Coaxing Stephan out of his hole

I'd really like to ask Stephan Leger for help, but it's a bad idea. I am frustrated by this.

Stephan is head of the Oregon Justice Democrats, which could be really helpful in a number of regards, lead among them investigating the Oregon Democratic Party, which much like the national Democratic Party is completely corrupt at the highest levels and staffed lower-down with well-meaning idealists who aren't willing to admit they're being suckered.

The National Justice Democrats share the same problem; their prime cause is to elect progressives to the House of Representatives. But I've read their charter, and it isn't limited to that. Pretty much any progressive political activity is covered and encouraged -- while stressing taking over the House of Representatives, yes, but Party-cleaning and "lower" races are also explicitly encouraged. And while it *isn't* explicitly mentioned, I don't think they'd mind turning out a right-wing Democratic Senator in a primary either.

However, the top of the National JD's is made up of the kids of the Establishment, who want to continue the Democratic Party as it is and to them always has been. ("Always" is pretty short when you're twenty.) They want local action for the purpose of improving their national-level power-base.

So every time Stephan talks with them, they talk about electing progressive Democratic Congressmen, and want to know what he's doing to help them. And Stephan's only 24 himself, and *doesn't* have a family background in politics, and is neither aware of nor willing to admit that he's being bullied. The last meeting I attended, he recited the party line and threw the floor open, and I voiced my opinion that the two best things the organization could be doing were in order 1.) Clean out the State Party, and 2.) Elect State-level officials. *Every person in the room except Stephan* agreed with me emphatically. And that's the last I heard from the Justice Democrats, aside from beg-letters from National.

So I've got a great State-level candidate (Maxwell, SD-16) I want his support on. Well, more accurately, his group's, whether he's waving the stick or not. And he's a timid young man, with a National-level organization yelling at him to do things *their* way. And I need to write a letter to him that doesn't start "Hey, Stephan -- are you willing to stop being a coward yet?"

It's gonna be tough. Any suggestions?

Tanakh distraction

So I went to torah study this morning, primarily because I wanted to talk with the rabbi about what would be the appropriate venue at shul to circulate the Portland Just Energy Initiative. Rabbi wasn’t there, no one else knew. And the day’s torah portion was one of those dedicated to the proposition of proving that parts of this ancient book are superstitious horseshit.

If a man is jealous of his wife, and has no evidence of actual fooling-around on her part, he is to go to the rabbi with his wife and complain, and the rabbi is to cast a spell on the wife that will make her sick if she is indeed fooling around. Casting spells, guys? Come on. And who can be responsible for an emotion other than the person feeling it? The main point of the setup is that she and her hypothetical lover are the only ones who know if she *is* fooling around. So maybe the jealous guy’s right and maybe he’s wrong, but not only doesn’t *he* know, pretty much nobody else does either. His ignorance is *also* his job to deal with – either learn more, or come to grips with not knowing.

Me, when my now-ex-wife found a lover, he was a nice guy, so I married him too. Different times, different values. (Hi, Jer, if you’re reading.)

There was some interesting hypothesizing going on about the displacement of Goddess-based worship with male-centered culture. The group were entirely amateur scholars, however, so evidence and citations were lacking, but the viewpoint of trying to determine the sociological background and the acknowledgement that the document was written by committee over centuries were both part of my personal Jewish identity, so that bit was fulfilling. The group was about ¾ female, which fits my own experience of Jewish culture; the men try to exert some influence through the worship and custom because that’s about all the input they get. Don’ mess with the balabusteh.

None of which gets my nine follow-ups written. Back to work.


Judging from the smells, I may have just done something special in the kitchen, so I wanted to try to get it down, if possible, while I still can.

Leek and potato soup.
Two large and one medium-smallish leeks, chopped medium
Two medium Yukon Gold and three small white potatoes, peeled and chopped in about quarter-inch cubes
Six somewhat skinny stalks of celery, chopped a bit smaller than the potatoes
A dozen medium-large Crimini mushrooms, sliced in half and then in about 1/8” slices
One bunch parsley, chopped medium-fine
Half a dozen scallions, sliced in about 1/8” slices

Melt a stick of butter in a gallon or larger pot. Dump in everything, add:
Salt (didn’t measure, guessing a rounded teaspoon’s worth)
Szechuan peppercorns, ground fine, another rounded teaspoon
3.5 oz. Chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (half a can)
A generous pouring of dill, maybe another one of those teaspoons
A jigger of single-malt scotch
A teaspoon full of finely-chopped garlic
A vigorous shake each of black and white pepper

Stir every few minutes for about 20 minutes; the recipe I improvised said “until all the butter is absorbed”, but I didn’t know what that looked like so I just guessed at “well, that looks cooked.” Then add a liter of chicken stock and about half that of beef stock, on the "it's here, throw it in the pot" theory. Let simmer for half an hour, add a pint of heavy cream, stir again, and serve.

Cranky body, successful interview

This is my own virtual living room, so I can do whatever I want, here. At the same time, y'all are sitting on the couch reading, eating the snacks, and sometimes answering back, so some rules of civilized behavior do apply.

My body's being cranky, and I want to try to work through it anyway. If it doesn't get less cranky by lunchtime, I may head over to the urgent-care unit; they don't open 'til 1pm anyway, and I'd feel silly going to the ER for "I need to pee and I can't and it hurts when I try." I have some meds for that, and I can take an extra dose.

Interview with Sierra Club was successful -- they like me, and also like me for the treasurer job -- and they also have another person to interview, and liking me isn't enough, they have to like me better than everybody else. OTOH, they also told me that it's an unpaid position, which makes it considerably less interesting. (There was no mention of payment in their solicitation or job description, and the duties are certainly professional and at *least* full-time, so I'd assumed paid.) OTOH, I will be working closely with the Funding Director, and if I can raise the money to pay me a salary with they'd be pretty short on arguments to not pay me one.

I'm behind on follow-ups; my goal is to get all 9 outstanding finished today, and then apply for the known-to-be-paid position at CAT. And I've got a potluck to get to after that, and two bits of cooking to get done concurrently with writing -- but that's an excellent meshing of activities; when I've had too much keyboard I can go chop veggies for a few minutes. (Sweet and sour red cabbage and leek-and-potato soup, if you're into such things.)

Just proved the point; the celery is now chopped for the soup.

I've got two "mortality" issues I'm dealing with. Easier is Dad, who is 86 and has enough money to last him in his current life-style to 90. I think he's good for at least five years after that, and might well make his century; *his* life-plan ended sixteen years ago. So I have to make plans for how to care for him after his money runs out. I do have siblings, but while I can count on them to contribute as little cash as they can get away with, that's the best I can count on them for.

The other is the Big Task I've had staring me in the face for decades, and haven't made material progress on yet. And it's breakfast time, so I'll get back to that tomorrow.

Another "ooops...!"

I'm behind on my follow-ups (4 down, 9 to go), but other than that things are going OK. I have a meeting at 9 with a Metro candidate (Portland's Regional government), and an interview with the Sierra Club at noon. And I got up to a friend's page full of Trumpeting, which I need like -- and resembles -- a faceful of sewage.

Trump has been a malevolent non-entity since I was in high school; no news there. And I've already voiced my disgust at the Rethugs whose treason maintains him in office. What I need to focus on is how to keep *myself* centered and functional. Much like taking swimming-lessons in a whirlpool. But as the old NY cliche has it, "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!"

Joe Buck is a nice, liberal guy. So is his opponent Christine Lewis, taking the term 'guy' as gender-neutral, which seems obvious. I haven't met with Christine yet, and my objective is to get 'em both on the radical side of liberal.

...and boom, there goes the schedule. Just got an email from Joe; he owns and runs 3 restaurants, and had a break-in last night, and needs to re-schedule while he handles the cops and the insurance paperwork. Okay, I understand the need and can accommodate that. (Why would someone break into a restaurant, other than being really hungry? It's not like we leave the cash in the till or something.) Does really throw off my morning, tho'.


Drilling BITs

Okay, it’s 5am and I’ve been up since Zack pinged me at 3:48. Not rude on his part; he’d asked me to ping *him* at 3:30am my time, and I’d agreed, but my phone’s alarm clock works only erratically, and hadn’t gone off this morning. (Properly set; I checked. Want new phone.)

I need to write the Big Important Thing – but I’ve had that need for years, and haven’t been able to effectively act on it yet. Siderea had written ( on why her style of writing is difficult, and I echo some of her difficulties; since I’m trying to do grand synthesis, a blown attempt usually produces gibberish, not editable rough material. Another pair of tactics I can try are: 1.) writing about why the writing is hard (which you may notice is what I’m doing at the moment), and 2.) doing both simultaneously; using my gibberish-production as a tool to help me write about why it’s not working, or 2b.) use the gibberish-production as a tool to write about new and different tools or approaches I might use to address either writing problem or the subject itself.

Providing background for #1, the BIT is why and how to build a human metaculture, and how one tells one has finished successfully doing so and how it works when it’s done. Since a metaculture is a growing organism, it’ll keep growing on its own after one is done creating it; that’s a design feature, not a bug.

Metacultures are squishy; not only do they come in a lot of different shapes and configurations, an individual metaculture can change shape and configuration without losing cohesiveness, and will often do so if it notices one studying it. (Think of the famous old joke of the primate scientist hurrying out of his subject’s room and then turning to peer through the keyhole, and finding a brown eye staring back at him.) This doesn’t make the descriptive job *impossible*, but it does impose an additional difficulty.

My political work over the last few months is in pursuit of an implementation attempt. Having a readable map of what I’m trying to accomplish could be helpful in doing so. It’s a tricky tool, tho’; most of the politicians and would-be politicians I’ve been talking with are very short-term focused. There’s good utility to that, but we-as-metaculture *also* have to look to our long-term issues. I sympathize with the politicos in their being irritated at someone who seems determined to make their jobs bigger and more difficult.

Some, like John Maxwell (running for Oregon State Representative for District #19), will get it just fine. Others, like Jo Ann Hardesty (running for Portland City Council position #3) are likely to be annoyed at me for trying to distract them from meeting those immediate needs. (“Black people are being shot by police for being black, and you’re bothering me with *this*?”)

It’s part of the nature of a complex organism that it *has* to do more than one thing at a time, so Jo Ann’s not incorrect. It is probably still useful for me to keep her informed about what I’m doing, even tho’ she disagrees with my prioritization. Keeping open communications is good, but it’s also important for *me* to remember that that’s not the core of *my* job. I’m trying to implement a metaculture.

That’s enough to be one complete thought. I’ve got lots more, but at least I can do you the courtesy of trying to keep it in manageable chunks.

Kid got canned again

Zack got fired yesterday. He'd been there a bit over a year, much like his last job. He's getting a little bit more clued in about how to tell when things aren't going right, but still not fast enough to placate his employers. They're giving him a month's severance, which is nice as far as it goes.

From what I can tell from what little he shares with me, the main problem again was his social skills -- not knowing when to ask for help, for the most part. He *did* have a real tough employer, so his having the Aspie Talk with his boss may have been seen as making excuses.

Right now *I'm* in the middle of reorganizing my head, and feeling his pain is a pain in my own metaphorical butt I could have done without. I know this kind of "feeling" is an illusion, but being an illusion doesn't make it any the less real -- I have a pain in my Zack, and it hurts, and pain is distracting. And he only likes help if he explicitly asks for it, so I've got both a fair amount of shutting up to do and some very delicate questioning to plan out for when he *does* finally get around to asking for it, because he also only wants as *much* as he asks for, even when (almost always) he's not asking for enough or on the right subjects. ("What was wrong with the way I was arranging the deck chairs that caused the ship to sink?")

I've signed up for a political-protest bus trip leaving Saturday for LA; about time I visited Dad down there anyway, I like the cause (justice in the Philippines), and it's about a hundred bucks cheaper than flying there and back. I can write more about that both in a bit and from the road; right now I need to email them about scheduling so I can tell Dad when I'll be visiting.