I’m sitting at the office now, alone again, naturally. The news ticker says “Omicron makes companies rethink return to office.” This marks the 37th story about delaying the return, I think. Delta knocked plans into a cocked hat; now this. Masking now 100% in the skyway and public spaces. Here’s the thing: last summer, with its post-vaccine promiscuous free-facing, now feels like the summer of 2019.

The temp has gone up to 2, which is seven degrees warmer than when I arrived. It will be tempting to choose the Wrong Way back to my car. The Right Way is the shortest, and most direct; it includes two diagonal cuts.

Ah, but the Wrong Way is warmer. It is also longer. So you’re warmer for a longer period of time, and then you pay with an extra half block. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Wait until the wind comes up. Then it’s brutal. And there’s no shelter. The Right Way has a brief cut through a covered hotel parking lot, which gives your ears a few more minutes of life before they turn blue and snap off, releasing an airborne cloud of crystalized blood.

These are not small considerations up here.

LATER I took the Right Way.

Something of an empty day It’s always hard after Daughter leaves, but it’s worse after she’s been here for a while. You get used to things feeling like they used to. Compounding matters is the rather recent memory of the long pandemic stay, which reasserted the old normal as the new normal rewrote everything.

It’s nice to cook for three. It’s nice to hear someone singing down at the other end of the hallway. It’s nice to hear the thumping on the treadmill at a night-owl hour, then have a chat before bed.

That's my selfish perspective, of course. It’s always odd to go home to your old room, more so as time passes. Especially if you lived there your entire life, up to the point where you headed out. All those mute ghosts. 

I think what’s surprising is how it doesn’t get easier to see your child head through the airport doors again. It gets worse.

Got in the car, turned on the radio: that one Crowded House song. Okay great stab me in the sternum, thanks. Then again, no: pay attention to the lyrics, and all the emotions will fade. I can imagine the band writing the music, someone coming up with the chorus, then turning to the drummer and saying “okay, your turn to write the main lyrics, I guess, that’s what we agreed on.” Because they’re just dumb. They utterly fail to capture the mood of the song. And I do wonder if someone said “what we need, right here, is a Procol Harem organ break,” because that’s what it sounds like.

Pulled up in the garage, went back in the house, which now felt absolutely empty. But Birch was there. He’d slept in her bed while she was here, and that’s where he is now, curled on the end, remembering a scent.









I watched the entire run of “The Office” for some reason. Comfort food, at this point. No, not the American version. It was fine and justly loved for a while and overstayed its welcome. It was a nice repurposing of the original. The other day at the Mall of America I saw three people wearing Dunder-Mifflin T-shirts. Made me wish I was wearing one from Wernam-Hogg. Made me wonder if the people in the D-M T-shirts would recognize the reference.

The original is one of the finest sitcoms ever made, but that’s not why I revisit it. “The Office” has become . . . a period piece.

The clunky monitors with Windows screensavers showing endlessly generated pipes. The chirp of the phones, the messy sense of an inhabited shared place. In some ways it’s a time capsule of the early Oughts, a depiction of a commercial and social place we took for granted for so long we had no idea how easily it would be swept away.

The Office appeared here post 9/11, and was something of a comfort. We wanted this: a world in which paper contracts, office pranks, quiz nights, and gag cookie jars were the settled, established world, untroubled by this damned new battle. I remember feeling uneasy watching the opening credits, because it seemed like it would take a lot of work to get back to something this quotidian and boring.

What makes the original good is this: it ends, quickly. It closes the curtain. The arcs are twofold: David Brent’s comeuppance, and Tim-and-Dawn. Both, in good British fashion, end in embarrassment and humiliation before the necessary Christmas Special. The way the concluding specials punish Brent and give him a happy ending is the last thing you expect: touching and uplifting. The way they keep Tim and Dawn apart until they have their thunderclap moment: likewise. It’s an immensely satisfying work.

One more thing: the Christmas specials show something amusing: David Brent is actually a good salesman. You can see how he got promoted up beyond his true skills.

The man could sell chamois.



It’s 1908. Almost the 10s. Forgive me.

Things are different than today. How different?

Boys know - and American parents know - that the best place for boys to have a good time is outdoors - near to Nature - away from confining influences of town or city.

Nothing encourages boys to get outdoors and into the woods and open air so much as being allowed to have a gun.

Granted, it should be a safe gun, and an air rifle filled the bill.

The company:

The Markham Air Rifle Company would always play second fiddle Daisy, though, and eventually Daisy absorbed the company. The King / Markham brand evaporated in 1940.

The caps were an essential part of the uniform. Couldn’t really be a nurse without one.

“A pleasant position.” I think there are ones that might be more pleasant.

The package of the genuine!

Look for that signature, because there’s no way they could fake something like that.

Was there skullduggery in the toasted corn flakes racket? Were they counterfeiting boxes and passing off lesser goods?

Wouldn’t you love to know her story? Even if it was unremarkable after this. Just to know the process of how one became a corn-flakes model in 1908.


Good for righteous political stabbings:

Flick one of these open in a non-political argument, and it changes things.


This surprised me: a local brand in a national mag.


The firm was established in Saint Paul in 1855 by Ernst Albrecht, an immigrant from Coburg, Germany. The Albrecht family first entered the fur business in 1725 in Coburg.

In 1981 the firm was known as Albrecht of Minneapolis, Inc., and operated stores in downtown Minneapolis, Edina, and the Highland Park area of Saint Paul. It was at that time said to be the oldest and largest manufacturing and retail furrier in the United States.

“A poor night’s sleep means crusty and cross business or home life the next day.”

Crusty! They’re still around. And when I found this picture, I knew I’d mentioned them before.

It’s the hand growing out of the guy’s neck I remembered.

If there isn’t a Moore’s Law for Vacuum Cleaners, there should be. Look at the SIZE of that thing. A vacuum cleaner you drove around.

The General Compressed Air company was eventually run out of business by Specific Compressed Air, or SpecCom, which now makes radar parts for the Navy.

Nah, not really.

And just like that, with one ad, and one image, the advertising industry leaps ahead ten years. Or perhaps everything else in the ad was languishing, while the firm that did ads like these was constantly refreshing the genre,.

What makes it different? The quality of the image, the simplicity of the design, the arrangement, the symmetry. It’s what the ads of the teens will look like - if they want to be classy.




That will do! Warmer on Tuesday. A good day to dream it's over. Which, of course, it isn't.





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