Much better, thank you. I was better before I posted that last night. It was late and I was daft. When I’d finished the day’s work it was 12:30 AM, and I couldn’t sleep; checked the TiVo, and there was an old Star Trek. (Is there any other kind, now?) It was “By Any Other Name,” a mid-level ep in which the following things happen

The Enterprise is in peril - i know, that really narrows it down

Spock attempts a mind meld, which, depending on the episode, is either a risky and potentially fatal procedure or the mental equivalent of thinking about opening a box of Cheez-its

Strange powerful creatures from the galaxy you call Andromeda have assumed human form, and find themselves oddly drawn to the sensory and emotional capability of these fragile containers, right down to the curiously pleasurable custom of pressing mouths together. (Apparently no one had the fish.)  Side note: they are from another galaxy, but have the exact same sideburn style as Kirk. The odds of such parallel development, Spock notes, are small.

Kirk shags a button-nose blonde who’s wearing a backless jumpsuit, another one of William Ware Theiss’s brilliant just try to find the bra! Costumes

As it turns out, they convert the aliens to Federation values before they get six miles out of the Milky Way, and all is well. I presume all the crew members who were reduced down to hexagons made of laundry detergent were duly reconstituted. The episode is notable for Scotty’s famous drunk scene, from which the immortal line “it’s green” originated, and for the second appearance of the “energy barrier” that surrounds our galaxy. Silly as it sounds, it was small pieces of continunity like the energy barrier that made Star Trek so popular with its dorks. I mean fans.

Today? Lordy. I did a million things. Wrote two columns, ran errants, did the Hewitt show, made a flier, uploaded the Diner (fat lot of good that did me; turns out I’m still over bandwidth until tomorrow) and took Gnat to the Ice Cream Social, where I was slated for Ice Cream Scooping Duty at 7 PM. Since we arrived early she hopped into the bouncy castle to jump up and down and up and down and HEY, OH MY GOD the castle began to collapse. Never seen that happen before. The fuse burned out in the community center, the blower died, and the heavy plastic canvas roof immediately descended. Half a dozen adults immediately dived in to pull out the kids while more held up the side from which the terrified kids could exit.  I was like a coal mine disaster. When all were out and the thing was completely deflated we still didn’t know if there were any kids inside – I helped another guy pull up the door, and we saw a hand emerge, then two. It was one of the moms who’d gone in after the kids. She was pulled to safety. Is there anyone else in there? Anyone else? No idea. As much as I hated the idea of it all, what with my claustrophobia and all, I headed in, Big Bad John – but it was obvious all the kids were out. They were all okay. Until they realized the power outage also affected the cotton candy machine. Then the lamentations began.

A total stranger wandered up, and said: “Sometimes life just hands you column material, doesn’t it?”

Gnat accompanied me inside for scooping duty – but I was immediately reassigned to dole out the pizza. And craptacular pizza it was, too. Domino’s. Cheese. Cold. I felt like apologizing with every slice. There was more pizza than customers, so I felt justified throwing away the boxes that had one lonely cold congealed triangle – no one wants the last piece. Open a fresh one. Make the customer feel special. Gnat handled the lemonade, and responded instinctually to my commands: draw two. I even slung a little diner lingo back to the root-beer float makers: two scoops, float ‘em.

It all reminded me what a pain I must have been when I was a waiter.

But I got to meet & greet. Neighbors and friends. One dad who’s kid plays with Gnat showed up in a Man or Astroman T-shirt, which led to a conversation the likes of which I never have anymore. Ever. Ah well. Another fine fellow I only see in the summer showed up to talk hooch – he’s a spirits distributor, and hence shares my interest in the fine art of marketing liquor, especially vodka. I asked him about the new Swiss vodka, which comes in a stark bottle that makes its contents look practically medicinal, and he explained: for decades the Swiss have stockpiled excess grains as a hedge against, you know, World War Three. Since that seems unlikely, at least in the previously understood sense, they freed up the stockpiles and turned it into likker. Swiss vodka! Instead of a worm in the bottom of the bottle, there should be a small clock gear.

I chatted with my co-workers. One was from a small town, farming family, now a city person with city kids, but she still had a grandpa living on the land back home. The other was a high schooler who noted how many shootings there’d been outside the school in the last month: three. Three kids hit. Two of them had been hit in a drive-by – random, no reason, just idiots making a point. No one died, so it didn’t make the paper.

That’s the new standard, it would seem.

She was matter-of-fact about it all, and said “it’s a great school, despite that. But there aren’t any windows.”

Let’s re-elect everyone who made this situation possible, shall we? Or course we will.

When our shift was done Gnat played with some other kids, but she was exhausted. It had been a long day. Home. She played ToonTown, the online persistent Disney world, then took a bath; I read her some books and out she went. She wanted me to stay upstairs and write while she fell asleep, noting, again, that “I feel safe when I hear you typing.”

And then, this. And now, I finish the two pieces due tomorrow, and that’s it. The Diner may or may not be available – bandwidth problems, as noted – but you’ll hear it eventually. MP3 link is here; iTunes subscribers will get it automatically, some day soon.

Fine week! Thanks for your patronage and indulgence, and I’ll see you Monday.