Just keep swimming.

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.
2) Finish.
3) Don’t finish at the back of my age group.
4) Win my age group.

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.

Hey, even the National-goddamn-Review has noticed.

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.

Posted at 9:31 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

50 responses to “Just keep swimming.”

  1. Joe k said on August 20, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Congratulations on the swim, I have always heard a open water swim is tougher than a pool swim, kinda like a run outside is harder than a treadmill run. Where was the race held?
    Pilot Joe

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  2. Joe k said on August 20, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    RIP- Mr Lewis.
    Pilot Joe

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  3. Julie Robinson said on August 20, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    NBC also led tonight with a breathless, BREAKING NEWS story on the death of Jerry Lewis. ‘Cos, you know, there wasn’t any real news going on this weekend. Seven minutes. Geesh.

    Open-water swimming sounds terrifying to me, as someone who can’t see three feet ahead of her face without glasses. More power to you.

    Is anyone here on Nextdoor? I joined in our Orlando neighborhood to help with recommendations for some work we’re getting done, and it’s been interesting, to say the least. Lots of truly helpful people for recommendations/warnings, folks putting out their castoffs and posting curb alerts, heads-up on road work, break-ins, trash pick up changes, kids posting availability for babysitting and yard work, on and on.

    There’s also a lot of Gladys Kravitz types and people trying to sell their crap at over-inflated prices. Apparently if you buy from Pottery Barn you think your old stuff is still worth 4X its value.

    Anyway, right now in Orlando if you want glasses for the eclipse you can get them for $25 a pair. Again, geesh.

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  4. Connie said on August 20, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Congratulations. My husband ran in the Michigan senior olympics last week at Oakland U. He won a gold medal as the only runner in his age group in the 5K, and a silver in the 10K.

    As to the eclipse libraries across America have been driven nuts by the search for eclipse glasses. They are sold out everywhere. My library has 200 pairs to give away tomorow, and will be livestreaming it on the big Tv. We have received way more phone calls than we have glasses. NASA with the support of foundations gave them to 6900 US libraries.

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  5. nancy said on August 20, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Half Moon Lake, in the Pinckney state recreation area.

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  6. Suzanne said on August 20, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Regarding navigating in open water, read Diana Nyad’s book Find a Way about trying to stay on track while doing her swim from Cuba to Florida. It’s pretty amazing. And exhausting.

    I do think the GOP is finally discovering that the lunatic fringe that they have courted for years considers them the same elites as the Dems and hates them equally. They’ve been woke that they’ve help create Frankenstein’s monster and it is about to turn on them. And they can’t counteract it because they’ve trained their people that no one is telling them the truth. Trained them too well.

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  7. Sherri said on August 20, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    My husband and daughter are in Tennessee at my MIL’s to see totality. He ordered eclipse glasses weeks ago. We’ll get to about 90% here, and I have eclipse glasses. My trainer and I will take a minute from my workout to look at the sun.

    Congrats on the swim.

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  8. jcburns said on August 20, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Congratulations Nancy! Sammy’s cousin lives about one lake south of Half Moon Lake, so we’ve been around there. That is a LARGE lake by my standards.

    On edit: The NYT obit of Jerry Lewis had this line that made me smile: ‘Their antics earned the notice of Billboard magazine, whose reviewer wrote, “Martin and Lewis do an afterpiece that has all the makings of a sock act,” using showbiz slang for a successful show.’

    Another sock act, Dick Gregory passed away this weekend. “I sat in at a lunch counter for nine months,” Gregory said in one civil rights era monologue. “When they finally integrated, they didn’t have what I wanted.”

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  9. Deborah said on August 21, 2017 at 12:47 am

    Nancy, you are amazing, I can’t get over the things you challenge yourself with. Good for you.

    My husband and I have often done Jerry Lewis impersonations screaming, “Lady, LADY’. I haven’t thought about that or him for ages.

    I’m still creeped out watching Twin Peaks, I’m about halfway done with season 2. This is the original series. It’s good but I’m anxious to be done.

    What will Trump do tomorrow?

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  10. alex said on August 21, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Poor Dick Gregory, eclipsed by a white asshole even in death.

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  11. basset said on August 21, 2017 at 7:15 am

    Right in the eclipse’s path here in Nashville, at work we’ll be streaming NASA tv in one of the conference rooms and taking a break around totality time to go up on the roof and look at it.
    I was gonna try taking some artsy photos but after forty-plus years in and around journalism I am finally learning that you don’t have to record your whole life, sometimes it’s OK to just live it. So I’ll just watch…

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  12. adrianne said on August 21, 2017 at 7:32 am

    Alex, your comment on the near-simultaneous deaths of Dick Gregory/Jerry Lewis made me laugh! And Nancy, you are truly an ironwoman – I stand in awe of your latest accomplishment.

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  13. Peter said on August 21, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Jerry Lewis: I know I’m not the only person who’s marking August 20, 2017 on the calendar so I can finally see The Day The Clown Died and find out for myself if it is as awesomely bad as Harry Shearer has been saying it is for the last 30 years – Jerry donated it to the Library of Congress on the condition it doesn’t get shown until 10 years after he checks out.

    And as much as I hated some of his films and the telethons, I think his performance in The King of Comedy owes a lot to the baggage he’s carrying from his past.

    Eclipse: Neil Sternberg mentioned it, and I read it elsewhere: All of the hoopla in Carbondale can be traced to a British amateur astronomer who e-mailed SIU three years ago and asked if they’re doing anything special for the eclipse and their response was “you say we’re the what on the when now?”

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  14. Connie said on August 21, 2017 at 9:02 am

    At the library. At 8:30 there were four people in line for the 200 pairs of eclipse glasses we will begin giving out at 1 p.m. I did see the sheriff make a swing through as well. I called them last week and warned them of the possibility of madness over here.

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  15. Mark P said on August 21, 2017 at 9:06 am

    My brother did an open-ocean swim when he lived in San Diego. As you may know, the North Pacific gyre brings water from Alaska down the West Coast, and it’s still cold when it reaches San Diego. He said it took him the rest of the day to get warm again. And, speaking of my brother, he will be in Spring Lake, TN, for the eclipse. That’s a little town that is almost exactly in the center of the path of totality. Down here in NW Georgia, we will get around 97% coverage. I made a cardboard viewing box. If my wife gets out of her doctor appointment in time, we’ll watch in the parking lot. Back in the 1980’s there was an annular eclipse visible in Atlanta, where I was in graduate school. We all stood on the front steps of our building and looked into cardboard boxes then, too.

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  16. LAMary said on August 21, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Amen, Alex.
    The telethons gave us some great moments, though. Not sure on the exact wording and the guy’s name eludes me right now, but the male singer with Dawn (Knock Three Times…) said, while introducing Jerry, “if you took all the love this man has given, and put it end to end, it would go to the universe and back and fill the black hole in space.’

    Just though of his name: Tony Orlando.
    Someone will find the exact quote I bet. I’m out the door for work or I would.

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  17. Mark P said on August 21, 2017 at 9:16 am

    It’s Spring City, not Lake. Kind of between Chattanooga and Knoxville.

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  18. Linda said on August 21, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Clip with a very young Richard Pryor and Jerry Lewis: https://youtu.be/8jl8JjJJ4ME

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  19. Suzanne said on August 21, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I feel a bit awkward saying this, but I never liked Jerry Lewis and never could figure out what the draw was. And when I heard he had died, my first thought was “He was still alive? I thought he passed a few years ago.”

    I have my eclipse glasses and I am ready for the show!

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  20. Sherri said on August 21, 2017 at 10:39 am

    How long before there’s a call to privatize trump’s security, maybe with Erik Prince’s thugs beating up protestors?


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  21. Deborah said on August 21, 2017 at 10:45 am

    I was just reminded that there was a solar eclipse around 5 years ago in late May, we were in NM at the time looking for an apartment in Santa Fe. I remember making a pinhole apparatus on the balcony of the hotel we were staying in, it was later in day. The next day we found this apt that we have now so it was a good omen, I guess.

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  22. Julie Robinson said on August 21, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Suzanne, I’m with you and will risk more unpopularity to say I couldn’t stand the telethons, which struck me as mawkish.

    Anyone else notice that JC still has an edit button? Life is unfair.

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  23. alex said on August 21, 2017 at 11:03 am

    No disapprobation from me. Jerry Lewis always struck me as an unsympathetic person even before he became a crotchety old fuckmook.

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  24. brian stouder said on August 21, 2017 at 11:52 am

    I never thought the guy was all that funny, either; more grating – like Pee Wee Herman (before his trip to the movie theater)

    Julie – I wouldn’t have noticed it, had you not pointed it out…so now I’m ready to protest in the streets (metaphorically speaking!)

    Sherri – an interesting point. I wonder whether a national privatized army would even pass Constitutional muster. If such a thing were created by Congress, I’d say it should trigger a Judiciary branch reaction (and be struck down) – but what do I know?

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  25. Jakash said on August 21, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Seems to me that if one is inclined to express antipathy toward Jerry or the telethons, this would be a pretty welcoming place to do it…

    I was ambivalent, myself. Certainly not a fan, but I thought some of his shtick was funny. Though the telethons were not my cup of tea, and often mawkish, indeed, using his fame to help raise awareness of MD, while helping to raise a billion dollars, too, is hard for me to argue with.

    Even in that little clip Linda posted @ 18, I thought he was funny. Not very gracious or friendly, but funny.

    Pretty cloudy in Chicago for the big E-day…

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  26. Dorothy said on August 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    alex @ 23 – thanks for resurrecting one of Ashley’s sayings!

    89% view of the eclipse is going to be here in Dayton. I got glasses from our eye doctor last Friday. My hubby works in a building about a mile from me so we’re going to watch it together in his office parking lot. The next big one happens on our son’s birthday, April 2024. That might need to be a bigger party since we’ll be retired by then.

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  27. Deborah said on August 21, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Eclipse is happening now in Santa Fe, very close to half way through it. It’s very cloudy here today wouldn’t you know, one of the rare days when it’s that way here. The quality of light definitely changed though seems more like twilight.

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  28. Sherri said on August 21, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    People at the gym appreciated my bringing eclipse glasses, and we took a break to go out and look. I got to explain the science of the eclipse to a six year old and a 73 year old, at different levels, of course. So maybe I get to keep my nerd card even though I didn’t travel to see totality.

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  29. brian stouder said on August 21, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    I just took a gander, with the special glasses on; pretty neat.

    I recall seeing this when I was 5th or 6th grade at Weisser Park, which would be about 1972 or ’73. At that time, we utilized the shadow-box method, to see it…but today strikes me as much darker than then

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  30. Deborah said on August 21, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Powerball is up to over $600 million, after the eclipse it’s time to buy a couple of tickets.

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  31. Peter said on August 21, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Just got back from Millennium Park in Chicago, and it was not too shabby! They had ABC on the big screen (would have preferred the NASA feed), but it was not too bad.

    I had hoped to make it to Carbondale, but no such luck – looked a little cloudy down there anyway.

    SIU is tearing down one of the dorm towers, and they rented it out this weekend at $850.00 per room – but you could fit four people in it. My son was in that tower; each floor had a lounge that looked to the south, and on the upper floors you could see for miles – now that would be a great spot to catch the eclipse!

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  32. Brandon said on August 21, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Dick Gregory at the premiere of The Hot Chick, in which he had a cameo.

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  33. Sherri said on August 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    My husband reported that totality was “stunning.”

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  34. Jeff Borden said on August 21, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    I understand the Orange King is going to speak to the nation tonight about his revamp of Afghanistan policy. The only thing this man ever said that I agreed with was that our country should stop stomping around in the conflicts of other nations. Now, it appears, we’re sending more soldiers into that festering wound of a country. We never learn. Afghanistan is the graveyard of nations, already proven by Great Britain and the USSR.

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  35. Suzanne said on August 21, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Apparently, POTUS looked directly at the eclipse with no protective eyewear.

    Mamma always said: stupid is as stupid does.

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  36. Heather said on August 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Kind of a disappointing eclipse here in Chicago–it was very cloudy. But I did at least get to see it.

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  37. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 21, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Julie, JC *is* the edit button. So there’s that.

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  38. Charlotte said on August 21, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Oh we had fun building projector devices! Used a spotting scope (the most clear), a couple of boxes with pinholes, some cardboard with pinholes, even played with the binoculars (which seemed like they might catch the cardboard on fire). Not sure what our percentage was — high 90s though — totality was just south of us in Jackson Hole.

    Got very quiet — not even any sounds from the highway. And temperature dropped about 15 degrees.

    And now, back to work …

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  39. adrianne said on August 21, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    I love New York. A bunch of my colleagues swarmed onto the street around 2:30 p.m., looking at the eclipse through our phones, and a kindly woman loaned us eclipse glasses. They really worked!

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  40. Judybusy said on August 21, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Congrats on the swim, Nancy! I never thought about how hard it would be to keep going in the right direction in open water.

    The eclipse in Minneapolis was a bust; we had a lot of cloud cover. I am sure it was dimmer, and it began raining as the eclipse was waning.

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  41. jcburns said on August 21, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    I am the edit button, goo goo ga joob.

    I’m here to report that hanging out within the “zone of totality” (aka a Wal-Mart parking lot in Cornelia, Georgia) with some of my Northeast Georgia eclipseophiles was a fine, brief experience indeed. We all got along. There were no confederate flags. We were a diverse bunch of parked people. We oohed and ahhed in unison. And seeing the corona was quite wonderful.

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  42. ROGirl said on August 21, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Jerry Lewis live on the Champs Elysees


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  43. alex said on August 21, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I watched from downtown Fort Wayne, looked up once through someone’s borrowed eclipse glasses, otherwise photographed some shadows and took a ciggy break. Big woo.

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  44. Deborah said on August 21, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Maybe it takes an experience like the eclipse to bring people together across the spectrum of this country… nah, never mind, wasn’t gonna happen. Wish I wasn’t so pessimistic, but there you go.

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  45. Julie Robinson said on August 21, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    I was out at Mom’s this afternoon and saw a big viewing party at the library branch nearby. She wasn’t up to going over there so we watched it on TV. But I remember making a pinhole viewer back in 1963 when I would have been seven, and was mightily impressed.

    Our daughter was viewing the shadow through a colander, but even better, the shadows were multiplied on the concrete around our pool as they filtered through one of the trees. There were hundreds of tiny crescents, in irregular patterns, and when the wind blew through the leaves they shimmered. She posted live in Facebook, and I wish I knew how to share it because it was pretty cool.

    Just yanking your chain about the edit button, JC.

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  46. David C. said on August 21, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    The eclipse was a bust here. The clouds got thin enough in order to see it for a couple of seconds. I was all set with a solar filter for my telescope, so it was probably my fault. It could have been worse. One of the other engineers I work with went down to southern Illinois, but it was cloudy. They heard that not too far away it was clear, but they couldn’t get there because the traffic was at a standstill. There will be another one in the midwest in 2024. I hope I can get somewhere I can see the totality. Otherwise, I can wait until 2099 and we’ll be right in the middle of the totality. I’ll be 140 years old, so my eyesight may not be too good by then.

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  47. susan said on August 21, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    david c. – Otherwise, I can wait until 2099 and we’ll be right in the middle of the totality. I’ll be 140 years old, so my eyesight may not be too good by then.

    That made me laugh!

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  48. Jakash said on August 21, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    “…the shadows were multiplied on the concrete around our pool as they filtered through one of the trees.”

    That’s what I liked best about one when I was younger, Julie, minus the pool. Walking around and seeing little crescents all over the ground. Didn’t happen here today, alas.

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  49. Diane said on August 21, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Connie, yes eclipse glasses were the hottest item in town. We have never gotten so many calls. We are a small public library in the mountains. We had said we would be giving them away last Tuesday and we had a line (a long line) outside our door when we opened. We gave away 400 pairs (remember we are small) in one hour and then had a bunch of annoyed patrons who came later that day after we were out. Sigh

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  50. Colleen said on August 21, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    Congrats on the swim. Very impressive!

    Re:Nextdoor…I was part of the group for the neighborhood I lived in in Fort Wayne. It was a good way to communicate neighborhood news. My development here in FL is too new to have its own group, so I am a member of neighboring groups. There is a lot of Mrs. Kravitzing…and a lot of worry about non existent nefarious happenings. We all live in neighborhoods behind gates, and people get all het up about “strangers ” in the area. It is weird.

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