It’ll be YUUUUUGE
Monday May 30th 2016, 4:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Politics

Heaven is finding out that not only is Bernie Sanders doing a rally in Silicon Valley, he is doing so a two-minute stroll from my house.

Some may remember that my oldest used to live in Vermont. Sanders was her Senator, and before that he’d been mayor of the town, which sets at the edge of Lake Champlain.

That waterfront was coveted by developers who knew that view could command big bucks.

Sanders said no: once it’s gone it’s gone forever. He rallied the town around the idea that it had always been for everybody and it should stay that way. The hotels could be built further out. They could even have more reasons for people to want to book rooms in them: and so the waterfront was made a park with biking and hiking trails, and that is why, snow levels and all, Burlington recently got named the #1 nicest city in the country to live in. And let me tell you, it is gorgeous.

I liked Sanders’ vote against the Iraq war and his willingness to stand up for what he felt was right again and again–coupled with a willingness in The Amendment King to reach across the aisle to make small changes for the better when the big ones were out of reach. Ethics and practicality both.

I don’t agree with all his planks. And yes, he could stand to freshen up his stump speech and I wish he were younger. But I value his character and his experiences, going all the way back to his Civil Rights Movement arrest.

I paid each year’s college tuition in the late ’70’s with summer jobs; my daughter paid $60,000 tuition for a one-year grad school program. The cost of living did not go up by a hundred times in between to justify that. I don’t know that public university tuition should be free but it should definitely be a lot more like it was when the Greatest Generation was sending its kids off to college. You want people to be able to choose to get ahead, you make it so they can.

Anyway. So. Sanders is having a rally and it’s right there and how could it possibly get more convenient then that?!

Hell is finding out…

…that it’s at the same day and time that you were going to be leaving for the airport.

And remembering all those news stories of people camping out in line before dawn.

All those thousands and thousands of people trying to find a place to park will also be hoping for a two-minute walk. From my street. Whether security will be stopping cars to this far out I have no idea, I’ve never been through this before.

I’m missing getting to see the guy who likely won’t win at this point, but whose voice–and ours–still matters. There have been a lot of Presidential-contest losers whose ideas still won out over time because enough people wanted them to.

This guy champions my grandchildrens’ future and I have long wanted to see him in person to cheer him on.

Only for you, Daddy. Gladly, for you, Daddy. Happy 90th. I love you. Mwah!



Uncle Bob
Thursday May 05th 2016, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Politics

Some of the best notes of the day:

Here–wait, nope, what lives on Facebook wants to stay on Facebook. Scott Howell recounting a conversation to the Utah Debate Commission. Let me summarize.

When Uncle Bob got primaried by the Tea Party, he went home that night feeling very low. Went into his study (and I can just picture him in that big brown leather chair there) and tried to fathom what had just happened.

The phone rang.

He wasn’t going to answer it. And yet, something about it… He picked up the phone rather in spite of himself.

“This is Barack…” Our President told him how sorry he was to hear about the election and said he wanted to thank him for his service to his state and his country, for his willingness to reach across the aisle to listen and to work with his colleagues. He left my uncle feeling that he had been the right person in the right place at the right time when it had mattered.

That phone call made such a difference to Uncle Bob.

And then there was this release.

One more thing: my cousin Jim added that when President Obama found out that Uncle Bob’s cancer had metastasized, he sent him a handwritten note. Personal, comforting, just a lovely thing to do, because he wanted to reach out to his old friend. Again.



On Good Friday
Friday March 25th 2016, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Garden,History,Life,Politics

The Tangy Green Columnar from two angles. Most apples don’t need a pollinator but it does, and so the Yellow Transparent gave up a twig with the same stages of blooming this evening.

Meantime, in politics…

Time Magazine did a photo shoot with the Republican candidate (his unmentionable name deleted) with a Bald Eagle for their cover–it was only later that they released the footage of the eagle starting to attack him as he rears back and away. (Scroll down slightly to the GIF to skip the ad in the video.)

A video that’s a lot more fun: in the middle of a large campaign rally today, a Pine Siskin flies to Bernie Sanders’ “A future to believe in” sign and, resting on that perch, turns its head to get a good look at the candidate. At 56 seconds in, it flies  towards Bernie himself before veering upwards in no particular hurry, not having minded the sounds of the crowd in any of this. (And I have seen how they zoom away when a hawk arrives. That one was not afraid.)

I love Bernie’s delight as he stops right there to take in and appreciate what life has suddenly brought him, his laugh for the sheer joy of it.

I was pulling weeds tonight just a few feet from the patio when an Oregon junco flew in beside me. A Bewick’s wren came from the other direction and joined in.

Wild things know.



The back stabbers
Monday March 07th 2016, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Politics

You start with one seed sprouting. The new plant sends out runners that create new plants all around it, and new around them, the leaves gradually weaving under and over with more baby plants squeezing into every available space till it’s hard to find where one starts under there to get your fingers under all the leaves of just that one to give it a good hard effective yank. Out.

Invoke your Citizens United metaphor here–or not.

Picturing my grandchildren walking across the sharp-spiked seedheads and crying for pain spurred me to keep going no matter how tired I got: it wasn’t raining, I was only coughing a little bit, don’t stop.

Gasping for breath is not a good sign. I did stop and went inside and put my feet up. I was able to stand it for about five minutes, then I got right back to it–I don’t want poisons, I can’t afford, not in money nor energy, to cover the whole back yard in mulch. Go.

I think I freed us of about fifty pounds’ worth and glancing back at last Tuesday’s post, I’d forgotten I’d gotten nearly this much out that day, too–before I started today you would never have known that. Darn. I did clear out one entire patch. I have to win.



A debate and a gesture
Thursday March 03rd 2016, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

We were watching the Republican debate tonight. Marco Rubio’s voice was getting hoarser and hoarser and he looked like he’d felt better (but then it’s easy for me to think that way when I’ve been waking up with a stiff fever all week, gradually settling mostly down over the course of each day.) He was less, if I dare use the word Trump has politicized, energetic.

So. At the end, John Kasich walked across the front of the stage to go shake Rubio’s hand at the other end. Trump, though, standing right next to Rubio, totally beat him to it.

I guffawed at what happened next: so Rubio shook Trump’s hand, but then as Rubio turned to Kasich there was a moment’s briefest exchange between the two men and Rubio, with Kasich moving a split second behind in kind, bent their arms and reached their elbows towards each other.

I so recognized that. I was on a chemo drug for six and a half years. I always shook elbows. I still do sometimes (and should, given my immune train wreck.)

Trump would have found a way to twist such a gesture into an insult and a rebuke of his opponent and he would never have understood doing something that might convey the slightest whiff of vulnerability. In front of the cameras! Trump got the ordinary handshake he wanted.

Kasich and Rubio exchanged smiles and comraderie in their moment while Rubio was looking out for the other guy, hoping to protect Kasich from his germs. I’m no fan of Rubio for many reasons and would never vote for him. But I have to say, that split-second decision spoke well of him.



Throwing dirt
Saturday February 13th 2016, 11:48 pm
Filed under: History,Politics,Wildlife

Those leaves at upper center aren’t in front of the fence: they’re under it. That’s a skunk-size hole. I can stop feeling guilty now for cinnamoning the root-eaters over to the neighbors’ garden. Gophers beware. (Besides, how often do you get to cheer on a skunk?)

Meantime, wow, what a news day. My condolences to Justice Scalia’s family and friends.

I can talk about money being the megaphone rather than the actual speech another day.

So. About that Republican debate tonight where Rafael Eduardo Cruz was talking about his dad’s humble underwear and Trump was yelling LIAR! at Jeb when he wasn’t yelling it louder at Cruz and he almost, almost threw in the pants on fire part and you just knew he wanted to and Rubio got into a shouting match with Ted and Jeb and back to Trump… Cruz accusing Rubio of saying things in Spanish on Univision and Rubio shooting back, “You don’t speak Spanish!”

Dig a little deeper, guys, keep going–as Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian put it, Some Jerry Springer guests have more decorum, this is great fun to watch!



We’ll see tomorrow
Tuesday February 02nd 2016, 12:15 am
Filed under: Life,Politics

I’ve never watched the Iowa caucus results like this before. It’s past two am their time and they’re still counting!

Clinton, Bernie, O’Malley: 695, 693, and 8 SDEs, ie State Delegate Equivalents, and yes, I had to go look up how the caucuses are done in the two parties in Iowa and it is a strange system and also one that denies any sense of privacy in one’s voting.

Clinton hits 696… Wait, Sanders is at 692 now? Did it go down? Can it go down? Did I see it wrong a moment there or did it really do that? Huh.

Meantime, the phone rang this evening. The oven comes tomorrow morning.



Snow job
Monday January 25th 2016, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Politics

Grabbed what was closest and softest to hand from my stash and knitted up a third of the first skein of Woolfolk Far while watching the Iowa town hall meeting tonight. After shivering in DC last week I was stuffing that cabled yarn onto size 4mm needles for a thickly-knit cowl.

Which happens to be in black, because that’s what there was. The sooner I finish it the happier my eyes will be but the longer my hands get to caress it the happier they’ll be.

The Democratic National Committee had threatened the candidates that they would be banned from future official debates if they set up their own, so instead they took that stage and the questions from the audience one candidate at a time, competing in the immediate sense only with themselves, connecting better with those who’d come to see who they were. I liked it.

Meantime, in solidarity with the good folks back home trying to dig out of their record-breaking blizzard, one of my peach trees broke out in a bit of spring for them. The name of the variety? Tropic Snow.



Full context on time-delay
Sunday December 20th 2015, 12:07 am
Filed under: Politics

Oh, so that’s what happened.

I was reading someone’s complaint that the Democratic candidates’  debate that was supposed to start at 5 pm Eastern didn’t at all because the pundits spent the first half hour guessing what was going to be said, making everybody wait on them. And yeah, I might have been annoyed had I set aside the time to watch it–which I would have, had we been home.

But that delay is why we got to see the last half hour of it after we got back from a friend’s Christmas party.

When it was over, I tried to see if anyone had the full video available yet. Nope–only Clinton’s, and only Clinton’s, opening statement. Curious. Eh, wait a day or two. And now there are highlights posted. I don’t want highlights and pundits: I want to see all of what the candidates said, how they said it, and how they responded to each other so that nobody’s making my decision but me.



Well, this is one story will last awhile
Saturday December 19th 2015, 12:25 am
Filed under: Politics

I wrote a long post. I deleted it. I’ll just let this guy say most of it.

Note that the contract the Democratic National Committee had had Sanders’ campaign sign when they rented out the voter data to them put no requirements on what they could or could not do with what they found there–it was a badly written contract, but it meant that even the staffer Sanders immediately fired for downloading Clinton’s information had done nothing wrong per what they had agreed to.

But the DNC sure did. They ignored the Sanders campaign’s repeated pleas to close their security breach. They had stated in their contract that ten days’ notice would be given before cutting off data to a campaign and they did no such thing. Bernie Sanders landed major endorsements and got his two millionth donation and had a very very good day and suddenly they cut him off from his own data and donors. Whatever you may think of any of the candidates, that’s wrong and blatantly anti-democratic.

Here’s one petition that got over a quarter million signatures in one day. Go git’em.



Close to homes
Thursday December 03rd 2015, 12:12 am
Filed under: History,Politics

I know, I know, you need a break from all this. But two of the perpetrators of today’s massacre–well, of one of today’s two massacres, the bigger one that got more publicity–were found hiding in the city where we will be attending a wedding next month. We are all within six degrees of connection. Every time.

Here is Neil DeGrasse Tyson presenting the numbers we know but we don’t want to know. One. million. four. hundred. thousand. since Mr. Kitto’s fifth grade class at Seven Locks.

Here, at Slate, is an essay asking us what kind of a country do we want to live in. We do have a choice. Second Amendment and all, daily mass slaughter is just not how it was when I was growing up: our Congressmen have made decision after decision, persisting in spite of increasing consequences, that have brought us to where we are now.

Is this what we want more of?

(Edited to add this link.)

We have to wait a year before we can express ourselves with our ballots but we can sure speak up now and be heard just the same.

By my calculations, assuming there’s no increase in the rate–which there relentlessly has been every single year since 2001–that means 32,640 more Americans will be dead of gunshot wounds from household-owned firearms by Election Day next year, plus however many more while the lame-duck moldy-leftover politicians continue to offer prayers for the victims while actively doing everything they can to prevent God from helping us get ourselves out of our man-made mess.

Write and call your Congressperson (find them here) as if your very life depended on it. For 32,640 people whom you may know, it does.



Never forgotten
Friday October 16th 2015, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

In the choreography of G_d department that let a grieving mother know she is not alone.

A few friends of mine shared, via Facebook, an account written by a woman who was out having a meal last week with her friends. They happened to be the mother and sister of Sandra Bland, the young African-American woman on her way to her new job at a university in Texas who was pulled over for not signaling and who inexplicably, inexcusably died in a jail cell for it days later. Some say the background of her mug shot was the jail floor, that she was already dead by the time it was taken.

But this, rather, is what the woman writes about.

A man walked into that restaurant and sat down at another table, alone.

After some moments the writer, marveling, got up the courage to go ask him if he were indeed he. He was, and, invited, yes, he wanted to meet them very much.

“He took no record, he made no statement. He did not try to turn it into a publicity stunt. He simply made space for a sacred moment, and then let it pass without trying to gain anything from it.”

They, not he, asked for pictures to capture the moment.

He said Sandra’s name at Tuesday night’s debate to comfort her mother and sister, that she might not be forgotten.

Because that’s who Bernie Sanders is.



In case this happens to you too
Wednesday October 14th 2015, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Politics

Open Enrollment time of year, with required medical screening. Because why should April and tax time have all the fun?

And every year our insurance company starts bouncing claims come August or so, claiming I have other insurance. Every year I call them. This time I actually went to their website to see what gives, and that other insurance they list? It’s them. Same account. Same everything but with the previous year’s date. But that’s double coverage and reason enough to stiff everybody for months on end, right? Every. Year.

I think the state insurance commissioner and I need to have a little chat.

I will be so glad when we take the age discrimination out of Medicare and come into the civilized age.



A lot of history all at once, some yet to show itself
Friday September 25th 2015, 9:57 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Five members of the Supreme Court, including Catholics Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, turned down their invitations to witness Pope Francis’s address to Congress. I can only feel that they–and we–missed out. There is a power for good in the example of a person of great love, a clarity offered to one’s sense of purpose. Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, Thomas S. Monson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and any others you might want to name from your own experiences or readings: they don’t just preach it, they live it.

If only….

Breyer was in San Francisco to give a talk and sign copies of his new book–my daughter is in the audience as I type.

After the Pope left yesterday, two reporters stumbled into the best, most human story on what would be Boehner’s surprise resignation come the morning: Boehner beckoned them to the spot he had stood in to try to feel what he had felt, to experience some part of what the day had been for him. The Washington Post, here, and a Q&A with Speaker Boehner today, here.



Tick tick ticked
Wednesday September 16th 2015, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life,Politics

By now you’ve probably heard of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old who built a clock and took it to show to his engineering teacher at his new high school in Irving, Texas.

Now, being married to a nerd, we have a lot of motherboards and various other parts kicking around here. Lots. He’s actually got my yarn stash beat. (Note which one of us is writing this.)

The Heathkit company of our youth quit making electronics kits ages ago. Even I built some of their kits–it was a requirement in a college electricity course. My clock finally died after 35 years but the alarm in case the standing freezer gets too warm is still at work in the garage.

So into that vacuum stepped the folks who started Raspberry Pi after looking at how expensive gadgets had gotten; few parents would want to let their kid take, say, an iPad apart and explore its innards, and they decided budding nerds needed to have access to electronic parts to tinker with and to be able to make things at a reasonable price–and I mean exceedingly reasonable.

And thus we have, for instance, the controller that turns the Christmas lights on my mango tree on and off depending on the temperature range I set for it. Had we bought such a gadget prefab it would have been prettier but also more expensive and this way my sweetie has made himself a part of that tree’s success. He built that.

This is the hubby who decided one Christmas years ago when the kids were little that the usual setup of chairs across the hallway with blankets draped over it to block their view of the goodies ahead wasn’t enough. The rule was that you wait for Mommy and Daddy and Mommy and Daddy are allowed to sleep till a semi-reasonable hour after trying to assemble that #*% rocking horse till 2 am (second page of instructions, line 17 halfway down: “Before you start, make sure you…” And so forever after it had a screw missing because there just was no way.)

No peeking.

A motion sensor, a tape recorder, and the very unexpected sound of Daddy’s voice: “Go. back. to. BED, Richard!”

And so it was with some amazement that I listened to my ever calm peacemaker of a husband take off on that principal and those cops. “They should be in JAIL!” He was just outraged. In his own youth, he told me, he had gotten permission from the school, made fireworks (me: You *made* fireworks? him: Yes, I made fireworks!) and had brought them in.

They called Ahmed’s clock a bomb and when he confirmed his last name and refused to say that it was a bomb, after having illegally questioned him without allowing him to notify his parents much less in their presence, they marched him across the school in handcuffs, hauled him to police headquarters and arrested him.

Let’s see: false imprisonment, false police report, false charges, under color of authority, lack of parental notification, libel, and even after they found out that it really was just a clock the school still said he was suspended for three days as if he were somehow guilty for embarrassing them–and then they sent home a letter to the other kids’ parents about how their children were being kept safe (from, basically, terrorists by the sound of it) and that there had been an incident but everything was fine now.

Now, if they’d thought it was really a bomb, would they have left it sitting in the school as they blasted this child? But they did.

Would they have evacuated the school? But they did not.

It all comes across as the English teacher and the principal with the cops piling on trying to show that smart brown kid with the Muslim name just exactly who had the power around here.

But then, thank heavens, the aftermath began. President Obama on Twitter: “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”

Mark Zuckerberg, NASA (he was wearing their t-shirt when it happened) and a growing number of places: You want to come tour our headquarters/lab/etc? We want smart people like you and we would love to show you around here.

Mohamed’s father, an immigrant from Somalia, thanked all those who stood up for his son: I love America. When we see something wrong we stand up.

The school is utterly unrepentant.

Some lawyer is totally going to clean their clock.