Possessive about plurals.

Friday, October 9th, 2020

I looked over the titles of the last few posts (I try to write every day, and since 2020, well, since something like January 5th or 6th, I’ve been doing that.)

For some reason, I’ve been writing a lot of plural titles.

Garage queries. Soggy bands. Carefully made warnings. You get the idea.

And then I started to think how few of my post titles had a possessive in it, and how few had a possessive plural, which the Associated Press and I differ on when it comes to usage, but only when the possessing thing ends in an S. Like my name, Burns. Like Athens, as in Ohio or Georgia. Comes up all the time.

They would say Kansas’ republicans, and I (along with the Chicago Manual of Style) would say Kansas’s republicans. I think if they were saying it out loud, they’d pronounce the first one like the second example, but that’s a whole different variety of nuts.

So now I’m left to ponder whether I should go out of my way to write more headlines that are possessive plurals formed from words ending in S. And my conclusion: I need to get some rest.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all this weekend.


Thursday, October 8th, 2020

One thing about going out where the cell towers don’t roam for a nice day’s hike is that one has options when one “gets back into civilization” to catch up on the craziness of the day’s news. Sometimes you fire up your device carefully, as if it might go off, spewing news everywhere.

I think today, with all the distractions around a delightful and wonderful birthday celebration, I opted for waiting until we got back to the cottage to (as they say) log on.

And then, well, wow. This would be big news in any state, but we have a lot of friends in the Wolverine state, absolutely none of whom, we’re relieved to say, who would get at all involved in any of this malevolent idiocy.

And while Michigan hasn’t cornered the market on white supremacy, they do, however, have a hardworking state Attorney General, and apparently in cooperation with the US Attorneys in the two Michigan offices and with the FBI, they rounded up and indicted a bunch of pasty white guys who, evidence shows, plotted to kidnap and or kill the Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who has worked hard to keep the state together in the face of Covid 19 and a sizable population of goofballs who are unwilling to do their part to curb the disease’s spread. Goofballs who look like…these guys.

I look at these mugshots and try to imagine what I would say to them to rekindle a sense of shame and remorse over doing something this awful. Drawing a blank at this point, I’m embarrassed to say.

Seasonal devices.

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

A carefully-handcrafted watercolor image of the unboxing of our iPhones 6s in 2015. Just kidding, that Waterlogue app made it look like this.

Last year at this time we had just held the iPhone 11 Pro in our hands at an Apple Store in Ottawa, Ontario, and said “yeah, these could work for us.” This, after having four good years of service from the twin iPhone 6s devices pictured above. We didn’t buy them in Canada (for a lot of reasons) but soon after our return to Atlanta, we did, and we’ve been satisfied customers. Multiple lenses! Computational photography! Fast processing!

Now, around my dear spouse’s birthday, it’s time again (the sites tell us) for another Apple event next week where a fancy pricy phone, or two, or three will be introduced, this year in a Covid-safe online event, of course.

The odds of our upgrading are fairly slim, of course, but I will watch and ponder the improvements and visualize how it could usefully fit into our lives.

It’s the season for that sort of thing.

Garage queries.

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

We were having a nice socially distanced dinner in a large garage this evening, and, as is the fashion these days, the conversation yielded moments that in the old days would have prompted some staring thoughtfully off into space, or, if vital, a trek inside for the encyclopedias or road atlases or bird books.

Now, of course, the room lights up with the blue glow of screens, with hasty thumb-typing to Google, or a spoken request to Siri:

    Who was the female lead in the movie version of Camelot. Okay, in the Broadway version?

    What was that mournful Irish song that I heard on CMU public radio a few years ago? I don’t know any of the words, but I can hum it…

    What year did John Lennon meet Yoko Ono in that art gallery?

    What did Jaime Harrison say when Lindsey Graham said “Democrats are nuts”?

    What are the side effects of dexamethasone?

    What’s Lady Gaga’s real name? (Sammy had this one mostly on her own.)

    Where was Warren Zevon born?

We had a wonderful, informed evening, and were pleased that technology on a mediocre LTE connection could serve up the answers we all demanded.

We acknowledged the passing of Eddie Van Halen, and then when we got back home, the land of Twitter said singer/songwriter Johnny Nash, of “I Can See Clearly Now” died today as well.

Cleansing view.

Monday, October 5th, 2020

I always used to chuckle when people discussed relaxation techniques related to meditation, yoga, or what-have-you. As a generic midwestern guy, I figured I was basically in command of my stress levels and I could deal with the craziness of work (toiling in the fields of television.)

I think I’ve evolved enough to appreciate the cleansing, relaxing, de-stressing effects of looking out at nature and just breathing, being. Or, maybe my learning curve has been focused by current events.

Looking north, out across Lake Superior, on a gusty, beautiful fall afternoon, I found it easy to take a few deep breaths and let the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue craziness go on…somewhere else.


Upbeat prognosis.

Sunday, October 4th, 2020

Dr. Conley said he was trying to “reflect the upbeat attitude” of the medical team and the president. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction,” he added, bafflingly.

I’m looking back 48 hours or 72 hours (who’s counting really?) at my attempts to set my jaw and march, or at least step confidently through this weekend of not just country-rattling news, but news generously dosed with lies-cloaked-as-positivity and medical press conferences that turn out to be fake positive concoctions for the emotional well being of Participant 1, the guy who was impeached, the patient.

We really don’t know much late Sunday evening except that the president is still alive (as of this writing) and back at Walter Reed Medical Center after a Secret-Service-endangering “joyride” that, well, let’s call it for what it is, a photo op.

Meanwhile, the off-the-record grumblings from the West Wing staff and the Secret Service grow by the hour. “He’s not even pretending to care,” said one unnamed agent.

The Trump campaign should have really picked that as their 2020 slogan.

Bring your own shield.

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

Saturday night, and before I started writing, I had to glance at the online universe to see if anyone else had been added to the growing spreadsheet of infected leaders of our country. Nah, I think we’re OK.

It sounds like down in South Carolina, challenger Jaime Harrison had a good night against entrenched Senator Lindsey Graham. Again and again, he challenged Graham to own up to his dramatic shifts in policy, and produced some world-class verbal squirming from the longtime Republican senator.

But the really impressive, amusing, and sensible thing is that Harrison brought his own plexiglas shield to the debate to keep (or reduce) the flurry of aerosol particles coming and going from the other side of the stage.

Should Senator Kamala Harris do the same when faced with the supposed Covid-19-negative (but do we really know because the incubation period is, well, 14 days) Vice President Mike Pence?

I think I would.

A bad day scenario.

Friday, October 2nd, 2020

Wrote my post last night around 9 pm, and went to bed. In the morning, Sammy said “I guess you heard the big overnight news.”

Well, you can guess what she was referring to. And, well, here we are. An old man is in the hospital with coronavirus, presenting with what sounds to me very serious symptoms, and he is getting very, very very good care, paid for by the government. Us. Your tax dollars.

I’m ending my day of way too much Twitter reading by watching Rachel Maddow talking to Dr. Jennifer Peña, who worked in the White House for four years in the medical unit. She says her former team planned for what was called a “bad day scenario,” in terms of training and preparation, and this certainly fills that definition.

So we’ll all get through this sober, unprecedented weekend, and I sure hope that we get an accurate accounting of the President’s health, care, and prognosis along the way. I hope the President and his wife recovers, and I wish good health as well with all the other White House staff, reporters, workers, and Capitol Hill staff, workers, Senators, Congresspeople, and everyone else who were placed (?) in harm’s way.

And of course, I wish good health and good outcomes to the tens of thousands of other Americans who tested positive just today.

Busy wires tonight.

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Some nights reading the Twitter is sufficiently like the old days of ripping the clattering old wire machines, using a ruler to tear the endless yellow paper into individual stories or takes, and then there’s the tape and rubber cement and..ah, forget it. It makes it sound like I learned this stuff in the dark ages.

* * * * *

Several news organizations are reporting that Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s closest advisors, has tested positive for Covid-19 and is displaying at least some symptoms.
* * * * *

Two GOP political operatives, the Donald Segrettis of the modern age, Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, have been charged with multiple felony counts and as much as 7 years in prison by Michigan’s Attorney General for deceptive robocalls aimed at supressing Black voters in the mitten state.
* * * * *

Pope Francis declined to see US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Vatican City.
* * * * *

The Governor of Texas is trying to restrict ballot drop boxes to one per county, even after several other states (Ohio, for example) lost this battle in court.
* * * * *

And really, there’s so much more. It’s starting to feel a teeny bit like dominoes falling. October is going to be quite a ride.

Tantrum’s aftermath.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

Although I have no solid information, I would speculate that this photo is the aftermath of either a very bad storm or a very bad temper.

I include it here as some sort of loose metaphor for making a mental recovery after that 90 minutes of television last night labeled a Presidential Debate. Yeeee-owwwww. And please make no mistake, the turbulence and tantrums were coming from the current President of the United States.

The other guy, the guy we are voting for, turned to the camera and expressed concern and empathy toward the American people. Again. And in the face of spittle-laden insults and slander against Biden’s children.

I feel as if today we’ve done what people do after a very bad storm…check in with each other and make sure that, although frayed at the edges, we have the energy to keep moving forward. (A few more weeks.) Talked to several friends in other states, and the uniform sentiment of “WTF was that crap?!” was in itself reassuring.

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.


Banner day.

Sunday, September 27th, 2020


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.