If it keeps on rainin’…

I’ve been reading the news from the Mississippi basin.

(That sounds like the first line of a bad blues song, doesn’t it? Been readin’ the news from the Mississipp’ / Say the levees there done los’ they grip. Maybe we need some other music.)

Anyway, I’ve been paying attention to the situation along America’s mightiest river, and I’ve come away with an overwhelming impression:

I’ve read all this before.

As most of you know, I used to live in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Fort Wayne is laughingly called the Summit City — it’s near the continental divide no one takes pictures from, and it really was the highest point in the Wabash-Erie canal system. Now that’s sort of a joke name, because this is a summit that floods. A lot:

That’s from the summer 2003 flood. Fort Wayne had a big flood in 1982. The president stopped by to pretend to throw sandbags, and my newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize. (This was before I got there, I am required to mention.) That was the Flood of the Century, Until the Next One. There was flooding in 1985 and, it seemed, every year or three afterward. Every year, when the waters receded, something would be done to make sure it never happened again. The Army Corps of Engineers was permitted to denude a pretty urban riverbank and replace the sycamores and cottonwoods with riprap. Houses in the flood plain were bought and razed. Chins were stroked, opinions aired. And every few years: Another flood.

I will say this: Fort Wayne city officials really knew their floods. They had it down pat — what streets would flood at what river level, how to scramble a sandbag crew, where to deploy them. But floods can be tricksy things. That one in 2003 — that was a summer flood, a single-river flood (the city has three), in neighborhoods that never flooded before, due to a weather system much like the one plaguing the Midwest this month. Sixteen inches of rain fell in the St. Marys River watershed in about a week, and the next thing you knew? You guessed it.

Here’s what I learned about floods: They are nature’s most boring natural disaster. No TV-reporter standups in the howling wind, no piles of wreckage to pose next to — it’s approximately like watching a toilet overflow. It’s coming up it’s coming up it’s coming up oh man there it goes. Worst is when it recedes. The smell, oy you can’t believe. And while a hurricane or tornado takes your wedding album and scatters it to the winds, a flood covers it with raw sewage, along with your carpet, your drywall and everything else. Nothing like a wedding album that smells like poop. Now there’s a metaphor.

The same stories get written every time. The NYT’s Dan Barry discovered the sandbag crews, a story that’s been done approximately 12 million times in Fort Wayne. I could write one now from my own mental boilerplate:

They came from neighborhoods that still stand high above the rising waters, to help those that face inundation. They park their cars outside the city’s garage on Lafayette Street and go inside, where they are assigned to crews to fill, close and stack 25-pound sandbags on dump trucks. Some will follow the trucks to Lakeside, where the bags will be used to strengthen dikes along the…

See? It’s like I can do it in my sleep now.

Another story we wrote over and over was the “Fort Wayne responds to flooding elsewhere” story, almost always pitched as a “our hearts are so big, and we’ve been there ourselves, and so we help others.” Carnack-like, I predict I can find one in one of the dailies in the last week, and…

…whaddaya know, I was right:

The Fort Wayne area, one known for its giving spirit, has now sent 20 Red Cross volunteers to flood-stricken areas in southern and central Indiana, Iowa and, by today, perhaps Illinois, said Amanda Banks, spokeswoman for the local chapter.

I covered the Iowa flooding of 1993, a trip the photographer and I called the Day Late and Dollar Short Tour, easily one of the most misbegotten reporting trips I’ve been on, but I’ll spare you the details. We arrived in Iowa several days after the water had receded, and wrote about the cleanup, which was awful. Some houses had been inundated to their third row of shingles. One guy showed me his washing machine, which had stood in an alcove off the kitchen. It was full to the lid with filthy water. We interviewed a parachuted-in salesman selling cleanup systems — a variation on bleach, basically. We were the last reporters to arrive, and we got the last stories, along with a six-pack of canned drinking water, donated by the closest Anheuser-Busch brewery. Apparently they can convert the line to water-only for just these occasions.

Good times, good times.

Anyway, sorry about all those people in their own personal watery hell. If you really want to help, donate a dumpster. They’re going to need about a million of them. Also: Slate explains the sandbag. Because, you know, it needed doing.

So, bloggage:

Sorry I Missed Your Party, a blog that rounds up other people’s party pictures from Flickr. You will fear for your country.

It’s the summer solstice! And I’m about to spend the next 48 hours on this insane movie challenge. < last minute cold feet > What have I done? What have I gotten myself into? < / last minute cold feet> Play amongst yourselves, and I’ll see you if and when I return.

Posted at 11:25 am in Current events |

42 responses to “If it keeps on rainin’…”

  1. John said on June 20, 2008 at 11:38 am

    The St. Lawrence River Divide, for clarification sake for us non-Hoosiers.

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  2. Connie said on June 20, 2008 at 11:48 am

    There’s an east wide continental divide sign on the highway west of South Bend.

    My favorite flood story – the many volunteers who appeared from out of the blue to help the University of Iowa library move all the rare stuff out of the basement. Two stairway bucket brigades, and they all refused to leave until finished when the powers that be tried to close at 5.

    The Cedar Rapids Public Library is seriously under water.

    I had recently decided that I was the only person I know that knew the meaning of the word riprap. Add Nancy to the list.

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  3. Julie Robinson said on June 20, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Most of my extended family lives in Iowa and they’ve all been affected, from a basement full of water to half the crop acreage flooded out. You thought corn prices were already making food expensive? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

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  4. coozledad said on June 20, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    From the party site:
    I believe this costume is inspired by the “steampunk” aesthetic.
    These are, I think, punks who have watched too many episodes of The Wild Wild West.
    The lesson here is clear. If you protect your face, they’ll aim for the gut. And finish you off with a tabby.

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  5. MichaelG said on June 20, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    I heard every one of those stories on the news last night, Nance. Wording identical to yours. There used to be a lot of flooding in the Sacto/NorCal area. But that was back in the days when it used to rain. Filling sandbags is not fun.

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  6. derwood said on June 20, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Count me in on the Riprap knowledge….is there a prize?


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  7. nancy said on June 20, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    All I know, John, is I have a picture of myself standing next to a sign that says “continental divide,” and it’s in Berne, Indiana.

    If it’s on a sign, it CANNOT BE WRONG.

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  8. Randy said on June 20, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    My city (Winnipeg) has a floodway built around it to ward off disaster. It’s a 40-mile ditch that diverts the water around the city and puts it back into the Red River several miles to the north. The worries about future floods have prompted the government to spend a half-billion to dig it deeper and wider.

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  9. Jolene said on June 20, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Joel Achenbach says that some of the practices of both farmers and city people are increasing the frequency and severity of floods.

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  10. nancy said on June 20, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Achenbach’s story is correct, but very little will be done about it. It is so, so hard for people to understand events like this, which are widely spaced enough that memories grow dim. Even then, the answer is often “build the dikes/levees higher,” which is popular until the water recedes and no one can see the river without climbing to the top of one.

    There was a north-side neighborhood in FW that flooded regularly, and people kept saying, “But it never flooded before,” “before” being “before the whole north side got developed and paved over.” Where do people think water goes, anyway?

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  11. john c said on June 20, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    I grew up on the shores of Long Island Sound. We had bad flooding. But it was only the hurricane storm surge variety, which is very dramatic. I’d only lived in Chicago a few months when the great flood of 1987 hit. O’Hare became an island. I really didn’t appreciate midwestern flooding (that’s a sort of wimpy way to say I was a provincial New England idiot) and went to work in dress pants and loafers. By 10 a.m. I was walking through someone’s house in neck-deep water.

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  12. Dexter said on June 20, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Randy Newman reminisces about Louisiana, 1927

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  13. John said on June 20, 2008 at 1:11 pm


    Not saying you’re wrong, just clarifying it to distinguish from the Eastern (or Western) Continental Divide.

    Off to the Yankees’ game tonight. Hope we don’t get mugged!

    Love the Party Pix. I don’t surf Flickr as much as I used to since the Powers That Be put it on the Websita Non Grata list.

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  14. alex said on June 20, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Ah, yes, the Chicago Flood of ’87. That was quite literally my baptism in the Windy City.

    Didn’t get to wade through any houses, though. I was working at my first gig as a copy editor in a publishing house in the northern ‘burbs and had to find an alternative route there. At the Addison exit the Kennedy was completely under water.

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  15. MichaelG said on June 20, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Do you riprap people know what gabions are? We used a lot of both 10 years or so ago in an effort to keep San Quentin from disappearing into San Francisco Bay. Along with a lot of other tricks.

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  16. brian stouder said on June 20, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    That sounds like the first line of a bad blues song

    If it keeps on rainin’
    In the Big River’s basin
    The mud’ll really start to slide


    Ooooh it kept on rainin’
    In the Big River’s basin
    And my baby’n I set down, and cried

    etc etc

    Aside from the mighty Mississippi, and the disembodied feet showing up in the great northwest, the flood-tide that has my attention is the ‘pregnancy pact’ babies story from New England.


    In addition to all the other things one might say about this, I say that if parts of this story are proveably true, than several folks need to go to jail – starting with the un-named 24 year old homeless man who is allegedly one of the fathers

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  17. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 20, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Re: the wrongness of signage — a fun while disheartening read, leavened with righteous fury is “Lies Across America: What Our Historic Markers and Monuments Get Wrong” by James Loewen, same guy who wrote the more recent “Sundown Towns” discussed hereabouts not long ago.

    Lots of stuff like “savages” and “massacre” versus “noble pioneers” and so on, but plenty of revisionism and revanchism in bronze and granite of a more recent vintage.

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  18. brian stouder said on June 20, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Jeff – I was awestruck (awestruck at the awesomely invincible ignornace on display) when the young folks and I stopped in Andersonville, Georgia, on the way back from seeing the Mouse a few years ago.

    The National Military Park down there is compelling and heartbreaking (in the time we were there, we saw many different men looking at the displays and the videos, in tears)…

    but before we got there, we went into the town of Andersonville itself – which is a pesthole of a place. In the center of this small town is an actual by-God spire; 20′ tall monument to the “misunderstood” and “persecuted” hero of the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, Henry Wirz…one of the very few – if not the ONLY Confederate leader who was tried, convicted, and executed for war crimes.

    btw – as I stood there with my jaw dropped, reading the stone inscription on the thing, another guy (obvious tourist) was doing the same thing. In talking to him, I learned he & his wife were meandering across the country in their RV, from their home in California to (eventually) Washington DC….and when he heard I was from Fort Wayne, the very FIRST thing he said was “That’s where the Lincoln Museum is, right?”


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  19. Joe K said on June 20, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    During the Fort Wayne flood of 82, my Bro Dave and I worked for a company that supplied sewer pipe and such, we had a 28ft long stake bed truck to make delivery’s in. We took said truck down to the barn and had them fill it with sand bags.They told us what neighborhood to go to and we promptly took all the sand bags to O’sullivans pub, owned by some Rugby teammates. We sand bagged around the pub and then bribed the local power company to get us some power, turned on the pumps in the basement and the bar was opened for Saint Pat’s day. We had local and national coverage due to the fact,the bar was the only thing around that was opened and with power. It was like having our own island.
    Great times.
    I would rather have a bottle in front of me,
    Then a frontal lobotomy.
    Joe K

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  20. coozledad said on June 20, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Brian: There’s a marker for one of the six Confederate prisons in Danville, VA that offhandedly mentions it housed seven thousand Union prisoners. There is no yard. It’s a windowless brick warehouse, roughly the size of a high school gymnasium. Cholera and amoebic dysentery killed nearly all of them. There were too many to transport back home from the mass graves following the war, so oddly, there’s a huge National cemetery in town.
    Southern “Heritage” is riddled with memory holes.

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  21. brian stouder said on June 20, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Southern “Heritage” is riddled with memory holes.

    Northern heritage, too. The ‘mindless glorification’ phase of reconstruction still exerts historiographical gravity. Here we are in 2008, and only in the past few years have they begun to update the historical narrative at the Gettysburg National Military Park (over the full-throated objections of all sorts of folks! “revisionist history” is really all there really is, afterall, yes?). From the 19th century on, they focused on “Who shot who, where”…and you could look high and low around Gettysburg or the battlefield or the visitor center or the national cemetary, and never see much of anything (other than the Gettysburg Address itself) as to WHY they fought! “Slavery” itself just wasn’t up for consideration or review.

    We once spent the night at a bed and breakfast right ON the battlefield at Antietam – the farm once owned by Henry Piper (Bloody Lane connects his farm to the pike)


    and the National Battlefield Park encompasses the whole area. I was asking about the buildings there – there was the house and the barn and the smokehouse and the summer kitchen, and one more building just beyond the house. “What’s that one?”

    “That was the slaves’ quarters”

    hmmmmm. Well, Maryland was a “border state” and indeed a slave state….

    A person would think that an evocative, focused, educational display could have been made out of that building on Henry Piper’s farm, where the bloodiest single day in the entirety of the history of the United States of America unfolded.

    The memory hole was gaping

    edit – and near the center of the town of Sharpsburg, near the Antietam battlefield, there is a square block – maybe 3′ X 3′; which if you stop and look closely enough, is identified as an auction block

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  22. coozledad said on June 20, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Maryland has a big interest in preserving that blackout. Lincoln had to be smuggled through the state to assume the office of the Presidency.
    In Kinston, NC, they finally got around to putting a marker on the grave of some men who refused to leave their farms and go fight “the rich man’s war”, and were hung for disobedience to their betters. The government of the Confederacy frequently had to turn it’s guns on its own poor and starving, to keep them from the granaries of the wealthy.

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  23. Jeff said on June 20, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Wow, i didn’t know about that hostelry, Brian. My gr-gr-grandfather fought across Bloody Lane on that fateful day under Brooke, fell back at Longstreet’s artillery barrage that ended advances in the Union center, and they camped on the edge of it the following night — where Gen. Gordon said you could walk end to end on the corpses and not touch the blood-soaked ground.

    William (my ancestor) wasn’t wounded, but died of drink and persistent illness in 1868. I’m pretty sure PTSD is only something we just labelled, not a new thing. Even so, i’d go stay on the Piper Farm a night if it’s not too dear.

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  24. coozledad said on June 20, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Jeff: I was reading some of the stuff from the site Brian linked to, and stumbled across this from a Union soldier at Fredericksburg “I gave up my life today…The nervous strain was unbearable” this from a kid who managed to survive.
    We have a Confederate veteran buried in the front yard in the family cemetery (not my family, we purchased him with the house). Shortly after we moved here two of the surviving family members visited. One was well into her nineties, and she remembered the veteran. She said he never spoke about the war in any way.
    I looked him up and found his records. He was captured at age eighteen in Lee’s desperate (and viciously stupid) attempt to break out of Petersburg by a suicide attack on Fort Stedman. He would have watched a number of his starving fellows disemboweled by a point-blank artillery barrage.
    When he was paroled, he would have walked from the prison in Richmond, here to north central North Carolina, to help pick up whatever pieces were left of the farm.
    You really have to wonder how things were for him and his family.

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  25. joodyb said on June 20, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    amhistory dudes: you just always find each other. i’ve seen it my entire life. not that there’s anything wrong with that! i grew up by an underground railroad stop. they were out there most weekends in the summer. had followed the trail up into Ohio. and they are mostly dudes, btw. plus i grew up a couple miles from New Rumley, OH, birthplace of Gen. Last Stand. i was surrounded.

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  26. coozledad said on June 20, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Sorry, joodyb: Just count yourself lucky you haven’t been subjected to a swarm of reenactors . We were driving to the coast once and had to stop for the Union Army to make a diversionary attack near Ft. Fisher again. I felt like sticking my head out the window and yelling “Don’t waste your time! There’s no food and the gift shop sucks!” But they were hell into it.

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  27. basset said on June 20, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Nance, I was a ways downstream of you in ’93 on my own reporting trip, around Cape Girardeau for Nashville tv… used that “when the levee breaks” line from Led Zeppelin in a live standup, the news director loved it.

    still have a can of Anheuser-Busch water from that trip on a bookshelf about five feet from me… it came from Ft. Collins, Colorado.

    also saw the biggest crappie I have ever encountered up there, someone in Olive Branch, Illinois, flipped it out of a bar ditch with a garden rake.

    ran across some more Busch water a couple weeks ago just north of Nashville, was on a shoot for a public-tv outdoor show and someone had a cooler full. this was from Jacksonville, he said FEMA left two skids of it in his neighbor’s driveway after a tornado last year. have a few cans in my fridge right now.

    meanwhile… my son’s been volunteering at a local food bank this week, spent the last three days filling food boxes for Iowa.

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  28. Dexter said on June 21, 2008 at 3:33 am

    It only takes one ancestor who fought in The Civil War in a family and at least one descendant will become custodian of the memory .
    Mom’s great uncle wrote many letters home about his movements which for him ended at Chickamauga near the Tennessee/Georgia border.
    Mom gave me just one of the letters, and my older brother got the rest. I studied the writing for years and as I got older I was able to decipher every word.
    I cherished that letter and took it to the battlefield for answers.
    A ranger listened to my story and ushered us into a room. Soon two other rangers came in very eager to read and study the letter. The ranger made copies and said it would be prominently displayed in that room, blown up large for easy reading…other letters were there in that room.
    A very helpful ranger studied a bit and said “I think we can find your uncle here in one of these volumes.” Huge books, many,many of them. He said , “well, let’s start with this one, and maybe get lucky sooner or later…”
    And he opened that book to the very page where the battle in which Uncle Joshua was killed was described!
    Uncle Joshua was an enlisted man but was promoted on the battlefield to 1st Lieutenant.
    He wrote home of horrible mosquitoes and snakes among many other hardships. The ranger said the same thing as I found on the internet:
    “Army soldiers were issued 12 quills as part of their quarterly stationery ration, or they could substitute those for one metal nib. They used powdered ink and would mix it with water as it was needed.

    They wrote letters to people back home as often as they could and described battles, comrades and the places and the things they had seen during the war. Their stationary was often given to them by volunteers from the U.S. Sanitary Commission, a group of volunteers that supplied the army with items they needed and couldn’t readily obtain. Soldiers letters required no postage as long as the words “Soldiers Letter” was written on the envelope by an officer or chaplain”

    This ranger reconstructed , to the best of his ability, how Uncle Joshua died. He also gave us a map to the area where he was hit by a musket ball , very close to where he would have had to have been fighting. It was eerie for my wife and me to walk out there and stand right there…my quest was fulfilled.
    Since Uncle Joshua was an officer, his name was engraved on a stone in the cemetery in Knoxville where he was buried. I never made it there , yet, and I don’t travel any more, so maybe some day my daughter can go visit where out bravest ancestor is resting.
    Since I’ve told all this, maybe I should document a bit…I can’t link it, so I’ll edit a bit from an old history of DeKalb County , IN soldiers…this picks up after the battle of Shiloh , in which my uncle fought also…
    “In the battle of Chickamauga this regiment came on to the field
    about noon of September 19, 1863, and went into action first at the Brock
    field east of the Brotherton house, and was engaged all afternoon in
    assisting in driving the enemy the distance of about a mile east of where
    they first went into action, and was there on the afternoon and again in the
    night fight with Dodge’s brigade, on the Alexander and Reed’s Bridge road
    immediately south of the Winfrey field line. After the battle of Chickamauga
    and the return of the army to Chattanooga, the regiment remained at different
    stations in Tennessee, and a portion of the regiment re-enlisted as veterans
    at Blue Springs, that state, in January, 1864.”

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  29. coozledad said on June 21, 2008 at 6:40 am

    It’s been awhile since I opened a can or bottle of any Anheuser-Busch product, but when I did never got the water. Horse piss maybe, definitely not beer.
    Dexter: I read a pretty good general history of the Civil War that covers the western campaign in some depth, but it’s also notable for laying waste to the hagiographies of Grant and Lee.
    You can probably find it remaindered by now. It’s “The Warrior Generals” by Thomas B. Buell. He taught at UNC, and pissed a lot of people off who were schooled in the orthodox interpretation.

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  30. basset said on June 21, 2008 at 8:26 am

    I used to work with a guy who moved from Michigan to Nashville to be closer to Civil War history… and he had an amazing knowledge of it, we’d be going to lunch somewhere and he’d be pointing out troop movements down to company level.

    He’d already started researching a book when I met him – there are so many Civil War books out there that he was having trouble finding an untouched topic and eventually landed on doing a history of the militia unit from his wife’s home town in east Tennessee.

    They’d been in the Battle of Nashville, that much was easy to find out… but when he got a little further into the research he learned that just before the battle, they’d camped… right where his house was.

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  31. MichaelG said on June 21, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    A-B truly makes lousy beer. ‘Though, I must admit that when I was young and thirsty and in the RVN I sure was happy to see a can of the stuff – even warm. Ever notice that it’s made with rice, not barley? I’d much rather have a Stella. Maybe they could teach A-B something about making beer.

    I have no ancestors who fought in the civil war. My grandfather, however, was active in the IRA. Story goes that he, who was from the South (Swinford, County Mayo), killed a British policeman in the North and suddenly developed an interest in emigrating to the US. This would have been about a hundred years ago.

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  32. moe99 said on June 21, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Scholarship on the Civil War has undergone some profound changes. When I went to high school in Defiance, Ohio our US History teacher, Mr. Gordon made it clear that the war was fought over states’ rights first and foremost. Well, actually it was fought about slavery first and foremost, but unlike most history being written by the victors, the South was able to rewrite the history of the Civil War, as historian James McPherson, proves in his book, This Mighty Scourge.

    There’s also a wonderful essay from the New Yorker earlier this year that lists several other books of interest, one by the now president of Harvard, Drew Gilpin Faust. I read it but it was very, very difficult to read all about the many deaths and what grew out of it. Here is a link to the New Yorker review.


    I would also highly recommend the fiction book, Lincoln’s Dreams by Connie Willis. Reading that made me realize that here in the upper left hand corner of the map, no one really grasps the significance of the Civil War because this was a territory at the time. Albeit under the Dred Scott decision, one could bring their slaves here and it had to be honored.

    Off to enjoy our heat wave: it was 77 dgrees yesterday and for the first time all year, we slept with the windows open. Ah, summer in Seattle!

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  33. MichaelG said on June 21, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    It’s only 12:30 here and already it’s over 100. Lots of fires. It’s going to be a scary summer. There should be a way to split the difference with the rain between us and the midwest.

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  34. coozledad said on June 21, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Micheal G: We were having weather like that week before last, but we’ve cooled on off into the usual summer misery. Usually I don’t have to start siestas until mid-July, but we’re there now. I think I was suffering a little heat exhaustion on the day we hit 105. You really have to cool down fast if that happens, and in our case that means jumping into a cattle trough full of well water.
    I used to brew beer. I was OK at making porter, and had occasional success with lagering. I once even made a rauschbier, and learned that was German for “soapy ashtray”. My ales were a meal by themselves. Chewy, as my wife would say. I tried to fix this by switching to a champagne yeast to break the malt down some more. It worked: It was much drier and the natural carbonation was beautiful; but it had the roughly the same alcohol content as mead. It would flatten even seasoned drinkers. It just wasn’t beer anymore.
    I gave half a case of it to a fellow bartender, and he drank his usual nightly six out of it. Fell asleep sitting up.
    He did ask me to brew him some more ,though.

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  35. MichaelG said on June 21, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    I made beer a couple of times many years ago when I (we) lived in San Francisco. It was quite good. I really surprised myself. Maybe I should try it again. Jeez, that would have been back in the early ’80s.

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  36. Danny said on June 21, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Civil War? I heard tell that it is referred to as the “War of Nawthun Aggression” in some parts.

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  37. LA Mary said on June 21, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I couldn’t access the flickr party photos at work. Now I’ve seen them and they made my day. Coozledad’s addition is great too. I’ve been to parties like the slide show one and the beer fairy variety. Also the puking type. I guess I’ve had a rich and varied life.

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  38. MichaelG said on June 21, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    The high today was 102. What caught my attention was the merc hitting 100 very early. Usually it takes longer to reach peak temps. High clouds floated in to ease the temperature. Unfortunately, those clouds mean dry lightning in the foothills and in the Sierra. 102 is just summer weather here in Sacramento. We can have stretches of 20 days and more of triple digit temps. The thing that makes the place so livable is the evening cool off. At night the temps fall to the 60’s or even the 50’s before climbing back to their highs. As a result, evening activities like BBQs or sleeping or whatever are most pleasant.

    I’ll confess. The thing that has me edgy is the fire danger. The temps, low humidity and high winds are fire magic. My (once) wife lives in the woods. In a gorgeous house to be sure, but still in the woods. The very dry, tinder dry woods. Sure we split last year, but without rancor and after 30 years together there are still feelings and the fire danger and the dry lightning have me very scared. So.

    I might have been to a party or two. Lord, how does one pick? There was one when I was in school at the Univ of Ill when I observed Roger Ebert going out a back window as the police raiding the place came in the front door.

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  39. coozledad said on June 21, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    LA Mary: I was too old for this type of party by the time I could afford the gear. But I still have compromising party pictures of people who have now achieved some measure of fame or political weight. I rifle through them at night, dreaming of the money I’ll get when their tenure committee comes up, or they’ve been nominated to the supreme court. But then I remember they took pictures of me.
    It’s not a plan.

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  40. Danny said on June 22, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    MichaelG, yeah, this heat is early. It kind of caught me off guard Thursday afternoon when I went out for a bike ride. It was a long one for a weeknight (50 miles), but I wasn’t really pushing. Well, the last 300 yards I had to walk and call my wife to come get me. Nearest I can tell, it was an electrolyte problem, because I felt hydrated, but it was scary. I felt significantly below average. Took me about an hour to recover. EDIT: And Thursday it wasn’t even really hot. Just starting the heat wave.

    This morning I got out early (6:30 AM) to beat the heat. I’m coming back at at about 9 AM and a guy was in trouble the same way I was at the same hill. I stopped to see if he needed any help, but he said he thought he’d be OK, but he was thinking about calling his wife.

    I’m going to watch it this summer. And don’t even get me started on wildfires. I thought that was what October was for.

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  41. LAMary said on June 23, 2008 at 10:48 am

    It was 111 in the parking lot on Friday when I left work. Horrible heat, and the fire anxiety makes us all crazy. It’s not that early for this sort of heat though. I remember being in labor with my first born on June 25, 1990, and it was 118 outside.

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  42. MichaelG said on June 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    I didn’t mean early in the year, I meant early in the day. 95 at 10:30 in the AM means a really hot day but Sat it clouded up so we only topped out at 102. It hasn’t gotten really hot here yet. The fire stuff scares the crap out of me for my ex-wife (as above). There is so much smoke that visibility is down and we can smell it inside the sealed building here. Outside it irritates one’s eyes and throat.

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