In Which I Fix A Non-Broken Business Model


So the shop is called Muffler Man and, OK, that’s not a bad start. It lets you know clearly that at this shop you’ll be dealing with a man of some kind, and that he asserts to have some experience dealing with mufflers. That’s all very good stuff because you can trust a company whose name tells you what it does. The only thing that would improve it is if the name also included a location, like, “Lansing Muffler Man” or “Michigan Avenue Muffler Man”, because companies that tell you where they are usually know what they’re trying to do. When a company removes their geographic designator from the name that’s the first sign they’re going into providing services of some kind instead of doing anything useful. And if the name doesn’t mean anything it means they don’t want to do anything either, and if they are good at anything anymore it’s just inertia. They’ll screw it up as soon as they want to improve analysts’ ideas of their stock value. “Muffler Man”? Safe company to deal with. If if were, say, “Asperience”? Will never do anything that leaves you happy.

Thing is, you hear “Muffler Man”, you can’t help thinking that jingle about “Muffin Man”. So: why don’t they embrace that and start having muffins too? I haven’t had any real problems with my mufflers since I stopped buying $1,000 used cars from guys my dad knows. But if Muffler Man were a place to go and hang out and get something like muffins to eat — and I’m open to things in the greater muffin metropolitan area to eat too, such as cake-type brownies — I’d sure hang out there more than I do now. I bet I could find marginal excuses to have my muffler … looked at or whatever it is car repair people do with mufflers. The possibility is right there; what’s wrong with society that we’re not taking it?

Like I warn, though, this is just about making what’s already perfectly fine a little bit better. Muffler Man is not at all screwed up, as it is. I just think there’s more eating could be naturally associated with the experience is all.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose another sixteen points today in trading that’s just encouraging everybody’s Imposter Syndrome, so it isn’t like anybody is even happy about this.

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A Good Sign To See


First the routine news: comic strips on my mathematics blog. Plus I make reasons to include images of two of the comics so there’s no extra clicking through links for that. You like that, don’t you?

Now the exciting news. The auto care place that seems like it might be going through a slow-motion breakup announced by its sign board? It’s switched to this.

Auto Surgeon sign: No Act Of Kindness Is Ever Wasted
If that weren’t enough good news: they found a message that doesn’t require an ‘L’ or ‘7’ so they don’t have to use either of them upside-down to represent the other. I’m pretty sure that ‘W’ is a correct ‘W’ and not an upside-down ‘M’, based on how the vertical strokes on the ‘N’ appear.

Have to say, I don’t see how to read this except as a quiet announcement that there’s been some breakthrough in the cold-war-style relationship they’ve been working out. I’m glad. It’s been an awful year, compounding an absolutely brutal year. That an auto care place can have some chance at happiness can maybe be that first little flower proving that life will come again.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose a point after traders finally got around to listening to the Flophouse Podcast Movie Minute thing where Elliott pitches his Ziggy movie and they’re not sure if they’re more entertained or just awestruck by how he went on for seven and a half minutes possibly without taking a breath.

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Is The Auto Care Place Close To A Relationship Breakthrough?


If you don’t care, maybe you might look at my mathematics blog since I had a couple of activity puzzles included in the roster of comic strips there this week.

Now I know everyone’s interested in whatever drama is going on with the auto care place up the street. If you’re just joining us, I’m pretty sure the auto care place up the street is caught in an Ashleigh Brilliant-esque state of cheerful despair, and possibly communicating a nasty breakup through its signboard. Anyway, for about two months or so it was the neutral-enough “The Best Way To Predict Your Future Is To Make It”. And this past week we’ve gotten this:

Fear Of Rejection Is No Reason To Quit
No word given on whether the other reasons to quit are still good reasons to quit. For example I am so tired of writing “quite” when I meant to write “quit” and somehow found myself unable to quite.

Is the auto care place trying to send word to its ex-friend that, angry as they both are after the breakup, it is open and amenable to reconciliation and that any gesture of good will would be met kindly and without bitter, blame-casting comments? I don’t know, so here’s the rabbit statue in our garden getting ready to punch a tulip.

Garden statue of a rabbit sitting up, paws at the chest, in front of a red tupip, non-statue.
Fun fact: some of our tulips are from bulbs bought in Holland, Michigan, while others were bought in Holland, the Netherlands. We don’t remember which. I grant this is only slightly fun, but it is a fact, and isn’t that reassuring in these troubled times?

Thank you for reading.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose four points today just to show that it could and then went right back to where it had started from. Friends are growing concerned that it might be losing the ability to effortlessly socialize.

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Auto Care Center Sign Descending Further Into Despair


First, the non-despairing part: comic strips over on my mathematics blog! Includes twice as many Carpe Diem comics as you might have guessed, if you knew that was a comic strip.

And the signs on that auto care place on the corner? After what I thought was its message board going through a long, slow breakup? Well, it spent a month appealing for food donations and there’s nothing to joke about regarding that. But I guess they got the food donations and now have gone to this:

Auto Surgeon Inc sign: 2017 BELIEVE THAT WE WILL BE OK - HAPPY HOLIDAYS
No, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that the first letter in ‘WILL’ is a letter M hung upside-down. Why are you constantly asking about this? And there’s something going on with that ‘7’ but I have no idea what. I’m relieved it isn’t an upside-down ‘L’ is the important thing.

It would be a hopeful message of tranquility and future promise, yes, if it weren’t coming after the slow-bitter breakup message. And if it weren’t coming off a year that ranks favorably compared to 1945, when atomic bombs were used as weapons of war, or the peak years of the Taiping Rebellion or the Black Death, but not much else. I’m going in tomorrow and offer everyone there a hug.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index rose four points after traders stopped in the pet shop and saw a baby guinea pig yawning. I’m surprised the index only went up four points after that. Have you even seen a baby Texel? And add to that one that’s yawning?

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In Which I Generally Update Stuff


I got my new license plate tags on my car, which required taking the plate holder off, without needing the help of the auto care place on the corner that’s going through some messy drama based on my reading of their message sign. This is literally the first time I’ve managed to take the plate holders off and put them on again on my own.

Neither the Michigan Secretary of State nor the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission have communicated their anger to me. Also I’m still not in trouble over that jury duty thing.

Still not reading about the history of socks.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index drifted down this afternoon following a heated discussion about what to have for lunch and whether to go to another medium-price fast-dining option or to just accept that what everyone really wants is to go to McDonald’s and eat their weight in fries with ranch sauce and they know a place that’ll give you any of the dipping sauces just for asking. But there’s always the one person who thinks asking for dipping sauces when you aren’t getting Chicken McNuggets is imposing too much on the customer-cashier relationship, based on one time in 1996 for crying out loud that the cashier was all snotty and called them names for trying.

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The Drama At The Auto Care Place


So there’s a new message from the auto care place at the corner. It had, when I started paying attention, begun with the faintly despairing “Everything Is Going To Be Alright”. And in the time since then it’s gone to “The Cost Is Zero To Be A Decent Human Being”, then “We Can’t Save Everyone But Everyone Can Save Someone”, and then “Whether You Think You Can Or You Can’t You’re Right”. And now they’ve got a new one up:

Auto care place service sign: 'Mistakes Are Proof That You Are Trying'
Yes, it reads like they’re explaining why they’re still having trouble getting the transmission to shift right on that 2006 Acura, but I’ve only ever had good service from the place. Admittedly what I’ve needed from them is help getting my license plate holder off so I can put on new registration tags because the bolts I use to hold the plate on somehow rust into unremovable chunks every year. I have no explanation for this. They think they’ve got non-rusting bolts for the plate now.

I have to go back to my hypothesis that the message board is having a very slow, very bitter breakup with someone and is now trying to explain how it’s basically got its stuff together even if it’s screwing up on the little things. I worry that it isn’t going well. While it’s ordinarily admirable to admit when you made a mistake, especially one that set off a terrible fight, admitting it comes across rhetorically as the first step to declaring the mistakes don’t matter. It’s hard to own up to fumbling once the emotional shooting has got really going.

So in short, please read some talk about comic strips over on my mathematics blog. Thank you.

Waiting On The Auto Repair Sign


You might remember there’s an auto repair place down the street. I mean my street. I don’t know what’s down yours, and before you get all smug about that when’s the last time you checked yourself, mmm?

Last winter the auto repair place used its sign board to deliver a message of despairing optimism, that “Everything Is Going To Be Alright”. I think the tone came out wrong, but maybe I’m just seeing ambiguity where they didn’t intend it. They change it every couple months. Right after that was congratulations to somebody graduating and there’s no snarking on that. I forget what they went to after that one.

Auto service center sign: 'Everything Is Going To Be Alright [sic]'
I hadn’t even despaired before I saw this.

This winter they had “The Cost Is Zero To Be A Decent Human Being”. And this is a beautifully balanced message. It’s a reminder that the kind, gracious society, the one in which all people receive the dignity and decency that they need to thrive, is always at hand. It requires only that we each take a moment to remember the basic humanity of those around us, and that the cost of respecting that humanity is smaller than we fear. And on the other hand, it’s the perfect thing to yell in the quarrel that finally incinerates the corpse of a deceased friendship. “The cost is zero to be a decent human being, Lisa, and somehow that’s too much for you!”

Yesterday I noticed they had the ladder out, and they took down the reminder about the cost to be a decent human being. They haven’t put a new message up yet. But I’m eager to see what there is.