My new electronic toy is the Google Desktop. This program makes a toolbar at the side of your screen. You can get it easily and for free from Google.

It is supposed to do several things. It should give me web clips from places I visit often, so that I will know whose blogs have updated without having to go look at their old entries. In fact, it tells me when Alison’s blog has updated, and often gives me crowds of old entries from Creating Textiles. This is of limited usefulness.

It is also supposed to give me quick links to things I frequently use, but in fact that section has advertisements. “What’s Hot” is, I guess, the hot stuff on the web, and offers me things like Yahoo podcasts. I don’t know what a Yahoo podcast is, but I know that I don’t have time to add that to my already-perhaps-excessive computer time. There is a section for writing notes, too, but I have never used it.

I do like the slideshow. They will make a nice slideshow of random pictures from your computer. This means that I get to look at pictures of my children and nice landscapes and whatnot. However, I also get lots of pictures from Crazy Aunt Purl’s website. These pictures are illustrations of stories, not intended to be attractive.

My favorite, though, is the News feature. It puts up random headlines, and changes them frequently. You can click to read the entire story.

Now, I get daily headlines by email from the New York Times. I have the San Francisco Chronicle on my toolbar, and am registered for the Washington Post and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I also read the Wall Street Journal and the local paper in the physical world. So I suppose I get enough news.

But the international headlines are much more intriguing.

“Teachers arrested in South Korea”
“War reportage daft, tribunal told”
“Johansson survives wild card challenge in Stockholm”
“UK turkey giant steps up”
“Team escapes camel cruelty charge”
“In brief: 40 year old virgin turns juvenile delinquent”

Giant turkeys, actress’s poker games gone awry in Stockholm, mass arrests in South Korean schools — doubtless the real stories are less bizarre than the headlines suggest to me, here in Hamburger-a-go-go-land.

In fact, I know that they are. Really, it is better not to click on the links. Only thus can we preserve the illusion that the world is an intriguing place. For example, the wild card challenge was not one poker player challenging another to a duel which then turned into a wild melee. I know you are as disappointed as I am.

Today, with a sense of great gratitude to The Empress for giving me the day off, I will spend the day in an orgy of housework. I have guests coming tomorrow and — more alarmingly — the appraisers coming in on Tuesday. The past two weeks on HGP should have been the cleaning of the boys’ bedrooms, but they are teenagers and I just let it go. The appraisers probably will not let me say “Oh, don’t go into that room — it belongs to a teenager.” The laundry room and garage have not yet appeared in the HGP. And the guests cannot be expected to help shovel out bedrooms, nor to relax and enjoy themselves while I say “Please move your feet” and scrub around them.

I think it can count as exercise if I move quickly.

And resist finding out what “Outfoxed by murder and mocrowaves” means when it is the Financial Times saying it.