Didn't want to look at ecstatic Mitch all week. Hope you understand. This was the Fall Bleat Banner I'd originally chosen, for its hues. Last-minute swap-ours are rare, but they happen. This is what happens when you update the look of a site every week, which no one does. But I want Monday to feel like Monday - something new! And now Tuesday feels like Monday. Don't you feel the exciting jolt of a fresh look? I know I do. I'm all a-tingle.


The first cold snap is the worst. Because you know it’s not. It’s going to get colder, and stay cold. The trees will be stripped and stay bare. The wind will relent but return, again and again. Usually we slide into this season, but walking from Sunday to Monday was a stumble off a cliff.

So. Inside. Rumble of the boiler, warm house. Get busy. I have scanned every magazine in the pile and sorted the pictures amongst the relevant folders. I have filed all the photos and music. I digitized a pile of LPs that was sitting in the closet; I have scanned the covers and placed the music in the 2016 Listen / Vinyl update section. (Now done through the end of the year.) Everything is exactly where it should be and the folders marked To File are empty. I put away all the lightweight clothes and took the tags off some new items. Paid my property taxes. Cleared off the old magazines from iPad and updated the music on the phone and wiped all the photos, after I had transferred them and compressed the archive as a backup.

Nothing more to do. No more opportunities for avoidance.

I’ve no choice now but to fix the novel. You’ve no idea the dread this produces.


Saw “The Martian,” which contained one surprise for people who’d read the book. If you read the book you know what I mean: something they left out. And weren’t you glad? It didn’t feel like a 2 hr 22 min movie, but that scene would have added 15 minutes to the running time and added nothing to the story. By then we got the point: Mars is hard. When we got out of the theater it was 11:05 PM, and I was not dissatisfied. I’d gotten my eleven dollars’ worth and then some: I was probably the only person in the theater who had played The Leather Goddesses of Phobos.

The game makes an appearance for a second on a screen, as one of the departed astronaut’s retro indulgences. I suppose. I didn’t really buy it, but okay, it goes with the music, inasmuch as one character loved 70s disco (in the same way I love 40s music) and that might have carried over to 80s games. But I thought “even if he was on Mars for 500 days he still wouldn’t have finished the game.”

Or would he? He seemed busy. He had things to do. You’re sitting there in the small smelly habitat at 8 PM, tired, and the idea of going in that long maze in the water holding a canoe saying jump hop kweepa for the tenth time would seem less compelling than the release of sleep.

Ever since I gave up "Phobos" in the maze level, I’ve thought of games having a Kweepa point, where you just shrug and quit playing - but you intend to return soon. Then some day. Eventually. Expand the idea to life itself, and all endeavors may have a Kweepa point.

Like the light at the bottom of the stairs to the house, for example.

It stopped working when the light bulb went out. As you might expect. I replaced it, but it was hard to get the bulb seated right, and it often popped out on its own. Weeks later, after wifely nagging, I would reseat it. Then came the Great Mystery, the severing of the underground low-voltage cord that ran down the hill. None of the lights on that circuit - and there were four - came on anymore. I will spare you the details of the workaround; Lord, it was a trial. But while I am no good with real adult-strength electricity things, I have become adept at low-voltage lights, and this weekend my wife said I should fix the light at the bottom of the stairs before another year passes and it is appended to the list of things I SWORE I would fix. As opposed to list of things I tried to fix and swore because I couldn’t.

This spring I gave up on the buried line, and concluded I would have to lay down a new supply of power. This was the Kweepa poiint. Having assigned the problem Kweepa status, I shelved the idea for a few months to deal with other weekend projects, but I could sense Wifely Imperative. So after I picked up daughter from a sleepover we went to Home Depot for 100 feet of high-quality low-voltage cord. (The thing stuff just won’t work at distances over 20 feet, I’ve learned.) It took me 40 minutes to reconnect the light.


How do I explain that it took me a few years to get around to something that took 40 minutes?

There are different strategies.

So did you fix the light?

Yes, and I had an affair with a neighbor.


Yes! And I had a bear with a cowerquer, that’s the connector plug.

Did you say - what about the plug?

Turns out it was sheathed in some sort of conducting fluid that leached power and diffused the current into the ground - but we’re in luck because the fluid’s effectiveness pretty much ended this month. After all these years!. So I couldn’t have fixed it before! Anyway it’s done - except I need your input.

See, this is the genius moment, if I say so myself. I bought two small pathway lights that could go here . . . or could go there, so I can’t bury the line and trench it through the lawn until Wife signs off on light placement. She recognizes this as a genius move it is, I suspect, but there’s naught she can do. Bottom line: the job is not finished, but the light works. AND I have proposed that the whole family go out to eat AND see a movie TOGETHER, so I have the wind at my back.

We went to My Burger, which is a new chain. You probably haven’t heard of it, says Mr. Insufferable. There are only four. It’s an entry in the Fast-Casual line, and they hit on a brilliant idea: the hamburgers cost $6.45, which seems like a lot. But.

That includes fries.

You’re thinking, well, duh, so what? But if you walk into a restaurant and crane your neck to see the menu over the heads of the staff, your brain says “fries are a different thing. A different thing entirely.” At a sit-down joint with menus, you assume fries are included. But not a wall-menu place. I should note that the restaurant chain is operated by a local family, a member of which used to live in Charles Schultz’s house; the kids and dad had a band that played local park events. It’s a big town. It’s a small town.

I ordered the plain burger and fries, no embellishments. Wanted to test what they had without condiments or excess sauces. We sat outside while waiting for our order - this astonishing fall, which has been warm and bright with a few days of rain for the full-fall effect, gave us 72 degrees after dark, so we sat outside feeling like we were living in Phoenix. The family on an outing, all together, waiting for supper, a great movie ahead.

The burgers were delicious.

PS: Is the Electrical Epic of 2015 done? Of course not. To be continued, with apologies in advance.


Dang right it's a brand name. HA HA everyone who didn't think of it before, or did, and didn't run to the trademark office.


I have apparently labored long under the delusion that Pumpkin Spice includes cinnamon; here we learn that the ingredient can be broken out in glaze form.




Hey, everyone! Let's celebrate a half-century of selling all kinds of crap that has nothing to do with cars!

It was founded in 1909 by a 23-year-old man named George Pepperdine, who later came up with a university that bears his name. And what have you done so far?

Anyway, here's Buzzcut McHusky, impressing the ladies on the block - and, of course, the Gang - with his cool new bike.

Sharp-looking bike, but let's not kid ourselves with that "luggage carrier." It was hellishly expensive: that's $528 in modern money. "Rugged as a fighter." Today they'd have to come up with something that wasn't so offensively militaristic.


Lots of stuff for everyone in the family of aliens whose rubber masks are mostly convincing. Mostly.

The Wizard Two-Temp would be $2100 today. Why she has a canned ham in the fridge, I don't know. And there's something else you'd never know from these ads unless you were familiar with the materials of the time: the smell. It wasn't entirely bad, but there was an odd plastic smell in the new models that persisted, and would be apparent once it was emptied.

Dainty as all heck, that apron.

Santa reminds you that you'll probably be low on cash this year, like last, so maybe you ought to try layaway. That's where they hold on to your money so you don't flush down the Pony Toilet.

I'll bet Wizard was a store brand, a nameplate they bolted on some machines that could also be Kenmore if Sears so desired. I do love those control panels, and the racheting sound they made when you turned the knob. Now it's just beeps.

Times have changed, except now Mother gets to sit down and Dad has to stand.

And here's to another 50, Western Auto! Except you'll be sold in 1961, suffer a leveraged buyout in '85, which resulted in Sears buying the company in 1988. After ten years they sold the auto-parts division to Advance Auto, and by 2003 the brand was gone. At least in the continental US: there was one last Western Auto in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Closed in 2006.

But! The big Western Auto sign atop their KC HQ still lights up every night. Question for the audience: the building was originally known as the Candler Building.

Which means it was the HQ for . . . who? If you know that off the top of your head, congrats.


Monkeys! They're cute and throw their feces and wear hats and are somehow connected to to Cocoa Krispees for some reason.

What we have here are Chocolate Rice Krispee bars. With Peanut Butter. Please tell me why these are not made in great quantity and sold everywhere today.

Before there were mini-cassettes, there were cassettes. And before there were cassettes, there were these honking slabs:


That didn't catch on. Way ahead of its time, and no doubt loved only by well-heeled gadget enthusiasts. More:

So what happened? I'll tell you what happened. RCA, a big successful company with a killer brand and universally recognized name, was starting to get lazy..

Despite its convenience the RCA tape cartridge was not much of a success. A factor in the mostly failure of the system was that RCA was slow to produce machines for the home market. They were also slow to license prerecorded music tapes for home playback. The format disappeared from retail stores by 1964.

Here's some more, from a blog on pre-recorded audio, quoting David Morton:

Somehow, RCA never got this project moving. In the first place, the catalog was partially fictitious. Almost none of the new releases were manufactured, and quantities were always short. Additionally, the process of setting up the production line for the ballyhooed player got stalled. A year after the initial exhibitions, it was still conspicuously absent from the store shelves. Only by August 1959 were units finally being shipped to distributors, but only 16 of the dozens of recordings advertised in the catalog were available.

I remember the early days of CD and DVD. Anyone who's lived through a format war knows the indecision and pain.

Don't suppose it helped that the ads were ugly.



Finally, it's the thing we always like to see here in Product: actual Product. Real packaging. Early 60s all the way.

I've never eaten cottage cheese. Never been able to bring myself to try.



That will do. Off to another chilly day. It's almost as if it's . . . Fall.




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