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A quick message to my Senators

Dear Senator--

Brett Kavanaugh's inability to remain calm and level-headed under pressure is a sure sign that he is not suited for the Supreme Court of the United States. I urge you to vote against his confirmation.

Sincerely,

Sheila O'Shea

[I urge everybody to send a similar missive--or make a phone call--to their Senators right away.]

This entry was originally posted at https://wonderbink.dreamwidth.org/231452.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
The deadline to register for the midterm elections in the State of Georgia is October 9th.

I got a lot to say, but I wanted to get that out there first.

If you have not yet registered, you can go to sos.ga.gov and click on ELECTIONS. Then click on REGISTER TO VOTE. If you can’t remember that by the time you click away to the other tab, do a search on “secretary of state georgia” and the Google will take you right there.

“But, Sheila,” you might say, “I’m already registered to vote. Why should I worry about this?”

“But, you theoretical person,” I will say in reply, “Are you quite sure you’re still registered?”

Since the post-Gorsuch Supreme Court decision allowing states to purge people from the voter rolls if they haven’t voted lately, many states have been busy getting rid of people who only vote presidentially, and, even then, only if they feel like it. There was a special election in March. In July, there was a primary and non-partisan general election (which means that even if you don’t vote Democrat or Republican, you still had people to vote for). If you skipped March and July, or maybe even just July, you could potentially be stripped of your right to vote and have to register all over again.

“But, Sheila,” you might ask, “How will I know? It would be awful to go all the way to the polling place and find out that I’m not registered anymore, since by then it will be too late to register for the election!”

“Rest easy, theoretical person,” I will reply, “It’s actually quite easy to find out.”

Go to mvp.sos.ga.gov. (If the link doesn't work, just type it in.) MVP stands for My Voter Page, but if Most Valuable Player sticks it in your memory better, go with that. You can also get there by Googling your way to the Secretary of State website, and clicking on WHERE DO I VOTE? (MVP). Under where it says MVP Login put your information in from your voter registration—your first initial, your last name (according to the voter rolls—if you’re like me and have a weird name with an apostrophe or something in it, go with the version that the computer system has mutilated it into), your county of residence (more on that in a sec) and your date of birth.

An aside—if your place of residence now is different than the place of residence you had when you registered to vote, then go fix that shit, okay? Just go to where you get registered and update your registration. Otherwise, some bozo on Fox News is going to parade you around as evidence of rampant voter fraud, even if you’re the only one they have the goods on. Plus, you’d end up voting for local elections that have no bearing on your actual situation.

So. Anyway. So you put in your info and you have a Your Voter Page. (Yeaye!) The big thing that it will have is your designated polling place. This is the place you go to do your voting if you vote on the actual day of the election. If you’ve voted before, pay very close attention to this because they’ve been changing them! I found this out when I was going through writing this—my polling place has changed from High Point Elementary School to High Point Episcopal Community Church. Why, it’s almost as if they were expecting me to glance at it, see the words “High Point” and not read any further, so I could show up at High Point Elementary and not have time to get to the other polling station.

I hardly ever vote on the actual day, because Georgia is enlightened enough—yes, I used the words “enlightened” and “Georgia” in the same sentence, but work with me here—to have early voting. To find out when and where you can early vote, click the link labeled “Click here for Early Voting Locations and Times” and scroll through to see what works best for you. If you’ve voted before and you use early voting, definitely check to make your your usual early voting polling place is still on the list. Because, guess what, mine isn’t. I normally vote at the North Fulton Annex, and I scrolled up and down and it’s not there. I’m not sure what it is about my neck of the woods that’s so threatening to Brian Kemp—who is not only the Secretary of State, but the Republican Candidate for Governor—but I have to drive to Buckhead now if I want to vote early in a convenient fashion.

So you’re registered and you’ve picked out where you’re going to vote. You know you’re voting for Stacy Abrams—which I sincerely hope you are—and you’re good, right?

[maniacal laugh] No.

You need to know in advance what is going to be on the ballot. Everything.

“But, Sheila,” you might inquire, “How I can find out what’s going to be on the ballot before I set foot in the voting booth?”

“Come now, theoretical person,” I will answer, “Surely you’ve figured this one out by now.”

“The My Voter Page!” you could exclaim.

“Precisely!” I would naturally respond.

On the left side of Your Voter Page, you will find your personal details according to the voter rolls. If anything is askew, you can click the Change Voter Information button and they will blink you over to the page to register to vote. Below that button is a link that says “Click here for Sample Ballots”. Click it. You’ll get a little pop-up with some disclaimers and a little link that will say, for this election at least, “Sample Ballot (Non-Partisan)”. Click that. You will get a lovely PDF with everything there is to be voted for on it.

This is important because this is one of those elections where amendments to the Georgia Constitution are voted on, as well as tax exemptions and local or municipal issues. If you don’t vote, somebody else is going to decide these things. And if you don’t have time to do your research, you might wind up falling for the tricky wording of a constitutional amendment and voting for something really bad. I just looked at my options today and I’m still holding off on making a decision until I’ve had time to do some research on whether “business courts” are a good idea or not.

So there you have it. You, too, can be ready for the midterm elections in the State of Georgia.

I was going to have a big rant about why you should vote, but I’m going to distill it down to this:

Look at the White House. This is what apathy gets you.

The deadline to register for the midterm elections in the State of Georgia is October 9th.

This entry was originally posted at https://wonderbink.dreamwidth.org/231402.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Dear Senator--

I am writing to express my concerns about the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. The appointment is a lifetime position, and nominees should be examined carefully before being placed on the bench of the highest court in the land.

I am worried that the Senate is rushing things to get him confirmed as quickly as possible, without a thorough examination of his record. Naturally, I can’t expect that anybody can examine all the records regarding his history, with there being so many of them. But the amount of records that has been released is distressingly minimal compared to the information available. Furthermore, these records have yet to be reviewed by the National Archives, and it has been estimated that such an examination will take until October of this year. This means that the hearings scheduled for early September will have to work with incomplete information derived, in turn, from incomplete information. For example, none of the records pertaining to his time as a White House staff secretary have been requested, despite their importance.

I ask that you urge the Senate to delay the hearings until the records that have been released so far have been thoroughly examined by the National Archives. I also request that these records be reviewed by all senators prior to calling a vote to confirm Mr. Kavanaugh.

Thank you,

Sheila O’Shea

I got the info for this letter from this article. Gotta love me some internets.

This entry was originally posted at https://wonderbink.dreamwidth.org/230969.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Dear Senator,

My name is Sheila O'Shea and I am a resident of the state of Georgia. I am writing to express my concerns about the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2009, in the Minnesota Law Review, he made the following statement regarding presidential investigations:

"Even the lesser burdens of a criminal investigation — including preparing for questioning by criminal investigators — are time-consuming and distracting. Like civil suits, criminal investigations take the President's focus away from his or her responsibilities to the people. And a President who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as President."

Placing a man who will shape his decisions based on that metric on the Supreme Court would tear holes in the Constitution that could well never be mended. If we make the Executive Branch immune from the Judicial Branch, that opens the door to any demagogue who makes it to the presidency to run unchecked.

Imagine if Hillary Clinton had won the electoral vote and taken the presidency. Imagine if she'd placed justices of a similar bent to the Supreme Court. Imagine further what sort of things she could have done while immune from investigation.

I ask that you insist upon a judge who will not defang the Judicial Branch in the process of serving on it.

Sincerely yours,

Sheila O'Shea

I should probably state for the record that I do think far better of Hillary Clinton than I may have implied up there. I know that she's a major bogeyman for the right wing, Fox-News-watching crowd, so I figured I'd invoke that bogeyman to scare 'em a little into doing the right thing. I nearly always phrase my letters to my congresscritters in the most conservative way I can, in the hopes of actually being read all the way to the end.

This entry was originally posted at https://wonderbink.dreamwidth.org/230677.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Another letter to my Senators

Dear Senator,

A reminder: health care is a human right, not a commodity. According to our founding fathers, we are all of us endowed by our creator with the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The right to life extends beyond the as yet unborn to all ages. Neither the right of liberty nor the pursuit of happiness can truly be attained when one is held back by injury or illness. Please keep these things in mind when considering your vote for the Senate bill regarding health care.

Thank you,

Sheila O’Shea

This entry was originally posted at http://wonderbink.dreamwidth.org/230218.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

My Email to the Senate - Health Care

So, after a bit of procrastination, I wrote to Senators Isakson and Perdue about the health care bill being worked on in the Senate. I paste it below, and urge anybody else in America to write their own letter as well.

Dear Senator,

I am a resident of Georgia and I would like to express my views on the current attempt at health care reform.

I am relieved to learn that the Senate will not be voting on the House bill that passed by a narrow margin, but instead will be creating their own bill. As your constituent, I would like to make my wishes known regarding the new bill.

Premiums should not be increased for people with pre-existing conditions. The healthy helping pay for the less fortunate is the way insurance works. Pre-existing conditions are not just the results of lifestyle choices, they are more often genetic or the result of injury. I have the pre-existing condition of bipolar II disorder, and no amount of lifestyle changes will rid me of it. Increasing the cost will put help with pre-existing conditions out of the reach of most people, and the fact that they technically have insurance available to them does not alleviate this.

Victims of crimes should not have the injuries they suffer be treated as pre-existing conditions.

Coverage for certain health conditions should be considered carefully before being removed from the list of mandatory coverage requirements. In my own case, I am naturally concerned with mental health. One in five Americans suffers from a mental illness each year. People with mental illness compose 90% of all suicides and suicide itself is one of the 10 most common causes of death in America.

If birth control for women is no longer to be covered, drugs to treat erectile dysfunction in men should also be dropped.

Medicaid and Medicare should not be cut. This is imperative. These programs serve people in desperate situations, including many of your constituents, and cutting their access to healthcare will, in many cases, condemn them to death.

In providing more coverage to the American people, I understand that the tax cuts you have planned will have to be reduced. However, the top tier of taxpayers paid a higher tax rate during the Reagan administration, and that was considered a prosperous era. Leaving the tax rate for them at the current levels will do no harm. You can emphasize the middle class in your tax reforms and boost the economy that way. The ACA has already helped the economy by drastically reducing the number of bankruptcies filed. Reducing the number of people who can afford health insurance will increase those numbers again.

I thank you for your time and your service to the state of Georgia and I hope you will consider my suggestions.

Sincerely,

Sheila O’Shea


This entry was originally posted at http://wonderbink.dreamwidth.org/229906.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Strange Life . . .

So I have my shiny new journal set up at Dreamwidth and I started going back through my previous entries.

All of them.

I ended up going all the way back to the very first one.

It was interesting reading when viewed through the lens of my undiagnosed bipolar disorder. I'd been misdiagnosed with unipolar depression and was even taking medication for it. It kinda sorta helped with the depression, but didn't do much with the hypomania, which I'm pretty sure can be blamed for me flying all the way to California to see Duran Duran play and coming all the way back inside of 24 hours.

It also reminded me that I used to post a lot more often. I don't know if the shiny newness of having a Dreamwidth journal will be enough to inspire me to write more often, but it certainly can't hurt.

Today I took pleasure in rereading and tweaking my novella.

Today I learned that my very first LiveJournal entry was on April 11, 2003. (I'm sure I knew this at some point, I just forgot over time.) Fourteen years ago. Yikes.

This entry was originally posted at http://wonderbink.dreamwidth.org/229840.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

The Lux Life

I'm going to try writing about things that happened a while ago, so that they're vintage rather than stale, since I'm still writing these things five minutes at a time.

Read more...Collapse )

Dogs and Frogs and Pigs and Chickens

My parents have pretty much given up with Christmas gifts. They buy them for their grandchildren but for the rest of us we get checks to spend on whatever we really want. They do the same for birthdays and each time I go on an Amazon spending spree and buy stuff I've been longing for, like red satin pajamas. Mostly I go for books and DVDs or Blu-Rays.

This particular spending spree I got the first three seasons of The Muppet Show. I haven't been binge watching them, precisely, but I've been playing them while drawing my flowers the way I do with RiffTrax shorts. Most RiffTrax shorts are basically riffers versus Authoritative Disembodied Voices, so I don't have to look up and watch them as much. The Muppets have more visual gags, so I have to pay more attention. I still get the flowers done, though it does take me a little more time.

Here are some observations about The Muppet Show in no particular order:

1. I figured the first episode would be a little weaker because they'd still be finding their feet. The first episode has "Manah Manah" in it, so no. They had found their feet and started running with them.

2. Miss Piggy didn't start speaking French beyond moi et vous until after the episode with Charles Aznavour, who made her swoon by whispering nonsensical French into her ear, like the phone number for the Paris garbage dump. Only after that episode did she start inserting so many French phrases into her conversation. He must have made quite an impression.

3. Speaking of Miss Piggy, her voice changes a lot in the first season because they hadn't quite settled on who her puppeteer was. It alternated between Frank Oz and Richard Hunt. Sometimes which puppeteer was Piggy depended on whether or not the other puppeteer was performing another role in the scene. In Veternarian's Hospital, Richard Hunt would be on Piggy duty when Frank Oz was handling the patient on the table, for example.

4. Animal had a girlfriend! Or at least a dance partner. During the At The Dance sequences, Animal would dance with the same girl most times. She was a perfectly normal looking redhead--white person skin, sculpted nose, none of the weirdnesses of a typical Muppet. Animal was fond of doing "1-2-3 dip!" with her, but she seemed to take it in stride. Eventually, they seem to have parted ways. In the At The Dance sequence, Animal was dancing with a more Muppety and assertive partner, who squeezed him until he collapsed. His former partner came up while dancing with someone new. "Call him a doctor!" she said to him. As would be expected, he responded by looking down at Animal and saying "Okay. You're a doctor."

5. Miss Piggy started out a little more assertive in her pursuit of Kermit, to the point that she would throw him down and start forcibly kissing him. It's a bit squicky now, because what she did we now call sexual assault. She eventually stopped, though, perhaps because of the squick factor.

6. I have lots of thinky-thoughts and feels about the Rudolf Nureyev episode in the second season, but I'll try to confine myself to one. I remember the steam bath sequence whereby Nureyev is trapped with an amorous Miss Piggy and is trying to avoid her. I don't remember them singing in it. I definitely don't remember what they sang--a gender-reversed version of "Baby, It's Cold Outside." (!!!) I about fell out of my chair laughing.

7. Kermit and Miss PIggy's love story is kind of a weird one as far as I've gotten. Through the first season, Kermit is firmly Not Interested, and says as much multiple times. Then in the Avery Schreiber episode, Miss Piggy recruits Scooter (by threatening him with grievous bodily harm if he doesn't comply) to spread rumors that she is having a torrid affair with Schreiber, in order to make Kermit jealous. And it works! Kermit declares that he's going to have dinner with Piggy, just the two of them, right after the show. However, a little later in the show, his ardent passion has cooled back to his usual indifference, because Scooter confessed the scheme to Kermit. (You bet there was some karate-choppin' action.)

8. Damn, but Elton John had some eye-searing outfits in the 70s. He made Liberace look dignified.

9. There are few puppet expressions quite as evocative of disgust and frustration as Kermit's crumpleface.

10. There's not a lot of episode to episode continuity. In one episode, the band threatens to leave because they're tired of playing the theme song. It even ends with the closing tune played by Rowlf on piano with the conductor directing him. The next episode? "It's time to play the music! It's time to light the lights!" Maybe they came back because they couldn't get another offer. (More likely, it was because the show was syndicated, and there were no guarantees it would be shown in order.)

11. Even if I'd never heard of the guest star, the show would still be entertaining because Muppets. (The Leo Sayer episode was pretty painful, though.)

12. The first season set has this nifty thing called "Muppet Morsels", which is kinda like a commentary track, only in subtitle form. I've been re-watching the entire set to see all of them.

13. When dealing with Muppets with multiple performers (such as the Swedish Chef) I can't stop wondering how close these people had to stand next to one another in order to pull it off.

14. Sweetums gets all the full-body Muppet attention, but Thog (the huge blue one) is adorable.

15. Gonzo the Great is right up there with Yoko Ono in the realms of performance art.

16. I can usually tell if Jim Henson is operating a Muppet by the sound of the voice. Ditto Frank Oz.

17. Some of the bits use stereotypes that are reeeeaaaaally problematic.

18. The fat-shaming of Miss Piggy is pretty wince-inducing, too.

19. However, it was the 1970s, and they had some quaint notions back then.

20. On the other hand, they also used Pigs In Space to make fun of male chauvinist, well, pigs. Link Hogthrob and Doctor Strangepork would often saddle Piggy with domestic duties or treat her as lesser because she was a woman and Piggy or fate itself would usually extract some kind of revenge.

21. Nearly everything I remember comes out differently than what I remember when I watch it again. And there are entire episodes I've completely forgotten.

22. For example, I never realized that Gonzo had a crush on Miss Piggy until I watched my way through three seasons. This is probably because his expressions of desire are so few and far between that you figure he's gotten over it and then WHAM, he's back to crushing all over her. He doesn't seem to be very loyal--he goes from swooning over Camilla the chicken to swooning all over somebody else RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER. At one point he asks a cow out on a date. A live cow, not a Muppet cow. (Occasionally the Muppets encounter actual live animals and don't seem to be sure what to do with them.)

23. Statler and Waldorf either bisexual or gay men with beards. They make reference to their wives, but they also dance together a couple of times in the At The Dance sequences. According to the Muppet Morsels, we eventually meet Waldorf's wife, Astoria, and she apparently looks exactly like Statler in drag.

24. By season three, Beaker still isn't going mee-mee-mee-mee. He makes some kinds of incoherent yelps, but no mee-mees.

25. Every time Kermit sings "It's Not Easy Being Green" I have to reach for the tissues.

By the time I've finished writing this, I've made it to season three, but there's a glitch in the Spike Milligan episode that cuts it off before the grand finale. So I'll have to send it back and watch it all over again to make sure it's defect-free.

Darn.

Today I took pleasure in a reassurance from my mother.

Today I learned I'll have to reschedule my appointment with my psychiatrist. (Argh!)

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Weekend Report December 16-18

For the past eight years, Jeffrey Butzer and T. T. Mahoney have performed the soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas live. Butzer plays drums, Mahoney plays piano and some other guy (not always the same guy from year to year) plays bass in a classic jazz trio. Occasionally, a group of female singers will come up to sing the vocal parts.

I've seen it for the past few years and I enjoy it immensely. The soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas is the only Christmas album I own, and it pretty much sets the mood for the season. So when it came around, I purchased a ticket in advance (it inevitably sells out) and put in for the time off with The Big Green Grocery Store.

I figured I'd be scheduled right up to my departure time, like I usually am, but instead they gave me the whole day off. I usually close on Saturday nights, and I guess they figured that if they couldn't have me close, they didn't want me at all. I spent the Saturday cleaning the place, like I used to do when I had a Monday through Friday job. I hope for it to be a portent to things yet to come.

Doors opened at 8:30 and there was already a line stretching into the restaurant area just before 8:30 arrived. By the time I'd gotten in and ordered a drink, all the places to sit were taken. I sat on the step that leads up to the corner where the couches are (the TARDIS corner, I call it, because the walls there have a grid of large circles that resemble the walls of the old-school TARDIS) and moodled with my phone until the show started.

The opening act was Jeffrey Butzer's other project, The Bicycle Eaters. They're basically the soundtrack to an art film set in Paris. Many of the songs are sung in French, in fact, because English would just seem jarring matched against the music. The next act was The Silent Knights, who played the entirely of the surf rock Christmas album by The Ventures. It was the first time I'd ever heard Jingle Bell Rock actually sound like rock. I get a big kick out of surf rock (it's probably picked up from Greg Nicoll and seeing The Penetrators so many times) so I had a good time.

Then, finally, the jazz trio hit the stage and we were treated to the Vince Guaraldi soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. The thing I rather like about their performance is that it isn't a note for note replica, but has a little of the improvisation that jazz is made of.

Then this happened. They got to Fur Elise by Beethoven (Schroeder plays it while Lucy is bothering him) and Jeffrey Butzer got out from behind the drumkit, lay down on his stomach and propped his chin up on his hands, like a child in front of the fireplace. Then somebody started grabbing me and trying to shove me to one side.

I turned to see my eternal nemesis, a Drunk Blond Chick, in a Santa hat. She asked me to move over. I asked her why. She explained that she wanted a clearer view of Jeffrey Butzer in childhood pose, because it was so cute. I assented and moved over for the length of the piece. When it was over and all the musicians had resumed their positions I moved about halfway back and planted my feet. There the matter would have ended but then she started poking and grabbing me again.

I turned around. "Stop touching me," I said.

"We just wanted you to sway with us, in the sprit of Christmas," she explained.

"Stop. Touching. Me," I repeated

And to her credit, she did. Give or take the time she collided with me (I'm pretty sure it was her) when she was dancing with the enthusiasm of the drunk. I got through the rest of the show without irritation and headed to my parents' house to sleep.

Sunday was the annual Cookie Party. My mom bakes about 1,500 Christmas cookies (usually more) every year and the Cookie Party is one of the ways she distributes them. She invites friends and neighbors to partake in cookies, eggnog and punch. I reluctantly caught people up on what I've been doing--I wish I had something better to tell them--and indulged in my favorite cookies. Our friend Jeff came over and performed the annual Christmas ritual of sneaking new ornaments onto the tree when Mom isn't looking. The first time he and Angelo did it, Mom was completely baffled with it was time to pack the ornaments away and this strange Santa ornament had shown up on the tree. These days, she has grown to expect it and it's become something of a game to see how long it takes before Mom figures it out.

After the Cookie Party, my parents and I went across the street to another neighborhood gathering with many of the same people attending. This time it was a housewarming after a massive renovation of a house that my parents still refer to by its previous owner. There was enough food about to make a modest post-cookie dinner. I wasn't too familiar with the new owners, but I was familiar with one of the neighbors attending the party--he was a classmate of mine in high school. He's buying a house on my parents' street, so I may well see more of him. He wasn't particularly brutal to me in the days past, so I'm fine with it.

The party pretty much blew my chance to go to Java Monkey for the open mike there, but maybe some other time.

I'm sorry this was so boring. I'm sort of using this as a supplementary diary now to fill in all the details I miss in my handwritten diary pages. Only a few people are reading this and most of them are related to me.

Today I took pleasure in a cool glass of lemon water.

Today I learned someone's hypothesis that 2017 isn't going to be much better in terms of famous people dying on us.