Michael’s world.

MichaelG sends a photo of his weekend activities:


This is roughin’ it, California-blackout style: Coleman lantern, book to read, glass of wine and a roaring fire — all four burners.

Let me just say, on behalf of the journalists in the room: We have all covered a zillion fatal fires that started exactly this way. If you leave the room, turn off the stove.

Posted at 1:49 pm in Current events, Friends and family |

25 responses to “Michael’s world.”

  1. john c said on January 7, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    You took the words right out of my mouth, Nancy.

    48 chars

  2. michaelj said on January 7, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Looks pretty much like an assisted suicide setting, but you can’t hear the Smiths album.

    Apropos of nothing, here’s something even stranger:


    Ted Stevens thinks money’s being wasted. Or not.

    And wasn’t it natural gas that did the real damage back in Aught6?

    324 chars

  3. MichaelG said on January 7, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    C’mon, you guys. The place was vented. You should see all the warnings on the Coleman lantern package and instructions. I think I turned the gas off when I came to work this AM.

    180 chars

  4. nancy said on January 7, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    You know you’ve moved next door to a city that’s mostly ghetto when you see billboards at this time of year, warning people to be careful with space heaters and other furnace-helpers.

    Still, we had a heating-with-the-stove multiple fatal fire here in Detroit…was it last week, John? I think so. The furnace was either broken or the heat had been turned off, and they were making do.

    The worst I ever saw, though, was an immigrant family squatting in a vast warehouse somewhere in northern Indiana. They had an electric stove, and had jury-rigged one of the burner coils, giving it a long cord, so it could be pulled some distance away from the stove and still work. Then they hung it on a hook on the wall. The fact it functioned without sending the place up in flames within five minutes is a miracle, but the way these things usually go, the fire started deep in the night when everybody was asleep. Most of them died.

    The utility companies can poor-mouth all they want, but I absolutely support service-cutoff moratoriums during cold-weather months, even if people do game the system. It simply saves lives.

    1121 chars

  5. michaelj said on January 7, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    The glass of wine in the photo brings up something that’s been interfering with my normally straightforward thought processes. An ancien amour (she’s not ancien, the amour is, mostly) sent me an album by Jay Farrar for Christmas. Called Terroir Blues.

    Jay Farrar used to be Jeff Tweedy’s partner in Uncle Tupelo before Jay became entirely obscure and Jeff became Wilco, an excellent band when he’s not in rehab. Mr. Farrar is capable of playing guitars well enough that sometimes he sounds like Stephen Stills and sometimes he sounds like Richard Thompson. Either is impressive, both superb.

    I know terroir has something to do with growing grapes, but not what it means exactly, nor how to pronounce it if I decided to recommend the record. Which I heartily do. It’s brilliant. An actual album, download-unfriendly and endlessly surprising, like a Beatles record or Electric Ladyland. Or Astral Weeks or Frank’s Wild Years, or Arthur. Gratuitous loosely-rhymed couplet from Jay Farrar inserted to forestall fulminations about shuffling songs:

    Call me on the telephone tell me what a fool feels like/you’ve been pushed before push back with all your might.

    But, really. We’ve got Shuffles for our bikes and our kayaks, but the best music of the last 40 years was made into albums carefully conceived and ordered. Any song made between 1966 and about 1990, no matter how individually compelling, is better in the album setting. Marvin Gaye made brilliant singles. I’ve got the MP3s. But Ain’t No Mountain doesn’t come close to What’s Goin’ On? Put Satanic Majesty’s Request or Magical Mystery Tour out of order.

    Everybody’s heard Jesse Colin Young sing Get Together on the radio. Would be less cloying if the next song was Darkness, Darkness. Would any of these people go onstage and play songs at random? Well, some of them might, but the point’s clear.

    1871 chars

  6. Danny said on January 7, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    The glass of wine in the photo brings up something that’s been interfering with my normally straightforward thought processes.

    That made me chuckle. And no, it isn’t because I disagree with your politics. That stuff is too subjective and not worth wasting bandwidth on, IMO.

    But it is because of the statement you made about steroids helping pitchers but not having a bit to do with the hitting home runs by Barry Bonds. Either you were:

    1. Being so tongue-in-cheek that you impaled yourself with a molar.

    2. You have such an over-developed sense of white-guilt that you would defend Baryy Bonds if he had mrdered Ron and Nicole instead of OJ.

    3. You really aren’t too straight of a thinker at times.

    I like you michaelj and am not defending Clemens. I am also not defending the witch hunt against Bonds for lying to a grand jury. But there is absolutely no way that Barry did not do steroids and there is absolutely no way that it did not help his home run hitting.

    Look at the stats from before and after his forehead grew several hat sizes and he got about 50 lbs of extra muscle mass. It is obvious that it increased his bat speed which gave him longer looks at the ball and more solid connections that sent the ball farther. And it increased the length of his career and the number of starts he got.

    1339 chars

  7. 4dbirds said on January 7, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Is that a rack for pot and pan lids there on the cabinet? Why did I not know of these before? Mine are scattered and buried in every far cabinet and drawer. I’m off to Home Depot to get one now.

    197 chars

  8. michaelj said on January 7, 2008 at 5:20 pm


    Where is it written?

    And this is pretty funny:


    Neither can write his way out of the plastic bag they’re clawing each other in, but one’s just a harmless nerd and the other’s a vile slug. But what in the world is a real conservative these days. Safire? Bey Buchanan? Michelle Malkin? Jeb? They’d better figure this out. I’m putting my money on Richard Viguerie and Grover Norquist. Permanent feudalism was always what conservatives intended.

    But how do they deal with Huckabee? This is a stupidity revolution on a roll. A letter to the editor in today’s Seattle Times called the “fair tax” national sales tax “progressive”. Now, “Orwellian” has been battered into meaninglessness by the current administration and the people disgusted with it. But calling a presale tax on food and clothing “progressive”, and using the “presale” feature to claim the tax is 23% instead of 30%, put the ratcage on my head. Even W wouldn’t spout this crap. Well, yeah, if he thought he could get away with it, and somebody could teach him the elementary math, l’etat ces moi. Should be a pretty simple signing statement.

    All of that aside, when a prospective candidate comes out with something so nuts as to be, seemingly, immediately disqualifying, how does he remain a viable candidate. Huckabee’s tax proposal is pretty close to pulling down his pants and waving his weenie in a school zone. One of my homestate Senators is Jim Deminted, who also believes in a national sales tax. He’s there to make Lindsay Graham seem human.

    1682 chars

  9. michaelj said on January 7, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Danny, is it possible to waste bandwidth? If it runs out, there are always the other internets.

    95 chars

  10. MichaelG said on January 7, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    It’s just that. A lid rack that cost all of about $3 or so at IKEA. One of the greatest inventions ever. The strainer you can see at the top is actually hanging from an oval pot hanger that is over the sink. On the other side of the sink is an under cabinet wine rack that holds four bottles. Also about $3 at IKEA. Altogether, this stuff basically cleans out your cabinets.

    381 chars

  11. michaelj said on January 7, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    “But there is absolutely no way that Barry did not do steroids and there is absolutely no way that it did not help his home run hitting.”

    That’s rational? You know this because Rick Reilley and Jim Rome said so? How about your assumption, with no evidence, that I’m white, or ever felt guilty about anything? In track and field, steroids have been used for a single purpose, to quicken recovery and allow more intensive training schedules. Steroids don’t build muscles, they allow muscle-building, and they sure have nothing to do with hand-eye coordination and bat speed.

    The idea that muscular strength actually has much to do with hitting homeruns is pretty silly. Watch a Mariners game. The premier singles hitter (probably, hitter period) in the history of the game can jack one pretty much when he decides to. Ichiro’s about a buck50.

    That a substance that facilitates quick recovery from exertion would help aging pitchers, well a moron could see that. And then there’s Roger’s insane onfield behavior to account for. Unless Fred Phelps told him Mike Piazza is in fact gay and that offended his Christian soul.

    Far as OJ is concerned, found not guilty in LA, more or less guilty in Simi Valley. Evidence against him is less compelling than the single-bullet theory, and his Javert should be in prison for falsifying evidence instead of playing militia in Idaho. People in Simi Valley would vote for a cop videotaped beating the snot out of a black guy who wasn’t resisting. Oh, wait. Something like that actually happened. I do believe the Aryan Brotherhood not only uses but traffics in anabolic steroids.

    1628 chars

  12. michaelj said on January 7, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    OK MichaelG, what about plastic containers? No way there’s an easy IKEA solution to keeping bottoms with tops. You’d think after all this time the Tupperware people would have produced a handi solution. We’ve got pushpins in the walls above the sink and the stove, Bentham utilitarianism, but I can never remember what goes where. (And I’ll mail a candy cane to anybody that explicates that gratuitous literary allusion, unless there are too many of you.)

    I do all the cooking ’round here, and my secret to some semblance of simplicity is use only one knife.

    562 chars

  13. MichaelG said on January 7, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    I don’t use plastic containers. I use Mason jars. If there are multiple servings worth of leftovers (soup for example) I’ll double freezer bag the stuff in single serving amts and freeze it. It is true that you don’t need all those gadgets and bunches of knives. I also like to keep it simple. NN.c does hints from freaking Heloise.

    337 chars

  14. Kim said on January 7, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Bentham utilitarianism? Michaelj, you are killing me. I mean, K to the illing me.

    And MichaelG, the only reason I can see for hanging the lids on the cabinets to keep the cabinets free of stuff is for there to be less tinder when the place goes up in flames. A friend’s dad used to light all four burners to warm his hands in the a.m. An early morning syncopal episode sent him face-first into the burners. It took him three months to die.

    I’ve always thought the best way to store plastic container lids was with one of those file folder holders busy people have on their clean desks, placed sideways on a shelf. Not that I’ve ever done it. I prefer to bitch about it every a.m. at 5:45 when our circus begins.

    717 chars

  15. michaelj said on January 7, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    I refuse to pay good money for freezer bags, which actually cost twice what they’re alleged to because you have to double them. And freezing mason jars would be a problem.

    I cook for two, and spaghetti sauce made with fresh tomatoes is our staple. Buy all the marked down produce and make it in a gigantic batch once a month. Containers for the freezer are a necessity. I’ve got a major league collection of Helluva Good Bacon Horseradish tubs, each of which holds a perfect portion for two, and it’s plastic not headed to landfill.

    535 chars

  16. ashley said on January 7, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Years ago, I got the “Personal ad of the week” in the LA Weakly. Here was the entire text of my ad:

    Minimalist seeks woman.

    Now, since I had no built-in filtering methods, that meant I got about 200 phone calls. The scariest by far was a woman who took me a bit too literally, and told me that she didn’t use plastic containers, and ate food directly out of their canned/plastic packaging. Yeah. I chose not to meet that one…

    441 chars

  17. Connie said on January 7, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    michaelj, I am quite sure that pushpin equals poetry.

    53 chars

  18. Connie said on January 7, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    All things being equal that is.

    31 chars

  19. MichaelG said on January 8, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Kim, I’m sorry for your friend’s loss. Respectfully, however, I fail to see the lesson in your cautionary tale. The fact that the situation involved a bare stovetop is immaterial. Your friend’s dad could equally have fallen face first into a hot wok, a sizzling frying pan or a pot of boiling water. The seizure could have caused him to fall in front of a bus or could have occurred while he was driving or up a ladder. Things happen. As for the stove, I use my stove every day. I wager that you even use yours fairly often. Fear of a seizure doesn’t deter millions of people from using stoves. I have no children at home and no pets to get curious. I don’t leave the stove on when I’m out of the room pans on or pans off. Again, I’m sorry for your friend’s misfortune, but I don’t understand what it has to do with my efforts to stay warm during a midwinter power failure.

    884 chars

  20. Dorothy said on January 8, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Years ago someone in my house accidentally left a large Tupperware lid too close to a burner and melted the edge of it. The lid was tossed, but the bowl was okay. So I keep all of my plastic lids in that large bowl. This way I can still make use of the decapitated bowl!

    273 chars

  21. Kim said on January 8, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Oh, the trouble with the inherent lack of face-to-face (or even actually knowing people) the internet delivers us.

    MichaelG — First, I thank you for your condolences. I didn’t mean to infer that you were ready to ignite the block. My friend’s dad was elderly (as in 85-ish) and, in typical old-guy form, refused to turn up the heat. He preferred to warm himself over the stove, which was the stove’s sole purpose. He relied on meals on wheels for his hot food. Well, he ended up fainting over the stove and into the burners, which led to three months of misery for more than him. Now it seems like I’m inferring you’re old. I’m not! Someone, help me out of my mess!

    Anyway, what I meant was a more smart-ass commentary between friends (which we aren’t) or at least people who have had face-to-face pleasantries (which we haven’t). Like others here I have covered my share of “accidental” fires that started much like your tableau depicted, though without the Ikea accoutrements or the stainless appliances or the glass of wine (more like a twist-cap bottle of Whoooo-EEeee!) or the off-camera fire extinguisher.

    So, really, what NN.c needs is a convention so all these minds can meet. Blogosphere niche travel: Now that’s a million-dollar idea! Too bad I’m busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

    Sorry, MichaelG. I do mean that sincerely.

    1368 chars

  22. michaelj said on January 8, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Connie. It’s an interesting idea. If it’s true, it begs the question of why Jeremy Bentham actually wrote pretty good poetry. Oh damn. You mean he was being ironic?

    Both Emerson and Thoreau characterized themselves as poets. Thoreau was capable of a decent effort. Emerson was execrable, period. There’s the bee poem:

    BURLY, dozing humble-bee,
    Where thou art is clime for me.
    Let them sail for Porto Rique,
    Far-off heats through seas to seek;
    I will follow thee alone, 5
    Thou animated torrid-zone!
    Zigzag steerer, desert cheerer,
    Let me chase thy waving lines;
    Keep me nearer, me thy hearer,
    Singing over shrubs and vines.

    Holy crap, that makes Styx sound profound, like poets.

    721 chars

  23. MichaelG said on January 8, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    No apologies necessary, Kim. In fact, it appears I may have misconstrued your comment. I am aware there are people killed every year through careless use of fire and by asphyxiation from using combustion powered items indoors. My use of the lantern and the cooktop was not cavalier. I considered the dangers and the paths of avoidance and acted accordingly. I know there are quite a few news types reading this blog and that all youse folks would be more sensitive than most to this sort of thing.

    502 chars

  24. nancy said on January 8, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Or, as my friend Vince said when I pointed out that all the shop doors in Argentina opened in from the street instead of out, “They’ll reconsider that when there’s a fire and dead bodies are found piled up against the door.” Just, you know, a little observation at the dinner table.

    282 chars

  25. Kim said on January 8, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Oh, great. Now you tell me no apologies necessary. Penitent Kim could have stayed hidden for a bit longer into 2008! We news types are righteous scolds.

    Nance, that was a line I heard all the time in Chicago. One of the cops who babysat me while I went over reports was an Our Lady of Angels survivor. (1958 Catholic school fire that ripped through the building and killed 87 kids and three nuns. Horrible and legend in Chicago.) After we’d gotten to know that the other wasn’t evil, I asked him about it. I’d thought the door issue was one of the larger ones. Turns out it wasn’t. A lack of fire escapes from the second floor classrooms, petroleum-based waxes on the floors, brick exterior but all-wood combustible interior — the list of things that could, and did, go wrong goes on and on.

    795 chars