Just doing our part.

You can keep the wraps on a straight man’s gay gene, but only for so long. Alan bought a chair this weekend, and spent most of Sunday rearranging furniture and rehanging pictures. (Maybe I need to rethink the significance of that leather jacket.) I’m hoping it’s not one of those things our biographer will take note of in hindsight — the chair-buying, that is:

“Tell me again why we’re buying furniture in the midst of an economic crisis.”

“Because that’s when it goes on sale.”

Can’t argue with that. And now, for the first time in my life, I have a recliner under my roof. When Alan and I bought our first house, his mother said, “I’d like to buy you two a chair.” I said, “Wow, great, thanks. No recliners, though.” Well. I might as well have slapped her face. There was the evidence, if she was looking for it, that her son had fallen in with one of those latte-sipping elitists. Recliners are as common in Defiance as televisions. Whereas I’m the daughter of a furniture salesman who wouldn’t have allowed one across the threshold at gunpoint.

I held firm, though. We ended up getting a very nice chair from Ethan Allen that didn’t recline but continues to serve us well and looks as good as the day it arrived. And now, almost 20 years later, designers have perfected the stealth recliner — no hideous overstuffed tuck-and-roll upholstery, no handle, nothing that screams La-Z-Boy. Just a little push and you’re reclining.

It’s a placeholder until my ship comes in and delivers an Eames lounge and ottoman. Or the sheriff’s deputy comes to evict us. Life is a coin toss; at least we’ll have a nice chair to sit on.

Now I have to go around vacuuming up little piles of plaster dust under the drill holes and wait for the coffee to sink in. In the meantime, a little light bloggage for a Monday:

David Pogue’s Tech Tips for the Basic Computer User, 90 percent of which you probably already know, but you’ll appreciate the 10 percent you don’t. I learned something, anyway.

Mark Bittman revisits the Easiest Bread in the World (which didn’t work for me, btw). Hope springs eternal; I’ll try it again.

For a good cry, call Gene, writing about old dogs:

I believe I know exactly when Harry became an old dog. He was about 9 years old. It happened at 10:15 on the evening of June 21, 2001, the day my family moved from the suburbs to the city. The move took longer than we’d anticipated. Inexcusably, Harry had been left alone in the vacated house — eerie, echoing, empty of furniture and of all belongings except Harry and his bed– for eight hours. When I arrived to pick him up, he was beyond frantic.

He met me at the door and embraced me around the waist in a way that is not immediately reconcilable with the musculature and skeleton of a dog’s front legs. I could not extricate myself from his grasp. We walked out of that house like a slow-dancing couple, and Harry did not let go until I opened the car door.

He wasn’t barking at me in reprimand, as he once might have done. He hadn’t fouled the house in spite. That night, Harry was simply scared and vulnerable, impossibly sweet and needy and grateful. He had lost something of himself, but he had gained something more touching and more valuable. He had entered old age.

And thanks to either Jolene or Moe, who found this story from the WashPost, which explains life in Michigan at this moment very well:

To understand why — and to understand Obama’s widening lead over McCain in a crucial state — is to see an American worker pushed to desperation. A Wall Street bailout for $700 billion dollars? After six years at Dollar General, Fleck earns $10.35 an hour and receives an annual raise of 25 cents. She gave up Fantastic Sams and now cuts her hair over the sink in the bathroom.

Michigan is in its eighth year of a ransacked economy that has lost 322,000 manufacturing jobs in this time. The state’s unemployment rate is 8.9 percent, the highest in the nation. The Pew Charitable Trust is predicting that one of every 36 homes in Michigan will fall under foreclosure by next year. The evidence is everywhere. Fleck’s son tells her that poachers are stripping metal and copper from abandoned houses. The family living next to her sister lost their home, leaving behind a deep freezer full of meat that began to rot and gas the neighborhood.

Finally, please don’t express another opinion about the Wall Street crisis until you’ve listened to “This American Life” this week. Podcast, stream, etc. here. This is Pulitzer-worthy journalism, only they don’t give Pulitzers for radio, so it’s Peabody-worthy, instead. This is a companion piece to “The Giant Pool of Money,” which explained the roots of the subprime meltdown better than anyone. Seriously: This is a required text.

Back later.

Posted at 9:10 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

46 responses to “Just doing our part.”

  1. deb said on October 6, 2008 at 9:41 am

    I have a no-knead recipe too, but don’t know if it works with whole grains. You’ve had this, Nance — the peasant bread baked in a bowl. Minimal ingredients, no kneading, twice-raised yeast dough, sublime. If anyone wants the recipe, holla.

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  2. Julie Robinson said on October 6, 2008 at 9:52 am

    No-knead whole grain bread? Breadmaker. The end.

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  3. alex said on October 6, 2008 at 10:11 am

    To this day kicking myself for not snagging up the Eames lounger and ottoman back when the thrift stores couldn’t give them away for $25. These days the used ones cost as much as the new.

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  4. Halloween Jack said on October 6, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Here’s an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education that compares the current situation to the Panic of 1873; disturbing parallels, etc.

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  5. John said on October 6, 2008 at 10:35 am

    OT, but watched a great movie this weekend (NetFlix), City of God. I’m not a big foreign movie buff, but this one was a gem. The subtitles didn’t bother me as I have been using them lately to avoid missing dialogue. This film has lots of violence as it depicts the government housing residents of Rio.

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  6. jcburns said on October 6, 2008 at 10:36 am

    holla, Deb, or challah?

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  7. brian stouder said on October 6, 2008 at 10:41 am

    OK – so this talk about Eames chairs and ottomans made me curious, and I clicked the link…..and all I can say is –

    Great Balls of Fire!!


    I bet every one of the golden parachute-outfitted sons (and daughters) of bitchs who crashed our credit/mortgage banking markets had one of these $4500 chairs with $1500 ottomans!

    (and once again, good ol’ NN.c surprises and pleases its readers with timely and topical ‘fun facts to know and tell’!)

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  8. nancy said on October 6, 2008 at 10:48 am

    After the tech bubble burst, people were swarming over Silicon Alley (NYC) and Valley in search of gently used Herman Miller Aeron chairs in office-equipment liquidations. Maybe this will be the table crumb that falls …[Rubs hands together]… to me!

    And as Alex points out, if they had bought those chairs? At least they’d still be worth something, unlike all those mortgages we just got stuffed down our throats.

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  9. Jolene said on October 6, 2008 at 10:56 am

    The Dow doesn’t seem to think much of that new legislation, Nance. Down 400+ points this morning. Think I’ll call my brother and find out whether there’d be a place for me on the farm when my retirement fund dissipates. Oh, and I just noticed that eBay has cut its workforce by 10%, an early contribution to the job loss figures we’re going to see at the end of the month.

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  10. Dorothy said on October 6, 2008 at 11:23 am

    John I saw “City of God” a couple of years ago on, perhaps, the Independent Film Channel or some such. Very affecting movie.

    The stock market has everyone in my office frazzled these days. No one is in the mood to donate money to a college when the economy is in the toilet.

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  11. Colleen said on October 6, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Wheee! my 403b is now worth less than I’ve been putting into it for ten years! Go U.S.!

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  12. Connie said on October 6, 2008 at 11:44 am

    That lovely Eames lounger is manufactured in my home town, and if you know someone who works there you can get them to get it for you at the employee price. OTOH my brother’s FIL bought one at a garage sale for $50.

    And all my old friends who spent their adult lives working for Herman have been laid off in recent years, even high level executives with 25 years in.

    I can’t read dog stories right now, we have just started the discussion about whether it is time for the big sleep for our old man Shih Tzu who is suffering from decongestive heart failure.

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  13. Connie said on October 6, 2008 at 11:46 am

    If you want to be Sarah Palin for Halloween, here is a link to your ready to print mask: http://media.philly.com/documents/palin_diy_mask.pdf

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  14. brian stouder said on October 6, 2008 at 11:53 am

    No one is in the mood to donate money to a college when the economy is in the toilet.

    And remember, as there WILL be a quizz on November 4, this is ALL the fault of low-income minorities, and others who had no business getting a mortgage in the first place!!

    Here is one of the more uneven articles on the mortgage meltdown (by turns it is enlightening, and then puzzling) from a Fort Wayne mortgage institution’s (Waterfield) point of view


    The article ends with this essentially impenetrable passage:

    Chapman agreed that concern for the employees kept the Waterfield family from selling for years. In the end, they couldn’t keep holding out. And the business might not exist now even if they had held out. “In retrospect, they absolutely made the right decision,” Steininger said. “They sold it for the wrong reasons, but it was the right decision.”

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  15. MichaelG said on October 6, 2008 at 11:56 am

    I’ve got an Eames chair with ottoperson. Had it for years. It is beautiful but my recliner is much more comfortable.

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  16. Catherine said on October 6, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    And here I thought mine was the only marriage foundering on the shoals of nice chair + otto vs. recliner. Can you please post a pic of the acceptable recliner? Perhaps my marriage can be saved.

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  17. Dorothy said on October 6, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Connie I could kiss you for that mask link! I had already decided to be a cowgirl for a costume party, and bought the pink & white checkered shirt, and a matching bandana. Now all I need is a rifle and a caribou corpse and I’m all set. Anyone know where I could get one of those?

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  18. Gasman said on October 6, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    I’m not sure if I can bring myself to read the Gene Weingarten piece about his beloved Harry. I’ve got a 9-10 year old dog, Pecos, who is currently in remission from multiple myeloma. Though he is responding well to chemo, he has aged dramatically in the last year, going from a gung-ho ballistic canine missile, to an increasingly slow senior citizen. His best buddy, Skamp, is even older by a year, but thankfully, is still the eternal puppy. I’ve gone down this road at least three times before with Moose, Koko, and Chance (just two years ago), but it never gets any easier. If I could, I would gladly subtract years from my own lifespan to add to theirs.

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  19. Jolene said on October 6, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    The Weingarten essay that Nancy linked to is, as I mentioned in the previous thread, drawn from a book called Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs. I think it’s mostly a photo book, but has, at least, this essay and possibly more of Gene’s writing. Just the thing for the old dog lover on your Christmas list.

    It’s just out. I imagine he’ll be doing some signings in the DC area. Will let you all know if I hear that he’ll be traveling to bookstores near you.

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  20. LAMary said on October 6, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    I’ve got a spare caribou corpse in my garage. Where should I send it?

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  21. Crabby said on October 6, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Dorothy – you can get a plush moose rug from Cabelas for your costume. Get the small rug, put black Xs on the eyes an sling it over your shoulder.

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  22. Kath said on October 6, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    In a pinch you could always use a deer carcass. Spray the antlers with a little Christmas tree flocking. Top it off with some brown paint. No one will know the difference. Just make sure you field dress it first!

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  23. Julie Robinson said on October 6, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    When we went recliner shopping, I told the salesman we didn’t want anything poofy. Smart man, he understood immediately, and bypassed 99.99% of the stock. We ended up with wing chairs in a tiny navy print and everyone was happy. Catherine, we bought them from a local shop but I think they are made by Lane.

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  24. brian stouder said on October 6, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    When we found out Chloe was on the way 41/2 years ago, we wanted a comfy rocker/recliner that, if it was barfed on, wouldn’t break our hearts….so poofy was perfectly fine!

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  25. Dexter said on October 6, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Eames + ottoman? Not for me…too much like a dentist’s chair…and why be chic when for just $1049 you can buy a BIG MAN’S recliner? HERE IT IS

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  26. LAMary said on October 6, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Dorothy, that is a really hideous chair. It looks like the Michelin man has been made into a chair.

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  27. Catherine said on October 6, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Dexter, exactly my husband’s dream chair/my nightmare chair.

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  28. Dorothy said on October 6, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Hey I don’t know nothin’ about no hideous chairs!

    I should be the hit of the party with that deer carcass slung over my shoulder. But ya know what, maybe I won’t use the carcass, cuz then I’d need a gas mask, and no one would see my great Palin mask with a gas mask over it!

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  29. coozledad said on October 6, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Alan’s right. Pretty soon that money will only be good for hygienic purposes anyway. But if you go back to the store in a couple days when the employees are looting it, you can get some choice furniture for a little sweat equity.

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  30. Bill said on October 6, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    The gloves are off now. Here’s a link to Obama’s 13 minute web video on McCain and the Keating 5.

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  31. brian stouder said on October 6, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    The gloves are off now.

    but we’re still wearing our lipstick and heels.

    The subpoena-floutin’, lipstick-wearin’, secesh-lovin’, plain speakin’ barracuda pitbull Palin might oughta brace herself

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  32. MichaelG said on October 6, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    There are a lot of very nice chair/ottoman combos for sale at your local scandahoovian store. I’ve seen them priced from $300-400 up to $Several Thou. They tend to be very comfortable and to be very attractive if you like the look. Ikea has the Poang chair:


    for a hun and a half. The ottoman is about $85 extra. I’ve tried it. It’s comfy.

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  33. LAMary said on October 6, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Speaking of Ikea, I just got an email from them about various items that are on sale. At the end of the email it said that you can get a free breakfast and cup of coffee this Saturday, Sunday and Monday. It was noted this was not available at Ikea Hicksville, Houston, Seattle or Ikea.com.

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  34. caliban said on October 6, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Damn. I thought I suggested that NPR link, like last Thursday, you betcha. Must have thought the inclination was entirely too proximate to my most recent making an ass of myself. I’d say I’m one of those that thinks the commingling of Greed and Cheney Repulidanitis is attributable to me. The piece is so objective it’s almost a shock to the system that calls the Palin arround comments a ‘distortion’ when it actually constitutes actionable libel in civilized countries.

    So if you went to JSchool and esteem American English, you’re appalled and wish H. L. was around. How about Ralph McGill (for whom my school is named), who would have been appalled and incensed at the “not one of us” slander rendered in insidious pastel through bloodthirsty lipstick the color of raw liver?

    So much of this is seedy. Rich Lowry? Yeah, well Pat Buchanan (who doesn’t even know how to spell his own surname, or he’s trying to make sure he’s identified with anti-Republican interlopers). Politoporn?

    If this phony frontier diva is what Republicans have to hold onto aside from their joysticks, this just seems like moral bankruptcy. William Ayres was never accused with bombings until the FBI tried to scare him into testifying against Berardine Dohrn. He didn’t know dick except he was keen to get into her pants. I was there, and sex raised it’s head in the airspace.

    Weathermen blew up a bomb that killed a policeman. First time out. They never injured another human being. Blowing up things without hurting anybody seems to me like throwing tea of a wharf.

    So anyway. Connecting Obama with terrorism is so bizarre, the question becomes: Are American’s morons? Second: are we all chickenshit jerks? Three: Is any american safer since W ifnored the Presidential Daily Brief that said Obam, planes?

    And how much money did Cheney make? War criminalal bout to bolt. When these ahole conservatives pull this shit, WTH? Voters are idiots?

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  35. joodyb said on October 6, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    the eames chair makes me cry. i too have seen them sitting on suburban lawns. not in that great of shape, but still.

    why don’t people get that SP is reading from a script she clearly spent the weekend honing? and why isn’t anyone calling mccain on this sh1t? how can he call obama a terrorist? why is this ok? sorry. but do we want this monstrously uncivil man in DC, even?

    just to backtrack a bit, as vitriolic and slicing as that Rolling Stone piece seems, i’ve been referring everybody to it. i’d bet that nearly every inch of sourced reporting that’s been done on mccain is contained in those 10-11 (online) pages.

    listen to the first TAL segment first. their deconstruction of SEC proceedings this spring will raise the teeny hairs on your neck. there are those who say Christopher Cox did just what he was there to do. i doubt they’ve heard this reportage.

    i would’ve loved to be busing tables in a country club today when the dow hit minus 800.

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  36. Jolene said on October 6, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    In addition to TAL, you might want to take a look at this series of articles re the financial crisis in the NYT. I haven’t read them myself yet, so can’t recommend them, but they seem to be trying to provide the “big picture” view that I’ve been wanting.

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  37. nancy said on October 6, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    The latest installment in that series is very good. I sent it to my sister today.

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  38. Dave K. said on October 6, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Jolene, thank you for linking Richard Trumka’s speech on Obama and Racism. I want to mention it here because some folks might have missed it at the end of 109 comments to
    “Paging Tim Gunn” thread. That speech was given at the United Steelworkers convention July 2 or 3 and I was fortunate enough to be in attendance. As one of the YouTube comments stated, “It looks like there were a lot of “Joe Six-Packs” in that crowd…”. Indeed there were, and we rose to our feet in unison a half-dozen times or more in support of Mr. Trumka and his POWERFUL message.

    By the way, it was not only “Joe Six-Packs” standing, cheering and applauding. Men and women, black, white, and Hispanic, Americans and Canadians, were unanimous in support. If you haven’t done so yet, please spend 7 minutes to watch and listen. We ALL have too much at stake to allow racism to determine the outcome of this election.

    More video from the USW convention can be seen at the usw.org website.

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  39. moe99 said on October 6, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    I’m finally at home and able to cut and paste a friend’s comment on factcheck.org for you:

    ” I was just reading through factcheck.org and I was surprised at how superficial some of their own analysis is.

    For example, they were saying that an Obama ad was misleading when it referred to McCain’s recent article saying that (paraphrasing) we should do for health insurance what we have done in the last ten years for banking.

    According to factcheck.org., Obama’s ad claims that McCain said he would “reduce oversight of the health insurance industry … just ‘as we have done over the last decade in banking.’ ” But the ad takes the comments out of context, failing to explain what exactly McCain meant by the comparison to banking. He was talking specifically about allowing the sale and purchase of health insurance plans across state lines.

    Factcheck.org is not paying attention. McCain’s proposal to allow the sale and purchase of health insurance plans across state lines is intended to create a national market that will therefore be less subject to regulation by the states, and he specifically said that his purpose (or one of them) was to open up the insurance market to “provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.”

    McCain’s idea was to avoid state regulation in order to allow more “innovation” in insurance products. When abusive mortgage lending practices were getting out of hand here in Arizona, our state attorney general (Terry Goddard) wanted to crack down on some of those practices – and so did some other state attorneys general. They were told by the feds that the field was occupied and that additional state regulation or attempted enforcement action aimed at inadequate disclosures were preempted by federal laws and regulations.

    Obama’s ad was right, and factcheck.org missed the real significance of what McCain is proposing. And even if they didn’t understand what this issue is all about, when they said that McCain was “only” talking about allowing sales across state lines, they were flat wrong on the facts. He admitted in plain English that his purpose was to reduce state regulation and to encourage “innovation” in health insurance markets that would be less “burdened” by state regulation.”

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  40. moe99 said on October 6, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Just catching up here. Reporters were not allowed to interview attendees at a Palin rally today:

    Who They Are, What They’re About

    10.06.08 — 7:04PM By Josh Marshall

    So we have McCain today getting his crowd riled up asking who Barack Obama is and then apparently giving a wink and a nod when one member of the crowd screams out “terrorist.”

    And later we have Sarah Palin with the same mob racket, getting members of the crowd to yell out “kill him”, though it’s not clear whether the call for murder was for Bill Ayers or Barack Obama. It didn’t seem to matter.

    These are dangerous and sick people, McCain and Palin. Whatever it takes. Stop at nothing.

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  41. whitebeard said on October 6, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    I have read the NY Times’ Reckoning series and the Rolling Stone’s devastating article on McCain and watched the Dow freefall unfold while sitting in my $25 flea market recliner (feet up to escape The Deluge).
    I feel like I have been punched by those pieces on McCain and the economy; maybe I should not have read both the same evening. And it is Tuesday in Asia and stocks are still falling.
    The thermostat in the room we call the library is turned way, way down to keep the bogeyman (the oil delivery truck) from the door and I am wearing a thick sweater and using an imitation Martha Stewart sheepskin lap robe to keep my legs and full stomach warm.
    I am trying unsuccessfully to be Pollyanna and all I can come up with is that it isn’t snowing yet even though it is getting darned cold (40 degrees). Is there a line somewhere about the Winter of Our Discontent?
    I am still freelance writing, which keeps me in those little bottles of Starbucks vanilla frappucino (or whatever it is called).
    I rejoice in my grandson’s baseball prowess. five batters struck out, one walk and one giant leap from the pitcher’s mound to catch a line drive (the only hit by the opposing team in the last two innings) to end the game.
    At a weekend scrimmage after a game that didn’t happen, the coach brought my grandson the baseball he had hit, showing part of the cover ripped off and the innards askew and asked what my grandson had hit it with.
    Whoever said that a picture was worth a thousand words never talked about megabytes and 14,000 jpegs on my backup hard drive.
    Just rambling as I try to unlock my writer’s block; maybe a movie or TV show (Bones) on hulu.com will help (multiple solitaire games didn’t).

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  42. Jolene said on October 7, 2008 at 12:58 am

    moe: You or your friend should write to the people at FactCheck.org. They’re ordinary mortals trying to do a good job. I saw an interview w/ the main guy there this past weekend, and he was appropriately humble about the possibility of error. I’m sure they’d take whatever you have to say seriously.

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  43. brian stouder said on October 7, 2008 at 7:06 am


    pssst – not only are the Obama numbers looking pretty stout (despite the McCain-Palin series of small-ball attacks), but INDIANA stars in TWO entries within a day of one another.

    Birch Bayh and Lake County, and Tippecanoe County (Purdue) get mentioned in one, and Bloomington (IU) in today’s.

    Whatever else comes to pass, these are ‘glory days’, indeed (Indiana?!?! Why NOT!)

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  44. moe99 said on October 7, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Loove this onion video:


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  45. Jolene said on October 7, 2008 at 9:45 am

    The reports from the field on FiveThirtyEight.com are great, aren’t they, Brian? They really give a sense of how effective the Obama campaign has been in developing a ground game, and the increases in Democratic voter registration are astounding.

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  46. moe99 said on October 7, 2008 at 10:05 am


    I just hope that this does not result in open violence breaking out.

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