Travel: Cemetery Adventures in Vermont

On Tuesday morning in Vermont, it began to snow. A lot. But rather than heading straight home when we got into the car, Steve told me to plug in Hubbardton, Vermont into the GPS. He wanted to check out a grave of one of his ancestors.

We spent hours on unplowed rural roads to get to this cemetery. The cemetery was a small postage stamp off a field and up a hill with half foot of snow.

I thought I was going to die several times, no joke.

Old Samuel Churchill, Steve’s several greats grandfather, and his wife, Thankful, had a revolutionary battle fought in their front yard. They survived the battle, but the Indians and Tories burnt down their house and imprisoned the men at Fort Ticonderoga until they escaped. But those hardy folks, who were proud descendants of the second ship after the Mayflower, were too mean to die off. They were fruitful and multiplied and gave me my husband, so I am rather grateful.

Normally a six hour drive from Jersey to Stowe, we spent the whole day in the car. But we met an old relative, learned a new story, and drove through the most beautiful country side. I’ve been Zillowing the hell out of those towns looking for a fantasy vacation cabin.

Debate Number Nine

Last night’s debate was a good one.

Bloomberg was on the stage for the first time, so we got the fun of watching the seasoned candidates tear him apart. We got a glimpse of the hatred between Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar. People addressed the question of whether Bernie can win a general election.

Keep in mind that all the literature says that debates don’t matter. Most voters don’t watch them, and won’t make their decisions based on those performances. Ads, particularly negative ones, matter more.

I’m not sure what last night’s viewership numbers were, but the one in December brought in 6 million viewers, compared to 102 million for the SuperBowl. Since I’m the person who didn’t watch the Super Bowl, but has watched every debate, I have to keep in mind that I’m not your typical voter. And none of you are.

With Elizabeth Warren trailing in fourth place, this was a chance for her to make a last stand. She was fiery and aggressive with her hand up all the time. I liked that, but others might put her in the Hermione Granger box.

Biden loved that someone else was the target of attacks and that Klobuchar admitted forgetting the name of the President of Mexico (definitely not a strike against her in my book).

I thought Mayor Pete didn’t have a great night. He came off as smug and young.

Bernie is always consistent. Always stays on message. He won’t change his politics, if he makes it to the general election.

Bloomberg didn’t have a good night, but I’m not ready to discount him. He’s a really smart guy, who has a team of really smart people around him. They’ve done the math and run all the RISK strategies. They’ve gambled on him coming in at the last minute and missing the earlier fights. It means that he’s the flavor of the month in the media, but it also means that he hasn’t had enough practice on the debate stage or shaking hands. I’m super curious how this is going to work out for him. (I’m not endorsing his candidacy, just to clarify. I’m geeking out over strategies, that’s all.)

BTW, if you google “democratic debate” right now. The first item that comes up is a Mike Bloomberg ad.

Travel: Mental Health Break in Stowe, Vermont

Before we left for our long weekend in Vermont, I was wound very tightly. My daily calendar had been packed with family and work chores for weeks. I didn’t realize how burnt out I was, until we walked into the house on Tuesday night, and I realized that I was relaxed. Oh, that’s how relaxed feels! It was nice.

I’m a terrible skier. My urban, working-class parents never took us skiing, viewing the activity with the same skepticism as others might view eating bugs or sky diving. Why the hell would someone want to do something like that? So, I only got on skis for the first time in my 20’s with a friend who taught me how to ski by pushing me down a black diamond. Imagine me head first in a snow drift with my skis skidding down the mountain without me.

But I always wanted to be the type of person who skis. People who ski are blond and athletic and healthy. It’s a great winter activity. So, we try to get our kids on skis every year. Even the autistic kid is better than I am. This year, we went to Stowe, Vermont to ski, and I did some bunny slope action. I didn’t fall, but it wasn’t pretty.

Stowe is a rich person’s town in the middle of rural state where the median income is $57,000. It is problematic. But it’s still beautiful. In -9 degree weather, we bundled up and tromped though the woods, poked our heads into little shops of art and cute purses, and drank local brews next to toasty fireplaces.

  • Links:
  • Stow Ski slope (Don’t buy your tickets at the mountain. Find a good package deal on line, before you show up.)
  • Ben and Jerry tour
  • Stowe Mercantile – Tasteful souvenirs
  • The Boutique – For when you need to get away from sporting stuff, and buy yourself something girlie.
  • I had many Von Trapp beers. We also got a nice sandwich in their bakery. Great grounds at the lodge that you can explore without staying in the hotel, which actually looks a little sad.
  • Downtown Burlington is good for an afternoon. If you overlook the mall stores, there’s plenty of other stuff to do, like outdoorsy boutiques and comic book stores. University of Vermont is up the block and gives you a great view of the downtown and Lake Champlain. Last time, we were there in the summer time and took a boat ride along the lake, which is gorgeous even if is not a Great Lake — a fact that my hubby from Cleveland felt was super important.
  • Ski and Snow Inn. A nicely renovated former motel with a pub and a bowling alley. Across the street from a nice trail, where you can cross country ski (rental place is also across the street). Ten minute drive to the slopes. Would totally stay there again.

(Okay, I know we want to talk about last night’s debate. Let me get finish this post, and we’ll talk.)

Thoughts on the New Hampshire Primary

Bernie won, of course, but he was a loser in the news cycle, because his win was expected, but wasn’t as large as he wanted.. The biggest winners were Mayor Pete and Klobuchar. Biggest losers were Biden and Warren.

Biden’s poor showing wasn’t a huge surprise. His age and declining mental facilities have been on full display for a couple of months now.

Warren’s poor showing was a surprise. She sounded like she was ready to cry last night. I do feel bad for her, because she has put in 101 percent effort into this campaign. Why didn’t she do well? Were her politics too close to Sanders? Is she annoying people, who see her as another Hillary?

Another big winner wasn’t even the election last night. It was Bloomberg. People are starting to think that he has a shot, if moderates are showing up to vote.

Your thoughts?

SL 684

I feel the need to redeem myself with some fun links, after that last post.

We’re going skiing in Vermont this weekend, so I’m ordering some new boots.

Steve read my old post, Blogosphere 2.0, that showed up automatically at the bottom of a more recent post. He thought it was an interesting snapshot of the Internet ten years ago.

On my reading list for later, David Brooks article in the Atlantic about the nuclear family.

Dan Drezner on the Donald Trump.

New Hampshire predictions?

The Light of the Tiny Screen

Steve looked up from the paper on Sunday morning and said, “Ross Douthat is on a roll.”

In his long Sunday op-ed, “The Age of Decadence,” Ross touches on the nihilism that I wrote about last week. He writes,

The truth of the first decades of the 21st century, a truth that helped give us the Trump presidency but will still be an important truth when he is gone, is that we probably aren’t entering a 1930-style crisis for Western liberalism or hurtling forward toward transhumanism or extinction. Instead, we are aging, comfortable and stuck, cut off from the past and no longer optimistic about the future, spurning both memory and ambition while we await some saving innovation or revelation, growing old unhappily together in the light of tiny screens.

Like me, he doesn’t see political revolution, just stagnation and corruption. He has a few lovely anecdotes — The Frye Festival, Thanos, Uber — meant to highlight the lack of new ideas and the frauds that dominate our world. I have another one.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle emerged from their Canadian igloo to give a speech at a JP Morgan event in Florida last week. According to the gossip blogs, which are always right, they made a cool million with a talk about Harry’s difficulties dealing with his mother’s death and his years in therapy. Apparently, three different countries covered the security for them.

Now, it’s a sad tale, but Harry is the hardly the only person in the world who lost a parent at a vulnerable age and now goes to a shrink. JP Morgan paid him all that money along with a private jet, because he was catnip for super, super, mega rich people, who would then invest money in their bank. Famous people want to meet famous people and then swirl all their beautiful money together and make more money.

The only people who seem to really be bothered about these sorts of events are the basement dwellers who comment on those blogs, who seem to have an unhealthy obsession with this couple. (To be fair, they also hate Prince Andrew and have some very juicy gossip about Uncle Pervy as they call him.)

I have been saddened by the post-presidential Obamas, who seem to have also cashed in on these sorts of events. They aren’t exactly Jimmy Carters quietly building houses for poor people in their spare time.

And as an army of publicists create Instagramable moments for the masses, things are getting worse. Fiddling, while Rome burns.

With a child with special needs, I go to a lot of presentations about how to navigate the system for adults with disabilities. And it’s all bad. As long as Steve and I are around, my kid will be fine, but what happens when we’re gone? What happens if his brother can’t fill the void? What happens to individuals that don’t have parents that have our resources? The lack of any sort of safety net in our country is terrifying. It keeps me up at night, which is when I read the gossip blogs.

I sort of want to delete this post. Pessimism is bad for one’s brand. Screw it. Publishing.