Sunday night I had quite the case of indigestion, and only myself to blame; I cooked. Everyone else was fine, but I was griping and wincing for hours. Felt like I had eaten rotten possum stuffed with hot quicksilver. To make it worse, someone had bought cherry flavored Pepto-Bismol. Cherry. For those who don’t like Classic Pink, I guess. I like the flavor, and it reminds me of the pinkish dusty lozenges my Grandfather handed out after a game of Hide the Thimble. Given the size of the farmhouse, it’s a wonder we ever found it, but he was old and didn’t move quickly, so he could hardly bolt upstairs and stow the thimble in a back closet behind an ancient fur wrap from 1935.

Anyway, the damnedest thing happened when I was dozing off to sleep. The tiles by the fireplace seemed to move, and then I had a conversation with an ectoplasmic emanation who resembled my old business partner. I engaged him in an argument for a while, until I finally realized he was no more than the result of an underdone potato, and off he went. I felt better afterwards.

I might have mentioned that the sensor on the outside security lights went on the fritz, or as we liked to say, “Climbed on a German.” I bought a new one and secured the help of the Giant Swede, since he is quite conversant in the ways of electricity, it being part of his job. Mechanical engineer by training. We fished the wires out of the hole, applied the prongs of the device that lights up to warn you that the wire is hot.

The wires were not hot. So I’d gone from a busted sensor to a sensor that just wasn’t drawing power. Why? Well, we traced the wires back to the junction box where the garage door repairmen had been working, and that’s where the mystery began. He could not figure out what they’d done, so we sewed everything up, and I’ll call them tomorrow. In the meantime I’ll just have to trip the lights manually.

Went down tonight to turn them on. They didn’t come on.

So: it began with the lights never going off. Conclusion: bad sensor. Solution: bypass the sensor with individual dusk-to-dawn timers. But these popped on and off and on and off for some reason. So back to the new sensor. Attempt to replace the new sensor revealed that it had no power. Attempts to fix that resulted in all power to the lights going off.

It’s that point in the job where every step has gone wrong and made things worse.



What possible reason could I have for showing you this?

Fredrika Bremer was “a Swedish writer and a feminist activist. She had a large influence on the social development in Sweden, especially in feminist issues.” She was born in 1801, so perhaps that's like calling someone in 1654 a "socialist." She was certainly forward-minded. Wikipedia says:

Her novels were romantic stories of the time and concentrated on women in the marriage market; either beautiful and superficial, or unattractive with no hope of joining it, and the person telling the story and observing them is often an independent woman. She wanted a new kind of family life, one not focused only on the male members of the family, but one which would give a larger place for women to be in focus and develop their own talents and personality.

As for Vilhelm Moberg:

A noted public intellectual and debater in Sweden, he was famous for very vocal criticism of the Swedish monarchy (most notably after the Haijby affair), likening it with a servile government by divine mandate and publicly supporting its replacement with a Swiss-style confederal republic. He spoke out aggressively against the policies of Nazi Germany, the Greek military junta and the Soviet Union, and his works were among those destroyed in Nazi book burnings.

In 1971, he scolded Prime Minister Olof Palme for refusing to offer the Nobel Prize in Literature to its recipient Alexander Solzhenitsyn – who was refused permission to attend the ceremony in Stockholm – through the Swedish embassy in Moscow.

Moberg's death by self-inflicted drowning also rendered much attention, following his long struggle with depression and writers' block.

It's those little asides that make you realize how much history you never encounter. And by "history" I mean tawdry tales that make you sigh and wonder anew, for the thousandth time, why people do the things they do. Here’s a little sample of the Haijby affair:

In 1931 Kurt Haijby opened a restaurant with his second wife Anna, a 10 years older widow. As he was a convicted criminal he could not get a licence to sell wine. He then applied to the King and was granted an audience in 1933 to put forward his case. King Gustav V, a 74-year-old widover, then allegedly seduced Haijby.

Haijby's wife, Anna Haijby, when learning about this in 1936, filed for divorce, citing her husband's sexual relationship with the King as cause for divorce.

Hmm. And then, as they say, it gets odd. He was eventually charged with blackmailing the King, which seems like a very ill-advised thing to do, even in Sweden. I mean, at some point he must have thought “I will blackmail the King and I can’t see where this isn’t going to end up in my favor.”

So why show them? Because A) that picture is from the dining room of the Swedish-America Line cruise ship, the Kungsholm, and you’ll understand why I brought that up later in today’s program. And B) - if it hasn’t been brought up in the comments since I posted yesterday - the man who wrote the novels behind the ringtone questions in the previous Bleat died the day I wrote it.


'Tis English, this oatmeal; 'tis proud. Godly eyes should be averted:

Topped with dried squirrel brains!

"Flavor Naturally" looks odd unless you realize it's conected to the parade of attributes that precedes it. Lots of modifiers. It's really an Edition of Spiced Oatmeal, but that edition is limited, the Spice is Pumpkin, and the Oatmeal is instant.

As many have pointed out, thought, it's not pumpkin spice. It's a spice, or spices, we associate with pumpkins through its presence in the pie manifestation.



Let's head back to the Sixties and see what colors and styles prevailed. If you're about my age, these were the tools and props that decorated the adult world. You played with Lego or the Fun Factory or something by Milton Bradley. They had this stuff and sometimes it seemed important to them for reasons you didn't quite get.

Advertising agencies were quite proud of themselves in '66, breaking the rules and inventing new ways of thinking. It resulted in ads like this. Not exactly the most streamlined query:

Pray do.

That's something of a roll call of doomed stores. Garfinckel's was a Washington DC store; went bankrupt just as I got to town. Never knew it. Wikipedia:

Garfinckel's flagship store reputation was not without controversy. It was both widely known and acknowledged that blacks were not welcome at the flagship store and in fact, were not permitted to try on clothing. This may in fact have hurt the store during the latter part of the 20th century; newly-prosperous blacks may have been inclined to ignore the store.[citation needed]

Somehow I'll believe that without the citation.

The ongoing attempt to link professional accomplishment with a particular brand of mass-produced carpet:

As much as I love the action in the background - this, gentleman, is an office building so thin people can look out the front and back simultaneously - the furniture looks to be dropped in someone who's new at Photoshop. It has no presence. It floats. I'd suspect the carpet swallowed the shadows, but it seems too busy do much of anything except swarm in a pattern your eyes cannot grasp.

The artifact of the scanner makes the lass look rather poxy:

Four hours and $250, and you were in Venezuela. Glamorous, exciting! It was the first Sheraton in Latin America, and the Miss Venezuela pageants were held there. Renamed the Guaicamacuto at some point; Wikipedia doesn't say when.

Mudslides in 1999:

During the night 1.8 million cubic meters of rocks and trees flowed through Caraballeda. Many buildings were washed out to sea. The ones that remained were filled with 8 feet of sand and debris. The Macuto-Sheraton Hotel was so damaged that it was abandoned.

And as far as I know that was that. A lost world, and it's still there, waiting for someone to make a movie and blow it up.


A back-of-the-book ad from the New Yorker.


When I think about slipping into a cleansing bath, oil that bubbles doesn't come to mind as a source of relaxation.

I'd like a half gallon jug of bubbling oil, please.



It's difficult to find the exact moment when simplicity and "Early American" turned into something ugly and cheap. But this might help.

It wasn't that the illustrations were amateurish. Well yes, it was, but the dumb-down designs looked intentionally crude, as if their simplicity connoted honesty. Realism. Folk-art truths.

Those fringes meant those towels were never used, but hung for decoration. God save the man who tried to wipe his hands on them.


It entered the luxurious world of luxury cruise in '66 . . .

. . . and still plies the seas today. It's been named the Sea Princess, the Victoria, the Mona Lsa, The Oceanic II, the Mona Lisa, and now it's the Veronica, a floating hotel in Oman.

I'm always surprised by the number of cruise ships that have come and gone, and how poorly that world has been documented. So many scattershot sites with tiny pictures. Passengers usually shoot the scenery, too; it's rare to see lots of interior shots. Like this:

It's from a Swedish-America Line promotional film on the previous ship to bear the name, from 1954.

No one takes pictures of the desk when they're on a grand vacation.

That'll do, I suppose. See you around!



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