When some of the people I swim with started signing up for an open-water race this summer, I hesitated, then thought what the hell. The thing I always liked best about riding was getting away from the schooling ring circles and doing what the discipline called for — jumping fences, hacking out in the countryside, whatever.
So why not get out of the pool? In entering, I chose a distance other than the shortest one (1.2 miles, with the other choices being .5 mile, 5K and 10K), and set some goals, in order of escalating ambition and reverse order of likelihood of achievement:
1) Don’t drown.
3) Don’t finish at the back of my age group.
4) Win my age group.
5) WIN THE WHOLE FUCKING THING, GIVE INTERVIEWS TO A CLAMOROUS GAGGLE OF SPORTS REPORTERS, RETIRE IN GLORY.
The swim was Sunday, and I made it to No. 3. It was way harder than I anticipated, mainly because open-water swimming layers on another skill neglected in the pool: Staying on course. Also, navigating a start, when a zillion people all plunge into the lake and start swimming for the first buoy. An older woman I was chatting with beforehand advised starting toward the back of the pack, but we still had a scrum before the faster people surged to the front and the rest of us strung out behind. At one point I reached forward for a stroke and my hand landed flat on some woman’s ass. Sor-reee! But then the hard part started, i.e., figuring out why I’d sight the buoy and start off in that direction, and check again in a hundred yards and discover I was headed in a different direction. Nothing seemed to work, and I think I probably added a big chunk of yardage just zigzagging all over the place, trying to stay on course.
But the turnaround finally came, and as I started back, I thought, man, this is taking a long time. After I finished and collapsed on the grass to recover, a guy eating a banana next to me said he’d been wearing a swim watch, and the course was 2,800 yards, or nearly 1.6 miles. Oh, well. My time was atrocious — 1:05, but I finished fourth in my age group, which I believe was Pre-Medicare Crones. Three other crones were behind me. The age-group winner was 15 minutes faster, however, so better luck next year.
The distance group first-place finishers were 13 (M) and 27 (F). They were probably eating ice cream in Ann Arbor by the time I dragged my ass up the beach. But I’m glad I did it. The weather was perfect and I finally got to experience the culture of the professionally run amateur sporting event. Which is to say, I got a T-shirt, a medal and a new swim cap.
So. Monday is Eclipse Day, and in filling the nation’s pages, feeds and airwaves with related garbage masquerading as journalism, NBC News went with the Scrooge angle: The eclipse will cost America almost $700 million in lost productivity. Please join me in a hearty fuck-you to whichever economist pulled that number out of his butt. Americans really love this sort of self-laceration, which in its own way beats anything ever put on a Soviet propaganda poster. I once read a lost-productivity analysis of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. OMG the carnage in the bottom line. I can’t even.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the path of totality and have clear skies, I hope you leave your work station, go outside and have the human experience of marveling at our cosmos. I plan to.
Some more bloggage, then? Sure:
I know what whattaboutism is, but I didn’t know it was a Cold War tactic, only that it has in my experience been wielded mainly by certain conservatives I’ve known, who couldn’t acknowledge the mistake of one of their own without saying, “But what about Bill Clinton? Huh?” Here’s an explainer on the history of whattaboutism.
And just to tie up last week’s threads, I’m not the only one who has noticed the peculiar influence of the College Republicans on the greater party:
The pool of people the Republican Party will be drawing from when selecting candidates a generation from now will contain these men and hardly anyone else. Cvjetanovic wasn’t the only marcher photographed with a current Republican elected official. Allsup, the erstwhile WSU College Republicans president, was photographed with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “I communicate with people from their office on a fairly regular basis,” he told his student paper a few months ago, also mentioning that members of his organization had earned internships and jobs in her office.
This is the state of the GOP leadership pipeline. In a decade, state legislatures will start filling up with Gamergaters, MRAs, /pol/ posters, Anime Nazis, and Proud Boys. These are, as of now, the only people in their age cohort becoming more active in Republican politics in the Trump era. Everyone else is fleeing. This will be the legacy of Trumpism: It won’t be long before voters who reflexively check the box labeled “Republican” because their parents did, or because they think their property taxes are too high, or because Fox made them scared of terrorism, start electing Pepe racists to Congress.
Man, am I beat. “Game of Thrones,” then off to bed for me. This girl is going to sleep well tonight. Hope you do, too.