Turn a route is fare, pay
Tuesday April 11th 2017, 10:32 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Lupus,Politics

If you can stand another United story to go with all the others out there after they beat up a doctor for refusing to be bounced from a flight because he said he needed to see his patients in the hospital in the morning. Two days later he was still in the hospital himself. (United’s own carrier contract I am told says that once you’re boarded in your reserved seat it’s yours.)

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.”

That was the excuse United gave me for what they’d done.

Remember that bit of a whine over the price of the airfare to San Diego for this past weekend? When I was booking tickets a month ago, I blinked at Southwest’s cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fare that was over twice the usual and googled to see what else might be out there.

United’s fare was better. Huh. Okay, so I typed in the specific airports I wanted to leave from and go to, SJC to SAN, and what time I wanted to get to San Diego by: the kids had wanted Grampa to see Parker’s 9:00 game. (Grandma here crashed on the couch for that, safely out of the sun and needing that nap and everybody understood.)

Top of the page their site took me to, it said San Jose to San Diego in big letters, with a list of flights below. Alright, then. Did I want to buy insurance against having to change or cancel my tickets? $40, but with my health, I had to say yes. (Southwest doesn’t charge you for changes or cancellations; they apply your fare to future flights if you’ve gone with the cheapest, non-refundable option. United stiffs you while reselling your seat unless you’ve shelled out that extra.)

I hit confirm to both and only then did it say I was booked for SNA. Orange County. Two hours away. That’s the same thing, right?

I got on the phone immediately and made them deal with my deafness and demanded that they refund that ticket instantly. This was so deceptive. This was an unbelievably bad user interface and why in this day and age hadn’t they fixed it? Right there at the top of the page in bold, it said I was booking for San Diego. Unbelievable.

They did refund me instantly but said I’d have to undo the insurance through a separate company. They, too, said they’d make good on it. Okay, but this should never have happened.

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.” Never mind that the time to get set up with a rental car and then drive it south for two hours meant that there was no physical chance of getting off that flight and getting ourselves to San Diego by, y’know, the time we said we wanted to be there. I asked again why it offered me the wrong flight and they said because they didn’t have one directly to there at that time so they redirected me to one that did land at that time.

The mind, it boggles.

We flew Southwest.



And with that, March is over
Friday March 31st 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

Finally got that car in today, now that I wasn’t waiting for repairmen or appointments.

Oil change, routine stuff, and… a cracked drive belt. Caught before it could leave us stranded on the side of the road. Good thing.

Oh and? My one request of the universe right now would be that it not be an April Fool’s joke–and he did post it March 31, not April 1: George Takei announced on his Facebook page that he just bought a house in Devin Nunes’ district to run against him next year.

May he live long so we’ll all prosper.



Gorsuch-and-such
Tuesday March 21st 2017, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knit,Politics

As I clipped off the ties there was this vague sense that something was wrong, but it made no sense and I ignored it–at the time.

Oooh, man. All those hundreds of yards of wool and that compliant-looking hank was anything but: it was tangled, and tangled bad.

If you are winding yarn into a hank (race-track shaped, for the non knitters, for dyeing now and winding into a ball later) and get interrupted and come back to it and finish with the winding going the other way, you create loops against the loops instead of one big loop–and the yarn must be slowly carefully unwoven back through all those figure-eights. The ball, as it gets bigger and bigger, still has to fit through all those catch points every time around.

I started at about 10:30 this morning. I got interrupted by a few things, including a friend dropping by for an hour and a half, but still: it was 3:30 when I finally got that last yard onto that ball.

Which I emphatically did not knit. I was done with it for the day.

So while I fussed with all that, I had the second-day Neil Gorsuch hearings going to keep me occupied. (The Supreme Court nominee.)

He seems like a nice guy. We could definitely do worse, given who chose him.

And yet. Too often he’s sided with money over people. That Hobby Lobby judgment that he defended because of the owners’ “sincerely held beliefs”? A Senator said, Well, what if an owner is a Jehovah’s Witness and refuses to pay for employees’ medical insurance to cover blood donations? Where does this end? And what about the sincerely held beliefs of the 1300 employees, don’t they matter?

There were questions about a case involving a trucker, which Gorsuch dismissed as squabbling over a hole vs an opening in the floor of the truck. I wondered what that was all about, since he clearly seemed to be avoiding it, so I went looking.

What he refused to acknowledge was that by his dissent in that case, he was saying a man’s life was less important than corporate rules.

The brakes had failed on the guy’s trailer and he had called for help, was told it was coming, and fell asleep in his unheated truck. He woke up in the early stages of hypothermia and knew he would die if he stayed there. Rather than drive with a dangerous trailer he unhooked it, drove the truck to safety and warmth, and when that roadside help finally came, drove back to the trailer and dealt with it.

He was fired, and Gorsuch upheld that firing. The rules were he was to have stayed put, and he didn’t.

And this is the man who wants to make potentially life-and-death decisions for us all.

I can only pray we get the smiley Mr. Nice Guy he portrayed himself as. We have enough of a tangled mess at the top.



Waiting for morning light
Sunday February 12th 2017, 11:53 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Been glued to the updates and saying prayers for the people below the Oroville Dam, where four counties are under mandatory evacuation orders as I type.

I remember the arguing over the need to reinforce the emergency spillway about a dozen years ago but the W. Bush administration refused, pronouncing it fine. With the Federal denial, there were too many owners involved to get them all to agree to pay for it on their own. The argument was made that water was too cheap and that there were real costs involved and that they needed to be paid sooner–or later.

Oroville Lake is where the water for the California Aqueduct flows from northern to southern California. It has the tallest dam in the country.

The main spillway broke wide open Tuesday and sent concrete barreling down the hillside.

Today, for the first time ever, the water went over the emergency spillway, which was simply an unreinforced hillside–at less than 5% of what it was certified to be able to handle, but instead with waterfalls churning down it it threatened to collapse from erosion from the bottom on up.

And starting Wednesday night that area will get 2-3″ more of rain.

The Sierra Club was right in suing to try to get that hill reinforced all those years ago.

This, this is the wall that needed to have been built.



Brainstorming
Monday January 30th 2017, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Knit,Politics

So now there will be a scientists’ march on Washington, and one expects that all those who believe in science will be with them in person or in thought. One must be prepared for such things: and so, the brain hat pattern. Please pass it along.

Less visible of a statement and more of maybe an in-joke (if joke is the word) but certainly a cool project would be the double-helix DNA scarf that I remember its creator knitting for her thesis advisor while working on her PhD, back in our Knitlist days.



He was a stranger and we took him in
Sunday January 29th 2017, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Politics

The second meeting of Stake Conference was this morning.

One of the last speakers was a man who was born in Korea. His father came from very difficult circumstances and, trying to make a better life for his own family, took a job in Tehran for several years to be able to send money home, having to leave his wife to raise their new baby and toddler alone but at least he could provide for them.

At last she was able to bring the children to go see their dad.

Right as, it being the mid-’70s, Iranian assets were frozen. The family could not get to their savings, they could not get home, they had no job to go to if they even could, and from what I understand they could not so much as go buy food–they were completely stranded.

A Mormon family in Utah took them in and their teenager gave up a bedroom so they could have a place to sleep. The man telling the story was four and a half at the time. He went on to say that he and his sister got a good education, everybody was safe, everybody’s circumstances are comfortable now (and he lamented that his own children had no way to understand just how good they truly have it) and they owed it all to the great generosity of those individuals who took them in and to this wonderful country which had let them come; he was so grateful. It was clear he had spent his life seeking to live up to the chances that had been offered him and to give back.

I was a stranger and ye took me in… He was overcome a moment.

After he sat down, the Stake President stood to give a few final remarks. He stated, first, “That was not political.” The crowd chuckled a little, and he explained: they had planned this meeting six months prior. And yet here we are.

Patrick Kearon’s talk last April to the church and the world at large summed up his experiences with, This moment does not define the refugees. But our response will define us.

…This post typed as a longtime friend’s husband, naturalized as a US citizen most of his lifetime ago on a dual citizenship, is stranded in Iran not knowing when or even if he can come back to his own home to see his US-born children and grandchildren again.

We are better than this.



Death Star butternut
Tuesday January 03rd 2017, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life,Politics,Recipes

So today the House of Representatives, having decided that, Ethics Committee? We don’t need no stinkin’ Ethics! found that having the voters storm the gates by the thousands and thousands in protest meant that, Oh wait, what we meant to say was of course we do!

Meantime, we had one last Pilgrim butternut squash from the garden. It had been sitting on the kitchen counter for months. There was no way my still-broken right knuckle was coming anywhere near the size of knife and amount of oomph it would take for me to break into that thing and I didn’t like that stringy variety enough to ask Richard to bother–we’d tasted those.

It was left for last because it had a bit of a Death Star look to it: a squirrel had taken a bite out of the bulbous end when it was quite young and it had crusted over and healed while the rest of the bulb part swelled and grew huge around it. I figured there was no squirrel spit inside, but still…

Sunday, the Merc ran this column. Don’t slice your fingers. Just put the whole thing in the hot oven like a baked potato. Simple.

Well, that would finally get it off my counter, at the very least. I tried it. No foil, it didn’t deserve it and it kinda came in its own anyway, I just threw it in and on second thought grabbed it back and put a cookie sheet underneath. Good thing.

I’d felt a bit conned by the ad copy claiming it was one of the best-tasting.

Well let me tell you. It is now. Or at least til I grow me some Walthams later, as someone suggested here for next time. But man that was good! It steamed and caramelized itself and the shell peeled off like paper. Still slightly stringy inside, but I could Cuisinart the leftovers (it had been six pounds) into a pumpkin pie that wouldn’t need much or any sugar added; it’s got its own this way.

It did try to live up to that Death Star persona one last time, though: it exploded at the flaw straight down onto the cookie sheet, where the sugars blew up like a marshmallow and then blackened into a finely molded dust while the smell let you know that that squash really did need to come out of there!

Oooh, but the rest of it…! I am definitely growing squashes again and I wasn’t sure of that before.

I am reminded of the time when I was a young mom of thinking I would finally put the actual fillet knife someone had given us to its purported use and I bought a live fish from an Asian market. I chose it, they cleaned it, and then I painstakingly tried to follow James Beard’s instructions on how to carve the scales off. I spent quite a bit of time ever so carefully hacking away while trying not to damage the thing and finally, feeling like an utter failure, looked at how little I’d gotten done and how bad it looked, said nuts to this, and simply threw foil around it and let the oven take care of it while I caught up with whatever my kids had been getting into during my distraction.

I pulled it out of there with the skin falling away with the foil. The idea of trying to ditch the scales and keep the skin for the perfect restaurant presentation had been ridiculous all along. It didn’t have to be the hard way at all.

Fish, squash, and Congressmen: they can come out right after all, all you have to do is surround them with heat.



The way forward
Sunday November 13th 2016, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Politics

If you can stand one more political post, I would recommend this one, written by a conservative.

And thank you DebbieR for the heads-up that got me to go find the letter from a former longtime employee of Trump’s.



Hanging out at the branch office
Thursday November 10th 2016, 12:08 am
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Mango tree,Politics,Wildlife

Slower growth than summer’s but still coming along there.

Meantime, the neighbors kept a compost pile for years near the other side of the fence from my mango tree.

They weren’t trying to be part of the amateur beekeeper trend, but one day a swarm liked that spot and moved right on in. I don’t think they try to harvest any honey, they’re just glad to be doing their part in supporting the population. Even if inadvertently.

Which, when they told me, explained why I get so many.

Now that the weather is chilly at night a few of those honeybees are getting their feet snagged on my frost covers again, not quite making it back to the hive for the night. Or sometimes it looks like they just got there when I arrive in the morning.

I can’t pull them off. Too close to the stingers and I don’t want to dismember the poor things. I don’t want to walk across the yard to put the cloths away and have a bunch of upset bees around me, either. So I give the underside of the cloth a good pat with an extra layer or three of fabric between us to free them, one by one; a flick if that didn’t do it.

It was good and sunny by the time it was warm enough for the day’s grand unveiling and I grabbed the big straw hat by the back door on my way out.

And so the usual routine. Six this time–off you go. Sometimes they fly free, sometimes they plummet, needing energy and warmth or (I hope not) dead. But always, always, they are ever so polite about it to the big human thwacking around their feet.

Most of today’s simply fell to the ground. The birds would soon be checking for snacks.

Stepped just inside as I shut the door behind me while reaching for my hat.

I had just long enough to wonder what burr-type thing had fallen from where to have landed on my hat or was it falling apart? My favorite! But I had seen no such thing moments earlier and it didn’t feel like broken straw edges.

Nor do straw edges bounce up and down in your hand in agitation as one’s hand closes to grasp them. Mine quickly opened and I stared, and one upset honeybee, very much invigorated and very much alive, made its quick escape to parts still unknown within the house.

And still it hadn’t stung me for all I’d put it through.

May I be as forgiving and slow to anger against the stings of yesterday’s election. I can only pray.



I…..can’t………even
Wednesday November 09th 2016, 12:25 am
Filed under: Friends,Politics

My friend Diana died yesterday morning. The one I delivered the butter-yellow cowl to Angie for. I’m glad Diana lived long enough to see some of her yarn go to honor her friend who had done a great deal to take care of her in her last illness.

My trust in my fellow Americans’ belief in working for the common good died today. They actually voted for the racist, sexual assaulting, white-supremacist, Nazi-imagery-tweeting, tax-dodging, contractor-defrauding con man who wants to wipe away the health insurance of millions of their fellow Americans. Who exults in his demagoguery.

I am staggered. I feel physically ill. He is a dangerous man unlike anything we have ever put into power before.

How. Could. They.

Don’t tell me about Roe v Wade as a reason (and some have on FB), that ruling stayed intact even when there were Republican Presidents and Congresses in power together. There are medical cases where there is no other choice so there needs to be that choice for those in those circumstances. If that means erring on the side of personal responsibility instead of governmental intrusion into the most painful of circumstances, then it does. Trump himself with all his affairs is probably personally responsible for a few abortions himself.

And now they want to give this angry narcissist, out of all the people in this entire country, the codes and the power to start nuclear wars should someone insult him at 3 am.

I am deeply afraid of what he will do. I am deeply afraid of what others will feel free to do because of him.

At least Diana didn’t have to see this.



Today is Election Day
Tuesday November 08th 2016, 10:28 am
Filed under: Politics

Missed my blogging time last night because we were, for the final time, going over the very long California ballot item by item, talking it out. We don’t agree on quite everything except for how important it is to get out there and be heard.

The polls here close at 8 pm, but if you’re in line by then they have to let you participate. Please. VOTE!



VOTE!!!
Wednesday October 19th 2016, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Politics

The final debate.

After all the things that man has said, after all the times he’s been in-your-face dishonest, denying having said things he’s just been reminded are on video or tape of him saying, projecting onto all his opponents along the way anything that he himself is guilty of. Even after he encouraged his followers to assassinate, well, it wasn’t clear if it was Hillary or judges she appoints or both.

When Chris Wallace invoked the great power of American history being our peaceful transitions of power, that that has always been so, and asked the candidates if they would accept the results of the election.

He answered angrily, I’m not going to tell you.

I thought I had heard everything I might ever hear out of that man but in that moment my jaw hit the floor, stunned, and I turned to Richard: Did you HEAR that?!

When Wallace pressed him again, he snarled, I’m going to keep you in suspense.

That right there was a flat-out no. No he didn’t want to and no he won’t. Anything that wasn’t an immediate, stunned, who-do-you-think-I-am Of course I would! shows exactly what he thinks of the American people if they don’t give him everything he covets, all the power, all the prestige, all the glory that he so believes belong to him and him alone.

And in that moment he treated us all, every single American, the whole world, like he treats–all his accusers aside, we have heard it with our own ears from his own mouth–women.

 

(Note: post edited to banish his name from my space.)



What do we want our children to think power looks like?
Sunday October 09th 2016, 11:28 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

I watched the debate. I watched the Republican candidate doing everything he could to physically stalk and literally belittle his opponent, noting which camera was on and moving in so as to be seen towering right behind her almost any time she was speaking. The camera moved? So did he. Its attention could only be on him.

Any woman who has ever had to deal with a seriously creepy guy (and that’s probably all of us, isn’t it?) would instantly recognize what he was doing. He violated her space; he tried to intimidate her; he leaned over and held her chair, which was shorter than his. Dominating, glowering, threatening.

But that was the least of it.

I’m going to let Ezra Klein of Vox take it from here.



Playing ketchup
Wednesday September 21st 2016, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knitting a Gift,Politics

Lots of waiting times today, part of what happens when you only have one car and (helpfully delayed) appointments six cities apart. And the lab. And the…

How much time?

This much, minus the half-repeat I started it with several days ago and the two hours added this evening. Cashmere, about 50g worth of tomato-colored, knitted on 3.5mm needles. About 13″x9″measured flat. Done!

Meantime, I got an email purporting to be from an organization I’m familiar with but from an email address I am not, saying that I needed to check my voter registration.

Given that there were a number of Democrats who showed up at the primary polls in Arizona to find their party affiliation scrubbed from the records–including an official from said party who likewise found herself disenfranchised despite having been on the rolls for years–yeah, not a bad idea.

But I wasn’t about to click through their links. Who knows…

So we went to California’s Secretary of State site, clicked on our county, found Voter Registration, and on that secure site found ourselves verified as registered to vote, and since it’s not the primary, party doesn’t matter so we stopped searching at that point. We can always verify at the polls.

But we felt it was worth checking.



Defensible thing to do
Thursday August 04th 2016, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Politics

Another ripe fig, and again, very very good.

On a totally different tangent, that title is both a pun and a statement.

I remember a conversation with my favorite high school teacher, Bill Cormeny, the one time I got to see him after I’d graduated from college, gotten married, and, you know, all that grown up-type stuff. He taught history, my mom was in the school’s English department and I was back visiting that day.

He found out my husband was in grad school and thoroughly approved: being married and in school? That’s the way to start out! Teaches you what’s important! Teaches you humility! Teaches you–he chuckled knowingly–poverty.

Man ain’t that the truth. I think this was when we were living on $600-something a month, rent on campus was $200 and we had been married a few years and had an infant. The memorable splurge of a year was when we bought a carton of ice cream. Many times over the years since I’ve reflected on his words and reminded myself to keep holding onto his wisdom, to not let materialism trip me up, because he was right.

That child of ours sent a link today that reminded me of that good man. I’m sure he would love to hear this little bit of new history.

Missouri’s governor with his vetoes was not obeying Missouri’s state constitutional requirement to keep the public defender’s office funded.

I wonder if he ever had to make do on a fellowship with a wife and child, if he ever learned… At least in grad school you have the relief of knowing it’s a temporary thing, but still.

After a lot of wrangling and being ignored, the head of that state office finally hit on a novel solution. The law said he could appoint any member of the bar there to take part if the poor were going unrepresented, and so he did: he ordered Governor Nixon himself to serve in a case.

I like it.