The President Hasn’t Actually Been Elected, Yet

December 4, 2016

Technically, the President (and the Vice-President) are not elected until the electors for each state meet in the capital of said state and each cast one vote for President and one for Vice-President. Each state has a number of electors equal to the total of their representatives in the lower house of Congress plus their Senators. This means that the states with lower populations actually have a disproportionately greater say in the outcome of the Presidential election because even states that don’t have enough population to get more than one Representative have two Senators. We can argue later about why the Founding Fathers set up this system1, but it’s the system we have.

And this is how we’re in a spot where one candidate has received more than 2 million more votes than the one that everyone is calling the winner.

So, on December 19 the electors meet, and under the Constitution can technically cast their votes for just about anyone. Many states levy fines against electors who do not cast their votes for the candidate who won the most votes in that state, but 33 do not. And that’s what this movement is about. And it’s not just about signing a petition. There’s more: 16 DAYS LEFT: AN ACTION PLAN TO STOP DONALD TRUMP.

I don’t have a lot of hope for it, to be honest. Each campaign that has a candidate on a state ballot submits its list of electors, and the electors already pledged to one candidate or the other are the only ones who meet to cast their votes. This is why the recount lawsuits were our best2 shot at stopping the orange narcissist and the band of neo-Nazis that he is putting in charge from coming to power. If a recount in a state showed that a different candidate had won, then a different set of electors would meet in that state’s capitol.

So, if you participate in the letter writing campaign, understand that we’re asking people who committed to vote for the Bratman to, instead, vote for the candidate that most of them loathe3. And know that one of the Texas electors is so angry at people contacting him that he tried to get the Texas Attorney General to file charges4 against the first many people who did so.

Still, even if all we accomplish is get a few more people to understand exactly why the Electoral College must go6, this effort will have been worth it.

1. Two reasons:

  • they were extremely fond of legislative bodies which they believed were more thoughtful than ordinary voters,
  • the slave states had lower population densities than the non-slave states at the time and liked a system that gave them some leverage to get the northern states from ending slavery by a popular vote.

2. And we knew it was a slim chance, but…

3. Decades of demonization by Fox “news” and white nationalists et al will do that.

4. I don’t know what crime he thought they committed. And here’s the thing: technically, being an elector means that you are, for at least a brief time, a government official. That means petitioning you is a right that we are all guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution. The same one these manbabies are always citing when they want to call discrimination “religious freedom.”5

5. And when I said in the first footnote that the Founding Fathers were fond of legislative bodies, one of the things they envisioned was citizens being able to contact the electors and say, “I know the vote went one way earlier, but we have more information now…”

6. Previous times that the candidate who lost the popular vote won the elector college vote have all resulted in disastrous presidents. Just sayin’!

It’s all about the glitches

December 3, 2016

I think we all could use a hug from Chewie...

I think we all could use a hug from Chewie…

My brand new Macbook Pro arrived two days before the end of NaNoWriMo, and three days before another deadline I was trying to hit, so I set it up as quickly as I could and tried to just muddle through any of the typical glitches you get whenever you migrate all your stuff to a new machine. All of the glitches so far seem to be software related. Many the sorts that wind up being fixed by deleting preference files or other configuration things that were imported from the old machine and rebooting to get the operating system to rebuild them.

I’m not doing a full review, yet, because I haven’t really used it under circumstances where I think everything of that nature has been cleared up since. But, I am very happy with it, so far. I think following my hubby’s advice to buy the most powerful model I can afford now was the right choice.

While I’m feeling pretty good about our plans and prep for Christmas (I have at least one present for every person on my list, though I have a couple of big ones I still need to get). I did not get the Christmas tree set up or any of the lights up last weekend. But I think once I get the two errands out of the house I need to do today done that I’ll be able to jump into that.

I started working on the Christmas card list. I thought my first step was going to be pinging people I don’t think I have a current address for. But no the first (very depressing) step was deleting some addresses because the person has died in the last year. Yes, there were multiples.

Anyway, after I did that I decided to take a look at tumblr to cleanse my brain, and someone had posted that gif of Chewbacca giving Leia a hug, and I realized we all need a good hug.

Friday Links (myth-busting edition)

December 2, 2016

Who benefits from a higher minimum wage? (Click to embiggen)

Who benefits from a higher minimum wage? (Click to embiggen)

It’s a Friday. The first Friday in December and oh my goodness where has the year gone?

I’m not working from home today. Which is a good thing for this blog post because what with trying to finish both NaNoWriMo and another writing deadline I had, I didn’t have as much time to work on the links this week as usual.

Anyway, here are links to stories I found interesting, sorted by category.

Links of the Week

Comment of the Day: Paying For a More Civilized Society. An oldie, but well worth revisiting.



This week in awful news

Gatlinburg hotels, homes destroyed in Tenn. wildfires.

Investigators look for motive behind Ohio State knife attack.

Fabulous, Darling!

What the Hell is Modern Architecture? Part Two: Mid-Century Madness.

How to Make a Low Carb Cheese Board.

News for queers and our allies:

Merriam-Webster Has Become A Hilarious, Shade-Throwing LGBTQ Ally.

‘Mom, I’m Dying’: How Family Rejection Charts Trans Youth Toward Death.

Family Research Council creates false persecution controversy & defends white supremacist enabling publication.

Woman Stands Up To Homophobic Neighbor… With 10,000 Rainbow Christmas Lights. The photo of the rainbow bushes in front of the house is cool!

Pence Trolled By New D.C. Neighbors Who Hung Rainbow Flags All Over Their Yards.

Why People With HIV Are Still Going To Prison Even When They Can’t Transmit The Virus.

America East Conference and Maine Men’s Basketball to Protest HB2, Transphobia at Duke Game.

Whoopi Goldberg Gets Emotional Receiving Award for AIDS Activism from Elizabeth Taylor’s Grandson – WATCH.

Michigan Neighborhood Drowns Out Complaint Over Gay Pride Flag with ‘Wall of Flags’.


Homeopathic Medicine Labels Now Must State Products Do Not Work. About bloody time…

Amid government ignorance and equivocal science, Flint residents mold their lives around perpetual crisis and endless unanswerable questions.. I’m putting this under science in part because of some of the scary things it says about our entire water supply and how little we understand it: “We know very little about the microbial water quality in pipes and distribution systems and household plumbing,” said Joan Rose, a microbiologist at Michigan State University who has been actively researching the emerging Flint crisis since 2014. In March, Rose was awarded the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize for her research into water quality, microbiology, and public health. “You mean we know very little about that in Flint?” I asked. “No, I mean we don’t know that much about it at all, anywhere.” “Well,” I replied, “that’s kind of terrifying.” “It should be,” she said.

Five things elevators teach us about design, psychology and hats.

Ötzi’s Sartorial Splendor.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

Flyover Country. A science fiction story…

This week in Writing

Knowing the Course Ahead, in Running as in Writing.

Oh, The People You’ll Sue! (When You’re Dr. Seuss Enterprises).

Bad Reasons to Choose Self-Publishing.

This Week in Covering the News

How to Deal With the Lies of Donald Trump: Guidelines for the Media. “Our journalistic and political assumption is that each side to a debate will “try” to tell the truth — and will count it as a setback if they’re caught making things up. Until now the idea has been that if you can show a contrast between words and actions, claim and reality, it may not bring the politician down, but it will hurt… None of this works with Donald Trump. He doesn’t care, and at least so far the institutional GOP hasn’t either.”

Where Do We Go from Here?

The People Chose Hillary Clinton. Now We Need To Stop Donald Trump From Trashing Our Democracy.

Trump: The Choice We Face. “I grew up knowing that my great-grandfather smuggled guns into the Bialystok ghetto for the resistance…”

This week in Health

How Many People Just Voted Themselves Out of Health Care? (Updated) (Updated again) (And again).

House lawmakers passed the biggest health reform bill since the Affordable Care Act. aka, instituting welfare for pharmaceutical companies…

This Week in Inclusion

#12DaysofDiversity — Retelling Readathon Signup.

This Week in Fighting Back in the Culture War:

This Is What Safe Spaces & Trigger Warnings Actually Are.

This week in the deplorables

Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for Trump, the Businessman President.

Why Donald Trump Is Lying About the Popular Vote.

NYT publishes damning, deep look at Trump’s commercial/presidential conflicts of interests, so Trump tweets crazy fake-vote conspiracy.

Here Are the Only Times the U.S. Government Can Revoke Your Citizenship. …under current law… unless they change it…

Graham challenges Trump to prove claims of voter fraud.

Bloomberg: Breitbart writer Milo makes money from gay “sugar daddies”. The headline is a little misleading; it’s not the Bloomberg published an expose of a scandalous secret: Milo bragged in the interview about the tens of thousands of dollars men have paid him for having sex with them. What? This story is short and hilarous, go read it!

Donald Trump Wants You to Burn the Flag While He Burns the Constitution.

Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Trump’s Carrier Deal.

Trump promised he’d make Carrier ‘pay a damn tax.’ Instead he’s doing the exact opposite..

Carrier Will Receive $7 Million in Tax Breaks to Keep Jobs in Indiana.

This week in Politics:

It’s Time for Bernie Sanders to Apologize to his Supporters, and to President Obama. And it’s time for certain of his supporters to admit some things, as well…

Fact-check: Did 3 million undocumented immigrants vote in this year’s election?

Wisconsin officials OK speedy recount, defend tally.

It’s Time to Raise the Minimum Wage.

This Week in Racism

They said despicable things about the Obamas but say they’re not racists. Yes, they are.

The Miseducation of Native American Students.

Evanston police officers on leave after arresting black man collecting signatures. He was collecting signatures in order to run for political office. Not only isn’t it illegal to collect signatures on a public street, in this case it is actually mandated by law…

This Week in Hate Crimes

Hate Crime Surged Following Donald Trump’s Election And He’s Been Passive About It.

The hate divide: Hate crimes are up, up, up and Trump supporters want to deny, deny, deny.

New York Attorney General Mobilizes to Battle Trump-Inspired Hate Crimes.


Firefly’s Shepherd, Ron Glass, Dies at 71 (Update).

Ron Glass, Emmy-Nominated Actor Known for ‘Barney Miller’ and ‘Firefly,’ Dies at 71.

Ron Glass Dead: Nathan Fillion And ‘Firefly’ Cast Mourn Shepherd Book Actor.

In Unmourned Departures:

“The world says farewell to a revolutionary bully who cozied up to the Russians, ignored civil liberties, favored torture, caused citizens to want to flee their own country... and promised to make Cuba great again!” © 2016 Rob Rogers and Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“The world says farewell to a revolutionary bully who cozied up to the Russians, ignored civil liberties, favored torture, caused citizens to want to flee their own country… and promised to make Cuba great again!” © 2016 Rob Rogers and Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Fidel Castro is dead. This Miami Herald obituary is incredible!

Things I wrote:

Thanksgiving with Grandma Wanda, and other news updates.

To absent friends….

Hit the word count again, but….


The John:

The John from Thornbird Productions on Vimeo.

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Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus and Pentatonix: “Jolene” – The Voice 2016:

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Neon Trees – Songs I Can’t Listen To:

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Back 2 Paradise (Extended Version from the movie ‘Were the World Mine’):

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Dwayne Johnson – You’re Welcome (From “Moana”):

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Hit the word count again, but…

December 1, 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winnerMy NaNoWriMo project this year was to fix the gaping plotholes in two novels that I had decided to split apart from a previous NaNoWriMo. I had decided that there were just way too many subplots for one novel, and the fact that for at least three-fourths of the original 105,000 word draft that there were a bunch of the characters who never interacted with the others until the end, led me to try separating it.

But it wasn’t a matter of arbitrarily breaking it in the middle and trying to write something that would feel like climax but still lead into book two. The first two-thirds of book two happens at the same time as the entirety of book one, and then all the characters from book one start coming into the main plot of book two. Also one of the sets of subplots came together in a big battle (it’s a light fantasy in an epic fantasy wrapper, so there are battles) in the second half of the original rough draft made the book feel as if it had two climaxes, so trying to turn it into two books made sense.

Anyway, I had second drafts of two related books that didn’t work and had a some missing connective bits, so I made that this year’s project. Existing scenes that required a major re-write were counted in this year’s word count along with completely new scenes. And I hit the 50,000 mark, and have at least improved things, but I don’t feel as if I’ve actually fixed the plot problems. Which was what I had hoped for.

I don’t really have a conclusion. I know my productivity went way down after the election, and I haven’t really gotten back into a good space where I’m being productive and liking what I write.

To absent friends…

December 1, 2016

world-aids-day-december-1-cardToday is World AIDS Day. Each year, I spend part of the day remembering people I have known who left this world too soon because of that disease.

So: Frank, Mike, Tim, David, Todd, Chet, Jim, Steve, Brian, Rick, Stacy, Phil, Mark, Michael, Jerry, Walt, Charles, Thomas, Mike, Richard, Bob, Mikey, James, Lisa, Todd, Kerry, Glen, and Jack. Some of you I didn’t know for very long. One of you was a relative. One of you was one of my best friends in high school.

I miss you all. It was a privilege to know you.


This year’s World AIDS Day theme is about ending the stigma of being infected with HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS. In the early days, fear drove some of the stigma, as a lot of people were afraid that it could be contagious through casual contact. Fewer people are that misinformed, now, but there is still a lot of stigma around the disease. Many people aren’t aware that with modern treatment, for instance, that an HIV-positive person living in a first world country has the same life expectancy as an uninfected person, and that patients can be healthy for many decades after infection (it isn’t necessarily a cakewalk: taking a handful of pills every day for the rest of your life, dealing with side-effects of the drugs, and still always at risk because the immune system is compromised). But while fear was and remains a factor in the stigma, plain old bigotry has always been a bigger factor. With an added layer of blame for getting infected in an era when we supposedly know how to have safe sex and avoid infection.

That blame myth is an outgrowth of several different bits of misinformation. People who don’t realize that HIV-infected people can live for many decades without ill health, so that assume anyone who has it must of been infected very recently. Then there’s people who don’t realize that there is no such thing as completely risk free sex…


…and then there are the huge number of people who think that you can only get infected through “gay sex.” Some think that only queer men have the disease, so only people who have sex with queer (gay, bi, or pansexual) men are at risk. They’re unware that worldwide the vast majority of people living with the virus are heterosexual women. There are other people who believe that it is only transmissible through specific sex acts which they associate with gay people. Which is one of the reasons that in some places most new infections are happening to straight people. They assume they don’t have to take precautions.

Don’t be one of this misinformed people: Myths busted: 7 things people still don’t understand about HIV and AIDS.

And did you know the Apple is the largest corporate contributor to the Global Fund (dedicated to fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria): Tim Cook on his company’s biggest-ever World Aids Day event and why saving lives is not political.

And then there’s always hope: For This World AIDS Day, Hope is High.

Thanksgiving with Grandma Wanda, and other news updates

November 26, 2016

If you haven’t seen this story, or the viral images of the wrong number text message that led to a Thanksgiving meeting of former strangers: a woman send Thanksgiving dinner details to the wrong number. The guy who gets it replies, “Who is this.” The woman says, “Your Grandma.” The guy sends a selfie, “I don’t think you’re my Grandma.” She sends back a selfie and apologizes for the wrong number. He jokes, “Can I still have a plate?” and she says, “Of course! That’s what grandma’s do, feed everyone!”

And they kept texting and she said she was serious he should come to Thanksgiving dinner, and he didn’t have local family, and then, well, this happened:

Thanksgiving with Grandma Wanda: Accidental Text That Was Meant to Be.

In other news, after the phenomenal crowdsourcing campaign, the Green Party in Wisconsin has filed for a re-count and a paper ballot reconciliation:

Green Party files for Wisconsin recount, audit.


Clinton campaign: We are taking part in the recount.

cw8d-5oxuaaglhhI admit, I was one of the people saying I didn’t trust the Green Party’s effort. After asking the world to donate 2.5 million so they could demand recounts in three states, they changed the small print on the fundraising page several times, and changed the goal they were asking for several times. The fine print was the sorts of disclaimers you would expect, in one sense: they couldn’t guarantee the recounts would happen; if excess money was raised the part would keep the money to promote “voter integrity options” that sort of thing. But the wording kept adding more loopholes.

But the thing was, the first filing deadline (Wisconsin) was Friday. They had exceeded the original ask significantly, and the clock was literally ticking down, and they had not filed a petition for a recount. It was at a point where the Wisconsin Elections Commission was making snarky comments on it’s website and twitter account, because the Greens kept blasting out more money beg messages but hadn’t filed: Wisconsin Elections Commission Basically Calling Jill Stein Out for Not Filing Recount Petition Yet.

So I don’t think I was being unreasonable (or mean) when I retweeted another editorial that made the observation that the Green Party money beg was starting to seem as if it might be a scam. The word “seem” was in the title, so even if you didn’t click through and read the piece, (which was nuanced and balanced) it should have been obvious that I was only claiming suspicion.

As I exchanged words with some others on twitter afterward, I repeatedly said that if the Green Party actually filed all three petitions before the deadlines in each state, that I would agree that they weren’t merely fundraising for themselves off the issue.

The party did file a petition in Wisconsin before the deadline (as the above headlines show), so that’s one down. I understand that the rules in each state about the petitions vary. And that sometimes an incorrectly worded form can cause a filing to be rejected. I don’t know if any of the remaining states have a process by which the initial filing can be amended or corrected after it is filed.

And heck, even the states don’t always know. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said they had their own lawyers double-checking the procedure while they were awaiting the petition. Turns out there’s a contradiction in the state law: one part says that the petitioner has to deposit money to pay for the recount when they file, another part says that the Commission has to give the petitioner an estimate of the cost of the recount after receiving the petition and the petitioner has to pony up the money within a very short timeline after getting the estimate. So, I understand that trying to make certain all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed means they can’t just slap down a petition right away.

Completely unrelated to all of this: while there are reasons to be skeptical about the vote count in some places, I’m not holding out a lot of hope that any of these recounts will change any results. Part of that is based on past experience. And the lack of clear evidence of wrong doing is the reason that organizations such as the Clinton campaign is loathe to expend the millions of dollars required for a recount. I’ve blogged more than once about the Republican gubernatorial candidate in my state several years ago who paid over a million dollars for a recount and audit, and succeeded only in discovering that there had been a total of four fraudulent ballots filed in the race–and all four had voted for him, not his opponent. So he and the party spent a lot of money to actually reduce their own vote count, and thus lose slightly worse…

“I really wish Jill Stein had not waited until after the election to be so concerned about a few thousand votes tipping the election to Trump” —@danpfeiffer

“I really wish Jill Stein had not waited until after the election to be so concerned about a few thousand votes tipping the election to Trump” —@danpfeiffer

But I have to agree with Dan Pfeiffer, if the Green Party had done what so-called third-parties used to do: endorse the major party candidate who supported most of their agenda (earlier in the campaign the eventual Green nominee had claimed she would endorse Bernie Sanders if Bernie got the nomination, and since Hillary’s voting record when they were both in the Senate matched Bernie 90+ percent of the time you’d think that would be close enough). I get it, when I was younger I used to think that what we needed was more active third parties. That was before I understood a couple of very important things: while the Constitution says nothing explicitly about parties, the way the electoral college is set up to elect presidents means that we have a Constitutionally-mandated two party system; and for most of history both major parties are coalitions of unofficial smaller parties already.

Anyway, I don’t think that recounts and audits are ever a bad idea. So even if these efforts don’t change anything, I’m glad that we’re going forward with at least one, and hope at least two more.

Friday Links (global biomedical duel edition)

November 25, 2016

cx1bsu-uuaaal38It’s a Friday. The weirdest Friday of the year. Between a shortened (and therefore busier than usual) work week because of the holiday, holiday travel, and the odd place our news cycle is, this week’s links are less diverse than usual.

I forgot to mention last week that that was the final Friday of the year that I would be working. Between office closure for holidays and my personal tradition of taking Fridays in December as vacation days to give me time to work on holiday stuff, I’ll have short weeks until the second week of the new year. Yay

In other good news, we got through out holiday without any big fights or incidents.

Anyway, here are links to stories I found interesting, sorted by category.

Links of the Week

A Mysterious Giant Foam Blob Is Taking Over A City.

Stop Calling It Identity Politics — Its Civil Rights.

This week in awful news

Standing Rock protest: hundreds clash with police over Dakota Access Pipeline.

Dakota Access pipeline protester may lose her arm after small explosion, activists say.

News for queers and our allies:

Big Gay Fiction Giveaway – November 20-27.

What Does It Take To Shock John Waters?

Freddie Mercury’s Life Is the Story of HIV, Bisexuality, and Queer Identity.


CRISPR gene-editing tested in a person for the first time: The move by Chinese scientists could spark a biomedical duel between China and the United States.

The Supermoon and Global Warming: A Taste of Things to Come – North Miami, Florida was flooded due to the effects of the magnified high tide of last week’s unusually close full Moon.

“Strange Stars” Could Be the Weirdest Objects in the Universe.

Ant species cultivates coffee for accommodation.

Astronomers just discovered one of the most massive objects in the universe hiding behind the Milky Way.

Did NASA Mars Rover Find a Signature of Past Life?

NASA’s New Horizons Unveils Its Masterpiece: Pluto’s Interior!

The Asteroid That Killed the Dinosaurs Blew Right Through Earth’s Crust.

Drone Footage Shows How Massive Earthquake Ripped New Zealand Apart.

Rare faint dwarf galaxy found lurking in the halo of the Milky Way.

Ginkgo ‘living fossil’ genome decoded.

This week in Writing

BS “medical” tropes to stop using TODAY, 1/?.

How to Write Character Arcs. This is actually an index post linking to a bunch of posts about different aspects of creating character arcs.

The 3 Types of Character Arc – Change, Growth and Fall. Different writer, slightly different advice.

This Week in Covering the News

How Facebook Spreads Fake News And Anti-Muslim Views In Myanmar.

Where Do We Go from Here?

So about that call for unity, then.

oh and yes, this is going to be a thing for a while.

More than 250 Jewish professors across the United States are calling for Americans to denounce and “mobilize in solidarity” against President-elect Trump’s “racial, ethnic, gender-based, and religious hatred.”

Jill Stein Just Raised $2.5 Million To Start Recounts In 3 States.

No, Trump, We Can’t Just Get Along.

This Week in Inclusion

This Thanksgiving, A Reminder of the Contributions of Immigrants.

This week in Difficult to Classify

Rigged election: Hillary Clinton’s early-voting lead in Florida was mathematically insurmountable.

This week in the deplorables

Trump surrogate cites Japanese internment camps as precedent for Muslim registry.

Alt-Right Gathering Exults in Trump Election With Nazi-Era Salute.

Cashing in BIGLY in Argentina!

Eric Bolling Is Trying To Cover His Bigoted Tracks (And Failing).

Wall Street Journal Editors Warn Trump – Draining The Swamp Starts With YOU.

FEC wants Trump to explain $1.3 million worth of ‘mistakes’ in campaign report.



Trump’s toughest transition test: the Trump Organization.

Why we’re saying ‘white nationalism’ instead of ‘alt-right’.

‘Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President Elect.

9 of Mike Pence’s Most Controversial Stances Regarding Gay Rights, Abortion and Smoking.

This week in Politics:

As Clinton’s lead in popular vote passes 2 million, calls for ‘audit’ in key swing states grow.

Obama’s approval rating highest in seven years.

New York county reveals ‘gay cure’ ban bill named Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Childhood Endangerment (PENCE).


Florence Henderson, ‘The Brady Bunch’ mom, dies at 82.

Things I wrote:

Fire Retardant Malfunction will be my queercore cover band name.

Red cups, manufactured outrage, and twisted meanings.

Real family….

Queer Thanksgiving.

At least we’ll have pie….


Queer Thanksgiving:

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A HERSHEY’S KISSES Family: The Nobles — A Holiday Tradition:

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President Obama Pardons the National Thanksgiving (“A corny-copia of Dad jokes…”):

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John Lennon – Imagine HD:

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At least we’ll have pie…

November 24, 2016

(Maxine created by John Wagner, © Hallmark Licensing, LLC)

(Maxine created by John Wagner, © Hallmark Licensing, LLC)

We’re spending Thanksgiving at Mom’s, which is a very small space for the number of people who will be there, and the kitchen is even tinier. So coordinating holiday dinners is always a little difficult, particularly since we are driving down the night before and staying at a nearby hotel (by the time this posts, we should be there, obviously). If we lived a lot closer, we’d be able to cook some things here the morning before, but that isn’t an option. The other extended family members who live nearby have various restrictions on their space and facilities, as well. A few years ago, Mom and I collaborated on ordering dinner from a local store which I picked up that morning. But it was… well… it wasn’t good. And the small town she is in doesn’t have any better options.

Which isn’t to say that the dinners haven’t been good and enjoyable. And as crowded as everything gets when we’re all crammed in at Mom’s small place, if we had more (shall we say) elaborate food, it would be even more difficult. It’s just that there is a part of me—primed by memories of epic childhood holiday dinners, plus a boatload of pop culture expectations, and memories of elaborate holiday dinners I’ve cooked as an adult—that keeps wanting it to be more. It’s emotional baggage, rather than any actual shortcoming of the event, right?

Which means that I have to spend a certain amount of time before the holiday psyching myself out to not be disappointed, and (perhaps more importantly) to not act as if I’m disappointed.

This year I’m responsible for the relish tray, a salad (specifically Mom wants me to make the salad my hubby dubbed Foofy Salad), and pies. All are things that are easy to transport and don’t need to be cooked or heated when we arrive. And it has the upside of leaving me certain that there will be pie. Later this weekend, we’ll be cooking a dinner with some of the traditional holiday dishes that we don’t get on the actual day.

Before I queue this up and finish packing, I want list some of the things I’m thankful for; if for no other reason to remind myself that there is still a lot of good in the world:

  • my wonderful, handsome, sweet, smart, talented, and sexy husband
  • purple
  • people who love
  • kittens
  • people who make art, stories, music, and other creative things
  • mousies
  • radio and other wireless technology
  • coffee
  • people who help other people
  • my friends—wonderful, talented, nerdy, loving, and some of them nearly as crazy as me
  • people who make things work
  • puppies
  • books
  • otters
  • my wonderful, talented, hard-working, handsome husband who inexplicably puts up with me (who absolutely deserves to be on this list more than once!)
  • people who sweat the details
  • flowers
  • tigers
  • people who don’t sweat the details
  • science
  • my job
  • raspberries
  • satellites and space craft and telescopes
  • my extended chosen family, which yes overlaps with several other times on this list (not just the third)
  • technology that lets me carry my entire music library in my pocket, access the world’s libraries from the palm of my hand, read silly things people say halfway around the world, all while standing in the checkout line at the grocery store
  • my family, yes even the most exasperating, because they’re part of what made me who I am, and I’m sure that I drive them just as crazy as they drive me
  • electricity
  • people who clean up after disasters
  • readers
  • pie
  • pi
  • good food, drink, and opportunities to be merry
  • my sexy husband who keeps me sane, fixes things I break, finds things I lose, and perhaps most importantly, inspires me to ignore my worst impulses and go high when others or the world goes low

Thank you, everyone who reads this. Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope that you are surrounded by love. I hope your life contains more blessings than troubles. May you find joy, and may you know that you give others reason to be thankful.

Queer Thanksgiving

November 23, 2016

“Some of the most poisonous people come disguised as family.” (click to embiggen)

“Some of the most poisonous people come disguised as family.” (click to embiggen)

Not everyone has family to be thankful for. Or should I say, not every family is thanks-worthy? The video I’m linking below focuses particularly on queer people of color, and I don’t want to detract from that message at all—but many of us pale queers have families of origin that are less than welcoming to the point of toxicity. There are reasons that I have severely limited the amount of contact I have with some branches of the family.

This year we came very close to canceling the Thanksgiving trip, because the anti-Hillary/pro-Trump talk in general seems to have encouraged the most bigoted relatives to go all in on the anti-gay talk on social media. Since the big extended family get-together no longer happens, we don’t usually have to deal with any of the actually toxic family members. Instead we’re left with the odd thoughtless/unintentional comments that slowly make your blood boil. We were invited to spend Thanksgiving with wonderful, supportive friends in Seattle, and the invitations were very tempting, but we’ve decided to give the trip to my Mom’s place another go.

We’ve just arranged the trip so we don’t need to stay all day.

Anyway, I hope that you can have a toxin-free holiday. And we may throw a spontaneous Second Thanksgiving later this weekend if we think we need a brain-rinse!

Queer Thanksgiving:

“The holidays are here — which for most people means lots of food and lots of family. But for many queer and trans people of color, the word “family” means something entirely different.”

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Real family…

November 22, 2016

“Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your live who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile & who love you no matter what.”

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your live who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile & who love you no matter what.”

I won’t try to sugar coat it. Right now it’s difficult to feel thankful. We have spokespeople for our soon-to-be president saying on national news channels that they aren’t certain whether Jewish people are actually people, for goodness sake! Anyone who thinks that this is all just something that will blow over, or that “both sides” are somehow just as bad is being delusional. And don’t get me started on the relatives that I have had to block recently!

But there are good things in my life. Specifically, good people. My husband. Our many wonderful friends. People near and far who have reached out to say we’re not alone in this. For most of my life family hasn’t referred to people who happen to be related to me by blood. Yes, a couple of my actual relatives have always been supportive and accepting even while others were most actively letting me know that my queer self was not welcome, but they are the minority. I’ve felt much more welcome and accepted by many of my in-laws. Not only that, my ex-wife and several of her family members have been more accepting of me than most of my blood relatives.

But blood or DNA isn’t what makes someone family. I will fight anyone who tries to say the my mom’s adoptive father wasn’t my real Grandpa, for instance. Family are the people who love you not in spite of your flaws, but including the flaws. It’s known that they have your back, and that you have theirs. The old joke is that a friend might help you move, but a real friend will help you move a body; and I am lucky enough to have some friends of the latter category (and I hope they know that I’m in that category for them, too).

The larger world seems to be out of control right now. What’s getting me through the craziness is knowing that I have these people I love, and who love me as well.

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