The New Yorker, 1 February 2021

A subscription is expensive, but is so worth it.

Self saves all the back issues in a huge pile, and now and then, when things calm down a bit, she picks an issue from the pile to read.

The one she picked today is dated 1 February 2021, meaning shortly after Biden’s inauguration.

For all that Trump tried to trash America’s democratic governance, his fellow-Republicans had been doing damage to the idea of government itself long before he became their standard-bearer. The extreme belief in small government that so many in the G.O.P. have espoused . . . That attitude got a big assist from Republicans in the Senate who have successfully wielded the filibuster — the mechanism that requires a super-majority of sixty senators to move a bill to a vote — to block progressive legislation and prevent even the discussion of, for example, a public option for health care.

— Margaret Talbot, The Talk of the Town

“espoused” without an ounce of sincerity, self might add.

The system of health care in California is: if your income is lower than a certain level, your health care is shunted off to MediCal. And God help you, because none of the doctors self has been seeing for the past 20 years accepts Medi-Cal. She’s scared to ask WHICH doctors accept Medi-Cal. She’d rather stick with the doctors who know her medical history. Which means she still pays through the nose, her Medi-Cal card means nothing. But that’s better than the alternative, which is being dead.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (CFFC): Natural Light vs Man Made Light

Here’s the link to this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

Self loves natural light. She will never not use natural light, even at night. Which means, since she has very shaky fingers, that night shots present quite a challenge.

Last night, there was the most unusual moon. Round as round, but with all kinds of silvery light behind it. Self tried to take a picture from her yard, but her neighbor heard and came out, too. Then she was no longer alone, and she hates being in the backyard at night, crouching under a bush, wondering if someone’s listening to her every move.

So, here were her shots. The last one was from the kitchen window, which has very dirty window panes. Plus a dirty window screen.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The End of Life

I have a friend whose elderly mother lives with her and is driving her crazy. Her mother was once a talented artist, an intellectual with myriad interests. Now, my friend says, “she gets up in the morning and makes a cup of coffee and she’s so slow, doing it. I mean, I just watch her sometimes to see how she can possibly be so slow. Then she sits at the kitchen table and talks about what might be for lunch. I just can’t stand it! All she talks about is her cup of coffee in the morning and the weather and what her next meal will be. I really wonder . . . is there any meaning to the end of life?

I’ll Be Seeing You, p. 193

Gah. This is a depressing book. The author’s final reflections are “How young and strong and beautiful they were” and she remembers telling her mom, “I’ll miss you.” (To which self is tempted to say: HA. HA. HA.) To her readers, she says that her parents “belonged to each other more than they did to us.” (Imagine! Incredible!) The last page talks about love and blah blah.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Things About Sandman Slim

Things that are cool about Sandman Slim:

  • He is Nephilim.
  • He has a flaming sword called Gladius (like a light saber, but cooler).
  • He has PTSD from being in Hell.
  • He can go anywhere, anywhere in the world, as long as he can find a shadow.
  • His ride is called the Hellion Hog.
  • While in Hell, he developed a taste for Malediction cigarettes.

Things that are not cool about Sandman Slim:

  • Janet
  • Janet
  • Janet again
  • Just, in general, Janet and their lack of ambition. She works in a donut shop. (This does not seem like a “transitional” phase.) She explained to Sandman Slim that she is against binary pronouns — he/she. He must always refer to them as “they” or whatever.
  • Janet is tiresome. They are the type of woman who likes their men to rescue them. Notice I have to submit to calling Janet “they/them” because that is how they want Sandman Slim to refer to them. And they are mixed up. Did self say already how weird they are?
  • They belong to a club where people find sexy ways to commit suicide, such as rushing straight across a freeway during rush hour traffic. To get into this club, Sandman Slim must show how adventurous he is by killing a vampire. He does it handily because of supernatural ability. Also because of flaming sword. Mostly he just does it to impress Janet. Which is lame, boring. Because they are boring.

Anyhoo, self is reading fast now and hopefully will get to her next book, a memoir by Elizabeth Berg, about aging and how we all must go through it, blah blah blah. Hopefully it will NOT be depressing, because nothing’s worse than reading a book about aging and being depressed. Also, it’s about a real-life couple who have a great love, and sometimes it’s depressing to read about that.

But oh, it’s such a gorgeous day. And oh btw, she edited a story and sent it out. Her story’s about exploration, and discovery, and about how a one’s character can pretty much dictate the arc of one’s life, and when you get to the end, do you say, What’s next? Or do you say, What was that all about? Or do you say nothing.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

After Parkland

WILL WE EVER LEARN?

March for Our Lives, March 2108: Courthouse Square, Redwood City, California:

This generation of kids has been through the wringer. How many of them, self wonders, had to start college on zoom?

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Senate Filibuster

Obama explains it all for you on p. 244 of A Promised Land (Amazing: 44 explains the filibuster on p. 244 — Quelle synchronicitĂ©!). Those of you about to expire from boredom because self quotes 44 every day, know that she has barreled through 1/3 of the book in 8 days. She usually picks up her reading pace towards the end, so give her another week or so. All right?

  • This piece of legislative foolishness “isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. Instead, it came into being by happenstance.”

It’s all the fault of Vice-President Aaron Burr, who wasn’t very smart.

Self doesn’t have time to explain what Burr did in 1805, but here’s the money paragraph:

  • It didn’t take long for Senators to figure out that without a formal way to end debate, any of them could bring Senate business to a halt — and thereby extract all sorts of concessions from frustrated colleagues — simply by talking endlessly and refusing to surrender the floor. In 1917, the Senate curbed the practice by adopting “cloture,” allowing a vote of two-thirds of senators present to end a filibuster. For the next fifty years the filibuster was used only sparingly — most notably by Southern Democrats attempting to block anti-lynching and fair-employment bills or other legislation that threatened to shake up Jim Crow. Gradually, though, the filibuster became more routinized and easier to maintain, making it a more potent weapon, a means for the minority party to get its way. The mere threat of a filibuster was often enough to derail a piece of legislation. By the 1990s, as battle lines between Republicans and Democrats hardened, whichever party was in the minority could — and would — block any bill not to their liking, so long as they remained unified and had at least the 41 votes needed to keep a filibuster from being overriden.

The filibuster is the reason why we have legislators like Hawley, Cruz, Nunes and so forth performing shenanigans all over the place and getting away with it. Nevertheless, self is pretty hopeful after listening to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer telling the ladies of The View this morning that, every Monday night, he meets with Democratic party leadership (He mentioned Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Manchin and a few others) and they discuss what needs to be done to get a piece of legislation passed; it’s a cordial group and he has no doubt they will be able to stay united because they are all intelligent and principled people who have the best interests of the country at heart!

In other news:

TODAY WAS MERRICK GARLAND’s FIRST DAY OF WORK AS US ATTORNEY GENERAL.

Woo Hoo! Confetti! Streamers! Mad Clapping!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

It Was Close: Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, 13 January 2021

With rioters ransacking the Capitol, Rep. Jim Himes hunkered in the visitors’ gallery overlooking the House chamber. He watched colleagues below rush to exit the floor, heard the reverberation of a single shot from somewhere close and waited his turn to evacuate.

A trio of Capitol police officers with guns drawn then led Mr. Himes and about two dozen colleagues — the last lawmakers in the chamber — across the long gallery, maneuvering through narrow rows of seats and over brass handrails. The officers were agitated and shouting at one another, he said, because they didn’t know which of the doors leading to the hallway to pick.

“They had no idea which door didn’t have a mob behind it,” he said.

— written by Ted Mann, Dustin Volz, Lindsay Wise and Chad Day, Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, 13 January 2021, p. A4

Despite this, 197 GOP House members voted against impeachment. Unbelievable.

So sick of the WordPress Block System, what a huge waste of time, not everyone wants to fiddle with layout, some people just want to type. Self had to write this entire post twice because those damn blocks kept floating to places on her screen where she didn’t want them to be, and dealing with blocks so unstable is worse than — trying to walk on the surface of the moon?

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Friday Morning: Reading Luisa A. Igloria’s New Collection

Luisa A. Igloria, dear friend, is this year’s Virginia Poet Laureate. Her newest collection, Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Crab Orchard Review & Southern Illinois University Press), is such a beauty.

Excerpt from Moving, Changing, Not Moving


In the brick-lined interior of a coffee shop, a man at the communal table closes his eyes, a pair of earphones plugged into his cell. Fanning themselves, people come in from the street; it’s the hottest summer & everyone wants iced coffees & teas, water & ice; & parents with little children fall in line outside

people come in from the street; it’s the hottest summer& everyone wants iced coffees & teas, water &

btw: Has anyone EVER tried to contact WordPress about their new Block Editors, and has one EVER received a response? This poem format is ALL OFF, and the code editor does not allow self to switch between single space (within a stanza) and double space (between stanzas). Literally, self has been trying to format since 10 a.m., an hour and a half ago. Even their Customer Service doesn’t work. That is all.


The 90s: Those Were the Days

NOTE: WordPress switched self over to the New Block Editing, which she hates. She can’t find a thing. Can you imagine WordPress PAID PEOPLE to study how to make self slower and more inefficient? Where, for instance, are categories and tags? Now self has to hunt for them. Thanks a lot, WordPress! It’s like those apps that keep downloading on her Android, preventing her from making a call (You have to wait for the app to finish downloading; there’s a download a day).

If you press the button for paragraph, you get a menu that has ten items for paragraph. AAAARGH. Who has the time. Can’t a paragraph just BE a paragraph, does self have to pick and choose one out of ten options for paragraphs?

In the 1990s, and especially after the Rwandan massacre, the American Bar Association (ABA) “recruited an astonishing five thousand American lawyers to go abroad and spend months of their time working pro bono publico, free for the common good, drafting laws and training judges. (“Lawers are bored. We were dying to go,” said one of them, Mary Noel Pepys, a land use lawyer from Kansas who went to Bulgaria and slept in her coat in the winter)”

“At a reception in Sofia in 1994, an older gentleman, a professor at the university, walked up to Sandra Day O’Connor “and pulled out a badly frayed copy of the U.S. Constitution and said he had been reading it for 40 years. O’Connor, who always carried a copy of the Constitution in her pocketbook, choked up. ‘It will serve you well,’ she told the man, ‘and guide you as it has us.’ “

First: Sandra Day O’Connor, pp. 288-289

Can you imagine ANYONE in Trump’s White House pushing such a program. Now, everything is ME ME ME, how much can I get, how much can I get away with. Even Melania can’t summon up any energy to start something as simple as a Sister City Relationship with her hometown (Unless she’s really trying not to call attention to how she left it!)

She had plenty of time to start some kind of humanitarian thing with Eastern Europe, who knows? But no. She just didn’t care. Too busy re-negotiating her pre-nup to Dear Donald? (Does my pre-nup say I need to hold his hand in public? Then no, I do not need to hold his hand)

Self thinks the public’s perception of the law profession has forever been marred by association with Trump, the seediest President in American history. Think of the Trump lawsuits to block: a) revealing his taxes; b) suing to stop books like his niece’s from being published; or c) suing Democratic officials to make them look bad, such as the suit Gov. Brian Kemp brought against Atlanta Mayor Kesha Lance Bottoms to stop her from implementing her order to make wearing a mask mandatory in Atlanta.

Self is glad she’s reading a book about idealistic lawyers, for a change.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

my guilty pleasures: Bicycles

Self was supposed to watch a Curtis Choy movie on eventbrite, which started at 5 p.m., but was having difficulty because she couldn’t remember the password to the email account linked to the event, and she didn’t feel like thinking up a new password because she’s had that same password pre-populated on all her different accounts for about 10 years, and if she changes one, it means she’ll have to change everything, and that would suck. Can’cha just tell self is such a whiz at all these different on-line events she signs up for? Also, she doesn’t feel like creating a new account for just one event, as that’s how she ends up with a gazillion new accounts all over the place, that she continually forgets the password for, and that is how things get out of hand.

Instead, self will reminisce about a crazy adventure she had in 2012, when she agreed to meet an old friend and her two daughters in Amsterdam.

The trip down memory lane was triggered by viveka’s blog, my guilty pleasures, one of self’s absolute faves. Her most recent post is on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: BICYCLES. viveka starts off her post by citing some statistics about bikes in the Netherlands.

In 2012, self was wrapping up a residency at a writer’s retreat in Scotland. Her friend was renting a house in Amsterdam for a few weeks and invited self to join them. Self didn’t know until she arrived that she’d be expected to bike all over, and she hadn’t gotten on a bike in 30 years (because California suburbs are bike deserts). So the first thing that happened to self was: she pretended like she had no problem biking, and immediately fell down. And she kept falling down. The last straw was when she crashed into a car at a traffic light. The man got out of his car and self wanted to die of shame. Have you ever seen a Dutch person angry? Neither had self, until that moment.

After that wonderful experience, the rest of the day continued, but self was “out of it.” That is, she was on automatic pilot, falling in between cars, falling on the sidewalk, etc. The worst part was, it was only her first time in Amsterdam in 40 years. So she didn’t recognize anything. Come to think of it, she didn’t even know why she agreed to bike in the first place. She would have gotten anywhere she wanted to go, much faster, if she had just walked. But her friend had gone to all this trouble of renting a bike for her (before self arrived). So it would have seemed really mean and petty if self didn’t at least try to show her appreciation. By biking and falling down. Biking and falling down.

Then we boarded a ferry to a distant island, and it was expected that the whole group would bike the circumference of the island. Self wondered why no one asked themselves: is this woman capable of biking the circumference of an island, after that display she gave of falling down 20 times on her way to the ferry? Apparently that was not a question that occurred to anyone. End of story.

Self has no memory of the island at all, even what it was called, and she has no memories of Amsterdam except a wee canal, and afterwards encountering a young man who was blissfully enjoying the sun, and who offered her a joint. NICE! The time to have enjoyed that joint was before she got on a bike, but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth!

Self will post pictures with bicycles, shortly.

In the meantime, stay safe, all!

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