Deboarding the trump train?

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Too little too late, and too much damage already done.

Sorry. I will not be waiting on the platform at the station with open arms.

I read a thread on Twitter about embracing people disavowing trump. I cannot bring myself to do that unless a person has also done a 180 and is now:

  • Pro choice & birth control
  • Against pharmacists, medical professionals, and civil servants using their “consciences” to discriminate against the people they’re employed to serve
  • Anti racism
  • Anti religious bigotry
  • Pro separation of church and state
  • Anti voter suppression
  • No long in denial about climate change
  • No longer an anti-vaxxer
  • Pro healthcare for all
  • Pro social safety nets
  • Pro Social Security and Medicaid
  • Pro civil rights for the LGBT community

People have to change. Just saying “well Donald trump conned us” is not enough, because every single person who voted for him and has now decided he’s a piece of crap for whatever reason heard the “man” say “Grab ’em by the pussy” and they still went into the voting booth and marked his name on their ballot.

They heard his remarks about people from Mexico.

They heard his remarks about blood coming from Megyn Kelly’s “whatever.”

They frankly enjoyed his rallies where he encouraged violence against protestors.

They saw his treatment of a Gold Star family.

They heard him say “my African-American.”

They saw him attempt to physically menace Hillary Clinton during debates.

They saw his disrespectful behavior during debates.

They chanted LOCK HER UP, LOCK HER UP.

Now they feel that they were conned? How, exactly? Because he really is the total piece of slug-like sentient garbage that he presented himself to be? Because there’s no damn wall? Because he didn’t bring back coal jobs? Because the #1 item sold at Walmart stores in West Virginia is Ramen Noodles? Because they realized that getting rid of Obamacare meant getting rid of their Obamacare too, not just Obamacare for people they don’t approve of?

This sounds to me like someone in prison getting religion and asking for parole because they’ve turned their life around.

I’m going to use a Christian Southern expression because it suits this subject perfectly: Unless the people deboarding the trump train have all had a come to Jesus moment and renounced being deplorable, I don’t want them anywhere near me, and I am NOT going to forgive and forget because so much damage has already been done, so many people have already been hurt, and some have died.

You can’t undo that by disavowing a politician.

Container Gardening – Squash?

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A friend suggested that I try growing squash in a large planter. She told me to look for a “bush” variety. I wasn’t able to find that type of seeds anywhere here, so she mailed a few seeds to me from her own plants from last summer.

I planted three seeds. They all germinated and the plants seem to have plenty of room. Per my friend’s advice, I mixed used coffee grounds and crushed eggshells into the potting soil before planting the seeds. I added more coffee grounds to all my plants a couple of days ago when the plant looked like this:

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Today, I have actual squash blossoms!

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Used coffee grounds are a WONDERFUL fertilizer. But look up the plant before you add coffee grounds to the soil, because they aren’t appropriate fertilizer for all plants.

I don’t know the name of this squash variety, just that it’s a variety that grows up into a bush instead of running in vines on the ground. It won’t reach its full height in this container, but if you have to container garden and you really want squash, you can have it!

Recreating Your Altar: Yes, it’s Okay

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This post is especially for pagans/Wiccans/witches still in their “year and a day” period.

So you set up an altar, and probably you felt connected to a particular goddess/goddess and god/pantheon. Maybe you set up a simple altar and didn’t put a lot of money into the components. That’s actually good and smart and not what I did. Well, I didn’t spend a great deal of money, but I did buy two beautiful goddess figurines based on an oracle card reading that told me that one goddess was trying to reach me and a fascination with another goddess. At first, I felt very connected and centered to the goddesses. After several months, I lost the connection. I kept doing all the things that I had done since the beginning, but I could not regain that feeling of presence.

At the same time, I was spending a lot of time outside in the spring preparing and planting my garden. It’s been a difficult year–I don’t have to say why, but add health worries and family issues on top of that–and I got to a point that if I didn’t touch a plant every day, I was miserable. I realized that the goddess whose presence I craved was nature.

You already know that you don’t have to have an altar. We don’t have dogma. But if you’re like me and you like altars and symbols–perhaps a carryover from Catholic school?–you can build a budget altar and save up for things that you love, like the mini cast iron cauldron that I just bought. Budget or altar of your dreams, if you find yourself pulled in another direction six months later, it’s okay to change. And it’s okay to feel drawn to another deity. If another goddess or god seems to tug at your heart for months, it’s time to sit down and try to determine if this deity should become a part of your life.

How do you know? Meditation, sitting or walking can give you insight. Tarot or oracle cards can be a great help, but try to stay away from god/goddess decks. Turning over a goddess card doesn’t mean that goddess should be your goddess. Different deities speak to us when they have something to say.

Reading books–NOT random articles online–can help you learn about the specific mythology associated with your deity. Serving a deity is serious and arduous. This is one reason that many modern pagans choose goddess and/or god symbols instead of a particular deity.

I believe that “God” is a part of our universe and appears to people in a form that they can connect with and understand. We are not so far from our BCE ancestors. We are sheltered from and understand rain, thunder, lightning, snow, intense sun, but we are still vulnerable to the elements. What is more elemental than the earth and the forest and the sea? Where to we go to “get away from it all?” To the sea. To the forest. Some of us camp out in the woods. Some of us rent beachfront condos. Most of us get as close to nature as we comfortably can.

What draws you, the mountains or the sea? The desert? The prairie? The forest? The wooded area a mile from your home? Your carefully cultivated garden, or the garden you let run wild?

I’ve felt on edge for months, as if I made a mistake in choosing particular deities, and that I would be doing some great wrong in making a change. I no longer believe that it’s wrong to change. I do think that the change should be done with great respect. I have a place picked out for my goddess statues. It will be, in essence, a second altar. My new altar will be dedicated to the Goddess in her persona as Nature. This goddess will be my garden. This altar will tide me over the winter, but I will of course include winter nature elements. This altar will be personal to me rather than dedicated to something outside me. I made a mistake with that, not a terrible, unforgivable mistake, but an error.

So I have big plans for this altar. I’m lucky to have space, and lucky to not have to pack up and hide my altar. I can grow plants on my altar. I can add things until my entire dresser surface is an altar.

Many teachers will caution against adding a lot of stuff to your altar. That depends upon the person. Does having a well fleshed-out altar aid you in your meditation, magical work, daily ritual? Daily ritual is so very important in our chaotic world. It helps us feel grounded and centered, or as much as is possible these days. Tending an altar is like tending a garden.

How do you tend an altar? That’s another post. This was a long post, and sunrise is in two minutes.

But yes, you can change your mind about your altar, and you can devote yourself to a different deity. Both should only be done after a long period of thought, meditation, and asking oracles for advice, at least in my opinion.

Has Anyone at Twitter Read the Twitter TOS?

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I mean, obviously the person or persons who wrote it read it, but it seems to be totally unfamiliar to the people at Twitter who receive abuse reports and decide if the person reported violated the TOS.

I reported someone for sending sexually explicit tweets to me, tweets that made me feel threatened. My opinion is, the person being harassed determines if the harassment is threatening, not someone sitting in a cubicle and not the person doing the harassment and their friends. Twitter thinks that some strange man ordering me to go perform sexual acts isn’t threatening.

Twitter is very wrong.

I actually argued with someone at Twitter via email tonight and tried very hard to get through to them, but I failed, and I cannot understand why. I sent them screenshots of the tweets and was told they didn’t violate the TOS. That’s a blatant lie, and the only conclusion I can reach is that the person I communicated TO, not with, shares the point of view of the “man” who sexually harassed me and/or is a trump supporter, like the “man” who sexually harassed me.

It seems that a lot of people in all walks of life are unable to leave their personal feelings at the door when they walk into work. That’s a big problem when you work for a hugely popular site like Twitter. I have seen too many women I followed leave Twitter because of Twitter’s failure to emphatically state that they will not tolerate sexual harassment and follow through. Women are afraid to push Twitter too hard in cases like mine because they know that the rep handling their complaint may just decide to shadow ban them or lock their account out of retaliation. No legitimate reason, just retaliation for demanding ENFORCE THE TOS.

I don’t see things changing at Twitter. I’ve seen nothing change for the better at Twitter since I joined in 2011, but so many of my friends are there, and there are so many great accounts that I follow: funny, informative, educational. So I have to put up with obscene tweets to use the site. Yeah, yeah, I can block people, but they just come back with another account, and they’re harassing other people! And Twitter doesn’t care.

I’m not leaving Twitter. But I’m not going to stop raising hell when I submit a valid abuse report and I’m told there was no violation of the TOS.

And there are usually ways of getting other agencies or organizations involved to deal with abusive users, because abusive users are stupid and think that they can get away with anything, and they almost always break an actual law. You don’t have to know their address to bring the hammer down. And when actual laws are broken and Twitter not only ignores it but doesn’t report it, they’re on the hook too.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat

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Yesterday evening, I looked yet again at the pictures of screaming, torch-carrying Nazis in Charlottesville, and something popped into my head. So I tweeted it.

“If you can’t stand the heat, don’t wave a tiki torch at a Nazi rally.”

Here’s a screenshot of my tweet, with the date and time. That’s important in light of what happened later that night.

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Actually, I wrote it in the afternoon. At 5:08 pm, someone asked, “Can I steal this?” To which I replied, “You can RT it.”

At 10:44 pm, I got a tweet asking to use “this slogan” on the person’s podcast with my consent. I don’t know this person, this account, or anything about this podcast. I put them off with “let me think about it” so that I could find out what the podcast was about and who was associated with it. Then my neighbor came to the door. By the time I finished talking to her and got back to my computer, the user with the podcast had already decided that it was okay for them to use it because putting it on the Internet made it “fair use.”

That’s a load of manure, and I told them that they were incorrect. And then I spent hours fending off trolls . . . or tweets by the same person from multiple accounts . . . and reporting their tweets, including some that were sexually explicit. To a woman on the Internet, when a hostile, harassing man makes a sexual remark, it’s not a joke. It’s not “just trolling.” It’s threatening.

The person or persons with the podcast told me that I had FORCED them to reword my tweet so that they could use it as their own slogan. And they were foolish enough to put the copyright symbol at the end of their decidedly flat “slogan.”

People, please.

I’m not going to put the copyright symbol at the end of this post because I don’t have to. As soon as I write these original words and they appear on my screen, I own the copyright. Of course, registering your work with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is advisable because it makes it easier to defend your copyright in court, but I own these words.

Copyright and tweets is a new area of copyright law. Your tweet has to have some worth to be subject to copyright law. A poem, for example, has that worth. And if my “slogan” is worth people verbally attacking me for hours, telling me that I “deserve to be trolled off Twitter,” and rewording my tweet and showing it to me (I got a bunch of nice screenshots) then my tweet must have worth.

If I find the reworded tweet or my tweet being used for any type of advertising/moneymaking purposes, the people using it will get a DMCA takedown notice. And yes, I may consider a lawsuit. I told the people who so badly wanted my “slogan” that they did not have permission to use it in any way other than to retweet it. They’re already on notice.

I did not set out to write a slogan. I wrote a tweet about the stupidity of carrying a Tiki Torch to a Nazi rally, then whining about having one’s picture plastered all over the Internet. I don’t want the words that I wrote used to make money for some losers who can’t write their own slogans. I don’t want the words I wrote used to make money at all unless I choose to use them in some way and give the proceeds to the people injured at the Charlottesville rally and the family of the murdered woman. She was, like me, a bankruptcy paralegal, and she chose that career to help people, like I did.

Now I’m a freelance writer, and I know very well how much people want words written by a professional but don’t want to pay for them, or pay for what they’re really worth. I’ve written so much content for businesses that sell expensive products or services. They’ve made so much money off me. I’ve made minimum wage, if I was lucky, but I like the work, and it allows me to be at home with my mother in case she falls or has another episode of malignant high blood pressure. Freelancing allows me to make sure my mother eats three meals a day and doesn’t try to climb a ladder to cut down a tree branch or vacuum the basement stairs.

I pinned my tweet to my Twitter profile so that everyone can see the time and date stamps. If I see my tweet being used in any way, we’ll see just how much value a court thinks that it has.

Encyclopedias

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I’ve been looking at a stack of encyclopedias for two weeks, wondering how to give them away to someone who could use them for . . . anything. Book art. Collage. Origami. Because who needs outdated old books that just take up space when we have The Internet?

Apparently, we all do because we haven’t learnt that bit about “Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it.”*

We dismissed as hyperbole the comparisons to dictators, mesmerized crowds, inner circles of people with the most extreme viewpoints and palpable anger when confronted regarding those viewpoints. “This is a distraction from the distraction from the real thing.” The real thing was what? Loathing of the “other” and celebration of the mediocre. The real distraction was convincing us that never advancing in life, never “getting above your raising,” preserving the red clay and coal dust that drove our grandparents and great-grandparents into early graves was the American dream. Education is for the ignorant elitist (edit). Men belong in the mine and the factory. Women belong in the home. Black people belong in the shanty settlement just outside of town. People with disabilities shouldn’t be seen. LGBT people just shouldn’t be. If you can’t afford to call the doctor to your house, you don’t deserve to see the doctor. If you can afford to see the doctor, if you’re deserving, you’re blessed by God. If you’re poor, you don’t have God’s blessing, and no one should help you because if people keep helping you, you’ll never learn.

Did we learn anything in the last 24 hours from a bunch of entitled young male punks in khakis, carrying citronella torches from Party City? Did we learn anything from the fact that a person plowed their car into a group of anti-Nazi protestors, put it in reverse, and ran down more people? Did we learn anything from the murder of a woman struck by the car and the deaths of two law enforcement officers who were killed when their police helicopter crashed for as yet unknown reasons?

We better have fucking learned. We better have fucking learned that we have a mealy-mouthed imposter in the White House (except for when he’s golfing or holding Youth Rallies) who is pouring fuel all over the “disaffected” college dudebros like lighter fluid on charcoal. Are we going to demand his removal from office, or are we going to hand another can of lighter fluid to him?

I don’t think that we learned yet, YET, because the talking heads on the news still can’t call the tiki torch bros Nazis. I don’t think that we learned yet because the talking heads are still calling the vehicular homicide a “car accident.” I don’t think that we learned yet because no one has had the guts to say, “Nazis carried torches through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia and held a rally that led to three deaths over the removal of a statue.”

A statue.

A FUCKING STATUE.

The person who groped his way to the White House got there because:

He’s rich.

He’s a B-list celebrity that some find entertaining.

He vowed to undo everything that The Colored Man did.

He played to the fear and selfishness of the salt of the earth, who live vicariously through his bullshit.

I read a couple of comments from WWII vets and thought that they are like encyclopedias. What they have to say about the events in Charlottesville are critical, but we’re not going to learn because they’re outdated. And what they fought against could never really happen here, except it keeps happening, because we never learn.

*George Santayana

Edited for grammar 8-13-2017

 

Late summer gardening

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It’s not really “late” summer in North Carolina. As the saying goes, we have four seasons: Almost summer, summer, still summer, and Christmas. Which means that, where I live, I can safely keep herbs and vegetables on the sunny side of the porch until mid-October.

My basil is fabulous as always, and I planted enough this year that I think the dried and crushed leaves will last until next “almost summer.” I bought two large tomato plants from Walmart months ago (NEVER AGAIN) and they looked healthy and had flowers and small green tomatoes on them . . . but once I got them home and the tomatoes started turning red, the leaves turned yellow, got brown spots, and dried up. A friend of mine identified the problem as leaf spot disease. I cut off all the dead  and dying foliage and set them around the side of the house to deal with later. A few weeks later I looked at them and they were putting out new growth and flowers! I pruned them again and watered them. Now they seem to have gone dormant. Go figure.

I bought tomato and basil “grow kits” from Family Dollar and they really took off. I had so many tomato seedlings in one little pot that I split them between three planters and gave the other pot to my neighbor. The seedlings have tripled in size in the two weeks since I planted them in big planters.

The friend who identified the tomato disease mailed a few bush-variety squash seeds to me. I planted three. They all germinated and look sturdy and healthy.

I’ve never planted squash in containers before. I decided to try more herbs and vegetables than flowers this year, so I chose something that looked fairly easy: pole beans. One pot looks to be on the verge of doing something. The plants in the other pot are a pallid yellow and are struggled. I ran a screwdriver up all the drainage holes in the pot, put the pot on a plant stand, mixed up a big bowl of potting soil, coffee grounds, and crushed eggshells (per my friend who has 12 foot sunflowers) and added the mixture to the pot. The soil was too low in that pot and most of my other vegetable pots. What I did today was add the potting soil/coffee grounds/eggshells to pots that were low on dirt, rearrange vegetable containers to maximize their sun exposure, and then snip yellow leaves and deadhead wildflowers. Container gardening won’t save you from weeds and grass. I did quite a bit of weeding today.

It rained hard two days ago, and it’s been “cool” (under 90F) since, so I watered some plants and gave the rest of them a splash of water on the leaves after the sun set.

My next gardening project is moving irises, very, very old irises that aren’t getting sun and rain because of a massive old maple and overgrown hedges. I’m not looking forward to it, but it has to be done. The soil in that flowerbed is exhausted. The worst outcome is what’s inevitable if we don’t try to move them.

Otherwise, my moonflowers are blooming, and the forget-me-nots and marigolds are starting to. I’ve learned a lot about gardening this year, plants for containers other than tomatoes, treating plant diseases, and what to do with the shady side of your yard.

–RobinIMG_0155IMG_0158IMG_0159IMG_0160