Friday, November 30, 2018

True confessions of a birder

I have only recently embraced the longstanding fact that I am a birder. Indeed, as I type on my computer right now I can look barely left and slightly up out my window and see a big hawk sitting in a tree. It's great.

Eh, what kind of hawk you ask?


Which brings me to the question of why, after 40 years of birding, I am only now willing to admit what has all along been true. I am only now willing to name BIRDING on my list of hobbies, placing it just below 

4. Messi and the Barcelona Football Club, and just above 

6. Children's Literature.

Why have I waited so long?


It is shame.

My birding life list has been stalled for eighteen years at 27. That's right. A life list total in which I can boast of having seen 27 birds. One can probably see 27 birds in a day! Sure I have seen vastly more than 27 varieties of birds in my life, but my understanding of the rules is that you have to know what kind of birds they are to count them. So the list stands at 27. Yes, I have occasionally dabbled in the books and with the wretched Internet to try and identify the birds I've seen, but, frankly, it's always ambiguous and I come to no conclusions. 

I see individuals.

For instance, at the library I work at the heavyset man with a kind of swollen neck goiter, warm, slurred speech, and a penchant for anything related to flags, is surely identifiable as a member of Homo Sapiens. I mean I guess he is. I don't know. To me he is just "Roy". And so it is that when I try to look up a bird with what looks like a flake of rust stuck to its leg, and who seems to have misplaced something, I meet with no official success in the bird identification manuals, or, for that matter, with Dan, who has done some official birding and knows his birds pretty well, but always comes up blank when I need help.

Like with that Dodo I saw down on the river one Summer.

So 27 it is.

Also I don't have any binoculars. I'm extremely fond of them in theory, but in practice I find them irritating; the way they have to be just so over one's eyes, the way they never quite seem focused quite how I need, the way no matter how powerful they are I always need them to be slightly stronger. 

So instead what happens is this:

I am walking out on the golf course, newly covered in snow. I see a big hawk in a tree (no, not the same hawk out the window. Just wait.). I carefully approach. Holy crap! That is not a hawk, it is an anaconda! What I took to be feathers are precise scales glinting in the morning light. Having no fear of snakes, and intrigued I venture nearer. Oh, it is not an anaconda. It is the upward pointing stump of a broken branch. What I took first of be feathers, then scales, is the pattern of snow as it combines with the bark of the oak.

I'm pretty sure there's nothing in that to add to my life list.

And so I say again: 27 it is. And that's okay. One of the hardest things to remember is that we don't have to be good at our hobbies.

When I was about halfway through writing these confessions I had a great plan for how I was going to end them. I was going to say:

And that hawk is still there.

But I'm not the fastest writer in the world, and that hawk had things to do, so it left. It flew away northwest, over a little creek and, without binoculars, I lost sight of it.

I have decided that is just as well. Now we will never know what kind of hawk it was. We can suffer our joy and ignorance together.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Grass is greener

Next year my wife and I will go to Florence, Italy, for the first time. We have, as you would know from reading this blog (wait, you do read this blog, don't you? You're not a... gasp... Internet Wanderer?) 


Anyway, we have been many times to Rome. And every time we went to Rome I would spend hundreds of hours pouring over the Internet looking for the best gelaterias. You could easily click on my "gelato" tag below to read dozens of my gelato posts concerning this, but I wouldn't recommend it, especially to the Internet Wanderers, who will be much more gainfully employed picking the cheap locks that are all I have to protect our silverware.

It's super valuable silverware.

As for the rest of my readers I don't recommend going back to read dozens of my old gelato posts because you will need all your energy for today's post. It is an advanced post, and really hard to keep track of, with complex sentence structures and dozens of complicated digressions. I'm just saying


Anyway, all those many times I poured over the Internet, looking for the best Gelato in Rome, you know what happened? The Internet would tell me that there is some really good gelato in Rome, but boy, you should go to Florence. THAT is the ultimate place for gelato.

Well, we are going to Florence. So I look up where the best gelato is and the Internet says it's in Rome. Rome has all these great gelaterias. The Internet also suggests Paris (we were there a year ago, and, trust me, there was absolutely no mention of this then), and Copenhagen, where we were less than two months ago and where we sure didn't see any of these amazing places and none of them turned up in my research during my preparations.

From which we can conclude

Boy, we sure do get to go to a lot of swell places!


The Internet is broken.


The Internet is messing with me.


There is no way to discuss gelato intelligibly. 

Yes, definitely that at least. There is probably no way to discuss gelato intelligibly.

But I'm fully committed to trying. 

So leave me with a few of my silver spoons.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Hundred year Messi

I quite fancy how they talk about floods. There are 20-year floods, or 100-year floods or just... floods. It all comes down to just how often these things happen historically. Of course the massive climate change we are affecting on The Planet is messing up those sorts of standards, but I'm still keen on the idea.

Sometimes I like to apply it to athletes.

Yes, I am going to talk about Messi.

No, you won't be able to stop me, but you can always go away and look at something else interesting on the Internet...

If you can find anything!!! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Good luck with that.



Well, I'm surprisingly happy just talking to myself about Messi. Perfectly happy all alone. Messi is so entertaining after all, isn't he?

Oh, I knew you were here all along.

Last week Messi was playing soccer. At one point in a not particularly great game a much too high and fast pass came to Messi. He headed the ball at a very difficult angle to send it far up in the air. Then he positioned himself for it by backing into the defending player so it would land in front of him. Catching it delicately on the top of his foot he literally pulled the ball in that single move behind him, through the legs of a defender he cannot, obviously, see, then he pivoted physically around this defender to collect his own pass and race down the sideline.

When one sees this move in real time it doesn't look like much because it's so quick and it so defies what seems possible that one is inclined to ascribe it at least partly to accident. Only slowed down does a person say, oh, he meant to do that. Even still there is something hard to process about it.

I don't post links on my blog.

But what's a rule if one can't make an exception.

The world of soccer sort of knows how good Messi is, but I think they also struggle with it. His main competition, comparatively, is a player, still alive, whose heyday was the eighties, Diego Maradona. This would make Messi into, sort of, the thirty-year Messi. I don't see it though. There's plenty of footage, but it's sport, so there's a great deal of emotion and fandom. I may be guilty of such things myself. I have seen these brilliant, dazzling feats of Maradona, but, just, it's not as good. He's not as good. It's just that...

...what do you do in sports if there isn't a contest? What if there isn't really a viable argument? What if you get a hundred year player, the hundred-year Messi?

What if it's a thousand?


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Seat buddy

I was off with my wife on a Saturday night to see some chamber music at the Ordway in St. Paul, Minnesota. We entered the hall early enough that the seats were still sparsely populated, but as we approached our two assigned spots I got a sinking feeling. Right about next to where it seemed like we'd be sitting was a big man. A Big Man. He had a beard. And he was 300 pounds if he was an ounce.

Yes, it turned out I was sitting next to him.

Oh reader, shed not a tear for me. 

Let us both scale back our prejudice, or, possibly, our informed experience, but probably the first because HE was a brilliant seat buddy.

Brilliant. A gentleman. A mensch.

Arms self-consciously tucked in, huddled into his seat, moving as little as possible, he observed not just the minimal, paltry boundaries of the dividing line down the center of our arm rest and the floor line between our chairs, but he also observed the highly advanced concept of The Buffer Zone. He did not touch our arm rest at all. He, and I for that matter, allowed a couple inches either side of the dividing line between us as a no man's land, a de-militarized zone that none entered. There was not merely a line between us, but a bubble, a cushy force field of human distance.

It was great.

I don't know how he did it. He was very big. But he managed. We did not talk. We never even came close to jostling or even a single accidental touch. I would not recognize him now, a mere two days later, in a small line up of 322 pound bearded men. But he was my buddy. My buddy.

And though there was a modest passage of time in which he breathed very loudly, I wouldn't have traded him for the world.


Monday, November 26, 2018

Shopping rebellion

On Black Friday my wife and I were out at The Mall of America.

"Why?" You may ask.

I answer a lot of questions here on this blog. Many of them are very advanced answers that maybe should have been shared with your Senators, Bob Dylan, your local Library Director, or your loved ones. Though they probably weren't.

But this isn't that kind of answer.

We were at Black Friday Mall of America because we had some random shopping business to take care of, and sometimes the timing works and sometimes it doesn't, and we don't quail from a difficult situation. 

I mean cumulatively we don't. I always quail some.

They had plenty of Christmas trees at the mall, Santa was there, hidden by an elf. Oh, and there were millions of people, just gobs of them, all over The Mall and in great big, occasionally mysterious, lines. The rest of the city was a ghost town. And all these people at The Mall were buying things so amazing and fantastic that it boggled the imagination. Extraordinary things, one-of-a-kind magical things, all towering enchantingly in their arms.

For myself I got two pairs of socks. 

But then I'm an iconoclast.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Our Universes

You have to order the Universe or it will be ordered for you.

There I was with my wife at a concert of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra listening to contemporary, avant garde classical music, led by Pekka Kuusisto. Avant garde music is like going for a long, solitary walk; one occasionally notices an interesting thing or two while mostly writing blog posts in ones head.

Oh, yes, you do write blog posts in your head, whatever you actually call it. It is an ordering of the Universe. If you don't order the Universe someone else will do it for you. 

You're safe with me though. The only thing I do here is just put the Universe back where you left it.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The shift of ice

It's not even December yet. It's not even, technically, Winter. And while we haven't gotten any of those extreme cold temperatures, native here mainly to January and February, to my surprise the river froze, all at once, in the night.

The river freezes strangely here. There are deep currents to make it slow to freeze. The strange warm effluvia of a major megalopolis flow into it. Toasty little songbirds cool their hot feet in it. So sometimes, even in the deepest parts of the Winter, when a week goes by without the temperature ever breaking into the positives, the Mississippi is still capable of holding open leads of water, usually steaming slightly, with flocks of geese huddled on its icy edges curled desperately into themselves.

But today, after merely a moderately cold, single-digit night, the river had strangely frozen solid, and it looked like it was all at once. Waves and winding currents were written into the fluid, undulating ice. The whole frozen river looked as if it was full of white lily pads. I imagined that if I had awaken at three in the morning and went out to look at the river I could have seen it go from liquid to solid in a single second. I could have heard the great condensing sound of water flash freezing, like in a magic spell, like a Disney movie. Elsa touched the river, and it turned to ice.

I walked upstream, keeping an eye on the mysterious river, but I am easily distracted by my thoughts, birds, bikers, the anticipation of street crossings, the vagueries of time. And so some short while after walking under the railroad bridge around the old Meeker Dam site, just past the Shriners' Hospital, I looked down at the river again.

It was hardly frozen at all.

I was starting to feel pretty cold though.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Birding on the river

I go out birding on the river. Oh, not your traditional birding, what with the binoculars and life lists and knowledge of birds. Nope, it's just me and my near ignorance, walking along, looking at birds. Sometimes I know their names, sometimes I don't.

Yesterday, I saw two cardinals, which is nothing fancy for a professional birder, but for me it was almost a relief. This may be the grayest time of the year here. If something is not gray right now, bark, earth, or pine for instance, it just turns gray anyway in the flat, dead, waiting-for-snow light. But not so with these cardinals. They were scarlet, the color of fresh blood in the sun, the color of sour cherries ripe on trees, of fire engines being polished on the driveway of the firehouse. These birds said to the gray light "What is your problem anyway?" And they said it with their succinct, single color. It's always nice to see someone forthright and with something to say.

We get some brilliant and strange migrations out on the Mississippi River as well. I saw the first hint of the Robin Hoards yesterday. It was just a tree and a half full of Robins, but it hints at grander displays to come. Of course they have their rust chests for a splash of color, but once there are 50 or 100 birds I get a little too excited to worry about color.

There are eagles flying about pretty much every day, but towards the end of my walk one was roosting in a tree and that's a little more uncommon. This was a major birding treat because they plop down in the dead trees high over the river, but as the path is on the edge of the ravine, one kind of ends up eye to eye with the eagle, in this case as close as maybe 15 feet away.

I looked at the eagle and laughed. The eagle looked at me and did nothing except look kind of intense and a little crazy. This, I understand, is textbook eagle behavior. I wrote him down on my birdlist, which I keep in my head because I never see more than three birds I know the name of in a single walk.

I can always remember three things.

And so I have.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Thanksgiving does nothing for me. I'm not keen on the symbols. Buckles? Pilgrims? The myths are all a little stomach turning in light of future events. And, most of all, I don't care for any of the traditional foods. I don't even like them. One of the volunteers at the library I work at told me about one of their family's traditional Thanksgiving dishes. It was jellied (canned) cranberries, whipped cream, and saltine crackers. You get a big bowl and put down a layer of crushed saltines, a layer of whipped cream, and a layer of jellied cranberry, and then you just keep layering over and over until you're done. He said it was really good.

"Hmm." I said. It would have been rude and wouldn't have been understood anyway if I said what I thought, which was "That has to be the most goyish recipe I've ever heard in my life."

But Thanksgiving is kind of a goyish holiday.

I did grow up celebrating it. But after a few decades I managed to winnow down my family to just people I was crazy about. That was one other person total, and since she's not too keen on roasted turkey either there's not a great deal of the traditional holiday going on in my house.

For which, among other things, I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


There was a string of them as I sat watching at the front desk of my library: The woman with a small suitcase dragging on tiny clattering wheels behind her, the man pushing one of our shopping carts that he had filled with seat cushions, and the family troop working out of two epic sized double strollers that looked prepared for an invasion of Czarist Russia.

It was then that it hit me:

Our library patrons may have millions of dollars. They may have loving families and beautiful homes. They may work complicated and fulfilling jobs and lead eminently productive, responsible, and successful lives. But the moment they walk in through our doors, the moment any person steps foot into our library, they are instantly transmuted, by some strange alchemy, into homeless people. They have nowhere else to go. They have nothing but what they brought. They exist on their instincts alone. They scavenge from whatever random spaces and things that are commonly available. Money is meaningless and so is history. There is no hierarchy. Everything they have built in their life is now as nothing.

Somehow, simply, they must survive here, get what they can and get what they need, all on their wit and craft alone.

No Kings, no boss, nor CFO, no Lords, Doctors, or Ms. Vice Presidents. No titles, class, rank, or advantage.

The library patron: 

All street people, living rough.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Today I learned

On the evil website Reddit there is a subreddit called "Today I learned" in which people talk about surprising things they've just learned. It sounds very wholesome, and it would be if it were on The Amateur Internet, but it's not. It's on the Professional Internet so it's tainted by commerce, glory hunting, rigid rules, and hierarchical systems. Which is why I am going to tell you something I learned today, but I'm going to tell you here instead, on The Amateur Internet, where everything is fun, and innocent, and pure, and almost unusably disheveled, and where if someone wants any money they have to go somewhere else entirely and shelve books or help find a couple more tables for the irritating and demanding group using the library meeting room, just for example.

Today, during a nice discussion with my wife, I learned that Anise, Licorice, and Fennel are three different plants that merely happen to have really similar flavor profiles, almost like if oranges, oranges, and oranges were three different plants that happened to taste a lot alike.

No, oranges, oranges, and oranges are actually the same plant, which is fortunate, because they are all spelled so similarly.


But that's not what I was going to tell you!

How did that get in there? I actually had no intention of talking about anise, licorice, and fennel. I was going to talk about authors.

Get a load of this:

One of my favorite authors was instrumental in getting another of my favorite authors to write!

Today I learned that C.S. Forester, who wrote the thrilling Captain Horatio Hornblower novels (some of which I am currently rereading yet again!), was instrumental in the beginning of the writing career of Roald Dahl. Apparently Forester, a famous author already, went to get a story from Dahl about his flying in the RAF. Dahl thought it would be easier just to write down. Forester thought the written account so good he just left it as is, and a literary career was born.

It's very interesting. I mean. If you're me.

It would have been a lot better on Reddit, read by more people, less meandering, better organized, and neater.

But it would have been a product, and so would you.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Internet protest

Today we enter the fifth day of my Internet protest. In case you already forgot what, exactly, my Internet protest was, let me refresh your memory. I have decided, since I bitterly resent the Internet, that I should no longer waste my time on it. Instead, every time I feel an impulse to surf the Internet on a hopeless quest for enlightenment and entertainment, I will instead write for the Internet. Well, not The Internet, rather The Amateur Internet, the non monetized Internet I am going to invent any day now, as soon as a get a few spare minutes.

So far I have done pretty well, only checking the Internet briefly for the weather reports, rumors and news concerning the Barcelona Futbol Club, tips and tricks for playing Red Dead Redemption 2, updates on the World Chess Championship (four draws as I write), USPS tracking of the t-shirts I ordered online before the protest (The Gates of Moria, The White Stipes as cute little characters, Charlie Brown's Christmas, Four Seasons of Totoro, and a second Addams Family shirt), frequent checks of my blog to see if there is a new comment to respond to (hardly ever), recipes for toast, Amazon reviews of J fic novels I am considering reading, youtube videos making fun of Republicans, more gossip about Barcelona fc, highlight videos of Messi, Air bnb apartments in Florence, the latest Ruben Bolling cartoon on Boing Boing, an optimistic check for any new Captain Disillusion videos, maps telling me there are no shortcuts for me on my morning walk, and whatever I need to look up on the Internet for the people I help while working at the library.

Oh, you may laugh at me and say that is not much of a boycott, but here's the thing. Looking up all the many things I have listed above, and reading, examining, and watching them carefully, takes a total of 11 minutes a day. Everything beyond that is meaningless filler.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

I am working most when you say I'm not

Due to a small staff shortage I was running the front desk of the library by myself. I was between library patrons not doing much of anything other than sitting up attentively and waiting for someone who needed help. A regular of the library came up to me and said "You must have the cushiest job in the whole world."

This came from a woman who very much likes to talk to certain of us at the front desk. Her specialty is credibly asking for advice she never takes. She's not the worst of patrons, but she can be a challenge to peel away from the front desk.

I did not say in response "You are work." Because I am pretty diplomatic at the front desk.

I told her that I don't have the cushiest job in the world, I just play someone who does.

Then she asked me about getting rid of 12 bags of Autumn leaves she had now in her garage.

"Oh shoot." I said. "I need to help the next person in line."

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Staple profligacy

From the library supply department

Dear Staff:

In my role as procurer of supplies for the library I am always more than happy to acquire the things we need to properly conduct business at this library.

However, I am not keen to purchase items we carelessly squander. Which brings me to the subject of staples.

I understand that we run a lot of staplers at this library. There is the Reference Stapler, the Phone Reference Stapler, the Book and Magazine Repair Stapler, the Circ Phones Stapler, the Circ Workroom Stapler, the two Patron Supplies Areas Staplers, the Children's Room Stapler, and the Front Desk Stapler. It takes a ton of staples to keep that many staplers going! It makes sense that every once in awhile we run out of a box of staples.

But do you know how many staples come in a box?

Five thousand staples come in a box of staples!

Yes, five thousand.

And do you know how many staples it takes to get, say, five sheets of paper all to stay together in a nice, handy, stapled way?


So how is it that just tonight a Reference Librarian came downstairs to ask for a new box of staples again? How is it that we have gone through three full boxes of staples in a month?

Three boxes! Fifteen thousand staples!

Did you know that one staple is invariably strong enough to staple something together without any help from more staples? More staples are redundant! Science supports this.

Did you know that you don't need to test and discard a staple every time you use a stapler? Just staple! Our staplers work just fine. Or use a paper clip for god's sake. They're reusable. Staple, staple, staple, staple! You people are killing me!

And so in conclusion I merely ask "What are you people doing with all these staples?" And I humbly recommend that before you wantonly next staple something, please consider that these are not valueless, meaningless, endless commodities. Each staple you use has a value of .05 cents. No, no, it's not, thank God, five cents, rather point zero five cents or a twentieth of a cent. But for every needlessly used staple that is still .05 cents that we can never use towards the purchasing of materials for our collection.

Just think on all that hard math the next time you want to slam down on one of our many, many quality staplers. 

Please. I beg of you.

Thank you for your time, care, and attention to this matter.

Most sincerely,

The Supply Department

Friday, November 16, 2018

Two Internets

I may have mentioned a few thousand times here that I don't like the Internet. Oh, that doesn't stop me from using the Internet, surfing the Internet, and reading the Internet. But perhaps, if it could, it should. What if every time I felt compelled to look at the Internet I just made some more Internet instead?

Here's some Internet for you:

I think there should be two Internets. We can have this, the wildly inferior one, full of mega corporations, Russian bots, and people nattering on about Important Things that their paid betters have done, and we can call it The Professional Internet. You will still come to this Internet to buy things and do whatever it is you do now on the Internet.

What do you do on the Internet? Seriously. I mean, besides read this?

The second Internet, the new one, is going to be The Amateur Internet.

No one, but no one will be allowed to make any money on it. No host, no venue, no content provider, no one. It will just be people putting stuff together for the hell of it, like bloody anarchists.

It will be disorganized and crappy. 

It's going to save the world.

As soon as I get a few free minutes I'll go start it up.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Two kinds of people

There are two kinds of people in the World:

There are the people who see me shelving books in a fiction aisle and will do anything they can to avoid going in that aisle, only venturing down it if the exact book they need is in that row.

And there are the people who see me shelving fiction in an aisle and think "This row must be extra good. Look how popular it is. I'm going there!"

Ah well, come on in. It's your library. I'll just step aside here and write a blog post. You should read it sometime.

There are two kinds of people in the World; people who read clerkmanifesto and people who don't.

There are two kinds of people in the World:

Good people and bad people.

I make no correlations. Though I don't mind hopefully suggesting some.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Half mast

The flags are still at half mast at the library even though Veterans' Day is over. Fuck Veterans' Day. Can't we go back to Armistice Day? That was beautiful; a mournful celebration of peace. What's this Veterans' Day? Are we celebrating Veterans then? The last really good ones are almost all dead. In conversation about this holiday with a small group at the front desk of the library I may have inappropriately used the phrase "Baby Killers". I sometimes forget; just because something is true doesn't necessarily make it appropriate in casual conversation.

Wait, so does fighting in a war make you a baby killer?

Yes. Yes, yes, yes, and yes!

Which is why you want to have a seriously good reason for doing so.

It's a high bar. Sometimes I can't even see it way up there in the clouds.

Happy (belated) Armistice Day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


After three weeks I was finally well enough to walk to work once again. Winter had come since I'd last been out, the trees were now bare and gray, the walks full of ice, and there were the kind of bitter temperatures one can get used to, but it takes some serious time and commitment to do so. I left early enough so that I could travel sedately, wrapped up as much as possible. And as I so often find when I'm walking I have ideas, lots of ideas..

They were all kinds of ideas for blog posts, but as I thought about them I found I didn''t want to write about any of them. 

So the turkeys came to save me. Wild turkeys of the city. They were running and jumping. I have only ever known these turkeys to be sedate, thoughtful, contained, but today, in the new cold and bare world they were rambunctious! They were full of fun. They were laughing in the face of Thanksgiving. They were leaping foolishly for the fruit from trees two feet higher than they could reach. They were racing each other. They were gamboling! And why not. I counted them again. Nineteen. The same exact amount of the group when I saw them back at the end of summer. 

One might think it a hard life, living wild in the city.

Not for turkeys. Nothing can kill them. They are young forever.

Monday, November 12, 2018

How to get rid of moths

When the average person has some unexpected emergency these days the first thing they are inclined to do is search it on the Internet. And even though we all hate the Internet, we mostly don't know that we hate the Internet and thus we heavily rely upon it. A recent study has shown that when someone lops off their forefinger in a kitchen accident the first thing they do is type in a Google search:

"Wat do I do we I cop off figer?"

To Google's credit, because people cannot type the letters m,n,h,j,y, and u without their right forefinger, the above search is immediately recognized as "What do I do we I chop off finger?" which is good enough to direct one to a useful answer, but still so willfully stupid that one can nevertheless feel superior to the famed search engine despite having just wildly maimed oneself while merely trying to slice a carrot.

But I digress.

The problem is, as you well know, that though the Internet has all the answers people have come up with for all problems, people haven't actually come up with very many actual, usable answers for problems. At least not ones that work. When I was magnificently sick with the flu recently I could search the Internet all I liked for how to get or feel better, but there was never any reasonable answer other than

1. Drink fluids.

Which is good advice despite not doing much to make one feel better, and

2. Nothing.

Yes, you heard me. There is no two. It's just basically

2. You'll probably get better. But doesn't it suck?

And here is why the Internet is evil, or broken, or not your friend:

The proper top search for "How do I get better quick from the flu?" should be

1. Clerkmanifesto.


"What to do if you have the flu?"

1. Drink fluids. It's a good idea for not making things worse, but it won't make you feel much better.

2. Nothing else. Do whatever, but it doesn't actually matter or make a difference. You'll probably get better eventually, more slowly than you think. It sucks!

3. You can now read all the other bullshit on the Internet.

Why do I bring all this up?

We seem to have a little moth infestation. It's hard to tell. We blame some walnuts from a rogue, and frankly evil online walnut seller. We killed three moths that apparently came from the pantry. But we found no infestation or any infected food to speak of. Still, we precautionarily threw away some food that could, hypothetically, be a problem. We looked moth infestations up on the Internet. What did it say?

I don't know, something like "Wash everything. Vacuum everything. Throw away everything."


I could have guessed that.

I made a chocolate mocha latte and wrote this blog post. I'm hoping that will take care of the problem.

You can now read all the other bullshit on the Internet.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Addams Family and the Munsters

I have a t-shirt of The Addams Family. It doesn't say anything on it, it's just them, Morticia, Gomez, Pugsley, Wednesday, etc., in an in-the-know chibi version sort of way, which is to say they're all sort of short and cute. I wear it to work at the library. After all, I'm all about promoting our collection and quite a few books, movies, and TV shows we have feature The Addams Family. Well, I'm all about promoting the good parts of our collection. I merely try to be tolerant of the rest of it.

A woman came up to the front desk with her gaggle of children. Somehow, in all the activity, she spotted my t-shirt. "Look kids." She cried. "It's the Munsters!"

The Addams Family was a work of genius, in which a dark vision of the American family, anarchic, accepting of strangeness, interested in death, was revealed to be shining with love and beauty. It is one of the rare, truly healthy families depicted in a featured way in American culture, and the genius of it is that it is shown as the shadow of what we are and strive to be.

The Munsters are a generic sitcom family except they happen to be Monsters. It was a gimmick, like some TV producer looked at the Addams Family and thought: "They're missing out on a really good gimmick with all that grace and strangeness."

"No, this is the Addams Family." I corrected the woman. Then I went and got her two collections of the original New Yorker cartoons and season one of the TV show.

Hopefully her family can still be saved.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Top ten items on this list

Why, you may wonder, has it been so long since I have done a top ten list on this blog?

There are ten reasons I no longer do top ten lists on this blog.

1. They are too easy!

As a master blogger I find I have to challenge myself. A funny, easy to read list of ten items might be a pleasure to you, but for me it leaves me feeling unrecognized for my genius. Whereas if I write something weird, complicated, and difficult, my persistent obscurity seems a creation of my own willful obstinacy.

2. Their glib, giddy nature causes me to let my guard down and speak too frankly.

Did you read the explanation for item 1? That was an earful, eh?

3. No matter how good one is doing, one always comes to item three on the list, a mountain still to climb ahead, all one's best work so quickly in the past.

No explanatory content for this one. Don't you think it's self explanatory. I was thinking it was self explanatory.

4. I'm in this weird, creative eclipse.

I plod on waiting for some reconfigured vision to burst from my heart, but in the meantime, if I could come up with ten list items I'd probably better turn them into ten blog posts.

5. Item five always ends up being just a pale echo of item 3.

Did you read item three? Did you just discard it as an item on a top ten list? You might want to rethink that. It was a high water mark.

6. I'd forgotten how freeing it is.

It's funny no one reminded me. Might I direct your attention to our comment section.

7. I'd misplaced my chart on how to space things.

Is it one line between the numbered item and the explanation, with three spaced lines to the next number? Does it matter? 

Yes it matters! Of course it matters!

8. Ten is a lot.

Ask any nine year old. No, seriously, ask any nine year old because I don't know any and I'd like to know if I got this number eight more or less correct and I feel they'd be insightful.

9. (Eaten by seven)

10. What's the point. I could never come up with ten items for a top ten list these days anyway.

Wait. Seriously? This, this is ten? Why, I am deeply moved! What a journey. Thank you. Thank you all!