Midweek. More week.

There are times, in the middle of a busy week, when only “The Great British Baking Show” and a glass of wine will work to calm one’s shattered, or at least frayed, nerves.

Frayed. Yes, that’s it. It’s been a long one, and it won’t stop until…a few more days. I have weekend stuff, too. But there’s a long weekend coming up eventually, and it’s not like I’m digging coal here.

Lifeguard training is going well, in the sense that no one has actually drowned. I had difficulty doing the deep-water rescues, as either the victim or the saver, because I float like a cork. I think it’s Charlotte who has difficulty floating? I can’t sink.

“Adipose tissue,” I said as I failed to touch the bottom of the deep end yet again. “I’m a manatee.”

But little by little, we four are getting it. You wouldn’t necessarily want to hire us at your water park, but we can certainly be useful assistants in an emergency. At least I hope so.

Man, water parks. I’ve been to the one at Cedar Point a time or three, when Kate was at an age to enjoy it. I always liked the lazy rivers, and could have stayed in one all day, if I were allowed a cocktail every third circuit or so. But guarding them must be maddening; so many people simply don’t know what they don’t know. (How to swim, for starters.) Not that this keeps anyone out of the water. I’d go nuts in 15 minutes.

So. Shame about Ossoff, although I wasn’t getting my hopes up. I’m done with that. Grim resignation, that’s my new default. Pendulums swing. Let’s just hang on for the ride.

In the meantime, some bloggage: A WashPost story about Kosciusko County, Ind., just west of the Fort, where the demand for skilled factory workers to fill the artificial-joint plants is acute and not being met by the market:

Kosciusko is only one of 73 counties in the United States with unemployment rates of 2 percent or lower, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many are in ­energy-rich counties in the Midwest and Colorado, where the fracking and natural gas booms have vacuumed up the workforce.

They also include communities that defy the heartland stereotype of industrial decay — like Warsaw, in northern Indiana, and Columbus, about three hours south.

Cummins, a global engine builder based in Columbus, recently opted to open its new distribution center an hour north in Indianapolis, where the labor market is much larger. (Columbus is the seat of Bartholomew County, which also has a 2 percent unemployment rate.)

Companies in Warsaw probably would not move manufacturing jobs abroad, said (economist Michael) Hicks, who follows the region. Firms are more likely to transition to Indianapolis or Chicago, he said, since quality control is crucial for medical implants, and businesses want to protect their designs from foreign competitors.

This is where the importance of talent comes in. And that is where the importance of good schools comes in. I’ve been gone from Indiana long enough that I can’t recall the quality of the schools in rural Indiana, but I think it’s safe to say they’re hit-or-miss. And the legislature has been working mightily to strip the public districts of funding, so that vouchers can be issued for religious schools. Dunno how they do in preparing the workforce of tomorrow. They need to be good. They better be good.

(We talk about this issue in Michigan a lot. Safe to say the legislature is not entirely in agreement.)

And the Senate health-care bill is set for its big reveal. Discuss.

Posted at 10:03 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 5 Comments

So scripty!

It looks like we all need a fresh thread. Day one of lifesaving went well. Three women, one man, the latter of whom is tall, lanky, and over 200 pounds, i.e., no picnic to tow back to the side, but we made it work. I’m sure much of the class looked like a comedy of errors, but once I got the hang of how to deploy the rescue tube in different situations, it got better.

And I slept like a baby last night. Excellent.

This was the view from day one of morning swim yesterday, which I share just because:

I won’t see the sky like that for a while, because I showed up extra-early. But the solstice is just after midnight tonight (dammit) in my time zone, so come it will. (Dammit.)

One link today: Politics in Cooz’s state. No wonder he’s grumpy. I would be, too. Not that Michigan is much better.

Still growing used to the new fonts. As always, we are a work in progress around here.

Happy Tuesday, all.

Posted at 8:37 am in Same ol' same ol' | 41 Comments

Drowning in…something.

So, Father’s Day is upon us. Barely noon, and I have already tired of the social-media parade of World’s Greatest Dads. (Admittedly, I contributed.) Holidays like this turn us all into Mitch Albom; there’s just no room for shadows, even though shadows are what give figures dimension and make them more interesting.

My dad did OK. He could be a jerk, but he was my jerk, my dad, and he did well enough. That’s all you need to get a headstart in the world. Good-enough parents, not great ones.

And in the Department of Pre-emptive Apologies, I have a week’s worth of evening stuff coming up. And guess what it is? One of the women in my swimming cohort is training a few of us to be lifeguards. I’ve been thinking for a while now that I haven’t had a CPR refresher since I took a class in the ’80s, and my first aid is equally rusty. Tim, our coach, is 77 and creaky, and has said often that he’d really like to have some backup on morning swims, so here we all go. It should be over in a week, but I have another conflict Thursday, so it might take a little bit longer.

I did the qualifying stuff Saturday: 300-yard swim, two minutes of no-hands water treading and the infamous pick-up-a-brick exercise. That’s where you swim 20 yards or so, surface-dive to pick up a 10-pound brick in 10 feet of water, then take it back to the starting point, get it out of the pool and then heave yourself out behind it, all in a minute-forty. The last was harder than I expected, but I made it with plenty of time to spare. The two women I was testing with needed multiple tries, but then again, none of us are planning to get jobs as lifeguards. But you never know. The siren song of the red tank suit and the privilege of sitting on the high chair in mirrored shades may well lure me out of journalism.

Speaking of which, this is an outstanding “This American Life” segment on a 66-year-old lifeguard who sued New York City for age discrimination. A NYT account of the same situation.

Who knows, I may not pass the final. But I’ll be fresh on my CPR and first aid. I have this fantasy that my post-retirement career will be as a personal trainer to postmenopausal women. Step one!

Just one link today: Mark Bittman is doing regular food writing again. For New York magazine, no no registration, no paywall. Huzzah.

So, maybe see you guys on…Wednesday? That’ll work.

Posted at 1:31 pm in Media, Same ol' same ol' | 66 Comments

In which I am doctor-shamed.

Guys! I’m feeling much better! After a week of misery, I finally dragged myself off to the doctor, and told her about the ears and the sore throat and the fever and the non-arc of this affliction, so it must be an infection and I need some serious meds and oh my I feel terrible and–

“Your right ear looks normal.”

Well, the pain is mostly on the left side, and–

“Your left ear is fine, too.”

But, but, fever! And pain! In my ears! I’m a swimmer!

“I’ll just do a strep test, then.”

You know the end of this story. The test was negative. My ears were fine. Diagnosis: “Viral blah-blah.” Her words.

“Don’t put that on the internet or anything.”

I wouldn’t dream of it.

The next day, the very next day, I was much improved. Enough that I headed out for a quick dinner with a friend, and posed in my boss Mike Tyson T-shirt in front of one of Midtown Detroit’s dwindling number of corner stores:

This time next year it’ll be an artisanal paper store, or something. Just you wait.

But now the hour is growing late, and I want to go to bed. A couple quick links:

This was on Slate Plus, and I’m not a member, but I was able to open it: Is Trump experiencing cognitive decline? Yet another examination of the StatNews piece a couple weeks back.

Obstruction of justice and the world of hurt to come.

Let’s hope the weekend heals me fully. Have a good one, all.

Posted at 10:46 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 82 Comments

Fresh thread.

I suppose we will need a fresh thread for the Congressional shooting. Here it is.

Posted at 8:57 am in Current events | 57 Comments

That cabinet meeting.

Still sick, still gotta deadline, still 90 degrees. Have this mixed grill.

What’s the matter with Kansas? They took the craziest tax-cutters at their word, and look what happened.

The 101 canonical tweets. In the depths of my feverish misery, I wept my mascara off, laughing at some of these.

Speaking of Twitter, though: As the kids say, Thread.

Is North Korean diplomacy a job for the secretary of state? Or…:::echo FX here::: Dennis Rodman?

Finally, I repeat what I said yesterday: Has there ever been a more unctuous windbag than Mike Pence? When he says, “the greatest honor of my life,” I wonder how he explains it to Mother. Ah, she’s probably Pinteresting inaugural ballgowns; what am I saying?

Hope I can see the doc today.

Posted at 8:09 am in Current events | 44 Comments

Steamy weekend, plus fog.

Nope, sorry, not feeling better, although based on the fact I woke up Saturday morning with the feeling of having a hot poker stabbed into my ear, I’m fairly sure of my self-diagnosis. It so happens I had an unopened package of cipro otic solution from a previous false alarm, still unexpired. So I’m self-medicating until I can see the doctor.

And two sentences of another person’s medical woes should do it, so let’s move on.

Man, has summer arrived with a vengeance. A week ago, long sleeves, and now, an extended period in the 90s. (It’s especially fun with a hot-lava post-nasal drip, let me just say.) Fortunately, the inaugural Grosse Pointe Pride parade was wrapped before noon:

I walked, yes. Why not? It was the safest, most family-friendly Pride march you’ve ever seen — not a dyke on a bike or a leather daddy in sight. Everyone behaved themselves, and even the cops were friendly. A trio of high school-age MAGAs showed up with their Trump flag, but they kept to themselves and didn’t draw attention to themselves.

What I noticed most? Teenage girls never, EVER tire of taking photos of themselves. Especially when they have rainbows painted on their cheeks.

So, with much of the weekend spent lying in bed, hoping the pressure didn’t blow my eardrums clean outta my head, a little bit of bloggage, most of it outdated.

A rather blunt-spoken account of working with Roget Ailes. Spoiler alert: He was not a nice person, not even a little bit.

The Guardian is reporting that our president’s state visit to the U.K. has been indefinitely postponed. Why?

The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.

For some time? For ever, at this rate. Maybe the Queen decided against loaning him her golden carriage.

Now starts the slow process of catching up. And the wonders of antibiotics. (Fingers crossed.)

Posted at 9:08 pm in Current events | 56 Comments

Feverish morning.

Again with the apologies, and I’m sorry. Sorry to be scarce around here, sorry to be always apologizing for it. Monday afternoon I seem to have been struck down by an illness, and I’m not sure what it is. Might be allergy-related; this year has been an absolute mofo for pollen. It reminds me of the ear infection I got the last time I swam before I made wearing earplugs a regular habit, but my ears don’t hurt (yet). I considered going to a strip of doctors’ offices nearby and walking the halls until I found a nurse with an otoscope. But then the low-grade fever rose again, and I decided to go back to bed.

So that’s me, today. Alternating chills and sweats and really not wanting to do anything other than watch “The Great British Baking Show” from the couch.

Instead, I have links. They’re old links, because I gathered them on Monday, but maybe you haven’t seen them yet.

Check out the rocket trail on this chart, tracking overdose deaths in the U.S. Appalling. Wait until all those Trump voters realize they voted away their health care. This New Yorker story is instructive:

Michael Barrett and Jenna Mulligan, emergency paramedics in Berkeley County, West Virginia, recently got a call that sent them to the youth softball field in a tiny town called Hedgesville. It was the first practice of the season for the girls’ Little League team, and dusk was descending. Barrett and Mulligan drove past a clubhouse with a blue-and-yellow sign that read “Home of the Lady Eagles,” and stopped near a scrubby set of bleachers, where parents had gathered to watch their daughters bat and field.

Two of the parents were lying on the ground, unconscious, several yards apart. As Barrett later recalled, the couple’s thirteen-year-old daughter was sitting behind a chain-link backstop with her teammates, who were hugging her and comforting her. The couple’s younger children, aged ten and seven, were running back and forth between their parents, screaming, “Wake up! Wake up!” When Barrett and Mulligan knelt down to administer Narcan, a drug that reverses heroin overdoses, some of the other parents got angry. “You know, saying, ‘This is bullcrap,’” Barrett told me. “‘Why’s my kid gotta see this? Just let ’em lay there.’” After a few minutes, the couple began to groan as they revived. Adults ushered the younger kids away. From the other side of the backstop, the older kids asked Barrett if the parents had overdosed. “I was, like, ‘I’m not gonna say.’ The kids aren’t stupid. They know people don’t just pass out for no reason.” During the chaos, someone made a call to Child Protective Services.

At this stage of the American opioid epidemic, many addicts are collapsing in public—in gas stations, in restaurant bathrooms, in the aisles of big-box stores. Brian Costello, a former Army medic who is the director of the Berkeley County Emergency Medical Services, believes that more overdoses are occurring in this way because users figure that somebody will find them before they die. “To people who don’t have that addiction, that sounds crazy,” he said. “But, from a health-care provider’s standpoint, you say to yourself, ‘No, this is survival to them.’ They’re struggling with using but not wanting to die.”

We are all West Virginia now, or soon will be.

In 2018, the GOP strategy will be all about the media. I wonder if those of you who don’t work in this business know what it’s like to be universally loathed by the general public. I expect you do, because you’re in similar fields. We just keep doing the job, as strange as it can be in these times. I was doing spadework on a story a few weeks ago that was put on the shelf until the whipsawing in D.C. leads to a coherent policy, if it ever does, and this week I’m doing the same – working on something that could be overtaken by events before, like, Friday. And I’m sick, too. Woe, woe is me.

I don’t think it’ll be overtaken by events, though, because the event we’ll all be watching is the Comey Show, starting tomorrow.

I believe J.C. flagged this on Monday, but if you didn’t see it then, I wish to do so again: A teacher deep in Ohio’s coal country tries to school his students on climate change. This guy’s a hero.

Finally, Neil Steinberg wrote something elsewhere, on the science of falling. Interesting.

Back to bed for me. OK, no. I’m actually in bed. But back to work, anyway.

Posted at 7:40 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 122 Comments

A five-day week ahead.

So glad you nice commenters are willing to keep the chitchat going when the bartender retires to her cot in the back. You make running this place so much easier.

I had some evening stuff last week, and I have evening stuff this week, but not quite as much this as last. I’m also hitting the weight rack again, which means I’m walking around like a crippled-up gimp, but last week was the first, so: Slightly less crippled this week. Fingers crossed.

So. A terror attack in London Saturday night, and Sunday morning, the leader of the free world tweets? And golfs.

What are we going to do when this happens here? I can’t even think about it.

With apologies for the autoplaying video, this was an incredible story from the weekend here, about an abused woman and her incarcerated ex-husband, who vows to kill her when he’s released — in a little over two months. And the law can do little to help her.

You know, just an uplifting story for the weekend.

Meanwhile, back at the State Department, things are not looking so great.

Is that enough to start a Monday?

Posted at 9:28 pm in Current events | 100 Comments

No more drownings, if we can help it.

Just a quickie today: Had an early start and a late finish yesterday, and besides, Wednesday night is for “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu, so t.s. for you guys.

Speaking of which, that show is freaking my cheese right out. I generally don’t get swept up in dystopian fiction, but this adaptation is very very good and very very powerful. I don’t think I was all the way in until a flashback scene, to the time before Gilead, when one character remarks that soldiers are rounding people up, another says the army wouldn’t do that, and the first one says, “This is a different army.” I can’t be the only one who thought, So that’s what Erik Prince has been up to lately.

Anyway, there was a double drowning in the Metro this week — a toddler and his father in an apartment-complex pool. The boy’s tricycle was found in the water, too, and the theory is, the kid drove his bike into the pool, the father jumped in to save him, but neither could swim and neither made it out. The grim punch line: They drowned in five feet of water. The father could literally have stood up and probably gotten his nose and mouth into the air, and he certainly could have bobbed his way to shallower water.

The incident prompted me to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while — donate $100 to Detroit Swims, the program run by the YMCA here to teach city children to swim. Most children of color cannot, and a $100 donation covers lessons for one kid to go from scaredy-cat to water-competent, including transportation and even a swimsuit. On impulse (and because I was on my second beer), I set up a Crowdrise account for it, posted it to my social media, and a few of you who follow me there contributed. Huzzah, we now have $400.

This is not a pitch for donations, although (koff) here’s the link. Give if you feel like it, or better yet, find a similar program in your own city and donate to that. The Ys do great work in this area, but they’re not the only ones. These tragedies shouldn’t happen, and I thank Sherri, Ann, Jolene, Kathy and others who pitched dollars into the kitty.

On to the day ahead! What fresh hell will it reveal on the Trump front? Oh yeah, this.

One final note: I did a lot of driving yesterday, and listened to the most recent Pod Save the World ‘cast. The guest was career diplomat Bill Burns, who explains clearly and calmly how modern diplomacy works, including back channels and when they are and aren’t appropriate. Highly recommended.

Later, all.

Posted at 8:46 am in Current events | 116 Comments