luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Five things make a post....

1. My grad-school adviser has cancer and is not doing too well. This news comes from yesterday's email blast from the astronomy department chairman. Further correspondence with the chairman (who still remembers me) is that Mike (my adviser) is not quite up to visitors, but cards would be welcome. I have a hard time imagine Mike under the weather -- he is a tall force of nature, with a busy white beard that makes him look like a New England sea captain, and when he's not bashing human-made objects into comets, he goes sailing on the Chesapeake. Still, Wikipedia says he is now 76.

2. I may have some additional freelance assignments. Two offers of potential work landed in my inbox on May 9 within five minutes of each other. One was from a resume I sent in to a freelance-job ad back in January or February. I'd honestly forgotten about it.

3. My church has a candidate for the position of settled (permanent) minister. It was touch and go there for a while, and I was fervently hoping that we would not have to get another interim minister when our current interim's two-year contract ends next month. I don't know the name of the candidate yet, only that she has been referred to as "she." Fingers crossed that's she's great....

4. Don't know what to add about the fast-moving events surrounding the Giant Lying Russian Stooge and his cronies, except to state that I really want to compare the current timeline to that of the Watergate scandal. We're getting a special counsel very close to the 44th anniversary of the appointment of Archibald Cox, for what that's worth.

5. Lately I have been seeing puddles of plain water around the toilet. My current cat has no interest in the toilet bowl, so it's something else. As far as I can tell, the shut-off valve underneath the toilet is the source of the leak. The boy toy put an old pot under the valve to catch the water and then put green food coloring in the toilet tank. So far, the water that drips into the pot is crystal-clear, but since the boy toy pretty much dumped the entire bottle of green food coloring into the tank, the bowl keeps filling up with brilliant green water every time we flush. It's our space-alien toilet.
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
By and large, it's been a rough month, punctuated only by a few better moments.

I hope everyone who celebrated U.S. Thanksgiving a few days ago had an enjoyable holiday. I did -- as I have for the past 15 or so Turkey Days, I went to my friend T.H.'s home, where I joined her extended family. Everybody contributed something, nobody shouted about Trump (we're all LGBT-friendly people, disgusted with the Giant Lying Russian Stooge), and everybody had a good time.

This year, however, I did NOT drive to T.H.'s house in my longtime motor vehicle. Those days are over.

My 1996 Sunfire, a.k.a. "Patty's Pretty Purple Pontiac," a.k.a. "Baby," is destined for the sunset after 20.5 years of mostly faithful service (the transmission failure on the road to Pennsic 40 being a notable exception).

Details... )

So, what do I do about a new car? I'm pretty sure that I don't qualify for any kind of financing. I certainly wouldn't give *myself* a loan. So I need to buy an older model (beater, jalopy, hoopty, etc.) that will pass Maryland inspection and run for a few years.

What's my budget? I am still figuring it out. As small as possible, but remember that a $700 car that needs $2300 of work to be legally registered under a new owner really costs $3000.
I wish I could just get myself to Carmax, but that place doesn't seem to sell anything under $7000 and I don't see myself being able to afford that anytime soon.

I'm really caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, folks ... without reliable transportation, it's even harder to find temporary or permanent employment, but without an additional source of income, I can't afford wheels. I have no idea what my health insurance costs will be next year ... they are already going up a lot under Obamacare, but I am NOT counting on Obamacare to last past January 20. Seriously.

Gaah, I don't know what to do. First-world problem, I know.
luscious_purple: Daily News: Mitt Hits the Fan (Mitt hits the fan)
Yeah, I know, long time no post.

I had a long feature article to write, I felt all seized up from anxiety over the presidential election, so I went WAY over deadline, which meant that I got paid a lot less for my work... and my editor was pissed off... and then I got anxious over money....

And then I went through all the ups and downs of the near-end of the seemingly endless election cycle, and I went into my work as an election judge thinking that of *course* Hillary Clinton was going to squeak through. But the news looked bad as soon as I got home and I just couldn't fall asleep for the longest time, even though I'd been awake since 4:45 a.m., until I took cold medication (and I am not sick) to try to still my racing mind.

I had posted this on FB before going to bed:

Report from today: I awoke at 4:45 a.m. to get to work at a precinct in College Park. (I voted on Oct. 31.) I served as a provisional ballot judge. We were busiest, surprisingly, between 7 and 9 a.m., with an early crowd of people trying to get voting accomplished before the workday. Other than that, a steady stream but no big evening rush. Perhaps all those folks had voted early too (one of the local early-voting sites was elsewhere in College Park).

Before today, I had worried that idiots were going to harass the incredibly diverse voters of this precinct, but the only observer we had was from the Organization of American States. He was the former Peruvian ambassador to the U.S., and he bore an uncanny resemblance to Tim Kaine.
This precinct gave three times as many votes to Clinton-Kaine as to the Giant Lying Russian Stooge and Lord Voldemort. We did our part.

Even though CNN just called California for Secretary Clinton, I am feeling lots of loathing and disgust right now. Can you say "reverse Bradley effect"? I can't even imagine the suckage of another humongous recession. I am going to bed after I finish this one beer, but this may be the last news I watch for a long, long time.

Since the news, I have been in a dark place.

Facebook again, Wednesday afternoon:

(Adapted from a couple of comments I made on other pages.)

I admire everyone who is saying, "Yeah, folks, let's go out and fight for justice! Never give up!" However, some of us are in a very dark place emotionally and are not ready to do that yet. Some of us may never be ready for that, ever. I know that my grief and disgust are still too deep.

Since I have earned degrees in journalism, physics, and astronomy, I am feeling some professional as well as personal repudiation. There's nothing like living in a nation where a large chunk of the population believes that every journalist sucks and repudiates the science that both detected the global warming problem and could give us the tools to fix it.

The polls lulled us because so many people in this country are willing to lie about their own bigotry. I have lost a lot of my faith in the arc of the universe and the supposedly intrinsic goodness of humanity.

And finally in the evening:

On top of everything else ... I started heading out to the "gathering in community for worship, reflection and fellowship" at my church, and the steering on my 20-year-old car started acting really squirrelly. The car was pulling to the left, which grew noticeable at about 30 mph, and when I tried to correct it, the steering system felt all loose or something. I pulled into a parking lot and checked the tires -- no flats. Managed to drive home, but I have to get it looked at tomorrow. It could be something as simple as power steering fluid or as messed up as a bent tie rod or a busted axle. Just another episode in the ongoing saga of "The Ruination of Patty D[redacted]."

Still don't know what is wrong with my car. Still don't know whether I will ever work again. I *do* know that without an Affordable Care Act subsidy, my health insurance will cost $532 per month for my high-deductible plan. Right now I pay $70 per month. My mortgage is only about $594 per month.

I am still sad. I am angry. I am on a hair trigger.
luscious_purple: Daily News: Mitt Hits the Fan (Mitt hits the fan)
... will be Inauguration Day. We in the United States will have a 45th president, like him/her or not.

The last time we got a new president, I had a four-day weekend because I worked in DC and Inauguration Day fell the day after MLK Day. Inauguration Day is a holiday in the District because CROWDS and SECURITY, so I had Jan. 20, 2009, off from work. However, I spent Jan. 17, 18, and 19 sitting in the Merchants Tire & Auto in College Park, getting one thing after another repaired on my car's engine while they tried to figure out why it was overheating. By the time Jan. 20 rolled around, I simply wanted to sit at home in my pajamas and watch the proceedings on TV.

If we elect another Democrat, I would really like to go into DC for the inauguration. If we get a Republican, hell no.
luscious_purple: The middle class is too big to fail! (middle class)
Today, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen published a column about "Weimar America." However, AlterNet and Salon recognized the similarities between then and now three years ago.

Something to think about as we head into tonight's GOP debate.
luscious_purple: Daily News: Mitt Hits the Fan (Mitt hits the fan)
Less than 48 hours till my "Facebook jail" expires! Yay!

I've spent a good part of the last two days corralling photos and diagrams for the feature article I finished writing a month ago. For the opening spread I was trying to find a specific kind of image showing the brilliant lights of Manhattan at night during the Roaring Twenties (this is a historical article). I finally found one of Times Square through the Library of Congress website, but I'm not sure if it's high-resolution enough for reproduction in a glossy magazine. We shall see.

When it comes to the vortex of smelly vomitus that issues forth from the mouth of Donald Trump, conventional words fail me. I will be so incredibly glad when he falls out of public view.


Nov. 16th, 2015 11:23 pm
luscious_purple: Snagged on LJ (great news)
Today, when I submitted my invoice for my most recent feature article, I officially passed the total amount of money I earned through freelance writing in 2014. That may not sound bad considering that we still have more than six weeks left in the year. However, it's not saying much. I'm still pretty low-income, although by the cramped U.S. poverty standards that have not been adjusted for inflation in many years, I'm positively rolling in the dough.

I have a Typepad blog for ranting about income inequality, the "gig economy," and similar topics, but I hardly ever post to it. Just annotating the articles I come across in the Internet puts me in a depressed mood. And when I'm depressed, it becomes even harder for me to do the good stuff, like applying for jobs or seeking out new freelance clients. At least I save the articles on those topics to my Evernote account for future reference.

I could go on and on about politics in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, including the detestable reaction of these governors (mostly Republicans) who don't want "those" refugees. I'm glad Maryland's Larry Hogan isn't (yet) one of them. Perhaps a few rounds of aggressive chemotherapy while in his first year as governor have given him a new insight on humanity. Let's hope.
luscious_purple: Boston STRONG! (Boston Strong)
Last night's news from Paris was certainly horrific. I changed the photo on the top of my Facebook page to an image of an old-fashioned postcard showing the American and French flags with the slogan "They Wave for Liberty." It looks like something printed up for World War I. I got it from a Facebook group called "French Canadian Descendants" (yes, I am in a whole lotta FB groups, just as I joined a bazillion LJ communities back in the day, even though almost all of them are dead now).

Today I got away from the sad news for a while and did something I've been wanting to do for more than a month: the boy toy and I went to see The Martian at our local multiplex. What a wonderful movie! Not only was it the kind of hard SF I like the best, but it was just so refreshing to watch a science fiction movie that was all about problem-solving instead of blowing up and shooting up "the others." Awesome!!! Now, of course, I really want to read the original book. (I also have a lot of respect for how the author, Andy Weir, crowdsourced the science while he was writing the book. Gotta think about how to do something like that in other contexts.)

(And, of course, I do have a few nits to pick about the plot, but in general it was one of the most "realistic" SF movies I've seen. And I've seen some awful stuff -- see, for example, Spacecamp. Bleah!)

Tonight I munched on homemade popcorn (the movie-theater stuff is way too expensive) while watching an hour-long YouTube video of Andy Weir, Adam Savage, and Chris Hadfield talking about The Martian. Now I'm listening to the Democratic debate while the boy toy watches Doctor Who in the other room. I'm following two live blogging/tweeting websites: Media Nation and Slate. Certainly Bernie Sanders is firing off some zingers....
luscious_purple: The middle class is too big to fail! (middle class)
So, I voted. It was about five minutes before the polls closed, but I got there to cast my ballot for the municipal election. We have city council elections in the odd-numbered years; the school board and county posts happen in even-numbered "midterm election" years.

Usually the actual vote takes about 90 seconds, and then some volunteer makes you sit at a table and fill out a really long questionnaire about "community issues" that takes 15 minutes. Fortunately, my precinct was out of copies of that form, so I didn't have to slog through that particular chore.

Since moving here 16 years ago, I've voted in most of the city elections. I didn't vote when I first got here in 1999 because I'd literally been here only two months and was still completely uninformed. Also, there was one year when my early-evening dental appointment ran overtime and I couldn't get to the polls in time.

Still, I take my franchise seriously. I read the candidates' biographies and Q&As in the local paper. I voted for a mix of incumbents and challengers, but in the end the incumbents won (it was a race of 11 candidates running for seven council seats). Ah, well. Turnout was pretty pathetic as usual for a city contest, but next year, when the White House is on the line, the crowds will be overwhelming. I don't see why other people don't exercise their right to vote every year, but, hey, I did my time writing get-out-the-vote editorials for small-town newspapers back in the '80s. I did what I could do in the pre-Internet era.

Anyhow. In other election news, my friend Leslie was just voted in as a school board member in the New Jersey town where she lives. Congratulations to her! Up in Massachusetts, my hometown's Republican mayor was reelected, and my mother's hometown got a new mayor, a guy I once met at my cousin Steve's house (his wife and the mayor-elect's wife are longtime friends).

And so we move on to the Big Enchilada. I am so disgusted with the GOP's hatred of Barack Obama that I never plan to vote for a Republican again. There have been a few times in past years when I have voted for a moderate Republican -- when I lived in Connie Morella's district and I wanted to reward her for voting against Bill Clinton's impeachment, when John Silber was running for Massachusetts governor and I couldn't in good conscience inflict him on the rest of the state, and once when the Democratic candidate for state rep or state senator was anti-choice. However, now that the party has moved SO far to the right, I can't envision a similar scenario occurring ever again. To all the people who say "Vote the person, not the party," I respond: If you consciously choose to associate yourself with assholes, what does that say about YOU?
luscious_purple: Stop SOPA and PIPA (No SOPA)
Still trying to keep my Facebook page Trump-free. REALLY tempted to brush up on histories of demagogues and dictators and how they came to power.

Today's major accomplishment was switching out the Verizon FiOS Internet router to a newer model. The previous one would occasionally drop the wireless signal -- sometimes multiple times a day, sometimes not at all during the day. Here's hoping that the new one lasts for another couple of years.

While searching iTunes for steampunk-related podcasts, the boy toy found a podcast called Brass Needles that is about the combination of SF, knitting, and steampunk. He pointed it out to me and I subscribed in my iTunes account. I don't think I'm going to download all past 185 episodes, but I'll check out a couple of the recent ones.

That reminds me ... I need to get another fiber project going in my life. :-)
luscious_purple: Boston STRONG! (Boston Strong)
I guess I shouldn't complain that LJ doesn't have much content on it if I don't contribute some of that content, eh? Ah, well, here are some ramblings.

Last Friday night was Halloween, and here at my humble condo we had one trick-or-treater. ONE. Maybe next year, when Oct. 31 falls on a Saturday, the boy toy and I should just go out somewhere and not bother with the candy thing. I mean, I *want* to give out candy as payback for all the candy I got as a kid (not to mention all the Girl Scout cookies, magazine subscriptions, and high-school musical tickets that I peddled door to door). But, hey, if the world doesn't want to accept my karma....

Earlier this week I was shocked to learn that the older of the two "Car Talk" guys died. The boss I had at the job in the mid-1990s hated to drive in DC but loved to listen to "Car Talk." (He was one of my better bosses over the years. When I returned to DC after my mother died, he and his wife picked me up at National Airport and drove me to their apartment for dinner, and then drove me home.)

And now I'm getting tired, so I will just list some links about Tom Magliozzi and also about former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who was apparently quite beloved. (from two years earlier) (I need to finish watching this 30-year-old documentary preserved on YouTube!)

One more death: the guy who invented Corning Ware.

As far as the midterm election goes ... the less said, the better. Disgust, anger and worry are all among the emotions I've felt following the results. After I voted Tuesday morning, the boy toy and I drove out to Antietam National Battlefield for the afternoon. He had never seen Antietam, I hadn't been there since 1996, the weather was gorgeous, and it seemed far more meaningful than listening to the chattering class all day long.
luscious_purple: Daily News: Mitt Hits the Fan (Mitt hits the fan)
Happy Canada Day to [personal profile] pasticcio!!! I think she's the only Canadian on my friends-list....

Yeah, about the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision: Of course I detest it with every fiber of my being. I was always taught that the best law did the most good for the MOST PEOPLE and that increases in equality of human beings was a Good Thing. The employees of Hobby Lobby far outnumber the privileged few who own the company. In what world should the needs of the many be outweighed by the perceived needs of the few? Certainly not a just world.

Anyhow ... Devora is on her way to Iowa City to start her new life. I hope she finds happiness there. And comes back for visits.
luscious_purple: Stop SOPA and PIPA (No SOPA)
I have way too many browser tabs open, so let me get rid of a few here.

A new model of the origin of the Earth-Moon system:

Steampunk podcast:

Sixth-century manuscript decoded by spectroscopy:

Wikipedia recently featured Wells Cathedral, one of the places I've visited in England:

Comcast plans to turn its paying customers into free hot spots:

Just before the world marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Sir Winston Churchill's last living child died. She was quite the badass in her day:

Stupid password tricks:

What things are like for young people today:

What the hell is wrong with America?

Current politics of the ISS:

Forget universal preschool -- we need a 13th grade:

What ever happened to LiveJournal, anyway?

This week Republicans killed Elizabeth Warren's plan to ease Americans' crushing student loan debt:

Growing partisan rancor:

This town's local friendly maker club:

A private browser thing I might want to try:

Some career thing to read later:
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
1. Today was filled with pierogies. The boy toy and I made a couple of batches of them this afternoon ... and then we didn't eat any. We froze most of them but saved six in the fridge for tomorrow night's supper. Then we went to my church for a Russian-themed Ethnic Dinner. This wasn't the first time the committee, months ago, chose an Ethnic Dinner theme to match an Olympic host city, but they didn't exactly foresee the Ukrainian/Crimean crisis hard on the heels of the Games. Then again, the chief organizer of the whole Ethnic Dinner series is more interested in peoples and cultures than politics. Attendance was a little light this time around, but those of us who attended got a tasty and filling meal.

2. Speaking of Russia ... it has occurred to me that I should start backing up my LJ in case the Russian parent company severs ties with the US for whatever reason (or it is hit with politically motivated DDOS attacks or whatever). I've never gotten LJ Book to work, so I'm just plugging away with And that doesn't even work on friends-locked posts, so every time I come to one of those, I have to change it to public, make the PDF, and then go into "edit entry" and change it back to friends-only. Needless to say, this is slow going.

3. Welcome to all the new folks around here. It's encouraging that there are still some people on LJ.

4. I was thrilled that the UMass men's basketball team made it to the Big Dance for the first time since 1998, but less than thrilled that they were one-and-done. Then again, the first half of their season was stronger than the second half anyway.

5. I was going to write more, but the combination of the hour and the heavy meal ... I don't think I'll be awake much longer.
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
While I was out enjoying myself yesterday, and thus not sitting in front of a computer or TV screen, the shooting at the Mall of Columbia (Maryland) happened. As you probably have heard by now, a young man with no prior criminal record shot two people dead before turning the gun on himself. This all went down about 20 miles from where I live (although I wasn't even in Maryland at the time).

For a pretty accurate summary of the way I feel about this crime, read this. So far, law enforcement officials have yet to figure out why this person killed two others and himself, other than the mere fact that he could.

Meme time

Oct. 17th, 2013 02:37 pm
luscious_purple: Daily News: Mitt Hits the Fan (Mitt hits the fan)
Quiz: What Kind of Liberal Are You?

My Liberal Identity

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what's known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-centric thought reign supreme.

Take the quiz at Political Humor

Linky linky

Oct. 7th, 2013 11:21 pm
luscious_purple: Stop SOPA and PIPA (No SOPA)
Here's an interesting link I found on Facebook: Hey, douchebag, your pet bunny did NOT ruin your sex life.

Did you see the "Saturday Night Live" skit with Miley Cyrus playing Michele Bachmann in hot pants and some other guy playing a gyrating John Boehner? It's repulsive and hilarious at the same time.

OK, gotta get going....
luscious_purple: The middle class is too big to fail! (middle class)
Yesterday the boy toy and I went out for a celebratory brunch at Denny's, and later in the afternoon I ended up taking a short nap.

(OK, so it was part celebratory and partly because the boy toy wanted to try out the "Hobbit" menu. We both recommend the pumpkin pancakes.)

Seriously, I know that I haven't been commenting much about politics in this election cycle. Someone in my precarious financial situation is bound to be more focused on survival than someone who's observing from a more comfortable, stable spot. I think that comes straight out of something I learned in Psychology 101 or one of those other nearly forgotten "core courses" in college.

A few interesting links I've been reading over the last couple of days, some thanks to [personal profile] twistedchick and others I found on my own:

(If any of these links don't survive my cutting and pasting, please let me know and I'll fix them.)

Bottom line is that, even though I consider myself a liberal Democrat, I would be happy to see the Republicans ditch the wingnuts and become a more diverse, if still conservative, party. I don't think the one-party-only mentality is good for small-d democracy.

Reasonable people can debate the size of government, the priorities of government, how much money should be allocated to various priorities, etc. etc. etc. and hash out their differences and come to a reasonable compromise solution in the best interests of the country. Unreasonable people hurl gigantic flaming buckets of dog poo at their "enemies" (i.e., people who don't think exactly like them) and then expect the enemies to vote for them out of shock and awe.

In my humble opinion, the GOP needs to take the fringe jobs out to the woodpile for a talk (is that the right metaphor?). If the tea partiers are going to be that intransigent, then maybe it's time to make the tea party into a formal Tea Party and get their own ballot spot for their purists. Because most Americans don't share their raging anger.

It's human nature to react negatively to "my way or the highway" thinking. Heck, I react negatively to that no matter who is thinking that. In 1990, when John Silber got the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Massachusetts, I voted for the moderate Republican candidate, William Weld. I'd seen Silber up close and personal during my BU days, saw his intellectual arrogance, and refused to help inflict his attitude on the general populace.

Will the Republicans go back to the days of (gasp) Reagan and his friendship with Tip O'Neill, or Ted Kennedy's friendship with Orrin Hatch? Probably not if Mitch McConnell (ugh) has his way. Maybe he's afraid of the tea partiers challenging him in the GOP primary in 2014. Sucks to be him, I guess.

Here's one last interesting essay directed to the "right wing fanatics who put party before country, conspiracy before reality, and ideology before science and intellect." If you continue to put party before country, don't expect the country to agree.


Nov. 7th, 2012 01:26 am
luscious_purple: Daily News: Mitt Hits the Fan (Mitt hits the fan)
I've been monitoring the election results all night, but I didn't crack open a beer (Sam Adams, of course) until CNN called the election for Obama around 11:18 p.m.

This was the fourth election in my lifetime in which a Massachusetts candidate ran for president as the nominee of a major party. Granted, during the first such election, I was in diapers. In the second and third such elections, I hoped and hoped for another victory so I could savor what my parents had favored, but I got my hopes dashed.

I could not stand Romney, not one bit, but it still felt a bit weird to see "Boston, Massachusetts" up in the corner of the screen while he was giving his brief speech (with his plastic face).

But now that's past, and I am admiring Our 44th President once again. Signed, sealed, delivered, he's ours!

Tonight was great on many fronts. Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts! Tim Kaine in Virginia! Jerks like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock defeated! Marriage equality passes in Maryland and Maine! I feel immensely relieved.

Well done, America.

Now, let's move forward!
luscious_purple: Daily News: Mitt Hits the Fan (Mitt hits the fan) has a really good article on Ayn Rand and her antithesis, the progressive John Dewey (1859-1952).

Also, I posted a bunch of Tikkun links to the "religious_left" community on LJ, not that anybody reads it anymore. Check them out if you wish.

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