Sunday, August 30, 2020

Why I'm voting for Joe Biden.

Yes, folks, it's finally happening. After years of protesting that hearth/myth is not a political blog, Yrs Trly is finally writing an overtly political post.

Don't get used to it. This is the only one I intend to do this year. Honest!

But with the party conventions in our rear-view mirror and with the political climate in this country getting crazier by the minute, I feel like it's time to tell y'all where I stand. And that is with the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Annalise Batista | CC0 | Pixabay

Now, alert hearth/myth readers know my political leanings lay at the progressive end of the spectrum. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary, and this year I voted for Elizabeth Warren. I'm definitely for Medicare for All and I think the Green New Deal is a great idea.

The Democratic Party platform lacks both of these. Harris signed onto Bernie's Medicare-for-All bill several years ago, but Biden prefers adding a public option to Obamacare. And while Harris released her Climate Equity Act this summer -- which calls for greenhouse gas reduction as a form of social justice for low-income communities of color -- the party has yet to get behind all aspects of the Green New Deal.

Biden is the moderate's moderate, and even though he's been consulting with Warren on financial policy, including on student loan debt, Social Security, and economic recovery post-pandemic, he hasn't gone full-tilt progressive. While Harris's views are more liberal than Biden's, she is nowhere near the progressive end of the party.

So why would I vote for a ticket that doesn't reflect my core values? Why am I not holding firm to my beliefs this fall?

Simple: Because our current adminstration is a clear and present danger to the continued existence of our nation.

Donald Trump and his administration have flouted every norm at every turn. He has lied to us every day, multiple times per day, starting with the size of his inauguration crowd. He has refused to release his tax returns. He has cozied up to dictators while alienating our traditional allies abroad. He won't talk to Russian president Vladimir Putin about reports that Russia has offered to pay the Taliban for killing American soldiers, much less tell him to knock it off. He also refuses to talk to Putin about reports that he plans to interfere in our presidential election this year, as he did in 2016.

I could keep going. But perhaps the three most egregious actions Trump has taken against Americans are these: he has sent federal troops into Washington, DC, and Portland, OR, to crack down on peaceful protests in order to create video for his re-election ads; he has taken steps to weaken the US Postal Service at a time when mail-in voting is expected to surge thanks to COVID-19 - and has admitted he's doing it to keep Democrats from winning this fall; and speaking of COVID-19, he has famously denied responsibility for the US response to the virus, which has resulted in nearly six million US cases and 183,000 deaths to date - one of the worst records in the world. (India has surpassed us in the number of new cases over the past two weeks. But we have three times the number of total deaths than India - and India has three times the number of people we do.)

And yet Trump blames all of this on the Democrats -- even though it has all happened on his watch.

And he has talked repeatedly about how he deserves a third term, which is expressly forbidden by the US Constitution. Why? Because, he says, the Obama administration spied on him. Does he have evidence to back up that claim? Of course not. It's yet another of his attempts to gaslight Americans, which I have written about here before

We cannot keep this man in office. 

Joe Biden may not become the most progressive president we've ever had, but at least he will have America's best interests at heart instead of his own. You can cast a purity-test vote, if you must, in 2024. This year, we need to make sure there will be a presidential election in 2024.

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Whether you agree with me or not, please make sure you're registered to vote (here's how). And then please, please, please -- whether you mail your ballot in or vote early or stand in line (wearing a mask!) on Election Day -- make sure you vote this year.

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These moments of overtly political blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Wash your hands! Wear a mask! Practice social distancing! And register to vote!

Monday, August 24, 2020

The dining chair redo.

 It appears it's Sunday night. That means I owe y'all a blog post. What to write about, though? 

My brain is full of politics, what with the Democratic National Convention last week and the Republican National Convention this week. But this isn't a political blog, so I'm not gonna write about that.

The part of my brain that's not full of politics right now is full of setting up La Casita Cantwell. One big advantage to a 500-square-foot living space is that it doesn't take long to set up. I've unpacked all the boxes and put up all the pictures (except for one -- the glass broke during the move). I've even assembled the ginormous loom that my attorneys gave me as a retirement gift. Now I'm down to doing little chores to make the place, y'know, perfect. Or as close to perfect as one can get in a rented apartment.

So today, I began working on recovering the dining room chairs. As I have nothing better to write about, I'm writing about that tonight. And since I know some of y'all like those step-by-step things with a million pictures, well, here you go.

First, a baseline photo. The bench is built in. I'm borrowing the dinette set -- the table and two chairs -- from the apartment building. I'm told the furniture is the same vintage as the building, which was built in '85. If the chair seats have been reupholstered since, it's been quite a while -- the foam has deteriorated to the point where you feel like you're sitting on a board. Also, you might have noticed that none of the upholstery matches. The blue material is from the second chair; I'd already removed it before I thought to take the photo. (I'm really bad at this.) Taking the old cover off took forever. Whoever did the upholstery job really liked using the staple gun.

Here are the tools I'm using for this project: New upholstery fabric, a couple of screwdrivers, pliers, staple gun, Sharpie (neon green was the only one I could find), rotary cutter and self-healing mat, 6-inch chef's knife, fabric shears, pins, and your choice of beverage. (You may not need the hammer. I'll explain in a sec.)

Not shown: two paper bags, regular scissors, and two squares of 2" thick high-density foam rubber.

So we've skipped ahead a couple of steps here. (I did say I was bad at this.) 

For these types of chairs, the seat is typically held in place by four long screws, inserted in the corner braces on the underside of the chair. I've already removed those screws and set them aside. I've also removed the old upholstery and foam by pulling out all the staples holding the fabric in place. That involved prying them up with my smaller screwdriver and, where necessary, pulling them completely free with pliers. I do kind of wish I'd taken a photo of the sad remains of the original foam rubber. Suffice it to say it was gross and I threw it out. 

What you're seeing here is the wooden seat base. This particular one is particle board. The circular gunk is some kind of adhesive they used to keep the foam rubber in place. No clue why they did that -- once the fabric is on the seat, that foam is going nowhere.

I mentioned that I tossed the foam rubber, but I did not throw out the original fabric. Instead, I used it as a pattern for the new upholstery. I cut open a couple of grocery bags, taped them together, drew the outline of the old fabric on them, and cut it out with regular scissors. DO NOT USE YOUR GOOD FABRIC SCISSORS ON A PAPER BAG. I hope I didn't actually have to tell you that, but just in case.

Now I've folded the fabric in half, pinned the pattern to it, and am cutting it out. I'm using a rotary cutter, but you can use regular scissors if you'd rather.

Now that the fabric is cut, I've moved on to cutting the new foam rubber. I've drawn around the wooden seat with my Sharpie but I've left the seat in place -- it makes a nice straight edge for the chef's knife. A number of online sites said to cut your foam with an electric knife that you might use for carving your turkey, but I don't have one, and the chef's knife worked just fine. DO NOT use scissors -- they'll compress the foam and you'll get a weird jaggedy edge. (I don't even know why the scissors are in this shot. Ignore them.)

So our foam is cut and our fabric is cut. We're ready to assemble the seat. Yay!

First, I put the foam on top of the seat and laid my fabric out on top with an even amount sticking out on all sides. I centered one of the stripes by measuring the front and back of the chair seat, dividing that measurement in half, and marking that measurement on the edge of the foam. Then I centered the stripe on the mark, front and back, and stuck in a pin to keep it in place. Then I turned the whole thing over and stapled the fabric in place, folding the corners semi-neatly. My staple gun wasn't behaving, so I kinda had to hammer down the staples so they'd stay. You probably won't have to do that.

Now I've removed the straight pins and put the seat back on the chair frame, and I'm using those long screws to reattach the seat.

Oh, right -- try not to cover the screw holes on the seat with your fabric. It's easy to screw through the fabric, but it's easier to see the screw holes when you're putting the seat back in place if they're not covered.

(That pinkish diamond on the floor is part of the carpet design.)

It's done. And when I sit down, I can't feel the wood anymore. Go me!

The other chair's not done yet because I stopped to write this blog post. It won't take long to do, once I get the 1,001 staples out...

I also need to sew the seat cover for the bench cushion, but that's a project for another day this week.






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These moments of how-to blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Wash your hands! Wear a mask!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Defining "mainstream media."

I shared a meme on Facebook earlier today. It's a photo of a bearded guy wearing a flannel shirt and a trucker hat, and obviously yelling. The text says, "Why the hell won't the media cover the story I saw on the news?" 

To introduce the meme, I wrote the following:

"Mainstream media won't cover it!"

Really? Where'd you hear about it?

"Fox News!"

My point, which I made in a follow-up comment, is that Fox News is a mainstream media outlet.

No, the altitude hasn't gotten to me. Hear me out.

What is the definition of mainstream? Merriam-Webster says it's "a prevailing current or direction of activity or influence." Further,  Merriam-Webster defines the phrase the mainstream as "the thoughts, beliefs, and choices that are accepted by the largest number of people."

That last definition implies that popularity is one metric of how mainstream something is. Indeed, we could all come up with examples of things that were once considered on the fringe and are now accepted as mainstream. I'm old enough to remember when bikinis were first introduced, and the brouhaha over how indecent they were. The original "scanty" bikini would be a tame two-piece swimsuit today. But my point is that once no decent girl would be seen in a bikini, and today the same style would be considered kinda prudish. In short, bikinis have gone mainstream.

And in that sense, Fox News is definitely mainstream. Look at cable news viewership for the second quarter of this year, as reported by Nielsen Media Research: Fox News had just under two million average viewers per day, nearly double that of its closest rival, MSNBC, at just over 1.2 million. CNN was third with just under 1.2 million. 

The most popular "news" show during that time period? Tucker Carlson Tonight on, you guessed it, Fox News.

I've put "news" in quotes for a reason. For all that Carlson plays a newsman on TV, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and he -- and yes, even Rachel Maddow on the left -- are entertainers. None of them does straight news. To be fair, the guys on the right make up a lot more of their content than Maddow does, but even Maddow employs partisan spin. 

To be clear, I'm leaving things like truthfulness and "truthiness" out of this discussion. I'm strictly looking at viewership numbers. And on that basis, this most recent showing for Fox News is no flash in the pan. In January, it notched 18 straight years as the most-watched cable news channel.

You could make the argument that MSNBC and CNN are both chasing liberal viewers, and if you put their numbers together, they top Fox News. But I'm not sure that's accurate. While viewers probably have a preference for either CNN or MSNBC, I'd bet people switch back and forth depending on whose show they want to watch.

Anyway, the point is that Fox News is number one, and has been number one for the better part of two decades. That seems pretty mainstream to me.

So if your argument is that Fox News shows stories the mainstream media won't touch? I hate to break it to you, but you literally got the story from the mainstream media.

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The new home report: I've opened all the boxes and unpacked everything that's going to be unpacked. It's even all put away, mostly. I have one tote without a permanent home and a short stack of papers to go through, and I still need to hang pictures. But the worst of it is done.

And now that I'm out of self-quarantine (whoo hoo!), I plan to get around town more. Expect photos. Maybe as soon as next week.

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These moments of argumentative blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Mask up! Social distance! Wash your hands! 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Betwixt and between.

Greetings from the Land of Enchantment!

View of adobe wall and blue sky.
View from the elevator "lobby."
I am now ensconced in a 500-square-foot apartment a couple of blocks from the historic Santa Fe plaza. The weather has been lovely -- or at least it seems so to me, coming from the land where "hazy, hot, and humid" is basically the forecast from Memorial Day to mid-September. I've been sleeping with the windows open every night here. I can't remember when I've ever done that in August, in all the years I lived in DC.

Here I am, talking about the weather like I've been out in it for any length of time. I haven't. That's because the governor of New Mexico has mandated a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone entering the state by any means. A few folks are exempt -- those on essential business, etc. -- but "moving here to retire" is not on the list of exemptions.

I'm not complaining about the restriction, truly. My last stop before crossing the state line was in Amarillo, Texas, where mask wearing is mandatory -- but I have never seen so many chin masks, bare noses, and didn't-bothers as I did at the restaurant where I had dinner that night. It was pretty scary.

So I'm on board with mask wearing and social distancing and waiting out the 14 days. It's just kind of a pain because don't have all my stuff yet. I packed the car full (and bought groceries in Amarillo), so I have the essentials. But the U-Box I rented from U-Haul is undergoing its own quarantine in a storage facility in Albuquerque. I have movers bringing it to me on Thursday. It has been interesting, McGyvering meals without my usual array of cooking implements. (Why didn't I think to bring along a cookie sheet? Or another mixing spoon?)

But for now, I can show you the view from my bedroom window. Think of it as a foretaste of the neighborhood tour to come. Sorry about shooting through the screens. 

The white stuff at the bottom of the photos is a rice paper covering that the management put up. It softens the natural light coming in, plus it's also an effective privacy screen -- and honestly, the only part of the view I care about is the mountains anyway.

The roof of the Lensic Theater
The crenellations on the next block belong to the
Lensic Performing Arts Center.

View of mountains from Santa Fe window
This is the view that sold me on this apartment.

















Besides unpacking, I have several projects teed up. One is to redo the covers for the Pipe Woman Chronicles omnibus editions. I spent several hours last night working up a cover idea featuring Naomi and Joseph. It still needs a lot of work. I'll let you know how it goes.

I also think it's time to do omnibi for the Transcendence trilogy, and maybe the Elemental Keys books, too.

And I'm thinking of recording audiobooks for at least some of my books. I attended an online class last week about how to create them in Audacity so that the folks at Audible will accept them. I'm currently waiting on the arrival of a new microphone and stand.

All that and NaNo, too. It's going to be a busy fall (once I get out of quarantine)...

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These moments of self-isolated blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Wash your hands! Wear a mask! And stay at least six feet away from me!


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Taking the week off.

As I said last week, I don't have internet at the new place yet, so I'm skipping this week's post.

Have a blessed Lughnasa! See you back here next week!