Wheels up.

We leave in about 36 hours. Still no health pass. Panicking? Who, me?

I was really hoping to get this settled before we left, but there’s another day of work ahead in France, so who knows, maybe a miracle will happen. In the meantime, a few things to remember:

I’m taking my laptop with us, but will not necessarily stick to any sort of schedule here. I’ll post when I’m moved to do so, probably mostly pictures but who knows. Part of the excitement of this trip will be getting out of the usual ruts, so let’s hope the next rut isn’t too trying.

Meanwhile, for some reason I started thinking about Italy the other day. Most of us here are old enough to remember when Italian voters put an adult-film actress in their parliament. Ilona Staller, stage name Cicciolina, took office in the ’80s sometime.

And while I’m a modern person and believe there’s no reason a porn star can’t be a policymaker, as I recall, Staller’s career seemed to be mostly dedicated to, as we say today, brand-building. If you can stand the exploding pop-ups and CSS, here’s a Daily Mail story about what she’s up to these days, now that she’s 70-ish. One of the subheads says so much: Between 1987 and 1991, she grabbed headlines with outlandish policy pledges. It would seem so. She offered to have sex with Saddam Hussein in return for peace in Iraq, for one. She married artist Jeff Koons, the guy who floated two basketballs in an aquarium and called it art, obviously a kindred spirit. And now she’s trying to get her ex-MP pension back, after it was reduced by two-thirds.

At the time, as an ignorant American, I recall reading a little more about how it happened – Staller’s career, that is. The upshot was that Italy is so deeply cynical about its politics that the idea of electing a porn actress who’s never going to get anything done, just dick around and make headlines, is seen as n.b.d.

And I think we’ve become Italy.

Look at the current crop of morons vying to become the next Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene or Madison Cawthorn. I was keeping notes on them for a while, but have abandoned the effort. There are so many, most of them young and capable only of barking slogans into a camera while promising to go to Washington and fight the deep state.

Karoline Leavitt, in New Hampshire, called Black Lives Matter a Marxist terrorist organization. Graham Allen, in South Carolina, actually has the oldest cliché in reality TV in his pinned tweet: “I’m not going to DC to make friends.” And of course we can’t forget Caitlyn Jenner, the deeply unserious candidate for California governor, and yes I know she only got 1 percent in the recall vote, but still.

(However. If you have Netflix and are following the Untold series of sports docs, I can recommend the one on Bruce Jenner and his Olympic decathlon experience. I learned a lot about the decathlon, and despised Caitlin maybe 1 percent less afterward.)

Anyway, I think we’ve become Italy. These people are the Cicciolina of their time, treating the deadly serious work of guiding the nation as yet another reality TV show. If we’re not doomed outright, I think we’ve turned the corner to it.

Not that I wish to leave you with bummer thoughts! I’m looking forward to my future anyway — the next four weeks of it. Watch this space. I’ll try to make it worth your while.

Posted at 1:25 pm in Current events |

43 responses to “Wheels up.”

  1. brian stouder said on September 16, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    Here’s wishing you and yours safe and pleasant travels – ’till we hear from you again

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  2. Scout said on September 16, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    I’m so excited for you. I’m sure all is well as long as you have your vax card tucked away with your passport. Really looking forward to the picture updates. Enjoy!

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  3. alex said on September 16, 2021 at 2:23 pm

    I don’t know what suffices for a health pass, but here in Indiana you can go online and download a certificate from the state health department that shows that you’ve been vaccinated. (Even though the state outlawed “vaccine passports” and prohibits local governments from interfering in any way with freedumb.)

    Enjoy your trip! And please do your best to disabuse Europe of the notion that we’re all idiots here in the states.

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  4. Suzanne said on September 16, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Hopefully, the trip will go off as planned and will be so much fun, you will forget this blog exists!

    We watched the Netflix untold episode about tennis player Mardy Fish. It’s very good and I plan to watch others.

    On top of watching this and reading about the gymnastics women’s testimonies to Congress, I would say elite athletics is not something I am much interested in watching any more.

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  5. Jim G said on September 16, 2021 at 2:31 pm

    I remember relentlessly teasing my Italian friend when Berlusconi was elected.

    Then Trump happened.

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  6. Dorothy said on September 16, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    I wish you magical and exciting times on this trip! I’m yearning to go somewhere again even though we were in San Diego in July. There’s something about seeing places you’ve never seen before that sparks so much happiness, isn’t that the truth?! We’re moving to a new home in about 3 months so maybe that will be all the excitement I can take for a little while. But I’m daydreaming of our next destination.

    Have fun, be safe, and can’t wait to see the photos and hear some fun stories.

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  7. JodiP said on September 16, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    Wow, your trip has come up quickly! I hope all goes well. Don’t worry about us, either!

    The pass Nancy is talking about is the passe sanitaire or health pass. Here’s a descrition via google translate: Vaccinated abroad, you want to enjoy museums, swimming pools, bars and restaurants during your stay in France? In order to facilitate the stay of tourists in France, a system set up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs makes it possible to obtain a QR code equivalent to a health pass on French territory for people with a complete vaccination schedule. Service-Public.fr explains how to obtain the pass regardless of your country of residence.

    French citizens need to show proof of vaccination but I think they have it as a QR code not a lame paper card that doesn’t fit into one’s wallet.

    Having your vaccine card is not sufficient to enter the attractions listed above. I keep checking Ireland’s requirements and it looks like they are accepting the paper one for entry we all received.

    I found out about an app called Docket which will pull your immuniazation records. It took about 5 minutes to get set up. My COVID vaccine is there, as well as a notice that my MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) is 55 years overdue. Guess my mom was busy and I didn’t get it.

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  8. Julie Robinson said on September 16, 2021 at 4:06 pm

    Maybe it’s Delta, maybe it’s exhaustion from moving, but right now I have zero interest in travel. Still, I wish the Nall/Derringer co-prosperity sphere a marvelous and safe trip!

    Jodi, MMR now requires two doses, so even if you had it as a child you’d want a booster.

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  9. Indiana Jack said on September 16, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    Greetings from Italy. We made it through the process, and I’m sure you will too.

    We spent hours online dealing with various hoops that Italy and the UK (where we made a connecting flight) presented for us. Much of that was spent on Italy’s rather rococo version of the Passenger Locator Form. The end result of that process was a QR code that was supposed to be essential.

    It was ignored by officials at the border when we arrived.

    An enormous bureaucratic mountain of bullshit that meant nothing. Our CDC vaccination cards and our negative Rapid Antigen test results were checked via paperwork. And that was it.

    Now finishing our first real non-travel day in Rome. No restaurant or bar has yet asked to see our CDC cards. Museums may be another story.

    Folks are masking indoors, but it’s still sidewalk cafe and alfresco dining season, so we’re staying outside as much as possible.

    Tourism traffic down, though Heathrow was the usual shitstorm. Biggest difference is the absence of Asian tour groups.

    The pre-trip headaches are dreadful, but once you are on the ground you will be fine.

    Bon voyage!

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  10. Mark P said on September 16, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    JodiP — I checked the Apple App Store and It says Docket lets you access your vaccination records in Minnesota, New Jersey and Utah. That’s kind of narrow.

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  11. Jim said on September 16, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    Am I the only one giggling at the mental image of a porn star dicking around?

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    • nancy said on September 16, 2021 at 5:05 pm

      That was just for you.

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  12. JodiP said on September 16, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    MarkP–thanks for letting the group know.

    Here’s an idea: a national system that all states and territories use to get proof of vaccination! Pretty nutty it’s so fractured. Also socialism.

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  13. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 16, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    Hydrate, Nancy; hydrate and all shall be well!

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  14. LAMary said on September 16, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    Something to keep us busy:


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  15. Beobachter said on September 17, 2021 at 3:19 am

    Trusting someone writing on a Rick Steves forum:

    susan.marks2714 09/10/21 10:40 AM: Hello, I applied for the passe sanitaire 2 and a half weeks ago and haven’t received it. I’ve been in Paris for 5 days now and have visited many cafés, small shops, Monoprix, Carrefour, as well as 2 museums. Only the museums asked for the passe sanitaire, and immediately accepted the CDC cards. I don’t know about other parts of France, but in Paris if you have your CDC cards, you’re good.


    deepl says: bon voyage et en toute sécurité

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  16. ROGirl said on September 17, 2021 at 5:21 am

    Exciting Paris news! The Arc de Triomphe will be wrapped in fabric starting on the 18th, in homage to the late artist Christo. It was a project he had been working on before he died last year.


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  17. David C said on September 17, 2021 at 7:31 am

    We’re Italy without brio and with Olive Garden as a stand in for food.

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  18. Deborah said on September 17, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Here’s a last minute recommendation: check out this shop on Rue du Bac in Paris, Deyrolle https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deyrolle
    It’s a crazy mix of garden stuff, taxidermy, books etc.

    Have a great time in the best city in the world.

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  19. Jeff Borden said on September 17, 2021 at 10:15 am

    Performative politics are all the fashion in the QOP. Taylor-Greene is a noxious ignoramus, a seditious asshole with violence in her heart. She’s been stripped of all committee assignments and thus is absolutely worthless to her Georgia constituents. Now, guess who is one of the most prodigious fundraisers in the QOP? Yep.

    Bon chance, mon cheri. Eat everything!

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  20. nancy said on September 17, 2021 at 10:26 am

    For those of you who are on PINS AND NEEDLES, the pass came today. It’s a long story, I won’t bore you, but the upshot is: We are finally good to go.

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  21. brian stouder said on September 17, 2021 at 11:25 am

    Excellent news!! Every so often, it does NOT seem that everything that can go wrong DOES….and the good guys and gals win!

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  22. brian stouder said on September 17, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    …and I totally MISSED Nance’s “upshot” pun in #20 above!

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  23. Deborah said on September 17, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    What the heck is going on between France and the US right now? Something about submarines and Austrailia? France is pissed because the US and the U.K. elbowed in on a multi billion deal they had to sell submarines to Austrailia? I think? Something like that? It’s confusing when I read about it in the US press.

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  24. David C said on September 17, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    Australia was supposed to buy $60 billion worth of diesel submarines from France but pulled out and decided to buy nuclear submarines from the US and UK. I imagine diesel submarines are pretty limited compared to nuclear so I find it hard to blame Australia. I wouldn’t be surprised if the switch was instigated by the US because it wants the Australian Navy to be more capable when dealing with China.

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  25. Julie Robinson said on September 17, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    The US subs are more technologically advanced, but I suspect money is the reason France is so upset. They thought it was setting them up for many years to come. They’ve pulled their ambassador and cancelled a goodwill banquet that was scheduled for tonight.

    Well dang, now I’m not going to be able to get a booster shot before we travel to NOLA for the wedding. I don’t turn 65 until later in the month.

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  26. LAMary said on September 17, 2021 at 7:43 pm

    I’ll give you a couple of my years, Julie. We’ll both still be able to get that booster.
    I think the delivery date they French gave the Australians had a lot to do with it as well as the money. I believe they were not going to deliver the subs for 4 years. So slower delivery, more expensive…nah. The Australians and other Pacific countries want to keep the Chinese at bay and waiting four years to do that was counterproductive.

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  27. beb said on September 18, 2021 at 12:48 am

    Deborah @23
    This is a pretty good explainer

    Nancy, have a good vacation.

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  28. Julie Robinson said on September 18, 2021 at 11:15 am

    Haha Mary, I just need a month, but I appreciate the offer.

    I finally heard back from Social Security about my application this morning, and we have to call them back, but the guy only works part time and he didn’t give his hours. Helpful!

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  29. Deborah said on September 18, 2021 at 11:49 pm

    I’m back in Chicago. I assume the Derringers are either on their way or have arrived jet lagged in Paris by now.

    I noticed a much changed announcement from the flight attendant before take off from ABQ today. We’re all familiar with the typical description of the safety precautions, she did that first. Then the added message was very specific of how to properly wear a mask, how to drink a beverage or have a snack where you basically should keep your mask on except when you actively take a sip or bite. Between bites and sips we were strongly instructed to put the mask back on. Then she went into a long description of proper passenger behavior and what the consequences would be to an unruly passenger. She didn’t mince any words and she sounded sincere instead of sing song.
    It took awhile, but most of the people around me as far as I could see seemed to be paying attention, unlike the usual safety instructions speech when nobody seems to look up or be listening. Sometimes various flight attendants especially on SW tried to get cute or be funny when they recited the safety procedures, those days may be over.

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  30. Dexter Friend said on September 19, 2021 at 1:47 am

    Thank you to Jeff MMO for the tip on how much to compensate a church pastor for leading a memorial service in a church. I think it all went well before, during and after the service held in the church to celebrate the life of my late wife, Carla Lee, known as Carol to everyone but me. Many old friends and many relatives showed up here in Bryan, some driving a few hundred miles. The kids and I shared memories of good times, most dwelling on her faith. My wife was a dedicated believer. The family members prepared pasta dishes, meats , beans, desserts, and soda pop for the fellowship hall gathering post-service. It took a long time before enough of us felt safe enough to have a gathering, and all wore masks during the service.

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  31. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 19, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Dexter, I’m sorry it couldn’t have been a more normal set of circumstances, but there’s nothing “normal” ever about the funeral of someone you love. Glad it had enough pieces of what you wanted to feel right; grace and peace on your memories and your love, may they both endure.

    And traveling mercies to Nancy & Alan! Looking forward to some pics of marketplaces somewhere east of Detroit, and maybe even east of Canada.

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  32. Peter said on September 19, 2021 at 10:38 pm

    Dexter, I hope Carla Lee’s service brought happy memories and closure that you deserve.

    I remember reading about Ciccolina running for office in Time, and a member of another party said that it was a clever move on her parties’ part – politicians have turned into prostitutes, he said, so you might as well have a professional doing it instead of an amateur.

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  33. Suzanne said on September 20, 2021 at 9:15 am

    Quote from one of the people who spoke at the Elkart County hearing regarding a grant for health education for underserved county residents. Reason #666 why Indiana, despite years of business friendly tax laws, has not become the national business hub our legislators and governors expected.

    “We are tired of being educated on COVID. We have had two years of education on COVID. Two years of contract tracing with COVID. Any more education stands for threat, coercion, bullying and virtue signaling. And we are done with it. If we have $3 million to throw around let’s throw it around somewhere else. We are tired of masking our children.
    We are tired of being forced to get vaccines. And quite frankly, yesterday or the day before President Biden declared civil war on the country. And that is why we are here. We are very concerned. We are concerned our freedoms are being taken way and by perpetuating this crisis that is not a crisis, you can look at the numbers, we are not tripping over dead bodies in the streets. So, we are tired of the fear and tired of it being continued.”


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  34. Scout said on September 20, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    It’s exhausting to hear the but-muh-freedumb crowd incessantly bitch about how tired they are of hearing about Covid, but won’t do what it takes to give everyone else their freedom. They need to step up or shut up, and it’s time for the media to stop giving them attention for doing the wrong thing. A responsible press would be interviewing exhausted health care workers, showing crowded ERs and the arrival of morgue trucks. If only they used their platforms to truly educate rather than pander to the red hat nazis, this shit would be over by now.

    Looking forward to online ‘postcards’ from the Derringers In France. Hope the flight went well and the jet lag is brief.

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  35. Julie Robinson said on September 20, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    Well said, Scout. Suzanne’s link suggests they need to see dead bodies in the streets. I too am tired of Covid. I’m tired of wearing a mask, of living in fear of catching the damn disease, tired of having my freedom to travel and attend theatre restricted, tired of a crisis that didn’t need to be a crisis being perpetuated. Good god.

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  36. brian stouder said on September 20, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    So our good ol’ local channel 15 news has an interesting story up, regarding IU/Purdue Fort Wayne’s Omnibus series, wherein various personages show up and give a talk – free admission! – usually amidst a book tour.

    Over the years I’ve gone to several of these, and sometimes I even buy whatever book they’re hawking (and then get it autographed!).

    And the personage who caught my eye was none other than Monica Lewinski……

    Dispensing with the easy puns, I genuinely do look forward to attending her talk, assuming Covid doesn’t have a Second Act

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  37. alex said on September 20, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    Brian, I see you beat me to it. I haven’t been to one of those in many years because the tickets all sell out immediately. Kinda meh about Lewinsky but I think Judy Woodruff would be worth hearing. And I wonder what on earth Michael Steele has to say — for himself, anyway — after having served as the chair of the RNC.

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  38. Sherri said on September 20, 2021 at 6:58 pm

    My husband had to go get a COVID test this morning, because he was a close contact with a positive case. His fully vaccinated choir has been practicing masked outside, but a family member of a choir member tested positive, and the choir member did too. The choir member is asymptomatic, so hopefully my husband will test negative. If he tests positive, then I have to go get tested.

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  39. Dorothy said on September 20, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    Oh Sherri I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for your husband and you. When is this nightmare going to end? What’s it going to take to convince the most intransigent people that we’ll ALL be better off if everyone gets vaccinated?!

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  40. Suzanne said on September 20, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    Oh wow, that Omnibus lecture series looks great! For the first time in years, I’d like to attend all of them!

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  41. basset said on September 20, 2021 at 9:02 pm

    Just back from a badly needed respite from the real world – about seventy of us at an old church camp for an extended weekend on a mountaintop outside Chattanooga, taking mandolin and other instrument classes by day and picking and singing till late every night. Even had a pig roast.
    Didn’t hear a single mention of mask “tyranny,” MAGA culture, or anything else stressful. Came home and slept for twelve hours.

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  42. Dexter Friend said on September 21, 2021 at 1:17 am

    Anybody see that CBS Sunday Morning News seg about “Mayberry”, Mount Airy, NC? Ted Koppel works for that show now and he went to interview the white folk who tour Mount Airy for Andy Griffith memories and to see Floyd’s Barber Shoppe and Wally’s Garage and the 1962 Ford Galaxie 500 police cars. He had a little fun, then asked them about politics: the most backwards goddam Trump assholes imaginable. Stolen election, the press is the enemy of the people, “we don’t watch no news cuz it’s all LIES!”. Koppel stood there on the tour bus and took it. Damnation.

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