Archive for October, 2008

Lovely lovely databases

SF Chronicle and LA Times have made available a searchable database of donors supporting and opposing Proposition 8. I just searched on donors from Utah. Fascinating stuff. You can sort each column, so I tried sorting on amount donated to find the big spenders. Bruce Bastian donated a million dollars opposing it, i.e. in support of people’s right to marry. I looked up his name figuring anyone who could afford to donate a million bucks must be googleable. Sure enough, he is one of the founders of WordPerfect.

Here’s the weird thing. I did the same search to see who supports Prop 8 and there is another million dollar donor named Alan Ashton. I looked him up and for god’s sake he’s another founder of WordPerfect.

What the heck? Did one donate first, and the other one get so mad and embarrassed he had to match it, but on the other side? I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that Ashton was first. I’m trying to imagine their fiery history together writing that code that gave us the chalky blue screen with the chunky letters… Maybe they were college roommates… Friendship and shared hackerdom, undermined by years of software company tomfoolery and financial competition, then… by homophobia?

Someone needs to write the slash fic for this, clearly.

It’s nice to see that my own neighborhood is about 95% “oppose” with their donations. Then… where did all those Mormon “Yes on 8″ rally people come from, who have been out on the corner near my house? Utah?

*** Update*** have now actually read their bios in Wikipedia. Bastian was Ashton’s student as well as his fellow programmer and business partner and WordPerfect tycoon! The RPF writes itself.

*** More updating *** I was wrong! Bastian donated a few times first, and donated his million back in July! Ashton only donated once, 1 million on October 28! The drama of it! And Bastian came out as a gay Mormon and is way involved with the HRC. So what happened that Ashton felt like he had to jump in and donate his own million?

******** STILL LATER ************
So, I realize people are likely pulling all this data to do creepy stuff with it. But I still love it. I love the transparency. Just put it out there! Fine, say we’re all gay! We’ll point and say, y’all are homophobes and bigots!

Imagine if we had this level of transparency into who donated what in the 60s towards (and against) the civil rights movement? Wouldn’t that be fascinating? Maybe we’ll have this data 30 years from now when today’s level of homophobia seems unthinkable to a new generation.

Creepy, right? But when there’s data to be had, I’d rather we all have it than only giant corporations and the government have it.

The message is this: You do not have to change your beliefs. You do not have to budge an inch on your views. You are still free to hate black people, still free to fear gay people (or demean women) all you like. It’s simply that we as an Obama-led, gender-inclusive nation no longer have any real use for your brand of poison. We are done with you. (from Mark Morford’s latest editorial)

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Pins and needles in my head, too

I can do anything. That’s why I try to do everything, no matter what. Pushing myself physically backfired this last week. When I got home from my trip I didn’t try to walk around the house – I came out of the taxi and just wheeled myself into bed with a side order of Vicodin because my leg wasn’t working and the pain was nasty. All week I struggled trying to keep out of the chair. I did it, by cutting and cutting things I wanted to do, errands to run, stuff to do around the house, going-out-at-night plans. Order stuff off the net, rather than go to a store. Then on Friday ended up walking 2 blocks down Haight street (allowing myself 1 of the 3 errands I had meant to do) and was stuck. I didn’t feel like I could make it back to my car. I sat in the shoe place and felt extremely upset at the situation, at my body, and with myself for having poor judgment.

I am back in the place I was some months ago of doing something brief like laundry or getting myself food, then lying down to rest for a good while before attempting anything else. I have to scale back and be careful.

So, I can’t sit up and walk around and be active right now for a whole day. Yesterday and today I was super conservative, and I’m still getting worse. I’m not stressed, or upset, other than my basic fear of what is happening and my frustration at being in pain. The constant pins and needles in my legs, feet, and hands is maddening and my right leg’s pain and collapsing hit me worse today. My calf – the horrible nerve going down the outside! I sat on the floor this evening for a second to open my sewing box, and went OMG what was I thinking… I’m fucked.. that was the worst idea ever. But I was able to do it last week!!!! Over the course of the day I lost the ability to bend over and pick stuff up off the floor. When I whimpered with pain by accident while trying to get up from a chair that was the last straw, I said to hell with it and brought the wheelchair in the house again.

Suddenly the geography of my house is different. I need help keeping all the floors clear.

I don’t know or care if “It” is a mechanical/orthopedic issue which I aggravated by too much activity and sitting up 12 hours in a row and the long plane rides, or if it’s MS or what the fuck ever aggravated by too much activity and stress and no rest. Whatever it is, it’s flaring up big time.

Everything non essential will be put off.

Since I am now making dr. appointments again I will take time off to do that instead of just doing it and making the work up at night. That is part of my regime of less stress and more rest.

I wish to god i had some prednisone right now – I would take it in a flash. I know it’s bad shit but I would get it for a week for bronchitis or sinuses and then would end up feeling fan-fucking-tastic top of the world healthy and able for the next 3 months.

My plan is good – I just need to stick to it – I had such nice plans to go to the beach or the science museum with Moomin this weekend – and I scrapped them completely knowing it would be insane when I can barely contemplate going out to buy cat litter.

Nice things today – Moomin getting completely better after a sudden morning of barfing – helping Moomin with his homework – having pictures drawn for me – lying in bed reading umpteen Antonia Forest “Trennels” books since they’re very comforting and complicated (Oh the perfidy of Lois Sanger! She’s worse, and better drawn, than Widmerpool, don’t you think? ) and making spiders out of black yarn (body and legs), red glitter paint (eyes), and safety pins (to attach them on things). Rook’s LOTR alternate history game and finding dwarven words for it – Colin Powell’s declaration of support for Obama, which was lovely – Shaving Zond-7′s head – and having bits read to me last night out of the history book about Santa Anna’s leg and its burial – and how it was dug up and burned (which I am not seeing anywhere on the net – instead a lot about its burial with full military honors, and how his prosthetic leg, captured & stolen, is still in a museum in Illinois).

That’s where I’m at – I don’t need a lot of sympathy, it’s only been 20 years or so this has been happening – just want to talk about it, complain a little, figure out what I’m going to do about it, and declare it, hoping other people will hold me to my resolutions of intelligent behavior.

I’m sorry I fucked up. It’s hard to know where the line is. Sometimes I don’t do anything wrong, and things still go wrong and I end up getting worse. This time I feel like it is kind of my fault. Fingers crossed a few days or a week of resting and I’ll rocket right back up onto my feet.

I think the social worker’s call came at a time when I really am ready to hear it and am panicking anyway so willing to jump back into the Wheel of Diagnosis.

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Fancy dress for narcissists

I had very specific feelings about this dress, and remember them well. I liked the color and the fact that it was fancy. I didn’t like that the waist was babyish, or the way the lace scratched, or how the elastic on the sleeves pinched to make a line around my arm. I thought the black bow was elegant, like Mr. Peabody‘s bow tie. Of course, who wouldn’t admire Mr. Peabody and want to be just like him?

me probably about 4

In my mind, when I wore this dress, I was professorly.

You’re laughing! I can hear you!

They thought I was a cute little girl in a frilly dress. When really I was Dr. Badgerabeth; kindly, bossy, superpowered, able to pull any book I wanted out of a secret pocket; a little vague; quick to invent, prone to giving history lessons.

I knew and deeply resented the contrast of reality vs. my imagined self, and would not have told anyone my Mr. Peabody feelings for the world.

Is it insane, or the sign of extreme narcissism, that I can remember all my feelings about this piece of clothing from when I was 4 or 5?

Last weekend at my grandma’s house, I pawed through only a few of her dozens of scrapbooks and photo albums and drawers of letters, and completely enjoyed hearing her stories of the past. On this photo

age 5

she described to me all her feelings about the dress. It was her best one and she loved it. But she had mixed feelings. They had to stand in lines all the time for clothes and food. I got the impression it was a hand-out that was fixed up for her, probably by her own grandma or her older sister (her mom was dead.) “It had a rip in it. RIGHT HERE.” and she pointed. The dress seemed to mean something complicated; I could see its ghost outline. A mixture of pride and desire-to-be and humiliation.

My grandma Hemulen told me when she realized she was an artist. She was 6 years old. Her uncle, a house painter, painted her and her sisters’ room a light spring green. He used something like masking tape or strips of paper to mark off a border around the bottom, and told her she could make a decorative border however she liked. As she described her plan for the border to me, my grandma’s face lit up with excitement and pride. She marked off stripes with the tape, then squares, then painted a checkerboard pattern, with tulips in every other square. I too have memories like this, intense strange memories of feeling very driven, and holding on hard to those memories all my life. It was strange to see the similarities in our strong memories and our documentary approach to life. The photos, the scrapbook articles, and for me the blog entries, aren’t so much proof of anything as they are keys, keys to all the doors of the past, of desire and identity I didn’t want to lose, and in part a desire to have the keys to other people, to the locked doors inside their heads, like those little eggs with peepholes and dioramas in them, but with infinite room or a maze that leads to through-the-looking-glass . . .

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Secret diaries of the BlogHer Reach out tour

I missed the party because I was staying with M. who I supposed is now to be called MamaMich and LQ alias MamaLala, their baby, and their FIVE cats. We had Cuban food that was just so-so but I love cuban food like crazy. Mmmm platanos. We gossiped more about Ping’s perfidy and how he jacked them up (so pointlessly! how could he!) for thousands of dollars. I felt all admiring of MamaMich’s Dr. Mich Harvard id card. We argued about what it meant. I said it meant something even if she didn’t think it did in her context, it did in mine. I know half the folks in ivy league are morons, well aware. It is not that! It’s still a mythical institution! Where one might, might, might climb up a tree to a place no one’s ever been before. M. climbs up the back ends of drosophilas to give them colorectal cancer! Then she gives them tiny enemas! Or maybe a grad student does the fruit fly enemas. Dunno. Counts for something mythical, surely. I always like being in the midddle of MamaLala’s stuff. It is just my style of comfort and hominess. Books are everywhere. I feel like things are in logical places, which for us means in stacks of papers and books with cats sleeping on top of them. On the ride up we talked about WisCon and the book for it and then inevitably about internet drama, politics, anarchy, and the ethics of organizations and personal interactions. Our conference hotel is in a sort of office park behind a mall out in the burbs somewhere. I will be pretending it’s a magic castle and we’re the dancing princesses, well, the blogging princesses who mysteriously disappear every night through the forest of silver leaves and the forest of mall decorations and the ogres in sports uniforms in the lobby to our fabulous witchy coven thingie at the stroke of midnight. But no… the silver leaves have faded. I don’t get to see Starkeymonster who is sick as hell with the flu, for which I was teased mightily by my ex and my sly eyed companion-in-evil as they were all like “Of course Badger has SOME GIRL she has to go see” which I protested only feebly that ack, of course, they are my priorities, I am only here one day, I halfway only intend to introduce them all as fangirls extreme, nor did I go to Honk! downtown. Instead I worked on work. I am in a king-size bed in a slightly too swanky large hotel room (next to the elevator, thank you, desk gnome with the pineapple insignia!) asphyxiating a bit in its air freshner, perhaps the carpet freshener stuff sprinkled down there… at least the bed is nice. I could fit 3 people in this bed! HEY NOW LADIES! I like inspecting all the odd accoutrements of a hotel room. there is no minibar – coffee, ice bucket, giant TV, notepaper, little shampoo and soaps, a bible and a book of mormon and a phone book. Sarah Dopp came over to give me a hug but now I can’t remember if I got the hug. Instead we laid in bed and talked about the conference, my talk & slide show, my points I want to get across, how to feel out who is listening and what they want and what they have to say. She told me more ideas for geek lab and I’ll go participate for most of it. What will it be? We’ll make it good. In the bar downstairs I sat with Kristy and Karin and one other person. A very large man in a baseball cap joined us tenatively at the end of our table. “Obama!” he said, all lit up. “Obama! Yeah!!!” Was he drunk or in some altered states? I felt us all look around the table trying to figure out which one of us was about to get hit on. Probably not me, I code as too gay for the burbs and the wheelchair tends to rule me out of the general course of lechery. “That’s right! *clappping* Obama!!!” the possibly Special man in the bar said, grinning like a maniac. “Obama, Yeah!” We smiled for a bitchosecond (the exact unit of time to be polite yet blow someone off in a bar) and went back to our political conversation. Karin said she has a special calendar and it is now down to 103 days before Bush is out of office.

Sarah and I continued our non-hug and instead had a guerilla work meeting between our two companies which we realized would save asstons of work and confusion for everyone so hurrah us. Palaces have sewer rats which scurry around with their own ways to save the secret passages in the dark of the castle. We talked over our moms and boyfriends and politics while we were at it.

I have set up the coffee machine for the morning! Bloggity morning!

I used the intertubes to telepathically bond with my young sprog, who explained that he was cleverly putting 11111 in the middle of his exclamation points, to make them cooler. U R KEWL, typed his distant mom, full of love and l33t. Rook has written up a guide to local issue voting in our district. Zond-7 pointed me to Golly the Game of Life (I missed this week’s python lesson at the EFF.)

I’ll fall asleep reading “Playing for Keeps” by Mur Lafferty! It’s about superheroes! You can get it in a podcast! You can read Mur’s mysterious twitters!

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To all Republicans trying to keep a shred of decency

I guess stirring up people’s fear and hatred has some result. Can the Republican Party realize what it’s doing here? They try to make a scared, angry mob by pushing the culture wars and racism to extremes. And that is what they have done.

McCain is trying to put out the fire a bit while on the other hand with approval from his campaign and with impunity Sarah Palin fans the flames and adds fuel. You can see in the videos how she likes the boo-ing and the power and feeling of whipping people up into a frenzy of hatred. Fine, it’s hatred and fear that’s there, but you don’t have to FEED IT.

I have been doing my best personally to reach across party lines and across social differences to religious and conservative people who think I am damned to eternal hell for my sexuality or whatever or not allowed to have any place in society. And I make an effort to deal with those people in a rational and just and civic fashion and to respect them. I will continue to do that to the best of my ability.

I like what my friend Cynthia1960 said recently. “I don’t have to treat everyone as my ally. But I have to treat everyone as my possible future ally.” That applies perfectly in this situation. That is the attitude I will maintain to these people no matter what they do. That’s what it takes.

Republicans you had better step up and rein in your attack dogs. What, I’ve watched people get arrested and thrown around by police for years at peaceful rallies, anti war, immigration rallies, and when people do this at a presidential candidate’s speech, nothing happens, no blowback, no nothing? You really want to vote for that? You want that to be the image of your political party and its beliefs?

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My thoughts at lunch

My favorite sandwich shop in town is incredibly fast and has the sort of sandwiches my mom or sister might make for me or that I’d make for myself. They’re just… normal sandwiches. I just had a turkey and swiss with red bell pepper and hot mustard. It is no small feat to make a normal sandwich in a deli. Somehow. I don’t get why. You would not think it’s a thing that could be ruined. But think of the really disgusting sandwiches you’ve encountered in your life! Yes! It is possible to ruin a simple turkey and cheese sandwich!

The deal is, every time I’m in this deli I have a mind boggling moment of wondering why the whole place is done up in Old West decor? It’s got wagon wheels, washboards, old sacks, jangly old spurs, signs, sayings, photos, etc. But the rest of the decor is straight up “regular old sandwich shop” and in fact is overly generic, like the menus and wall signs make me think of a Denny’s or a Baker’s Square or something extremely dull, even though there are maybe 20 of this particular deli chain. The only nod to the Gold Rush theme in this signage is a faintly old-timey font. What’s the deal? Is the eponymous “Erik” who owns or owned the deli, a descendant of some famous local Gold Rush participant? Did someone have a weird marketing brainwave? Is it a spinoff from the nearby Fry’s that has an old west theme? Is it someone else’s BBQ restaurant that got bought and repurposed? Because when I think “whole grain sandwich with sprouts and avocado on it” I do not think “yippee ti yay”. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Go west, young vegan, go west! That’s where the veggies are best!

My theory is that the deli owner just really likes old west junk and goes to a lot of flea markets. So they can feed their junk shop hobby and count it as a business expense on their taxes! I imagine this all out, but have not tried to look it up or find out because I don’t want to ruin my little daydream or the strange mystery of it all.

Next up I should blog my other favorite sandwich shop, Mr. Pickles in the Mission in SF. The history channel watching opportunities are good there, and the sandwiches scary awesome.

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Geek out at BlogHer Boston and DC

This weekend I’m flying out to Boston and DC for two BlogHer conferences. I can’t wait to meet new people and the women I already know! Every feminist conference I go to is super inspiring and this is one where it is totally normal to have your laptop going at all times, so at dinner there you are with 10 other chicks typing like maniacs in between the laughing our asses off, insane gossip, politics politics politics, book recommendations, and WordPress plugin tips.

erin feeling the computer love


Here’s my talk, which i will just keep on thinking of as “Quick Blog Overhaul” though it is really called “Blogging Basics: 6 Steps to Personalize, Polish & Promote Your Blog“. It will be a brief talk and then we’ll split into small groups to do the hands-on workshop stuff.

Join BlogHer’s {{Badger Hemulen}} and a team of subject-matter experts for a quick and effective blog makeover. Let’s look at your blog, whether you’ve got one post up or 100, and give it some love. Liz will explain 6 simple steps you can take to give your blog a tune-up, and then we’ll break into small groups to try out some of what you’ve learned. These 6 steps can help clarify to your readers who you are and what you write. Whether you use WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, or any other platform – you and your platform are welcome.

  • Personalize: Danielle Henderson will work with you make sure your readers know how to identify and reach you…and that you feature your community, so they can also see themselves. In addition she’ll work with you to learn how to add images, or even audio and video, to show who you are.
  • Polish: Megan Garnhum will cover the basic geeky ingredients that add up to a truly functional, findable, fabulous blog. Learn about appropriate, search-friendly hyperlinking, tagging…why and how, and even about headlines and why they matter.
  • Promote: Alissa Kriteman will help you learn how (and why) to put your post on BlogHer, Twitter, Kirtsy, Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit, Stumbleupon, other social sites.

  • Then there are the parties!

    I can’t help it. Women get in my lap. What can I say?

    In DC I’ll be doing the same workshop with a different set of local bloggers:

  • Personalize: Veronica “Roni” Noone will make sure your readers know how to identify and reach you…and that you feature your community, so they can also see themselves. In addition she’ll work with you to learn how to add images, or even audio and video, to show who you are.
  • Polish: Andrea Meyers (well known for Andrea’s recipes) will cover the basic geeky ingredients that add up to a truly functional, findable, fabulous blog. Learn about appropriate, search-friendly hyperlinking, tagging…why and how, and even about headlines and why they matter.
  • Promote: Kristen King will help you learn how (and why) to put your post on BlogHer, Twitter, Kirtsy, Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit, Stumbleupon, other social sites.

  • There will be too many awesome people there for me to name them all but I’m going to be super happy to get to hang out with Beth Kanter, Candelaria Silva, Erin Kotecki Vest, Laurie White, superfantabulous feminist geek Shireen Mitchell, and of course my friend Sarah Dopp, the BlogHer founders, and my co-workers like Kristy who are fantastic bloggers and who I see practically every day but don’t get to hang out or really talk blogging because we are WORKING WORKING WORKING.

    So, along with all that, I get to see my main partner in crime, editorial and geeky soul sister forever, Laura Quilter and my awesome brilliant ex and good friend M.M. and their new baby! You have no idea how excited I am. Actually it’s worse than that. Last time I got to be with Quilter and then had to leave I sobbed for an hour in the car. I will have to drown my sorrows after I leave their house, on Friday night in bloggity sisterhood in the Boston Burlington Marriott hotel bar.

    On Sunday I’m flying to Baltimore, renting a car, and sloping off to see my grandma on the Eastern Shore. I haven’t seen her in years or my uncle either. I got to hang out with her for about a day when Moomin was 2 or 3. Other than that it is all little cards twice a year and I usually lose her $25 check and am a very awful person and never write back. I regret not being very close with my extended family but that’s the truth of it. I think of them very fondly, but in actual practice, there is not much of a relationship.

    Then glorious Blogheristas on Monday again in DC! Or, really, Bethesda!

    On Tuesday before my plane leaves I want to go find my friend lavendertook and hang out at her funky local internet cafe and co-op – then it’s back home where I’ll collapse into a little travel-weary puddle.

    I know it is sort of boasty but I would like to say not for the first time that I am proud of myself for going on giant trips in my wheelchair and just kind of facing it down. I get unnerved sometimes. That feeling to me is a red flag that means I MUST DO WHATEVER THE THING IS. In general I’m walking pretty well, but after hours on an airplane, I won’t be and my ability to walk isn’t predictable especially with travel. Walking, who needs it? It’s more the exhaustion and being demoralized by pain that gets me. Still, consider the allure of jetting into town, renting a car, and the open road! Could go anywhere! (But probably won’t.) Now is the time!

    If you live in those areas and haven’t registered for the conferences, think about it, there’s still time, it’s only $100 for an all day conference with food and a cocktail party. & well worth it for learning stuff, meeting great people, the massive, massive hit of inspiration from hanging with other women writers and bloggers and geeks and people putting their ideals into practice, “networking”, and last but not least huge fun.

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    LibraryThing is hiring in Maine!

    LibraryThing wants YOU if you’re ass enough to live in Maine where it is freezing cold and stuff! I’m passing this on because I totally want the $1000 of free books if they hire someone who heard it from me.

    By the way, BlogHer could also use a good PHP/Drupal developer if you’re in the Bay Area! Talk to me…

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    Bank buildings and hurricane comics

    I drove down from Burlingame to my town half the length of El Camino Real, today, and felt very odd as I passed various WaMu and Wachovia & other bank buildings. What will happen? Are we ending up with two or three huge U.S. banks?

    Why the heck is Palin in Burlingame today? Fundraising?

    I liked this article that had real empathy for Palin: http://ta-nehisicoates.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/09/sarah_we_are_not_that_different_you_and_i.php

    From conversation between me and Cyn last night on the WisCon trolling: “Not every woman is my ally. But I still have to treat every woman as my possible future ally.”

    Can anyone deconstruct this comic book for me? Superheros funded by FEMA fight the Hurricane, fail, but then are helped by the Legion of Linemen to set up telephone service again. Flatlandman’s despair at his failure is assuaged by The People Helping Each Other by sharing food, water, and electricity while they all work to clean up debris.

    http://blogs.chron.com/hurricanes/2008/10/_superheros_save_the_gulf_coas_1.html

    Hmmmm. I imagine our future will have more strange art like this as the economy continues to tank.

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