Musings: My Superpower

It’s actually a good thing I don’t have super powers, I’m not sure I could be a super hero. I mean, I would totally try to do good things, but let’s face it – “good” is subjective.

I would want to stand up to bullies, and if I had superpowers I could do it without considering the forces which are driving that bully to bully someone else. Even knowing that a bully might just be as messed up as the person they are bullying… in that moment when I have the power to step in and stop one person’s pain – would I really make the right choice?

So let’s look at some “super powers” that might be useful without turning me into a villain bent on “fixing” everything:

1. I hear the soundtrack. My soundtrack specifically, but it would be cool if I could concentrate and hear others’ soundtracks as well. I don’t have strength or speed, just – knowledge without being intrusive.

You see, I have never liked the idea of telepathy. I don’t want to know what someone is thinking (hell, there are days I don’t want to know what I am thinking!) so telepathy is out. And empathy isn’t much better really, so much feels – I would struggle with the “I want to make it better.”  Soundtrack is a good little “well it could be….”

2. Apply color to the world.  Oh, you want your cat to be green – here it’s now a green cat. It isn’t paint and it isn’t genetic changes (no breeding future-green-cats). It just is now that color. I would of course have to become an interior decorator and learn to paint-paint (so I know how to apply my colors in murals and such).  I’d be the cheapest damn painter (look ma, no paints!) AND the cheapest mural-ist ever.

3. Weather bubble around me. Maybe as much as a 2-foot radius. Not enough to fly or whatever Storm does, but enough that I would never be sweaty and gross just because (thanks Georgia!) or worry about droughts not letting me water my plants (granted, it would mean ME getting wet too). No umbrellas…

So those are my I-don’t-want-to-turn-into-the-villain power choices.  I tried to put them in order, but really I think any of them would be pretty cool.


Writing: Story Ideas

I haven’t been doing NaNoWriMo this year. It’s upsetting on some levels, but I just couldn’t balance Moving-Into-House Nov 1st (which was really like the whole first week, let’s be honest), Election-Grief (and yes, I’ve got all stages of grief for my country still), Georgia burning down (seriously: click here to see pictures of the smoke clouds last week) and work having a massive project on my plate due last week. But it doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about writing. In fact, the accidentally-enforced hiatus (lack of time/oxygen/energy).

I have three ideas that are floating around my head. Two of them have already been started or worked on at some point in the recent past. And seriously, each of these received like a dozen re-writes because I was trying to make short blurbs… I think I mostly succeeded on the first two…

1) Imperial Lands

Ashendika, of the Kaiju people, is as shocked as everyone else when she accidentally breaks all traditions and taboos by bonding to a manticore – a sentient creature. The unique magic of her people compels them to a bond to an animal and hers – well it happens to be another sentient creature who came looking for a bond from the original Kaiju homeland. At the same time, the Imperial Prince, who is not thought to have any Kaiju blood, bonds a phoenix. Just as the empire is being threatened with war internally and externally questions of heritage, tradition, and honor are worth dying for.

2) Spy in the Palace

Cathia is a princess’s handmaiden turned thief. She has escaped slavery; learned and lived with pirates; and stolen the princess from the clutches of the usurper who slaughtered and enslaved the noble children of their realm. She now uses her skills as a cat burglar to seek information of the noble children held hostage – information which has led her to the neighboring kingdom and a plot which might endanger three kingdoms. She must use every skill she has, and earn the friendship of the younger prince of the realm in order to save her princess from the assassins who seek them both. As she moves forward, she has to decide – when is does she stop being a hero and become a villain? Can she avoid becoming a monster in order to defeat monsters?

3) Space Race

Esthabar is the only black sphinx that has ever been admitted to the Academy. Gifted with the unique ability to read all the Holy Texts; she is shocked when one day she finds the mystic Black Book awake, a light blinking in the corner and playing a distress call from a man-like creature. At the same time, the Nerdrous Guard Knights have seen something falling from the sky with a great crash. Is it friend or foe? Could this stranger who fell from the sky save her people from the increasingly successful attacks from KAOS, the army which has barraged the kingdom for generations? As Esthabar seeks to uncover the mysteries which involve a war of morals, her own genetics, and the fate of her world.  At the same time the pilot and trader Belinda is seeking her best friend Domnik, who went to a planet which had a 2,000 year old quarantine to determine if it could fall into the newest guidelines for resource stakes and claims. She is following him because he’s overdue – and not responding via communications. Two drones were sent and went silent. She decides to go herself only to find herself crashed and marooned when harvesting drones try to take apart her ship – in orbit.  On the planet she finds a massive sentient A.I. which is broken and fighting with its own parts. She has to struggle with the decisions of her ancestors and decide whether to enslave and destroy the sentient A.I. or allow it to live – even when she morally opposes it’s directive.

So I am curious: which of these would you want to read (and why if you can vocalize it)? I know the 3rd is long – it’s two intertwined stories that I’m mapping out to meet about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through – I tried to shorten it, but I couldn’t figure out what to cut….

Politics: Open Letter (GA Sec. of State)

This is a copy of the letter (yes, physical snail mail) I sent to my state’s Secretary of State, Brian Klemp this week. Similar letters have been sent to my national representatives and my GA House & Senate representatives (those also called for them to step up as an active supporter on their respective available legislation). I post it openly as well and encourage others to use it as a template.

Attn: Brian Kemp
214 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334

RE: Voter Registration & Empowerment

Dear Brian Kemp,

I am writing to you to ask you to support increased voter access & information in Georgia. The first change I would ask you to champion more voter opt-out policies.

In 2015 both the Georgia house & senate had bills which would have allowed for all people with a state-issued ID to be automatically registered to vote.  I heard you on NPR recently state how proud you are of the work you have helped to improve voter registration; I encourage you to seek the next step for even greater availability and initiative.

  1. I would like to see you release public statements asking for new bills which empower voters more than GA HB 665 or GA SB 31 (introduced in the 2015 session). We should be a state that opts-out voters, instead of placing the burden of registration solely on the voter.
  2. Empower voters with information on their ballot. The example for this would be California’s Code on mailing sample ballots to their constituency (CA Election Code, §13303). This information would empower voters to make informed decisions on candidates and ballot measures.

Voting might be one of the most important elements of a strong democracy, and an informed voter is empowered to make the best possible choices.  Understanding who is running, or supporting a bill; having a plain-language description of the candidates or amendments; presenting pro- and cons- of each measure could all drastically improve voter participation in local elections and ballot amendments such as were presented on the 2016 ballot.

I ask that you continue to support measures that would increase voter registration, information and turn-out.

Thank you,

[Insert your name here]

Life Memories: Milk

In 2008 I was fired from my first out-of-college job.  She short version is that it was a family owned/run business and I wasn’t family.  This was at the beginning of September.

In case you don’t remember, September is sort of when several banks declared bankruptcy. And I was asking for unemployment with almost 1/2 a million other people.  I never went to the unemployment office and spent less than 3 hours there. I took a book and waited to wait.

I had a little savings, but I found out in October that I had been denied. My ex-boss had claimed he fired me with cause.  Apparently, I was supposed to magically “know” he wasn’t happy with… my existing? Anywho, the appeals process got started but my money was running low and I didn’t have the rent beyond Nov. And job hunting… well, it wasn’t going well.

I had an interview with a large TV company for an internship. Paid, no benefits but it would be an income. I was working with a staffing agent and when he called to tell me I didn’t get it, he informed me the person who got it eight years as an office manager.  To my one year as an “administrative assistant.”  I was devastated. I knew I had to make some really hard choices.

Taking out the amount for rent in a few days, I had about $10 left.  I had to come up with food for the next few weeks with $10.  So I bought rice and beans (literally). Peanut butter & bread. I bought a box of Honey Nut Cheerios. I bought a gallon of milk.

I get to the cashier and the milk pushing me to $12. I had been worried about it. I asked the cashier to put it back, I wouldn’t be able to have milk for my cereal. A voice behind me stopped me. Someone passed three dollars to the cashier. A woman in line behind me passed over three dollars so I could have milk. I think she said, “Put that milk back on.” but I don’t really remember.

I have no idea what that woman thought was going on in my life. I don’t know if I thanked her. I was shocked and grateful. I know by the time I was opening my car door I was in tears. I know I sobbed the whole way to my apartment. That symbol of self-sufficiency that I was going to have to leave.

A gallon of milk reminded me that I wasn’t self-sufficient. I didn’t get there alone. Everywhere I go in life, I have had help from my community: my friends, my family, my church. And so I should look around and see my community. Not just the people I talk to, but the bigger community around me.

A random woman once bought me milk. She didn’t know me. We never spoke again. I was in her community that day and she cared for me.

Now, I seek to care for my community in turn.

Politics: I am With Her

Ok, so just days until the final election day – it’s almost over! For good or ill, we’ll all know soon how the chips will fall.  So, this close I am going to finally come out and explain why I am voting for Hillary Clinton.

My choice to support her is actually simple.  I am a Christian.

I have written before about two verses which I see as incredibly important:

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. – Isaiah 1:17

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ – Matthew 25:45

I like these for many reasons, their simplicity, clarity, and the fact they come from both Old and New Testament books. When I read the laws in Exodus: many of them are about how not to be greedy and selfish. How to look after the poor, the widow (and I consider any single parent “widow”), the sick… Old and New repeat a message that the God I read calls me to think of those around me. The stories of Ruth and the Good Samaritan even show I am supposed to look at “other” as worthy of love, understanding, and grace.

I don’t see that in the GOP’s message or actions.

I do see that in the Democrat’s actions, if not always in their message.

Done. My decision is simple. I will vote for the candidate who is seeking to provide food, shelter, and succor to the poor. I will vote for the candidate who will decry injustice in our legal system so that innocent prisoners may be set free (and the guilty may still find grace). I will vote for the candidate with a track record of trying to improve schools (including things like paying teachers). I will vote for the candidate who has a history of matching these goals to actions – however imperfectly.

I will vote for the candidate who can admit she made mistakes and seek forgiveness. I am voting for the candidate who started her career at the Child Defense Fund. I am voting for the candidate who has served a foundation that seeks to provide heath care around the globe to those who can’t afford it.

When you start looking at her “scandals” I can only come to one of two conclusions:

  1. She is not guilty (note: I didn’t say “innocent.” I said she wasn’t guilty as defined by any laws of the land. Don’t like them? Run for office and try to change those laws! FYI – you still won’t be able to go back and convict her. All you can do is change the go-forward rules.)
  2. She is a super villain of truly Lex Lutheran proportions and we don’t stand a chance of beating her rise to power – we lack super heroes (unless, I guess, you think Obama is a super hero and that explains how she lost in 2008…)

Here’s the thing. She isn’t “all powerful.” The people who are opposing her: other senators, other presidents (there are 2 living Republican presidents that could have been speaking out against her if she was really “evil” – I think their silence on her “scandals” is actually a kind of testimony), other rich people – are just as powerful as any Clinton (and arguably possibly more powerful…. entrenched family power vs  the “upstarts” that the Clinton are… I mean really, so classless!).  In 20+ years don’t you think that maybe, just maybe if there really WAS something worth finding they would have uncovered it and gotten it to stick to her? Or is she Lex Luther + boobs and thus made of some kind of super-science-plastic that means stuff don’t stick (pretty sure those people can afford gorilla glue….).

It wasn’t even really a difficult decision. I don’t 100% agree with her, but I agree with her a LOT more than her (only viable) opponent. I’m voting for her and I’m proud to say it.

Politics: Georgia Amendment 4

To be honest, this was going to be a super-short post of “sure why not” until I sat down to read over the amendment a little closer.

Dedicates revenue from existing taxes on fireworks to trauma care, fire services, and public safety.

Much like Amendment 2, this amendment is doing something that sounds great. Woot – we’re paying for trauma care, fire services AND public safety?

Except wait. “Existing taxes”?  Like, existing sales/import taxes?  Stuff that is already being used for government services since we legalized the sale of fireworks? So… what exactly is that money paying for now?

I don’t know. I’ll be the first to say that government expenses makes my head hurt. I can manage my own budget. My husband and I are working through our joint budget… I can’t even remotely process the budget at the state level. My brain does not grok numbers that well.

Best case scenario, we are maintaining status quo.  We are securing funds for these services with something like a guarantee.

Worst case scenarios, we are stealing fund from other important functions and/or denying necessary funding to trauma care, fire services, and public safety.

I… don’t know that I want to support this. I would rather we RAISE the tax on fireworks (seriously, like a penny-tax on them would stop ANYONE who is buying $100s of dollars of fireworks already… hell, wouldn’t even stop the $5 sparklers buyers…). This is not an essential good by any means – fireworks are just about the definition of “luxury good” in my world. There is NO time you need them  (not even 4th of July… there are a bazillion and four counties that put on shows better than what we can buy anyway).

So…. yeah looks like I’m going to vote “no” on all four amendments.