A stretch of paradise.

As we seem to be starting every blog with a weather report these days, now hear this: The weather is perfect. For the next week? Perfect. Mid-70s every day, mid-50s at night, not a cloud in the sky. You need sunglasses to look out the window. It’s spectacular, nature’s payback for a frequently taxing summer. I’m trying to get back on the straight-and-narrow, food-wise, after a few months of slacking. I’m still maintaining all but about six pounds of last year’s weight loss, but this is mostly about trying to feel better. When in doubt, take care of your body. I’ve spent my whole life thinking mood was all about what was going on inside and outside your head, when the truth is, about half of it is what you’ve been eating.

I promise not to become that person, though. “Have you tried cutting out gluten? OMG, it’s aMAZing.”

Actually, being too into your body’s constant feedback loop is sort of the hallmark of a certain kind of asshole, but on the other hand? If you pay attention, it can be useful. When you start popping off at people, it’s nice to know that half of it is because your blood sugar is messed up, and the other half is because you’re under-caffeinated.

Ah, fuck this narcissism. It’s been a day.

First thing I want you to do is read this comment by our own JeffTMM, who is one of those rare conservatives that gets it. Things are weird in his part of Ohio these days; things are weird in lots of places. Actually, follow his comments all the way down; they make a very specific kind of angry sense.

There is very little interesting about a writer’s life. I started volunteering at an after-school program, for the first time in a while, and I missed the first session and was an hour late for today’s (traffic). This drives me nuts. I chose Tuesdays because Tuesdays are almost always a good day for me, but the last two Tuesdays, the first two days of my obligation? Not so much. But all was forgiven when I showed up, and I think I made arrangements to help a kid with his college essay. We’ll see. This empty-nesting can’t be all about sleeping with the bedroom door open. You have to give back. Here, take my pajamas.

Some bloggage, then:

Don Pellman, centenarian athletic titan:

Pellmann, the most senior athlete in the San Diego Senior Olympics, became the first centenarian to break 27 seconds in the 100-meter dash and the first to clear an official height in the high jump. He also broke records for men in the 100-and-over age group in the shot-put and the discus and set a record in the long jump.

Wearing baggy shorts and a faded red T-shirt with “Donald Pellmann Established 1915 Milwaukee, WI” written across the front, he opened his program by trying to become the oldest man, by roughly nine years, to record a height in the pole vault. He dislodged the bar three times at 3 feet 1 ¾ inches, which gnawed at him the rest of the day.

“I thought I was in better shape,” he said.

My role model!

When I read stories about the VW recall, you know what I think? Alan and I won’t be having dinner together for days and days.

Meanwhile, today’s OID story: Carjacker abducts and robs two little old ladies. Punchline: He has a six-figure income. (And a gambling problem.)

It’s the autumnal equinox! In six months it’ll be spring. Let’s enjoy the time as it passes, because it’s all we have, right?

Posted at 12:03 am in Current events, Stuff reduction |

62 responses to “A stretch of paradise.”

  1. Deborah said on September 23, 2015 at 2:45 am

    It is the autumnal equinox, and it’s my 15th wedding anniversary. And as I said here before, it’s really 25 years because we lived together for 10 years before we got married.

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  2. Wim said on September 23, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Then double congratulations, Deborah!

    Jeff(The Rare Conservative Who Gets It) is too wordy for a replacement name. I wish more self-styled liberals got it as well as Jeff does. I know plenty who say shit like, ‘Anyone who wants a job can get one,’ and mulishly and more loudly repeat it at any rebuttal; people who think their experience of job-seeking twenty or thirty years ago is germane and relevant.

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  3. Suzanne said on September 23, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Yes, Wim. Read my comment from yesterday re: a conversation I had with an acquaintance who’d lost his job in his early 50s. I have a relative as well who was let go last Nov. and still hasn’t found anything. Mid-50s with an MBA. I’ve told him many times to leave the MBA off the resume as at his age, it’ll be seen as a detriment. He won’t believe me. It’s been over 6 months, so by now, the online job app software filters are filtering his resume out as “damaged goods”. I’m fairly confident that his applications are never seen by human eyes any more. He’s economic collateral damage.

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Gahhhhh… college essays. Nancy, I need you in Granville, because my son won’t take counsel from his dad.

    I just filled out a dang form for Purdue in ’77. This is a whole different sort of piece of creative writing, unless it’s all a cruel game and actually no one reads them, they just ask for them to look like they’re taking subjective criteria into account.

    I’d rather help another new reporter understand how to talk about Native Americans and earthworks than work with another kid on college essays. (Which I may feel differently about in a year when I’m sitting where Nancy is.)

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  5. Sue said on September 23, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Could I just add one thing to MMJeff’s comment yesterday? When I hear people insisting that everyone should work – “I don’t care what they do, these people should WORK if they want anything” – I usually ask ‘Where?’. But everyone gets just to the door of ‘these people should work!’ and never goes past.
    In your office? Next to you? The ‘work’ that these people ‘must’ do somehow never translates to anything to do with the people insisting that these takers get out in the workplace – they apparently need to be as invisible in the workforce as outside of it.
    What do you want them to do, within their skill set and motivation level? Do you want someone who literally does not see the used tampons on her own bathroom floor cleaning your hotel room? Do you want the person who doesn’t notice the dead cat near the back door taking care of the basic needs of your elderly relatives? Do you want the person with the stacked pots of rotting food asking if you want fries with that order?
    In my limited professional experience (nothing like MMJeff’s), it’s usually a combination of limited functionality and generational mental illness bringing about these situations, and the job of the commonwealth should be to provide a basic income, lots of free birth control, and teachers trained and motivated enough to guide the occasional genetic breakout out of there. But that’s way harder than folding your arms and saying work or starve, you undeserving assholes.
    No, I’m not in education and yes, those examples are real.

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  6. Wim said on September 23, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Yes, I did see your comment yesterday, Suzanne. I have a close relative who was fired for not being Catholic and therefore deemed unfit to continue heading a medical transcription department in the Midwest. After about a year of trying and after all her savings were exhausted, she got a job for about two-thirds her former salary doing something similar to what Jeff(TMMO) does. I had to loan her money to get a new car–necessary for her work–and a couple-three times now, I’ve paid her gas and electric to keep them from being shut off. My wife views this as Wim abuse and hell, maybe she’s right, but I know for a goddamned fact that my relative didn’t get into this predicament for lack of trying. And she’s one of the lucky ones because she did, after all, get a job. Eventually.

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  7. Andrea said on September 23, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Jeff, I thank you for your passionate comments, and even more for the work that you do. And given our current political climate, are these folks that you write about the same ones who are so easily manipulated by the anti-science, anti-immigration, anti-woman, anti-gay crowd?

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  8. Suzanne said on September 23, 2015 at 8:09 am

    The man I referenced finally got a job managing a restaurant and has since started his own company, but it’s all a far cry from a stable job & a retirement plan, he admits.

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  9. basset said on September 23, 2015 at 8:44 am

    meanwhile, so many recent college graduates scrape along on multiple part time jobs and wait to age out of their parents’ insurance. i can think of one in particular, honor student and Eagle Scout but a history degree will do that to ya.

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  10. Connie said on September 23, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Two shiny IU master’s degrees have not been very useful in the job market at our household. My kid went for a Christmas season retail job last year and ended up low level management in a big national retail chain. 25 hours a week.

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  11. Jolene said on September 23, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Looking for a new home in the Detroit market? Check out Elmore Leonard’s place, which, like most novels, has undergone significant revisions.

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  12. LindaG said on September 23, 2015 at 9:36 am

    I just read through yesterday’s thread and the first few comments on this morning’s post. In order to begin even thinking about re-ordering our priorities and how we can help those who are in need of services, we have to start considering our country as a community in which we all care about the plight of all of us. But the current manifestation of the Republican Party is sociopathic; it deliberately sows seeds of distrust and takes a sick delight in dividing us. They have taken to heart the belief of the early 20th-century railroad magnate/robber baron Jay Gould who said, “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.” I am despairing that we can walk back from the edge of this cliff; I fear we will go over it.

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  13. brian stouder said on September 23, 2015 at 9:53 am

    We went over the cliff in 1861, well and truly

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  14. Julie Robinson said on September 23, 2015 at 9:58 am

    LindaG, you’ve nailed it.

    Connie, our seminary grad (that’s eight years of higher ed) looked for a seasonal job a few years back and was highly offended that all she could get was stocking shelves at Kohl’s. Those two degrees meant NOTHING. And the other folks who got those crummy jobs were SO happy to have them. It was typical retail work, you were just there to fill the slot; never mind you’d worked until midnight, the schedule said come in at 6 am, ask for Sunday morning off and you get scheduled to work anyway, etc.

    BTW, her seminary has announced a new, three-year plan. We wondered if that means she gets a 1/4 refund. Because she still hasn’t reached the income threshold to pay back her student loans.

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  15. brian stouder said on September 23, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Well, and today’s St Louis news* took me aback.

    That is, when I heard that Yogi Berra had passed away, the first thing I thought was – I didn’t know he was still alive!

    This made me look up Joe Garagiola – who is also still among us – and who is (more or less) Yogi’s age, and grew up on the same street in St Louis

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  16. Deborah said on September 23, 2015 at 11:03 am

    There used to be a saying that when there was a new government regulation German companies would hire 10 engineers to meet it, while American companies would hire 10 lawyers to weasel out of it. In light of the VW scandal, I guess it depends.

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  17. Jeff Borden said on September 23, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Volkswagen didn’t need this. They just had a huge corporate showdown in which one of the descendants of the founding family, Ferdinand Piech, was pushed off the board by the CEO, Martin Winterkorn, so there is a lot of strum und drang in Wolfsburg. And VW is huge in China, where the economy is taking a tumble. And now this. My German employer has a story up today about how this will damage not only VW, but the entire brand of Germany, which has worked very hard to make “Made in Germany” a symbol of quality.

    What a shame we cannot take similar actions against the banksters who ran us into a cliff. I’d pay good money to watch a prick like Jamie Dimon do a perp walk.

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    • nancy said on September 23, 2015 at 11:28 am

      Herr Winterkorn ist kaput, according to the NYT breaking-news alert. (Sigh.) Better make something that will easily reheat for dinner, then.

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  18. Jeff Borden said on September 23, 2015 at 11:28 am

    And Martin Winterkorn resigns.

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  19. Jolene said on September 23, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Just saw that Winterkorn has resigned. More Sturm und Drang.

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  20. brian stouder said on September 23, 2015 at 11:49 am

    All of our plutocrats, who want us to revere and venerate them as the masterminds of economic expansion (and Masters of the Universe, as Tom Wolfe would say) – will have a real problem defending this catastrophically bad series of actions and decisions by VW.

    Is law a thing which matters? If it is, then doesn’t it follow that human government also matters?

    How shall VW (and the law, and all the rest of their industry, for starters) go forward, from here?

    Because if they get a pass – and by that I mean, if they still exist in anything like their current form – then what major international corporation needs to pay heed to any government regulation, ever?

    Major corporations will then be something more akin to a nation-state in their own right, then a business enterprise

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  21. brian stouder said on September 23, 2015 at 11:51 am

    …and then a political candidate like Bernie Sanders (for example) begins to look more palatable…

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  22. Sue said on September 23, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Brian, isn’t one of the objections to the Trans-Pacific Partnership the ability of corporations to sue governments if they don’t agree with regulations?

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  23. Julie Robinson said on September 23, 2015 at 11:54 am

    My reaction to Berra’s death was the same. But it’s not over until it’s over, and now it is.

    Maybe sturm und drang is what’s needed to change the corporate culture at VW. When you think of how many people knew about it, and for how long, they deserve the perp walk. (As does Jamie Dimon.)

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  24. brian stouder said on September 23, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Sue – I don’t know.

    But, leaving aside Bernie Sanders, there is certainly seems to be an emerging political opportunity for an enlightened plutocrat to come forward on the stage, and do battle with these almost-cartoonish, soul-less greed-heads. (Thinking Teddy Roosevelt and the trust-busters, of a century ago)

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  25. ROGirl said on September 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    German arrogance has pretty much destroyed what was left of VW’s American market.

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  26. Sherri said on September 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    I love the avoidance of the word “fraud”.

    “As CEO, I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines.”

    Irregularities. A deliberate piece of software designed to use a number of inputs to determine if a test were happening and only then turn on another piece of software, just an irregularity that was found. Oops, we missed that one. My bad.

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  27. LAMary said on September 23, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    My older son, who house sits, pet sits, garden sits and whatever else anyone needs, is still in school. He is taking a lot of art classes and a lot of speech and philosophy classes. He is planning on entering speech competitions and spends weekends going to local colleges to watch their speech competitions. I have no clue where all this is going but he pays his own way so it’s ok with me.

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Andrea @ #7: the folks I’m talking to don’t vote. Ever. Which has its own complications for their situation, which I’m supposed to help address next Tuesday at the Statehouse. We’ll see. Exhibit A is, as it is so often, from Gene Weingarten — http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3439-2004Oct27.html

    Except I don’t talk to as many Teds as I do Kims, whose Ted vanished long ago. But Kim doesn’t vote, either. Ever.

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    This is a story I’m almost surprised to see hit print, just because it’s a very uncomfortable truth that’s generally known but rarely spoken around here (I’m just south of Knox County, have parishioners who live there).


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  30. 4dbirds said on September 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Jeff, that was one of the most powerful things I’ve read.

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  31. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    And yes, Ted’s story goes exactly where I sadly expect it to have gone; this is seven years ago, and his son Slate is about my son’s age, should be a high school senior this year. I hope and pray something worked out for them & Kim, but . . .


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  32. jcburns said on September 23, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    I remember zipping around Detroit with you in your fine VW wagon, Nancy, as you were laying on the Winterkorn pretty good. Also remember thinking “gee, the emissions on this vehicle seem a tad out of balance.”

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  33. Deborah said on September 23, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    It cuts both ways, about the non-voters, my husband’s brother-in-law, a very, very, wealthy man, also doesn’t vote. He’s in his early 70s and hasn’t voted for decades. I don’t understand it at all. He says there are many like him.

    Regarding the Amish, we bought a traditional Amish rocker from a guy in southern Missouri a long time ago. We got to know the him a bit and I was astonished at how dirty their place was. Plus they had a couple of mentally challenged kids, which someone explained to me was because of inbreeding. It was really sad. I had so romaniticized Amish life, probably from the movie Witness. Not that all Amish live like the rocker maker of course, but it was an eye opener.

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  34. jcburns said on September 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I wonder of Ted’s son Slate has a sister named Salon, or Huffington?

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  35. Charlotte said on September 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Did you all see this? LA is putting $100 million into homeless services: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-homeless-funding-proposals-los-angeles-20150921-story.html
    For that money, they should just go with Salt Lake City’s approach and build housing.

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  36. brian stouder said on September 23, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Well, here’s a Bridge article idea for Nancy (et al):

    Take a look at the folks at Navistar, and compare to the folks at Volkswagen.

    Both places really wanted to NOT use Diesel Exhaust Fluid (which very reliably reduces emissions), and both places came to grief…although VW has reaped exponentially more grief than Navistar did, in the quest to reduce emissions without utilizing DEF technology.

    Full disclosure: where I work jumped into the DEF equipment market (dispensing and storage systems, chiefly) right at the front end (about 10 years ago) – and it has grown exponentially since then

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  37. brian stouder said on September 23, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    …and, interestingly, Uncle Google informs me that VW was apparently eyeing a buyout of Navistar


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  38. Dexter said on September 23, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Yogi Berra’s death hit me hard because I was a fan of his since I was a little kid. I saw him play in 1963, playing left field in Chicago. I saw his son Dale play over in Toledo a few times. I read his biography decades ago. I knew his late wife’s name was Carmen, and that he hailed from The Hill in St. Louis.
    As a kid we only received Yankee games on TV, so I became a Yankee fan until I got a little older and started hating the Yankees, like almost all my friends did.

    Every year on this 23rd day of September I tune into XM radio for a Bruce listening party; it’s The Boss’s 66 the birthday. Today I had to spend a couple hours tuning my desktop , as I couldn’t load Chrome due to some “duality problem”.
    Desktop computers…I know few use them in homes much anymore but they are so much easier to use than my little Android tablet….all the tapping on that tiny screen jams things up sometimes.
    Anyway, I have been reading all the stuff about Yogi, a really smart, funny fella who always negotiated good contracts for himself in that draconian era he played in, who invested very well and made a fortune from $65,000 Yankee contracts. Anyone who thought Yogi Berra was some kind of Neanderthal clown was himself an idiot. I’m glad he patched up a decades-long breakdown with the Yankees and he made it back for the accolades he deserved. Old Yankees of my youth…Pitcher, Whitey Ford, alive…catchers Ellie Howard and Yogi, deceased, 1B Moose Skowron, dead…2B Bobby Richardson, alive…3B Clete Boyer,dead, SS Tony Kubek, alive…LF Hector Lopez , alive CF, Mickey Mantle, dead, and RF Roger Maris, dead. Fun stuff. 🙁

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  39. Bob (not Greene) said on September 23, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Actually, the news about VW was the second worst thing that happened to Wolfsburg yesterday. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRZFvSPJBzU

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  40. Sherri said on September 23, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    If you ever doubted that an east coast bias exists in news coverage, look for coverage of the visit of Xi Jinping to the US. If he visits Seattle, does that really count as visiting the US?

    They just closed the entire eastbound freeway from Seattle to the Microsoft campus exit for his motorcade to travel from Seattle to the Microsoft campus. Fortunately, my husband, who works in the building next door to where all the hoopla is today, is working from home today.

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  41. brian stouder said on September 23, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Sherri – well, and indeed, the Papal visit is sucking all the oxygen out of the news cycle, too

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  42. alex said on September 23, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Now, now, Sherri. It’s not a coastal bias at all. It’s that Xi’s an asshole whos’s competing with a beloved Pope. Even I, who couldn’t give a rip about either, would rather watch the Pope.

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  43. Deborah said on September 23, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    One of the only things I miss from when we lived in St. Louis is The Hill. They have some great Italian grocery stores and it’s really quaint. It’s not phony or gentrified, with lots of little shotgun houses that have religious shrines out front. Every time we go back to St. Louis we stop at Viviano’s for old times sake. They sell a cheese there called Fontinella that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. The same people have worked there for decades.

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  44. alex said on September 23, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    VW’s sales may crater, but here’s betting the Fiat 500L becomes a big seller.

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  45. Suzanne said on September 23, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    We have lots of Amish in our area, so, yes, I can tell you the Amish are not this bucolic bunch that they are portrayed to be in movies and lousy literature. I know a woman who is a home visit physical therapist and she has talked about all the genetic oddities she sees, both physical and mental issues. There are also rumored to be a great deal of spousal abuse and I know a great deal of drunkenness. Horses know the way home by themselves when the buggy rider is too drunk to steer (which works well most of the time except when the horse doesn’t understand the finer points of traffic flow or stop signs).
    I used to work with a woman who had worked as an OB assistant for years. She said the hospital staff would make up all kinds of fake diseases, infections, and whatever else they could think of to keep the husband away from the post-birth mother for at least 24 hours. You read that right. 24 hours. If they didn’t, she told me, the husband would be seeking “access” to his wife within a few hours of her giving birth.

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  46. Sherri said on September 23, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    I’d rather see the Pope, too, but we are talking about the head of state of a major foreign power.

    In anticipation of Xi’s trip to Tacoma once he leaves Redmond, the freeways from Redmond to Tacoma have just been closed. That’s roughly 43 miles. All of it. At 4 pm. POTUS doesn’t get this kind of security when he visits.

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  47. Sherri said on September 23, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    And that’s just in anticipation of his trip. He hasn’t left Microsoft yet.

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  48. Sherri said on September 23, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    Thirty minutes. That’s how early they closed the roads before he left. The entire route.

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  49. Wim said on September 23, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    When I was a kid, everyone–and I mean everyone–called that particular St. Louis neighborhood Dago Hill. When I was in college a professor, making a point I no longer recall, asked for the St. Louis crowd to name a place where one could get good pasta. I said “Da–” as around me a chorus of voices erupted, “The Hill.” When did it change?

    My old man used to buy harness from some Amish. It was a really creepy place, the only private dwelling I’ve yet seen with its own graveyard.

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  50. alex said on September 23, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Is POTUS even going to visit? That might be the other reason the cameras are focused on the other coast at this moment.

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  51. alex said on September 23, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Suzanne, not sure what county you’re in, but there’s some strange doin’s in Steuben surrounding the town of Alvarado. A couple of years ago a bunch of Amish abandoned their farms and they remain empty to this day. There was some schism and this group took up with some sect in Ohio. Lot of abandoned farms. This is in the area of CR 500 S and 800 E.

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  52. Deborah said on September 23, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Some of you may remember my rhapsodizing about my Beaver Brook building experience in upstate NY? The Cabin Porn book comes out soon, and they’ve got a piece in the NYT http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/09/24/fashion/the-cabin-porn-commune.html?referrer=

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  53. Sherri said on September 23, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Xi is going to POTUS next. This is Xi’s first state visit. He stopped in Seattle first, I assume partly because it’s on the way, and partly because it’s a convenient place to meet with Boeing (ordered a bunch of airplanes today) and with a lot of tech execs.

    Of course it will get more coverage when he’s in DC. But his visit here was almost invisible from a national news perspective. The NYTimes has their chief diplomatic corresponded from their Beijing bureau here covering his visit, but there’s no link from the front page of their web site to any of her stories.

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  54. basset said on September 23, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Running? Pole vaulting? Impressive, but who can do this at 100?


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  55. Julie Robinson said on September 23, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    Suzanne, I’ve heard that same thing and shuddered.

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  56. Deborah said on September 23, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    The last pope to visit the US (the polish guy) came to St. Louis and stayed while there catty-corner across the street from our place. My husband and I were just returning from Miami, FL, where we were for a design project we were working on. The streets were so thronged with people that our cab from the airport had to let us off blocks away. Then when we finally made it to our building one of the other residents on our floor couldn’t wait to tell us that the guy who lived next door to us on the 16th floor, a med student at Washington University had bailed out the window of his unit and killed himself the night before. Those incidents will forever be burned into my brain as being connected.

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  57. alex said on September 24, 2015 at 5:48 am

    Basset, that was a fun read. Makes sword-swallowers and hellfire-and-brimstone snake handlers look like wimps.

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  58. alex said on September 24, 2015 at 5:52 am

    And Deborah, were you living in Chicago yet during the Bulls’ six-peat? I remember bailing on a cab because I was already about sixty bucks in the hole and going nowhere anytime soon. I got out miles from home and hoofed it.

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  59. Deborah said on September 24, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Alex, that was before we moved there but I’ve heard a lot about it. Apparently hundreds of drunk people ended up sleeping on Oak Street beach because they couldn’t make it home.

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  60. Deborah said on September 24, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Good one Basset. I hadn’t heard of ferret leggers before. A few months ago a scary looking guy came to our door and asked us if we’d seen his lost albino ferret. We didn’t go outside very often for a while after that.

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  61. basset said on September 24, 2015 at 8:09 am

    i do miss playing basketball and softball, never had any desire to stuff a ferret down my pants though.

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