Luxury amid the chaos.

Yesterday I had a conflict, between a need for some vegetables and a little exercise vs. about a million unreturned phone calls. As you all know, when you’re waiting for a call, the phone waits until you’re out or mowing the lawn or in the bathroom to ring; this is the first rule of phoning. But what is all our technology for if not to serve us, so I forwarded the landline to the iPhone, mounted the bike and rode off to the vegetable stand a couple miles up Mack Avenue.

On the way back, “Spirit in the Sky” faded out, and my ringtone — the “old phone” ring, the metal-bell ring — faded in. I touched the “answer” button and coasted to a bench in the park strip about 100 feet farther down the road. Sat down, had a conference call and a little chitchat, using the earbuds and the mic attached to the cord, and we all heard one another just fine. When I hit “end call,” “Spirit in the Sky” faded back in from pause, and I rode on home. It was the fades that got me. I don’t argue with anyone who says Apple can be a little too twee in their product design, but let me just say, it’s nice to have a few things in your life that not only work well, but better than well.

Snowed again today, and probably for the rest of the week, which is good, because otherwise I might be reduced to staring at the wall and wondering what it’s going to feel like to still be working when I’m 85, probably cleaning toilets for the occupying Chinese army or something. (Relax: I intent to be a spy. No one notices the old cleaning woman. You might as well be invisible.) In the meantime, if you live in metro Detroit and have lost your house to foreclosure (but not your computer), you are instructed to e-mail me immediately. If not, enjoy a little bloggage:

Yesterday I was trashing graphic designers, but I hope it goes without saying they’re not all bad. My former employer once sent a reporter halfway around the world for a story, and ran two of the dumbest graphics I’ve ever seen with his reports — one showed the time difference between Fort Wayne and Central Asia, and the other detailed his plane connections traveling there. These ran every day for two weeks, and I winced every time. Needless to say, this wasn’t the New York Times, where graphics mean something. Here, an amazingly detailed and nuanced breakdown of the no votes on yesterday’s bailout package, by district.

An entertaining read on the retirement of a Detroit homicide detective, with the obligatory hard-bitten quote:

An envelope kept in his desk drawer is a collage of family highlights and back-alley insanity. There is a photograph of a fishing trip; his son in his naval uniform; Carlisle and his wife, Nancy, at their wedding. Then there is the one of the man with his face half shot off; a nude woman dead in an abandoned garage; a corpse under a Christmas tree. “More people are murdered around Christmastime in Detroit,” Carlisle said of that photograph, the tree shining in the window. “I think it’s to avoid buying Christmas gifts.”

Bicycle commuting at night is hazardous, particularly on Woodward Avenue, which is eight or 10 lanes across in this stretch; still, people have to get to their jobs, and some of them are poor, and sometimes they pay the ultimate price.

I may be scarce around here for a couple of days, but I’ll do my best. In the meantime, commence your bickering. Only 35 days before we can break into separate groups and commence gloating!

Posted at 9:32 am in Current events, Detroit life |

45 responses to “Luxury amid the chaos.”

  1. brian stouder said on September 30, 2008 at 9:52 am

    …still, people have to get to their jobs, and some of them are poor, and sometimes they pay the ultimate price.

    True enough, and a horrible story.

    And the counterpoint is, this story – which I confess put tears in my eyes, and haunts me still

    an excerpt –

    The woman weaved her way through traffic that was backed up for miles, and as she came up on the scene, she pulled her car off the roadway. Several law enforcement officials walked over to the car to share with this mother the fate of her child. As she heard the devastating news, she burst out screaming.

    This crash happened within a mile or two of Pam’s folks’ place; we’ve been down that stretch of US-24 many times. It is narrow (2-lane) and constricted (heavily wooded, and with not much shoulder)…and slow-moving mopeds have no business being out there, period.

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  2. Dorothy said on September 30, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Oh Brian I thought of many of the NN.C readers when I read this in the Dispatch on Saturday. So, so sad. I assume the guy on the moped realized what happened.

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  3. brian stouder said on September 30, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Dorothy – yes. One assumes that extensive checking for any trace of alcohol and/or other intoxicants has been (or is being) conducted, amongst all the drivers involved.

    It looks like the chain reaction crash granted everyone maybe a few seconds to act and/or react, and then their fates were sealed.

    The blackest, and yet most utterly sincere thought to strike me, was that it would have been better for the first dumptruck to have knocked the moped guy into the next world…but here we are.

    That NY Times graphic package WAS remarkable, and informative, and nuanced. Such stories in this heavily laden election year are almost like a hybrid of real-time history plus historiography; McCain attacks the NY Times for reportage on his top campaign aides (yet does not dispute the essence of the story) one day, and then this huge, game-changing economic crisis detonates and Congress goes into gyrations and we get this remarkable disection of the forces at work within that body’s deliberations and votes….and no doubt we will hear lots more about the “real” reasons the R’s voted the way they did (if you ask me, their “Country First” mantra, which was always suspect, is now shown to be utterly fraudulent!)

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  4. John said on September 30, 2008 at 11:18 am

    An ordinary voter is elevated to journalist status when he shouted out a question to Gov. Palin about crossing the Pakistani border. Not just an standard elitist journalist, but one who engages of Gotcha Journalism. I am confused as to who should be more insulted: voters or journalists?

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  5. Jolene said on September 30, 2008 at 11:28 am

    There’s even worse news about the death of children in today’s WaPo–the second case this year of a mother killing her kids. Awful.

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  6. mark said on September 30, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Toughto keep the fighting going here with Congress taking a day off. What’s with that? In the middle of a crisis?

    The dems have just become puppets for the religious left, totally beholden to the torah thumpers. The takeover of the dems by radical judaism is as great a threat to world peace as radical Islam.

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  7. Peter said on September 30, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Mark: Torah Thumpers? Oy, that would make a good name for a rock band.

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  8. Bruce Fields said on September 30, 2008 at 11:44 am

    “slow-moving mopeds have no business being out there, period.”

    According to the article, the moped was making a left turn onto a driveway. It’s not clear to me what advantage a faster vehicle would have had in that situation.

    From the article and from your description of the road it sounds like people regularly drive at a speed such that their stopping distance exceeds the distance they can see ahead–and this on a road with driveways!

    So they’re taking a gamble that the next curve isn’t hiding a deer, or a fallen tree, or a crash, or someone waiting to turn left…. As long as people are willing to take that gamble, I don’t see how this kind of accident is preventable.

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  9. Catherine said on September 30, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Nice try, Mark. On Rosh Hashanah, no less. May I suggest you repent?

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  10. moe99 said on September 30, 2008 at 11:53 am

    You might want to check on how long Rosh Hashanah has been observed in Congress. Just sayin’

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  11. Julie Robinson said on September 30, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Let’s respect their expression of faith. Besides, everyone needs to step back a bit and calm down. Panic doesn’t solve anything. And no, I’m not even looking at the 401K account.

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  12. Dexter said on September 30, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Deepest sympathies go out to the family of Jacqueline Robinson.
    I just did an inventory of the local people who have been killed or injured while cycling, and my list faults motorists every time.
    Two kids hit while atop a railroad overpass road, narrow shoulder but wide lanes, another case was a young girl pedalling to the pool and rode through a lined walkway with the green light, and a car was intent on stopping in the walkway instead of behind it, and killed the child. My neice was hit while biking on a sidewalk (legal here) , and a car exited an alley and clobbered her, bruises only. 51 years ago my brother exited our driveway, his fault, and received a concussion when hit from behind. So many incidents, so many innocent riders killed.
    Early yesterday morning I had a shock. It was before dawn and I was “doggin’ ” . Doggin’ involves a dog on a leash which is snapped on a strap around my bicycle handlebars, and a slow ride with my Labrador.
    I hit a small bump and my left handlebar snapped off!! The metal just gave way 95%, and was barely hanging .
    This could have been a really bad deal, easily a cracked skull if I had fallen. I returned home and installed a new handlebar; I doubt I’ll ever see a situation like that again.

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  13. Julie Robinson said on September 30, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    I’ve mentioned it here before, but my bycyclist brother-in-law was struck by a van making a right turn on red on a blind corner. He didn’t have a scratch or bruise anywhere except for his brain. He was way too young to die, and it was way too soon for his family to lose him. A helmet wouldn’t have saved Jacqueline Robinson, but it would have saved my b-i-l David Robinson.

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  14. Dexter said on September 30, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Late to the game, I embraced email right away when I got a computer eight years ago. Sadly, that was near the end of the public’s fascination and delight with email.
    As we all know, what IMing didn’t do, texting did do, in reducing email to being an “old school” way to communicate. I have sent only about 25 text messages , totally. My plan does not include unlimited texting , and I resent paying for the service.
    I thought I had a modern phone, but no, my tiny flip phone is just a relic these days, as “all the cool kids” have the pda s with the keyboards . Oh well. I’ll muddle through with Yahoo! email and my little flip phone.

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  15. beb said on September 30, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    “Snow” Nancy? The Pointes are different. It only rained here in Detroit.

    The bail-out plan was widely unpopular. Few people cared to give billions of dollars to people who had wasted all their funds and caused this crisis. The Republicans who voted against the bail-out are reputed to be contested elections, and therefore more sensitive to the people.

    And now that the Fed is pouring billions into Wall St. without Congress’s approval (or funding) it may be we don’t need a bail-out any more. Just an impeachment of an imperial president.

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  16. Bruce Fields said on September 30, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    “As long as people are willing to take that gamble, I don’t see how this kind of accident is preventable.”

    Though I don’t mean to clear the moped rider, who might, for example, have just cut off that first dump truck. Still, by the time there’s four vehicles involved, I can’t help suspecting somebody wasn’t watching their speed and/or following distance….

    Anyway, my only real point is just that replacing the left-turning moped by a car or a truck wouldn’t necessarily have prevented anything.

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  17. LAMary said on September 30, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Yesterday I bought a copy of The Poetry and Prose of Samuel Taylor Coleridge for my son Tom. Specifically, I bought it because it included a section of letters to someone named Thomas Poole: my son’s name. This morning his little brother was asking what the letters said, and Tom said, “LOL, OMG what R U doing? WTF. Sam.”

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  18. brian stouder said on September 30, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Only 35 days before we can break into separate groups and commence gloating!

    Those of us who SURVIVE, that is!!

    an excerpt –

    The study found that on average, 24 more people died in car crashes during voting hours on presidential election days than on other October and November Tuesdays. That amounts to an 18 percent increased risk of death. And compared with non-election days, an additional 800 people suffered disabling injuries.


    “This is one of the most off-the-wall things I’ve ever read, but the science is good,” said Roy Lucke, senior scientist at Northwestern University’s Center for Public Safety. He was not involved in the study, which appears in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

    (and we’ll forgive the first smart-ass who points out how many people will get killed or injured because of the election results!)

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  19. Bill said on September 30, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Re: election day deaths and injuries, maybe it’s all of us old farts with diminished driving skills who only drive on election day. Another reason to vote early.

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  20. joodyb said on September 30, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    LAMary, you made my day.

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  21. A Riley said on September 30, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    I grew up in Logansport, and it sounds like US 24 west of town hasn’t changed since I moved away. Two lanes, winding and narrow, lined with big trees, driveways, intersections, etc. And my mother always used to say she knew when she was getting back into town when some d*mn fool would turn left right in front of her.

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  22. Dexter said on September 30, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    US 24 is being rebuilt and rerouted from Toledo to Fort Wayne. I know a lot of people who just won’t drive it the way it is now. I like it, driving along the Maumee , but the numbers convince me that we need the improvement.
    Da Trib was mentioned here earlier…it’s stunning to read the crime reports that dominate the Chicago news…it’s just commonplace to read where there were multiple shootings at multiple sites, and last weekend a cop was gunned down, dead now, by a perp who was getting served papers.
    I know most folks shrug and say “that’s Chicago!”, but this year has been horrible. Governor Blagojevich even offered state troopers a couple months ago, which Daley turned down.

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  23. alex said on September 30, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Dex, used to love the Reader‘s Chicago crime reports better. It was always the random rundown of the freaks committing the freak crimes. Map of the lakefront with cartoon graphics depicting things like assaults with frozen gefilte fish. Homeless, trannies, drunk Cubs fans… Always culture on a collision course.

    Of course, what Fort Wayne lacks in diversity it more than makes up for in lunacy, and our police blotter can go toe to toe with anything in Boyztown on a given day. Or Englewood. When your city is so much smaller, those drive-by shootings on the other end of town seem to hit so much closer to home.

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  24. moe99 said on September 30, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    From tonights Palin-Couric segment:

    Couric: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?

    Palin: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

    Couric: What, specifically?

    Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.

    Couric: Can you name a few?

    Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where it’s kind of suggested, “Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?” Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.

    here’s the video which is even worse:

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  25. Dexter said on September 30, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    moe, really? She couldn’t even blurt out “WAPPO!” or “The Journal!” or “The Times!” ?
    Wow , whatta game! The White Sox just advanced to the playoffs with a 1-0 win over Minnesota in one of the best baseball games I have ever seen….
    Alex, I dig it. There are scores of dangerous cities in the USA; Chicago had a particularly violent summer. Da Mare was in the stands tonight at US Cellular Field , cheering on his Sox, even though he left Bridgeport years ago for …where did he move to?…River North? My nephew interned in his office while he attended De Paul…he got a huge portrait of Mayor Daley inscribed personally to me…ain’t that sweet?

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  26. Bill said on September 30, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Mayor Daley lives in a South Loop town house. I’m hopin’ (sorry, it’s the Palin influence) there’s a Chicago subway series. That way I won’t care who wins.

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  27. Gasman said on October 1, 2008 at 12:39 am

    It makes me wince to watch Sarah Palin try to answer Couric’s questions. To make matters much worse, Couric’s questions aren’t really all that difficult. She can’t even handle easy questions delivered in a friendly manner. It’s kind of of like realizing that you’re about to witness an accident and there is nothing you can do to stop it. It is sad and pathetic that Palin seems totally clueless as to just how stupid she sounds. She makes Dan Quayle seem like Sir Isaac Newton. If the stakes for her actually being elected weren’t so high, one might be tempted to feel pity for her. However, her seemingly one to one arrogance to ignorance ratio makes it difficult for me to feel anything but contempt for her.

    More and more conservative voices are abandoning Palin:

    So far, the list includes George Will, David Brooks, Kathleen Parker, and former Bush speech writer David Frum. How many Republicans find Palin repellent?

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  28. moe99 said on October 1, 2008 at 12:56 am

    Okay, we’ve seen the first part of this, but we haven’t seen her fumble around about the morning after pill and her lesbian girlfriend:

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  29. Gasman said on October 1, 2008 at 1:26 am

    We can add Fareed Zakaria to the list:

    Some of Zakaria’s observations about Palin’s peppy persiflage:

    “Will someone please put Sarah Palin out of her agony?”

    “Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president.”

    “In these times, for John McCain to have chosen this person to be his running mate is fundamentally irresponsible. McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, it is simply not true.”

    Palin is a vapid twit who has absolutely no business on the national/international stage.

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  30. Jolene said on October 1, 2008 at 5:54 am

    The McCain campaign seems to be following the “let Palin be Palin” advice they’ve gotten from Bill Kristol and others. Yesterday, she was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt, winner of the coveted “Smarmiest Right-Wing Talk Show Host” award.

    As the transcript shows, she wants to “put government back on the side of the people of Joe Sixpack . . . ” Who knew Joe had people?

    The interview also affords her numerous opportunities to reveal her horrible victimization at the hands of the media.

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  31. john c said on October 1, 2008 at 6:41 am

    What I want to know is, why didn’t I think of the “gotcha” excuse a long time ago?! Next time I’m, say, in a job interview, and they ask me some tough question I’m not ready for, I’m going to go all huffy and rip this potential future boss for stooping to “gotcha interviewing!”
    And I can see it now. President McCain sends Vice President Palin to Russia with a message for Putin. “But I’m warning him,” McCain says, “if he tries to trip her up with any “gotcha” questions, there will be hell to pay. I expect him to listen to her read my statement, then the meeting is OVER. No questions!”

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  32. coozledad said on October 1, 2008 at 10:11 am

    I just saw McCain’s interview with the editorial board of the DesMoines Register, and it’s just stunning. The man is unhinged.
    I told my wife if he’d been rattling a pair of ball bearings I would have sworn I was watching The Caine Mutiny.
    The Republicans really are the daddy party; and daddy is one crazy son of a bitch this time out.

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  33. brian stouder said on October 1, 2008 at 10:20 am

    and daddy is one crazy son of a bitch this time out.

    and what diner did daddy find his new hottie in?

    Worth repeating:

    COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?

    PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media —

    COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.

    PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

    COURIC: Can you name any of them?

    PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.

    I mean, come on now. Can she not even bullshit her way past such simple questions? Has she been instructed to NEVER give a specific (and therefore verifiable) answer, to ANY question?

    What’s your favorite color? (“All of them; any of them that have been put in front of me”???) What’s your favorite dessert? Who’s your favorite Beatle? What’s your favorite movie?

    Ay yi yi

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  34. john c said on October 1, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Brian … that’s exactly what I was thinking. Even if she doesn’t read a newspaper, how about something like: “Well, I’m very busy. But between the papers and online I try to get a good look at (name the Anchorage paper) and the Wall Street Journal. I’ll look at the Times, though maybe not everyday.” I mean, come on. It’s a softball question if ever there was one.

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  35. LAMary said on October 1, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Keith Olbermann was talking about that question with a Gene Robinson from WaPo last night. Gene said that Sarah was probably reading Le Monde at that very moment, or Asahi Shinbun maybe.

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  36. moe99 said on October 1, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Well, hugh hewitt compared the gibson and couric interviews to ‘poo quizzes. Seems to me this is stuff she should already know.

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  37. moe99 said on October 1, 2008 at 11:36 am

    meant to say ‘pop’. Guess that’s what I get trying to write on my blackberry on the bus going to work….

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  38. Jolene said on October 1, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Wow! Those clips of the interviews in Iowa are really something. Definitely seems like he’s losing it. I wonder what he’s doing there anyway. All indicators are that the state is in the Dem column. Seems like he’d be spending his time somewhere where the race is closer.

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  39. The Subtle Rudder said on October 1, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Just finished watched the Des Moines Register videos, and am now submitting my registration for a personal firearm. I’m afraid it’ll take more than a 2-chihuahua alarm system to protect the homestead, should Grandpa Jaw-Twitch and Lady MacMoose get elected.

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  40. LAMary said on October 1, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Between the election and the economy and my fourteen year old being EXTREMELY FOURTEEN. I’m freaking losing it.

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  41. brian stouder said on October 1, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Mary – our 13 year old has been EXTREMELY 13 ever since school began. We had a loud, protracted discussion about how unfair it is (or isn’t) that his teacher keeps giving his report back to him for further revisions, WHEN IT IS ALREADY PERFECT, AS ANY IDIOT CAN PLAINLY SEE!!

    by way of saying, I can relate

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  42. LAMary said on October 1, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Moe, I thought maybe you meant a Pooh quiz.

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  43. whitebeard said on October 1, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    We have a 13-year-old grandson who has been EXTREMELY 13 since he was 11, who has a pack of girls cheering him on at baseball games where he is incredible, steals more bases than Wall Street steals dollars. I can also relate to Brian and LAMary because he lives with us full time.

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  44. LAMary said on October 1, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    My son tore his room and desk and backpack apart last night trying to find a note his teach had written to me regarding problems he is having keeping his materials organized. The irony was lost on him.

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  45. Jolene said on October 1, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Mary, that is hysterical! When he’s 25, he’ll see the humor of it, assuming that he manages to get organized in the meantime.

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