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.  

Monday, October 27, 2008

More No on Prop 8

Tonight I waved some Prop 8 street signs on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Robertson in West Hollywood with 10 other volunteers. It was fun and we received a lot of support in the form of supportive honks, thumbs up, applause, and wooos! Multitasker that I am, by waving my arms outstretched, I managed to do a series of exercises to work my deltoids, shoulders, pecs, and triceps. Two of the volunteers were wearing matching t-shirts emblazoned with their wedding picture - the two of them in front of an oceanic backdrop wearing white tuxes smiling alongside two other men in black tuxes.

One girl yelled "Vote Yes for Jesus" from a moving car and some one else yelled either "Get a Job" or "Good Job" - we weren't sure, but chose to go with the latter. Those were the only questionable comments...

My ballot arrived in the mail today, and I'm so excited to vote and do my civic duty... I must admit that I smiled when I saw Obama's name on the ballot. What an exciting election this will be! I'm even more thrilled that I'll get to skip the projected crazy lines.

And I've been selected as a "dispatcher" on Election Day, which means that I'll be going to a variety of polling sites to offer support and materials or something of that nature. My trusty iphone will be invaluable for helping me navigate around town.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No on Prop 8 - 9 days and counting...

I wish life could be all about slankets and coziness, but sometimes you gotta come out of your warm cocoon and fight for tolerance and equality. For the past weeks, I've been working as a volunteer for the No on Prop 8 campaign here in California.

I think most of you are pretty familiar with Prop 8, but just to be on the safe side, Proposition 8 would specify in the CA constitution that marriage is only valid between a man and woman and thus eliminate the rights to same sex couples that were granted with the recent CA Supreme Court decision (Chief Justice George wrote in his majority decision, "An individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights." Bravo, sir.)

A lot of people have given donations to support the cause and some live out of state... with this post, I wanted to show you where your money is going. These are some of the ads that are in heavy rotation on television - I see about 10 commercials a day, and I also have heard radio spots.

This one is my favorite, as it directly calls into question the insidious propaganda that the Yes camp has been spewing out.

But then watching the Amazing Race, I saw this - which I'm certain will be run over and over again. Using children to foment intolerance is just sickening.

There's an insanely large grassroots effort as well and we can use any help you can offer. You can join in on the fun here - we need to be visible.

The field office that I've been volunteering is in West Hollywood, conveniently located next to a Trader Joe's and a Chinese restaurant. I believe it used to be some sort of hair salon, but now it's the center of campaign fever!

What it lacks in comfort, it makes up for in dedication and energy.

The bathroom is especially "authentic". There's also a room where charging cell phones are kept that is known affectionately as "the dungeon".

I often serve as a greeter before training sessions, and then jump into my role as a coach once the volunteers get on the phones.

A picture of an impromptu training session for volunteers that arrived in between scheduled sessions. The woman in blue was especially charming - she was volunteering with her son and gave me a hug after her shift was over.

All volunteers use specific scripts that are currently designed to make sure that our base actually gets out and vote, and doesn't stay home because they assume Obama will take California. The second objective is to clarify what No vote actually means - a lot of people who are supportive of same sex marriage think that the correct vote is Yes, which would be a sad sad mistake. (Fortunately, it is likely that the opposition will have the same problem - by all means Vote No on Prop 8 and teach those gays a lesson!).

The script:

We typically have 30-35 volunteers who come to each phone bank session. Many are repeat volunteers, but most are new. We have around twenty-one laptops in our office available for volunteers to use to reach registered voters - the computer dial numbers much more quickly than us mere humans and uses relaxing hold music that I will probably dream about until May 2009. Because she's awesome, Yeah4me has been using the computer program to call CA voters from her home in Virgina.

Anytime someone gets a person on the phone who plans or has already voted No, we ring one of those hotel front desk bells and everyone goes "Wooo!" Two dings if we get someone to volunteer with us on Election Day. (hint hint blog readers!)

The rest of the volunteers use paper lists of registered voters.

At the phone bank on Saturday morning, there was a certain cast member of a top-rated medical drama in attendance with his boyfriend. He brought in two dogs that were extremely well behaved and they made calls with little fanfare for 3 hours. He was one of the first celebrities to give money in support of the No on Prop 8 campaign, and I was impressed that he actually donates his time as well. He is a very nice guy.

Pic of one of the doggies. Note the subflooring and mismatched chairs - pretty much everything in the office was donated by volunteers or corporations.

This election will be close. In the beginning we were ahead, then the opposition started running their commercial about a little girl wanting to marry a princess, and we started slipping. Now we're starting to catch up, but it's going to be a tough battle.

I've had some pretty passionate conversations with people both online and in real life. Like I have two family members that are going to vote Yes, despite the fact a close member of our family (my step-sister) is a lesbian. Really sad. The best thing to do when I'm feeling angry or discouraged is to spend some time fighting alongside people who are committed to the same cause that I am. I want to do everything I can to ensure that gays and lesbians are able to have the 1,000+ state and federal rights that are available to me and Mr. Insomniac.

In closing, here are some excerpts of some of my favorite conversations with folks...

Me: How do you feel about same sex marriage?
Her: Well, what about the children? I don't want my kid learning about gay marriage in school
Me: Actually, not one word in the proposition says anything about children and the Superintendent of CA has stated this.
Her: Well, they still could.
Me: Well regardless of how you feel we believe it's wrong and unfair to treat people differently.
Her: But it will keep on going. If gays get their rights, then other people will want rights. Where will it end?
Me: (sarcastically, but not so sarcastically that she hangs up) Right, all people will want rights.
Her: Not that people shouldn't have rights. It just has to be the right rights.
Me: Interesting. So can we count on you to vote No on Prop 8?
Her: I think I'm going to vote yes.
Me: Okay. Thank you. Bye. (hit end call button , make gagging sound)

Me: How do you feel about same sex marriage?
Her: How old are you?
Me: Um, I'm 32.
Her: No you're not.
Me: Excuse me?
Her: You're 16.
Me: No, I'm really not.
Her: You're too young to be talking about this stuff.
Me: I see. How do you feel about same sex marriage?

And a happy call!

Me: How do you feel about same sex marriage?
Him: Pretty good actually. I married my partner on June 23rd.
Me: Oh, how wonderful! Congratulations! Seriously, hearing that makes me feel really good and as a volunteer, makes me feel like all of this is totally worth it.

Occasionally, I've been known to deviate slightly from the script. But that's okay because I'm awesome.

Him: I just don't know if two gay men can raise a child.
Me: Listen. I have a doctorate in developmental psychology from one of the best universities in the country. I've read the research. And you know what? It says that a child that has parents who love her, are responsive to her needs, uphold consistent and fair age-appropriate restrictions, and are warm and nurturing are best for positive development.
Him: Well I just don't think that they could do it. I knew of these one guys and they would kiss and have sex and stuff in front of the child.
Me: (raise eyebrows) Yeah, well I could look at the home page of right now and I guarantee there's some sort of story about a kid in a well or a kid that was placed in a trashcan for two years with straight parents, but that doesn't mean that they're all like that.

And the winner!

Me: Can I speak to Lisa
Her: What is this regarding?
Me: I'm a volunteer with the No on Prop 8 campaign and we're talking about a very important issue that will be on November's ballot.
Her: Oh, you want my husband then and he's eating dinner.
Me: No, I actually want to talk to you.
Her: Okay.
Me: (reads script) Same sex marriage..... Prop 8 wrong, unfair.... everyone should treated equally...
Her: Hmm... I see what you're saying
Me: So can we count on you to vote No on Prop 8?
Her: Well to be honest, I'm just going to vote whatever my husband tells me to. He makes the decisions with voting.
Me: (?!) Okay, thank you. (shed single tear)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The slanket demystified

So here is my slanket photoshoot, much to Mr. Insomniac's chagrin (he was an extremely reluctant photographer).  I am now fully convinced that he has an adversial relationship with my slanket.  And I'll have you know that it was like 80 degrees in my house and my the time I was finished with all of this, I was practically sweating.  Warning: the slanket is powerfully warming.

As discussed previously in a popular online community, the slanket is a fleecy blanket with sleeves.  It looks like a robe (opens to the front) and is designed for only one person.  I uphold that last part to the best of my ability, but sometimes my slanket gets breached by undesirable elements.

Anywho, you're probably saying to yourself, Insomniac, I have a blanket.  Why do I need some fancy version that sounds silly?

Exhibit A.

Blankets are for crying babies.  Slankets are for consenting adults.

Exhibit B.

Blankets make you act like a baby, even when you've graduated college and probably hold a full-time job in graphic design.  And what's more, they don't provide the necessary coverage and warmth.  Look at this guy - hands and legs exposed.  What type of warmth can he possibly get?    And the whole sorry contraption is being held together with a hair clip.  Inventive?  Sure.  A long-term solution to a serious problem?  Absolutely not.  You want security in your blanket, not something that could fall off at a moment's notice.

Exhibit C.

Now we're getting somewhere.  Look want happens when you give babies maximum coziness in the form of baby burrito blankets, what could only be described as a slanket prototype.  No more crying.  Ever.  Interesting...  But say they wanted to eat some Doritos or check their favorite youtube video.  Impossible.

Enter the slanket.  Available on the website for $44.95 or from QVC for the low low price of $29.96 but there's a limited color supply - sorry, no Texas Tea.

As can be seen from the photo of yours truly, it offers maximum coverage for those chilly nights in Southern California.  It is long enough so you can double the foot coverage if you're prone to feet of ice and your significant other's being difficult and refuses to let you put them on his back for rapid warming.  

Once you have a slanket, everyone wants to join the party.  Last night, my slanket was breached by doggy Insomniac.

He likes comfort too.  And really, who could blame him?

The arms are held securely in the voluminous folds, allowing only the hands to extend outwards to do essential tasks on the computer.  Note the hair clip-free fastening and the 100% coverage.  

Once you become accustomed to the comfort of a slanket, you can proceed to more advanced slanket wearing.  Here I am whipping up a quick batch of Beef Wellington.   Delish!

(Note:  This is a simulated photo.  It's probably not a good idea to actually cook in this.  I don't have much interest in testing the flame-retardant properties of my slanket.)

Hopefully this has answered all your questions about slanket wearing.  Please notify me directly if you need any additional information.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This doesn't end well

But it starts well.  On Sunday we headed to Olvera Street for lunch and frivolity.  

Olvera Street is the oldest area of Los Angeles and houses several historical buildings.  In the 1920s, it was converted into a Mexican marketplace and offers several places for dining and shopping.  It is also the location for cultural celebrations - when I was in elementary school, every year we would travel to Olvera Street for Cinco de Mayo and watch the beautiful folklorico dancers on the center bandstand.  Then we'd buy candy and eggs with confetti inside them and throw them at each other's heads.  But I digress.

This time around, we browsed the small shops with vendors selling their colorful wares.

I thought these little leather sandals were pretty cute.

Yo quiero candy.  This is the place we'd hit up when I came here with my elementary school.

Musicians serenaded casual diners grabbing a quick bite with folk songs. The singer had a wonderfully rich alto... reminded me a little of Olga Tanon.

We also checked out the Avila Adobe, the oldest standing house in Los Angeles.   Its owner, Don Francisco Avila was the richest cattle rancher of his day and owned thousands of acres of land that stretched all the way to the La Brea Tar Pits.  The walls are built from adobe (i.e., mud) bricks that are 2 1/2-3 feet thick and the ceilings were supported by wooden beams.

The sala, or living room, had furnishings from Europe and lots of windows, which was a rarity during those times.  The plates on the table hailed from China and the Avilas did lots of entertaining here.

Don Avila's first wife died at the age of 29, leaving him with three young children.  He married 15 year old Maria Encarnarcion Sepulveda and had 3 more children.   

The office where Avila conducted his cattle ranching business...  I loved these furnishings.  Vintage California Hacienda style.

Bedroom for the Avilas.

The kids bedroom looked rather shabby by comparison. I appreciated the chamber pot under the bed.

The kitchen and oven were located outside in the courtyard under a breezeway.

We eventually made our way to La Golondrina.  Pay no attention to the "B" rating... lol

The obligatory chips and salsa... the salsa was fresh tasting and delicious.  Mr. Insomniac requested a spicer version, but I was content with mild.

Drinks abound - I got a mango margarita made with real mango puree (not that damn nectar) and Mr. Insomniac got a top shelf margarita.  Says the menu: "Fresh mango mixed with Jose Cuervo 1800 Gold, limejuice and Triple Sec. Sweet, strong and delicious." Damn straight. And we got our usual tamarindo.
Our table was on a rather steep incline - which explains the maragarita looking like it's about to spill.

Now comes the food.  I was deciding between carnitas, cochinita, or lamb.  I ended up with the cochintia pibil, "succulent pork marinated overnight in Achiote and fresh citrus juices, baked in banana leaves, served with rice and beans and tortillas."  It was very tasty... a nice hint of citrus and falling off the bone tender.

I ate about 6 forkfuls and was full.  So I wrapped it up, eagerly anticipating this for dinner and lunch for work on Monday.   (foreshadowing alert!)

Mr. Insomniac pronounced his pollo con mole ("homemade rich chocolate, chile and seasoned gravy, served over chicken breast with rice and beans") delicious and stated that it had the perfect hint of chocolate.  (He always gets that.)

As you can see, we've yet to master the skill of taking pictures before we dig in to feed. I suppose we used up all of our delay of gratification stores in graduate school.

We left full, but when I saw Mr. Churros, I knew I had to pay it a visit.  I love churros, but have had to resign myself to the substandard, desiccated churros that you get at amusement parks.   You know, the ones that have sat in the hot box for hours...  These churros were fresh and piping hot, with a guy making them as we watched.

You could get them filled with strawberry, caramel, or cream.  Purist that I am, I opted for plain.  And it was the best churro of my life.

Now this is where the tragedy unfurls itself.

So I had saved about 3/4 of my dish.  I had carried it around Olvera Street, even though it began to leak pork juice everywhere.  I located a box to store it in, when Mr. Insomniac said he wasn't going to get pork juice everywhere and began to look for a homeless man to give my food too.  I got it home safely.  And then I put it on the counter.

We were watching TV, probably Amazing Race, when I noticed Doggy Insomniac was nowhere to be found.  I heard something in the kitchen, a rustling sound.  Mr. Insomniac went to investigate, and said, "you're not going to like this."  I didn't have to go in the kitchen to know what had happened.  But I did, because I'm a masochist.  There was my dog, licking the remainder of any errant juices from the banana leaf.  He had polished off the rest of the dish a while ago, apparently, and was just licking the plate clean.

Bad dog.  Stupid insomniac.