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California sent out its ballots — one to every single registered voter in the state — on Monday. Here’s Jim on Wednesday, getting ready to head across the street to City Hall to drop his off in the Yolo County Elections Office Drop Box:

It took me a few more days to figure out how to vote on the propositions and finish filling in my ballot, including last night’s Ballot and Beer party. And then reading and re-reading the instructions. I feel like I messed up my signature, but I’ll keep an eye on my ballot online.. to make sure it gets there and is accepted.

Like…. I was so nervous, this was the best I could do.. what in the world happened to “Peterson?!”

But man, what a great feeling.

Even better, though, was the drop box part. Here’s the drop box:

Here’s me at the drop box… and just so ya know, there is a big smile under that mask.

And, omg, here’s the official act:

One can feel pretty silly documenting this whole process with a series of selfies… and I do… glad nobody else was around. But, OTOH, this is one hell of an important vote and holy hell, it better result in a resounding victory for decency, truth and the American Way.

Or I just don’t know what.

Not going to think about it.

I can’t tell you how enormously liberating it feels to get my ballot in 3 weeks ahead of the election. Like.. I’m done. I’ve voted. The weight of the last four years has felt huge and the lifting of that weight feels glorious. It’s one person, one vote, all I can do, all anyone can do. If we all did, he’d be gone. I hope enough of us do by Nov 3.

What a beautiful day to cast a ballot!

The Box That Matters Most

October 10, 2020

I’m a bit quaking in my boots because I’ve never done a mail-in ballot. I think I’m going to drive it personally to Woodland on Monday so I can 1) see it in the hands of someone official in the elections office, and 2) get a sticker. I gotta have a sticker.

But man oh man oh man.

When I voted for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton I was giddy and ecstatic. Both votes felt historic for happy reasons. I took giddy, ecstatic, happy pictures of those moments.

Peter was with me (as he most always was) for the 2008 election. They even gave out souvenir ballots for the kids who came with parents. Check out that shirt! We were excited. Peter was 10 years old.

In 2016, I had to go it alone, as Peter was away… in his first year of college…

I asked Peter to take a selfie of himself, too, which he was happy to oblige! Here he is in his dorm room at UCSD, his first presidential election, and a vote for the first female major party presidential candidate. Yay P.

And now 2020. This time does not feel happy. It feels urgent. It feels like a grave response to an existential threat to our future. No hyperbole. I’m happy to vote for Joe, but I’d have just as dutifully voted for a ping pong ball.

I’m anxious. Have been agitated and nervous for almost 4 years. Have waited 1,436 days for this day. And, just this very moment, for this picture, I marked my ballot:

Spent a couple of hours this evening on a Zoom call with a dozen or so others (plus some spouses) — a Beer and Ballot party! Together we pored over the ballot, item by item, local and national issues and races. I’m ready to fill in the rest of the ballot now, and will. But this vote for Biden is what this entire election is about.

I’m angry. I’m relieved we are finally here. I’m scared. Anxious. I’m exhausted.

And.. I don’t dare allow even a smidge of optimism and hope, but the polls look good and Mr. Unhinged is unraveling. We still have 24 days for terrible things to happen, and I have no doubt there will be an avalanche of terrible news over the next three-plus weeks, and then will brace for another two and half months of torturous drama. And, as I’ve said countless times, I won’t rest until January 20th and the transfer of power has happened. Like everyone else.

But I’ve marked the box on my ballot that matters most. It’s what I can do. And it feels monumental.

My Day Was Made..

October 9, 2020

… getting to talk to this guy….

Who called while he was out on a walk, and gave us a nice tour around A2 and its turning leaves, shimmery Huron River and lovely wooded parks!

I was in a blah mood, but that turned into smiles and lightness the second he called. Thanks, honey!

Coincidentally, I’d scanned some Peter pics this morning that had been sitting in a little pile on a shelf in my office for .. gosh .. quite awhile. He’d been on my mind.

Check out these gems:

I couldn’t love this picture more. Snot and all.

His nascent climbing career…

One of the few times we went camping. The fact we didn’t camp often had nothing to do with the dirt-factor. Really.

I believe that yellow bucket’s full of berries (I’m seeing evidence of berry stain in P’s hair, now that I look carefully… and not surprised).

I believe Pam took this picture.

My goodness.. that translucent skin. So alabaster.

Crisis? What Crisis?

October 8, 2020

When your president* (not my president) continues to unravel before your eyes and your country feels more unstable with each passing hour; when the Speaker of the House proposes convening a bi-partisan panel to explore the hows and whats of the 25th amendment (equal parts political theater and genuine concern); when the governor of your son’s newly adopted state bravely recounts the details of the plot to kidnap and do her great harm by white supremacist gun-toting yahoos egged on by the president*–a plot unveiled by the FBI as arrests were made this morning…

When all that is going on, making you feel anxious and unsafe…. you stop tap tap tapping on your keyboard and instead blog photos of the evening’s cooking adventure.

So… chose this recipe.. chicken with shallots. Ingredients include, but are not limited to: halved cherry tomatoes, kosher salt, fresh ground pepp, fresh tarragon, white wine and dijon mustard.

The first step was to deeply brown chicken thighs (which had been sprinkled with flour and a generous amount of salt and pepper) in butter, then remove from pan:

Then, drop whole peeled shallots into that crusted pan and caramelize:

Then deglaze with 2 cups of white wine, add tarragon and mustard…

Then add the chicken back and let it simmer, covered, for half an hour:

After 30 minutes, you uncover and reduce the sauce until it’s thick, but, in fact, it was at its desired thickness already… so I just recovered it, turned off the heat and waited for the rice and broc to be done. When ready to serve, you toss in the halved cherry toms and serve it immediately. It looks like this:

Turns out, the liberal salt was too liberal (the only thing that is, these days) and I’m not a fan of tarragon.. too anise-y. Otherwise, the chicken and shallots and sauce (wine, butter, chicken fat, s&p, mustard)… were exceptionally flavorful and the texture of the chicken was perfect.

We’ve definitely turned a seasonal corner here… it’s getting fallish.

See? Leaves! The Birch trees have been raining leaves!

Veep Debate

October 7, 2020

Let me just say, debates (like these) don’t work for me. I hate it when people don’t follow the rules. For starters. And then the format is so stiff and orchestrated, and the answers so scripted and well-rehearsed, designed to score zingers for one person or another. The whole thing’s a zinger factory.

Thankfully, most are saying that Kamala won decisively. I feel like she could have been a lot more aggressive and could have pointed out a lot more of their profound failings. She looked a couple of times as though she had no comeback and could only muster silence and a smile. Others saw those reactions differently… so maybe my interpretation’s wrong. Doesn’t matter. Nobody places much weight on the VP debate. She did no harm; held her ground, mostly. So.

This will be yesterday’s news before it turns into yesterday.

Let me also add, though, if I can find the right words: Pence is an insufferable pr*ck. I never use that word. I find it vulgar and embarrassing to even say. I don’t often use d*ck, either, for the same reason, but that shoe also fits. His condescension, his mansplaining, his smooth radio talkshow host persona. Shudder. His faux concern and phony furrowed brow scream disingenuous. He’s as scary and disturbing as the boss whose boots he licks, but in an entirely different way. I’ll be forever mystified by this Pres/VP pairing. The creepy, uptight evangelical couple and the indecent, crass grifter couple. Mys. Ti. Fied. I’m telling you, these people really undo me.

I take great comfort in being on the side of intelligence, truth, facts, humanity, decency.

And that fly on Pence’s head for a full two minutes in the middle of the debate. Funniest thing I saw post-debate:

Thanks, Justice.

Adventures in Texting

October 6, 2020

My latest foray into the world of strategic campaign communications was today’s texting effort for Kelly’s Los Rios race. About eight of us were gathered in a Zoom meeting, each independently texting to our own lists, fed to us in batches of 500 from our texting guru herself, Chris. We started the evening texting to voters in Elk Grove (first a group identified as dems, then a group of non-dems). (Just as I left the session, the remaining folks were starting on a list of 11k voters from Davis! Wish I’d had the time to keep going… but it was time for dinner.)

I know what receiving a political text is like. (These days, I think I’m on about a gazillion-trillion campaign lists and they all ping my phone pretty much all day long.) I was curious to return to the sender side of that interaction, especially as somebody who really knows the candidate (I’d done some texting back in 2018 for I-don’t-remember-which-campaign, and found it fun).

I sent 1500 texts over the course of my roughly two hours. You actually have to actively send each and every one, and you that by rapidly clicking down a list of recipient names. Once they’re all sent, you start dealing with the responses. In a batch of 500, you might get 30 responses, half of which are asking you not to text them again.

So.. two examples of texting conversations, the first an example of a less than positive response:

Here’s another, longer exchange. Some of my comments are selected from a menu of pre-prepared responses, some I improvised.

As we sat eating dinner tonight, I received a political text (not unusual). When I gave it a quick glance to see who it might be from, I saw it was Kelly’s campaign, and turns out it was from Maddie, one of the women texting in our group tonight! And I’m sure she had no idea she was texting me. 🙂

They say texting is less impactful than a more personal phone conversation (which is less impactful than a face-to-face meet up at a door). But it is a voter “touch” and, as such, makes a difference. They say.

Our Bachelor of Science

October 5, 2020

Peter didn’t get his diploma in June… for all those obvious reasons — no classes, no gatherings, no ceremonies — that whole pandemic thing.

But… look what arrived! It had been sent to his La Jolla apartment, but he’d long since moved out. Fortunately, Ray still lives there and brought it up to Davis on a visit last week.

I opened it while talking to Peter on Facetime and could show it to him. Our guy, who doesn’t stand on formalities, pomp or ceremony, was noticeably moved. He said it made graduation seem real … his last four years, his physics major, UCSD … all of it. It seemed to bring closure to a huge and significant chapter in his life, and that sense of closure seemed to catch him a little off guard. Not getting to walk across a stage in front of an audience that included Jim and me and get handed a diploma by his chancellor left things a little unfinished. There was no real conclusion his time at UCSD, and no formal recognition of what he’d done and accomplished. In the context of everything else going on at the time — tragedies everywhere you looked — it seemed a small sadness. But it was just so, so unfortunate. I felt so badly at the time that he didn’t get to experience that classic milestone.

So anyway, he was very enthusiastic about the idea of my framing it. He seemed genuinely proud and accomplished (in a Peter way). It was incredibly sweet.

I just love that guy.

Here is his shiny new diploma, pre framed.

Do the Lit Drop

October 4, 2020

I can add Lit Drop to the list of campaign tasks I’d never done before, but now have.

I delivered these super sized post cards to 140 houses on a geometric shape bound by Miller, A, B, C, D, 6th, 7th and Shepherd’s Ln:

I was usually following Larry Gunther, a candidate for City Council in our district, District 3 (not literally… just finding his door hanger on most doors), like this:

(Interestingly, this is our first District City Council election. There are a thousand things to ponder–as many pros as cons–with these new District elections, but one thing has to rise to the top for council candidates: they can campaign in a far reduced area of the city. This is something I came to appreciate today. I can’t imagine having to do a lit drop all over the town, or knock on doors all over town or distribute lawn signs. If I were a candidate, I’d be loving that. And it prolly reduces expenditures by orders of magnitude.)

Anyway… whew, I’m pooped! The first 90 minutes seemed like a walk in the park. The last 40 … made me wonder why I’d chosen to wear new sneakers without socks … **blister** (ouch). I was sweaty and my N95 was ickily moist.

However.. as tasks go, lit drops: have a start time, an end time, a measurable result, are very useful, and.. I logged nearly 13,000 steps in about 5 miles, and closed my red and yellow circles. Bonus!

Plus, I got to talk to some neighbors and check out others’ creative lawn signs–some I’d never seen. Check these out:

How satisfying is that?

This is less political….

….. and yet says so much about the times we find ourselves in.

I’m not rushing to do another lit drop, but it was a nice enough way to spend a couple hours this morning and gave me a whole new appreciation and RESPECT for mail carriers!

(I’m going to have to ask Kathi how many homes she delivers to on a daily basis!)

Dance for Democracy

October 3, 2020

And now for something completely different… a Zoom cocktail party followed by a Zoom dance party. Maybe these days, with everything online, it’s not that unusual, but still… 90 minutes of dancing! With real sweat. On Zoom.

Here’s the crazy thing: we raised over $40,000.

Lloyd had this fun idea about a week ago: make a playlist of dance music, invite people to Zoom in and dance. A graphic was created, people were invited. To attend, they had to give any amount of money to democratic candidates of their choice and just let us know how much they gave. He set up a matching fund in order to give folks an incentive, though I’m not sure that really served any purpose; people just gave.. and so generously! We’d offered a “giving guide” which helped people decide the most strategic races to support. The analysis was done by a group called the Princeton Election Consortium. They’ve been around since 2004. I’d not heard of them but am adding them to my list of election analysis resources.

There were 42 squares of people at the dance portion of the party. It’s hard to say exactly how many people total, because some squares had two, some one… but somewhere between 42 and 84 people were there. I think we had somewhere around 60+ individuals who donated money.

All and all: fun and productive! Let me just say again: in a week’s time, this goofy little dance party generated $40,000 for the most strategic Senate races in the country.

Not bad.

Here’s a screen shot of the pre-dance cocktail party:

Here’s our dance floor.. and Jim caught mid-move. Note my laptop. Note the dance crocs. Note he’s holding a dishtowel because he’s in the middle of making dinner.

Here’s about the funniest picture I’ve ever seen of Jim. He couldn’t recreate that expression if you gave him a million bucks. Not sure what’s going on with the fists.

Coronabingo

October 2, 2020

I’ve pretty much been glued to news coverage of the goings on at the White House all day today, what with the fallout of the Prez testing positive for the coronavirus. Which started as, yeah, he and Melania tested positive and are gonna quarantine a bit in the residence, to looks like he’s got some mild symptoms, to looks like those symptoms are maybe a bit more moderate, to well, he’s a little fatigued, to well, he’s now got a fever, to well, he may be having some difficulty breathing, to HE’S BEING MEDIVAC’D ON MARINE ONE TO WALTER REED MEDICAL CENTER IN BETHESDA, MARYLAND.

The drama really intensified at that point.

My god the drama. With good reason.

Anyway.. now they’re tracing back to the likely culprit–a super spreader event in the Rose Garden last weekend, a reception for supreme court justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, at which the entire republican party elite was in attendance plus the White House A-Team… none — or very few — of whom distanced or wore masks because…. well, I don’t know. I’m baffled now, I was baffled then. I remember seeing footage of the event last week and thinking, WTF. How is it that the entire crowd of folks, most of whom are educated, high level professionals in some of the most prestigious positions of government, don’t get how viruses work? How do I–and most of the people I know–get it and they don’t. Why am I, and everyone I know, abiding by their guidelines — the guidelines promulgated by the government’s chief medical institution — and they’re not?! Are they just completely messing with all of us? Have we, the lowly people, been had? While THEY know the true score and/or are just plain above all of us, free to flout pesky guidelines.

Turns out: nope.

The public health community’s still right. Those of us following their guidelines are still right. The news media (except the propagandists) are still right.

It’s the president, his entire cabinet, his entire staff, the entire Republican Senate and House, the conservative members of the SUPREME COURT (those guys are actually genuinely smart, WTH), and everyone else in the prez’s inner circles who are wrong. And really, it’s just the prez; the rest of them are just paying fealty. This whole misguided crowd, they’re the ones who are stupid. Or arrogant. Or afraid. Or in denial. You should see the footage. Everyone’s handshaking, hugging, talking face to face within inches of each others’ mouths, laughing, seeing & being seen… whatever. EVEN CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS.

They have to know better.

This rule-following democrat doesn’t give much of a flying fig if they get sick–you reap what you sow–but I’m still disgusted. Not surprised, really, but angry. The whole scene in that Rose Garden was repugnant. The sheer arrogance, as people all over the country are dying and suffering. The nerve of these people, while the rest of us religiously wear masks and alter our lives for the greater good.

Here’s where the Bingo comes in: all day long, one by one, we’ve been hearing of people in the uppermost echelons of this stupid administration, AND the Senate (!) testing positive for the coronavirus. I’m not kidding.. I walk away for an hour, come back, and it’s a new infected person. I wish I had a Bingo card!! If you’re playing CV Bingo, you’ve got a lot of bingos already. Not sure who that Bingo card center square would be … Ivanka? Don Jr? Jared? Bill Barr? Lindsey? RUDY! Actually, the center square is trump himself… all bingos run through him. He’s the main man.

Besides Potus/Flotus: Hope Hicks, Sen Mike Lee, Ronna McDaniels, Bill Stepian (campaign mgr), Sen Thom Tillis, Kellyanne Conway. I’m certain the number will increase.

I’m sure that, in the end, they’ll all get through it; they’ll get the best available care, better than most in the country will get. But man, he’s gotta be held to account for this and made to pay–at the ballot box; in the courts; in the deepest, most hollowed out regions of his petrified conscience. This is on him. He perpetuated all the stupid. He created the culture of skepticism. He had the capacity to influence the lion’s share of skeptics (since he created them) and steer them down a different path, but of course he didn’t. This is a problem of his making. His alone. 208k deaths. A good percentage of those are on him.