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.


Thursday, October 15th, 2020

You heard that Trump wouldn’t participate in a split screen debate with Joe Biden. You probably heard the rest of the mess where they ended up in so-called ‘Town Halls’ on competing networks, simultaneously scheduled.

The end result was probably more effective than having the two together could possibly be at this point.

How do I know? I didn’t watch either one. But after an hour or so outage, Twitter was back online again enough to get the general idea. Trump was Trump. Biden was Biden. And Biden was so patient, polite, and empathetic that one Republican complainer said it was like watching an episode of Misterogers. Biden even stuck around and answered questions for at least 15 minutes after the broadcast went off the air, according to the Twitterverse.

Misterogers. That seems like high praise indeed. And maybe some of that is just what we need next year.

Premium pixel gatherers.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

On seriously overcast, even rainy, blustery days (like today) we have been known to go out and take our photographic devices with us and see what the world is like out in the weather. It’s satisfying to me what great pictures we get with the iPhone 11 Pro…you know, the one that was “made obsolete” by yesterday’s new iPhone announcement.

But I don’t talk quite as much about another tool in our photo kit, the latest (is it? I guess I should check for any announcements in the last 72 hours. Hold on a sec. Nope, not yet.) …in a series of Sony RX-100 models, the DSC RX-100 VII, which we picked up just over a year ago on Sammy’s birthday.

It’s a wonderful camera. And, in the gloom and the rain, it shot the two pictures displayed above on this very post.

Gee whiz, Tim.

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

We bought new iPhones 11 Pro last year because we saw a real improvement in the camera from what we were toting before. Apple just announced a bunch of iPhone 12s in various configurations, and they managed to do their classic “improved 10% here, and 17% there, and you can hurl it to the ground 4x harder, and…”

They also seriously touted 5G as a thing that will “change the game” in so many ways. They brought out Verizon’s CEO Hans Vestburg, who (apparently) got within 18 feet or so of Tim Cook on stage…keep your distance there Hans! (Maybe it was all VFX, but then I would have taken the extra time to Americanize Vestburg’s pronunciation of ‘5G’.)

It all smelled of Extremely Big Corporate Behind The Scenes Deal. I keep reading about all kinds of “it isn’t quite there” complaints about 5G (especially the Millimeter Wave 5G that Verizon has spent mucho to install in a small handful of large American cities.) And I know that the national 5G buildout hasn’t reached rural areas struggling with overcrowded towers and dead zones.

Reading between the lines of the presentation, I was reassured that Apple has been working hard on the quirks and weaknesses of 5G (sounds like the steel antenna edge was far from just cosmetic), and that one day, it will be a useful and ubiquitous thing. And of course there wasn’t a word about how much all this more quickly delivered data will cost the end user. Shoot those raw photos! Slam those videos into the cloud! Who needs wifi! No wonder why Verizon’s stock went up after the presentation.

Arrgh. Too many G.

So I went on a short walk away from the online reality distortion fields and casually shot a picture on a beautiful autumn afternoon with my still pristine 11 Pro, and, y’know what? Ahhhh. It was nice. Nice pixels. Good job, phone.

Early signs of commitment.

Monday, October 12th, 2020

Photo by Curt Yeomans, Gwinnett Daily Post.

Early voting began in Georgia, my state, today, Monday. It began with technical fits, starts, and problems, which is consistent with how the current state administration has been running the election system.

There are some 35 early voting locations in Fulton County (including the huge State Farm basketball arena that has been converted into a voting center and some mobile ones that have some unusual hours and dates.)

There are 13 in DeKalb, 11 in Cobb, 9 in Gwinnett.

The Gwinnett Daily Post says Gwinnett sees long lines at all sites on the first day of early voting. The AJC says Heavy turnout and glitches mark start of early voting in Georgia, and they do a good job of explaining some of the tech glitches in a system that seems (to me) way more complicated than it needs to be.

But put simply, in Georgia at least, people really, really want to vote.