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Yes, yes, I know it's tacky to use my position as a Rescue Ranger to beg for a favor, but I'm doing it anyway.  The thing is, I need your help, and the help of the entire Daily Kos community to get to Netroots Nation.  I'm not one to ask for favors, I'm not one to BEG, but here I am, asking and begging.

I've applied for a scholarship to Netroots Nation.  If you go here and read the first part of my application, the part where I tell you how much money I have to live on each year, you'll see why.  I'm not at all asking anyone to give me money.  Heaven forfend!  Hillbillies like me have a hard time taking anything from anyone, even a decent compliment.  So all I'm asking you to do is follow that link and push the button labeled "Add your support" at the bottom of the page.  Leave a comment if you wish, I love reading the comments left by those who are supporting me in this effort.  

Poverty sucks.  Still, I've been impoverished my whole life and I know how to survive on very little money at all.  Because of this, I find a way to give away most of the money that comes my way every year.  And because I do have mad skillz when it comes to living without money, I feel it's my obligation to share what I have with those in need.  Most of the people I know don't know how to get by when disaster strikes, and disaster has overtaken this country in spades.  So good candidates, good causes and random individuals I run across who are down on their luck get the bulk of what little money I have to give.

But every year I give myself one treat - a trip to Netroots Nation and, if possible, a short vacation afterwards somewhere in the area.  The first year I went was easy, the Yearly Kos convention was in Chicago, and I made the short drive from the house I share with my sister to the convention and stayed in the lovely srkp23's room, which she was kind enough to share with me, no cost.  I met so many good people and made dear friends (I'm looking at you, Cordelia Lear, pico, srkp23, BentLiberal, One Pissed Off Liberal, Lithium Cola and so many more) and learned some good things to help inform me in my activist work.  I also got to see the Democratic Presidential field duke it out up close and personal.  Things eventually shook out so much different than I thought they would.

The next year was Austin via Amtrak, where I finally met my dear friend vcmvo2 and got to have Jeremy Scahill hold both my hands, look deeply into my eyes and thank me with feeling for all the support and for my activism (be still my heart, he's just dreamy!)  I sat through some great panels that year and really enjoyed them.  Afterwards I rented a car and drove down to South Padre Island, where I holed up in a sturdy little motel and rode out Hurricane Dolly (the picture I've used in my application is of me standing on the beach in front of Dolly as she swung her leading arm across the island.)  The experience was one of the most profound of my life, a clear statement of how Mother Nature has no concern about man's foolish machinations.  When she feels like it, she'll wipe the slate clean, leaving man's pasttimes in tatters and the natural landscape spare and clean.

The next year was Pittsburgh.  I had no idea what a lovely city Pittsburgh was.  That year srkp23 and I talked our dear friend Zwoof and his beautiful wife Joanna into coming and sharing my room.  I truly enjoyed meeting them.  I enjoyed the fellowship of so many there, and again the panels were informative and interesting.  I'd hoped for a brief trip afterwards, but it wasn't in the cards.

Last year was Las Vegas.  Before the convention I took the train to stay with my dear friend jlynne in the high desert of Colorado for a week, then rented a car to Vegas.  The convention was tough for me, as I was in the beginnings of a medically induced crisis that would last well into fall.  But again, I met people who were friends online and managed to find some joy in the confusion I was experiencing.  I got to say my final goodbyes to exmearden, a woman of such passion and heart that just knowing her was an uplifting experience.  I will never forget our final goodbye.  Rest easy, exme, you touched so many.

But this year, without the help and kindness of my online friends, I will not be able to go to the convention.  The money I normally squirrel away for this one treat, the Netroots Nation Convention, has instead gone to help my next-door neighbor keep her children fed and to pay for a lawyer to help her through her divorce from a not-so-nice husband.  No doubt about it, she needed that money much more than I did, and I'm glad I could help her when she so desperately needed it.  But that kindness means I must ask, for the first time ever, for help to get to the convention.  So I've applied for a scholarship.  There's no guarantee that I'll get one, the competition is heavy, as always.  But with your help, maybe, just maybe, it will  be possible.  I've been to all the conventions but the first, and each has been an experience that has informed me, uplifted me, refreshed my fighting spirit and kept me moving forward in the quest to leave a better world for my grandchildren than the one we have now.  There's no hope for a trip afterwards, and that's okay.  My time and energies will be needed here when I return, making sure that good but overlooked diaries by unknown and little-known diarists are flowing into that shiny new Community Spotlight box every day.  Which brings us back to my little bit of blackmail.

Aside from the many things I do offline to help those around me, I take great pride in the fact that for four and a half years I've been a Rescue Ranger.  So many of you have written diaries that have gone through my hands and into the old rescue format, and now the new format.  In the new 24/7 real-time format, I've worked my ass off, as has every Ranger, to make sure that the new Community Spotlight box at the top of the Front Page is full of good diaries for all to enjoy, and for those diarists to get more attention on the good work they do.  This new format has become a full time volunteer job for me, and I don't see that letting up any time soon.  The Rangers have put an incredible amount of time and effort into making the Community Spotlight a success.  And it has been an incredible success, the numbers of diaries going from Rescued to Recommended speak to that success.  This success could not have been accomplished without the many unknown and little-known writers, who are using the new tools available to them in increasing numbers, putting out quality writing at a much higher pace than ever before.  Roughly 20 diaries a day are making their way into the Community Spotlight box, which is more than doubling what was averaged on DK3.  But the amount of work it has taken to get Community Spotlight up and running has taken a toll on me, and I could use a good break.  I'm hoping that I can take that break by going to the Netroots Nation Convention to have a (mostly) guilt-free break of learning, communing with friends old and new and promoting the success of Community Spotlight to anyone who will listen to me.

So if you've ever had a diary come through Diary Rescue and wondered how you could thank those that made it possible, here's your chance.  I am shamelessly using my Diary Rescue work to help me get to the convention.  And trust me on this, I need that break this time like I've never needed it before.  There are obligations that go with winning a scholarship, and I intend to fulfill them studiously and with joy.  All I need is for each one of you to follow this link and give me your vote.  Just click on the link and help an old woman who yells at clouds have a few days of rest and relaxation in the company of old friends and new, learning how to use the tools and the networking possibilities of our online community to make this country a better place.

So.  One more time, I plead, I beg, help Got a Grip get to Netroots Nation 2011.  I'll be ever so grateful if you do.

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