was the last Joe Ohio until the book’s sold. It’s a cliffhanger of sorts.

Here’s the latest Al-Jazeera Flash cartoon. Not very good – but what’s interesting is the setting. We have Bush fishing on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. There seems to be a gap in the background image. Wonder what might have gone there.

I have no idea how this appears to Al-Jazeera patrons, but that gap is all I see.