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Jan. 1st, 2017

Ramp

Okay, 2017 is here. Time to quit despairing and gear up.

So here is the deal. By now you probably all know that Livejournal's servers have moved to Russia.

There was a time I wouldn't have cared. Russia wasn't our enemy anymore and if they were, the US government would keep them from getting up to much mischief. That was Before. You know, back when the US elections, if imperfect, were at least not a toy of a Republican party that colludes with a Russian dictator and perverts the FBI for their own political ends. A Republican party that will now have control of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives (and fairly shortly the Supreme Court too, unless Ruth Bader Ginsberg can hold out longer than I think she can.)

As it is the LJ-Russia-Putin-Trump-FBI connections are just too much for me to stomach. So LiveJournal can fuck off. My Dreamwidth posts will no longer automatically cross-post. I may still read here for a while or I may not.

If you want to read what I post (I have admittedly not been posting much and you're quite within your rights not to care what I have to say in the future) you can do so at catsittingstill.dreamwidth.org.

If you want me to add you to my reading circle there you can comment with your DW handle on this post in Dreamwidth.

Goodbye and good luck.

Dec. 2nd, 2016

Ramp

Called Chair of House Science Committee

Accountability Post, Trump Year 0 Dec 1 (posted for Dec 3)

(This counts for Sunday's item, since these offices probably won't be open over the weekend.)

Peter Gast posted a news article about how the House Science Committee retweeted an article from Breitbart (of all places) that made the false claim that climate change is a hoax.

I looked up the membership of the House Science Committee (full name: Committee on Science, Space and Technology) to see if my Representative was on it. No such luck. So, I called Congressman Lamar Smith (202-225-4236) and told the staffer I was calling Congressman Smith in his capacity as Chair of the House Science Committee. I mentioned my science credentials (thinking that a Ph.D in Molecular Biology might help get their attention) and explained that climate change is settled science and that Breitbart is not a reliable source of science news. I expressed my hope that in the future Congressman Smith would get his climate science information from actual climate scientists and avoid fake news sites. The staffer was very polite and said he would relay my concerns to Congressman Smith.

If you feel moved to do likewise, you can look up the members of the House Science Committee on the page below--if you are an actual constituent of one of the Committee members, that is the person you should contact, as your words will carry more weight with them. Otherwise, call the chairman, as I did. Monday is probably okay for this; there is no time constraint that I know of
Ramp

Publicizing two charities

Accountability Post Trump Year 0 Dec 1

Today I grabbed the chance to post about two charities on Whatever's Charity Thread. On the off chance that people would be interested I include them here:

Griffin Education Solutions uses songs to help grade school children learn basic facts about the world. They started with science and math but are now branching out. (Full disclosure: Griffin Ed has paid me royalties for the rights to record a few of my songs.).

The Jefferson Rural Clinic is a clinic for people in Jefferson and Granger counties (in Tennessee) that provides free medical and dental care for people too poor to qualify for the ACA (aka Obamacare.). (Full disclosure: I volunteer there two mornings a month.)

I waffled about whether to consider this an accountability post or not, but both education and health care strike me as things that will be under siege in a Trump America, so I decided to run with it.

Dec. 1st, 2016

Ramp

Made 2 political donations (yesterday)

Yesterday I made 2 political donations because of an end-of-the-month deadline. I'd ordinarily have spaced them out more so I'm allowing them to count for today and tomorrow.

Donated to Foster Campbell's Senate campaign.

Donated to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Now I need to get off social media because it's just depressing me and making me angry.

Nov. 30th, 2016

Ramp

Contacted the Government Accountability Office

Accountability Post Trump Year 0, Nov 30

I called the Government Accountability Office to ask if they were logging phone calls calling for a full investigation of Trump's financial conflicts of interest. (I had seen a meme to this effect.) The nice lady who answered the phone replied that they preferred e-mails so as to have a written record. I verified this e-mail address with her: CongRel@gao.gov. I have also checked it at the GAO website.

So I sent off an e-mail. For those who are interested or want a script to follow, here is what mine said:

Subject: Investigate Trump's Conflicts of Interest


I am writing to demand a full investigation of Donald Trump for potential conflict of interest violations.

His wide ranging and opaque financial empire combined with his plan to have his children run it while simultaneously advising him on government policy give me no reason to trust him. His statement to the press that "the president cannot *have* a conflict of interest," does not inspire confidence. At the very least the fact that one of the post offices is renting space in a Trump-owned building is an obvious conflict of interest and the lease contains standard government wording that indicates that it is void under these circumstances.

Thank you for your time.

(And I put my name and address at the bottom.)

Nov. 29th, 2016

Ramp

Called both Senators and my Congressman

Accountability post Trump Year 0 November 29

Called both my senators. The young man who answered the phone at Senator Corker's office was very polite and seemed to really care about my concerns. I didn't *quite* break down as I summed everything up (appointment of white supremacists, threats to prosecute Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Education who wants to divert public funds from public schools to private schools that are free to discriminate against minority students, Trump's false claim that the popular vote was tipped against him by illegal votes, Trump's recent threats against free speech) and said that this wasn't normal and it wasn't okay. But my voice was starting to tremble.

I heard him sniffing on the other end of the line. It is possible he just had allergies but I had the impression he was moved by what I had to say. He actually took the time to ask me if I had any other concerns so I shared my worry about Standing Rock and pointed out that the pipeline poisoning the water supply was a concern when it ran north of Bismarck so you can't reasonably say it's not a concern on Native American lands.

He said that I wasn't alone in my concerns and they had been getting a lot of calls about all these things, which made me feel a bit better.

I had to call Senator Alexander's office five times before I reached a person and not an answering machine. The person who answered was polite enough but seemed detached. They promised to forward my concerns to Senator Alexander.

The person at Congressman Duncan's office was... let's just say was plainly in a hurry and trying to cut my call as short as possible. I did manage to register that I wanted an inquiry into Trump's financial conflicts of interest (she completed the sentence for me as soon as I said "House Oversight Committee") before she hurried me off the phone. Hopefully she was in a hurry because they are getting a mountain of phone calls about this.

In other news, Yonder and Back is going to perform on Saturday at a place called The Bunkhouse, so today at Library Music we picked out one song each and one backup song each. For my songs I picked Oblivion Bridge and Wagon Wheel. I wanted to do at least one that I had written because the Bunkhouse kind of speciallizes in singer-songwriters, and I don't have the heart to do The Golden Door right now, and Oblivion Bridge is at least one that I've *introduced* to the group. And Wagon Wheel is a cover but everybody knows it pretty well and it's reasonably bouncy.

Nov. 28th, 2016

Ramp

Donated to Foster Campbell's Senate Campaign

Accountability Post Trump Year 0 Nov 28th

I let the day slip away from me, doing errands and making hummus and stuff, so rather than let the night slip away from me also I donated to Foster Campbell's Senate Campaign, since they're having a run-off election for a Louisiana Senate seat and one more Democratic Senator would bring the Senate that little bit closer to something that could successfully resist Trump.

Tomorrow I will pick up the phone and prod Congressman Duncan again about the House Oversight Committee reviewing Trump's financial conflicts of interest and how 'bout those White Nationalists Trump is appointing to his staff, hmm? I don't like picking up the phone. But I need to do it.

Oh, and Cat Valente wrote a great Fairyland short story that has something to say to us, I think.

Nov. 27th, 2016

Ramp

Something to keep in mind during discussions of current events

Siderea has some posts that apply to since-the-election. The one I'm going to link here is about keeping in mind the differences between the short, medium, and long term game. The very quick thumbnail sketch is that it is a reminder not to derail ongoing discussions by demanding people change the time frame they are thinking in, and especially to refrain from doing that without signaling your lane change.

But this LJ has some other posts useful for since-the-election, including how to think productively (in my opinion) about really catastrophic outcomes. So you might want to go over there and check things out.

In other news, I went to a jam this afternoon. It is the first time we've had a jam there--at a little greek restaurant in an area so rural I was driving along wondering if my GPS had played me false until I was just about on top of the place. I had a lot of fun (in part because it was me and my mandolin, and three other women with guitars, so I got to do a lot of melody breaks and leads.)

However I had to skin out of there in less than an hour because I was also going to a friend's wedding that day--with an unscheduled diversion where I had to drive out until my phone could get enough connection that it could find the way to the wedding, so I was about five minutes late.

The wedding was quite interesting--every pagan wedding is different, so I never know what to expect. And we had a nice potluck afterwards, where the hummus I just learned how to make last week was a big hit.

And now I am very full and sleepy.

Nov. 25th, 2016

Ramp

The Way I Was Raised

Accountability post, Trump Year 0, Nov 25

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and I didn't do anything important (had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat and played Pokemon Go and caught two dittos, which are new kind of Pokemon that just started appearing a couple of days ago.)

This morning, prompted by a post by a friend that I'm not linking here because I'm not positive they are comfortable with that, I wrote a new song:
Just the way I was raised.
Lyrics and melody by Cat Faber 2016

When I was a girl life was simple and  bland
Till truths I thought bedrock turned out to be sand
But the way I was raised gave a lifeline to hold 
For finding my footing and taking my stand.

  That's just the way I was raised
  With kindness and fairness expected and praised.
  With love as my guide I'm not easily fazed;
  That's just the way I was raised.

When I was a girl, blacks were treated as prey
Though the means grow more subtle we still find a way;
When blacks are shot dead with no gun in their hands
Even a kid can see that's not okay.

Women are astronauts, seeking the stars,
Yet even our bodies aren't treated as ours;
When a man who grabs crotches is chief in the land,
Even a kid can see this will leave scars.

Of queer folk and trans folk I once had no clue,
But the hour I encountered the concepts I knew,
When humans just ask to be treated the same,
There's only one answer my values held true.

Deal with it; that's just the way that things are.
For mercy and justice at home and afar,
Though hate held in secret come out in the sun,
I'll speak for my truth and I'll follow my star: 

Nov. 23rd, 2016

Ramp

Contributed to the ACLU

Accountability Post Trump Year 0 Nov 23

Today I was out of cope to call or write my Congress people (and I suspect they are starting to think I am some kind of weirdo) so instead of doing anything hard I made a donation to the ACLU.
Ramp

Just kind of scrambling...

I made hummus today. I think it came out pretty well and Kip ate quite a bit of it, so I think I'll be using this recipe again.

Just to have it here for myself in case the link dies:

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
Process until smooth and light colored, about a minute

2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (add half at a time and process for a minute after each half)
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced (process for a minute) (this was originally 1 clove garlic)
1/2 tsp cumin
About 1/2 tsp salt (process for a minute)

The new food processor is pretty impressive. I turn it on and the chickpeas just seem to dissolve. Kind of mesmerizing, really.

I cooked up the chickpeas for it yesterday, and now I have a lot of extra chickpeas, and the hummus I made fed me and Kip for dinner and looks like it will be at least one more meal.

I guess if the chickpeas go bad before I use them up, well, they weren't very expensive and I will just throw them out. Or I could go over and ask the neighbors if hummus is a thing they like. If so, I could make a bunch more hummus and use up the chickpeas. That's not a bad plan, actually.

And it is healthy. More or less. (Well, mostly more, actually. No animal fats, plenty of fiber, the lemon juice will have vitamin C... I dub this "healthy" for food purposes.)

Nov. 22nd, 2016

Ramp

Contacting my Congressman again

Accountability Post Trump Year 0, Nov 22

I don't think I did anything useful yesterday. Today I called my Representative (who is on the House Oversight Committee) to urge support of Rep. Clark's bill to extent the rules on financial conflicts of interest to cover the President and Vice President, and also to urge that he oppose the so called "First Amendment Defense Act" which ought to be called the "free bigotry as long as you claim it is religious act".

I feel like I'm flailing around and making no difference. I've got to have faith that a lot of people besides me are doing this and together we will add up.

Nov. 20th, 2016

Ramp

Obamacare Survey

Accountability Post Trump Year 0 Nov 20

Called Paul Ryan's Obamacare Survey at 202-225-0600, pressed 2 to hear the survey and then pressed the number indicating I support Obamacare. (I actually did this yesterday after my accountability post for the day so I'm reporting it today.)
Ramp

A Book: "The Color of Water"

I just finished reading a book called The Color of Water.

Wow.

Also how do those white nationalists talk about an America that is a safe space for those of European ancestry without realizing that an awful lot of people of color *have* European ancestry? I mean, I knew this intellectually before--one of my favorite series is the Free Man of Color series by Barbara Hambly, set in pre-Civil War New Orleans, and that is basically the background of the book--but "The Color of Water" is a memoir of a black man interleaved with the memoir of his white mother and his investigations into her past, and the people he meets as a consequence. Somehow it highlights the issue more for me, I guess. In part it may be that his mother's ethnic identity is (for me, anyway) at least as strong as African American. It doesn't make sense that I think of most white ethnic identities as being weaksauce--I am of Dutch descent, for example, and I honor that, but it doesn't affect my daily life much (aside from learning Dutch, I suppose)--but I kind of do.
Anyway, I guess I am rambling.

Books. They can expand your world. My world is under expansion; please excuse the sawdust.
Tags:

Nov. 19th, 2016

Ramp

Women's March on Washington, East TN chapter

Accountability post, Trump Year 0, Nov 19

Made a small donation to the GoFundMe for the Women's March on Washington, to help fund the trip for local women who want to go but can't afford it.

Nov. 18th, 2016

Ramp

Trump Year 0, Nov 18th

Accountability post:

Today I read that the House Oversight Committee might be persuaded to hold a bipartisan review of Mr Trump's financial situation including his many possible conflicts of interest. The place where I read it gave a phone number but when I called it, the number didn't work. The voicemail was full and the outgoing message didn't mention the House Oversight Committee anyway, which seemed a bit suspicious.

It said that it was important to do it today because the House will take the full week of Thanksgiving off and vote when it returns the following week, so I turned to google and found this page showing who is on the House Oversight Committee. To my pleasure, one of the people on it is my Representative, Congressman Duncan.

So I called Congressman Duncan's local office and they put me through to his DC office, and I encouraged them to investigate the finances of Mr. Trump and in particular the conflicts of interest that would arise from letting his children both run his business empire and have access to classified information their business competitors don't, or advise their father on government policy or both. I also pointed out that it was deeply disturbing that Mr. Trump had not released his tax returns and encouraged the Congressman to bring this up as well regarding the review.

Then I persuaded my husband to do the same thing from his work.

I may not have accomplished much today, but I accomplished that.

Nov. 17th, 2016

Ramp

Accountability Post

Accountability Post, Trump year 0

I called the local office of my Senators and my Representative. I talked to the subdued sounding people who man the phones there. I wrote out what I was going to say for myself beforehand so I wouldn't forget it. Here it is:

There are so many things to cover here that I'm going to limit myself to three. That is not because I don't care about the other things, it's because I can only handle talking about this for so long.

Trump's children and children-in-law should not be on his transition team or in his government while they have control over his business empire. That is an obvious conflict of interest more suited to a banana republic than the United States of America. This is not normal, and it is not okay.

Trump's appointment of Steve Bannon as his chief strategist and senior counselor is unacceptable. Bannon is head of a media empire that would become a de facto propaganda arm for a Trump administration. This is not normal practice for the US. He is also noted for cozying up to white supremacists and neo-Nazis, who are already emboldened by Trump's election. This is *definitely* not normal and not okay.

Trump bragged that he would throw his political opponent in jail if he won. Now he threatens to turn the Justice Department into a tool that answers to him that he uses or withholds at his pleasure. This is unacceptable. This is the kind of behavior you see in third world countries and Eastern European countries--this is not normal for the United States, and it is not okay.

I expect Representative Duncan / Senator Alexander / Senator Corker to speak out against these wrongs, and stand firm against any attempt on the part of a Trump administration to support racism or discard the rule of law or move against political opponents or use government secrets for financial gain or permit his children to do so.

If it seems odd to you that I have to crowd so many things into one phone call, I assure you it seems odd to me also. This is not normal, and it is not okay.


I anticipate doing this over and over and over during the next years. Perhaps once a week would be a reasonable number. I invite you to join me. Calling is apparently more effective than the paper letters I used to recommend; it ties up a phone line and takes a staffer's time and is harder to ignore than an e-mail or a paper letter. Calling your local office is apparently more effective than calling the DC office. It is easy enough to google your senators' and representative's phone number: they're on their official pages on the Congress website also, though you need to pick the "offices" tab to find them.

Don't feel you should follow my script--it is probably more effective if you pick out the three things Trump has tried to do recently that *you* find most disturbing, and talk about those.

By all means wear your safety pins, write your newspapers, join protest marches, boycot organize, the whole nine yards. But please do this first. It won't take much time away from your other activities and your elected officials need to know--and it will take regular contact over years to teach them--that this is not okay and you are not going to forget about it and you're not going to shut up about it either.

Nov. 11th, 2016

Ramp

Still Here (song)

So I guess this may be appropriate in more ways than one. But I've been trying to come to terms with the election results, and this was what came out.  (If you are reading LJ you've already seen the lyrics, but the recording is an addition)

You can listen to it here at Bandcamp--stream or download free if you like. If this doesn't work for you and you need me to put up an mp3 on my old website let me know.


Still Here
Lyrics and melody by Cat Faber 2016
      C                  F  C          F                    G
I am sick at heart this morning, as I count your tantrum's cost
     C                  F  C          F                   G
The marriages you will shatter, the innocent black lives lost
 G     C              G     C              G     F                 C
But I got out of bed and I put on clothes and I showed up here to say
           F   C        F       G    C
I'm still here-- and I will not go away!

Your hatred gives me sorrow, but I'll look you in the face
If you murder me tomorrow, another will take my place
I am not alone and I'm not ashamed, and I showed up here to say
I'm still here-- and I will not go away!
             F  C         F       G    C
We're still here--and we will not go away!
             F  C         F       G    C
We're still here--and we will not go away!

We are men who crossed the border, and children raised right here
We are women who are equals; and we will not live in fear
We are red and yellow, black and brown, we are trans and bi and gay
And we're still here-- and we will not go away!
We're still here--and we will not go away!
We're still here--and we will not go away!
Though you've made our lives much harder, we’ll remember why and how
For the earth and for each other, we must stand together now;
There are more of us than there are of you and you may have won today
But we're still here-- and we will not go away!
            F    C   GC     GC        F  C         F        G   C
We're still here, –-------------still here--and we will not go away.
            F  C      G   C              G   C               F C
We're still here (in our millions) (and our millions) still here--
        F       G   C
and we will not go away.

Nov. 10th, 2016

Ramp

New Song

Still Here
Lyrics and melody by Cat Faber 2016

I am sick at heart this morning, as I count your tantrum's cost
The marriages you will shatter, the innocent black lives lost
But I got out of bed and I put on clothes and I showed up here to say
I'm still here-- and I will not go away!

We're still here--and we will not go away!
We're still here--and we will not go away!

Your hatred gives me sorrow, but I'll look you in the face
If you murder me tomorrow, another will take my place
I am not alone and I'm not ashamed, and I showed up here to say
I'm still here-- and I will not go away!

We're still here--and we will not go away!
We're still here--and we will not go away!

We are men who crossed the border, and children raised right here
We are women who are equals; and we will not live in fear
We are red and yellow, black and brown, we are trans and bi and gay
And we're still here-- and we will not go away!

We're still here--and we will not go away!
We're still here--and we will not go away!

Though you've made our lives much harder, we remember why and how
For the earth and for each other, we must stand together now;
There are more of us than there are of you and you may have won today
But we're still here-- and we will not go away!

We're still here (in our millions) (and our millions) still here--and we will not go away.
We're still here (in our millions) (and our millions) still here--and we will not go away.
Tags:

Aug. 13th, 2016

Ramp

Learning Tunes

So I got a book of tunes for Contra Dancing, called The Portland Collection (who knew that Portland was such a hotbed of Contra Dancing?).
And while I was paging through it I found a tune called "Old Grey Cat". Well, with a name like that, I had to try it. It is in E Dorian, oddly enough, and I really like it so I am in the process of learning it. Here are a couple of people playing it on youtube (much faster than I can right now).
When I started seriously working with the mandolin, gosh about twelve years ago now, it used to take me ages to learn a tune. Now I can pick it up in a couple of days.
I was expecting practicing to make me better at playing the tunes I knew. I wasn't expecting it to make me better at learning tunes.

Aug. 10th, 2016

Ramp

Back from long trip, projects, WorldCon

Okay it has been way too long since I posted but I'll just start again like nothing happened.

I've been having trouble unvacationing and getting back into the rhythm of normal life--or as normal as it gets before college starts up again.

I had a wonderful cross-country trip, driving with Kip to see his parents in Oklahoma, then detouring to see the Devil's Tower in Wyoming (very striking--we walked all the way around it and I have many shots from all sides) then spending a bit over a week with my dad and my brother in Oregon, then taking another detour to see Mesa Verde and the cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblans, stopping another night with Kip's parents and driving back home.

While we were in Oregon we picked up a stained glass window that we had commissioned. It is currently residing in a carefully padded box but I intend to hang it in the window in the next few days.

I also bought a new, larger iPad, which is just great for displaying sheet music. I can show two pages side by side and they are a bit smaller than they would be printed out, but only a bit. That is going to make it so much easier to work from sheet music. And yet the iPad is only a bit larger than a standard sheet of paper. I'm very pleased about this.

I also made a cool steampunk bag to carry my music stuff--the new iPad but also things like the instrument stands and so on. Amazon had let me know that I was getting a $35 credit for some e-book settlement thing, and I happened to notice a leather briefcase/satchel type bag for $50 and thought--that was almost exactly what I was thinking about making myself as a base for my airship passenger's bag, and I couldn't lay hands on the leather to make that for $50, and then I'd have to put a whole lot of work in it to get it to that stage. So I bought it. When I got it home I laid out the instruments on it (thermometer, hygrometer and barometer, and a plasma disc--excuse me, I meant my ectoplasmic interference detector) and figured out where they could go. To help hold them in place I made molded leather rings (if you get vegetable tanned leather thoroughly wet and then clamp it over a form you can get it to take on some fairly impressive molded shapes). Making the form for that was a bit of a pain, but worth the time. I cut holes in the bag to put the body of the instruments through, then sewed the molded leather rings over the rims of the instrument faces. It came out pretty well. If I do say so myself, which I seem to be doing. It holds my new big iPad and both instrument stands and a bottle of water, and while it won't hold the yellow sheet music stand, I can slip the handles of the sheet music stand's bag over the strap of the steampunk bag and carry them both in one go. So I'm psyched about that.

I am feeling a bit odd about whether the rest of my outfit will properly live up to the steampunk bag. We will see if I have time to do anything about that, though.

I haven't done Dutch in over a month, because I couldn't while I was on the trip and now I am back Dad has been having guests over (from the Netherlands, as it happens) and has been too busy to skype. But that will probably change any day now.

I did actually speak Dutch with a couple that I met at Mesa Verde, Caroline and Hans, who were from the Netherlands. Caroline kindly let me practice my Dutch on her and said very nice things about how well I did.

But it isn't quite the same as skyping three hours a week.

I'm also practicing a lot the last week or so trying to get my set list practiced up for my WorldCon concert and the songs I would like to do in circles there. I promised to anchor an Old Time / Celtic circle, so I've been running through all the pieces I know, working on remembering how they go. :-). And I'm working up my four cat songs for the Cat circle.

In addition I promised to make music happen for the Rural Clinic's fundraising dinner the Friday after WorldCon; they want 45 minutes of instrumental music, so the Celtic/Old Time stuff does double duty.

But I really need to get back to work on the guitar case!

So that's what is up with me. How about you?

Apr. 24th, 2016

Ramp

Harriet Tubman

So I hear they're moving Andrew Jackson from the front of the US $20 bill to the back, and putting a picture of Harriet Tubman on the front.

In general I think this is a fine thing though really they could have removed Andy entirely. Harriet Tubman, as people have noted, was seriously admirable in many ways.

When the conservative screaming died down a touch, a meme popped up about how Harriet Tubman was a Second Amendment supporting Republican.

Come on, people. Harriet Tubman couldn't vote. She was a woman.

Had she been allowed to vote, yes, she would probably have voted Republican because the Republican Party, way back when it started, was actually in favor of Abolition. It was the party of Abraham Lincoln. My how times change, right?

Next, it turns out that Harriet Tubman did in fact carry a gun. The mentions I could find of her using it was when slaves she was helping escape became too frightened or too tired and wanted to turn back. Then she would threaten them with her gun to make them keep going. Arguably necessary in this terrible time, yes, but maybe not something to strut about, at least in my opinion.

However the Second Amendment was not what allowed her to carry a gun. She, like every slave, but more, every single person of color in the south, was forbidden by law to have weapons of any kind, and the Second Amendment made no difference to that.

The Second Amendment existed so that the slave owners could have guns. The Second Amendment ensured that the people persuing her and her fellow escapees would be armed.

The meme is fundamentally pretty dishonest, but it is great that it brings so many social issues to light.

Apr. 4th, 2016

Ramp

Investment

Kip and I planted three trees over the weekend.

We have been planting about a tree a year since we got this house, because the lawn started very sad and bare (and with odd dips in it where a previous owner had eradicated most non-lawn things, I suspect.). We wanted to beautify the yard, to shade the grass in hopes of stunning it a little to make mowing easier, and to have our own supply of favorite fruits. So we started with a peach tree.

After a few years it began bearing peaches. Copiously. I had expected this--I knew that the problem you have with fruit trees is that the first week in June you have no ripe fruit and the second week in June you have 250 ripe fruit that will only be good for a few days. I had a plan for coping with this--my dehydrators.

Alas, what I didn't realize was that the peach tree we originally planted was a clingstone peach. Peaches come in two varieties of interest at the moment--freestone, where the pit is kind of loose in a middle pocket, surrounded by the flesh of the peach but not attached to it, and clingstone, where the pit is an integral part of the fruit and the flesh of the peach must be gnawed away with patience and persistence.

Either kind works for eating (clingstone is messier, but peaches are generally messy if they're any good.). But it is nearly impossible to cut a clingstone peach off its pit without turning it into peach mush. So drying them wasn't going to work.

Peaches went bad right and left; it was sad. I looked at our lovely tree and I looked at Kip and I said "cutting it down and replacing it won't get any easier if we wait." Kip and I are now at the age where a four year wait to get more fruit doesn't seem like forever, though it is still an investment.

At the nursery the person helping us seemed very vague on the distinction between freestone and clingstone peaches (perhaps he was just very inexperienced--I can't imagine that very many peach planters make the same mistake we did more than once.). We had to call in a more senior person, and then he listed the varieties available and I looked them up on the web to double check because four years is do-able, but eight years would be rather a long time. We are the proud owners of two Elberta peach trees, because apparently they bear better if you have more than one and also we needed an extra to keep our yearly average up seeing as we had just cut one down.

While we were at it, the large shade tree in back is dropping branches, so we also got a shade tree, and since I'm a sucker for autumn foliage, we got an October glory maple tree. The obvious place for it is a non-starter this year because our old metal shed that was holding our mower and bikes died in an early spring windstorm and while we finally found someone to tear down the old shed and take it away, we are going to need a new shed because the bikes are living on the back porch which means the canoes are living in my boat shop, which makes it hard to work in there. And *that* means we need trailer access to the concrete pad in the back where the shed will go, and the obvious place for a shade tree was smack in the middle of the trailer access.

So we planted the shade tree on the east side of the house a bit north of the back porch, in hopes of a pool of shade that will extend the shade pattern of the porch.

And Kip did the lion's share of the digging and dirt moving, but I didn't feel right about making him do it all, so I helped, and now my back is not happy. I have dug out the anti-inflammatories and hopefully will be better in a few days.

Mar. 20th, 2016

Ramp

Housefilk at Larry and Deborah's

I just got back from Deborah's Birthday Housefilk at Larry and Deborah's house.

Lauren and I drove up together through the beautiful Smokey Mountains along I-40 to I-26. It is a beautiful area and the redbuds and pear trees were just blossoming out at the time. Saturday was a lovely sunny day, and Sunday was nice and cool and spring-damp, with the rain keeping the pollen out of the air. The Kirby house is out in a very rural area, surrounded by pine woods with a huge blossoming tree next to a porch that hosts a wealth of tiny brown birds that rustle and chirp at the birdfeeder.
There were ten or twelve people there for the housefilk, and I am beginning to learn people's names (I am extremely slow at this) so I felt even more at home than previous times. Moss came from my neck of the woods, and Myra and Harry came from the Atlanta area, and Terry and Barbara were there, and a couple of people I should know but whose names I can't remember and one quiet woman with long hair who did some cool songs about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly.
I was a bit worried I wouldn't have anything in good shape to do, but I had been working hard on Dr. Faber's Medicine Show (the song), because my new book of Mandolin Exercises made me think that perhaps what was wrong with it before was that I hadn't been using the proper pick direction for everything.
When someone is slow, like me, one secret to playing mandolin pieces faster is to work out the proper pick direction for every note. I think the secret is to playing on-beat notes on a downstroke and off-beat notes on an up stroke, even if you have to skip over a string or two to do it. That way your picking hand swings up and down at the same rate all the time and you don't have to start and stop.
So anyway I had printed out the music for the mandolin part for that song, which I had always found extremely difficult to play at the speed I heard it in my head, and I wrote out above the notes which were down strokes and which up strokes and then spent a couple of days of dedicated practice trying to do it the right way.

And whether it is the two days of dedicated practice or whether it is untangling the up and down strokes, I did a much better job on it in the circle than I would have done a few days before. Also the filk I wrote of Cindy Cindy went over well, and at various times when the turn came around to me I did The Silver Snail and Hydrogen And Time (I got asked if that one was on a CD yet) and Lauren requested Neil Armstrong and I debuted Pyrtanian Love Song, and Lauren and I did The Golden Door.

Lauren did her McGonnagle and Umbrage song and her song about Steven Moffat and a song she had written on the way up about her cat, Titan (which is so beautiful and sad), and we did Ten Penny Bit together, and she and I finished with a duet on The Parting Glass. She was a big hit; I am looking forward to introducing her to FilkOntario--heads up Canadian Filk; you've got yet another new filker incoming!

And I have decided that I must learn A Chat With Your Mother for the Pick And Grin because I think they would love it. And there was another that song that went by that evening which I think would also go over very well there and now I can't remember what it was, dang it.

And we trailed off to bed about 1am, and about 8:30am I woke up and chatted with Terry and Barbara and Deborah and Larry until about 11:20 at which point I woke Lauren up (this took some doing) and we packed up (with a certain amount of tetrising) and left. And Lauren wrote another filk on the way home, which was wetter than the drive out but beautiful in a foggy way instead of a sunny one.

Mar. 14th, 2016

Ramp

Happy Pi Day

It is March 14th, and even more interesting, March 14th of 2016 which works out to 3/14/16 which makes it Pi Day. (if you are using dates with the day first I don't think you ever have pi day, because April only has 30 days, so perhaps Pi day is a purely US thing. Are there other countries that write their dates with the month first?)

Anyway, in honor of Pi day, Kip and I went to the store and got pie (chocolate cream pie.) It was tasty. Pi day is a good holiday.

I bought a book of mandolin exercises ("Mandolin Exercises for Dummies") and have been doing them semi-regularly. I am only on the first few pages but I think they are making a difference. I am learning closed scales and bidding fair to develop a mandolin callus on my little finger. (The other three fingers already have pretty thick calluses.) Also the string skipping exercises have me thinking that one way to get faster might be to review my picking directions on all my fast pieces.

I am learning Billy In The Low Ground, which is a fun old-time fiddle piece that seems to derive from a Scottish Celtic tune. I can learn a piece much more quickly than I used to. And Thursday before last I got waved up to the mike at the Pick And Grin (Thursday night jam circle at local deli--musicians get fed free) to take my first instrumental break, on a tune I didn't even know. I've been figuring out how to play harmonies that work with the chord progressions so it went okay anyway (room for improvement, but I didn't crash and burn), and I was very pleased about that. (It helps that the Pick And Grin is very attached to G major--about half the songs are in G major, with the next most common keys being D A and E but after that it might be anything; Gflat major is not off the table here, which is why I am working on closed scales.)

I am just about finished with the outside fiberglassing on the instrument case and the next step will be to smooth out and fiberglass the inside.

And regarding my progress on Dutch, I finished translating the last page of Wee Free Men a couple of weeks ago (I translated a whole book!) and have moved on to A Hatful of Sky, and Dad and I finished reading De Koning Van Katoren and have begun on De Kunstrijder.

And I forgot to mention it but our little city has a New Library and the New Library has a meeting room that is separate from the library proper and groups can reserve it to use during library hours. And back, wow, I guess last summer, I met a fiddler named Joyce and I already knew Ed from the Barbershop music group and Ed knew Lauren (who is now a new filker and coming to conventions) and I suggested we move to the library meeting room because people smoke in the barbershop and that's a bit hard to sit in for an hour at a time.

And so we reserved the library meeting room for Tuesday mornings, and Joyce's husband Rex has since retired and can come play his flute with us, and we picked up a guitar player named Ralph, and Ed and Lauren had a friend named Lindsay who also plays the violin and we have a couple of people who have been coming to listen and we're up to six musicians and working up repertoire. If we get enough songs worked up well enough maybe we'll play gigs but right now we're just playing together for fun.

Which means I need to go to bed because I have to get up early tomorrow. Good night!

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