How Everything’s Turned Out (So far)


So, the Silver Bells parade was not destroyed by heavy rains, or even inconvenienced by severe cold, this time around. There was a little drizzling midway through but they were able to get through all ten or maybe eleven high school marching bands festooned in lights and playing “Jingle Bells” or “Angels We Have Heard On High”. Only two played “Jingle Bell Rock”.

We are now on what I believe is our fourth HD DVR since we had to switch to the modern era after our old TV exploded. I’m not sure about them all but I think the first one we sent back by mistake because apparently the company just assumed we had a HD satellite receiver what with it being 2017 and all. The second had this thing where the hard drive made a sound at about the same level as a jet engine taking off, all the time. The third was fine from April to about three weeks ago when it decided to put a spot in every program where it’d freeze up and crash. Tech support delighted me by suggesting that the problem might be how the DVR was plugged into a surge protector rather than the bare well. I’m still, a week later, occasionally thinking of that and grinning. I like bunkum when it’s imaginative and fresh and admire whoever had this preposterous idea all ready to deploy. It makes the hassle of trying to think of all the shows we set to record, and losing out on the season of Doctor Who we recorded and never got around to watching, kind of worth it? I guess?

I am still not reading about the history of socks.

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Friday Is Coming, We Hope


I don’t like to make promises of things I’m not sure can happen. I mean, I do it anyway, because work will send me tasks and if I started admitting how little I’m sure that I can accomplish anything this might encourage everyone to admit we’ve been bluffing our way through the world since fifth grade at the latest, and then where would we be? Sixth grade?

But. Here’s the important thing. Friday is supposed to be the next time the Silver Bells In The City parade marches through downtown Lansing. And the forecast has rain as a real, serious possibility. I can’t promise that the results will be as spectacular as last year, when a major storm rolled through and blew away dozens of marching bands and created a TV show experience I still want to give each and every one of you. I still haven’t seen if they have DVDs of last year’s parade. But yes, I’m hopeful, going in to this year’s spectacle. I mean, it’s already raining and so dark that a raccoon knocked on the side door and asked if we could turn on a light so she could see. So maybe we’ll get a fun dose of chaos, maybe.

Also I’m thinking of ways to weatherproof myself better, perhaps by wearing eight layers of raincoats, or perhaps getting a giant vinyl ball to move in. No, that’s probably a good way to end up washed down the street and into the Grand River. Must think seriously about this. You first.

Also, hey, I looked over some more mathematically-themed comic strips today so you can think about those instead.

Statistics Saturday: The Local News For Some Reason


Headlines from the Towne Courier, an advertisement-bearing special edition of the Lansing State Journal for the 5th of November, 2017, with “for some reason” suffixed.

  • Center City Project May Be Back On For Some Reason

  • Officials Put Cash For and Against East Lansing Tax Proposal For Some Reason

  • Throngs Flock To New Costco in East Lansing For Some Reason

  • Haslett-Okemos Rotary Announces Students of the Month For Some Reason

  • Okemos High School To Present ‘An Ideal Husband’ For Some Reason

  • Tri-County Office on Aging Dinner and Auction set for November 9 For Some Reason

  • Michigan State Unveils Tom Izzo Hall of History For Some Reason

    (This one probably makes more sense if you can be interested in college football, which I can’t, because I went to Rutgers.)

  • East Lansing Kiwanis Welcomes Sparty to Meeting For Some Reason

  • Youth One [ Library ] Card Gives Access to a Multitude For Some Reason

  • Barnyard Mystery has Bit of Romance, Dark Humor For Some Reason

  • Plan to Eat 100 McChickens in a Day is a Failure For Some Reason

  • Proposed 10-Story Building Draws Parking Concerns For Some Reason

In Which I Am Again Baffled By Modern Capitalism


So I was in Meijer’s, remembering to buy sandwich bags and forgetting to buy trash bags, because we’re in one of those occasional phases of life where we don’t have the right number of bags. I came upon a big pile of boxed consumer goods: a Michigan State University Spartans Crock-Pot.

I’m aware, Crock-Pot is an official licensed kitchen-appliance-themed product. We pretend that the non-trademarked name for them is “slow cookers”. And I’m aware that the Spartans are an official licensed university-themed product.

So there I stood, in front of a pile of Spartan Crock-Pots, pondering the box’s promise that this is “Officially Licensed”. Licensed by who? To who? Did someone at Spartan Master Command want the real Crock-Pot, trusting that nobody would buy a Spartan Slow Cooker? Did someone at Crock-Pot Master Command insist that, hey, this is the Lansing/East Lansing Market. We can’t make do with a University of Michigan/Flint Lansing Campus Crock-Pot?

Did they license to each other? Is this the future of capitalism, companies just looking for other companies they can swap licenses with, all in the cause of creating piles of small yet durable consumer goods between the aisles of discount department stores? I could use some help having a reaction to all this. Please come over. I’m by the Surprisingly Many Women’s Soaps aisle, curled up and weeping.

World Possibly Ending Sometime Wednesday


I know I’ll feel like a fool if we get to Friday and the world as we know it hasn’t ended, but I’ll deal with that if it comes. You know how your neighborhood has that vaguely creepy, inexplicable shop? Ours is this office supply shop. It’s got a faded poster for Fischer Space Pens on it, and a sign advertising their typewriter repair, and about four billion office chairs forming a sea of chair-space in the front half of the shop, and you never see anyone going into or out of it. Been there forever.

I have gone into it. We needed some manilla envelopes and I figured, hey, if I don’t patronize the weird local shops they might go under and we’ll have to rely on multinational-corporate creepy stores. Those are nowhere near as interesting, although they do have better bathrooms you can use. But it still seemed like a good idea so I went in, bumped my shin into fourteen different kinds of office chair, and eventually got to the cashier’s desk, in the middle of the shop, where nobody was.

And I stood, faintly anxious, and realizing that the store seemed to have a lot of desks and office chairs and typewriter supplies, but manilla envelopes? Not so clearly there. In back someone was talking on the phone, but I couldn’t make any sense of the conversation. Well, also I didn’t want to eavesdrop, since I was concluding the shop was a front maintained by aliens, possibly robot dinosaurs from another dimension, who were examining mid-Michigan most likely in advance of an invasion. Eventually someone wearing her finest human guise did come out, and was startled by me. I admitted my manilla-envelope needs and she went into the back room for what seems like too long, unless the room is much vaster inside than the laws of ordinary geometry would allow to fit in the building. She came back with four, not all the same color, and apologized that they were not properly manilla envelopes. She wrote out a receipt on one of those pads the waitstaff at a diner uses to scribble down nothing that looks like anything you ordered and a price that isn’t what the register actually rings up.

So yeah, secret portal back there where the alien robot dinosaurs keep enough office supplies to answer the curious venturer. Bear in mind, I didn’t let the manilla envelope thing stop me from ever stepping inside again. I went back a couple months later when we needed some security envelopes. Also this makes me realize our household envelope need is bigger and more diverse than I thought. But once again it was a good five awkward minutes before a “clerk” came out of the “back room” to see how to get me out of the base with as few suspicions raised as possible. And he had to go in back again for a dusty box of security envelopes and wrote out a receipt by hand for it all.

Wednesday, the local alt-weekly says, they’re going to be closing up their office-supply-store cover operation. The paper was vague about why they’re closing up just now, but my love reports that their Facebook page says … in July … some grumbling things about the landlord selling the building. Ah, but, before that: the news that their typewriter repair guy is back. And before that? That their typewriter repair guy is going to be out for “surgery” a while. That takes them to the start of the year.

So, I have to figure, the cover story of being an office furniture and typewriter repair shop has outlived its utility, and they’re going on to the next phase of their operation, and we’re going to have to live with the consequences. I’m figuring to spend the day no closer than Grand Rapids.

I Suppose You Could Call Them, But How?


Spot of news that makes me curious: the Lansing police reported that their non-emergency phone line was down. This didn’t affect 9-1-1 emergency service, naturally. But it’s got me wondering: how did they find out the non-emergency phone wasn’t working? I picture someone calling over, say, the house down the street somehow still setting off fireworks two flipping months after Independence Day and realizing nothing was going on, and then making a desperate run down the street and turning the corner and running up the avenue and into the police headquarters, gasping and collapsing on the desk to sign in and get their stuff scanned by the metal detector, and then picking it all up and running up to the elevator, and then waiting for the cab to get down, and then jogging in place for the ride up to the fifth floor, and then dashing in to say, “The non-emergency phone line is down!” What else would there be to do?

Yeah, I know, I know. they probably just tweeted or sent a message to the city police’s Facebook page. Social media ruins all the good stuff. Still no idea where that house is even getting fireworks from this late in the year.

Good News For The Ox, For Now


And then this came along in the local alt-weekly:

Thursday marks the 72nd consecutive summer the citizens of DeWitt have come together to celebrate the Annual DeWitt Ox Roast. Hosted by the DeWitt Memorial Association, the festival will not roast an actual ox, but all proceeds will be used to support the city.

Apparently they used to roast an ox, but haven’t in a while, and the article doesn’t see fit to say when they stopped. I’m fine with that. They do offer this:

“We’re bringing in something new this year,” said [DeWitt Memorial Association President Dave] VanArsdall, “They’re called body bubbles.” Encased from the waist to the armpits in a rubber ball, festival goers can don pot-belled suits to bounce off their friends and family.

I am sad to have missed this event. Also I’m sad that they’re thinking of maybe getting an ox to roast for the 75th Ox Roast. Oxen have it hard enough. Why go bothering them?

Meanwhile In Town


The trading floor alluded to this yesterday. But Saturday there was some kind of open-air smooth-jazz festival going on down at the Armory, which is a couple miles away from here. I’m assuming it was open-air. If it wasn’t then the performers have to have obliterated the Armory with the force of sound alone. It was loud enough out here to recognize individual songs, which only got weird when someone started performing, for some reason, “Smoke On The Water” and that isn’t even me joking.

Besides a couple stray bits of that, though, the whole Eastside spent the day smothered under a blanket of background-worthy music. It finally ended around 9:30 in the evening, when someone thought to press a button and we finally moved, letting dozens of blocks of Lansing get out on the second floor.

As you’d figure there’s complaining about this on the neighborhood Facebook community. My love tells me there’s a sharp division between people who are annoyed at hour after hour of extremely soft jazz rattling their houses, and those who are annoyed at hour after hour of extremely soft jazz rattling their houses but think the complainers are just too old to enjoy music. You know, the hit music of DuPont industrial shorts from 1962. I’m only getting the good bits of the dispute, but that’s a good bit. And I haven’t made up a bit of this.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose sixteen points today and then Lisa came back from some kind of lunchtime meeting about her proposed TV show and you do not want to get anywhere near that. Neither did the index, which fell five points after all that went down so we settled in at about an eleven-point rise.

370

In Which I’m Afraid I Just Let You All Down, But Argue It’s Captain Janeway’s Fault


We got back and were just settling in after the amusement park stuff, but then my love turned on the TV and what do you know but Star Trek: Voyager was on? And not just any moment of its, like, 850,000 hours of talking about chronometric isofluctuations, but the scene that made My Love finally decide to hate Captain Janeway with the white-hot intensity of a thousand burning transwarp macrophases? So we’ve been busy watching that instead and trying to remember stuff about Voyager without looking it up. Remembering stuff is a fun old pastime, something done today mostly by podcasters recording a live episode while on stage when they’re away from their cell phones. We do it recreationally. Anyway, we’ve been trying to remember exactly what the deal with B’elanna was. Our best estimate right now is that she’s half-Klingon and half- … smart? That seems right but that can’t be everything, right? Research continues, at least until we hit that episode where Janeway and whats-his-name get turned into space lizards. That one happened, right? Actually I’d watch that again. It was awful but in the good ways.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index was not traded today as everyone wanted to get to a Lansing Lugnuts ball game while the weather was nice. Was the weather nice? We’ll tell you when they get back.

UNCH

Me Week: Around Town


Carrying on pointing out old stuff I’ve done: somewhere along the way I learned that I live in an interesting area. I mean, I’m probably the sort of person who can’t help finding the place he lives interesting, because I love looking at things and the harder you pay attention the more you notice how much of it doesn’t quite make sense. But for a while I was cagey about saying just where I was, lest A Chaos Fairy send agents out after me. But eventually I got to see the appeal of using my actual location for stuff.

The first breakthrough? Escape to Lansing,, inspired by a web site the city put together for a trade group sent to South By Southwest. It left me with all sorts of questions like whether other cities have business districts that support the existence of screen doors.

Anyway, Trending In Mid-Michigan continues on that thread, and mixes it with some of the local history that I’ve gotten to learn about. Also a really big piece of coal that might or might not be right by the pet shop with the river of giant koi you can feed. I went on the next week to look at more stuff that isn’t actually in town anymore, or that is a little bit inaccessible because there isn’t really a good street crossing near it.

And, finally, what the heck. Curiosities on the Highway observes some stuff from 70 miles per hour. They raised the speed limit in some areas to 75 now.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

After rising twelve points in brisk market talk traders for the Another Blog, Meanwhile index paused, looked at each other, and asked “what have done?” because, wow, 281? How could it have got up this high from a humble origin at like 100?

281

Advertising-Wrapping Newspaper Continues Demands


If the Lansing City Community News demanding that I explain why New York execs are investing in Lansing’s fledgling fashion industry was a start, then this is a continuation. The next week’s installment of the four page “edition” of the Lansing State Journal starts out:

Investors are bringing their millions to Lansing. Here’s why

Alexander Alusheff

LANSING – Three multi-million dollar venture capital firms have opened in Greater Lansing in the past six months.

Investors from Ann Arbor and New York have come to invest in businesses started at Michigan State University and even local fashion designers.

The number of early stage investment firms in Greater Lansing now stands at six, on par with the Grand Rapids region.

The question is: Why?

The article goes on to explain there’s a bunch of venture capital firms intersted in Lansing now. There used to not be so many interested, and that was all right, but now there are more, and that’s all right too. What I really spot, though, are the points that Alusheff clearly got a note from someone that they just ran a piece about the fashion industry being invested in and made sure to mention that; and that the headline didn’t bother punctuating the “Here’s why” even though it’s so close to the period at the end of the first sentence. I’m not going to be staying up all night worrying about that now that I’ve seen it! Ha ha!

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index dropped eleven points and oh you would think it was the end of the world or something. Oh, the howling, oh the complaining, and meanwhile is anyone even looking at the futures market? No, because someone got the bright idea to start selling peeks at the futures market at 25 cents a pop and now suddenly everyone’s scared they’re going to run out of quarters. Really makes you wonder if a trading floor is worth the bother.

201

Also the Other, non-Alternative Free Weekly is Getting Demanding


So for once I don’t have something to say from the pages of the local alt-weekly. I’ve got something from the pages of the main-weekly. I mean, the Lansing City Community News, which is four pages of human-interest articles indifferently ripped from the Lansing State Journal and wrapped around a bunch of coupons for stuff we have never needed but go through every week just in case. The big headline for last weekend’s issue was:

Why are New York execs investing in Lansing’s fledgling fashion industry?

I’ve rarely felt so threatened by a free four-page weekly newspaper I don’t really read. I worry I have to have an answer. What if the Community News editor spots me on the street, pushes me to the ground, and sits on my chest, demanding, “Well? Why are New York execs investing in Lansing’s fledgling fashion industry? Huh? Better have an answer, mister!” And I’ll just sit there, sputtering. “I don’t know! I have nothing to do with Lansing’s fledgeling fashion industry! I don’t even know any New York execs! I went to college with someone who’s an editor for the Hollywood Reporter, I think, but that’s it! I don’t know!” And then he’ll threaten to stuff my mouth full of coupons for dollar store Frozen-brand expanding towels and Finley’s Grill and Smokehouse.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose another eight points to a new all-time high after Another Blog, Meanwhile traders spent the whole early afternoon reading the Commodities news page on Reuters.com which always makes them feel smarter. Like, here’s this piece about the top grains traders working out what sort of industry consolidation might best respond to a worldwide supply glut. Don’t you feel more in touch with the financial world just letting your eyes glaze over that sentence? So you see why they’re feeling so good.

211

Sorry For The Late Notice


Really am sorry, folks, but I only noticed this in the classifieds of our local alt-weekly and it’s an exciting opportunity. The City of Lansing, Michigan, is looking for someone who can supply it with bituminous material. You have to have your offer of the stuff turned in by Tuesday afternoon, so there probably isn’t time to go checking everything in your storage locker for signs of bituminosity. But if you have some on hand, this is your chance! Don’t miss it. You never know when fair-sized mid-Michigan cities will need material that’s got even one tuminous to it again. Bituminous is a special treat.

B/17/084 BITUMINOUS MATERIAL as per the specifications provided by the City of Lansing. The City of Lansing will accept sealed bids at the CITY OF LANSING, c/o LBWL, PURCHASING OFFICE, @ 1232 HACO DR.; LANSING, MICHIGAN 48912 untail 2:00 PM local time in effect on MAY 2, 2017 at which time bids will be publicly opened and read. (Then some more text about where to find the specifications.)
Yes, of course I wonder why the City of Lansing finds itself in need of bituminous materials in such an all-fired hurry, but they didn’t offer an explanation and I don’t feel our relationship is such that I can just barge in and ask. I mean, goodness, I’ve never even been introduced to Stephanie Robinson, I can’t go saying, “Hey! What are you up to with all the bituminous material already?” Heck, I live down the street from the alt-weekly’s offices and I don’t feel like I can ask them how they managed to spell it “untåil” in the eleventh line there. The City of Lansing Purchasing Office is way beyond me.

Also there was something about blueberry pies on Friday but we both missed that.

Finally over on my mathematics blog I just went crazy solving a puzzle from a FoxTrot Sunday strip and believe me, you want to see that. Someone does.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index was slightly up today as traders found all kinds of material in their junk drawers and had expectations that at least some of it will be bituminous. What are the odds that none of it would be? Exactly. It just can’t happen.

127

I Got Nothing


I confess: I’m doing a terrible job Christmas-shopping this year. Oh, the big item was easy enough. Just go down to the Christmas store and pick out one December 25th and arrange to have it delivered. I got the Sunday model this year. As a kid I was always torn between whether Sunday or Monday Christmases were the best. A Monday Christmas had the great fun of Advent being as short as it could be, plus, going right from the 4th Sunday of Advent services Sunday morning straight to Christmas Eve mass in the evening. But with a Sunday Christmas you get to burn the Advent candles for the whole fourth week. In hindsight I understand why everyone treated me that way in middle school.

But past arranging to have a Christmas it’s been a rough time thinking what to get people. I blame myself. I went through a stretch last decade where I gave everybody calendars all the time because, hey, who doesn’t need large pieces of paper with a grid of numbers on them? Sure, we all do. Page-a-day calendars are great because my father could get all way to January 17th before forgetting to look at the Far Side of the day. Month-by-month calendars are great because they don’t make any sense.

I mean, you maybe don’t remember what day it is, but put up a sheet of paper with up to 31 plausible candidates for the month and suddenly you’re able to keep it straight. If that doesn’t keep you up nights wondering how that screwed-up bit of psychology works maybe it will now. I’m assuming you aren’t one of those people that crosses off a date once it’s been used and if you are don’t tell me. It’ll force me to lead a rescue expedition for your calendars and I might grab your paperback books just to make sure you don’t crack their spines and I already have enough paperback books in the basement that it’s sunk two feet from where it started.

Despite calendars’ unquestionable properties as useful things that can be given I sensed I’d reached my lifetime limit for giving them. I got to hearing sharp jokes about them, and by jokes I mean sticks, and by hearing I mean “being jabbed in the belly”, and by “about them” I mean “from family members who are not going to start reading Rob Harrell’s Big Top no matter how much I’m sure they would like the January 22nd one”. Put that sentence back together and see if it doesn’t make sense. I’ll wait.

I can tell you what I want to give people. I just don’t know that it exists. But we saw the TV broadcast of the Silver Bells parade from last month. It was mostly like what being at the event was, except we weren’t being rained on while watching the rebroadcast. As the program went on you could see and hear more and more rain pouring down. The rain got to drowning out the news anchors trying to tell us which high school marching bad was doing Jingle Bell Rock [*]. I mean the sound of the rain, but then the rain got even more drown-y and they had everyone flee the parade. Thing is the last minutes of the broadcast —

Someone running through the rain-soaked street that would otherwise be a parade.
Silver Bells 2016: I’m still getting water out of my boots. I maybe need new boots. They’re not draining through the holes fast enough anymore.

Well. They left the camera running, but didn’t have any audio. They switched to playing something that wasn’t quite any identifiable Christmas carol. It was what you probably get when Santa puts you on hold. And through all this they showed people running desperately across the streets trying not to drown in the rain. After a couple minutes of that they gave up entirely and put a text crawl on-screen explaining that unfortunately severe weather forced the abandonment of the parade, but it was still a fantastic experience. The text crawl, the not-quite-music, the images come together to look like the tag scene where the war movie tells you how many of the battalion ever saw home again. And they’re looking forward to next year!

Anyway if they sell this on DVD I’m giving that to everybody I know, possibly every year for the rest of my life. I can do that now. Most of my family now lives in other states, well outside of stick range.

[*] Fewer than we expected but the parade did get cut short.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index did not lose eight points over the course of the day. Instead it distributed eight points to some lucky readers. Could it be you? Check under your seat — not now, wait for it — and see if you have a point there. OK, now look!

108

When My Parade Got Rained Upon: A Quick Photo Essay


So, Lansing has this little downtown event the Friday before Thanksgiving. Silver Bells in the City. An after-dark parade ending with Santa arriving before Thanksgiving because who’s crazy enough to do a nighttime event in mid-Michigan weather after Thanksgiving, a little street festival, Santa Claus holding court in the City Market, that sort of thing. And then this past weekend …

Truck towing a lit-up ... I'm not sure; it looks like a porch wrapped with lights and wreaths and stuff. Light rain, nothing too bad.
The Silver Bells electric light parade has been going for twenty years now, not continuously. Normally it’s on the coldest night of the winter, but this year it started on a night that was like 70 degrees.

At the Silver Bells In The City electric-lights parade and State Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. 7:13 pm.

Light-decorated float with Lansing Lugnuts ball players and their mascot, Big Lug, in heavier rain.
Apparently the Lugnuts were going to be named something like the River Dragons until someone pointed out there were already about fourteen teams named “Dragons” in our division of minor-league baseball. Also there used to be a companion Little Lug dragon that has just been missing and unremarked-upon for decades now.

At the Silver Bells In The City electric-lights parade and State Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. 7:17 pm. The walrus-y figure there is Big Lug, the kind-of dragon-y mascot for the Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball team. The tusks are lug nuts or something poking out. The team name made more sense back when they were playing at Oldsmobile Park.

In the heavy rain people race towards City Hall, we figure, or something about that good. Blurry and unfocused.
And at this point I just started snapping pictures wildly because it was so funny and most of them don’t get that spirit of running crazily for what we hope is going to be shelter somewhere. I’d apologize that the picture is blurry but the night was blurry at that point.

At the Silver Bells In The City electric-lights parade and State Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. 7:19 pm. Like twenty second later on as we all race for any kind of shelter. Where? We had no idea. My love saw a single isolated shoe left on the flooded streets. I didn’t see it even though I was following close behind. It was a bit mad.

Meanwhile this reassuring tweet went out. You know you’re having a good time when you get the instruction, “Please get to safety”.

Crowds of people inside City Hall trying to dry off a bit. My camera's fogging up and there's raindrops on the lens and everything.
And here inside City Hall there was relative dryness and shelter and off to the right a fife band that I guess they’d had standing by for just this sort of contingency? I don’t know. Also they had a popcorn stand because again huh? By the elevator bank they had stockings hung, each with the name of some municipal department — Finance, Public Service, that sort of thing — on them.

At the Silver Bells In The City electric-lights parade and State Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. 7:23 pm. Also so apparently they had emergency fife bands ready just in case everything outside was cancelled and they had a slice of a hundred-thousand-person mob in City Hall who needed something to mill around in front of?

The still-unlit tree, in the dark. The five-foot-tall star topper is tilted way over, looking a little drunk.
So this was the first year they had a topper for the Christmas Tree, this nice five-foot-tall three-dimensional star. A half-hour after the storm front moved through it wasn’t quite so level as it had been.

At the Silver Bells In The City electric-lights parade and State Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. 7:43 pm, after the worst of the winds had blown through.

So we were laughing about being through all this through to about mid-day Sunday when we were finding dollar bills in our wallets were still damp and we’re still seized with a couple giggles. In the meanwhile have you seen my humor blog and its talk about comic strips? It hasn’t got any nearly so dramatic pictures, I admit.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Although the Another Blog, Meanwhile index remains below par the alternate index did rise five points on the day. Analysts credit this to traders finding and doing an archive-binge on Jonathan Larsen’s fantastic newsletter that we’ll just call The Fing News because we are careful about the sort of language we use here. More perceptive analysts point out they’ve known about the thing since it started way earlier this year and there’s no reason to pretend they only just discovered it now. Both are legitimate points to make. Anywhere here’s Larsen’s main Twitter account if you’d like to see that too.

88

While Waiting At Rite-Aid For Fifteen Minutes After The Flu Shot


They used to have a TV set here, didn’t they? Little thing here in the seating area outside the vaccination room. I remember they were always showing that afternoon chat show. You know. Four Women Excited That Bradley Cooper Will Be Stopping By Later. He’s never with the four women excited. He’s always supposed to be on a later segment, or maybe later this week, or maybe next week. No idea why they’d take out the TV set. People would watch that. Maybe Bradley Cooper finally stopped by and they’re retooling the show. Four Women Excited That Idris Elba Will Be Stopping By Later would have to be at least as popular, I’d think. No reason to take the set out.

Boy even for a free “health magazine” that’s all advertisements for prescription drugs this “health magazine” has a lot of advertisements for prescription drugs. Great set of tips for people buying sunglasses in October. I guess four sentences is enough for people doing that. We’re just going to have a hazy cloudy cover through to about April anyway and nobody sells cloudglasses worth anything these days.

Got to be something else here. Wonder what the Wi-Fi password is. ‘riteaid’? … no. ‘RiteAid’? … no. ‘Rite_Aid’? … no. They say there’s Wi-Fi in the store, why don’t they tell us what … it can’t be ‘password’, can it? While it can be, it is not. Good to have that sorted out.

Well, I can wander around some. If I collapse in the store they’ll send someone around to smoosh a mop against me. Hey, one of those Classic Video Game units-in-one thingies. Those are tempting. What do they have for the Atari? Oh, Tank. Tank II. SuperTank. Color SuperTank. Hm. Why don’t they ever have the god-awful games like E.T. or Superman? I bet they’re way less totally unplayable now that I have motor control and can read the eight-page instruction book. I’m in practice from all those grand strategy games. They have, like, an eighty-page instruction book that explains you can start a trade with another nation by clicking on the ‘diplomacy’ tab and clicking the ‘start trade’ button. They never explain whether putting a pile of rare earth metals on your side means you’re offering a pile of rare earth metals or whether you’re asking for them. So there’s never any guessing why your deal is getting rejected, until you give up even trying. Oh, Pong II. Hey, I remember that time at that boring con the only thing to do was play with this thing in the video game room. There was that whole baseball game where I never had any idea whether I was batting or pitching. And I drew a crowd of appreciative watchers, none of whom could tell either. We had similar results with the football game. And the guy who owned it asked if I wanted to take it home and I didn’t realize he was trying to give it away. It was easier playing games as a kid. You just argued with your siblings over whose turn it was, and punched. Didn’t even need the game.

“Now Better Crunch! Easier To Bite!” That’s a heck of a claim there, pack of granola bars. I bet they did it a chintzy way. I bet they nerfed the granola bars’s mouth-evasion AI. That’ll be convenient in some ways, I guess. I’ve had enough granola bars leap away from my lips and into my forehead, my left kneecap, into the mantle clock, over to the squirrel feeder. Too many light snacks have been ruined by my needing to disguise my mouth behind something that doesn’t trigger the granola bar’s fears. Maybe a picture of John Harvey Kellogg. Maybe a TV showing Four Women Excited That Chris Pratt Will Be Stopping By Later.

Ah, the local alt-weekly, that’s something. So … OK, why is the City of Lansing holding a tender to buy Harley-Davidsons? The city dates to 1847. It’s too old for this sort of midlife crisis. Oh, good, Dave still has his Reasonable Lawn-Mowing service going. Far better than those people who charge, like, four hundred thousand dollars and mow the lawn by beating it with an unchewable granola bar.

Maybe the password is “RiteAid” followed by whatever the store number is.

OK, what time is it? I should be able to leave in … thirteen minutes.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index rose a point just to see what all the noise up there was about. (It was an accident. They didn’t know their subwoofer was turned all the way up.)

134

Exciting News For Lansing Model Railroading!


The noon news mentioned a building being moved, like that was a normal thing that could happen in the real world. It’s the old Michigan Avenue Tower, a railroad switching station no longer in use because railroads have had kind of a rough time the last 115 years. The moving’s being done by the Lansing Model Railroad Club, and they got permission and everything, as far as the noon news knows. Someone with the club mentioned how they were looking to restore it and maybe even use it as a control room for their layout.

This demands we ask: how big is their model train layout? I don’t know, but it turns out the Lansing Model Railroad Club has its headquarters in Delta Township, one of the suburbs. The city of Lansing, Michigan, spreads out over two or possibly three counties, depending on a very boring debate you can have about municipal government organization. But either way, they couldn’t fit their layout inside the city and had to go where the land was cheaper. And now they need a two-storey building relocated from Old Town in order to run it all.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped today after analysts realized it hadn’t done that yet and if it doesn’t go down sometimes then nobody is going to feel it’s special when it goes up anymore.

107

Mysteries Found While Strolling The Neighborhood


Set by the curb: a trash bin, a recycling bin, and a good-sized rock that probably belongs there.
I understand throwing out the big green recycling bin. You have to set a hard line on those things; they keep coming back again and again.

Why would somebody throw away a perfectly good rock? You know I bet this is how this community lost that lump of coal “as big as the front seat of a car” that was on Grand River avenue somewhere.

Meanwhile on my humor blog, I’d like to share the past week’s mathematically-themed comic strips and talk about them. But there weren’t any! The newspaper-grade comic strips I read didn’t give me anything to talk about there. I talked anyway, but good luck making sense of that.

A Name To Be Reckoned With


I saw that Sports Authority didn’t get any bids for its stadium naming rights. Somebody else brought it up. I wasn’t prying. I was vaguely sad about Sports Authority going bankrupt, what with how I kept thinking I might go buy one of those nice slick-looking exercise shirts for years without doing it. I didn’t think I had the figure to wear one just yet and I didn’t want to go buying two of them, one for now and one for when I could look good wearing it. But I don’t blame myself for Sports Authority going bankrupt since I don’t think I’m to blame. It would be at least four shirts and a pair of ankle weights that they needed to sell to make the difference. And I already got ankle weights, back in 2010. They’ve been satisfying. They fit well on the shelf in the basement where they can fall onto my toes when I’m trying to get a can of fossilized paint. I forget where I bought them. Anyway, I was willing to let them go to wherever expired companies go without further action.

It was Consumerist.com that told me an asset auction turned up no bidders for their stadium naming rights. Also that they had stadium naming rights, for Mile High Stadium in Denver. I hadn’t heard the Broncos had sold their stadium name but that figures. Corporations like to graffiti just like any of us do. By paying an exposition authority they can get away with it just like the rest of us don’t. Here I have to divert for a real thing that I saw when I was living in Singapore years ago. I didn’t notice any noteworthy graffiti for months which is not a tautology because shut up. When I did spot one, it was spray-painted on a steel girder at a construction site. It read, “I Love Singapore”. Nice trolling, whoever you were.

Maybe I’m numbed to the selling of naming rights to everything. It’s hard to avoid, anyway. Sports venues and like got named for the team that got them built. Or at least the union-busting rich people that bought the place after the team went bankrupt. Or for lumps of matter you could put in your mouth and chew. If that didn’t suffice you could name them for geographical features, which is how we got Madison Square Garden or Mile High Stadium. I’m not saying the geography names were all that good. Madison Square Garden hasn’t been near Madison Square since Coolidge was President. I assume that’s because of a primitive 20s form of Gentrification. Mile High Stadium is actually only eight feet above ground level, owing to the high cost of stilts. But they offered a kind of certainty. They were named for places and you could be pretty sure about places being around. This was before we discovered continental drift and marketing.

And it is marketing. Corporations figure they want people to like them more. I can sympathize. It’s hard liking corporations. They’re not really about doing things that serve any particular good. They’re mostly about holding the rights to leverage real estate transactions. And who cares for that? It doesn’t matter what a company says it is. It’s just an operating entity existing on behalf of a holding company that’s really in it for the leverage. So you can understand how a corporation would try to make itself look better. They pick hanging around professional athletes. That way they can tie their image to an event that will end with any given consumer’s preferred team losing about half the time, and failing to achieve a championship most of the time. This reminds us that corporations how we as people organize to justify doing dumb or offensive stuff. Some places are astounding at naming rights. Lansing’s baseball stadium sold the park’s name to a law school and the field itself to an insurance company. They don’t seem to have thought to sell the name for the stands, or I just didn’t notice. I can’t wait for them to sell the naming rights for the slow-moving line of confused people at the hummus vendor’s.

Still, I’m surprised to learn nobody wanted to buy the Mile High Stadium naming rights. I’d imagine someone to try just for the fun of it. I’m thinking of starting a collection. Between me and all my friends we could probably put up literally hundreds of dollars to the cause of buying me the naming rights for Mile High Stadium. And I know what you’re thinking, that we’d come up with some hilarious syllable goo and pretend that’s the name for the place. First level thinking. We need better. I’m figuring to name it after some other stadium, like, Giants Stadium at Mile High Stadium. Or the Boston Commons Candlestick Veterans Park at Mile High Stadium. It’s at least as good as any other name.

Hm. Maybe I need a little more. I should sell the idea rights to this name.

Stuff In Town That I Won’t See


Last week around these parts I mentioned this huge lump of coal. It was dropped off a train in Lansing over a century ago. It was around in 1976 to take school bus tour groups to. Now it isn’t there. As far as I can tell. I want to give a full report about the spot where it’s supposed to be, so I can say what’s there now. Maybe the coal was gone but it had been replaced with a heaping pile of bauxite, for example, or perhaps potash. Maybe jute or some naval supplies. But I didn’t have the chance to get over there. Well, I got in the area, since it’s near the pet store. But I had to go over to the pet store under emergency circumstances. They didn’t allow for a side trip to go looking for deposits of cinnabar or whatever. But I looked at the place on Google Maps Streetview and I didn’t see anything. I think.

But lumps of missing coal aren’t all the interesting stuff described in Helen E Grainger’s 1976 book Pictorial Lansing: Great City On The Grand. I think there’s supposed to be a colon there. The cover isn’t quite clear. I’m sure it’s not Pictorial Lansing Great City On The Grand That Changed The World. The book’s got, for example, a picture of Ransom Olds’s mansion. He’s the person who invented the Oldsmobile. Just like you might guess if you were bluffing your way through the question “Who invented the Oldsmobile?” and you rejected “Biddle Jehoshaphat Mobile” for no good reason. The Olds mansion was torn down in 1966 to make way for an Interstate, which is a wee bit on-the-nose, people. The mansion had an Aeolian organ that was “sold and delivered to Oregon”. So if anyone in Oregon’s seen an Aeolian organ and doesn’t know where it’s come from, here’s a lead.

Then there’s the Lions Den. It’s also known as “The Lawrence Mansion”, “Squire Haven’s 1861 House”, and “Brauer’s 1861 House”. It is “now, in 1976, the oldest building in Michigan that has a restaurant in it”. Somehow the phrasing of that sentence makes me doubt my conceptual model of restaurants. It shouldn’t. There’s nothing revolutionary about the idea of a restaurant that doesn’t take up a whole building. Or a building that doesn’t have a restaurant. The phrasing just fills me with doubts. I don’t know. Anyway, a neat feature of the 1861 Lawrence Brauer Squire Haven 1861 Mansion House is a glass on top. The book says “the day [construction workers] finished it, all the working crew had a drink from a wine glass and then one of the workers climbed up and put this little wine glass upside down on top of the spire that goes up in the sky from the cupola”. The next page has a picture of the glass on the cupola on the spire on the building on whatnot.

It’s also gone. My love did some research and found that the glass was replaced at least once. And it was painted over and paint-welded to the spire at least once. And sometime last decade the building got declared architecturally unsound. It was down before it could slide downriver and crash into an Interstate. They were planning to build condos there, if I have it right, and then noticed it was 2008 so they decided to instead not build condos.

Now for something that is still there. I know it is because I keep seeing it along Michigan Avenue. But never up close because it’s on the median and there’s not anywhere nearby enough to park without looking weird. I’m glad the book tells me what it is so I don’t have to go experience it myself. It’s a blurry copper-I-guess plaque on a stone that doesn’t look at all like coal and if the book is right it reads:

This block of concrete represents the efforts of Lansing’s pioneer residents in the laying of one of the first and longest stretches of concrete pavement in the world, between Lansing and East Lansing.

That’s like four miles, downtown-to-downtown. Grainger didn’t know when the plaque was put up. The Highway Commissioner named took office in 1933, so, probably it wasn’t 1931, but otherwise who knows? Can we rule out 1954 in its entirety? But that’s all right, because Grainger didn’t know when the concrete pavement was put down either. She guessed not later than 1914. So I want you to appreciate all this. It’s a plaque I technically speaking have not read, put up sometime we do not know, commemorating an event that happened at some time we do not know. I’m not saying this is the funniest thing in the world. I’m saying this is one of the more giggle-worthy things I’ve run across in easily twenty-two days.

So in all, I would like to say that here in mid-Michigan, there are things, or used to be, and that isn’t so bad an arrangement.