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Unsolicited promotional for Bandcamp.com

Last Friday (Feb. 3), the music site Bandcamp.com (where my CDs live digitally) had a special event. For any purchase made, Bandcamp would donate their proceeds of the sale to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). During the event, they sold a million dollars worth of music, which was a 550% increase over their usual Friday sales. Bandcamp's share is approximately 12% of the proceeds of a sale, so that means the ACLU got a lotta money. Especially since around 400 acts donated their share of the take to the ACLU too. Here's their report on it.

None of the sales were of my music. I don't say this to make anyone feel bad. For a lot of reasons, I didn't expect to sell any more than usual, and usual has been nothing for a while. It would've been a good time for me to release a new recording, but that didn't happen. So I wasn't going to be a contributor to the effort that way.

So I bought stuff from Bandcamp. I spent about $50 on five different CDs, mostly from local folks. Bandcamp mostly sells downloads, if you're wondering, but they also sell CDs (with included downloads) if the artist has those, and other "merch" too. Once you buy, you can stream your purchases all you want. You can stream before buying, too, though only a few times.

I think Bandcamp is one of the most underrated music sites out there, to be honest. There's so much out there, and it's not flooded with mainstream pop stuff like all my other favorite sites from the past, like mp3.com and myspace before they fell apart.

It felt good to buy the CDs, not just for the ACLU angle, but this is the sort of purchase for myself that I tend to put off and never quite manage. That would be a shame, because now I have cool music I didn't have before. And I helped kick some bucks to an organization that I think will do us some good, too.

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Genealogical breakthrough

You may remember back in November I wrote about my great-grandfather Winslow, with two possible stories of how, where, and when he died (with slight additional variations) and my ever-thwarted attempts to find out what the real story was.

In mid-January, I managed to ensnare myself into a half-year subscription to Newspapers.com (via a one-week trial period that I kinda-sorta forgot to end). I had been poking around for him in Chicago, Detroit, and Port Huron newspapers there, striking out in general.

Yesterday, I did a really broad search for his last name, anywhere in Michigan, in the years 1890–1893. Lo and behold, results came up in a newspaper from a tiny town I had no expectation had ever had a newspaper. The first result was a paragraph that said he was bound for Chicago as a mate on the steam barge J.I. Case in April 1892. The second was a longer paragraph in June 1892, noting that he had passed away at home near Yale, Michigan, earlier in the week after three weeks of illness with typhoid fever.

I didn't know anyone could get giddy over typhoid fever, but I did. Well, ok, not exactly for that reason, of course. I was just really happy to have solved this mystery. I do not know where the case of typhoid fever was acquired; I'm not sure it matters, really. I just saved the two "clips" into my Ancestry.com page for Winslow, updated the death information, and smiled.

He left behind a wife, two sons, and a daughter; five months after his death, his third son was born. Curiously, none of them is mentioned in his death notice, just his father, the Civil War captain. The obit concludes "The family have the sympathy of all," which is a nice touch.

So... on to the next cold case.

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Dust clearing

Earlier this month, or more like late in December, there was a kerfuffle over LJ's data servers being moved from the U.S. to Russia, where the parent company is located. There are many business reasons why consolidating operations may be justified. I never saw any publication of these reasons, but I've been a rank-and-file member of a corporation long enough to know possible reasons (cost savings, economies of scale, yada yada). However, it happened at the time that many American users were also concerned about the outcome of our presidential election, and the president-elect's apparent ties to the president of Russia. As a result, a good number of LJ users fled for other ports.

It's been a week or two since I looked for any news. I actually never found any real news, to be honest. Most of the information came from users of LiveJournal or Dreamwidth, either their posts themselves or social media news outlets whose only sources were those posts. My searches covered the Russian English-language outlets I used in the past, but they had nothing.

I did not flee. I just ran out of time to say things. It would be a lie to say I didn't consider my options, but I came to the conclusion LJ is still (still!) where I see the best sense of community and the best platform to support it. Moving anywhere would require a lot of reaching out to try to get my friends to, not necessarily move with me, but at least look me up in my new home.

LJ being more wholly Russian doesn't concern me any more than it used to. I'm not Russian, and I'm not likely to say anything controversial that relates to Russia or its people (there's no audience for that, for me). If for some reason the situation deteriorates as far as censorship goes, it's likely to be caused by people in the U.S. and it will affect all hosts. I think we're far from that stage.

Now, if the technical situation deteriorates, as with the DDOS attacks on LJ several years ago when LJ was almost unusable for a few weeks ... well, that's why we have backups. I've been trying to back up my journal to a WordPress site. The only problem with THAT is, LJ's back-end seems to be unreachable by WordPress's import app. I don't know how long this has been going on, or whether it's linked to LJ's server move. Fortunately, I had a very spotty posting record in 2016 and I can manually copy entries from LJ to WP with little effort (particularly since I seem to like repetitive tasks like that). So that's just a little annoying, but not a major roadblock.

There's one other little technical glitch I just noticed, though. Former LJ user Altivo has been kindly allowing his Dreamwidth posts to mirror to LJ (at least, I think he could say no if he wanted). He posted on the 19th, and it just showed up in my friends timeline today. Why the delay? I suspect some sort of system glitch, and nothing on his part. That makes two back-end glitches, if I am guessing right (and I'm not an I.T. guy, especially not for LJ or WP or DW). It's a situation that bears monitoring, but not a lot of concern.

Anyway, here I am. I'm not gone yet. I hope you've all been fine.

So many books, so little time

I had a good time today spending money. I had my annual trip to the office supply store, getting new pens and a notepad and, finally, an accordion file for my receipts, which I couldn't find last year. I get more enjoyment out of new office supplies than the average person, I suspect. (My mother did, too.)

Then I went to Barnes & Noble, and while I only bought a coin book for the National Parks commemorative quarters, finally, and a new coin price book, I looked at a lot of fiction and poetry. It inspired me to come home and sort through all the books I've acquired in the last five to seven years. This is what it looks like now that I'm done:
Mess of books
Someone doesn't have enough bookshelves. Mind, I have not read all these books. I've read pathetically few of them, in fact. I like books, but I have an iffy relationship with reading books. In fact, I created a subcollection on LibraryThing for the books I've started and not finished. Y'know, because I wasn't feeling as overwhelmed as possible by my books already. Eight of them, and they aren't bad books at all, I just ... well ... I'm not too hung up on this completion thing, as a character said in a book I read long ago.

So I've thought to myself, "I should read more books this year," which is kinda funny because I've also said I should write more music and I should go back to the gym. I should go find that box of all the extra time I know I have around here somewhere. THAT would really be helpful. I'll let you know how that search goes.

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In 2017 I resolve to

1. Buy new socks.

2. No, seriously, we buy socks in big packages and then they all wear out at the same time. WTF??? I resolve to find out why.

3. To write an Amish spy thriller.
Hannah Bontrager leaves her daed's farm in Lancaster, PA on her rumschpringe and meets Luke Tober, special agent and Englischer (or so he appears), who gets her entangled in a web of intrigue involving a boppli trafficking ring in Bavaria. What will the ordnung say about all this? Will Hannah have to leave her community for good and join the CIA with Luke? And if so, will the CIA let her keep wearing her kapp?

4. To use one of the several small kitchen appliances I've received as gifts over the years but which are still in their boxes.

5. To start a business to adapt medical assistive devices for the kinky market, for example, develop a CPAP that uses a gas mask instead of the regular masks.

6. To use this handy chart next year to create resolutions:


7. To never speak of past unfulfilled resolutions again. Or these, for that matter.

More words to sweep into the garbage bin

We have reached that point in the year: Lake Superior State University has unleashed the 42nd annual List Of Banished Words into a post-truth world. As deadly as 2016 has been to both people and to hopes and dreams, it wasn't terribly kind to the English language either. "Post-truth" is in fact on the list, probably the most worthy entry in my opinion. (Don't normalize today's rhetoric by giving it a cute name!) There were a few I had never encountered before, like "831." But then I still use whole sentences when I send text messages. I would've liked to see "alt-right" on the list, because, again, don't normalize something bad by giving it a cute name. But maybe in 2017 I will nominate it for the 43rd annual list.

There are now around 850 words on the List of Banished Words, which has existed since January 1, 1976. I've used the list as my last LJ entry of a year for the last seven years, now. So click the link above to read the entire list, and find others by checking out my tag words. Then your night out ringing in the new year will be linguistically ... on fleek.

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First there was this:
Fouts wants state probe over landfill, Hackel calls mayor 'my stalker' (Detroit Free Press, 15 Dec 2016) Remember my post from a few weeks ago? Apparently things aren't settled yet. In the middle of this article, there is this quote: " 'I'll deal with my stalker,' [county executive Mark] Hackel said."

Then came this:
Hackel-Fouts battle gets uglier with 'secretly recorded' tape (Detroit Free Press, 16 Dec 2016)
The long-time mayor of Warren, Jim Fouts, is now alleged to have made disparaging remarks about disabled people (as a group) in private phone calls that were surreptitiously recorded and -- surprise! -- found their way into the hands of the county executive, who released them immediately to the media. According to one of the local TV news programs (out of the three mentioned in the story), the county executive got the tapes from someone inside Warren city hall, who has not been identified.

I got home from work this evening to find on my answering machine a recorded call. It started out with the audio from one of the tapes Fouts allegedly is on, and then someone encouraged me to go to the city council meeting tonight to protest. The identity of the person or group leaving my phone message was not identified.

According to the 11:00 news story on Channel 7, it was a pretty wild night at the city council meeting.

I'll say again that I'm no fan of the mayor. But the county executive is looking mighty fishy here. It looks as if he's obviously retalliating, whether the allegations are true or not. He has no legal role in anything Mayor Fouts said if it's shown to be true that he said it -- there's nothing criminal there. So why is he involved? Mind, both Fouts and Hackel are Democrats.

There's also this: Several local officials in the county have already been indicted or chased from office because of bribes or kickbacks to local sanitation contractors. The Fouts-Hackel feud is taking place with this backdrop.

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Sorry about my absence. And I don't really have much to say on my own. But I want to direct your attention to kishenehn's post this week, Making a Difference.... Another title could be "Be the change you want to see in the world." Even if the presidential election had turned out differently, so many organizations working on worthy causes are and will continue to be hamstrung by not having enough people to work on their efforts and issues. Money helps, but they need helping hands.

I'm bad at this aspect. There are so many things to work on in the world, in the country, in my home town. But I've been no help. I hate to drop a "should" on myself, but ... well, I have some thinking to do.

If you work for a company of moderate size or larger, you might want to see if they'll support your efforts with paid time off for you to work with a charity or other group.

Let the repudiation begin

"So why is HE depressed," you might ask...

Here's the biggest thing. Barack Obama is coming to the close of his presidency. He has been the most competent, intelligent, and smooth man to inhabit the Oval Office in my lifetime. There were accomplishments and seeds planted for the future, despite the best efforts of Congress. There were no scandals. (If you're thinking "What about Reagan?" I will counter "What about Iran-Contra?" No such thing with Obama.) There was worldwide respect, despite what naysayers said about alleged apologies. He put our friends at ease. There are still more of our soldiers overseas than there should be, I think, but aside from that I have no complaints.

There are a lot of people who disagree. Tens of millions of Americans, apparently. And they elected a man to the presidency who is pretty much the antithesis of Obama. Donald Trump has no respect for the dignity of women or the importance of facts or traditions. He says the first thing that pops into his head and bypasses all "quality checks" and controls. He clearly does not know enough people to staff his cabinet, because he's resorting to a cadre of rich people whose only qualification is that they're rich. He cultivates the respect of white supremacists even if he doesn't overtly encourage them.

And tens of millions of Americans think that's more OK than having an "other" in the White House.

You'll never get a better person in the White House than Barack Obama, America. And it's apparent now that you've blown the opportunity to truly become greater than you were.

I'm just surprised I don't drink twice as much as I do now.

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The End of the Month

It's the last day of November, so that means this must be the last NaBloPoMo entry. I posted on 28 out of 30 days, which is the best I've done since the first one I did in 2011. I did it on relatively few political posts, which you're probably happy about. To be honest, after the 8th they probably would've been all about "did you see what that man did/said today???" and that might have gotten repetitious.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed at least some of this stuff I've written. I liked the family history posts, myself. There were a lot of wordy posts this month. I could've saved some effort if I had a bigger backlog of YouTube videos to stick in here, maybe. ;-)

What comes next? I don't know. It's the holiday season. Everything in my life goes to pot in December. It's hard to know how much I'll write in LJ this month.

Thanks for coming along on the journey. Thanks especially to quickcasey for inspiring me undertake this madness.

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