We’re back.

It’s easy to remember when I took my first get-on-a-plane-and-fly-somewhere vacation with a parent. It was the summer of 1968, and my mom took my sister and me to Nassau. (My mom was frugal but not cheap, so we went to the Bahamas in summer.) I was dragged through a number of British forts and other historical sites, but basically it was a beach vacation. I met a girl at the pool about my age, and we played together. She was from Chicago. Later my mother told me her parents were fleeing the expected anarchy of the Democratic Convention, and I guess they had the right idea.

Anyway, I guess we’ve been dragging Kate here and there with us on our travels, but I figure now is when things start to sink in. Taking a toddler to Paris only makes sense if the price of a sitter exceeds the plane fare. Or maybe not. But that’s been my experience.

Since this trip was en famille, we knew certain activities would be inevitable. It’s cruel to take a kid to New York and not let them see Times Square. Which is to say, you are going to the Statue of Liberty. The good news is: It’s not so bad. There’s some actual history there — on Ellis Island, anyway — and even though the security is even stricter than the airports’, it’s worth a visit. Of course, it’s a National Historic Landmark, and hence run by the government, so the emphasis is on learning and explanation. I had a lively chat with a ranger who told me about the new security perimeter, and how the statue’s arm got speared by her crown in the Black Tom explosion, and how even though you can’t climb up to the crown anymore, you probably don’t want to anyway, because it’s hot and smelly inside. Wandering through the accompanying exhibits, Kate found a sister who shares her affliction, the heartbreak of Morton’s Toe. I’d hoped for some dawning realization of the breadth and depth of the immigrant story, but you know kids — it’s all about them.

The same cannot be said of the city’s other big tourist magnet, the Empire State Building. It’s a joke, isn’t it, about how many people live in New York and have never been to the top? Let me tell you something: That’s because New Yorkers are smart. It was undoubtedly the low point of the trip, a money-extraction racket start to finish and anticlimactic to boot. If you ever visit the city and feel the urge to see where King Kong frolicked, look at it from the sidewalk. Or else, this: Catch a cab to the airport and board the next flight to Chicago. From O’Hare, make your way downtown and choose any of the tall buildings with public observatories at the top; I recommend the Hancock tower, although the Sears is nice, too. Go up, look around, take your time, snap some pictures. Then come down, return to the airport, fly back to Manhattan. The elapsed time will be approximately what it would have taken to get through the Empire State line, and you’ll have seen Lake Michigan in the bargain. Trust me on this.

The rest of the trip was pretty free-form. We wandered uptown and down, stumbled onto a movie set, ate ridiculously rich rice pudding, went to the Guggenheim, the Museum of Natural History (very fine, but second banana to the Field, IMO) and a nearby shop called Maxilla & Mandible, where we considered buying a witty bit of taxidermy — a single squirrel severed at the waist, each half adorning one of a pair of bookends. (That is, until we heard the price, which seemed a bit steep for a squirrel.) Hoped for “Hairspray” at the TKTS booth, but settled for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

And we met our old pal and colleague Scott at some Belgian beer garden near Washington Square, which was sort of amusing, considering the closest thing we have to a local here in Detroit is the Cadieux Cafe, another Belgian bar. That there were two outside Belgium seemed stunning. Later we wandered to the square and Kate got dragooned into some street theater; a freelance acrobat did a somersault over her head, and I dropped a fiver in his bucket, in thanks for not killing her.

By far, one of the worst things about this new chapter in our lives — with its higher cost of living and unpredictable finances — has been the curtailing of our travel. No matter where you live, you need to get away sometimes and clear all the crap out of your head. Change the scenery. Gaze upon a new landscape. Be here now. And so on. It was a welcome trip, and I needed it.

Bloggage returns tomorrow. We have a new Tim Goeglein column to deconstruct, and fun to be had everywhere.

Posted at 8:46 am in Same ol' same ol' |

47 responses to “We’re back.”

  1. jcburns said on July 25, 2007 at 9:28 am

    Welcome back Nancy. In honor of your return, I bring you editable comments! Well, that is, within 30 minutes of the original post and accessing them from the same machine (IP) on which you wrote the comment. Let’s see what this screws up! (edit: hm, so far, so good.)

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  2. alex said on July 25, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Morton’s Toe, eh? I didn’t hear it referred to by its clinical name when a foot fetishist recently confessed his passion under the influence of cocktails, but that’s the thing that makes him want to suck a foot. And I’ll say it was quite a sensual experience, indeed.

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  3. Jolene said on July 25, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Welcome back from me too! I’ve missed you.

    Great post. Not yet 11:00 AM, and I’ve already learned two new things. Had never heard of the Black Tom explosion (must have been quite a thing to live through) or Morton’s toe. Does Kate know that Cleopatra is believed to have had this, um, let’s call it a feature?

    Two interesting things in the Wikipedia entry, too. Morton must have died happy knowing that he’d had identified two foot conditions that, to this day, are named after him. And, re Phyllis Jackson, what an odd occupation. Who knew there were podiatric archaeologists?

    And editable comments! Cool.

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  4. Julie Robinson said on July 25, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Flying’s no fun anymore and driving vacations are subject to road construction and highway overload. We still had a great time on our extended weekend in Chicago helping Mom celebrate her 75th birthday. They have an IKEA! They have a Lands End! They have a Container Store!

    They have Millenium Park, which has to be one of the most expensive public parks in the nation. Really impressive, and they have free outdoor concerts too (only $22 to park). We listened to a Bernstein on Broadway concert with spectacular singers and musicians.

    While waiting for our driver (the hubby), a blind woman came in and struck up a conversation. After she heard we were visitors, she asked if we were there for the parade. What parade? The disability gay pride parade, of course. Now I work for a reading service for the blind, and I had to tell my boss that there is a niche market out there we aren’t covering!

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  5. ashley said on July 25, 2007 at 10:06 am

    The Hancock is indeed better because you can see the Sears tower, along with the shoreline. Also, if you go to the bar instead of the observatory (1 floor difference), it’s free.

    And yeah, I could use some time out of New Orleans. Well, school is about to start, so I’ll get time in Chicago. Not quite the panacea for which I was hoping.

    And I never took a vacation growing up, except for 1 trip to Disney and 1 to 6 flags. “Vacation” meant seeing mom’s relatives in lovely Pratt, Kansas, or seeing dad’s relatives in lovely Boise. Boise was nice, at least much nicer than Pratt.

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  6. John said on July 25, 2007 at 11:03 am

    Ashley, I spent many a summer vacation 250 miles east of Pratt (on US 54) visiting my parents’ kin folk. Not a fun place to be in July or August.

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  7. nancy said on July 25, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    I first learned of Morton’s Toe during an NPR piece on a female podiatrist who saw how much women were willing to pay for crippling-but-stylish stilettos and decided she should leave foot-doctorin’ for shoe-designin’. Can’t recall her name, but she specializes in cool shoes that won’t leave your dogs barking. Her reference to Morton’s Toe was in speaking of how many women would happily amputate portions of their feet — especially longer toes — to fit them in the right shoes. Gawd.

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  8. LA mary said on July 25, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    We had a summer house where we spent every weekend year round and all summer from end of school to labor day. I wasn’t fancy but it was in a great place. I wish my kids were as lucky.

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  9. Danny said on July 25, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    If I understand correctly, I may have the Morton’s Toe “condition.” But I always thought haveing a middle toe slightly longer than the big toe was more attractive. I have a step-sibling who had this huge big toe and it looked like how hillbilly characters are portrayed in cartoons or other caricatures.

    Anyway, tell Kate it it way cool and not to worry!

    JC? Any progress on my super-user edit button? You know the one where I will be able to benevlolently correct others’ comments when say they have a typo, punctuation error or have mistakenly disagreed with me? Thanks!

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  10. LA mary said on July 25, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Taryn Rose is the doctor you’re talking about, and her shoes are comfy and gorgeous and incredibly expensive.

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  11. LA mary said on July 25, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    If anyone wants to buy me this pair, feel free. Size 10 1/2.


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  12. jcburns said on July 25, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Danny, that button (for where you’re bothered by other folks comments) is, of course, the ‘close window’ button, accompanied by walking away from your browser and taking deep breaths.

    Works for me.

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  13. nancy said on July 25, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Speaking of feet — and thanks, Mary, for the Taryn Rose info — does anyone else remember Dr. Scholl’s Exercise Sandals? They’ve been back on the market a couple years now, although you no longer buy them in drugstores and needless to say, they no longer cost $12. I wore nothing else in summer in my teen years. By mid-July the rubber had worn off the heels and they clomped like horse’s hooves. I loved them the way boys loved their Red-Ball Jets.

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  14. Jolene said on July 25, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Wow, Mary! Those are cool shoes. I didn’t need to know about that web site. My shoe-buying has diminished and become decidedly less creative since I broke my ankle, the result of which was stiffness that made the angle needed for wearing high heels impossible. This web site, though, makes me want to see whether that impairment has resolved itself during the subsequent years of wearing sensible shoes.

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  15. Dorothy said on July 25, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    I never was a Dr. Scholl’s fan. But my boss at the quilt store, Mary Beth, says she loved them and she, too, lived in them in the summer time.

    Speaking of bosses – and jobs – I think I did a great job at my interview this morning. I already got a call to come back for a 2.5 hour go-round with some more folks on Friday. All this before my plane leaves Columbus at 5:30 PM! Whoo hooo! Thanks Brian for the finger (and other appendage) crossing!

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  16. MichaelG said on July 25, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    I dunno, Mary. I guess I’m just not much of a judge of womens’ shoes although I can see they might be much more comfortable than some styles out there. $495 does seem a lot. Maybe somebody has $10 knock offs.

    I seem to buy most of my shoes at Big 5 when they have their $12 sales.

    Edit, Edit, Edit.

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  17. Julie Robinson said on July 25, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Dr Scholl’s always gave me blisters. Jolene, I sympathize; since developing plantar fasciitis I can’t wear any fun shoes at all. I either have to wear clunky lace-ups that my orthotics fit in or Birkenstocks, which are sold at exactly one store in this town. My shoe fixation has been channeled into purses and jewelry. I find myself casting envious glances at other women’s shoes–they can match their outfits and everything. Sigh

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  18. LA mary said on July 25, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Even in my very flush headhunter days, I wouldn’t spend that much for shoes. I went for some boots that were pretty pricey once, but not $495. I can admire them, though. I broke an ankle a few years ago so I wear heels very seldom, and carry flats to change into when I do. Those grey suede jobs look like they might be manageable though. I’d be willing to find out. I have a suit that they’d enhance quite nicely. And with three inch heels, I’d be six foot one. For now I’m sticking to the black patent leather clogs for work. Everyone here wears clogs.

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  19. LA mary said on July 25, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Julie you need to go to Zappos.com. It will change your life. Free shipping, both ways. This is an unsolicited testimonial from someone with large, hard to fit feet.

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  20. brian stouder said on July 25, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    You go, Dorothy!

    As for shoes – I wear boring old Rockports every day, and then no-name cheapy gym shoes on the weekend.

    I will say this much about fashion, though – I never ever wear anything but blue-jeans for shorts anymore. I used to have some nice beige shorts, but I was with our then-two-year old on the playground last summer with those on, and a guy complimented me on my beautiful grand daughter!!

    So I sort of ‘get’ why people don’t want to look frompy

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  21. Danny said on July 25, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Man, I know we haven’t talked much about the Tour de France this year, but I am so torn. It is such a beautiful spectacle, but so marred by doping.

    I guess the only bright spot is that at least the officals and governing bodies seem determined to go the process, no matter how painful and damaging it is to the sport, to hopefully, one day, clean the sport up.

    Hell. at the rate things are going this year, they might as wel bring Floyd Landis, Jan Ulrich and Lance Armstrong back. While they’re at it, why not let Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire race the Tour with syringes full of EPO sticking out of their necks.

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  22. nancy said on July 25, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    I feel the same way, Danny. Although, I must say, everything I’ve read about cycling strongly suggests the whole sport has been dirty from the get-go. It needs a top-to-bottom recalibration, like track and field. As you said, at least some people seem to be serious about provoking one.

    What that means for Saint Lance is anyone’s guess.

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  23. Danny said on July 25, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Holy Sheet! Rasmussen just got booted from the Tour by his own team. This is getting ridiculous. Looks like Team Discovery may finush number 1 and 2 on the podium.

    Hey, if things keep going like this, I think I could have entered the tour clean and won a podium position by default.

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  24. Danny said on July 25, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    For those of you not following the happenings:

    1. Two days ago, pre-race favorite Alexander Vinikourov (who’s Tour was basically over) was caught for blood doping, and he and his whole team were sent home. He had no chance of winning the Tour this year, but was putting on a brave face and winning a few stages. But apparently with help from hemoglobin enriched blood.

    2. Then, this morning it broke that Cristian Moreni had been sent home for doping (testosterone).

    3. Then after I posted and Nancy replied, it was reported that the overall race leader, Michael Rasmussen had just been ejected by his own team for being caught in a lie to his own sports director about his whereabouts for a period of time last month.

    This just sucks. And the ejections are coming faster than the broadcasting team can keep up with. Yesterday’s show had been pre-recorded before the Astana team was disgraced and dismissed, so during the pre-recorded show they had a crawler along the bottom of the screen announcing that the show had been pre-recorded and what had happened. It was weird to watch the show knowing that events had outpaced the broadcast team. They’re smiling and talking about “heroics” while Rome (or Paris) is literally burning.

    I hope they don’t have the same issue tonight, but I fear that they will since it is the middle of the night over in Europe right now. Unless they roll Bob Roll outta his bed and get his bleary-eyed ass in front of the camera. Now that would be a sight. It would be funny to see him in a night cap too.

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  25. Danny said on July 25, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    I love this post to one of the cycling forums…


    Cyclisme – TDF-Dopage – Rasmussen quitte le Tour
    Le maillot jaune Michael Rasmussen ne sera pas au départ de la 17e étape du Tour de France, jeudi, à Pau. Son équipe, Rabobank, a décidé de ne pas l’aligner pour des raisons encore non précisées. Cette décision intervient quelques heures après le départ volontaire de l’équipe Cofidis dont le coureur italien Christian Moreni a été contrôlé positif à la testostérone…

    No translation needed…

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  26. Julie Robinson said on July 25, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks, LA Mary, because large and hard to fit describe my feet perfectly. Free shipping both ways is great. I usually have to try on 30 or 40 pairs to find some that fit, so I’ve always shied away from online buying. The website is huge, I’ll spend my next day off perusing it.

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  27. Jeff said on July 25, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Having just returned from Bloomington IN to help my sister move in and return to the faculty there, may i recommend watching “Breaking Away,” with special note of the Italian team. Thus it ever was, thus it e’er shall be, world without end, Amen, amen.

    I say this with the pain that befits a Purdue alumnus.

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  28. Dorothy said on July 25, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Hey Mary – you and I are the same height! My feet are a little smaller, though. I’m a size 9.5.

    How’s my Greenville buddy George Hincappie doing, Danny?

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  29. Hattie said on July 25, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Keens. I can walk for hours in my Keens.To me the best looking shoe is the comfortable one, always. Sure, they were not exactly the style in Paris, but boy were my feet happy.

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  30. basset said on July 25, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    I live two and a half hours from the Zappos warehouse and outlet store, nyaaaah nyaaah.

    Cabela’s walkers for me at work, Tevas or Mucks off duty, Hi-Tec hiking boots for creek fishing. Thirteen double E.

    (all this reminds me of the days of the 300-baud modem and typing back and forth… “what you wearing? what kind puter you got?”)

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  31. Jolene said on July 25, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    I like those Keens, Hattie. They do look comfy and also appealing in a clumsy sort of way.

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  32. ashley said on July 25, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    Bob Roll and Tinker Juarez! Woooo Hoooo!

    As for my shoes, well, with plates, screws, and bolts in an ankle, and a tibial rod, I can only wear high-tops. So I’ve got that gangster-chic going for me 24×7.

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  33. Jennifer said on July 25, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    I’m kind of surprised that given the SoL was made by the French, she was not given a Giselle (peasant) foot.

    You can tell your daughter that my father-in-law believed those with Morton’s Toe had superior intelligence.

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  34. Jennifer said on July 25, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Brain cramp- It just dawned on me that the SoL, while made by the French, was Greek in style, hence the Morton’s Toe which is also the Greek foot.

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  35. MichaelG said on July 25, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    It’s not surprising that VS doesn’t have any on camera coverage of the Rasmussen removal. All the coverage is produced in France and rumor has it that France is several hours ahead of us — especially those of us on the west coast. They did run a crawl during the last presentation that informed viewers of the latest developments. The VS web site (which is quite good) also carries the news. The TdeF coverage on VS is superlative and I highly recommend it to anyone. It’s repeated several times a day. There are wonderful views of the French countryside. The commentary is the best and most intelligent anywhere. The whole thing is just a delight. Other than the TdeF VS programming can only be described as creepy.

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  36. Danny said on July 25, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Dorothy, George is in 28th place, but don’t let that fool ya. He is a great, great rider. George has time and again sacrificed himself on the slopes of the Alps and Pyrenees for Lance and others. He is considered a great “classics rider,” which are basically sorter races of one day or only a few stages. Good guy. AND he married a podium girl .. from France, I think. Good for George.

    Unfortunately today’s coverage, because of the time differential, did not mention the catyclismic events of the day, but here was a highlight. Bob Roll in speaking about the toughness of the Tour de France:

    “It will reduce you to a shivering famine victim, rubbing your tin cup against the gray bars of a never ending prison built of pain and suffering. You must have strong moral fiber to resist the urge to dope.”

    The dude is a quote machine and has a couple of books that are very fun, quick reads. He’s kinda like the Jack Kerouac of cyclists.

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  37. Danny said on July 25, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Jeff, I have been looking to rent “Breaking Away” for several years now. Haven’t seen that since I was kid.

    I am going to buy a jersey that reads “Cutters.” I think only the older riders will understand. Heheh.

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  38. basset said on July 26, 2007 at 5:41 am

    dunno who Bob Roll is but I interviewed Tinker Juarez a few weeks ago… guy can ride but he can’t talk. not that it matters. this was before a twelve-hour mountain bike race that he and a bunch of others did solo, I would have been coughing up blood before I made one lap around that place.

    lived in Bloomington around the time “Breaking Away” was released… I understand you can’t go skinny-dipping in the quarries any more, too bad.

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  39. Pam said on July 26, 2007 at 5:51 am

    Tell Katie that when I was young, her grandmother and great grandmother told me that if you have a 2nd toe longer than the big toe, you will be the boss in your family. I tried to stretch out my 2nd toe in order to show that I would be the boss! And we have a Morton in common — I have Morton’s Neuroma so I wear only wide pancake style shoes now. How stylish!

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  40. Dorothy said on July 26, 2007 at 6:18 am

    Danny I have caught “Breaking Away” on the AMC channel I think. They still show it on cable from time to time. Thanks for the George update. I have a picture or two (admittedly not very close-up) of Lance and George in downtown Greenville almost 2 years ago, when Lance came to town as the city honored George for being a hometown good guy, etc. The pics are at flickr, of course. I was positiviely swooning that evening when I saw the guys!

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  41. John said on July 26, 2007 at 6:47 am

    “Breaking Away”…Daniel Stern’s film debut.

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  42. Julie Robinson said on July 26, 2007 at 7:01 am

    Breaking Away was filmed at Indiana University while I was a student there, and my one claim to fame is seeing several of the leads at the Bloomington opening. It was fun to catch all the ways they rearranged landmarks for the movie. The scene where the sign says “60 miles to Indianapolis” (or whatever it really says) is actually on the way back to Bloomington. Lots of little stuff like that.

    And IU was not that much of a Greek school as the movie portrayed. I only ever had one friend in a sorority. And I never heard the tern “Cutters”, I think they made that up for the movie.

    By the way, the school newspaper, the IDS, was one of the few papers to give it a negative review.

    It’s kinda comforting to know so many other people out there have foot problems. Where’s the Zappos outlet?

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  43. Jim said on July 26, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Hey! I was at Liberty Island yesterday, but didn’t have time to do Ellis Island. We’ll go back in the fall, when the crowds have lessened. Still, we enjoyed it. My son is, at this moment, wearing his Lady Liberty mask. I’m not sure what that means.

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  44. brian stouder said on July 26, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Well, one gazes at the wide world of sports in wonder, these days.

    Just in recent days, we have a field of doped bike racers, steroids all over major league baseball, a gambling NBA referee under the thumb of some Soprano to the tune of half a million dollars, and a pro football star operating a dog-slaughtering side show on his estate for fun and profit. The beauty and the glory of their respective ‘day-jobs’ really is fleeting, isn’t it?

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  45. alex said on July 26, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Yeah, Julie, I never heard them referred to as “cutters” either. “Townies” was the term used by students back in the ’80s when I was there, and “Deliverance” was used as an adjective with regard to just about anything off campus with the exception of the mall.

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  46. colleen said on July 26, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Julie…I have PF and Dansko clogs are my shoe of choice. I used to wear Birks, but the Danskos are a TINY bit more stylish for work.

    Shoes.com is also excellent.

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  47. basset said on July 26, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    the Zappos outlet is off I-65 at the Shepherdsville, Ky. exit, half an hour or so below Louisville and right by the huge warehouses Zappos ships from. Amazon’s book warehouse is in Campbellsville, Ky., not too far away, no outlet store that I know of though.

    Alex, I never heard the term “cutters” either, and I am one of those “Deliverance” people raised in the benighted and pitiful counties outside Bloomington. Sorry we couldn’t reach your social and cultural standard.

    Then again, in four and a half years on campus at IU I set foot inside a Greek house exactly twice, once to do an interview for the IDS and once to contact another toothless and inbred local who worked in the Acacia kitchen. Probably should have p***ed in the biscuits just on general principles but I held back.

    Michael Vick, now… what a piece of fecal matter. Way I figure it, they match up the fighting dogs by weight and they don’t get any protective equipment, so we should put 200-some-odd pound Vick up against a couple of 100-pound pit bulls, naked.

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