Choo Choo (Open Thread)

There are so many outrageous and stupid things to write about today, but honestly, I don’t have the heart. Courtesy of Senator Murphy of Connecticut, here’s a cute little girl going gaga over a choo-choo instead:

Open thread.






73 replies
  1. 1
    Gravenstone says:

    Loved her joyful enthusiasm.

    And also from a more innocent time, yet also a bit of a metaphor for today. The train reminded me of my grandfather taking me for a walk along the remains of a derailed train in their town when I was maybe 5 year old. He had worked on the railroad (among so many other past jobs) so I got some fun commentary to accompany our little stroll.

    Today we’re all walking past/through the train wreck of our world, but the commentary isn’t nearly as pleasant or educational.

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  2. 2
    germy says:

    Valerie Plame’s campaign ad (“Undercover”):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICW-dGD1M18

    “I’ve got a few scores to settle!”

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  3. 3
    HeleninEire says:

    Thanks Betty. I needed that.

    @germy:

    Really? You can’t wait 3 minutes?

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  4. 4

    I have a guest blogger today, Clare Stevens, who shares my publisher. She writes about how and why she came to write her debut novel, Blue Tide Rising. She was thinking about it, and then was diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided she’d regret not doing it. Her story has a happy ending so far.

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  5. 5
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I was just listening a song by The The, This Is The Day, and a line from the lyrics comes to my mind, “All the money in the world, couldn’t buy back those days.” If only it could.

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  6. 6
    japa21 says:

    @germy: Hmm, 2.3K likes and 34 dislikes.
    @HeleninEire: I know, but what the heck. Is an open thread.

    ReplyReply
  7. 7
    japa21 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Wouldn’t help me if it could. I can’t afford going back two minutes. Badgers looked good, nice Packers’ win and The Brewers aren’t out of it yet.

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  8. 8
    rikyrah says:

    UVA has ruined us’: Health system sues thousands of patients, seizing paychecks and putting liens on homes

    Jay Hancock, Elizabeth Lucas 1 hr ago

    Heather Waldron and John Hawley are losing their four-bedroom house in the hills above Blacksburg, Va. A teenage daughter, one of their five children, sold her clothes for spending money. They worried about paying the electric bill. Financial disaster, they say, contributed to their divorce, finalized in April.

    Their money problems began when the University of Virginia Health System pursued the couple with a lawsuit and a lien on their home to recoup $164,000 in charges for Waldron’s emergency surgery in 2017.

    The family has lots of company: Over six years ending in June 2018, the health system and its doctors sued former patients more than 36,000 times for over $106 million, seizing wages and bank accounts, putting liens on property and homes and forcing families into bankruptcy, a Kaiser Health News analysis has found.
    Unpaid medical bills are a leading cause of personal debt and bankruptcy, with hospitals from Memphis to Baltimore criticized for their role in pushing families over the financial edge. But UVA stands out for the scope of its collection efforts and how persistently it goes after payment, pursuing poor as well as middle-class patients for almost all they’re worth, according to court records, hospital documents and interviews with hospital officials and dozens of patients.

    UVA sued patients for as little as $13.91 and as much as $1 million during most of that period, until July 2017, when it restricted lawsuits to those owing more than $1,000, the analysis shows.

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  9. 9
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    That little girl is adorable. So excited!! I hope she loved her first train ride.

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  10. 10
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @japa21: And, as long as we are being parochial, Sean Duffy is still resigning. I don’t know if a Dem can take the 7th (they moved Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, and Eau Claire into Ron Kind’s district a few years ago which makes it tough), but getting Duffy out helps.

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  11. 11

    @Omnes Omnibus: I Always loved Stevie’s line “Until the day that is the days that are no more”.

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  12. 12
    Elizabelle says:

    I loved this article in the LA Times. Totally worth a click. On living the neighborhood life, at a dog’s pace.

    Opinion: A dog, a neighborhood and a different way of seeing

    … When I tell people about the pocket Westside neighborhood where I live, I always say I’ve never known or felt so deeply connected to a place. I realize now that’s not because my neighborhood is special. It’s because of Casey.

    He is why I know every house around me — which lawns are always overgrown and which manicured, which yards have peach trees, and which cacti: walking at a dog’s pace forced me to see them. Casey is why I know every nearby family that ever had a dog, because he pulled me into the canine social orbit — of Blue and Sarah, on the next block; of big Valentine and golden Ollie and a dozen others.

    The dogs in turn brought me into the lives of dozens of human neighbors. There was Frank, whose parents’ lives were ruined by the Cultural Revolution; Dan, the dogless dog-lover who drinks beer with friends outside his apartment, a giant jar of treats at his side. Some have become real friends, like Michelle, who came via Ava, a Great Dane mix and his sweet giant pack-mate Baxter. These people watch for me, ask after me, worry if I don’t show.

    Fifteen years beside Casey have given me my own slice of Los Angeles.

    …. Time must be taken, attention must be paid. It’s the gift dogs give us, and what they leave with us when they go.

    We just can’t pay those dogs enough.

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  13. 13
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @germy:

    I like that! I might send her a little money. She’d be pretty effective in Congress, I think.

    ReplyReply
  14. 14
    trollhattan says:

    A-DOR-able! So many first-evers and then they basically stop happening (or we stop noticing). Miss them.

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  15. 15
    Leto says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: From downstairs about my PT (didn’t see we were moving threads!):

    Doing well, thanks for asking! Currently sitting on a exercise bike at my physical therapists, spinning round and round. This is week three of being able to do this. I’ve regained enough flexibility in my knees to do that. Working on hip/leg strength and flexibility. Walking more, for longer stretches at a time without form collapse.

    Considering where I was last October, I’ve definitely come a long ways. I still have a ways to go but it’s all progress 😀

    Hopping off the bike and back to exercises 😀 Also that little girl is waaaay too cute!

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  16. 16
    Elizabelle says:

    @rikyrah: I saw that. Horrendous. One of the “richest countries in the world,” and this stuff is going on.

    Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times a few days ago: Column: Medical bankruptcy is an American scandal — and that’s not debatable

    You’ve got to hand it to Sen. … Sanders for his ability to keep hot-button issues in the forefront of the presidential race.

    The latest example is his assertion, made at least twice in the last month, that medical bills drive 500,000 Americans into bankruptcy every year. The Washington Post’s fact-checker column examined the numbers and concluded that Sanders deserved “three Pinocchios” for the statement, which means the Post found it “mostly false” and that Sanders was, basically, lying.

    The Post blundered, as the authors of the study on which Sanders based his claim point out. In the real world, Sanders’ assertion that “500,000 Americans will go bankrupt this year from medical bills” is “mostly true.” Medical bankruptcy is an American scandal, and possibly even more common than he or the study’s authors calculate.

    What a surprise. The WaPost factchecker fucked his take on this up. (It was not the execrable Glenn Kessler. It was someone named Salvador Rizzo, formerly of NJ/NY publications) although kudos for appending a letter from the study’s authors calling him out on his column.)

    Hiltzik:

    It’s also virtually unique to the U.S. among developed countries; when experts from Japan and Europe were asked by the PBS program “Frontline” about the prevalence of medical bankruptcy in their countries, some had trouble even comprehending the question.

    Article has some good links embedded.

    ReplyReply
  17. 17
    JPL says:

    @Leto: That’s amazing but don’t try that at home. That’s the mother in me.

    ReplyReply
  18. 18
    Jeffro says:

    @Elizabelle: “…had trouble even understanding the question.”

    Kind of amazing. Would work pretty well in a campaign speech or debate sound bite, I would think…

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  19. 19

    Hmmm, I’m like that waiting for Metrolink going to Downtown LA…speak of trains…

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  20. 20
    Elizabelle says:

    Breaking from the LA Times: criminal investigation now underway into the tragic fire aboard the Conception diving boat last weekend, 34 dead below deck. [My wording; not their headline]

    Law enforcement sources told The Times last week that a preliminary investigation into the Conception boat fire had suggested serious safety deficiencies aboard the vessel, including the lack of a “roaming night watchman” who is required to be awake and alert passengers in the event of a fire or other dangers. The probe also has raised questions about whether the crew was adequately trained and whether passengers received a complete safety briefing, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not have approval to comment publicly about the case.

    One of the sources said that when surviving crew members were interviewed, some suggested they didn’t have adequate training to handle a major emergency on board. Documents the investigators obtained have underscored those concerns, the source said.

    Article does not mention that current Coast Guard regulations apparently allow you to pack 46 humans into one chamber with bunk beds below deck. That seems excessive, and a problem with USCG standards.

    I would not like my chances getting out in a fire on land in those circumstances. This fire was a tragedy waiting to happen.

    ReplyReply
  21. 21
    swiftfox says:

    Sweet little girl seeing DT leave the WH between now and 1/21.

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  22. 22
    Elizabelle says:

    @Jeffro: I know. Our lack of a functioning healthcare system for too many, and the bankruptcies that ensue, angers me. Frightens me too. Can’t believe more Americans don’t have the imagination to see that it very likely could happen to them, too.

    It’s not right that it’s happening to anyone.

    ReplyReply
  23. 23
    Ohio Mom says:

    @JPL: The mother in me is relieved to see from Cole’s twitter that he is finally seeking medical attention for his stab wound.

    I am scratching my head, trying to think if I have any news worthy of an open thread. Life here in OhioFamilyville is blessedly quiet.

    ReplyReply
  24. 24
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    Hmmm, I’m like that waiting for Metrolink going to Downtown LA

    Do you widen your eyes, clap your hand over your mouth to keep the wonderment from escaping, and breathe “Oh my goodness” like a common Shirley Temple?

    ReplyReply
  25. 25
    gene108 says:

    @rikyrah:

    And people are scared of “socialized medicine”.

    ReplyReply
  26. 26
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Leto:

    Glad to hear it! Can’t believe it’s been nearly a year, though!

    ReplyReply
  27. 27
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    Todd Palin is filing for divorce! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    ReplyReply
  28. 28
    satby says:

    @germy: @HeleninEire: I was coming here to post it too, but germy beat me to it!

    ReplyReply
  29. 29
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    ReplyReply
  30. 30
    Elizabelle says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Todd Palin filing for divorce? On what grounds? Does he need grounds, in Alaska?

    LOL.

    ReplyReply
  31. 31
    debit says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Mine is an evil laugh.

    ETA: It occurs to me that it’s small minded and petty to find hilarity in something like this, but I can’t help myself.

    ReplyReply
  32. 32
    gene108 says:

    My nephew was a train aficionado at that age (thanks Thomas & Friends). He loved watching trains.

    The little girl reminds me of him, at that age. He’d get that excited about trains.

    ReplyReply
  33. 33
    germy says:

    Rich Lowry will have little starbursts running up his pants when he finds out Sarah Palin is… newly single.

    ReplyReply
  34. 34
    trollhattan says:

    @Elizabelle:
    If he throws fish guts on Sarah’s pumps three times, in Alaska they’re divorced.

    Dollars to donuts he’s dumping her for one of their kids’ friends.

    ReplyReply
  35. 35
    Jeffro says:

    @rikyrah: @Elizabelle: @gene108: The whole thing is really unbelievable – that tens of millions of Americans are uninsured, that additional tens of millions have such basic insurance, and that EVERYONE is paying about twice as much per capita as the other Western democracies while getting the same (or worse!) health care outcomes.

    Now we’re down to the GOP (Hawley, Cornyn, others) outright lying about who’s really fighting to keep those with pre-existing conditions covered, and who’s trying to take away that coverage. Flat. Out. Lying. And it’ll only get worse until they pay the price at the ballot box. I hope the Dems stay almost annoyingly on message about this, ‘cause it’s so easy for the Repubs to get the media turned around on this one.

    ReplyReply
  36. 36
    germy says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Todd Palin filing for divorce?

    And to think, he’d be First Husband today if that meddling kid Obama hadn’t gotten in the way.

    ReplyReply
  37. 37
    trollhattan says:

    @germy:
    Suspect Richie’s starbursts are reserved for the 2008 model Sarah ™.

    ReplyReply
  38. 38
    satby says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: That’s who that kid reminded me of, Shirley Temple! Good catch.

    ReplyReply
  39. 39
    trollhattan says:

    @germy:
    How is it we ended up worse off?

    ReplyReply
  40. 40
    Elizabelle says:

    @Jeffro: Healthcare is a big issue in Democratic campaigns, despite GOP and their media mouthpieces trying to make the Democrats all about Trump. Uh, no.

    ReplyReply
  41. 41
  42. 42
  43. 43
    trollhattan says:

    @raven:
    Take me right back to the track
    Jack

    ReplyReply
  44. 44
    trollhattan says:

    @germy:
    IKR?

    ReplyReply
  45. 45
    gene108 says:

    @Jeffro:

    This is progress, from where our healthcare system was 10 years ago.

    ReplyReply
  46. 46
    dmsilev says:

    So, another turn on Hurricane Sharpie: FTNYT reports that

    Commerce Chief Threatened Firings at NOAA After Trump’s Hurricane Tweets, Sources Say

    The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at NOAA on Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

    Mr. Ross, the Commerce Secretary, intervened two days later, early last Friday, according to the three people familiar with his actions. Mr. Ross phoned Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president.

    Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode. Unlike career government employees, political staff are appointed by the administration. They usually include a handful of top officials, such as Dr. Jacobs, and their aides.

    However, a senior administration official who asked not to be identified when discussing internal deliberations said that the Birmingham office had been wrong and that NOAA had simply done the responsible thing and corrected the record.

    That official suggested the Twitter post by the Birmingham forecasters had been motivated by a desire to embarrass the president more than concern for the safety of people in Alabama. The official provided no evidence to support that conclusion.

    Any guess as to who that “senior administration official” might be? Too lucid to be Trump himself. Mulvaney perhaps?

    ReplyReply
  47. 47
    Yarrow says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Oh, that is hilarious. It’s been an open secret their marriage has been a trainwreck. I guess he finally decided he’d had enough.

    ReplyReply
  48. 48
    Elizabelle says:

    @germy: I was looking at a picture of the Palin family, with all their grown kids, and thinking what a good looking family they are.

    If only we did not know that many are capable of such vile behavior. I think it is sad for the kids that they had to deal with all the existing issues they had, in the spotlight. They’re used to gaslight us, yes, but the Palins as individuals have a lot of problems.

    No thanks to Sarah for dragging them into a circus.

    ReplyReply
  49. 49
  50. 50
    prostratedragon says:

    @John Revolta: As … if (only)!

    Punctuation.

    “Under Pressure,” Catherine Russell and Everett Bradley

    Back in her backup singing days, Ms. Russell regularly toured with David Bowie.

    ReplyReply
  51. 51
    RAVEN says:

    @trollhattan: Did you catch the kickoff show for the Ken Burns Country Music doc? ASW was part of it. Ray and I are dopplegangers and I’m thinking about growing my hair out now that I’m not beholdin to anyone.

    ReplyReply
  52. 52
    Yutsano says:

    @Leto: Inb4 I get jealous. The rhabdo really did a number on my left leg. And now my right knee is cranky! But we’re both in for long hauls. I just keep getting set back! We’re gonna get to our new levels. Just a matter of time!

    ReplyReply
  53. 53
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @dmsilev: Reinhard Heydrich’s Mini-Me – Stephen Miller.

    ReplyReply
  54. 54
    Spanky says:

    @Yarrow: Ah, so Sarah’s open for business now. Does her milkshake still bring all the GOP boyz to the yard?

    Does she still have a milkshake?

    ReplyReply
  55. 55
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Elizabelle:

    but the Palins as individuals have a lot of problems

    Looking for my violin here…

    ReplyReply
  56. 56
    randy khan says:

    Well, after seeing that, my support for high speed rail has gotten even stronger.

    ReplyReply
  57. 57
    Yarrow says:

    @Spanky: She’s not the hot young thing she was in 2008, that’s for sure. Remember her last big time in the spotlight where she brought the crazy at a Trump rally in some sparkly dress? That was, what, three years ago now? Four?

    ReplyReply
  58. 58
    Yarrow says:

    @Elizabelle: Don’t be fooled. They pay a lot of money and have a lot of work done to look like they do. They’re like Political Kardashians. Half plastic and botox.

    ReplyReply
  59. 59
    trollhattan says:

    @RAVEN:
    Will have to chase it down, haven’t seen any yet.

    I’m a sucker for ’70s country revival or counter-country or whatever the heck you call it. Commander Cody, New Riders, Old and In the Way, Kinky Freedman, Dan Hicks…. Good times.

    ReplyReply
  60. 60
    Origuy says:

    Speaking of trains, I got hooked on a YouTube series about the trains in the British Isles. A London blogger and his bubbly girlfriend undertook to take trains to all the railroad stations in Great Britain. They followed that up with all the stations in Ireland and Man. It’s oddly addicting.
    No link at the moment, having network issues at work. Search for All The Stations in YouTube.

    ReplyReply
  61. 61
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @germy:

    I. Am. Never. EVER. Going. To. Get. That. Image. Out. Of. My. Head.

    ReplyReply
  62. 62
    p.a. says:

    So. Got a blowout yesterday, called AAA, and the donut spare rim didn’t fit. Got it towed home thinking “wrong rim on the donut”. Have snows on the OE rims, tried to put one on to drive to the tire shop. Same issue! Rims hit calipers: can get nuts on lugs for all of 2, 4 threads. Not driving it that way. Had the oe rims on until March. Since then had brakes/rotors, tierods, alignment done (July). Friend works for AutoZone, the parts he ordered are supposed to be for my car. Any shadetree mechanics have any ideas? No issue with the aftermarket rims, been driving with them since before the work was done.

    ReplyReply
  63. 63
    Raven says:

    @p.a.: I had a similar issue when my sister’s boyfriend split the draft to Canada and I drove her up there. We had a blowout that wrecked the rim and were stuck in the boonies. I found a rim at a gas station that didn’t quite fit so I filed out the wholes with a rat tail file until it seated. Not ideal but, hey,I did it.

    ReplyReply
  64. 64
    trollhattan says:

    @p.a.:
    To clarify, did you have the rotors replaced?

    It sounds like the new rotors are larger diameter than the OEM rotors and your OEM wheels and donut spare do not clear them. What diameter and width are the wheels you had the blowout with and what diameter and width are the OWM wheels?

    If it’s not a different diameter, maybe the offset is different than stock and you need spacers.

    ReplyReply
  65. 65
    Raven says:

    @trollhattan: You’ll want this

    Cosmic Cowboys and New Hicks: The Countercultural Sounds of Austin’s Progressive Country Music Scene

    Goat Roper Radio! I saw Michael Martin Murphy at the Armadillo and Frieda and the Firedogs at the Broken Spoke around 73.

    ReplyReply
  66. 66
    RAVEN says:

    @trollhattan: Have you read “Star Making Machinery? about the Commander with a bit about Asleep at the Wheel?

    The author takes us inside the music business, up close, giving us a blow-by-blow, true-life account of a year in the life of the band Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, a mid-tier rock band poised on the brink of greatness. It’s a story of drama, comedy, pathos and heartbreak as we see the band members work their way through (and be worked by) the “star-making machinery” of the record business.

    ReplyReply
  67. 67
    Elizabelle says:

    @Origuy: Thank you. Bookmarked your idea, and sent a link to their 1 hour plus documentary to a friend who embarks tomorrow on a 24-day trip around the northern US and Canada.

    ReplyReply
  68. 68
    p.a. says:

    @trollhattan: Sounds right abt rotors; oe rims are bog-standard steel wheels and the new are cast alum, with just the eyeball test showing more clearance to them. Everything ordered was supposed to be = to oe.

    ReplyReply
  69. 69
    J R in WV says:

    I still recall my first train ride, back in the mid-1950s. My brother is 3.75 years younger than I, and still a babe in arms, so I was probably 5 and a half that summer. The occasion was that local train passenger service in rural WV was ending. We rode from Eccles WV to Mullens WV and back, on the Virginian RR line, through many many tunnels. That line is gone now!

    It was a steam train, and the passenger cars were probably built around 1900. There may have been electric lights, but they were not on, There was no A/C of course, but the windows were open, which was interesting when going through a tunnel, given the coal fired locomotive pulling us through those tunnels.

    The seating was cast iron, with oak boards between the iron uprights for the actual seat surface. My aunts and grandma undertook the trip with all the kids, to partake in local history. It was fabulous. I love trains to this day, all of them.

    So little cute girl hits my sweet spot, old family memory from when nothing was more important than family.

    ETA tweak a memory…

    ReplyReply
  70. 70
    debbie says:

    Thanks, Betty. This makes my day!

    ReplyReply
  71. 71
    LivinginExile says:

    I would love to see Plame smack the arrogant right out of Cheney’s daughter.

    ReplyReply
  72. 72
    MichaelF says:

    I think I’d react about the same if they ever restarted train service in my town…and I’m 54 years old.

    ReplyReply
  73. 73
    p.a. says:

    Dead thread, but: sadly Amtrak is treated so poorly (Rethugism) it aspires to be treated like a red headed step child.

    ReplyReply

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