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 Al Franken reminds Jeff Sessions: ‘The ambassador from Russia is a Russian’

I'm proud to be from Minnesota right now, as my junior Senator leads the charge against the increasingly appalling and probably criminal Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. Besides getting off a pretty good deadpan quip on CNN, it was Franken who asked the question that led to Sessions' bald-faced and well-documented lie:

"At a confirmation hearing in January, Franken posed the following question to Sessions: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

“I'm not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions replied. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn't have — did not have communications with the Russians.”


I just went to Al Franken's website and sent him an email thanking him for leading the charge and encouraging him to push for Sessions' resignation. I also went to Amy Klobuchar's website and sent her a similar message strongly encouraging her to do likewise. I used the subject line: "Jeff Sessions Should Resign" to make it easy for staffers to tally my message. 

dreamshark: Lena almost 2 in cute hat (Lena)
Amber and Lena hosted a family from the local baby-sitting coop for an afternoon visit (sort of an audition, I guess). Amber reports that Lena was SO excited to have visitors that she could hardly contain herself. I think Amber was a little embarrassed at the uncharacteristically hyper behavior, but if Lena was able to sit still for the group snack (and didn't bite anybody or throw anything) I think she was well within acceptable behavior standards for a 2-year-old. Look at that grin!! 
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 Inspired by [personal profile] pameladean 's posts detailing her odyssey of home repairs and adventures, I finally nerved myself up to call the squirrel whisperer she recommended. Should have done this 20 or 30 years ago, but I find dealing with home contractors so terribly daunting. We've had the squirrel holes sealed up several times as part of other repairs, but within a few months the little buggers had gnawed their way back in. Last summer I finally bought a Havahart trap and relocated 5 of them to Hidden Falls, but after a few squirrel-free months a new one showed up and has been terrorizing us ever since. This one is an absolute Houdini. I set that trap at least 20 times with results that were satisfactory only to the squirrel (who now thinks of our attic as a Squirrel Buffet). Sometimes it extricated the bait without springing the trap. But more often the trap was sprung, bait devoured, but no squirrel to be seen. I think it must be muscling it's way out, which none of the previous squirrel iterations could do.

Anyway, I called Beast Wildlife and made an appointment for Thursday afternoon. The inspection costs $125 up front, so this is no minor commitment. But our homegrown, half-assed methods haven't worked, so here we are

Westworld!

Feb. 24th, 2017 02:46 pm
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 So, is everybody watching Westworld?  

Why not???  I need people to talk to!
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 Happened yesterday or the day before, actually. Time to head out and see what's new in my local hunting grounds. The Silph Road Nest Atlas shows Shuckles at Lyndale Farmstead and Girafirags at Lake Harriet. 
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 Both Richard and I have Medicare Advantage coverage from Health Partners (Freedom Vital). It's a very comprehensive HMO-style plan that only costs $64/month per person, and we've been very happy with it. Co-pays are about what we were used to with the old corporate-provided insurance plan: $15 to see a regular doctor, $40 for specialist, etc. 

We've both been to the doctor in 2017, and for some reason the Park Nicollet system is no longer requesting a co-pay when we check in. I hate to call Health Partners to complain, but it makes me a little nervous. 
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 Richard had his 2nd hip replacement yesterday. Surgeon said it went fine, although it was a difficult procedure due to R's skeletal issues. Everybody at Methodist hospital (including the doctor himself) seems to believe that this surgeon is one of the very best. They keep saying things like, "And we routinely monitor for excess blood loss, although that's never a problem with Dr. Johnson's patients...."  When the nurses who clean up after you have nothing but good things to say, I figure that means you really are competent, so that's reassuring. 

Just like last time, R had a miserable first night in the hospital. His back is so bad that they just can't seem to make him comfortable, although all the nurses and staff seem to be trying hard. He'll probably spend the next 2 nights in the hospital recliner and then come home Friday. Any way, that's what happened last September with the right hip. Game party will be proceeding as usual. 

Methodist Hospital is becoming more and more like a luxury hotel. It's always been a nice hospital with pleasant public spaces and an excellent cafeteria (important for family members waiting around). Last time we were there they had instituted a "room service" approach to food: patients can order anything they want from the room service menu any time between 6:30 and 6:30. They are apparently renovating all their rooms, one wing at a time. We got one of the new rooms, which is a large, sunny single with all sorts of guest furniture including a sleeper sofa. Just yesterday they were having a little celebration in the lobby to roll out the new, redesigned hospital gowns that actually cover the patient's backside!  

Unfortunately the beds are still too hard for patients with skeletons full of bone spurs, so Richard is not happy. But he'll be home soon.
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 I predict that Donald Trump will not be impeached but will resign the presidency within his first year. After 3 weeks it is clear that he's not enjoying this gig nearly as much as he expected to, but he's going to have to soldier on for a few months to save face. But he has to realize that he is screwing up more every day and most of the world is laughing at him, and he hates that. The big danger has always been that one of the horrible people he surrounds himself with would get control of the White House and proceed with his or her own agenda, but after 3 weeks I am in awe of the amount of ungovernable chaos the Trumpster has created. If he keeps following his instincts to set his advisers at each other's throats, the chaos will continue indefinitely.

It's up to the Republican congress how long they want to put up with this. I figured it would be at least a year before most of them concluded that they had extracted all of the power that they could out of the situation and started thinking about threatening impeachment. But, my goodness, things seem to be moving along way faster than that. It's no surprise that the Democrats are calling for a "broader investigation into President Trump's ties to Russia," but ...  
OMG look at today's headlines. It's only been three weeks, people!

"Republican leadership in the Senate said that it was likely that Mr. Flynn would be asked to speak to the Intelligence Committee..."

The Senate's second-ranking Republican and other GOP senators have called for an investigation into the episode, building on a string of investigations underway on Russian interference in the US elections. 

“It’s dysfunctional as far as national security is concerned,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said of the Trump White House. “Who’s in charge? Who’s in charge? Who’s making policy? Who’s making decisions?”

Indeed, Senator McCain. Indeed.






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 After much dithering around, i finally booked our room for the Helsinki Worldcon. Following a tip from [personal profile] barondave I chose the Scandic Marski. So there are at least two of us from MSP in that hotel now. Anyone want to join us and make it a local room block? 

They have a very nice hotel page on the Worldcon website that lists all the hotels with prices and status of the room block. Be sure to click on the link from this page to get the special booking code. However, if this takes you to a lovely hotel website all in Finnish... just copy the code that was filled in for you and take it here.

The rooms are not cheap, but bear in mind that the price includes taxes and breakfast. It sounds really nice. Free wifi, gym, and of course a sauna or two. Also loaner bicycles and Nordic walking sticks. 
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Thanks so much to [personal profile] quility and Terry (not on DW/LJ?) for their help with my degenerating phone charging cases. Terry kindly brought along an impressive box of soldering equipment to last Friday's game party and swapped the new battery from the defective case into the old case with the dead or dying battery. When I slipped my phone into the rehabilitated case the phone took a charge. Yay!  That's the first step.

The next question - would the case recharge when plugged into a USB cable? Early attempts were not successful - the light on the charging button just kept blinking red for hours. Having nothing else to lose, I got aggressive -- grinding my finger down on the charging button, bending the case in various ways. My hope was that I was somehow improving the connection between internal components.

Unlikely as it may seem, this seemed to work. After a brief interval of steady red light, the LED went back to blinking red. But the next morning it was green! Unexpectedly, the poor old case had started charging again. Still remains to be seen if it will take a charge a second time, but right now it is charging up my phone. Thanks, Terry!
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So here's what we ended up with. I like it. The rainbow colored one can be seen from quite a distance, drawing attention to the other one which is rather self-effacing and easy to miss by itself. 

The colorful sign came from Northern Sun Alliance on East Lake St. The plain and earnest one ("We Stand With Our Neighbors") was commissioned by Kingfield Neighborhood Association and made available for a suggested donation of $10 at a couple of neighborhood businesses.  If you would like a similar yard sign, try checking with your neighborhood association.  Northern Sun Alliance has a few other signs as well, but having trouble keeping them in stock. 

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I discovered that I could have a free month of HBO access without having cable through HBO Now. It's $15/month after that, which seems outrageous to me, so I'll just cancel in 29 days.

My whole and entire reason for doing this was so I could watch Westworld, which has now been begun.

Besides that, I'd like to see at least a few eps of Game of Thrones so I'll feel like I'm living in the same century as everybody else on the planet. Beyond that... is there anything else on HBO worth watching? Although I've never had HBO access before, I have seen a surprising amount of this content on Netflix and/or Amazon: Carnivale, Deadwood, Sopranos. Is there anything else I should sample? Nothing really jumps out at me.
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Just saw Rogue One. It's a big, fat video game with really really good graphics. I didn't hate it. After all, I did play Half Life 2 all the way to the end, and that took way more than two hours out of my life. The primary mechanism in games like this is: you start with a little bit of information and a limited mission - go here, find this or that thing, and along the way shoot everything that moves. Then you finally make it to a beautifully animated cut scene where you have a chance to catch your breath and make a new friend who starts to explain just what is going on, when SUDDENLY....

Oh no! Here they come - run! Take this thing and go THAT WAY! Give it to Dr. Whatsisname! Quick quick quick!! You scamper off in the indicated direction, shooting everything that moves, leaping over crevasses, clambering over walls, creeping through tunnels. Finally you get to the next destination and meet somebody who starts to explain everything (finally) when SUDDENLY....

And so on. Sometimes the characters you meet are sort of interesting. Sometimes the little bits of exposition start to cohere into an actual back story. And the environments get more and more spectacular until eventually you are careening down a cliff-side road in an open jeep shooting at giant ant lions, or climbing through the girders of a breathtaking suspension bridge. Big fun! (I loved those levels in Half Life 2). But ultimately, the plot consists mostly of running frantically from one place to another and shooting at everything that moves. And solving puzzles. But that's just in the video game version. The movie is mostly just running and shooting and never really knowing what the heck is going on.
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I have a broken iPhone charging case with a good battery in it, and an identical (but not broken) case with a worn out battery. I took both cases apart, hoping I could swap the practically new battery into the old case. Unfortunately, the battery doesn't just plug in: it needs two itsy-bitsy little wires to be soldered. It looks like something that would take about 5 minutes for someone who has a soldering iron handy and knows how to do it properly, but that's not me. Any volunteers?
dreamshark: Make America Kind Again (kind)
I'd like to put out one of those welcoming anti-anti-immigrant signs, but haven't figured out which one I want and where to get one. Do you have a sign in your yard? What signs have you see that you liked?
dreamshark: Lena almost 2 in cute hat (Lena)
Two Christmas shots of Lena making her grandparents happy by showing interest in their favorite toys. In the first one, Grandpa has invented a game for her using some of his multi-colored dice. Here she is demonstrating that she can not only recite numbers in order but actually understands the concept of counting at least up to three. Grandma thinks that's pretty impressive for barely two years old.

In picture #2 Lena is engrossed in the Megablox building set that Grandma gave her for Christmas. Grandma is gratified to finally have a little one who shares her love of building toys.


dreamshark: Lena almost 2 in cute hat (Lena)
This is the hand-made antique children's rocker that was made for Richard's father, or possibly HIS father. [personal profile] minnehaha borrowed it for a few years for her grands, and had it beautifully restored. Lena was impressed when we told her it was the Tatge Rocker (she knows that is part of her name). It's still just a little big for her, but she liked it and sat in it a lot over Christmas. The nervous look on her face in this picture is because she is looking at the rather disturbing Krampus picture hanging over the big lounge chair. (We eventually took it down. Lena was convinced that the small child being menaced by the Krampus was her friend Lola, and was really unsettled by it).
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