5.17.2020. Sex. Art. Drawing in the Pandemic Age

We used to meet in person to draw, and I ran the Naked Drawing Group of Washington DC. Men gathered, and the artists and the model all stripped naked and we drew once a month.

We can’t do that right now. There were lots of members in the group who classified as High Risk for COVID-19, and in a small space, the risk is elevated.

So I draw in someone else’s group, now, but I’ve worked with the model before.

Very fit, handsome and generally charming (@gymn0s) on Instagram with the @gaymenssketch group.

Hopefully, I can make it work that we meet regularly, and maybe come up with a way that NDG gets to meet on zoom as well?

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Politics. Taking down Statues is a beginning. 4-12-2020.

There will be quite a lot of people upset by this decision – mostly racists who tend to say they aren’t racist. They claim to only be honoring their heritage (of defending slavery), and that the statues were commemorating participants (traitors to their country) who fought in a war against the North trying to tell the South what to do (like not continuing chattel slavery – the practice of breeding human beings like farm animals, except these ones they liked to rape and then sell the resulting children of rape.)
 
Occasionally historians would “romanticize” it (lie to make it palatable) by saying our forefathers loved their enslaved baby-makers, as Thomas Jefferson did with Sally Hemmings, but you cannot really love someone if you own them, unless the ownership allows both parties the ability to consent without the threat of punishment.
 
That would be BDSM.
 
Consent is the difference between sex and rape, folks.
 
Yes, our honored “forefathers” were tax cheats, murderers and rapists, but that’s probably not what they taught you in school, is it? Instead they used big shiny lie-words like “Freedom” and “Liberty” to describe the small, ugly truths of theft, genocide, slavery, murder, annexation, apartheid, and systemic institutionalized racism.
 
…and so, now, referendums will show up on ballots, and cheaply cast statues will come down – set in place to reinforce and serve as reminders of White Supremacy, regardless of their stated intent.

Some statues will be moved to parks and gardens, and have plaques attached, reminding people of the murder of indigenous people, the enslavement and murder of captured Africans after their histories, language, given names, and origins of heritage were erased, and statues placed by the Daughters of the Confederacy at times when Black people were beginning to gain wealth and power, before Jim Crow laws and riots, and white men in their wives’ good White sheets transformed into symbols of terrorism, on horseback, burning torches and crosses firmly established the state of oppression and the rules Black people were expected to live by if we did not want to expect to be murdered.

 
Those rules have changed, and the new Jim Crow, private prisons, red-lining, institutionalized racism, and living under the White Gaze and standards which impose a maze of obstacles, pitfalls and penalties where a White person can fail and get back up and fail and get back up, and get multiple chances at success, where a Black person can just appear to break a rule, and their life is ruined, as is their family’s life and their children’s lives.
 
There’s a reason why more of us are dying of COVID-19 in the land of the “Free” but maybe soon, at least we won’t have to:
 
Walk past the statues of men who conducted experiments on Black women without anesthetic who created the foundations for gynecology in this country.
 
Men who murdered tribes of indigenous people and shuffled them off to land where nothing grows,

Men who were tasked with governing stolen land and decided they were not given rights to speak so they were granted rights to steal the land from the thieves who stole it first after murdering the indigenous people who occupied it and called it all “discovery.”

 
Men who led armies of poor and uneducated White men into battle, told the ignorant that it was about Northern aggression, but in private lounges, boardrooms, and in correspondence, it was always in defense of slavery.
 
It was always about continuing to allow the machine to run that ground the bodies of enslaved Africans, murdered indigenous people, imported cheap labor with restricted rights, and turned it into the foundations of wealth that powers Wall Street, the oldest banks, the oldest insurance companies, and the names that whisper to you from University gallery walls, and trusts and endowments that still quietly run this country, pay for privatized prisons, armed enclaves, and private rows of mansions on exclusive islands and coastal wildly wealthy communities.

Oh yes, we blame it all on the South, but you really need to know where all the money ended up, right?

Essay in reference to this article:

Virginia Cities Now Have the Power To Remove Confederate Statues


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Politics. Nobody Listens to Cassandra. 04.02.2020

It must be horrible to be Senator Warren.
 
She instigates the Obama administration into establishing an agency to protect consumers from predatory lending practices, and an advocate for the banks and Wall Street undermined her efforts.

A bunch of moneyed men lobbied to keep her from running it if they would allow it to be established, and the proceeded to write gaps and loopholes into the law, so that it would be toothless, provide no real protection, and as happens to a lot of good ideas that get in the way of the pigs running to the trough, it was dismantled or repurposed.

 
…so basically what the CFPB is now is a toothless agency that produces “financial responsibility” videos. Payday loans are back in favor. Credit card companies are still gouging their customers. Foreclosures are still happening on a massive scale and are disproportionately hitting communities of color, since the predatory lenders offering the loans targeted communities that had the least amount of experience in managing debt, and took them at their word that the interest rates offered were acceptable, even when the customers were qualified for much lower rates.
 
Warren’s family had stories that there was a bit of Native American in her bloodline and she took the stories seriously and applied for aid while under the impression that she was part Native American.

In this country, that requires something called “blood quantum” which is a percentage of Native American genetics showing up under testing.

 
Our current President kept calling her a racist Native American term, so she got tested to silence his commentary.
 
Turns out there were traces of Native American in her bloodline, but not enough to meet the “blood quantum” standard – then with the assistance of a tribe that has aligned with the current occupant of the White House, her claims were denied and the smear was reinforced.

Its funny now how some tribes are finding that aligning with a President who has no loyalty has a cost as tribes are having their status revoked and lands seized if their interests run counter to people who used to work for the current President.

 
Sen. Warren quoted a private conversation in which a fellow candidate said that the country wasn’t ready for her to be President.
 
She may have heard what he said as the country not being ready for a woman to be President.
 
The candidate then denied it on stage, pretty much painting Warren to be liar.

She called him out, because she’s the kind of person who feels like slights and wrongdoing needs to be addressed while its still fresh so we can all move on, and again she was waived off and dismissed.

This happens to women all the time and frankly, I don’t know why they haven’t just picked up the nearest object and smacked the shit out of people when it happens.

 
His fans all cheered and smeared her some more, and to this day get upset and call her “dishonest.”
 
…and can’t see that basically in calling her “dishonest,” they are echoing a talking point from the Trump campaign about another qualified woman who ran in 2016.
 
One who I’m fairly certain would have been able to handle a global crisis without lying, without trying to undermine the staff hired to handle the issue, and without using the office of the President to enrich herself by playing golf at her own hotels for 20% of the total time she would be in office.
 
Warren ran for President, and the American public, rather than look at her plans, listen to her logic, and vote for the best choice, decided instead to vote for what we see as the default setting in this country for leadership – old White dudes with name recognition and vague platitudes.

The media saw Senator Warren as a threat and did what they do when threatened – they turned their cameras away from her. They refused to mention her name. They didn’t bother to look too hard at one of the old men who had the troubling habit of touching people and smelling people without consent, would get visibly rattled and start rambling when confronted with his history of collaborating the the GOP and his votes. Those votes started wars, helped the prison system grow, undermined our schools, made credit card interest rates soar, and made it impossible for private citizens to use bankruptcy laws to renegotiate student loan debt.

The other, with his band of entitled and angry followers, aggrieved by what they saw as theft of their rights in 2016, mixed in with a few angry Russian Trolls and bots set up to stir the pot, increase the anger, and further increase factionalism and divides in this country.

Sanders was and is able to see what’s wrong with the country, but when asked how to fix it, offers over-simplified solutions that don’t address the fact that we’d be throwing millions of Americans out of work to accomplish his goals.

They don’t address the fact that the country is gigantic, it would take time to switch over to a single-payer system, it would not happen without a fight, and that there are a lot of people in this country who can not go a single day without medical coverage.

Some existing laws on the books would mean that segments of the population would not have access to care, specifically women needing abortions, where we have laws on the books that prevent the Federal government from funding the process.

 
Senator Warren saw that we had gross exposure to pandemics in 2018, and science was indicating we were ripe for another lethal wave, so she and another Senator tried to address the problem with the White House, and were ignored.

Again.

The White House tends to ignore anyone that questions them, and if they persist, they are attacked, and smeared, all in a misguided effort to undermine government.

The platform of the GOP is to destroy government. Steve Bannon announced this in 2017 at CPAC during a lunchtime speech.

People cheered.

Its funny how people are usually all ready to hate and vilify government until they realize that clean water, clean air, food that won’t kill you, access to medical care, access to education, working roads and bridges, oversight over the powerful so they do not abuse their power, and many other functions are only possible if the government is funded, supported, and working.

 
We do not have an integrated and funded Federal Level public health service in this country.

Pandemics require a coordinated response, staffed with qualified people to stop the wave before it hit our shores, and to contain it once its here.

Only last week, VP. Pence was asking hospitals and states to email in their pandemic numbers and testing results. There was no database set up to collect the information. No website to centralize the effort.

Nothing.

Only last week, the Pentagon admitted it has 4,000 ventilators ready to be shipped to hospitals, but they were waiting on the White House for weeks to tell them where to send them.

Only last week, stockpiles of expired masks were found and had to be thrown out or the rules changed that could potentially jeopardize health care staff, the first line of defense in an epidemic,  because the office in charge of verifying and rotating out stock was dismantled and never replaced.

Businesses can run just-in-time inventory.

Governments need to be prepared in advance, so their responses can be coordinated and pro-active.

Being reactive means more people die.

 
Instead we got a lot of lies while GOP Senators were privately telling companies its about to get bad and then proceeded to dump a lot of stock.
 
It has to be infuriating to be a woman in this country – to know that you know the answers, you are capable and qualified, and for whatever reason, you’ll just be yelling into the wind, since most people in this country, regardless of race or gender, will always be ready to find a reason not to listen to you.

Mother Jones Article

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Politics. The Trap of the Feel Good Story. 03.26.2020

I love that people are stepping up and innovating solutions, and I admire that in people.

This is humanity at its best and most generous.

I am infuriated that we had and have multiple opportunities to be proactive about this and preparing for what’s coming, and our President continues to gaslight and do nothing unless forced to act.

He will be signing a bill, but only because its passing with a veto-proof bi-partisan majority.

If he weren’t so busy covering his own ass in January by calling Senators to coerce them into not hearing testimony, maybe he might have read the WHO report, the intelligence reports, and the Lancet Paper that informed him of what was coming two months before he finally admitted it was a serious matter and then proceeded to take minimal steps to do anything about it publicly, while privately trying to profit from the oncoming disaster.

I said this earlier to a friend – every President until this one, even the ones we really didn’t like, operated from the standpoint that you can’t do a thing if it even has the appearance of wrong-doing.

Of all of the faults of our current President, the one that was the most telling of how he would operate and the most damning of him is the fact that he has always lived his life pushing limits, and not in a good way.

Most people, when they push boundaries are looking to reach higher goals, and to achieve what is not usually thought to be achievable.

In this President, he pushes limits to see how much he can get away with and then tries to push even further in all things.

He can’t just marry one woman. He wants every attractive woman he sees, and feels like wealth and fame allows him to violate boundaries and take what he wants. He disposed of wives, interlacing his path with porn stars and strippers, often before divorce was even offered to the women to whom he was still married.

Then there’s the alleged rapes and alleged pedophilia that have swirled and swirls around him and those close to him.

In business, he pushes and pushed boundaries, allegedly taking money from oligarchs to run his businesses after burning every financier available to burn, and pocketing the proceeds, licensing his name and slapping it up on properties. Negotiating contracts and then stiffing people who did the work and forcing them to accept a percentage of the already to the bone agreed upon rates, causing many businesses to fail since they couldn’t cover the cost of working for him.

He used and uses the law like a weapon, and where he demands loyalty, he is inconsistent in being true to people who have sacrificed for him.

…so people out of their own pockets and time are having to scrape together things to save loved ones, families and total strangers, because that his the human thing to do.

While right now, in the White House, the President of our country and the leader of his party is likely trying to find a way to get his hands on taxpayer cash for his own profit.

Stories like these are a trap.

We are lulled into our feelings by the admirable qualities of human beings being kind and generous to one-another, which draws focus off the problem – specifically that our government and corporations knew there as an oncoming problem, as many donors were notified of the seriousness of COVID-19 in meetings with their Congresspeople and Senators just before those same folks dumped a bunch of stock.

…and then for months, they sat on the information, while the President stood behind his podium, on site at disasters in his disaster costume of MAGA hat and Teflon jacket with Presidential seal, no tie, and golf-khakis, so after the photo opp, he could fly off to another one of his golf courses and play a few rounds and soak the taxpayer for the bill.

In essence waiting for people to go to Mardi Gras, and Spring Break, and Winter Parties and conventions, and then after everyone mingled, hugged, shook hands and kissed, then announced that it was a pandemic after the illness had maximum opportunity to spread.

Was it a conspiracy? No. Was it people failing to act independently of each other creating the perfect conditions for global contagion to spread, combined with that less than admirable character trait of human beings – the desire to say “fuck you, I do what I want” in the face of being asked to exercise caution, restraint, and selflessness.

Yes. It was most certainly that, because had people been paying attention, where the White House was lying because that’s what it does, the rest of the world was telling you the truth if you had bothered to stop self medicating and self distracting and picked up or clicked on some actual news sources.

…So while the lion’s share of the blame for the Trump Virus lies at the White House, many of us share the blame as well for inaction, for not paying attention, and for being less than generous to each other as human beings when given ample opportunity to do so.

https://wjla.com/news/local/13-year-old-uses-parents-3d-printer-to-make-masks-hes-now-donating

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Sex. Social Distancing and the Solitary Gay Man. Part One. 3.20.20

Masturbation is a part of life for most sexual beings. Most times, we do it alone, to take the edge off. It’s perfunctory. We know where the buttons are, how hard to push, what to gently stroke and when, if we want it soft, or rough, and what selection of porn, whether it’s on screen or in our heads will move us from the stroke, to the shortness of breath, to the brink, holding our breaths until we tip over, our joyful brains overwhelmed and jizz just shooting, or spurting or oozing as the orgasm washes over us.

Then, we either rub it in and go to sleep, some eat their own jizz, or you find a cloth, an old sock, that roll of paper towel to wipe it all away, and then pull up your pants, tuck in your shirt, flush, go wash your hands and get back to work.

…or take the disk out of the blu Ray and hide it in that book on the high shelf nobody reads, pull up your sweats, and stagger back into the home office…

…or grab the soapy cloth you prepared before you started stroking, wipe your hands, grab the dry hand towel and dry off, shoot a shot for the laundry basket in the corner, pull up the covers and be out like a light before 20 breaths were taken.

…but let me ask you a question.

What if you took your time?

What if you looked into buying yourself a toy, or a few?

What if the toys did more than go up your butt?

More than wiggle and buzz?

More than able to be controlled by your phone.

What if the toy or device stroked your dick for you?

What if it did it exactly how you like it?

What if the toy operated like a video game?

Or, what if the device had wires and light electrical impulses that made if feel like someone was stroking your dick?

From the inside out?

What if there were ways that you could orgasm that would roll through your body at an intensity and length of time to make you wonder if you should call 911, because it. just. won’t. stop.

Do you realize that now, as a solitary gay male, once you get your work done, walk and feed your pets, and get through all the tasks, you have an opportunity while everyone has to stay in their homes to explore you?

Yes. You.

A chance to look online for something you haven’t tried, but were always curious about.

A chance to pull your bookmark list, or your box of old DVDs, or Blu Rays…

Or dusty old VCR tape?

To play with the porn you haven’t watched in ages?

To spread out on the couch, on the floor, on your bed, in a quiet corner of the garden, wherever you’re alone and have some privacy, and to fully explore your body?

To get out those old toys and devices, or to order something you haven’t tried, to see what it feels like to stick your dick in that? Or there? Or to play with your tight pucker. Nobody ever does that for you, but secretly you like it.

You like it a lot.

Or you’re tired of all the focus on your hole and you want to let your kind roam over what it would be like to bend over the chef, the plumber, your boss, and fuck him while he begs for it. You may be a bottom, but sometimes you’d like to top.

Or your a top, and sometimes, you really just wish that man you’ve been splitting like cordwood for years would just grab you, flip you over and put all of it in you.

Well, you have time now.

Take some time for you.

…and explore.

…and enjoy.

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Politics. Hosting Guests in a Pandemic. 3-14-2020

We are living in interesting times.

This week, COVID-19 – a Coronavirus believed to have originated in a live animal market in Wuhan, China – was declared a global pandemic earlier this week. It came in at a time of the year where people’s allergies in the United States are beginning to play havoc with peoples eyes, sinuses, and lungs, resulting in sneezing and coughing.

We also have a few versions of the flu that appear to still be active, but are on the decline.

All of these ailments have combined to change simple, taken for granted tasks like going to the grocery store, going to see a movie, heading out for a drink, even congregating in public or religious spaces into moments with underlying dread, tension, and a light-motif of terror.

We’re seeing the news reports scrolling through our feeds about how other countries who responded quickly and proactively to COVID-19, with public drive-thru easily available testing, multiple weeks of government subsidized quarantine, and tax dollars spent to hospitalize people who were suffering the more dire effects of the illness.

We know, here in this country, we don’t have public health services. We have a President who seems to think that a pandemic is a hoax created by the party that opposes him to undermine his re-election in 2020.

Its been left up to businesses, piece-meal, to decide if they will stay open to serve the communities, or close to protect them and their businesses.

We don’t have mandatory paid sick leave in this country, so that means a lot of people are going to lose the better part of a month’s pay.

We don’t have subsidized art support, so a lot of contract musicians, actors and artists are not going to be paid for all of the shows and events that have had to close out of an abundance of caution and so not as to be a vector for contagion.

After I turned 50, a lot of my work prospects dried up.

I’m a graphic designer by trade, and I have a few clients, but I’ve seen my salary drop to about a third of what I used to make, and that’s before taxes.

I have friends who help and one who had to move back to the Midwest who passed the 50+ threshold as well, had a house, and asked if I’d cover the mortgage and upkeep and in exchange I have free reign over what to do with the 1919 Craftsman 4-square house with a finished attic and basement.

I put a sewing room and archives for my art upstairs in the attic. The basement, I clawed and scraped money, used some of my skills as an amateur furniture designer and decorator, and turned the finished basement into a small suite of rooms, and jumped into the rental bed and breakfast market to try to cover the gap, to stay off public assistance, and  to pay down those student loans that were the result of a career change, from Credit and Collections analyst to, now, senior graphic designer (freelance.)

About 4 months after I opened, I achieved superhost status (yay!)

Then, we started hearing about a strange ailment in China sometimes towards late December, then it got a name: Coronavirus, a scientific name which indicated it was in the same family as SARS, and then the name the media is now using : COVID-19.

Around the same time this was happening, our President was being investigated and impeached for coercing a foreign government, Ukraine, into investigating a political opponent by withholding financial and military assistance while they were in the middle of a hot war with an adversary (Russia), who also, strangely enough, has been implicated in interfering in and assisting with the same President’s election campaign.

The President then actively obstructed justice by intimidating witnesses, and coercing his own staff not to comply with subpoenas.

The House voted to impeach.

COVID-19 went global.

The Senate Trial began.

The White House allegedly was in contact with various GOP Senators, coercing them to vote not to hear witnesses or they would be primaried – candidates more likely to align with the President’s point of view run against those who disobeyed,  so they’d lose their seats –  or as stated by Rep. Adam Schiff, “Their heads would be on a pike,” as indicated by unnamed sources.

Around the same time this was happening in January, the World Health Organization was passing out testing kits in order to track the spread of what would later be declared a pandemic.

The White House refused the test.

There’s a few theories as to why:

He didn’t want to be seen accepting help from the UN after vilifying them for years.

He allegedly owned stock in a company that makes testing supplies and saw another opportunity to make money off the American people.

He was distracted and afraid of being removed from office, and was paying more attention to covering his ass than he was in paying attention to the job at hand.

He knew that if you have numbers to report, the outbreak looks bad, and a President never wants things to look bad in an election year.

Particularly since parts of the Mueller report, and investigations out of the Southern District of New York would indicate that if the President loses his re-election bid, he very well could be indicted by two separate places on multiple charges immediately after leaving office.

All of that is in the news.

In the meantime, tourism and the hospitality industry gradually became more aware, and bookings started to dry up. Then, the President pulled from his limited toolbox of things he always tries to solve problems and closed our borders to guests from Europe which resulted in even more cancellations.

I  have some domestic travelers booking for now, likely because renting a suite in a house with low-contact with other people sounds like a much more attractive venture than staying in a hotel with a bunch of guests, and having to push buttons and turn knobs that other people have touched, and ride with potential vectors in elevators.

That meant reviewing my cleaning protocols for the space, and it turns out, based on health and safety standards out there, were already good before COVID-19 came along.

Nitrile gloves go on.

Guest trash goes in bags and out to the garbage cans.

New gloves go on.

Bedding is stripped – all of it including mattress covers, duvets and pillows – and all are sanitized with Oxy-Clean

All surfaces wiped with Barbicide solution in the bedroom and common area.

All towels and bath mats sanitized with Oxy-clean.

The entire bathroom, all surfaces, wiped with bleach based cleaning solution.

Light switches, door handles, and TV remotes wiped down with Barbicide solution.

Bed lightly misted with Barbicide and steam cleaned with Barbicide solution once a month.

There’s probably more I could do, but that’s a whole lot more than you usually get between guests at a hotel, or at most guest spaces.

Then, the space airs for a day while the laundry goes through the machines.

Next day to prepare for guests, a lightly perfumed atomizer is run to scent the bedroom. A candle is lit to lightly scent the common area. I make a few pounds of cookie dough and freeze it so I always have some on hand. A dozen freshly baked cookies await the new guest. Milk, filtered water and juice stock the room fridge. A coffee and tea bar is set up with mugs and glasses, and an electric kettle for tea.

The room is checked for dust an hour before the guests arrived, and lights left on low to welcome them.

Sometimes there’s even foil-wrapped chocolate left in the room if I have some on hand.

There’s always going to be someone who is required to travel, even under pandemic conditions. Sometimes they need a place that feels safe, and comfortable, like home.

I try to provide that for people.

If you’re ever in DC, and you need a comfortable, quiet place to stay:
https://airbnb.com/h/cozy-brentwood-md-retreat

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Politics. On Democracy, and Centrism. 02.13.2020

The party shifted to the center after the single term of President Jimmy Carter. Carter was held to a single term in large part because he was undermined by the apparatus within Government, specifically within the GOP that wanted a figurehead who would read the lines as written, and not get in the way of the machine.
 
The President they wanted was Ronald Reagan.

George HW Bush wanted too much to lead, and interfere in the desires of those who controlled the party and the party didn’t like that, so he was held to one term.

George W Bush returned the GOP to a Presidency in which he just read the lines and signed the bills, while the apparatus behind the scenes ran the machine, promoted the wars, and subverted the policy to enrich the few.

 
The Democratic Party then decided it needed money to fight this, it needed the resources of Corporate America and to gain those resources, there would be a cost.
 
The Centrist wing of the party coalesced behind that idea, and the policy of Centrist Democracy in large part led by Bill Clinton took hold.
 
Unions were abandoned or pushed back on the priority list.
 
Donations accepted from banks, hospital corporations, pharmaceutical companies, heath insurance companies, real estate developers, and private prison companies, technology companies and the news and entertainment industries and the parties’ platform adjusted to accommodate their new “friends.”
 
Obama was more or less a Centrist as well, and believed that corporations needed to continue to be part of the solution, even as they lobbied behind his back, undermined his plans, took all the aid he had to offer and as quickly as they could, made sure most of it wound up in the hands of the wealthy.
 
Wealthy people tend to stay wealthy because they can’t seem to let go of money once they have hold of it.
 
There are drawbacks to being a Centrist.
 
The center of the political spectrum is not a fixed point, and the GOP discovered it can easily be moved to their benefit by pushing forward a few extremists to scream and yell, and in order to appear moderate, the Centrists adjust their position.
 
Since there was nobody being listened to on the Left as the center chased the money, the party was dragged to the Right, and the Left and eventually the Left-Center voices ignored as the Democratic party became “Republican Light.”
 
The Democratic Party ignored the Unions, went along with “Right to Work” bills, took the caps off interest rates which allowed the lenders with fees and penalties to almost double the profits on credit card debt, made renegotiating or going bankrupt on student loans nearly impossible and started reducing the amounts available on Pell Grants and were OK with the cost of education ever climbing.
 
We voted along with school choice bills which undermined public education funding.
 
We went along with crimes bills and OK’d 3-strikes sentencing guidelines, and harsher sentencing for crack cocaine.
 
Now, as we look back at the effects of going along with the Center of the Party, about half of the country feels abandoned by both parties since they no longer serve the people. They serve their donors and ignore the needs of the people.
 
The Democratic Party needs to return to its platform that serves the people.
 
We need stronger Unions, and it needs to be easier to form Unions.
 
Right to Work laws need to be repealed. It needs to be difficult for an employer to fire someone without just cause, and employees need not be at the mercy of their employers anymore.
 
It needs to be clear that the most valued part of a company is not its shareholders, its board, or its executives.
 
The most valuable part of a company is its labor. You can’t make anything, keep track of the receipts, or serve your customers without it.
 
It also needs to be realized that your employees do not dream of your success. They do not and should not devote their lives to the job and you as a corporate leader cannot expect that from your labor. They are there to do a job. If you have a dream that you need labor to fulfill, you need to be able to pay the people who work for you enough so they can take care of themselves, including having money left over for their dreams to be fulfilled.
 
We need a social safety net in this country.

When our country was at its strongest, these ideals were in place.

 
Technology will displace people and there needs to be care taken of folks who are left behind. We can’t just abandon people, or expect them to incur huge debt retraining for the new economy, because frankly, some folks can’t be expected to be constantly in school. Some folks are not suited for that. There needs to be a safety net to catch people and right now we don’t have one. Not really. Its been cut away and borrowed against by both sides of the political spectrum to the point now that its a very real possibility for those paying Social Security taxes that there will be no payout for them when they come of age to need it.
 
Businesses and the wealthy, despite their desire to cling to their wealth need to be encouraged to pay taxes as a part of being good citizens, and to try if possible to keep labor here in the US, and to allow other countries to use their labor to grow their nations, instead of the constant chase to the bottom, to find labor at its cheapest price so that goods can be exported into the US market, and profits off-shored to tax havens to be hoarded. 
 
Where we are now, the wealthy hoard their wealth. The middle classes are squeezed by expenses and have no money to pursue their dreams. The poor are so exhausted from scrambling from job to piece of a job, they are neglecting their health and well being to survive, in the vain hope that if they work harder, someday they won’t have to, and then injury and old age comes along with the reality of that lie.
 
We need to reverse course from where we are now and return to what the Democratic Party used to be if we want this country to survive.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/11/04/elections-2018-democrats-history-liberal-progressive-socialist-222187

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Politics. Employment. A Tiny Grain of Sand. 1.19.2020

Sometimes you have to work for people who are less than honorable to keep the lights on.


Sometimes integrity is a luxury that people with resources can afford, and the rest of us wish we could.


But for those of us once stuck in that machine, and those of us now “free,” but much more poor and wounded for the experience, there for me was once a comforting thought I had after it was confirmed I was losing that job.

There was a young man who had been in a similar job within the same company for years. He saw the work I did and occasionally came to me to ask how was I able to design for causes and people I found detestable.
I confessed to him, some things I created made me physically ill. Pounding headaches and nausea and I had to sit in the dark to create them and try not to be eaten up by disgust and self hatred.

But two things allowed me to get through it.

Reserving funds from their work and donating to the opposite cause.

…and being a grain of sand in the machine.

I did my work and provided quality design but often on one of my comps, I designed in the truth they wished to hide, and if you were looking for it, you could see it. In meetings, I would ask the questions that would make the project managers realize the people we were trying to mislead were our family and friends, and the energy in the room would drop, and I’d forward ideas on how we could do that, each with a tiny grain of sand.

A grain of sand is tiny. It really can’t do much but be subtly annoying, but over time, that grain of sand can ruin the smooth working of machines.

I told him, if you find yourself in the same position, keep yourself alive, but find a way to lodge a tiny grain of sand in the machine.

You’ll be surprised at how this can alleviate despair.

So the end came a year ago or so, and I packed my things, and declined to go out for that final drink, because I said my goodbyes to those I liked, and it was a bridge too far to ask me to smile and be kind to those I really detested, so I put my things in my car, and despaired on the drive home since I knew it was going to be harder to keep the lights on.

I was underemployed for almost 7 months, doing everything from delivering booze, to taking small design jobs from friends who probably could have done the thing themselves.

Friends took care of me in big and small ways and to those friends I am grateful and often feel amazed and undeserving of their kindness and care.

More clients came. Not quite the same as before and never as much money as before but the lights stayed on.

…and occasionally I hear from the other designers each inside their own machines in various degrees, occasionally asked to make the thing that kills their souls just a little bit to keep the lights on.

…and I remember the little grains of sand.

So I told him my secret, and he smiled a smile that should never be on a face so young, so I know he understood me.

So, if you are stuck inside a company, and they ask for the thing that is detestable and you do not have the privilege to fight openly or decline, focus your despair, your rage, your disappointment. Distill it down to a tiny point, no bigger than a grain of sand. Do the best you can so you can keep the lights on, but make sure that grain of sand makes it into the machine.

Because a grain of sand is tiny. But too many of them over time degrade and eventually destroy the machine.

…and in doing so, in feeling a little less futile maybe you can save yourself.
Sometimes my rants on here are like little grains of sand…

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The 400 Dollar Apple Juice

Apples-11-19-19
I bought some apples about a week ago from Costco, and wasn’t quite ready to make pies yet, but I had a craving for some apple juice.
 
I usually tend to stay away from the store bought kind because its really not a lot of apple and mostly sugar, and the 100% juice kinds are rarely all apple juice. They usually add some other juice in like white grape or something and I when I want apple juice, I want apple juice.

Yeah, I know, but its how I am.

 
I also get a bit of an itch in my throat when I eat apple skin. Its not full on throat closure or a major allergic reaction, but as I get older and allergies pop up at the strangest times, I tend to peel my apples before I juice them. I tend not to drink cider for the same reason. Probably losing a lot of nutritional value taking off the peels. 
 
Didn’t care. Wanted apple juice.
 
I bought a juicer. Used to have one in the attic but that went out in a purge two years ago and a smaller, less painful to take apart one now sits in the kitchen waiting for a craving that I’ve had for about a year and use maybe a couple times a month?
 
So I peeled three of two kinds of apples, honeycrisp and snap dragon, cut and cored them, popped them into the juicer and had a tall, slightly frothy glass of delicious juice sprinkled lightly with nutmeg like fancy people do.
 
I really should have just thrown the peels in the trash.
 
I really should have emptied the compost pail but it was rainy and I was lazy.
 
I really should not have put apple peels down the Insinkerator.
 
…but I did.
 
I tend to cook with fats that go solid under cool temperatures and while most of the fats go into my belly, some residual does occasionally go down the sink, chased by lots of dish soap and hot water, but doing that still coats the insides of your pipes and when it gets colder, those pipes get narrowed with built up grease, usually remedied by hot vinegar or lemon juice sent down the drains, but again, lazy.
 
Then there were the cocktail darts from a few months ago.

They look like fancy blowdarts made of metal, and look really cool garnishing a well-crafted cocktail.

 
One found its way out of the dish rack and into the disposal unit and made really ugly sounds when I flipped the switch.
 
I was able to extricate the dart with pliers and just a little blood sacrificed from scraped knuckles, and the unit still worked, but was a lot more rattle and hum than it used to be and probably didn’t cut the bits of food up as fine.
 
I bought a standby disposal last year and stuck it in the pantry, waiting for the day of the big failure, so I could get under the sink and replace it.

This house is old, and apparently flippers or amateur contractors got in at some point and rather than installing iron pipes with eased curves, they went with PVC, and some pretty impractical pipe joins.

So there have been clogs before and usually I was able to work them free.

But apparently ground up apple peels running down a narrowed pipe during the first good cold snap of the season made for perfect conditions to lock that pipe down.

So I replaced the dispose-all. Works lovely. Nice quiet whirr.

Nope.

Checked the P-trap (curved pipe headed toward the wall).

All clear P trap, but clog is still down there somewhere.

So, I tried hot water.

Nope.

baking soda and vinegar and hot water.

Lots of fizz, but NOPE.

Then the noxious chemicals from the clog aisle came home on 5 separate degrading trips to the local Lowes. The clog aisle with the plumbing supplies is terrifying. There’s lots of chemicals that should never be near each other all on the same shelf, some even in the same bottles wrapped in plastic marked PELIGRO in big warning letters, and lots of bottles of stuff that’s “guaranteed to work or its free” but the process to get your refund will take you more man-hours to do than just eating the cost and moving on.

All of them in various configurations with and without hot water found their way down the pipe along with trick plungers, augurs that don’t work too well on PVC with sharp turns, and lots of bailing out the sink and sequestering my dogs to my office as I carry buckets of smoking evil from the kitchen into the toilet and flush it down.

My eyes ached. My body ached.

Do you know how horrible it is to not have coffee in the morning or at all during the day and have to do stuff like this?

So I went on Next Door, typed “plumber” in the search bar to pull up recommendation threads and picked someone who got good recommendations, was reasonably priced, cared about his work.

I tend to stay away from the big-name folks when it comes to stuff like plumbing in an old house, because they seem to train the new young guns to up-sell everything and find random things that NEED TO BE FIXED RIGHT NOW OR YOU”LL PERISH IN FLAMES, but delivered in a folksy calm voice.

I’m tired and haven’t been caffeinated for 3 days, the headaches from withdrawal are bringing out the stabby side of my personality, so a nice dude who has his own gear, is a master plumber, and is open to side jobs after his main job is done sounded like the ticket.

A dude showed up on my doorstep on time, looking authentically grimy, driving a grimy truck, came in, introduced himself, we chatted, I went back into my office, heard him dragging in tarps and heavy sounding things that grated and whirred.

15 minutes later, the glorious sound of free moving water going down the drain was coming from my kitchen.

I have a big bowl of full sized candy, less than a few weeks old left over from Halloween. I’ve seen kids go by, but they never come ring the bell. Not sure why, but there’s always leftover full size bars.

I’ve never seen a grown man so happy. He said, “I don’t want to be greedy…” but you knew he wanted to be greedy.

I said, “go on. It will go to waste. You have people at home who will enjoy some candy bars so take as much as you like.”

I don’t think the guy gets a lot of side jobs. Probably doesn’t advertise? Not sure. But he did a great job, seemed really happy with the check I wrote him, cleared up after himself and left happy as a clam with a lunch-bag full of candy.

I did a thorough cleaning on all surfaces of the kitchen, replaced my gel mats (they don’t do well with caustic chemistry), and then I tallied up the cost of that apple juice, between augurs, plungers, nitrile gloves, two big jugs of vinegar, like 9 bottles of drain cleaners and the plumber who took all of 15 minutes to clear the problem up.

I spent $400 on a fucking glass of apple juice.

…sigh.

I guess some of it was required, but I think next time a clog happens, I’m calling the plumber.

You know what I want right now?

Another glass of apple juice.

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Sex. Art. 10.6.19. Model: Peter and some collage figures from previous sessions

It’s been a while since I’ve drawn – largely because the time I used to have to draw and blog and focus on creation has been redirected into nurturing.

I was in line at the local supermarket, being nosy as a woman was having an animated conversation about her friend Tony, and an informal network of folks who find homes for unwanted dogs. Our county’s shelter may be a kill-shelter vs. a rescue shelter, so pet lovers are forming their own informal networks.

I adopted a pair of small dogs, to be informed on the day I was to pick them up that the female of the pair is likely pregnant and asked if I still wanted them.

Of course I did.

Two months later, Kora, ready to pop, did so while I was out to breakfast, and I came home to find her in labor and a tiny hamster sized dog mewling and trying to crawl behind my home office trash can.

That was 5 weeks ago.

He of the pair has been neutered.

The puppies are now teething, in the process of being weaned, and leaving me with just enough energy to draw.

…so, here are some drawings.

…and some puppies.

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