Changing the margins


leftovers & links
Wednesday, April 5, 2023

In a long text conversation with my brother Dick a few days ago, I learned a piece of family history I'd never heard. When he was 5 and I was an infant, Dick was mauled by the family dog. There was lots of blood, lots of stitches, and he needed emergency surgery to put his eyeball back into the socket. There are no scars on his face, so the surgeon must've done a good job.

"Did the family at least get rid of the dog?" I texted back.

The family did *not get rid of the dog. 

Maybe Dick had been teasing the critter. Little kids do that sometimes, but so frickin' what? If the family dog chews a kid's face, you get rid of the dog — don't you? Not in my family…

I texted my mom to ask why we didn't get rid of the dog, and she only barely remembered the incident at all. "Yes, I remember we rushed Dickie to the hospital, and he needed surgery, but I don't remember the dog."

The next day she texted me that she *did remember the dog, and everyone liked the dog so much they just couldn't bear to get rid of it."

I used to like baseball a lot. Still kinda do, but less and less, and here's a sliver of why.

On the local big league team's opening weekend, I clicked the radio on, to listen to the play-by-play. It's an old habit, but I alway7s forget that times have changed. The game was already underway, and the first thing I heard was, "And after two innings, your Home Town Bank score is…" 

Home Town Bank pays big wads of money to have the play-by-play announcers *never say what the score is. Instead, during every game, they'll only say what the Home Town Bank score is. I grew up with baseball, so I still care a little what the score is, but I do not and never will care even microscopically what the Home Town Bank score might be.

If you're keeping Home Town Bank score at home, you might remember that I complained about the Home Town Bank score last summer. I'll keep complaining about it every time I hear it, but I don't expect to hear it very often. I clicked it off and the game went on without me, as it will all summer.

On the brighter side of baseball, I've just discovered that a minor league team plays in a county park on my side of town, and they have "$3 Thursdays" — beer, hot dogs, nachos, and fish sticks are only $3 each.

The ticket, though, still costs $12, and that's a lot, so I'm undecided. What'll make up my mind is probably the size of the crowd — if the stands are full, fun is highly unlikely. Give me a half-full stadium, and maybe I'll be there.

Hi, Doug Holland,

Welcome to your new digest from Microsoft Viva.

Oh, let us dance jovially. I've been autosubscribed to yet another un-asked-for Microsoft service, this time shoving "Microsoft Viva Insights" at me, promising to check my to-dos, set up a dashboard, see who's in my network, configure settings, etc.

Microsoft might not be the world's most evil company — they try, but there's so much competition — but they're the company that most aggressively aims its evil at me.

"Do you want to turn on sticky keys?" MS has been asking me that question for thirty years, and I never want to turn on sticky keys.

At my job, a popup appears at random all day long, asking if I want to use Microsoft Search, which again, I don't know or care what it is.

Everything Microsoft does, others do better, like the undeleteable Edge browser, the rarely helpful Cortana inquiry box, the insufferable but default-selected Bing search engine, and Microsoft Word. 

I'm forced to use MS Word at work, and I spent a week trying to figure out why my documents' margins kept changing. After a great deal of trial and error and cussing, I figured out that the problem is Word's autocorrect function. 

You can set up "autocorrects", so for example, typing HD expands to my employer's name, Haugen & Dahl. Turns out, though, that in addition to remembering the text of whatever autocorrects you've set up, Word also remembers what the margins were when you set up the autocorrect. Type HD, and it instantly changes to Haugen & Dahl — and also the document's margins are instantly changed.

Why would anyone want to import margins along with autocorrected text? Answer: Nobody would, except Microsoft.

So the uninvited arrival of Microsoft Viva in my inbox did not delight me.

After I'd gone through the several required clicks to unsubscribe from this unknown abomination I'd never subscribed to and never even heard of, a no-reply email told me that "Microsoft respects my privacy," and promised they wouldn't bother me again.

Thing is, I hadn't given Microsoft my email address, nor had I logged in to any Microsoft service. And yet I they emailed me. This is the "privacy" they claim to respect.

I gave the screen my middle finger, and if there was an option to email them a bomb I would've.

It is hard to envision a movie of less interest than the upcoming Air,   which seems to be the true story of how Nike and Michael Jordan came to a marketing agreement. With a capital eff, who Effing cares?

The hearing for my Post Office job abandonment is next week, but I'm abandoning the hearing.

Another leftover from that job at the Post Office is that I keep getting memos from management. The latest is a reminder to maintain up-to-date personal information, including emergency contacts.

Every job sends dumb memos, of course. I get them at my current job, too, but at other jobs the memos are sent by email. At the Post Office, they're on paper and come through the mail. 

Which reminds me, in the tall tales I'm telling my mom at breakfast, I'm about to quit the Post Office gig, and I'm thinking I might work in a doughnut shop next.

News you need,
whether you know it or not

 Planned Parenthood seeks to block Utah ban on abortion clinics 

Clearview AI scraped 30 billion images from Facebook and other social media sites and gave them to cops: It puts everyone into a "perpetual police line-up" 

Houston Public Library reports dramatic spike in users after dropping fines 

Projected collapse of crucial Antarctic current met with media silence 

32 dead as tornadoes torment from Arkansas to Delaware 

1,000-plus years of tree rings confirm historic extremity of 2021 western North America heat wave 

Climate change: Catalonia in grip of worst drought in decades 

Sudan's Nile fishermen worry as climate change means fewer fish 

Salt Lake City officers held man accused of jaywalking at gunpoint before tackling, shocking him, 2019 bodycam shows 

ICE is grabbing data from schools and abortion clinics 

Chicago Police payouts top half a billion dollars since 2016 

Family of 18-year-old mom who was killed by school officer will get $13 million 

Cop charged with reckless endangerment, menacing, third-degree assault and harassment 

Bailiffs violently clash with housing activists in Detroit to evict a terminally ill woman 

Irvo Otieno: Death of man in police custody ruled a homicide 

Police union director indicted for importing and distributing cop-killing fentanyl 

Perv cop gets 13-17 years 

DeSantis signs permitless gun carry law at low-key ceremony 

Former Trump advisor Roger Stone faces health insurance woes, pleads for viewers to by a MyPillow to support him 

Marjorie Taylor Greene uses Trump crowd to spread ugly, anti-American lies (video)

 • Fugitive former aide to Republican ex-Maryland governor dies in confrontation with FBI 

Tennessee House Republicans take steps to remove Democratic lawmakers after they joined gun control protest 

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going






My browser history
without the porn

Unlocking the Secrets of "2001: A Space Odyssey" 55 years on 

Bill Nye explains light-years and the vastness of the universe 

In defense of clip art 

Radio signals keep coming from deep space. Here's what they really are.

♫♬  It don't mean a thing  ♫
if it don't have that swing

All You Need Is Greed — Shakin' Stevens 

Do the Hustle — Van McCoy 

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother — The Hollies 

Li'l Clanton Shuffle — Frank Zappa 

Shipoopi — Buddy Hackett 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Kwame Brathwaite 

Bobbi Ercoline 

Judy Farrell 


Leroy Raffel 

Klaus Teuber


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.  

Tip 'o the hat to ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, CaptCreate's Log, Katameme, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, One Finger Medical, Two Finger Magical, Miss Miriam's Mirror, Nebulously Burnished, RanPrieur.com, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration. 

Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Joey Jo Jo, John the Basket, Dave S, Name Withheld, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. > "$3 Thursdays" — beer, hot dogs, nachos, and fish sticks are only $3 each. The ticket, though, still costs $12,

    When you told me tis in email, I thought the tickets were also 3 bucks.

    Rememeber the A's Dollar Wednesdays? When I first moved to SF, the Oakland A's were ghastly, and to drum up crowds, certain Wednesdays were one dollar tickets, dogs, and sodas. Fifteen bucks would get you full and fat, with a trip across the Bay both ways. We went once or twice.

    1. Is "we went once of twice" a joke, or am I misremembering? I thought we went just about every Wednesday they were at home.

    2. I think we went a few times. It's been a while, and both of our old man brains are Swiss cheese. Fuck, maybe we went every time.

    3. Mmmmm, Swiss cheese...

  2. You describe this team as a minor league franchise. What league, what level (A, High B, B, C, etc) and what's the name of the team? Twelve bucks seems steep, but, of course, I'm seriously out of touch. Are movies still three bucks?


    1. JTB, I'm unsure if Doug wants the exact info known, but they are not actually minor league. They are not affiliated with a major league team. It's more like a rec league team that is very popular, but it sounds fun.

      I do agree that 12 bucks is kinda steep.

    2. Thanks, Cap. I won't pry further into Doug's fan-based activities. A good ballgame is a good ballgame, no matter what the level. I just know that there's some very good baseball being played at the lower levels of the minor leagues. I long for the days of seeing the Alou brothers for fifty cents. Alas, I grow old. Thanks.


    3. College ballplayers between seasons. No, not Minor League with capital M and L, and the players aren't (officially) paid. Madison's team is in a similar league.

    4. Pry away, man. It's only baseball...

    5. It's also your life and I want to respect your anonymity. It's possible that, given your self description that I could pick you out in a crowd. It's actually more possible than my old car actually making it up to Seattle. My question was based on my interest in minor league baseball. But I have a family acquaintance who plays in the over-80 league in Pierce County. Those cats DO NOT dog it. Actually the Parks Department only has an over 70 league. These guys actually had to start their own league in order to play. I wouldn't mess with any of them, although they're all fine gentlemen. Once again I ramble on.


    6. My anonymity feels respected, and anyway, I don't think you have any Jim Cranston in you.

      Curious about the Over-80s League. Are the players no longer good enough to make the team in an Over-70s League? I wouldn't expect a lot of athletic difference.

      When I umped (never played) softball, we had old-timers leagues, but the minimum was 50, and as athletes they were indistinguishable from 30-year-olds, at least to me. Of course, the old folks who can't keep up don't play ball, so I wasn't seeing a random selection.

      There was also a Gay League, because the players in the tavern leagues didn't want nothing to play against men wearing pink. It was an era of stupidity, as all eras are. Me, I didn't give a damn, and umped straight and gay, men and women, co-ed and little kids and old-timers. It's fun being told you missed a call bad and yer blind ump, by a 9-year-old.

    7. I'm not an expert on this subject, but I think the legs go before the arms, so it's a matter of beating out a slow roller that gets harder in those ten years. As you probably know, slow rollers are not unknown in rec baseball. I don't know all the reasons these guys started an over-80 league, but I wouldn't rule out chutzpah.


    8. You didn't sign up for 20 questions, and I'll probably run out before half a dozen, but are the old folks playing actual baseball, or softball? And if it's softball, is it fast-pitch or slow?

    9. I've not been to one of Joe's rec games in 20 years. I do see him from time to time (he owns a restaurant -- a good one). I always ask him how the baseball is going and he always says "Maybe one more year." Last time I saw him play it was fastpitch softball (normal softball size) but the pitchers didn't use the windmill motion. It was competitive but collegial. They had a Rec League ump who could choose to stand behind the plate or behind the pitcher. I'm anticipating your next four questions.


    10. One of them's Who's on first? Maybe another one, too. I never get tired of it.

      Tell Joe I'm rooting for him.

    11. I have a story about Joe when he was Pierce County Executive and my Dad was packing a railroad sledge on the floor of the back seat of our '68 Dart to pound in his campaign signs and I rolled the car. I guess I just told it. It wasn't about Joe: it was about me. But I do have stories about Joe. He was a Democrat. Still is.


    12. I'm sorry, I forgot to answer your question. I don't know.



    13. . . . and I forgot to mention that Joe is now 90. Because of Covid, I don't go to restaurants, including Joe's, so I've not seen him in a couple of years. Last I heard he was still doing well. I have been carrying around in my car a gift for Joe (we use the same pharmacy), but I haven't run into him there. He's probably too healthy to require many scripts. It's a small survivor of my now-sold political button collection: a small button featuring his surprise favorite Washington governor of all time. I'll need to mask up and at least drop by the restaurant (about three blocks from the pharmacy) and give him the button and ask about baseball.


    14. Sorry, wait, you rolled the car? Like, got behind and pushed it? Or drove too fast and flipped it?

      Was it Dixy Lee Ray? She was scary wrong on a lot of things politically, but I loved her bluntness, anti-political persona.

    15. I rolled the car over and over in a suburb called University Place. The main thing about University Place is that there's no university there, or college or junior college. The second thing is that few of the older streets are flat, because it was rolling farmland when I was a kid. I was 17 and coming home from my girlfriend's house at 0100 and I topped a hill and there was a pretty large cardboard box in the middle of the road on the way down. I was an inexperienced driver so I tried to miss the box, but it was raining like crazy and I got sideways and climbed a hill on the side of the road and rolled over and over back onto the road. The sledge hammer was going bang, bang, bang every time I rolled over and I wasn't wearing my lap belt (1967) so I went over and over. No street lights, so when I realized I was more or less in one piece on the ceiling of the car, I rolled down (up) the window and crawled out. No houses anywhere. I walked through fairly dense woods for a couple of blocks and found a farmhouse with lights. I called the Sheriff and reported the wreck so they could get it out of the road before somebody else got hurt and called my parents. Their car was beyond totaled, but I was only bleeding where I crawled over glass. The damn sledge kept missing me. That's when I decided god might be a Democrat. But just in case, I've been a slow driver since. My parents were so happy to see me in one piece after seeing their car on its roof, they forgot to get mad. They got a little mad later.


    16. Joe's favorite Washington governor is a Republican, Dan Evans. Joe was in the legislature during at least of one of Evans' three terms as Governor. I don't need to recount Evans' career here -- there's a perfectly good Wikipedia article on him. But he was a strong environmentalist and founded Evergreen College as a learning center without grades for Environmental Studies. He's still alive at 97, but has retired from public life. A friend of mine was an aide in the Governor's Office. He said that Evans required that every letter to the Governor receive a customized response from a real person, and he had two aides working on them. They were to bring to Evans' attention any matters that related to environmental concerns.

      Evans is largely responsible for North Cascades National Park and the Olympic Wilderness Area. I met him when he brought the other three statewide elected officials to Central to study the state college system and prepare for Evergreen College. After three terms as Governor he became the second President of Evergreen State College for six years, then served in the U.S. Senate where he continued to fight for Civil Rights and environmental concerns.

      He's old and conservative now, but, no matter how he characterized himself, he was a serious progressive on issues of the environment and race in America.

      The Wiki article is a five minute read.


    17. Jeez, I would not've thought it was possible to survive a wreck like that basically unscathed. Cray cray and terrifying, and all your years since then came from mighty good luck in the wee hours of that morning.

    18. Big Dan is a conservative now? That seriously sucks sugar-free imitation donkey balls.

      I remember his time, guv for years and years. Hadn't been fully cognizant of his accomplishments, because back then my head was further up my ass than it is today, by inches.

    19. jesus, he's 97, and perhaps not in full possession of his faculties. OK, Jimmy Carter is a year older and still wise and good, but he's always been the exception. The Presidential candidate for whom the Allman Brothers Band raised the MAJORITY of the money Carter needed to win the 1976 Iowa Presidential Caucus (when nobody had heard of him), one of only four US Presidents to win the Nobel Peace Prize, a farmer who continued to teach humanist Sunday School until he was 96, etc.

      Evans was a good man and a good governor. Let's let him live out his last years in peace. He marshalled through the most progressive environmental legislation in this state. More than any other governor, Democrat or Republican. Not bad.


    20. Well, I promise not to mail shit to the ex-Governor's house or anything.

      It's been so long since any Republicans weren't out-and-out lunatics, it's extra weird to remember that sometimes, old-school republicans weren't even evil.

      Times have sure changed.

    21. I dunno, Doug. Let's wait and see who he endorses in 2024 before we make any rash promises. I think it's possible to have peace with a little shit on the side.


    22. Until you reminded me, I had completely forgotten that Evans was a Republican. Which is the highest compliment I can give to a Republican.

    23. Doug, without trying to be melodramatic or overly repetitive, there was a time in the 1960s and early 1970s, where there were some cultural indications that things might actually change -- this time for the better, despite the murders of the Kennedys and Dr. King. It was from this cultural foundation that national Civil Rights bills were passed along with clean air and clean water bills (signed by Nixon). Jimmy Carter emerged from this ethos in 1976 as the Democratic candidate for President. Dan Evans was very much a part of that phenomenon. He was no hippie. He was, in fact, an engineer.

      I take Dr. Thompson's summary analysis of that time so seriously, that I'm going to repost most of it again. . .

      "History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

      My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .

      There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

      And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

      So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

      ― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


    24. I remember feeling like we'd made progress & were getting someplace better. You could look back and see specific things that were better than they'd been. Most of those things have been turned to mulch, along with most of my optimism.

      The next monster like Trump might have a triple-digit IQ. The damage a triple-digit Trump could do is almost immeasurable, and unless I get cancer quick I'll live long enough to see it.

  3. I completely agree about Air, it sounds vomitable. There's also a Barbie movie coming soon, and everyone says it's great because everyone is basically plastic with hollow heads.

  4. You'd have to pay me to see either, and my price isn't cheap.


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