Coming Out of Left Field

Monday, June 05, 2017

A resistance resource: Fax numbers for US House and Senate GOP members

I've been sending a lot of free faxes to Congress lately (via FaxZero, TopFreeFax, GotFreeFax and MyFax). While FaxZero's pages for the US Senate and House plug you right into those folks' DC numbers, there was no equivalent for their district offices, and no lists that I could find.

So I made some. I'm no whiz at programming, so these are just two sizable Google Docs (especially the House one):

Faxes for GOP representatives (excludes non-voting ones)

Faxes for GOP senators

Though no one else may ever use these, I figured I've saved myself some time in the long run. Even a few seconds spent looking on someone's site adds up when you do it repeatedly, especially over a very long four years ...

Friday, May 19, 2017

Today's word ...

... is schadenfreude, which Merriam-Webster defines as "enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others".

Normally I try not to feel pleasure from things going badly for other people. However, when the other people are trying to carry out a harmful, bigoted, misogynist agenda that will benefit the rich and hurt the poor, women, Muslims, students, scientists, the planet, etc. ... then anything that gets in the way of that agenda, I'm good with -- and will certainly do my little bit for.

Speaking of which, writing a note to myself to pick up more postcard stamps. Between Texas trying to enact its own "bathroom" bill and a bill in Mass. to prohibit discrimination in state contracts, it's time to send out some more pro-equality messages.

Monday, May 15, 2017

In more news from the surreal world that is Trumpland

Trump apparently spilled some classified info to the Russians who visited the Oval Office last week. This, after him bashing Hillary over and over for having a private server for her e-mails.

You know, if I wanted to live in Tom Clancy's universe, I would've read the rest of his technothrillers instead of ditching them when the series jumped the shark. Just as well, though, given how long my reading queue is right now -- which became even bigger today with the arrival of two Rick Riordan titles (The Dark Prophecy, his second Apollo book, and Camp Half-Blood Confidential). The 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary also came, which I will *not* be reading cover to cover. It'll be a useful reference both in general and to accompany Word by Word. I looked up the definition for "take" (after reading Kory Stamper's chapter on the issues with defining short words), and oy, is that entry long! I have a newfound respect for lexicographers ... and the conviction that, as much as I love words, there is no way I could do that for eight hours a day.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The joys of weeding, or how do I hate dandelions? Let me count the ways

The title of this post speaks for itself, so the less said about that the better. Ugh.

I did successfully distract myself for a while by thinking about the Pierre Pevel book I'm reading -- specifically, about how in his universe winged cats can magically absorb the contents of any printed matter they nap on. This could be a very useful ability, and I decided that if I had that power I would get a whole bunch of reference books to download into my brain. A dictionary for sure, and foreign language primers. Most certainly a basic cookbook (like Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"). Probably not an encyclopedia, as it would be too big to fit under my pillow and it wouldn't have enough depth for any given topic. An atlas, to correct my shaky knowledge of geography; travel guides for when we're planning vacations. Maybe even important but oh-so-long historical documents like the U.S. Constitution and the Federalist Papers.

Basically, I would use this power on anything that could be good to know, but that doesn't necessarily have a compelling story behind it (or is just too boring to slog through). All the more time for fun reading!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wait, whaaaa ....?

I was planning to write a post yesterday, but current events got in the way. I'm too young to remember Watergate, but Trump seems more and more like Nixon every day -- paranoid, thin-skinned, and all too willing to fire anyone who dares criticize him, oppose his policies or look into the problematic behavior of himself and his staff. It's so bad that the Twitter account for Nixon's presidential library posted that Nixon never fired *his* FBI director.

I'd like to hope that this news would be enough to put a stop to the GOP efforts on repealing the ACA, tax cuts for the 1%, etc. But of course McConnell and some other Republicans are rejecting calls for an independent investigation, and even the GOPers who are claiming to be troubled by this firing ... well, talk is cheap. So for the moment I'm pausing my "shame for the AHCA" project so I can use my daily free faxes to demand a special prosecutor from the Senate. (Less of a GOP majority there, so more chance of something actually working.)

No matter what happens, Trump has just (metaphorically) poured kerosene on a fire he was hoping to extinguish.

P.S. Am still enjoying "The Martian," though I can't help wondering if Mark Watney would want to come back to this planet...

Monday, May 08, 2017

Tick, tock ...

Today marks two milestones of sorts.

As of today, I have lived in the Boston area for half of my life. Though I've called myself a Bostonian ever since I moved here, I feel like now is the day I finally qualify to do so. I still have to work on the accent, though, and as we figured out at a family dinner the other day, the drink that is called "soda" in these parts I persist in calling "pop".

On a more somber note, if you define my age today as X, and my mother's age at the time of her death as Y, then X + 10 > Y.

I'm not going to go into great detail about this; being on social media doesn't mean one has to reveal everything, especially very private matters such as a parent's death. Also, it doesn't do me a lot of good to dwell on such math. Life is full of things I have little or no control over. All I can do is what *I* can do -- which includes reminding myself that I am so lucky and privileged in so many ways, and to not let that go to waste.

And things could be much worse. I could be stranded millions of miles away from all my loved ones, like the poor guy in Andy Weir's "The Martian," struggling to overcome one problem after another. And facing the prospect of nothing to eat but potatoes for days on end. And no chocolate! Oy, indeed ...

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Resistance quote of the day

Today's resistance-related quote comes courtesy of Diane Duane, whose Young Wizards series is a favorite of ours. In the book "Wizards at War," two of the senior wizards have just warned a group of younger wizards that a) something really dangerous is tearing the universe apart and b) the senior wizards themselves are losing their powers and won't be able to help. Then one of them, Tom, smiles grimly and gives them the good news:

"For the duration—for as long as there is a duration— as far as wizardry goes, the lid is off. Any wizardry you can build to fight what's happening, any wizardry you can figure out how to fuel, is fair game. Normally we all limit our workings carefully to keep them from damaging the universe, or the beings who share it with us. But now the system itself is on the chopping block, along with everything else. If we don't save that..."

For this universe and with us Muggles (and yes, I know it's mixing YA fantasy series), that translates into, for instance, attending marches and protests at times instead of going to services; as much as I appreciate Shabbat, spiritual connection and inner tranquility don't count for as much when the truth is under attack and so many marginalized communities are being threatened. Similarly, I'm willing to kill some trees (in the form of postcards and faxes) and increase carbon emissions (e-mails, petition signatures, etc.) if in the long run those help prevent greater harm to health, the planet, and so on.

Speaking of faxes, now I'm up to 48 representatives -- only 169 to go. And I want to send postcards to the senators who are reportedly working on their version of the ACA repeal, to let them we are watching.