What’s it worth to you?

Some years back — 2000-ish or so — I had an assignment to interview two brothers from Fort Wayne who were both living in Israel during one of the intifadas. Because of the time difference and their schedules, it was easier for me to call them from my home phone before 8 a.m. than from the office. I figured I’d expense the bill, until it arrived. About 60 minutes total talk time was something like $180. And while it would have felt good to stuff that one down the paper’s maw, I figured it was worth another phone call.

Good news! If I signed up for international calling, the $5 extra fee would be waived for this month, and I could cancel it after the following month’s bill. And as a welcome-to-the-world gift, the two calls to Jerusalem would be knocked down to reflect the international-plan rate, and cost more like $15. Sign me up, then! I canceled the plan after the interval and saved the paper $160.

That’s when I knew land lines, and long distance, were over. Skype hadn’t come along yet, but broadband was spreading like wildfire, and there were all sorts of ways to talk as long as you wanted to anyone with a computer, free or close to it. The days of “phone’s for you! Hurry, it’s long distance!” were past sundown.

So a few months ago we canceled our land line, and in the process, the cable company accidentally shut off our HBO, too. I called to get it back on, and the guy in the call center apologized profusely and said he’d throw in the premium channel of my choice free for the next three months, just so no hard feelings. We opted for Showtime.

We knew it would be going away sooner or later, and Friday night, the first of the month, alas, Showtime was but a disappointing screen telling us to contact the cable company to get this exciting channel. Oh, well; we’ll miss “Masters of Sex” — love that Lizzy Caplan. Switched over to HBO. No HBO. Got on the phone. The operator was apologetic, and by way of keeping us very, very happy, turned on HBO AND Showtime, threw in a bunch of sports stuff and knocked $10 off our bill, for a year.

I expect, at the end of the year, we’ll get another blandishment to get us to stay a little longer.

Cable is over. But you knew that.

You know what else is over? The bicycling season. We’ll have some warm days here and there, but for all intents and purposes, Halloween is the last day for this latitude. At the beginning of the season, I said I would ride 1,000 miles this summer. After a month or two it became obvious I wasn’t going to make it, but I thought I’d keep trying. And what do you know? I logged 870 miles, and that’s with a cold spring, eye surgery, a vacation and other distractions. Started April 5, last rode a significant distance Oct. 15. Not too terrible.

Riding season is over for another reason — SAD FACE :(. Today I took a bad step off the stairs and hyperextended my knee badly enough that, a few hours later, I’m fearing the worst. I still can’t put any weight on it, and I’m fortunate to have some old crutches around, because without them, I’d be immobile. I’ll see the doc tomorrow if it doesn’t improve overnight. For now, ice, elevation and 800 mgs of vitamin I. Fingers crossed.

It couldn’t have happened on a worse day, as I was just about to go outside and help Alan with one of our infamous home-improvement projects, on the last day of his vacation. This is a patio we’re building, and there were six yards of topsoil that had to be wheelbarrowed out of the driveway.

He’s out there doing it now, in full darkness. My body serves me well most days, but it has terrible timing for its mishaps. Fucking stairs.

Here’s to a good week with good medical news.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol', Television |

65 responses to “What’s it worth to you?”

  1. Sherri said on November 4, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Ouch! When I tore up my knee, I told myself, at least I didn’t do it walking down the stairs. I think you should make up a better story.

    Interesting 1976 campaign ad that never aired: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/11/never-aired-ford-campaign-ad-considered-too-emotionally-charged-for-time.html

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  2. Dexter said on November 4, 2013 at 2:17 am

    Best wishes, nance. Sympathy extended…my wife and I know how bad a knee hurts when strained.
    While it’s my bad hip that forces me to use a cane or two inside and my all-terrain walking poles outside , I endured seven years of knee pain before I found a doc who correctly dx’s the problem (gouty arthritis) which, after all those doctors, all those surgeons who could find no structural damage, all those months and years of working in a factory in sporadic acute pain, a simple pill cured me. From 1984 to 1991 I was struggling. I found it is best to keep tracking down doctors until you get one who really does know knee problems. Many do not.
    Cable dead? Not all the way. Many of us do not like watching great shows sitting on our desk chairs, and some connecting switches from computer to Blu-Ray to big screen TV yield a grainy picture, but I hear from a geek friend that there are now ways to avoid that and get a great picture on the TV. Still HBO-GO is cool, but ya still gotta pay HBO…Netflix ain’t for everybody, including me, because there is too much stuff to watch.
    DirecTV , with their little schemes of “losing” returned receivers and billing customers $400 for lost items turned me away from them after being a loyal customer for ten years. I found them difficult to deal with, never telling me I needed to upgrade my dish to get local channels, forcing me to re-connect the cable for network shows. My “free installation” of the wiring and dish cost me $475 as well. Now , I know they advertise free, up to four rooms…but they promised me that 15 years ago and then billed me…so now I prefer cable to dish. Hulu and other ways to watch cable shows …no good, unless you are very patient and can wait weeks to watch what your fave shows are up to. I know what Saul and Carrie are up to, I know what Nucky and Van Aulden are doing, I know what mischief Kenny Fucking Powers and Stephen Merchant are up to now, because I have premium cable. If I had to fuck around waiting for the networks and cable shows to come around on websites, I’d already be disinterested, because my TV-nut friends don’t believe in spoiler alerts. So cable ain’t dead, it’s kind of back-door cutting edge…a 1974 car with a new engine. Suits me.

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 4, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation . . . and prayers for your peace of mind while you work through this!

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 4, 2013 at 7:02 am

    I get a wicked amusement listening to cable industry types try to explain why a la carte pricing is bad for *us* the consumer. And then I realize the joke’s on me, since they’ve got their quasi-monopoly deals with municipalities and states and the feds, so they’re just fig leaf rationalizing what’s not gonna happen if they can help it.

    Where I live, I can’t watch a YouTube video of kittens dancing for thirty seconds without spending five minutes and watching it buffer and stutter. Meh.

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  5. David C. said on November 4, 2013 at 7:04 am

    My cycling goal was 1000 miles too. Between shitty weather, a bad MCL strain, and sciatica, I only made 440. Last year I went riding on Thanksgiving Day, so I still have hopes of pushing it up to… …oh maybe 470. I guess a cyclist’s lament is the same as a baseball fan’s. Wait ’till next year.

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  6. Basset said on November 4, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Sorry to hear that… I tore an ACL clean off some years ago, with associated MCL and cartilage damage, and spent a whole summer on crutches. If the doc gives you therapy, do it, all of it, and don’t cut any corners.

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  7. linda said on November 4, 2013 at 7:31 am

    So sorry about your knee. I tore mine up in September when my sister’s American Bulldog decided to chase a bunny when I was walking her and pulled me flat to the ground. Two weeks before I tried to rescue a stray cat, and his bite put me in the hospital for three days of IV antibiotics. It’s been a bad juju health year all around.

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  8. James said on November 4, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Totally off subject, but I wanted to share my “Grumbles” cartoon for this week, all about tapping Chancelor Merkel’s phone. It made me guffaw when I thought of the punchline.

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  9. Deborah said on November 4, 2013 at 7:48 am

    So sorry you bunged up your knee, hope it’s a temporary situation. I’d be super bummed if it happened to me since walking is my only form of exercise. After reading your calculation of miles biked in a summer, I figured that I probably average 1,500 miles a year walking. That’s based on 5 miles a day, but then I subtracted from that because it seemed too high. I often walk 8 or 9 miles a day, sometimes 10, but then some days I only walk 2 or 3. This doesn’t count miscellaneous walking around the house, it’s purposeful walking for exercise. I was stoved up for about 3 months a couple of years ago when I got a stress fracture in my right heel bone from walking in bad shoes. I learned my lesson and wear good (expensive) walking shoes.

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  10. beb said on November 4, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Good luck with your knee. It would be a tough commute to Lansing if they have to immobilize your knee for a couple weeks while it heals.

    A la carte cable subscription would mean the immediate elimination of all sports channels for us. Getting rid of ESPN would probably cut our cable bill in half right there. And I’d drop all the Christian and home shopping channels as well. But then deciding on which of the rest of the channels to keep becomes more difficult. For years there was nothing on A&E I cared for. Could have easily dropped it to save a buck. But then it started showing Longmire. Would I have bothered to call up the cable company and ask them to restore A&E just for that? Probably not. But because it was there was part of the basic package I could sample the show and discover that I like it. There are all sort of niche channels that survive because they are part of the basic package. AMC, I’m sure couldn’t afford to do original programming if it were for the assured income from being a part of basic cable. So while I like a la carte programming I can see there the dynamics of it could be disastrous to a lot of the industry.

    We all had to “fall back” this weekened. How many of us saw a proposal to radically change the time zones in the country? The proposal first of all would do away with daylight saving on the grounds that adjusting to the time change causes a lot more loss of productivity than the extra hour of summer daylight saves. But the big suggestion was that we reduce the number of time zones from four to two. The author observed from working in both New York and Austin, TX that people in the Central time zone simply shifted their daily routine back an hour to keep in tune with TV shows. Where in NYC pepople worked from 9 to 5, in Austin it was 8 to 4. So since they were already living in effect on Eastern time, just merge the two time zones into one. And likewise with Mountain and Pacific time. This does seem like a simplifying proposal but then I got to wondering about the people who live near the demarcation between the two super regions. See,, I grew up in St. Joseph county, Indiana, just a few miles from the Elkhart Co. border. Back in the 50’s the line between Central time and Eastern time ran down the middle of the state, ran down between St. Jos. and Elkhart. So there were always people having to make that hour jump just going to work. Then one year Elkhart decided to stay on standard time and St. Jo. continued to use daylight savings, which meant a TWO hour time change when crossing into Elkhart. Or it could have been the other way around. If we go to only two time zones then ther will be a four hour difference between East Coast and West Coast times and the people living in the foothills of the rockies are going to find that traveling a couple miles east or west means a huge jump in time. And that, I think would be worst than having four time zones.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on November 4, 2013 at 8:27 am

    From one bum knee to another, my sympathies. Those freezer packs filled with rice are the best. I even whipped up a couple myself so I always have one cold.

    Someone in this house, and we won’t say who, is sporting a colorful eye after running into a wall at church last week. It’s been interesting watching the progression, from a knot on the forehead, to a black eyeliner look, to purple/green/yellow under the eye.

    The new equivalent of the outrageous long-distance bill is data overage on your cell plan. A friend’s son listened to streaming radio as he walked around campus and ran up over 8gb in the first month, before they set him straight.

    We’re lucky enough to have streaming speed internet, so with a Roku, Netflix, and Hulu+, we have plenty to watch without cable. I can’t see ever going back.

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  12. brian stouder said on November 4, 2013 at 8:56 am

    James – your punchline was great, and got a guffaw from me, too!

    Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for our proprietress’s knee; in any case, ‘Nancy’s Knee’ cannot help but be an example of where the sequel is better than the original.

    Non-sequitur: as we approach the 50th anniversary of the murder of our 35th president, it is worth remembering that we just past (on November 2) the 50th anniversary of the murder of the South Vietnamese president (Diem, and his brother). Apparently, the American president green-lighted that action, before he also was killed….and as John Roche put it (in a column some years ago), at that moment the American flag was firmly affixed to an open-ended war in Vietnam.

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  13. mark said on November 4, 2013 at 9:03 am

    That war was set in motion a few years earlier, IMO, when Ike turned a cold shoulder to Ho Chi Minh’s request that the US press France to leave Vietnam. Ike preferred to let the French continue to pretend to be a colonial power, and Ho found friends more sympathetic to his goals.

    Good luck with the knee, Nancy.

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  14. Deborah said on November 4, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Beb, I love daylight savings time, would hate it if they discontinued it. On the otherhand since I’m retired it probably wouldn’t make that much difference. It was knowing I had that extra daylight after work that was special.

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  15. Kirk said on November 4, 2013 at 9:30 am

    On the bicycling front: One of our business reporters, a hugely experienced cyclist, was critically injured when struck on his bike yesterday morning in Upper Arlington, the Columbus suburb where I live. The guy who hit him from behind tried to take off, but was caught. He was charged with drunken driving — at 11:45 a.m.

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  16. brian stouder said on November 4, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Wow. And Columbus being a major college town, I’m assuming there’s lots of cyclists all over the place.

    I hope your colleague pulls through; and whatever the driver’s sob story, he needs imprisonment.

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  17. Bitter Scribe said on November 4, 2013 at 10:19 am

    There is a one-word explanation for why I stick with cable: Sports. If I didn’t want to watch live sports, I would pull that plug so goddamn fast….What’s especially infuriating is that Comcrap charges me $70+ a month for barely anything. No NFL network. No Fox Soccer. Not ever Turner Classic Movies.

    Sorry about your knee, Nancy. Damn, you work out and try to take care of yourself, but your body always finds a way to betray you.

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  18. Charlotte said on November 4, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Okay — this NYT article drove me crazy on about 4 different levels: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/04/business/under-health-care-act-millions-eligible-for-free-policies.html?hp&_r=0

    First of all, their premise that the low-end plans “come with serious trade-offs” just demonstrates to me a profound lack of understanding about what it means to buy private insurance. I chose a Bronze Plan and it is SO MUCH BETTER than the crappy catastrophic plan it replaced. For one thing, I know my out-of-pocked will be capped at $6500 no matter what happens to me — I’m no longer on the hook for 40% of everything (I have a writer friend who didn’t marry his dying girlfriend a few years back because her plan was so shitty it left her on the hook for 20% of everything. At least once she was dead they couldn’t go after her daughter, and if my friend didn’t marry her, they couldn’t go after him.) Also, I can keep my HSA. As someone who makes a pretty good freelance income at the moment, the HSA works for me, and I don’t use a lot of health care, so I like the choice of a Bronze plan. Lower premiums + the cap + keeping my HSA made financial sense. If I need to upgrade to a silver plan, I will. I would have liked single-payer, but in it’s absence, I’m really happy with federally-regulated plans that I know don’t have loopholes that will bankrupt me.
    That whole NYT article seems so clueless — written by people who have always had fat corporate health care plans. Argh. (And yes, my Chuck, who is a builder with several vacation rental properties, so shows almost no taxable income every year, he’s going to get nearly-free insurance).

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  19. mark said on November 4, 2013 at 10:39 am

    “At least once she was dead they couldn’t go after her daughter, and if my friend didn’t marry her, they couldn’t go after him.”

    That’s sad for your friend, Charlotte, but the law doesn’t work that way. Marriage doesn’t make you liable for the debts of a spouse and jointly held assets, like, often, homes, bank accounts, cars, etc are not subject to attachment to satisy individual debts.

    Glad you like your new plan. Somewhat less thrilled that Chuck the builder with multiple rental properties is able to “show’ no income and shift the cost of his health care largely to others.

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  20. Hattie said on November 4, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Nancy: Bummer. I hope you aren’t going to be incapacitated for too long.

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  21. Dorothy said on November 4, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Oh Kirk, that guy works at the Dispatch?! I wasn’t paying close attention to know that detail but I did, of course, hear that the offender was drunk at noontime. Yee Gods, what a shame. A reporter at the newspaper where my daughter works died last week after fighting pancreatic cancer for five years. That’s a little unusual, to have that kind of cancer for so long. Has a wife and three teenagers. My daughter went to the memorial service and called me afterwards to tell me about it. We both had a good cry even though I never met the guy. Memorial services can be so cleansing.

    Four months tomorrow since my knee replacement. That’s mind boggling. And it never entered into my brain to think about the scenario that we’d be moving due to a new job in four months or so after that surgery. Here’s hoping your knee heals well, Nancy.

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  22. Charlotte said on November 4, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Really Mark? He’s got a small business — mostly renovations, some new building. Two rental properties. Which means almost all his spending — on things like a new roof for a rental, or building supplies, is deductible. Never wanted to make a ton of money, just enough to live on. In a world where huge corporations pay no taxes, I’m hardly worried about my sweetie who has spent his adult life living on a modest middle-class income. It’s the same with most of the farms and ranches around here — hardly anyone shows much income because most of what they have is being put back into their businesses.

    And those hospital bill collectors come after everyone. I spent *years* fending them off when my mother’s only income was social security. My biggest fear as I head into the dangerous 50-65 demographic is losing my house to medical bills.

    Like I said, I’d buy Medicare tomorrow. I lobbied for single payer. I think we should *all* be sharing the cost of health care, just as we should be sharing the cost of education, and infrastucture. That’s what it means to be a body politic, a society.

    (And Nancy — sorry about the knee. Ugh. And the bicyclist. Will light my trusty Virgin of Guadalupe candle).

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  23. brian stouder said on November 4, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Charlotte – Hear hear!

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  24. Sherri said on November 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Legally, spouses (and other survivors) might not be liable, but that won’t stop bill collectors from harassing you. They (correctly) assume that most people aren’t aware of their lack of liability, and are afraid of their credit being damaged. Besides, any money the bill collectors get is bonus.

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  25. nancy said on November 4, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Yes, that’s true.

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  26. Julie Robinson said on November 4, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Not to pile on hospitals, but our aunt was hounded to sign over her house to the hospital while she was still there, being treated at the end of her life. She had volunteered there weekly for 30 years and taken part in fundraisers, but they came to her room with the papers and the pressure. Shouldn’t that be illegal, under diminished capacity? She didn’t sign it over, but it was an unnecessary burden at a very, very difficult time.

    Yes, bring on single payer. It would be much simpler.

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  27. Bitter Scribe said on November 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Julie: If ever a hospital deserved piling on, it’s that one. My God, what a bunch of complete jerkasses!

    If anyone ever gets confronted by a bill collector who says things like “You could lose your home,” my advice: Put the call on speakerphone, tell the person it’s being recorded (if you actually have a recording device, so much the better) and invite them to repeat the threat. That usually straightens them out PDQ, or at least makes them hang up.

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  28. Connie said on November 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    From Nancy’s link: “And we want the dead to rest easy, knowing their obligations are taken care of.” I am sure they are tracking that from wherever they have gone.

    Just had a root canal. Miraculous pain relief for over $1,000. My insurance will pay half.

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  29. Prospero said on November 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Sunday NYT wedding stories are a consistent source of humor at our house, but this is the mother of all annoying rich people wedding stories, and the Times will never reach this pinnacle of puke inducing nonsense again. What style. What je ne sais quoi. What Ipecac in print. And are those birds made out of golfballs?

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  30. Dexter said on November 4, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    mark? Ho Chi Minh petitioned for and received help from the American CIA to form Vietminh as early as 1941, and also it is no secret that Americans help fund the Vietminh’s part in the destruction of Japan in 1945. It was only after Dien ben Phu fell and the French were basically liquidated as a conquering, occupying army in Vietnam that Ike and his administration people decided to help only the South of Vietnam, and Ho was forced to have only everything above the 38th Parallel. In other words, the USA actually set up the mechanism for the civil war, and a series of US presidents and policy wonks and propagandists convinced the American public that it was all from “communist” or sometimes “communistic” aggression that was behind what came to be known as “The American War” there, and “The Vietnam War” here in the USA. I have always read everything I ever could find on this fascinating time in history…like every war, if we could find a reliable time machine to go back and change just a little bit of history, change some stubborn attitudes by just a few, and make a few decisions correctly (in hindsight), Oh What A Wonderful World It Would Be!

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  31. Dexter said on November 4, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Dien Bien Phu…typo…

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  32. LAMary said on November 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Jeez, Prospero. I wish I hadn’t read that.

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  33. Peter said on November 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Dexter, I’m with you on that.

    The one thing I want to research when I get time (should be +/- 10 years) is to find out more about the semi early years of the conflict.

    it’s going to sound like I’m auditioning for Fox, but I always found it interesting that during the ’60 campaign so many people thought Kennedy would take his marching orders from the Vatican, and while that did sound silly, consider that one factor dividing the north and south was that the powers that be in the south were mainly Catholic, and that several Catholic bishops urged the US to stop the spread of communism – and atheism – from spreading to the south.

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  34. LAMary said on November 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Here’s something for knee pain:


    I haven’t tried it yet but it seems easy and possibly effective. I have a squishy ball that isn’t made specially for this purpose and I have a dense foam cube that isn’t a yoga block. I’ll let you know if it works.

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  35. Sherri said on November 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    The only way to consume the NYTimes wedding section is through Katie Baker’s monthly summaries on Grantland. She treats them as a sporting event, complete with a sabrmetric style stat to rank them (NUPTIALS). Here’s September’s entry: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9713487/all-need-know-august-entries-new-york-s-vows-section

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  36. Prospero said on November 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Sorry Mary. It is an exemplar of that particular brand of story. What exactly is the idea of lining a tent with saris. Wouldn’t muumuus have been more all-American? Or sack dresses? And are Randolph and Mortimer renting out their property after blowing all their money on ALEC and the Teabangers? Oh, wait, Muumuus are from Hawai’i. That’s not America. Wasn’t Ophelia barefoot in most depictions of the time she went to sleep with the fishes? Seems to me Dr. Maartens are more likely to make a young woman Olive Oyl-like, as portrayed by Shelley Duvall in Altman’s Popeye.

    For some reason, this Viet Nam discussion made me think of the psychopath Curtis LeMay. Americans didn’t learn a gutdom thing from that painful misadventure. Reagan armed both Saddam and the Ayatollah’s with chemical weapons they used on each other, and trained and deployed the Nicaraguan death squads in the name of stopping commoniss from showing up in Brownsville.

    Why a lot of this shit about Obama lied is just insurance scam merde. Do people forget that Obama succeeded the most damaging and dangerously mendacious pretzeldent in the history of American Presidents? Apparently, Americans en masse are stupid enough to buy this nonsense.

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  37. jwfromnj said on November 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    We had AT&T Uverse at our previous home. That’s their fiber optic service. It was incredibly fast Internet service and great television services at a reasonable price. When we bought this place in March the best AT&T could provide was TV through Dish network and a relatively slow DSL service. I debated getting two DSL lines but my daughter and I chew up bandwidth like Mario Batalli fantasizes about Gwyneth Paltrow.
    We have ten devices sharing out home network. So I conceded to the evil empire and got Comcast TV & Internet and Vonage for the phone.
    Sorry to hear about the knee Nancy.

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  38. Heather said on November 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I’ve never had cable–it’s just so expensive and everyone complains about it. Most things show up on Netflix or Hulu eventually anyway.

    Off-topic, we felt a 3.7 earthquake at my office in the western Chicago ‘burbs today–building and chair shook for about 4-5 seconds. The USGS is saying it was probably caused by a blast at a quarry nearby, but a few people in Chicago reported feeling it, and that is 20 miles away. Must have been some blast, or perhaps it actually caused a mini-quake. I know it doesn’t compare to bad quakes, but it was pretty unsettling.

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  39. Sherri said on November 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    If you can’t get it together to get a valid ID, you shouldn’t be voting, right? Even if you’re a 90 year old former Speaker of the House: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/11/02/5300503/voter-id-law-snags-former-house.html?rh=1

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  40. Deborah said on November 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Wait, is that woman from the NYT wedding piece from THE Koch family? Is that obvious? It’s not clear to me.

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  41. Prospero said on November 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Well what the hell is wrong with Jim Wright? How can you get to be 90 in Texas without having a concealed carry license? Wendy Davis was required to sign an affidavit to vote because the names on her registration card and her drivers licence were slightly different. Somebody involved enough in Texas that they are working at the polls doesn’t recognize Wendy Davis? Bull.

    What will AquaBuddha say next? He could be an Art Linkletter show all by himself. Far as I’m concerned, that moptop scamp will never top his expressed opinion that bidness owner’s have a Constitutional right to discriminate against anybody they want to. I mean, shouldn’t that disqualify the jerk from running for or holding any political office. But I guess that NC lady that sewed her tyke a KKK Hallowe’en costume would probably vote for Little Boots Rand. That sleazy little bastard certainly does look like contemporary likenesses of Caligula. But a gunfight with Rachel Maddow for mocking someone for being such a doofus he plagiarizes from Wikipedia.

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  42. Julie Robinson said on November 4, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    LAMary, I’m gonna try that. “Clicky knee” describes what I hear and feel with every step.

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  43. Bob (not Greene) said on November 4, 2013 at 4:47 pm


    not sure about the quarry blast. There are only two quarries near the epicenter of the “quake”. One has already stated publicly they didn’t do any blasting today. I have a call in to the other one. Even the USGS guy I heard interviewed said 3.7 is huge for a quarry blast. They blast all the time at those quarries, and it’s never that big. Also, the epicenter is southwest of LaGrange. Both quarries are southeast of LaGrange.

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  44. Jeff Borden said on November 4, 2013 at 5:05 pm


    Johanna (lapsed Methodist) and I (lapsed Catholic) were married in by a Baptist chapel by a Jewish Unitarian minister in front of six people. Total cost of the wedding not including license was under $100.

    And we wondered why the NYT wasn’t interested in our nuptials. . .

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  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 4, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Deborah, it looks like it’s a different appalling wealthy family. Father of the gormless bride is Robert J. Koch, and . . .


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  46. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I try to keep a deadpan expression when asked what my fee is for doing a wedding, and as I say “ten percent of whatever you’re paying the florist.”

    The actual answer is I don’t charge anything, but if you wish to give a gift to http://www.lcchousing.org in appreciation, and as a down payment on making your marriage be part of something more than just the two of you, then I thank you.

    But some of the reactions I get with the florist line . . .

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  47. LAMary said on November 4, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    My office is around the corner from where the surgical supplies are unpacked. I have a wonderful array of cardboard boxes, mostly very strong ones, to pick from if I’m shipping something. I also can get very expensive looking packing materials, one of them being this nice big dense foam block that I think will work for that knee thing. I have two sorts of squishy balls. I have one that’s fabric covered and feels like there is a gel filled ball inside and the other is the usual stress ball giveaway. I have hundreds of those, literally.I think the gel one is the better choice for the knee project.

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  48. Bob (not Greene) said on November 4, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Earthquake update: It does appear to be a quarry blast from the other quarry and — imagine that — they’re not talking to anyone. Got the info from the village manager of Countryside, whose village hall is across the street from the quarry. I guess the IDNR, which somehow regulates these things, will be giving them a visit.

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  49. Deborah said on November 4, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Jeff (tmmo) awhile back when I worked for a firm in a city that will remain un-named, we had an intern who’s name was (blank) who was from a state where an infamous family with that name reigned. This was way back before any of us knew anything about said family. The kid was barely ok at best, but it was a mystery to us why he was allowed to be an intern and why he got so much attention for basically doing not much. Years later it became clear to us that he happened to be part of the right family.

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  50. MichaelG said on November 4, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Actually I think it was Truman who refused help to Ho in ’45 or’46. Truman didn’t want to piss off the French. I also heard a story that Ho visited the US some time around there and Truman refused to meet with him. I don’t know if this is true or not.

    That wedding story was wonderful. I laughed out loud. I have to think the Times writer was laughing his or her (Kim?) ass off while writing the thing and having great fun at the expense of the loving couple. They’re just too precious to be true.

    I hope you are better soon, Nancy.

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  51. Heather said on November 4, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    Bob (Not Greene): The only thing I can think is that maybe the blast was badly planned and touched off a tremor? That would seem to be extremely dangerous–not to mention the company could be liable for any damage.

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  52. Dexter said on November 4, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    MichaelG…As Ho became the most respected leader of Viet Nam, he tried every avenue available to open communication with Washington when Truman was President. That rat-bastard racist, Harry S Truman, would not even acknowledge Ho as ANYTHING, let alone a leader of a country…this forced Ho to pursue other ways, leading eventually to a relationship with Moscow. As you recall, though, Vietnamese regulars fought with both Russian as well as Chinese-made AK-47s…I held them both in my hands over there so I know this is true, but I assume that the Russian-made ones were part of military aid and the Chinese ones were just filtered in via the “normal” clandestine methods.

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  53. Dexter said on November 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Five years ago tonight Americans went to the polls and voted in Barack H. Obama. O the elation! Now…everybody is all pissed off about health care (rightly so, I guess) and al-Malicki is begging for America to get back into the thick of things in Iraq…and Guantanamo Bay Prison is still open. Still in Afghanistan, too. Oh well…nobody really wants a perfect world, right?

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  54. Deborah said on November 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Dexter, I remember that night 5 years ago, I was in Grant Park in Chicago along with thousands waiting for the election results. When they were finally announced people around me were weeping unashamedly. Obama and his family came out on stage, they were just tiny specks from my vantage point. Walking home up Michigan Ave after that was glorious. A night I’ll never forget.

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  55. basset said on November 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Mrs. B. and I went to an outdoor wedding late yesterday where the bride’s attendants wore off the shoulder dresses and cowboy boots… we thought that was exotic. Two “van”s in the last name, we’re not even on the same planet as that.

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  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 4, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Dexter, didn’t Truman desegregate the armed forces in ’48?

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  57. brian stouder said on November 4, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    As I have previously posited – imo Harry Truman is in for a major, major revision – and I think he will be viewed as possibly the worst president of the United States in the 20th century.

    Even leaving aside whatever role he may have had in fouling up peaceful possibilities in Vietnam, he is the president who got us into a landwar – there and then – against the Chinese army on the Asian continent!!

    Korea was a huge, huge mistake – and if he deserves “credit” for not allowing nuclear weapons to be used on the people of the Korean peninsula (let alone against the people in China) – then we are well and truly through the looking glass.

    The election of Ike and the extrication of American fighting-forces from the shooting war in Korea was a tremendously good thing, and it makes it all the more……shadowy? – that before the United States could end up in a shooting war in Vietnam, first we had to have a US presidential greenlight for a coup (and murder) of the president in Vietnam, and then the murder of that same US president three weeks later.

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  58. Sherri said on November 4, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    I think Truman can be revised and still have plenty of room to stay well above Harding and Coolidge, to pick two presidents in the 20th century, not to mention Hoover. Truman does deserve credit for desegregating the armed forces, as Jeff(tmmo) points out. And if you’re going to blame him for Korea, at least give him credit for reining in MacArthur. I tend to think of Truman, like Coolidge, as a little man in a big job, but I’d still put Truman well above Coolidge or Harding or Hoover.

    None of the administrations from Eisenhower through Nixon did many things right in Vietnam, as near as I can tell.

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  59. brian stouder said on November 4, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    I’ll give you Harding…Hoover I confess to having clouded judgement on, since he was such a tremendous ‘former president’!

    I just think Harry Truman makes President Bush look like a piker, when it comes to spilling lots of human blood (let alone American blood) for no good reason at all – other than willfulness.

    Indeed, if we skip Truman, the next 20th century president I have big trouble with is Teddy Roosevelt and all that Ayrian talk and the war in the Philippines and – generally – his whole imperialist way of viewing the world 9and the whirlwind we reaped for that view)

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  60. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 4, 2013 at 11:47 pm


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  61. Sherri said on November 4, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Hoover was tremendous prior to becoming president. If you read Rising Tide by John Barry, about the 1927 Mississippi flood, you’ll see a lot about Hoover’s work in organizing help for the flood victims. When it came to the Depression, though, he deferred to Andrew Mellon too much, and it was disastrous.

    I have mixed feelings about TR, much like I have about LBJ. Both are larger than life figures, who did many good but many terrible things.

    BTW, I highly recommend Rising Tide. Amazing book. You’d love it, Brian.

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  62. Dexter said on November 5, 2013 at 2:39 am

    Deborah, My nephew’s wife is media spokesperson for the CPS (Chicago Pubic Schools) in Rahm Emanuel’s administration, and when Obama ran, she was the chairperson of Illinois Women for Obama. Her husband, my nephew, worked in Springfield for a while then was in the Chicago City Parks department before getting a desk in City Hall as well, working on sundry projects for the mayor…anyway, with these connections, she received a few V.I.P. tickets, very close to Obama that night. My brother was there and was chit-chatting with Jesse Jackson and Jonathan Alter to kill time.

    Jeff MMO: I am sure we can find proof that HST did what you brought up regarding military integration, but you read this VERY OFFENSIVE NOT SAFE FOR WORK quote and then you’ll know one reason I jumped off the HST bandwagon way back 38 years when the first campaign to canonize Truman swept the nation. Here’e that oh-so-funny card, from Missouri…Harry!
    “This is a quote from Harry S. Truman. It will shock you! I recently heard this while watching Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the U.S. on ShowTime.” http://fromprisontoprofessor.blogspot.com/2013/06/harry-s-truman-quote-it-will-shock-you.html

    “I think one man is as good as another so long as he’s honest and decent and not a nigger or a chinaman. Uncle Will said the good Lord made white man from dust, a nigger from mud then threw up what was left and down came a Chinaman”

    Harry S. Truman

    Brianstouder: Yes, you would have thought Truman was going to be made a saint when the anniversaries of Fat Man and Little Boy were celebrated in 1975. I think most historians today are far more likely to give students of history a more unbiased look at that Kansas City haberdasher who only got nominated at the Chicago Ampitheater in 1948 because the Democratic Party hatchet-wielders whacked Henry Wallace down to size. That was one of the sorriest examples of plain old corrupt politics in history. World history! “Et tu, Brute?”

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  63. Basset said on November 5, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Well, consider the source. Oliver Stone? Credibility went down to zero right there.

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  64. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 5, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Basset, to be fair to Dexter, there’s a link to American Heritage magazine and an article that describes how Truman’s family was Southern in outlook & orientation, and quotes a letter he wrote to Bess in 1911 when he was 27, and said what Dexter quotes.

    But I’d like to give a guy credit for being able to evolve on an issue, whether it’s racial equality or gay marriage. Harry did some growing up in the next twenty years — and Dexter, Henry Wallace was a hot mess. If he’d been in the driver’s seat after Warm Springs, the next few years would have not been pretty. I agree with Sherri’s apt comparison of TR & LBJ; they had big choices, did great things, while still having huge blind spots they willfully ignored.

    And in fairness to Wallace, I think Dewey winning in 1948 would have been disastrous for the country, too. So I’ll take Give ‘Em Hell Harry either way.

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  65. Basset said on November 5, 2013 at 8:00 am

    That source I would believe, anything from Stone i just assume has been altered as necessary to make his point.
    And you’re right, it is possible to evolve.
    You won’t find a bigger Truman fan than my father in law… who was 19 and on a troopship headed for Japan when the nukes fell.

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