Flesh and blood.

Although weekends are the time to sleep in, I don’t do it often, and rarely on Saturdays. That’s because I like to go to the Eastern Market on Saturday morning, and the longer you wait, the less likely you are to find a parking place — is there any self-imposed headache of modern life more onerous than the endless search for parking? — and, well, other factors come into play.

This past Saturday, I decided to do a boxing class at 8, come home to shower, and then take Alan with me to the market. That doesn’t happen often, because he does believe in the weekend as a time for late sleeping. We got there around 11. It was ridiculously crowded, but I lucked into a decent parking spot, and at my favorite fruit stand I stood behind a woman who was buying blueberries, raspberries and shelled peas. She had exacting standards about how she wanted all these items wrapped and packed, but I didn’t stink-eye her until she paid with a credit card.

Yes, yes, Square makes it easy to pay with a card at a place like this, if the seller has the doohickey and a good cellular connection. BUT STILL. THIS IS A FARMERS’ MARKET, LADY. Jeez, bring cash. As she was finishing her purchase, the seller said, “This is the last week for peas.”

“What? Why?” she demanded to know. The seller said, with some hesitation, “Because it’s a spring vegetable? And it’s summer now?” This seemed to arrive as a foreign concept to her, this idea that when things are done growing, you’re done buying. But who can blame her? Peas are growing somewhere in the world right now, and for a price, you can get fresh ones on your table. But really, lady, get a clue.

This never happens at 7 a.m.

It was a good weekend. We’re dog-sitting, for this girl:

layla

She’s a miniature schnauzer who belongs to some friends. We’ve known her since puppyhood, and she’s “a bit of a Hapsburg,” as our friend says, which you can read as: Neurotic. Won’t climb stairs, and when she comes here, has a very difficult time moving from rug to floor to rug; the first time she visited, she stood on the front doormat for 15 minutes, refusing to budge.

We all thought she was being a princess, but after half an hour of this in our house this time, it came to me all at once: “You’re blind, Layla. Or close to it.” It explains everything — why she tracks close to walls, why she walks right next to the sidewalk, but not on the sidewalk, all of it. She’s gotten progressively more comfortable through the weekend, but I still think she’s got a serious visual impairment, and sure enough, the breed is susceptible to several.

She wants to run around the house, and if you stand behind her and nudge her with your shin, she’ll scamper from the rug across that shiny hardwood floor, but you can tell it bothers her, that it requires a certain leap of faith. It probably looks like something dangerous.

That’s so often the problem with purebreds, isn’t it? This is why so many Jack Russell people fought so hard against AKC recognition, which only came in the last 15 years. Pedigrees fuck everything up.

We had a brief respite from the heat Saturday, then more of it today. I took a long bike ride for the first time in a while, and it tapped me out. My legs felt sore and I was famished, but fortunately, I’d put a nice rub on a tri-tip earlier, a cut of beef I only learned of recently. I hear it’s very big in California, but until Saturday I’d never seen it in any meat market here. But my butcher had two, so I bought one. Used a NYT recipe, plus their suggestion for the rub. Oh my GAWD was it good. I could have eaten the whole thing by myself, but left some for tomorrow’s lunch. Gaze upon its deliciousness:

tritip

Admittedly, an Instagram filter. But that’s pretty close.

Scant bloggage, but something: The term “government schools” was something I heard in Indiana for some time before we left, so I was puzzled that this NYT story on the phrase’s deployment in Kansas treated it as something new, but there you are. Good god, these people:

Kansas has for years been the stage for a messy school funding fight that has shaken the Legislature and reached the State Supreme Court. Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, and his political allies threatened to defy the court on education spending and slashed income taxes in their effort to make the state a model of conservatism.

Somewhere along the way, the term “government schools” entered the lexicon in place of references to the public school system.

“Our local grade school is now the government school,” State Senator Forrest Knox wrote in an op-ed article last year, echoing conservative concerns that the government had inserted itself unnecessarily into education.

The intent was obvious to her, Ms. Massman said. “They are trying to rebrand public education,” she said.

Not to bring you down or anything. Here’s something more uplifting, a story I’d never heard until reading this 20-years-later update — about the day a black teenager saved a white racist from an ass-kicking or worse. A truly uplifting tale.

The week awaits! Fueled with red meat, I’m ready for it.

Posted at 12:03 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 34 Comments
 

Blue.

I say this with some self-mockery, but: Last night was bad. Couldn’t sleep. My insomnia usually presents as middle-of-the-night wakefulness, but Thursday night I just plain couldn’t get to sleep. Might have dozed a bit, but at 11:45 p.m. I was still tossing and turning. Thought, screw it, let’s read Twitter. And that’s when I saw the news of the tragedy in Dallas, which many of you are waking up to now. That was 14 minutes before what’s below was about to publish, and for that, all I can say is: whew.

Rereading it, though, I’m not going to change anything, although I’m glad I waited. I don’t think it’s cognitive dissonance to say you condemn both the sort of police work that leaves two men dead in two nights, AND the ambush massacre in Dallas. It’s clear to me that the police are the infantry in a lot of wars we’ve chosen to fight, or been led into fighting. The low-level cracked-taillight cop hassle that led to Philando Castile’s death earlier this week, and the GET DOWN GET DOWN GUN GUN GUN paramilitary screwup that killed Alton Sterling even earlier (and that was, what? Tuesday?) are all of a piece with a larger brokenness in our society that we haven’t addressed, and can’t even really see. We can’t even agree on what it is, which is one reason I’ll be tuning out a lot of the social-media static over the next few days. I’ll read you guys commenting here, because you are in the main smart and thoughtful, and I’ll read some selected news sources, but right now the best strategy seems to be to step back and ask: What is really going on here? It’s not what we think. It’s something worse, I fear. So, then, below is what I wrote before Dallas. It’s yours now.

I know everyone is talking about a particular police video today, but I want to draw your attention to a different one. This one. A 911 operator in Avon, Ohio gets two calls, one from a young woman, one from a man, claiming a woman they both know (daughter to the man, sister to the father) is a desk clerk at a Fairfield Inn, and just observed an Arabic man with “multiple disposable cell phones” and “full headdress” pledging allegiance to ISIS in the hotel. Come quick, she’s terrified!

And they do.

The tape is long, but the action is in the first few minutes, when the police roll into this suburban McHotel parking lot like the Marines into Fallujah, weapons drawn, shouting GET DOWN GET DOWN SHOW ME YOUR HANDS GIVE ME YOUR HANDS at this poor guy, whose “full headdress” is basically just a traditional white robe and kaffiyeh, whose pledge of allegiance to ISIS was a phone call in Arabic. He complies immediately, but the YELLING ORDERS stuff goes on, and at no point does anyone in a law-enforcement uniform offer him a hand up or, god forbid, an apology. Eventually the guy has some sort of medical crisis while he’s lying down, and he’s taken away on a stretcher.

A few things to stipulate here: Yes, I know this is standard police training. Go in big and loud and don’t back down. My question is, why not back down when you’re obviously wrong? Is there, anywhere in the training manual, any room for common sense to take over, for an officer in charge, or even in the rank and file, to rub a few brain cells together and think, “Hmm, Avon? A Fairfield Inn? Does this make sense as a terrorist target? And doesn’t the Cleveland Clinic do a lot of business with Middle Eastern patients? Who is this clerk and her sister and father? Maybe we can go in a little less…erect, shall we say, at least until the shooting starts.”

This is why people keep getting shot by police. We train officers to go in like the Marines, when a little more Andy Taylor may be called for. I think Jeff gets at the nut of it in his comment yesterday. A lot of police today came out of the military. A lot of their equipment is military surplus. They’re trained to think of themselves as soldiers. We see the attitude here in Detroit when we cross the border to have lunch or a drink in Windsor. On the Canadian side, a polite border officer asks where we’re going, whether we’re carrying firearms, hands back our passports and tells us to enjoy the city. Coming home, a scowling guy in a bulletproof vest asks why we’d cross an international border to have lunch. (“Well, the dim sum in Windsor is really superior to anything you can get over here.”) The vibe is AGGRESSIVE and DO NOT FUCK WITH THE UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL.

A while back, I was listening to a local radio station’s news roundup. It’s Canadian, but rarely broadcasts its call letters, and I’d forgotten until I heard a story about the Windsor police releasing their use-of-force data for the year. They consider unholstering a nightstick a use of force, and it’s overwhelmingly the weapon of choice for Canadian police. Not that it is used often.

The week’s news sickens me, and almost as sickening is the justification that’s immediately offered, by talking heads right down to the comment sections: Police work is hard, it’s stressful, you never know when someone is going to bust a cap in your ass, SHOW ME YOUR HANDS GET DOWN GET DOWN. I’m not denying any part of that. I’m postulating that maybe more common sense is called for. Maybe more humanity. Maybe fewer traffic stops for cracked fucking taillights. Do you know what it costs to get a taillight fixed? Do you have any idea what that amount of money represents to a poor person?

Ugh. Well.

I didn’t mention Newt Gingrich in my veep odds the other day, did I? I should have. I’m thinking he’s my favorite. He’ll take the gig because he has nothing to lose. He’s well out of politics, and makes his living entirely by consulting and writing unreadable books and elsewhere in the shadow D.C. economy. In other words, he has a lot to gain from a brand-build that a veep run with Trump would offer. Newt is 5:2.

If Fox News is like this on the air, imagine what it’s like off the air.

Finally, you all have a great weekend.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events | 84 Comments
 

Firecracked.

We had an impromptu dinner party on Independence Day. That’s the best kind, especially if it includes sailing and ribs and potato salad. Also, beer and prosecco and a bloody mary and wine. And a puppy. Because nothing makes a holiday gathering like a puppy playing around with the bigger dogs while we all look on and say oh god, he just walked right through the fence! Which he did, a couple of times, although he then walked right back in. In a few more weeks he’ll be safe in the yard, but not until he puts on a little size.

Sailing and ribs and a puppy. Beer and vodka and wine. And then the people’s fireworks, the Fallujah-under-siege soundtrack that, on July 4, goes on and on and on. It was a good holiday, if a little noisy. (And not nearly as drunk as it sounds.)

So that’s why no blog yesterday. Also, I tried very hard to avoid the news all weekend, and I was enjoying the sense of waiting for the news alert about Trump’s veep choice. Maybe we should have a pool, or a countdown clock. I’m setting odds on… Chris Christie, 5:2; Mike Pence 3:1; Joni Ernst 15:1. Oh, and Gary Busey at 50:1. Anyone else want to weigh in?

A few items of interest for you all to chew over. Gene Weingarten is breaking up with CNN. Over Corey Lewandowski, of course. Well, he lasted longer than I did. I gave up CNN about 19 shootings ago, when I finally found Wolf Blitzer simply too distracting, his strange anti-charisma finally doing what it was apparently meant to do. But he (Weingarten) is right: The hiring of Trump’s campaign manager, complete with non-disparagement agreement, is a deeply cynical bridge too far:

CNN apparently didn’t worry much about the guy being a fawning Trump suckup lickspittle who was likely sent away from the campaign with a wonderful golden parachute and a non-disclosure agreement that doesn’t allow him to be critical of Trump. How could CNN even consider such a grotesque arrangement? Well, because they’ve been doing it for years! This seemed like business as usual. They simply have never been doing it with a preposterous thug toady before. (They have, however, gone way over the line before. Ana Navarro embarrassed herself, and CNN, for years, over her fawning defense of Jeb Bush, particularly after he said that he still would have invaded Iraq after knowing what we know now. Ana was the first on the air with the revelation that, to her exclusive knowledge, he “misunderstood” the question.)

So now CNN is giving lots of air time to someone with no apparent sense of shame who is also in Trump’s back pocket, and the results have been more than predictable. It turns out Corey Lewandowski, who clearly isn’t allowed to say anything bad about Trump, also hasn’t anything to say that is not worshipful of Trump. Whom he calls “Mr. Trump.” You know, the way journalists do, out of respect.

I know we have some heavy people in the readership here. How do we feel about the paternalistic attitude people who run the contemporary workplace too often take toward fat people?

Those who do manage to land a job are less likely to be offered a salary bump or promotion compared to their slimmer peers. Obesity was found to lower a woman’s annual earnings an average of 4.5% and men’s earnings as much as 2.3%, according to a 2004 study by Charles L. Baum of Middle Tennessee State University. Some pundits have argued that this may be the last accepted form of prejudice in the U.S.

Progress to end this form of discrimination has been slow, with only a handful of states passing laws to curtail it. Meanwhile, researchers found in 2008 that weight-based discrimination is “increasing at disturbing rates.”

Doesn’t surprise me.

Finally, a WashPost column about anti-Muslim discrimination in Frederick, Md. Someone posted it in comments yesterday. I’m not sure how much to make of it, and I sincerely hope the writer got all the verification she could get, because it’s hard for me to believe there are that many awful bigots in Frederick, but what do I know?

So with that, I’m off to bed and hoping tomorrow will be a little cooler. (It won’t.) I’ll just think of that puppy.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 115 Comments
 

Saturday morning market. 

Now we’re talking. 

Hope your weekend includes cherry pie…

Posted at 8:33 am in Uncategorized | 101 Comments
 

Our little community.

By request, a few snaps of Deborah’s retreat-in-progress down in New Mexico. The concept, per Deborah:

In a nutshell:
100 acres in Abiquiu, NM
First in a series of small buildings (less than 200 SF each)
Cabin, then bath house, then kitchen house etc
This cabin has no electricity or running water, the rest will have though
The buildings won’t be connected, must walk outside to get to each
This isn’t meant for daily habitation, will be a retreat/getaway

So here’s the architectural rendering of the cabin, which is what’s being worked on now. The vertical slats are to screen sun, and some will come off in winter for “passive solar gain,” whatever that is.

deborahsketch

And here’s the work in progress.

deborah2

deborah3

And here’s Mr. Deborah and Little Bird overseeing the project:

deborah4

I’m very impressed. It’s a great design. And I love the idea of the linked smaller buildings – it’ll encourage a different way of living.

And so we hit the holiday weekend, in a holiday mood. Let’s enjoy the sun, the fireworks, and of course, the FREEDOM.

Posted at 12:14 am in Friends and family | 42 Comments
 

More calming photography.

humpbackwhale
Humpback whale, the northern horizon beyond, Husavik, Iceland.

I needed a couple days off, sorry guys. My week tends to be front-loaded (and sort of uneventful, most weeks), so I often find myself on Monday or Tuesday nights lying limply on the couch, thinking how little I care about the news of the day.

But of course I do. I’ve been absorbed by the news of the week, particularly the SCOTUS rulings, which are, like everything else, only more evidence of the great divide. To people like us, it’s pretty simple: You take a job as a pharmacist, you’re obligated to dispense the drugs people present prescriptions for. You’re not there to express your opinions about them, or otherwise interfere with a relationship between a customer/patient and the choices they or their doctors make. Your remarks should be confined to known contraindications and so forth, not your moral beliefs about them.

If you feel you need to say these things, choose another field.

Others? They don’t feel this way. Roy has the roundup. Read that, and you’ll feel better.

Also, the last few days here have been lovely. Monday was miserable hot, but a cool front blew in Tuesday and Wednesday? This:

sunrise

It was pretty chilly at that hour, too — about 55 degrees. You stretch, you get in, you swim. In half a lap, all is well.

I plan to enjoy this summer.

Deborah, send me some current pix of your house project, and I’ll post them here. Along with more of my own, because I feel like if this weather keeps up, it’ll be a very photogenic summer.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events | 39 Comments
 

Sea and sky.

I just spent 30 minutes reading reader comments on Monday’s SCOTUS decision on the Texas abortion laws. It’s a scourging of sorts, I guess. But what it really made me want to do is look at a nice picture from Iceland. This one:

seaandsky

Sea, sky, mountain. Gray, gray, gray, and light. Ah, much better now.

That’s the kind of day it was. I’m headed for bed.

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events | 67 Comments
 

These guys.

For many years now – ever since I read an Indianapolis Monthly cover story on Steve Hilbert, the high-flying CEO who drove Canseco into a ditch a few years back – I’ve thought the best job in America is to be an ex-wife of one of these guys, preferably before they hit the skids. Best of all would be for your hubs to fall in love with his secretary, or personal art dealer, or, in Hilbert’s case, the woman who jumped out of a cake at his son’s bachelor party, at the absolute height of their wealth and power, which is when so many of these splits tend to happen.

Seriously, imagine that scenario. It would be like getting released from prison, only instead of a suit of clothes and a parole officer, you get a condo in Aspen and $40 million. Jane Welch’s deal – that’s the one I want. Or Ivana Trump’s. You never again have to listen to him carp about the office, the board or the tennis coach, all of whom are somehow failing him. You don’t have to fuck him, or supervise his social calendar, or make nice with his equally odious colleagues. You are free to downsize and sit in front of that crackling Aspen fireplace, holding a warm cup of something in both hands and considering the rest of your life. Maybe do some more traveling – to Vietnam, or Russia, or India, places your ex wouldn’t even consider – or just fill your days with low-key lunches, reading and maybe regular dates with the tennis coach.

Of course, I was put on this train of thought by reading about yet another Donald Trump scam. The NYT has been tireless on these myriad disasters, the university and the casinos and all the rest of it. The most believable theory of why Trump won’t release his tax returns, to me anyway (I think it’s Mark Cuban’s), is the one that says he doesn’t have anywhere near as much as he’s been claiming, and the truth is clear if you look at the evidence in front of our faces. What billionaire needs to run as many low-level grifts and cheesy schemes as Trump does? “Trump: The Game,” Trump University, Trump steaks, even his dumb TV show. When you get your B card, you stop doing things like this:

In Oregon, Phyllis Fread was in her 80s, dealing with Parkinson’s disease and had been retired from teaching for almost two decades when Cambridge started calling her at home, where she lived alone. Cambridge salespeople telephoned Ms. Fread — who did not use the internet — 42 times trying to sell her networking services, a website and other products she did not need, according to an investigation by the Oregon attorney general’s office.

Over a two-year period, Cambridge charged her $14,593 for a video biography, calendars, a plaque and other items, including a news release in June 2010 titled “Phyllis J. Fread Reveals Her Secret to a Long Career in Education.” The release included a mention of Donald Trump Jr., saying he “was eager to share his extensive experience” with Cambridge clients.

Eventually, Ms. Fread reached her credit card limit and her son disconnected her telephone to stop Cambridge from calling. In a recorded interview with an investigator from the attorney general’s office, Ms. Fread became emotional as she recalled how “there were all kinds of things they’d push and I’d say, ‘I don’t want it at all.’”

“I remember saying, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t need anything, I don’t want anything.’ And then you couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I probably should have hung up,” she said. “But I didn’t.”

Cambridge was accused by the state of “unfair, deceptive and unconscionable practices” and settled without admitting guilt, issuing a refund to Ms. Fread in 2012. She died 18 months later.

“Cambridge” is:

Cambridge Who’s Who, a vanity publisher promising “branding services” that seemed to complement the real estate business (another duped woman) hoped to create. She paid thousands of dollars to Cambridge, whose spokesman and “executive director of global branding” was Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr.

It’s not a Trump company, but when Junior joined it six years ago, his name became part of the call-center script. You wonder why a billionaire’s son would feel the need to work for such an outfit, even if he only stayed a year. My guess is, he learned at the foot of dad, and knows you never leave a dollar on the table, on the ground or in an 80-year-old woman’s pocket.

A good friend of mine died of AIDS 25 years or so ago, and one of the last arguments I remember having with him was over “The Art of the Deal,” which he was reading, becoming ever more besotted with Donald Trump as the pages turned. To him, Trump was about confidence, “class” and being unlike any other. I never read it, and in fact avoid all such books, even while I marvel over the stacks and stacks you see in places like airports. The format is as predictable as a rom-com: Photoshopped pic of the author on the cover, wearing a sweater; wide margins and big type; and air, nothing but air, between the covers.

Really, who thought that Bill Gates’ “The Road Ahead” would contain one secret to duplicating his own success on the road ahead? Who thought that after reading Welch’s “Winning,” one might go forth and, y’know, win? Thousands, evidently. Maybe millions.

If you’d have told me that one day this “author” of an empty-headed parade of “books” would be the GOP nominee for president, well… I’m sure you feel the same way.

On the other hand, if you’d told me that both Trump and Welch would run personally branded higher-ed programs at for-profit “institutions,” well, I’d believe that.

What am I talking about? I feel like I’ve sort of lost the plot here.

OK, then, moving on. NN.C is a full-service blog, so when you’re passing through my town, I will do my best to say hi in the flesh, as I did on Saturday, at Eastern Market with the bassets, Craig and Patty:

thebassets

I seem to have gone blonde with my most recent highlights. Might want to tone that down, eh?

The week ahead sits with fanged teeth. (Pronounced “fanged” with two syllables, and you’ll get a sense of how much I’m not looking forward to it.) But in five more days, it’ll be over, so let’s get to it, eh?

Posted at 12:31 am in Current events | 51 Comments
 

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' | 88 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