catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-09-09 07:05 pm
Entry tags:

And other things

The song I just put up was actually written the day after Heather Heyer died but I guess I never quite got around to hitting post, so there it is now.

In other news I've been having trouble with sitting around poking the internet all day. If there is some kind of urgent thing I must do I can still get up and make it happen but in the absence of some urgent thing I've been losing whole days just feeling bad and scrolling through Twitter and Facebook.

So today I made a point of going canoeing. Lauren was interested in coming along so we made an afternoon of it and went to Panther Creek State Park. It had been something like a year since the last time I went canoeing. Moxie is in my woodshop because I repaired a little nick in her keel and now need to revarnish her and see above about poking the internet instead. So we took Constance and Patience. Patience isn't tame so I paddled Patience and ended up getting dumped. We went up Panther creek and there was this one spot I was trying to duck a low tree branch and my paddle got tangled in the tree and I couldn't duck the way I needed to and over we went.

I had put on my canoeing pants but was wearing a cotton t-shirt because dumb. Fortunately it wasn't quite cold enough that I had to turn back, but the rest of the trip was rather damp. We just took it easy and paddled around sometimes and did a lot of sitting on the water looking at the scenery.

My arms are very tired now. But I'm glad we did it.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-09-09 07:04 pm

Okay, so some things...

I wrote a new song. I am having some trouble getting audio into my computer properly and feeling disorganized and scattered enough here in Trumpland that I haven't dug into the manual and solved the problem. So as a stopgap I put up a YouTube video of me singing it.

Heather Heyer.
Lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber @2017

Heather Heyer met her fate
In this crucial hour
Standing up to Nazi hate
May she rest in Power!
Rest in power, not in peace
While old hatreds find new lease--
Let our efforts never cease
May she rest in Power!

Those who loved her grieve this night
Gone their joy and flower
Doing what she thought was right
May she rest in Power.

Find new courage in the fight
Sweet amid the sour
Gay and straight and black and white
May she rest in Power!

Life's our joy and love's our will
Let the racist cower!
This good work continues still
May she rest in Power.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-08-11 09:54 pm

A Different Kind of Practice

So a couple of days ago I was walking around campus catching Pokémon in the dark again. I don't walk around after dark all that much these days (just how my schedule works out; I'm one of the lucky few who has never been afraid of walking around at night) but when I do, Pokémon are usually involved in some way.
And I was down in the cafeteria / student activity center / campus security office corner where there are 4 Pokestops pretty close together when I heard what sounded like a scream. I stopped and looked up from my phone. Nothing. There were several Pokémon handy so I sidled in that direction while catching Pokémon. Presently I heard another shriek and what sounded like a slap.
Now I was concerned. It's hard for me to tell, from any distance, the difference between people shrieking because they are playing around and people who are actually in trouble. But this sounded like it might be trouble. So I walked in that direction.
There's a few small 2 story apartment buildings in the area and a little white house and a few other buildings, and I walked quietly down the cross street, listening. I heard another shriek from the house and saw a silhouette of someone near the blinds, whose shadow moved across the window and away as they moved quickly into the room.
I had time to think a lot of things. It might be a domestic violence incident. It might be students just playing around. Knocking on the door would be embarrassing. But what if someone was being beaten in there and I walked away and left them to it? Maybe I should call the police. But police bring guns, and guns can go wrong very quickly; if they're people of color, or speak a foreign language, that might not be safe for them, and what if I called the police on some kids who were just playing around and they ended up shooting someone?
It takes longer to lay it out here than it did to flip through it mentally, but I decided the only ethical course was to knock on the door myself. As an older white woman I have a bit more social license to be a meddler than I did when I was younger, so I'm unlikely to be physically attacked, and I'm not going to shoot anyone because I have no gun, so that just seemed safest all around. And if it looked like someone in there needed the police I could always call once I knew that.
I walked up to the door nerving myself up. The door had a window in it, also with blinds. I knocked on the door, beside the window.
A half-naked young white man (I could only see his chest; that is all I can speak to) lifted the blinds to see who was knocking, got an instant appalled look, and darted away, leaving the blinds swinging. A young white woman (clothed) seized the swinging blind and lifted it to look. I smiled at her in an embarrassed way and lifted both hands palm up in a "well, what could I do?" shrug, that had a bit of "explain this to me please" in it, I think, because she opened the door just enough to slip out and stand in front of it, screening what sounded like some hasty rummaging inside.
I said "I'm sorry, I thought I heard a scream. Is everyone alright in there?" I could hear voices inside, but couldn't make out the words, though the tone sounded more surprised and embarrassed than anything else.
The young woman said "Oh it's fine; a moth got in and my friend is scared to death of bugs" or something like that. She looked a bit embarrassed, but not frightened or angry. At this point the young man, now in a tee shirt, came back into my line of view, looking embarrassed but not like he was coming down from some angry fit.
I said "Okay, that's fine, as long as nobody is getting hurt." Several assurances everything was fine, and no sound of someone crying or being restrained, no sign of blood or bruises on the visible two so I apologized and walked away.
I guess part of watching is going to be being more of a meddlesome busybody with her nose in everyone's business but I can't think of any other way to help keep people safe in Trumpland. People don't generally die of embarrassment and I suppose I won't either.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-07-19 09:36 pm


So this is a thing I did a couple of nights ago. Call it practice. Practice just being there. Practice being the Middle Aged White Woman policemen want to look reasonable in front of. It was surprisingly difficult for something that isn't difficult at all.

Here's how it happened; I went out for a walk around dusk, because I hadn't gotten any exercise that day, and I tromped around campus for a while playing Pokémon Go and about the fourth time the app crashed on me I decided I'd had enough exercise and started walking home. By now it was full dark, maybe 10 pm or 10:15.

I was tromping down the street full tilt in my usual "take no prisoners" pace, when I noticed a couple of police cars by the back dock of the Post Office, with their flashing blue lights on. As I came by I saw a white car pulled over in the glare of their headlights being searched by a policeman while a pair of young people sat stiffly on the nose of the police car with another policeman talking to them.

I would ordinarily have passed by, politely pretending not to notice these stressed people. But these are not ordinary times and I've been hearing things, and I started weighing things over in my head. The girl was white, very blond--the boy was wearing a red watch cap and I couldn't see enough of him to be sure of his color. A couple of my friends had mentioned the Power Of The Middle-Aged White Woman to keep cops from getting violent. Should I stay?

Could the police men even see me in the dark? I was wearing a white shirt; surely they could. Wait, now the boy turned his head and I could see he was white too. Maybe they didn't need me. Probably they didn't. I should go.

But I could feel the urge to turn around and leave, especially when the policemen kept glancing my way. Like a social repulsor field. And I thought: maybe I should stay just for the practice. Practice Being There. So I stayed.

The policemen glanced at me again. I reminded myself I had every right to be there, and to watch policemen doing interesting things on public property. I stayed. One of the policemen drove away. Mosquitoes came and expressed their pleasure that I had been so accommodating as to wear shorts. I asked myself what Judi would do. I stayed. A new policeman drove up and talked to the kids a while.

Then he walked over to me saying "May I help you?" Jimminy Christmas he was actually taller than me which doesn't happen very often.

I smiled and said "No thanks, I'm just watching."

He said "that's fine, you have every right to watch." (Ha. White Woman Privilege at work.) "I just wondered if you knew these juveniles."

I smiled and shook my head and said "Sorry, no."

He walked back over to the kids. My feet got tired and I leaned against a nearby stone wall. More talking. I wondered if there might be ticks in the lawn the stone wall was retaining. I hoped not. Presently he led the girl over to his police car. I moved a bit so I could see that he wasn't hurting her. She got in the back of his car. He drove her away. I sat back down on the stone wall.

After a while the boy was allowed to go sit in the driver's seat of his car. He smoked a cigarette. I stayed. And a while after that the remaining policeman got in his car, pulled out and drove away, and the boy did likewise and I went home.

I stayed for roughly an hour and came home with tired feet and new mosquito bites, and had Kip check me for ticks before I went to bed. (No ticks, whew; ticks really give me the creeps.) It was not an easy thing to resist the social repulsion field and all the voices in my own head telling me everything was fine and I didn't have to be there and I was probably embarrassing those kids or the policemen or both, and for nothing. But it was a lot easier for me than it would have been for someone who didn't have my advantages. And hopefully next time it will be easier still.

Because there will be a next time. I'm practicing.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-05-28 07:01 pm

Window Treatments etc

I have been picking out "window treatments" which is what they call it when you want to have nice sets of matching blinds professionally installed. We are getting Venetian blinds for some of the windows and, I think they call it a cellular shade (think a shade quilted in horizontal stripes stuffed with air instead of with batting so that it can be drawn up neatly to the top of the window, like a Venetian blind, except it folds up thinner) for the patio doors and kitchen window.

And I'm contemplating splurging and getting plantation shutters for two of the bedrooms that have smaller windows. I love the ease of opening and closing plantation shutters. (Think shutters on the inside face of the window that fold to the sides of the window when you want an unobstructed view and that also contain louvers that you can open to let light in without letting people see you, or close to keep light out.)

Since it seems wise to compare bids I have arranged for three separate companies to come and give us estimates. One came Friday and one came yesterday. I have one more coming Wednesday and then Kip and I will talk it over and pick one.

In the meantime Kip and I did some work on the garden, planting flowers, mostly, and I hired Paul, the handyman who tore down our old metal shed last year to come get rid of a--I'm going to call it a compost bin, though I honestly have no idea what it was originally intended for--that had been gradually falling apart on our property since we bought it. It was piled high with dead branches and had a couple of trees growing gamely up through the mess. Paul tore it down and hauled it away in a morning.

I did some cleaning up in the wood shop, yesterday I also vacuumed the rumpus room, which meant I spent about 40 minutes figuring out what I had done to the vacuum cleaner while trying to vacuum the rumpus room the day before. I had carelessly vacuumed up a piece of rag (got too close to the laundry basket I guess) and it had lodged somewhere in the vacuum's innards. I unplugged the poor thing, laid it out on the floor (next time I will clean off the table and put it there; working over things lying on the floor is hard on my back) and began methodically removing all the bits that were designed to be removed. Fortunately that vacuum is well designed, and when I eventually tracked the clog down to the hose that runs from the whirling brushes up to the dirt cup, it was possible to completely remove the hose from the vacuum. With the aid of a broom handle and some forceps I managed to force the rag out of the hose. Then I finished the vacuuming, though I will doubtless vacuum again when I have gotten more of the junk moved out.

Speaking of which, I spent much of today decluttering the rumpus room. Since the rumpus room is where my instruments and sheet music books and such reside, and also where I've been translating A Hatful of Sky into Dutch for the past year (!) and skyping with Dad, I had built up quite a bit of paper on pretty much every flat or near flat surface. I went through a lot of that and chucked most of it in the recycling. I cleaned off the flat surface in front of the bay window--which is one of the windows that will be getting blinds soon so I had better leave it fairly clear for a while. I taped up two pictures, and set a couple more aside to get frames. I cleaned off an end table, wiped off and rolled up our D&D wet-erase map mats, sorted through some of my books and made "give to library" and "take to used bookstore" piles. And at that point my back gave a warning twinge.

I am a connoisseur of warning twinges. This was a convincing warning twinge. I laid on my stomach for twenty minutes and then went and took a meloxicam and have given myself strict orders to stop cleaning up for the day.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-05-24 10:27 pm

More chores

A Carolina wren made a nest in the nose of my favorite canoe, Moxie. I thought I had caught it in time and I pulled the nest out--only to see three tiny white eggs with brown speckles in it. So I put it back in the nose of the canoe and patted it clumsily back into shape as much as I could, and tiptoed away, like a big giant that pulled someone's thatch roof off by mistake and now hopes she put it back well enough that nobody will notice.

I know I didn't kill the eggs because when I looked in very quietly a month later I saw baby birds. But if I wasn't quiet enough the birds would pull back in the nest and hide, so when I didn't see birds for a while I wasn't sure if they had fledged or not.

I have a FLIR IR camera that snaps onto my iPhone. I hadn't used it for a while; it's a bit bulky and clunky and while it's amusing to see the world in false color based on the temperatures of things (and window glass reflects IR like a mirror, which is kind of weird), it's not so fascinating that I want to do it all the time. But Kip pointed out that it would surely work to tell if the nest was really empty or if the baby birds were just hiding. So I pulled it out, charged it up, and snapped it on the phone, and verified that the nest was empty. I put on gloves, because birds nests can host some really bitey insect life, and removed the nest. Carolina wrens nests are lots of twigs and dry grass and dried out Spanish moss and the like--really loosely packed together with a rounded spot in the middle for the eggs.

While I was at it, I used the FLIR to check if there were any babies hiding in the robin's nest in the crook of the downspout by the bathroom window. I don't know why the robins like that particular downspout, but they've built a nest on it three years running. The nest was cold, so I got out my folding ladder, unfolded it to its fullest extension, and took the nest down. Then I took a bowl of water and a scrub brush up the ladder and cleaned the mud off the downspout and the side of the house. Robins nests are like green pottery, if potters also used a lot of grass. They are little horizontal bowls of dried mud with straw embedded in it.

I set the two nests side by side on the grass and took a picture.
Picture of 2 birds nests on the grass

With the rest of my day I finished making the shelf for Kip's weights. I put in some nice touches (if I do say so myself) like a cutting a low arch in each of the 2x4s holding up the middle and top shelves, so that there would be a bit more room for Kip to reach in and set his heavier weights in there. My workshop is pretty nicely set up now: the bandsaw was great for cutting the arches, the Shopsmith in Drill press configuration worked for drum sanding the arches and the cut edges of the plywood--I could use a few more of the good bar clamps, but aside from that I'm happy with it.

I have a picture of that also.
picture of a set of plywood shelves with dumbbells on them

I am tired and my back hurts but it is worth it to have all those weights off the rumpus room floor. I have been meaning to do this for at least two years, so it's good to finally have it dealt with.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-05-23 09:39 pm
Entry tags:

Burst of chores

So every summer my Dad and my brother come over and stay with us for a couple of weeks. On our end this involves a lot of house cleaning and doing of various postponed chores. Which are beginning to happen now, because The Visit will be in about 2 1/2 weeks.

Chore 1: Mounting the stained glass window.

Last summer we commissioned a large stained glass "window" from David Green, a stained glass artist (mostly retired) in Oregon, and drove home with it. I had made a Most Excellent Crate (MEC 1.0 was goddammit a quarter inch too small to have room for window *and* padding, and MEC 2.0 had to be constructed in Dad's garage with Dad breathing down my neck because Dad can handle sharing a house with other people for about a week and we were on day 6) that was sturdy, had handles and was deftly designed into the 4 inches of spare space between the size of the window and the size of the inside of Kip's Prius C which is not a large car. I was rather proud of the MEC.

Mounting the stained glass artwork in our actual window was intimidating--it involved drilling through the mahogany window frame into the 2x6 header above it so I could screw in eye bolts, then using s hooks and chains to suspend the artwork by the 2 metal loops soldered at the top. So it took me quite some time to figure out what I was going to do, buy the hardware--finding a decent chain that was 1 strong and 2 nice looking took quite some time, for example--and I kind of ground to a halt and I set all the hardware on the windowsill but never got around to moving the MEC out of the rumpus room and into the living room to actually unpack it. Among other things, opening the crate would be the moment of truth where we found out if the MEC had actually done its job and got the window home undamaged, and also handling the window is a bit tricky; you have to be very careful how you pick it up and move it around because stained glass windows can destroy themselves under their own weight if you do it wrong.

However Kip and I wanted to have it up before Dad and Jake came, so last week we cleaned up the living room, moved the furniture around to get easy access to the window, and I actually drilled holes in the woodwork and mounted the eye bolts. I hooked up the S hooks and chains and then we took two of Kip's weights (30 lbs each) and hung them off the chains for 24 hours to be sure they would be strong enough to hold the artwork. (The artwork is only about 35 lbs, but I figured if the hardware could hold 60 lbs it could certainly hold 35.). The hardware held up fine, so Kip persuaded one of his co-workers to come over in the afternoon and help--the moving process is safer with 2 people to hold the window and one person to do up the hooks. That went very smoothly except it turned out that the artwork was best positioned in the window if I didn't use the chain--just the S hooks to connect the loops on the artwork with the eye bolts in the window frame. So okay, I have some chandelier chain if anyone wants it. Going cheap, because I don't think I can return it.

The artwork looks fantastic, by the way. I have several pictures under different lighting conditions. The down side is that now the living room has a lot less privacy. You can't really see through the artwork because even where the glass is clear it's still wavy. That was what we wanted; I hate feeling like people can watch me at night. But the paper shades we'd been using as window curtains don't provide full coverage anymore. We had to take one down to put up the artwork, and the artwork is a little narrower than that shade was so there's about a six inch gap.

Chore 2 arranging for new blinds

However we'd been planning to get nice wooden blinds for the windows. Which I'd also been putting off, because we didn't want to do that until we had the artwork up. So yesterday I called a couple of places about coming to give us an estimate. One place got right back to me, the other hasn't, even though I called again today. I guess they are not very interested in our business, so I'll pick another place and give them a call.

Chore 3 getting new bulbs

Last week I ordered a bunch of puck lights (GX53 bulbs) for our under cabinet lights because we'd had several lights burn out and I was out of the dozen spare bulbs I'd bought when I got the under cabinet lighting in the first place. I actually called the company to order more because I couldn't find them at the local hardware store, and I was quite unhappy when they told me they didn't make them anymore, because I thought I was going to have to replace all the fixtures. However it turned out GX53 is a type of bulb that several companies make, so I went online and ordered a set of four LED GX53s from Amazon. The LED bulbs arrived yesterday, and I replaced the 2 burnt out bulbs and they switch on immediately, (the CFLs have that fluorescent second where you wonder if the light switch is working) and they are quite a bit brighter (but their lighting pattern isn't as even) and they don't get as warm, so win. I ordered another set of four.

Chore 4 (cluster)

Yesterday I also did a bunch of dishes, got a new toilet seat for one of the toilets and put it on, scrubbed the bathtub and the bathroom sink, and put our pull-down sprayer attachment for our kitchen sink in several bowls of vinegar until it would spray properly again.

Chore 5 making a rack for Kip's weights

Today I did library music in the morning, then Skyped with Dad to work on Dutch, and then I designed a rack for Kip's weightlifting weights, bought wood for it and cut out most of the pieces. Kip's weights right now take up a fair amount of floor space and I think I want that floor space back and the rack is the easiest way to make that happen. It will be clunky and ugly, made out of 2 x 4s and re-used plywood from MEC 1.0. (MEC 2.0 may become a spare worktable top; I haven't decided). But the parts are cheap and I think I'll be able to finish it in a couple of days.

And for the Resistance I went to the Truth or Trump demonstration on Friday, phone banked on Sunday for Julie Byrd Ashworth for Tennessee House of Representatives, and I have signed up to canvass for John Ossof for GA-06 2 weekends from now.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-05-10 09:08 pm


Okay, yeah, so I'm not writing here much right now. But something happened to me today I want to talk about a bit.

My iPad keyboard/cover had been behaving a bit erratically the last couple of days. I'd hit the space bar and the cursor would just glide across the screen as if I was holding the space bar down. So I made an appointment at the Genius Bar and when Kip was done with office hours we drove to Knoxville, and that gave me a chance to knit a bit more on my latest pussyhat (don't think I like this variegated yarn as much as I might) and talk.

And since one of the things I'd been doing today was chalking reminders on the sidewalk that people could call their Senators and Congressman to demand an Independent Prosecutor investigate Trump's Russian ties (yes, I'm pissed off that a sitting president has fired the man investigating him) Comey's name came up, as it does.

I don't even remember exactly what it was that Kip said, but he made me suddenly realize that Comey's behavior models reasonably well as as that of a man trying to preserve the *appearance* of impartiality and indifference to politics by grandstanding at Clinton's expense in the mistaken belief that her margin of victory would be great enough, or the damage his grandstanding caused small enough, that she would still win the election.

If that is really what happened, in a way he's a tragic figure. Because instead of convincing anyone of his impartiality and indifference to politics, he instead destroyed the appearance of impartiality, abandoned impartiality itself, swung election, and put an utterly unqualified man in charge of the US.

Then he presumably thought that at least he could redeem himself by conducting an impartial investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia--only to discover that Trump was perfectly willing to fire him for doing that, even though he'd thrown the election to Trump to begin with.

Thus just as in classical tragedy, we get the catastrophe phase: Comey destroyed his reputation, his career, his bureau, and his country because of his arrogance in believing he could judge how close the election would be and his pride in his appearance of impartiality, fearlessness, and indifference to politics. His strengths became the seed of his, and our, destruction.

No wonder morale at the FBI is so low right now.

This is all speculation, of course. It's possible, even likely, that Comey's destruction of Clinton's candidacy was deliberate and malicious, done because the FBI is a political tool of the Republican Party and has been for mor than fifty years, and that Trump knew Comey was a crook but wasn't completely confident he was *Trump's* crook.

But it's a haunting scenario, you know?
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-02-10 11:15 pm
Entry tags:

I'm kind of behind on reporting...

Trump Year 1 February 10

I am way behind on my accountability posts, and can't remember everything. But this week I called my Senators to oppose DeVos and Price and Pruitt (on various days), and I called my Congressman to oppose the bill to terminate the EPA (*eyeroll*) and I called my Senator and Rep in the State Legislature to oppose bills outlawing sanctuary cities and permitting counselors to discriminate against LGBT people.

And I knitted a couple of cotton pussyhats (discovering in the process that if you knit a diamond of garter stitch across the top of the hat the ears, which had tend to be kind of saggy on the cotton version) stand up better.) And I have mostly knitted a wool one (still have to weave in the ends) and have started another cotton one on double pointed needles which I just bought today when I was in Knoxville anyway to go to the protest (see below.) Double pointed needles are a bit trickier to knit with, but I want to try a double spiral in two different colors and see whether I get an illusion effect when I get to the garter stitch parts. While I *could* do a double spiral on two cable needles, that would cost about three times as much as a set of DPNs, and I didn't want to spend that much on an experiment.

Also today I went to a protest against my Congressman for refusing to hold a town hall meeting and calling those of us who asked for one "kooks." This time we showed up with an American flag and sang various patriotic songs. (I obviously need to learn the words to God Bless America. I'm not religious but if everyone else is going to sing it I am going to sing it too.). We finished up with "This Land Is Your Land" which made me grin. A staffer actually came out and spoke to us a little bit but I was too far back to hear much of that. We filled out messages on pink "While you were out" pads, saying we'd come to see Duncan but he hadn't been there, and we would like appointments. Also someone said Mr. Duncan's brother-in-law had recently died of ALS and they took donations to give to the ALS society. The Knoxville Mercury says we gave $164--one of which was mine.

Then Ms. Bear spoke to us (a few of us; a bunch wandered off when the singing was done and the messages were filled out). She is planning to run as a Democratic candidate against Mr. Duncan. I took a selfie with her so I could say I knew her when she was just starting out.

And that was my week, more or less. I hope you've been keeping those phone lines warm.

#resist #persist
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-01-22 07:51 pm
Entry tags:

Citizen Stuff, Friday, Saturday

Trump Year 1 Jan 20, 21 and 22

The short version of this is: Friday I made a nice protest sign that I'm pretty proud of. Saturday I marched in the Knoxville Sister March for the Women's March On Washington. And today I e-mailed Black Lives Matter and offered to march with them if they like, and also went and saw Hidden Figures which is a damn good movie.

this got rather long )
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-01-18 07:31 pm
Entry tags:

Citizen Stuff (for Tuesday and Wednesday)

Accountability Post, Trump Year 0 Jan 17 and 18

Yesterday I called both Senators about having a strong replacement in place before repealing Obamacare and also about not confirming Betsy DeVos, because I think vouchers are a scam to cripple public schools by draining their funding into the pockets of private companies and individuals who can and often do discriminate on the basis of race, wealth, LGBT status and religion.

I also called my Representative about yanking the House Oversight Committee off the Office of Government Ethics and pointing them back at Trump's financial conflicts of interest, which is what they ought to be investigating.

The staffer let something slip that perhaps he didn't intend. Or perhaps he meant it to discourage me. But he said that they'd been hearing a lot from a few people like me, but most of Congressman Duncan's constituents didn't seem to care much.

At first I *was* discouraged. Then I looked up Congressman Duncan's district and realized it encompassed most of Jefferson City and pretty much all of Knoxville. So today I walked on to campus and buttonholed a few of the teachers I happen to know are worried about Trump. I persuaded three more people to call Congressman Duncan. So that's progress.

One of those teachers said I should post on a Facebook group we're both part of, so I did that, and I think I got at least one more new caller out of that.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-01-12 10:02 am

And more citizen stuff

Accountability Post Trump Year 0 Jan 12

Contacted both Senators to urge Jeff Sessions not be confirmed, and Obamacare not be repealed.
Contacted my Congressman to urge a thorough bipartisan review of the President-Elect's financial conflicts of interest. (This is going to be my go-to contact for times I don't have something else more specific to address, because it's always going to matter.)

Details / script for those who are interested:

Senators: Bob Corker (Knoxville Office 637-4180)
Lamar Alexander (Knoxville Office: 545-4253)

Regarding confirmation of Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions has publicly supported banning people for their religion. That is an unAmerican position that makes him unfit to be Attorney General. I urge Senator Corker/Alexander to vote no on confirming Jeff Sessions.

Regarding Obamacare

A number of my friends only have health insurance because of Obamacare. If any of them die because Senator Corker/Alexander voted to take Obamacare away that will seriously tarnish the Senator's reputation in my eyes. I urge the Senator to vote no on dismantling Obamacare.

John J. Duncan Jr. Representative 2nd Congressional District of Tennessee
Phone: (865) 523-3772

I am calling to repeat my suggestion that the House Oversight Committee conduct a thorough bipartisan review of Mr Trump's unprecedented financial conflicts of interest. It is not normal for a sitting president to also own a wide ranging and opaque financial empire. I urge Congressman Duncan to call for such a review.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-01-11 01:18 pm

Yet more citizen stuff

Accountability Post Trump Year 0 Jan 11 2017

I just set up a monthly donation to the ACLU.

The American Civil Liberties Union has a long proud history of defending freedom of speech, fighting racism and police misconduct, and enforcing separation of church and state. It fought (unsuccessfully) to prevent relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps in World War II, and defended homosexuals, prisoners and the poor. It fought the teaching of Creationism in public schools, and defended privacy and civil liberties threatened by anti-terrorism legislation.

The ACLU opposes the death penalty and torture, supports equal marriage and the right of gay and lesbian couples to adopt children, supports birth control and abortion rights, opposes discrimination against women and minorities, supports the rights of prisoners, and opposes government promotion of some religions over others and religion over lack of religion.

I am proud to support the ACLU. I hope you will give serious thought to doing likewise.

You can donate here
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-01-10 03:01 pm
Entry tags:

As seen on Facebook Citizen Stuff Again

Accountability Post Trump Year 0 Jan 10th

Called both Senators about refusing to confirm any nominees until their ethics reviews and FBI background checks are finished.

Called my Representative to ask how he voted on reinstating the Holman Rule, which allows the House to cut the salary of any individual Federal employee to $1 per year (effectively firing them) as an amendment to any bill. Staffer hedged. Said I want him to check every single bill for the Holman Rule and vote against any that have it.
Also asked how he voted on forbidding the Congressional Budget Office to track and report on the costs of repealing Obamacare/The Affordable Care Act (apparently there are people out there who don't realize these are two names for the same thing). Staffer implied vote hadn't taken place. Told him to vote against; we have a right to know how much extra taking our health care away is going to cost the taxpayer.

[edited to add]
Now I am seeing that Republicans are moving to delay confirming those Trump nominees whose ethics reviews and background checks haven't been finished. It's a small victory, but it's a victory, and it happened because of those phone calls we made. Treasure these times; they are an indication that we made a difference.
[/end edit]
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-01-05 10:46 am
Entry tags:

As seen on Facebook: Citizen Stuff

Accountability post Trump Year 0 Jan 4-5
Called both senators and my congressman regarding

1) Review of Trump's financial conflicts of interest. Suggested it might be nice to have a positive ethics story in the news after that unfortunate Office of Congressional Ethics misstep on Monday night.

2) Obamacare. Pointed out that I volunteer at a charity clinic and saw the enormous reduction in the number of desperate people we had to turn away for lack of capacity.

If you want to help (the League of Women Voters is coordinating a call-in day today regarding point 1, and more calls get more attention) there is a number you can call where they will connect you to the right people:
Senate: 866-985-2543
House of Representatives 866-948-8977

Calling your local office is even better, I'm told.

Please don't tell yourself your call makes no difference because you are the wrong party / the senator will do what he wants / whatever. Blue dots in red states are PARTICULARLY important; look how fast the Republicans caved on the whole ethics thing on Tuesday. The senator / congressman wants to get re-elected and ignoring phone calls from constituents is not a survival trait.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-01-03 09:05 pm
Entry tags:

Called my Representative about gutting Ethics watchdog

Accountability Post Trump Year 0 Jan 3

So today is actually a bit of a success story.

This morning I awoke to the news that the House Republicans had had a secret vote (is that even legal? Why is that legal?) in a Republicans-only meeting to hamstring the Office of Congressional Ethics.

To oversimplify a little, the House Ethics Committee has long been a way for lawmakers, and particularly lawmakers belonging to the party in power, to sweep their ethical transgressions under the rug. In 2008, after the Abramov scandal, the Office of Congressional Ethics was put in place as an independent non-partisan ethics watchdog.

House members who had come under investigation for shady practices seized the opportunity provided by the recent shift in power to propose chaining the watchdog to the pleasure of the House Ethics Committee. New rules would have renamed it (the least of the issues, really; I don't understand why they would even bother,) prevented it from investigating based on anonymous tips (in other words made it possible for Congressmen to retaliate against whistleblowers,) and prevented it from revealing the results of its investigation to anyone outside the House Ethics Committee (so if the House Ethics Committee decided to sweep things under the rug, the Office of Congressional Ethics wouldn't be allowed to tell anyone about the wrongdoing they had discovered.)

They had carried out the vote last night, and included the change in a packet of rules for how the House was to be run that were going to be voted on THIS AFTERNOON, so when I saw this this morning, I didn't have much time.

I promptly called my Representative at his local office. The person there tried to refer me to the DC office but that would have required waiting until 8:30am and I had (I thought) Library Music at 9, and wasn't sure I could leave in time if I had to wait until 8, so I left a message for him to pass on.

It turned out that the Library was closed today (I had forgotten) so I came home, did a little more researching, and called back to be referred to the DC office, where I pointed out that this looked very bad, ethics wise and that as one of Representative Duncan's constituents I expected him to vote the rules package down until the Office of Congressional Ethics provision was removed.

This afternoon I hear that the storm of comment has cowed the Republicans into backing down and everyone who can gracefully do it is now disavowing the idea.

I understand Trump saw the parade go by and ran out and joined it--that does not mean he gets the credit for this reversal. Taking credit for things he had no hand in is a Trump specialty but I don't plan to help him with that.

The people who wrote the articles, the people who shared them to social media, where I and countless other constituents like me saw them, the people like me who overcame their dislike of the phone to pick it up and call our Representatives because this was important, dammit--we are the ones who deserve the credit.

And I for one plan to bask a little tonight.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-01-02 10:06 pm
Entry tags:

e-mailed UTK re Band marching in Inaugural

Accountability Post: Trump Year 0 January 2
So this is where I confess that I didn't get it together to do what I intended (call my Senators/Congressman) during working hours, so I fell back on e-mailing the University of Tennessee Knoxville, which is apparently planning to have their band march in the inaugural parade and urging them to reconsider.

On the one hand I can see it would be exposure for them--they would have the spotlight because most of the bands that usually do this have refused to take part. On the other hand I think it would do the reputation of the University no good at all to associate themselves with a man who routinely flouts the standards of civility set in the University's Student Handbook and an administration that is profoundly anti-science.

I felt like I had both the right and the duty to comment, since I was a post-doctoral fellow there for several years. I kept it civil and reasonably brief.

For those who are interested, the e-mail addresses were:, Joe DiPietro, president, Chancellor Cheek Donald Ryder, director of bands the UT band e-mail

And tomorrow I will make those scary phone calls. I don't know why I have this antipathy to calling strangers on the phone but I can really feel it these days.

Other than that... I played Pokemon Go (hatched a Cleffa (one of the new baby Pokemon) got a couple of 10K eggs, caught three squirtles and a couple of charmanders.) I remembered to go home in time to game via Skype with my brother. Now I had better go practice a little and also meditate.

catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-01-01 07:21 pm
Entry tags:

On a more cheerful note

I went to a song circle at Lois's house last night. I went to a song circle at Gail's house today. So that kind of nicely bookended the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 with music, which is great because I intend to keep doing music / do more music in 2017. I'm happy about that.

I also got a new computer (the old one was nearly six years old and it's starting to get a little eccentric) the day before yesterday, transferred my files and stuff over and played with it a bit yesterday and today started its very first backup disc (baby's first backup.). I was seriously expecting it to take hours, because that's how long backing up the old computer took. But the new computer has USB-C instead of USB outlets. And the backup--from scratch--took 45 minutes. So, relatively painless. I guess this was why Apple decided it would be worth Dongle Hell as everyone switches over. I obviously thought Dongle Hell wasn't going to be too bad, since I went ahead and bought a computer with USB-C, but I'm pleased to note the improvement in data transfer speed I got for it.

Also the new hard drive came with two cords--one for USB-C outlets and one for USB outlets. Which is kind of cool, because the latter cord has a USB-C outlet on one end and a USB outlet on the other, meaning it takes the place of an old cord *plus* a dongle. I'm going to save that one.

Also-also, I made two partitions on the new hard drive--one for Time Machine backups (which are compressed) and one for uncompressed files. The disk utility program on my new mac wouldn't partition the drive. That tab was just greyed out and nothing I could think of would change that. We eventually plugged the new drive into Kip's computer and partitioned it there. But I hope they get disk utility fixed; it's not a good thing that it doesn't work properly.

I'm going to need some new things--one example would be an external CD/DVD drive to let me rip CDs because I still get a lot of my music the old fashioned way. But I'm waiting a while to work out exactly what.

I'm trying to decide whether to give my new computer a new name or just port the old name over to the new computer along with all the files...

I haven't made a lot of New Year's Resolutions but here are some things I'm going to try to do every day.
1) meditate.
2) practice music.
3) exercise.

And in Trump accountability land, I quit trying for most of the month of December. I have no excuse. But part of keeping doing something is keeping re-starting something when you quit by mistake, so I'm re-starting.
Today I e-mailed Radio City Music Hall and the producers of the Rockettes to encourage them to stick to their policy that the women working in the Rockettes do not have to perform at the Trump inaugural unless they actually want to.

I got the e-mail addresses from a post by Connie Willis. I'll type them in here for your convenience if you want to join me.

It's a small thing but something I can do on a Sunday. Begin as you mean to go on.

Now I had better meditate and do some sit-ups or something :-)
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-01-01 10:55 am
Entry tags:

Broken Heart

First post that isn't connected to LJ. Goodbye LJ. Damn I miss what you used to be.

So I wrote a song year before last when the cowards in this country were freaking out over the prospect of letting in (Muslim) refugees from war-torn countries. I wanted to fight their imaginary terrors and help them back to reality or at least bravery again. It's called The Golden Door and it's about the Statue of Liberty and the idea of the USA as a nation of immigrants, made stronger by the infusions of many cultures over the years.

I don't seem to have posted the lyrics anywhere, which isn't like me, so I'll do it here now.

The Golden Door
lyrics by Catherine Faber and Emma Lazarus
melody by Catherine Faber 2015
youtube video here  (I may have an actual mp3 recording I can post somewhere if people want one.  I'll check later.)

   C                 G           C              F
My parents came from Holland, a better life to find,
Dm                F            G
Full of hope, as many came before.
        C                                     F          
In the flower of their youth they left their families behind
    Dm           F              G 
To make a new together on this shore.
C                            F        G     C
Two among the thousands who sought a wider sky
      G            C             F
Where Liberty has made a welcome here;
     C                             F                  C
She stands in New York Harbor and holds this message high
     F                G                    C
Its meaning somewhat tarnished, but still clear:

              C               F
Give me your tired      your poor
      Dm             F                   G
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
     C                               Em
The wretched refuse of your teaming shore
      Dm                 Em               F
Send these the homeless tempest tossed to me
   Dm              F              G
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Some came here for adventure, and some to look for gold
And some in chains, with all that that entails.
From all our imperfections, a nation did unfold, 
For home is where the heart at last prevails.
Words in every language, skin of every hue
Where these got slender welcome, that's our shame,
For folk of every country gave Liberty her due
Each brought their dish to potluck as they came

America is mighty, too strong to yield to fear
We don't bend beneath some bloodstained thumb.   
People fleeing carnage should find safe harbor here
Their children strengthen what we will become.
Let voice on voice be lifted in welcome and in song
Immigrants have built this country's crown.
We still proclaim the message that stood so high so long.
Nor will Liberty's proud tablet tumble down.

Anyway, this turned out to be quite popular (for "for me" values of "quite popular") even with some of the people in this area--weirdly enough since most of them were Trump voters. (I actually have a mental model for how this might work but let's not go there right now; I'm not at my best today and perhaps I am being unfair.)

I have been asked for it a couple of times since the election and have mostly been able to gget out of singing it. It is particularly heartbreaking when somone I know damn well voted Trump asks for it. Like, didn't they fucking LISTEN to it?

Last night I got asked for it again. The person who did it wasn't a Trump voter. They are just as dismayed by him as I am. They meant well. So I tried to sing it. I mean, I *did* sing it, which is kind of impressive, since I began leaking tears by the second line and shut my eyes and played without the music, leaking tears through the whole thing and still managed to actually sing, which suggests my vocal control is better than I thought and also I have that song pretty well memorized, both the lyrics and the countermelody, so all the work I put in on it paid off.

Which is a huge fucking pity because I'm not going to sing it again. It's not true. It turns out it never was true. And I had to stop here and blow my nose I a couple of times and I can barely see what I am typing.

It's not fucking true and I am not going to stand here and sing bullshit anymore so that Trump voters can pretend that everything is okay and they didn't smash something important and precious.

So here are the new words.

A Statue’s Resignation
Lyrics and melody by Cat Faber 2016
(TTO The Golden Door by Cat Faber)

By the bitter water I stand upon the shore
Beside a shining city sprung from clay
I’m cold inside, and hollow, and now I feel it more
For never was that fitter than today.
A majority they weren’t, but now their will is shown:
They cast me off. No longer on their side
I stand in New York Harbor, abandoned and alone
A symbol of a shining dream that died.

For I am tired, heartsore.
Though huddled masses crowd around my knee
They are no longer welcome on this shore
Where fear and hate now govern what will be,
Douse my lamp, and bar the golden door.

I’m just an empty symbol—my people made it true,
As far as we were ever truly great.
By work and strife and struggle, a better life they grew
And won their place, but now rise those who hate
Anyone who’s different, preferring to believe
They aren’t human, or they don’t belong,
And don’t deserve equality—t’would make a statue grieve
You’d think that they had never heard my song

Now I am tired, heartsore.
Though huddled masses crowd around my knee
They are no longer welcome on this shore
Where fear and hate now govern what will be,
Douse my lamp, and bar the golden door.

You think me whining loser—a useless copper scold--
Well, prove me wrong; the chance is yours to seize.
Give welcome to the stranger; I hear that you were told
To shelter and protect the least of these,
Till everyone is safe here to love, and work, and dream,
Shaded by their fig tree’s tender stem.
That’s not a thing accomplished by a small resentful scheme
To take your country “back”--away--from them.

But I am tired, heartsore.
Though huddled masses crowd around my knee
They are no longer welcome on this shore
Where fear and hate now govern what will be,
Douse my lamp, and bar the golden door.
I will not be your symbol anymore.
catsittingstill: (Default)
2017-01-01 10:29 am
Entry tags:

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

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.