A Good Day

Last night we ventured out of the house to have an outdoor movie night with friends.  THE THIN MAN, pizza, and a bottle of wine.  Rain made a brief but gentle appearance at one point, but we soldiered on underneath umbrellas.

Jess reached a big and hard-fought milestone on Friday, so we also celebrated her achievement unlocking with a cake of victory.

This year has been rough, but days like yesterday are a reminder of just how good life can be.

Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction

Via Alan Jacobs’s excellent Snakes & Ladders newsletter, the Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction, as codified by mystery writer Ronald Knox in the 1920s.

  1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
  2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
  3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
  4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
  5. No Chinaman must figure in the story.
  6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
  7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.
  8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
  9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
  10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

Barring the casual racism in # 5, these rules generally make as much sense today as they did when Knox came up with them, nearly a hundred years ago.

Serpent

Taking advantage of one of the last warm days of the year, we made a leisurely drive out to Serpent Mound on Saturday. It was wonderful.

Jess and I had one conversation about going last year, and she somehow managed to remember that conversation, and make this a surprise trip for me. She jokes that she has the memory of an elephant, and I believe her. My memory is, sadly, goldfish-like.

Serpent Mound, an effigy mound located in southwestern Ohio, about 70 miles east of Cincinnati, has been on my list of places to visit for several years, because it’s relatively local, its origin is a bit of a mystery, and because the head of the serpent aligns to the summer solstice sunset. One day I’ll return for that.

Long Weekending

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Today has been a perfectly lovely day of, in no particular order: writing, sunbasking, reading, margarita-ing, napping, and, in general, relaxing.  I’ve stayed off my phone for most of the day, except to watch a few minutes of the DeWine presser.  Last night we watched JURASSIC PARK and got Blizzards from Dairy Queen.

It’s been a pretty fantastic start to the holiday weekend.

Camp and High Art

We went to the camp Jess works at yesterday to do a volunteer thing for a few hours.  This was my first time at camp.  The grounds are beautiful and the facilities I saw top-notch, and the volunteer thing was fun and for a worthy cause.  I took a few photos, including this one:

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At this point, you might be asking yourself, “What’s up with the T-Rex?”

Well, near the end of the day, we had to transport a lot of boxes from one building to another, and were using golf carts to do so.  I was riding on the back of one, in a rear-facing seat.  The combination of being outdoors, in a remote, park-like setting, and riding in a golf cart made me think of JURASSIC PARK.  Specifically, the scene where they’ve just rescued Ian Malcolm and are speeding away in a jeep, with the T-Rex in close pursuit…

Anyhow, the comparison amused me greatly, and I was compelled to make this subtle and totally believable piece of realist art.

This has been another episode of “A Glimpse Into Josh’s Mind.”

On Masks

We went to the Greene yesterday to pick up dinner from Pasha.  While we were waiting, we hung out in the car, in the shade cast by an American Eagle, and watched at least two-thirds of the people strolling about not wearing masks.

From someone who is still mostly quarantining and physical distancing, it’s kind of surreal to watch the world pretend like we’re back to some kind of pre-COVID normal.  Especially when, from a risk perspective, nothing is significantly different than it was a month ago.  Instead, it feels like we’ve said “the hell with it,” and are just barreling full steam ahead, hoping for the best.

No wonder there’s been a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases in the greater-Dayton and greater-Cincinnati areas.  So much so that DeWine is calling for everyone in certain zip codes to get tested.

It’s not to say that some elements of the quarantine can’t and shouldn’t be relaxed (and I recognize my privilege as someone who has been able to work from home the past several months).  I’ve enjoyed being able to support local restaurants by getting carryout during quarantine, and to begin to see see family and friends, outdoors, in a physically distanced way.

But it all has to be done responsibly.  And a key component of responsible is wearing a mask in public.  It’s literally the least one can do to prevent the spread.  It’s like wearing a seat belt in the car, except instead of protecting yourself from injury, you’re potentially not killing the people around you.

Pasha was delicious; they have the best hummus.  Now, please — wear a damn mask when you go out in public.

Beach Life

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We took the dachshunds on a brief excursion to Caesar Creek today, so they could have a chance to stretch their stubby little legs and frolic on the beach.  The sky was overcast, and if we were there to hang out on the beach, it could almost have been chilly.  But for walking the dogs along the edge of the water, the slightly cool breeze was perfect.

The dogs had themselves a fine time,  and then had equally fine naps on the way home.

How Can We Win

I’ve been largely quiet on social media about the murder of George Floyd, the protests against police violence, BLM, and the like, because, lord knows, the last thing the world needs on this subject is the opinions of me, another middle-class white dude.  But I wanted to share a video that is honestly one of the more affecting things I’ve seen in a while.

In seven minutes, Kimberly Jones gives a passionate and powerful accounting of where this country is at in regards to racial inequality and injustice, and the ugly history of how we got here. It’s tough to watch, but necessary.

If you’re white and want to be an ally but don’t know where to start, Vox has a pretty good interview with several activists about how you can help.  Also, if you have the means, there are a number of organizations and efforts in support of black lives that you can donate to.  Here’s a list.

Happy Siete de Mayo

MyFitnessPal tells me I have 877 calories to go today. Totally disrespected that limit tonight.

Our local Mexican restaurant was insanely busy on Cinco de Mayo, so we reluctantly stayed away that day. Great news for them, not so much for us. (We survived.) So this year we instead celebrated Siete de Mayo, and it was wonderful.

Not pictured: the second margarita. It’s been that kind of week.