theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

Hey guys, I’ve got a quick-turnaround website to protest the AHCA – but while I’ve written the words and done the research, my web design looks like 2003 hot garbage.

If someone out there can commit to a professional, bare-bones web design to help me get out a three-page website this week, please email me at theferrett@gmail.com stat, along with a page or two that you’ve designed so I can verify you’re better than I am.  (It’s not hard, trust me.) And I’ll happily share details if you’re a professional who knows design and/or political protest and wanna email me at theferrett@gmail.com, because, well, it’s a last-ditch shot in the dark against the AHCA before it passes next week.

If you’re feeling volunteery, please email.  Thanks.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

My Grandfather’s Bookcase, And Mine

Jun. 14th, 2017 10:26 am
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

In my basement sits a bookcase that, I am told, was built by my grandfather.  I don’t know; I never met him.  He died three months before I was born.

My grandfather's bookcase, I think.The bookcase has a huge, multilayered wad of gum on the side from when I was a teenager, and had no idea what the bookcase was – it was just in my room, and I owned my room, and besides the gum wasn’t where my Mom could see it.  It was my little act of dickish rebellion that, like a thousand other things I did as a teenager, I regret.

And that’s all it was for several years: my grandfather’s bookcase. My teenaged gum.

Now that I’ve taken up woodworking, I can now see the choices he made in making it: fixed shelves, because drilling in the holes for adjustable shelves is a pain in the ass.  He chose a little hand-carved decoration along the top to hide the boxlike construction – not exactly beautiful, but a step beyond everyday bookcase making.  It sits on a base for greater stability, which is something we haven’t done yet.

Now that I build things, it’s not a bookcase but a language my grandfather spoke.  Were he alive today, I could grunt in a manly way and ask what tools he used back in 1960 to make this thing, and discuss where he kept his workshop, and ask about the staining.

And he would, in the way of all woodworkers, be able to point out every tiny flaw he could not correct.  Every craftsman knows about them, because you cannot avoid them: that joint that isn’t perfectly snug, that router that drifted from the fence, that board that’s 1/16″ too short.  Experienced woodworkers – and me and my crew are getting there – know how to hide those errors with wood putty and on-the-fly plan alterations, but we keep them tight to our chest.  They are the secrets of furniture, an encrypted thieves’ cant of sorrow only told to others in the hobby.

Last night I made my own contribution to the house: a dye shelf I made for Gini in the basement.  It’s made of pine, my first natural wood project – not that you’d know that because at the last minute Gini insisted on switching from a dark stain to a bright purple paint.

I can list all its flaws: the squaring is off by an eighth of an inch because the pine was slightly warped.   There’s a gouge underneath the right third shelf where – you guessed it – the router drifted from the fence.  The paint was the wrong kind for woodworking, latex, too sticky to sand the brush strokes off, so there’s dribbles everywhere.

Gini loves it.

And soon, it will earn its place in the basement, just another fixture in the house, a useful engine.  And my garage workshop is filling other houses; we have two bookcases meant for Eric’s attic, and two customized shelves meant to fit in the gaps on either side of Jim’s fireplace.

And in a sense, I feel like I’m firing a flare into the future.  I will die, like my grandfather before me.  But my friends and family will know that Ferrett did woodworking – here, here’s the shelf he built for Gini, we didn’t have the heart to throw it out, can you use it?

Maybe some day there will be someone who never got to know me but can rest his hand on some shelf I built.  And they too will speak this language of craftsmanship.  And they’ll look at the speckly paint job and the uneven shelves and judge me, and they will look at the love it took to spend a few hours building something because your wife asked you to and adjust their thinking, and they’ll cock their head and look at this stolid thing as if trying to unravel what sort of man I am from the things I left behind.

I wish I could tell them.  But I won’t last.

My shelves might.

Let them talk for me when I’m gone.

"Project Gini"

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

Repealing Obamacare’s protections would be bad enough. But the new Trumpcare will most likely make your health care worse than before Obamacare was enacted – and if you lived through those days, you’ll remember they weren’t exactly fantastic for sick people.

You may say, “Well, I have health insurance through my employer, so I’m safe!”  Unfortunately, it’s rumored the Senate is planning to allow employer-provided insurers to just stop covering you once they spend enough on you.  Did your kid need an expensive operation?  Well, your insurer’s paid enough as far as the Republicans are concerned.  Now your employer’s Aetna coverage has run out, and you’ll have to find another job with another insurer if you want your kids (and you!) to be protected.

I say this is “rumored” because this is bill is so goddamned awful that the Senate refuses to publish a draft of the bill that the public can see.  As it is planned by Republicans, there will be no public debates, no hearings, no explanations – just a simple vote before July 4th.  Republicans bitch that Obama “rammed” the ACA through quickly, but that took 270 days and numerous town halls and hearings.  The Republicans are literally not even letting the American people know what’s in this shitty bill because, as an aide said, “We aren’t stupid.”

Your only hope to knock this off the rails is to call your Senators.  Now.  You need to call today, because several of the Senators in charge of the bill are meeting to finalize their plans.

And unfortunately, while people were furious enough to flood their Senators’ offices with calls right after Trump got elected, sources say we’re back to the usual silence.  People have given up.

I’m asking my fellow Americans: make two calls, one to each of your Senators.  If they’re Republican, tell them how this shit will hurt you.  If they’re Democratic,  tell them to bring Congress to a stop until this is at least debated in public.

Here’s how you do it:

CALL, DO NOT EMAIL, THE AIDE IN CHARGE OF HEALTH CARE.
Politicians can ignore emails the way you do. They can’t ignore calls. Their staffers have to take the calls, which means their staff doesn’t get anything done while they’re handling calls, which means the Senator is far more likely to hear about how the office is slowing to a crawl because the ACA issue is jamming the lines.

In addition, most Senators don’t get that many calls; under normal circumstances, 15 people calling a day is huge. For an entire state. If you can get 50, that’s usually off the charts. So even one call can make a significant difference.

You want to call the aide in charge of health care to be sure you get heard.  Fortunately, here is a list of all the staffers tasked with working on health care.

SAY YOU’RE A VOTER FROM YOUR TOWN.
Let them know you’re local up-front. Calling Senators when you’re not a potential voter generally does diddly. You do not have to give your name, though you can if you want; they may ask you for your zip code.  If you have to leave a message, tell them you want a call back to confirm the message got through and leave your number.

HAVE A SCRIPT READY, IF YOU’RE SOCIALLY AWKWARD LIKE ME.
A good script is something like:

1) Protecting preexisting conditions is vital to keeping America strong;
2) Please do not repeal the ACA without a strong replacement that protects sick people (they’re going to repeal it, the idea is just to keep the parts that keep people alive), and the bill that passed the House is an abomination that will hurt sick people.
3) I will not vote for any Senator who helps repeal the ACA without a strong replacement, either in the primary or the general election.

You’re free to go on, if you like, but be polite. They kind of have to listen. In my experience, they’ll generally say they’ll pass the message onto the Senator, and hang up. But if you want to be that person who the office groans when they have to handle them – that polite-but-firm person who will be heard – then hey! You can contribute to the office gossip that people are really concerned about this ACA issue, which is good in politics.

CALL YOUR SENATORS, NOT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES.
That means you have to make a maximum of two calls, which will take ten minutes max. (Unless your Senator’s line is already clogged, in which case, keep calling.)

You can generally look up your senator by using Who Is My Representative, then use the staffer guide to see who you should call.

And here’s the trick: If you’re a conservative who’s opposed to mandating that insurers must be able to insure people with preexisting conditions (for some reason), flip the script and call as well. This is a republic, and you deserve to have your voice heard, even if I utterly cannot see why you’d support this particular bill except that you’re the sort of doof who’d punch a puppy if it made a liberal cry.

That said, I said back in January that “I fully expect the ACA will be repealed without a valid replacement.” If you don’t like that very real fact, then call now.  I’m sick of calling.  You’re sick of calling.  The Republicans are making us sick… of calling.

Still.  Call now.  I hate to keep giving last chances, but man, we’re closer than ever to losing everything.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

Real Talk, Straight Guys.

Jun. 9th, 2017 09:55 am
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

Dating is fucking rough on straight men, and anyone who denies that isn’t paying attention. Men are culturally expected to make the first move, which means they’re putting themselves up to be rejected before a date even happens, which means that even trying to land a date – let alone the potential heartbreak of a bad date – starts to feel like a series of job interviews that nobody much wants you for.

(And yes, women get that too to some extent, but it’s not nearly as prevalent as it is with guys. If you’re a woman and you’re contacting dudes first to ask them out on dates instead of patiently waiting to be courted, thank you.)

So let me give you straight guys a piece of advice that it’s best to internalize right now, because it’ll make your life so much easier if you can genuinely come to realize this:

Nobody owes you a woman.

That is, honestly, not a message you’ve seen a lot of in the media. Because if you look at almost every action movie starring A Guy, if he’s really good at saving people he’ll get A Girl at the end of the film. If you look at comedies, there’s a schlubby guy with a good heart and nine times out of ten he’ll be rewarded with a really hot girl if he just learns the right lesson. Guys on sitcoms have hot wives, and their single friends are usually pathetically dysfunctional.

Your narratives have covertly conditioned you that if you do your job right, you’ll get a girl.

Which quietly trains you to believe that if you don’t have a girl, you haven’t done your job right.

And that conditioning creates a lot of side effects that actually make it harder for you to get the intimacy that you need. Because:

Some Guys Get Desperate To Prove Themselves.
Some men will be so determined to get the girl they think they should have – which is not the girl they actually like, but rather the prettiest one that proves their status in society. And they’ll hang around this woman who they have nothing in common with, feigning friendship because they’ve been trained that if they’re just “nice” the woman will eventually fall in love with them, pretending to like all sorts of things they hate like shopping and chick flicks and the wrong sports team…

And then that woman will frequently reject them because they’re not that interesting. Hey, all you do is nod and bob your head, why’s that compelling?

And when these guys are rejected after selling their soul to sniff the perfume, they get furious. I did so much for her!, they say.

Here’s the truth, my friend: If you’re hanging around anyone swallowing your pride in some desperate attempt to get laid, you are doing it wrong. Maybe you’re just so milquetoast that she doesn’t like you. Maybe she senses how you’re faking friendship to get into her pants. Maybe, hell, she really does like complete assholes.

Why are you hanging around someone you loathe? Why don’t you just find someone you do like? And the answer is often a subliminal “Because I was promised I’d get the woman of my dreams if I didn’t screw up too badly.”

Look. The woman of your dreams should be someone who you actually like, and likes you back. Shaving off pieces of your personality to achieve the Manly Aspiration of Getting The Right Girl is a mug’s game. Nobody’s worth that whether you’re a guy or a girl (and women who feign love in all the manly things to land the right guy are equally deluded).

But what you’re doing is this:

  • I like that girl
  • She’s supposed to be mine if I like her
  • So if I don’t get her, I’m failing – not just personally, but failing in my role as a dude.

Give that up, my man.  Try this:

  • I am physically attracted to this girl
  • Let’s see whether there’s a mutual interest
  • If I don’t get her, why would I want to pretend to be someone I wasn’t to land someone who didn’t like me?

Contemplate all the compromises you’d have to make to become what she wants – and if that bill is too much, you’re smarter to walk away.

Some Guys Get Lazy.
Here’s the truth, man: you dress for the job you want.

There’s nothing wrong with going for the hottest girl in the room, but you gotta be honest about what you’re bringing to the table. If you’re going for some model-quality blonde and you’re Mr. Balding Paunchy, then you have to ask, “If I’m not going to woo her through sheer physical spectacle, what do I have to offer?”

Smart men will say, “Okay, I’ll work on my personality.” Or they’ll develop a unique talent – hey, Meatloaf got laid as a rock star, you can too. Or they’ll hit the gym and work those abs.

Dumb guys will, sadly, look at the hot girl and think, “Man, what a stuck-up bitch, she won’t even give me the time of day.” Well, you were walking over there to try to slide into her panties, so let’s not pretend you’re Gandhi in offering your magnificent friendship.

Alas, this “I shouldn’t have to offer anything” plan even applies to guys who are just casually dating. They inherit this List Of Things Women Want – a list made by equally inept guys – and blindly follow it, then get furious when women don’t actually desire the things on their imaginary list.

Truth: there are men with ten-inch dicks who can’t get laid because they come off as fakers, or stalkers, or both.

That “I am owed a woman” comes out very subtly, but it’s there in men thinking that women should flock to their feet by virtue of them, well, existing. And women who aren’t attracted to your immutable (and debatable) charm are just dumb, they can’t see your appeal, they’re stupid and insane and ingrateful….

And again, why the fuck do you want to date these women you hate so much?

Why are you spending energy to chase women you despise?

My advice is dress nice and learn a joke or two. But if you’re not gonna do that, why buy into the idea that women are something you have to have? You could just buy sex from a sex worker – except no, that’s pathetic, a real man should get a woman he loathes because again, you’re owed a woman.

You’re not. And when you stop thinking of women as something you should just have and start thinking of intimacy as something you have to cultivate, then you start actually paying attention to actual individual women, and see what they’re into, and decide whether you want to spruce up those aspects of yourself.

You may have to perform a bit.  That’s okay. Most women wear makeup, too.

Some Guys Settle.
Some guys, unfortunately, do find a woman who’ll sleep with them. She’s not a woman they have anything in common with – note the theme? – but she is willing to sporadically put his penis in their vagina, and hey, she’s not actively offensive.

And then these guys get committed, marrying women who might as well be alien creatures for all they understand and/or empathize with them, and they wind up in a relationship that’s equal parts frustration and working around the existence of their partner.

Dudes. Again. You can say no. Just because someone’s willing to sleep with you doesn’t mean they’re compatible with you. Hell, you might even want to turn down some sex because it comes with strings you’re not comfortable with.

Yet guys are, once again, conditioned to be less of a man if they reject sex. Sex is what all men want all the time, and if they don’t feast upon the sex whenever it’s offered they’re not real men.

Do not buy into this.

I tell women all the time that they’re right to reject men if they don’t want them. Remember that you also have the right to turn women down. Don’t be cruel, but you can break off any relationship that makes you antsy, you can refuse sex even if someone’s throwing themselves at you, you can make your own choices.

Don’t buy into this model of scarcity.

Some Guys Enter The Oppositional Stage And Never Exit It.
The larger truth is this:

Women aren’t all that mysterious. They have different priorities, but that’s often because they have different experiences (and, yes, different cultural conditioning, which is why you see an unfortunate number of women patiently waiting for their prince to arrive).

It’s not that women don’t want casual sex – it’s that they’re not convinced your casual sex will be any good (look up the number of women who come from first-time hookups and realize women have roughly a 50/50 shot of having it be good for them), and they don’t know that you’re not the guy who’s going to imprint on them like a duckling and waddle around after them for the next seven months.

Women often don’t give an emphatic “no,” instead leading you on – but that’s because while dating is psychologically dangerous to you, the danger of some asshole physically assaulting a woman if she comes off as too bitchy is real for them.   They may give you a quiet brush-off because they can’t be sure that you’re not the guy with the oversized ego and the roid rage.

There’s all sorts of distinctions like that.  If you can understand those differences, and account for them, your path to intimacy will be a lot easier. And you’ll also not be sleeping with people you secretly resent because HOW DARE THEY NOT SLEEP WITH ME I’M A NICE GUY AND AS A NICE GUY PUSSY IS MY BIRTHRIGHT.

Truth is, you’re not owed a woman, and you’re not less if you don’t manage to find one. Sometimes you’re not finding A Woman because you are, quite sanely, holding out for someone who’s actually compatible with you.  Sometimes you’re alone because you have standards, and that’s a good thing.

And ironically, giving up the resentment usually clears the path for more intimacy. Drop the rose-tinted goggles to see what women actually desire, and what you actually desire, and it’s much better when you work to make that happen.  (Plus, when you stop seeing women as some trophy to be had, you can approach the concept of genuine platonic friendships with women – and as a dating tip, there’s no better way to be introduced to women than by having enthusiastic female friends who’ll vouch for you.  You may not get that woman, but you get a friend and the potential connection with all her friends.)

Or you could unthinkingly approach dating like it’s  The Great Prophecy Of A Woman Will Arrive If I’m Not Particularly Bad At My Job.  In which case you may eventually find a woman but by the time you get there you’ll be enraged, desperate, and not particularly good for each other.

Not gonna lie. It’s tough out there.

But you can do better.

Good luck.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.