A bit busy.

You remember a few days back, when I said my planner has three lines at the bottom of the weekly page? Logging workouts, morning pages and blogs? I just looked at it and realized, oops.

But life has been crazy-busy this week, and this weekend in particular. It ended with us seeing “Oppenheimer,” thus completing the Barbenheimer cinematic diptych of the summer, so: Checked that box, but missed my blogging window.

I didn’t like “Oppenheimer” nearly as much as “Barbie,” but then again, the fact they’re both films is about all they have in common. It certainly has its place in the world, but my viewing suffered from not being a science nerd well-acquainted with every brilliant PhD who worked on the Manhattan Project. I knew about Oppenheimer, knew about Teller, but beyond that? Not much. So a great deal of the sub- and backstory was lost on me. And sorry, but why anyone would think they need to see this in IMAX is baffling — most of the action consists of people talking to one another in medium shots. In fact, my biggest disappointment was that the detonation of the first bomb, the Trinity test, was not really the film’s climax; it goes on for an hour afterward.

Maybe the draw is seeing Florence Pugh’s breasts in IMAX, I dunno.

We settled for a regular old wide-screen movie theater, and it was just fine (breasts and bomb). The explosion was very well-done, and I’m glad Oppy’s famous reaction line from the Bhagavad Gita was underplayed; I get the feeling someone like Spielberg would have dolled it up more. But the performances were very good, the story important, and it left me with lots to think about, including how a person with a brain like Oppenheimer’s interacts with the rest of the world. I certainly don’t understand quantum physics or mechanics, but the fact this achievement was followed by the 20th century equivalent of the MAGA era must have been almost physically painful for people that smart. It certainly made me wince that we only recently had a president who spoke of nuking hurricanes and countries and so on, as though these were special effects to be deployed, not weapons of mass destruction. Speaking of dumb.

Do I have bloggage? Why yes I do:

Neil Steinberg parts with one matchbook he’s been holding on to for 40 years, and has an epiphany: I could get used to this:

I’m at an age when I’m surrounded by great masses of detritus, aka, crap. Files and furniture, notes and boxes, mugs, souvenirs, relics. I hate to include books, which are holy, but hundreds of books, most of which I’ll never read. After I wrote the above, I went to walk the dog, and can’t tell you how good I felt. The mixture of performing a small kindness plus the liberation of divestment was a real boost. Only a little thing, true: an old, used matchbook. But it’s a start of the great give-away that will end with me being put, possessionless, into the ground.

Death-cleaning. It becomes more important the closer you get to, um, death, and damn, but it feels great.

Alan and I used to watch “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” when we first got together, so it has some special significance to me. Losing Paul Reubens last week was tough, but we’re all going to the undiscovered country eventually, so I wasn’t upset. This Hank Stuever appreciation of Pee Wee (gift link) was very good and exactly right, I thought:

There were a lot of ways to both fall in love with Reubens’s character and to also find him annoying, but there was no denying that he, along with other retro acts (the B-52’s come to mind) had harnessed a longing for and a lampooning of a B-movie, mid-century vibe: In the high time of Pee-wee Herman, every fun city had at least one gift store that sold inflatable Godzillas and cat’s-eye sunglasses and chile-pepper Christmas lights along with sardonic, non-Hallmark greeting cards.

And, more important:

Now, in a culture derailed by childish taunts and vicious politics (“I know you are, but what am I — infinity”), fixated on all the wrong kinds of nostalgia, where drag queens and other groovy outliers are publicly pilloried and accused of trying to corrupt children, it is becoming quite clear that things are increasingly less safe for anyone who deigns to be different. Just when the world could use Pee-wee’s keen and welcoming sense of humor, we lost him.


OK then, deeper into August we go.

Posted at 12:36 pm in Movies, Popculch, Television |

85 responses to “A bit busy.”

  1. alex said on August 7, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    Death-cleaning? Hope I live to 100 because that’s how long it’ll take me at this rate.

    Having my attic re-insulated, so this morning my partner and I removed a bunch of stuff from up there that we didn’t even know we had. Tons of glassware, tschotschkes, kitchen gadgets. The master bedroom is filled with dusty boxes destined for the garage, where they’ll be sorted into a Goodwill pile, a burn pile and maybe a small keeper pile, although frankly if I didn’t even know I had it then I don’t know that I need it.

    Early report from the insulators was the discovery of carpenter ants. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. We’ve had trees taken down that were full of them. So I placed a call to Orkin and of course this wasn’t any simple “Hey, can you get someone over here?” They signed me up for a one-year contract before they were willing to talk about anything.

    The insulation crew hopes to vacuum out all the old dusty cellulose by sometime tomorrow, at which time I hope to have Orkin come in and do its thing (much better on bare wood than through the new cellulose). Orkin had tentatively put me down for Wednesday but said I could call back and move it up or move it farther out if need be. All I can say is I hope they got the voice mail I left them with instructions to show up late tomorrow.

    And I’m missing work to be here for the next three days. I could have been billing some time if the asshole boss had given me the laptop he promised over a year ago but never really had any intention of providing. That’s okay. I won’t be needing it anyway. It’s official. I’m going to announce my retirement. I turn 62 on 10/26. I plan to give my notice on 10/01.

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  2. Suzanne said on August 7, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    I just did a semi-death cleaning because we moved into a much smaller house and, well, with my last year’s dance with cancer, I have spent more than the normal amount of time thinking about death. The two things converged into a massive downsizing which was brutal. Even as we unpack, I am still carting things off to Goodwill that we flat out don’t have room to keep. But it’s hard because holding something that belonged to one of my kids or my dad or my grandmother gives me a physical tie to them that I am reluctant to let go of. In the words of Marie Kondo, they spark joy, but we simply don’t have room for all that joy. Sigh. But my children will thank me one day.

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  3. Alan Stamm said on August 7, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for flagging that typically strong Neil column.

    Entertainingly, its third reader comment refers to “that vile anti-Semite Henry Ford,” upholding the truism that many topics lead to or from Metro Detroit.

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  4. Mark P said on August 7, 2023 at 2:41 pm

    Good for you, Alex. Retirement may not be for everyone, but I haven’t missed work for a second. My father retired at 57. He walked out of the Post Office and never looked back. My only regret is that I can’t do what I always wanted to do, travel like my parents did.

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  5. Sherri said on August 7, 2023 at 2:58 pm

    This column by Rebecca Traister about Robert Kennedy Jr is excellent, especially the line

    “As a journalist who has been told for decades that my empathy for the female candidates I often cover is probably overemotional and built too strongly on personal identification, let me just tell you that you should never stand between a white male political journalist over the age of 40 and his feelings about the Kennedys.”


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  6. Deborah said on August 7, 2023 at 3:14 pm

    Good for you Alex, I retired at 62 and I don’t regret it one bit, I love it.

    As for Death Cleaning we’ve been doing it for a while, especially when we moved from a two bedroom condo to a one bedroom in Chicago. Then we tore down the walls to our one bedroom which cut out closets. Now we only have one closet and also a storage space on a lower floor, which isn’t that big either. But in Santa Fe there is a garage and it’s easy to stash stuff in it. But that will be LB’s problem after we’re gone.

    We have never been savers though, pitching things is my strong suit.

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  7. alex said on August 7, 2023 at 3:36 pm

    But my children will thank me one day.

    I still curse my mom for throwing away all my vinyl. Her basement is still brimming with crap that belonged to the whole family and I’ll probably spend my retirement carting it up the stairs and off to the dump. Too bad I won’t get to listen to my old music while I’m doing it.

    First I’m getting my own house in order, literally. I’m so glad the contractors today alerted me to the carpenter ant problem. And the roofer owned up to effing up and is supposed to be coming back to do some revisions, and will make their sub redo our gutters. And when it’s all done I’ll be much poorer but wiser.

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  8. Julie Robinson said on August 7, 2023 at 4:27 pm

    Alex, hurray! May your retirement be as marvelous as it has been for so many of our little community here, and for our own family.

    Moving twice in two years accelerated our death cleaning although more needs to be done. Of course, I already did it for my sister several times including after she died, and have made many attempts with Mom. I’ve realized the rest will have to be after she actually dies. Ironically, in the move she lost her copies of her will, living will, power of attorney and health care. A couple of emails took care of that.

    Suzanne, have you tried the taking pictures of items and/or scanning papers? That was effective for me. When we asked the kids about different items, they wanted almost nothing.

    Neil Steiberg’s column was lovely, but if he’s going to curate everything that carefully he won’e get through it. Voice of experience speaking here.

    Somewhere I read that Kennedy’s siblings/cousins are horrified by him. Me too.

    Could you imagine a network putting on Pee-Wee’s show today? Our daughter was six when it came out and loved his zany creativity.

    Re Oppenheimer: you most certainly don’t need to see it in IMAX or even a big screen. As Nance says, it’s primarily a movie of dialogue with a few explosions thrown in. Who needs to see Florence’s breasts blown up; aren’t we all getting a little tired of them?

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  9. Mark P said on August 7, 2023 at 5:02 pm

    When my brother died, I offered a nice oak desk he made for me to one of his sons. To my surprise, he wasn’t interested. Take that for what it’s worth. Me, personally, I don’t give a crap about death cleaning. We have no children, and my nephews can sort it out themselves. Maybe one of them will finally have some interest in his father’s carpentry/cabinet making.

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  10. Jeff Borden said on August 7, 2023 at 5:14 pm

    My wife and I saw “Oppenheimer” at the Music Box, a lovely old theater designed to look like a Moorish castle and complete with twinkling stars in the ceiling and one of the few with a 70mm projection system. We were entertained before the film by a musician working the old theater pipe organ. But throughout the film, we were bothered by our inability to clearly hear some of the dialogue, which often seemed overwhelmed by the soundtrack. It turns out director Christopher Nolan dislikes having actors repeat their lines in post-production and the muddy dialogue is part of his artistic vision. . .

    “I was a little shocked to realize how conservative people are when it comes to sound. Because you can make a film that looks like anything, you can shoot on your iPhone, no one’s going to complain. But if you mix the sound a certain way, or if you use certain sub-frequencies, people get up in arms.” he told People magazine.

    Personally, I rather enjoy dialogue and it seems pretty obnoxious for Nolan to chide those like me as conservative because I didn’t enjoy garbled dialogue. The movie is great, yes, but still. . .

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  11. Dorothy said on August 7, 2023 at 5:35 pm

    Alex you were celebrating your twelfth birthday on the day I talked to my 16 year old neighbor (now husband) for the first time. Yep, this year it’ll be 50 years since we met. He’s retiring on 2/1/24 so we’ll celebrate after that.

    We culled so much stuff two years ago when we were getting ready to move to this patio home. It did feel really good to do it. In 2009 after cleaning out the house my father-in-law lived in (house where he was born in 1928) and all the sh** he had in it, I knew we could not do that to our kids. So hopefully if we live as long as he did, into our 80’s, it will not be too much of a burden to our kids to go through what we have in the house.

    I’m working the polls again tomorrow in Ohio for this one-issue election. There have been huge lines for early voting and I’m hoping that means I get a lot of knitting done on my sweater tomorrow, rather than keeping busy processing provisional voters.

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  12. Heather said on August 7, 2023 at 5:45 pm

    I don’t know if it’s death cleaning per se but I look at everything in my place now and ask if it’s something I would want to move. If not–out it goes. Or it will go eventually. Something like that. I was having an issue with some old pillows, because there’s just no way to recycle them that I can find. So after a year of them taking up space in a closet, I finally pitched them. Sorry, future generations.

    In favor of saving stuff, I was just talking with some fellow olds at a 50th birthday thing this weekend and a bunch of people with kids in their 20s were saying vintage T-shirts are huge. If only I’d hung on to some of mine! Ah well.

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  13. Dorothy said on August 7, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    Heather I held on to pretty old shirt. In 1984 when I was pregnant with my son, I was at a Springsteen show. At intermission when I went to the bathroom, in the aisle I found a size small tee shirt, bought from a vendor that night. I wasn’t about to wave it around and say “Hey who lost this shirt?!” I kept it – never could wear it myself cuz it would not fit me pregnant or otherwise. But my daughter who was 18 months old when I found the shirt wore it as a night shirt for awhile. All the tees I had in high school or thereafter? They wore out and were pitched out, I’m sure.

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  14. Julie Robinson said on August 7, 2023 at 9:24 pm

    Jeff B, I had trouble understanding the dialog in Oppenheimer too. At home we have the captions on all the time because of my mom’s hearing, but I’ve grown reliant on them myself.

    Go Dorothy, upholder of democracy! Hope your day goes well.

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  15. jcburns said on August 7, 2023 at 10:59 pm

    I join the sentiment: go Dorothy! Glad you’re there to uphold what we find dear.

    And as a guy born in Columbus, I have been watching this craziness with a particular hopefulness. Speaking of which, Connie Schultz on with Rachel this evening…that was nice.

    Tend to your knitting, Dorothy!

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  16. Deborah said on August 7, 2023 at 11:13 pm

    Ditto on the Oppenheimer sound quality. I thought maybe it was because of the theater we saw it in but since some of you noticed it too, it might be the way the movie was made. We use captions all of the time when they’re available now-a-days. I think a lot of sound is garbled in productions lately, but it could just be my failing ears.

    Good luck to you Ohioans. And you folks, like Dorothy and Nancy, etc who work the polls, hats off to you.

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  17. susan said on August 7, 2023 at 11:56 pm

    I would love to work the polls, but we have no polls in Warshington state. I do love mail-in ballots, however.

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  18. Dexter Friend said on August 8, 2023 at 2:25 am

    Last April I filled up the F150 truck with 10 bicycles I can’t ride anymore and just junked them on Big Trash Day at the city drop off point. All of them were rideable, and I know the city guys would get them to some kid or adult who might need a bike. I thought I would feel remorse, but no, I am glad I did it. I kept 4 bikes just to look at them, but I didn’t need 14.
    I want my late wife’s stuff to be claimed by our kids, who tell me that no…they will wait until I croak and then come and get the stuff, the fancy dishes and her collectibles and craft stuff she bought and made.
    Here’s a laugh at myself: For at least 2 years I searched for a used truck I liked, to no avail. Last year during the mammoth US 127 garage sale that runs from Michigan to Alabama, I drove way up into Michigan and way south damn-nearly to Kentucky looking for a roadside bargain truck. No dice. Finally in April, I got a truck I really like, the F150. For a laugh last week I decided to drive the sale route a few miles just to see ..and the very first item I saw with a for-sale sign was a truck that last year I would have purchased on the spot, now that I don’t need one. I guess timing is the essence of luck.

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  19. David C said on August 8, 2023 at 5:48 am

    My grandparents were anything but packrats but I’m glad they didn’t clean out too much before they passed away. My parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins had a great time emptying my grandparents house. That would have been in the mid 1980s and the house and farm had been in the family since 1864. It seems like everything evoked a story. We were planning on it taking a day but it stretched to a long weekend with so much laughter. It was one of the best weekends of my life.

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  20. JodiP said on August 8, 2023 at 9:08 am

    I was in a bookstore yesterday and saw that Margareta Magnusson, the author of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning has a new book, The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly.

    From the NYT summary: this book shows all readers how to prepare for and understand the process of growing older and the joys and sorrows it can bring. While Magnusson still recommends decluttering (your loved ones will thank you), her ultimate message is that we should not live in fear of death but rather focus on appreciating beauty, connecting with our loved ones, and enjoying our time together. Wise, funny, and eminently practical, The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly is a gentle and welcome reminder that, no matter your age, there are always fresh discoveries ahead, and pleasures both new and familiar to be encountered every day.

    I read a few pages and very much liked it.

    I have come to rely on my Facebook Buy Nothing group for getting rid of stuff. I recently reorganzied a dresser drawer and had about a dozen nylon tights and pairs of knee socks that I’ll nver wear. Someone is picking them up today to filter lint in their dryer!

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  21. Icarus said on August 8, 2023 at 9:34 am

    One of the few good things about moving down here was the chance to purge a lot of stuff. There’s more to go and I’ve discovered I’m attached to less of it than I was before.

    We have our primaries down here. Since the Democratic ballot is essentially empty, we are going to vote Republican to try and pick the less crazy of the lot. It’s essentially picking the tallest midget.

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  22. jcburns said on August 8, 2023 at 11:28 am

    I’ve heard several of you folks do things like that—voting Republican just because there’s…more effect?

    Settling back on my porch chair: If’n you don’t want more Republicans, don’t vote in Republican elections. Ever. At all.

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  23. Icarus said on August 8, 2023 at 11:45 am

    @Jcburns….I don’t know if you know how primary elections work but here in Mississippi, almost all the candidates are Republicans.

    “single candidates are running unopposed in all but three Republican primary races and in all but one Democratic primary race.”


    If I choose a Democratic ballot, I get to vote between three candidates for Agriculture Commissioner. That’s it.

    by selecting a Republican ballot, I get to pick the least crazy of people who will likely be running in November anyway.

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  24. alex said on August 8, 2023 at 1:30 pm

    I second what Icarus says. Here in Indiana, we have a lot of races where Republicans run unopposed by Democrats and sometimes you have to choose a Republican primary ballot to protect an otherwise relatively sane candidate against the crazies. A case in point was Senator Richard Lugar who ran for many years unopposed by Democrats or Republicans. He was considered unbeatable and he was a true elder statesman who put country above party. Then one year he got primaried by (and lost to) a nutter. Fortunately, the nutter lost the general election, but that was back when the GOP still chastised its own for making stupid pronouncements about rape and incest being God’s will if they result in a pregnancy. Today such a candidate would just double down with the party’s blessing.

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  25. jcburns said on August 8, 2023 at 2:49 pm

    Is it up to you to “to protect an otherwise relatively sane candidate against the crazies”?

    I sure don’t think so.

    And @icarus, you seem to be saying “if I pick a democratic ballot, it’s not going to be very exciting for me.”

    Don’t vote for the GOP. Even in primaries. Y’all.

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  26. susan said on August 8, 2023 at 3:16 pm

    jc, yeah, there are always quite a few blank spots when I send in my ballots. It’s really depressing how often there are NO Democrats running in State or local races, what with the stupid “top-two” primaries Warshington has. But no way no how will I ever fill in a bubble next to someone with an “R” beside its name.

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  27. Suzanne said on August 8, 2023 at 3:26 pm

    At this point in Indiana, there are no non-crazy Republicans anymore. I refuse to vote for any GOP, even the local elections where I know the candidate, some who are decent people overall. But no, will not vote GOP even for county cemetery committee or something like that.

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  28. Mark P said on August 8, 2023 at 3:28 pm

    I agree with Icarus. If the Republicans have no opposition then you need to choose the least harmful Republican. JC, you may not be aware, but for many decades in Georgia, the Democratic primary determined the general election. “Principled” Democratic voters got Lester Maddox elected governor of Georgia.

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  29. Jeff Borden said on August 8, 2023 at 4:22 pm

    Democrats need a return to the 50-state approach. Millennials and Gen Z voters hate conservative policies and I imagine that’s true even in the reddest of states. But they can’t be heard when they’re denied their voice at the polls.

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  30. jcburns said on August 8, 2023 at 4:34 pm

    @Mark P, I’m well aware of Georgia election history…but to say that a ‘principled’ approach resulted in Lester Maddox being elected…well, sorry, that’s just garbage.

    As is this sentence: ‘If the Republicans have no opposition then you need to choose the least harmful Republican. ‘

    I say again: do not vote for a GOP candidate. Ever. You may think you can be this subtle judge of “well, he’s the least bad,” but no, no.

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  31. Icarus said on August 8, 2023 at 5:20 pm

    @jcburns I don’t understand. If a GOP candidate gets 1 vote, they get elected. they don’t care if the results are 51% versus 49%, they will still declare a mandate.

    These are primaries. I can vote for one of three democrats or pick the lesser crazy of the GOP.

    For instance: Tate, who is fine with stealing money from welfare funds to give Brett Favre a volleyball court for his daughter.

    or the Dr who is all about freedom from masks, vaccines, and other things a real doctor would endorse.

    or the other dude who is new to politics and wants to raise the minimum wage?

    down here, I suspect a lot of politicians are RINOs because being a Democrat is a non-starter.

    just like in Chicago where no one runs for Mayor as a Republican or Independent but instead lets their platform speak for them.

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  32. Mark P said on August 8, 2023 at 5:31 pm

    “Garbage”? I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    In the 1966 Georgia gubernatorial election, Democratic write-in votes for Ellis Arnell kept Republican Bo Callaway from getting a majority against Lester Maddox. As a result, the election was decided by the overwhelmingly-Democratic-controlled legislature, who chose Lester Maddox. Maybe you’re too young to remember when a Republican was a better choice than a pick-handle-wielding racist. But I’m not. And I’m also smart enough to understand that those Ellis votes ensured that Lester Maddox became governor.

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  33. Deborah said on August 8, 2023 at 5:46 pm

    We’re having quite a monsoon right now in Santa Fe, a lightning/thunder strike set off window alarms. It’s very cool temp wise here now which is such a relief. No watering necessary for few days. Lovely.

    I don’t think I’ve ever voted for a Republican in my life, I’ve never had a situation where the Democrat wasn’t better than the Republican candidate. I’ve been voting for a long time.

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  34. Mark P said on August 8, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    I have voted for a Republican once, when Herman Talmadge was running for re-election to the Senate against Mack Mattingly. I voted against Talmadge in the Democratic primary and in the general election because he was currupt. There were stories of him walking away from campaign events with cash stuffed into his pockets. In those days Republicans were bad, but not to the extreme of today.

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  35. basset said on August 8, 2023 at 6:34 pm

    Mrs. B and I were in Michigan last week visiting her family & went to a Polish restaurant in Bay City that was supposed to be ever so good and ever so authentic… got the buffet so I could try different dishes and the first thing I saw was a sign on the steam table, “Nashville Hot Chicken.” It’s everywhere.

    Wasn’t bad, actually. Don’t know if the Polish stuff was the real thing or not; it was OK, I guess.

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  36. LAMary said on August 8, 2023 at 6:39 pm

    My late brother Garry was a republican who ran for school board successfully and then ran for town council sucessfully. First thing he did on the school board was get special ed and handicapped transportation. He got expanded programs for special ed kids. He expanded sports programs for girls in a town that was crazy for high school football and spent a lot of money to support that all male game. On the town council he got more public athletic fields for soccer and softball teams for kids and adults. He played a role in getting county and state funds to bring the local park back to it’s former beauty (see Goffle Brook Park, Hawthorne, NJ.) So while he might have been GOP he didn’t do anything while in office that struck me as being terribly republican. The thing is he never could get elected as a democrat in that town. He also hated Trump.

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  37. David C said on August 8, 2023 at 8:21 pm

    Good on you Ohio. The ballot measure is going down big.

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  38. jcburns said on August 8, 2023 at 10:36 pm

    So proud of the Ohioans.

    @MarkP, you have accurately related how Maddox became Georgia governor. The part you’re…missing?…is that the Georgian citizens out there do not trigger the legislature voting ol’ Lester in.

    Also, how many years ago was that? M-hmmm.

    Don’t vote for any GOP name on the ballot, please. (“Oh, that Brad Raffensburger isn’t that bad…”)…no.

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  39. Mark P said on August 8, 2023 at 10:44 pm

    Everything I said that you called garbage was true. Right? Hmm? Someone can’t admit it when they’re wrong.

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  40. jcburns said on August 8, 2023 at 10:44 pm

    @icarus: “down here, I suspect a lot of politicians are RINOs because being a Democrat is a non-starter.”

    Because Repubs look at how many vote for their party in the primaries…and…and….?

    When you vote GOP, you encourage the party’s continued existence.

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  41. Dexter Friend said on August 9, 2023 at 4:02 am

    MSNBC is my go-to, but they are rife with former Republican office holders, Bush White House staffers, lieutenant governors who served as Republicans, on and on, who now are all never-Trumpers and tell it like it is, but I wonder how these people, the former Republicans, could have ever worked for that idiot W, or that crazed lunatic Reagan. Some of the commentators, such as Jill Wine-Banks, the 80 year old who worked to bring down Nixon over Watergate, I trust 100%. I can tell the reformed at times, by their flashback praising of Reagan, that hater of working people and caretaker of the rich. And absolute crazed lunatic, by the way.
    I got a reprieve the other day; I always said I only voted for one Republican in my life, a local guy, dad of a classmate, who ran for county treasure once long ago. Then my brother said I was full of shit because in my day we had to be 21 years of age to vote, and good old Charley ran when I was just 18, so my record is spotless; I never voted for any Republican.

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  42. Dorothy said on August 9, 2023 at 5:41 am

    I am so proud of Ohioans today and I had a very good day working at the polls. We had 28 provisional voters, and one person who wanted to vote on paper because she doesn’t trust Secretary of State Frank LaRose so no machine voting for her! Conversations with the paper ballot voters was pleasant, informative and eye opening at times. One woman brought her son who had just turned 18 in April. So it was his first time to vote. They recently moved from an apartment to a house, and had to fill out a change of address form in a book we had at the table “just in case.”

    This kid might have been 18 but he looked kinda baby-faced to me, and looked sheepish when he had to ask his mother how to spell the county name (Franklin) and his own middle name (Bryan). That was my chance to use my best poker face, trying not to look surprised and also sad that he didn’t know how to spell those words.

    Then there was the sweet woman who was 20 days away from her 89th birthday. Her daughters brought her in. Her husband/their dad had died a few months ago and she’d recently moved in with one of the daughters. She struggled to walk but she sure had all her faculties, and she wrote VERY slowly and I think she was in the chair for about a half hour to fill out paperwork that took most other voters no more than 10 minutes to complete.

    The one she moved in with was at her left shoulder watching her write. When she had to write down the address of where she’s living now, the older woman said “I know – it’s sixty-two twelve, right?” And daughter said “Yes Mom, six-two-one-two.” And Mom looked at me, rolled her eyes and said “That’s what I said – sixty-two twelve. That’s the same thing!”

    I did remind them that she could do curbside voting and Mom said “That’s what I used to do in _________” – the town she moved out of recently. So I hope I get to see her in November when we vote again. She is the mother of 11 children, one of whom already died a few years ago from glioblastoma. You can tell we had lots of time to chat with her daughters while they sat at our table. I’m not sure why they didn’t have a wheelchair for her since she struggled to walk, and even had trouble standing up out of the chair when she was done.

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  43. Jeff Gill said on August 9, 2023 at 7:09 am

    Well, she might have whacked her daughter’s shins with the cane if anyone tried to put her in a wheelchair, or at the hospital when they took her for tests and a volunteer tried to put her in a wheelchair, she got so agitated and swinging around with her cane someone called security, and over the months the daughter came to welcome regular volunteers who knew, and dread new volunteers who solicitously said sotto voce “you really should get her in a wheelchair” and you explained all over again . . . but the daughter still felt uneasy, knowing as they made their way along that people were watching and thinking “why doesn’t she get her mother into a wheelchair?”

    Said a son-in-law thinking about the last three years, until the pain finally reached a point where Buck said “get the damn wheelchair, then.” He rode it three times across three months before he said “let’s just not go anymore, there’s no point.” But it took over a year to get him just to let me drop him at the door, and almost two more to get him in a wheelchair, even though when this all began the journey from a parking place to the door and then to the elevator to the testing lab was a terrifying and unnecessary trek . . . but did I mention he got security called on him twice in that time for bellowing at and swinging at people trying to help, with his ever-present cane?

    So my heart goes out to that daughter.

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  44. Dorothy said on August 9, 2023 at 7:21 am

    Whew, Jeff. That’s a LOT. Have you started your book yet?!

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  45. Jeff Gill said on August 9, 2023 at 8:48 am

    You know, it’s not that I couldn’t, but my wife is horrified enough by her father’s behavior she’d just die if I wrote one. This is about the only place I’m semi-candid about what this is like, and I’m still leaving lots out. Let’s just say it’s become very much like caring for a very large angry baby with as much bloodstains to clean (clothing, upholstery, carpeting, linoleum) as the more usual issue with small children.

    Weirdly, I sneak out of the house to eat vegetables (since he won’t abide them, long story). So many carbs: mashed potatoes and stuffing and cornbread are the core staples, plus he loves my biscuits, something that bought me leverage last year when I stumbled upon it. Triggered a torrent of memories of his mother. Right now, in this stage of the end game, not much triggers anything other than he still wants the next meal when the hands of the clock point the right way.

    An aside in general: he really has reached a point where he can still copy onto his pocket notes the temperature from the big number weather station, but he can’t process what those numbers mean (he was chief of engineering of Indy’s largest bakery at retirement, so this is not who he is). So clocks only “work” for him with hands. Wonder how this will work as analog clocks go the way of dial phones and stick shift? Digital clocks are just a set of vaguely familiar shapes in his state of mild but increasing confusion.

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  46. Heather said on August 9, 2023 at 9:45 am

    The way I look at it: I realize some Republicans may hate the way their party is going, but…they’re still a member of a party that has accepted, and in some cases actively welcomed, white supremacists and Nazis. So you’re voting for someone who is a part of that and has decided to stay with it. There’s no way around it.

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  47. Mark P said on August 9, 2023 at 9:48 am

    Jeff, I feel for you. My wife is not at that point, but it’s like I can see her decline by the day. She fractured her heel, probably because of bone loss from spending most of her time in bed, so she is not supposed to put any weight on her right foot. But she still does, all the time. Yesterday after waiting till 8 for her to make up her mind where she wanted to eat, and chasing her cat around to try to make it eat, I gave up and said I was going to get something to eat. I got about two miles away and decided I shouldn’t leave her alone, so I came back home. Good thing I did, because about five minutes after I got back, she was trying to get out of her wheelchair and fell. She ended up lying like a turtle on its back, unable to even roll over. I now know I can’t leave her alone for any length of time, so I’m locked at home with her. She’s not violent, but she’s pretty unpleasant a lot of the time. And we have no friends or family that could help.

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  48. Jeff Borden said on August 9, 2023 at 10:04 am

    I’m happy to see my birth state strong reject the QOP strong–arming of the people’s right to seek changes in the laws, but I read in the Cleveland Plain Dealer this morning Senate leader Matt Huffman is declaring the party will try again on Issue 1, but not this year. These bastards are not going to give up or go away. Stay vigilant.

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  49. alex said on August 9, 2023 at 10:09 am

    Thank God my 95-year-old dad is pretty mellow in his senescence. He complains bitterly that he can’t see anymore but remains stubbornly unaware of the fact that he also cannot hear anymore and refuses to wear his hearing aids. So conversations with him tend to be one-way affairs, and consist of repetitive stories that we’ve heard a thousand times already. Yesterday he put corn on the cob in the microwave, husk and all, and managed to set it aflame.

    He’s not amenable to any sort of assisted living situation, but fortunately my brother has been a saint through it all and has been staying with him and plans to do so for the indefinite future.

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  50. JodiP said on August 9, 2023 at 10:24 am

    MarkP and Jeff you both have my sympathies. Diseases of the brain are so heartbreaking, stealing people from us. I include illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and anxiety in that group.

    MarkP, I am pretty sure you have been encourgaed to get support from a local agency or social services, but as I recall there is some barrier, so will keep at expressing support from miles away.

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  51. Jeff Gill said on August 9, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Mark P: my prayers are with you. That’s harder, I think, than my situation. In fact, aside from discretion/modesty issues, it’s why it has to be me caring for my wife’s father and not her. I have no real history, no issues with him other than how he reminds me of years of bullies his age & era in churches I served. (So yeah, a little PTSD does come up in moments…) But his decline, which provokes all sorts of complex reactions for my wife, is simply a technical issue for me.

    And I can leave for a few hours if well timed, and I still can run home every second or third week overnight, but it takes careful planning and arrangement in advance, and I always have some clean-up after. At some point, if his heart doesn’t give out first, he will simply not be able to make the five steps to the restroom without me, and maybe not even with me depending on what that replaced and decaying hip does, and I will not be able to leave at all. If he gets to not being able to get to a restroom with even my support and assistance, I pray his mind will have fogged to where I could place him in assisted living, but he’s got just enough awareness and attitude left to fight that option, so here we are. He tried to pull a tooth with pliers, simply because he’s (in my wife’s opinion) afraid any trip out of here is going to end at “the home,” but it finally fell out of its own accord.

    Alex, I hope you’ll forgive my smile & chuckle on the corn cob story. Oh yeah. Buck has opted to only microwave his coffee, and let me do anything else, after similar events. Note to all: you really can’t microwave even a peeled hardboiled egg. I mean, you can, but there’s gonna be a mess and not much to eat. We did that three or four times before the message settled into a remaining short term memory file: just don’t do it.

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  52. Dexter Friend said on August 9, 2023 at 11:23 am

    Covid19 has returned and my daughter, her husband, my granddaughter, and 2 weekend visitors all have tested positive and are feeling sick. The antivirals have been administered and we hope for the best. Of course this has me worried as Covid19 took my wife.

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  53. Scout said on August 9, 2023 at 12:36 pm

    Mark P, my heart goes out to you. This is such a difficult situation and bless you for being there for your wife through the ‘sickness and in health’ part. I know that AARP has programs for caregivers and there might be other agencies you can contact to get occasional reprieves. None of us knew how trapped my mother was at the end of my dad’s life, partially due to the pandemic keeping us all at home too. Now she talks about it, but didn’t say very much at the time.

    Dexter, keeping your family in my thoughts too. This must be tough after losing Carla to Covid. I hope everyone is up to date on their vaccinations, I believe they help to mitigate the worst of it.

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  54. Julie Robinson said on August 9, 2023 at 2:25 pm

    My heart goes out to everyone facing these issues and that includes myself. I will be looking for a support group soon, and with my current schedule and inability to drive at night, it may need to be online. I was just told about “adjustment counseling” for caregivers, but warned insurance won’t always okay it. With my MIL, her caregivers could get respite weekends where she went to a nursing home. Not sure if that was through Medicare or her private insurance. It helped.

    Knowing that body health and brain health are so strongly connected, we just started working with a personal trainer two days a week. It is HARD. Between the inactivity of Covid and broken ankle I lost my muscle strength. I’ve been swimming and doing ankle PT, and hate to think if I hadn’t.

    Alex, wrap the corn husks in a wet towel and nuke away for about two minutes per ear, depending on your microwave’s power. No fire.

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  55. Mark P said on August 9, 2023 at 3:28 pm

    My father in law had dementia that started after surgery when he was about 80. He had been in the Army in WW II, so we checked with the state VA office, and he got a decent monthly payment that enabled him to pay for a private caregiver who lived at his house. We don’t remember the amount, but it was a big help. He didn’t have any service beyond however long he was in for the war. My mother bought a long-term health care insurance policy that helped pay for a relatively short period she spent in assisted living before she died. Unfortunately, neither of those applies to me or my wife.

    My father in law died more than 10 years ago, and we still keep in touch with the caregiver. She could help us, but she’s allergic to cats.

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  56. Sherri said on August 9, 2023 at 3:35 pm

    An acquaintance pointed me to an organization called Braver Angels, which seeks to bridge the partisan divide, seeing the big problem facing us as polarization. They hold events with an equal number of red-leaning and blue-leaning people to discuss things.

    Unsurprisingly, I find many things about this organization problematic, starting with that its board is a bunch of white men. It seems to be heavily white, in fact, which isn’t too surprising if they believe the big problem is polarization, that we just aren’t civil enough anymore. I think that politely denying the humanity of all people is just as bad as putting on a white robe and doing it, but what do I know, I’m just an hysterical woman.

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  57. Deborah said on August 9, 2023 at 8:39 pm

    After reading so many comments here about caregiving to loved ones with dementia it makes my heart glad that the dementia center project we’re working towards as part of Uncle J’s foundation is moving along. It is such a need these days, as people live longer and support is so hard to find and afford. It’s a huge, huge problem and there isn’t much out there to help. Hang in there folks, thinking of you.

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  58. Heather said on August 9, 2023 at 9:20 pm

    I’m sorry to hear what folks are dealing with re: dementia. One of my aunts is going that way–she’s out in California so I can’t do much and her daughter doesn’t seem to want to deal with it. One of my other aunts has really pushed my cousin to try to figure something out, even visited some facilities with her, but nothing came of it. A caregiver comes at least a few days a week, if not every day now, but that is a temporary solution.

    Then I’m also watching my other cousins care for my 86-year-old uncle, who can’t really walk or shower by himself, etc. Luckily they have the time and the means to do it. My parents are both gone, so I don’t have to worry about that… which is good, because I am really not a caregiver. I would go nuts. But I do wonder what would happen to childless me. Probably my nephews would just stick me in a facility. So I exercise a lot, learn new things, and generally try to keep my mind sharp and active to stave off that fate.

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  59. Suzanne said on August 9, 2023 at 9:31 pm

    Several years ago, I attended a Braver Angels presentation because the idea intrigued me. I went as an observer and observed only the conservative side. The questions they were asked to consider were well thought out and thought provoking but it seemed that the conservatives I observed were not able to really dig deep. I remember they were asked to think about how they are viewed by liberals and they did fine at that but when asked to consider why others viewed them that way, they were stumped. I was screaming inside my head that I have heard conservative acquaintances say exactly what liberals accuse conservatives of thinking so duh, that’s why they are seen that way, but they didn’t get it. I have no idea if it was the same on the liberal side of session. I couldn’t stay for the entire event so I don’t know how it ended.

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  60. Deborah said on August 9, 2023 at 9:58 pm

    Never heard of it before, so I looked it up, went to the Braver Angels website and something about it doesn’t sit well with me. First of all calling itself Braver Angels seems entirely self serving to me. My basic instinct is not to trust it. Does that just prove how polarized I am? Maybe so, but it has me squirming.

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  61. Deborah said on August 9, 2023 at 11:10 pm

    RIP Robbie Robertson.

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  62. Dexter Friend said on August 10, 2023 at 3:56 am

    Mom roasted corn in the oven, husk on. My grandma boiled the ears after husking them. I remove the ends with a big knife and leave about 2 layers of husk on, and microwave 3 at a time for 8 minutes. To each his own. As a kid , we never had butter, but oleomargarine. As an adult, I never buy that shit, ever. I use salted butter. The French can’t be wrong. Once in a while I run out of butter, and pour on olive oil. I love first pressing extra virgin Spanish olive oil

    I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Band, meaning I loved the music but didn’t follow the personal lives of the members. I really like Richard Manuel’s voice.
    I used to see Levon Helm perform with his family on TV, and I discovered that Levon and Robbie Robertson had a huge falling out and Levon sort of really resented and was hurt by some damn thing that Robbie pulled off. I never knew what that deal was. Anybody know?

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  63. JodiP said on August 10, 2023 at 10:19 am

    My heart is with the residents of Hawai’i today, especially Lahaina, Mauai. My sister-in-law is Japanese-descended and grewe up there. She has many relatives on Maui, but my brother told me they are all on the other side. My brother and SIL just bought a house 10 minutes from Lahaina. I saw him recently and he showed me a video of their beautiful home, talking at length about *everything*. I haven’t had the heart to ask if the home is OK.

    I also have to say it’s totally weird to me that all of us kids have come so far from growing up on a farm. We definitely have done better than our parents. We weren’t poor, but there was financial instability and focus on spending wisely. I got to buy my first piece of new clothing at a KMart when I was in 9th grade. My brother and I were the first college grauduates aside from an aunt who went to college, but farmed with her husband. Later on, she worked at a nursing home, where her own mother lived for about 10 years with dementia.

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  64. Jenine said on August 10, 2023 at 10:43 am

    Does anyone here have history with GIS development? From bluesky:

    Ingrid Burrington – “Maybe it’s a good time to mention that the grant is a project collecting documents & oral histories of GIS software development. Interviews and docs will be donated to the Computer History Museum. If you work/have worked on GIS tools (web mapping is part of it!) I would love to talk to you.” contact info at http://lifewinning.com/

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  65. Sherri said on August 10, 2023 at 1:55 pm

    A rule of thumb for me: any organization trying to solve a big social problem like Braver Angels is trying to solve that doesn’t have a diverse group of decision makers is probably missing the mark. They probably haven’t even begun to understand the problem.

    But I don’t think self-awareness is one of the strengths of the founder. David Blankenhorn is the founder and CEO of Braver Angels (which was originally called Better Angels, but had to change its name due to a copyright dispute.) He was one of the leaders of the fight against same sex marriage in Prop 8 in California, though he later changed his mind. He said his opposition to same sex marriage was not religious, but rooted in the belief that every child deserved to be raised by the two people who created them. (I don’t know what he thought about adoption or assisted reproductive techniques for heterosexual married couples.) He defended polygamy in this context, because that did preserve that relationship.

    He changed his mind because he said he’d rather work with proponents of same sex marriage to promote marriage, because that’s what he really cared about. He also said essentially that the battle was lost, so he would compromise.

    This is a man who already knows the solution to your problem, and is trying to save the world with his solution. I’m and little tired and dubious of white men with solutions.

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  66. tajalli said on August 10, 2023 at 2:00 pm

    Jenine, the open-source movement has a GIS software, Quantum GIS ( QGIS ). You might learn more at https://qgis.org/en/site/

    QGIS was developed to offer an alternative to ESRI’s ArcGIS, the dominant proprietary GIS software used in the US. ArcGIS requires a very expensive annual fee. In the US, ArcGIS is used by colleges and universities for GIS coursework – the computer labs have the full enterprise version, students get a free limited functionality version, and NPOs can receive that same limited version for $100/yr.

    QGIS basically mirrors ArcGIS on all functionality fronts. Other GIS softwares are used in Europe and elsewhere.

    The current softwares originated from medical radiology digitizing programs designed to measure CT, MRI, and X-ray imagery.

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  67. Sherri said on August 10, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    Oh, and David Blankenhorn claims to be a liberal Democrat.

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  68. Jeff Borden said on August 11, 2023 at 12:06 pm

    Well, lookee here. Two lawyers from the right-wing Federalist Society argue tRump should be disqualified from running for any office because he violated the Insurrection Act.

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  69. Sherri said on August 11, 2023 at 4:09 pm

    We now have a definition of what a country music song is: whatever a white man sings. Luke Combs has the number one song on the country charts with a straight cover of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. He didn’t change it or countrify it in any way. Chapman becomes the first Black female songwriter ever with a number one country song.

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  70. LAMary said on August 12, 2023 at 12:05 am

    An interview with Robbie Robertson


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  71. alex said on August 12, 2023 at 7:35 am

    I was just looking at this date’s entry from 2016 and it was all about algorithm-driven pricing on the Internet and how sometimes the markdowns on items don’t make any sense.

    Strange coincidence. The appliance store we’re visiting later today has the fridge we want and the web site shows it marked down by one dollar. What’s up with that?

    Bonus coincidence: We talked that day about the Perseids. Tonight we’re having a Perseid party on our boat.

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  72. Deborah said on August 12, 2023 at 7:50 am

    We’re currently at the perfect place to watch the Perseids shower, Abiquiu, but alas it’s cloudy.

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  73. Dexter Friend said on August 12, 2023 at 11:08 am

    I’d like to say good riddance to that rat bastard Manchin but with him to caucus with the repuggs now in the near future it really fucks up the Senate for progressive causes. He’s leaving the Democratic Party to be a goddam independent.

    From the top Google briefing:
    80 dead in the Maui disaster and toxic fumes are sickening the populace. Death toll to go up substantially, say local rescue workers.

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  74. David C said on August 12, 2023 at 12:12 pm

    Your pro-life, family values party.


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  75. Deborah said on August 12, 2023 at 5:08 pm

    I read that there’s a statute on the books in Michigan that makes it a misdemeanor if you get a ride to the polls to vote unless you are unable to walk. In other words if you take an Uber or a taxi, or anything, even a bus, or if someone gives you a ride you can be charged. Really? How absolutely ridiculous. It was passed by a republican legislature I don’t know when, for among other reasons to stop black churches from bussing people to the polls, also to keep poor people from voting. So only if you have the means to own a car and drive yourself, then you’re OK. Hard to believe, isn’t it? There’s a pending court case about it now.

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  76. Jeff Gill said on August 12, 2023 at 8:10 pm

    What I’m seeing is this:

    “The law prohibits voter advocacy organizations from paying for transportation to bring voters to the polls and ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber from offering discounted rides to Michigan voters on Election Day. It does not prohibit volunteers from driving voters to the polls for free.”


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  77. Deborah said on August 12, 2023 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks for clearing that up Jeff G, but still it’s obviously being done to repress the vote. Why would they want to limit the people who want to vote but can’t get to the polls for whatever reason. Why is the state government getting involved in how people get to their polling place for heavens sake. Why not make voting easier for people, instead of harder? So unpatriotic.

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  78. Jeff Gill said on August 12, 2023 at 11:42 pm

    Oh, no doubt it’s aimed at voter suppression. I was just curious how it was actually worded.

    Most of the laws around liquor sales being suspended on Election Day go back to the halcyon days of the 1800s when they knew how to rig, manipulate, and GOTV their elections, often with a straight up “here’s the bottle of Old Crow you get if you go in there and vote for Jackson, deal?” Which continued in various forms right down to Daley’s Chicago where you could buy a voter for a dollar pitcher of Old Style (not everything gets more expensive).

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  79. alex said on August 13, 2023 at 11:21 am

    Well our little Perseid party was quite a blast. At 10:17 PM we saw what looked like a ginormous string of pearls streak by rather slowly from west to east. By comparison, everything else that came afterward was disappointing, so we turned in early.

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  80. David C said on August 13, 2023 at 11:49 am

    The string of pearls was probably Starlink satellites.

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  81. Julie Robinson said on August 13, 2023 at 12:23 pm

    Took a gander about 8 and couldn’t see anything. Too many skeeters to try again.

    Our son’s cat started peeing outside the litter box so he took her to the vet and came back with a diabetes diagnosis. They’re going to run more tests and are possibly looking at giving her a shot twice a day. I don’t see this going well. She’s 13 or 14, so sad days, they are a-comin.

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  82. alex said on August 13, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    Just read up on Starlink satellites and now crestfallen with disillusionment. What hurts even more is knowing we’ve been had by Elon Musk.

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  83. LAMary said on August 13, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    Yeah, they launched a lot more Starlink satellites a few days ago.

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  84. Mark P said on August 13, 2023 at 1:27 pm

    Starlink seemed like the solution to our broadband problem. And it was, at first. Now I sometimes have to turn our Starlink Wi-Fi off on my phone and use cellular data to get a web site to load. At $120 a month, I’m not happy with that. I’m considering dumping Musk and his Starlink for a cellular plan from Verizon.

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  85. David C said on August 13, 2023 at 1:44 pm

    Astronomers using Earth-based telescopes are really angry with Elon. He lied his ass off saying he would make the satellites darker so they wouldn’t interfere with Earth-based telescopes. Satellites are covered in gold foil because the most effective way of cooling them is reflecting sunlight away. If they made them darker, the sun would fry them. He knows this but he told the lie anyway. We need a national lie jar for billionaires and pretend billionaires. For every lie, you have to throw in $100 million. We’d wipe out the debt in a year.

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