Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sent Nov. 30, 2020: BIRTHDAY BLOG

 

On Friday November 27, I turned 74. Initially I was going to have a Zoom birthday party. But who wants to have a Zoom party the day after Zoom Thanksgiving? So I opted to wait a week and celebrate instead the 44th anniversary of my coming out, which was a week after my 30th birthday. That's when I I slept with a woman for the first time. I know, I know -- late bloomer. I blame the lesbians. No woman had tried to seduce me before that!

So next Friday I'm celebrating my 44th Lesbianniversary (this wonderful word was created by Tara, who's organizing it) on Zoom. Because it's on Zoom, there'll be friends from all over the world attending! Well, several from all over the country and one from all over the world. And the Guest of Honor will be Sherry McVickar, who had the bright idea of getting me into bed 44 years ago. If not for Sherry, I might still be treating men badly.

But for the actual day of my birthday two days ago, all I wanted was a long walk with Elizabeth and our dogs. So we done diddly dood just that -- taking ourselves to the Northwest corner of San Francisco, The photo above is Elizabeth with the dogs on Sutro Heights. This cliff above the ocean is where Adolph Sutro, the great benefactor of 19th and early 20th century San Francisco, built his mansion.
Adolph Sutro came from a German-Jewish merchant family in Prussia. During the Prussian Uprising in 1850, the family fled to the United States, and Sutro ended up in San Francisco.

He was an engineer who made his fortune in the Comstock Silver lode in Nevada. The big problem with getting the silver out was the constant flooding in the mines. Sutro built a tunnel to drain the mines of water. Mine owners rented the tunnel for $10,000/day.

After quite a few days of renting his tunnel, Sutro moved back to San Francisco with a lot of money. There, he bought most of the northwest corner of San Francisco, which was called Land's End because it was
separated from the rest of the city by miles of sand dunes. Sutro built his mansion there with gardens and copies of famous statuary and opened it to the public.


Then he built the Cliff House, a spectacular restaurant and hotel hanging out over the ocean.
THEN he built a railroad, so that people could easily and cheaply get out to the beach. AND THEN he built the Sutro Baths, a complex of saltwater and freshwater pools and theaters for entertainment. I mean, it must have been hella fun to take that train to the beach.
Above is the whole complex of buildings that was Sutro Baths. Then he sold his railroad to the Southern Pacific, with the proviso that they would never raise the fare above the nickel he was charging. They immediately raised the fare to 25 cents, so Sutro sued them and got his railroad back.

Everything burned down eventually -- most spectacularly the Cliff House in 1907.
The Cliff House has been rebuilt several times. Its current incarnation is modern and upscale. I don't think Sutro would have approved of the prices. He was always for the people. He was incredibly popular, and the Populist Party convinced him to run for Mayor on their ticket. Sutro won in a landslide, but he had no talent for politics and everyone got mad at him. So he went back to being an eccentric philanthropist. I have a very large and soft spot for Adolph in my heart.

The Bathhouse hung on until 1966, by which time it was a skating rink. Then it burned down. I sure wish I could have been there in its heyday. Below are the ruins of the Sutro Baths.

So beauty was everywhere on this gorgeous day.


We took a walk on Land's End, which has a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
I have to say, I've been here a long time, and years ago Land's End used to be much more deserted. In fact, dramatically beautiful as it was, it also seemed a bit seedy and foreboding. I always imagined it would be a great place for a murder.

But no more! The National Park put money into a snazzy visitor center and upgraded the parking lot, put barriers up to keep you off the crumbling, unsafe paths we used to walk on because we were young and stupid. And there are lots of people! Everywhere!

I know I should feel happy that more people get to enjoy Land's End, but I don't. I long for the old run-down seedy days. Maybe if I do a lot more Buddhist practice, I'll get there.

Love this woman on the ledge, right.
Then we decided that we absolutely had to find a cup of coffee, and we headed back towards Sutro Heights, and through the park, going south. Elizabeth was in the lead, and I knew we were going to come to a dead end, that there was no way to get down to the beach, where the coffee was, directly from Sutro Park.

But I thought I'll just follow her anyhow and.....lo and behold, there was a crumbling very very steep stairway that I had never seen before! With fabulous graffiti at the entrance to it!


And there was a young man ascending the stairs, hopping!

What a great birthday present, to discover a new special funky hidden corner of San Francisco!

And it would never have happened without Elizabeth, since I "knew" there was no point in exploring the southern edge of Sutro Heights.
Then we walked a couple miles down the beach for coffee, since the first place was too crowded. As we sat there stoking ourselves with caffeine and sugar to power ourselves back up the hill, I wondered if maybe Elizabeth should just call a Lyft and get a ride to her car and then drive back to pick me up. I was dreading climbing up those stairs. But I never said it out loud. And we found a way back to the car that wasn't quite so steep as the stairs we'd come down. The perfect ending to a perfect birthday.

Bloggelinnis: An absolutely excellent birthday was had by all -- Elizabeth, Paisley, Nikki, Loulou & me. Terry

Sent Nov. 25, 2020: DON'T DO IT!

 











As you can see, the tree dahlia season is coming to an end. All those yellow-green bulbs are former flowers.

Goodby, tree dahlias! Thank you for visiting my garden again. See you next year!
AND NOW, TO THE SUBJECT OF THIS BLOG:

DON'T DO IT!

IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO TAKE ANY LEVEL OF RISK OVER THE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY THAT MIGHT EXPOSE YOU TO THE COVID-19 VIRUS, I URGE YOU TO WATCH THIS VIDEO OF RACHEL MADDOW FIRST!
Before I watched this video, my podmate Elizabeth and I were planning to make dinner together tomorrow and then share Thanksgiving over ZOOM with some friends.

BUT.....

Yesterday I went to the Apple Store to get my new computer -- which I didn't end up getting after spending 1 hour and 15 minutes in the store while they fiddled with my OLD computer.

I did NOT feel good about spending so much time there. Look, let's face it: Six feet is not the normal distance humans keep from each other. Everyone was masked but almost no one was truly social distancing. I kept backing away from the people helping me, but that was hard to keep up.

I felt I had to tell Elizabeth what I had done, in case she wanted to suspend our podhood, which would be a drag since we've got big plans together for this weekend. I left the decision up to her, and she said she felt okay about keeping our plans.

Then this video somehow appeared in my feed. I had heard that Rachel's wife had Covid. As I watched this video, I realized:

  • I no longer live in a community with a relatively low risk of catching Covid.

  • I had taken a risk by going to a store with many people in it, for an extremely inessential need, because I was fed up with carrying my remaining computer up and down the stairs.

  • I no longer live in a community with a relatively low risk of catching Covid.

  • I was worried that I might have gotten infected.

  • I no longer live in a community with a very low risk of catching Covid.

  • I put the entire responsibility of deciding to change our plans on Elizabeth, which was basically a morally bankrupt thing to do.

  • I no longer live in a community with a very low risk of catching Covid.

  • I could not take the risk of spending time unmasked with Elizabeth.

  • I no longer live in a community with a very low risk of catching Covid.

  • Elizabeth and I had to change our plans.

This is what the experts have been trying to get us to understand: Whatever we were doing to avoid catching the virus before,

WE'VE GOT TO UP OUR GAME
BECAUSE THERE'S A LOT MORE VIRUS AROUND!

We must be much more careful now.

Rachel emphatically urges everyone to re-evaluate the risk they are willing to take during the holidays, in terms of the pandemic. Basically she's saying NOTHING, no matter how wonderful and important, is work the risk of catching this terrible disease.

So you know what they're saying now:

BETTER THANKSGIVING ON ZOOM THAN CHANUKAH IN THE I.C.U.!

BLOGGELINIS: WHATEVER YOU ARE PLANNING TO DO THAT MIGHT ADD TO YOUR RISK OF CATCHING COVID-19 (AND THEN TRANSMITTING IT TO SOMEONE ELSE) --

IT'S NOT WORTH IT!
DON'T DO IT!
Terry

Sent Nov. 24, 2020: A COUP IS A COUP IS A COUP -- But is it SUCCESSFUL?

 

We have reached an important turning point.

John Diaz, the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial page editor, wrote an op-ed in Sunday's paper with the headline:

"Call it what it is: an attempted coup."

This is the first time, that I know of, that the mainstream press has taken the position that Trump's actions amount to a "coup." (You can see a smaller "coup" above the Chron's headline. That's in The Progressive Populist, which I just subscribed to.)

Here is Wikipedia's definition of a coup:
  • "A coup or coup d'├ętat is the removal of an existing government from power, usually through violent means. Typically, it is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a political faction, the military, or a dictator."

All of Trump's increasingly ludicrous lawsuits, trying to throw out millions of votes for Biden, are unprecedented in our country's history. To me, that qualified as an attempt at "an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power." But that was not seen as a coup by the mainstream press. They construed it as using the system we have to steal the election.

But other aspects of Trump's outrageous battle to overturn the election have become much more coup-ish.

When Wayne County, Michigan was last heard from in this blog, the two Republican members of the Board of Canvassers, first refused to certify the votes of that county, and THEN reversed their positions upon hearing from outraged citizens. They agreed to certify the hundreds of thousands of votes of mostly Black Detroit -- reversing their "no" votes. But then Trump phoned these two GOP minions and pressured them to reverse their reversal.Can you imagine a Wayne County member of the Board of Canvassers getting a phone call from the President? So they agreed to reverse their reversal. However, it turned out that no procedure existed to do that, so they couldn't.

So the certification went to the next level, the State Board of Canvassers, which ALSO has two Dems and two GOP members. And apparently, one of the Republicans was agonizing, absolutely agonizing about what to do. This Mr. Shinkle was getting many phone calls, texts and emails, pressuring him in both directions. All weekend, he could not make up his mind about the vote he would take on Monday. He said:
  • "I've got many so-called conservatives saying bad things about me. I can't let any other individual be involved in the decision. I just have to do the best that I can based on what's ethical and legal."
Gee, Shinkle, that's a really tough call to make in this situation. What IS ethical and legal?? How long will you have to ponder this before you figure it out? The NY Times posed the question as "Duty or Party?" But that is absolute nonsense. The question was "Tyranny or Democracy?"

Shame on the New York Times for not calling Shinkle's dilemma for what it is! This is not a complex choice between two Goods!

While Shingle agonized, Trump was busy. He flew two Michigan Republican state legislators to Washington on Friday. The legislators obediently risked their lives by taking planes to Washington, where Der Toddler talked with them personally about this awful crisis of the President being deprived of his right to continue in office despite the will of the people.

BUUUUUT... After meeting with Trump, the legislators said publicly that they would not interfere with the State Board's decision!

So...
  • Phoning very low-level functionaries to pressure them...
  • Flying legislators to Washington to pressure them, perhaps with bribes or threats or both ...
-- THAT is what finally made this a coup in the eyes of the Chronicle and also Seth Meyers, the late-night comedian.

MEANWHILE, the national and Michigan GOP party chairs called for a delay in order to audit the ballots.

We're talking 350 questionable ballots out of 250,000 cast in Detroit. So there is NO WAY that any kind of recount is going to give Trump a victory. But his intention was to delay the certification past the deadline, at which point the decision to certify would get kicked up to the majority-Republican legislature. But even THAT made no sense, because the governor, a Democrat, has the right to intervene if the certification doesn't proceed in an orderly way

ALSO on Saturday in PENNSYLVANIA, the federal judge dismissed Trump's lawsuit asking to throw out all of the state's seven million votes because of rampant fraud. In a scathing decision, Judge Matthew Brann, a conservative Republican, compared Trump's case to Frankenstein's monster, which was "haphazardly stitched together."

It sounds like the Judge wasn't impressed with Giuliani's very imaginative opening statement where he mentioned Mickey Mouse, the former mayor of Chicago and the Mafia. It probably also didn't help that, after alleging "nationwide fraud," Giuliani changed his mind and said, "This is not a fraud case."

According to the NY Times:
  • Given the almost total lack of evidence that the Trump campaign provided, Judge Brann seemed incredulous that he was being asked to toss the results of an entire state's election. "In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state," he wrote. "Our people, laws and institutions demand more."

And FORTUNATELY, on MONDAY, back in MICHIGAN, the OTHER Republican on the State Board of Canvassers, Aaron Van Langevelde, figured out that his duty was to support democracy over tyranny, and voted to certify the Michigan votes! And after all that agonizing, Shingle abstained! What a coward.

And FINALLY, according to CNN:

Biden has been waiting for this letter for two weeks!

Meanwhile, although the Administrator of the General Services Administration seems to realize that Biden is President-Elect, the President has STILL not conceded. And Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis said, "We are going to continue combatting election fraud."

So this is a clown coup, an incompetent coup, a laughable coup --- but NEVERTHELESS an attempted coup.

Some may say it's our SYTEM that derailed the coup. But the system is only as good as the PEOPLE in it. Every single one of these decisions to stop Trump's effort to overturn the election was made by an individual -- often a white male Republican individual. And every single person could have made a different decision.

So the levees are holding this time. But many feel that our democracy has been irreparably damaged. Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (and a Republican) said:
  • "What Trump is doing is creating a road map to destabilization and chaos in future years. What Trump is saying, explicitly, is if a party doesn't like the election result, they have the right to change it by gaming the system."

I guess time will tell if others use that roadmap.

I must say, I have always been so glad that Trump has done his best to alienate the military by routinely insulting them. As the Wikipedia definition says, violence is often a defining part of a coup. But the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has explicitly declared that the army will not be mobilized to determine who becomes President. So that's a non-starter.

But what about all the armed Trumpers? So far, he has not called on them to support him with violence. Maybe he won't go that far, stoop that low. But it's always been a bad bet that Trump has hit bottom and won't go any further.

In any case, the levees are holding.


AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!

Actually, TWO completely different things!

FIRST, A JOKE:
Do you know why Trump will not be able to enter the White House after January 20?
Because its For Biden.
(thanks to whoever told me this -- I cannot remember.)

This is one of the many parodies using the final scene in the movie DOWNFALL, about the last days of Hitler. The movie is in German, and the subtitles transform Hitler into Trump. Oh, it's just so good.

Well, that's it, Bloggelinis. Wow, that was not easy, making sense and keeping track of what has happened, just in the last few days! Very sorry for not responding in a timely way to your emails. But always know that your enthusiasm and support mean a great deal to me. Terry

Sent Nov. 20, 2020: JUST A LITTLE MISSION RAMBLE

 





I've always been looking UP at the tree dahlias from the garden, or DOWN on the tree dahlias standing on the top step of the back stairs. Now that the rain/wind has bent them, I can now for the first time stand AMID the tree dahlias! The garden is full of surprises.
Let's go on a walk today. Okay? All the tsurus (yiddish for big messy trouble) of the world can wait. I went to visit my friend Mer who lives in Precita Park. I walk through the Mission to get there. Wish I'd taken a photo of her, as we sat outside the cafe practically next to her house. This is what I saw on the way there and the way back home. The Mission district of San Francisco is, as always, vibrant with politics and color and images.



This was part of a mural across the street from Mer's house.



People were having a big barbecue in the parking lot next to this mural. It looked like a block party. Very festive. I could only get a small part of the mural. It was all as magnificent as this.
This one below, just an 8 1/2 X 11 piece of white paper, took up a small blank space. I found it very moving. I wondered what person/relationship inspired the creator. It also made me think of people/relationships in my own life. I went to loveyou2.org and watched the 2-minute doc. I also signed up to get emailed love notes for 30 days!!
There is so much love in the Mission, expressed everywhere through art.

That's all for now, Bloggelinis. I've got to get this finished before Elizabeth, my podmate, arrives. We're going to the de Young Museum to see the big open exhibit, with hundreds of works by artists in the Bay Area. Then Elizabeth will attempt to help me organize my work space. I keep the rest of my flat in order. But the place I spend the most time -- a MESS! And then tonight we're going to watch a livestream of the solo play OVERLOOKED LATINAS and then zoomtalk about it afterwards with two friends. Fun fun fun. Terry

PLEASE TREASURE YOURSELF.

Sent Nov. 19, 2020: THE COUP THAT COULDN'T

 

THE RAINS CAME!
The fire season is officially over. Everyone in California exhaled, and my garden is happy.
The rain and wind bent the tallest stalks of tree dahlias, so they now hang down into the garden.
The leaves of the Japanese maple glow in the sun.


Democracy has so DODGED A BULLET!

We are being saved by so many unlikely things:

FIRST: The laughable incompetence of the Trump administration:

  • Trump continues to depend upon GIULIANI as his lawyer. when the man has been acting the fool for so long! He is now in the courtroom for the first time in 30 years, prosecuting one of the idiotic lawsuits against the election results, and has forgotten the definition of basic legal concepts!

  • The Administration hired someone passionately honest and competent to be in charge of election security. What were they thinking?!?

Needless to say, when Trump finally saw that Christopher Krebs was for some bizarre reason loyal to Truth, Justice and Democracy rather than Der Toddler, Der Toddler fired him.
Christopher Krebs, left, remains unrepentant about his successful attempt to deliver a clean election.

His immortal tweet in response to getting Tump's (very worn by now) boot:

Do or do not.
There is no "try."

Are those words to live by, or WHAT? My friend Mary just gave me a book to write quotes in, and that's the first one in there.


SECOND: The loyalty of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Constitution rather than his mentally ill boss.
General Mark Milley (right, the one with the Eyebrows of Destiny) said,

"We are unique among militaries. We do not take an oath to a king or a queen, a tyrant or a dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution. Every service member will protect and defend that document regardless
of personal price. In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military."


Here I am, finding myself deeply grateful to middle-aged white men who are part of the Establishment! TrumpTime has turned everything on its head, from the very beginning when suddenly the FBI & CIA were the good guys!



AND THIRD: THE CITIZENS OF WAYNE COUNTY ZOOMING TO THE RESCUE!
So... Have any of you ever worked on an election where paper ballots are tallied? I have. I was a poll worker long ago. I loved it and would have continued doing it, but I'm usually committed to Get Out the Vote on Election Day.

When you're a poll worker, it is not so easy to get an exactly correct count. You start out with a certain number of blank ballots. Then certain number are used vote, and a certain number are left over. Simple, right? Well, not really. For one thing, A poll worker starts at 6am and doesn't start counting until 8pm, when the polls close. So you're exhausted when you're counting.

And If you're working in some big basement room with florescent lights counting what came in from the precincts, you're probably working very long hours also.

A lot of people are not good at counting under the BEST of circumstances. I am one of those. In fact, several of you have remarked on my inability to add up potential electoral college votes correctly. The one time I worked the polls, we started out with 1000 ballots and had to count and recount and recount to get the tallies to match. And maybe they DIDN'T exactly match, for all I know.

It's called Human Error, folks! They even have some saying about it -- "To err is human..." I can't remember the rest of it.

And this is why, if an election is really really really close, there are laws that require the votes to be tallied again and again until the count is precisely correct. However, if an election is NOT really really really close --- and none of Biden's victories in purple states were really really really --- you just accept the count.

But the two Evil GOPs on the Wayne County, Michigan, Board of Canvassers refused to certify the vote. Now, Wayne County includes Detroit, the largest city in Michigan and 80% black. If three out of the four members of the Board do not certify the vote, the decision gets kicked up a level to another panel that is also half EGOP and half Dem. And if THEY don't certify by a certain date, THEN the decision to certify goes to the Michigan state Legislature, which is --- surprise! -- majority EGOP! And -- another surprise! -- without the hundreds of thousands of Detroit votes, Biden would lose Michigan.

The recalcitrant chair of the commission suggested a compromise. She would vote to certify the Wayne County vote -- MINUS the Detroit votes. That is, they would certify the votes of the white suburbs surrounding Detroit and hang the much greater number of Black voters within the city out to dry.

Of course, there were discrepancies in the suburban votes too. But somehow that didn't seem to bother the woman who suggested this brilliant plan -- thereby shoving her obvious racism in the faces of all.

We're talking about quibbling over 450 votes, using it as an excuse to throw out hundreds of thousands of votes.

(You know what I find disturbing? All the evil women involved in the Trump Administration and this election in particular. I guess the fact that so many evil women are in positions of power is simply a reflection of the fact that we've come a long way, baby. But I really thought that we were better than that. Oh well. We're still a LITTLE bit better. Fifty-seven percent of us voted for Biden, vs. 45% of the men. Let's not talk about WHITE women.)

Back to the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.

Well, word spread fast, and many progressives rushed to the chamber where the two Dems were struggling with their despicable cohorts. Then the Board opened it to public comment on Zoom, and they were subjected to THIS tirade, among others. (click image to watch video):
So, after being ripped apart, raked over the coals and told in no uncertain terms that they were going to Hell by at least one voter, the Board turned off the sound for five minutes. And when they turned it back on, they had changed their minds.
SO A VICTORY BY THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE PEOPLE
IN WAYNE COUNTY!



HERE'S TODAY'S RANT ABOUT BIDEN:

And who HASN'T done anything
to save democracy and the election of Joe Biden?

JOE BIDEN!
Oh, he's talking about unity and coming together and that the delay in the official transition to his administration "may" cause more people to die of COVID-19.
MAY?!?
MAY?!?
MAY?!?

It WILL cause more deaths! There's no "may" about it!

And Biden finds all these endless exhausting shenanigans to overturn the very obvious choice made by the citizens of the U.S. in this election"embarassing."

Like it's some little toddler using bad words. You know what I think? Joe Biden may know Congress. He may know how to get around politically in Washington. But he doesn't know HISTORY.

Before Hitler came to power in Germany, people thought of him as embarrassing and laughable. Many did NOT take him seriously. And they were WRONG to do that.

Millions and millions of people believe that Biden stole the election. And Biden wants to pander to them with talk of "unity," rather than speaking with outrage about all these attacks big and small on our democracy!

Okay okay okay. I'm going to calm down now. And end with not one, but two delightful treats!


AND NOW FOR TWO DELIGHTFUL TREATS:

Don't Tell Donald He's NOT RE-ELECTED TODAY!

"Four Seasons Total Landscaping (Highway 95 Revisited)"
I hope you've already discovered Roy. I've been a fan of his for years.


Dear Bloggelinis: Life continues complicated, doesn't it? I'm longing to write something simple and personal, but the political turmoil won't quit! All for now. Terry