The kitchen was chilly this morning, but I didn’t turn on the fireplace. I refuse to turn on the fireplace. It’s fargin’ May, friends, and I’m not turning on the fireplace. Clear? Thank you. Later upstairs I looked out the window and saw a neighbor raking leaves in long pants and a jacket, and for a second I thought we’d just gone straight to October.

It was Gnat’s turn to bring treats today, so we had to visit the grocery store to get milk – which, judging from the new prices, come from cows who rest in piles of silk and chew cuds made of ambergris and saffron. As we leave the store it starts to rain, dropping the temps another five degrees. When we get to the preschool, no two child is dressed alike; some are dressed to conform to the forecast of 85 degrees, a few – like Gnat – are in light sweaters; some have galoshes for splashing in the rain puddles, others have sandals. I’m relieved. For once, everyone’s choices seem wrong. It’s not just me.

Hug, kiss, goodbye. I walk outside.

The clouds part. The sun blares through. It’s 20 degrees warmer in half an hour. It’s 75. May in Minnesota. Is this it? Will it be warm forever after, at least until the first killing chills of late September? Stay tuned. (Short answer: no)

Back home for another installment of the Endless Parade of Contractors; today it was the fellow who’s doing the garage. As I noted before, I am returning my entire tax savings to the economy. By “savings” I mean this: I make quarterly payments, and based my payments on the old rates. This year I got money back from my overpayments. It still feels like a refund, though. Instead of following my usual rule for royalties and other boons – one third savings, one third taxes, one third spent on life-enhancing material goods - I decided to spend it all on improving Jasperwood. The garage is the first place to start. It’s ancient. Druids built it for sacrificial rites. So I’m having the guys put on a new roof to stop leakage, seal the walls, install sheetrock, spiff up the dank dark tunnel, et cetera. It's our primary entrance into the house, and it might as well be nice.

Whoa: it’s 8:27 PM, and the roofer just showed up. Annnnnd cue the maniacal barking dog!

Yep, there he goes. Back after a confab.

Okay. Well, we’re on for tomorrow, unless it rains, or gets windy, or it’s too hot, or the temperature dips again, or the creek rises, or sunspots cripple his GPS locator, or whatever. Add to this tomorrow’s visit from the man who’s going to boost the water pressure by installing a water pressure booster. Great! I always wanted to use that handle in the shower to brace myself against the pounding stream. Then comes the Sprinkler System Debacle, part 2, where the lawn gets regouged.

Total number of people employed so far in this job: eleven.

But this is all anecdotal evidence and hence of no value, of course.

Cool link: American Sign Museum. <homerdrool.>

Stupid link: talk to Jack the Ripper. Saucy Jack does not pay attention very well.

Scary link: infinity in your browser. I love the Internet.

I’m off to work on a long-delayed video project. Predictable head-up-my-fundament drivel follows for those inclined to enjoy such nonsense.

The minute I heard Biden refer to Rumsfeld with the magic words - “what did he know, and when did he know it?” - I knew that the Iraqi POW story had jumped the shark. Or rather jumped a pyramid of blindfolded, homoerotic sharks. It’s not the question, it’s the words: use of the Vietnam and Watergate era terms are like an incarnation that will topple the current administration. I almost expect someone to ask whether there is a cancer on the presidency, a chancre, or a weeping mole. Stop it! STOP LIVING IN THE PAST!

What really bastes my brisket (did I just write that? I need a beer.) is the constant desire to return us to the nadir of the post-war era. They want us to think: quagmire. They want us to think: Nixonian scandal. How inspirational. How Churchillian. I have nothing to offer the American people but blood, sweat and Billy Beer.

But worst of all is the suggestion that Rumsfeld should resign. Stupid for two reasons: 1. He doesn’t have a bogeyman rep with the general electorate. In fact I’d guess that your average swing voter likes the guy – he doesn’t deal in Beltway blatherations, for starters. Some people liked to make fun of his foray into epistemology – “There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know
we don't know.”

Makes perfect sense to me. I’m serious. I like a guy who’s smart enough to entertain the concept of unknown unknowns, because it means he’s thinking (all together now!) out of the box. Or out of the Pentagon.

He also handles the press well, which irritates the inner party of the Beltway media but amuses the red states. And he grins. He has that flinty-dad vibe. He’s the guy flipping burgers at the grill who overhears something you say and makes an interesting remark that might be a compliment, and might be an insult – might be both. That grin doesn’t tell you much. It’s the sort of persona that would make you gulp hard if you were picking up his daughter for a date, but if you passed the test you’d feel as though you’d earned some rare respect.

But more importantly, 2. He’s the guy who’s attempting to reform the Pentagon, and make it limber enough to meet the challenges of The War. Does Joe Biden have a better plan for the Pentagon? Would Joe Biden be a better SecDef in the Kerry Administration? If so: evidence, please. If not, then his calls for Rumsfeld to consider stepping down might be - gasp – partisan positioning. That Biden would float the idea of axing Rumsfeld in the middle of this confliict over this tells you how seriously he takes the war. He knows what he says won’t bring victory next year. But it will get him on TV tonight, and perhaps in the Times tomorrow.

Priorities, don’t you know. Priorities.

As for what did they know, etc. – Mudville has an excellent timeline. (Via Reynolds' Wrap.)

And then there is this.

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