Friday, August 19, 2016

Lake Nutwood

I could write an entry about Trump whitesplaining to African-Americans in front of a white audience in Michigan, but I find that I’m just feeling too mellow to get riled up about him today. It’s just so absurd and laughable that I can’t quite find the words. Maybe tomorrow.

So instead I’ll leave politics behind and write about Lake Nutwood!

On Monday, it started raining. It rained and rained. And rained. I think it rained for about 18 hours straight, and some of it was definitely a downpour.

South Bend ended up getting a record rainfall for the day, around 8 inches at the official location at the airport. Our place, however, was in the “hot spot” for rainfall and we got around 11 inches. We went from the driest August on record up to that point to the wettest August on record, in less than one day.


When I got up Tuesday morning, I looked out back and couldn’t believe my eyes. Half of our backyard was underwater! We’ve been here almost 15 years and we have never seen so much water in our yard. I joked to Ken that I always thought a lake house would be nice but I’d rather WE went to the lake instead of the other way around!

I find myself looking at it constantly. It is just odd to look out there and see all that water. It’s kind of pretty...I like seeing the reflection of the trees on its still surface. It has held fairly steady since Monday but I’m finally starting to see that it is receding back to the pond. The ground is obviously saturated and we may not see it recede completely for a few weeks.

I’m including a video that I took Tuesday morning and as I say in the video, we were very fortunate. We had no water in our basement (it’s a walk-out basement) and no damage. A lot of people weren’t so lucky and ended up with a lot of damage. A couple of families lost their homes. Our flood wasn’t nearly as bad as what is happening in Louisiana, of course. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this in South Bend, as well as in Louisiana, and we are proud to be long-time supporters of the American Red Cross.

I’m certain that what saved us was Kengineer. Shortly after we moved here, we noticed standing water in the yard after a heavy rain. If I recall correctly, the previous owners had mentioned a couple of times when they got water in the basement. So Ken rented a Grasshopper and dug a couple of trenches in the yard and installed PVC pipe, then put in drains up by the house to carry any water out to the small back pond. We never saw standing water like that again, at least not by the house. Everything flowed back to the pond and the wetlands and when the pond overflowed this week, the water stayed away from the house.

Well done, Kengineer!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

That’s why I’ll do it again

I hear you’re lonely, don’t monkey with my business
You pay the profits to justify the reasons
I heard your promise but I don’t believe it
That’s why I’ll do it again

~~ “Notorious” by Duran Duran

I find it...interesting...when people decide what should and shouldn’t be posted on social media. Why are so many people posting about this? Why aren’t people posting about that? I don’t want to read this and I don’t like that and people should listen to me and do what I want!

Well, who made you hall monitor?

Here’s the deal. We all see things we don’t like on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. That doesn’t mean you get to decide what others should or should not post! I’ve been writing this blog for ten years (although admittedly sporadically lately) and I can remember people sending me suggestions in the past on things to write about. “You should write about this.” Really? If you want to read something about that topic, how about you start your own blog and write it yourself instead of playing editor with me? I don’t take requests!

A lot of people don’t care about politics. I get it. (Although why the hell not, I DON’T get.) A lot of people just don’t want the constant barrage of stories about it. I get that, too. Sometimes I have to step away for a bit. I try to balance my fascination with politics with my other passions, like music and books. I’m not all Woodward and Bernstein up in here, okay?

But you know what’s really cool about electronic things like TVs and computers? They have an Off button! Isn’t that amazing? You don’t have to watch and you don’t have to read. You know what’s cool about social media sites? You have the power to control what you read. Here are some options.

If someone consistently posts things you don’t want to read on Facebook, you can unfollow them. None of their posts will show up on your feed, but you can still go to their page and see their posts if you want to. I have even suggested this to my friends on Facebook if they get tired of my political posts. I won’t be offended. I know that not everyone is as into it as I am.

If someone posts things that you find deeply offensive, just unfriend them on Facebook or stop following them on Twitter, or whatever options other sites offer. If you honestly don’t like the person and what they post, why are you following them, anyway? I don’t care if it’s a coworker or a family member. Life is too short to put up with assholes, no matter the work or family relationship.

Or hey, here’s an idea. If you don’t like a post and it’s something you don’t want to see...maybe you could just scroll on by and understand that everyone has the right to post what they want! (As long as it’s not hate speech.) What a concept, right? Yes, you can just move along, nothing to see here, and no harm is done.

Here is what you don’t get to do: You don’t get to decide what others should or should not post, and you don’t get to decide what are or are not appropriate topics. Social media means different things to different people. My friends and I discuss all kinds of things, and yes, we have some lively discussions about politics. We are exchanging ideas and opinions and we are contributing to the dialogue. I happen to feel passionate about what is happening in our country and about what road we are taking. I feel fortunate to have this blog and social media where I can voice my opinion. Many in this world do not have such freedoms.

I was very moved by the lecture we attended last week about the suffragist movement. Women didn’t get the vote by staying silent. I have no intention of staying silent about this election or future elections.

I don’t take umbrage with people who express frustration with all the political posts. That’s fine, because you have the right to say that! I support your right to feel that way and to post about it!

But don’t chide me for my posts. I’m not going to stop.

That’s why I’ll do it again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Beth’s Books: Look Who’s Back

I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the Blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Please to meet you
Hope you guessed my name

~~ “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones

Written by Timur Vermes, translated from German by Jamie Bulloch


This book was excellent and amazing. Published in Germany in 2015, it tells the story of Adolf Hitler—yes, the real one—waking up in 2011 Berlin. No explanation is given as to why he survived his suicide and burning with Eva Braun, but none is needed. That is not the point of the book.

As the Führer learns that he has awakened 60 years after his last memory, he attempts to navigate the modern world. He is mistaken for a comedian and actor/impersonator, soon attracts the attention of the networks, and gets a segment on a comedy show. He is a hit with many viewers (although some do not find him amusing at all) and seen as a master satirist. He never breaks character to anyone because he is, of course, the actual Hitler. He delivers speeches he gave decades ago and they begin to resonate with a certain segment of the population. He becomes so popular that he is given his own show.

This is one of the best dark humor books I’ve ever read. It manages to take one of the most abhorrent figures in world history and make him somewhat sympathetic. Of course, just as you’re going along and thinking, “Well, it was kind of nice what he said to her,” he then thinks about how it was necessary to eliminate as many Jews as possible and that his efforts were not in vain. I often felt a combination of horror and hilarity. It can’t be an easy thing to evoke such opposing feelings in a reader, but Vermes does it perfectly. (Credit to the translator, as well. It is not easy to translate German and retain the humor.)

There were parts that made me laugh out loud, such as when Hitler wonders at the absence of candles in the hospital due to concerns about fire:

I cannot recall large numbers of buildings having been damaged during my time in government, despite the generous use of candles. But I do concede that, from 1943 onward, the statistics become rather less meaningful given the increasing absence of buildings.

Then there is Hitler’s visit to Oktoberfest, where he strikes up a conversation with a woman. She speculates on his operations, meaning plastic surgery in order to look more like the real Hitler, but he takes it as literal military operations and mentions Sea Lion, Barbarossa, and Cerberus. She says she hasn’t heard of them, thinking that he is talking about plastic surgeons.

She scrutinized me. “I don’t see any scars,” she said with the air of a professional.

“I’m not going to complain,” I said. “The deepest wounds are those that Fate inflicts upon our hearts.”

“You’re right there,” she said with a smile, holding her beer toward me.

This is an absolutely brilliant indictment of celebrity worship, social media, politics, and the cult of personality. How is it possible that a somewhat charismatic, completely narcissistic blowhard with delusions of grandeur could rise to a position of political power while spouting racist, xenophobic, sexist rhetoric?

Heyyyy, wait a minute…!

Look Who's Back