Sunday in the Sun, 2 April ’17

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What a wild week…

The heat continues unabated in the Rockies, run-off hasn’t peaked yet but it’s coming on fast. The Steamboat ski area is fast turning brown – a month early, and snow crews are working overtime to pull secret stashes of snow out of the shadows and cover the most important trails. Climate change denialists point out that this has happened before, and yes, it has. A couple of years ago. Fifty years ago? Uh, well, not so fast there, Kimosabe. In California the near record snow is melting at a record pace and the run-off threatens to overwhelm the reservoirs and canals that carry water south, to LA. Even Exxon-Mobil wrote Herr Drumpf this week, imploring him to accept the scientific consensus that climate change is man-made, and it’s happening now, faster than expected.

So of course Herr Drumpf did what he said he’d do. Move to cut climate change policies enacted our by that former Kenyan President, Hussein Osama bin Obama.

I posted the story a different kind of weather over at Lit and promptly received something that sounded a little too threatening for my taste so I shut comments down again. The commenter went on and on about homosexuality being a mental illness and that transgendered people can get help for their condition from places other than churches, then the rant really got started. About what I expected. I posted the story to the ever-interesting ‘Loving Wives’ category, which, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, was a little like tossing a dummy hand-grenade into a crowded subway car. Yet…the story was very much about a loving wife, another person coming to terms, another human being very much tossed upside down by her husband’s choice. Regardless, I was a little disappointed to see my worst suspicions confirmed, but in the end not too surprised. My rant of late has been against Hate. I’d much rather see Love come out ahead in this war, but I have my doubts. It seems these days like it’s much easier to Hate than to Understand.

Looking over my stats for March, I made 20 posts, of those 16 were stories, or chapters of stories, and then I looked back at last June and July. Two posts in June, three in July. When the snow falls, I write; when the grass grows I work outside. Summer lasts up here, typically, from June to September. I think going forward it will be more like April to November, much like the rest of the country, so I’ve got to rebalance the equation. I’ll need to write more while the grass grows to finish up the things I’m working on.

I’m having my doubts about living up in the high country much longer. Medical issues, primarily, need more comprehensive care than I can get in such a small, isolated community, so I may be packing up and heading to – well, I have no idea yet. Losing my balance, falling three times this winter, once badly, has not enamored me to living in a three-story tree house, either. I used the observatory only a few times, too, as standing in the cold has lost it’s appeal. Trouble is: I dislike hot weather more than I do the cold, so I’ll start searching for someplace cool – and immune to wildfires – and that has clear, dark skies. I’m open to suggestions.

I keep having these little stories pop into my head. Driving into town, standing in the shower – they come out of nowhere and I feel some sense of urgency that I need to get them down on paper (!!!) before the idea slips away. Hence Rosalinda’s Eyes. I didn’t set out to end on such a somber note, that just kind of happened, but the family arc mixed with the birth/rebirth afforded by flying again was what I wanted to explore.

Explore? Yup, that’s the process, for me. One idea leads to another through the first draft, then the idea is revised and reinterpreted during the second, smoothing read. As is the case lately, I’ll combine the three chapters and revise this story some more. I’ve already started, matter of fact, in the shower this morning…

****A word about timing: I tend to work on this Sunday post all week, adding items as they appear, but I post this on Saturday, my time, as it’s already Sunday when many people see this in their in-box. Sorry for the confusion, but a few folks were getting this on Monday, which just seems beyond cruel… ****

So, how about some gnews? Wanna play What’s in a Picture, first?

Of course you do! So, who is this man, and why is he smiling?

Sessions

A. So, is this Cleofus T Muldoon, used car manager at Bubba Grace’s Ford Lincoln Mercury, just finishing a speech given to the Rotary Club in Tupelo, Mississippi;

B. No, you moron, this is Reality TV Star Nancy Grace, talking about her recent sex re-assignment surgery;

C. No, you nitwit, this is Jeff Sessions, who has warned of an American crime epidemic since taking on the role of attorney general. Here good ole smilin’ Jeff has just admitted to a crowd, consisting mostly of law enforcement officials, that the US crime rate remains near historic lows, but that could change any day now, just you wait and see.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

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Ever wonder what it’s like watching Fox News for 18 hours at a stretch? Well, no, I don’t, but apparently some folks over at the New York Times did, and this is what they learned.

Similarly, what might author Stephen King think about Herr Drumpf? Well, he’s been kind enough to write a little about that, and this is kind of a fun read.

Along similar comedic lines: “Stephen K. Bannon was running an investment banking company in Beverly Hills when his partner called with urgent news: a potential $10 billion deal was about to unfold in New York City involving a company they hoped to continue representing — and they didn’t want to be left out of the action.”  Bannon likes to portray himself as the anti-globalist architect of Drumpf’s populist fantasy. Oh, the hypocrisy.

“A recent Washington Post profile of second lady Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, uncovered an interesting detail about their extremely close relationship. Mike Pence reportedly told The Hill in 2002 that “he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side.” So, why does this matter, or does it?

The Brookings Institute continues to examine demographic trends re the 2016 election, and more interesting results are uncovered in this piece. Further, if you’re a Republican wandering in the wilderness, not really sure what’s happened to your party, this article in this week’s The Atlantic is just for you. Of course, The Nation believes the failure of the AHCA to launch represents something much more catastrophic about the Republican Party.

Herr Drumpf wants to increase funding to the military, sure, I get that, but he wants to spend an immediate 2 billion on the wall. At the same time, he wants to immediately cut 1.2 billion from medical research and cut the Center for Disease Control’s budget by 10%. I want to know what they’re putting in the water at the White House. Oh, and did you know that China is about to launch it’s first homemade aircraft carrier? Here’s an interesting article on all that from Global Security.

“Last year, one of Donald Trump’s favorite campaign themes was that Americans were being played for suckers. We were “the stupid people,” ripped off by foreigners, immigrants, and refugees. We let them in, they took our money and our jobs, and they raped and killed our people. As president, Trump says he’s fighting back. He’s banned travel from several Muslim-majority countries. He’s set up an office of “Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement.” We’re finally getting “smart.” All this talk about getting smart and standing up to immigrants is a giant con. Trump is part of it, wittingly or not, but the guy pulling the strings is Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. That was the message of Thursday’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian interference in the 2016 election: Putin’s propagandists helped Trump, and weakened our country and our alliances, by posing as right-wing Americans and stoking fear of immigrants and minorities.” Kind of an interesting article from Slate, you might give it a read.

“A billion years ago, two dancing black holes make a final spin, merge, and – in a matter of seconds – release a cataclysmic amount of energy. Much as a falling pebble spreads waves on the surface of a still lake, the merger initiates gravitational waves in the space-time continuum. Fast-forward to planet Earth and the year 2015. After an immense journey, the gravitational waves from the black-hole merger pass through our solar system. On the morning of 14 September, they oh-so-slightly wiggle the arms of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors in Louisiana and Washington state. A pattern of light-waves shifts in a distinctive, long-sought way. A computer sounds the alarm. (Aeon)

Has America ever seen a party less caring than 21st-century Republicans? Doubtful. Not just my opinion, either.

Filmmaker Michael Moore takes it one step further concerning Herr Drumpf’s environmental policies: he states Ole Carrot Top has in effect declared war on the planet. War, as is: you must choose sides, and be prepared to, well, you read it and see what you think.

Spiders are quite literally all around us. A recent entomological survey of North Carolina homes turned up spiders in 100 percent of them, including 68 percent of bathrooms and more than three-quarters of bedrooms. There’s a good chance at least one spider is staring at you right now, sizing you up from a darkened corner of the room, eight eyes glistening in the shadows. But did you know spiders eat enough in one year to consume every human on earth? Now, can you imagine how many people Republicans could eat in one sitting?

The Boeing 787-10 made it’s first flight Friday morning, NOT from Everett, Washington, but from Charleston, South Carolina. Here’s the official Boeing video of the event. Note the wing-loading tip flex.

So, Herr Drumpf is the savior of the working man? Think again. Seems he always sides with the billionaires, doesn’t he, even when it comes to workers’ wages.

And hey, what does Dick Cheney think about Putin and the election of 2106? An act of war? Really?

What does Bill Maher think about all this, this week?  Sad, but true.

Kunstler has a fever pitched rant about the failures of the current medical insurance system, and he proposes an interesting idea. Senatorial investigations of the whole system as an organized crime racket. Say what? Get a bunch of organized criminals to investigate the very people who are bribing, uh, contributing to them?

I’d go on with more, like why did Michael Flynn offer to testify, but only with a grant of immunity, but at this point, why bother. Besides, both Flynn and Herr Drumpf have said that seeking immunity equates to guilt. Anyway, it’s apparent that Republicans in Congress, true to form, won’t appoint a special prosecutor to investigate this mess. Party before country, right boys?

We’ll see you next week, maybe while we’re spiraling down the drain some more.

Happy trails.

34 thoughts on “Sunday in the Sun, 2 April ’17

  1. I take it from your take on Kunstler’s piece that you are opposed to single-payer insurance — which is what he’s recommending.

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    • Quite the opposite. My wife and father were, my bro-in-law is for single payer as well. Being physicians, I think that important to note. The points Kunstler makes, that it is a racket, are well made. When you consider the purpose of insurance, as it is here now, is to make a profit, I can hardly see it’s place in society now, but when profits take precedence over simple human need? Nope. We could justify private insurance when costs were, relatively speaking, modest, but not now, not when the industry is rapacious and predatory – and opaque. They’ve, in a sense, done it to themselves, and the results are senseless. Look at the index of happiest countries released last month, the top five all single payer, all but one of the top ten. We’re at 14 and dropping fast, and I think the health insurance question drives a lot of misery in this country. What did Trump say? Insurance for everyone, affordable and good? The AHCA made a farce of those words. Taxes will go up, and say they go up a thousand a year per adult. With 6000 per year per person deductibles the norm now, where’s the logic. It becomes another shell game, another con, to keep the current model.

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    • I like Maine, lived there a few years. Hottest I’ve ever been was in Camden. About two weeks every summer, 95 degree humid heat, and no air conditioning to speak of. I grew up in Texas with no air conditioning when we were kids, and I understand that’s why God created Colorado. Maine, the Upper Valley again, maybe Wisconsin, maybe Washington State, maybe Norway once Trump revokes my citizenship and exiles me. Who knows. Maybe a long road trip, one way, awaits.

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      • New Hampshire and Vermont are nice … and we have the benefit of a major medical center at Dartmouth Hitchcock and its Norris Cotton Cancer Center. I’ve been here for a dozen years and can’t think of a better place to live. We’d love to have you for a neighbor.

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  2. Wisconsin can get crazy humid in the summer. The Upper Valley is getting expensive, and there is more light pollution there too now.

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    • Vexing, isn’t it? Good hospitals, cool climate, reasonable cost of living? What’s left here? After riding the bike through MT, WA and OR – and Alberta – two summers ago, western options are fraught with wildfire concerns and looming water shortages. That leaves either New England or the upper Midwest, with bad summers a real possibility.
      And what about Florida? Read there are 155k Burmese pythons in the Everglades now, and as many as 10k cobras in Dade County alone, not to mention those nice, mild summers.

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      • My grandparents lwere snowbirds who lived in St. Pete in the winter. I love to visit Florida, but I think the forever summer would wear thin quickly for me. So many million dollar houses in Lyme now. I know of a couple of people who work in NYC Monday-Thursday, and then fly into Lebanon to spend Friday- Sunday in town. Dartmouth Hitchcock moving to Lebanon has driven prices way up there too. I would have never thought that possible growing up there in the 80s. Lebanon and White River were always thought of as armpits.

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  3. North south travel in NH, VT, and Maine is easy. East west not so much. So, in theory, a place in VT off a two lane east west road should be within reason.

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    • I keep forgetting. The Republicans are trying to kill that, too. We’ll be the only industrialized nation without a national health insurance system AND no passenger railways. How thoroughly modern and foresighted they are. Who cares, as long as you’ve got your own Gulfstream or Challenger?

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      • I’d like a Gulfstream. Actually, I’d really like a Supermarine Spitfire. I’d even settle for one of those replicas they make now. Think they could hook a fella up?

        Amtrak actually ran the commuter rail for the MBTA for a number of years, until around 2005 or so when the MBTA got the great idea that they could do better and formed MBCR to run it for them. MBCR was a spectacular fail.

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  4. Couple of thoughts…. as for location, try 3 hours southeast of Steamboat, ie Evergreen. The nights are pretty darn dark for being half an hour from downtown Denver and it’s generally petty cool, temperature wise. My family doesn’t tolerate heat at all, and while we get snow, it’s nothing like Steamboat. You can’t avoid the potential for wildfire, but that seems to be true everywhere, from the eastern plains to Florida to New England. Besides, Evergreen is a great community although I am a bit biased.
    As for the healthcare mess…. first, force all providers to post prices for most procedures, ie normal vaginal birth, scheduled c section, heart bypass etc. Certainly there would be disclaimers for unexpected issues but the primary push should be to provide consumers with the ability to comparison shop. This would also require public information on outcomes and patient care so as to provide a meaningful cost/ benefit analysis. Second, eliminate the prescription drug middle men and create a system whereby old line drugs cannot be repriced upward by more than 5% at a time with a maximum cumulative price change of say 20%. I think there also ought to be done limitations on the tenure of drug patents, like maybe 10 years maximum. Finally, force congress to buy insurance like the rest of us do. That last point will do more to change the process than any other action I can think of. Yes, I am a cynic.
    All that aside, thanks for continuing to write, I never cease to be amazed at the speed with which you turn out stories. I very much appreciate your style and the quality of your work.

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    • Pretty country over there. Close to good docs, too.
      You make all the good points for sensible reform. Kunstler makes all the counter-points. Congress is in bed with all these forces, insuring complicity in a toxic matrix of rackets. And Congress won’t take the same insurance we do, because a) they don’t have to and b) they’ll never vote to do that. Pharma and insurance companies pay them off nicely, so reform efforts stall. I’m all for “moderate” solutions, but that make financial sense for everyone. Six thousand dollar deductibles, per person, not per family, have made a joke out of health care. Medical insurance is simply a facetious kind of bankruptcy insurance for most people, and they can’t afford to go to the doctor for a simple illness without risking everything, like not eating. Simple solutions that could forestall deeper problems are put off until more desperate, costly measures are required, but then families face more cruel choices. Treatment or bankruptcy, because treatments aren’t covered like they were a few years ago. 20% of a million dollar medical bill is ruinous, and some cheap, employer based policies let that happen. Big example in our neck of the woods, a local grocery store employee diagnosed in January, tried to get treatment but his policy wouldn’t cover effective treatment X so he had to get cheaper, ineffective treatment Y, and skimpy coverage still left them 200K in the hole. He’s in hospice now, and locals are putting dimes in cans on counters to help. Funny how many cans on counters for this type of thing you see as you drive around the country. Kind of an odd way to treat human misery. All too common, I think.
      Nope. Time for big change. Systemic change. Medicare for all seems a good way to start, and let private insurance play the role it does in England. Let them sell supplemental policies that cover things like private rooms and boutique medicine…all the frills we’ll no doubt lose in a single payer system. There will be compromises, but the systems work elsewhere. We can make it work here…or keep putting dimes in cans.
      It’s not a big deal for many of us because we’re better positioned to deal with this, but that’s not the point. The point is our current system insures a lot of needless human suffering takes place.
      Rant over.

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  5. Sadly, my last impression of the Co op, when we visited my parents for thanksgiving last year, was that it had become just another high end market.

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      • There are some issues with shopping options in the UV.

        West Leb has Home Depot, but no Lowes; BJs but no Costco … things like that. But lots of excellent small friendly local business take up a lot of slack. There are a few upper tier towns (Norwich, Hanover …) and the rest where 70% of the people are just getting by.

        I live 45 minutes south of Hanover – 20 acres on a dead-end dirt road with a great house and barn and fiber optic gigabit internet to the house. Traffic is waiting for a car to go past when I get to the paved road. People live close to the land and nature – lots of farmers with high quality meat and produce. Life is good.

        Let me know when you’re coming.

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      • I think the closest thing to fast food in Hanover is Dunkin Donuts. But the Co op of old seemed to cut across income class, and you would rub shoulders with the president of Dartmouth National Bank, a couple of guys from Facilities and a logger in the same checkout line. Now it seems like Helly Hansen and North Face outerwear are the cover charge for admission.

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      • Left in the 90s, so lots of change. Hopefully I’ll drive around the country some time this summer, looking at areas, then places, see what happens. I’ve lived almost off-grid now (I know, I know) for four years, only close neighbors being mountain lions and wolves, so I’m ready for at least a small town. I good diner, a good library, maybe some good spaghetti. Good medicine close by. I mean close, not a half hour. Those will be be the criteria.

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      • West Leb was always the place for BK and MickeyDs (little kids & Happy Meals). Snow tires & hot oil treatment in October, too. Skis in the basement of the old Dartmouth Co-op, about when the college set the bonfire on the Green.

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  6. Hans, of Hans Ski Haus on Rte 10 always took care of our skis. His daughter, Gretchen, was two or three of years behind me at Hanover, and she was just what you expect a Gretchen to look like – tall, fair skin, blue eyes, blonde hair. An oh that girl could ski.

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      • The annual ski sale Ford Sayre would hold in November where all the local shops would bring their stuff, marked down, and you could sell or swap your own gear? Surprisingly, C&A Pizza is still in business.

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      • A quick Google search found a restaurant called the Mill at Simon Pierce in Quechee. I haven’t been to Quechee since the mid 90s, but it always struck me there was more wealth there than Woodstock. For what its worth, Bill Murphy and Ford Daley(for a number of years, Ford lived 1/2 mile down the road form us) are still teaching at Hanover. That must count for something.

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