Please do not.

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

I’m enjoying the Google Photos feature where any readable words on the photo are indexed. Tonight I typed in “Please do not” to our own collection of a zillion pics and this is what I got…although I cheated and included a couple of results without the “please” just because I liked them.

…but still, most signs worldwide are polite about their demands.

The waiting, is the hardest…part.

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Yes, I’m quoting Tom Petty in the title there.

If this sign reflected how long until Tuesday’s election day is over, it would say “approximately 6660 minutes from late Friday to end-of-day midnight Tuesday.”

Early voting is over in Georgia. The cake is (mostly) in the oven. We’ll see what comes out in 6660 minutes or so. We are waiting, patiently, masks on and, if I believe the faded paint marks on the sidewalk, at six-foot intervals.

I guess I should explain this precise image, from this morning: why are all the line-waiters looking off to the right in our midtown Trader Joe’s parking lot? One screaming woman used her car to block the car of another somewhat less screaming woman. The standoff, with much yelling, went on for minutes. Police were called. I didn’t see the beginning of the incident, but I did see it break up.

I asked the Trader Joe’s team member “how many bells for a major parking lot disturbance?”

“There aren’t enough bells,” she replied.

Patriotic acts.

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Look! It’s our little corner of patriotism in and among a bulletin board filled with the chaos and montage-y beauty of two lives uniquely lived. It’s right across from our downstairs bathroom.

Put more plainly, voting has always been a big deal for us. And most years, we get the little stickers of satisfaction that proud voters have been sharing entertainingly nationwide on the social internet during this remarkable period of early voting. In fact, we got two of the 2020 Georgia stickers this August when we went in and picked someone to carry out the rest of the late congressman—our congressman—John Lewis’s term. One race on the ballot to decide. We were in and out quickly, with stickers in hand.

But in Georgia, you don’t get the sticker tucked into the absentee ballot (I guess you could falsely display it on your t-shirt without having turned in a ballot and, well, what madness lies there?

So this Monday, when we used a nice, safe, secure, officially official drop box to place our oh-so-carefully filled out and sealed and oath-affirming ballots, we had to wait until today to have the more muted satisfaction of watching our online My Georgia Voter page status dialog thingie switch from Date received: (blank) to Date received: 10/27/2020. Status: Accepted.

Status: Accepted! Whoohoo! We are somebody. Now we just have to make it throuh a few more days to see what we as a country have collectively wrought. No stress there.

Soggy bands, late-season edition.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

The composite radar via at 3:20 pm Eastern, Wednesday October 28th.

I just checked, my entry from September 16, 2020 about the approach of Hurricane (later, Tropical Storm) Sally (42 days ago) pretty much could be copied and pasted for this evening’s Atlanta severe weather prospects.

I mean, we’re not expecting the big move-through until near dawn, and this one is moving faster, and we’ve had so much tropical activity that this (currently still a) Hurricane Zeta has dived deep into the Greek alphabet. What’s next, Esperanto?

But man, so much severe weather on top of pandemic on top of political chaos. I think I’m planning a bear-style hibernation from after inauguration in January until, well, maybe mid-March? I mean, why not?

It’ll probably still be super-rainy in January, anyway.

On the trail of FDR.

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Joe Biden in Warm Springs, October 27, 2020.

Like many who live around here, I was (pleasantly) surprised to hear that not only the Democratic presidential candidate would be visiting the highly contested state of Georgia one week out from the election, but that one of his two stops would be in Warm Springs, population 425-ish, some 70 miles south of Atlanta on the edge of the Pine Mountain ridge.

Without giving you the entire Wikipedia entry, this is where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, stricken with polio, visited for the ameliorative effects of the thermal baths. It wasn’t an easy trip at the time; a bumpy and long train ride from D.C.

But Biden, a fan of the hard repair work FDR performed for a nation in depression, found it apt to talk here. Ironically perhaps, FDR is a more vivid hero for someone of Biden’s age than, say, the generation of his running mate.

I remember FDR being discussed in fairly reverential tones around my family growing up, but I really only learned the details—what a slog it was to get reforms in place that would take care of the vast seas of American unemployed amidst an economy in the tank—after I went off to school. Many parts of his plan were (wait for it) challenged again and again in court by venal opponents who were opposed to extending an outstretched hand of help when it was needed most.

I think Biden’s remarks at Warm Springs (and on October 6 at Gettysburg, where he put Lincoln’s labors to hold together a divided people into perspective) show a man who may be of his era, but well aware of his 21st century challenges, should he gets the job he’s running for.

Put simply, Biden and Harris will have a colossal repair job to undertake if the election goes their way (and I sure hope it does.) Just under a week now.

Spam tasting.

Monday, October 26th, 2020

Every so often I take a moment and utter a silent thanks to the developers who create robust and effective spam filters, so that I am not assaulted by an inbox filled with this stuff.

And then, sometimes, I take a moment and try to imagine the lives of the people whose job it is to (and I use the term very very loosely) craft this stuff. First of all, are they even inside the United States? Do they know why Nancy Pelosi would be furious about a gold plated coin? Are they surrounded by dating-age Russian women? Have they studied American English in schools just to become facile at offering total fiction, such as “Genesis 19 and Deuteronomy 29, mentions this nutrient that seems to inhibit the aging process protecting your cells from the ravages of time” bookended by “Please Fwd this email to your friends and family if you found this article useful.”

Oh yeah, that’s going to happen.

And on days like today, I take one more moment to chuckle that Apple has, for years, used an excrementally-tinged brown as the official color of spam in their applications. Yes, indeed, the categorization comes through at a glance.

And then, one menu selection, followed by an affirmative answer to “Are you sure you want to erase the messages in your Junk mailbox?” and it’s done.

Threat assessment.

Sunday, October 25th, 2020

The hand of Abe, last fall.

The prescription is often much the same: don’t dwell on social media, don’t micro-examine the polls, don’t stress out over what you can’t control.

I am supremely imperfect at hewing to these wise directions. When I see a tweet (and I did, Sunday evening) that says

Carl Bernstein is reporting that Trump insiders are saying that he is planning “a scorched earth campaign in the final days the likes of which we have never seen.”

My heart rate kicks up and if I wore a fancy Apple Watch various alarms and buzzers would be going off.

But then I take a step back and say: is this real? Where did he report this? Why isn’t this being checked, corroborated, added to? What’s the substance of this unsourced report? And past a certain point, what’s really new about any of this?

We know Trump is going to be a jerk. We can deal with this.

And so I reset the (mental) alarms and go wash the dishes. Threat cast aside…for now.

To de point.

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Sammy went for a neighborhood walk today, as she does most days. Sometimes strenuous, sometimes long, sometimes a unique mixture of all components.

You’ve seen if you’ve looked at Archeoƒacts at all that she has a great eye for things botanical and natural (and the tech chops to get the shot in the moment), but today she brought me an image from our neighborhood that she thought I would enjoy because, first and foremost, it is a sign.

And maybe in this maelstrom of political fury, it is a sign!

Thanks, Sam.

Our work to do now.

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

We came home to find our mail-in ballots (which we will be dropping off at legit official no kidding dropboxes) waiting for us. Even while traveling, we have been besieged with political ads from all corners, PACs, and stripes.

I’m happy to see that traditionally underfunded Democratic candidates have been infused with enough cash to do this, on one level. On another, I continue to rue the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that has unleashed this towering cascade of corporate propagandic noise disguised as “speech.”

Our social media pages, our cable tv screens, and our traditional ol’ mailbox has been deluged. And as I say: it’s noise.

So, with our eyes and brains focused, and with the advertising tuned out or as far down as we can, we are voting, and making sure those we know here and elsewhere can do the same, safely, carefully, legally, correctly,

And in a very few days, we’ll see.

Orange avoidance.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

We listened to some of the debate while driving toward the very site of the debate, Nashville Tennessee. I thought this was clever and ironic and all until while heading into Music City’s outskirts, I realized all those political people would be high-tailing it to the airport that we drove right by on the Interstate.

A quick look at traffic confirmed: we had to do a little orange avoidance.

Across the top.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

I used to live on US 2. Not here. Not 1000 miles from here. But on the chunk of US 2 that, after a brief interruption with Ontario and Quebec, appears in northern Vermont.

We’ve driven it west, all the way out to north of Seattle, across the top of America.

Maybe we will again someday. After the election.

But now, today and again tomorrow, our vector is South. South.

Pe·nul·ti·mate: almost last.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

This is one of those words I learned and said to myself, wow, this is nonintuitive, people must get this wrong all the time.

And they do.

But the dictionary is pretty clear on the origin:

late 17th century: from Latin paenultimus, from paene ‘almost’ + ultimus ‘last’

And the English Usage Stack Exchange offers a couple of useful variations to impress people at cocktail parties when there are again cocktail parties:

antepenultimate —third before last, or the one before the penultimate. As an alternative: propenultimate.

propreantepenultimate —(yeegads!) four before the end.

At any rate, our days here are coming to a close, so this applies.

The point is mute.

Monday, October 19th, 2020

This misbegotten planned Presidential Debate is still, as of the moment I write this, on for Thursday, although the Nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates has this evening issued a rule that will probably infuriate the current occupant of the White House.

The two minutes of uninterrupted response time each candidate gets for each topic will be somewhat more uninterrupted at least on television because his opponent’s microphone will be muted for the duration. Now I’m very interested in how far apart the two debaters will be and what kind of mics are being used and how they’re placed, because it may well end up that you’ll hear one candidate (let’s just say Trump)’s distant bleating and bellowing indistinctly in the background.

And of course the other candidate (let’s just say Biden) will be in the room with the infected President, and will have to have the poise to stay focused and keep talking even though there’s a muted guy trying to throw you off.

It’s some sort of attempt at having a debate with content. Will the Trump campaign cry foul and walk away? No skin off Biden’s nose if he does.

Signs of season’s end.

Sunday, October 18th, 2020

Most of our monthlong stay in Upper Michigan, if the morning was at all sunny, I was greeted with a riot of red and gold from this maple outside our window.

But, as seen from directly above this morning, the prime time for this colorful tree has come and gone. I’m sure happy we’ve had an ample chance to enjoy it, but I think it’s trying to tell us “show’s almost over.”

It spreads! It melts!

Saturday, October 17th, 2020

Among the treasures of The Green Cottage:

Oh man, look at that burger with…tiny volleyballs nestled next to it? Mmmm.

Ahh, my appetite, whetted by the prominent appearance of the word “imitation!” And only 49¢! Mom, can I have extra garnishing parsley with my grilled cheese?

Oh…it’s a childhood crayon box.

Tab, retired.

Friday, October 16th, 2020

If you thought of me when you came across the news this morning that Tab, the original diet soda from Atlanta’s Coca-Cola company was (finally?) going out of production, well, yes, I had heard, thanks.

Will I be hoarding cans of the pink stuff? Hmm. Not sure at this exact moment.

Here’s the thing. My fondness for Tab had a lot more to do with taste than nostalgia, and I say that in the face of friends and family who crinkle up their faces at the very idea of it.

I like how it tastes. I especially like how it tastes mixed with a decent Root Beer. And yes, I’ve enjoyed that particular alchemy for decades.

Said one aquaintance (old friend?) on Twitter:

“I don’t care about Tab. It’s a waste of nostalgia.”

(and she then goes on to decry the discontinuation of Odwalla beverages as the real loss here. To each one’s own…nostalgia?)

I lived in Atlanta through the early 80s insanity of the introduction of New Coke and the throngs of people who packed supermarkets to hoard the old stuff and, later, would go out of their way to buy bottles of Coke made in Mexico (“Mexican Coke”) because it tasted better sweetened with real cane sugar than high fructose corn syrup (true enough).

I couldn’t even tell you what artificial stuff Tab is sweetened with at the moment, but I can tell you that Tab tastes good. It’s a strong taste, not at all (and never has been) a clone of a cola. And, as I’ve said so many times, it’s really great mixed 50/50 with Root Beer. Real sugar-cane-sweetened Root Beer or, say, Virgil’s Zero Sugar Root Beer, it’s great with Tab.

At some point in the near future, that won’t be an option for me. But since I tend to only go on two or three soda-buying splurges a year, I’m not sure I’ll notice. I’ll miss the bright pink packaging on the grocery store shelves, but, like many things, like analog television and coins, Tab has had a good run.

Maybe when it’s completely, totally gone I’ll gin up enough nostalgia to miss it. But there will always (?) be Root Beer.