Sunday Nov 28
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I didn't have Thanksgiving with my family this year, and here's why. Mom discovered that we have relatives in Michigan who we've never met, so all my nuclear family members drove out there to have Thanksgiving with the mystery relatives. Although this sounded like an exciting opportunity for awkwardness and culture shock (actually it sounds kind of like a sitcom plot), I decided to skip it because this Friday through Sunday, there is a special Aikido seminar with at the Chicago Aikikai. This is an opportunity to get lessons from the guy who originally brought Aikido to America, and I'm not going to miss it for anything... so my ankle is just going to have to heal itself by then!
Luckily I have a surrogate family! Alexis and Sushu made a duck-based Thanksgiving dinner. Funny story: Alexis asks me to pick up some herb she needs at the Produce Mart before I come over. Once at the produce mart, I try to remember what she wanted. (I should have written it down.) I think it was sage. So I get some sage and bring it to Alexisesis's house. "Here's your sage!" She was sad. "I didn't ask for sage, I asked for thyme." D'oh! Then she opens the bag and smells it. "Jono... you didn't get sage. This is thyme."
Two wrongs make a right!
Yesterday I twisted my ankle pretty badly. I've been hobbling and limping since then. "I twisted it during Aikido practice" is what I would like to say, but the truth is, I got through aikido practice just fine -- it was during the anime showing later that night that it happened. I was showing the final episode of Giant Robo to the club, and somebody suggested that I give a recap of the first six episodes -- in pantomime. Pretty soon the whole audience was demanding it, and who am I to refuse? Around the part where I was pantomiming Ginrei running away with the third sample tube, I tried to change directions too quickly while running in place, and my ankle just gave out from under me. Everybody thought it was part of the charade until I started screaming.
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Things to geek out about: 1. The Incredibles 2. The Spine 3. Farscape Peacekeeper Wars 4. Rose of Versailles
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The big three things I have been freaking out over lately are 1. The election 2. My tutition 3. Grid Usage Sensor Services
Well, although one of the three was a tragic loss for all mankind, the other two turned out fine. It's a relief to stop worrying about them and start worrying about new stuff, like the thesis I'm going to have to write.
This misty morning, as my bus pulled into the Argonne checkpoint, I saw it standing on the grass on the edge of the surrounding forest, like a creature out of legend: the White Stag.
Don't agonize, organize.
Step 1: Congress is the only branch of the government we still have a chance of influencing. Find out who your senators and representatives are. Find out their voting record. Write them personalized letters on paper and send through snail-mail. (I'm pretty sure congressmen all have spam filters set up to block e-mail petitions, so don't bother with those.) The next congressional election is in 2006. Congressmen are complacent because they know most people don't bother voting for them. Many of them coast along and spend decades in congress soaking up tax money without doing anything useful. Congress, not the president, has the power to pass laws, to determine the budget, and to declare war. But in recent years, they have been abdicating their constitutional responsibilities and bowing down to the executive branch. Write in and remind Congress about the concept of "checks and balances". Tell them this, in no uncertain terms: "I never voted for congressmen before, but the recent disaster has awoken my political conscience. I will be watching you VERY CAREFULLY for the next two years. If you take a stand for what's right, you keep your job. If you act like W's lapdog, you are outta there in 06." If your representatives are Republicans, remind them of a few of the things that the Republican party is supposed to stand for: SMALLER government, personal freedom, budgetary responsibility, upholding the Constitution, and keeping the feds out of our private business!
Step 2: Work on the state and local level. The way our country was designed to work, the states were supposed to have most of the power. The "united states" was supposed to be a loose federation. Read the 9th amendment. There are several nice things about this idea: State governments are closer to their people and more likely to be responsive. State governments don't have to aim for the lowest common denominator to get the votes of people with wildly varying beliefs the way the federal government does. States can be laboratories for ideas on how to govern: if you don't like your state's laws, you can just move to a different state. Independent and 3-rd party cantidates have much more of a chance in state elections (ask Jesse Ventura). And so on. Work on taking control of your state government first. Help it pass good laws to counteract the bad laws the feds are pushing on us. Republicans are traditionally in favor of "devolving" power back to the states. We can use this to our advantage. Find a local political action group with good ideas and volunteer some time. Voting for Tweedledee or Tweedledum once every four years is not sufficient participation. You can't leave democracy up to the government; you have to do it yourself. Start at the bottom.
Step 3: Get your passport. Start reading up on immigration laws. Study a foreign language. Read the wanted ads for Vancouver, Toronto, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Seoul. Find a company you like based in an English-speaking country and find out their policy on sponsoring a work visa. Find a Canadian to marry. I am so not kidding. America is failing. You and I are going to fight to save it, but we need a backup plan.