New WordPress Editor Trials

Buttons Closeup, Nick Cave

Talk about an October surprise! Not Trump’s midnight tweet, but that WordPress has finally crossed the Rubicon and transitioned away from its classic editor, like it has been threatening to. I’ve been using this editor for more than ten years. I had experimented with the new block editor before returning to old reliable. Now I am not sure how to get back to it or even if something like that is still possible. I can still edit paragraphs in the classic manner. For now that will have to do. It took me half-an-hour today, just to post a picture for tomorrow. It could be worst though, I could be the Donald today.

The Twitterati have been in a roiling froth since last night. Not knowing whether it is better that they should show a modicum of respect or just begin dancing on his grave. Either way you go, you’ve got to admit that karma is a bitch. On the bright side for him, no one is still talking about his performance in the last debate, his taxes, his Supreme Court nominee or any of the other tempests that have been hovering over him in recent weeks. Notorious for his lack of mask wearing, Trump is now his own poster child for his failed Coronavirus strategy.

As of writing he is symptomatic, with both a fever and a cough. Melania, who also tested positive remains asymptomatic. His aid Hope Hicks, who might have spread it to them is in worse shape, with a high fever, cough and has lost her sense of smell. In truth on one knows where or when he contracted the disease. Facts that would be good to know for its treatment. Unlike Melania and Hicks, Trump is in a high ricks category, being both old and obese. He could have contracted the disease before his debate with Joe Biden. By now, the entire Whitehouse has been exposed. In the cramp quarters of the West Wing, where no one wears masks, the only safe guard in place is rapid testing, but only for those who are meeting with the President. They could all have it by now.

Going forward, Trump will have to suspend all of his in-person campaigning for quite a while. Even remote campaigning could prove problematic, where a telltale cough would have massive reverberations. His campaign going dark a month out from the election is a disaster for him and a boon for Biden. Already behind in the polls, unable to capture a reset from the last debate and now having the entire election focused on the one subject that he would least desire, Trump is in deep kimchee. To paraphrase the man, people are saying that something like this couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”

There! I’ve survived writing a post with the new block editor. It wasn’t easy, but I got it done. I shouldn’t complain too much, because I can already see that it does offer a few advantages over the old editor and since its main disadvantage is my familiarity with it that is something that could be overcome in time.

Fasten Your Seatbelts

Because it’s going to be a bumpy ride… Really, the quote is ‘bumpy night’, but ride sounds better. This morning, I got not one, not two, but three spam calls from the ‘United States’ warning me that because of account irregularities, my “social number” will be suspended. I can only assume that they were referring to my Facebook account number, an account that I no longer use. After three tries, since they were too stupid to spoof their own phone number, I blocked it.

In the mail, Anne received a solicitation for her very own Joe Biden listening device. Good for those debates that don’t involve a screaming idiot. Reading it, she decided that the ad was really meant for me. Do you listen to the radio or TV too loud? Huh? Do you struggle to understand women? What? All my life. Or the high-pitched voices of children? Since they were born. What did you say?

Yesterday, we were walking by the De Mun Kaldi’s coffee shop, when Anne noticed a women with some hand-painted coffee sacks. These were the big 150 lbs. burlap kind that coffee is shipped bulk in. Turns out that they were being sold there as a charity thing, for $10 a piece. We bought two and plan on hanging them in our kitchen. We have just the wall for them. In the morning, we will not only be able to smell the coffee, but we’ll get to see it too.

Anne did her election judge training yesterday afternoon. Normally, she has to go to the election commission’s headquarters to do this, but in these Covid times, her training was conducted online via Zoom. I hunkered down in the next room, while Anne and her class learned about all of the new pandemic procedures, poll pads and all things elections. It went on and on for hours. Sometime in the middle of it though, I heard a woman screaming. One of her online classmates was dealing with a home intruder. Class stopped and everyone was ready to spring to her assistance, but what could they do? She had asked that no one should call the cops, but it was already too late for that. I hope she is OK.

Later, we watched the debate together. I had prepared bingo cards, to help us weather the storm, but I wasn’t expecting the tempest that we got. Anne soon won our game, and after that we were left with little for our defense. Dana Bash (CNN) summed up the evening the most succinctly, “It was a shit show.” The terrible toddler Trump was out-of-control. The moderator Chris Wallace couldn’t do a thing with him. Joe Biden was left with having to endure his ninety minute tantrum alone. In the end, Trump called upon the terrorist organization Proud Boys and his other Alt-right stooges to disrupt the coming election and ensure his victory. And I thought that the dangers of Covid would be the worse thing that Anne had to face, while working the polls on Election Day.

The Verdict of the People

Stump Speaking, George Caleb Bingham, 1853-54

Three-quarters of the American electorate is expected to watch tonight’s debate. Among these viewers, the vast majority have already decided who they’re going to vote for. A million voters, like myself, have already voted. Except for those few, those happy few undecided voters, who are likely not watching anyway, the rest of us are watching to root for our man. Of the four debates scheduled from now to Election Day, this is by far the most important. It will receive the largest viewership and set the tone for all subsequent ones. Supposedly, due to the pandemic, but also speaking to the enmity between the candidates, there will be no opening or closing handshakes. Maybe rooting is too benign a word for some people’s feelings about this event. Some people are watching, hoping for blood.

The County Election, George Caleb Bingham, 1852

There will be gotcha moments, either cannily sprung or simply pulled from an old can. People and pundits alike will seize upon these moments in the hours and days to come, blowing their significance all out of proportion and in the end signifying little. When all is said and done, few minds will be changed. Oh sure, networks will trot out examples of this fabled endangered species, the undecided voter and they will hold forth about what they liked and didn’t like, but in the end not announce their decision, because once they do they’ll lose access to the limelight and have to sit down and like the rest of us, just watch.

The Verdict of the People, George Caleb Bingham, 1854-55

How can anyone be still undecided? When you have two candidates that are so diametrically opposite from each other that any undecided voter would have to be schizophrenic to not be able to choose one from the other. I hold that the truly undecided are the same as the uncaring. Many in the end will not vote because of apathy and those that do will decide on Election Day. Be it the weather, what they had for breakfast that day or whatever, their vote is currently known only to God. Even they won’t know what it is until they enter the voting booth that day.

George Caleb Bingham was a 19th-century painter and obtained fame, at least around here. During his lifetime, he was known as the Missouri Artist. His best paintings feature ensembles, where each individual is distinctly captured and brought to life. He assembled these players on his large canvases, with individual studies that he would first sketch and then collect in his sketchbooks. He did this with the intention that one day he would use them in one of his larger, more lucrative works. His best works feature scenes from life on the Missouri River, but he also created a trio of paintings that detailed 19th-century political life. He dabbled unsuccessfully in politics, which inspired him to create these crowded scenes. In them runs the spectrum of human existence, from our loftiest of ideals to our basest desires. They show how little things have changed.

If the world is a fair place…

If the world is a fair place…, Raqs Media Collective, 2015

Yesterday, we walked in Laumeier Sculpture Park, a county park with an artistic bent. We had just parked the car and were about to embark upon the park’s Art Hike Trail, when an older woman asked Anne, if she felt safe walking in the woods by herself. I should point out that I was standing next to my wife at the time. Maybe half sensing my presence the woman asked again, you have walked in there alone? Anne answered in the affirmative as much to answer the woman’s implied challenge as to answer her question. The woman had two dogs with her on leashes, one small and the other medium sized. She said that she had had a large dog and when she had that dog with her, she had felt safe while walking alone in the woods and wished that she could do it again. Anne again reassured the older woman that she would be fine and we bade her farewell.

23 Hour Surveillance

Almost as soon as we had entered the woods, we came upon this sign. It was so banal in appearance that I had to give it a double take. We tried to rationalize the missing hour, before deciding that it was a joke, but it segued so well from our earlier conversation that it seemed almost prescient. This art trail follows for less than a mile, a spring fed stream that in wetter times flows through about a third of the park’s acreage. We had last walked in March, just as the pandemic was reaching its first crescendo. I remember that as a scary time then, especially while walking in these woods, with its narrow path that did not permit six feet separations. There were few people in the woods then, the fewer the better, if you ask me, but every new individual or party entailed a dance of avoidance.

Since then, the county has embarked upon a trail improvement project that has widened the trail enough to drive their dump trucks up and down it and pave it with crushed limestone. Unfortunately, they are only about halfway done and when we reached their barricade, we had to turnaround. Still, it already looks way more Covid safe than the way it was, but I don’t believe that the virus was the source of that woman’s fears. The park is located in one of the tonier parts of the county, certainly not a bad neighborhood. While most people keep to the park’s central lawn that runs the park’s length, there were plenty of people about.

The sculpture park is primarily outdoors, but does include a museum that is now temporarily closed. This museum is housed in an 1816 mansion, making it one of the oldest buildings in the county. One of the newer art installations in the park is a collection of forty laser cut stainless-steel bands encircling tree trunks along the art trail. These bands write out responses to the sentence, “If the world is a fair place…” that were crowd sourced and range from the deliciously innocent, “then free ice cream for kids,” to the cynical “then I’m shocked,” to the surreal, “then all coins will dance.” Reading them as they curve around their tree can prove difficult and often entails scrambling into the bush.


Cargo Ship Keith

One of the many mysteries in life for me are the giant tubes astride the deck of the cargo ship Keith. Even the ship’s name, Keith, is a bit of a curiosity. Most boats that are named after a person generally use their full name, including the middle initial and sometimes even an honorific to boot. To address a ship, an ocean going vessel, on a first name basis is fine, if you are a crewmember or somehow associated with the boat, but to introduce it as if it were some one name celebrity seems presumptuous in the least, in my opinion.

Keith, by Chuck Close, 1970

Another Keith, is the equally titanic portrait by the artist Chuck Close. A thing for this artist, large canvas, super high definition, photorealistic, these portraits emblematic of his painting style. As is his propensity to name these works by the first name of the subject. I’ve always admired photorealism, it’s attention to detail, the painstaking demands of this approach. I am reminded of the struggles embodied in the old folk song, John Henry, the steel driving man. One man, giving his heart out in an endeavor to outpace a machine, progress and time. 

Anyway, what about those huge tubes? We frequently see salties hauling wind turbine blades, like these tubes they are racked and stacked on deck, but I don’t think that these tubes are part of any turbine. I think that they contain something that is the real cargo, making the Keith a container ship, in an oddball sense. The tubes are of different lengths, which I also find odd. The tubes look purpose built for the Keith. The boat is new, launched just last year. Its photo on various maritime registry websites shows the ship carrying these tubes. I wonder if the tubes contain some sort of bulk cargo, like a liquid or a gas? It’s a mystery.