# 05 Dec 2018, 05:41PM: The US Midterm Elections, One Month Later:
I made phone calls and I canvassed in person for some candidates and a ballot measure.
Leonard and I gave money to some candidates and I successfully encouraged a friend to do the same.
On election night, a month ago, we avoided the news; we went to a play ("Sakina's Restaurant" which is like a documentary as far as the emotional dynamics of many Indian immigrant families), then came home and watched a bit of Forged in Fire, and then we went to bed.
And the next day I was so relieved. Retaking control of the House of Representatives, and sweeping so many state and local races, is not only a logistical win, it's a morale boost for me. I feel more supported and protected by my fellow citizens. I catalogued a few wins that feel particularly meaningful in this MetaFilter comment (including an aspect of Tim Kaine's re-election to the US Senate from Virginia that I didn't see anyone else noticing).
None of the causes I did leg/phone work for won. A few candidates we financially supported did win. And we were a part of the success -- the Blue Wave, some called it, but there's also the underlying fact that most of the United States agrees with the policy stances of the Democratic Party and, when they have a chance to push past voter suppression, expresses that. (Which is one reason that the post-election activism we need to work on includes working on voting reform in every state, particularly Florida.)
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the people who stepped up, who started and restarted organizations, in the last two years. Swing Left and Indivisible and Run For Something and 5 Calls and other organizing groups and tools, for sure, and local DSA chapters, and independent journalists/commentators/curators as well, like The Weekly Sift, thisfinecrew, Alexandra Erin, Chrysostom, siderea, rydra wong, and so many others. I believe a big story of this election is the not-affiliated-with-the-Democratic-National-Committee community leaders who got their friends, neighbors, workplaces, fandoms, online forums, and classmates informed and activated -- and in some cases got them to run.
And then, Trump ... Rosenstein .... to quote Pervocracy (cache):
Me, 8 AM: I'm so glad the midterms are over! I can finally have a little break from worrying about politics all the time!
Me, 9 PM: crouched on my kitchen floor, checking protest locations, writing "THE PRESIDENT IS NOT A KING" on a giant piece of posterboard
The protests included people chanting RULE OF LAW! RULE OF LAW! which ... I don't disagree! I agree! I am very into the rule of law! I am just disconcerted, because I would like to get to a point where chanting that does not seem vital.
# 14 Dec 2018, 12:44PM: Collection:
A few deliverables!
At RubyConf Los Angeles 2018 last month, I co-presented "Code Review, Forwards and Back" with Jason Owen, and now video is up.
"Intersectional sustainable crop science, and GIFs" is my newest MetaFilter post -- it's an inventory of informative & funny Twitter threads by Dr. Sarah Taber, loosely grouped by topic (soil and ecologies, specific plants and animals, common misunderstandings about food/ag/econ, "family farms", organizing/politics and sexism, being an ex-Mormon, food safety, regulations, testing, and management systems, management skills and the economics of agriculture in the US, and oppressions therein, skill, culture, capitalism, land prices, slavery, white supremacy, and ag history in the US).
Taber explains: "My goal with this account is to beef up the "sustainable ag" info available for consumers w some science & general business mgmt info. The general public is incredibly frustrated with ag's slow rate of change. Someone should talk about the very real reasons change isn't instant....Some of the reasons won't reflect nicely on our ag institutions. Oh well. I'm not gonna tell folks it's all good, because it's not. We need to back up this "no BS" reputation by actually cutting the BS. If you feel weird about someone airing your dirty laundry, wash it." Also: "put info out there, see what kind of feedback it got, & thereby find out where the general knowledge level is at with ag these days". (Thread Reader)
When I want to read someone's old threads, I find it so difficult to dig through old tweets through the Twitter interface, so I thought this might be a useful resource to make and share.
Relatedly, I recently thought to look at some of my oldest microblog posts, and enjoyed a few from 2009:
Argued w/Leonard re Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" yesterday: if you're "going at the speed of light," can you *have* a temp? (200°, F implied)...I fear quibbling with the metaphor of an atom bomb satellite rocket ship to Mars constitutes stopping the singer now, despite express wishes
"Life's not a math textbook. The answers aren't gonna be in the back of the book." "But at least, unlike me, you're doing the problem sets."
"Indie 101, do stuff that defeats your own purpose. Reflexively, routinely." -John Darnielle -- quoting from about 3:00 to 3:15 in the "Leaving Home" track in this 2007 concert recording.
# 21 Dec 2018, 06:56PM: Now It Can Be Told:
The "I would ask for wall. We need wall." nonsense* reminds me:
About 11 years ago, I was at some industry networking event here in New York City, gladhanding, schmoozing, &c. At one point I spoke to a recruiter who suggested that I "send résumé." I was willing, if a bit confused by the phrasing. They gave me their card and said again: "Send résumé." I looked.
I never did Send Résumé to them, I believe. I did come home to Leonard and we joked about how Neolithic recruiters would say "Send résumé!" and "Get in on ground floor! That being only floor." and "Work on cutting edge making cutting edges."
So that's how I hear it now.
* 2017: orb; 2018: wall. What one-syllable noun will take on new connotations in 2019? Place your bets now, diversifying your portfolio of bingo card wagers.
# 22 Dec 2018, 02:34PM: I Welcome Your Point Of View On Whether I Am An Alto:
I love listening to and singing a lot of labor and folk songs. Like, the highlight of my week a little while back was when a friend got out his guitar and learned to play "Union Maid" and three of us sang it and harmonized together in a living room. I have an untrained voice but I enjoy using it.
A little while later, I saw a friend mention on social media that she would be participating in The Mobile Hallelujah, organized by Make Music New York, and asking whether anyone wanted to join her.
In this participatory choral program open to all interested vocalists, producer Melissa Gerstein and conductor Douglas Anderson team up to bring George Fredric Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" -- from his Messiah oratorio, the oldest continuously performed piece of Classical music -- out of the concert hall and onto the streets of NYC.
I said sure! And then, on a bus on the way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art last night, I looked at the sheet music and listened to the guide track, and, uh, NEWS FLASH, HALLELUJAH FROM HANDEL'S MESSIAH IS WAY HARDER TO LEARN THAN YOUR AVERAGE PETE SEEGER TUNE, this surprises no one. It's a gorgeous piece because it's got a bunch of interconnected cause-and-effect stuff! It's not an eternal golden braid, but it's a very complicated four-minute Rube Goldberg machine! And it's not like I am actually good at sticking to a vocal part during a round or even a simple harmony (I'm an alto I think? I've never actually checked) if there are other people near me singing another part. I sort of gravitate to whatever I'm hearing loudest and end up chameleon-ing into that, like a panicky manager throwing their hands up and saying nobody ever got fired for buying
But hey, New York City has a ton of great singers, so I figured they'd carry the thing and I would just, you know, add oomph for the bits I could figure out.
So I practiced a bit and got to the point where I could, most of the time, keep track of where I was in the sheet music. I think a bindi-wearing woman whisper-singing "Hallelujah" is in, at most, like the thirtieth percentile of weirdness achieved during that hour on New York City Transit. I arrived on the museum steps, tried and failed to find my friend, and saw people assembling -- like 8 sopranos, 20 altos, 1 bass, and an alto or two who said "I guess I'll try to sing tenor" -- and we sorted ourselves out and then the maestro gestured for us to start.
And I found out that a lot of us were muddling along! It was not like "dozens of people who know their parts very well, plus Sumana". It was .... you know how you can call food "authentic" or "rustic" to say "it was lumpy and the presentation was unpolished but I loved it because of who made it and how they made it and how I relate to them"? It was like that. We blurred a bunch of the cool counterpoints and whatnot instead of hitting them precisely, we didn't enunciate great -- whatever. We hit that last Hallelujah and I looked up from the sheet music and people on the sidewalk had gathered to listen, and they clapped! We'd done it! It was a fun thing to try, a fun challenge, and maybe I'll try to get better at singing in chorus, because that is fun!
My friend had been running late and turned up right at that last "Hallelujah". Ah well! We hung out afterwards anyway. Maybe I will see if she wants to sing some Woody Guthrie with me sometime.
I have been enjoying various bits of music recently aside from Handel's elaborate celebration of a divinity that I don't particularly believe in:
- Have you heard The Regrettes, a punk/pop/rock band with a kind of surfer feel sometimes? They covered "Helpless" from Hamilton and have music videos on YouTube. I enjoy how the videos feel like a bunch of (mostly women) friends in the 1990s having fun and goofing around while dancing and making music.
- On BBC's Gaelic radio service, there's a 2-hour, mostly-music programme that is mostly in Gaelic with a little bit in English, new every weekday, and I enjoy streaming it while I'm working or reading. The music is pleasant and, since I don't know Gaelic, the audio words don't distract me from the words I'm looking at. (But I am curious what the presenter is discussing 1:19:30-1:20:20 in the 21 December episode; Leonard and I both got the impression she's talking about getting socks for Christmas?)
- Episode 4: "Jenny" of podcast "I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats", featuring Erin McKeown's cover of a John Darnielle song, is an episode I can listen to basically over and over. As soon as I heard those strings, I was transported. And the conversation keeps making me smile and inspiring me.
# 24 Dec 2018, 10:33AM: Availability:
I'm going to be off social media a lot between now and about Jan 10th. Please email if you want to reach me - https://www.harihareswara.net/ & https://changeset.nyc/#contact have my address - but I will probably be slow & terse in response.
You can hire me through Changeset Consulting.
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