Mistake on the lake.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

We tried to watch. We watched, then we listened, and well, it was painful video or audio.

This guy lived up to his billing: absolutely the worst President in American history.

This is the worst presidential debate ever.

Get out there and vote.

Got your non-orange crush.

Monday, September 28th, 2020

This is the wall of the garage/workshop of our neighbor. I can’t make a particular political statement with it…(Do not crush Biden? Biden, do not crush Trump more than is needed to save the republic? Ah, whatever.)

Instead, I just enjoy the picture and the surroundings and continue to read about Trump’s profound, profound corruption and hope that things will come together to make profound, profound repairs to our country after November.

Need!

Banner day.

Sunday, September 27th, 2020

Boom!

New York Times reporters Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig, and Mike McIntire doing what you want investigative reporters to do: get complex financial documents legally from sources, painstakingly pick them apart and correlate them with the other bits and pieces of on-the-record stuff we know about this corrupt president. Mix and serve up a lengthy, taut report, apparently the first of several, about a man who has lied to financial institutions and/or the government, signing his name to statements of his income and expenses which, if falsely attested to, may well be felonies.

And, by the way, using every trick in the book to avoid paying taxes, often only paying $750 in actual federal tax. Or, some years, zero.

Richard Nixon used to be the gold standard in this type of criminality. There is a new king.

* * * * *

Oh, and by the way, this post’s title also refers obliquely to good news we heard from young friends up here. Sure wish them every happiness, as I wish for us all an election that takes the criminal president out of office and on a path to conviction, conviction, conviction.

Five ‘A’ Saturday.

Saturday, September 26th, 2020

It’s the last Saturday of September. I almost wrote the ‘last Saturday of February’, because, of course, I just generally feel unstuck in time.

* * * * *

We remain cautious residents of a planet filled with people learning new ways to be stupid in the face of a pandemic. Very human? Maybe. Very frustrating? There is no doubt.

* * * * *

Next month: October! A fine month to look at changing leaves and celebrate significant birthdays. We had a Saturday that managed to stay away from most of the news of the day, although enough crept in around the online edges to reaffirm that this is a good call.

* * * * *

I’m writing this at 8:45 pm, and it is pitch black outside, and that’s certainly a harbinger of the rolling along of the seasons. Also, of course, it’s getting cooler.

* * * * *

In the week ahead, two old white guys will debate each other, or so we have been told. One is ruining the country as he drags us through his totalitarian delirium. The other guy has empathy and compassion for all of us.
* * * * *

I’ll stand with Joe, happily. And Kamala. And Elizabeth, Pete, Cory, Beto, AOC, Ilhan, Keisha, and anyone else Trump decides to drag through the mud (although maybe he’s just attacking Republicans and Fox News now. I can’t keep up.)
* * * * *

Did I mention it’s pitch black outside? Maybe I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and look out and check for clear skies and a ribbony-bright aurora borealis.

By all (legal) means.

Friday, September 25th, 2020

Instagram and Twitter have been insistent that I need to register and vote. A couple of problems with that insistence, which pops up several times a day.

Sorry, Instagram (aka Facebook), I can not register in Michigan because although I have registered to vote and voted everywhere I have lived (as in, a legal resident) since my late teens, Michigan has never been one of those states.

And if you think I am going to click on ‘Change state’ and give you information on where I am going to vote (hint: it’s the state mentioned in the title of this blog), you are oh so very mistaken.

And I’m kinda wondering how you guessed that I’m living in Michigan? The photos (even of our summers in Upper Michigan) that we upload to Insta and Twitter and stripped of geo information…those apps on my phone have location services most definitely off.

So, hmm. Are you buying location data from someone I am sharing with? That’s not good. Also interesting that Twitter also seems to think Michigan is the state for me. I know Tim Apple..er, Cook swears up and down that the iPhone privacy is impeccable so I can safely not look there…or…should I?

So, everyone, please be sure you’re registered and are voting…wherever you’re legally permitted to do so. I know I will. We’re getting close!

To view sign…

Thursday, September 24th, 2020


Well, I’m going to have to look this up. There’s a towering sign just feet from the southern edge of the Kentucky River as it cuts a deep canyon under a high Interstate 75 bridge. Not far south of Lexington, not far north from Richmond, Kentucky.

You may be able to mentally rewind the years and recognize it as an old Pure/Union 76 Travel Center, a distinctive shape very familiar across American freeways and turnpikes in the 1960s and 70s, and sadly all but gone today.

So what I guess I’ll have to investigate is: is it just the sign up for sale? Or is there an entire ghostly abandoned truck stop under the sign…(hard to get to these days, and besides, we’re usually in a hurry)…up for sale?

No, I’m not planning to buy it and make…a 60s truck stop theme park…but…naah.

The way north, north, north.

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

We heard reports that there were fall colors in the northern tier of US states. Well, at the very northernmost parts of those states.

There’s only one road out of Atlanta headed somewhat northwest, then north, north, and a lot more north: Interstate 75.

We know this road. I think it knows us. We’ve tried the alternatives. When we want to get there, this is the way.

Carefully made warnings.

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

I love this photo because the signs are not only carefully lettered, but they are duct-taped on all four sides onto the Pepsi machine in such a way as to minimize vandalism, and the “bulbs out machine works” sign, casually taped, is on a piece of Bellagio stationery.

So my story is: the guy who tends to this rural Michigan laundromat, after several iterations, has developed a stable enough economic platform that will reliably yield a bounty of quarters, so that when he goes to his next trip to Las Vegas, pockets bulging with quarter rolls, he has enough for a fancy room at a big-name Vegas hotel. There, he blows his stash of coinage and returns to maintain the simple cinder block laundromat and its one nonilluminated but functional Pepsi machine.

That doesn’t work with a tomato.

Monday, September 21st, 2020

Man, Ted Turner was able to get the best sponsors for the SuperStation.

Sunday sales begin at 12:30.

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

The way we live now. Early Sunday afternoon line at Green’s Liquor store on Ponce, everyone masked up and queued at something resembling six foot intervals.

Once you get up to the door, an employee squirts your hands with Green’s house brand sanitizer. It’s mandatory, and, amazingly, the sanitizer recipe is posted on the front door. And doubly amazingly, I didn’t photo it or write it down. I remember Aloe Vera and Peppermint and Everclear Alcohol. Don’t drink it!

The story ‘needs’ art.

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

The Archaeoƒacts grid of recent posts.

Back in the days where I was allowed within several security screening points of American newsrooms, I remember when curmudgeonly desk people would allow as this or that story would benefit from what was then a scarce resource: an illustration or photo. ‘Art’, as it was called.

Since then, I’ve become among the loudest grumps when I see NPR or UGA’s Red and Black or the AJC or whatever the hell the Virginia Highland Patch is constantly run some sort of quickly cobbled together, pointless stock art illustration along with pretty much every tweet they emit.

It’s for “the visual thinkers,” y’know. The people who have an aversion to words. Why, I humphed, aren’t words just fine?

Well. Recently, as a coding exercise (hey, you gotta keep up on your PHP), I came up with a specially-coded page on both Sammy’s and my sites (not generally “out there” but if you know the URL, you could call it up) that presents a grid of images with the post’s headline superimposed, one per daily post, covering the last 90 days or so. This works great on Sammy’s site, because as a rule, she always posts at least one (stunning) image. Me, I’ve been doing a lot of posts that are just lots and lots of words, and when you look at my grid, at least back a couple of weeks, it looks like it has a swiss-cheese pattern of black holes.

So the past couple of weeks, I’ve tried to make sure that including an image was part of my daily offering to you…even when, well, it seems like I was grasping for a visual even when I thought in the back of my head that the words were just fine on their own.

I’m surprised I haven’t grumpily tweeted a complaint to myself yet.

So I’ll have to think about what that means. I mean, I’m doing this site for, well, myself mostly (although THANKS for reading it.) I still think posts that are 100% words are just perfectly fine, maybe I just need a tasteful color fill as a placeholder for the grid page that won’t make it look quite as obvious that there’s no pic there. Ah, more coding!

Emptier tonight.

Friday, September 18th, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, March 15, 1933 — September 18, 2020.

Unexpect the expected.

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

So the print version of the New York Times goes with a headline that says “Unexpected Fury of Storm Pounds Coast of Florida.”

They quote Peter McDavid, who owns a reception venue in Pensacola (because that’s where you go for good weather information):

“We weren’t expecting it,” he said next to a marina in Pensacola, where a big blue sailboat had smashed into the railings of the deck and where water had invaded from flooded streets and a broken skylight.

Except, of course, literally any of the meteorologists and weather people on television, radio, and the internet gave this part of the Gulf Coast days of warning that Sally would be slow-moving and dump lots, lots, lots of rain. If Mr. McDavid read anything on his phone, he would be warned, so…”we weren’t expecting it?”

And in the same article:

Just as forecasters feared (italics mine), the storm maintained its dawdling speed as it crossed over land, leaving residents to hunker down while 105 m.p.h. winds ripped roofs from homes, snapped trees, deluged streets and left hundreds of thousands of people without power.

This was a mess, but it was in no way unexpected. Even the tone of the article that suggested that the hurricane would hit way over there in coastal Mississippi or Alabama, not Escambia County Florida…except, yes, Pensacola and Escambia County border on Alabama, and are a very very short drive from Mobile Bay and the Alabama/Mississippi coast. It’s all a continuum.

Yeesh. The storm did what they expected it to. People had warning. Using a quote like that to headline the top right story on page one of the New York Times is just sloppy.

Soggy bands.

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

The composite radar via wunderground.com at 9:55 pm Eastern, Wednesday September 16th.

There’s every indication that tomorrow in metro Atlanta will be soggy, soggy, soggy thanks to the rain bands left by slow-moving Hurricane (now Tropical Storm again) Sally.

The folks down on the coast by far had the worst of it, with huge rainfall totals, but it looks like we’ll get quite a bit of rain in the next 48 hours or so. By early Friday it will have largely moved on to menace the Carolinas, but before then, we get rain. Some wind too, but mostly rain.

The good news? Cooler weather. A high of 73 Thursday.

Only 652.

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

The past couple of years when we head south on I-75, having cleared the metro Toledo area, we encounter this sign. Hey, we’re only 652 miles from home!

Turns out there’s always an explanation, and I found it in The Toledo Blade.

Credit the geography lesson to Chris Waterfield, district traffic engineer at the Ohio Department of Transportation’s district office in Bowling Green, who decided to mix things up a bit — while complying with federal sign guidelines — when he designed new signs five years ago to be erected after I-75’s recent widening south of Perrysburg.

“This is my attempt at maybe trying to wake you up a little bit, and see something different. I don’t think you need to see the same thing every five miles. I want to make it interesting,” Mr. Waterfield said.

The three-line signs do not cost significantly more than the two-line standard ODOT signs used for mileage, he said.

I can kinda understand the “wake you up a little bit” part…the road from Toledo down to, say, Lima is indeed kinda straight and cornfield-lined and, dare I say, monotonous.

For some reason, having them stacked this way makes my brain try to do more math: okay, given these, how far from Cincinnati to Atlanta? (499 miles, no more, no less.)

And that 499 miles is, really, quite Ohio-free.

On-the-job sports training.

Monday, September 14th, 2020

WTCG Studio Control, image ©2020, John Christopher Burns

This is where I sat, in front of the Vidifont, that double keyboard in the foreground, the thing that put the words up on the screen, on long nights when we put the replay of that night’s Braves Baseball game on the air at the superstation. We had a full crew in the control room because we aired different commercials on the late night replay than on the live show. Braves Baseball! brought to you by Dante’s Down The Hatch, Slim Whitman, and the Ginzu Knife! This was in seasons in the late 1970s and early 1980s where the instances of the Braves actually winning or doing amazing things were few and far between.

This is where I was often smart enough to shut up and learn from Kris and Jan and Joan and Don and Ron and Bruce and Russ and Troll and Mike and Stan. Amazing education in television, in how baseball worked, in how to be a good member of a team, an education for which I was paid pretty much minimum wage.