Lucky you: I ripped up today’s installment of “going surely, steadily mad” and replaced it with the transparent broth below. Unlucky you: it’ll be posted eventually.

The picture above is the unlovely Government Building’s subterranean portion. It’s not entirely without natural light; there’s a waterfall and skylight, notable for being broken half the time and usually blocked off with a useless little sign that says “CUIDADO” because there might be water and you might slip. You can guess the era from the materials.

But they try, these days. There was an exhibit of old Minnesota things, and I had to love this:


A remnant of the old Northrup King company, for whom I worked selling seeds. Remember the tale yesterday about drinking the Nehi? That’s when I was an NK man.

I proceeded on to the service center to get my new license. If you’re used to, or have any experience with, big city civil-service bureaucracies that deal with the public, I would love to show you how it works around here. The wait was long - 15 minutes - but it took about 5 minutes to get the paperwork done, the photo taken, and the paperwork handed over, all performed by a cheerful clerk.

Less cheerful was the man in the scooter in line who asked me for 25 cents to pay for his application. He needed to get his license, too. He’d lost his wallet. He had a quarter - he showed it to me - but he needed one more for the fee.

Just . . . fifty cents? For the fee? Yeah. I said I didn’t have any change. He wasn’t panhandling. He just didn’t have a quarter. He asked everyone in line and no one had a quarter. I said I would take care of it, and he mumbled something.

At the counter he handed his paperwork to the clerk, who was patient but stern: sir, you’ve already been here, and had to fill out these lines. Well, I can’t see them. Do you have your glasses? Forgot them. I already gave you a number. Don’t know where it is. Said with surly boredom.

When it was my turn I asked her if the fee for him was really 50 cents, and she said it was. He’d find a quarter somewhere.

Indeed he did; when I was leaving, I went over to see if he’d found a quarter, thinking this will be an interesting transaction - 50 cents for the fee, 62 cents “courtesy fee” for using a card. Government always finds a way to pass those fees along, because they can. I asked if he had a quarter and he said “yeah” and looked away. OKAY THEN.

Nothing makes you feel worse about trying to be charitable than realizing you would like the recipient to say “thanks” at some point, and then you’re irritated with yourself for wanting that, but on the other hand, c’mon.

Maybe it was me. Maybe this was my day to completely misjudge human interactions. At the grocery store tonight I was looking for Veggie Straws - daughter’s request for a party she’s having tomorrow - and there was a guy stocking a shelf. I hate to bother them, but I had no idea where they might be.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Sorry for the interruption, but do you know -“

He stepped back and glared at me and bumped my cart and it hit an end-cap display of some pink Unicorn cereal, which I had never seen before. Six boxes were knocked to the ground. He looked aggravated. I’ve seen this guy around the store before, and he’s always saying something in stern, heated tones to co-workers about Things At the Store. Now he was pissed at me. I put the boxes back and then I just slunk away without asking.

Speaking of Unicorns: Lucky Charms is really losing the plot.

It's like Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms have realized they have to merge or perish. At least the other type has Magical Unicorn marshmallow nodules; hate to think they were excreted by some mythical beast that didn't have necromancy sparking from its hooves.

Another grocery note: ladies and gentlemen, and house-brand redesign:

Your ability to identify trends and styles can be determined by which one you think is old, and which you think is new.

Oh, and the visa application came back in the mail today because it was missing the visa application form and this note was attached to a piece of paper I had included that said VISA APPLICATION FORM on top and I nearly wept. We were supposed to use another VISA APPLICATION FORM at some URL the consulate provided, and of course it had an unsigned certificate and daughter’s browser would not go there, so she had to google that and learn a way around it. Finally got to the Post Office 15 minutes before closing. Sent it off with absolutely no confidence. I’m certain it’ll come back again and it’ll be another $40 to overnight it. She will have to have her plane ticket adjusted. This happens a lot, I’m told.

So that was today and now I have to write a humor column. Hardy and / or har, that’s the mood. Or as I tweeted last night: this is my mood these days.

Then again, around midnight, daughter was out with friends, and send me a text.

That’s what I’ll miss. Which can be summed up as “everything.”





This happened last year, too! The Serial ended, the middle of the summer happened, and I did these for a month or so. I love them. It's a short piece of . . . something, designed to sell . . . salt.

It was a boom era for animation houses that hired only college stoners.

That'll do. Thank you for your patience.



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