So what’s your parallel-destiny Olympic sport? The one you’d be playing if your life had taken a couple of different sliding-doors turns? Mine is speed skating – original-recipe speed skating, not short-track. (In the summer games, modern pentathlon.) There’s something about that Hans Brinker pose, the smooth crossovers, the blades biting into the ice – it’s mesmerizing. And a good use for my stocky-leg genetics. The hunky Scandinavians taking all the medals don’t hurt, either. I’d figure out a way to train with them.
Either that, or biathlon. Talk about a combination of two practical sports.
Elsewhere in South Korea, our vice president proved there is little this administration is incapable of screwing up. Olympics diplomacy? That’s the easiest one in the book — you show up, you applaud, you shake hands. You don’t get snitty. And now the gay athletes are doing the same to him. Another triumph!
As you can imagine, nine inches of snow, plus more on Saturday, plus freezing rain on Sunday, really made for a good weekend to stay close to home. But with no kitchen, we had to venture out, if only for food. I’m glad for the floor protection the workers put down, because otherwise the snowmelt would be ruining them. This has been a character-builder of a last few days. Heaps of snow everywhere. And coming midweek? A thaw. So the slush will not end anytime soon.
But with lots of time to read, of course I read this amazing puff piece on a person who has turned up here far more than I’d have ever imagined – Mary Cunningham, or rather, Mary Cunningham Agee, widow. Whatever shred of doubt I might have had about whether this woman is truly the bullshit artist I thought she was, it blew away when I read this. She tries to latch on to the #metoo movement, which is the sort of ballsy move only a real grifter would try. The story confirms what was hidden in plain sight in her husband’s obituary – they were separated at the end, which is the root of the dispute between Agee’s first family and his second wife.
I don’t often say, “read the comments,” but read the comments on that story. They’re great. One:
Those of us who lived through the horror of working for what was then called Morrison Knudsen, under Bill Agee, will wonder at this strange article. The real story that should be covered in detail in Business Day and every MBA school is how one man could destroy a thriving company and bamboozle a corporate board. I wouldn’t have believed it could happen if I hadn’t been forced to watch. Watching from below, Bill and Mary seemed like goofy cartoon characters who knew nothing about the business they were destroying. There were so many amazing and fascinating aspects to this story. As a much younger engineering program manager, fairly recently arrived to MK, I got to spend 15 min with Mr. Agee in a locomotive cab. I went home and told my wife, “We’re in big trouble,” and warned her to be ready for the worst. My worst fears all came true.
Those of us who met Mary Cunningham realized quickly she was a greedy con artist. We hired her to speak after her book was published and she acted like a female Trump. Demanding, dishonest, bizarre, like a spoiled rock star. Her hotel bill included an unauthorized fancy dinner for twelve friends with expensive champagne. We were a charity. She was rude to us, downright nasty, and her presentation was mediocre. She created a success persona that the press magnified. Bill Agee got what he deserved. With all that money he ended up in an assisted living facility separated from his children. If he was paranoid he certainly would have had reason to be.
And there are more.
One more piece of bloggage: What happens when you make your house as smart as it can be? It gets dumber:
It took at least two hours to get all of our Christmas lights plugged into smart plugs from WeMo and Sonoff, and then to get those plugs online with their apps, and then to get those apps to talk to the Alexa app. The first night I said, “Alexa, turn on the Christmas lights,” they all turned on in sparkly synchronicity and it was magical. But one day, Alexa stopped recognizing “Christmas lights” as a group, and I could not figure out how to fix it, so I had to ask Alexa each night to turn off the lights one-by-one. (“Turn off kitchen Christmas lights.” “Turn off living room Christmas lights.” “Turn off bookcase lights.”) This was way more annoying than turning them off manually. The fantasy of the smart home is that it will save us time and effort, but the friction involved in getting various devices from different companies to work together meant that many things took longer to do.
So, we now have a floor and grout and about half a paint job. The next time we meet here, I’m hoping we have cabinets. Me, I’m on the hunt for some decent takeout.