Saturday, October 28, 2017

Decompressing After Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico Contest and Resolving All Chicago Auto Donation Snafu

A disclosure on my contest for hurricane relief of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands: I felt uneasy about the part where I said that I would keep any surplus of funds raised over matching donations submitted by readers. I also felt guilty conditioning donating the base funds on readers donating and submitting their receipt and argument. Based on these two feelings, I decided that I still needed to donate.

Which meant that I had to do what I wanted to transfer onto my readers by throwing this contest: choose an organization to donate funds. Yes, I went to some effort to avoid making a decision on my own. Apparently if I wanted to get something done, I had to do it myself.

I decided to follow the latest thread in my thinking and feeling on politics and development: as much as possible, go to the people who would receive the aid to see what they need, as I remember a story told once at church and a story in Uncanny Magazine that I keep going back to: "The Ache of Home". I feel there should still be a bottom line ethical/moral line (see my opinion on the issue of politicians catering to the economics of the White Working Class vs Identity Politics), but I think this thread has a lot going for it. I plan on ruminating on this topic in a later entry based on my trying to understand a book comparing Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine.

I don't know anyone who lives in Puerto Rico so that doesn't help. Based on what I've heard on the radio involved in on the ground relief, I didn't have any spare clean underwear or the wherewithal to get clean underwear to send somewhere, and I didn't know where to send clean underwear.

My best resource turned out to be a Puero Rican woman friend who had posted a lot about the disaster and at least one link for figuring out where to send donations. They linked to the New York Times article "How to Help Puerto Rico and Other Islands After Hurricane Maria". The article provides a bunch of good resources, some of them direct links to an organization or crowdfunding campaign and some of them to a more general website to do more searching and research.

I used two resources the article provided:

After acclimating myself with the website and two clicks later, I found on HIPGIVE the tax-deductible crowdfunding page for Hurricane Relief Fund for Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Florida. It doesn't do anything for the US Virgin Islands, but I'm short on time and like anything in the world, sometimes we just have to choose.
I donated the base $50 I budgeted for matching. I based my decision on donating here on where I started in the search: send the money to people who probably have the best idea of what the people on the ground need (and accept that with my limited time and cognitive energy, I can't aim for perfection).

The Webpage led me to believe it was the last night to donate, but per the Webpage at the time of writing this blog entry, it still has 5 days and 8 hours left to raise money. At this point, they've raised $135,748 out of $150,000 from 741 donors. They just need $14,252 to reach their goal. In the days of crowd funding, that's not much more, so head on over here and donate!


I called All Chicago a day or so after posting the latest accounting of my donations for 2017 when I mentioned that All Chicago hadn't charged me for September. The person in charge of this processing was out of the office that day, but they took message and would get it to the processing person/accountant for a call back ASAP.

This person got back to me the following week, notified me that it was a mistaken techno glitch, gave me options, and asked me how I wanted to settle it. I told her that I still wanted to make the September donation and that it was OK to double charge me on the October withdrawal. A few days later, they charged me double that amount, and now all is settled. Yay!

That's it for now, Neighbor. Thanks for reading. Have a good day, take care of yourself, then go out and do what you can to make this world a better place for us all.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

No One Participated in My Contest to Help Aid in Relief for Puerto Rico; Donated Anyway

No one participated in my contest to help aid in the Relief for Puerto Rico. I donated, anyway. More on this later.

If you like what you see here and in the past and want to free me up for more, support my endeavors by Buying Me a Coffee!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Life/Project/Contest Non-Update & Twittervism!

Per the usual these days, not much to report these days on the project and real life activism. It's work and chores these days with occasional socializing and getting away to make sure the the TiVo doesn't get too clogged up.

Not much to report on the contest to benefit Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria that I introduced here. Deadline to act on it is still Wednesday, October 25, 2017 11:59 PM. No entries to request a matching donation have been entered, neither has anyone submitted any donations to increase the matching funds above the base $50. Help me help Puerto Rico and the US Virigin Islands by participating!

And now some Twittervism since I don't have any essays in me:

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Contest to Help Provide Relief in Puerto Rico and/or US Virgin Islands & Charitable and Political Donation Accounting

I've been dealing with a lot of chores and other work with little exposure to new ideas or framing of ideas. I haven't even done much in the world of social media or working through my RSS feed, which some might welcome, but I like that kind of stuff. Most of my stimulation of thinking and ideas has come podcasts, which I've done a lot to catch up on, including changing to a longer bike route and foregoing morning NPR during funding drives and repetitive stories.

Some progress has been made in plowing through some Uncanny Magazine slush, but I can only speak for myself.

Whereas I've provided that minimal update (I also saw a preview screening for Professor Marston and The Wonder Women - plus on the sex positive and the portrayal of intolerance of the times but somewhat mixed feelings on the first parts regarding the portrayal of the power dynamics between the professor and student), I've decided to make this entry an accounting of my political and charitable donations since I last did so.


Before doing so, though, I want to set up a contest based on my neglect of the Puerto Rico/US Virgin Islands Hurricane Maria relief initiatives. I have no good excuse. I will, however, run a short contest to try driving up some donating and help me decide where to put my money with your help.

I have a tendency, so I'll try to maintain the spirit of my conception while keeping the rules simple:

  1. The contest will end Wednesday, October 25, 2017

  2. I will budget a one-time $50 as base matching funds to an organization that works to provide relief to Puerto Rico and/or US Virgin Islands, preferably both, criteria provided in a later rule

  3. I will increase that budget by an amount equal to how much money I recieve via ko-fi via my homepage at ko-fi. If you want to send me money for reasons unrelated to this contest, earmark the funds as "non-contest". Without the earmark, all funds donated until Wednesday, October 25, 2017 11:59 PM will go toward matching funds budget

  4. I will match funds going to one or more organizations based on the following criteria:

    1. I won't put the funds toward the Red Cross or any other organization that I know has some tarnished reputation for how much actually goes toward relief vs administrative and other non-relief costs

    2. The organization that receives the most donations from you, my readers, will receive the most matching from me. I will donate either my budget or the amount donated by you to the same organization, whichever is lower. Even if your donations go higher than my budget, my decision will be based on the most value of donations to an organization will receive my highest preference

    3. If there is are ties as to what organizations have received the highest donation(s) from readers, I will then base my decision on two other conditions: the best reader made argument for the organization and the organization that strikes me as the most worthy, all by my own judgment

    4. If there is anything remaining in my budget after making a match, I will then match donations to the next organization that meets the rules above. I will continue through this process, matching budgeting funds to reader donations until my budget equals 0

    5. If my budget is more than the total amount donated by readers to relief organizations to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for Hurricane Maria, I will pocket the remaining funds for myself

  5. To enter your donations and organization into the contest, screen shot your confirmation or receipt for donation then e-mail it to me as an attachment, along with your agument for why this is the worthiest organization for matching funds to If possible, please block out any routing, account, credit, or debt card numbers. I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE ANY EXPOSURE TO YOUR BANKING OR FINANCIAL INFORMATION!

  6. After the contest deadline, I will post the results of where my funds went and a list of organizations and the arguments for these organizations. If you don't want me to publish your argument, note that in your e-mail when you send it to me. I will default to not posting any personal information, including online handles or aliases, unless you expressly ask me to post it along with any online or personal information that you would want to have posted alongside your argument

  7. Let's make this a successful and fun contest!

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

My Reaction to Ameya Pawar Withdrawing from the Illinois Gubernatorial Race

So I feel like I owe my readers a reaction to Ameya Pawar withdrawing from the Illinois Gubernatorial Race. I won't get into it. I think the letter posted on his campaign website (and to which I just linked) is worth reading. Frankly, reading it made me affected me a little like Barack Obama's farewell speech, especially the parts about his intent to shift the campaign Overton Window further Left than if he didn't enter it as early as he did, his One Illinois PAC ,and his intent to get younger people involved in the Progressive cause. He won't make it to the governor's office, but this man is the real deal.

To start, I want to thank everyone who signed my copies of the petition to get Pawar onto the Democratic ballot. If money didn't become an issue, he 99.99% would have gotten onto it. He had gotten his goal of 10,000 signatures when the minimum to get onto the gubernatorial ballot in Illinois is 5,000. Getting double the signatures should have taken care of challenges to signatures that other pre-candidates and candidates would have very likely made. I only got 18 signatures whereas other volunteers did a lot more to get signatures than I did, but the following Tweet from someone helps prop me up about my minimal participation:

I still plan on continuing (or finishing) my series of posts about my reasons for volunteering for Pawar's campaign, which might turn into my attempt to try weaseling my way into helping his One Illinois PAC once he gets it established and ready to act.

For now, though, my reaction: Sad and kinda relieved. First the sadness. As I said above, I believe he's the real deal. I only met him once and not for very long at his rally before we marched to the debate this past Sunday. I didn't really get much of a read on him other than his reaction to my introducing myself was that he thanked me for the help in his campaign, even though he had no idea how much I helped or even if I helped at all. Receiving instant sincere gratefulness, not some "he should thank me for my help" from me but more of a probably fannish "he thanked me!" reaction, feels great and gives me the impression that this guy has a knack with people and that he knows that they want to feel valued. His withdrawal letter and his performance at the debate this past Sunday further demonstrates his desire to build this sense of value and being heard, both of which the world desperately needs more. It's sad to see that Illinois will miss out on a man having this kind of humbleness being in the governor's chair.

As for relief, I'll get a little into it when I continue my series about volunteering for his campaign. One ruminating fantasy might demonstrate my sense of everything. About a month ago, as I waited for the L to head somewhere, I imagined being in a campaign office the night of the election, and tried to imagine everyone's reaction and my reaction to both winning and losing. I couldn't do it. A part of me feared the peaks of emotion of how high or how so very low I could go with the results.

I had a hard time seeing myself making it that far with the campaign and investing that level of emotion into it. Not that I wouldn't want to, but I feared to do so. The first couple weeks of my volunteering, I didn't participate as much as other people, but I invested some amount of energy into it as a snapshot of society. I'll get much more into it later, but the first weekend of volunteering felt really exciting even though I didn't do a huge amount. Over the week, though, I felt a lot of frustration because I didn't feel an overwhelming response that I had hoped for when I reached out to friends and acquaintences on social media. I may have even gotten into a little verbal spat that didn't directly involve the gubernatorial election.

The weekend after, though, I got a whole bunch of signatures with little effort. I texted someone and met them at home. They pulled me along as they knocked on neighbors' doors to help me get signatures and wanted to get involved in the campaign and asked how to do so (she's a very enthusiastic person).

During that trip, I met up with another friend who had intended to sign the petition earlier in the week, but we lost track of time and I had to get home. I met him while he had a meal with someone at the restaurant. They both signed the petition, then we got into an interesting conversations about the podcasts we like to listen to. A slight disclaimer: I enjoyed having the petition as an excuse to get in touch with friends and acquaintences. I don't think friends and acquaintences feel that I need an excuse, but I've got my hang ups and can end up keeping myself out of some low-level social anxiety or social frustration.

Later that night, I walked into a social gathering, and two or three people immediately called for my attention because they wanted to sign the petition. They had seen my posts on social media and wanted to contribute to the effort to get Pawar into office. It didn't prove difficult to get others to sign the petition that night, either. I felt really appreciated and heck, I enjoyed knowing that people pay attention to my social media posts!

My activity in the campaign took a nose dive after that, though. An increase in other activities played a part, but I kind of wonder if some of it might involve some level of instinctual self defense against disappointment and frustration/anxiety about putting myself out there. I can't really say for sure since empirically other activity increased, but I also ruminated a lot about anticipation for the next stages of the campaign (phone banking and door-to-door knocking, both which I've advocated as very important things for a campaign to do. . .read a few posts back when I criticize for not having an aggressive face-to-face campaign on the local levels).

Honestly, I hoped that the momentum of the campaign would pull me along, fill me with energy and confidence, and contributing during those stages would prove easy. I guess I won't find out how much the Pawar campaign would energize me. Again, sad but relieved.

At the same time, I've gained some experienced in electoral politics and learned a little bit about myself. I plan to continue my efforts to improve electoral politics, keep getting involved, and trying helping the country to pivot toward a better direction politically, socially, and on the everyday level for people and emotional attunement.

I plan to hold back a little from the electoral politics for now. My other activity levels still remain high, day job professionally to keep myself certified and licensed, my professional writing and literary activities, and just LIFE, all of which remain oriented toward increasing emotional attunement for myself and the world. I need to also show myself a bunch of self care, integrate lessons from this experience, and strategize my future political activities. I plan to keep tabs on Pawar's One Illinois and hopefully find a place there if it involves helping younger people get involved (didn't I stress the importance of doing so in this post?).

I expect to stay out of direct activity in electoral politics probably until 2018, but I'll probably still do a bunch of posting on the blog and getting involved on social media. I need to vent my anger and rage at the state of things somewhere!

But who knows? I often plan to stay out of things then get pulled into them, so I won't make a promise on this one. So if there's anyone doing anything for electoral politics right now and wants to try dragging me into it, don't hold yourself back. Give me a shot. I'll probably resist, but you just might have some luck and convince me to go back into the fray. Hell, if I see action on the One Illinois front, I'll probably rsh to participate.

So reach out and contact me if my body might be of help to your worthy cause. Other than for self-care and rejuvenation, we need to continue uniting to resist!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Proposal for Restructuring the US Government: Add the Elected Executive Branch Position of Chancellor

This week's Wednesday post is kind of a re-post from my social media accounts. I don't feel bad about posting it here for the first time, though, because I think it still deserves more dissemination out there in society. A fair amount of people might not follow me on social media, too, so some might see it as new.

First some general updates: Uncanny submissions editing still taking up a lot of time, along with household chores and family/personal finance. Since I want to dedicate as much free time as possible to Uncanny temporarily while remaining somewhat sane, I've taken to reading a couple pages in the insurance continuing ed text book in the morning before work.

Not to worry, though: I ruminate during work hours and commuting over stuff I've read before the current busy time. This tedious time has always allowed my brain the "space" to detect patterns, reality test ideas and themes in my head, and clarify and organize everything into an articulate shape for when it comes to writing again. Sadly, these thoughts in my head don't always translate as well and with as much confidence when I sit down to put them onto paper.

Expect some interesting ideas once all that stuff gets cleared up, hopefully freeing up a lot of time. For now, though, take a look at this idea that I think the US should seriously take into consideration for incorporating into our federal government:

A lot of people don't like the Electoral College. Personally, I think it has its place in our government. At many times in the past, I've advocated for trying to remove the Apportionment Act of 1911 that puts an absolute limit on the seats in the House of Representatives then distributes the number of seats in some strange, archaic apportionment process.

Nowadays, though, I think it plays a part in protecting the interests of the minority rural population. I may not agree with how it came about, but I can appreciate the protection of these interests. After all, as much as we don't want a tyranny of one, a tyranny of a group, a tyranny of a minority, we also don't want a tyranny of the majority. The problem as we're experiencing today, though, we can enter into tyranny of a minority, and as long as they know how to do it (whether through nefarious or legitimate means), they can concentrate and compound their power to the point where it becomes very difficult to take it out of their hands.

So something needs to be done to also protect the insterests of the majority. In the last 17 years, we've had two fairly and really damn unpopular candidates become President of the United States without winning the popular vote. Push back our range of consideration back even further, President Clinton got the most votes, but he had less than 50% of the vote in 1992. If Ross Perot hadn't run then, George H.W. Bush very well could have gotten a second term.

The US has a weird system for electing their President. Let's not go even further back when States could determine how to assign their Electoral Votes in whatever the hell way that they wanted. States didn't have to give their everyday people a say in who would lead their country, even though their numbers counted to giving their state more power, more seats in the House, and more votes in the Electoral College, pretty much giving their power brokers and upper classes more power. . .and the only power that everyday people had was to move to some other state or territory to give their power to someone else (I expect to visit this phenomena more in the future as to how it relates to the present day).

Whereas all the above, to protect the interests of the majority and put a check and balance against a tyranny of the minority, I advocate for an elected position of Chancellor in the Executive Branch that has equal/veto power with President.

Chancellor is voted on at-large basis encompassing the whole country (even DC, Puerto Rico, and other citizens that don't have certain voting rights because of residency, etc.). It uses the same voting area on ballot as President.

A single person can occupy both the Chancellor and President position simultaneously, BUT a single person can't inhabit an elected position in the Executive Branch for longer than two terms (with some exception for someone who enters the position by involuntary relieving the duties of President or Chancellor - present rules would currently stand for that).

I like to imagine how things would look in our present government if we had the Chancellor position. If everyone in the country voted the same way they did back in November 2016, [45] would be President and HIllary Clinton would be Chancellor. She would act as a useful veto power against [45] (except for maybe some of the aggressive actions that could lead to war, except for maybe Korea), though I expect that [45] would still act like a spoiled brat, just that there would be an equal force to stop him from doing all the stupid Executive Orders or, at the least, diluting the Executive Orders and making them somewhat reasonable.

Plenty of people complain about the divisive Congress that seems to fight all the time or that one political party forces things down the throat of another while the other side tries to consolidate power to do the same once they get into power. With a Chancellor, it would force all the parties into dialogue, negotiation, and compromise. The different people and parties would have to work together to actually get anything. They would have to *GASP!* debate. You know, the way that Senator McCain wants everyone to do.

I also would like to think that if one person got a combination of votes that they won the Presidency and the Chancellorship, they could feel justified to actually say that they have a mandate. This especially would be the case if their party as the majority in the House and the Senate, which I have a hard time seeing happen. The Executive Branch and Senate might sync up every once in awhile, but I bet we have plenty of anti-Establishment districts represented in the House that they would create enough opposition to continue some level of debate to occur, though they might need to get a filibuster rule of their own to protect their minority interest at those times.

I honestly feel like creating the elected Executive Branch office of Chancellor would be the easiest and simplest way to add a popular check and balance on the Electoral College and House of Representatives representational democratic tyranny that can occur. Any thoughts, concord, or disagreement with this position?

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Live Twittervism: Illinois Democractic Gubernatorial Debate at the Chicago Teacher's Union

I had originally planned on re-posting here a Twitter thread/Facebook post that I still intend on posting here some day, seeing as how I'm still busy focusing on reading open submissions to Uncanny Magazine and I didn't think today would be predictable enough to publish a blog post that would satisfy me. Seeing as how I Live Tweeted today the debate between the Illinois Democratic gubernatorial candidates, I think I can better serve at least my Illinois audience by re-posting them here. The rest of my audience might enjoy these posts, too.

In full disclosure: In case you don't know, I support Ameya Pawar. This thread does favor him. I may not show as much seriousness about the other candidates. Also, as much I tried to get verbatim quotes, I didn't meet with 100% accuracy or get as many quotes as covered by the whole debate. Where I could, I put double quoted what I believe are as exact quotes as I could take and left summarized words without quotes.

Also I want the best candidate to win, and I don't want Bruce Rauner to stay in office. With that in mind, I have included some quotes and summaries about some of the other candidates who said things that I agree with. I also did not include all the candidates in this transcription. I haven't really heard of them before today or before an article I read the other day about how they were willing to work with Amazon to get a new headquarters into Illinois. It's still early in the race, so I can't say whether they have a serious chance or not, but most of the candidates I mention in this stream already have name recognition to me, so I see them as the serious contenders at this point.

All that said, here we go! It starts with Facebook post that apparently didn't make it to Twitter:

Ameya Pawar campaign showed up to debate with a bang! Marched w/ a drum corp. #PawartothePeople!

UPDATE: Just heard a clip of Pawar on NPR. He made a point to say in another portion that he made it as far as he did because of his community.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Lexdate: Small Project Updates & Twittervism

It's Open Submission season as Uncanny Magazine: A Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, so I'll be dialing back my thoughtful indepth blog entries for a little bit. It doesn't help that still have the Insurance Continuing Education classes that I told myself I'd complete over the summer to do (I did get my certificate to help people purchase health insurance in 2018 on the Federal Marketplace, so I'm making SOME progress).

That being said, I like the habit I've picked of posting an entry twice a week. Maybe I haven't done it on a regular schedule, but it's a good one to pick up at some point. I also haven't provided much of an update on my bachelors project or posted my political/social activist Tweets in awhile, so that's good material that doesn't require DEEP thought.

Regarding the project, I've written a little more than two pages in the novel, which feels good. It felt especially good the character POV intimidated me a bit since their experience and perspective doesn't line up with mine. We probably agree with overall sentiments and goals, but we come from such different places and have such different outer facing characteristics that I feared writing them wrong and felt that I would have to get more familiar with their interaction with the world I was building compared to how people in their perspective would interact with our world.

Criticism of a lot of science fiction and fantasy, in general, by my wife, MIchi Trota helped a lot. For awhile now, she has said that the SFF world neglects having food in their fiction, which neglects one of the most basic human experiences and sacrifices a great opportunity for world building. I ended up flipping that criticism into advice: when your stuck with a story or worldbuilding, figure out how food fits into your world and write about it.

Her essay, "I Don't See Color" and some discussion she had in an interview she did at Therapy Sessions helped me get into this character's perspective and how to introduce these outer features of hers.

Imagine how even more excited I got when I sat down to write and "learned" again that instead of just dramatic narrative, I actually used "found" documents to help present thoughts and perspectives of characters. It's lovely to find inspiration out in the world, especially when it's from something in your life everyday, and you almost feel like you've encountered the idea for the first time AGAIN.

For the academic essays, I've done a ton of reading. My social media posts probably do a better job expressing where my brain has gone with some of these ideas. I haven't much of this academia for almost a week now, but I know that I've got a bit more to read before I start understanding it, and even then, I'm going to have to think about it a lot, too.

The books I'm reading now somewhat intimidate me, though, because one of them provides a perspective that I might have found anathema in the past but has started provide some interesting points. Then another book I started that has gotten in the way of this first one has presented two perspectives on one topic that both have some merits about them both. These books that I've tended to read lately have led me to start synthesizing together some concepts and ideologies that seem opposite of each other on first look but, if possible, could combine to build a better perspective and situation. How very dialectical.

In the meantime, I think I have maintain the their separateness to use them for these academic essays. I plan to write a synthesis blog entry in the future, however, that hopefully help me think through some of these concepts. I plan to write it after I finish my series of entries about volunteering in electoral politics and the mental groundwork I've built to motivate me to do it and continue doing it.

If you like what you see here and in the past and want to free me up for more, support my endeavors by Buying Me a Coffee!


If you like what you see here and in the past and want to free me up for more, support my endeavors by Buying Me a Coffee!