Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm a mean one...

Christmas is here. Yay.

Let's review the positives of Christmas:

  • Twelve days off work (this is HUGE)
  • Brother home from college (again, this is nice)
  • Um... my mom likes Christmas
  • I get to listen to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack on my ipod
  • I like Christmas trees
That's it. I was going to go into a whole list of the reasons why I'm not feeling Christmas this year, but I don't really have the energy to get into it. I don't even have the energy to do my Christmas shopping (T minus <48 hours). And I'm fearful that I'll be exposed at Christmas dinner by a family member as the Grinchy ingrate if I let the Yuletide diatribe out. Chances are, Christmas won't be as bad as I fear... but there is a lot of room for a true freakfest. We shall see. At any rate, I hope your Christmas will be better than mine.

Geez - what a downer post. Time to post my favorite pick me up.

Ah, that's better.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Doggy Insomniac

Poor guy had a vet appointment from hell yesterday... He got his anal glands squeezed (be thankful you don't know about the joys of anal glanding non-dog owners), his teeth cleaned, his ear canals examined and degunked, and got microchipped.

He's recuperating with the aid of the slanket.  Here he is looking especially forlorn.  

He was all woozy from the anesthesia yesterday - he couldn't even bark at the Thai delivery guy.  "So quiet!", he exclaimed. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's thought that counts

These are the gifts that make the Insomniac household unique and my life would  be less bright without them.  

Item 1.

The popular monkey surgeon sculpture.  

This was actually given to Mr. Insomniac's brother from their parents who in turn gave it to Mr. Insomniac as a gag gift.  Mr. Insomniac's supposed to mail it back at some point in a large box buried with mounds of styrofoam peanuts, but we just can't part with it.

Item 2.

One day Mr. Insomniac called me at work, 
Him:  Our neighbor gave you a present.  
Me:  Oh?  What is it?  
Him: A piece of art.  
Me:  Why are you laughing? 
Him:  I just think it's funny how much he likes you.  
Me:  Hmm.  Where did it come from?
Him:  His brother made it - it's an original piece of art.
Me:  Really?   Would I like it?
Him:  Oh sure.
Me:  Really? (eyebrows raised)
Him:  Definitely (laughter)

I hang up the phone - not really convinced, but hoping for the best.  And what if it's Antique Roadshow valuable?  Our neighbor is old, he lives in a nice area - maybe I'm sitting on a treasure here!

This is what was waiting for me.  It is too heavy for me to lift on my own and it has a plug emanating from the back, implying that this contraption lights up.  Awesome.

The picture sucks, but it's a large wooden diorama of a hunter shooting birds in a Mexico desert.  Both the hunter and his trusty canine companion have become unglued and jostle around the diorama.  

Close up of the pioneer dude, free floating in the bright blue sky,

I'd love to get rid of it, but I couldn't have the neighbor see it in the trash or collecting dust in the garage.  I suggested taking it to Goodwill, but Mr. Insomniac is paranoid that our neighbor will see it and be offended.  He's old, Insomniac, he tells me.  So it's been sitting in our dining room for the past year.  Awesome.

Item 3.

A charming mug.

My mother went college touring with my youngest brother last year to the Southwest.  She asked me what I wanted for a souvenir, and I told her that she really didn't have to get me anything at all.  But she persisted, and so I asked for a small piece of pottery - maybe a small decorative pot or something.  After all, they have those in every shop in town.

So this is what she gives me.  The first time I unwrap it, it looks like this.  Not bad, Mom!  I love the color, it has a nice heft, I'm happy.  I'm envisioning hot cocoa with extra marshmallows.

Then I turn it around.

I blinked rapidly and try to turn my look of horror into a pleasant smile.  Once I got past the grotesque misshapen face, I read the words below.  "Know it all".  My mom pointed it out to me with a chuckle - see, that's you!  So I have an ugly mug and you've insulted me, Mom.  Gee, thanks.

But I do really like the back of it, so I've placed it near the door where it safely guards our pens and scissors.  I make sure to turn it completely around so that I never have to look upon the face of it.  It even survived a fall  last night when DoggyInsomniac knocked it over looking for dog treats.   I guess now the joke's on her.

Item 4.

This is my favorite.  A charming pug figurine from Mr. Insomniac's parents.

Cute, right?  Look at that detail!

Well, he's cute AND he he's useful.

Monty the pug has a place of honor in our living room as he performs the sacred task of safeguarding our remote control.   Now who else do you know that has a pug remote control holder?  No one, that's who.  It's a rare, one of a kind, objet d'art.  

Don't be jealous.  A person can only dream of the treasures that I have.   

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hatfield's Restaurant

I'm going to go on a diet.  I feel the fattest that I've felt in my life.  I can fit into three pairs of pants comfortably. It's time.  It's beyond time.  :(  But first - one last hurrah to gluttony!... this time in honor of the fabulous Mr. Insomniac!  

Enter Hatfield's restaurant.  What I wanted was a quiet, understated restaurant - not too fancy, not too stuffy - but that had amazing food.  And I fricking knocked it out of the park.  lol  Go me!

The edifice of the restaurant is really nothing to look at... the main dining room has about 10 tables and the outdoor patio has about 10 more and the maxium occupancy is 50.  We were greeted by Karen Hatfield (pastry chef and co-owner with her chef husband Quinn) and were seated in a secluded table on the wrap around patio deck.  We walked past a couple who had just gotten married a few hours ago and were gazing at each other with starry eyes.  The only light around was candlelight and the soft glow of the heat lamps.  Romance was in the air!

We started our meal with a little amuse bouche consisted of a deviled quail egg infused with smoked trout and a shotglass of butternut squash soup.  The quail egg was delicious and the perfect catalyst to get my taste buds a tingling.  We opted for the seven course chef's tasting menu and we were informed that it would be a duo tasting menu - that for each course, two different dishes would be prepared.  Awesome?  You betcha.  Many of the tasting items are on the current menu (noted with an *), and I will definitely be returning to eat some of my favorites.

So now it's time for the head to head battle! (ding ding!) 

"Croque Madame": grilled brioche, hamachi, prosciutto, quail egg*
Monkfish salad with celery root

I thought the croque madame would be a slam dunk, and indeed it was pretty tasty.  The brioche was delightfully light and buttery with a hint of sweetness.  But the monkfish salad was surprisingly savoury and had deliciously complex flavors.  I'm going to call this one a draw.

A fancy term for ravioli that I've never heard of stuffed with ricotta with a cinnamon butter sauce
Warm octopus salad with shoots of asparagus and assorted other tasties

I'd give to the octopus salad - Mr. Insominac gave it to the ravioli.  There really were no losers in this round.  But I think if I had to have a full plate of one of them, I'd go for the salad.  I think.  

Slow baked Tasmanian ocean trout, salsify carbonara, sautéed cabbage, hon shimeji mushrooms*
Sesame encrusted tuna with mushrooms and pureed brussell sprouts

I'd go with the trout, but the tuna put up a good fight.

Duck breast with crispy duck tongue over a smeared whiskey reduction with a serving of fois gras*
Duck and fois gras over a carrot ginger smear 

This was the sad part of the meal.  We lamented over the poor duck that had his tongue cut out.  But agreed that it was tasty.  These were great, but I can't really remember anything about them at the moment.  Except for the crispy duck tongue which was yummy.  Hmm.

Pan roasted duck breast, quinoa and mitake mushrooms, butternut squash, whiskey prune smear

Pork belly
Pan roasted hanger steak and slow cooked horseradish dusted short ribs, spring onion confit, smoked potato puree*

Cow > pig.  This was a no brainer for me... the short ribs were perfectly cooked and the steak was ridicously tender.  Great dish.  And it's on the regular menu too!

Lime cream "pie", gingersnap crust , huckleberry compote, cream cheese ice cream*
Buttermilk panna cota with a crispy wafer alongside a cranberry orange sorbet

Hands down this round went to the lime cream pie.  Mr. Insomniac loved the cream cheese ice cream and I was so taken with the gingersnap crust on the lime cream pie that I wanted to pound my fist on the table in celebration.  It's on the menu, so you can try it for yourself!  Flaky, buttery, crispy, sweet perfection is what it was.  The buttermilk panna cota and cranberry orange sorbet was a nice palate cleanser, but I didn't want to pound anything.  It was good though - honest!

Sugar and spice dusted beignets, Venezuelan chocolate fondu, vanilla malted milkshake shot*
Chocolate and peanut butter truffle cake, salted caramel ice cream, roasted peanut toffee*

I was all about the beignets which are on the regular menu.  I went even so far as to ask our waiter to bring us an order of them.  He regretfully responded (because he didn't want to ruin the surprise) that they will be the last course.  So I was beyond pleased when it arrived.  It didn't taste like the beignets at Cafe du Monde, but it was still tasty.  The chocolate fondu for dipping was richly nuanced and bittersweet and the milkshake shot was delicious and refreshing.

HOWEVER, I'm going to have to give it to the chocolate and peanut butter truffle cake.  When Mr. Insomniac and I switched plates and I spooned a portion in my mouth, I took a deep inhale and leaned back in my chair, blinking repeatedly.  It was surprisingly good.  I mean, I knew that Hatfield's had great desserts, but I was unprepared at how amazing this little bite of food would be.  It tasted like warm chocolate peanut butter cake... soft... like cookie dough.  I thought about when I was younger and my mom would call my brother and I to the kitchen for cookies.  I would bite into them and the chocolate would be all melty and the peanut butter would be warm and soft and... Then I spooned the salted caramel ice cream and again - another transcendent experience...  It was like I was Marcel Proust dunking madelines into cafe au lait.  The caramel ice cream had these little salt chips in it that provided just the right hint of complexity to cut into the sweet ice cream.  Cake and ice cream...  there's a reason why they've been paired together for generations.  

Perfect way to end the evening.  Kathy Hatfield is a dessert-making marvel.  

(And then I got a parking ticket when I got back to my car, but we won't talk about that.  WTF is with me and tickets?)
The portions were on the small side for a tasting menu, which actually worked out pretty well.  The last time I did a tasting menu I was full by the fourth course and didn't really enjoy the remaining dishes.  With the smaller portions, I could eat everything and didn't feel uncomfortably stuffed when it was all said and done.  

The staff was very attentive and competent.  They brought out the dishes at a rapid pace - if memory recalls correctly, we were there for less than two hours.  Again, the last time I did a tasting menu, I was there for nearly twice that amount.  You start to get uncomfortable sitting in the chairs and are just waiting for the darn thing to be over.  Not this time!

So many places around here place the setting and decor over the food. Hatfield's has it straight. Two thumbs up.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Prop 8 action

Here's an email that I got from Geoff Kors, Executive Director of Equality California :

The proponents of Prop 8 usurped the role of the Legislature by putting the right for same-sex couples to marry directly on the ballot.

Two Equality California-sponsored resolutions introduced today will make it official state policy, when they are approved by the Legislature, that Prop 8 should be overturned.

Write your legislators now to urge them to support the invalidation of Prop 8 and vote for Leno's Senate Resolution 7 and Ammiano's Assembly Resolution (number to be assigned).

Prop 8 eliminates the fundamental right to marry and allows a slim majority to take away the equal protections of a minority, which violates one of the founding principles of our Constitution. The resolutions state the measure should have been approved by a two-thirds vote in the Legislature before going to voters.

Urge your representatives to support these resolutions. If you are registered with EQCA’s Action Center, reply to this email. Or register today at www.eqca.org/actioncenter.

On December 19, proponents of Prop 8 will file their briefs with the California Supreme Court. So, ask everyone you know to write their representative by going to www.eqca.org/actioncenter by December 19.

EQCA will do its part to make sure we have broad support for these resolutions.

But we need you to do yours. Email your representatives now at www.eqca.org/actioncenter and ask your friends and family join you.

California lawmakers need to hear from you—their constituents—that our state should be a state of hope, prosperity and equality for all.
This was super easy to do and went out a whole list of folks.  You could add a personalized message or just go with the standard message.  

Monday, December 1, 2008

Eating meat

Yesterday Mr. Insomniac and I traveled to the far off location of Tustin for some all you can eat Korean barbeque with some of his college buddies - Grillmaster and CEO.

I had been craving some marinated short ribs for a while and a couple of weeks ago, we went to this place in Korean town that was dark, dank, and smoky.  I didn't take many pictures but here's one of our meal cooking with the assorted side dishes.  It was good, but rather pricy.  And the ventillation system was pretty much non-existent.  We spent most of the evening being bathed in smoky meat air.  On the plus side, doggy Insomniac was especially attentive when we got home as we probably smelled delicious.

So after that place, arriving at Seoul Garden BBQ Buffet was a breath of fresh air - literally.

Lots of tile, but well lit.  

So the way this place works is that you grab your assorted side dishes (rice, kim chi, pickled cucumbers and garlic cloves, bean sprouts, seaweed salad, scallions, jalapenos, etc.) from one buffet table.  Then you use a SEPARATE dish and load up on raw meat from another buffet table.  This was the part that was a little ick.  I like meat as much as the next bloke, but to see mounds of raw flesh swimming in a bloody marinade and sitting out in the open gave me pause.  But I shook it off and starting loading up my plate.

They have a wide assortment of proteins available - beef, poulty, pork, tofu, and seafood.  

And more adventurous fare for folks interested in crossing some items off the Omnivore's Hundred checklist.  

I figured, why not? and heaped a slice of beef tongue and beef heart on my plate for grilling.  I felt very Brave Heart.  (And it wasn't until digging up that Omnivore Hundred link that I realized that tongue and heart weren't on the list.  But I like the idea of trying new things... so it's all good.  Neither was bone marrow guts which would have been definitely an example of Trying New Things but I was too much of a chicken.)

Grillmaster did what he does best and deftly placed the short ribs on the grill and bordered the meat with some scallions, onions, and mussels.  After a few quick tosses of the tongs, they were done - perfectly charred and deliciously tender.  

Grillmaster and CEO looked at me in disgust and said that I was trying to "out Asian" them when I threw my tongue and heart on the grill.  But the joke was on them as I can say that the tongue was pretty tasty - it tasted like meat with a delicate flavor - and the heart tasted pretty good too.  Rich, gamey, flavorful - kind of like gizzards.  Chewy, but not annoyingly so.

I would have placed a picture of the grilling action and the completed meal here, but my iphone is currently at home somewhere.  Sad face.  Enjoy the picture of the Beef Marrow Guts.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Busted (?/!)

Last week, I posed a question to a group of impartial Southern Californians. I had triggered one of the dreaded red light cameras that are interspersed around Los Angeles. I saw the flash and everything. Was I screwed? Their responses gave me a inkling of hope... but not much. I tend to be a pessimist so I had already prepared for the worst. But there was always the chance...

When I got home from visiting a sick friend in the hospital (see? I'm a good person even though I'm crappy driver!), I found a special letter from the police department waiting on the bookshelf near the door.

Looks like I got my answer.

I tore it open - maybe there was some sort of ambiguity. Something I could fight against.
No such luck. Totally me. I could make out my parking pass hanging from the rear view mirror and the smears of bird crap on the windshield.

To add insult to injury, my cheery Obama/Biden magnet that was graciously given to me by a fellow Obama supporter in my work parking lot was clearly visible in the rear view shot. As was my No on Prop 8 bumper sticker.

You can't see this clearly from the scanned picture, but the light is clearly RED in this pic. And there I am, trying in vain to push my 4 cylinder enging across the intersection. I'm so busted.

I'd like to think that if I had been apprehended by an actual cop, I could have sweet talked my way out of a ticket. That I could have squeezed out some tears, begged for mercy, etc. But the cops in that area are heartless and are sticklers for the law. What assholes. I got my first ticket in Los Angeles about 100 yards from the spot of this little incident. It was an anti-gridlock ticket for momentarily blocking the intersection in rush hour. Never mind that I was never actually in the path of oncoming traffic or that two other cars were in the same predicament. That baby was $200. Chump change compared to this fine of $380. And I might have to suffer the humiliation of traffic school. lol

On the upside, I have a fetching souvenir which will be my new Facebook profile pic. And I provided Mr. Insomniac with a hearty dose of laughter when he saw the photos. So I guess there's that. ;)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Time for action

On Friday I  finally saw the footage of Barack Obama's acceptance speech.  And it was amazing.  I was struck at the faces of the folks in Grant Park - exuberant joy, eyes wide open with hope.  So many people.  So many different people.  All united in this one purpose.

And then when Michelle Obama and their daughters joined him on stage and clasped hands, I literally swooned. An African American First Family.  How beautiful.  You can see some candid shots of the Elect-First Family in Barack's flickr account.  Can I just say how much I love the idea that he has a flickr account?  lol  I didn't even realize it, but I caught myself grinning like a simpleton as I watched the slideshow.  I'm so enamored with them it's ridiculous.

I believe Obama when he says
"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.


It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America."

And I'm going to hold him to it.  It's time to get writing.  From his President-Elect transition website

An American Moment
The story of the campaign and this historic moment has been your story. It is about the great things we can do when we come together around a common purpose. The story of bringing this country together as a healed and united nation will be led by President-Elect Obama, but written by you. The millions of you who built this campaign from the ground up, and echoed your call for the change you wanted to see implemented by the Obama Administration - this process of setting up that new government is about you.
This transition is about selecting a new staff and agenda that will help reclaim the American dream and bring about positive lasting change to this country. In order to do that, we want to hear from you.

Tell us your story and the issues that matter most to you. Share with us your concerns and hopes. – the policies you want to see carried out in the next four years.

Copy and paste your message and send it to Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer if you're in California.  Or if you're not.  Or check here and send it to your own Senator.

Find your representative and send it to him/her as well.  

Drop a line to some of the companies that took a stand.  Let them know you appreciate their effort and hope that they will continue to fight.
or some of the celebrities/VIPs that lent their image and/or money to the cause:
  • Magic Johnson
  • Samuel Jackson
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Jerry Yang, founder of Yahoo
  • Evan Williams, CEO, Twitter
  • America Ferrera, Tony Plana and Ana Ortiz (I tried my damnest to find contact info for these folks.  Failed)
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook (couldn't find an email - but she is on Facebook, so I sent my message via a friend fequest.  Sneaky... lol)
  • Or some elected officials.  Or organizations or newspapers.  For a complete list of supporters, you can check out this page.

Okay, now that you're done typing and are all fired up... take to the streets.

On Saturday, November 15, there will be Prop 8/gay marriage protests in many American cities.  Check out JointheImpact.com to see if something's in your neck of the woods and go.  Be a witness to the cause and take comfort in the knowledge that there are thousands upon thousands of people who agree with you.

Million Gay March has opportunities for volunteering and has a list of events/protests in California.  

Save up money and head to Washington DC in  2010 with Means of Equality.
In the summer of 2010, we will march the streets of our nation's capitol for the advancement and protection of homosexuals rights as human beings, as indviduals, as a collective unit of persons who have been denied the fruition of marriage and equal protection under the law. It is our mission that the nation understand that it is unconsitutional for states to ratify or amend their constitution to redefine marriage as solely between man and woman. The United States of America was founded based on the principle that we are free to worship as we see fit. Therefore, we feel it is unconstitutional to base the views of one religious unit to define how other sects are to live. We as a people ask for marriage to become a possiblity and ask for equal protection under the law. We feel this could be achieved by instituting a new Civil Rights Act to include equal protection for homosexuals by prohibiting discrimination in employment, public accomodations, housing, credit, and education.

But the most important thing that you can do is to talk to the people around you.  And actually not just talk, but to listen.  Listen to their concerns, their fears, their reluctances.  And then respond accordingly.  There are some people that won't be moved... not until  they see first-hand how same sex marriage doesn't spell the end of civilization as we know it.  And even then they still might not be convinced.  But there are others that might be swayed by reason - and it's these that we need to focus on.

So let us go forth and spread the gospel. 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

West Hollywood Protest

Pictures from the West Hollywood Protest on Wednesday, Nov 5 at 7pm.  

Protesters lined the street of Santa Monica Blvd with homemade signs. Honking cars responded.

The rally was attended by hundreds of people.  We listened to people talk - campaign leaders, religious leaders, members of from pro-LGBT people of color alliances.  We chanted and waved flags.

But I had mixed feelings.  For starters, where where these people weeks ago?  Days ago?  D, one of the leaders at the We Ho office was in charge of visibility efforts.  For weeks he organized folks to stand on the street corner of Santa Monica and Robertson.  I went one Monday and there were about 10 of us.  A, a volunteer who took weeks off work to devote all her time to the campaign was so angry that she turned away and roamed the streets of West Hollywood for two hours.  The people that I had worked alongside with in the evenings appeared shellshocked at the hundreds of people around them.  So many more phone calls could have been made, murmured A before took off.  

And then one of the speakers started blaming African Americans who came out in support of Obama for voting Yes.  And mentioning Latino men who stood across the street from LGBT folk with Yes on 8 signs and hurled faggot at them.  Or an African American woman that told a lesbian volunteering at the polls that she didn't deserve rights.  And I was angry at what had happened to these people, but I was also angry at the divisiveness that these comments inspired.  I don't know what the campaign strategy was, but if we didn't reach out to certain communities, then that's on us.  We need to take a page from the Obama playbook and truly build a coalition of supporters.  Straight people, people of all faiths, all racial/ethnic backgrounds.  The LGBT community can not do this by themselves...

I think we're on to a great start.  I've been hearing lots of outrage from a lot of people.  This is good.  Prop 8 will be our rallying cry.  It's sad to think that we needed a practice run (defeating Prop 8 would have been such a monumental victory), but next time we will be ready.

And for non-sucky pictures, you can check out this photo gallery in the LA Times.

A letter from the No on 8 officials

Dear Insomniac,

We had hoped never to have to write this email.

Sadly, fueled by misinformation, distortions and lies, millions of voters went to the polls yesterday and said YES to bigotry, YES to discrimination, YES to second-class status for same-sex couples.

And while the election was close, and millions of votes still remain uncounted, it has become apparent that we lost.

There is no question this defeat is hard.

Thousands of people have poured their talents, their time, their resources and their hearts into this struggle for freedom and this fight to have their relationships treated equally. Much has been sacrificed in this struggle.

While we knew the odds for success were not with us, we believed Californians could be the first in the nation to defeat the injustice of discriminatory measures like Proposition 8.

And while victory is not ours this day, we know that because of the work done here, freedom, fairness and equality will be ours someday. Just look at how far we have come in a few decades.

Up until 1974 same-sex intimacy was a crime in California. There wasn't a single law recognizing the relationships of same-sex couples until 1984 -- passed by the Berkeley School District. San Francisco did not pass domestic-partner protections until 1990; the state of California followed in 2005. And in 2000, Proposition 22 passed with a 23% majority.

Today, we fought to retain our right to marry and millions of Californians stood with us. Over the course of this campaign everyday Californians and their friends, neighbors and families built a civil rights campaign unequalled in California history.

You raised more money than anyone believed possible for an LGBT civil rights campaign.

You reached out to family and friends in record numbers -- helping hundreds of thousands of Californians understand what the LGBT civil rights struggle is really about.

You built the largest grassroots and volunteer network that has ever been built -- a coalition that will continue to fight until all people are equal.

And you made the case to the people of California and to the rest of the world that discrimination -- in any form -- is unfair and wrong.

We are humbled by the courage, dignity and commitment displayed by all who fought this historic battle.

Victory was not ours today. But the struggle for equality is not over.

Because of the struggle fought here in California -- fought so incredibly well by the people in this state who love freedom and justice -- our fight for full civil rights will continue.

Activist and writer Anne Lamott writes, "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up."

We stand together, knowing... our dawn will come.

***** And can I just say, I am so amazed by the nobility of the legal fight that is sure to come.  One of the attorneys spoke at the protest rally and I just am so thankful for the folks that are gearing up for this.  I tried to get a "Let's Go Lawyers!" chant going, but it fell flat. :/  *****

Election Night Debrief

So many things are going through my head.

I'll start with the Election.  At around 7pm as I sat huddled in the cargo area of a beat-up Subaru in West Hollywood Park, I received a text message alerting me to the fact that Obama's win was imminent and that as a dispatcher, we needed to change plans immediately.  We were to pull the 60 people we had that were standing at polling places around West Hollywood and Beverly Hills and instruct them to start knocking on doors around the neighborhood.  We were to call 10 people and make sure that they had voted.  Jo and I looked at each other - could we actually ask folks to do that?  Would they be willing?  After all, they didn't sign up for this.  They weren't trained for this.  We started dialing.

L was willing.  He found a condo complex and started pushing buttons on the call box.  He found one woman who hadn't voted yet and he told her that her polling place was right across the street and that there were no lines.  She voted.   Ja, another dispatcher, called a volunteer that had worked with us on the morning shift (6:30 to 10am) to ask him to call 10 of his friends.  Ja reported to me and Jo that "for the first time in my life, I actually hung up on a volunteer."  You see, the volunteer was at a dinner party.  And couldn't be bothered to call 10 people.  

So Ja, Jo, and I dialed and waited in the parking lot of West Hollywood Park.  An hour later, we heard cheers and car horns honking from around the neighborhood.  The wind had picked up and was blowing debris around with ferocity.  We waited for our volunteers to return from their shift.  Group by group they did and as they returned their materials, many of them kept a flyer or two as a momento.  We chatted, thanked them, and gave them hugs.  I struggled to hold back tears as I looked at their hopeful faces and told them how much their efforts meant to me and to our cause.  S checked in just when McCain's concession speech was on and we all listened together. 

Jo left for his home.  Ja and I were going to the results party.  He looked dazed - his eyes were wide, watery.  I said, "well, what now?"  He said, "I don't know."  Ja is from Texas and has been living with another volunteer for months during this campaign.  He was supposed to go back to school this fall in New York where his girlfriend of 3 years lives, but decided to stay on with the campaign.    

When we got to the party at the Music Box, a line stretched out of the building.  As volunteers/staff, we were supposed to be guaranteed admission, but since it was also open to public, there was no more room inside.  When I complained, the bouncer pointed to the line of people and said, those people want to get in as well.  I can't let anymore people in.  "Look at them!  They're wearing high heels, skirts, makeup, and suits!  Their hair looks nice.  Those are not volunteers.  This is a volunteer", I said, gesturing to my unkempt windblown hair, XL sized campaign shirt that hung to my knees, and sneakers.  I stood outside with staff members and we grumbled and claimed bullshit.  Many went to another staff member's home to watch the results there.  They ended up spending the night.  Others of us were ushered inside by a higher up.  We waited and watched for the results from San Francisco and Los Angeles to come in.  

I left at 11pm.  At that time we were behind five points.  I went home, found Mr. Insomniac  brushing his teeth and burst into tears.  Then I went to bed.  Somewhere inside I was happy about Obama, but his victory was never in any doubt for me.  At any rate, the overwhelming disappointment drowned out any feelings of joy.  I felt cheated.

Oh, and did I mention that around 7:30pm I received a robocall on my cell phone that played a snipet of a speech by Obama where he declared that a marriage is between a man and woman to thunderous applause?  Yeah.  A Yes on Prop 8 campaign call.  Never mind the fact that Obama has condemned Prop 8.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thank you...

To the 3,700 volunteers in Los Angeles county who showed up to work on election day.

To the 180 volunteers who went through my dispatch site.

To L, who was threatened with arrest

To K, who brought us homemade signs.

To R and the other all-day volunteers who arrived at our location at 6am and left at 8:30pm.

To A, who had the cops arguing with her even though she was well beyond the 100 feet perimeter

To S, who had a poll worker point a finger in her face in a threatening manner

To C and C, who roved between our 21 polling locations with coffee and snacks for the folks who were braving an unseasonably chilly evening.

To Ad, who was being harassed by poll workers

To J and J, my fellow dispatchers.

To R, who gave me my 4:30am wakeup call.

To T, who dealt with cops that accused him of being threatening and harassing.

To the folks who clarified that a Yes vote did not support same sex marriage.

To C, T, and all the others who have been living in homes away from home for the past five months. To J who took the semester off. All to devote as much energy as possible to fight for equality.

To A who was able to converse with voters in her native language to help them understand the proposition.

To the staff at the West Hollywood Office.

To the volunteers that knocked on doors when Obama's victory was certain at 7pm and we needed to get the vote out.

To everyone that devoted their time to a cause that was so much bigger than themselves.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


And so it begins...

I (with two other people) will be heading up a No on Prop 8 dispatch location on the Westside of Los Angeles. Which basically means that I will oversee over 180 volunteers, place them at polling sites, check in, report back to the boiler room, visit over 20 polling sites, etc.

I will get a wake up call at 4:30. So in about 4 hours. And then my first task is to call 30 volunteers so they meet me at the dispatch location at 6:30. Good times indeed.

I hope I have enough energy to get through the victory party!

Happy voting everyone!

Now I have to try and sleep somehow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

No on 8 rally in Long Beach, CA

Today I went to a rally for folks voting No on Prop 8 in Long Beach, California.  It was a lovely fall day - a gentle breeze from the ocean rustled the palm trees, the sun shone brightly all was well.  The rally was in a local park, across the street from the Pacific Ocean.

The stage was set with colorful balloons...

and plenty of yard signs...

There were several pooches in attendance.  Many like Penelope, a 7 month old Great Dane puppy, were emblazoned with stickers.

There were lots of supporters, many with home-made signs.

Folks from the No on Prop 8 campaign were there in full force, signing up volunteers for Election Day.

A gentleman sang the "Star Spangled Banner", pausing after the phrase "land of the free" to great applause, and the rally was on!  Guest speakers included the mayor of Long Beach, candidates for Congress, No on Prop 8 campaign staff, religious officials, and more.  It was really inspirational and a great motivator for me.

It was nice to see all the couples.  A few wore anniversary buttons that announced how many years that they've been together.

The finale made me tear up...  A couple got married at the end of the rally.  It really brought home what we are fighting for.  Best wishes to the new legally married couple!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Like the Amazing Race, but with politics

This morning I got up at the crack of dawn (okay, 7am) to scout out polling places for election day action for the No on Prop 8 campaign. I had to note things like parking availability, suggested location for volunteers, where the poll was, how voters would approach the poll, etc.

I went to ten places before heading to work - it took me nearly 3 hours. I drove to locations that I had mapped out the night before (I was up until 2am), ran to the location, and did a quick sketch of essential features... I went to a couple of elementary schools and got to see cute little kids marching around to "The Monster Mash" in their costumes - but I didn't have time to stay, as I had to be off in a flash to the next location!

I have to brag about my wonderful drawings...


Says the AwesomeGrrl, the Hollywood/West Hollywood Field Manager:

"Thanks so much Insomniac! This is great. Since T is your lead on this now, we don't need copies of it - but your work looks fabulous!"

Darn right it does, AwesomeGrrl. lol

I'll be either a poll captain or a dispatcher on Election Day - I've taken the day off work so I can devote myself to the cause all day long.

We're just barely ahead in the polls, we've got a new ad that really focuses on how a Yes vote is blatant discrimination, and I'm feeling very optimistic.

Check out WeezerMonkey's Eight Reasons to vote No on Prop 8 - that is one smart monkey. And after you're reading it and fired up, donate some cash!

I can taste it - 4 more days!

Dear Insomniac,

The latest Field Poll, released this morning, shows that our campaign ads are working. Now that we are finally up on the air equal with the other side, we have turned our deficit in the polls into a very narrow lead with 49% indicating they plan to vote no and 44% saying they intend to vote yes.

Unfortunately, the same poll found that 22 percent of those surveyed had already voted -- and that this group voted “yes” on Proposition 8, 50 to 44 percent. That’s why it is so critical that over the weekend we convince any undecided voters to vote NO on Tuesday. We need your contribution NOW!

This will be an extremely close race that will be decided by the 7 to 10 % of voters still up for grabs. We must continue to stay on the air equal with the other side in order to convince these voters to vote NO.

Our new hard hitting television ad, narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, reminds voters of the history of discrimination starting with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War 2. Watch our new ad.

[insomniac's comments:  This ad kicks ass!]

We need to raise a minimum of $1.5 million today to keep this ad on the air over the weekend and on Monday. Donate Now!

With your help we will defeat this attempt to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry the person they love and strip away our dignity. Please continue your support with a donation and ask the people who care for you to do the same keep this new ad on the air.

In solidarity,

Geoff Kors
Executive Director
Equality California

So tired

Prop 8 is tiring.
Even for an insomniac.
Looks like another night of 5 hour sleep.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fun on the 605 freeway

On Monday I got my official voter by mail ballot and filled it out the next day.  I thought long and hard about some of the propositions and measures, and ended up changing one of my votes at the last minute.  But I feel good about my decisions and have no regrets.  I made sure to make my circles nice and dark - no errors here!  I sealed up the envelope and was all set.  

Paranoid freak that I am, I decided to drive aaaaall the way to Norwalk in California to submit my ballot for the General Election.  Sure, I could have dropped it in the mail.  But what if the postman forgot to pick up the mail today, tomorrow, and Friday?  Or what if my ballot got "misplaced" or fell out of the little bag they wheel around?  Nope, on such an important issue as this, I needed to drive  32 miles (39 minutes or up to 1 hour, 50 minutes in traffic - thanks google maps!) to Norwalk.  Now prior to this little jaunt, there was no way I could put Norwalk on the map, but now I'm an expert.  I was in Baldwin Park, which is also off the beaten path, so I figured, why not make the trip?

But a funny thing happened on the way to the polls. 

There I was, minding my own business... listening to NPR and eating a sugar donut.  All was good in the world. I was about to do my civic duty and then some.  When out of nowhere, a guy in a red BMW honks at me. Whatever.  I continue with the donut.  Then he gets behind my car and starts tailgating me.  (The 605 is completely open, he's directly behind me for a reason.)  I'm thinking to myself, hmm.   I have an idea what he's doing, but I'm not 100% sure.   I can see his face in my rear view mirror.  Middle aged pale male.  Balding with one of those mustaches that was popular in 70s porn movies.   He then zips along side me.  This ought to be interesting, I think.  He honks his horn in quick succession and then emphatically gives me the thumbs down sign, pumping his fist up and down.  That confirms it.  This ladies and gents, is a Yes on Prop 8 voter.  Who thinks that the best way to engage in constructive dialogue is to give me a thumbs down.   Never mind freedom of speech - apparently I'm to be chastised for my views.

Well, two can play at that game.

He tries to speed ahead, but I step on the pedal to catch up to him, rolling the passenger side window  down. Multitask!  (I've already gulped down the donut, so I don't have to worry about that.)  *I* pull along side of him.  Hold up my pretty pink envelope that contains my No vote and wave it with a smile.  Then I jab my middle finger at him with relish, and slowly, deliberately mouth the words, "Fuck.  You."    Then I drove away laughing.  He got stuck behind a semi and I continued to make my way to the Norwalk County clerk office.  Pornstached bastard.

The line  for people looking to vote early at the County clerk office was ridiculous.  It ran the width of the building, then snaked around and doubled back.  Apparently, the wait was 1 to 1.5 hours.  I had to park at some other parking lot and run across the street because the County clerk office parking lot was completely full.  

Here's one side:

Here's the other side:

I located the box for dropping off ballots. With great flourish, I dropped it in.

Si se puede, indeed.