The Annual 4th of July Post


I’m going to preface this entry by saying that I’m a closet rampant Christian.  Or, not closet exactly… I just believe that there’s many ways to reach God and that Christianity is a good one, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone as amazingly well as it works for me. So, I tend to keep quieter than some.  I mean, it’s not like you’re NOT gonna hear the message of Jesus in America today…

I’m putting in this preface because I’m going to get a little religious on you at the end.

I’ve been feeling like a big fuddy-duddy this year about the 4th of July, and if I’m feeling it you better believe it’s bad.  I’m usually all about breaking out the tricorn hat and ’76 flag while humming Stars and Stripes Forever and carrying a sparkler. But America IS NOT living up to what it should be in ways so profound that I’m not even sure we qualify as a democracy at this point.  A fascist oligarchy? Maybe.  Democracy?  I don’t know.  I’m hoping we can get back to a semblance of democracy soon.

I’ve always been a proponent of the fact that the 4th of July is a day to revel in the promise of America, the US that never actually can be because it’s an ideal.  It’s a day to party it up, think of freedom and founding fathers, listen to a little fife music, and gain stamina for the fight to make the actual US match the fantasy US.  If we bathe in the America that could be for a day, we can better work towards that actuality in the coming year. A little bit closer, the years bending toward justice.

I just didn’t want to do that this year.   I see the country standing for so much hatred to the point where we’re not even acknowledging the humanity of children.  Where do we even go from here? Is there a bottom lower than this one?  I don’t want there to be.  I didn’t want to ponder or celebrate America at all right now.

Still, in church this morning we had a little America celebration.  We sang My Country ‘Tis Of Thee and America The Beautiful among other things.  The sermon was on making apologies for deep wrongs.  I sat in that sanctuary, sang all the verses, and found that maybe I did feel okay about celebrating the 4th after all.  Because the Founding Fathers knew that this was a fraught experiment with potential for abuse, but they also knew their scrappy citizens who cling to liberty with both hands.

I want to point you to two verses in each of the songs from this morning:

O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee.
Till selfish gain no longer stain, the banner of the free!

Our fathers’ God to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing. Long may our land be bright, With freedom’s holy light, Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King.

I think that this 4th is going to be more of a religious holiday for me this year.  I’ll be praying for everyone to be crowned with brotherhood, for selfish gain to no longer stain the banner of the free, for God to protect us with freedom’s holy light.  I’m hoping that the fireworks will shine like a benediction on these prayers on Wednesday night as they light up the firmament.

And then on the 5th, I’m going to fight like hell again to secure the blessings of liberty for myself and my posterity.

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On Virginia


I just don’t even know what to say about Virginia this weekend.  I’m so tired of this stuff that I don’t know what to do at this point, nor do I really feel like doing something is going to help much.

I mean, I live in California.  I donate as much as I can afford to the ACLU.  I’m 100% against Nazism, as is everyone I know.  I don’t have hopes that anything I do will make the president denounce these people, or that by saying something I can make these folks feel ashamed of themselves.  I’m tired.  I just don’t want to do it anymore.

I will also say that I 100% realize that being tired so easily and being able to just give up is a function of my own white privilege.  I’m blonde and blue-eyed.  The Neo-Nazis are gonna leave me alone if I ignore them.  Not everyone can say that.

But I’m still at a loss.  I don’t know what I can do that will make a difference in a world where we have a president that is more outraged by Nordstrom’s refusal to carry his daughter’s handbag line than he is by alt-right terrorism.  I don’t know what to do in a world where that galvanizes his supporter base instead of alienating it. I don’t want that base to be my friends and neighbors, even though it often is.  Whatever we feel about him and his business sense, I would hope that we could at least agree that domestic terrorism isn’t okay.

I wish I had more to offer besides a refusal to be silent despite my strong desire to toss up my hands.  I don’t have any salient points, and I’ll admit it.

The whole episode makes me think of the time when Neo-Nazis protested in Claremont, oh – not quite 10 years ago now.  I read that it was happening in the Courier, and everyone was flummoxed.  There weren’t actually any Neo-Nazi groups in Claremont, but for some reason they had picked the city for their protest.

I’m not even sure if they were actually protesting anything so much as they were trying to be ornery in a city they knew wouldn’t be pleased.  There was an entire corner of counter-protestors that was bigger than the Neo-Nazi group.  I had thought about joining them several days before-hand, but I had to work that morning so that ended the ambivalence.

I did drive through the intersection on my way to work, though.  I was struck by how unhappy the Neo-Nazi’s seemed.  It wasn’t even an angry fervor.  The entire crowd of them had that pissed rebellious-child look that made me think they all REALLY didn’t want to be there.  They stood quietly behind their banner with those insolent looks on their face, using their laminated canvas like a shield, sulking.

It was the counter-protest corner that was alive.  Colorful homemade signs flew above the crowd, and the throng chanted and writhed on their corner, insisting that the Neo-Nazis weren’t welcome and shouting messages of peace.  The vibe was not at all what I would expect.  The Neo-Nazi’s looked back at them in silence, just giving them and the police the stink-eye.

Police directed the traffic through the intersection, and made sure that the two corners across from each other didn’t mingle.

It was non-violent.  I only had that 3-minute glimpse of it all before the policeman waved me through the intersection and I sped to the freeway ramp in the distance. It stuck in my mind, though.  Why would the Neo-Nazi’s purposefully go to a city to make them pissed and then just end up silently pissed themselves?

Like I said, I don’t have anything to offer really.  Just that small memory.

Maybe I should try and get up some patriotic gumption ala West Wing; that this country is remarkable because it seeks to protect even those who would destroy it.  People died, though, and I don’t think I can quite manage it right now.

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A Bad Week


This week has been a hard one, and I’m not even quite sure why except for the obvious.  The things that are happening in this country make me sad and worried.


Social media isn’t making it any better.  I keep waiting for the world to implode into WWIII or Civil War Part II, and my feed just confirms it all.  Whatever it is you worry about, it’s right there happening.  There are glimmers of hope of course, but not enough of them.

Couple that with my Jury Duty experience, and the world seems extra-bleak right now.

Yup, I had Jury Duty that started last Thursday and went through to today, my first time having to appear at the courthouse. I was placed on a trial almost immediately after arriving with 100 other jurors.  about 40 were excused post-haste since the trial was supposed to last until mid-March and they had conflicts or their work wouldn’t pay that long.  I found out yesterday that it was a double shooting murder charge.  The defendant wasn’t trying to claim he didn’t shoot the guy, either.  He was just claiming it was self-defense.  I ultimately was excused after jury selection was finished – I wasn’t even questioned.  That means I can talk about it.

It was an experience unlike anything else, and very interesting.  The thing I keep thinking about is this:

The prosecutor kept asking the jury panel if they felt sympathy for the defendant, who was sitting right there.  She pointed at him.  He was young and might have been handsome if you could think of him as anything but a giant accusation, in a thick mans-man way.  He had a buzzed haircut and deep bags under his eyes. He wore the same thing all 3 days of the trial, too – khaki pants and a khaki dress shirt, green tie.  And I just kept thinking that the entire panel must have been lying whenever anyone coldly said “no” to her question.

Maybe I didn’t feel sympathy, exactly, but I felt compassion.  This had to be one of the worst days of that guy’s life, and I think it’s maybe even needful that we acknowledge that he’s a human and so were the people who died before we set all that aside and make a cold determination of fault based only on laws and evidence.

It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t questioned…

But it all seems death and destruction right now, between murder and mayhem.  It also seems impossible to pick things up and go to work tomorrow like normal, though I’m sure I’ll find comfort in the routine of it when it arrives.  I would just like something to hope for, I think.  Something that is entirely pure and gleeful, and not the lesser of two bad options.

I’ll just have to keep looking until I find it, I guess.

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I’m Marching Tomorrow

In case you haven’t guessed it yet, this is a fairly political blog post.  You can skip if you’re not into that kind of thing.  Also contains rampant feminism.


I am marching in Los Angeles tomorrow.  I don’t own any feminist t-shirts or anything, so I plan to wear my Suffragette white with the purple and green pin I made for election day.  I have a banner, too, if I ever manage to finish it.  It will say “No woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her sex,” in as close a copy as I can get to the 1920s picture.  It will be fabric, too, for easy transport on the train.

I have had a lot of – well, not exactly fights.  Heated discussions? – with Trump supporters who claim that there was a HUGE backlash against him when he said he wouldn’t accept the results of the election, and now those same people won’t accept the results of the election themselves.  And that it’s stupid to go and protest.  What are we even protesting?

So I thought, since I think better with my fingers than my mouth, that I would explain why I’m marching tomorrow.  And that’s the first thing I want to emphasize.  I’m not protesting anything.  I’m marching in solidarity with the women in my community.

The reason is this:

Humans of New York went to Detroit and talked to a bunch of people there after the election.  The one that struck me the most was posted on November 20, with a woman in a green anorak looking out at a river.  The quote above the picture was this: “I’ve had friends reach out to me. They’ve told me: ‘I understand the reasons that you’re upset. But those aren’t the reasons I voted for him.’ And I’m just starting to understand that. I’m realizing that a lot of people wanted change more than they wanted kids not to cry. We all have our own code of ethics. My bottom line happened to be tolerance. Their bottom line was abortion. Or the Supreme Court. I guess we all have the right to choose our own bottom line.”

I was desperately aggrieved when Trump won, and part of it is because of what that lady in the green jacket said.  My right as a woman to exist safely in a public place was not the bottom line for many people.  The fact that Trump assaulted women and then bragged about it was not enough to disqualify him for them. They wanted change more than they wanted women to not be molested. That’s certainly their right to choose.  I don’t dispute that.  But the fact that my safety comes second to anything at all, and that there are a LOT of people who feel that way, feels like a death.  A death of progress, a death of protection from indecency, a death of the esteem I held for those people who I believed better of.

At the heart of it, that’s really why I’m marching.  I’m marching with women who are my friends and relatives to show them that I value their safety as MY bottom line. that we will stubbornly value each other together.  And I’m marching to say to Trump and everyone in his new administration that comments they have made in the past are unacceptable.  If they try and take my safety away from me or those in my community (regardless of gender, orientation, or color),  this is the polite version of what they can expect the future to look like.

I’m not protesting the election.  I’m not trying to say that Trump is not my president.  I’m trying to acknowledge that he IS the president, for better or worse, and that we now have to strive every day to hold him to the standards we expect of someone in that office, no matter how difficult or impossible that seems.

I’m marching because it gives me something to do with this grief, and it gives me hope that we are a people who are, collectively, better than our current government.

To everyone else who is going tomorrow: I look forward to seeing you there.

And to those of you who feel you must skip out: I respect that, and I hope that if things get harrier you will consider standing with us next time.

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On Politics, Action, and Protests


I thought that I would eventually do a post about Trump winning the election, and then the idea that I would actually have to talk seriously about this man sickened me.  And then I realized that is exactly why I need to write the post anyway.

I’m not going to proselytize.  Maybe Trump will be fine.  But it’s been less than a week and he’s already appointing white supremacists to key positions, and climate skeptics to lead the EPA, so I’m not terribly optimistic.  But you know I’m about doing and not about talking.

We’re in a society now where it’s IMPERITIVE that you act against racism. It’s no longer enough to be against it without acting. If you are for safe spaces, if you want to wear a safety pin and mean it, then you are responsible for creating those safe spaces around yourself with action, not just with clothing.

First, here’s a Southern Poverty Law Center article on confronting racism with the people you love: https://www.splcenter.org/20150126/speak-responding-everyday-bigotry.  Take-aways for non-confrontational people like me?  Recruit allies to help you confront rampantly racist family members if necessary; it’s okay to tell them that racist language is hurting your relationship, and it’s because you love them that you want them to stop when you’re around.  Leave the room when those subjects come up, or seriously ask the joke teller to explain why the joke is funny to them; indicate politely that you aren’t amused.  Repeat back sentences without using racial epithets yourself (“the Mexican cashier,” becomes “the cashier,” for instance).

Second, I’ve posted a comic below drawn by Maeril (@itsmaeril) on how to confront islamophobic harassment.  But it’s good for all kinds of harassment, really.  Use liberally.


Third, consider what outside organizations you can support that will need help, or will be giving others help.  I don’t know how to bring a lawsuit against Trump if he starts putting some of his unconstitutional practices into action.  But the ACLU sure does, and they’ve already put Trump on notice that they’re watching.  I’m giving $10 a month.  An aunt of mine is giving a little more to Planned Parenthood this year.  Several friends have invested in legitimate well-run news sites like NPR or the Washington Post.  Do what you can where you see the need.  Every little bit helps.  And if you can’t donate money, consider donating your time.

The next two things I want to share are for others.  I’m already getting a lot of crap from friends  and family about the protests that are still going on.  This is why protesting isn’t just people being sore losers, and why we all shouldn’t just “get over it already.”  Moche Kasher says it better than I ever could:


And I want to end on this quote:

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Reminder: we overthrew the government over 200 years ago so we would never have to stomach a shitty king again.  Good luck with the acting for justice (I know I’m going to need it, for one).  It’s going to be hard.  But if we can even be a little bit better than we were yesterday, that’s progress in fighting the spirit of awfulness that’s attempting a coup on the country right now.

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Election Day! (Go Vote)

This isn’t really a real post.  I’m just proud of my craftyness and wanted to share. Now that we’re down to the actual electing of people, I’ve decided I’m putting all my wishy-washy feelings aside and going gleeful suffragette for at least the next 15 hours.

When all the “repeal the 19th” stuff started happening on Facebook, I decided I was going to make myself a pin like the buttons they used to wear to suffrage rallies.  Because no matter who you decide to vote for, it’s important that women get to be a part of this amazing process.  And a lot of people fought and endured horrible things for our right to do so.  Suffragettes represent!

My favorite pin on the internet was this one:


But that’s a British pin, and I wanted to represent the American ladies. That’s when I found these two.  They’re from roughly 1905, and the date on them represents the year of the Seneca Falls convention (that’s the one where women originally decided they would band together and seek the vote).

33235d40a2e725aa2352a02e50e1cfe2OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I mashed them up and ended up with a design I love that I shrinky-dinked with some colored sharpies and then hot-glued ribbon to the back of it.  The edges of the pin and the center circle are lined in gold, which somehow turned to black in the photo (?), so you’ll have to use your imagination.  I’m pretty proud of myself.


And in case you were wondering, this is what a suffragette looks like in 2016:


I’m done now.  Have you voted yet?

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Because It’s Important:


I’m writing again today to talk to you about something VERY important, and that’s your vote.  Wait – don’t click away yet.  I’m not gonna launch into any spiels about the presidential candidates.  At this point, I think you’ve probably made up your mind about those two folks.  I’m hearing from a lot of people, though, that because both Clinton and Trump are terrible, they’re just not going to vote at all.  That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

Don’t do it!  Show up!

Here’s why: Elections are SO important, and arguably it’s the stuff happening in your state that is way more important to your daily life than whoever is currently shouting mean things on the TV about Washington.  I can’t speak for other states, but California is electing a new congresswoman for the first time in almost 25 years; the legislature is asking if they should pursue a repeal of Citizen’s United; and there are three (or more, if you want to count the legalization of marijuana one in there) propositions that will decide what our penal systems look like for the next decade or more.  That stuff is something you should weigh in on, that will impact you directly.

And, guess what?  You don’t have to vote for or against everything on your ballot.  Don’t like Hilary and don’t like Trump?  Leave the presidential question blank and vote wholeheartedly and gleefully for your senate candidate.  Don’t care at all about plastic bags?  Leave that one blank too.  It’s okay to vote for some things and not other things.

For example (I don’t want to tell you who to vote for or anything, but…) I’m a HUGE fan of Pete Aguilar, my state congressman.  He runs job fairs all over the place, supports Planned Parenthood, has written a lot of laws that help small local businesses, and sent me a very nice letter after I contacted him about gun control.  I mean, his mom helps him campaign.  I can fill the dot in next to his name without doom and gloom feelings that I’m picking the lesser of two evils.  I genuinely am so glad that man represents me.

There’s something to be excited about in this election.  Maybe it’s not the top of the ticket, but it’s not buried that far down.  I promise.

You still have the whole weekend to look at everything and make a decision on how you feel.  I urge you to at least give it a trial.  League of Women Voters and NPR both have non-partisan information on propositions and candidates if you just put in your address, which I always find is a good place to start.  Your work is required to give you time off to get to a polling place near you.  You can do this.  I believe in you.

And thank you.  This whole ‘having a democratic country’ thing works much better when all of us are participating.

That’s my two cents.

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Black and Blue

I sometimes feel like the tragedy never ends in these times.  I’ve been reading salacious romance novels all weekend for a little bit of escape.  That being said, I think there’s a time to process things, and then a time to act.  It’s time to act.

This is a warning that I’m about to get political on you.  Stop reading now if you don’t want any of my liberal political opinions.


I’m getting to the point where I’m hating to do these things.  But I also feel like the blog is a place with an audience, and we should all be doing something if we can.  I’ve been sad all weekend about the latest African American deaths and the Dallas police shooting.  It feels like the world has been upended.

As always, history gives me a little bit of hope.  A friend of mine asked if this year was the worst we had ever seen.  While it’s the worst one I’ve experienced, your parents and mine were all around for 1963.  That’s when JFK was shot, riots sprang up all over the south about desegregating schools, Birmingham churches were bombed, and the Birmingham riots happened.  That’s the one you always see footage of when you’re looking at civil rights films: police called out the dogs on a peaceful protest (literally) and sprayed people with high power hoses, crushing them to death in a panicked crowd.

I don’t bring it up to pass the buck.  It’s just that sometimes I feel like there’s so much to do that it’s impossible to accomplish anything.  It feels hopeless that our current situation will ever get better, that race will ever be anything but deadly in this country.  It’s a bit helpful to know that, as bad as things are, it’s not rock bottom.  We’re making progress.  We can continue to make more.

The Dallas police were doing the right thing at that protest.  No one was wearing even a Kevlar vest, and they were walking with the protesting crowd, not positioning themselves as against it.  That, my friends, is a whole lot of progress.  It’s just sad that it had to end the way it did.

We only make progress by acting.  And, like it or not, we only make progress when the majority is convinced that things aren’t okay and need to be changed.  If you’re white, that puts the onus on you to stand with the black community.  Not to speak or advise, but to point a finger and say “this is important, listen to this.”

Blue Lives Matter?  Yes they do.  My post on what you can do to further gun control laws is here.  If mentally unstable people didn’t have easy access to weaponry, they couldn’t open-fire on crowds and target police.

Black Lives Matter?  Yes they really, really do.

First, you can read the BLM movement’s list of demands.  How best to help once you know what is needed?  Google your city council and your mayor.  Their names and email addresses should be easily accessible.  Write them that you want civilian oversight of police proceedings, and body cameras for everyone (if you don’t already have it – you should be able to check that on the web, too).

And I just want to point out one small thing in this whole debate that you can think about.  While I think we all support police and the courageous work they’re doing in our communities (for the most part), a blue uniform is something someone can take off.  A police officer can quit their job and/or dissolve back into regular society if they want to.  A black person cannot ever stop being black.

Alright, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Have a happier week, please.

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Another Shooting…


I’m late on the uptake, not because I haven’t been mourning with the nation but because I didn’t take my laptop on vacation, and it’s hard to write a long post with links from a cellphone.  So here we are… I’m not gonna say much about the tragedy. It’s already been said so much better than I ever could.  I am, however, going to offer you something you can do beyond posting support on Facebook and mourning the loss of these vibrant lives (and I want to be clear that I’m not mocking either approach – sometimes people desperately need to know you’re with them and that’s something valuable you can provide via Facebook).

But, more action is clearly needed.

At the bottom of my San Bernardino post is a handy guide on how to contact elected officials, including a template letter if you don’t want to spend the time crafting one of your own.  I recommend you don’t just stick with your congressperson… try House and Senate leadership as well, and your state representatives.  When I did this after the San Bernardino shooting, it took me about 1/2 hour to email everyone I could get an email address or online “contact” form for.   Time well spent.  https://caseykins.com/2015/12/03/upset-write-about-it/

Before you write, I also recommend this site: http://whoismyvoice.com/.  Put in your address and it will tell you if your elected representatives took campaign contributions from the NRA.  You can write them about that when you’re writing them about acting on gun control.

I also want to highly recommend Americans For Responsible Solutions, http://americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/.  It’s a non-profit founded by Gabby Giffords (the Congresswoman who was shot in the head in Arizona).  Both Gabby and her spouse Mark are gun owners and have been for their entire lives.  They’re working toward ending needless gun violence without taking away the rights of responsible Americans to own guns (mostly advocating closing  gun loopholes of all kinds and funding research into causes of gun violence so we can make smart laws/choices in the future).  Although they could probably use a few bucks if you can spare it, they also have a petition on their website that you can sign for free.

That’s all, folks.  I’ll be posting happier stuff later this week, but I just wanted to get this off my chest.  Your elected officials really do care what you have to say about a subject.  This and voting are the best ways you can exercise your rights in a democracy.

Besides, I find it helps me more to be doing something, however small, than to sit around and think about how much I wish this didn’t happen.


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Some Election Thoughts

I’m just gonna say that this is a warning that I’m writing about politics and not funny bookish/life/garden stuff.  If you don’t want to continue, that’s cool.


Am I alone in the fact that the election results on Tuesday sent me reeling?  I mean, we went from probably a contested Republican convention to no other candidates in the race in a period of 24 hours.  It doesn’t help that my worst nightmare has come true.

I’m feeling very torn about it all.  I’m a huge believer in the democratic process and, although I usually have a candidate that I like, I support everyone’s right to their own convictions.  I don’t usually care who you vote for, as long as you vote.  Cancel me out, that’s cool.  Majority wins, and that’s how it should be in this political system.

Except that we are now facing the fact that Donald Trump is the official head of the Republican party.  He’s bad in ways that I don’t think anyone fully understands, not even me.  It’s frightening to see the people he’s surrounding himself with, his blatant disregard of the American constitution, his hatred toward minorities and women, and his own personal behavior (including the one where he’s like “we had no idea that was happening so it’s obviously not our fault.” Really, Trump? You have no idea what’s happening in your own organization and you think running a country is something you can do?)

Alright, rant over.  That wasn’t the point of this whole thing, anyway.

The point is, I’m not sure what I should be doing right now.  That’s the real issue.  I don’t think I should be telling you who to vote for, and I don’t usually think that “vote for x because she’s better than Y” is a good argument.

I also believe that social media functions as an escapist space for a lot of people.  I value  that my Facebook feed is all literary puns, cat videos, and stupidity.

On the other side, I am a firm believer in the fact that a person who is silent in the face of tyranny is complicit in it. And I deeply believe that Donald Trump is attempting to usher in a regime of tyranny and intolerance. Which means that there is responsibility there.

So… stupid Facebook or political Facebook?  Tell you who to vote for, or don’t? Does choosing to be silent make me a silent supporter of racist bigotry and idiocy?  Does choosing to post all the awful things I find make me an angry, vitriolic person?

I don’t know.  I’m still figuring out what is a reasonable course of action in an unreasonable time.  I’ll let you know if I come to any conclusions.

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