A Week in the Life: August 16, 2019

It’s been incredibly hot this week. The kind of heat that promotes nothing but lethargy and a need for ice cream sandwiches. Yesterday we hit 107 Fahrenheit (a word that I will never learn to spell correctly) and today it’s projected to be 105. At the time of this writing, it’s about quarter to 10 in the morning and I’m currently baking biscuits because I know I won’t be willing to bake later when it’s hot. Reading this back it looks melodramatic, but the heat just shuts me down. What can I say.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, listened to, or bought this week.

Reading

I read a couple of novels this week. It’s been too hot for the gym or roller derby so I’ve been parked in front of the fan with books or knitting for the last few days. I finished one of the Powell’s Indiespensable books that’s been languishing on my shelf for a few months: Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley. I read the whole thing but didn’t enjoy it all that much. It was well written, the characters were complex people, but I guess I’m just bored of stories about straight people having affairs with each other. Why is that interesting or new? I don’t know. But, I tried something new so good for me. Most of the Indiespensible picks are really good but this one didn’t resonate with me.

cover of the book "Witchmark," shown on kobo e-reader
Witchmark by C. L. Polk

The book I did enjoy this week was Witchmark by C. L. Polk. It’s a speculative fiction/fantasy/steampunk-ish tale of sticking it to the man and trying to find your own way in a society that has a certain idea of what you should be doing with your life. Also: gay witches. Need I say more? I was super invested in this story. I was also disappointed to learn that the sequel won’t be published until February. So rude.

I also came across this article about a fashion line designed to frustrate license plate-based surveillance. I don’t have a lot to say about it other than I think it’s really cool and innovative. I hate that we’re living in what is becoming a surveillance state.

Rampant Consumerism

I ordered some fabric this week because I had a Spoonflower gift card and was hit with inspiration. I decided I want to make a quilt out of cat fabrics. I want something that’s going to make me happy when I look at it (file under: coping strategies for bullshit times), so that’s what I’m doing. I also ordered a new hoodie from TomboyX because they finally got theirs back in stock and I will need a new one once it cools down again. I guess there’s something about the hot weather that makes me dream of being cold again.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

It feels like I haven’t done or made anything this week, but I know that’s not exactly true. I definitely haven’t been studying my languages at the level I want to, but with Spanish in particular, I’ve been feeling a bit undirected. I’m at the point where my progress with the language is going to come from getting interested in native materials. I guess I need to find some new media to keep my attention. Or perhaps it’s only a matter of habits and discipline.

Kitchen Witchery

I haven’t cooked a whole lot this week, but this morning I did make some delicious sweet potato biscuits using the recipe from The Bread Bible. They are amazing. I want to eat them all immediately. The recipe was quite different from other biscuits I’d made—it called for yeast and egg yolks, among other unconventional biscuit ingredients—but I can’t argue with the results! I think I will make these at Thanksgiving this year (plus whenever I feel like eating biscuits).

Knitting

My #WarmLadySummer presses on with knitting. I finished a sock and started it’s partner this week. I really love making socks. I also found the perfect pattern for some yarn I’ve been wanting to use. I took a yarn dyeing workshop last fall and have some forest-colored yarn that I want to make into a leafy shawl. I’m looking forward to knitting up this forestgreen pattern once my socks are done.

Derby Life

We’ve got our first home team game of the season tomorrow! My team (Blue Steel) will be facing off against the white team. We won the home team championship last year but I’m not sure if we’ll be able to hold onto that trophy. It has been pretty stressful preparing for this game. I’m the team captain and have had a hard time getting enough people willing and available to play on my roster. We’re going to have a lot of newer skaters on our team tomorrow, which is exciting but I’m not sure our teams have ended up being evenly matched. I guess we’ll see how it goes!

Finally, here are some photos of Viola for your nerves.

A Week in the Life: August 9, 2019

This week was hard. Last weekend’s double mass shooting had me upset, especially given the white supremacist attitudes of the El Paso shooter (I honestly didn’t have the will to read up on the Ohio shooting). I was talking to a teammate last weekend and she told me that she suggested to her mom that they not speak Spanish in public, just in case. That honestly broke my heart. Feeling like you can’t speak your native language without putting yourself at risk for violence is so upsetting to me, both as a human being and as someone who loves languages. I just feel so bad for my friends—and others but if I’m being honest my friends are more real to me than people I don’t know—and I wish I could do more. On facebook I put out an offer of general aid to anyone who wants or needs it. It’s hard not to feel useless in these bullshit times.

Tips from the APA on surviving climate anxiety

The other thing causing me anxiety is global warming. The news about the melting ice in Greenland has been alarming. One article I read said that experts didn’t expect this level of warming until around the year 2070. I have generalized anxiety disorder. The thing about anxiety is that it makes you feel a lot of stress and emotions about things that are unlikely to be a problem, or at least being that much of a problem. This climate anxiety though … it IS a real problem. It’s not just my dysfunctional brain whispering unsavory nothings in my ear. Global warming is fundamentally changing our planet and probably going to change how we live. I was searching for “climate anxiety” to link something relevant and discovered that the American Psychological Association put out a 70-page report in 2017 on Mental Health and Our Changing Climate. I thought the suggestions (pictured) were interesting and they’re sort of things I’ve already been prioritizing, especially maintaining practices that provide meaning and promoting community connections. I’m glad to see I’m not alone in feeling climate anxiety. I’m going to have to be proactive in dealing with it.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, listened to, or bought this week.

Reading

I read a lot of interesting articles this week.

  • A glacier is dead. A monument will tell visitors whose fault it was via Washington Post. On the subject of climate change, this article discusses an Icelandic glacier that has melted out of existence. They have put up a plaque at the site of the glacier to commemorate it.
  • The Decline of Yelling via The New Yorker. I thought this was interesting because my dad is very much a shouter. I’ve written in the past that I thought yelling louder was the way to win an argument for way too long. The article discusses that younger generations see yelling as “a mortifying and old-fashioned display of toxic masculinity.” I couldn’t agree more.
  • This Bread Was Made Using 4,500-Year-Old Egyptian Yeast via Smithsonian Magazine. I started following this tale on twitter, where I found it at the intersection of two things I love: baking and ancient Egypt (fun fact: when I started college, I had intended to go into Egyptology). The loaf is part of a science experiment and its a trial of culturing and using ancient yeast. I’m fascinated.
  • Is It Possible to Stop a Mass Shooting Before It Happens? via Cosmopolitan. This article is taking on the question on all of our minds: how (or can) we stop mass shootings? The article profiles a woman who infiltrates groups online and keeps tabs on men who seem likely to commit a mass shooting. She says she feels bad when she misses one. I feel bad that this one woman feels the need to bear the guilt of every mass shooting. There are so many other ways we could stop this. And yet.

Watching

I’m currently watching (and listening to) roller derby! Sacramento Roller Derby is at the North American West Cup in Orem, Utah this weekend, so obviously I’m watching. I’m also invested in my friends on Team Announcer and I’m enjoying listening to the broadcast. I’ll be shouting my opinions into the void all weekend on twitter with #NAWestCup. I’m feeling only the mildest FOMO about not applying to announce. I’m not sure I would have the emotional strength to visit Utah, plus I know I’m saving my vacation time for a good cause.

Rampant Consumerism

I bought a new cookbook this week, ordered from semi-local bookseller, Bookshop Santa Cruz. It’s called The Modern Cook’s Year and it features plant-based recipes organized by season. I have been working on cooking and eating more vegetables and trying to somewhat reduce the amount of meat I eat (challenging because my tastes are finicky and my body seems to hate a lot of things). So I’m hoping to find some good inspiration here.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

Making things and doing stuff is what’s keeping me grounded in these bullshit times. Although I feel like I did nothing all week. I had to do a lot of work this week (ugh, paying bills and saving for retirement!) and it kept me from some of the things I’d like to do, like study my languages. I also really wanted to ride my bike to the library yesterday, but I discovered one of my tires is totally flat. Patriarchy strikes again.

Kitchen Witchery

I didn’t get too wild with cooking this week. Although I did make some pancakes last weekend, which is always enjoyable. Last night I tried a recipe for a grilled corn and gnocchi dish from Simply Recipes. It was good but I think it could be better. It needs a note of acidity and maybe some red pepper flakes. I’m hoping to try something new in the kitchen this weekend, especially since I have no obligations for once.

screenshot of the Lost It app congratulating me on a 100-day streak
100 days of calorie tracking

Related to kitchen things, I wanted to note that I have now tracked my calories for over 100 days, according to my app. I don’t write about weight and its gain or loss much because it feels boring, for one. I also think that it’s the least important aspect of who I am and want to promote being comfortable with my body as it is. However, I have been tracking my calories and trying to lose some weight for health and athletic performance reasons. I like the app I’ve been using—Lose It—a lot more than other apps I’ve tried. It feels easier to use and less judgmental. I’ve decided that, once I’m done losing weight (whatever that may mean), I am going to treat myself to getting a custom suit. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time and it’s something I am using to help me stay focused on this task. Normally I would say that, if you want something, you should do it, don’t wait for some imaginary time when you might be a different size. So I feel a little conflicted about setting up this kind of reward for myself, but I think it’s the right thing to do for me right now, so I’m doing it. On a side note, I don’t really want to talk about weight loss so that’s probably all I’m going to say about it for a while.

Derby Life

This week I made my debut as a derby coach. I decided I want to start coaching our newbie skaters so I am taking that on and stepping down from my job as a WFTDA league representative, in the interest of not doing too much (lol). It was a lot of fun coaching with one of my teammates this week. I’m definitely looking forward to doing more. I really like teaching when people actually want to learn.

Finally, here’s a cat photo for your nerves. Yes, Kirk is feeding Huey ice cream.

Mr. Stone feeding Huey ice cream

A Week in the Life: August 2, 2019

a stack of pita bread in the background and a bread being opened to reveal its pocket in the foreground

The last couple of weeks have been giving off one of those “if it’s not one thing, it’s another” feelings. We bought the new car last month. Now we have to get our shower repaired. It’s been leaking periodically since we moved in but we’ve come to a point where the grout is cracked and some of the tiles are starting to bulge, so that is not great. Much like getting a new car, it’s a little fun to pick out designs and make our shower just how we want it, but it’s not fun to spend even more money. 2019 is proving to be an expensive year. I’ve been emailing contractors and having people come to my house to make estimates. I guess this is what people mean when they talk about the “joys” of homeownership. What I’m trying to say is: I’ve been a little stressed.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, listened to, or bought this week.

Reading

Photo of the book cover on my e-reader. "How to do nothing: resisting the attention economy" by Jenny Odell
How to Do Nothing

I finished Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy this week. I encountered a few negative reviews of this book, but I really liked it. Maybe it comes off as too academic or not focused enough on providing instructions for how to do nothing. But the point of the book is you have to discover your own “nothing” outside of social media and our attention-stealing machines. This book resonated with me and I felt like I was truly in the discourse with the author because I’ve read so many of the books she cited. It was neat to see someone refracting their experience through all these works and how she arrived at her specific way of thinking. The book takes the stance that we can resist the attention economy by creating context and noticing the things in the world around us, which Odell does through learning to identify and connect with the flora and fauna around her. It’s a little hard to sum up this book and my thoughts about it, but I definitely recommend reading it. If you want to pair it with another work, I recommend Anti-Social Media for the full “I’m tired of the modern internet” experience.

Listening

I could omit this section because I haven’t listened to much new or interesting lately. I’ve been enjoying the silence, if you will, since coming back from Rollercon. My neighborhood is very quiet and it’s been nice to sit with that.

Rampant Consumerism

Rampant consumerism or maybe anti-consumerism this week? I finally decided to cancel my Netflix streaming account. I’ve been threatening it for months, but I finally did it. I’ve been frustrated by the lack of things that interest me. I end up browsing forever and watching nothing, which is not the point of Netflix at all. Some months ago I signed up for a one-disc-at-a-time DVD plan again to get access to things I actually want to watch. After cancelling the streaming, I increased that to two. I think this will help me be more deliberate about my time and watch things I actually want to watch, instead of watching things just because they’re on Netflix.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

This week I got back into my groove post-Rollercon. It took me an entire week of doing almost nothing to feel fully human again.

Kitchen Witchery

I’ve had fun trying new things this week. I’ve been interested in cool foods for the hot weather and I’ve felt a little more adventurous about vegetables and meatless meals so we’re getting a bit of that. I made a really nice salad of quinoa, lima beans, green beans, and zucchini this week (not pictured), but was reminded that quinoa makes me sick to my stomach now. Not just uncomfortable, but full on roiling. I felt gross almost all night and I’m never eating quinoa again. Fortunately, I was able to put the rest of the beans to good use though and made a lima bean parmigiana from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I also learned the art of pita bread last week (from The Bread Bible). The pitas were delicious and Kirk, who is not a bread lover like I am, liked them and said they were like what you’d get in a restaurant.

Last weekend our cookbook club met! We cooked from The Oh She Glows Cookbook, which I honestly expected not to like—not because it’s vegan but because the recipes didn’t seem especially appealing. I was proved very wrong though. I made a lentil-walnut loaf, which is the kind of thing I’d been wanting to try. It turned out quite tasty. For a dessert, I made “yolos,” which I was skeptical about since the author positioned them as a knock-off of Rolos, yet they contain no caramel. The yolos are a date and peanut butter mixture covered in chocolate and they were surprisingly delicious. I’m not sure if this book is going to enter my regular rotation, but I’m definitely keeping the yolos recipe.

Knitting

I’m in the middle of knitting a sock and I wanted to share it. Turning the heel is the most magical part of sock knitting. How many grandmothers sacrificed to bring this wisdom down through the ages? This is sock one of two, so I’m not even halfway done, but I’m enjoying it. Socks might be my favorite thing to knit.

a half-knitted sock in purple and green variegated yarn
Sock, post-heel turn

Language Learning

Things went well with Icelandic this month, but not so well with Spanish. This month I wanted to focus on getting language input so I started watching an Icelandic cooking show. Although I only watched a few episodes, it was more than before, so I’ll count that as a success. Spanish sort of got derailed. I think I put in too much time to catching up on Icelandic and then, with my Rollercon vacation I didn’t do much else. Alas. One day I may learn balance.

Finally, here’s a Huey cat for your nerves.

A Week in the Life: Rollercon 2019 Edition

This year’s Rollercon ran from July 17 to 21. It’s now July 26. I’ve been hibernating all week trying to reclaim some energy in the wake of it all. Rollercon is amazing, but it’s certainly not restful. This was my third Rollercon and it was a frenzy of activity. Of course I always want to do everything because there’s just so much to do. I didn’t do everything, but I did a hell of a lot—I even wrote it all down and actually took some photos this year.

The first year I went I thought this will probably be fun but too overwhelming. I assumed I wouldn’t want to come every year because it’s a lot of ruckus. I’ve really surprised myself by going three consecutive years. It is a lot to handle, but the joy of so many people working to make something great is too wonderful to pass up. It’s even better when you can be one of those people trying to make things great. So, here are some great things I did at Rollercon.

Games

The games are one of the best things about Rollercon because you get a lot of silliness but also a lot of cool match-ups where groups can celebrate their identity, like with Team Indigenous v. Jewish Roller Derby (the first ever borderless derby game!) or Bitch Please v. Side Eye. For me, the best game was one I organized: Pool Partiers v. Lazy River Riders. The point of the game was for everyone to play in a pool floatie. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing roller derby and I think everyone who played agreed. I also got to join in on the #derbytwitter game, which was was a physically challenging game but also so much fun because I got to play with all my internet friends.

I had a couple of firsts playing games, like in BDSM v. furies. I didn’t want to buy any BDSM gear for 30 minutes of roller derby, so I skated in just shorts and a sports bra, which is something I’ve never done before and honestly never expected to do. In fact, I’d never even worn a crop top until about a day before said game. That was a personal best for body positivity. In a personal worst, I got expelled from a game for the first time. I was knocked out of play and accidentally hit a referee. The head official determined it was avoidable contact and expelled me from the game. It was very disappointing both for letting my team down and because I really tried not to touch the ref. I hope I never get expelled from a game again! It was an added insult that it was during the Lumpy Space Princess game, and I had a great outfit (recycled from last year’s Reidell party costume, naturally).

Classes

I appreciate the opportunity to learn from people who don’t know me and who have different perspectives on the game. It’s nice to get feedback from someone who hasn’t seen me skate from my baby derby years on up because they don’t have any preconceptions about me. That’s not to criticize my coaches, but sometimes fresh eyes see new things. I took several interesting classes this year. The most fun were Rock You Like a Hurricane with Allie Gator and Fast Feet with Yeti or Not. Both of them had interesting content and just seemed like really nice coaches who want the best for you. I also appreciated Stef Mainey’s How to Control People on the Track because it gave me a totally different approach to moving people around and getting them off balance. I think it will take some time to incorporate into my game, but I definitely want to give her techniques a try.

Announcing

Sometimes I think maybe I like announcing more than playing, but I’ll probably do both until I can’t skate anymore so it’s really a moot point. I had fun calling serious and silly games this year. I got to work the broadcast call for Drag Queens v. Drag Queens. It was a delight announcing that game with Allie Gator. I also got to get on the mic for one of the Team Indigenous games, which I am proud I can support with my vocal talents, such as they are.

What I enjoyed most about announcing this Rollercon was working with new announcers and finding ways we can make announcing more accessible for everyone. I spent a lot of time mentoring newbies and we talked a lot about how we can support some of our dyslexic peers. I think that is going to result in some real action for next Rollercon and I’m proud that I could help start that. I want to be able to make room for other women, especially, to develop their voices and their talents on the mic. To me, it’s an act of feminism and resistance. I’m hoping we can do more next year.

Doing Everything Else

I try to get out of my usual routine and do a little more socializing than I would really like at Rollercon. Although I think half of my motivation is to dress up. I had a lot of fun unicycling at the circus-themed Reidell party (although I was disappointed to be turned away from the costume contest!). I know that my antics personally delighted Smarty Pants and honestly that made my night. I don’t unicycle much anymore but it’s cool to know that I still can and that I can look boss doing it. I also made an appearance at the Black and Blue Ball, mostly for the announcer group photo and for the questionable tradition of taking a shot of Malört. This year my derby wife joined us for the shots, which made it more fun, if only to witness the miserable reaction.

I also ate some really good food, both the meals I brought and warmed sous vide and some tasty food I bought. I posted the sous vide photo collection on my instagram, but here are some more food photos, which, we’ve established, people both love and hate.

Despite missing my cats (and husband) all week, nearly breaking my thumb, and being generally exhausted, I am planning to do it all again next year. Only 354 days to go!

A Week in the Life: July 12, 2019

Viola the cat seated on a pillow on the sofa

This was one of those weeks that felt both fast and slow. It’s hard to remember what exactly happened because there was so much chaos surrounding our car (buying a new one, returning the rental, and disposing of the old). I was also tired all week, which always makes it hard to do things. On top of it all, I’m excited for Rollercon, so I’m not very well grounded in the present. All the same, here I am, writing about the week that was.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, listened to, or bought this week.

Reading

This morning I came across the article Small Acts: Finding Friendship with My Spanish teacher and it really resonated with me. The author, Courtney Maum, decided to learn Spanish as an act of political resistance, which I think is wonderful. Although I’ve been learning Spanish for years, I can absolutely relate to the impetus here. Wanting to connect with people that our government is trying to demonize is one reason it’s important to me to keep improving my Spanish (and, perhaps, to eventually remember how to speak Arabic). I also liked that she discussed making friends with her teacher because that is what happens. My Spanish teacher, Via, and I have been meeting for a couple of years now and I really would say we are friends, even though I pay her for our conversations.

I also read about the people who drive all over the country scouring stores for deals that they can resell on Amazon. Amazon Ruined Online Shopping profiles a few people who make their living this way, traveling in search of rare finds like discontinued cereal flavors. Some friends pointed out that this isn’t really a new practice, but for me it’s another reason to be disillusioned with Amazon. We (as a society, but maybe “I” is better) think that retail is magic and Amazon really just has everything. Of course, they don’t. As we learn more about the working conditions that underpin its success and Jeff Bezos’ wealth, Amazon has become a company I can’t patronize in good conscience.

Listening

I’ve had the Lingthusiasm podcast on my radar for some time, but finally listened to an episode this week. I enjoyed the episode on “Untranslatable Words” and the discussion of the fact that nothing is really “untranslatable,” just maybe less conveniently translated.

Rampant Consumerism

Last week we did the most consumerist activity of all: we bought a new car. It was not something we had been planning to do and so was fairly stressful. Our old car had been with the mechanic for an entire month (did you know that, if you keep a rental car for more than a month, you have to go back into their office and sign new paperwork?) and we realized it was never getting fixed. They replaced the car’s computer only to discover that they would now have to open up the engine to deal with some new problem. We got that news on Friday afternoon, decided it was time to give up, and bought the new car on Saturday. We now have a brand-new Prius—it had 13 miles on the odometer when we bought it—which is exciting despite the stressful circumstances. It has a lot of nice features and of course gets great mileage. Overall, we now have a better car, but we also have a car payment. What can you do.

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When your new car has only 13 miles on the odometer

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Making Things and Doing Stuff

Here are some things I did this week.

Getting Crafty

I’ve been working on some cool outfits for Rollercon festivities. I’m preoccupied with adorning myself with as many lights as possible. Here are some action shots of the process. Also my house is full of glitter thanks to that tulle.

Kitchen Witchery

I haven’t done much noteworthy cooking this week, but I did bake these handsome loaves of zucchini bread based on the recipe in The Bread Bible. They’re tasty and a good use of vegetables.

snall loaves of zucchini bread on a cooling rack
small brauð

Finally, here’s a photo of Viola for your nerves.

Viola the cat seated on a pillow on the sofa
Viola in repose

A Week in the Life: July 5, 2019

I’ve been stressed this week. The 4th of July stresses me out because of fireworks noise and I know I won’t get to sleep. I’ve been stressed about concentration camps at the border, which I wrote about yesterday. I’ve also been stressed about our car, which has been in the shop for the last month. It broke down on the way to Lake Tahoe in early June and we’ve been driving a rental car since. I realized our total cost for the rental is now over $1,000. The mechanics have gone through various fixes including a new fuel injector and now a new computer. But now that there’s a new computer, it turns out the problem is in the engine. It’s like an episode of Looney Tunes where they keep trying to smash down a dent in the car and it pops up elsewhere. No matter what, we’re out over $2000 between repairs and rental and we’re going to have to buy a new car anyway. I can’t wait to throw money away this weekend.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, listened to, or bought this week.

Reading

cover of the book "The Big Nine," taken outside
“The Big Nine”

This week I read The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb. The Big Nine traces the history of artificial intelligence and provides an overview of the companies most involved in its development. She then describes three scenarios—one optimistic, one pragmatic, and one catastrophic—for how AI might change society in the next 50 years. Honestly, this book has fucked me up. All three AI scenarios are highly plausible and rooted in events already in motion. The optimistic scenario really made me feel good, and the catastrophic one evoked dread. Webb makes the argument for a variety of counter-measures that would help individuals have rights over their own data and would encourage corporations and governments to collaborate. I’ve never been so invested in policy around artificial intelligence before. Most of the things that would set AI on the optimistic path are things that happen at institutional levels, but Webb closes the book with recommendations for how we can all take part. One suggestion is that we all need to be more aware and more critical of where our data goes and what it’s used for. We should think about apps before we use them. For example, fun apps that require your picture are probably being used to create data sets to train AI. We have to consider what we’re trading for convenience. One site I thought about amid those suggestions is LibraryThing, which I used to link the title above. A lot of people love GoodReads for their book-related social networking, but I’ve been using LibraryThing for years. I refuse to use GoodReads because Amazon owns it and they don’t need more of my data. LibraryThing isn’t selling data, so I feel good about that choice. These are the kinds of choices Webb is asking us to consider when we use the internet and technology.

I also read an article on Rewire.News called The Image America Shouldn’t Need. It discusses the fact that Americans shouldn’t have to see images of drowned migrants to have empathy for everyone struggling to get into this country. I recommend reading the article because it is powerful.

Listening

Spotify has introduced me to two songs on the topic of horse girls recently and frankly I don’t know what it’s trying to suggest. First, there’s Adam Ant’s Why Do Girls Love Horses. Then, there’s Tacocat’s Horse Grrls. I’ve never been much interested in horses, but it makes me chuckle that it’s enough of a meme to have songs about it.

Rampant Consumerism

There hasn’t been much exciting consumerism here this week, but I did get my other new favorite shirt, based on a second-grade writing assignment I did that my dad dug up recently. You can get your own from my teespring store.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

Here are some things I did this week.

Language Learning

I’m feeling good about my Icelandic studies this week. I feel like I’ve finally recovered from basically taking a year off when my teacher had her baby. It feels like the language is coming together in my brain more and that’s awesome. I’ve started watching this cooking show to get more listening practice. I can’t claim to understand all of it, but the good thing about cooking shows is that they demonstrate everything, so it’s easy to make connections between signifier and signified.

Kitchen Witchery

I didn’t do a whole lot of cooking this week, but I did finally do something with the cake I made a couple of weeks ago. I defrosted half of it, filled it with white chocolate buttercream and topped it with cashew buttercream. The results were not particularly beautiful, but they were tasty. I also finally tested out the sous vide immersion cooker that my sister bought me for Christmas. I have been planning to do some sous vide cooking to feed myself at rollercon this year, which is why I tested it out in a cooler instead of something more conventional like a pot. The results were good. I think I’ll be able to feed myself reasonably well!

Finally, here are some cat picture for your nerves.

The One about Concentration Camps: Acts of Empathy for Cruel Times

I’ve been mulling over what to say about this for at least a week now. There’s no arguing, at this point, that the United States is running concentration camps at our southern border. The conditions are horrific and the guards running them are racist, misogynistic assholes. This post isn’t about how we got here or what’s wrong with detaining refugees and immigrants in camps. It’s about what I’m doing, and perhaps what you can do, in response to it. It’s hard not to feel paralyzed by horror in witnessing our concentration camps. I’m ashamed of what our country is perpetrating in our name.

I’m certainly not the first or the best informed on this topic but I’m here presenting thoughts on what we can do all the same. Writing this out helps me think about the issue. I can only hope this also encourages a few others in my small audience.

Bear Witness

We have to recognize that this is part of a pattern and no one should be claiming this “isn’t who we are.” This is totally who we are. It’s only recently that we’ve tried to redefine who are to not be the kind of people who put other people in camps. It is scary and stressful, but we can’t ignore it. Ignorance will not solve this problem. Maybe it’s shallow, but I don’t want to look back on my life and know that did nothing and ignored concentration camps in our own country.

Send Money

At Rollercon, I’ll be participating in a fundraiser called Reps for RAICES. Derby trainer Prime organized it and invited people to take part. I’m hoping to raise $300 in donations and I’m planning to match up to $500 of donations. I’m very proud to be part of a community that wants to work against oppression.

RAICES isn’t the only organization out there. There are a lot of places you can donate to, depending on how you want to prioritize your dollars. Last year, Slate published a comprehensive list of organizations working against family separation at the border and, since not much has changed in the last year, it’s still a very good resource. Another resource is helpdetainedchildren.org, which lists the organizations working to provide aid to migrants.

I read recently that charitable organizations most appreciate recurring monthly donations because they can plan programs around a stable amount of income. Although they love all donations, recurring donations are the best. I have decided to make a recurring monthly donation to the Women’s Refugee Commission. Even if you can only make a recurring donation of $5 per month, it will make a difference.

You can also send money in other ways. It turns out, you can donate airline miles via lawyersgorgoodgovernment.org to help volunteer attorneys travel to people who need legal support. I have a bunch of Southwest miles, so I will be donating some to support the cause.

Withhold Money

I was cheered by the news that Wayfair employees staged a protest when they “discovered … that Wayfair intended to fulfill an order from BCFS, a government contractor that is operating camps at the border, for $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture,” as the Boston Globe reported. I’ve made the argument before that the only thing that seems to motivate this country’s upper class is money. We have to demonstrate that it is more profitable to NOT support government-sponsored internment camps than it is too supply goods and services.

If you’re looking for companies profiting from detaining migrants, We Are Your Voice Mag has a list. The most notable inclusion is Amazon, if only for its popularity among regular people. Bank of America is also profiting from the camps. If you want to divest and change banks, you can take a look at my posts on divesting from Bank of America.

Make Demands of Congress

Most organizations working for immigrants are saying the most important thing we can demand of congress is that they defund U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The National Immigrant Justice Center has a form you can fill out that will send an email to your congresspeople. I am using it as a template for a letter that I’m sending to my congresspeople via ResistBot.

Volunteer

This one is tricky because a lot of the volunteer work needed is on site at the border, which is not where I live. Additionally, the professions most in demand are lawyers and interpreters. I am not a lawyer, and although I speak Spanish, I’m not confident in my ability to run live interpretation for a bunch of scared people. If anyone discovers other ways to volunteer, please let me know. I am very interested but not sure what to do.

Protest

There are lots of protests happening around this issue. I am personally planning to attend some hosted by NorCal Resist in my area. If you don’t know how to find protests near you, ask your politically savvy friends, search on ResistBot, or try scouring facebook for events near you.

Don’t Take My Word For It

Here are a few other lists for what you can do to help end family separation and support immigrants.

Talk about It

Whatever you decide to do, I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment or let me know what you’re doing to stop concentration camps in our country. Or, leave a comment to commiserate about how terrible it is that we still have to fight so hard against injustice. Talking about what we do makes us stronger! Go forth!

A Week in the Life: June 28, 2019

a sheet pan of freshly baked rolls

I’m back for another week of talking about my life. I’m proud of me for sticking with this for at least two weeks.

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot this last week is the situation at the border with refugees being kept in concentration camps. I want to write about this but I’m still organizing my thoughts. I’ll probably make a separate post this weekend about what I plan to do and some articles. So, even though that’s been on my mind all week, it’s not making an appearance in the rest of this post.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, listened to, or bought this week.

Reading

This week I finished reading Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. I started following the author, Siva Vaidhyanathan, on twitter a while ago after reading his book The Googlization of Everything — and Why We Should Worry. Vaidhyanathan is a professor at the University of Virginia who researches communications and technology and their interactions. I really appreciated reading Anti-Social Media and I recommend it for anyone who uses facebook. Although it’s an academic work, it’s very accessible and easy to read. One statement from the book that resonated with me is that facebook encourages declarations, not discussions. You post something and … that’s it. People click on the emotional reactions and most posts don’t get much further. That’s something I have noticed, the lack of discussion. It is possible but it is hard to get it started. Although facebook claims to be a tool that brings us together, it does so only superficially. A lot of what we post could serve as a conversation starter, but I rarely see conversations started, which is why I started these weekly posts for myself.

cover of the book "anti-social media"
Anti-Social Media

Related to this lack of discussion is that facebook rewards emotional engagement and that, according to Vaidhyanathan, contributes to our inability to see large-scale issues. If a political campaign knows people get riled up about abortion, the campaign can make targeted ads about just that. People will share (in outrage or glee) the ad and no one will have discussed the bigger issue of how the candidate actually intends to govern or what our cultural values are and how we promote them through governance. I liked the book for putting words to this phenomenon. I want to keep trying to find ways to connect with my friends and communities that are not mediated by facebook, or at least that encourage a deeper connection.

I also read an interesting article from The Atlantic called The Boomers Ruined Everything: The mistakes of the past are fast creating a crisis for younger Americans. It makes the argument that the baby boomer generation perpetuated a certain level of conservative policy making, which has made it much more difficult for younger people to get jobs and houses. I’ve complained plenty about baby boomers fucking things up for us, but it’s interesting to see a case for specifically how that happened.

Listening

I’ve had the Pussy Riot song “Make America Great Again” stuck in my head all week. It’s something of an anthem for these fucked up times. A warning if you are going to watch the video, it’s fairly disturbing. However, it is a strong, artistic statement. Look up the song on spotify if you’re not ready to watch, but here’s the video link regardless: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-bKFo30o2o

Rampant Consumerism

a bunch of new socks from Bombas
new Bombas socks

I bought some new socks from Bombas recently. A few teammates have been talking about how great they are, so last month I bought two pairs to test it out. I told Kirk they felt great and his response was that all new socks feel great. He had a point. After a few washes, they still feel amazing. I didn’t know socks could actually feel this good, as ridiculous as that sounds. Highly recommended. This isn’t even a paid post, it’s my real opinion. I like the company because they donate a pair of socks to people in need for every pair that people purchase. In the absence of our government using tax dollars for taking care of citizens, I appreciate companies taking the initiative to do so.

a tee shirt with a picture of me wearing a shirt with a picture of me on it
portrait of the artist on a tee shirt

I also finally got my new shirt, which features me wearing a picture of me wearing a picture of myself. This shirt will imbue me with even more power—because what’s more powerful than adorning yourself with your own image? You can get your own on my teespring site, which has this shirt as well as the non-recursive version. Profits go to me and world’s best derby photographer Bone Appétit to fund derby travel.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

Here are some things I did this week.

Roller Derby Life

Our game against Santa Cruz went really well! It was a close game throughout, which means our opponent was a good match, but we won in the end. It’s always satisfying to win a close game. Knowing that the game could have easily gone either way, but that we won, makes it feel like we accomplished something. I thought all my teammates did a really good job and it was fun to have a big crowd at the Rink. I also got the award for best blocker, which is always exciting! Although I am pretty sure that in some games, I’m not actually the best, just the one with the hits that my opponents most remember.

I also found out this week that I did not make the travel B team. It didn’t surprise me but I was hoping for that extra bit of validation. The upside is that I don’t have to adjust my practice schedule and I get to stay with all my friends.

Language Learning

My Spanish teacher Oliva and I discussed learning versus acquiring a language, inspired by this video in which the author spends a year learning Arabic. Linguists differentiate between acquiring a language (learning like a baby would, by interacting with people who speak the language) versus learning it (like you would do in school, memorizing grammar and vocabulary). In the video, the author sets out to acquire Arabic by having language exchanges and lessons with native speakers. I will say it made me nostalgic for learning Arabic, although I suppose the matter of that language is a discussion for another day. I like some of the strategies he used, but I found it presumptuous that he suggested you could just approach people you know and ask them to help you learn a language, as if that’s not a big investment of time and labor. In any case, I am going to try to incorporate some of the spirit of this into my own learning. I tend to focus on my flashcards and drills because it has a certain predictability that I enjoy, but I know I need to spend more time reading and listening and getting that comprehensible input. I’m hoping this will especially help my Icelandic, since that is a tricky language and I’m super bad at understanding the spoken language.

Getting Crafty

If you follow me on instagram, you’ve seen this already, but I am proud of my handiwork, so I’m sharing it again. I finished a baby quilt for my friend Mandy and her forthcoming baby. I choose fabrics to celebrate her heritage and I think the end result turned out great, especially considering my limited quilting experience.

Kitchen Witchery

We went to the farmers market last Sunday so of course I spent this week making lots of good food based on what I found there. For the most part, I didn’t cook anything too elaborate, but I enjoy the task of making simple food extra tasty.

  1. Chicken caesar salad with carrots and lettuce from the farmers market. I grill up a bit of chicken and the result is a very simple meal.
  2. Macaroni and cheese plus some broccoli. This colby jack cheese from the farmers market is basically the perfect cheese for macaroni.
  3. Pesto. I bought a huge bunch of basil from the farmers market with the intention of making pesto, but without a clear idea of what to do with it. Luckily I discovered some inspiration.
  4. Walnut pesto, and cheese rolls. The recipe is from “The Harvest Baker,” and these are basically all I want to eat now.
  5. I grilled a pork tenderloin and glazed (in a manner of speaking) it with pesto. Served with grilled zucchini and mashed potatoes, and of course, more pesto.

Finally, here’s a luxurious Huey for your nerves.

a black and white cat lounging on top of a love seat.
Huey the Cat atop the couch cushion

A Week in the Life: June 21, 2019

After stating on facebook that I wanted to replace posting there with weekly newsletters, here I am. I did look a little bit at newsletter applications, but then I thought, I’m paying for this website and why not use it? I’m bringing blogging back.

Consuming

Reading

This morning I read an article from The Atlantic called “The Adults Who Treat Reading Like Homework.” I didn’t like the title, but I was interested in the content, since I am, arguably, one of those adults. It discusses people setting reading goals for themselves and talks a little bit about how the process of setting a reading goal impacts reading habits. As someone who has tracked her reading habits for over a decade, I have some opinions. I actually don’t set a goal for reading a certain number of books. It’s something I’ve done in the past, but you never know how the year is going to go. I plan to read as much as I can and make allowances for life. I also try to think about reading as something to do instead of getting lost in the infinite scroll of social media. It has to be an active decision even if you don’t set a specific goal. The article also discusses the site Good Reads and how sends annoying notifications when users are not meeting their goals. This is one of the many reasons I prefer to track my reading and maintain my personal library through LibraryThing, which I’ve been using since 2007.

I also read a really interesting article from The Guardian about trauma and how we react to it. It discusses what is called polyvagal theory, kind of a corollary to the “fight or flight” response that says that, when faced with something traumatic, sometimes people freeze up and that’s normal. I won’t try to summarize it because it is a little complicated, but I highly recommend giving it a read, especially if you are someone or know someone who freezes up when stressed.

Listening

Spotify recommended the band Tacocat to me and I’m enjoying it a lot. I really like “I Love Seattle” (because I do, even though I’m living that Sacramento life). I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of the X-Files, but their song “Dana Katherine Scully” really resonates with me, and the video makes me laugh. “The truth is out there, but so am I.” Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FShqXAqGv4

Rampant Consumerism

I recently discovered the magic of fiber optic fabric. I ordered some to make something (to be determined based on my sewing skills, I suppose) to wear at Rollercon. I also bought a fiber optic bow tie from an Etsy shop and it is amazing. These may or may not end up in the same outfit.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

Roller Derby Life

Speaking of Rollercon, that’s been occupying a big part of my mental space this week. In part from excitement and in part because I got into a big fight with my dad last weekend and I need the emotional distraction. I’ve been thinking about costumes and outfits, and also figuring out my food game. You’re not allowed to cook in the hotel and there are no microwaves, so you have to get creative. My first Rollercon, I brought a tiny crock pot and slow cooked meals every day. This year, on the advice of Bob Uckerlele, I’m bringing a sous vide immersion cooker and some vacuum-sealed meals. My sister generously bought me an immersion cooker for Christmas, but I haven’t found the courage yet to test it. I bagged up some leftovers this week and froze them, so I’ll be doing a test run soon. I’m hoping this strategy keeps me well nourished during Rollercon.

Tomorrow (Saturday, the 22nd) we have a home derby game at the Rink. Tickets are still available online. I’ll be playing with our C team, Kodiak Attack. Even though I promoted to the B team this year, I’ve played basically every C game thanks to a dearth of players. I’m happy for the play time but I’m also looking forward to some of our newer skaters being ready to fill out that roster. Because I’m forever pushing myself, I tried out for our “Travel B” (league top 30/combined charter + B) team. I have no idea if I’m at that level or not but I’m hoping that by moving up a practice level, it will force me to get better. It’s always a shock to go from feeling pretty good to being the worst player at practice. But, of course, that’s how you get better.

I started selling t-shirts with my face on them, mostly for my own amusement but also to earn a little money for me and world’s best derby photographer Bone Appétit to pay for tournament travel. Some of our newer skaters have already joined my fan club. Honestly, I’m honored that anyone wants to wear my surly visage. I hope to stay worthy of having people in my fan club.

Number 1 fans, featuring Cocky and Honey

Spanish

In my Spanish lesson yesterday (which is more just hanging out and talking about things at this point, but that is good), my teacher, Oliva, and I were discussing fluency and what it feels like, more in the context of us learning difficult languages. In that discussion, she said she considers me to be fluent in Spanish! I have been saying for a while that I’m working toward fluency, but it is amazing to get that validation. Obviously, I’m not perfect at Spanish but I am fully operational. Exciting!

Kitchen Witchery

I made a few tasty foods this week, but nothing too exciting. Because everyone likes food photos (or does everyone hate food photos? I can’t keep it straight), here’s some foods of the week, presented at various odd angles:

The cake is the white chocolate cupcakes recipe from The Baking Bible. I made one cake instead of a bunch of tiny ones because of laziness. It’s currently in the freezer. I wanted to bake it to finish using all the leftover egg whites I had from making ice cream last week, but also wasn’t prepared to frost and eat a whole cake. I also made a lentil shepherd’s pie, which is not really a summer food, but is what I wanted. I used some leftover buns I made (recipe from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook) and leftover bleu cheese sauce to make some chicken burgers, which ended up being a really good choice.

Finally, here’s Viola for your nerves.

Viola in repose

Fight with your Dollars: Alabama Abortion Ban Edition

This week, the Alabama State Senate voted for a complete abortion ban that makes no exceptions for rape or incest. The law would penalize women who get abortions and completely ignore men who contributed to the pregnancy. The state’s governor signed it into law yesterday.

I am outraged. I spent much of the last week fretting about what I can do to stop this assault on our rights. I saw this Guardian article naming and shaming all the male state senators who voted to ban abortion. I wondered what we could do.

If this century’s late-stage capitalism has taught me anything, it’s that the only thing the oppressor responds to is threats to its capital. That is why I’ve compiled this list of businesses interests of the Alabama senators who voted to ban and criminalize abortion in their state. It’s not enough to “boycott Alabama”—it’s also too much. Regular people live there, people who want access to reproductive care, and they need our monetary support. However, we should do everything we can to not give money to people who vote to deny us rights. It’s obvious to me that these men don’t consider us to be people. There’s no amount of pleading and sharing experiences that will get through to them. We have to demonstrate that their actions have consequences that will cost them money.

This post provides a list of businesses first then more detail about who is associated with what and links to the places where I found this information.

Disclaimer: I am just a regular person with a strong sense of moral outrage and very good research skills (thanks, master’s degree in library and information science). I am providing this information as a resource. I cannot tell you what to do with it. I do not encourage anyone to harass these individuals or their families.

List of Businesses to Avoid

I compiled this list based on research of public information that is online. I am certain it’s not comprehensive, but it is a strong starting point for people looking to grab back. I have included businesses that these senators own and businesses for which they occupy senior management positions. I have also included businesses belonging to top donors to the senator’s campaigns. Only businesses related to senators who voted to ban abortion are included. If you have a tip or something to add, please leave a comment and I will update the list.

If you stop doing business with one of these companies, I highly recommend calling or writing a letter to them explaining exactly why you are no longer a customer. They should know why they are losing your business.

Here is the list of companies to boycott:

List of Individual Senators

I researched each senator to find out what they own. Many state on their own websites that they own businesses. I made frequent use of the Alabama Secretary of State’s Business Entity Record search, LinkedIn, Ballotpedia, and Votesmart.org.

I thought I was cynical about politics before I started this research. I had no idea how much worse that could get. One of these senators owns a company that makes ultrasound equipment. The same senator also proposed a bill requiring women to get transvaginal ultrasounds before getting an abortion. I’m learning that there is no deep strategy here. These people are out to make money and that’s it.

Andrew Jones (R), Senate District 10

Andrew Jones says on his website that he is the founder of Deep South Coffee Factory, a “craft coffee roasting company.” He is also a shareholder of Paul Jennings Farms, according to votesmart.org.

Arthur Orr (R), Senate District 3

Arthur Orr is the Executive Vice President/Chief Administration Officer of a company called Cook’s Pest Control, where his responsibilities include “oversight of all of the company’s administrative duties including the areas of Accounting, Human Resources, Property, Marketing and Advertising, as well as handling all legal matters.” This company operates in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Their website lists, along with a mission, their “position:” “Cook’s has been dedicated to God, and we are entrusted to operate it for His honor and glory. We are committed to principals [sic] of honesty and integrity.” Yikes.

Ballotpedia lists Orr’s top campaign contributors in 2014 (although note that none of these are especially large contributions, relatively speaking):

  • Alabama Power Co: Utility company
  • Alabama Bankers Association: Professional organization
  • Cosby Co: Seems to be some kind of lobbying group or PR firm for politicians.
  • Medical Association of the State of Alabama: Professional organization
  • Alabama Trucking Association: Professional organization

As far as I can tell, these are professional organizations and a utility company (Alabama Power Co). Frankly, I do not know how one would go about boycotting these organizations. In fact, nearly all of these senators had professional organizations among their top donors. This is an example of how these people are deeply entrenched in our institutions. If you are a member of one of these organizations, I recommend looking into who decides how to spend your funds and how you can influence that.

Cam Ward (R) Senate District 14

Cam Ward, according to his personal website, seems to have worked in the public sector for his whole career. In 2014, his top campaign donors were:

  • Alabama Power Co: Utility company
  • Alabama Nursing Home Association: Professional organization
  • Boatright Companies: This company has an empty website, but this AL.com article explains that Boatright Companies includes Boatright Vegetation Management, Service Industrial Rail Car, Service Rail Group, Boatright Rail Gear, and Boatright Safety Solutions.
  • Alabama Bankers Association: Professional organization
  • CAN PAC: I cannot find anything useful about this PAC because its name makes for confusing search results.

Ward has a company called House Republican Caucus, LLC registered in his name. The nature of the business is “any lawful activity,” so it’s anyone’s guess what they really do. This is extra puzzling to me because Ward is a state senator, not a state representative. 

Chris Elliott (R), Senate District 32

Chris Elliott, according to his own LinkedIn page is a partner at Elliott Development LLC, President of the Elliott Companies (which includes Service Master Restore, Elliott Builders, and Elliott Catastrophe) and Vice President of Elliott Builders. The Elliott Companies, according to their website, “provide multidisciplinary construction and development services to clients throughout Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.”

  • Elliott Development: “owns and manages professional office spaces primarily in fast growing Baldwin County, Alabama”
  • Service Master Restore: a company that “provides guidance and expertise in disaster restoration” for residential and commercial customers.
  • Elliott Builders: a company for building custom homes
  • Elliott Catastrophe: This sounds similar to the Service Master Restore company. There is a focus on restoring property amid damage, but more information about how they work with insurance companies.

Clay Scofield (R), Senate District 9

Clay Scofield does not have much of an internet presence. As far as I can tell, he is not associated with any businesses.

Ballotpedia lists the following as Scofield’s top campaign donors in 2014:

  • New Alabama Leadership Committee: This is a political committee or political action committee (PAC). The only information I have found about it is in articles like this one, which asks whether PACs are financially up to no good.
  • Alabama Power Co: Utility company
  • Alabama Bankers Association: Professional organization
  • Alabama Trucking Association: Professional organization
  • Alabama Rural Electric Association: A co-op of electric distributors

Clyde Chambliss (R), Senate District 30

Clyde Chambliss, according to his LinkedIn profile, spent 20 years as the “Principle Engineer” at Chambliss Engineering, LLC, “a civil engineering firm providing services to water and sewer systems, local governments, and real estate developers in Alabama.” I don’t know for certain if Clyde Chambliss owns the company. It was incorporated by Tara Chambliss, according to the state’s Business Entity Records search. Based on the header image on Tara’s twitter (which I am NOT linking because I am not trying to encourage DDOSing or abuse), it is reasonable to assume that she and Clyde are related somehow.  

One of Chambliss’ top campaign donors in 2014, according to Ballotpedia, was Joe and Geraldine Chambliss. These two individuals donated $20,000 to the campaign. My best guess is that these are Clyde’s parents, but again, I am not sure. Joe Chambliss is a Partner at Gulf South Culinary Marketing.

Dan Roberts (R), Senate District 15

Dan Roberts is, according to votesmart.org, a board member of Briarwood Christian School. Probably anyone sending their children to Christian school is okay with their legislators banning abortion, but if not, you know what to do. In fact, every organization that Roberts is involved with, perhaps, the exception of the Alabama Policy Institute, is explicitly religious.

David Sessions (R), Senate District 35

David Sessions is, according to votesmart.org, the president of Grand Bay Water Works (a waste management company) and Producers Gin Company (a farming company).

Del Marsh (R), Senate District 12

Del Marsh’s campaign page says he is a “small businessman” who owns “an Oxford, Alabama-based engineering services and aircraft part repair company that employs roughly 150 people in the Calhoun County area.” That company appears to be Aerospace Coatings International, however, it is “privately held” according to Bloomberg and other business sites, so I can’t say with total certainty that Marsh is the owner. This article states that Marsh sold the company to the Wencor Group, so Marsh may no longer have any stake in ACI. The Alabama Secretary of State Business Entity Record search shows registered agent changes in 2015 and 2017.

Donnie Chesteen (R), Senate District 29

Donnie Chesteen used to teach P.E. and coach football. Boycott football, I guess.

Garlan Gudger (R), Senate District 4

Garlan Gudger owns Southern Accents Architectural Antiques, a company his dad started. He also owns Gudger Properties.

Gerald Allen (R), Senate District 21

Gerald Allen owns a business called Cashco Marketing, according to votesmart.org. I cannot find much about the company, but this 2002 news article alleges that Allen was withholding grant money from schools that refused to do business with the company.

Greg Albritton (R), Senate District 22

Greg Albritton seems to not have any business interests. His votesmart.org profile shows a lot of military and public-sector experience (boycott the military?). One of Albritton’s top donors in 2014 was a company simply called “Speed.” There are, predictably, a lot of companies with “speed” in the name on the Alabama Business Entity Records database, but there is one simply called Speed, LLC. I cannot find out what this company is, but the address associated with the record seems to be a beach house. I do not know if this is the same company that donated to Albritton.

Greg Reed (R), Senate District 5

Greg Reed is the current vice president of a company called Preferred Medical Systems, which produces ultrasound equipment. Here’s a 2012 article from Rewire News discussing the apparent conflict of interest of introducing bills mandating transvaginal ultrasounds while having a company that sells ultrasound machines.

Jabo Waggoner (R), Senate District 16

Jabo Waggoner owns a real estate investment company called Birmingham Business Consultants, LLC. Votesmart.org says Waggoner is also the Vice President of Healthsouth Corporation, but Healthsouth has since been acquired by Encompass Health. Based on this description of the rebranding, I would assume that Waggoner is still involved in and profits from the business, but I do not know for certain.

Jack Williams (R), Senate District 34

Jack Williams owns Twin Oaks Nursery, now merged with Tom Dodd Nurseries (per the Alabama Business Entity Records database). I do not know what role, if any, Williams currently has in the merged company, but votesmart.org states Williams is a “former owner” of Tom Dodd Nurseries. Williams is also listed as owning the JBarW Cattle Farm, but I cannot find any records of this farm.

Jim McClendon (R), Senate District 11

Jim McClendon has a private optometry practice. I’m not able to discover if he owns his own optometry business.

One of his top 2014 campaign donors was Swatek Azbell Howe & Ross, which donated $20,000 to the campaign. This is a group of lobbyists.

Larry Stutts (R), Senate District 6

Larry Stutts is a doctor and, according to his own website, opened Colbert OB-GYN in Sheffield, Alabama. One of Stutt’s top donors in 2014 was Anesthesia Consultants Medical Group, which donated $10,000 to the campaign.

Randy Price (R), Senate District 13

Randy Price’s website says he is a small business owner. He runs a “family farm” and “he started a custom homebuilding business and commercial trucking company.” Based on what I found in the Business Entity Records database, I believe the housing company is RLP Homes, LLC. There is also a Randy Price listed as the incorporator for R. Price Company, Inc. and Ontime Solutions, LLC. I cannot say for certain if this is the same Randy Price as the senator, but these may be the businesses he mentions in his profile.

Sam Givhan (R), Senate District 7

Sam Givhan says on his website that he practices real estate and business law. He practices with and, according to votesmart.org, is a shareholder of Wilmer & Lee: A Professional Association. Votesmart.org also says Givhan is the owner of Houston Land Company and SHG Development.

Shay Shelnutt (R), Senate District 17

Shay Shelnutt has been a realtor and a math teacher. He was also his own top donor for the 2014 campaign.

Steve Livingston (R), Senate District 8

Steve Livingston owns, per votesmart.org, two companies: The Fuel Center, Inc. and Discus Oil Company.

Tim Melson (R), Senate District 1

Tim Melson owns a Sheffield, Alabama company called Shoals Medical Trials, Inc., which seems to be dedicated to running clinical trials.

Tom Butler (R), Senate District 2

Tom Butler is a registered pharmacist and works for Rite Aid Pharmacy, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Will Barfoot (R), Senate District 25

Will Barfoot is the owner of the law firm Barfoot & Schoettker.

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