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I just had lunch with one of my closest friends. He’s my former boss, in his 70s, a classic nice guy. Today I found out he’s an undecided voter. When he asked what I thought of the debate, I said “You first.” I know he’s a thinker, not a feeler, a person who wants the situation laid out for him precisely, so I wanted to wait and see.

I raised my eyebrows questioningly when he said he hadn’t decided. He explained why he felt that way. I said one sentence, he responded with body language and I said “We will never talk about this again, ever.” He started to say something and I said “I mean it. Not a word.” There were plenty of other things to talk about, and as usual, I enjoyed myself.

This is what my friend said (I’m paraphrasing).

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Sun Dec 25, 2011 at 08:05 AM PST

Merry Snarled Christmas To All

by JG in MD

Dear friends, Merry Christmas to every one of you. I have hardly been around here at all, for reasons I might share later but not now. Don't worry, I'm fine, Katie and Alice are thriving. I've tried blogging, but it isn't working out. I'm not even posting the link.

I'm trying to post my Christmas message here, since the blog stalls out and I can't post to Facebook either. Greetings from my grandfather and grandmother in love and loving memory.

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Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 08:00 AM PDT

I'm Cranky Over Just About Everything

by JG in MD

I can't edit a picture any more. No way, nohow. My old PhotoSuite II from Win 95/XP was discontinued 8-10 years ago and there's nothing else with that wonderful interface. Now I have Windows 7 and I literally can't edit a picture any more. I've tried Win pix, Microsoft's pic editing, Paint, PhotoScape. Even the smallest PhotoShop is a mystery; I've tried it in past years.

You may note I don't use the correct names of those pic programs. I don't give the tiniest little s--t what their names are.

I've been manipulating pictures since 1997, and now I Cannot Edit a Jaypeg File.

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There are three notebooks in a little cubby in my office, always in reach: a journal, a book of quotes from other people, and a book of quotes from myself.

The journal is the first interesting diary I've ever written (thank Ceiling Cat for psych meds). The book of quotes means I can finally throw away recycle all those pieces of paper I've been collecting for umpteen years. In the third book I write the words I've decided to preserve from what I've written since 1963.

The thing is, I write all this with fountain pens. I have nine of them, inked in different colors, that I use every day. I write everything in multicolor to keep me from zoning out. Each paragraph in my journal is in a new color; I don't have to skip a line.

I belong to the Fountain Pen Network, an online group of FP aficionados. We write millions of words about pens, paper, and ink and how they interact.

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It started with a handwritten copy of my grandmother’s application to the DAR. She's No. 13033; she joined in 1896. (The application is online at The document was in a file of information about my father's family that I unearthed after he died in 1974. I had never seen it before. Once I looked through the papers in the file, I was off to the races.

Now I have at least 19 three-ring binders labeled with surnames, containing various kinds of information. I have about 41 booklets of genealogy materials—photocopies from books and journals, maps, pedigrees, handwritten analyses, and more. I have a rough wooden drawer full of original documents and sort-of-original documents. I have an alpha sorter labeled I try to use the alphabet whenever I can—Radar O’Reilly that contains papers to pick up and file when I open a surname notebook. I have binders labeled Research Methods and Research Forms and Sources and Bibliographies.

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Now is the tipping point.

Yesterday and the events of the past decade are so wrong that there are no words. The end of the incitement and the evil is here and now.

Evil words have done a lot to get us here, but now we have to take action for decency, not just talk about it.

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Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 08:59 AM PST

A Word Puzzle to End the Old Year

by JG in MD

The new year will bring new challenges, so to end 2010 I thought I'd post a challenge that has no political slant.

Does anybody else remember this old puzzle? If you have a copy in your dusty file folders, please don't give away the solutions. When you comment, please include the number and letters so people can follow along.

For those of you who want to try from scratch, shrink threads before you see people's answers. You know how to do that right? Click on the down arrow to the left of the title.

I don't have all the answers, so it's up to you. Kthxbai, and happy twenty leb'n to everybody!

  1. 26 = L of the A
  1. 7 = W of the A W
  1. 1001 = A N              Arabian Nights
  1. 12 = S of the Z
  1. 54 = C in a D (with the J)
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Thu Nov 11, 2010 at 06:46 AM PST

Why do we care so much?

by JG in MD

A friend of mine asked me this question the other day.

   There are a lot of awful things going on, I know that, but I don't feel it the way you and so many other people do. How does all this affect you directly? [I'm okay, no foreclosure, bankruptcy, illness or other catastrophe, so he continued] Why do you spend so much time learning about the situation, get so upset, take it so personally?

We're liberal Democrats, so we care about other people. Now the stakes are much higher and actual evil permeates society, so our job is more important, but "I'm a liberal" or even "I'm an activist" doesn't really provide the answer. It's just a way we show our values.

In an earlier discussion, it was said that we care because we care. It's true, but it doesn't explain anything.


Why do you care so much?

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| 67 votes | Vote | Results

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Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 12:09 PM PDT

After The Election, Then What?

by JG in MD

Either we lose, we win, or we end up in a muggy middle place that nobody likes. No matter what happens to the House and the Senate, we'll still have trouble and lots of it. Those who care nothing for ordinary Americans are going to maintain or step up the rhetoric and the violence. They're going to keep crushing us, literally and figuratively. They're going to keep inciting others to do their dirty work for them. Elections aren't a cure for hatred.

Let's say we've voted, the election results are known, and the situation is still grim. What do we do then?


Will you go out and assemble peaceably to redress your grievances?

20%9 votes
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| 44 votes | Vote | Results

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Sun Oct 10, 2010 at 11:19 AM PDT

Debtors' prisons are back.

by JG in MD

Suppose you commit a misdemeanor (shame on you!) and go to court. But wait—you have to pay for your public defender. S/he doesn't do such a hot job and you lose. But wait—you have to pay fines, restitution, and court costs before you go to jail. But wait—you have to pay an admission fee to go to jail and a daily fee for each day you spend there. Can't pay? Too bad. You're piling up penalties and interest the whole time, and the collection agency will never let up on you.

They call these crazy charges user fees. You must pay to go to court, and you go to jail if you don’t pay. Looks like we're taking our country back to debtors’ prisons, and they're for-profit prisons at that.

This madness relates more to the squeezing of government than to the prisons themselves. States and towns need money and they're picking on the little guy. It's like speed traps for everybody who has some bad luck.

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Hey DC/MD Kossacks, we've been invited to get fired up in Prince George's County on Thursday!


Will you be at Bowie State on Thursday?

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Sometimes I dream that civilization advances.

I dream that truth still lives and knowledge is respected, that Cronkite says "That's the way it is" and means it, and we believe him.

I dream that the hatred, ignorance, and unthinking cruelty that lurked beneath the surface of the society that produced the space program and the Peace Corps was dissipated by the naturally positive nature of Americans. In my dream, all of that, head and heart, has continued and expanded to this day.

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