The auto body shop called today, just to tell me everything was going fine. That was the message. The car wasn’t done, but apparently it had been upgrade to stable. I suppose they have rules that mandate a call whether they discover additional problems or not; I don’t think it was made out of the goodness of their heart. It was nice anyway. Like a postcard from your kid at camp.

I’m still not used to the rental – my hand goes to a phantom gearshift instead of the stalk-mounted one, and I bang my head getting out. But the radio’s nice. As I drove around today I heard the Medved show, discussing the drop in gas prices; all the callers had theories about the Dark Machinations that manipulate the price, and they invariably came down to Chimpy the Usurper pushing the magic Price button. Sigh. I wonder why no one has fevered speculation about the drop in home prices. The top of the hour news described the price news as “scary,” which annoyed me; everything’s scary to the newsreaders. So homes were overvalued. Now they won’t be. It’s happened before, I suspect. And if there are negative effects then there will be negative effects. Me, I avoided taking out a home equity loan to build an underground bowling alley.  I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who bought too much house with some financial instrument based on alchemic jiggery-pokery.

Sitting outside again, in the gloaming.  This might be the first fall in some time I haven’t taken many photos of the foliage, but it’s not for lack of time. I’ve just never seen a photo of autumn that captured what I feel when I see the turning trees. Spring photos capture the emotions well, because the emotions are simple: aw, flowers! Pretty! But the emotions of fall are so much more complex, mixed up with childhood and adulthood and the period in between when you’re recalling one and looking forward to the other (with some trepidation.)

A fine day; warm and sunny, but that’ll change; Thursday is supposed to be miserable. But for now it’s quiet; the planes are few, the crickets have the stage, and there’s a slight breeze rustling the tassels on Gnat’s Barbie scooter. (I just happened to look over and see it, and for some reason it looks like an emblem of happy times, all pink and cheerful. There has to be a good evolutionary reason why we don’t remember our life when we’re six, but I can’t think of it. Perhaps the brain is designed to make us forget the trauma of watching parents or siblings dragged into the bush by tigers, followed by screams and squishy sounds, but given the tiger-free nature of modern life,  it’s outlived its purpose.)

I wish I had time to play more games, because there are a few I’d like to see. This one appears to be a GTA-style world set in 1949 LA; you’re a weary shamus, of course. (The other options were the hard-bitten romantic shamus, as with Marlowe, or the flippant oh-dear-a-gun-again-how-droll shamus as with Richard Diamond, a radio character played by Dick Powell. He was of course known for his song-and-dance roles in Berkeley musicals, but played Marlowe in a movie and parlayed that into a radio show. He was breezy and par-boiled – think Alan Ladd without the creepy dreamy voice, as with Box 13 – but the shows ended with a song, sung by Powell, who apparently ended every case by finding himself next to a piano. Imagine Crockett and Tubbs doing a rap number at the end of every Vice episode.) In any case, I’d like to try it, but the day I have time to play Xbox into the wee hours is the day I have no job.

Then there’s “Just Cause,” which sounds amusing. When I saw the box art – a Che-style picture of a noble grim fellow in front of a star, with the tagline “Viva La Revolucion” – I feared you’d play an opportunistic photogenic collectivist, but no: you’re a CIA agent sent to destabilize a rogue Caribbean nation whose leader has WMDs. That’s a sign of the times. Or rather the times in which the game was first conceived, perhaps.

The highlight of the game appears to be a sequence in which you parachute into danger while firing two machineguns. Thus do games improve upon our boring ordinary lives; we’ve all been floating down over an island, emptying a clip at the terrorists below, and wondered what it would be like to have two guns.

I have a new program that displays weather information from a variety of cities – such things are plentiful, I know, but this one suits my needs. It’s set up to tell me how things are in Mpls, Fargo, NYC, Scottsdale, and Glockamorra. Right now it’s 96 degrees in Scottsdale. At eight PM. I look at that like someone leaving a party early, and hearing someone put on his favorite record, and noting how all the girls just got up to dance. Sigh. It’s not as bad as it could be; I won’t greet winter with the attitude of cat being pushed into a toilet, because I’ll be busy. The days will roll over and along, as they always do. But . . .

Ah, never mind. Here I stay, and I can do no more, to paraphrase that old ink-pot tosser.

The program also displays barometric pressure, which is the thing that separates weather watchers from weather geeks. I recall there’s some link between the pressure and moods, for some people; I might be one of them, since looking at the graph of the last few days looks like a chart of my own spirits, high and low. Interesting. There ought to be a way to counteract this with technology; I should be able to walk into my house, say “Calibrate the pressure for geniality and optimism,” and have the pernicious effects of Mother Nature  - that controlling bitch! – erased with a quiet hiss of machinery. God forbid I should respond to the natural world, after all.

Did people in the cave-man / plentiful tiger times get depressed when the pressure changed and indicated rain, because it meant they’d be cooped in the cave with the tribe, and that always led to someone getting a stone in the brainpan?

So how did I earn my stay on earth today? I got Gnat to the bus, stood outside with the other two parents after the bus left and chatted about Things. Went home, finished one column, wrote another, printed off a spate of stuff, cleaned house, then started the Diner. Finished it later, which is why today feels like Thursday. Took Gnat to choir, and while she ate pizza and watched TV with the other kids I read a Weekly Standard piece about Benedict #16’s speech. Thick, but interesting, especially if your knowledge of the speech consisted of editorial snippets condemning the Pope for hotheadedness. Even if you don't agree, it's a good primer on what the speech was about.There’s also a piece on the Islamization of Morocco – another piece of ground, ceded.

If those hold no interest, I’ve a Fargo update – this is an insert into the Broadway section, and will appeal to those who enjoyed the ACME site. No commentary, just extreme close-ups of a small photo that yielded some interesting details. There’s a shot of two moms paused on the sidewalk on a hot August day, kids in tow; it was taken a few years before I came along, but that was the era in which I toddled. Could have been me.

Did I mention I’m in the gazebo? I am. The rain has begun to fall, and the wind just got urgent. The wind has things to do. As do I. See you tomorrow.

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c. 2005 j. lileks. Email, if you wish, may be sent to "first name at last name dot com."