Pine needles.

Well, I did it. We did it, that is — took the tree down, and the outside decorations. God, that feels good, sweeping up the big pile of pine needles and dragging that sucker down to the curb. Let 2017 get underway, for cryin’ out loud.

One great thing about working for a startup is, things rarely stay the same for long, and lots more will be expected of all of us in the new year, so I have to get my organization under control. I’m trying a Bullet Journal — i.e., “making lists and taking notes in a paper notebook” — and seeing how it goes. I love my digital systems, but I’m old enough that writing something down seems to stick in my head better.

Bullet journaling seems to be a cult. Someone have me deprogrammed if I slide too deeply into this stuff.

January is also my dry month, which I’m happy to see arrive, frankly. Alcohol is a depressant, and this is a depressing time of year. Dry January also has its cult, and even a name — “Drynuary.” Its leading adherent:

“The first week, you’re overenergized,” he said. “I’m having lucid dreams more often.”

The second week, his clothes fit better, but after that, it’s all uphill. By the fourth week, he said, “I’m sick of whatever it is that used to be interesting about this.”

That sounds like my experience last year, although I hung on until the final hours of Jan. 30, when I had a few sips of wine. The next night, a single glass. We’ll see if I can go all the way.

Feeling boring at the moment. Let’s get to the bloggage, eh?

Whatever you know about Richard Nixon, dial your opinion down a few notches. He was worse than you thought:

Richard M. Nixon always denied it: to David Frost, to historians and to Lyndon B. Johnson, who had the strongest suspicions and the most cause for outrage at his successor’s rumored treachery. To them all, Nixon insisted that he had not sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to bring the war in Vietnam to an early conclusion. “My God. I would never do anything to encourage” South Vietnam “not to come to the table,” Nixon told Johnson, in a conversation captured on the White House taping system.

Now we know Nixon lied. A newfound cache of notes left by H. R. Haldeman, his closest aide, shows that Nixon directed his campaign’s efforts to scuttle the peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election. On Oct. 22, 1968, he ordered Haldeman to “monkey wrench” the initiative.

Meanwhile, our toddler president-elect promises even lower lows:

“And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

When asked what he knew that others did not, Mr. Trump demurred, saying only, “You’ll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

Mr. Trump, who does not use email, also advised people to avoid computers when dealing with delicate material. “It’s very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way, because I’ll tell you what, no computer is safe,” Mr. Trump said.

“I don’t care what they say, no computer is safe,” he added. “I have a boy who’s 10 years old; he can do anything with a computer. You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier.”

My new favorite health-care news site is StatNews, worth a visit every day. I liked this piece about the dangers of the alt-medicine movement.

Time for an hour of non-digital reading and an early bedtime. The new year is under way.

Posted at 9:06 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |
 

54 responses to “Pine needles.”

  1. Rana said on January 1, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    I’ll be curious to hear about your experiences with the bullet journal. I like the convenience of my phone for things like calendars and to-do lists, but I miss the tactile experience of jotting things down in my notebook. Bullet journals seem like the best of both worlds.

    As for the new year, and improvement strategies, several friends of mine prefer choosing a theme for the year rather than a list of specific resolutions. To that end, I’ve decided that this year’s theme will be “self care,” with getting enough sleep and eating better being the immediate focus.

    Enjoy your reading and your early bedtime!

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  2. Deborah said on January 1, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    I finished reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt over this holiday and started The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich, neither by digital reading. I know it’s boring to read about people who prefer actual books to Kindles, but I’m one of them.

    We leave AZ in the morning, should be back in Santa Fe on Tuesday then LB has surgery on Weds. Our trip to Tubac has been fun, but not without some pathos. My husband’s uncle who has Alzheimer’s has deteriorated some, which is sad. It is occurring much slower than any of us thought, but still. His ability to express himself with words is slipping. You can tell that he tracks everything that is going on but when he tries to contribute to conversations he falters and he knows it which is doubly hard on him because it embarrasses him. All of his life he’s been sharp and witty, a very successful businessman and now he isn’t. He and his wife are extremely kind and generous people, salt of the earth. Hard to watch.

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  3. MichaelG said on January 2, 2017 at 12:06 am

    Little Bird, I hope everything goes well with your surgery.

    Deborah, I had a (too) long phone encounter with a dear friend with whom I hadn’t spoken in a long time. He is now deep into dementia. Once one of the smartest people I ever knew, he’s, well, it’s just pathetic and depressing.

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  4. Sherri said on January 2, 2017 at 2:05 am

    I read Weapons of Math Destruction, about the algorithms that increasingly determine so much of people’s lives. Very good, and despite having math in the title, not a formula in sight, and no knowledge of math needed to understand.

    I carry around a Moleskine reporter notebook, and use it to take notes all the time. I’ve never found a way of taking notes digitally that I like, and I find that for my purposes, writing down a few things keeps more in my memory. So, I don’t take copious notes, but I write them when I do. If I really need to take detailed notes, then I’ll bring my laptop, but it feels like my focus is more superficial when I do that.

    We’re off to Tennessee tomorrow morning to see my dying mother-in-law. When I talked to her on the phone last week, I could barely understand her, she’s having so much difficulty speaking. She’s gone from slurring some when she was tired this past summer to that.

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  5. basset said on January 2, 2017 at 8:23 am

    Not gonna read it, Sherri, sorry… just having math in the title is enough to put me on the defensive. No bullet journals, either – another set of rules to go by, another sorting system for everything I do, that’s all I need.
    I could make good use of that Leica camera on the “about” page, though, and I do have a little notebook just like the one in the same picture, ribbon and all. Been using it for notes on deer season, which ends next Sunday.

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  6. Julie Robinson said on January 2, 2017 at 8:45 am

    As a life-long list maker I cling steadfastly to paper for both lists and calendars. I keep trying digital but find it clunky and time-consuming. Wake up phone, go to app, scroll through calendar, punch in all the info to enter a calendar item. Vs. open calendar and write it down. Same thing with lists, and especially at work; I focus better with all my tasks for the day sitting on the desk where I can see it all the time.

    Deborah, as my eyesight worsens I’m finding the print in most books is too small. At least the font size can be enlarged on an ebook.

    Little Bird, I hope your surgery goes well and that you have a speedy recovery.

    We just heard that an elderly friend is in hospice. She’s feisty and funny, and it’s been hard to see her decline. My heart goes out to everyone watching a friend or loved one toward the end. Be kind to yourselves.

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  7. Suzanne said on January 2, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Deborah, I read the Goldfinch a year or so ago. It was just ok, in my opinion and I thought, in need of a good editor. Some of the scenes went on and on and on and on.

    The alt-medical article was interesting. I know so many people who buy into it; supplements galore,essential oils that will cure stomach issues, migraines, skin problems, ADD, and more, coconut oil which will pretty much cure anything that ails you, turmeric, sea salt lamps, herbal supplements, and on and on. People spend untold $$ on all this stuff, much of which is sold by Amway like companies at home parties and many have some religious based leadership. God wants us to be heathy & happy donchaknow, so buy my products and stay away from those meds your doctor wants to give you.

    Some of it works, but much is untested and unregulated and most very expensive, so I am sceptical. Eat healthy, exercise, do your best, and see what happens. I do what I can & take my statins.

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  8. Peter said on January 2, 2017 at 9:03 am

    About the only good thing that 2016 has done is made me re-evaluate things, and Richard Nixon was on that list (don’t ask why). How many young lives were lost in Vietnam so he could win an election? I guess it shows with Dick Cheney – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    Went to a funeral last week for a friend’s parent who died from dementia. The celebrant said that there is a silver lining in every tragedy, and it was hinted that the recently departed don’t have to hear about Trump anymore.

    But hey, at least I got to see Patti Smith NYE. Forgive me, but at one point in the concert I thought she should volunteer for the Inaugural Ball. That would be a something.

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  9. Mark P said on January 2, 2017 at 9:58 am

    I wonder when people will realize that Donald Trump is a liar. I would especially like the news media to figure that out. He lies all the time. He lies when he doesn’t have any reason to lie. Whenever he says anything, the default assumption should be that he’s lying. He’s a pathological liar. He lies. That’s what he does.

    Also, dementia is just one more piece of evidence that there is no god.

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  10. Sherri said on January 2, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Notes I take on paper, but my calendar is digital only. I may initially quickly jot down the info, but it immediately goes into the calendar, which is synced across all my devices. The ability to set a default alert on my phone for the typical time I need to leave means that I don’t spend so much time obsessively checking my watch.

    A lot of the alt medicine stuff gains a strong foothold in areas where western medicine doesn’t have satisfactory answers. Migraines are a perfect example; there are a lot of treatments, some work great for some, not at all for others, some people are let in search of any relief, and even the least alt of the western doctors are sort of throwing things at the problem until something or combination sticks. And great success is defined by a 50% reduction in the number of migraines. I understand the motivation, but fear the end result of the alt-med push will be deregulation, and a return to the patent medicine times pre-FDA.

    It is a fascination phenomenon that so many of the Amway-style multi-level marketing schemes are conservative Christian at the core until you step back and look at the them. They provide a way for the good Christian housewife to bring in some extra money while still staying at home and taking care of the kids, and because of the church community, there are built-in ties for building her pyramid. I’ve heard the joke that MLM actually stands for Mormons losing money. Rick Perlstein has written about the crossover between MLMs and conservative Christianity, and also about the general tendency in the conservative world to use political lists to sell products.

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  11. alex said on January 2, 2017 at 10:23 am

    I’ve known a few people who’ve fallen for alt-med quackery and they’re just as insufferable as the the multilevel marketing chumps with basements full of product to move. When I first came to my current neighborhood, there was an elderly lady who was relentless in her efforts to get me to buy products from a company owned by this right-wing asshole. Western Michigan (a/k/a West Dutchistan) seems to be the industry’s world capital. Anyway, some of the house cleaning products seemed to be of good quality but weren’t worth the ridiculous price or the hassle of having to purchase them in mass quantities.

    I lay awake with a headache and the beginnings of a cold for much of last night and one of the lightbulbs that went off in my head is just how many elderly people I’ve known over they years who’ve been swindled by financial advisors. I have one elderly relative who now lives in penury. She had a pretty nice inheritance as well as ample life savings of her own. Now she lives in a house without air conditioning and doesn’t want it because she can’t afford the utility bills. I visited her on one of those hundred-degree days last summer and she was dousing herself with a spray bottle full of water. I offered to get her an air conditioner but she flatly refused. I went grocery shopping for her and she’s existing pretty much on sandwich meats and frozen fruit. Our family had no idea how bad her situation was because she was evidently too embarrassed to talk about how badly she got bilked. She could have turned to any number of trusted family members or friends for financial advice but she never needed any advice and was managing her money just fine until one day when she got an invitation for a free dinner at a fancy restaurant, the only catch being that she’d have to sit through a sales pitch by a financial advisor. She ended up filing for bankruptcy not long after that but didn’t tell anyone what she was happening or she might have had some legal recourse, certainly plenty of lawyer friends and relatives who would have gone after the culprits and gotten her something.

    It infuriates me that this racket is allowed to operate as it does. Just this year Democrats tried to pass a law requiring fiduciary responsibility for financial advisors and there was a huge pushback for the obvious reason that these assholes are in the business of picking people’s pockets, not protecting their assets.

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  12. Deborah said on January 2, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I looked at the Bullet Journal link, watched the video, love it except for one thing, I would want it to be smaller so I could fit it in a coat or jacket pocket. I hate carrying a purse or bag. Maybe I should get a small backpack? I do find that as I age I need to make more lists. I find my iPhone somewhat helpful for that but I seem to remember things better if I write them down instead of typing on a device.

    The Amway crap was a big deal to my Lutheran friends when I was still in the church. My ex-in-laws we’re big users, probably still are. What a racket.

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  13. Jeff Borden said on January 2, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Mark P.,

    Trump fans are inured to lying. I tried to have a civil discussion online with the older brother of a friend of mine, who is a diehard conservative living in Arizona. He claimed the Orange King had given away “hundreds of millions” in charitable contributions, but had done it anonymously. I pointed to the solid reporting in the NYT and the New Yorker, all of it based on tax filings that are a matter of public record, which showed he had given very little to charity over the past 25 years. He utterly dismissed my arguments because the NYT and the New Yorker are biased and simply lie about our new leader. That these revelations came directly from government documents meant zero to him.

    Facts do not matter to them. Progressive had better learn this lesson quickly.

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  14. beb said on January 2, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I’m confused by the news that Nixon colluded with the Vietnamese to screw the peace talks. I thought that was a known fact.

    The nice thing about writing things down is that you don’t have to wait for the computer to boot to look something up.

    I think we’ve already had a lot of experience demonstrating that no computer is safe.The stuff about writing stuff down and using a courier, that’s Mob 101. Not mentioned is that the message is burned after being read. Between all the malware, the data thefts, and government spying I sometimes wonder if computers were the worst idea Man ever came up with.

    How did we get started talking about Amway and it’s ilk? Is it something to do with the alt-medicine.

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  15. nancy said on January 2, 2017 at 11:55 am

    I read Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History,” which was a very Big Book when it came out, and had the same reaction: Befuddlement. Overwritten and needed about two more drafts. So I’m not surprised “The Goldfinch” was similar. I think she was one of those authors whose big splash into the pool was given more thought than her actual manuscript. Young, pretty, southern, “out there” — Vanity Fair will eat this up!

    And Deborah, I think you could customize your B.J. to work in a smaller format. One of the things I like about it (so far) is its simplicity and low-techishness. As soon as I started to set mine up, it made perfect sense to me, and I’m already using it for down-the-road stuff. And like Sherri, I think it will complement my digital calendar, which I adore for the syncing thing — I can make an appointment for my next haircut at the salon as I’m checking out, put it in my phone, and have it pop up on all my devices. It’s another reason I’m an Apple person, although I freely acknowledge this works on other systems, too.

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  16. Judybusy said on January 2, 2017 at 11:55 am

    I’m also a list-maker, for both work tasks and at home. I use a hybrid method at work–Outlook has a tasks function that I like for reminders to do things that are days out. I keep written lists for minutiae on the day-to-day. Before each task, I put a little box. When the task is done, the box gets an X. My first field placement supervisor was doing that in 1992, and it stuck.

    I started The Goldfinch, but it just didn’t appeal to me, so I stopped after about 30 pages. Sherri, I’ve put the Weapons of Math Destruction on my to-read list (digital, part of the library website.) A friend recently posted a cake-making challenge on FB. I declined, saying my life is already pretty busy. She nicely encouraged me (it’s just one cake a month!), but when I told her a big deterrant was that there are always about 200 books on my to-read list, she got why I’m not baking. Speaking of which, I’m logging off to dive back into the Hamilton biography. I don’t think I’ll finish it before it’s due, but I’ll just request it again.

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  17. nancy said on January 2, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Oh, and as for swindling little old ladies, this and this alone is why I distrust any and all College Republicans — regular readers will recall a similar story out of FW many years ago, where an elderly lifelong Republican got taken for a healthy six-figure sum before her nieces stepped and shamed the the C.R.s into returning nearly all of it. These guys seem to burn candles at the shrine of Donald Segretti, Ratfucker.

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  18. Heather said on January 2, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    I really loved “The Secret History,” but agree that “The Goldfinch” was far too long.

    I think some supplements can be helpful, but it’s so hard to find reliable information and of course efficacy varies from person to person (as well as dosage and quality of the supplments). I only take fish oil these days, which my eye doctor suggested for eye dryness.

    I suspect a greater awareness the mind-body connection in health is behind a lot of the alt-medicine movement. However, our understanding of it is very crude and incomplete, leaving it wide open to misuse by hucksters and naifs.

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  19. David C. said on January 2, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    My wife is heavy into alt-medicine. Her latest hobby horse is magnesium. Nobody has enough of it. Last year’s was gluten. Everybody had too much of it. We have half a shelf of supplements she’s tried. I understand she, for whatever reason, doesn’t feel well a lot of the time. But she’ll read something on the internet and it always “makes sense to me”. Of course, they have collections of anecdotes that they call studies. Then she runs off to the doctor wanting whatever they say is the latest treatment, talks to the doctor about it and probably comes off like a nut, decides the doctor is stupid for not being up on the latest studies, and goes off and tries another doctor. I try as much as I dare to talk her down, but it’s like talking to any run of the mill conspiracy theorist. I haven’t managed to flip one of those either.

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  20. alex said on January 2, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Heather, I’m on prescription fish oil (Lovaza) for hypertriglyceridemia. It’s very expensive and when I asked my doctor if there were cheaper alternatives she told me that the supplements in the health food store are worthless and only the pharmaceutical grade stuff has any benefit.

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  21. Charlotte said on January 2, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    I was really sick the last 2-3 years of my Phd — ran consistent fevers of 101 or so, run down, miserable and eventually had a massive outbreak of Cocsackie’s disease that was probably the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. It’s viral, so not much you can do about it, and eventually found a good traditional Chinese acupuncture place in the SLC valley that did help (they were *very* traditional — no woo-woo atmosphere, just a chilly room and a brusque Chinese lady coming in to twirl the needles once in a while). Eventually wound up following Andrew Weil’s sensible advice — walked more, ate a lot of salmon and broccoli, and then left academia. Haven’t been that sick or run down since. But I can see how people get sucked in — I was sure astralagus and dandelion root were going to help. Don’t know that they did, but they didn’t do any real damage …

    Deborah — you can totally do a bullet list in a tiny notebook — it’s a rabbit hole the bullet list content. Just google — or go on Pinterest if you’re brave. It’s a little too complicated for me — I don’t need to be indexing everything — but I definitely use a paper Moleskine planner for day-to-day, and sit down at the beginning of the week to plan out what needs to be done. I also have different notebooks for different projects — essays, novel, freelance jobs — and I like to take a few minutes at the beginning of the year, the month and the week to set goals for those … I find it keeps me on track. Which is *way* more crucial now that I quit my day job. Good news is that the editor who bought Place Last Seen all those years ago has agreed to look at my new manuscript (and it’s been so long, he’s kind of a muckety muck now). So — end of February. Must Have Manuscript.

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  22. LAMary said on January 2, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Charlotte, I had Coxsackie virus about 15 years ago. It was awful.
    I’m with Julie on the Kindle usage. My eyesight is not what it was and it’s so much easier to adjust the lighting and font to something that works for me. I want to read The Underground Railroad and I’ve ordered a new Kindle for myself as an early bday present (thank you brother Garry for the gift card0. My current Kindle is first generation, and while it’s a thing of wonder I’m looking forward to the built in light on the new Kindle.

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  23. Jolene said on January 2, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Trump’s comment re using couriers as an alternative to email shows, once again, just how little he knows about what’s at stake in the realm of information security. It’s bad that the Russians and Wikileaks teamed up to take down Hillary, but what would be really bad is if someone decides to take down, say, the air traffic control system. He really has no idea how many, many things–institutions, systems, technologies, professions–work in this world, and, even worse, he only believes what knowledgeable people tell him if (1) the facts do not touch his terribly fragile ego and (2) they can be conveyed by a source nicknamed “Mad Dog”.

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  24. basset said on January 2, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Another diversion:

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/do-you-live-in-a-bubble-a-quiz-2/

    I got a righteous 59… haven’t seen any of the listed movies or tv shows.

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  25. Jolene said on January 2, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    I only got 32, basset. I guess that makes me a bubble dweller.

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  26. Kirk said on January 2, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    37. No movies, one TV show.

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  27. David C. said on January 2, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    38, but Charles Murray is full of shit, so who cares.

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  28. Deborah said on January 2, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    I liked The Goldfinch except for the last 20 pages, the wrap up was lame and unnecessary. I liked that the main character was both negative and positive or bad and good at the same time, like Scarlet O’Hara but in a completely different way, of course. I will read more of Donna Tartt’s work in the future. I picked up Erdich’s The Beet Queen because it was one of a few books at Uncle Jake’s place in Tubac.

    We’re driving back to NM now. Stopping for the night in Holbrook, AZ first though,

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  29. basset said on January 2, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    I dunno, Jolene, based on prior posting I’d say you’ll have to crank up the condescension before you’ll qualify as a real bubble dweller. We’re the flyover people out here, remember?

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  30. Heather said on January 2, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Alex, I think the stuff I take is pharmaceutical grade, or close to it–I get it from the doctor. She encouraged me to eat fish almost every day too but that’s just not practical for me.

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  31. Jolene said on January 2, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    It’s my rural roots that keep me humble, basset. The part of the country I come from is remote and underpopulated. Not only do people rarely go there, they rarely fly over it.

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  32. Deborah said on January 2, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    35 for me. I’m middle class now but was raised lower middle class.

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  33. Colleen said on January 2, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Got a 40. Apparently I get out a lot.

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  34. MichaelG said on January 2, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    I got 47 but the explanation completely mischaracterized me and my background. It’s bullshit. I’m familiar with both Richard Branson and Branson MO, though I’ve never been there and don’t intend to travel there. You must pick only one. I picked Richard but I bet I would have gotten more points if I’d picked MO.

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  35. Jolene said on January 2, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    That “Legacy of Barack Obama” special is on CNN again tonight. 9PM EST.

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  36. LAMary said on January 2, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    I got 28, but I think the movie and television questions really screwed me.

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  37. brian stouder said on January 2, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    Well, this past Friday Pam and I whipped into the drive-through at McD’s, and as she navigated the double-menus (we went left) and the summary screen and the re-merging process – her phone rang, and she and I began learning about how her brother-in-law had suffered a major heart attack.

    The rest is essentially a blur, except that today the story ended, and her brother-in-law (who is younger than me by a year) passed away.

    A surreal new years, indeed – and the story of the weekend also includes some genuinely, amazingly positive stuff; but here we are.

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  38. basset said on January 2, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    So sorry to hear that, Brian – any warning, any signs he’d been having trouble?

    on the quiz… 41 for Mrs. B, colored no doubt by her brief stint as an inspector in a potato chip factory in Kalamazoo. 25 for Basset Jr., class mobility r us.

    and I’ve been to Branson, just to fish and drink. a bunch of us used to gather every year on the White River near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, for exactly those purposes, and someone suggested it’d be a good idea to fish out of pontoon boats in Branson instead of jon boats up on the White. Didn’t do much for me and I never went to any of the shows, although the last I heard, George Harrison’s sister was managing or somehow involved with “Liverpool Legends,” a Beatles tribute band at one of the theaters.

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  39. alex said on January 2, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    I got 33. Think it’s pretty arbitrary though. I was raised in an upper middle class household and today have a much lower standard of living than my parents and their peers, and the same’s true for many of their children. Haven’t seen any of those movies and few of those shows. I know all about Branson because Anita Bryant is the featured attraction of that tacky tourist trap and it’s a favorite family-friendly destination for religious right types; needless to say I’ll be happy to report on my deathbed that I never went there.

    Who’s calling who a bubble dweller anyway? Aren’t those folks who have their arcane religious ways and get suckered by hucksters and conspiracy theories and fake news the ones living inside a bubble?

    Heather, I’m happy to report that the fish oil makes an enormous difference in my lab work. I’m also on meds for hereditary high cholesterol. Even when I was young and very fit my numbers were in the stratosphere. My dad’s brother had the same problem and he was a dietician. Died young too. I’m not inclined to eat fish all the time given that it stinks up the house and carries more risk of foodborne illness.

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  40. alex said on January 2, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    And so sorry at your news, Brian.

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  41. Suzanne said on January 2, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Deborah, I didn’t like the Goldfinch overall but the last 20 pages helped clinch it. All this bad stuff happens to this kid and then, boom! It’s all good and he ends up healthy, wealthy, and wise.

    I got a 58 on the quiz. Do not consider myself in a bubble except by geography.

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  42. Joe Kobiela said on January 2, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Got a 66, not sure what it means.
    Pilot Joe

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  43. Deborah said on January 2, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Brian, sorry, wow, that sudden stuff is really hard to assimilate. Hope the family is coping as best they can.

    We’re in a sad Best Western in Holbrook, AZ. Happy to report no vents in the ceiling. We only stopped here because it was a halfway point between our start and stop destination (Santa Fe).
    I’ve stayed in worse, believe me.

    I was confused by that Branson question too. Having lived in MO (St. Louis) for many years I knew about it and drove by it on I70 many times but never went there. I also knew about the Virgin Brandon guy, so it was a flawed quiz for that and a few other reasons.

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  44. Deborah said on January 2, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Virgin Branson guy. Autocorrect changed that twice.

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  45. Little Bird said on January 2, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    No vents in the ceiling, but there is one pretty far up on the wall…
    This is by far not the worst hotel we’ve stayed in.
    Thanks everyone for the well wishes for Wednesday, it’s always nice to have people rooting for you!

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  46. BItter Scribe said on January 2, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    What’s ironic, to me anyway, about the Nixon/Vietnam kerfuffle is that it involved getting Nguyen Van Thieu to scuttle the talks. Years later, Thieu was pointedly excluded from Kissinger’s peace talks with North Vietnam. He was furious, but Nixon ignored him, in effect selling him out. Served him right.

    My only regret is that of those three bastards, Kissinger is the only one who didn’t eventually get what was coming to him.

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  47. susan said on January 2, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Yeah, Kissinger got a Nobel Peace Prize. The death of irony. Or maybe, more precisely, the pinnacle of irony. Fucking war criminal still skulks around TPTB in DC.

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  48. Diane said on January 2, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    36.
    I finished Hillbilly Ellegy today and thought it told me nothing new about the white working class and nothing about class mobility. It is not a book about the effect of having hillbilly family, it is a book about the impact of having a very mentally ill and addicted parent. And that is a woe not limited to the working class.

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  49. Dave said on January 2, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    I got a 57, not sure what that means, either. I know what Branson is though I’ve never been but know Richard Branson, too, I’ve been to numerous union meetings, I’ve been on but never worked on a few factory floors, I watch two of the TV shows regularly, but only seen one of the movies (Spectre, it’s Bond).

    Brian, my condolences.

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  50. Sherri said on January 3, 2017 at 12:12 am

    Imagine if a tenth of the energy and attention spent on the white working class resentment were turned towards other people. I could imagine a similar quiz, only this time demonstrating that most people live in a bubble unaware of the lives of black people. Or religious minorities. Or women, for that matter.

    Much like how in the past, the white family farmer has been considered the true American, now the white former manufacturing employee has been considered the true American. Without irony, they complain about others cutting in line. And along come a bunch of white men with degrees from elite schools (JD Vance, Chris Arnande, Charles Murray, Thomas Frank) to tell us liberals that we’re too smug and condescending to the latest salt of the earth white male.

    Why, there’s nothing I love more than that! I’ll just sit over here with my state school degree and mind my own business.

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  51. Sherri said on January 3, 2017 at 12:22 am

    Brian, I’m so sorry.

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  52. Sherri said on January 3, 2017 at 12:32 am

    The House GOP really will make it okay if you’re a Republican: http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/nation-politics/house-gop-votes-to-gut-independent-ethics-office/

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  53. Sherri said on January 3, 2017 at 12:41 am

    Personally, I think it’s a losing strategy to try and d I’ve a wedge between Trump and Congressional Republicans. It’s too clever by half, and depends too much on Trump. Dems should define their values, and resist everything that doesn’t align with those values. If you can’t play the power game, then change the game.

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  54. Sherri said on January 3, 2017 at 12:42 am

    Drive a wedge, I mean.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/claiming-mandate-gop-congress-lays-plans-to-propel-sweeping-conservative-agenda/2017/01/01/9840338a-ceee-11e6-b8a2-8c2a61b0436f_story.html

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