The end of a long week.

Ugh, what a week. Busy and brutal in equal measure, with a dose of boredom thrown in. A killer combination. But in the middle, there was this:

Strawberry Moon Paddle #belleisle #detroitriver #detroitoutpost #kayakmichigan

A photo posted by Detroit Outpost (@detroitoutpost) on

That’s me! A bright spot in the week, watching the sun set and the moon rise, on a two-hour tour. A two-hour tooouuuur. We saw a whole bunch of geese on a seawall:

geese

And of course I took a selfie. It was pretty dark by this point, so hence the baseball-size grain-that-isn’t-grain, but here you go:

selfieafterdark

The Detroit River is beautiful, day and night.

I hope by this weekend I feel more or less normal again. We’ll see. In the meantime, a question for the room. How long has Scott Adams been such a twit? Of course you should always be suspicious of an opinion based on the anecdote of a commercial for dishwasher detergent, but what the hell?

I came across Adams the way everyone did, via “Dilbert,” which was hilarious and got to the essential truth of corporate employment years ahead of “The Office.” But as so often happens, you need to separate the art from the artist, because in this case the artist is spending his non-Dilberting time writing these weird blog posts about Donald Trump and men’s rights. It’s like when you discovered Miles Davis was a wife-beater.

Jesus, am I tired. Best wrap this up.

Since I started taking better care of myself, people will occasionally offer some helpful advice. Try blue-green algae, say, or take a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar every day, or whatever. I smile, I nod, and I keep doing what works: Exercise. For sure:

Although we don’t think of it this way, you can make a pretty good argument that exercise is as good as drugs for many conditions. A 2013 meta-analysis of meta-analyses (that’s how much data we have) combined and analyzed the results from 16 reviews of randomized controlled trials of drug and exercise interventions in reducing mortality. Collectively, these included 305 trials with almost 340,000 participants.

Finally, we missed much of fish fly season here in Grosse Pointe. But as you can see from this photo taken night before last, it’s still going on.

Talk soon.

Posted at 12:06 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 54 Comments
 

Let’s go shopping.

Full-packed day today — work, volunteering, then a full-moon kayaking expedition on the river. No time to write, so all pix today, with a theme! PRODUCTS:

fairy
Perhaps the suggestion is, it cleans so well and easily, it’s as though a little sprite handled the chore.

doritos
“Ranch” would make no sense in this context, overseas. And so this is our legacy.

chips
I’m kind of fascinated by the semiotics of snack-food packaging, actually. At one stop, I bought a bag of “salt flavor” potato chips. Alan crabbed that there was no other kind.

driedfish
Meanwhile, this seems to be what the real locals eat when they want a crispy, salty snack. Dried fish.

catfood
In a country where almost everyone speaks better English than Sarah Palin, I was a little surprised to see this. But oh well.

I’ll take my camera out on the river tonight. Let’s hope I don’t drop it overboard, eh?

Posted at 12:10 am in Same ol' same ol' | 51 Comments
 

More slides.

This is Hverfell (or Hverfjall, something to do with whether it’s a hill or a mountain, a hair I leave Icelanders to split). Not my photo, obviously, as I didn’t have a helicopter at my disposal:

hverfell

It’s a volcano, obviously, near Lake Myrvatn. We called it Dog Bowl Mountain, also obviously. All over Iceland are volcanos that have grass growing well up their slopes, but Hverfell is, after 2,900 years, still rock and cinders and dust. But you can climb it, via a steep walking path up the side. Up, up, up you climb. Pant, pant, pant. Trudge, trudge, trudge. Rest, rest, rest. You’re up very high — look at the cars in the parking lot. Like ants:

hverfell2

And then you come out at the top. I was expecting water down there. Instead, another heap of cinders, but in true Icelandic fashion, utterly otherworldly. The whole country looks like a Star Trek set, of about 19 different planets.

hverfell3

And that’s Hverfell. Let me know when you guys get tired of these pictures.

I’m exhausted, the sort of exhausted one gets when you’ve had a frustrating day, it’s too hot to go outside and the wind is just howling outside, huffing and puffing. Some of you people who are more politically savvy than me, please explain (if such a thing can even be explained): What possible motivation would Donald Trump’s campaign manager have to plant damaging stories about his own boss’ son-in-law? Because as a person who generally expects things to make a certain linear sense, I have to say I just don’t get it.

And for more entertaining Trump news, there’s this GQ profile of his 27-year-old press secretary, who has never worked in politics before. Welcome to Crazytown:

As for what arrives in Hicks’s in-box, a typical day brings upwards of 250 media requests. Usually, she alone decides who gets in and who’s kept out. But sometimes it’s Trump who plays bouncer for his own private party. “She sees the tantrums, and there are tantrums,” a source who’s been with Trump and Hicks told me. “He reads something he doesn’t like by a reporter, and it’s like, ‘This motherfucker! All right, fine. Hope?’ He circles it. ‘This guy’s banned! He’s banned for a while.’ That’s exactly how it works.” Hicks plays parole officer to an extensive and expanding blacklist of outlets and reporters (your correspondent once included) no longer welcome at his events.

While Hicks is often eager to please, she doesn’t mind upsetting the media and harbors no reverence for the civic duties of a free press. When reporters send her questions, she’s often irked—convinced they’re playing detective merely to irritate the campaign. She’s seemingly unaware that they might just be vetting a potential United States president. Often she doesn’t respond.

Finally, oncologists have had it with you mealy-mouthed pediatricians, and plan to go hard on HPV vaccines. Good for them.

Now to watch the “Game of Thrones” I missed last night because HBONow went down at the worst possible moment.

Posted at 12:13 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 50 Comments
 

Just a few snaps.

And we’re back. A long trip, and I have to get right back to work Friday. I think I’ll parcel these out for a few days, but here are some highlights.

I’ve cropped and recropped this several times and can’t make up my mind — with or without the boat?

whaletail

Another whale tail. Fluke, to be correct:

whaletail2

Feeding whales frequently attract seabirds, who scoop up the baitfish. These are Arctic terns. Again, can’t quite get the crop the way I want it:

arcticterns

Finally, a mountain walk near Akureyi. I was trying to get that clear-mountain-air/infinite-depth-of-field thing that makes such expeditions so memorable, like Julie Andrews singing in the Alps in the opening of “The Sound of Music,” y’know?

mountainwalk

More later.

Posted at 8:24 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 69 Comments
 

Please shine down on me. 

Just a brief update for now. Monday was spent shaking off what was perhaps the most uncomfortable plane ride of my life – back row, which means no seat-reclining possible, but the people in front of us felt free to back-dive into our laps, a crime which should be punishable by flaying, in my opinion. 

But hey! We’re here! Reykjavik is welcoming, almost entirely English-speaking, and bright with sun. Alan, the night owl, stayed up to watch it set while I pulled my sleep mask down and tried to adjust my body clock. (Didn’t work.) I was up at 7 am and set out for the pool. The one near us is closed for renovation, so I ended up at the next-nearest one, which is? Heaven. HEAVEN, I TELL YOU. I tried to swim a few laps (in the 50-meter outdoor lap pool) but the water was so warm I yielded to its siren call to relax, stop trying so hard, just accept this amniotic bath in the spirt it’s offered, and got into one of the hot pots. Then got into another hot pot. Then tried another until, Goldilocks-like, I found the one that was juuuust riiiight. (There are at least six or eight. I lost count.)
And decided that, if Donald Trump is elected, this is where I’ll be living. Liquidate my 401K, buy a season pass and just poach myself until the nation comes to its senses. 

I didn’t take a picture; I carried only my towel into the pool area. Tomorrow, I’ll snap a few. For now, there’s just this, a snap from last night as we wandered home. This was around 11 p.m.; sunset was still 50 minutes away and it never really got dark afterward. Sunrise was around 3 a.m. 

Carry on, and I’ll check in later. 

Posted at 7:28 am in Same ol' same ol' | 52 Comments
 

First blood.

Such an exciting morning at our house. I had just cracked an egg into the pan when I noticed Wendy wagging to go outside. I opened the door, she shot out like a rocket and before I knew it, the squirrel zigged when it should have zagged and had become Wendy’s first official kill. First blood.

I think I was squeaking as much as the squirrel was. I can’t say it was entirely clean; I didn’t see any violent head-shaking, but she got the job done. Spriggy would have shaken it vigorously for a while, then trotted around with his trophy in his jaws for another while, then settled in to rend it limb from limb and fight when we tried to take it away. Wendy’s sweet personality, and perhaps a little bafflement at actually having nailed the thing, meant she basically stood over it proudly, occasionally touching it with her nose, as if to say, “Hey, get up and play some more.”

I got Alan out of bed early to do the dirty work before she tried to dismember it, roll in it or otherwise make a mess. She was bummed to have to give up the prize, and now revisits the spot whenever she’s in the yard, just to see if it’s come back, or to sniff its blood, or something.

No, I didn’t get a picture. Should have. It was a black squirrel, too; they’re generally thought to have a few more IQ points than the gray ones. My mighty huntress.

I was interrupted by Trump thoughts all day, partly because I was working my way through this David Frum essay about him. Title: The Seven Broken Guardrails of Democracy, just in case you think essay titles can’t be too portentous. He makes a few good points, although it’s hard to take seriously a piece that approvingly quotes both Rod Dreher and Jonah Goldberg. Frum makes the point that even if Trump is flattened in November, the damage is done. A presidential candidate has boasted about his penis on a national stage (in Detroit! Hometown represent!). Can’t rebottle that genie. I came away from it thinking I need to chat up my old boss Derek, whose head is a data-analyzing computer; he’ll point to an electoral map and tell me to stop worrying and start preparing for President Hillary, and I will, for a while.

At the same time, one of the things that makes life so interesting is how you really never know what’s coming tomorrow. And the night is dark and full of terrors, to quote a little “Game of Thrones.”

And there’s this, an account of this week’s Trump presser about the veterans fundraiser:

He actually believes that it’s the job of political reporters covering a presidential candidate to write “Thank you very much, Mr. Trump.” It’s not the press’ job to discover the truth or ask questions or hold the powerful accountable; their job is to promote him and compliment him. And when he doesn’t get the glowing coverage he wants, he attacks.

I’m trying not to get tired of saying this, but just try to imagine what the reaction would be if Hillary Clinton came out to defend herself against some perfectly reasonable questions, and said “The press should be ashamed of themselves” or pointed to a reporter and said, “You’re a sleaze.” She wouldn’t be criticized or questioned, she’d be crucified. Reporters would ask if she had lost her mind and was having a nervous breakdown. There would be demands for her to pull out of the race immediately, since she had shown herself to be so unstable.

It’s going to be a real challenge for reporters covering Trump to continue to ask the questions they ask of every candidate, to demand answers and to point out falsehoods — which is already a herculean task when it comes to Trump, since he delivers so many of them. That’s not easy to do when you know your subject is going to assault you over it. And it’s not likely to change.

Ai yi yi.

Loose ends: The water test came back. No lead, no copper, no problems. No neurotoxins. Thanks, beb!

Finally, you know how zillionaires are always threatening to move to less-tax-y places unless they’re properly honored? Few of them do.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 46 Comments
 

This way to the weekend.

A mixed bag today, as the week lumbers to a close. It was a fairly productive one; can’t complain, even though I was a no-show yesterday. Just one of those days, when nothing much went well and I ended it thinking all I wanted from life was a little Netflix and a book. The next thing you know, you look up and there’s been a plane crash, Morley Safer checks out and…it’s Thursday night.

Happy Friday.

So let’s start with the best bloggage of the bunch. We were talking a few weeks back about the various eagle cams and falcon cams and all the rest of the cams that show us avian predator life in its cuddly fledgling stage. A great piece follows, from the WashPost, about the nest-cam operators who are shutting down, because the thousands watching online? Can’t handle the truth:

The osprey cam at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is trained on a nest near the Massachusetts seaside, and the pair that call it home are now waiting for three eggs to hatch. But for the first spring in a decade, the camera is dark, and a note on the institute’s website offers only a two-sentence explanation.

“Regrettably, the cam will not be operating this season due to the increasingly aggressive actions of certain viewers the last two years,” it begins.

That is a staid reference to cam fans whose emotions about the nest morphed into vitriol — and fighting words. When the osprey mother began neglecting and attacking her chicks in 2014, anxiety exploded among some viewers, as did demands that the institution intervene to save the baby birds. When the same thing happened in 2015, the public passions took a more personal turn.

“It is absolutely disgusting that you will not take those chicks away from that demented witch of a parent!!!!!” one viewer emailed to Jeffrey Brodeur, the communications specialist who ran the camera. Another wrote: “I realize this is nature, but once you put up a cam to view into their worlds it is no longer nature. You have a responsibility to help n save when in need.”

It’s a great story — lots of anecdotes about people who are way too over-invested in the world that flies around over our heads. How much so? Oh, you have no idea:

In 2014, when the chicks featured on a bald-eagle cam in North Fort Myers, Fla., weren’t getting much to eat, some viewers decided to take matters into their own hands. Under cover of darkness, they headed to the nest site and tossed meat into it — a roast, to be specific.

I love the eagle cams as much as the next person, but when things get a little dicey, I just click away. That’s why we have Donald Trump – for the distraction.

Speaking of which.

The WP also has a pretty good piece about the next generation of Trumps, specifically his sons, Eric and Don.

It’s pretty good, but Hank Stuever started an interesting Facebook conversation about the difference between the Trump scions, who at least talked to the Washington Post, and Chelsea Clinton, who apparently still thinks it’s 1993 and she’s 13 years old, protected like the tender bud she was then. Now it’s 2016 and she’s 36, and she still doesn’t answer a question that wasn’t vetted, but feels she can campaign for her mother and face only the scrutiny she approves. So, then: Props to the young Trumps, who I liked better after reading this. Dammit.

Can we trust the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education? Because these numbers are crazy:

If 10 percent of American smokers gave up cigarettes and the rest cut back by 10 percent, the U.S. could shave $63 billion off medical costs the next year, the analysis found.

It doesn’t pass the smell test, but I have no idea it’s a big number. But is it that big?

The new study found that regions with lower smoking rates had substantially lower medical costs from 1992 through 2009.

Californians spent $15.4 billion less on healthcare in 2009 than they would have if they smoked as much as the national average, the analysis estimates. At the other extreme, Kentucky residents spent an estimated $1.7 billion more than the national average on healthcare because they smoked more.

Maybe.

Here’s a nice Neal Rubin column from Detroit, about the breakup of a chain of sleazebags ripping off Detroit Public Schools. I don’t want to excerpt anything from it, but read it — it’s good.

Finally, Lisa Belkin, the former NYT reporter and author “Show Me a Hero,” wrote a piece about the time when, as a young reporter, Donald Trump made a pass at her. It attracted this fan mail:

belkin

Sorry for the language, but this is the sort of thing women who write on the internet get used to. Enjoy your weekend. May you get no communiques like that.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' | 60 Comments
 

Deep water.

I checked my email before leaving for the pool this morning, and learned that a filter at the pool had gone out, a part was needed and hadn’t been located yet and the pool would be closed for the rest of the school year. But the district wasn’t leaving us out to dry — ha! — but was relocating the sunrise swim to one of the high-school natatoriums. Which is only a few years old and several orders of magnitude nicer than the middle-school pool we use now.

So hey, I rolled up, parked, found the locker room and got wet. It was delightful, the keepers of this pool adhering to the more modern idea that the water should be on the cool side. And there was an extractor in the locker room, as well as, what’s this? Private showers? With curtains?

Yes, it appears the gang shower of yesteryear, the stage for Carrie’s disgrace and probably yours in some forgotten nightmare, is a thing of the past, at least here. Which immediately made me think that, once again, all the fretting about locker rooms is probably just more wasted worry.

And! There was an extractor for swimsuits! The rest of this year’s pool time is going to be 100 percent win.

(This opinion wasn’t shared by all, I should add. Two women confessed they felt freaked out by the vastness of the diving well, and the fact the shallow end of the lanes was nearly 7 feet deep. Neither will be going to the Olympics, I guess.)

I was called upon to do a late work chore this evening, which cut into my blogging time. In lieu of links, accept this photo of Saturday’s appetizer. Salmon tartare. So much yum.

salmontartare

And happy Wednesday.

Posted at 12:10 am in Same ol' same ol' | 74 Comments
 

23.

This past weekend, the Nall-Derringer co-prosperity sphere marked 23 years of legal partnership, with an expensive meal at one-a them fancy places opening up all over the damn place. It was pricey, but I wore a secondhand dress I got on a Facebook swap site for $5, so it all balanced out. And we did order the tasting menu, which is never cheap. Ah well, special occasion and all, and there’s a jar of peanut butter in the pantry that will get us through the next few days. Plus, I never would have tried ivory salmon without it, so there’s also that.

The event in progress:

outtodinner

When you’ve been married 23 years, you may find the other people in the restaurant more interesting than the person across the table. So it was with me and that couple behind us; “I’m listening, dear” expression was on his face every time I looked his way. As for her, great barrel curls.

The night before we did a quick hop down to Fort Wayne, to watch Kate’s band kick off their summer tour in front of a hometown assembly, check out the reno progress on Alex’ house and just generally get away from it all. It’s always strange to go back to a place you once knew but don’t quite so much anymore. Calhoun Street was both the same and different, downtown looked like it had recently had an oxygen hit, but the north side between downtown and Coliseum Boulevard was pretty sad. Not Detroit-sad, but faded and tired and neglected. Up near Alex’ house, though? Boomtown. I know, I know — FREEDOM and FREE ENTERPRISE and all that, but it’s so, so wrong to let your city grow holes like this. Here’s hoping the coalescing of millennials and retiring boomers make the move-back-in trend into something sustainable, because all those beige subdivisions where farm fields used to be is a terrible mistake.

Let’s look at the soup course from Saturday, take our minds off our troubles a bit, eh?

soupcourse

That’s an asparagus-spinach soup, and all the drizzles and swirlies and so on are pretty much forgotten to me now. But it was tasty.

In between all the visiting and sight-seeing, we had dinner with Mark the Shark, who’s on the school board, and let me tell you, this voucher program the Indiana legislature pushed through in the name of FREEDOM and CHOICE? Worst idea ever. Why hasn’t anyone sued over this? I’d be livid at the thought of my tax money being redistributed to every religious grifter in the state, and taken away from my local public district. We have school-funding difficulties in Michigan, too, but this is next-level.

I cleaned and frolicked this weekend, and have little bloggage because I barely glanced at the papers. But there’s this, the Donald Trump-and-women piece everyone’s talking about:

What emerges from the interviews is a complex, at times contradictory portrait of a wealthy, well-known and provocative man and the women around him, one that defies simple categorization. Some women found him gracious and encouraging. He promoted several to the loftiest heights of his company, a daring move for a major real estate developer at the time.

He simultaneously nurtured women’s careers and mocked their physical appearance. “You like your candy,” he told an overweight female executive who oversaw the construction of his headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. He could be lewd one moment and gentlemanly the next.

It’s a much better piece than I expected.

Now time for “Game of Thrones” and the week ahead.

Posted at 12:04 am in Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments
 

An agenda full of OMG.

I was just looking at my work and personal calendars for the next month, and realized it’s entirely possible I will not have ONE SPARE MINUTE to do anything I actually want to do before I take a two-week overseas vacation. Two big projects to finish at work, plus getting the house ready to host our house/dogsitter for two weeks — which is to say, cleaning this dump up and jotting down the million notes on garbage day, laundry machines, etc., as well as hoping the air conditioning doesn’t pick that fortnight to go on the fritz.

There may be gaps here. I’m always saying that, but this time I mean it, dammit.

I may be feeling surly because I’m working my way through this NYT profile of Ben Rhodes, the president’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, which seems to boil down to speechwriter/Twitter virtuoso, and it’s stirring up a range of emotions and random thoughts, among them:

1) I’m glad people this smart are working for us.
2) I should write more than this stupid blog and a million emails a day. Write-write, like some fiction. Or whatever. This guy is inspiring.
3) Fuck, what if Trump wins? Who will have this job then? Do you think that person will have even read a novel in their lifetime, much less aspired to write one?

I probably had about nine million more, truth be told. It’s a long piece, but absolutely worth your time.

As was this much lighter, fluffier Table for Three feature, with the president and Brian Cranston shooting the shit with an NYT reporter, on the subject of…well, on a lot of subjects. Ostensibly it’s pegged to Cranston playing LBJ in a new movie, but there’s lots of good stuff in there, like this, from the prez:

One thing you have to keep in mind is that I’m probably the most recorded, filmed and photographed person in history up to now. Because I’m the first president who came along in the digital age. Every leader is a funnel for the culture he lives in. And despite the exotic name and weird background, I grew up as an ordinary middle-class kid. The cultural touch points that shaped you are the same ones that shaped me. And the fact that that was true until I was 45 probably differentiates me from most presidents. For somebody like L.B.J., who fastened onto a political career early, it probably changed the way he experienced culture and presented himself. It never felt like a burden to me. What’s felt like a burden is seeing how politics has changed in ways that make it harder for Washington to work. There are a set of traditions, a constitutional design that allows someone like L.B.J. or F.D.R. to govern. And when those norms break down, the machinery grinds to a halt. That’s when you feel burdened. When you say, “Here’s what we need to do.” I’ve made my argument; the majority of the population agrees with me. Yet we’re confronted with endless filibusters and polarization that forbids us from getting stuff done.

The luxury to absorb all these long reads was one detail of my Mothers Day. I was served blueberry pancakes and a bloody mary and then left to my own devices, so I pretty much frittered the day down to its fringes, with a little bike ride and a big dog walk and a mental organization of the month ahead.

At the end of which: Iceland. Still hard to believe.

So, with that sort of week ahead? Best hop to it. But first, “Game of Thrones.”

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 70 Comments