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Is there anything you'd like me to write about? I'm not promising to write about certain topics on certain days, because that is not a promise I can keep. But, understanding that I do fall down a lot, and that if I fall down on your topic, that doesn't imply anything wrong with your topic or with how I feel about you, would you like to propose a topic that I will try to write about in December or sometime?
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[livejournal.com profile] akirlu suggested that we collectively try to shape Donald Trump's behavior the way animal trainers and nursery school teachers do: shower him with positive reinforcement whenever he moves toward where you want him to be.

I think this strategy could work. Trump is hungry for praise the way some dogs are for food. He'd stand on his nose if that's what it took. But who's got the patience? I find it hard to spend that much time watching my dogs, and I love my dogs; even when they're doing something disgusting, I think they're adorable.

Maybe the Office of Government Ethics does: Ethics Office Praises Donald Trump for a Move He Hasn’t Committed To. (link to the New York Times)
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A good idea: http://siderea.livejournal.com/1324762.html

Does your experience agree with [livejournal.com profile] siderea that
In an important sense, this is just politeness: don't selfishly hijack conversations that were going fine without you to be about what you'd prefer to discuss instead. On the other hand, I doubt anybody has ever in your entire lives suggested that changing a conversational topic is ever impolite, except, you know, this whole "derailing" concept from social justice activism on the internet. And most people are actually pretty terrible at discerning just what the topic is in a discussion, it not being a skill it ever crossed normal people's minds to desire to acquire.
?
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ETA: [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume called (202) 225-3031 and got through to the survey.

Paul Ryan's phone number, which may or may not lead to a survey about whether to repeal the ACA, is 202-225-0600. I just called twice. The first time, there was no survey, just an a chance to leave voicemail, so I hung up. After a minute to think, I called back; I don't think I pressed a different combination of buttons, but this time I got the survey, pressed 1, and then got voicemail. I said, "My name is Susan Ramirez. My husband worked for Hewlett-Packard for 28 years. He got laid off this month. One of our children is in college, one just graduated. They both have jobs, but they don't have full-time jobs or health benefits. Please don't take affordable health insurance away from people like us."
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+ Pest guy says termites are indeed really really rare here, and they wouldn't start colonizing a tree or a shed, they'd start with a heated building.

+ Right before my husband got laid off, we had a structural engineer look over the foundation, inside and out. (We were finally going to try to level the house and then fix the kitchen/bathroom situation.) He wasn't specifically looking for insect damage but if there were termite tunnels I think he would have noticed.
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+ When I bought this house it came with a very big, very old apple tree.
- Which suddenly started to lean.
+ It didn't fall over and hurt anyone.
- Because it was leaning on the shed, which also began to lean: http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/boxofdelights/833604/58217/58217_900.jpg
+ I found a very competent, honest, and kind tree guy who took the tree the rest of the way down without damaging anything else except an old birdhouse where yellowjackets had been nesting.
- He discovered that the tree had not been taken out by old age. It had been killed by carpenter ants or termites. I thought termites didn't live around here, because the winters are too cold and dry, but I believe tree guy would know.

- Tree guy says that I should call an exterminator to treat the house,
- but I'm thinking that the insects would be even more likely to have infested the shed;
- but I can't ask an exterminator to look into the shed until I make it safe, so I don't know where to start.
- Also I am feeling guilty about not having realized that I needed to do something earlier.
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Suppose you read a newspaper article about an unjust oppressive thing happening to a kid. Suppose that later, you became possessed by a desire to write fiction about kids figuring out how to protest against injustice and oppression. You thought you'd start with something like that incident you'd read about, but you were mostly interested in how the kids might respond to it: what might they do, to try to change things? What effect could they have? What would people do to try to stop them? Who would help them? How would they feel about the unintended consequences of their actions? And so on.

Eventually you noticed that you had neglected to come up with a different inciting incident. In fact, a lot of what you had come up with was pretty firmly rooted in the details of the actual thing that happened to some actual child. Because the actual thing was pretty much perfect, for your story. You didn't want to give up any part of it.

Would it be enough to change the name, age, sex, and nationality of the kid the incident happened to? Or would you still feel like you were stealing someone else's story?
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So Trump is testing how far he can pull the Overton window to the alt-right. You have an opportunity to provide some resistance.

This post explains why and how to call on your representatives to protest the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump's top advisor:
I'm incredibly sorry, but it looks like you need to make phone calls

This series of tweets explains why this is important: https://twitter.com/pookleblinky/status/798334846842142722

This comment gives a script: http://rydra-wong.dreamwidth.org/457613.html?thread=5084045#cmt5084045

Resistance is the secret of joy. So is this otter.

ETA what I said: "My name is Susan Ramirez, I live at [redacted], I voted for Jared Polis in last week's election. I am calling to ask Representative Polis to protest the appointment of Steve Bannon, a self-declared white supremacist, as Donald's Trump's chief strategist. This appointment tells Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan that they have the ear of the next president. I would like my representative to speak out against that."

ETA Cory Gardner's intern said he'd pass the message along.
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My library's website's featured books this week are

10 steps to mastering stress : a lifestyle approach
The book of joy : lasting happiness in a changing world / His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams
Don't give up, don't give in : lessons from an extraordinary life / Louis Zamperini and David Rensin
Instructions for a broken heart / By Kim Culbertson
Meditation made easy : more than 50 exercises for peace, relaxation, & mindfulness

Do you think they're trying to tell us something?

Rebecca Solnit, author of "Men Explain Things to Me" and A Paradise Built in Hell, is offering the ebook of her Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities free, for four more days.

https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/791-hope-in-the-dark?discount_code=FREEHOPEINTHEDARK
Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win. Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away. And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isn’t enough reason to hope. But there are good reasons.
I wrote this book in 2003 and early 2004 to make the case for hope. The text that follows is in some ways of its moment—it was written against the tremendous despair at the height of the Bush administration’s powers and the outset of the war in Iraq. That moment passed long ago, but despair, defeatism, cynicism, and the amnesia and assumptions from which they often arise have not dispersed, even as the most wildly, unimaginably magnificent things came to pass. There is a lot of evidence for the defense.
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how can this be
how can this be
how can this be happening
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Serenity Rose, Vol. 1: Working Through the Negativity, as told to Aaron A

This comic book hits the creepy/cute note that a lot of young teens and preteens love perfectly. The art is dark and crowded, but different styles of lettering and speech balloons make it possible to keep track of who is saying what. Variations in format keep adding bits of story from different perspectives: a newspaper article, a school essay, advertisements, Serenity's memories, and fantasies, and comics, and voiceovers from The Narrator. I usually love texts with a Narrator, but this one sneers so much at almost every character that I do not care for him.
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Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt

Patton Oswalt is weird, smart, and funny, and so is this book. It fits oddly in Biography, where my library classifies it, but my favorite pieces are the more memoirish ones. Patton Oswalt is really good at putting into words the way he perceived the world as a child.

There is a lot of gross-out humor, which I suppose is useful to a standup comedian: you want to have some kind of effect on your audience, and this is a reliable way to get some. I throw up easily, always have, so I work hard at not letting my imagination go to work on disgusting imagery. Pines are good. Snow. Rocks. If you'd like to skip the gross-out parts, skip "Punch-Up Notes" and "Those Old Hobo Songs, They Still Speak to Us", and maybe also "Chamomile Kitten Greeting Cards".

A sample: There's a chapter of Oswalt wallowing in contempt for himself and everyone around him which ends "…and thought about how much I suddenly missed my grandma Runfola."
The next chapter is titled "Mary C. Runfola Explains Her Gifts" and it begins
EIGHTH BIRTHDAY
A picture of Chuck Yeager signed to someone named "Jimmy"
Grandma Runfola: Well I know how much you liked that Space Battles movie. And I thought--yes, all right, dear, yes, Star Wars. So anyway, I was at this rummage sale and they had a table--well, one man there had a table, and I don't think he was with the rummage sale people because he had his table set up a little bit off to the side. Well, he had two tables. One table was all these photographs of celebrities. And the other table had a large beach towel over it. And I couldn't see what was under the beach towel but I was standing there looking at the different pictures and every now and then a young man would come up to the man selling pictures. And all of these young men either had these really close crew cuts or blond hair and they looked like if a punch in the face could get up and walk around and wear clothing. And the man selling pictures would let them lift the towel and it looked like all these knives and Nazi stuff. And the punch-in-the-face men would buy a knife or a patch. Maybe they were actors buying props for a stage show.
Oh, but anyway, Chuck Yeager. Well, you liked Sp--yes, dear, Star Wars. Well you liked that movie so much and did you know Chuck Yeager was kind of a space pilot, like that Han Solo fellow? Oh, yes, I know Han Solo, your grandmother didn't just fall off the pickle truck. Han Solo and Mr. Spock and Robbie the Robot and everyone. Well, the signature meant that Chuck Yeager actually held this photo, which makes it even more valuable.

If you like his sense of humor, which I mostly do, you will enjoy this book. If you don't know it, I don't think this is the place to start.
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Newt loves tomatoes. I wanted a picture of him eating a tomato, so the last time he picked one, I took it away:2016-09-11 16.41.18

And then gave it back. But the taking-away part worried him enough that he had to devour the whole thing in two bites:2016-09-11 16.41.30
2016-09-11 16.41.33
2016-09-11 16.42.02
(That foot walking away looks Seussian!)

"I am the rat terrier
Who will eat anything
I eat stuff
Like it's my job
And if you ask me
If I ate anything
I'll just tell you
That I eat anything."

tomatoes

Oct. 19th, 2016 02:28 pm
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Low of 31 degrees F tonight. After that, at least two more weeks above freezing. I have picked everything that is ripe enough. There are still some orange and many full-size green Roma-type tomatoes. Would you pick everything and call it a summer, or cover and hope?
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Scorpio (October 23-November 21)
During the final ten weeks of 2016, your physical and mental health will flourish in direct proportion to how much outworn and unnecessary stuff you flush out of your life between now and October 25. Here are some suggested tasks: 1. Perform a homemade ritual that will enable you to magically shed at least half of your guilt, remorse, and regret. 2. Put on a festive party hat, gather up all the clutter and junk from your home, and drop it off at a thrift store or the dump. 3. Take a vow that you will do everything in your power to kick your attachment to an influence that's no damn good for you. 4. Scream nonsense curses at the night sky for as long as it takes to purge your sadness and anger about pain that no longer matters.

*

I'm declaring Newt an honorary Scorpio. He lost most of his incisors today, which should be good for his physical and mental health.

Aiko has a new wonder drug, Apoquel, for his allergies. $1.30 per pill. Two pills a day for 14 days, then one a day forever. If it works, it's worth it.
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I got a reply to my query to the science museum.

I wrote: "Science and culture are a public good, and should get some public funding. But sales taxes are regressive. They take a larger proportion of the income of people who already can't afford your tickets. If Issue 200 passes, will you do anything for the people who are supporting you through taxes but not through ticket sales or memberships?"

and the executive director replied:

"Dear Susan,

Thank you for contacting FCMoD with your question about Ballot Issue 200.

If the Larimer County SCFD ballot initiative is adopted by the voters, FCMoD would anticipate being able to increase outreach to our school partners and increase accessibility for low-income families through our Opportunity Program. You may not be aware that we have had a long-standing program that partners with local social service agencies to provide low-income families with free access to the museum. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to meet the demand, and hope that the SCFD funding will help us fill the gap."

I think that's a pretty good answer.


Tonight I can go to the classics book group, which is always interesting, and tonight is discussing Dracula. Or, at the same time, Connie Willis will be talking and then signing books. Both are in walking distance though it is quite cold. Which would you choose?

sales tax

Oct. 9th, 2016 01:39 am
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My county is considering creating a Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, to be funded by adding 0.1% to the county sales tax. The text of the proposition is here:

http://onyourballot.vote411.org/race-detail.do?id=14981883

Scientific and cultural facilities are public goods, and should get some public money, but sales taxes are regressive and bad. I can't decide what I should do. I didn't sign the petition to get it onto the ballot, but now that it's on, voting it down would feel like rejecting the idea of public support for science and culture.

But sales tax! Surely science and culture as a public good shouldn't take a larger share of poor people's income than rich people's.

Advice?


ETA: I sent this message to the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery (a very nice science museum; I had a family membership back when they were much smaller and poorer, and my kids were smaller and lived with me):
Subject*
Ballot Issue 200
Message*
Science and culture are a public good, and should get some public funding. But sales taxes are regressive. They take a larger proportion of the income of people who already can't afford your tickets. If Issue 200 passes, will you do anything for the people who are supporting you through taxes but not through ticket sales or memberships?
I'll let you know if I hear back from them.
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On Wednesday! But not from this Wednesday. I opened the post window to write about something else and found this.

• What are you reading?

This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. I love the art; everyone has their own face, so real and individual that if I met these people on the street I would recognize them. What it focuses on and what it looks away from feel appropriate to that one summer when you are coming to grips with the fact that boobs apply to you -- not some future you, who will have become a woman and understood all those things that you will understand when you're older, but the real you, the you that you are.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Audiobook of Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut, read by Stanley Tucci. I just wanted Stanley Tucci to read me a bedtime story. I was delighted to find Breakfast of Champions still good! Still sexist, yeah, but 70% less annoying than Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. Maybe because Vonnegut isn't kidding himself that he understands women? The biggest change it has undergone is that thirty years ago, "asshole" and the n-word were about equally shocking.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee, for SF book group.


Checked out from the library:

This one summer / Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki.
Deathless / Catherynne M. Valente.
Six-gun Snow White / Catherynne M. Valente ; with illustrations by Charlie Bowater.
The eyes of the dragon : a story / by Stephen King ; with illustrations by David Palladini.
A man called Ove : a novel / Fredrik Backman.
The grand Sophy / Georgette Heyer.

The hunger games [videorecording]
Man up [videorecording] /
Far from the madding crowd [videorecording] /
Fortitude [videorecording] /
Deadpool [videorecording] /
Orphan black. Season three /

Dogs : a startling new understanding of canine origin, behavior, and evolution / Raymond Coppinger and Lorna Coppinger.
Dog tricks : fun and games for your clever canine / Mary Ray, Justine Harding.
Detroit City is the place to be : the afterlife of an American metropolis / Mark Binelli.
Zombie spaceship wasteland : a book / by Patton Oswalt.
Second reading : notable and neglected books revisited / Jonathan Yardley
Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail / Cheryl Strayed.
When breath becomes air / Paul Kalanithi ; foreword by Abraham Verghese.
Being mortal : medicine and what matters in the end / Atul Gawande.

Eyes bigger than my... eyes, I guess?

go or no?

Sep. 15th, 2016 03:33 pm
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I just heard about this movie, Captain Fantastic, which is extremely relevant to my interests. It is still playing at one theater. The theater is within walking distance. (I don't have a car right now.) Unfortunately, today is the last day and there is only one showing, at 8:50, so I'd be walking home at 11:00. Is it worth it?

We saw Kubo and the Two Strings with our daughter when she was visiting and we give it three thumbs up. Its beauty is definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

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