Daily Office:



Cosmopolitan: It is difficult to know what to expect of people who genuinely lack cosmopolitan aspirations.

Tracking: My very peachy son-in-law has let me in on a way of following my daughter’s flight from Amsterdam to New York. I must be the last guy on the block to know how to know about FlyteComm.com.


Satrap: All morning, I’ve been thinking about James A Johnson, the Obama campaign aide who just resigned in mild disgrace. What is it with the Democrats? Republicans do the same thing, but that’s their religion…


Flippi: Does anyone have one of these Vornado Flippi fans yet? They are the  coolest! 


Morning, cont’d

§ Cosmopolitan. That is my thought for the day. It was inspired by Eric’s engrossing entry at Sore Afraid.

One of my longstanding pet peeves is the expectation — mostly but not exclusively on the west coast — that Americans should be able to pronounce Spanish names and words in the correct manner, and I would put the word correct in quotes were it not guaranteed to trigger some angry e-mails from the anti-scare quotes faction. The absurdity of this idea is clear to me, so I refuse to play that game, and I say words like Nicaragua and Argentina using my Midland American accent.

Which is another way of saying that it is difficult to know what to expect of one’s own cosmopolitan aspirations. Mention of Neeca-rawa made me smile, because Fossil Darling is on his way to Manahwa this morning, for a family visit, and I could hear the voice of his late mother pronouncing the names of her birthplace and her homeland.

§ Tracking. I required a fair amount of hand-holding. I think I’m afflicted with the opposite of ADD: I pay too much attention too soon, and don’t continue to look. At FlyteComm.com, the window is divided vertically into panes. The top pane announces all the preliminary information, with the flight status “Scheduled” and the altitude “Zero.” Then there is one of those little the-plane-is-here mappy things, similar to the one that mesmerized me all the way across the Pacific Ocean in 1994. (I did take time out to watch The Joy Luck Club three times.) Well, when I checked the site a little while ago, the mappy pane placed the plane over the Irish Sea, but the status was still “Scheduled,” and the altitude was still “Zero.” Is this normal, I inquired?

Ryan’s very kind response boiled down to two little words: scroll down. What do you know! More panes! Altitude is still “Zero,” but the status is “In Flight,” and Megan has a few minutes over five hours left to go before she exchanges the delights of air travel for the charms of JFK.

The bottom plane, perhaps a little ominously, gives the flight’s status as “Arrived.” Whoa, there!

Noon, cont’d

§ Satrap. Mr Johnson appears to have arrived in Washington thirty-odd years ago, presumably in the pocket of fellow Minnesotan Walter Mondale, whose aide he was and whose unsuccessful presidential campaign he ran in 1984. When not working for an elected official, Mr Johnson has held jobs with Fannie Mae and the Kennedy Center — satrapies that border on being sinecures. All you need to run one of these shops is a very effective Rolodex, which, again presumably, Mr Johnson possesses.

Only, now, as it turns out, you need more that the ability to give good phone.

Is James A Johnson a “Washington insider”? Or is he a “creature”? I hope that Barack Obama will steer clear of such figureheads in future: the only way to uproot these tree stumps is to ignore them. When people stop taking the call, they’re not even useful as telephone poles.

Night, cont’d

§ Flippi. If forced to choose between an air conditioner and a fan, I will always choose the fan, because I must have moving air. It’s my gills, don’t you know. For several years, I’ve depended on powerful but not oversized Vornado fans to keep me comfortable. The one by my bedside runs in deepest December as well as in the summer, as long as I’m trying to sleep. Did I say “not oversized”? Well, that was before I got my first Flippi fan. It stands eight inches high and packs a wallop. And that’s the giant size!

The little ones come in a range of colors — reversing the iPod approach, which gives you color only when you go for size. I’m getting one in red for the kitchen. Boy, can I use a countertop fan in the kitchen. How would you like to cook in an unventilated closet?

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