The dwindling down.

Christmas came and went with only a delay, no serious mishaps. The wind blew and blew and the temperature fell and fell, and we got…maybe, maaaybe, two inches. A pathetic total, but with the wind howling, it did push everything back by a day. But that was OK, because Kate was waiting out a close Covid exposure, so it all worked out. It always works out. It’s Christmas. You set the table and pour a Bloody Mary and wait for it to work out.

For weather news this week, you really couldn’t beat Buffalo (apocalypse) and Seattle (comedy).

Santa brought me a hi-tech Japanese rice cooker and all the possible condiments that could go with Kenji Lopez-Alt’s wok cookbook, so we’ll be eatin’ Asian this winter. Alan got a new Ward Cleaver robe and four Spanish-size gintonic glasses, with a giant ice-cube mold to match. Kate gave me, get this, a cycling class at the Lexus Velodrome in Midtown, which I can’t wait to do with her. I’ve never ridden a velodrome, and I hope it’s fabulous. We all got what we wanted, including another humiliating self-own by a dickhead Republican. So all in all, a wonderful Christmas.

Now I turn my thoughts to the new year. I have one freelance story to finish, and then I think I’m going to take a month to just think about what sort of writing I want to do in 2023. But before that, I’m scrolling through my 2022 pictures. Scroll with me!

January 1, a solitary walk on a very, very muddy Belle Isle, with a stop at the eastern end for the view:

I didn’t clean the mud out of my hiking boots until summer. It was like cement.

February was the Dirty Show, always fun in the midst of winter:

I took a little trip later that month, because I was going stir-crazy. Covered that here already, but I saw: Friends, horses, the Obamas:

I remember listening to 24-hour news about the invasion of Ukraine while enormous trucks tailgated me at 75 mph on America’s freeways. A lot of driving.

In March, vertigo:

Four dizzy spells that month, none since. Go figure.

In April we tried to adopt Kevin. It didn’t work out, but we got him neutered and placed with a fantastic new home.

Also in April, the girls left for their glamorous European tour. Later, Kate said, her friends would ask, “Did you see the (something) in (some European city)?” No, she said, they mainly saw the inside of bars and the road between them. But they had a blast, just the same:

In May, we celebrated our 29th anniversary with a one-night stay at the St. Clair Inn, just upstream of my ottering spot. The inn’s bar is called The Dive, after the staff’s traditional end-of-season celebration:

Then you turn around and it’s June. Beautiful, beautiful June:

Let’s end it here. Maybe do the back half of the year later this week, maybe not — don’t want to bore you to death. If you’re working in this last month of the year, don’t work too hard. If you’re fortunate enough to be off, enjoy every minute. Unless you’re in Buffalo.

Posted at 9:25 am in Same ol' same ol' |

87 responses to “The dwindling down.”

  1. Joe Kobiela said on December 27, 2022 at 9:55 am

    Re: SWA Cancellation
    What’s really going on at southwest, hope no one is booked before the first of the year. Saw one flight from Tampa to Denver on flight aware that flew to Denver never landed turned around and went back to Tamps due to no ramp workers.
    Pilot Joe

    My guess is they will shell out north of 200 million in fees and refunds and whatever else not to mention the sunk cost of losing 5 days of flying.

    The problem STARTED during the Denver cold and snow on the 22. Then it just never recovered as more and more planes got rerouted, crews timed out, and scheduling couldn’t be reached. The FA side couldn’t get ahold of their schedulers, and the pilots when they could get ahold of scheduling, couldn’t get things processed in time.

    There is a program. It optimizes crews and aircraft. It reroutes based on cost etc. The problem is, there was little if NO human intervention and when it started rerouting it started a domino effect. Eventually it got so bad that scheduling lost track of where planes were. Where pilots were and where flight attendants were. The program may have send you on a double DH from FLL to ATL – AUS, but then the program cancelled the FLL-ATL leg and never considered the DH pilot to not be on the second leg. Scheduling would think the pilot made it to AUS when they were still in FLL. Multiply that times 4000 and then add the 20000 FA into the mix and you have a system with no head. There is more to it but that’s the start.
    It got so bad that crews were sitting around, legal, 2 pilots, 4 flight attendants and they were pleading with scheduling to let them operate the leg. But the computer would see NO CREW assigned or MISING Crew and then cancel it automatically. While 175 paying passengers sat either ON the plane at the gate or in the terminal.

    The cascading cancellations pushed more and more passengers to flights that had ZERO seats. So the next flight would show 2 days later etc. However, the computer program was already cancelling 2 days out because it would think there would be NO crew, or No plane. Basically it went rogue. It took 2 days for it to run off the rails completely but when it did, it was unable to save itself. Plans kept falling apart when schedulers tried to intervene, and crews kept being out of position and unable to get ahold of scheduling to put themselves on it. Dispatch tried, scheduling couldn’t deal with the load of questions and requests coming in. The phones were tied up, some guys took 8 hours to reach a person. 8 fucking hours. Ive seen pictures of 23 hour calls and counting. I don’t know fi they are real but there ya go.

    We had crews with no hotels, crews stranded in terminals, lounges, bus stations, you name it. People were JAd into 3, 4 days past their last day, making them illegal for their next trips. MORE PULLS. MORE CANCELLATIONS. MORE problems.

    It took them 6 days to figure out the operation was lost and it needed a FULL reset. It needed to stop booking people which they finally did. YOU won’t be able to book until the 30th at the earliest I believe. As of now they are trying to move the rest of the stranded PAX and crews to their bases on a 30 percent operational schedule. Thats 3000 cancelled flights a day.

    I hope to hell something comes out of this like an enhanced scheduling practice, a new CEO, a new company that handles the systems that failed.

    it wasn’t the flight crews, or the agents or the ground crews that failed southwests customers. It was management and lack of investment in modern systems to handle cancellations and reroutes. If Southwest is going to win back ANYONE they have to invest 100s of millions into technology and whatnot. They have to have a year of winning over people. It’ll take time. Im hoping something good comes out of this show because about 1 million people think SWA is the devil right now. It sucks as an employer to see the crap hit the fan. Its heart breaking to see families sitting in terminals with no luggage. No plan.

    I have told countless people to take care of yourself, get your money back from SWA down the road, and take another airline ASAP. Today is not the day to let SWA help you because that’s not gonna happen till 2023.

    I honestly feel that SWA is a good place. It’s a good company that has outgrown its technology. They are trying to run a 10000 pilot, 800 aircraft, 400000 FA company on the same paper they ran a 100 aircraft company with 1000 pilots. It Doesn’t. Fucking. Work when things go south.

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  2. alex said on December 27, 2022 at 9:55 am

    Psychedelic Farrah seems to be stealing the show from Michelle Obama.

    Happy merry everyone. I get to enjoy one of my presents today, a massage. And a present to myself — the whole week off.

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  3. susan said on December 27, 2022 at 10:25 am

    This one is my favorite Seattle -Queen Ann neighborhood ice video. Because of the sound track. Makes me cringe every time I watch it.

    I do not like to see people slipping and falling. Not funny. People in bumper cars are different.

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  4. susan said on December 27, 2022 at 10:27 am

    But you can’t beat Montreal. You’d think they’d know better.

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  5. Jeff Borden said on December 27, 2022 at 10:47 am

    Sometimes I wish there was a god because that would mean there was a hell and people like Greg Abbott would wind up roasting in a lake of fire for their sins against humanity. Instead, the bastard is celebrated for his cruelty and preens for higher office. Whatta country, huh?

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  6. susan said on December 27, 2022 at 10:52 am

    Someone should do this to Greg Abbott, the Roller Nazi.

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  7. Mark P said on December 27, 2022 at 12:14 pm

    Last night here in NW Georgia we had a light dusting of snow, maybe an eight of an inch. It was cold, dry snow, and if there had been a slight breeze it would all have blown into the woods. If there had not been several very cold days, it would have melted on contact with the roads. But it stuck. When we came back from The Last IHOP Dinner, I wasn’t sure we would make it up our driveway in our Subaru. It was interesting to sit with the accelerator almost on the floor while the car decided how fast or slow to run the engine. After a *lot* of spinning tires, quickly stopped by the traction control, we made it into our garage.

    It’s all going away very quick today.

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  8. nancy said on December 27, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    Agree that people falling down stairs isn’t funny, but there was one with two guys in the foreground, trying to do something and falling repeatedly, with a third guy sliding by in the background, on his butt. It looked like he was driving a low-slung, invisible car.

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  9. Jeff Gill said on December 27, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    I vote for the second half of the year; that was a relaxing scroll through for me, anywho.

    Joe’s observations along with Mike Allen on Axios helped me realize Southwest’s business model is a great one until it isn’t. The no-hub approach really has hurt them, and my social media is full of friends in places from Vegas to to Boston stuck and trying to Planes, Trains, and Rentalmobile their way back to Ohio. I came to Indy just in time to stage-manage a heat pump disaster (having overseen the installation of it new in October), and am still re-explaining what’s going on to my father-in-law. Tempted somedays to wish I was trapped in an airport terminal, but I know that’s foolish. To each their own bedpan.

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  10. Jeff Gill said on December 27, 2022 at 1:26 pm

    And Indianapolis (minor miracle), in one of those stories that makes you chuckle with the use of “allegedly.”

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  11. tajalli said on December 27, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    That swimming pool sure looks inviting, could have gone through an entire year of pictures at this slow end of the year. Sherrie’s weather has arrived but with a whimper rather than a bang – drizzle/light rain only today and the temperature has moderated so no condensation on the windows, usually I mop up with a towel.

    That Montreal video was a doozy and Joe’s description of SWA operations was a real logistical mess that redefines FUBAR. Now all we need is a train wreck to cap it off.

    Made a cranberry blueberry pecan crumble for Christmas and am contemplating a sweet potato pumpkin pie (or soup?) for the new year’s celebration.

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  12. Sherri said on December 27, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    How much money has Southwest put in stock buybacks instead of investing in updating their infrastructure?

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  13. David C said on December 27, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    I’d like to ride a velodrome but the nearest one is in Kenosha and it’s strictly bring your own (track) bike. I don’t think Mary would approve of me buying another bike.

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  14. Jason T. said on December 27, 2022 at 3:38 pm

    Good Lord, has it really been almost a year since you visited? Time flies whether or not you’re having fun, I guess.

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  15. Deborah said on December 27, 2022 at 5:04 pm

    We left Abiquiu this morning a day earlier than we had planned to because my husband told me this morning that he’s been having headaches since Dec 5, unknown to me at all, he never mentioned it until over breakfast at the cabin. He had contacted his Chicago Dr and she suggested he go to an urgent care clinic in Santa Fe. He’s there now. He drove directly to the clinic from Abiquiu because he said he wanted to and wouldn’t hear otherwise. He’s weird about talking about it when he’s sick, he doesn’t like anyone knowing his maladies unlike me who will talk to anyone about mine. He was told he would have a 2 1/2 hr wait before he could see someone at the clinic. I told him he should go back to the condo and we could go back later but he didn’t want to do that, instead he said he’d rather sit there and wait in the waiting room. I’m flummoxed as I often am when he gets this way. If he thinks it’s going to keep me from worrying, it does the opposite. Or maybe he doesn’t want to talk about it because he wants it to disappear, I have no idea and never have. He said he really wanted to go back to Chicago to see his Dr there, but since the airlines are so screwed up that doesn’t seem possible.

    The only thing that’s keeping me from freaking out is that in the last couple of days we have holiday face timed with a couple of people who have complained about mysterious headaches that have lasted for weeks. One went to the Dr about it and got some meds which stopped the headaches, the other said the headaches went away on their own. So maybe it’s just another weird symptom of one of the many variations of gunk that are going around.

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  16. Julie Robinson said on December 27, 2022 at 6:16 pm

    It’s like a Pandora’s box of viruses has been opened. I hope it’s no big deal, Deborah, and that Sherri is feeling better, and everyone else. I think I’m coming down with a cold, just a cold, but blergh.

    Some corporate muckety muck was on the news last night and he admitted their system is all screwed up. Remember when it was fun to fly with them?

    Against my better judgment I went to the Fableman’s this afternoon. Save your money. It’s 2.5 hours of self-indulgence from Spielberg, and features lots of the most overrated actress ever, Michelle Williams. In one scene from the mid-60’s a character pulls out a 110 Instamatic camera, and I almost yelled at the screen. Afterwards I looked it up and they were released in 1972. The whole movie is like that.

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  17. Sherri said on December 27, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    I’m still getting headaches if I’m up and doing stuff, with no other symptoms. If I just rest in bed, I feel fine. The headaches aren’t bad, not migraine level, but it’s annoying that I’ve had to pass on Christmas with friends and then lunch with friends who were visiting from out of town today.

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  18. David C said on December 27, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    The last time I had fun flying commercial was in 1982 on Piedmont Airlines back when they were a real airline not a pathetic rump of American Airlines.

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  19. Deborah said on December 27, 2022 at 8:36 pm

    My husband got to meet with a Dr today at the clinic, he got 3 prescriptions but the prednisone was unavailable at Walgreens and won’t be there until after 3pm tomorrow. He has a referral to see a neurologist here in Santa Fe but probably won’t even be able to get in until the end of February when we’ll be back in Chicago, so he’ll probably go back to Chicago to see his Drs there after the clusterfuck airline situation is over if the prescriptions aren’t working. It has been a stressful day, I’m glad it’s almost over. The Dr here didn’t sound like he thought is was an emergency or anything so we’ll just wait and see what happens.

    Meanwhile I heard from my BIL and his wife, they’re not having fun with Covid, they seem to have it worse than we ever did, but not life threatening by any means.

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  20. Dexter Friend said on December 28, 2022 at 2:28 am

    Velodrome cycling for beginners to this sport can be , well, challenging. The ‘nets are full of advice. That’s all I have to say about thay-utt.

    I can’t recall any headaches since 2003, then in the past 6 weeks have had three headaches requiring an acetaminophen tablet. Sneaky virus.

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  21. Jeff Borden said on December 28, 2022 at 8:49 am

    Amen and hurrah for David C. During my four-plus years living in Charlotte, N.C., Piedmont was the major airline serving the city. It was wonderful. Terrific service, decent meals and –wow– a full can of free soda rather than a meager little cup. I’d moved there from Columbus, Ohio, where most of the time I had to fly TWA, which some wags dubbed “teeny weeny airlines.” There was no comparison.

    Our flight to West Palm Beach from Chicago last week on American Airlines worked out fine since we flew the day before the snowy shit hit the fan. But those new 737s? Blah. The space in steerage, I mean coach, is smaller than ever so that my knees were constantly pressed against the seat in front of me. It’s certainly the most cramped accommodations I can recall. The act of taking off my sweatshirt required contortions worthy of Cirque de Soleil. By the time we landed after a slightly more than two hour flight, my back was killing me and I had a crick in my neck that remained for days. And all of this for the low, low price of more than $1,700 for two tickets after seat “upgrades,” cancellation insurance and checked bags were added. Christ, we flew to Madrid a few years ago on Iberia and paid less.

    I think the limit of how many seats an airline can jam into a fuselage has been exceeded. I’m 5-foot-11 and weigh 165 and I was miserable. I can’t imagine how those heftier or taller fared. Well, at least we weren’t part of the Southwest shit show.

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  22. David C said on December 28, 2022 at 9:19 am

    I’ve looked into flying from Appleton, WI to Grand Rapids, MI in the past. I can find tickets from Chicago to London for less. But airlines have enough money that they can buy back their own stonks so all is well, right?

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  23. Deborah said on December 28, 2022 at 9:22 am

    I flew to Europe and Asia a few times via business class for work, that was nice, but boy howdy we flew across the pond first class with my husband’s frequent flyer points, that was amazing. He traveled so much for work that he accumulated jillions of Frequent Flyer points that we only used for flights overseas. We flew like royalty whenever we went abroad. The business travel was hard on him though, he was glad since he started his own design consulting practice his projects are local. We fly steerage now like the peons we are.

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  24. FDChief said on December 28, 2022 at 9:50 am

    The airline fail is “MBA” writ large, and is just a reminder that global “business” has spent the last forty-odd years ruthlessly hunting down any scrap of slack/redundancy/resilience in the systems and killing it to maximize profit.

    So hospitals have no empty beds, airlines have no empty seats, grocery stores have no excess stock… which is fine until some piece of the chain breaks and there’s no stop in the system to prevent the cascading failure.

    As for “flying isn’t fun”, well…sixty years ago it was, and you paid for it. The public had a choice when the cut-price airlines like Southwest came along; reject the cattle-car model and pay to fly premium grade, or take the cheap flight and the misery that inevitably came with it.

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  25. JMG said on December 28, 2022 at 9:55 am

    I had many uneventful and perfectly OK air travel experiences after this one, but the last time I really had fun on a flight was a trip back from Tampa to Boston after the Persian Gulf War Super Bowl in 1991. Like all Super Bowls, a flight the day after is last plane from Saigon time. This one went Tampa-Orlando-LaGuardia-Boston. All passengers deplaned the 757 at LaGuardia except me. With an empty aircraft with no weight left to speak of and it being late at night with an almost empty sky, pilot decided to recreate his carefree Navy days. We were at 10,000 feet over the GW Bridge I think. Flight took 17 minutes. It was awesome!

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  26. Suzanne said on December 28, 2022 at 10:09 am

    We always had good luck with Southwest but the mess this year might just do them in. We are awaiting word from our son who is supposed to fly from AZ to Indiana tomorrow. NPR interviewed a SW pilot this morning who pretty much said what Pilot Joe said. So, thanks for the heads up, Pilot Joe! I have no doubt that the true culprit is corporate greed because it almost always is. And of course, those at the top who led to the meltdown will leave their positions with more money than any of us will ever see.

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  27. Deborah said on December 28, 2022 at 10:41 am

    Southwest has been our go to airline for flights to and from NM for decades. The boarding pass number system is fine with us. We get our boarding numbers the second they’re available and I mean a micro second after the clock strikes 24 hours before the flight time. We’ve never paid for an boarding number upgrade. We often get the A sections. And we head for the back of the plane no matter what.

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  28. alex said on December 28, 2022 at 10:47 am

    Not getting much ink at the moment is a Big Pharma fail. Diabetic meds are understocked at all of the major pharmacies and the public, including yours truly, is having an impossible time filling prescriptions before year’s end and the new round of insurance deductibles and out-of-pockets that starts in only a few days.

    My endocrinologist’s office tells me that Trulicity, Ozempic and a bunch of other brands you’d recognize are in short supply and they’re having a helluva time keeping patients on their regimens.

    As for the airlines, I have absolutely loathed and detested air travel ever since 9/11 and avoid it if at all possible. My vacation time is precious and nothing vexes me more than overbookings, delays and cancellations, which have happened to me so many times now that I would just as soon drive to any destination if it doesn’t take more than a few days. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a plane, but now I hear it’s a serious breach of etiquette to recline one’s seat even a notch. The hell with that shit. I’m driving.

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  29. Little Bird said on December 28, 2022 at 10:53 am

    Flying is torture for me. I don’t like close quarters with absolute strangers, hate crowds, and am always afraid of something wrong happening to the plane. I usually contact my doctor before and get a prescription for just enough diazepam for the flights. I have some leftover from my last round of MRIs (those pesky closed quarters) so I’m good for my upcoming trip. Might augment it with a gummy. I REALLY don’t like flying.

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  30. LAMary said on December 28, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    I share that closed quarters thing, LB. The last time I flew it was a crowded, hot flight that was delayed for two hours taking off from the airport so many of us love to hate, Hartsfield-Jackson. My knees were squashed into the seatback in front of me. The air was stuffy and hot. It didn’t help that what I was flying home from was some training in Knoxville for a shitty job.

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  31. Deborah said on December 28, 2022 at 1:22 pm

    I don’t like the whole flying experience but once the plane lifts off it’s not as aggravating, getting to the airport, the mess through TSA (even if I have pre-check), the trek to the gate, the wait at the gate, boarding in line etc. Finally when I find a seat I pull out a book and get lost in it for the flight duration unless something distracts me for a bit. I hardly ever sleep on a plane. Once I get to my destination there’s the whole getting to baggage claim, waiting for the bag, blah blah blah. It’s agony. Airports are so unpleasant, they attack every sense, lighting is too bright, ear splitting messages are screamed over the PA, uncomfortable seating, bad air quality, bad food, ridiculously long and confusing terminals, really ugly surroundings, grouchy, bored people everywhere, crowded bathrooms. They should be gateways to cities, instead they are giant urinals.

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  32. Peter said on December 28, 2022 at 1:57 pm

    Pilot Joe, the thing about the Southwest fiasco that stuns me is that I can understand if this was something that no one could have seen coming, but the SAME thing happened to them LAST YEAR. For a company that brags about how their corporate culture is so much more agile than United or American, this is an epic fail.

    On another matter: I have to vent about the newest face of the GOP, Representative George Santos. Here’s what I don’t understand:

    – This is a nominally Democratic district. Yes, in a usual mid-term election, this would have probably turned Republican along with several dozen other districts, but we all know the Red Wave (TM) was more of a trickle. Was the Democratic candidate that bad?

    – Santos ran as the GOP candidate in this district in 2020, and he did rather well. In both 2020 and 2022, there was no other Republican candidate in the primary. I can see that in a D (or R) +40 district, running as a candidate is more like a labor of love. But people knew this guy was a fraud and a loon in 2020, and he lost by a small margin – you would think some ambitious Republican on Long Island (and they have plenty) would decide that with a little money they could grab the seat instead of this schmoe.

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  33. David C said on December 28, 2022 at 2:17 pm

    The New York Democratic Party is pretty pathetic from what I hear. Right now, Gov. Hochul has nominated a conservative for the NY Supreme Court. There’s no reason she needs to do this. She did it because that’s who she wanted. Coumo pulled the same shit and did everything in his power to keep the NY Senate in Republican hands. With that in their DNA it’s easy to see how they could not work very hard to elect Democrats and now the whole country will pay for it.

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  34. susan said on December 28, 2022 at 2:30 pm

    Gov. Kathy Hochul also did this. What is wrong with NY Democrats???

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  35. JodiP said on December 28, 2022 at 2:36 pm

    I don’t mind flying. We have a great airport with lots of good food options. They’ve made an effort to get local restaurants, not just chains. I am short and thin, so the tight quarters don’t get to me. Like Deborah. if I have a book, I’m golden. I read 99% on my Kindle/phone so waiting in TSA lines is fine. I just read. I do wish Delta’s app weren’t so glitchy. It didn’t work for me for months last year even after I submitted a request for help. I take screen shots of my boarding pass now.

    Overall, I know I am incredibly lucky to be able to afford to fly and travel. It is one of my great joys, and something my wife and I love to do together. We’ve had one or two bad delays, but we turned them into stories.

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  36. Mark P said on December 28, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    Put me in the I-hate-flying club. We’re nearly 90 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson, and two hours in the best of conditions. If we had an 8 am flight, we would probably have to leave at 4 am, just in case. We might miss the worst of morning rush, but a few minutes later would be a disaster. That’s why when I had to fly for my Huntsville, Al, job, I drove two hours in the opposite direction to the Huntsville airport, flew to Atlanta, and then on to John Wayne in California.

    We flew several times to California right after 9/11. Those flights were great. The planes were almost empty, and the airlines desperately wanted passengers.

    Today I would much prefer to spend two days driving to Denver to visit friends then spend almost the entire day in the process of about four hours of actual flying. There is nothing pleasant about any of it. First class would help some, but I’d rather spend the money on gas and a hotel for the drive out.

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  37. ROGirl said on December 28, 2022 at 3:44 pm

    Alex, Ozempic is in short supply because it causes weight loss, and people who don’t have diabetes are getting off-label prescriptions.

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  38. Joe Kobiela said on December 28, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    My aren’t we spoiled when it comes to travel, a hundred years ago it took 3-4 days by train to go coast to coast, now 3hr and yes you are packed tight but if you are a bit flexible you can go for a couple hundred bucks not a bad trade off. I drove to Orlando once and swore I would never do it again, bumper to bumper down I 75 at 80mph that’s way more stress to me than a couple hours in a plane. The best SWA, story I’ve heard is a pilot saying he was in L.A the plane he was supposed to fly was in Nashville, and operations thought he was in Austin.
    If you want you can fly with me, look up I fly the Pilatus PC-12 I’ll give you a full can of soda.
    Pilot Joe

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  39. Jeff Gill said on December 28, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    Full can of Bloody Mary mix?

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  40. JodiP said on December 28, 2022 at 4:15 pm

    Joe K, what is your snack situation? If it’s Chex Mix I’m flying with you forever.

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  41. Mark P said on December 28, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    Well, it’s five hours of actual flight time from Atlanta to LA. If rail travel were possible, I would gladly take three days for the same trip if I didn’t have to drive to the Atlanta airport. But Joe, if I win the upcoming Megamillions jackpot, I will happily charter a flight from RMG to an airport near Denver. Several times, in fact.

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  42. Deborah said on December 28, 2022 at 4:29 pm

    Jodi, I’ve been to the Minneapolis airport many times, they have a ridiculous roundabout path to get from your gate, through baggage claim and then to ground transportation if you need to take a cab somewhere. Why does it have to be so circuitous? That’s what I love about European train stations, there’s often a spectacularly glorious, historical, huge central station that you walk into, look at the large info boards clearly marked for destinations, times and track/train numbers, the ticket purchase areas are in many cases plainly seen around the perimeter, then you make a straight line walk through the extremely high ceilinged main terminal to the trains, sometimes you have to go down an escalator to the trains but your sight lines to where you are going are obvious so it’s not an orientation nightmare. Everything is before you there are few confusing corridors that you have to thread your way through blindly like airports have. I get that airports have different spatial needs for aircraft to be accessible to and from gates but it could be so much more obvious than it is at many airports.

    The Madrid airport is one of the few airports I’ve been to that is uncomplicated, clear site lines and beautiful surroundings, a very nice gateway to the city that doesn’t look like every other airport.

    Actually the airport in Albuquerque is also very uncomplicated compared to many, it’s very small by comparison to say O’Hare but still impressive in many ways. Another thing about ABQ is that when you arrive you know you’re in New Mexico, or the southwest, it reflects the culture of the place. Of course it has its faults like bad food etc considering the culture of NM has some great food, you’d think they could capitalize on that, but they haven’t yet, it’s also greatly needs updating which they are working on.

    So many airports are made to resemble aircraft, and the expression of flight, which I sort of get but then the aesthetic of those airports are generic, you could be anywhere instead of a distinct place. Jackson Hole, WY has a cool small airport that you know when you get there where you have arrived. Disclaimer, the company I worked for designed it. Anyway, I could go on and on what makes airports such unpleasant places, mostly it has to do with greed, the powers that be who control the airports want to spend as little as possible on the actual people who are stuck having to use them because there is no alternative, they don’t try because they don’t have to.

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  43. Joe Kobiela said on December 28, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    When you fly with us, all you have to do is request your favorite snack or drink and we will have it on board.
    I can honestly say I’ve never had a passenger get off my plane and say, yep I want to go back to flying the airlines.
    Pilot Joe

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  44. JodiP said on December 28, 2022 at 4:57 pm

    Deborah you know I am not responsible for the airport design right? 🙂 Yeah, you have to pay attention to navigate, but again, I say small, small price to pay for what I get to experience with my travels. I keep all this stuff in perspective. I know many folks who don’t get to travel like I do. I mean 10-12 days a year in Puerto Rico, every year during winter?! I grew up on a farm, not too much money so I can’t take it for granted.

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  45. alex said on December 28, 2022 at 5:04 pm


    That’s quite a stunning revelation — off-label use of diabetic meds for weight loss is straining the supply.

    It would sure be nice if the widespread demand would bring down the exorbitant price, but you know that ain’t gonna happen.

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  46. basset said on December 28, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    Joe, weren’t you in a King Air for awhile? And is this company gonna let you fly the Cirrus jet? Gotta love an aircraft which carries a parachute for the whole plane…

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  47. David C said on December 28, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    I do a lot of human factors evaluations at work. One thing I do is seating. I found a list of the seat pitches of the world’s airlines. The smallest is 29″ and most are 31-32 inches. The buttock to knee length for a 99th percentile man is 27.2 inches in the charts I have. So in theory the seat pitch in all airlines is adequate for nearly everybody. In every government vehicle I work on the standard is the seat has to accommodate from 5th percentile female to 95th percentile male. If the government mandated the same standard they require in their vehicles, all airlines would be in compliance. But adequate and comfortable are two way different things especially when seats start to recline. The airlines, at least the ones who still have seats that recline, do this tricky thing of selling the same space twice. They know it’s a problem but they don’t care. They just leave it to the flight crews and passengers to fight it out themselves. Before and probably now after masks it was the biggest cause of arrests for causing a disturbance in flight. I guess the good news is they probably can’t squeeze it any further.

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  48. basset said on December 28, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    Hmmm, wrong site somehow, let’s try this one… about eighteen seconds in:

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  49. Joe Kobiela said on December 28, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    I flew king air 350 for 5yrs with wheels up.
    I could get on the vision jet but don’t really want to, really like the pilatus.
    Pilot Joe

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  50. Deborah said on December 28, 2022 at 11:11 pm

    Bummer, we just found out that our good friend in Abiquiu who has had cancer died this afternoon at her home. Her wife sent us a a short and sweet email telling us that she is gone. It’s very sad but not unexpected she has been languishing. She was a talented musician, she and her partner/wife founded the Abiquiu Chamber Music festival which we attended every summer for many years. RIP Madeline.

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  51. Dexter Friend said on December 29, 2022 at 12:36 am

    My cousin’s daughter married a man who travels the entire globe constantly, negotiating airport contacts for runway improvements involving incorporating materials into the actual landing lanes that slow the speed down more rapidly and safely. Joe might know more about this thing. My brother’s ex-brother-in-law is an airport management staff worker in Minneapolis. My son-in-law is ops manager in an executive airport somewhere around Stuart, Florida. I never worked anywhere near an airport since I left the army. I sometimes wonder how a broken, used-up old 707 was hired to fly my group clear to Vietnam all those years ago. A beat-up rattling heap of junk, but it made it. Pan American Airlines. Nobody remembers that one anymore but us oldtimers.

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  52. Peter said on December 29, 2022 at 8:50 am

    Dexter, I think I’m only a few years younger than you, but I did fly on Pan Am once – from Belgrade to Frankfurt in 1965! I just checked an old Pan Am schedule online to see if I remembered it correctly – it was one leg of their around the world flight no. 2 going westbound from LA or SF to Honolulu, then Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, New Delhi, Teheran, Beirut, Istanbul, Belgrade, Frankfurt, London, New York; flight no 1 went eastbound.

    I was on that flight because it was my mom’s first trip back to Europe, and she wanted my sister and I to see all of my parents relatives – although we found out years later there were more in France that we didn’t know about at the time. We had just finished seeing her uncles and aunts, and were flying to Frankfurt to see our grandfather.

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  53. LAMary said on December 29, 2022 at 12:39 pm

    Remember Sunny von Bulow? She probably put herself into a coma with insulin. Supposedly there were lots of society type women using insulin to stay thin at the time. Ozempic misuse is just another version of that. And on another LA Mary brush with fame note, I ate dinner at a 5 star restaurant called Vienna 79 in NYC back in the last seventies sitting at a table about two feet away from Claus von Bulow. Sunny was already in a coma and Claus was waiting for his trial to start.

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  54. Deborah said on December 29, 2022 at 12:57 pm

    LAMary, your Claus von Bulow story was hilarious, I needed a good laugh.

    My husband’s headaches are significantly better but he’s taking 3 kinds of medication so it could just be that.

    New old codger twist now though, my left side iliac crest is hurting for some reason, sharp pain when I stand up from a sitting position or stand up from stooping over. It’s something that happened to me once before after I carried a heavy bunch of wood in for the fireplace. It hurt a couple of days and then I was fine, so expecting the same. I have been doing the heavy lifting lately.

    Also, LB hurt her right calf last night, she was walking the dog she’s sitting for and when he jerked quickly she fell. It doesn’t seem to be a break or fracture, just a sprain or strain or something. It hurts a lot though she says.

    So we’re a crippled bunch here. My husband and I are going back to Abiquiu later this afternoon to meet with some friends. I only expect to stay one night, but we’ll see. It snowed last night, it will be muddy today.

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  55. Heather said on December 29, 2022 at 1:57 pm

    I never liked flying Southwest. They use Midway Airport in Chicago, which is much further from me than O’Hare, and I don’t like not having an assigned seat. I don’t usually mind flying too much, but it would be nice to have more long-distance rail travel like they do in Europe.

    My boyfriend got Covid two weeks ago and is still feeling crappy and testing positive, even with taking Paxlovid–apparently he’s one of the lucky ones experiencing a “rebound,” although it sounds like that can happen without the drug too. He just started losing his sense of taste and smell yesterday. Here’s hoping he doesn’t face serious long-term effects.

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  56. Mark P said on December 29, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    Deborah, it sounds like I have the same back problem you have. It hurts when I stand up, but stops after walking around for a few minutes. It also hurts a little when I go to bed. I’ve had it for about a month. It gets a little better, then a little worse.

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  57. Sherri said on December 29, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    A little more context to Pilot Joe’s story about Southwest, and why they alone suffered this fate while the other major airlines managed to recover:

    Basically, Southwest is run like the Texas power grid: no slack, and no interconnections with anybody else. This saves money when everything is fine, but when things go bad, they go really bad.

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  58. Deborah said on December 29, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    I’m so sick and tired of corporations cheapening out on everything so they can maximize their profits to the hilt. Just -in-time manufacturing and distribution coupled with zero redundancy makes it super aggravating. They talk about customer satisfaction but that is the absolute least of their priorities.

    I couldn’t be crabbier today.

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  59. Julie Robinson said on December 29, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    There’s a FB post purporting to be from a Southwest pilot making the rounds. It says the same thing; that SW put bean counters in place and this is the natural consequence.

    I’m feeling crabby myself as my cold has turned out to be Covid. No fever until today so I’m past my three days to get Paxlovid. I’ve had every single vaccination and I am mostly at home these days, but I did go to church Christmas Eve and Day and to a family gathering. Mom has the same symptoms although she got sick a day before me. Blech.

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  60. Dorothy said on December 29, 2022 at 5:55 pm

    Little Bird – more than 20 years ago I was out in the yard of our house (we had an acre) and walking one of our dogs on a leash. She did not pull hard or anything – I just put one foot in front of the other and all of a sudden a very sharp and painful cramp hit my left calf. I crumpled to the ground. It was Super Bowl Sunday and I was supposed to go to work at the quilt store, which was the day we always had a huge 25% off everything sale. We were always crazy busy but I knew I had to call off. The pain was unbelievable. And I had done NOTHING! It turned out to be some weird quirk and I’ve since talked to other people who have had it. There must be a medical name for it, but I can’t recall if I ever knew what the name was. I iced it and rested it and elevated it – that was really all you could do. So I hope you are doing okay – I know how damn much that hurts.

    My son came home around 4:30 today after being out with his family doing some shopping. And the temps here are climbing – the snow and ice have been melting slowly since yesterday. They were gone since 9:30 AM and to their disgust, they found a dead rat in their front yard, right on the property line! He said it appears to have frozen to death – there were no holes in it as if someone had shot it. And to think I was going to suggest we take our granddaughter out in the yard and pull her around a little bit on the sled. It was too dang cold to do that anyway.

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  61. Little Bird said on December 29, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    Dorothy, he kinda got around me and I tried to keep the leash in front of me, it didn’t work. It STILL hurts. But I’ve been using this CBD roll on stuff that almost makes it so I don’t limp. Almost.
    I’m really getting tired of being a fragile flower. It gets in the way of things.

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  62. beb said on December 29, 2022 at 11:26 pm

    Freight traffic down the Mississippi is bottle-necked because the river is so low that a lot of barges are running into sandbars. One alternative to barge traffic would be freight trains except the bean-counters at the freight lines have have laid off so many workers, sold off so many engines and cars and abandoned track that they can’t pick up the slack. By “bean-counters” I mean Private Equity grounds that have bought up so much of the train companies and insisted that they cut – cut – cut to improve profits. Regulating trains, planes and electric grid like we used to would be a big advance for this country. You don’t have to be a communist to realize that unregulated Capitalism is a cancer that is devouring our country.

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  63. susan said on December 30, 2022 at 1:37 am

    You don’t have to be a communist to realize that unregulated Capitalism is a cancer that is devouring our country.

    Exactly right, beb.

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  64. Jeff Gill said on December 30, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    The bad news is that a motley crew of volunteers have to get this done; the good news is we got it done. And here’s a version of our story from Denison’s Narrative Journalism program:

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  65. Dexter Friend said on December 31, 2022 at 2:36 am

    Just a couple of vignettes: Celebrity brush 1: My ex-wife embarked on a career as an office worker in a Los Angeles tall building right after high school. She made friends and her age of 18 was no hindrance for getting into night spots , as pretty girls attracted men who spent dough. One night her party had secured a good table in a club, when management booted them out. Tommy and Dickie Smothers took the table. Tommy bought drinks for the kids who had been shunted away.
    Bad News: Daughter Lori, who is the one who moved to Van Buren , Ohio, from Las Vegas, has contracted Covid19 for the third time. She’s vaxxed. She feels sick, of course, the usual symptoms.
    And the Mega Millions grows, to $785M. I won $10. I had bet $10. I tread water.

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  66. Deborah said on December 31, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    We have been invited to a friend’s house this evening in Abiquiu, her wife died Weds afternoon. We are going to cook dinner with her, she is feeling lonely and wants to have people over, but only a few at a time. She’s the nicest person, she had been taking care of her sick wife for the last 3 years, so she’s a bit relieved that part is over, but as the article in the NYT or WaPo said is common, it makes her feel guilty. Her wife was a pianist, she is an anthropologist who has written a few books on Etruscan culture, pre-Roman. She’s Danish but has been an American citizen for ages. It will be nice to be with her, but a little sad too. We will not stay late, none of us can stay awake for the new year anymore.

    We had dinner a few nights ago in Abiquiu with some other friends, the social holiday season is winding down, I’m kind of relieved actually.

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  67. Deborah said on December 31, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    I’ve finally decided my New Year’s resolution for 2023, will be 3 words, “read more books”. I spend a lot of time reading online, but I’ve been neglecting books. It’s been like that for the last few years, it’s time to finally get back to book reading, which I’ve always enjoyed. I also want to get back to meditating every day to reduce my anxiety, which hopefully will prolong a decent quality of life.

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  68. basset said on December 31, 2022 at 9:37 pm

    Came home from chasing Bambi and Mrs. B had the CBS new year’s celebration on, music from downtown Nashville. Who ARE these people, anyway? Apparently, they are famous and have released popular songs.

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  69. alex said on December 31, 2022 at 9:39 pm

    I definitely need to pull back from the internet, read for pleasure rather than endless doom scrolling. Although my mood’s lighter since the midterms.

    This NYE made gumbo, had my dad over for dinner. Hubby and I are just gonna kick back in front of the TV and maybe we’ll make it to midnight, maybe not. This seemed preferable this year to making reservations and going out. We’re just burned out on restaurants.

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  70. Dexter Friend said on January 1, 2023 at 2:51 am

    basset: Even I have heard of Jason Aldean, but was surprised when halfway through a country song he jumped up on a riser and began rapping. I saw a couple other acts with strangers to me performing. I only saw 2 minutes of Miley’s New Year’s Eve with Dolly because I didn’t know it was on. Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest was puzzling…they had two hip-hop artists in a row and then a Powerball special drawing in which a woman won a million bucks. I forgot to check CNN and I missed the ball drop because the Ohio State loss was running late, past midnight. I celebrated with a cuppa Starbucks Sumatra.

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  71. David C said on January 1, 2023 at 6:12 am

    Another New Year’s Eve strategy success. We went to bed at 10:00. That’s our normal time. Woke up this morning and it’s 2023. It didn’t need my help pushing 2022 away forever. The best part is that even though our weather is temperate for late December, nobody set off fireworks at midnight. At least, nobody woke us up with them. So good riddance to a semi-shitty year and let’s hope nothing bad happens to us in this new one.

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  72. Joe Kobiela said on January 1, 2023 at 7:54 am

    Resolution run done at 7:15, first 6.5 miles in for 2023, hopefully the first of many.
    Pilot Joe

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  73. Mark P said on January 1, 2023 at 9:33 am

    I didn’t hear much in the way of fireworks last night. Up on the mountain we can usually hear the fireworks that people set off all over the county. But some idiot celebrated around 1 am by apparently firing a large-caliber pistol out his window as he drove up and over the mountain. I would have liked to return fire, but I might have hit him. Probably a Marjorie Taylor Greene fan.

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  74. Little Bird said on January 1, 2023 at 10:03 am

    I was asleep by 9, cuddling with the temporary dog, we heard no fireworks and no gunfire. It was a good night. Happy New Year’s everyone!

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  75. basset said on January 1, 2023 at 10:19 am

    Dexter, I know there’s a singer named Jason Aldean but I couldn’t name you one of his songs. Same with several of the other performers, most were unfamiliar though. Got a pizza, drank one can of cider, down for the night before ten.

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  76. alex said on January 1, 2023 at 10:40 am

    I managed to make it to midnight, switching back and forth between Mylie and Dolly and Svengoolie, and then… crickets. First time in years there’s been dead silence on NYE. Maybe people have finally figured out that it’s not worth burning up thousands of dollars in a pissing contest that nobody’s watching anyway.

    This morning awoke to this madly effusive fluff piece in my Facebook feed about our humble little tumbledown town:

    So far not so good at cutting my screen time but definitely plan on observing Drynuary.

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  77. alex said on January 1, 2023 at 11:37 am

    So I guess “Ozempic face” really is a thing. After you become gaunt by misusing diabetic meds for weight loss you need more plastic surgery to puff up your face.

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  78. LAMary said on January 1, 2023 at 11:41 am

    It rained here pretty much all day and it rained even harder last night. I heard a few fireworks before midnight but not the usual WW3 NYE type barrage so I think the usual fireworks assholes were not willing to get soaked. I watched some of Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen on CNN. It sucked. I tried a different recipe for pork ragu and it was good but I prefer the classic version over the puttanesca variety. This all sounds like a crummy NYE. It was fine except for the ACs and the good but not great pork ragu. The lack of explosives compensated for the food and entertainment not being top notch.

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  79. Julie Robinson said on January 1, 2023 at 1:43 pm

    It sounded like rain here too; turned out some squirrels chewed through the the rooftop tubes of our passive solar heater for the pool. Nice geyser. Aieeee!

    We aren’t big partyers so my being down with covid didn’t take us away from any events. I realized on Thursday night I didn’t get sick until Tuesday, so called the teledoc through our insurance company, who refused Paxlovid based on a home test. She said I would have to go to an urgi center, which I refused based on the fact I hadn’t been out of bed or had a shower in three days and was sweaty and weak. Aieeee!

    Still, it could have been worse. Someone I know in Indiana got Covid the day before hosting Thanksgiving. A week later they drove around a stopped school bus with the arm extended and got pulled over. Now they are facing a trial and 90 day license suspension. They don’t know why they did it but are thinking of claiming covid brain. Big attorney fees. Aieeee!

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  80. jcburns said on January 1, 2023 at 2:45 pm

    So Julie, are you saying your teledoc’s home test was negative—said you did NOT have Covid? I’m confused why that would happen..?

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  81. Julie Robinson said on January 1, 2023 at 3:43 pm

    Maybe I have Covid brain too. I tested positive with a home test, was running a temp of 99.8, coughing constantly, throat so sore I could barely scratch out any words, and feeling like I was run over by a steamroller. That wasn’t good enough for her.

    When I called I had to tell my symptoms to a first person, who then took my number and said the doctor would call me shortly. What is shortly, I asked? She said she didn’t know, and it turned out to be 24 minutes.

    I informed the doctor that the first person should have told me they wouldn’t accept a home test, and the whole thing had been a big waste of time, which I did not appreciate.

    I’m still grouchy

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  82. Julie Robinson said on January 1, 2023 at 3:48 pm

    Last paragraph dropped off: I’m still grouchy about the whole thing. Given that I’m still sick, Paxlovid could have made quite a difference.

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  83. jcburns said on January 1, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yep, it sure could have.

    And grouchiness is quite understandable. They should have prescribed the Paxlovid for you. Yeesh!

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  84. Deborah said on January 1, 2023 at 5:15 pm

    We noticed that the place that normally sells fireworks near Abiquiu was not selling them this year, and we only heard one firework going off when we went back to the cabin after our dinner with our friend at around 8pm. We usually hear some around midnight, we didn’t hear anything after we went to bed last night around 10.

    We had a leisurely morning in the cabin, late breakfast, no hurry with normal chores etc. We won’t be back out at the cabin until Weds. LB’s birthday is tomorrow and we’ve got chores in Santa Fe after that. My husband continues contemplating going back to Chicago to see his Dr there. Meanwhile LB still has the dog sit pup, he’ll be here another week. Lots going on. We have one more holiday social get-together before it’s all over for the season.

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  85. Deborah said on January 1, 2023 at 6:01 pm

    Julie, I just read that Bolsonaro has absconded to Orlando, fearing that he’ll be arrested in Brazil. Let us know if you see him out and about.

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  86. David C said on January 1, 2023 at 6:16 pm

    Trump will be playing the roll of Uncle Lazaro Gonzalez. Bolsonaro will be Bizarro Elian Gonzalez. DeSantis will play JEB!. Should be fun.

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  87. Julie Robinson said on January 1, 2023 at 6:22 pm

    Neither former right-wing dictators nor KFC are welcome in our cozy grunchy granola neighborhood, thank you very much.

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