The snow is falling at the end of another weekend as I sit here, staring gloomily out the window. It’s not the pretty kind, so far, but there’s always overnight. It’s the time of winter when I notice the days getting longer, the air just a touch softer, the slant of the light just a little less severe. And a little snow wouldn’t be terrible, as long as it’s cleared by the time I have to … aaaand here comes a spell of scintillating scotoma. See you in 20 minutes.

:::20 minutes later:::

I try to thank the nonspecific spirits guiding the universe, the genetic lottery, whatever, for my health. Really I do. I’ve been lucky to stay healthy as long as I have, and I work at it, although most of it is just plain luck or blessings or whatever. But scintillating scotoma — occasional spells where my vision stars behaving like I recently dropped a hit of acid, lasting about 20 minutes — is a pain in the ass. It first showed up about five years ago. I saw a doctor and was advised to keep a diary of the circumstances around each onset, in hopes of finding triggers. I did so for months, and found no pattern whatsoever. Then they just stopped happening, and I thought I was past the whole business. In the last six weeks or so, they’re back. I’m fortunate in that they’re not harbingers of a migraine headache, which s.s. sometimes is. It just comes, messes up my vision for 20-30 minutes, then stops. As crosses to bear go, it’s made of balsa wood. Still.

The snow is coming down harder, and it’s a much prettier kind. Balance.

This was the first weekend of the Dirty Show here in Detroit, and even though we don’t swing or do any of that stuff, we went. It’s pretty much the same every year: 90 percent of the art is bad or at best forgettable, the burlesque is pretty great and the people-watching, without peer. A friend tells a story of seeing…I think it was a city councilman, maybe, at some earlier show, wearing a diaper and being led around on a leash. Nothing so wild Saturday night, alas. One dancer, a man, did a strip where he came out in a Gumby suit and finished in a G-string with Pokey on it. Pokey, get it? (You must be this old to get that cultural reference.) As for the art on the walls? There are only so many photographs of a woman’s abdomen imagined as a rolling landscape, or extreme close-ups of testicle-located hair follicles that I can see before the ol’ eyes glaze over. On the other hand, this was not forgettable:

We were home before midnight. But only by a couple of minutes.

Now I’m watching the Oscars, and trying not to think of who the president of the United States is.

Happy week ahead. Imagine what fresh hell might await.

Posted at 8:10 pm in Detroit life |

42 responses to “Dirty.”

  1. Brian stouder said on February 9, 2020 at 9:38 pm

    Well, hello Dolly! – indeed! Busy watchin’ the Oscars, which has been interesting. The Oscars have been interesting, although I’ll be the cranky guy that passes on watching 1917….but Ford Versus Ferrari I can heartily recommend!

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  2. Sherri said on February 9, 2020 at 9:43 pm

    I used to get scintillating scotoma as a precursor to migraine. In the days before triptans came a long, it was a warning sign to take a megadose of NSAIDs, in hopes of fending odd the migraine. That sometimes worked. Eventually, the s.s. stopped happening, but the migraines continue.

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  3. Deborah said on February 9, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    I get S.S. too. I find now they come in clusters, I’ll have one every couple of years or months in between and then all of a sudden I have one a day for two weeks, then nothing again. The first one I ever had was after Thanksgiving dinner about 20 years ago so I assumed it had something to do with over eating. Nope. Then the next one years later, I was in Taos, NM, thought maybe it was altitude. Nope. There seems to be no rhyme or reason. There’s no doubt when it starts what’s happening, the same flashing C shape or backwards C shape, or U shape or upside down U shape, the same 20 minutes, the same inability to read. Sometimes I have migraines after, but not always. Drs all say the same, they have no idea why. Weird.

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  4. alex said on February 9, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Getting old sucks. I find the usual winter bronchitis is now accompanied by coughing spells that can nearly make me lose consciousness.

    Dolly porn. Rainbows and butterflies. I’m glad they kept it vanilla.

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  5. Suzanne said on February 9, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    I get some weird eye thing now and then which may be a scintillating scotoma. I can function but it’s like my eye is circled with a blurry ring. It’s very odd. I haven’t had one in months which is why I forgot to ask the eye doc about it when I had a check up a few weeks ago.

    I am watching the oscars but the only movies I’ve seen are Little Women and Harriet (song was nominated) so I think I will go to bed. Work tomorrow and cold, gray skies.

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  6. basset said on February 9, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    That s.s. business would scare me. Not watching the Oscars, don’t care and 1917 is the only movie I’ve seen all year. Local theater has $5 senior movies, though, and we’ll probably go when Call of the Wild and the new James Bond come around.

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  7. Julie Robinson said on February 9, 2020 at 11:23 pm

    Getting old certainly can suck. I’m in week five of a cold that won’t let go, yet never turns into anything worth seeing a doctor for. You can be at death’s door and they still won’t give you antibiotics, so why waste the time and money.

    If only I could sit in the warm sun for a few days, I’m sure I’d be healed. But at least I don’t have scintillating scotomas, nor migraines either.

    There are compensations, chiefly watching the action on what must now be called the bird/squirrel feeder. Today there was the sweetest cardinal pair, always staying close, but one always watchful as the other fed.

    At one point, they were both on a tree, and as he reached down with his beak, she reached up with hers, and it looked like they were kissing. That’s fanciful, of course, no doubt he was passing her a seed. But it was a lovely moment, and the only color I saw all weekend.

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  8. susan said on February 10, 2020 at 12:43 am

    Here’s a rapper I can get behind. Wow. This should go to all the public schools, libraries, Democratic offices…

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  9. A. Riley said on February 10, 2020 at 1:01 am

    Yeah, I had some of those this past summer. A little shimmer starts in the lower left corner of my vision, the shimmery spot gets a little bigger, shimmers for about 20 minutes, and then it goes away. No headache, no aftereffects. I thought it might have had to do with seasonal allergies, but my fancy-schmancy ophthalmologist (the waiting room magazines include Wine Spectator and Recreational Aviation, that’s how I know he’s fancy-schmancy) said it sounded like visual migraine.
    Weird, huh?

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  10. Cathie from Canada said on February 10, 2020 at 1:51 am

    I started getting these occasionally about 20 years ago, every few months or weeks. I went to see my eye doctor, who described it as migraine aura.
    I never got the headache, thank heavens, but it certainly is weird while it lasts. I never could figure out any particular cause – it didn’t happen often enough that I could pinpoint a pattern, though sometimes I thought that being mildly dehydrated might be a factor.
    When I get the aura, I try to eat something right away that has caffeine in it – a Coke, or chocolate, or coffee – on the theory that this improves blood flow in the brain and thus helps to short-circuit any possible migraine aftermath.

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  11. MarkH said on February 10, 2020 at 4:06 am

    Experienced s.s. sufferer here, too. First time it happened about 25 years ago, it scared the shit out of me. One night at about 11:30 it started. Waited to see if it was long lasting, or grew. By the time I got to the ER, it was gone. That doc had no clue what it was. Disturbingly unalarmed, my optho called it an ocular migraine, as it sourced in the ocular nerve. When you close your eyes it’s still there. My apparitions usually take a quarter-moon shape with the flashings resembling a kaleidoscope. One suspected cause is MSG.

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  12. Suzanne said on February 10, 2020 at 8:15 am

    Julie, I had a cold like that a few years ago. Went on for weeks and every time I decided I was done and needed to go to the doctor, I’d feel so much better the next day. Then it would come back.
    I did finally go to the doctor and discovered I did have some fluid in my ear so he gave me an antibiotic. Twice. It was not a good winter.

    A. Riley, that is a great description of the eye thing! A shimmer around the outer edge of the eye. I have never ever had a migraine, so I would never have thought of it being related to that. Good to know!

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  13. Mark P said on February 10, 2020 at 8:47 am

    I bought a phone charger cord that has lights that move along the cord, kind of like a barber pole or the lights on old theater marquee. That’s the closest thing I have seen to what I see when I get the aura.

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  14. Deborah said on February 10, 2020 at 9:05 am

    YouTube has a number of videos that approximate what having an s.s. looks like. Just search for scintillating scotoma within YouTube if you’re interested.

    The doctors that I’ve spoken with about it all said it was quite common. The comments here kind of prove that.

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  15. Heather said on February 10, 2020 at 10:34 am

    I had one of those for the first time about a year ago. Scared the hell out of me–I thought I was having a stroke or it was a detached retina. Some googling revealed what it was. They are really weird and annoying even if benign.

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  16. LAMary said on February 10, 2020 at 10:39 am

    A few weeks ago Science Friday, on NPR, had a whole hour about migraines and SS was described as a type of migraine. I get stretches of being unable to focus on the left side of my frame of vision. It goes away after about ten or fifteen minutes. Nothing trippy just blurry.

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  17. Julie Robinson said on February 10, 2020 at 10:44 am

    So my morning newspaper tells me that Amish Acres, a run-down tourist trap that went bankrupt, has been purchased by none other than our former congressman, Marlin “Stutz the Putz” Stutzman. May he enjoy running it further in the red and wasting every penny of his $1.55 million. Okay, technically he only bought part of it, along with two partners, but his sterling intelligence will no doubt prevail to run it further into the ground.

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  18. alex said on February 10, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Amish Acres… totally forgot about that place. It’s a Cletus Safari for Cletuses.

    Maybe Stutz figures he can make it profitable bilking tourists again if he turns it into an evangelical theme park or something.

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  19. Joe Kobiela said on February 10, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Been coming to Disney World for 35 years and never have I ever seen it as busy as it is now. Want a judge on the economy? here it is. It’s crowded but it’s 78 and sunny.
    Pilot Joe

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  20. Sherri said on February 10, 2020 at 11:57 am

    It hasn’t been in the news, but St Mark’s in Seattle, the cathedral for the Episcopal diocese in western Washington, has been hit by multiple acts of vandalism over the past couple of weeks.


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  21. Deborah said on February 10, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    LA Mary, LB has a similar aura before a migraine as you described. The good thing about it is that it gives her a heads up about what’s coming. I never know when I have a s.s. If it will result in a bad headache, sometimes yes, sometimes no. The first s.s. is scary for sure, thanks to google for explaining it to me, years after the first one though. The first two were maybe 10 years apart, google didn’t exist when I had the first one.

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  22. Sherri said on February 10, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    Early in my career as a software engineer, I heard something about a software design that stuck with me and translated to so many other realms, that the superficial flaws obscured the fundamental flaws of the design. This NYTimes article goes deep into the superficial flaws of the Iowa caucuses, beyond just the problems with the app, but fails to grasp the fundamental flaws, which are far more important and relevant. Namely, caucuses don’t scale, they depress turnout, and they’re run by people who don’t normally run elections. So, no, you don’t get “accurate” reporting of numbers, because each caucus is going to interpret the rules a little differently, amateurs aren’t going to have a bulletproof process even in the absence of external attacks, and all that would still be more or less okay if you were getting something approximating a representative sample, but you’re not.

    You’re getting a number. It doesn’t mean what you think it means, and never has, but we’ve all agreed over the years to pretend it does. The pretense is wearing thin.


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  23. Jakash said on February 10, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    Want an article and 15 charts judging Trump’s *role* in the economy? Here’s one. Most of the graphs show that trends well under way during the Obama presidency have continued. For some reason, the Republicans, Trump in particular, never considered that these trends were worth celebrating back when they were demonizing Obama. Now, Cult 45 devoutly proclaims that they show that their crooked charlatan must be supported at all cost.


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  24. Peter said on February 10, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    OK, here’s a poor attempt at levity, and I hope this wasn’t posted here before:

    How many Republicans does it take to change a light bulb?

    NONE – Trump says that it’s fake news and the bulb isn’t broken, and all the Republicans applaud him in the darkness.

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  25. Jeff Borden said on February 10, 2020 at 4:54 pm


    We can all rest assured the Republicans will again become obsessed with the deficit the next time a Democrat is president. It’s how they roll.

    The budget proposals put forth by our mad Orange King will kick his followers squarely in the nut sack. Huge cuts to Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and a healthy increase in defense spending. And yet his cult will fall right in line because it’s far better to trigger a liberal –har, har, har– than to have decent health care. And –look!– the State Department budget would be slashed by 22 percent. Har, harr, har. Them pointy-headed bureaucrats! tRump will show ’em.

    There’s more than a little masochism among the lemmings who sing his praises

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  26. Jeff Borden said on February 10, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    The “budget:” https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/02/09/trump-budget-plan-would-fail-eliminate-deficit-over-10-years-briefing-document-shows/

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  27. Jakash said on February 10, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    Ah, yes, the deficit. I remember when they used to care about that — from 1993 until very early in 2001, and from 2009 right up until the beginning of 2017, for instance.

    Odd how the Maximum Leader always says that tax cuts are never going to affect spending for Medicare or Social Security — right up until it’s time for him to submit an actual budget.

    From the WaPo article linked to by Mr. Borden:

    “The budget is expected to request $2 billion in homeland security spending for the southern border wall — billions less than in past years and billions less than Congress has agreed to. However, the administration has siphoned billions more from the Pentagon budget ever since declaring a national emergency at the border following last winter’s government shutdown.”

    Wait — there’s no mention of Mexico’s multi-billion-dollar contributions. Weren’t they supposed to pay for the whole thing? Rumpelthinskin wasn’t, lemme think of the word for it, LYING about that, was he?

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  28. Suzanne said on February 10, 2020 at 5:59 pm

    This sums up what Putin via Trump via his GOP sycophants are doing:
    “The Soviet system of propaganda and censorship existed not so much for the purpose of spreading a particular message as for the purpose of making learning impossible, replacing facts with mush, and handing the faceless state a monopoly on defining an ever-shifting reality.”

    From this article– https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/what-hbos-chernobyl-got-right-and-what-it-got-terribly-wrong

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  29. Diane said on February 10, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    Everything Sherri says @22 is absolutely correct.
    I have lived in a caucus state for 21 years, having moved from a East coast primary state. I am still in a state of appalled shock at what passes for a process to select a candidate-the disarray, the confusion about “caucus math,” the difficulties and time to actually attend, etc. If caucuses were something Republicans were coming up with now I would be screaming voter suppression loud and long! In fact, I’m suppressed they haven’t thought of a caucus system for general elections.

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  30. LAMary said on February 10, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    My left side of vision field blurriness isn’t followed by a migraine but that NPR program described it as a form of migraine. I started getting actual sick headache migraines in college but it was caused, at least most of the time, by an allergy to bananas. I read an article about keeping track of what you ate before getting a migraine and for me it was bananas. I still very occasionally get a full on migraine with light sensitivity, smell sensitivity and feeling nauseated. One of these will last all day and nothing really helps. The funky eye thing is more of an annoyance than the nastiness of a migraine.

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  31. Sherri said on February 11, 2020 at 12:48 am

    I get a migraine about every 6-8 weeks, though usually not a severe one (at least, as long as I take Imitrex before it takes hold too much.) I got visual effects prior to migraines when I was in my 20s and 30s, but those stopped. Now, I mostly notice a weird feeling of hunger that doesn’t go away if I eat something.

    I’ve never found a food trigger for my migraines. Stress is a trigger, more so if I’m not eating and sleeping regularly. The strangest trigger is backlighting; if I’m interacting with somebody who is sitting in front of a bright light, like someone sitting in front of a window on a bright day and talking to me, that will pretty reliably trigger a migraine.

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  32. Dexter Friend said on February 11, 2020 at 2:55 am

    I can only have one banana a month because of high blood potassium levels. My old age problem happens just a few times a year, neuropathy. But apparently it may not actually be common neuropathy as it comes for 72 hours and prevents sleeping and comfort of any level and then just leaves for months. Next V.A. doctor visit I may ask to be tested for neuropathy as it is a condition of Agent Orange poisoning and maybe a bump up a little in my partial disability rating. Jonathan Pryce got robbed. He was the best actor I saw in 2019…”The Two Popes”.

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  33. alex said on February 11, 2020 at 7:06 am

    Suzanne, I’ve read elsewhere that the GOP is hewing very closely to the Russian propaganda playbook and that journalism is getting steamrolled by the enormous onslaught of ever-changing, contradictory and sensationalistic misinformation pouring out of this administration and its surrogates. It’s very disorienting, even for discerning, intelligent people. Unfortunately, the rabble take away from it whatever they want to hear.

    I find this distressing on a level that I don’t think I can endure indefinitely and I refuse to become resigned to it.

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  34. Suzanne said on February 11, 2020 at 8:17 am

    Being surrounded by Trump voters, the Soviet style propaganda works well “for the purpose of making learning impossible” (as Gessen writes) because for the most part, the MAGAs I know don’t want to learn. They are not intellectually curious. So having reality shaped by the church, the state, or the right wing media talking heads is fine with them.

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  35. Little Bird said on February 11, 2020 at 10:05 am

    I get both the s.s. and I lose peripheral vision in both eyes. It goes sort of dizzy making first, then the ss, then these sparkly things in the edges, then those edges go white cloudy. I can’t read during a migraine because floaters of white obscure the print. Then the pain hits. I haven’t actually had one in about a year…. because I started smoking marijuana fairly regularly. IT HELPS. A lot. I would rather be stuck in bed with terrible hip pain than have a migraine. I would rather have another root canal than a migraine. I’d say I’d rather have a conversation with trump, but that would probably cause a migraine.

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  36. Dorothy said on February 11, 2020 at 10:47 am

    I’ve never experienced scotoma, thank goodness. But I do have glaucoma and use two kinds of eye drops every night at bedtime. It’s the pressure in the eyes (pressure from where?!) that is the issue for glaucoma. It’s a gradually degenerating condition and if I live long enough, likely I’ll go blind. My mom had it – diagnosed at 71 but I was 56 or so when I was diagnosed. Mom’s vision was really poor toward the end of her life; she lived to 95 and two months. I do, however, get weird vision issues when I’m doing close work (knitting or reading) when in a car, and if I don’t look up out the window often enough to adjust my focus, I start to get very blurry vision. I can’t see things well when I look up. Road signs are very hard to read. If we are on long trips and I know it’s going to be my turn to drive within a half hour or so, I stop reading or knitting so my eyes can re-focus and I can see properly again.

    I watched the Oscars until almost 11 PM. I saw most of the nominated best picture movies. I loved both Parasite and 1917. I was sure 1917 would win because it’s such a traditional thing to award well-done war movies. But Parasite was very deserving. One of my faculty members in my department is Korean and she was over the moon, so excited that it won so many awards! She doesn’t have cable so her siblings were calling or texting her every time it won another award (I think it got 5 or 6…?). I saw some butthead on Twitter was complaining about a foreign movie winning Best Picture. The award is not for best AMERICAN movie, dumbass – it’s just called Best Picture!

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  37. Suzanne said on February 11, 2020 at 11:39 am

    This is absolutely worth taking the time to read.


    “This, then, is the shared lament between the climate-stubborn Right, the Green New Deal Left, and the majority who inhabit the space in between: the fundamental shared experience of the land shifting beneath our feet. Those I met were no less bereft than I was about the way the world is changing, even if the details varied. The culture wars will rage on, and the algorithmic news silos that we inhabit will accelerate their feed, but this one element links the aching loss felt on both sides. They are prisms of each other, shadow worlds, the same and different.”

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  38. Sherri said on February 11, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Change is loss. Even change for the better involves loss. Humans hate loss more than they like reward, so we resist change.

    That’s why win-win solutions are a myth, and why changing hearts and minds is seldom a great strategy. The farmers so connected to the land who refuse to see climate change are never going to accept the reality of climate change. They will either adapt to the changes, have adaptation forced on them by external regulation or other means (finance and insurance), or lose the farm. Their identity is wrapped up in being someone who understands the land better than some scientist, because it’s in their blood, and they will never allow themselves to lose that. They will resent anyone who tries to convince them otherwise.

    It’s like the Lost Cause mythology I grew up in. This thinking says sure, slavery was not ideal, but we would have eventually phased it out on our own, and nobody should have come in and told us what to do. It’s all bullshit, but growing up 100 years later, the resentment was real.

    The world is changing, as it always does, and Lost Cause thinking is seductive because it says that someone is to blame, and that without that someone, the change would happen more slowly and predictably and without loss and disruption. It’s never true, but I don’t think you can convince anybody of that.

    So I no longer spend much effort trying to persuade and change hearts and minds. I try to work on structural issues that change how people have to operate, and let people feel what they feel. Mitigate loss as much as possible, but know that yes, loss happens with change.

    This is partly a response to Suzanne’s article, but also a response to yet another conversation with yet another really smart middle-aged white techie male who wants to “fix politics”. I’ve been attracting them lately.

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  39. Sherri said on February 11, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    You know, I’m nobody. I’ve never been a press secretary or a communications director. I have taken public criticism. I’m pretty sure that if I were given space in the NYTimes OpEd section, I wouldn’t then get in stupid Twitter fights about it.


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  40. Sherri said on February 11, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    Who could have guessed that the billionaire who instituted stop and frisk and changed the rules to allow himself a third term is racist and misogynist?

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  41. Deborah said on February 11, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    Suzanne, excellent link at #37. My husband and I were just talking about that yesterday. My husband is connected with a sustainable environment group in Northern Illinois that his uncle is helping fund, The Natural Land Institute. They’re getting involved with local farmers, encouraging them to use sustainable farming methods in exchange for grants. We were lamenting the fact that we don’t know any farmers to talk to except for my neice’s farmer husband in Minnesota. We are planning a trip up there this summer to talk to him, to get his impression of his particular situation. He plants soy beans, organically. He probably voted for Trump, who knows if he will again. My niece says they weren’t impacted by the tariffs that decimated some farmers because they grow organically which China is less interested in, she said most of their demand comes from Europe. I don’t pretend to understand much of the issues, that’s why we want to get their perspective.

    Also I read somewhere that farmers back in the dust bowl era greatly resisted changing from straight rows to contour farming because that’s not the way they did it for generations. Apparently it was a hard, hard sell to get them to change their ways to save their livelihoods.

    We are back in Santa Fe after our usual 3 days in Abiquiu. We woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland in Abiquiu and all the way into Santa Fe. It’s very wet snow, melting fast, except that it’s predicted to get down to 17 tonight so the parking lot will be a mess again in the morning. Sigh. Back to Abiquiu tomorrow early afternoon.

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  42. Joe Kobiela said on February 11, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    Observations from the mouse house, I haven’t seen any politically themed shirts or hats from either the left or the right, it’s crowded compared to other years, talking with cast members they seem to feel people are happier this year than in years past and seem to be purchasing and spending more.
    Pilot Joe

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