When we were in San Francisco, Kate asked how cold it got there in the winter. Easy enough to check in the land where they invented wi-fi, and lo it was revealed, the chart of average monthly temperatures a gentle undulation, like something lapping a Caribbean beach. If it were a hill, it wouldn’t even make a cyclist breathe hard.
“Let’s check how that compares with us,” I told her, and a few keystrokes later we beheld the brutal sine wave of average Detroit temperatures. It was one of those tell-me-again-why-I-live-here moments.
And yesterday was one of those tell-me-why-I-live-here days. Hot and muggy, the sort of day where pumping up the tires on the bike sends sweat pouring down your face. Over the years, I find my sweat glands closing — I now have a cool, dry handshake, something that eluded me throughout my dewy youth, when I was doing a lot of job interviews — everywhere but from the neck up. I guess this is another sign of creeping geezerism, but it makes me feel like the human sprinkler, schvitzing like a firehose pointed at the sky. I came home from the gym with a wet head, looking like Scary Sweaty Woman, and it set the tone for the day, spent mostly indoors, glaring at the thick air outside.
I got out to vote, of course, stopping a moment to marvel at the brave souls who volunteer to be poll workers, a 14-hour day in Michigan. Turnout was barely noticeable, but they still seemed to be in a dither. They’re always in a dither — there’s something about the rituals of voting combined with the natural ditherhood of senior citizens that makes the process seem ridiculously complicated. First you fill out a request for a ballot. Then you sign in, have your ID checked, get your name crossed off the list, get a ballot and step into the privacy booth to fill it out. Our precinct uses optical-character scans — the fill-in-the-oval, paper-ballot method — and along with your ballot you’re handed a complicated modesty shield, a cardboard folder with strategic cutouts, designed to let you feed your ballot into the machine without revealing a single oval to prying eyes.
Only there are never any prying eyes, and frankly, I don’t care if they see who I voted for. I’m an open book. The folder is cumbersome, and once I tried to reject it at the source. “That’s not necessary,” I said. “I know the procedure.”
Klaxon horns might as well have sounded. A voter is rejecting the folder? Unleash the hounds! The lady looked so flummoxed I finally said, “Well, OK,” took it and did my bit like a good citizen. Some rules aren’t worth the trouble of breaking.
Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick pulled it out. It was close, however; if there had been only one opponent instead of two, I’m confident she would have gone down in flames. Alan was listening to her victory speech, and she said she planned on staying in Congress until she was damn good and ready to leave. In some cities they pretend to serve at the pleasure of the electorate, but not here. (Well, at least she’s honest, because that’s how long she’ll be there.)
My own Michigan House district was a livelier race. The seat was opened up by term limits, with a 10-candidate scrum to fill it. The most interesting race was the Republican primary, where a well-funded Grosse Pointe CPA with three names pulled out a decisive victory over a couple city councilmen and assorted novices. She was the victim of last-minute robo-calling; a woman’s voice with a heavy southern accent (yeah, I know — weird) said she wasn’t really a CPA nor a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, as claimed on her campaign literature. Two rounds of calls went out, both with female voices, suggesting a tone of nasty gossip. Fingers are pointing on the blogs, but so far no one accepts responsibility.
Anyway, she won. Water under the bridge.
Today looks clearer and a few degrees cooler — hello, high pressure — so I’m headed out to enjoy it. In the meantime, I hope the rest of you are reading Coozledad’s blog, Rurritable, with his amusing accounts of life on his North Carolina farm. The animal pictures are the best, as C’dad spurns the usual Holsteins and Yorkshires in favor of cattle with horns and emus. (What is that cow wearing in that milking photo, dude? A girdle?) I also like his animal naming, a true sign of a vegetarian farmer. The current calf is Calpurnia, and she’s growing up at her mother’s side, unusual for a dairy calf on most farms. She’ll be a well-adjusted and contented cow when it’s her turn, I expect.
Oh, the bull’s name: Llewd. Best bull name ever.
My fascination with the Detroit News’ Tax Blog grows by the day, as it seems to be building to an inevitable conclusion: Everyone in Detroit owes the IRS something. For now, some owe more than others, including Aretha Franklin, whose money problems don’t interest me as much as the engineering of her evening wear; she keeps showing up in these strapless numbers. Why can’t we harness this power for the struggling automotive sector, I ask you?
That’s it for me, folks. Off to the library.