Saturday, January 28, 2017

The World Turned Upside Down: A Modernization


The World Turned Upside Down was written in protest of Parliament. Legend says that the song, referenced in the musical Hamilton, was played by the British Army upon their surrender to the United States.

Listen to me and you shall hear of government gaslighting, opulence, fear:
Since Galileo in days of yore, you never heard the like before.
The truth is despised, “alt facts” are devised,
And science is kicked out of town.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turned upside down.

Astrophysicists did rejoice to see gravity waves; others sang with one voice
That climate change is humanity’s thing, that now genes may receive editing.
(Let all honest folk take example and note
That truth is not false, being bound.)
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turned upside down.
Our Commander thinks himself a king, reddens to hear we’re organizing;
Upon the border he’ll set a wall; Muslims already are part of the thrall.
He profits on pain: an incubus reign.
His soul’s a moral ghost town.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turned upside down.
Command is given, we must obey, and quite forget Obama’s day:
For our constitution, a funeral pyre; for those who resist, a narcissist’s ire.
Such fear and such hate (which I won’t advocate);
Will he gag everyone with his crown?
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turned upside down.
Old white men do sit and whine; fragility works overtime:
Their plan to make America great keeps diversity from the debate.
“Wait and see” is their bald-faced decree;
Democracy’s not his playground.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turned upside down.
To conclude, stay focused, woke in your vigil: this is not normal, our gilded official.
The barred glass ceiling soon will break as parks declare the change they’ll make.
We’ll protest and plummet this Putinist puppet;
Let “we the people” resound.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turned upside down.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Activism in a "Post-Factual" America


The next four years will be hard for this country. Our rights will be hacked at with ice picks, machetes, toothpicks that introduce cracks in the foundation. It is Day 1 and the White House's climate change webpage has already disappeared, along with the LGBT, civil rights, and ACA pages. Trouble is not brewing; trouble is here.

So what can we do about it? Groundwork has some great starting points on their site, and I listed a few details more below.

Artist Haley Gilmore

Educate yourself.
What issues matter to you? Learn about them. What issues matter to others? Learn, and then fight for those too. "A healthy society is one in which those at the center scream in agony when those furthest away are cut."

Make calls.
Phone calls are the most effective method of contacting elected officials. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to call on a regular basis. Keep your senators' contact info bookmarked (or on speed dial) so you don't have to look them up every time. Take 10 minutes out of your lunch break, one day a week, and pick an issue. If you're nervous about what to say once you call, write out one or two sentences. That's all you need. Remember to be polite and make a connection with the person on the phone if you can - making a good impression means the staffer is more likely to discuss your call with others.

When organized, civil protests happen, take part. If one isn't organized and should be, make it happen. Be safe and put everything through legal channels, but remember that change doesn't happen through armchair activism alone. This is going to take some hard work.

Pick an issue and get involved. The issue I've chosen is women's rights, and I've joined the National Organization for Women. It's easier to join up with others who are already working on issues than to start from square one, so grab your friends and get involved.

Not everyone has time available to spend, so reach out to the groups that will suffer most in the upcoming years. See the list I've assembled here. You can also donate to organizations in your city/state, such as women's rights groups and domestic violence shelters.

Support political candidates.
If you don't know of a rock star in office right now, research, find one, and back them up. Learn about up-and-coming candidates for local or state offices whose policies you admire. Vocalize your support through phone calls, letters, guidance about what kind of world you want to see, etc. We need to start putting more progressives in office yesterday. 

Run for office.
This doesn't have to be a senate position. You can start at a neighborhood level. Get into your neighborhood association. Teach them why it's so important for us to all stick together, why supporting rights for those who are different from us will keep our own rights in place. 

Send letters to people. Sure, signing petitions online can have some impact, but you can better effect change by putting things into your own words and sharing your own experiences. If repealing the ACA will personally affect you, tell your senator why. . 

Reach out.
We need to contact more than just our elected officials. The only way we survive this new administration is together. Step out of your comfort zone. Make friends with those who are different from you. Learn about things that you never realized were under threat. Be a support to those around you so that if we should need help from one another, we all have someone to turn to and know what others need. This post is from shortly after the election, but is still mind-opening and relevant.

You'll probably make mistakes here and there. That's okay; I will too. You might stick your foot in your mouth sometimes. That's okay, you'll survive. But if we don't speak out, some people might not.

If you have other suggestions that I can add to this list, please share. 

Artist Micah Bazant

Activism in a "Post-Factual" America: Donations

If you're looking for causes to donate time or goods to or volunteer for, here are a few. You can find another list here. If you want to check these out more carefully, view them on; I haven't done so for all of these yet. Please share this with others. 

Boys & Girls Club
Big Brothers, Big Sisters

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Prevention

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Freedom of Speech/Press

Global Warming

Legal Defense

LGBT Rights

Political Activism

Racial Equality
The Anti-Defamation League

Refugee/Immigrant Assistance

Reproductive/Women's Rights - a 4-star charity for 14 years straight

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Personal Goals: 2017

Having made lists like this for many years, I'm starting now to better recognize my limits and reasonable expectations. Here are 20 goals for the year; I hope to accomplish 15 of them.

The above paragraph makes me feel old.

1. Have specific "me" time once a month

2. Complete three home projects from the following list (roughly in preferential order)
  • Fix the driveway
  • Fix the toilet
  • Hem the white curtains that are floating around the basement somewhere (for the bedroom)
  • Have Troy and Sam over for a renovation party (yaaaaay)
  • Paint bedroom trim white
  • Get and hang new bedroom blinds
  • Get an A/C tune-up
  • Redo the tea room (more shelves, hang calligraphy)
  • Paint and re-carpet the basement steps
  • Replace a window?
3. Continue to attend NOW meetings

4. Go to Dragonfly Yoga regularly and/or do yoga at home once a week 

5. Knit Ingrid another sweater

6. Knit myself hand warmers with a freaking I-cord so I don't lose the damn things a fourth time
  • Bonus if I also finish the second sock in the pair I started four years ago
7. Replace the broken mandolin string

8. Clean out old financial papers
  • Bonus: Develop a better storage system (meaning any at all)
9. Attend a swim class with Ingrid

10. Save money through three of the following
  • Fix the phone plan
  • Shop at Aldi once a month
  • Have a "buy nothing" week at least four times to clean out the kitchen cupboards and use up fridge items
  • Only get takeout or go out to eat for special occasions - as part of this, keep frozen meals on hand
  • Ask for an internet service discount (because I definitely won't get one if I don't ask)
  • Get a clothing rack so we use the dryer less
  • Keep track of pet food deals, look for coupons, and stock up
  • Write down personal expenses and amounts
11. Write twice a month at minimum, with at least one blog post here per month--one post will be about a book I'll read this year

12. A personal goal that I don't care to divulge here

13. Record Ingrid's reading list on Goodreads

14. Get new tires for Yorick (the little car)

15. Go on a family camping trip

16. Make krumkake

17. Remember that afghan I made three years ago? Sew in the ends and give it an edging.

18. Have a tea party (much like my friend Sandy)

19. Send my novel to three people for review (volunteers?)
  • Bonus: Re-read it myself
20. Finally buy one of these ottomans with a reversible tray that I've been eyeing for months (for the craft corner)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Personal Goals: 2016 Recap

Hi! It's been a while. Consider this my attempt at getting back to it. Um. Again.

I didn't post it here, but at the beginning of 2017, I made a list of 21 goals for myself.

1. Reread The Happiness Project's chapter on clutter - done
2. Complete at least three home improvement tasks - done

  • Replace front window with a bay window
  • Get tools (jigsaw and sander, not that I used them)
  • Get rid of stuff we don't use, including a lot of clothes
  • Fix the driveway ... kind of. It still needs new asphalt.
  • Paint house
  • Get/make a file cabinet/bench

3. Do an activity with Tickle once a month over the year - done, including an awesome family vacation
4. Exercise more - nope
5. Play mandolin more - I broke one of the strings; does that count?
6. Create craft corner - done, and I love it!
7. Send Grandpa lefse - hand delivered, along with cookies made from his grandma's recipe
8. Make krumkake - nope
9. Start food/garden share with neighbors - sure, I'll allow it
10. Craft and hang Germany frames - done, and they look nice (now I just have to rotate out the pictures)
11. Frame and hang the Avatar poster - done
12. Get a haircut at least twice over the year - done! I think I got three.
13. Write for at least two minutes/day - nope
14. Finish at least eight books - no ... I read two and half of two others.
15. Sew a clothing item - no, but I'm counting it. I knitted a lot.
16. Pay up on the mortgage - nope
17. Create a mutual fund for Ingrid - nope
18. Get a shower clock/mirror - yes
19. Cut down time online - I'm satisfied with my online time this year.
20. Weed more than twice; put down mulch - done
21. A personal goal that I don't care to divulge - done

So I met 14 of my 21 goals (at least sort of). I'm pleased with this. The goals were simple and, for the most part, reasonable. I'm still going to try to keep my list shorter for next year, though. I especially like the way I arranged my home improvement goal, so I'll reprise that.

I was feeling pretty bummed about my lack of reading this year until a friend pointed out that, while she fell short of her own reading goal, her relationships and job were all going well, and that's substantively more important. So while I met 67% of my goals (great in my opinion, but still a D), I made a lot of good memories and took strides that can't be quantified. I now have thousands more pictures and had lots of wonderful conversations with beautiful minds. I did great things that aren't even listed here, like going to the Weird Al concert and FREAKING KOREA. I read Tickle the same five books way more than eight times each.

In that sense, it was a very good year.
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