I’ll be onTalk of the Nation” on NPR today @ 3PM CST, discussing the sex life of the albino wombat. Or the book. It depends on the interviewer, I suppose.

Did I mention I have a new book out? Shipping now? I do! If you’ve bought a copy or two: many thanks. That helps subsidize this thing and the rest of lileks.com, and ensures the continuation of the site and all the updates. End of today’s plug. Unedited overwriting follows; no time tonight to edit.

One blind fell down in the guest room. The bracket that helped it defy gravity snapped in two. This may have been due to extra strain placed on the bracket, since the cord that raised the blind up and down had broken as well, and one of the thin filaments had snickered up into the mechanism, never to be coaxed out again. So the entire blind hung down, and the weight must have taxed the the bracket beyond its tolerance.

(Not really. I just wrote that to make the scientifically minded sigh and grind their teeth.)

The other blind in the room had a string problem as well; the, er, hanging-pull-thing had snapped in two, releasing the strings from bondage, and once again one of the cords slithered into its cave, leaving only a few millimeters like the taunting tongue of a snake. I did not get around to fixing these things immediately, but when a blind in (G)Nat’s room fell down, I had no choice. I had to get more brackets.

Off to the store. Can’t go to the hardware store; since these were custom blinds, you have to go to a special store that has very thick books with lots of samples. Many people, most of them men, would rather put their foot in a woodchipper than spend an afternoon at this place, looking through sample books. I am one of them. I have been here before, but not for blinds. The blinds came with the house. Which is why this entire process had not produced any collar steam thus far.

The clerk looked around for spare brackets. She found two. They had no more. She looked at the wounded blind I’d brought in, and said they could restring it. For sixty-five dollars. I nodded, stepped back a few paces, swung it like a baseball bat and took out a vase. Everyone fell silent, and for a moment you could hear the paint shaker going in the back room. I bet it’s a Red Devil, I thought. That was the brand they had at the hardware store at Northport shopping center. The devil was always frightening, but cool, and I wondered how he related to the similarly designed figure on the devilled ham cans. The ones that came wrapped in paper.

If you’ve ever lost your mind and started destroying things in a home furnishings store with nine thousand fabric sample books, you’ll understand the strange, dreamlike state you enter.

Then I returned to reality and noted that I had not destroyed a vase and had not picked up the busted blind. I was still stuck on the $65 dollar issue. Two blinds needed repair. That would be more, then. One hundred and thirty dollars to repair the blinds, because the company, which rhymes with HUNTER DOUGLAS if you live in a parallel world where the chi-chi frou-frou custom blind company is called DUNTER HOUGLAS, decided to use plastic in the parts that had the greatest strain placed upon them.

I wanted to say: set aside the usurious restringing fee, which exceeds the cost of these miserable, charmless devices. Look at this bracket you have given me. It is meant to hold the blind in place, and suffer but two or three tugs a day. Look, if you will, at the portion of the bracket that forms the 90 degree angle. Marvel at how the plastic is thinnest here. Note, if you will, the example of the bracket I took from my child’s room, and cast your goggling orbs upon the point where the bracket failed. Yea, it is the thinnest part. I say unto thee that the thinnest part shall be the least of thine brackets, and the brackets shall be cast down, and there will be great lamenting.

And so it came to pass that the clerk did say she would see what she could do, and lo: a metal bracket did appear, and there was great rejoicing. But the number of the bracket was one; they hath no more, and knew not when another shipment would commeth.

So I left the Slough of Sample Books and did move myself to Target, where I sought blinds that would replace the blinds I needed repairing. And to mine wondering eyes I found blinds of vinyl, ugly but useful, and the cost of the blinds was four dollars. Four was the number of the dollars.  I realized that the new cheap blinds were less than ten percent of the cost of restringing the old ones, and I laid down my head, and I wept.

Of the end pieces that keep falling off the Dunter Houglas blinds in another room, I will say nothing, except to note that they, too, are plastic.

Then I went home and washed windows. I used some magnificent cleaner called “Invisible Glass,” sent by a Bleatnik who had heard my incessant bitching about the poor quality of glass cleaner. I used newspapers to clean the window, and for the first time I wondered if that was a good idea: the paper, being post-consumer, seems to shed tiny particles of dust. Every time I put a window back in its place I cursed and rent my garments: dust, and fingerprints. Never ever clean windows when the sun is up. You will be much happier if you do it in the dark.

The saddest part was cleaning a window that used to have dog-nose dribble; it was the window by a shelf over a radiator. Jasper doesn’t go up there anymore. He can’t get up. Oh, he can, but he doesn’t try. I have to help him up on the bed every night now; he waits until you stand beside him, then he puts his paws up on the bed, waiting for the boost. It’s hard to square this invalid routine with the spry gait he exhibits on the walk, or the way he bounds up the stairs after a walk to get his post-stroll treat. All the energy in the world, then.

Tonight, for some reason, he just wanted to go outside and sit on the lawn in the dark. He took a stick. I’d look out and see him sitting in the shadows, looking for things I could never smell if they were rubbed on my shirt.

Here’s a new development in your winter-beverage genre:

Maybe it’s me, but the idea of something having the caffeine of a cup of coffee never impresses me. Put in the caffeine of nine cups of coffee, and you have my attention. But only for half a second, because I’ve already had eight cups.

I woke the other morning and saw I’d written something down on the nightstand idea pad. Gah: deep thoughts before sleeping. The worst kind. Well, let’s see:

Peril of youth / often sudden realization of human fallibility intersects with sudden desire to perfect society

I think I know what I was getting at. You realize that people are imperfect, hence the Horrible Mess of the World, and you’re so filled with zeal to make things better you throw in with ludicrous ideas that promise a better future – even though they were constructed by, and must be implemented by, the very people you just decided were horribly imperfect. You learn the worst lesson of history – namely, that history is just the tick and the tock, the new reacting to the old until it is the old set upon by the new again. Every new generation believes it must correct the errors of the previous one.

I know that’s what I meant; I use the word correct intentionally, because that’s the only possible explanation for the next line on the notepad:

History is a ghost in an empty hotel talking to a madman in the bathroom

Oh, that was so profound at whatever o’clock. I must have been dreaming. And this was the dream:


New Comics, of course. Yes sir, yes sir, three pages full.

To repeat our annoying new book-buying Incentive: if it doesn't do well, I will have to give up the Bleat for a year to write something that will make money for (G)Nat's college fund. Tomorrow (Tuesday) I'll be hawking the book on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" around two. Details to follow.

If the Amazon link doesn't show up for some odd reason, just go to Amazon and search for Lileks. Voila! Gastroanomalies, aka the Gallery of Regrettable Food Part Two. A fine holiday gift for young and old.