Trees fall down

One of our big oaks got some kind of borer beetle and had to come down.  Then two weeks later during a big storm, our last ornamental pear tree fell over (fortunately it did not take either our deck or our fence with it, though it did grab some of the wisteria off our fence on its way down).

So we paid $335.58 to get the oak taken down and the stump ground, along with trimming back our crepe myrtle so it would stop hitting our roof and grinding another stump from a tree the previous owners had removed (the stump had been bothering DH for lo these 12 years, who knew?).

Then a few weeks later we paid another ~$200 to get the pear tree taken out of our backyard and its remaining stump and roots ground.

Next month we’re planning on buying another oak to replace the beetled oak (apparently the beetles are only a problem when the trees are distressed, so that won’t be a problem with the new oak) and a cherry tree for the back.  DH also wants to buy a few more experimental fruit trees for the remaining places in our lawn.  (Every year he buys a few and one will take root and flourish even if it never fruits again and the other two will die.  I think he’s going to keep doing this until he runs out of spots.)  This year he’s gonna get a crabapple, which I love.  We’ll see if it survives and fruits.  Cost:  ~$300 all told, including mulch.  (It’s way more expensive if we get the tree company to do it, but DH has found a nursery he likes, and we’ve had better luck with keeping cheap younger trees alive than expensive older.)

*Activism Update*

Speaking of things on your lawn being removed… All of the democratic signs in my neighborhood for a specific race were stolen Saturday night.  If that happens to you, be sure to file a police report.  The police can’t do anything based on rumors.  They are more likely to investigate if they see a pattern.  And an entire HOA losing its signs is a pattern.  We went to Target and got materials to make our own sign.  Then we bought 30 signs at the Dem HQ when they opened and gave them to people whose signs had been stolen.  And a few for local candidates while we were at it.  Make some good come from evil.

This weekend we also did postcards from postcards to voters:  https://postcardstovoters.org/

and letters from votefwd.org

And I’ve been hooked up with a post-card service that only sends stuff in my state.

Do you have trees?  Have you ever had problems with them?

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Lateish link love

Link Love is what I should have been doing yesterday when nobody showed up to office hours and I was too braindead to do real work…

Celest Pewter with recommendations for activism focus

The University of Tulsa wants to learn about your reactions to the media coverage of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. If you are in the U.S., please complete this short, anonymous survey to help us better understand the effects of the nomination and its news coverage.

Snopes with a how-to if you’re turned away from the polls on election day and what to do to request and follow up on a provisional ballot.

Brian Kemp has purged over 300,000 voters from Georgia rolls  He’s also blocking 53,000 new registrations.

High rate of absentee ballots thrown out in Gwinnett, Georgia

Georgia county orders elderly black voters off bus taking them to the polls

Florida Gov. Rick Scott got a 500,000 donation from a private-equity CEO and then a week later invested $200 million of the state pension money in the CEO’s private-equity fund, Cereberus, losing taxpayers a huge amount over what they would gained had that money been invested in an S&P 500 index fund.  This is not against the law(!)

Texas Tribune fact checks Cruz/O’Rourke second debate

The Russia probe has uncovered a widespread Russian effort to meddle in the 2016 election

In case you were wondering… Heidi and Ted Cruz can absolutely afford a second home.  They currently live in a luxury condo that they bought for >$800K back in 2008.

#metoo and the legacy of black women’s testimonies

A good thread about the importance of getting a flu shot.

Two stories about getting abortion pills online.  Jezebel and the Atlantic

History of the Sears’ catalog and how it changed the South.

What happened to private sector pensions?

Vox’s recommended charities for 2018

Congrats to nzmuse!

Congrats to Dame Eleanor Hull!

Maureen Johnson’s clinic

Heinlein’s fan mail solution

This boss’s day

Ask the grumpies: how do you feel about facial hair

Leah asks:

What is your stance on facial hair? Are you ever sad that you can’t experiment with that? It seems both itchy and fascinating to me.

#1: … I actually could experiment with it if I wanted to.  PCOS allows me that possibility, so long as I’m ok with variations on the Fu Manchu.  I don’t find it itchy, but societal expectations being what they are, I am quite happy that this $450 home laser treatment thing has worked so well for the coarse dark beard hairs on my face.  So much less plucking and only occasional touch-ups.  It will be sad when my chin whiskers turn white and no longer respond to the laser.

In terms of my significant other, he either needs to be clean shaven or have facial fur that is long enough that it’s gotten soft.  The tiny knife stage is the WORST.

#2:  My feelings on facial hair are “generally against, but you do you.”

Special Thursday Activism Post: What I’m doing this weekend! (Also: Early voting has started in some states!)

So… I have to confess that although I’ve been really impressed with the postcards 4 voters things I’ve been seeing people do online, it’s really intimidated me.  I am the opposite of artistically talented.  So as much as I’d like to send postcards and NOT CALL PEOPLE (I hated being phone-banked at last election), I thought that maybe my efforts wouldn’t be good in that respect.

Then one of my friends showed me these:

And I was like… wait… I don’t have to hand draw/color in the cards?  I can just GET cards that are already decorated?  Where do I get these cards?!?!?

And she said, “Amazon sells them.”  And I was aghast.  Amazon DOES sell them!  And many other cuter options as well!   I feel so dumb.  I ordered 200 postcards and they should be coming in the mail today.   Then I went to the USPS stamps website and got 200 shell postcard stamps.  (Sadly seashell is the only option.)   I’m gonna give half of them to some undergrads to do with as they wish and I’m going to see what my little family can get done with the remaining.

(If you don’t want to do post-cards but do have a printer and some regular stamps, this looks pretty darn cool:  https://votefwd.org/ — my sister lives in one of those districts… do her a solid!)

In addition to that:

On the day early voting starts, my department head will have sent out an email to all majors with an email I drafted that encourages those registered out of state to get their absentee ballots now if not sooner, explains how, when, and where early voting happens for people registered locally, where to get information on candidates and local races, what to bring to the voting booth, and how to vote on election day.

(Academic readers– can you do something similar at your school/ in your department?)

And:

I’ve been going crazy giving money to local campaigns.  Bogart just sent this link and I gave.  November 2nd isn’t very long from now.  Presumably my political giving will die down at that point.

I’m going to hand out more campaign pins since I got another 100.

I have never done much of anything for an election before.  Like, I’ve voted, and I’ve given money to candidates here or there, but never this level.  This is my first year of registering voters.  This is my first year encouraging people to vote.  This is my first year of buying pins.  This is my first year of buying a yard sign (we have 3)!

My only hope is that if someone like me is doing something for the first time, then lots of someones like me will be doing something, and all this doing something will make a real difference in the outcome of the election.

Because I can’t stand another year of kids torn from their parents and a president getting a pass on tax fraud and constant worries about health insurance…and everything else (climate, social justice, women’s rights…).   We can’t count on a blue wave– we have to BE the blue wave.

Tell us what you’re doing!  Even if you’ve told us before!  It means so much to hear we’re not alone.

Where the Books Are

Where are the books in your household?

Growing up, I saw both my parents reading a lot.  We have tons of pictures of me as a baby pretending to read, or being read to.  My parents are divorced, and both their houses are full of books.

I have what I consider a “medium” amount of books (over 1500 books are mine, in our 2BR apartment; but my husband has at least an additional 1500, judging by comparative shelf space).  My mother has more space for bookshelves than I do.  My father has fewer, but more overstuffed, bookshelves than I do.  Non-fiction is in his living room, fiction is in the guest room; Terry Pratchett and J.K. Rowling are in his bedroom.   My mom has fiction and non-fiction in the living room, with religion, spirituality, and self-help in her bedroom.  My sister and her husband have carefully alphabetized their shared books across their living room (starting with A), dining room, and guest room.

I have fiction and non-fiction in my bedroom, with various piles of books stacked haphazardly in the living room, kitchen, etc.  (And cookbooks in our kitchen; Mom’s cookbooks are in her pantry, and I think Dad’s are in his pantry too.)  I have a couple “emergency” books in a cabinet in the bathroom.  They just ended up there.

Also, sleeping in a room full of books is cozy and it gives you something nice to look at while you’re in bed.

#2 has 3 large bookcases in the bedroom, two in the living room, one in the entry-way, two in DC1’s room, and 1 in DC2’s room (DC1 has more wall space, DC2 has more windows– DC2’s books also take up the bottom two shelves of the entry-way bookcase and one of the living room cases– toddler height even though zie is now 6 and reading chapter books).  There’s also some books in the great room, but those are mostly related to the games that are also in that room.  And a 3 shelf bookcase in the informal kitchen for our cookbooks (which are also piled in the kitchen).  Basically wherever there is wall space there’s a bookshelf.  Sometimes I feel like we have too many windows…  Oh, and the guest bathroom and our bathroom have little book nooks.  Ours usually has a book for me and one for DH.  The guest bathroom usually has the latest alumni magazine or two and something with short funny bits like cakewrecks.  DH and I also have piles of books on our nightstands and there’s a pile of read library books usually next to the door to the garage.  The kids scatter books everywhere as well– on the couches in the great room, on their floors, on their bathroom floors, on the living room ottoman, all over the dining room, etc.  It’s pretty homey, I think.  I need to go read something now.

I like talking about books.  Where are yours?

Replacing more light fixtures

A few years ago, we had an energy audit and replaced all our bucket light fixtures with cooler, more efficient ones that would allow us to insulate the holes they created in the ceiling.  (The electrician DH tried to hire basically told him that was the best option and to do it all himself instead of paying the electrician, so he did.)

This year one of the fluorescent ballasts in the kitchen sort of broke (it could still be used, but even with a brand new bulb, it took a long time to turn on and then still flickered and after some observation DH suspected it might be dangerous).  The fluorescents in a couple of the other rooms, including my closet, weren’t in that great shape anyway (nothing like a strobe effect to trigger migraines…), and DH wanted to move to LEDs, especially since the fluorescent hum was driving him crazy.  Although LEDs fit in the sockets it wasn’t clear that just swapping them in was safe given the various electric ratings.

Given our track record of the electrician coming out only to tell DH how to do small jobs himself, we decided it was time to get rid of all of our fluorescent lighting (make it a big job!).

Here’s what that consisted of, according to the electrician’s quote:

CHANGE LAMPS IN 3 GARAGE FIXTURES TO LINE VOLTAGE LED
REMOVE WRAP IN UTILITY ROOM AND REPLACE WITH DISC LIGHT
REMOVE WRAP IN 4 CLOSETS AND REPLACE WITH DISC LIGHT
REMOVE WRAP IN PANTRY AND REPLACE WITH DISC LIGHT
REPLACE LAMPS IN TWO KITCHEN FIXTURES WITH LINE VOLTAGE LED LAMPS

The quote for all of this was $925.  That’s a lot!  But it’s also 11 light fixtures.  (Some of the big rectangular fluorescent lights were actually two ballasts next to each other.)

According to DH, two of them worked for three hours, installing 5 fixtures’ worth of line-fed tubular LEDs, removing 6 fixtures and replacing with disk lights.

$12 per tubular LED Keystone KT-LED15T8-48GC-850-DX2
$30 per disk light SunSet 15W LED by Luminance

5*2*12 = $120 for the tubulars.
6*30 = $180 for the disks.

So $300 in parts, let’s round up to $350 for incidentals (ex. wires, putty for the holes left by the fluorescent ballasts, extra screws. etc.).

The quote was for $925. So $575 in labor.
$575 / 2 / 3 = $95.8/ person hour.  Which is a little high but is within a reasonable range of going rates for the area.  And it helps assuage a little of the guilt I had for us calling the electrician out twice before only to have him give DH good advice and detailed instructions for what to do in exchange for no money.

Overall we are really happy with the results.  One exception was that the light in my closet wasn’t bright enough and left eerie shadows.  Fortunately that was an easy $30 disc light swap that we could do ourselves.  Though now we have an extra light in case one of the other ones breaks sometime before the 22 year expected life of the new LEDs…

What kind of lighting do you have in your place? 

Link Love

Deported parents may lose kids to adoption

States still purging voters at high rates

More on voting rights in Georgia

Voter registration issues arise at a Texas HBC?

Campaign worker arrested after IDing his candidate as a democrat (also in Texas!)

Imagine a lifetime of women kicking men in the nuts

Electoral stakes in the next election, and when will they turn?

Will the next women’s march be taxed?

open access editorial on so much harassment that academics face

Everyday sexism

Not being heard

Chuck Wendig was put into twitter jail

Putting the future back in the room

loan forgiveness (or why dave ramsey doesn’t know what he’s talking about)

David Schieber talks about how his review was misrepresented by that academic hoax article

Kavanaugh’s confirmation motivated this woman to canvass even though that involves talking to people.

#himtoo:  the story

Taylor Swift backs a democrat

memo to myself: numbers 6, 7, 14, 19, 27…. etc

Presented for your approval

Hawaiian and Navajo now on duolingo

It’s funny to me that the upper limit on number of books in the household is “500 or more”. Hahahahaha. Oh man. Books are so good. (Also: methodology unimpressive, but yay books anyway!)

Station broadcast announcement

This is surprisingly uplifting

This is lovely