Saturday, July 30, 2005

looking for an update or two... 

Update 1: BabySis did give birth on Wednesday to a beautiful baby girl. BSDaughter was born at 8 lbs, 20 inches just after 6pm. I saw them on Thursday and both mother and daughter are happy and healthy. Yea!

Update 2: starting Monday I will be working as a contractor (a fancy term for temp) at JPL. It's basically a secretarial/customer service position in a division that deals with education, but it's with freakin' JPL, which, as a long time science groupie (like, since I was a kid), I naturally find very exciting. And to top it all off, I'm going to get paid more than I've ever gotten before. Allow me to say, Woo and a hearty Hoo!

Even better, if the folks like me, it might turn into a permanent position. Now, if I am hired on permanently, that doesn't mean I'm not going to school in the fall. I'll just start with evening classes at Pasadena City College and see what I can work after that.

Excuse me while I do the Dance of Happy Happy Joy Joy.


In view of the above development, this is pretty cool news. As is this. A tenth planet in the solar system, the building blocks of the universe and accepting me as a contractor? This past week has truly been an auspicious one for science.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

auntie carol... 

BabySis has gone to the hospital to meet with her doctor, as it is now time for the baby to be born (she's due, so they've decided to induce). So by this time tomorrow I will be an auntie yet again. BSDaughter will be my fifth niece, which brings the niece/nephew total to eight (though I count the total at ten, including the kids of BestFriend and ModelGirl). Damn, I got a lot of niece and nephews!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

sacramento days, part 3... 

Check out Part 1 and Part 2, if you haven't already.

Friday, June 17. Another early-ish morning, but not too early. As I did the previous morning, I tried to ignore the fact that a fella I find incredibly attractive was sleeping in the room next to mine. I especially tried to forget how cute he looked the previous morning before showering, with his usually nicely coiffed hair slightly messy. Instead I just showered and dressed and put on my make-up. As I started packing up my stuff, my hair still clipped away from my face and up in a barrette from putting on my make-up, our host entered the room (I had left the door open), asking for a reprieve from me, as Mimi and MusicianMan were trying to recruit him for expert testimony for the ES&S machines that would be covered that day. I threw up my hands, telling him that he was appealing to the wrong gal if he could be useful to us. On that note MusicianMan and Mimi - both fully dressed and ready to go - breezed in with a good morning, gathering around Mr. Host at the computer. Still a bit on the sleepy side, I smiled back a good morning, then realized my hair still looked all freaky and turned away to surreptitiously remove all the clips and finger-fluff my hair. Thank heavens I was having a good hair week.

I turned back towards the energetic folks in the corner and MusicianMan stepped over to me with another good morning, asking me if I were still asleep, a sweet smile on his face as if he were looking at the Cutest. Thing. Ever. Yeah, my heart melted a wee bit. Damn him and his mischievous brown eyes.

(Yeah, I'm writing about MusicianMan a lot, but don't worry, I'm not gonna go all CuteNerdBoy again with him on the blog - I mean, how many times can y'all read about the same friggin' thing? Sure, he's a nummy treat, but who's got the energy to go through all that again with someone unattainable? Not me, that's for sure. It's just that he's sorta become my political activism mentor. Not that he set out to be that. I kinda adopted him for that role because he's the type of person that doesn't stick to the tried and true methods of the Democratic Party. Which I consider to be a good thing because Lord knows the tired and true methods have done Jack and Shit for lefties specifically and America in general. The fact that my chosen mentor happens to bear some resemblance to David Duchovny certainly doesn't hurt in the eye candy department.)

Anywho, it was soon determined that Mr. Host wouldn't be needed to provide expert testimony, so soon enough we were all packed and saying our goodbyes again with promises to meet up the next time our hosts were in the L.A. area and off Mimi and MusicianMan and I were to Sacramento to meet up with the CEPN folks that had been able to stay for a second day. The group had decreased by about half, but we were still pretty voluble in the cafeteria. As we broke up to travel to the first floor hearing room, MusicianMan took me aside and asked if I might want to speak to the panel regarding the ES&S machines, specifically the ES&S AutoMARK machines. I knew that, since we had lost so many people (and the number of people testifying in general would be less than half of the day before, since most people had counted on only one day for the hearing and so had to go back to their lives), the more people that could be heard supporting the ES&S AutoMARK, the more the panel might seriously consider it, so I said sure. After being immersed in electronic voting machine (EVM) information for a couple of days, I pretty much knew the pros and cons of the AutoMARK machines and I agreed with Mimi and several members of the group - whom had all seen the AutoMARK in action - that it would be a good compromise, as long as no other ES&S machines are used to tabulate the votes.

(I don't want to go into tons of detail here because there's just too much information to write, but suffice to say nothing electronic from ES&S should be used, as it's not high on the list of EVM good guys either - not only are they nearly as troubled as Diebold, but a high official in ES&S just happens to be the brother of the CEO of Diebold. That may mean nothing, but that doesn't mean alarms aren't a-ringing. However, there are Help America Vote Act deadlines that have to be met and, here in L.A., an election official whom smells rather fishy, so we're trying to do what we can to present viable alternatives that won't fuck up the state.)

So I signed up under the ES&S section of the agenda and quickly went over the points I needed to make with Mimi. Unfortunately I didn't realize that, because my last name begins with C and there were far fewer people there on Friday, I would be the first person to speak under public comments. That's when I realized that I'm someone who really needs preparation before I speak in front of anyone, especially a governing panel. Especially when I've never done anything like that in my life. Yeah, I was nervous. And boy, did it show. I managed to make all the needed points, but not without pauses and fillers and a shaky voice. I pretty much sucked my first time out of the gate.

More ES&S testimony from CEPN folks, including Mimi and MusicianMan, and more timing done by me. Then another agenda section was finished and finally it was time for the final bit of the agenda: Other Business. And guess who, due to her last name, got to be first again? You guessed it. This time I did much better, as I had a written speech which I had practiced several times the night before until I nearly had it memorized. I still had my notebook with me for reference, and I certainly referred to it, but I know that I have a pretty good speaking voice and I know how to convey professionalism and passion, plus I'm not too shabby at looking at all of the people I'm talking to, so I felt much better about my second turn at bat.

(Here is a little more about the second day. And if you're curious about my little speech, you can find it here. Both Mimi and MusicianMan liked it, and appreciated my delivery of it, so I'm kinda feeling my oats about the whole thing.)

The rest of the testimony flew by, with most of the remaining speakers (some CEPN affiliated, some not) pretty much supporting the stand taken by CEPN. The hearing was finished by noon. A number of us hung out in the hearing room, going over a few things, meeting with other speakers who were not initially affiliated with CEPN but were interested in the group, and talking to a couple of government officials. Again, very fascinating stuff.

About seven of the remaining CEPN people (including my little group) went off to lunch across the street from the Secretary of State Building, where I indulged in a daiquiri - a bit early for me for a drink, but I was tired and just felt like a wee bit of alcohol. And MusicianMan and I again indulged in a few lingering glances from across the long table. Soon Mimi, MusicianMan and I were off to travel the long distance home, along with another woman, VideoGal (she taped both days of the hearing), whom we had previously agreed to take back to L.A. I rode shotgun, with MusicianMan and VideoGal in the back and Mimi driving.

It was an interesting ride home. Sometimes we were exceptionally goofy (the four of us practically bought out a gas station/snack shop of all its junk food), sometimes rather serious, sometimes in heated discussion. And sometimes MusicianMan put on his headphones and lost himself in the music of his iShuffle while the ladies talked.

Mimi dropped me off first, since I was furthest east and she had to make her way west to Santa Monica to drop off VideoGal, so I was home by 9pm. Exhausted, hot, grimy and coming down from a sugar and adrenaline high, but still filled with excitement from my days up north. And realizing - fully and completely - that politics may be where I want to take my life professionally. A shocking realization, as I’ve said before, but a thrilling one. I had better start preparing for a hell of a ride...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

catching up... 

I haven't really mentioned much of what I've been up to lately, have I? Well, because my time is limited (I'm off to babysit for ModelGirl and her hubby soon), I'll just copy what I wrote in an e-mail to a friend recently. It pretty much covers the last couple of months:
Over the last month or so I've stepped up my exercise again, finding new ways of exercising that won't be a strain on my still sensitive ankles. Bicycling, walking and belly dancing classes fit the bill quite nicely. I'll get back to where I was, then on to my next goal.

As you know from my blog, I'm unemployed again, and a little stressed over money, but pretty much okay with not working at the showroom anymore. I'm busy, yet not. Most of my focus is on political matters, with hopes that I can turn my new-found passion into a money-making proposition. Feels weird to write that, but my trip to Sacramento made me think that I could actually become involved in politics on a professional level, though not as a politician. I don't think I'm that far gone yet.

As a result, I've applied to work for the Villaraigosa administration, but I have also been in contact with someone I'm acquainted with who was high up on Antonio's election campaign who has put in a recommendation for me.

Plus I'm in talks with the secretary of the California Democratic Council to be a regional VP for the San Fernando Valley - a part time job (approximately 10 hours a week) with a nominal stipend, but something very positive, I think. And if I get it (which actually looks pretty likely - another guy who's high up in the SFV Democratic Party has promised me that he will talk me up to the area VP, who has the final say, and that he'll contact people and have them talk me up to the VP too - whee!) I get a mentor (the area VP) and I get to recruit a regional assistant to help me. Pretty sweet!

One of the political groups I belong to (SoCal Grassroots) is organizing a speaker series and I'm working on putting together a Women and Family Panel for the series in November. Something else I've never done, but am discovering I just might be fairly good at. I'll also be working on the SoCal Grassroots website. The vice-chair calls what I'll be doing a Managing Editor position. Yet one more thing that's new and exciting. Whee!

So the money isn't exactly rolling in, but I seem to be laying out a foundation for the next year that will be tons more satisfying than anything I've ever done and will, most likely, have the potential for a good income. I'm also trying to see what I can do to marry my political passion to my creative side in the long run. Maybe I can become a speechwriter! Hmmm...

For a more immediate income, I've been trying to get contract work at JPL through the agency that my friend [Boychik] used to initially get in the door (he's now an honest to goodness scientist at JPL). Obviously I don't want to be a scientist like [Boychik] (I ain't got the background), but temporary secretary work would be fine. Another friend, [MusicianMan] has a lifelong friend who's a scientist at JPL (he worked on the Voyager probe) and has talked me up to him, plus I've spoken with him myself, so something may come of that.

BabySis is due any day with her second child (a girl, [BSDaughter] - I'll be helping take care of her son [BSSon] for a couple of days when [BSDaughter]is born) and the rest of the family is fine. Still wish I could find some way of luring [YoungerSis] and her family from the Republican side, but I don't quite know how...

Aside from politics and exercise and JPL, I'm attending Science of Mind services (I ain't exactly going religious, but I am stoking the spiritual fire - and no, Science of Mind has nothing to do with $cientology *shudder*) and trying to keep busy. Some days I succeed and some days I don't. The time off I had in June? So over it. I'm ready to get back to work in some way. Not sure how, yet, as I really want to keep time open for JPL. But I'll find a way. Of that I have no doubt.


It's pretty late/early and I have to get some sleep, so time to wrap this up. I'm attaching a recent picture of myself, though I don't think I've changed all that much [since I last saw my friend]. But I've got a new haircut that I like, which is always reason enough for a woman to take a picture of herself with her camera phone, don't ya think?

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
One thing I didn't write in the e-mail but might require a follow-up: FXMakeupMan. I haven't mentioned anything about him since since the report of our date . That's because there's been nothing to report. He kinda disappeared. We were supposed to get together the following Friday, but hadn't made finalized plans of what time to meet, though we spoke a few times over course of the week. When Friday afternoon rolled around and I hadn't heard from him, I called him a couple of times, finally reaching him at home after 5pm. Turned out he had been ill and left work early to sleep it off. While I was concerned, I may not have sounded entirely sympathetic. I called later to see how he was feeling and to apologize for not sounding as sympathetic as I could have (it hadn't been a good week, so by the time Friday rolled around and the date I'd been looking forward to seeing again hadn't contacted me, I was not in the best frame of mind), left two voicemail messages over the following few weeks, and never heard from him again.

Oh well. C'est la vie. Other than that little glitch, life has been pretty fascinating. Yep, 2005 is an awfully interesting year...

sacramento days, part 2... 

Part 1 can be found here.

Thursday, June 16th dawned bright and early. Too early for a group of folks that had been on the move since 5am the previous day and no rest until approximately midnight, but since the hearing started at 10am, was about forty-five minutes away with morning traffic (we weren't sleeping in Sacramento proper - our fabulous hosts live in Antelope) and we were planning to meet the rest of the group at 9am to strategize, well, out of sofa and bed we were by 7am at the latest Coffee and breakfast cereals awaited us upon our rising, of which Mimi, a fourth CEPN person that spent the night, and I accepted the coffee (I wasn't quite awake enough to eat - besides, cereal has the strange effect of making me hungry unless I eat multiple bowls - I know, it's weird, but it's the truth) and MusicianMan accepted both. Then many thanks and hugs were passed around our adorable hosts and us, and off we went.

We made excellent time, arriving at the Secretary of State Building by 8:50am. Plenty of time to grab coffee from the cart in the lobby and a huge breakfast burrito from the second floor cafeteria where we were meeting the rest of the group. And we sat and went over ideas and talked. I had assumed that I would just be observing and timing the various speakers as requested the previous night. We'd heard the day before that all speakers were going to be limited to two minutes, including experts, which was unheard of in these sorts of hearings. From what I understood, speakers from the everyday public were usually allowed four minutes to speak and experts were allowed unlimited time. The expert time limit was not good for several reasons, one of which was that one of the groups affiliated with CEPN - BlackBoxVoting.org - had flown in an expert from Finland who had been able to hack into Diebold machines used in Florida. Even more surprising - no speaker would be allowed to yield their time to another speaker. Something else that was unheard of.

We soon learned, however, that the expert limit had been rescinded, though too late for the experts to prepare accordingly. It was very likely that the time limit was rescinded due to the intervention of a state senator, Debra Bowen (whom I'd already met and spoken with a couple of times before the hearing and whose campaign for Secretary of State I've decided I'm going to help out with). Good to have the time limit rescinded, but a shame that it had been so last minute. However, speakers were still not going to be allowed to yield their time.

Soon it was time to descend to the hearing room. I decided at the last minute that I would sign up to speak to the panel, as an ordinary voter and citizen expressing my concern, so I quickly filled out the appropriate card.

I won't go into the details of the hearing, as it was a full day that was fascinating to me and others so inclined, but might be more than a little boring to those readers who don't get into the excitement of politics. If y'all are curious, check out the notes over at BlackBoxVoting.org and Kim Alexander's blog. But again it was great watching Mimi speak with her controlled passion and, as always, MusicianMan, though quite soft-spoken, had a way of drawing an entire audience in, speaking concisely and with great conviction while talking extemporaneously to a governing board (it wasn't the first time I've seen him talk to a group like that).

The hearing was supposed to be only one day, but the large number of ordinary citizens that showed up to speak against Diebold (which was very, very cool to watch) forced the hearing to be held over to Friday. That meant that I wouldn't be up to speak until the next day, since I had signed up to speak under "Other Business", which was the last item on the agenda. I was a little disappointed, but I realized that 1) it would give me more time to polish the little speech I'd been writing and re-writing in between timing the speakers and 2) I would be able to spend more time with some interesting folks.

Mimi and I talked a little bit about finding motel accommodations for the evening, but it turned out such a discussion wasn't necessary. MusicianMan hopped on the cell phone to our hosts from the previous evening to see if they might be able to put us up for another night. Their response: "We're throwing the sheets in the washer as we speak." Did I mention that our Antelope hosts rock? Because they do, ya know. As I told them when we arrived later that night, after asking them if they would please adopt me. To which they replied, "Sure! There's plenty of room!" It's only because I have a responsibility to my four cats that I'm not living on the outskirts of Sacramento as I type. That and, well, I have grown rather attached to my friends and family and apartment here in Los Angeles. But I was *thisclose* to moving up north, I tell ya.

Before the traveling to the wonders of Antelope, the most of the group traveled to a bar and grill/brewery for more strategizing and a little drinking. I myself had a dirty martini (one of my favorite drinks), but, unlike the day before, I did not get outrageously tipsy from it.

(Did I not mention that before? Oops! Well, on Day One, after the lobbying and before the voting machine presentation, a few of us got together for a dinner - which was not as quick as we'd hoped, thanks to some awful service, including unapologetic spillage of food on one of our members by the rather bad waitress - and I had a dirty martini on a nearly empty stomach and absolutely no sleep for over thirty hours. Not much of a surprise that I got tipsy so quickly. Poor MusicianMan was sitting next to me and Mimi was across from me, so I daresay they received the brunt of my tipsiness. And still they talked to me afterwards. Proof that they are good people. Or that they found me somewhat entertaining. Not sure which, to be honest. Anyway, back to our Day Two Tale...)

Anywho, while I didn't talk all that much during the dinner, I kept my ears open and absorbed as much of the swirling political conversation as I could. And traded occasional lingering glances with MusicianMan across the square of four tables. Granted, that's all we ever trade (and all we're ever gonna trade, truth be told), especially when we've consumed a wee bit of alcohol, but it's fun, nevertheless.

Then back to Antelope we went. Tired after a full day of looking serious and business-like in suits (Mimi and myself) and dress shirt and slacks (MusicianMan - he's a sweater and jean kinda guy, but he was unbelievably handsome all dressed up - the boy cleans up well), the three of us slipped into our sleeping clothes and stayed up to watch most of the Tivo'd Downing Street Minutes Hearing that Representative John Conyers, Jr. held. (And how outrageous was it that he couldn't get a proper room for the hearing? I'm still pissed off about that.)

Then off to beddie-bye for us. I stayed up a little bit to work on my short speech, but was asleep within an hour or so. Plenty of rest to prepare me for the most exciting - for me - day of all...

none too bright... 

I'm a smart chick. I think I'm smart, my friends and family think I'm smart, people whose intelligence I highly respect think I'm smart.

Unfortunately there are occasions when these smarts of mine fail me and I prove to be not entirely bright. Tonight would be one of those occasions. How else to explain why I thought drinking two (smallish) glasses of iced tea and a cup and half of fully caffeinated coffee would be a good idea at 9:30pm? At home? With nothing planned that would appropriately expend the energy that caffeine and sugar would impart to me?

Nope, I don't know either.

Truth be told, I thought that I would be pulling an all-nighter. I've been working on something for the Downing Street Minutes Day next week. I wanted to finish it tonight (er, I mean, Saturday night - Eh, I haven't slept yet, so as far as I'm concerned it's still Saturday) so that I could get it to MusicianMan with plenty of time for him to look it over and determine that it wasn't what he wanted (I've never before written the sort of thing I was working on - I'm pretty sure it's totally not what he wants). Thing is, while it was difficult, it didn't take as long as I anticipated. Off I sent it, for him to discover gracing his mailbox upon awakening.

I knew that I would still be up for a little longer, so I replied to a couple of e-mails and continued working on Day Two of my Sacramento tale. Unfortunately that is still unfinished, but very close to the end of the day (once I get the damned thing posted y'all will be surprised by just how short it is). Tiredness washed over me, so I decided to get some sleep. I shut everything down, did my evening rituals (which now includes fifteen minutes of attempted meditation - sometimes I can meditate and sometimes I find it impossible to focus) and tucked myself into bed.

My meditation tonight was fruitful in that I was able to meditate on my chosen subject with very little mental wandering. However it did not quiet my mind, as I spent over an hour trying to fall asleep. That I am currently typing this at nearly 4:30 am on Sunday morning is testament to my lack of success in that respect.

So why not at least do one of the memes that was entrusted to me, oh so long ago? Back in the deep, dark ages of the internet, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and mankind was but a gleam in G-d's Eye? Yep, all the way back in May of 2005 darling Grace asked that I participate in the following meme:
Grab the closest book to you. Resist the urge to get hold of one of the cooler, intellectual ones! You've gotta be honest. Turn to page 123. Go down five sentences, and then post the next three sentences in your blog. Simple.

Okay, you asked for it:
The window must begin with an alphanumeric character to be valid, with the following four exceptions:
_blank: Loads the link into a new (unnamed) blank window.
_parent: Loads the link into the immediate parent of the document in which the link is found.

Whew! That's some exciting reading there, I tell ya what! Actually I was brushing up on some HTML and CSS stuff earlier today, as I'll be working on a couple of websites soon, one for a political group to which I belong and another for my brother-in-law's martial arts master (BabySis' hubby is one of the master's instructors). The book I used was HTML 4 for Dummies by Ed Tittel and Stephen Nelson James. Ancient, yes, but it still has some useful stuff.

Hey, it coulda been worse. The other two books that were within easy reach were the Verizon SuperPages and the Bantam New College French & English Dictionary. Okay, so there are about thirty or forty books just a little further away on my dining room table - the first of which is The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. But that would have required stretching to reach it. Which would have meant I was cheating. And that would be wrong.

Okay, now to foist, er, I mean, pass this meme on to others. Who shall be the recipients of this literary meme? Oh, I know:

Grainne, the effervescent extemporizer that is The Eternal Optimist
Steve, the pearlescent proprietor of Evaporation
Jim, the buoyant butcher behind The Meat of the Matter

(Don't worry, Jim. I'll get to your meme soon enough.)

Well, due to a rather slow computer and internet connection (the modem that I borrowed from Sarriah, while very welcome, is from the 15th century, as it is only 28.8 kbps), this entry has actually taken almost an hour to write and research and post. As a result, daylight is smearing up the sky - in the words of friends of Alfred P. Doolittle from My Fair Lady. So off to bed go I, so that I may attempt to get a smidgen of sleep before I must rouse myself at 9:30 am.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


... in political news, AfterDowningStreet.org is organizing a Downing Street Minutes Day on July 23rd. Not surprisingly, I will be heavily involved with one of the events in the Los Angeles area, a Town Hall with Maxine Waters. All my Angeleno area readers (or any one who's going to be in the area for the day) who are interested in attending the event, please e-mail me or just come on by. We'd love to see ya there. And if you'd like to volunteer, let me know and I'll contact the appropriate people to see if there are any spots open.

stuff that mit is made of... 

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Thanks, Chuck and Jim!

Man, I've been a bad blog mommy. I have a story to finish and two, count 'em, two memes to reply to, from Jim and Grace. I need to get my nicely cushioned derriere in gear.

I've just not been in the mood to sit at the computer all that much, to write or to read (I'm horrendously behind on many of my regular blogs/journals - I will catch up, I promise). And since my modem died over the weekend (which I didn't notice until Monday, as I was in meetings and hanging out with friends all weekend), I may be less likely to write. Though Sarriah has offered to loan me one for a little while until I get a new one (yes, I still live in the land of dial-up - the 20th century is very nice, thank you very much), so maybe I can't use that as an excuse. Uh, never mind.

Thank heavens for the Burbank library. And it's in bike riding distance - yea!

Yes, I will be back at some point. Not sure when it'll be on a more regular basis, but, despite appearances, I am not casting aside all the fun of the fair.... Just taking an intermittent hiatus, it would appear.

See ya soon!

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Carol/Female/36-40. Lives in United States/California/Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley, speaks English. Spends 40% of daytime online. Uses a Normal (56k) connection.
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United States, California, Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, English, Carol, Female, 36-40.

WWW all the fun of the fair...