10.31.2018

something you can do with your shock and outrage: support military resistance to u.s. concentration camps

As the outrages pour out of the US daily, or seemingly hourly, good people's shock and horror are often accompanied by feelings of frustration and helplessness.

Far too many well-intentioned organizations are lining up around the midterm elections, as if the answer lies only at the ballot box. Many people are organizing locally to support rallies, demonstrations, letter writing, and the like. Still, the frustration is palpable -- and understandable. These actions, although important, feel so insufficient. The current US government shows no sign of respecting the rule of law or popular opinion, and certainly not morality.

One concrete action we can take to resist the Trump agenda is to support military resistance. Whenever and wherever fascist governments have perpetrated crimes against individuals and against humanity, they have been enabled by the loyalty of the militaries at their commands.

"We were just following orders." This was the answer famously given by Nazi officers on trial for war crimes in Nuremberg, Germany after World War II. The civilized world rejected that answer, and the Nuremberg Principles were created to enshrine that rejection in international law.

Unfortunately -- the most unfortunate thing in the world -- most military personnel the world over do not resist. But some do. And those courageous soldiers are fighting on the frontline for peace and justice.

Military resistance is the most direct blow to the outrages perpetrated by immoral governments the world over. Resistance is a lonely road, and one that comes at a very high price. Ask Chelsea Manning. Ask Kim Rivera, who -- deported by the Canadian government -- gave birth to her youngest child in a military jail.

War resisters need financial support, and they need moral and emotional support. And other soldiers need to know that resistance is possible. As with any groupthink, it's easier to speak out when others have gone before you.

Courage to Resist, which supports the brave and principled soldiers who refuse or resist illegal orders, has launched a new campaign: Do Not Collaborate
This summer, what might have been the defining low point of previous administrations, was simply the outrage of the moment: A plan to have the military host massive concentration camps of upward of 200,000 immigrant detainees across the United States, as we reported to you in July.

These camps do not appear to be going up as quickly nor on such a massive scale as first announced (quite possibly due to the resistance on many levels), but they do appear to be moving forward. On the Texas border at Tornillo Port of Entry, a tent city that first detained a couple hundred children a few months ago will hold nearly 4,000 kids by the end of the year.

Few people actually join the military to travel to distant lands to kill people. Fewer still join to help run concentration camps. Under both US and international law, military personnel have a moral and legal obligation to refuse to comply with any order that involves collaboration with these camps, but unfortunately few are aware of this fact.

That’s why we need your help. Together, we’re going to launch a strategically targeted communications project to reach service members across the country with this message:

These camps are illegal and immoral.

You have a responsibility to refuse and expose these orders.

Direct military resistance is powerful.


Our initial goal is to raise $20,000 to spend approximately one penny per member of the US military with this challenge. Of course, we believe that service members deserve two cents worth of encouragement if we can raise $40,000!

Just the idea of these massive military-hosted immigrant detention camps brings back memories of the forced relocation and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Many of us thought something like that could never happen again, and yet, here we are. Along with everything else you can do to resist this affront to humanity, please support our challenge to military personnel to refuse these illegal orders. Your tax-deductible donation of $50 or $100 will make a huge difference.

Click here to learn more, or to donate to the Do Not Collaborate campaign.

10.29.2018

thank you 2018 red sox! #unstoppable

108-54
   3-1
   4-1
   4-1
   119 wins

It was a magical season. Red Sox owner John Henry said it himself: "This is the greatest Red Sox team ever."

In 2007, I dubbed the championship -- and the team -- inevitable. It stuck, and became the theme of our gamethreads. Last night I asked, "If 2007 was inevitable, what was 2018? What's the one word?"

That word was unstoppable.

My #YearOfTheMookie didn't extend to the World Series. In this round, there were so many unlikely heroes. Steve Pearce won the series MVP award, but my money was on David Price. He was brilliant. As was Chris Sale.

And no one was more brilliant than rookie manager Alex Cora, who pushed all the right buttons to creatively manage his mix-and-match pitching staff. Cora's first act as Red Sox manager was to fly relief supplies to Puerto Rico -- "my island," as he calls it. Last night while receiving congratulations, he asked if he could bring the trophy to that island. Millions of people heard him ask, how can they say no?




Thanks to Joy of Sox for the pics. Many more such beautiful (and a few amusing) photos here.

10.28.2018

i need a canada for my subconscious: the kavanaugh hearings and we go on

I avoided the Kavanaugh hearings as long as I could.

I used to take a special interest whenever survivors go public. I'd read everything I could, write letters to newspapers, speak out on social media. Send a note of support to the woman. Find the sisterhood, share the pain. This hurt, but it helped, too. I think most people who have publicly shared private pain will attest to that: it hurts and it helps.

I'm unwilling to do so any longer, or at least I'm unwilling to do it right now. I avoided all of it. I put my head in the sand. But it found me anyway, as my entire Facebook feed filled with news stories, personal essays, memes, and outrage. I could have avoided Facebook, but that felt like punishing myself.

I saved them all. I planned to do one long wmtc post with all the reaction. I found the time, but not the will. I started having PTSD symptoms again. Or I should say, I started remembering them, because apparently I have them a lot but I'm not aware of it.

Really, it all comes down to this: I am so so so so so totally sick of trauma playing out in my life. I can't stand it anymore. I just cannot stand it.

But of course I will stand it. I have to. Millions of people put up with much worse. I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I'm just fed up. And there's nothing for it. I was fed up with the US and I moved to Canada. There's no moving to Canada for my subconscious.

* * * *

the tyranny of the subconscious

my subconscious is an annoying bitch

in which i admit ptsd is forever

10.27.2018

in which baseball makes me pull an all-nighter: 2018 world series game 3

Last night, the Red Sox and Dodgers, and their fans, survived the longest World Series game in baseball history. Somehow I watched til the end and am still at work today! Joy of Sox (a/k/a Allan) says:
The clock on my desk read 3:30 AM when Max Muncy hit an opposite field home run to left-center in the bottom of the eighteenth inning, giving the Dodgers a 3-2 win over the Red Sox.

This was the longest World Series game of all-time, both by time (7:20) and by innings, smashing the previous record of 14, first set in 1916 when the Red Sox bested the Dodgers. According to a tweet from Stats by STATS, this game lasted 15 minutes longer than the entire 1939 World Series, when the Yankees swept the Reds in four games in a combined 7:05 [Times: 1:33, 1:27, 2:01, 2:04].
I had to work last night, rushing home at 9:15, annoyed that I had already missed 4+ innings. Ha! Allan got home from work at 12:45 a.m. -- catching the last bus of the night -- and was surprised and happy the game was still on. Little did he know there were hours still to play.

I was falling asleep between innings, and often during at-bats. If you stream games the way we do, MLB shows highlight clips -- the same clips, over and over and over -- between innings. And of course some of these clips feature the Red Sox. So I'd have the weirdly disorienting experience of waking up, seeing Jackie Bradley, Jr. make an amazing catch, robbing a player of a home run... only to realize that was a different game.

Perhaps the craziest thing about the night was that I wasn't even heartbroken when the Sox lost, 3-2 in the 18th inning. Both teams blew several scoring chances, and it was only a matter of time before a pitcher gave up a dinger. We took the division series in five games, and the league championship series in five games. Now we'll win the World Series in five games. No problem.

As I crawled into bed, I was sure that I'd call in sick today. But it's Saturday, we're short-staffed, I was out one day last week...so I bit the bullet and limped into work. I'm fine now. Tonight's game, however, may be a different story.

I'm collecting some other thoughts (read: complaints) about MLB, but I'll save them for a future post.

10.26.2018

this just keeps getting better: port hardy plus full employment

This. Is. Amazing. After we move, Allan will retain his current job -- same salary, benefits, vacation, everything -- but work from home. We never expected this and are simply over the moon.

First: people who do document production at large law firms never work from home. I was in that business for 25 years, and Allan has been doing it longer, and neither of us have ever heard of a doc-pro person working remotely. So unheard of that we didn't even inquire about it!

Next: we really didn't know what Allan would do for work on the island. His current work only exists in major cities with big law firms. We expected we take a substantial income reduction, and we were prepared for that. But we can't live on only my salary, and what work Allan would find was a big concern -- much more to Allan than to me.

Then: some months back I saw a job posting for a "team assistant" in a Ministry (social-service agency) based in Port Hardy. A full-time, union job with benefits in the same town, where we're living and where I'll be working! A unicorn! Allan applied, and we did a ton of prep and coaching for the interview. And he did really well.

After our September Northern Ontario trip, Allan was catching up on his work emails and found a memo about a pilot program for employees to work from home. The deadline to apply was that very day, and he quickly sent it in.

When the Ministry called for a reference, Allan ended up speaking with one of the lawyers about our move. A long-time doc-pro person from the firm's Vancouver office is retiring... and would Allan like to take his position, but working from home?

We were very excited! But we also were concerned. If working remotely is a pilot program, what happens if it doesn't work out? If Allan turns down a rare full-time job with the Ministry, five minutes from my new library, and then the firm discontinues the pilot... that would suck.

That's when we learned that Allan's job will not be part of the pilot program. It's the same job he has now, from a different location. They were even so keen to make it work that they adjusted their preferred schedule to coincide with my new schedule. So for the first time in several years, Allan and I will be off work on the same days of the week.

This is amazing for so many reasons! No need for dog-care. No commuting time or expenses. No pay cut. Much less stress. In general, a much happier Allan.

I know some of you will say, "It was meant to be." Some will claim, "Everything happens for a reason." In my universe, nothing happens for any reason, just a big messy stew of talent, hard work, and blind luck.

Whoo-hoo! We're doing this thing!

10.23.2018

the good, the bad, and the mushrooms part two: northern ontario road trip pics

Photos from our recent trip in Northern Ontario are here on Flickr. I'll also update the original post.

question about driving from ontario to bc: how long will it take to cross the rockies?

We're planning out our road trip to Vancouver Island a bit more carefully, with less spontaneity than we might normally want, because we need a pet-friendly motel for every stop. At the end of a long day of driving, I don't want to schlep from place to place looking for a motel that will let us stay with Diego! We'll also get better rates online, which will help compensate for any pet fees.

Allan is giving me a list of towns we're aiming for, and I'm booking motels. The question is: how long to leave to cross the Rockies?

We know there are different crossings, some easier (and safer) than others. We know to check weather conditions. We know to have a full tank of gas before starting out. All that kind of stuff: we know. No need for advice on that front. (Although why I bother writing that, I don't know. There is something about moving that brings out the advisers.)

What we don't know is, assuming good road conditions, how long to leave for this leg of the trip. Which pass would you take and how long would you expect it to take?

Update: This trip is not for scenery, not for hiking, and not for sightseeing. That's a bit frustrating for me, but I'd rather have more time in our new home before beginning my new job. This trip is strictly for getting there.

more on the privilege of moving: future tax refunds and the hero of this story

Thanks to several Facebook friends and at least one wmtc commenter, we've learned that the hefty cost of moving across Canada will be (eventually) (somewhat) reduced: the move is tax-deductible. It sounds like we'll receive a substantial refund from moving costs. I already have a box dedicated to receipts.

But the real reason we can afford this move -- and the hero of this story -- is my brother, M.

Back in April when he suggested driving the truck for us, we didn't think we'd need it. Then a few days ago, I emailed to say, we may need to take you up on that. And immediately M goes into action, checking flight times and air fares. Yep, he's taking the redeye from Oregon to Toronto to do this! He's also missing Thanksgiving with his family -- although I'm sure my adult nieces and nephews all understand, both the reason and their father. This is typical M. Someone needs me? I am there. It's quite amazing. Heroic.

We're extra lucky because my sister-in-law, also M, will join us somewhere on the trip, after Thanksgiving. It's very fitting, since the four of us explored Vancouver Island together earlier this year, when only the four of us knew the real reason for the trip.

10.22.2018

the trials and tribulations (and incredible privilege) of relocating

Moving from the GTA to the north island is going to cost a lot more than I thought. And I'm struck by my huge privilege in being able to do this. Let's just label all these moving posts #FirstWorldProblems and get it over with.

When we moved from New York City to the Toronto area, we hired a big, professional moving outfit. It was a very complicated move involving a critically ill dog, a one-way minivan rental that had to be returned to Buffalo, our landing documents, and whatever else. Hiring real movers was expensive, costing about $6,000, but it completely removed the stress from that part of the equation. We had been saving money for a long time and it was part of our Moving to Canada Fund.

During our Vancouver Island trip last April, my brother offered -- several times -- to drive a moving truck for us. He's done this more than once when relocating from New Jersey to Oregon, so he knows what the trip entails and was willing (even happy) to do it again. But I saw that a rental truck would cost around $5,000 anyway, so why go through that? I don't know why I didn't realize that moving to a remote location on Vancouver Island would cost more than twice that much.

We got a few moving quotes that were suspiciously low. How could a move of that distance cost only $3,000? Answer: it can't. Researching the companies online, I read dozens of horror stories, most involving possessions being held hostage as companies demanded thousands more in payment, many involving lawsuits. Still, I had no idea.

From top-shelf professional movers, we got two quotes: $15,000 and $18,000. Ouch!

We did not expect that. But my brother was ready to spring into action, before I even absorbed the shock. The way I saw it, we had four choices:

1. Get rid of almost everything we own and move to the island with whatever can fit in a small U-Haul trailer behind our little car.

2. Go with cheapo movers and hold our breath.

3. Pay $15,000 or more.

4. Rent a truck, hire moving crews on both ends, and take my brother up on this incredible offer.

Option 1 is tempting (for me, not for Allan) but really not practical. If we ever had a life that could fit into a small trailer, that ship sailed a very long time ago. We'd have to replace many things -- and we won't live anywhere near stores to do that. We're also not prepared to get rid of all our books.

Option 2 is a non-starter. Why knowingly take that risk?

Option 3 is possible. We have the credit. But that would be a huge weight under which to start our new life. It would take me years to pay off. Unwise.

Option 4 ends up costing about $8,000 anyway, plus our own expenses. Not cheap! But doable. In 2019 we take only staycations -- which will not be a problem in our new location -- and by the end of next year, we're even.

(If you're wondering why we don't split up, one of us drive the truck and the other our car, I am not physically up to driving 5,000 kilometres by myself.)

So Allan and I will take turns driving our little Kia with Diego in the back seat, and my intrepid brother will drive the 26-foot U-Haul.

More about the trip itself in a separate post. I'll also blog along the way.

10.20.2018

my plans and hopes for our big life change

We are moving west for several reasons. One is a lifestyle change. I've adjusted to living in the sprawling suburbs, and while we were living in a (rental) house, it was nice. But for the last 2-1/2 years we've been living in an apartment. A nice apartment, and a large one, but what's the point of the suburbs if you don't have a backyard?

Soon we will have a big yard, a deck -- and the ocean very nearby! I want to spend more time outside. We're not super outdoorsy, but I love to walk and hike, and I would like to kayak now and again. We're about to have a huge wilderness area in our backyard. I want to experience it as much as I can.

I have two goals.

In 2019, I will take a break from activism and focus on improving my fitness level. Although I've never been thin, I was in good aerobic condition and had good muscle tone -- until I started grad school in 2009. First school plus two jobs, then becoming a local union president, made physical exercise sporadic at best. My fibromyalgia demands I get adequate rest. Something always got pushed off the schedule, and it was almost always exercise. Now it's almost 10 years later, and I don't like how it feels.

Another change I want to try involves travel -- how often, where to, and why.

There are few things I love as much as travel. It feels more like a need, an addiction, than a pastime. But these days, some of my hunger to see new places has abated. I just want to travel -- anywhere. There are still dozens of places I'd love to see, but I notice that any travel, to anywhere, feeds the need. A big, special trip -- like Egypt last year, or Peru in 2006 -- slakes the thirst for a long time. But a short trip to a place I know well also quiets the bug, just for a shorter time.

Since we moved to Canada in 2005, all our family has been long-distance. This has sometimes caused conflict between wanting to visit people, and wanting to travel someplace new. Moving to Vancouver Island, we'll be closer to some family and farther from others, but everyone will still be long-distance.

So here's what I'm thinking. I'd like to try traveling primarily to see friends and family, plus local exploring, and see how that feels. That alone includes Vermont, Boston (Fenway Park), New York, New Jersey, California (both SoCal and the Bay Area), and Oregon. It could also include Florida, Maryland, Texas, and Alaska, if we wanted. And the GTA! We would see family and friends, and get some travel in at the same time.

I wonder, could we do this for, say, five years? Would it satisfy my wanderlust?

10.19.2018

thank you, 2018 red sox! #yearofthemookie

2018 Red Sox To-Do List

✔  Win the division with unprecedented number of wins.

✔  Beat the Yankees in the ALDS.

✔  Beat the Astros in the ALCS.

__ Win the World Series.

__  Mookie Betts wins American League MVP award.

10.14.2018

how the media (invisibly) props up capitalism and other hidden biases

I recently read these somewhat old, but still relevant, letters to the New York Times Book Review.
Cost of the Crash
To the Editor:

In his review of “Crashed,” by Adam Tooze (Aug. 12), Fareed Zakaria asserts that “the rescue worked better than almost anyone imagined.” He notes there was no “double-dip recession” and growth returned “slowly but surely.” But this misses what was the major criticism of the “rescue.” It merely hit the re-set button — keeping the big banks solvent. Meanwhile, the stimulus did little to put people back to work. It was not the double-dip recession that critics feared but a long sluggish recovery that failed to affect the majority of the people.

For example, it took six years (2009-15) for the unemployment rate to return to the pre-recession number. The share of income received by the top 1 percent had been 23 percent before the recession. After falling to 18 percent in 2010 it jumped back to 22 percent by 2015. Meanwhile, as late as 2015, the bottom 99 percent of the population had only recovered two-thirds of the income they had lost. Zakaria should have added a few words to his assertion that the rescue worked: It worked for the top 1 percent, not for the rest of us.

MICHAEL MEEROPOL
SPRINGFIELD, MASS.

The writer is an emeritus professor of economics at Western New England University.



To the Editor:

Fareed Zakaria’s review of Adam Tooze’s “Crashed” is an approving account of an approving book. But what was “saved” was “the economy,” not humans.

Yes, the government and others acted to prop up banks. But humans lost twice: Houses and savings were savaged, while banks, their executives, and the rich, as usual, won. And in a further irony, they used taxpayer money to save “the economy” and the banks. Yes, some of it was repaid from those financial institutions, using money deposited in them by humans.

And the endless greed spawned by free market capitalism and lax regulations, which created the crash in the first place, gets mentioned simply in passing.

PHILLIP GORDON
CASTRO VALLEY, CALIF.
These letters brought to mind some concepts that I enjoyed thinking about in library school information school. There were many exercises in illuminating hidden biases and assumptions. In academia-speak, this was sometimes called problematizing or contesting, but I like to think of it more plainly as making the invisible visible. This book review reinforced the dominant view of the economy; the letter-writers challenged the underlying assumptions of the review.

When something is everyday ordinary, commonplace, accepted as normal, it becomes invisible. How can we discuss and analyze, and perhaps challenge, its influence? First we have to make it visible.

Gender roles are the perfect example of this. From the colour of a baby's room, to the toys they play with, the stories they see and hear, and a million other data streams, humans are taught gender roles and expectations. Sure, this has loosened up a bit for some segment of society, but in the overall scheme, it is still largely true. Expectations of gender roles are as invisible as the air that baby breathes. We are thoroughly indoctrinated from the moment we are born. If we want to challenge gender roles, we first have to name the many ways those roles are taught and reinforced. We have to make the invisible visible.

This in turn leads me to think of something Allan and I talk about a lot: how anything progressive or leftist is labeled "political" -- and declared inappropriate in many settings -- while pro-government and pro-military displays are thought to be natural and not political. Military displays at sporting events: neutral. Sitting down during the national anthem: political. Honouring "fallen heroes": natural. Honouring anyone who is a vocal opponent of war: political.

Once you are aware of these hidden biases, you see them everywhere. In one iSchool project, I had to choose a classification system, describe it, then use a different method to classify the same things, and show how assumptions and biases were transformed through the use of a different classification system. I analyzed the way clothing is classified by L.L.Bean, and proposed a gender-free alternative.

I think this hidden bias thing should be a regular wmtc feature, for capitalism, and for war. Or maybe it already is?

(Whoo-hoo, I'm blogging again!)

10.12.2018

in which we take a big gamble and are rewarded, or, we are moving to port hardy

I got a job! We are moving to Port Hardy, BC! Port what now?

Yes, we are moving to a tiny, remote town in the "north island" -- the northern end of Vancouver Island -- a town of 5,000 people. Nearby Port McNeill counts 2,600 residents, and the third town in the region, Port Alice, is a village of less than 1,000. And we are thanking whatever it is we atheists thank, because we're actually already paying rent there!

As my friend Detective Monk used to say, here's what happened.

As I've mentioned, finding a place to live that allows dogs on Vancouver Island (and possibly all of British Columbia) is incredibly difficult. When we were on the island in April, we saw a huge number of rental buildings. We were very encouraged, as in the GTA, rentals are increasingly rare; everything is condos. But that was before we knew that the great majority of rentals do not allow dogs. Even buildings that say "pet-friendly" may restrict to cats only, or something like "small dogs negotiable".

I applied for a job at the Port Hardy branch of VIRL, a job I really wanted. I had seen great-looking rental townhouses -- spacious, newly renovated, affordable. They're the only rentals in town that allow dogs, so of course they have no availability. No one ever leaves.

Then suddenly, over the Labour Day weekend: an ad. A house. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms. A fireplace. A deck. A big fenced-in yard. The rent is great and dogs are welcome. And if we don't put money down right now we will lose it.

We put off the agent as long as we could, but it quickly became clear that I was not going to know about the job before we needed to commit to the house. In fact, I was not even going to interview for the job before we needed to commit! But what choice did we have? If I got the job and we had no place to live, what would we do? But if I didn't get the job in Port Hardy, we couldn't move there. It was a potentially expensive gamble.

We did it. We signed a lease, and put down a deposit. About 10 days later, we paid October rent. And two days after that, I had my interview! Ohmygod has this been stressful!

And today, just a few hours ago, I found out I got it. Whew.

The problem with being a risk-taker is that every time a gamble pays off, it reinforces your belief in taking risks -- when in reality those past gambles have absolutely no bearing on the present. But... whew.

Here we go!

10.08.2018

wmtc moves west

We are moving to Vancouver Island! As soon as I find a good library job there -- which may be very soon -- we are giving notice, packing up, and driving across this beautiful country in a little car with a big dog in the back seat.

Why are we moving there? Short answer: because we want to.

The full answer is multifaceted.

I've always wanted to experience life in a small town. The question always was: what would we do for work? Our previous employment was conditional on living in or near a large city. One of the many reasons I chose a library degree for my new career was its portability. Every little town has a library. Maybe I could work in one.

Now I'm settled in Mississauga, which is neither big city nor small town, but a massive sprawling suburb. There are many nice things about living here, but this neither-nor is just not me. Mississauga is also physically ugly. A few years ago we visited our family on the US west coast, in an incredibly beautiful area. When we got home, I saw Mississauga with fresh eyes -- and it was depressing. The strip malls, the concrete high-rises, the massive blocks of townhouses squeezed into every available piece of land. Every few kilometres, everything repeats itself -- the same stores, the same restaurants, the same the same the same. I just found it ugly and depressing.

I have a great job here, and I'm very aware that if I do nothing, I will play out the rest of my library career in Mississauga. And I don't want that. This just doesn't feel like my final destination. I want something else. Something more beautiful, quieter, less commercial.

When we moved to Canada from New York City, most of my family lived in the NY-NJ area. Now most of them, including my 87-year-old mother, live on the west coast of the US. Vancouver Island is a lot closer!

When it comes to family, it's not a perfect move. We do still have family in New York, New Jersey, and Vermont. But there is a way to find that small town, and that natural beauty, and still live near family.

My strongest ties in Mississauga are to my union team, an incredible group of women who I love working with, and who I'm proud to call friends. But that is a moment in time. I had already decided not to stand for re-election for local president. I'm ready to have more time in my life. So the thing that I'll miss most would be ending anyway.

In April, we spent 10 days on the island
, visiting towns and libraries to get a feel for the possibilities. The more I saw, the more I liked. Since then, I've been looking at job postings... and this week I announced to my employer, management, and to our members that I'm stepping down. (Expect more frequent posts!)

There is a downside, and it's a tough one: rental laws in BC are not pet-friendly. Unlike in Ontario, landlords in BC are allowed to exclude pets. And they do. A good 90% of the rental ads I see say "no pets". This is very discoouraging, and a bit scary.

Other than that, all systems are go. I've already had one job interview and have another lined up. I don't want to say too much about that until we know more.