You otter be in the water.

My friend Bill is recently retired, which means he’s in the go-go stage of post-work life. (The other two, of course, are slow-go and no-go.) He’s having a great summer, bombing around the state with “12th & Clairmount,” the documentary film our employer co-produced, and on his travels, he’s developing a new sport. The sport of the future! he says. He calls it ottering – it’s open water swimming in fins and a life jacket. He keeps saying we should go so I can try it out, and Sunday we worked out our schedules and did so.

We drove to St. Clair, Michigan, on the St. Clair river between Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair. There’s a park there, with a long boardwalk and seawall. We put on the gear and jumped off into 68-degree water and spent an hour ottering. It’s fun. The PFD holds you up and the fins allow you to master the current, which runs about 3 miles per hour draining the Great Lakes toward the sea. At least half a dozen ships passed us, and their wakes bobbed us up and down pleasantly as we drifted and floated.

Why is this the sport of the future? Because Bill has been swimming there most of his adult life, and in recent years has developed shoulder pain, enough that he fears one day injuring himself climbing back up the ladder on the seawall. Hence the PFD. The fins just make it easy to move around. So the pitch really should be, Ottering: The sport of the future in an aging America.

Now to monetize it. I told him to write the book and I’d contribute a chapter. He could do a merch run. It could be his gift to the world, a way to bring the joy back to swimming for people who don’t feel confident enough to do it in deep water anymore.

Then we had lunch and a couple of beers. Not a bad way to spend half a Sunday.

It was a pretty FUBAR weekend all around, with Alan suffering drug side effects from his oral surgery. He had hiccups all day Friday. Seriously, all day. Was awakened at 6 a.m. by hiccups, in fact. Turns out they’re a side effect of the steroid he’s on. Then you have the antibiotics and the painkillers and a UAW vote in Mississippi on a Friday night, and there goes half the weekend. I had to finish a story to boot, so there went half of mine. I was able to slip away for a while Friday night, for a house music lineup at a local bar.

House music sounds like this, at least this set did. That link is to a short video. (If it gives you problems or won’t play on your phone or whatever, I don’t want to hear about it.) I like it OK, and that was a nice early-evening groove, not too loud, so a pleasant way to pass a couple hours.

And suddenly, there goes the weekend. August is flying by. Next week is the OABI, the Once Around Belle Isle kayak race, which I’m on the fence about entering, and the weekend after that is Swim to the Moon, my first open-water swimming event (besides ottering). And then another kayak thing and into Labor Day. Stay a little longer, summer.

So, on to the bloggage? Sure.

This German dude is a future otter, commuting to work via swimming the Isar River, through Munich.

Man, the Chinese have this hoax nailed. Down.

Another take on “Detroit,” this one calling the film immoral.

Oh, and finally, perhaps appropriate because we spent all weekend working, we watched “Obit” on Saturday night, a documentary about the NYT obit desk. Very enjoyable, and I recommend. Let’s hope the weekend ahead is the same.

Posted at 12:13 am in Current events, Detroit life, Movies |

44 responses to “You otter be in the water.”

  1. Jerry said on August 7, 2017 at 2:15 am

    Nancy, the link to the hoax and the Chinese actually leads to an NYT story about the European heat wave! Not here near London.

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  2. Linda said on August 7, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Yes, the “hoax” about global warming, who the big orange dude claims is foisted by the Chinese.

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  3. coozledad said on August 7, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Fuck your grandma’s feelings.

    Old folks fall in scalding water all the time. Shit happens.

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  4. Sherri said on August 7, 2017 at 9:43 am

    The Chinese hoax link also mentions the PNW heat wave tangentially. As I’ve mentioned here, Ashland was really hot; I expect it to be hot in August, but not above 105 for several days. Back home, the temps are cooler, but still well above average, and what’s keeping them in the 90ish range rather than higher is the smoky haze that has enveloped us from the north. BC is having the worst wildfire season in decades.

    If it were easy to put a small window a/c in my bedroom, I might break down and get one, but window units for horizontal slider and casement windows are expensive and a pain to put in. So, I make so with fans and strategic window opening, but the smoky haze is also keeping the temps from getting as cool at night as they normally would, making it harder to get the house cooled down at night during an extended heat wave.

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  5. Connie said on August 7, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Sherri, we are very happy with one of those freestanding inside air units in our bedroom.

    In up north news my brother ran into Mario Batali this weekend for the second time this summer. Brother lives in Suttons Bay, Mario lives summers nearby in Northport. First time was when brother took his early 60s mini cooper to the local car show and Mario came over to check it out. Yesterday brother went to the Northport airport fly-in and pancake breakfast and Mario was flipping the pancakes. Have to appreciate his involvement in his local community. He regularly donates a dinner at your home to the Leland Art Center fund raising auction. I say good for him.

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  6. Sherri said on August 7, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Connie, how do you vent it to the outside? Our bedroom windows are horizontal sliders that have 56″ high openings.

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  7. Jeff Borden said on August 7, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Chicago has experienced one of the most pleasant summers in memory. Only a day or two has gone over the 90-degree mark and humidity has been much lower than usual. As a native Midwesterner, this tells me the winter will be an absolute backbreaking muthafuckah. You can’t have nice weather without being punished at some point later in the year.

    Meanwhile, the Orange King’s obsession with bringing back the coal business –even though the chief executive at CSX railway recently declared fossil fuels are dead and the company will no longer buy any engines to haul coal trains (– is proceeding as a story in the NYT notes. Open pit mining in Montana is pitting miners against cattle ranchers, who worry about contaminated water as the Orange King’s EPA guts environmental protections. Don’t any of these fossil fuel fanatics have kids and grandkids? Aren’t they worried about the world the next generation or two will inherit? Or, do they have enough money to buy their own island paradise somewhere while the rest of the planet melts?

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  8. Deborah said on August 7, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Temps are lovely in the high desert of northern NM, highs in the low 80s or upper 70s (and low humidity of course) and lows at night in the upper 50s and low 60s. Heavenly. It’s usually sunny with a thunderstorm in the late afternoon during the monsoon season, which is very much appreciated now because things got pretty brown there for a while. June is the driest month of the year, and the hottest, this year it carried into mid July before it finally broke. It’s always cool at night though, even when it’s scorching during the day. For some reason as I age I get more and more obsessed with the weather.

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  9. Icarus said on August 7, 2017 at 11:08 am

    “Chicago has experienced one of the most pleasant summers in memory. Only a day or two has gone over the 90-degree mark and humidity has been much lower than usual. As a native Midwesterner, this tells me the winter will be an absolute backbreaking muthafuckah. You can’t have nice weather without being punished at some point later in the year.”

    JTMMO: that’s what they said about our mild, virtually snowless winter…that we would pay for it with a punishing summer. I suppose a lot could happen in the next six weeks or so but if this is what passes for punishing, punish me every summer

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  10. Icarus said on August 7, 2017 at 11:09 am

    ^^^ whoops that should be in response to Jeff Borden…drat I wish we could edit our own posts

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  11. Sherri said on August 7, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Funny how big chain stores didn’t want to move to a libertarian fantasy city that wouldn’t pay for sewers…

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  12. Heather said on August 7, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Yeah, ever since they predicted two horrible Chicago winters in a row that failed to happen, I’m not listening to any long-term forecasts anymore. I won’t complain about fewer frigid days, but I really miss cross-country skiing. I only got out to ski two days last winter, and grass was sticking out of the snow on one of them.

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  13. Charlotte said on August 7, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Montana has been awful this summer — July was one long, dry run of temps north of 90 — and fires. As Sherri noted, everything from BC to here is on fire. The entire Seely Lake region to the west of us (so so lovely, or was) has been burning all summer. Smoky haze, high temps, I cannot pour enough water on my yard to keep the plants from wilting — even my ancient lilacs with roots that go down to the center of the earth.
    And OTTERING!! Sign me up. One thing I loved about guiding rafts/paddling whitewater was that I always had a PFD on — I’m not a good swimmer, in part because I’m a sinker. PFD + flippers and in a nice cool body of natural water — sign me up!

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  14. Sherri said on August 7, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Forget to pay taxes, someone buys your private street:

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  15. coozledad said on August 7, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Prolapsis golferii


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  16. Connie said on August 7, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Sherri, as I understand it the vent actually brings in fresh outside air to cool, and if you don’t hook it up you are re-circulating inside air. So it is optional for some units. Our windows are actually too narrow for window air units so this works nicely.

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  17. Bitter Scribe said on August 7, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    I bet you could stand blindfolded on a crowded street in any of the sweltering countries named in that Times article, blow a peashooter in any direction, and be guaranteed to hit someone who absolutely loathes Donald “To Hell with the Paris Accords” Trump.

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  18. Jeff Borden said on August 7, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    This is a dispatch from deep within the reddest of red states. . .Worth a read.

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  19. susan said on August 7, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    jeff b., I bet Josh Moon gets LOTS of hate mail from that! Boy is he correct, though.

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  20. beb said on August 7, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Sherri/Connie I’ve never researched free standing AC units but logic says all you need is a vent to the outside to discharge hot air produced by the unit. How this would work for a horizontal opening window is that you get a sheet of thin plywood, cut to fit the open window with a hole for the AC vent and just block the window.

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  21. Sherri said on August 7, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Yes, Beb, that’s my understanding, too: you need to vent to the outside to discharge heat. The problem with the plywood solution is that I’m unwilling to block that much light coming into what is already a too dark bedroom. The other solution is plexiglass, but that’s a pain to cut. All for a solution we really don’t need more than a few days a year at most, usually. We seldom have extended periods like this where we remain above 85-90 for more than about 3 days.

    Of course, the Chinese hoax may change that.

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  22. Deborah said on August 7, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    I looked into one of those interior air conditioners last summer in Chicago, but venting it through a window in our high rise unit was going to be a big hairy deal and ugly so I got a fan instead. I got one of those simple vertical tower type fans which look terrific and really made a big difference.

    I drove my husband to the airport this morning and he’s back in Chicago where he says they’re having a beautiful day. He’s there to deal with some business then he returns to NM on Friday. After that he has about a week and a half in NM before he has to be back in Chicago for his teaching responsibility. I will stay in NM until mid September, but that may change as my mother in law fell a couple of days ago so I may be going to Charlottes, NC to help out while his sister who lives there will be out of town for a while. The mother is in an independent living place now, she sprained her ankle pretty badly so she just needs someone to give her some support when she moves around her apartment, she’s 98. I hate Charlotte, NC but I love my mother in law who’s as sharp as can be. It could be fun.

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  23. Jill said on August 7, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Connie, I met Mario Batali on Mackinac Island some years ago. He and his family visit regularly during the summer. He came over and sat with us and chatted a while–couldn’t have been friendlier.

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  24. basset said on August 7, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    Nancy, you haven’t mentioned Kate’s band in awhile… are the Deadly Vipers still going?

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  25. Jolene said on August 7, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    Came across this very interesting article re changes in Virginia electoral patterns since 1968. Virginia has changed a great deal in that period, and this piece is a really good example of using data re voting and population trends to develop both a detailed historical picture and, if you’re running a campaign, a basis for making decisions about where to put your resources.

    The state has gone blue in the past three presidential elections, and, currently, all statewide officials–governor, senators, attorney general–are Dems. But we have a gubernatorial election this fall with a strong, non-crazy Republican candidate, and current polls show a tie. Will be interesting to see if the trend toward Dems holds up.

    But, regardless of that election or your interest ( or lack of it) in Virginia politics, I was impressed with this piece as an example of complex, but clear, data analysis and a portrayal of some fairly amazing demographic and political changes in the past ~50 years.

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  26. David C. said on August 8, 2017 at 6:12 am

    It’s amazing you can be a billionaire and figure this out two years after the rest of us did.

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  27. Connie said on August 8, 2017 at 8:41 am

    The directions for the free standing air unit I own make it very clear that the only purpose of the vent is to bring in fresh air. If you are running it in ozonator mode only it does not need to be vented at all. Also, the wide skinny vent thing might fit vertically in your window opening.

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  28. coozledad said on August 8, 2017 at 8:51 am

    “And the Lord said, let he who has not sent an encaustum of his schlong go head an’ hire hisself up a Jew lawyer. But what man by grace hath earned with a graven image of his worm, let that man continue to recline on the sofa with his friends and slick his mop freely with the juice of the fruit of the olive tree.”

    Lamp unto my meat, episode 23, verse 12.

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  29. coozledad said on August 8, 2017 at 9:03 am

    So Trump’s tweeting his “hard” too? Old white guys are weird.

    Pravda level shit.

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  30. Sherri said on August 8, 2017 at 10:03 am

    I won’t dispute what’s in your directions, Connie, but here’s what I understand about air conditioners and heat. The way anything is cooled is by removing heat from it, by some mechanism; you can’t “add cold. That heat, plus the heat from the mechanism used to remove it, goes somewhere. In a window unit, all the work is being done outside, so the heat is dumped outside. In a portable unit, the heat can’t be dumped outside if it’s not vented to the outside, and even then, not all the heat can be vented. That’s one reason portable units are less efficient than window units. If the unit isn’t vented to the outside, it’s having to work harder to overcome the heat it is generating from cooling.

    It’s possible to dump the heat in other ways, like into water, but that has downsides, too.

    The main drawback to not using fresh air from the outside is that the unit will create a slight vacuum effect drawing in air, and if your house isn’t airtight, that will pull in some amount of hot air from the outside.

    I don’t think it’s the right solution for us, anyway, because my husband and I are like Jack Sprat and his wife; I’ll be sweating in shorts and a t-shirt while he’s adding another layer. We had an argument yesterday when I couldn’t figure out why I was having so much trouble getting air flowing through the house flyer temps had dropped only to discover that he had turned off the fan and closed the window that we use to pull it through the house because he had been cold that morning.

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  31. Connie said on August 8, 2017 at 11:24 am

    All I can tell you is what the directions say. It works fine for us. It says it is cooling outside air.

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  32. Sherri said on August 8, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Something happened in 1980. I’m sure if we think hard, we’ll be able to remember what it was.

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  33. brian stouder said on August 8, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Well, I’m gettin’ old – and more often than not (anymore), I find a/c to be over-done (refrigerated!)

    But – I wouldn’t want to be without it, so there’s that.

    Semi-unrelated thing I learned the other day, when someone hereabouts was expounding on the know-nothing attitude some have toward climate change:

    The temperature on the surface of the moon ranges from 212 degrees F in the daylight, down to MINUS-279 degrees F at night….every day.

    By way of saying, atmosphere makes all the difference, eh?

    I remember the Newsweek cover, decades ago, about a “new ice-age” – and nowadays people point to that as if it proves that climate-change is an unknowable thing that we cannot affect.

    But if the reason the temperatures on the surface of the moon vary so horribly every single day is because of the absence of atmosphere, then it is logical to conclude that when human activity affects Earth’s atmosphere, our climate will be directly affected, too

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  34. Deborah said on August 8, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    The unit we bought in Chicago had an air conditioning unit but it was covered in mirrors as was the rest of the place, plus it blocked a third of a floor to ceiling window. We had the option of buying a new one but decided we’d try to do without AC all together. Last summer was hot and sticky, I was in Chicago more last summer and it was awful, then I bought the fan and it was much better than not having it. That’s one of the reasons I vowed to be in NM more this summer. My husband and I have gotten to the point where we really don’t like AC, it’s usually way too cold when you go in a store or restaurant. As much as I don’t like heat you’d think I’d like AC but I don’t.

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  35. Deborah said on August 8, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    The neighbor lady down the lane (I call it a lane because it officially is one) makes fantastic salsa that she shares with LB. One of the neighbors upstairs saved this neighbor lady’s life by pulling her out of the way when she had fallen and her car was about to roll back onto her (too complicated to describe how that happened). She repays him by making salsa and then she gives some to LB too. I had some with scrambled eggs this morning and it’s excellent. For a long time we avoided her because she always seemed grouchy and yelled at people when they did things she didn’t like, also she looks crone-ish, a little scary. But it turns out she has a good side and if you get on it she’s great.

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  36. Icarus said on August 8, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    I recall something about removing moisture/water from the air which makes it cooler. We have window units and one ancient in-wall unit in our master bedroom that is probably still using its last drops of Freon. Sears won’t even touch it. If our radiators ever bite the dust I’ll install central air or spacepaks.

    I prefer cold to hot, you can always put something on, but if its too hot, you can only shed so many clothes!

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  37. Jeff Borden said on August 8, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    The latest comments directed at North Korea by the Orange King are absolutely terrifying. Provocative doesn’t do them justice. Mother of dog, he’s going to start a fucking war with this shit.

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  38. Dorothy said on August 8, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    jeff borden – I just made a Facebook post that said about the same thing. I know I”m going to catch sh** from a few people who are still friends with me but voted for Trump. Whether they say something to me directly, via a comment or private message – or perhaps they’ll just have bad thoughts about me and think I’m a zealot for saying what I said. But it’s been my primary fear all along that he’s going to bring us to war. But Jesus H he’s done it so much faster than even I could have imagined.

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  39. Deborah said on August 8, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Trump thinks he needs a war to rally people around him, like W did. But it will have the opposite effect. I just hope we can hold him off until he can be booted out, but I worry.

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  40. MarkH said on August 8, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    You’re correct to worry, Denorah, but don’t give him that much credit for political savvy. Uninformed, unenlightened, inarticulate, he’s just never left the schoolyard.

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  41. MarkH said on August 8, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Deborah. Sorry. Damned phone.

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  42. David C. said on August 8, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    The South Koreans must be shitting bricks right now. He knows nothing but the schoolyard bully routine. It worked for a spoiled rich kid who was bigger than his classmates. It won’t mean shit to Kim Jong Un. We have two spoiled brats in a room full of gas daring each other to light a match. I’m sure he thinks if he starts something with the DPRK that his pals Putin and Xi are going to back him up, he’s really fucked in the head if he believes that.

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  43. Scout said on August 8, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    davic c – “he’s really fucked in the head’ pretty much sums up the predicament we’re in. This is exactly what Hillary said would happen.

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  44. MarkH said on August 8, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    RIP Glen Campbell and Barbara Cook.

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