Natalie’s back, and she grew about three years in a week. Camp does that to kids, I guess; they come back more confident and detached, even though they’re so very happy to see you. I’m not sure what they did for a week – activities seemed rather sparse, and they didn’t have campfires. Probably because of the drought, or the legal problems that might arise if a kid falls into a fire. Best to show them a picture of Sterno with the vowels blacked out so they don’t try to find it themselves.  But still. Camp requires a campfire. She came back with mosquito bites and two new words – “Bum,” as in the hobo sense, and “sucky,” as in “you will not use that word again” sense. If I can keep her from saying anything stronger than “Gosh” until she’s ten, that will be good.

“Willickers” or “Consarn” are too much for which to hope. 

There’s a great power in knowing the bad words, but not using them. And yes, suck is a bad word. Not in the king-hell effenheimer sense, but it’s just vulgar. Yes, I use it, now and then; it escapes my lips like an untended belch. But I am an adult, and that means I also get cigars and scotch and “Omen” movies where people get impaled by Satanically-influenced garden fences. Using cheap words all the time just devalues everything that dribbles out of your cuss-hole; reserving a potent epithet for the right moment, then unleashing it like a hellfire missile has a notable effect. Unless you’re Data in “Star Trek Generations” observing that the Enterprise is about to tumble into the atmosphere; over ten years of careful study has shown that was just a gimmick. Hearing someone swear on Star Trek was novel enough, like Marcel Marceau burping, but it should have been Miles O’Brien.

Tomorrow she’s off with wife and relations to another event, and I’m on my oddy-knocky for the weekend. Fine with me – I have things to do, and look forward to a night banging away on the keyboards, walking around talking to myself, muttering to myself, pacing the floor, constructing long stinging orations I will unload if ever I get the chance . . . which I probably won’t. Hate to be oblique, but I can’t say more until the perfidious details are confirmed. I managed to channel the angst into a Diner, though – I did it right after I’d had my worse suspicions re: the situation verified, and I had to get my mind off the hornet’s nest lodged in the front of my cranium. As I said in a twitter – it would all be easier if I had a writer and a producer and other cast members, because I had to do the voices for Batman and the Joker. Batman’s easy. The Joker is hard.

Yes, I didn’t lie – a new Diner. Itunes here, MP3 here.

In other news to which I can only allude – something should be happening with on Friday. I think. It might happen Monday. I’ll tell you anyway. It’s a long story. I’ll remove all the backstory and progress and discussions and boring stuff about the evoluton of the Strib’s online strategies over the last year, because they’re pretty obvious – what you see is where they’re going. Politically Connected, InfoCenter, and Video. The last one was no small feat, since it involved the dreaded Vendor Search and server migration and all sorts of nightmarish amusements. During this time I redesigned twice – once as a more muted version of the current incarnation, and then as something different – an aggregator for blogs Strib and user-generated, with the idea of concentrating the traffic into one portal and selling ads. That’s what it will eventually become, although there will be some tweaks and revisions in the weeks to come, I’m sure.

I will be moving to my own blog, which will have an expanded mandate. Local, yes, but everything else as well. I plan to shut down the Bleat.

For a while! Just a while. Early in 2009, the Bleat will probably go dim for four months, as I’m going to bang out a novel. The Strib blog will pick up the slack – and will still have the usual updates.

And thus is life kept from being too boring. has been great fun, and I’m proud of the site and the great collection of users and commenters. I regret that I couldn’t have wrangled the relaunch I wanted six months ago, but it’s a long story of priorities, resources, and so on; there aren’t any villains, and no one’s unhappy, and it’s not being taken away from me, or anything like that. If you read any comments in the local media about the matter, and I’m not directly quoted, you can rest assured the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Unless it’s one of my bosses.

On hold at the moment with Earthlink. I got a message from India today – they’re all in India, I presume, since that’s the accent I get every time I call – and informed me that the telephone company had completed the check of the lines. I called the number provided; a recorded voice told me the phone company had not competed its check of the lines. Now I’m waiting to speak to someone. They wlll not be able to help me. So this is the day I fire my ISP, too.

Well, that was totally fruitless, and a big wet bag of fibs, too. Turns out the next step is to call the line technicians. But you did that. Barely understandable reply. I’m sorry, you have to do what? Send me the updates? To what? The internet? Am I using v. 1.9b, and 1.9c is much more stable? Barely understandable reply. Well, I have to think that it might be a modem issue. James it cannot be a modem issue because you are able to get on the internet. If it was a model issue you would not be able to get on the internet. I see. And what if the line technicians, gods among men though they may be, fail to find a problem? Then we will send you a new modem.

Honest to God, that’s what he said.

Other than that: Shot a new video this morning. Much fun. The Walker Art Center built a miniature golf course on the grave of the old Guthrie, but it’s a socially-conscious course; half of the holes preached recycling, or counseled wise use of water. The best one were just whimsical. You’re just relieved someimtes when art isn’t trying to tamp a wet wad of someone else’s SHOULDS down your throat. On the way back to the car I stopped at an office building by Loring Park, a place where my agent had an office 20 years ago. It was originally the home of an insurance company that got quite big, and spawned two dull white buildings downtown. The foyer has a wonderful light fixture:

And the interior has a mural that charts the history of Minnesota, from its Savage Origins ™ to this scene, in which Honest Labor,  Scholarly Youth, and Forthright Business hand a completed insurance policy to someone who looks like Charles Loring, for whom the park is named.

He doesn’t seem particularly interested, does he. That’s a man with things on his mind. Note the belching chimneys in the background - progress! Industry! Modern eyes might think this tableau describes the attempts of the Concerned Youth of Tomorrow to persuade the old withered men to stop coughing up asbestos into the air, but that wasn't the case.

Anyway – sorry for a sucky dull entry here; I’m spent. See you at – well, maybe yes, maybe no. Tune in and see.   Oh - new column over at the Strib! Hit the link on the right.