I like to give little bits of money to Senate candidates and it has been handy to be able to, for instance, call up Heidi Heitkamp's office and identify myself as a contributor to her 2012 Senate campaign when joining the chorus of people who asked her to vote no on Kavanaugh. Lately I've been giving to House candidates too and I suspect that the range of candidates I've given to has landed me on a list of likely suckers, which has had some amusing side effects.

The most recent of those was a week and a half ago when I got a call from someone on the Warren campaign asking if I were free this last weekend to go canvass in New Hampshire. I was, so I agreed, and on Tuesday I got a followup call from someone coordinating specifics and arranged to meet at a Starbucks in Londonderry at 10am on Saturday for a couple of hours of walking around nearby subdivisions. We got a little training talk and some good documentation and a clipboard and a cell phone app and I got paired off with a woman named Karen from Eastie to go knock on 40 or 50 doors. It was a gorgeous day to collect 10,000 steps, and also a gorgeous day to be out doing something other than waiting at home for canvassers so most of the doorbell rings went unanswered. But we had a couple of great conversations, including one with someone who's likely to volunteer on the campaign and another with a registered Republican who was very interested and who I bet would vote for her in the general (it's too late to change parties for the primary). We contributed to the GOTV dataset with info on who was still living at those addresses and who had moved away. And I had a lot of great conversations with Karen. At one point I caught my left middle finger in her car door which was pretty painful for a bit there but the folks at the Dunkies down the street gave me a cup of ice for it and apart from a nice purple color it seems to be doing OK now.

On the way back to the Starbucks to hand off our clipboard and our leftover handouts we passed a PYO apple orchard, and after we were all done I went back for cider and donuts. Neither were made on site and the donuts were not particularly worthwhile but the cider is pretty decent.

Apparently while I was gone someone came by the house canvassing for Will Mbah, who I think is awesome. I'm amused at the reason I missed them and I'm told they were amused too. The fact that I was canvassing for Warren was enough to make the Mbah canvasser think I'd vote for him, and that's probably quite a good correlation in general.

This year's City Council election is a difficult one to figure out tactics for. You get to vote for four at-large councilors and it's usually pretty possible to figure out the four progressive candidates with the best chances to win, and lately that has been enough to keep the trolls off the council. But this year, one of the progressives, Stephanie Hirsch, has said that she may have to leave part way through, and if that happens whoever came in fifth gets her spot. This means that unless we want to jettison Hirsch -- and it'd be awesome to have her even half a term from -- we need to make sure the troll comes in sixth, and since each voter only gets four votes it calls for tactical variation among the progressive voters. The question is which sets of tactics introduce a risk that the troll comes *fourth* and how much risk of that is worth keeping him from polling fifth.

I suspect that a enough people will vote non-tactically that I'll be able to come up with a tactic that dovetails with what I think other voters will be doing and have some endorsments. But I am not there yet.

Today, Kristen Strezo knocked on my door and I had a conversation with her. She didn't have an answer to my tactical question but I think it's likely that she'll land on my endorsements list. Her issues are certainly ones I care about a lot, and as she's living them she has some great ideas on how to address them, and she made it very clear the things the city is doing now -- which sound great on paper -- need a lot more intersectionality before they're any use.

She says she has knocked on 4300 doors. That's a lot, but it's still only about 15 percent of the doors in Somerville. She's got a lot of knocking still to do if she's going to come ahead of Jack Connolly.

Bike ride today

I left the house this afternoon into the perfect weather figuring I'd see where my bike took me. The first stop was Bfresh for some snacks. Outside, Redbones had closed the street for an Oktoberfest. I bought a plate of food and ... let's just say that of the traditional Oktoberfest comestibles, only the beer is really in Redbones' core competency.

I don't get to Karl's Sausage Kitchen much now that they have moved to Peabody from Saugus—really only when I am on my way home from something in that direction. Or, it turns out, when a sufficiently heinous crime against bratwurst has been committed. Google sent me right past a friend's new house in Lynn to get there so I had a chance to ride with him, have some much superior sausage, and meet the dog he's got now that he's not renting any more.

I made pretty good time getting out there, but only because Kane's Donuts was closed for the day by the time I rode past. There were a couple of fun hills, too. The one up to Breed's Pond in Lynn was delightfully evil. It's also perfectly placed on my friend's commute home from work so that he's nicely warmed up when he gets there, and also doesn't have to worry too hard about getting the rest of the way home if he knocks himself out on it. It almost makes me miss climbing Clarendon Hill on my way home from Voltdb every day.


Fun fact about SpaceX's stainless rocket

SpaceX just officially unveiled a ridiculously large rocket. Rockets are usually made out of fancy, expensive aluminum alloys because these have the best strength to weight ratios at room temperature, but at cryogenic temperatures it turns out that stainless steel is better, so they're making it out of that.

I've heard a lot of crazy ideas from SpaceX of course, and it's always nice to calibrate just how crazy Elon is being. So, I ran some numbers. To give you some idea how large a rocket we are talking about: during the time that it took to build Starship Mk.1, it accounted for 1% of world stainless steel production.



On the way home from a delicious dinner at Jean and Lee in Newton Upper Falls, I passed the famous West 16 South 3 East 2 sign at Alewife and got to wondering which way that road actually went. And the answer I came up with was "Widdershins". Literally true in the polar coordinate system of the Hub, but also expresses the very Boston concepts of "the navigation techniques you may be used to will not help you here", "no we're not going to call anything what you expect us to call it" and finally "driving down this road is probably bad luck".

Faster than bike

I logged in to my Bluebikes account for the first time in a while and on the splash screen it told me some info about my last ride. But they've moved stations around since I last used them. The station I rode from is now at Clarendon Hill. The station I rode to is now (and maybe even was then) at Somerville City Hall. These are 2.4 miles apart. Apparently I took 4 minutes and 42 seconds to get between them, for an average speed of a little over 30 miles per hour. I wonder where that start station actually was back when I did that ride. Because I don't think I'd be so reckless as to bomb through Davis Square at well over the speed limit on something with brakes as bad as the ones on a Bluebike. :)

xkcd movie challenge

Today's XKCD is a challenge to name a movie that:
  • You genuinely like
  • Came out after 2000
  • Scores under 50% on Rotten Tomatoes
The challenge for me is the "After 2000" part. So many movies in the late 90s (or in 2000 itself) fit the rest of the bill. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas! Orgazmo! The Perfect Storm! Alien 3! Robin Hood Men In Tights! But I'm A Cheerleader! Tank Girl! I think that leaves K-Pax (2001), at 41%.
extra 6, blur tree

day trip to New York

My cousin Lorna just graduated from UMich's musical theatre program and took an understudy role in Dear Evan Hansen. Yesterday was the main Alana's first day off since then and the theatre is right around the corner from the Port Authority so I booked bus tickets to New York leaving Boston at noon and leaving the Port Authority a little after midnight. I planned to meet up with a bunch of other family at a diner in between the Port Authority and the theatre around 5:00, and fortunately Lorna's call was late enough that I didn't miss her when the bus down left half an hour late. After dinner, with Lorna off to get ready, we all went to City Kitchen for dessert and just as we were leaving the fire alarms went off, and the traffic lights at one end of the block were out, and some but not all of the other lights in the area too. I picked up my will call ticket around 7:15 and hung out in the line with my family until 7:30 when the house was supposed to open, and then until 7:45 when we got a text back from Lorna that they were working on getting a generator going, and then until 8:15 when the house manager came out to say that for the first time in the 30 years he'd been there, the show was not going to go on.

Meanwhile we'd heard that the outage extended many blocks north and west (but hardly at all south and east) from where we were, and also rumors of a fire at the Port Authority, and I got an email from Greyhound saying to call them about my bus. I tried doing that but had very little signal (perhaps some of the nearby towers were down, or perhaps everyone was trying to use them) and couldn't hear what they had to say. The police closed the street for crowding and encouraged people to disperse and most folks did, but we waited for Lorna to come out of the stage door, which she did holding her phone for a flashlight. Some folks from CBS radio interviewed her, and later some CBS TV folks did the same. I headed back to my aunt's house to get some phone coverage before the TV interview so I could figure out what was up with my bus, and because she was the family member present with a spare bed in case it came to that. The buses did turn out to be running, so I headed back across town to get to mine. The fire rumors turned out to just be false fire alarms. While I was waiting to board another fire alarm (or maybe two) went off and everyone just ignored it, which seemed kind of sketchy to me, but then again this is the Port Authority we're talking about. I did manage to get a bit of sleep on the bus, and a bunch more once I got home (4:30 is a little late for me but not all *that* late).

I hope Lorna has a better experience at her next Broadway debut. It looks like that will be a Tuesday, so I don't know if I'll be able to make it. But we all got a hell of a story out of it.



I recently commented to someone, as I've mentioned here before, that when I say "sure" I usually mean "no". That got me thinking about other words I tend to use to mean their opposites, and how that is. For instance, I find that I use the words "awesome" and "terrible" much more often when I am being sarcastic, with the result that I tend to use them to mean each other. It's not that I'm sarcastic all that often, it's just that those words are go-tos when I am, and I don't use them so much when I'm not.

I consider the word "honey", applied to people, almost universally to mean "bitch". I use this very seldom (there are zero examples in my 15 year archive of sent email) and when I do, I do it knowing that's what I'm doing, and in the expectation that the person I'm speaking to knows as well. That is: it is directly and intentionally an insult and I am using that word and not the other one because there might be small children within earshot. Interestingly when I do honey someone it is almost always a cis man, and I'm aware of the overtone of misgendering being part of the insult, and I'm both uncomfortable with the idea of misgendering people as an insult and also pretty comfortable with the idea that I reserve certain kinds of insult for people with power.