It got punitively cold over the weekend. I looked at the temp on my phone when I woke: -15. Gah. At least the heating system works well now, thanks to a visit from the boiler tech guy. He fixed it but did not know exactly what he did.

Exact quote when asked what he had done: damned if I know.

He rewired two thermostat controls, that much we know - except the thermostats weren’t “wired” to anything. They’re wifi. I control them with my phone, which talks to the boiler. OMG WHAT IF THE WIFI GOES DOWN? There’s a network interface online. WHAT IF THE CELLULAR NETWORK GOES DOWN? There are manual controls on the unit itself. Relax.

By noon the temp had risen ten degrees, but without a wind, five below is twenty below is two above. After a certain point it's just vacant pain.

Unexpected development. Daughter was starting to pack to go back to college, and I said it was a shame! Just got here! Two weeks wasn’t enough. If I could change your flight, would you like to stay?

Get this: SHE DID

Kid wants to remain home for a while instead of gallivanting off to college and freedom? O blessed event. Well, let’s see what the airline’s page says for Thursday flights . . .

Nothing. Nothing until April. No one wants to go to Boston, I guess. Or they preemptively cancelled the flights because weather, the all-purpose excuse these days. No, we’re not flying there in March. Long range forecasts says it’s going to drizzle. I went to another airline, which had seats galore at bargain prices, and got a flight. Canceled the other, and got a voucher, or voo-shay as we call it. (Note: we don’t) When it was all done I’d made $50 on the deal, and we didn’t have to get up at 4:45 AM to make the flight.

Huzzah! Later that night, after the bad football game with the lads and some frantic writing to finish a column, we stayed up until 2 talking about history and movies. Perfect cap to a weekend. And of course now (I'm at the office, pecking away in the afternoon) I’m falling asleep. Better go get some coffee.

Ha ha there isn't any coffee that was the olden times when coffee poured freely from a spout in the wall

It did, you know. Wall Coffee. In the cafeteria there was a nozzle that protruded from the yellow ceramic tile, a relic of long ago. Urns kept hot all day produced industrial coffee at all hours. There was never a day when the spout went dry. Then they replaced it with urns of Starbucks, because the new food-service contractor was Classy. Eh. It was tepid and brackish. In the new building there were urns in the main break room, and it was good! But then came the plague and there were no beans anymore. I had to make coffee from the K-cup machine in my break room, until it stopped working. Now I have to go upstairs and find the sole remaining machine. I open up the K-cup container on the machine, and there's the one I put in a few days ago. It's just me and the machine these days.

No, no coffee Time to leave the office, head home, nap, and get up for the second shift.

I never do anything of consequence between 3 and 5. Good for me nothing is required, either, or I might have to go to bed at a normal hour.

NORMAL ACCORDING TO WHO, the night owl screeches. The high achievers? Hah: they get up too early. Wife regularly has meetings with doctors that start at 7. People in finance and high-powered law firms are on the treadmill at 5:30. Normal for them, I suppose. When I had to get up early and get to work to do the news broadcasts I was compelled to take to bed early and wake in the bleak dark, and I hated it. The day seemed impossibly long, like a frozen baguette you had to gnaw from one end of the other.

If I could control my sleep with willful precision, I’d rise at 7:00, then sleep from 2 to 6, then stay up until 2. I’ve always hated afternoon. The very word sounds like a yawn.

Well, that was a lot of garrulous drivel, but I don't think that surprises anyone at this point. I mean, after a quarter century, a theme emerges.

Yes: in a few weeks we'll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Bleat.









I’m not going to bore you with my discoveyr of Succession, an HBO show Daughter’s been advising me to watch. I like it. I like no one in it, but that’s not a prerequisite.

“I thought you didn’t watch Game of Thrones because you didn’t like anyone in it,” she said. No, that wasn’t it. The problem was the setting. Not much interest in the sword-and-dragon setting. Drafty castles, tapestries, lutes - none of that stuff interests me in the least, unless it’s reasonably accurate. (Meaning, no dragons, and no warmed-over Arthurian longing for some golden age when men dressed as cans hit each other with metal sticks.) Wolf Hall was the last thing I saw that fit the olden-times of gloomy skies with filthy people working in bogs with bundles of sticks on their backs, and it was damned good. Actual human stories with intricate politics. No magic or monsters; the perfidy of men was enough.

Anyway, Daughter decided to learn the theme to Succession, and worked on it for an hour, maybe more, on the piano. It was one of those things that made you realize how long it had been since there was a Young Person in the house playing the piano for pleasure. It’s an angular and sarcastic piece, and I grew to know it well.

I started watching the show, a few days later, and realized A) everyone’s done talking about it, probably, and B) I will never be able to tell anyone how much the theme will always remind me of Christmas.



You might have seen these years ago. I’ve had them in a folder, and they need to go so I can stop looking at the folder.

They’re from an old Minneapolis Tribune, taken from the original. They’re incredibly fragile. I don't know what happened to them; they may not have survived the move to the new office. These are photos, because the act of scanning would have destroyed the pages.

On the Yet Within Top Round Reach of All

No one is too poor to use it

The modern way! Yes, they considered themselves modern in 1898.


The factory is now residential. Proctor & Gamble bought the brand, eventually.

The Neverslip. For Ice Creeping.

Seems an obvious invention, but someone patented it first.

Do the Dead Return? Short answer no

The enigma:

Washington Irving Bishop, also known as Wellington (4 March 1855 – 13 May 1889) was an American stage mentalist. He started his career as an assistant under the muscle reader J. Randall Brown, but was most well known for his performance of the blindfold drive.

Never mind  the blindfold drive - Muscle reader?

Muscle reading, also known as "Hellstromism", "Cumberlandism" or "contact mind reading", is a technique used by mentalists to determine the thoughts or knowledge of a subject, the effect of which tends to be perceived as a form of mind reading. The performer can determine many things about the mental state of a subject by observing subtle, involuntary responses to speech or any other stimuli.[1][2] It is closely related to the ideomotor effect, whereby subtle movements made without conscious awareness reflect a physical movement, action or direction which the subject is thinking about. The term "muscle reading" was coined in the 1870s by American neurologist George M. Beard to describe the actions of mentalist J. Randall Brown, an early proponent of the art.

Anyway. Bishop would fall into a coma the year after his Minneapolis appearance, and later died. His wife and mother insisted he was not dead, but in a trance state, and that the autopsy killed him. They sued, and lost. Bishop did not return from the dead.

Whatever soap she used, Mistress Mary had a hell of a lot of stuff to wash.

Wikipedia: "Fairbank, Arizona, now a ghost town, was named for him because of his role in financing both the Grand Central Mining Company and the railroad in nearby Tombstone, Arizona."

Yes, it's pretty ghosty.



United Order Detectives. I wonder if it was a scam, a means to extract dues from the wannabees who fancied themselves to be Pinkerton material.

Pretty sure it was, but who knows.

Are those actual Heffelfingers?

Examples of actual Heffelfinger shoes, here.

It sounds like an aphrodisiac:


Jenks is dying in his sleep. Go the light, Jenks

He’s happy because he took some anti-bilious granules, and they blew the constipated mass clear across the room.

Purgatives. They were stern business.





And now, a new feature! Hope you like it.

It was slated for last year, but there wasn't room. It'll run all year long. Subject: Sunday comics ads. Comics that weren't comics. Think Mr. Coffee Nerves, in endless iterations. Hope you enjoy it! Note: it gets so much worse.





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