|Sent Gnat to school with a purple finger today. Explained it as best as I could.
Back in the kitchen, so to speak. The metaphorical one. The view is the same, albeit slightly whiter; it’s snowing that curious invisible snow you can’t detect unless you look against something black. Stopped off at the office for this and that – checked the mail, and found a letter from a reader who’d dropped a fiver in an envelope. (Thanks, Dan!) He noted that he hadn’t found a tip jar or Amazon link, which of course is true; I took that off early this year for several reasons. It was tsunami season, and it seemed wrong to ask for money for the site. Just buy the book; that’s all I ask. As for Dan's fiver, it will go directly to the machinery at Chuck E. Fricken’s tonight, where Gnat and I will play skee-ball until I get high score.
I should mention that I do have a charity: The Heifer Project, which lets you send a water buffalo to a Third-world family. UPS, I think. You can also buy increments of water buffalo for small amounts, which means you can pick up the phone, call Omaha Steaks, send dead fractions of an entire cow to relatives, then call Heifer and send live fractions to someone else. The smaller contributions are pooled, obviously; I don’t think they drop a quarter-ton of meat and bones withwith some needles and thread on someone’s door and expect them to assemble the beast once the rest arrives. You can also send the Gift of Bees, and you don’t often get the chance to do that. Usually you wish to send someone the Scourge of Bees, or the Punishment of Bees, but no: the Gift of Bees.
Drove over to St. Paul to do a radio interview with Greta Cunningham on the MPR inserts for “All Things Considered.” Several things were considered. It’s nice to do a friendly studio interview with someone who’s read the book, rather than a hot-rockin’ barker glancing at the cover. I took a short tour of the new building and studios, which, given the other radio stations where I've done work, made me cry. So shiny and new. So very very shiny and new.
I drove over via University Avenue, still the best urban tour in the Twin Cities. Every era is represented; ever type of business from the Russian Tea House to Asian groceries to a porno store with cheerful signage to industrial concerns along the train tracks by Lexington. One of the Asian groceries had painted the windows with symbols of the fare inside: giant dead animals hanging on hooks. Pigs and chickens. I thought this was amusingly un-PC until I drove back the other way, and saw another grocery that had the same image permanently embossed on its backlit sign. Your guarantee of freshness, I guess: of course this pig is fresh. I had to pour out the plate underneath it just an hour ago. Saw a big new condo project rising on the corner where once sat of St. Paul’s porno houses, the Faust – sorry, the notorious Faust; that’s always how it was described. A new CVS drugstore on the site of the old circular green-glass Midwest Federal bank branch; it’s done in that buff-hued concrete that chips easy, especially around the corners. The sort of stuff that never quite gives the impression of permanence and density it’s supposed to project. Just looks like they hosed liquid stone on a wood frame and slapped some paint on it. One good rainstorm could dissolve it all. The adjacent shopping center is done in the same material as well, and while I’m sure the place makes New Urbanists have kittens in their britches, the place is actually a modern miracle: the range of goods, for decent prices, available at this complex is unrivaled. And this isn’t the yuppie part of town, either.
Alas, the 60s Kennedy-era sign for the Midway bank (above) has been replaced by something much less cool. Ah well. Drive on.
Went home, hoping the garage-door repairman wouldn’t still be there, since he charges by the hour. The garage-door repairman was there. On the other hand, he charged me $195 for a new lifter; the bastaches at the repair place I initially called wanted $395. They have that “emergency markup,” I guess, but charging you twice as much seems a little excessive. So I’ll never call them again.
And yes, I expect I will have to call a garage-door repairman again. I’m penciling it in for next December.
Off to get Gnat; she was playing in the gym, and happy to see me. But tired. She fell on the floor in a theatrical display of exhaustion, then sat up and said EWWW, DIRT. She’d slid into a little jot of mud. I gave it a sniff: not dirt. Dog offal. EWWW EWWW EWWW. We scrubbed down, had a good laugh – I expect this will enter the “Remember When” list of memories she accesses at random: remember when I got dog poo on my hand? How can I forget. Off to get her hair cut; off to Chuck E. Frickin’s. (Dan's fiver earned us enough tickets for a plush toy. Again, thanks!) She beat me at air hockey. We drove all the vehicles, skee-balled until we had rotary cuff injuries, then sat down for a meal of unsurpassed banality. I would only wish that the board of directors be forced to eat stuff from the adult menu every meeting; it would change things considerably, I think. I mean, the “grilled chicken club” is just some pencil-eraser-sized chunks of mechanically separated poultry buried under a shroud of congealed cheese, layered between slices of bread baked during the Truman administration. Plus cold, limp fries.
Off to Kinko’s to print the Christmas cards. (That’s an ongoing disaster detailed in upcoming Quirks.) The online people hosed the order, so I went to Target to print them off . . . but they can’t print off 4 X 8 cards. They can print a smaller photo if you use their 4 X 8 template, but printing your own 4 X 8? Why, sir, it is sheer madness to ask such a thing. So I called Kinko’s, asked if I could bring in a 4 X 8 picture and have 30 or so cards run off; the guy said sure. Tonight I was informed that they can’t, really; can’t just plug the file into the kiosk and get prints. No, I’d have to book time on the computer, print it out on several sheets, and they’d cut them up. This was not what I was told. This was not a matter of ten minutes at a kiosk; now it was an hour, at least, since the computer was occupied. It was rather exasperating, too, since the clerk did not understand what I meant by a 4 X 8 Christmas card. “What’s on the inside?” he asked. “Nothing. It’s just a picture on the front. A long card.” He asked me to draw a picture. Sigh. A manager wandered over and asked if he could help; I told him what the fellow had told me last night, and how it seems he really hadn’t heard what I was talking about, and now I was out of luck, et cetera.
The manager nodded. “What do you want me to do about it,” he asked.
Oh. My. Well, for starters, say anything but that. “Hear my complaint?” I said.
He nodded and walked away.
So I set the place on fire and left. What do you want me to do about it.
Why is this so difficult?
Got in the car. Turned on the Hugh Hewitt show. He was talking to someone about how I backed my car into the garage door. Whatever. I swear I went through this last year – came out of Chuck E. Frickin’, and he was giving me grief for backing my car through the door. But the more I listened the more I realized he was talking to the Governor of Minnesota, attempting to get a pardon for my crimes against garage doors. The Governor appeared to be receptive to the idea.
But of course:
So I got that going for me.
Drove home; Gnat fell asleep. The garage-door repairman was gone; he had left a whisper-quiet unit that does the trick. The door now goes up without the usual horrid clatter; sounds like an old man clearing his throat in his sleep. Better than before! So this was all for the good, then.
Now I have to write two columns and get Gnat to bed. There’s a new bleatcast, and no, you don’t have to have an iPod to listen; just click the link and it’ll show up in a new window in your browser. Sixteen minutes. Topics: familiar voices, and Christmas carols pt. 2. Contains one naughty word uttered by a celebrity, so you’ve been warned. Not for kids, in other words, but I can’t imagine why they would be interested anyway. That’s it! Thanks for your patronage this week, and have a merry weekend. See you Monday.