A grimy spotlight.

I keep thinking about Flint and its river. (Who wouldn’t?) Fort Wayne gets its water from a fairly dodgy river; so does Columbus, and I’d bet there are cities all over the country with a water source that isn’t exactly bubbling out of a pristine mountain spring. The Midwest is the country’s breadbasket, and what drains off its farm fields and into its rivers is decidedly…unpleasant, chemically speaking.

But all is not lost. You can make all kinds of water safe to drink with proper treatment. A lot of attention is being paid to how and why the city switched its source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. That’s important, but the problem is that the water wasn’t properly treated. As beb has pointed out, adding anti-corrosives to municipal water supplies to control lead leaching has been standard operating procedure for decades. Someone fell down on that job, for sure.

Another oddity: For all the talk of the “poisoned river,” most of the lead comes through your service pipes, i.e., the line between your house and the main line running down the street. The older the house, the more likely you are to have lead or lead-soldered service pipes. So the lead exposure, in Flint, tended to be concentrated in older housing, rather than widely scattered.

You think of all the things in old, crumbing neighborhoods, in old, crumbling cities — all the things that can hurt you. You don’t think of the water.

How was your day? Or your last couple of days? Mine were uneven. Gave blood, worked late. For the first time ever, the nurse had to…dig a little for the vein, even though it was standing out like a good little soldier. It was an oops moment for her, but now I have a sexy bruise for a couple of days. Forgiveness for the spotty appearance here, please. The last couple of days have been a little hectic at work, for obvious reasons:


Crazy week for all Michigan publications. Traffic off the charts, people looking for something, anything, about Flint. To answer a few of your questions: Yes, the Rude Pundit pretty much made hash of that moronic National Review editorial, although there is blame to be assigned to Democrats, for sure, especially at the EPA. Republican scribes are helpfully referring to this agency as “Obama’s EPA.” Bottom line: Complicated story, complex explanations. I thank you all, especially beb and BigHank, for your smart and informed comments on water chemistry and treatment issues.

So, let’s limp to the bloggage and the end of the week, then.

A good Flint timeline/explainer. One of several.

The ancient roots of man’s best friend.

Naked men in locker rooms, and how journalists interact with them.

A “manosphere” denizen gets his. Deservedly so.

Good weekend, all.

Posted at 12:24 am in Current events |

57 responses to “A grimy spotlight.”

  1. Sherri said on January 22, 2016 at 3:00 am

    Re-posting from the last thread, Ursula K. LeGuin’s scathing letter to the editor of the Oregonian concerning their coverage of members of the Cowphilate that have taken over the Maljeur refuge: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/01/headline_on_malheur_is_inaccur.html

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  2. alex said on January 22, 2016 at 6:19 am

    “Too corrosive for General Motors to build cars with.” That would also describe Coca-Cola, which is something else that disproportionately affects the health of the poor and that probably no one ought to be drinking.

    And the manosphere’s bag of dirty tricks looks like it was cribbed from the advertising business, which seduces women (and men too) by calculated manipulation of their insecurities.

    A nation unwittingly poisoned and fucked.

    Sorry for the sarcastic day brightener. It’s the best I could muster this dreary cold morning.

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  3. David C. said on January 22, 2016 at 6:24 am

    If the water I drink from Lake Winnebago can be made safe, any water can. Lake Winnebago which is the big inland lake in east, central Wisconsin is essentially a wide spot in the Fox River and is only 21′ deep max. It’s full of dioxins due to past dumping from all the paper mills in the area (thanks Koch Bros. dad, in addition to others). It’s so shallow it kicks up a lot of algae in the summertime and the Fox River flows through farm country, so its full of farm crud, but I’m confident it’s safe to drink. It looks like in Flint, they turned the valves to switch sources without any regard for the chemistry of the water. We pay an assload of money for our water, I’m told, because it has to be so highly treated to make it safe. My guess is if they had bothered to ask they would have been told it would cost more to make the river water safe than to continue to use Detroit water until the pipeline was completed. I’ve worked with upper management enough to know that once they get a notion in their heads, asking those who might actually know doesn’t really occur to them.

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  4. Suzanne said on January 22, 2016 at 7:22 am

    “I’ve worked with upper management enough to know that once they get a notion in their heads, asking those who might actually know doesn’t really occur to them.” Ain’t that the truth!!

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  5. Andrea said on January 22, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Urgh. That manosphere story has given me the creeps. Yuck. I worry about this for my own teenaged children. They and all their peers spend so much time online, watching shows and playing games, that I wonder if it makes it easier for them to overlook each other’s essential humanity. I feel like it’s an uphill battle to get them to interact with the real world and to learn and practice the skills needed to do so.

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  6. Connie said on January 22, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Nancy, I would be interested in your opinion on the Kettering University letter, which pretty much downplays the whole Flint water thing as over reacting to a tiny problem. http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/michigan/scope-of-flint-water-contamination-downplayed-calrified-in-kettering-university-presidents-letter

    In the years I dated my husband he lived in a series of rundown houses in Flint with a couple of guys. The house on 12th St. had the all concrete channels of the Flint River right next door. But the very first house, in a very run down neighborhood, a house with mushrooms growing in the shower stall!, has ended up virtually on the new Kettering University campus. WHich surprised us greatly the first time we saw it.

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  7. susan said on January 22, 2016 at 8:50 am

    If Cincinnati’s drinking water can be made potable, I would think most any effluent could be made potable. The Ohio River. Upstream lies Pittsburgh, East Liverpool, Steubenville, Wheeling, Marietta, Gallipolis, Huntington, Portsmouth…oh, and lots of tributaries lined with old towns. I’m was never completely convinced that water is fit to drink, though. You could always smell nasty chemical components as it came out of the faucet.

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  8. beb said on January 22, 2016 at 8:52 am

    We’ve been focused this week on the Flint water crisis so much that the Detroit Public Schools teacher sick-out has largely gone unnoticed, except by the thousands of parents who have had to make alternative arrangements for their kids because their school had to close for lack of teachers. I confess I haven’t been following this closely. Teachers say they are protesting working conditions and class-room size. I’m sure this is true. The Detroit Public School system has an enormous amount of debt while is draining away resources that could improve the schools. The governor is trying to fix the problem but his solution seems like smoke and mirrors. The obvious solution to me is for the state to absorb the debt and wipe it off Detroit’s books. Also to increase payments to school systems state-wide. The state — apparently — is finding a budget surplus this year. There are lots of things the state could use that money for but because they’re Republicans they’ll probably just throw it away on another tax cut.

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  9. Heather said on January 22, 2016 at 9:03 am

    That manosphere story was horrifying, and so were a lot of the comments, of course. One guy said all guys talk like that. Of course the subject weren’t just talking among themselves, they were posting it on the internet. And I’m sure a lot of guys do talk like that, but most? I’d take a good look at my friends if that were the case. Pretty sure most of my guy friends don’t have such a deep hatred and fear of women.

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  10. Jolene said on January 22, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Bill Gates is funding a project to make potable water out of human waste. They’ve built a proof-of-concept processor and are now building and testing a pilot system in Senegal. If that is possible–and it appears that it is–it should be possible to purify any sort of water.

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  11. Deborah said on January 22, 2016 at 9:09 am

    When I read the manosphere link it made me so happy to be 65 and happily married. Andrea, I think you have hit on something regarding life online vs reality. I realize how odd that is for me to say as I type this on an online blog comments section.

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  12. Randy said on January 22, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Here in Winnipeg, 5 million litres of raw sewage went into the Red River this week. A homeowner noticed a huge melted spot on the river, and a brown film on the water. Oh, and also a gag-inducing smell. Had he not reported it, city officials would not have found it, they freely admit. Luckily, we get our drinking water from a pristine lake in Ontario. Unluckily, the people the people that live by that lake have not had a clean drinking water source for 20 years.

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  13. Mark P said on January 22, 2016 at 10:42 am

    The city of Rome, Ga, where I grew up, used to take all of its water from the Oostanaula River. Upstream of the water intake there are (or used to be) a number of textile mills.The textile mill where my mother worked had a treatment plant for their intake, but dumped it untreated waste into a creek that flowed directly into the river, fortunately downstream of the city intake. The area around the creek was a wasteland of sterile mud because of the acidity of the mill’s waste water. The mill eventually had to start treating the water. The city water is generally good, but occasionally there was an overwhelming chemical stink. The city usually said it was perfectly OK to drink, but I never believed it. That odor was way too similar to some deadly organic chemicals.

    As a dog lover, I had to read the link to the study of the origin of dogs. One thing caught my eye: “Some researchers question whether dogs experience feelings like love and loyalty, or whether their winning ways are just a matter of instincts that evolved because being a hanger-on is an easier way to make a living than running down elk.”

    In the study of ethology, there are two sins, anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism. An ethologist has to choose one, and the worst by far is anthropocentrism. Some cat lovers say a cat’s affection for a human is more valuable than a dog’s because a cat chooses to be affectionate but a dog is just acting out of instinct. Well, what do you think a human ability to love and be loyal come from? Instinct, of course.

    One other comment on the dog story. The story says that some researchers think that dogs are not pack animals, with the associated hierarchy, like wolves. These researchers apparently have never watched a pack of dogs.

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  14. brian stouder said on January 22, 2016 at 11:59 am

    If I was going to write a 3,000 word essay on the Flint fiasco (don’t worry – I won’t!), the point it would orbit around is the fragility of human progress, and human intelligence. As I become an old man, one thing that I wonder more and more about is continuity. How does an enterprise not miss a beat, when bright, able-minded folks move on, or pass away? How much of what any organization does is based on real knowledge, versus an essentially ignorant “that’s what we’ve always done”?

    By way of saying, the last thing I’d ever ascribe the terrible turn of events in Flint on is “environmental racism” – or any other intentionally malicious motivation.

    Truly, it seems to me to be ignorance (and/or negligence), and not malice at work.

    And indeed, come to think of it, racism is also essentially ignorance – so at the end of my 3000 word essay, I’d end up (grudgingly!) agreeing with the NYT’s/Nancy’s “environmental racism” term….maybe

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  15. ROGirl said on January 22, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    The fact that the Flint story is on the front page of the NYT, the Time cover story, and the networkss have actually sent correspondents to Flint instead of reporting from Chicago or Detroit is astonishing to me. This story has been a steady drumbeat in Michigan for 2 years.

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  16. Suzanne said on January 22, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    So now, National Review has entered the anti-Trump camp. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/standing-athwart-history-yelling-stop-donald-trump/426504/?utm_source=SFFB

    Ya gotta dance with the one that brought ya, right?

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  17. brian stouder said on January 22, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Rush Limbaugh – for the 8 minutes I could stand of him today – was busy excommunicating National Review and other “establishment” Republicans, today.

    This got me chuckling, because I remember – 30+ years ago – when I was a Ronald Reagan voter, and GREATLY admired Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Jack Kemp, and was a National Review subscriber (really!) and a Conservative Book Club member (once bought a book called The Graves of Academe [the pun was lost on me, at first], which must have doubled my vocabulary; had to have a dictionary beside me the whole time I read it).

    At some point – I read a Letter to the Editor in N-R from “Rush H Limbaugh III” – and that was it; I let the subscription lapse, and it really was the beginning of the end of my stint as a wing-nut.

    And now – Rush H Limbaugh III thinks he defines what the Republican party “establishment” is?

    Good luck with that, Rush H! (I think the H stands for “Hinge-jaw”)

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  18. Dexter said on January 22, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    I watched that aerial show which features a state viewed and commented on using beautiful aerial taping. This episode was featuring New York. They did a great job showing how NYC’s water supply reaches the city from upstate. You’d think, maybe, that just because New York City is so complex they would have water problems, but no, NYC tap water is damn-nearly pristine and sparkly. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/drinking_water/index.shtml

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  19. Dexter said on January 22, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Every time I see the TV ad depicting Adolf Coors sampling “pure mountain stream water…” (as he was about to settle in Colorado to brew suds) , dipping his tin cup into a bubbly stream and imbibing that H2O, I only can think of Flint, and the cancer cluster of houses my friend from Defiance, Ohio told me about years ago…his family home was on the banks of the Maumee, close to Defiance’s water intake system equipment. His family was spared, but the next five consecutive homes all had multiple cancer victims at times over a twenty year or so period. Maybe Alan D knows more about all this, but my friend is about as honest as old George Washington was during the cherry tree event ( 🙂 ) and he has never lied to me yet.

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  20. basset said on January 22, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Mrs. B. and I went to the Heaven Hill distillery in Kentucky maybe a couple of years ago, and the tour there starts with a video which in turn opens with pics of beautiful limestone streams and voice-over about how the proper water is essential. They’d had a bad fire not too long previously, though, and had to buy another distillery in Louisville to keep production going, so I asked about the water and the tour guide said they used Louisville tap water. Which might well run from pristine limestone caves, for all I know… end product is still really tasty.

    Meanwhile, Nashville is in Ice Station Zebra mode today, city offices closed, traffic stuck all over the place and many warnings not to go out unless you have to. Haven’t yet, ourselves, and probably won’t.

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  21. alex said on January 22, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    So let me get this straight…

    The rank nativist pseudo-intellectuals have their panties in a bunch because the rank nativist anti-intellectuals have a mind of their own? Good times.

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  22. Deborah said on January 22, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Basset, when I worked on the Woodford Reserve bourbon museum about 20 years ago (yikes has it been that long?) water was touted as one of the main ingredients. The water is supposedly filtered trough limestone which makes it clear and pure. Who knows where it actually comes from.

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  23. Bitter Scribe said on January 22, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    A terrific editorial cartoon on the Flint water crisis:


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  24. Deborah said on January 22, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    We’ve been avoiding carbs for the last 3 weeks. I had such a craving for bread that I bought a baguette today and just ate the whole thing myself with nothing on it or with it, just the bread. It was heavenly but now I’m covered in crumbs.

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  25. David C. said on January 22, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    The Kettering Letter looks like it’s of the Merchants of Doubt school of hack-fraud science. Yes, what he says is true in a legalistic sense, but it isn’t the whole truth. Scratch very far and I bet you would find kind, concerned, ol’ Doc McMahon contributes to the Rs. Just a hunch.

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  26. Dave said on January 22, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Change of subject but tonight on 20/20 on ABC, they’re doing a story on the two Michigan Tea Party darlings who alienated everyone as they had an affair.

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  27. susan said on January 22, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Oh geez, and then there is this. Perfect Libertarian World. Let’s privatize everything, cut public budgets and regulations, and let the Blessed Market Place reign. Rain lead. Lead rain. Exactly who is safe, anyway? We just never know, apparently. From the article:

    …Lambrinidou warned that the issue of misleading test results was widespread. “There is no way that Flint is a one-off,” she said.“There are many ways to game the system. In Flint, they went to test neighbourhoods where they knew didn’t have a problem. You can also flush the water to get rid of the lead. If you flush it before sampling, the problem will go away.

    “The EPA has completely turned its gaze away from this. There is no robust oversight here, the only oversight is from the people getting hurt. Families who get hurt, such as in Flint, are the overseers. It’s an horrendous situation. The system is absolutely failing….”

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  28. Brandon said on January 22, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    @brian stouder, comment 19: It must have been this book:


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  29. Connie said on January 22, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    I am back from a nice evening at the scifi con which worked okwith a boot cane wheelchair combo. I ended up at a table at the reception with a nice gentleman from LA who was originally from nearby W Bloomfield, and introduced me to his sister. It took me several minutes of conversation before I realized he was one of the guests of honor I had just heard speak at the opening session. Gordon Smith is a staff writer for Better Call Saul, spin-off of Breaking Bad.

    Earlier I had gotten caught up in a clump of people waiting for some doors to be opened. I asked the woman in front of me if we knew each other. Turned out she is John Scalzi’s wife, and I was recognizing her from the pictures on his blog. In general people were friendly, chatty, and quick to introduce themselves.

    And those women selling corsets that just isn’t natural.

    Deborah I have been counting carbs for a year now and have lost over 60 lbs. i get to eat some, just not a lot.

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  30. brian stouder said on January 23, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Brandon, that’s it!!

    And,I loved-loved loved Jeane Kirkpatrick’s book, Dicatorships and Double Standards – which made the case that there’s a huge difference between rightwing dictatoships, and totalitarian commies….it all made so much sense, then.

    And I was just sure that we could complete the RWR years, and then see Kemp and/or Kirkpatrick ascend to the highest office….and then George H W Bush succeeded RWR, and I will never, ever forget the day GHWB named Quayle as his running mate in ’88.

    No kidding – I had just had all 4 of my wisdom teeth removed, and I was at home in a helluva shape, with the TV on, and saw the announcement – and groaned! Surely it was the drugs playing a trick on me, right? Right? But no – there he was, in all his glory.

    RWR used to say that he didn’t leave the Democratic party, so much as it had left him.

    I’d say the Republican party didn’t just leave me – it changed the locks and cleaned out the bank accounts and basically told me to go to hell.

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  31. Dexter said on January 23, 2016 at 2:43 am

    MarkP @13… While walking downtown streets in Rome, Georgia in 1968, after our team bus stopped and we ballplayers had lunch in a diner, I found a wallet on the sidewalk. It had zero cash but many credit cards and other ID cards. I wanted to get it to the owner but the bus was leaving and I saw no cops or police station. We were making the hellish ride non-stop to Chicago, where the team owner had an agreement for us to play one game a year in Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox.
    I bought a Chicago paper…headlines screamed of credit card theft by postal employees and cops. I was 18…I had no clue what to do with this wallet I carried from Rome, Georgia…so all I could think of was to just dump it into a mail box and forget about it. I wonder if somehow anything ever got back to the owner.

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  32. Dexter said on January 23, 2016 at 2:50 am

    Deborah..not on any special carb restrictions, but I am severely curtailing sugar until I can lose these goddam ten pounds I put on over the holidays. Ten pounds. Shameful, I know…I am about to crash but I am also craving that last sesame seed bagel I know damn-well is out there. Instead of loading preserves onto it, I am making a disgusting banana-bagel sandwich. No peanut butter.

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  33. Mark P said on January 23, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Dexter @33 — How interesting. Did you eat on Broad Street? There weren’t many restaurants on Broad back then. Krystal and The Partridge are all I can remember. At that time my father was superintendent of mails (I think the plural is correct). If that wallet got to the Post Office, I’m pretty sure it would have found its way back to the owner. There’s a good chance one of the letter carriers would actually have recognized the name, assuming it was a local resident. The Post Office was different in those days. It was much more a local institution than today. Today if I mail a letter to my next-door neighbor, it will be picked up, trucked to Atlanta, sent back to Rome, and then delivered here.

    And in those days, a non-stop ride to Chicago would have been hellish, indeed. Many of the interstate highways were unfinished in the South.

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  34. Deborah said on January 23, 2016 at 10:15 am

    What’s it like on the east coast this morning? How much snow did you get?

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  35. Deborah said on January 23, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Wow, Connie! 60 lbs, congratulations. Hats off to you for keeping it up a whole year. Amazing.

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  36. beb said on January 23, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Susan linked to some libertarian who was saying there are many ways to game a lead and copper study. Not if you’re following the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rules (LCR). Their rules require you to identify the type of service line you have and there are rules on the number of each type of service lines to be included in the study. Then there are rules on the sample collection. First the faucet is flushed for several minutes. Then it is to be left unused for 6 to 12 hours and then a liter sample is drawn into a clear plastic bottle provided by the testing agency. The resident dates when the line was flushed and sample drawn, signs the form and calls the agency to pick up the sample. There’s not a lot of room in any of that to finagle with the raw results.

    You can finagle the report, as happened, by averaging results from Flint in with the resident county, most of which does not get their water from Flint. But this is another example of bureaucrats not knowing how to look at the data or not willing to blow the whistle on a disaster in the making.

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  37. beb said on January 23, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Connie, I’m glad you’re having a good time at Confusion. I think I attended the first ten, missing only one year when a blizzard like the one hitting the east coast closed the freeways throughout Michigan and Ohio. It was a nice convention but feuding with some elitist SF soured me on fandom and I haven’t gone since, not even when the NASFIC was in town recently. I was tempted to go just to say hi to you, a NN.c fandom member but … to many bad memories. Still I am glad for you and hope the rest of the convention goes well for you.

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  38. Dexter said on January 23, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Mark @ 33: I have no idea what place we ate at…we usually sought out downtown diners where the driver had an idea the Black dudes wouldn’t be barred at the door (that shit happened a lot in 1968, f’real) . If there’d been a handy mail box I’d have dumped that wallet there in Rome, but I did it in Chicago.

    I had a fit the past three days as I noticed my Barlow knife I have had since 1956 was gone. I made a big sentimental deal over it and a new one is on the way from Amazon, so sure I was I had lost it in a rural field. I searched every possible place, and by now you know what is next; I found it in a basket in which I keep extra key chains and fobs. Foolish waste of time, and it took an epiphany to remember where I had not looked, and found the thing. 🙂

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  39. Connie said on January 23, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks beb, I had fun. People were friendly and extremely helpful to a person in a wheelchair. Have you.ever gone to Penguicon? i understand it is geekier and gamier.

    I saw quite a few guys in utilikilts, and a man in a lovely Regency dress. Lots of purple hair. Beautiful Steampunk leatherwork and goggles. Several free books. I’m glad I went.

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  40. Connie said on January 23, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Brian, Rachel will be hosting a town hall in Flint on Wed. http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/01/22/flint-town-hall/79206030/

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  41. beb said on January 23, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    From Huffinton Post:

    The nut is:
    Here’s what went wrong: Instead of telling the city to treat the water, the Michigan Department of Environment Quality told it to just monitor the water for a year, then decide what kind of corrosion treatment it needed, according to an MDEQ memo from November that was included in Snyder’s recently released emails relating to the crisis.

    O! M!! G!!!
    Just “monitor” the situation… And yet they did not see the disaster looming. This isn’t a SNAFU, this is total FUBAR!

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  42. Basset said on January 23, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    dexter, just had a similar situation with my FSA card. mrs. b requires massively expensive levels of medication with a stout annual deductible, and we usually go through my entire FSA balance just on that by February. Couldn’t find the card last week, searched for a day and finally ordered a replacement, to arrive in 2-3 weeks… Next day she looked in her wallet & there it was.

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  43. Dexter said on January 24, 2016 at 12:02 am

    basset, my wife goes a bit longer, but not much, and then we are stuck in “the donut hole”. She takes several medications for diabetes which are very expensive.
    I am grateful daily that the nine ‘scripts I have to take are covered by the VA.

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  44. basset said on January 24, 2016 at 8:10 am

    and I am thankful for our insurance, which covers Mrs B’s diabetes meds after the deductible is paid.

    Downtown diners and barring black customers… remember going to visit my South Carolina relatives in the 60s and seeing “colored” signs on water fountains and such, the only time I have seen actual in-person refusal was in Indiana, though. This was in Vevay, down in the far south of the state about 1976 or 77… the IU ballet played down there and I was a stagehand, several of us had awhile to go look around after setting up and we came up on an ice cream stand. one of us was black and they wouldn’t serve him. we made appropriate rude comments and moved on.

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  45. brian stouder said on January 24, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Connie, thanks for the heads-up; I will certainly be watching or dvr’ing

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  46. alex said on January 24, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Basset, when I was at IU in ’79 and the early ’80s, there were black students who told me they’d been refused service at the McDonald’s in Martinsville. My parents, who were both at IU in the ’50s, remember that the black students couldn’t patronize any business in Bloomington and couldn’t leave campus because of concern for their personal safety.

    My mom did some student teaching in Vevay, where she was shocked to learn that girls becoming pregnant and dropping out in the sixth grade or so was fairly routine.

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  47. basset said on January 24, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    I don’t doubt it at all, Alex… I was at IU 73-77 and again spring term of 80, somewhere in that earlier period I recall stopping for gas in Martinsville and one of the guys in the car wouldn’t get out because he was Jewish.

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  48. Deborah said on January 24, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    I remember seeing water fountains marked “colored” in Miami, FL when I was 6 or 7 but those disappeared soon thereafter. I was shocked when I visited Texas to see signs like that there when I was college age. There was one laundramat in a small town in Texas near Austin that had a sign up, “whites only” and it wasn’t referring to the color of clothes in your laundry basket.

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  49. basset said on January 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Mrs B and I lived in Jackson, Mississippi when we were first married back in the early 80s and saw a sign for a “colored motel” on US 80 on the way to Vicksburg. Looked rundown but still occupied.

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  50. Deborah said on January 24, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    We knew this was coming https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pinZNYxQeo. How did she manage to find the same sweater?

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  51. Suzanne said on January 24, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    The specter of Martinsville, IN racism remains. About 5-6 years ago, a white friend of my son’s told me a story of him & his black friend driving from S. IN to Indy and needing gas. My son’s friend was going to stop in Martinsville, but his black friend cautioned him against it since they two guys of two races in the same car. Better to be safe. My son was shocked to hear that this was still potentially an issue in the 21st century.

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  52. Jolene said on January 24, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    I was impressed, too, Deborah, that Tina Fey managed to find the same sweater that Palin wore. I couldn’t say exactly how it’s done, but I’d imagine the wardrobe person at SNL would know who to call to find it.

    My own guess would have been to go high-end retail (I.e., not J. Crew, but not a private design house, and, indeed, when I googled “Sarah Palin sweater,” I found that it had been for sale at Saks Fifth Avenue. She likely bought it online.

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  53. Deborah said on January 24, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Jolene, how is it in the DC area? Are you completely socked in by snow or is it getting cleared away efficiently?

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  54. beb said on January 24, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I guess it’s legit to bring out the Nazi comparisons:

    Trump supports loves them some authoritarianism.

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  55. Basset said on January 24, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    I was born in Linton, Indiana, one of the original “sundown towns” – the “don”t let the sun set on you” sign was gone by the time I was old enough to recognize it but I was shown where it had been several times. Phil Harris, btw, was from Linton, as is David Letterman’s mom.

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  56. Jolene said on January 24, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Still, pretty socked in, Deborah, though, at this point, it’s hard to say in general. Lots depends on where you are, what circumstances your housing type and neighborhood give you, and whether the city plows have gotten to you yet. But, a few observations.

    The federal government and all local governments are closed tomorrow. All schools are closed. Some have announced closures through Tuesday; the local news people say opening even on Wednesday is unlikely for many. Metro, meaning the combined subway and bus system, was closed through today and will have only limited service tomorrow. For instance, they’ve said that certain bus routes will have service between noon and 5:00 PM.

    The street-cleaning people are still working on main roads. One guy interviewed today said that, at this point, they are aiming to make them passable, meaning a single lane open so that snow removal teams and emergency personnel can get through. It’ll be days before they’re able to take on neighborhood streets. By then, it’ll be a toss-up as to whether they’re doing more harm than good, as snow remaining on streets will, in some cases, get pushed up against cars whose owners have cleaned around them.

    For individuals, you want to have a strong back. If you’re a homeowner with a driveway, you likely have many hours of shoveling ahead of you. Sidewalks too, of course. If, like many in the city and inner suburbs, you park on the street, you have to shovel out your car, but, really, it’s so hard to go anywhere and you’re so unlikely to find another place to park that it’s best to leave it for awhile.

    I’m in an apartment complex where there’s a commercial service contracted to do snow removal. Management has been sending us hopeful email messages, but, as of mid-afternoon, nothing had been done, which means that no one would have been able to get out. I can’t actually see the drive from my windows (They face an interior courtyard.), so it’s possible some preliminary work got done late today, but they, too, were promising only an initial pass-through as a first step. Fortunately, my car is in a garage, so, when it’s possible to get out, I don’t have to do any digging.

    All that said, based on what I’ve heard on the news, things are going fairly well. Except for a few revelers visiting bars within walking distance, people have stayed off the streets, as emergency personnel and news people have incessantly advised. There’ve been few reports of accidents or other mayhem. (The exception to this is highway travelers, some of whom should have stayed put. Many traffic jams and accidents. The Pennsylvania Turnpike was jammed up for many hours.)

    Lots of people are working very hard. Many good citizens have shoveled around fire hydrants and bus stops. The city has set up a service to connect volunteers and people who need help shoveling; they report, of course, that they have many more requests than they can fulfill, but, still, given what hard work snow-shoveling is, it’s a miracle a person would volunteer to help anyone who is not a blood relative. Lots of young people are fattening their wallets by shoveling for people who can’t, which is as it should be. Youth and strength might be their own reward, but snow-shoveling should definitely be compensated.

    We can expect only a little help from the weather in the next few days. The daytime temperatures are expected to be only in the low 30s, with nighttime temps in the teens. So, we’ll have modest daytime thawing, followed by nighttime refreezing, which is no one’s idea of fun.

    I expect that lots of people are going to be feeling pretty strained by, say, Tuesday evening. One of the many advantages of being retired is that anything I have to do isn’t so important that it can’t wait for a more auspicious day.

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  57. brian stouder said on January 25, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Good stuff, Jolene. If a person had to be caught in transit, I’d certainly rather be stuck in an airport, than on a bus on a freeway.

    One follow-on story that will surely show up will be high-water/flooding – depending how quickly things warm again

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