November 11: The Notebook

Item 1: I’ve wondered to myself at what point I’ll consider deer roaming around central Berkeley as unremarkable as, say, crows. A picture of a deer in the front yard comes to mind, maybe eating some choice vegetation (though the plants in yards to either side of us are probably a lot more delectable). It seems we’re getting pretty close to that day. During our late evening walk, The Dog and I had two encounters with big hooved springing mammals. The first was a little startling as an adult-sized deer bolted from a front yard across the street and make a pretty good racket as it crossed a couple of hedges. Then it did that sproingy run that deer do all the way up the street into the dark. A few blocks away, The Dog got alert to something across the street, and two more deer went clattering up the pavement, paused at the next corner, then hung a right and vanished. I wonder who the next arrivals in the neighborhood will be. Mountain lions looking for a snack? No — coyotes are a lot more likely.

Item 2: Sometime in the last couple months, an old colleague of mine called attention via Facebook to a remarkable series of articles in the Ann Arbor Chronicle–what I’m guessing is an “alternative weekly.” The serial is running under the title “Washtenaw Jail Diary.” The Chronicle hasn’t announced a publication schedule, but a new installment seems to appear every couple of weeks. Elsewhere, I said I look forward to the new chapters the same way mid-19th century Londoners probably looked forward to the next piece of “A Tale of Two Cities.” But this jail diary isn’t fiction. It’s a story of an anonymous 40-something middle-class white guy who gets tossed into the county lockup. What makes the stories riveting is the writer’s skill in narrating his sudden passage from what he took to be “normal life”–telling the boss he’d be in late for work while he takes care of some business–to felony inmate. The Number One asked question about the series: What did the author do to wind up in jail? He hasn’t said yet.

Item 3: It’s November 11th. Veterans Day. Armistice Day. Remembrance Day. An occasion to reflect on a war so monstrously costly that a sequel was unimaginable. Today, we can imagine anything except, perhaps, an end to the killing.

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