Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On the Subject of Roller Derby, Neil Gaiman, and The Case of the Catastrophic Equipment Failure

Well, I am back home and on to my second attempt at this blog post... the first one went all Harry Houdini on me and escaped into the ether of my new tablet. One day I may find it lurking in there, but for now I have decided that a rewrite is in order...

What a weekend it was! There was a WHOLE lot of good with a sprinkling of bad (as I write this, the rain is hammering the metal roof of my porch and creating an overall roar in my ears). Some of the bad happened to be my back being lousy to me and enduring a four hour-or-so car ride didn't really help. I had to shift all around in order to get rid of general numbness, pain, and stabby sensations I was getting along the way and many stops were made just to get feeling back into my legs (Yes, yes... I am making an appointment in the morning...). I was invited along to my first ever derby bout in Eau Claire to watch the Chippewa Valley Roller Girls at their season opener and, being a fan of a hell of a good time, I said HELL to the YES. Saturday morning started out well, with plenty of scenic Wisconsin to check out on the way and because we arrived a bit too early to check in to the hotel we decided to drive around Eau Claire and take in the sights.

I'm not sure that I would call Eau Claire ugly so much as just not really making strides toward pretty. It's laid out much like my town in that it is spread all over the place, and pretends to be bigger than it actually is because of it. The downtown area was a bit strange because there's not really a main street that downtown consists of. You'd have a block of downtown on your right that would disappear and then reappear a couple of blocks ahead on the left. There were a couple of very lovely bridges in the downtown area that carried you over the Chippewa River which, unlike the bridge over the Rock River in my town, every bridge over this river seemed to be really high off the water. Maybe flooding is a big issue there? I suppose it's possible... It just seemed to me that not a lot of money has been spent on revitalizing any core part of the city, and I can definitely sympathize with that as it seems to be the same around my neck of the woods.

Sight-seeing done, we decided that it was time to check in the hotel a bit early, if possible. This is where my world got strange because things started looking painfully familiar... You know, the expression "painfully familiar" is a strange one. One is to assume that the pain is either coming from the current experience or the pain of the memory and for me it was the latter. As we are taking our left turn onto the byway I notice a familiar McDonald's. Silly right? Because almost all McDonald's look about the same when you think about it. This particular McDonald's (that sat right next to our hotel) had a Greyhound Bus Line sign out in front of it. That's where the painful memory comes in... This was the very same McDonald's that I spent stranded at for SEVEN AND A HALF HOURS. To make a long story incredibly short; I was on a bus trip to a journalism convention in winter a couple of years back when our bus' brake lines froze solid. (For those of you not familiar with Midwestern winters, first of all, you suck, and second of all, this kind of crap happens in Northernish Wisconsin all the time.) After three hours of attempted repairs, they exhausted all of their options except to call another bus in from Milwaukee. That's four and a half hours from Eau Claire, which led to the seven and a half hour strandification (I am going to go ahead and OWN that non-word). Needless to say, I flew my finger-bird high every time we passed the cursed place.

Thankfully we were able to check in early, but at the front desk I notice a sign regarding the pool (or non-pool, as was the case here). *DUE TO CATASTROPHIC EQUIPMENT FAILURE OUR POOL IS CLOSED INDEFINITELY. WE ARE SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.* Of course, I am left boggled as to what kind of catastrophic equipment event you can have in a pool (and eventually I did find out but that is for later) but didn't want to embarrass the people I was with by asking. I wanted to get a picture of the sign, but by the time I came back to do some serious investigative reporting on this supposed "catastrophic failure", the sign had been removed. Le sigh.

After checking in and dropping off our stuff, we decided that some food was in order before going to the bout location to help with setup. After a resounding NO to the McDonald's next door (I am giving them the finger right now in my head) we decided just to make a quick stop at the Taco Bell. Many of you have eaten at a Taco Bell so I don't really need to get into specifics about my food, but I did find it rather odd and strangely hilarious that this particular Taco Bell was playing hip-hop music over their PA system. I suppose I had been so used to the typical Kenny G coma I had been lulled into while eating that I never considered that there could be another way of eating in a restaurant.

We ended up at the Indoor Sports Center in Eau Claire where the bout was set to happen to help with general setup. There are a few things about setting up for roller derby that I didn't know; it requires a lot of Stuff. I would estimate that there were about 45 bins that needed carrying, 15 plastic folding banquet tables, 100 folding plastic chairs, and a 3M/ Duct tape wet dream of (and this is only a guess) about 137,632 rolls of tape. And it only took roughly 30 of us to get all the lines taped off on the floor.

The Harbor City Roller Dames practicing on our freshly taped floor.

The theme of the evening was "Will Skate For Brains" so Krix and I had fun making up Matt's face like a zombie, then she wanted only half of her face painted which of course, I shuddered the whole time I was painting for her. *shudder* Zombies. *shudder*

If you listen closely, you can almost hear a quip about to happen...

When Krix and I finished with our taping job, we went to set up our blanket in front of the announcer's table, but found that there was already a blanket there. As it turned out, Neil Gaiman was actually going to make it like he told me he was going to (which was why I brought the stained glass piece that was intended for him as a Yule gift last year that I was too darned nervous to send via post) and it was their blanket that was taking up our space so we settled with putting our blanket down next to theirs. Unfortunately it was addressed with me that there were some Rules about how to talk to Neil (or how NOT to talk to him, as the case may be) but I found out that according to Neil, those rules do not apply to me. In trying to obey the Rules, I sort of avoided contact with Neil even though he was two seats over until I felt a tug on my shirt and heard "OY! NAOMI! I have been talking to you for the last two minutes!" I explained that I was trying to respect him by not bothering him while he was here with friends and he told me to "stop being ridiculous" then shared some popcorn with me. I felt horrible for having ignored him like that, but was only trying to do as was asked of me. More on Neil later, because I want to talk about derby, which was what I was there for.

The Chippewa Valley Roller Girls were taking on the Harbor City Roller Dames at home for their season opener. This was my first ever derby bout, and even now I am extremely fuzzy on the rules. Watching the first few "jams" I started to understand how things worked a little better. There are something like five or six girls from each team out for each jam. One of each from the teams wear a stripe on their helmets and they set the pace for the "pack" (the blocker chicks), one from each team have stars on their helmets and they are known as "jammers". The jammers are the ones who score points for each team by breaking through the pack first and getting out ahead and around the pack as many times in a row as they can. I am pretty sure that when they do this five times in a row it is called a Grand Slam. The team's jammer who makes it out first is the lead jammer, and  the other team's jammer can still earn points, just not as many. Only the lead jammer can call off the jam. I know that this sounds like a really bad hair metal video but the bare shoulder blades rubbing in this show aren't so much rubbing as they are slamming into one another, knocking each other to the floor. Derby bouts are more metal than metal. I had more than a blast. CVRG's jammer, Stunt Double, was definitely one of the major stars of the evening. She was sliding in and out of the pack like a greased snake, taking being knocked to the ground like a boxing legend; She got back to her feet and kicked some asses. Some more of the skaters' names that I remember are Jenetic Defect, Devil Mama, Whoremione Granger, Hell'o Dolly, Pitbull Scarrier, and Calla Doctor (just to name a few). All in all, the first half was one of the most entertaining things I have ever watched.

Stunt Double goes so fast her feets are blurry!!

When half time rolled around, we were all ready to stretch our legs a bit so when we all stood up, Neil asked where his hug was and if he was chopped liver. How can I turn that down?! After one of the most snuggly hugs I have ever gotten, we chatted a bit more about a project that has yet to be fully announced yet and I decided to go get some air before the second half started back up.

After some SPECTACULAR moves by Stunt Double that brought the team up some fifty points, in the second to last jam, she took lead jammer and busted tail to try and get the points needed to scrape a win. With the crowd on their feet and roaring, Stunt did the best she could at scoring for the team but it was just not enough. The Chippewa Valley Roller Girls lost 115 to 202 but I have to say that it was a very well played, entertaining game by both teams and I would go and see derby again in an instant. In fact, there's a game coming up in February near my town that I will definitely be going to see.

After the game got over, I handed the stained glass over to Neil to open and he said he loved it. Then I was gifted with a three minute hug including being picked up off my feet, spun a little and a smacker on the cheek. I just friggin' love that man. Authoring amazing works and having the Midas touch aside, I feel extremely privileged to call Neil a friend. He is an extremely kind and caring man who would do just about anything within his power to help a friend.

This is the piece that now lives with Neil, which I have found out will most likely reside in The Tower. "She'd go down in my writing gazebo, but it was just winterised."

You'll never be chopped liver to me.

After a spectacular derby bout, a quick ride in Neil's car around the parking lot, and loading copious amounts of beer into vehicles for later use, we headed to the after-party. I was tired out pretty quickly on that, unfortunately, because I was having a blast talking derby with the girls. They all tried their best to convince me to join their team and move to Eau Claire (and believe me, I would love to!) and then settled on suggesting that I either try to start a team or join Beloit's girls. Before long we decided to head back to the hotel, and after our long and sad good byes we left the after-party. I had a mystery to solve that night, after all.

I had vowed that when we got back to the hotel I was going to get a picture of that sign because it had made me laugh so hard, but as I said before, it was gone... so I asked the girl behind the desk what had happened to the sign. She explained that they hadn't had a pool in over a year because of this "accident". She had taken it upon herself to tape off all the pool signs in the hotel because she said people would see the arrows to the pool, go back to their rooms and change into their swimsuits and then find out that due to some "catastrophe" there was no pool. "What constitutes as a 'catastrophic equipment failure'?" I ask. She explained that about a year ago, they found out that the thirty thousand dollar ventilation system they had installed in order to have a pool and hot tub were not up to the task of handling all the steam from the room and the ceilings in the hotel started coming down. Ummmm... yeah. I'd call that a "catastrophic equipment failure". Indeed. Well, we were feeling adventurous so Krix and I decided to go find the elusive pool room to see what we could see, but the windows had been painted over. We press our eyes to a tiny corner at the bottom of a pane and see that the pool is, in fact, still there but it is dark and empty. Our assumptions of a catastrophic zombie event happening in the pool dashed, we turn to head back to the room. Krix starts laughing hysterically and pointing as I tell her we have been spotted. The front desk girl rounded the corner to find us giggling and sneaking around looking for the pool. The sign Krix had pointed at was an arrow pointing us toward the pool... so like the smartass I am, I let the receptionist know that she missed one.

I would go into the very fun and friendly, grilling Mexicans I met that night, but the fact is that you are probably bored and this blog post is already insanely long.

Needless to say, it was a fantastical weekend, and thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who made it possible. You know who you are. You know what you did. Love to all and sweet dreams.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Balloongate 2011 or The Case of the Heart-Shaped Balloon

I think that the most ridiculous articles circulating the web and drawing the attention of Wisconsinites right now are the articles referring to knife wielding Department of Administration worker Ron Blair and heart-shaped balloon carrying citizen Leslie Amsterdam. It's a thrilling tale with knives, balloons, and mysterious blood on the stairs... or the most ridiculous thing you've read today in Wisconsin.

According to various articles and sources close to Leslie, she was enjoying a visit to the capitol while carrying a heart-shaped balloon when Ron Blair (in an attempt to pop her balloon) assaulted her and slashed her balloon with a knife he just happened to have lying around someplace. The mysterious blood on the stairs? Ron Blair insists that he injured himself on the stairs while others say he cut himself while wrestling with Leslie and her very dangerous balloon.

Why was the balloon dangerous? Not only do balloons tend to amuse small children, send sentiments of love and appreciation to people everywhere, but Ron Blair and the Department of Administration insist that balloons that are allowed to float to the capitol's dome also damage paintings by brushing up against them. I don't claim to be an art expert, but that seems a bit far-fetched. Annoying? Maybe. An eyesore? Probably. Damaging to paintings? Ummm...

According to eye witness, Jenna, "I was standing with Leslie when Ron approached out of nowhere. Ron rushed at the balloon and popped it and then darted down a back stairway. He did not say anything I could clearly hear, though he may have been mumbling. Leslie and I were on the 2nd floor of the Capitol and he ran down to the 1st floor. We followed close behind yelling at him and asking him why he popped the balloon." Jenna goes one to say, "He stopped at the 1st floor and turned. At this point we were very close, only a couple of feet away from Ron. Ron lunged at Leslie grabbing her wrists and throwing her into a bathroom door. The force of the lunge was enough to push Leslie into the bathroom and he also came in the room with her. At this point Leslie started to scream and call 'Help!'" (See the original, unabridged article here.)

So why is it my opinion that the whole thing is ridiculous when Leslie is more than likely very shaken up about the whole ordeal?

All that the media is focusing on is the balloon and the popping of the balloon. No one wants to talk about the fact that Leslie was not only assaulted by a man who popped her balloon with a knife he just so happened to have on him, but she was then physically assaulted by that same man. The media would like to focus on the silliness of it, when really it is very serious. No matter the extreme polarization of politics right now, we should not fear being assaulted when entering our capitol building. No matter which side of the issue you're on you should be able to feel safe in public facilities, and you should feel safe around public employees.

Do I understand that Ron Blair is probably stressed out due to the volume of people coming in and out of the capitol with what he probably thinks is blatant disregard for the upkeep? Sure. Does that warrant an attack on someone? No. That warrants taking a vacation before you snap and attack someone carrying a balloon... which is just what he'll be doing. According to nbc15.com "The state Department of Administration, which runs the Capitol and oversees the Capitol Police, issued a statement saying the worker was arrested on suspicion of endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon on Thursday. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne says he has to review the case before making a charging decision."

A net has been installed just above the fourth floor in the capitol to stop balloons floating to the dome and was fully in place when the capitol opened this morning.

Here's yet another dilemma for me.... the state had to pay to install this net just to stop people from releasing balloons inside the capitol. While I understand the need for reform in our state of bills just passed, it doesn't help to act like petulant children out for a giggle on the Department of Administration. I understand that the people who have been occupying the capitol are there to make a stand. Sing songs like you have been, carry signs like you have been, but try not to be a nuisance in ways that are not core to the cause. I am sure that some of the releasing was out of respect and solidarity with Leslie, but you only damage the cause making everyone else out to be spoiled brats. Just my two cents.

My best to Leslie. I am floating my imaginary heart shaped balloon for you today.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Eating Time or the Case of the Absent Blogger

I just realized that is has been a HELL OF A LONG TIME since I have posted anything here, and I figured that I should remedy that as soon as was humanly possible. I would like to say that my absence has been due to the overwhelming amount of writing I have been doing, but that would be a sad, sad lie. The truth is that the Bristol Renaissance Faire has me pretty exhausted during the week so I don't get a whole lot done except for routine house cleaning, and hanging out with my little girls. I am not saying that I don't love every tiny minute of it, but I really have been too busy to do much with writing.

The only bonus to not writing is all the planning I have been doing in my head, and all that gets done that way. I have written the book in my head, I just need to proceed with getting it out of there in a way that makes me feel like I have accomplished something. Also, Cherry has taken a bit of a turn and I am thinking that I would really like to see it as a graphic novel either first or at some point in the future. I would love to release it as both, but I am not sure that I have the funding for that. I am planning to get a Kickstarter going sometime in the future to pay an artist to work with me on the graphic portion, or on plates contained within the novel itself.

On the topic of the Ren Faire, there are a few characters I was sad to find did not return this year, and yet SO MANY more that I am glad to meet for the first time. My own character has changed this year into someone who is like how Bea Pollen was but MORE. Her name is Etcetera (Etcetera Etcetera Etcetera) LeStrange and she is the chastity belt keyholder for the Bristol Buskin Frolic. She is engaged to the Master of Mayhem (William Dudley the Undecided) and due to frequent theft of the chastity belt keys is found chasing them around Bristol all day. Some of the wondrous characters who did not return, Autumn (the Fae), the Fire Fae, Lady Tso, a few of the Badde Guys, the magnificent Bob Brinkman and half of BBF as well as others. New characters and people that are worth meeting; The Spanish Ambassador (or the SpanAm as we call him), the Vicar, the new fairies about the shire, and Kristin Mansour (the new big boss).

Though it makes me sad that so many could not or did not return to faire this year, I have come to realize that that is what a ren faire is really about. People leaving not only frees up space for fresh and talented actors and actresses, but it allows for some of those absent and wonderful people to start new ventures of their own. Autumn (the Fae) has done wonderful and magnificent things with The Suitcase Shakespeare Co , Josh Ballard has joined as an apprentice with Dirk and Guido playing Slab VanderHuge, just to name a couple. People are blossoming everywhere, and though I know it can't be easy to leave the faire behind they will always have a family there rooting them on. I know I will be.

In other news, I cried on a roller coaster earlier this week, like a wimpy little girl. But at least I stopped crying at the beginning of the ride, threw my arms into the air, and faced my fear with my eyes squeezed shut. Maybe (if there is a) next time, I'll peek once or twice.

Funny little bit of random, this is what people have been using on Google to search my blog. One of these things is not like the others.... (Also, I have written about all but one of these... can you guess which one?)
  • bristol renaissance faire 2011
  • mymindstain.blogspot.com
  • "inspiration point" "house on the rock"
  • alone octogon room reality show
  • does the word genitals include breast
  • hal sparks
  • haunted steps sounds
  • mind stain
  • picture of despair sandman
  • restaurants have the right to refuse service to disruptive patrons

Monday, May 9, 2011


Warm and well deserved congratulations to Nicole for winning the American Gods Audiobook Contest!! Can't wait to hear your reading!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

American Gods Audiobook Contest Leaderboard

For those of you paying any attention to the Neil Gaiman "American Gods" Audiobook contest (that I happen to be a contestant in) here's the leader board starting 4/17/11. I will try to update this list daily, if time permits.

*Updated 10:30am 4/19 I wouldn't complain if you guys threw me a sympathy vote now and again for my hard work... ;)
*Updated 5:45pm 4/19
*Updated 10:40am 4/20 (Removed anyone that wasn't at at least 75)
Updated 12:35pm 4/21 (Removed Honorable Mentions) With the list being as accurate as it has been, people can check that for their viewing pleasure. All people noted with "Congrats" made a leap of 100 votes or more since yesterday. Well done, guys! I will post a separate blog post at the end of the competition of Honorable Mentions. Good luck, everyone!

TOP 20
1) rpincus-525
2) joeysghost-516 Huge jump in votes from yesterday! Congrats!
3) mzaudiogrl-452
4) akoski-433 Huge jump in votes from yesterday! Congrats!
5) bradfromga-419
6) mormolyke-416 Another huge jump in votes! Congrats!
7) nicoconut-391
8) nhouser-376
9) natheyde-374 Congrats on a huge jump in votes!
10) emilyesse-370
11) goldenally-369
12) Bohanski-366
13) mt1848-358
14) cnovales-357
15) angel_VO- 350
16) skpeed101-347
17) Lbottom33-335
18) bigjerbear- 330

Thanks go to Aneel for coming up with an automated system! If for some reason I am not updating fast enough, you can check the list below (which contains ALL submissions and updates almost hourly) and if that list doesn't seem right, you can keep an eye on the numbers above. Because the list below is not a thinking person, it can be faulty, so I will keep manually updating as well. Thanks again Aneel!

*- No change as of latest update

**Disclaimer: I do not have any affiliation with this contest except that I am a contestant in it. This update is for personal use, and has been shared with the top 20 contestants. Any and all mistakes on here are mine, and numbers are subject to change during the updating process. This website does not determine the winners, and the numbers may not indicate the winners. 

Please report any broken links in the comments section.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

Because spring has finally sprung, so to speak, I am on to even more adventures than before. I have so many projects that I am working on now, and that's an exciting thing for me. Winter has always felt like a kind of stasis I find myself in, and Spring has always been the time that I renew and grow. Winter is reflection and Spring is rejuvenation.

As I did last year, I'll be joining the Bristol Buskin Frolic at the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wisconsin only this year I will be returning as the Assistant Director of the troupe. I am honored to be in this position because it's only my second year at the Faire, and I didn't have a lot of experience to begin with but I must have had something that they were looking for. I know there are better people for the job, there always are, but none can do it the way I can. I'd like to think that I bring a little something extra to the table, with my energy, my creativity, my excitement, and my laughter. This spring, I have sort of taken charge of the group while the Director gets his feet under him, but by the start of Faire I will be able to relax and just take on the role of Assistant. I know, I know... I really wanted to be a Fantastikal this year. And I did, it's just that the offer of Assistant Director came up and I thought I would be really foolish to turn it down. I can't imagine many people start their second year at a job like this one as a director, so I took the job. I am a bit sad, but at the same time excited about the task ahead of me. We'll also be performing May 14th and 15th at the Janesville Ren Faire if you have the chance to get out to it. The Bristol Faire begins July 9th and goes every weekend up to and including Labor Day. We're a rain or shine faire, and it is always worth a trip.

I have also been working on writing and editing, as per usual. Still working on the New Sun Project, editing for a good friend over at House Key Productions, and trying to find an illustrator for a children's book I'd like to write that I told to my daughter at bed time the other night. Still picking at Cherry from time to time, and writing lengthy informative emails to new cast members in my troupe. All in all, the writing and editing business, while unpaid at the moment, is very time consuming and fun.

I have recently submitted an entry for a role in the audiobook version of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. I recorded it on a crappy microphone but I am hoping that doesn't detract from the storytelling part of it. I only need to make it into the top 20 to be considered for a part, so I have fingers, eyes, and all applicable body parts crossed. Right now it's a bit of a popularity contest, so I have been begging off my friends to repost the link and a small bit of info to get more votes. If you'd like to help out, please attach the following link (and add the info if you can) to your favorite social media outlet and get the word out for me;

Please vote for Naomi Houser (nhouser) to give her a chance to win a role in Random House Publishing's Neil Gaiman Audio Contest. You may vote only once per day per person, and each vote must be a unique vote. (This means no logging in as four different users and voting from the same IP address, violators will be disqualified.) If you vote daily, you could help Naomi live her dream! Thanks to you in advance for your vote!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan

It's a typical Sunday afternoon for me, except it isn't typical. I have spent the last couple of days editing and writing for a project I am involved in that I would like to share with you all.

Wisconsin has surely been through what can only be known as a democracy mess as of late, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight for some time yet. Through all of this hustle and bustle, tragedy struck in the eastern hemisphere and devastated an entire nation. Unless you have been under a rock the last month, you already know what I am talking about; Japan.

I still had my concerns about the goings-on here in Wisconsin, I have donated time to the cause because it's all I have to donate, but I sat wondering what I could do to help Japan. I have no money, and the skills I have do not really translate into cash. That was, until my friend Solange told me about a project put together by Frankie Sachs called New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan. She said that they were still looking for submissions and volunteer editors on the project. Finally! Something I am good at that would be of help!

New Sun Rising is still (until the 11th of April) taking submissions in the form of photos, art, haiku, haibun, flash fiction, short stories and poems as a collaborative effort to help Japan in their time of need. All proceeds from the book (I believe it will be available in both e-book form and physical copy) will go to helping Japan. Maybe you're not a writer, artist or photographer... you can still help by spreading the word on this project to your friends and family who are, or you can buy a copy of the book and ask your friends to do the same. This project won't really get off the ground unless we have people to buy it, so any help you can offer is appreciated.

Now that I am doing something to help I don't feel powerless anymore. I know it's not the same as being out there with my protest sign and walking with my fellow Americans, but it's what I can do to help. I am not a wealthy person and I don't have a cell phone to text HELP to *90999* to the Red Cross (but you are welcome to). I am doing what I am good at, and using it to help.

If you would like to help in any way on this project, please visit the website www.booksthathelp.org for more information. Spread the word, spread the love.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Response Letter from Councilman Perrotto and My Response to Him

I was absolutely gobsmacked to receive a letter back from Frank Perrotto and in such short order. I will note that any and all grammatical and spelling issues are his own. I copied this straight from the email. Following his letter is my response.

Dear Naomi

Thank you for your E mail.

It is quit obvious that you have strong opinions about my behavior and those of Yuri Rashkin. I respect your right to voice your opinion, If you believe Yuri's actions are appropriate and mine are not then so be it. I am not going to even try to respond to your allegations.

I will say that, like Yuri ,I am entitled to my own poltical opinions and biases. However I will never use my position as a Councilman to  express them.

I do agree on one point that if I am lucky enough to get reelected I will thank those citizens who believed in the work I did in the last two  years and thank them for their support.

I wish you well.

Frank Perrotto

Dear Mr. Perrotto,

Thanks for a response. That is more than I get from anyone I have sent a letter to, so for that I give you credit. Though I did get a really nice mass response from Joe Knilans who at the the end asked for MY solutions to the budget. I told him that I had several and would love to have a sit down chat with him and now suddenly he thinks I am a big fan and his office sends me emails about what Joe Knilans is up to. An actual response is better than something you send out to everyone, that is for sure.

To be honest, I really wouldn't have cared what you had decided to do, and how you decided to do it until you sent that email to Yuri. The fact of the matter is that up until only a few weeks ago, I had no idea really who any of my city council members were, my representative, my senator, none of them. For that I am a bit ashamed but I must tell you that I am far more aware of things as of mid-February. I am on a first name basis with many reps and councilpersons and I am active in a political way. I may be a bit late in the game, but I am a fierce voice when I find something I am passionate about.

I think that the feeling of attack in your email is what soured me. As you say, you are entitled to your political opinions and biases. I celebrate that they are different than mine and all, because it is your right. I would fight to the death to protect that right, and I would expect the same from you. That fact is that your night was made very easy. You didn't have a need to exercise your rights to political opinion because the man you support was in that room. Had the tables been turned, can you say that you would not have done the same? I am not trying to be petty. I want you to really consider that question. I don't need an answer about that. I just want the question out there for your consideration.

In my opinion, Yuri was not using his position as Councilman to express his bias. Maybe you could clarify something for me... were you and Yuri there in a political capacity as representatives of the City Council? If so, then maybe there's a different story here but that still does not warrant an attack on him via an email claiming that "not even he could be that stupid", as if it were implied that he already is stupid, but is now sinking to an all time low.

I really want to believe in your words; that you really think that a certain degree is "too far" when cutting the budget. That public service workers are important, that safety is important. I want to believe that you really care for your constituents the way that I feel a councilman or representative of the people should. I understand there are some Walker supporters in Janesville, but what does the MAJORITY say? What will the majority say when it matters in January, and will you stand with your people or will you make it your mission to put a stop to the people's voice such as you did when you said you didn't want a letter from the people of Janesville sent to Governor Walker?

I know being a councilperson is supposed to be non-partisan, but right now, there really is no such stance. People are wondering and your fellow citizens of Janesville want to know. Will you be our voice? Will you take our message to the capitol even if you don't like it?

You got to make the easy choice at Forward Janesville. Yuri did not. He did what he felt he had to do. Perhaps you will want to take greater care in the future to think out what you intend to say so as to avoid attention like this in the future.

Naomi Houser

An Open Letter to the Republican Party of Dane County

This is a response to this post made today by the Republican Party of Dane County:

To whom it may concern at the Republican Party of Dane County,

Since I refused to be limited to 500 characters, I decided to write you directly so that I may be not only succinct, but also concise. It's possible that others are able to rattle off a nasty message rife with curse words in that small an amount, but that isn't my intention.

Your snide and repulsive remarks show very clearly what you are all about. The sarcasm is not lost on those targeted, and you really do yourself a disservice by believing that anyone with more than a couple of warm brain cells to rub together would support what you have said regarding the Left. I know that you are used to being known as the Grand 'Ole Party, but you are fast becoming known for being more Gutless than Grand. Your views are archaic and outworn, so that 'Ole remains 'Ole. Your Party is less a party and more a gathering of a few people who use tunnel access to escape scorn to get to the party, or using 34,000 worth of air travel to go from town to town to insist on how "broke" we are.

The way your party is attempting to pass this bill IS NOT Constitutional. This bill DOES NOT increase worker rights. And this isn't about balancing budgets to save from firing workers. The people of Wisconsin are not blind. If it was about balancing budgets, Emperor Walker would have taken the money and benefits when they were offered. No. This isn't about balancing a budget and we are all aware of that. Stop trying to pretend it is.

You claim that the Left are elitist. If requiring having more than those two warm brain cells to rub together to be in a political position is elitist, then color me Elitist. I demand a certain amount of intelligence and decorum from the Party I elect.

You lump an entire party into one giant generalization instead of treating things a singular events, and it's despicable. Never in my life have I ever vandalized public property or keyed a car. I have never been to a garden party. The people who have done the things that you claim should be ashamed of themselves, but they are few and the peaceful out on the streets protesting are many, many more. I have always said that no matter where you go, if there's a large crowd and you throw a rock you are bound to hit an idiot. If we all decided to generalize the Right the same way that you have generalized the Left then we are left to think that you are all gun-toting hicks with a hard-on for hate. We would be forced to believe that you loathe the rights of women, you think that Jesus should be it's own subject in school, that the corporate class loves us all, and that gays are the reason we have earthquakes. Not a very nice picture is it? I am sure you have select constituents that you roll your eyes at when they show up at protests. People who you shudder about when they are spoken of in the news. Come on, we both do. If you want to pretend to stand on principle, maybe that principle should be to grow up. If you pretend to stand on logic, it should be logical for you to understand that whoever wrote your "apology letter" to Sumi should be fired.

I am not a citizen of Dane County, and definitely not of the Republican Party but if I claimed to be either I would be ashamed of you.

Naomi Houser

Open Letter to Janesville Councilman Frank Perrotto

Dear Mr. Perrotto,
I read your email to Yuri Rashkin today and it made me want to spit fire. I am going to share that email here so that everyone else can read it as well, because, let's be honest... it's a pretty funny email when you consider certain things that I will share following that email.

"Councilman Yuri

I went to your web site and I was appalled.

How dare you conduct yourself, as representative of this Council, by continuing to flaunt your partisan ideologies.

You walk out before the Governor gave his speech as a form of protest. You are disgrace to this council.
You claim you are representing the people. That is nonsense! What about all the people of Janesville who support the Governor.  How are you representing them with this despicable behavior?

You should publicly apologize to the citizens of Janesville for your behavior!
Moreover you should repay the city for the cost of the taxpayers dollars that were use to send you to this dinner.

I heard you even joined the protestors after you left....Not even you would be that stupid!

Your actions on the steps of the Courthouse were outrageous. You used your position as a City Councilman to speak against the republicans actions concerning the budget.  All under the guise that you represent and speak for the people of Janesville...NONSENSE. You jeopardized the city , its citizens and this council. We need to work with both sides of the legisative body in Madison . Not just your Democrat brothers and sisters.  What were you thinking?

Maybe it's time for you to reassess why you are on the City Council"

So let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Yuri "flaunts his partisan ideologies" by walking out on Governor Walker. Not only that but you call him "stupid" for doing so. Ah. I see. So your website flaunting the GOP is not partisanship at all? Hm. I am sure you sent that email as one who is "dependant on a spirit of cooperation and partnership". I am sure that you had "our cultural and educational advances" in mind when you stood in ovation for what Walker stands to cut with his budget bill.You call Yuri out for his partisanship by standing among the citizens of the city he represents. What does your clapping for Governor Walker represent? By your logic, the best thing for BOTH of you to have done to not show partisanship would have been to not show up at all.

You call Yuri a "disgrace" to the Council. I will tell you what is a "disgrace" to the Council. A councilman without the backbone to stand up for the rights of the citizens he represents. More than a thousand men and women standing outside waiting for someone, ANYONE, to take a stand with them. You are someone who would rather enjoy a nice dinner among the elite than to freeze with your constituents. We remember, sir. We are democracy and we remember.

"What about the people of Janesville who support the Governor." What about your cry for non-partisanship? Yuri wasn't speaking on behalf of Janesville. He was speaking for himself. What voice did you use? The same one that says, "there is just so much budget cutting you can do before it affects public service and safety"? I think not. You stand and clap in ovation for a man who slices at my daughters' educations. At MY education. Your community's teachers are public service workers and you stand and clap for a man that takes away their rights to bargain for safer classrooms for my kids. Your public service men and women are out among those protesters shouting to be heard by someone who claims to not want to cut so far into them, and you attack a man that WILL stand with them? With me? What about the people who suffer by your silence? What about them?

You would like to see Yuri pay for the dinner he ate on taxpayer dollars. I had no idea that my tax dollars were being used to pay for YOUR dinner as well. I would like that money back please. That money should be going to our schools. To our roads. Your ilk call us freeloaders. Who is the freeloader now? I would gladly get together the money to pay thrice over what his meal cost, so long as you agree to pay yours back as well. Fair is fair after all.

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING IN SENDING THIS EMAIL?! I think that perhaps you should reassess whether you will be reelected this year. GOP is a pretty scary banner to fall under these days. You will not be receiving my vote this April, and I will be making it my sole mission in the upcoming days to spread your words. If you do manage to scrape together the votes you need for reelection I hope you remember where those votes come from and consider yourself lucky to have them.

I'll be expecting a response and YOUR public apology in the days to come.

Naomi Houser
Resident of the City of Janesville

Backward Walker in Forward Janesville

Solidarity flag waves at the Janesville Protest of Scott Walker. Photo by Craig Gibeaut
I would have posted this last night but since I was among the very last of the people to go home, I was too exhausted to put words together in a coherent fashion. My throat is pretty much still thrashed, my feet and back are sore from at least five hours of standing, but to be honest it's the best kind of sore to be in my opinion. I wouldn't trade these minor inconveniences for the world.

While many people were in Madison's Rotundaville exercising their First Amendment Right to Free Speech, we were in Janesville fighting a different fight. After weeks of dwindling numbers, thanks to the citations given to Jeremy Ryan of Defending Wisconsin PAC and Dane County Supervisor Melissa Sargent for refusal to remove protest signs from the first floor of the Capitol Building (Melissa was cited when her children refused to remove their sign) (see that video here) the Capitol is filling once again. Despite citations given to protesters over the last week for violating Department of Administration code, the Capitol Police did not issue a single citation to the protesters in the building yesterday. Here is a picture of that turn out.

Protesters at the Capitol Building carry signs and wear shirts to defend their First Amendment Right to Free Speech. Photo by Michael Dee.

I think that the best part of being in Janesville last night was the turn out. I was surprised only because when I went to the Holiday Inn in 2004 to protest President George Bush's speech about Education, the crowd was not this large. People from all over Wisconsin descended on the Forward Janesville event in order to protest Scott Walker. A head count at about 5:00 pm came out to somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 people, while the Janesville Gazette estimates around 800 and later changes the number to "over 1000". According to Mike Southers, a Janesville resident and one of the creators of the event, "I arrived at 3:45 PM, and at 5:00 PM, I walked from one end of the rally to the other counting heads and counted 1,532 (no, I didn't count babies being carried or in strollers)." Parking spaces at four pm were at a premium (I walked almost a mile from my car to the event) so many people were just driving by, hanging or waving signs out of their cars and honking their horns in support.


There were crowds of protesters gathered in groups around each of the entrances to the Holiday Inn parking lot. Chants were different from group to group but one thing is certain, all of those gathered would like to see Scott Walker recalled and most if not all plan to vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg on the 5th of April.

Protesters near the Batteries Plus entrance to the Holiday Inn. Photo by Merry Evans
Another picture by the Batteries Plus entrance. Photo by Julee Seeman
Protesters line the street from the stop sign at the corner all the way to the last Holiday Inn entrance.
The crowd that stayed at the entrance that all the guests arrived at. Police were checking each vehicle for tickets to get inside the building.
Guests of the Forward Janesville event were arriving up until around 6:30 pm when the protesters outside started to dwindle due to the temperature drop but many waited to see when Governor Walker would arrive. Due to Walker running late, guests inside were running out of things to say at the microphone so Theresa Carroll got up and sang the Star Spangled Banner (see the video here). A friend of mine who was at the event (and wished to remain anonymous) took a picture at around 7 pm of the guests that had been near the Batteries Plus entrance who stayed to make their message heard. From what I understand, they had been farther back, but Attorney Tod Daniels of Janesville argued that the line the police had drawn was still keeping them from public property so a new line was created to allow the protesters closer access while remaining on public property. Here is that group.

Photo from inside the Holiday Inn. Photo by Anonymous.
When Walker finally arrived (at the farthest parking lot entrance with the fewest people at it... coward) to speak, Janesville City Councilperson Yuri Rashkin decided to make a stand and walked out to join the protesters outside. If you would like to know why he walked out, I think he said it best on the Defend Wisconsin Blog.  (UPDATE!) Yuri Rashkin received and email from fellow Councilmember Frank Perroto (running for re-elect April 5th) stating that he should "apologize to the citizens of Janesville" for his behavior. Read the whole email here.

From what I understand, the representatives from Dean Care also walked out but they did not join the group of protesters that I was standing with, and because I can't find confirmation of this anywhere, it remains hearsay until further notice. 

My friend inside the building said that the main theme of the event was about improving the business climate in Janesville. He reports, "The whole event was geared around supporting the Forward Janesville and Rock County 5.0 initiatives, which are basically to attract businesses to relocate to the area. There were a few protester jokes by the first couple speakers, but nothing nasty. None of the event was about unions or the budget repair bill." He also sad that there had been rumors that a few protesters had gotten rooms at the hotel and had planned to pull fire alarms when the event started, but that nothing ever came of it. He said that the hotel had posted signs on the fire alarms to alert hotel guests that the fire alarms were being video taped. According to him, Walker also gave props to Senator Tim Cullen. I assume this is an attempt to bridge the gap between the parties, but who really knows the motive for it but Walker. Perhaps I should give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he really meant it.

My friend went on to report, "Once the Governor began to speak, he acknowledged the representatives from the area and gave them accolades for their bipartisan support on most of the initiatives that have been passed since the inauguration. This was the only reference made towards the budget repair bill. He mentioned how supportive Tim Cullen was more than once, obviously trying to bridge the gap. The meat of the content was on how the Governor has a plan to attract business to the state, supplying jobs and increasing revenue by doing so. One thing that I found surprising that I did not know, and that the media has not reported, is that Moody's has raised the states bond rating due to the fiscal policies that have so far been implemented, We are now one of the few states with a positive bond rating. Not only does this lower the interest rates the state pays on it's municipal bonds, but it sends the message to the business community that Wisconsin is one of the few states with a stable financial future." I suppose that you can take from that what you'd like, but I am very thankful to have had someone on the inside who is intelligent and can report on events well.

Okay, so I have some gripes about the event (and I wouldn't be me if I didn't). 

Firstly, I really didn't like the protesters chanting "Shame!" at the guests arriving at the event. For their part (well, for some of them at least), they have no political ties to Walker, and they were only there representing their businesses. (This is why my source inside decided to remain anonymous.) That's not to say that some of them weren't there in full support, but they are entitled to that opinion even if I disagree with it. I did, however, yell "Shame!" at the few guests who gave us the middle finger or shouted at us from their vehicles. There's no need to give me the finger, I didn't do anything to you. I don't think that this event should spark a boycott on Janesville businesses, that they should feel shame for attending. It was taking our business elsewhere that got Janesville into the crisis it's in now. The guests arriving in their shiny Range Rovers, Escalades, and Humvee's make me sick (that is not an exaggeration, they really did have those vehicles) only because they don't appear to understand the day to day struggle that the rest of us have to make just to get gas into our piece of crap cars. Maybe they think that the tinted windows hide them from the outside world, that if the tint is dark enough they don't have to look at what is right there for them to see. 

Secondly, I feel like more people should have walked out on Walker. I would have. Vivian from the Defend Wisconsin wrote a wonderful piece pleading with guests of the event to get up and walk out on Walker titled, "Dear Heroes at Forward Janesville". I agree with so much of what she said, but what she left out was that the decision wasn't going to be an easy one for some people. Also, there were people who loathe Scott Walker who stayed merely to shame him by remaining seated and not clapping. That was their choice. I don't agree with the people who decided to stay, but that's only my opinion. Each person must decide how much they are willing to do for their part in this, and force from our side isn't going to help matters. Yelling "Shame!" at them only makes US look bad. Why should they turn on a crowd of 700 who welcomed them to an event with drinks and dinner for 1500 who welcomed them with chants of "Shame!" We need to remember that some of these businesses support us, that they only stayed so they didn't have to make life harder for themselves among the business community. Again, I don't agree with that, but it's not my decision to make. We could all take a walk in their shoes, but then we'd be a mile away in ill-fitting shoes. What we need to have instead of ill-fitting shoes is perspective, and not just our own. 

As the event came to a close, protesters were down in the single digits and I was among the few standing at the barricade waving them off. I thanked them for attending. I thanked them for supporting the man responsible for the rape of my Badgercare. I thanked them for supporting the man responsible for my climbing school loans, the cut to my Pell grants, the cut to my daughters' educations... it's not their fault, I know. They didn't do it. They didn't walk out either. 

Thank you to my fellow Wisconsinites (both present and former) for coming out last night. We are all democracy in action and what we do matters... even if that means supporting the other side of the aisle. 

For more photos, please click here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

An Apology and Some Random Thoughts

I'll start off by saying that I'm sorry I haven't been on here daily to moderate comments. They all get published, whether I like them or agree with them, I am just slow to get them on here at times. I took a step back from politics for a while because it was beginning to consume everything I was doing in my life, and adding stress that I had no control over. It has also taken over a part of my energy that I really would like to use to continue on with the novel I am working on (for those interested in reading about my experiences with writing a first novel please see my other blog). It's not that I have lost passion or fire for what is happening, but I took a much needed break and even went on (and I am planning) some indulgent adventures.

Last weekend instead of protesting I went to C2E2 in Chicago, Illinois to cater to my inner (well, not-so-inner) geek. I met some amazing people, including Jill Thompson and a publisher interested in my novel, as well as got to see Patton Oswalt live for the first time. As expected, he killed it. Here's a short video from the show, in case you're interested.

This weekend I am planning to walk through the House on the Rock for the 20th time. Here's a little random snippet I wrote today while pondering...

I have The House to look forward to in a couple of days. That is my center. That place tilts and shifts my perceptions on things and I can breathe in that chaos. The jangling music and the eerie ambiance... it makes me feel like I am walking through a tangible part of my psyche. I understand those bends in the path. I understand that demon's open maw inviting me into a new chamber. I understand the Calliope and the Carnival of life that invites us to spin just one more time. I understand that sometimes you have to walk to the end of Infinity and look down. You have to see the magic that comes from seeing what is solid below you and taking that away with you when you walk back. You have to see that wandering in circles and twisting and turning in on yourself really is the path that life takes. Sometimes you are standing above the place you were standing before. Sometimes you stop to watch things spin or play themselves out. Sometimes you stop and have your fortune told. And sometimes you walk out, squinting, into the light of day and you are thankful for the journey. Foot sore and thirsty, you climb a winding walkway and you are back to where you started. That's just life sometimes. That's MY life sometimes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Letter to State Senator Tim Cullen

I am going to be honest with you, I thought at first that this article HAD to be a hoax. Why would one of the Heroic 14 all of a sudden switch sides like this? After some light digging, I found article after article stating the same thing. I am not sure what the tactic is here, but I decided to write to Senator Cullen to let him know my feelings on the matter, being that I live in his district and that I feel slightly as if I have been stabbed in the back. No, this might not be some sort of compelling article, but it is definitely filled with emotion, and I do emotion very well. Here is my letter to the Senator;

Dear Senator Cullen and/or aide reading this email,
I have called your office so many times in the last few weeks to show my support for you, and the 14 Senators' decisions to leave the state and deny a quorum. I have spoken most often with ...Barb (she is informative and helpful, and kept her cool when I am sure that things were chaotic for her at the office) and talked with her about how my trust and respect for politicians has grown since this all started. I showed my support for you when you left because you were doing what was right. Now I feel as though you are throwing that support right back in my face because the tactic wasn't successful.

Your venture to Illinois gave your constituents time to reveal all that was in the bill. You gave us time and steam to bring about the recall efforts, and the peaceful protests, and the bringing to light of so many things. It sparked a movement unseen before. It brought tears to my eyes to be around the energy at the capitol and share democracy with my fellow man, but now that feels slightly tainted if I am to believe by the several articles I am reading that perhaps your heart wasn't in it.

I don't feel as though denying quorum should be or will become commonplace for solving problems in the future. You have to admit, though, that the behavior from the right has been shameful and filthy tactics to ram a bill through. You and your fellow Senators didn't run and hide. It was a game of hide and seek for your constituents, sir. You hid so we could seek the truth. There's no shame in that.

I agree, an olive branch now would make some difference, but the people you are trying to "make nice" with have little to no respect for the democratic process, your constituents, or the law. You broke no law, just as Lincoln broke no law.

Please do not do this, if "this" is what I think you are doing. It makes me feel as though you liked my support when you thought you needed it, but now that you don't, you want to go back on what you did for us. I really don't want to believe that this is true, sir. Please, find another way to make peace with your fellows across the aisle. Do not throw back the support we have given you in our faces.

I hope I am merely understanding and that there is more to all of this than meets the eye.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I would call, but it would be a lot for poor Barb to try and shorthand. Please, allow me to continue to show you my support.

Yours respectfully,
Naomi Houser

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Schoolhouse Rock Lied to Me

It's so hard to sort out what I am feeling emotionally. This post isn't about political right or left, it's about feelings. Emotions. Every time I see, "Quit crying" or "Quit whining", it makes me sick. Who WOULDN'T be crying at a time like this?! Those who feel like this passing was the right thing to do, sure. But WHY do they think it was right?

I remember when I was in the sixth grade, my teacher turned the lights off in the classroom; it was movie time. Sure, the subject was one of my least favorites, but who doesn't love a good movie, right? As a happy tune fills my ears, I rest my head on my arms and watch. Schoolhouse Rock was going to teach me something; How a Bill Becomes a Law. Does anyone else remember that video?

The picture of a capitol comes into view with a happy little jingle. The American Flag waves in the middle of the frame. Sitting on the steps is a "Sad little scrap of paper". Remember him? He was only a bill, sitting there on capitol hill... waiting to be passed. Remember he says that it's a long, long journey to the capital?

A bill that was introduced one day by our state legislature; 144 pages of union busting, environment killing, power plant selling, and a death warrant for the middle class. This sad little bundle of 144 "scraps of paper" was rammed into legislature and was expected to pass just TWO DAYS after it was introduced. So much for that long, long journey.

It was supposed to be a long, long wait while he was sitting in Committee.

Tonight that bill passed the Senate Republicans in FIVE MINUTES. Closed-door session. No public attendance. The Senate Minority Leader wasn't even allowed to speak on how the actions of the Senate were illegal. Five minutes. The average person can't even run a mile in that span of time. It takes me longer than that to finish a cigarette. But in the Wisconsin Senate it takes five minutes to ram a bill through AND attempt to destroy an entire class of citizens.

This bill started as an idea. Just like our sad little scrap of paper in the video.

You know what else started out as an idea? Democracy. Now, I give you an example of a good idea, because I want you to think about HOW LONG IT TOOK to get to where we are now. Democracy wasn't just wished into being in five minutes. Democracy was not just something one person decided was right for everyone. Now a bad idea; Drunk Driving. The similarity between drunk driving as a bad idea and this bill is that they effect more than just the person who had the idea to get behind the wheel. The difference? Drunk drivers are impaired in their decision making. Scott Walker (though I sense a serious bunch of deficiencies) is not. He is doing this without the benefit of blame on alcohol.

That little bill says he is going to wait while Congressmen discuss and debate.

There was no debating here. There was no give and take. This was a Republicans idea of a field day on the Democrats because they were outnumbered. No one on the Republican side even NEEDED to listen, because they held the majority. Few took the time to grace the Democrats arguments about it with a counterpoint. They decided that after a session lasting sixty hours already, they were done listening. They were done listening to the people. They were done listening to the elected officials. They didn't even wait that first time for all of the committee members to be seated and in the room for voting when they read roll call for that first vote. Shame.

Once the bill is passed in the House it goes on to the Senate.

Or that is how it should be, right? Because the House and Senate are both very Republican, they figure that they are just going to ram it straight through to the Governor and that everything will go off without a hitch. Wrong. See, that bill requires a Quorum. That means that  a party of 20 Senate members is required to vote on it. There are 19 Republicans and 14 Democrats in the State Senate. What is a Democrat to do? All fourteen Democratic men and women make like Abraham Lincoln, and deny the right their Quorum. They flee, not in terror, not in unwillingness to do their jobs, but in an attempt to save the middle class from being railroaded by a 144 page bill that should have been debated upon for far longer than the Republicans wished to spend on it. They heed the cries of their constituents and remain safely across state lines. This is not how a bill is supposed to be passed. But you have to admit, that was pretty genius of them. I count myself among the proud.

The bill waits in line with a lot of other bills.

This one takes precedence. No other agenda is as important to Scott Walker as this one. There is no line. Only Democrat defeat. All that prevents this bill, this union busting and atrocious bill, are those Senators across state lines.We all know what comes next;

If the President (or in this case, Governor) signs this bill it becomes LAW. According to the video, it's not easy to become a law.

Unless of course, you have a Republican House, Senate, and Governor... and they have their sights set on your unions. No amendments, because the Democrats do not have a loud enough voice. Nothing. Nothing except the 14 Senators, and the people of Wisconsin.

When the lights came up and my eyes adjusted, there was no way I could have foreseen the times we face now. There was no way that I could know that after years of service, a family member could lose their job because someone younger could get paid less to do it. No way that I could have known that it would devastate and undermine my daughters' educations. That they would not sit second chair in the orchestra as I did. That they would not paint their frustrations on a canvas as I did. That their schools may not have the funding should they find themselves unable to read due to dyslexia, unable to learn because of a disability, unable to attend because I found myself suddenly out of work and unable to afford to pay for their schooling. I never saw, in the brightness and blur after that film, myself standing with thousands of others, begging to be heard by our legislators. I never imagined that I would have to defend my power plant against tyrants. Never thought I would hear my Governor shaming himself in a prank phone call, admitting to thinking about sending trouble-makers into the crowds where my children and I were peacefully assembled. Where my family stood together to defend the rights of OUR parents.

So, hell yes I am sad. I am sad that I was disillusioned by a candy-coated version of Democracy in my youth. Schoolhouse Rock needs a new video as a sequel to "How a Bill Becomes a Law". It should be entitled, "How a Bill Gets Rammed Through and Becomes a Law" followed directly after by, "How Your Government Shames Itself", followed finally with, "How To Break Democracy".

I don't ask you to agree with me. I don't ask you to stand with my family, with my friends, with me. I do ask that you DEMAND better of your Representatives. I DEMAND that you ask for transparency. For Fairness. For our representatives to listen to the PEOPLE.  This country is OUR country; by the people, FOR THE PEOPLE. Not for tax breaks. Not for unions. Not AGAINST unions. FOR US. It is time that we write a new song.

My best to you all, and please share this if you like.

Friday, March 4, 2011

And Your Little Dog Too...

It seems as though every time someone reads through this budget bill, another horrific thing is uncovered and that one worse than the last. I am not exactly sure exactly how Walker intends to save our budget with THIS little gem, but I would like to share with you some of the bill that I think make you as sick as it made me. I'll post what I understand of it afterward, and if I am misinformed or I am misreading the language, feel free to correct me.

(VIA Penny Smith on FB who has a lovely picture of a penny as her profile pic) 
This is not part of the Budget Repair Bill. It's in the 'new' budget for a slight modification - Adding UW-Madison as a separate entity from the UW System. This provision is already in the statutes.

SECTION 2704. 174.13 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:

174.13 (2) Any officer or pound which has custody of an unclaimed dog may release the dog to the University of Wisconsin System, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Inc., or to any other educational institution of higher learning chartered under the laws of the state and accredited to the University of Wisconsin System or University of Wisconsin–Madison, upon requisition by the institution. The requisition shall be in writing, shall bear the signature of an authorized agent, and shall state that the dog is requisitioned for scientific or educational purposes. If a requisition is made for a greater number of dogs than is available at a given time, the officer or pound may supply those immediately available and may withhold from other disposition all unclaimed dogs coming into the officer’s or pound’s custody until the requisition is fully discharged, excluding impounded dogs as to which ownership is established within a reasonable period. A dog left by its owner for disposition is not considered an unclaimed dog under this section. If operated by a county, city, village or town, the officer or pound is entitled to the payment of $1 for each dog requisitioned.

Let me start by saying that I am not opposed to using animal cadavers for scientific research. I worked at a Humane Society, and when feral cats or those too sick to live were euthanized, their bodies were frozen and then later sold to various places for scientific purposes. These were all held for the required ten day period, and none were claimed, but I stress that they were feral or sick.

Let me explain what I can gather from this;

Firstly, it says that any officer or pound may release the dog to the system. You may be wondering why it says "Officer" specifically. Not all townships use humane societies or shelters for holding purposes. They would rather hold the dogs themselves than pay the cost to a shelter to hold the dog. Why is this a problem? Not all police officers call shelters when they have picked up a dog to give its description, and not all owners know that the pounds aren't involved in picking up their dog so they don't know to call the police when their dog is missing.

Secondly, the exchange will be in writing, basically stating the dog is to be used for medical or scientific purposes.

Thirdly, let's say the medical institute asks for ten more dogs. The pound or officer may supply those immediately. Which means that as long as they have been held for ten full days, even if they are the nicest pit bull in the world, they can be euthanized immediately and their bodies sold to science. Because, let's be honest, the pit bulls will go first. A pound or officer would be within their legal rights to destroy a dog just to sell it. No where in the language does it say the dog must be euthanized first.

Okay, there are obviously limitations with this, right? Here are those limitations; The dog must be held for the required time, this would be at the discretion of local statutes of holding periods for animals. Some places require as little as three days, some as many as ten. If the owner of the dogs is established, they can't destroy it for science within a reasonable period. What does that mean? Well, in some instances, a dog's owner cannot come up with the money to pay impound fees, and the fees just stack each day. If the pound or officer decides it has been beyond that "reasonable period", they can destroy the dog for science. Next, "a dog left by its owner for disposition" can't be used in this instance. That would most likely be a seized animal to be used as evidence in a dog-fighting trial, a biter on Bite Hold, or a dangerous dog. (I am sure there are a couple instances I have missed, if anyone would like to add.)

So here's where it gets weird, and apparently relevant to the budget crisis. Whichever institution sells the dog is entitled to ONE DOLLAR. One. One dollar at a time to save our state. Well done, Walker. You're a sick man.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Missing Senators to be Fined $100 per day and Other Relevant News

According to an article at Channel3000.com (a local news station for the Madison area) Republicans have decided to pass a resolution that attempts to bring the missing 14 Democratic Senators back across state lines and in this blogger's opinion, it's not going to work. This resolution, passed by unanimous votes, states that it would "charge each senator $100 each day for every day the lawmaker was missing" and that it "requires the missing Democrats to reimburse the Senate for any costs incurred during attempts to force them to return. Their salary and other per diem payments can be withheld until they pay back the penalties and costs".

Other news stations have stated that Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald has convinced the Dems to return, but this is only HIS side of the story (Source: WKOW.com Channel 27 Madison). I spoke to Barb at Senator Cullen's office and Cullen's statement is that Fitzgerald "must have misunderstood". She did confirm that a few of the Senators did in fact meet with the Senate Majority Leader, but only to discuss the terms of their return. It would appear that Fitzgerald has made it seem like it was all hunky-dory and that they were going to return, but that is not the case. In the vein of democracy, they DID talk to him, but on their terms, not the Right's.  Barb informed me that they are not crossing state lines until those terms have been met.

What confuses me is how many people of the media are saying that they are unable to reach his office. I have had friends calling in their support and the office is reached every time. I think I have reached Senator Cullen's voicemail only once out of the ten to fifteen times I have called. Others say the same.

In other news, since the capital refuses to allow protesters inside, one Assemblyman has decided to set up OUTSIDE the capital. Here's a picture shared on twitpic.com by @MissPronouncer. It's pretty sad when you have to move your business outdoors because a power hungry Governor has your office on lock down. I see he has no access to a copier outside, either.

Rep. Clark sets up shop outside on Capital lawn.
Are things far enough out of hand yet for Governor Walker to wake up and pay attention? I suppose that only time will tell.

I am not usually a politically motivated person, but for now, that may be all you see in the world of Mind Stain. It's truly what is on my mind lately, so I am going to keep talking about it. For the most ludicrous news in this whole debacle, stay tuned in. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Scott Walker Asked to Leave Local Restaurant (THE "HOAX" REVEALED!)

As promised, I am adding the pulled blog post (with restaurant name and contact info redacted) so that everyone can understand what all the chaos at this site has been about. Then I am going to do a breakdown of Badger Blogger's recording and tell you which bits of it are TRUE. That's right. Parts of what they say are actually right, but as always, it's never what you think. Let's get started, shall we?

This is the original blog post as it appeared here a few days ago (names redacted).

You know you're not well liked when you are asked to leave a local tavern because people boo-ing at you causes an upset, but this is exactly what happened to Wisconsin State Governor Scott Walker on Friday the 18th of February.

"Why don't you like me? Sad Scott Walker is sad."

The ******** in Madison, WI confirms that on Friday night, ____________ (one of the owners) politely asked Scott Walker to leave the establishment when other customers began boo-ing him. A bartender at The ******** said that, "his presence was causing a disturbance to the other customers and management asked him to leave."

There it is, word for word, as screen printed on other sites, minus the names. Transparent. And actually slightly misinformed. Shame on me.

In this next section, I am going to add Badger Blogger's recording and a transcript of that recording for your perusal where Badger Blogger accuses the establishment of "trying to gain liberal credibility by making up a total lie about how they booted Scott Walker out of their establishment." They also tell the listener: Do not turn it off after the hang-up, that's where it gets good.

[Ringing. A "shh" is heard from the caller.]

[Establishment, henceforth referred to as EST]: ********.

[Badger Blogger, henceforth referred to as BB]: Hi there. Um. Did you guys really throw the Governor out on Friday the 18th?

[EST]: Ummm.. I can't even... I can't confirm or deny that.

[BB]: Who, who could? Um, is this gentleman, um, ____________, is he available?

[EST]: Uh no he's not, actually.

[BB]: Sooo.. why would you guys throw the Governor out? I mean, he's the Governor.

[EST]: (stammers a bit) It's a rumor so I wouldn't believe everything you read.

[BB]: It's actually not a rumor, he actually confirmed it with a news agency.

*Side note: I wouldn't call a blog a news agency myself, but whatever.*

[EST]: The Governor did?

[BB]: No, ___________ did.

[EST]: Oh. No, no I don't think he'd talk to anybody... (is interrupted)

[BB]: No, no he actually did. According to, um, a blog by the name of uhhh, Min.. Ma... Mind Stain, they talked to him and he confirmed it.

*Side note 2: No where in the original posting does it say that ___________ confirmed anything. It says The ******** confirms it. A bartender specifically, but I offered no date on the phone with this person. This is important later.

[EST]: No, no. There's no truth to that at all.

*Side note 3: Aha! There isn't truth to that because I did not in fact speak with __________.

[BB]: There's no truth to that at all?

[EST]: Not at all.

[BB]: Well it's published on the internet!

*Side note 4: Uh, yeah. So is Wikipedia, but you can't cite it as a credible source on a college paper. So is LOLCats, but do you really think that cat wonders if it "Can Haz Cheeseburger"? Okay, that's probably true.

[EST]: (Laughs) That's the internet for you. (Silence) Have a good night.

[BB]: (Interrupts) How would I reach ____________ if I wanted to?

[EST]: Uh... (stammers) I'm really not at liberty to... to discuss that. You know what? It's, it's... Think what you want.

[BB]: (Interrupts) Were you... were you... were you there... were you there the night that this happened? Or allegedly happened?

[EST]: I was not, no.

*Side note 5: Aha again! He admits to not being there the night in question, thus admitting the incident did, in fact, occur.

[BB]: Oh. (Silence) So, you don't know anything about this? You guys, you like, on your, you come in at the beginning of your shift and you're talking with your other workers, you guys didn't, like, talk about this or anything?

[EST]: Nope.

[BB] Really.

[EST] Nope.

[BB]: Well that's hard to believe.

[EST]: Well, there's a lot of things that are hard to believe lately.

[BB]: So you're telling me that Scott Walker did not come to your establishment on Friday the 18th (is interrupted)

[EST]: I'm not saying anything, I'm saying we're trying to get through our dinner service so I appreciate your call. Thanks. Bye. (Hangs up, but really hasn't).

[EST]: What? (A voice answers from far off)

(Voice) It's on the internet now.

Yeah, I know, I think I can get it off.

(Voice) No, like somebody wrote an article on it.

Yeah, but no one's talked to me. (Silence) Where is it?

(Voice reads my blog post almost verbatim)

Where is it, where is it, what's it on, dude?

(Silence, then Voice continues reading the article aloud)

On that post?

(Voice) Yeah. (Reads more)

Where is this? (Indistinguishable)

(Voice) Five minutes ago.

(More indistinguishable talking)

Where? Are you looking at pages?

(Order is called up by cook)

(Something that sounds like "We gotta get this down" and "I can delete it.")

*Side note 6: I am not sure exactly what they are talking about deleting, unless they mean their Facebook page, which is possible. I have been unable to confirm that.

(My web address HERE is then said aloud.)

You sure?

(Voice) Yeah.


So, there you have it. Right? It would sound to someone like they are denying an incident, but at the same time confirming it, right? Exactly. I plan to tell you why.

I was wrong. Yep. The screw up was all mine. Not because it never happened, but when it happened. I had heard this all from a friend but the date was utterly wrong. All of this took place in the week before the protests even started and there are witnesses to this event. (This from someone who only wishes to be known as "a credible source".)

So here's the deal. So many people are calling and harassing them, when there really isn't a need to. The story wasn't meant to show the establishment's support of the left, or to give them "liberal credibility". What they did may well have been in the best interest of Governor Walker because of his growing unpopularity. They weren't trying to show the guy a hard time because they didn't believe in his bill, because it hadn't even been introduced yet. They were merely asking a man to leave because it was causing a disturbance in a bar.

Let me give you a great "For instance". Time to play a little "What if..." here. Let's say you are walking down a street and a woman walks past you wearing naught but a mini skirt and nothing else. You are offended. This woman should be wearing more clothes, though she is within her legal rights to be dressed the way she is. The legal term of genitalia does not include breasts or nipples so she is breaking no law. You, and the others on the street are appalled. A police officer is called and the woman, though she has broken no law, receives a ticket. Why? A very similar story can be found here. Because she is causing a disturbance, that's why. Scott Walker broke no law, but was asked to leave (and politely, I might add. He wasn't tossed out in his fine suit.) because of the DISTURBANCE his presence was causing.

We have already seen that some of the Radical Right have no problem breaking laws, even if they are in the State of Wisconsin Constitution.

Article I, §4 – ANNOT. The legislature cannot prohibit an individual from entering the capitol or its grounds. 59 Atty. Gen. 8. Article I, §4 Right to assemble and petition. Section 4. The right of the people peaceably...... to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged." 

And yet, the doors to the capital are LOCKED. I wonder what Badger Blogger has to say about this little scrap? They have yet to blog about it, so only time will tell.

In closing, since this has become a much longer post than originally intended, The ******** did not lie. I did. All those people were right, I was lying, but not knowingly. I promised that I would update when I was able, and now I am. You can direct all that hatred back to me because really, the establishment in question is not to blame for their actions, the way some would have it coming off. They did what they thought was in the best interest of the Governor, the customers, and the restaurant.

Were the people booing Walker in the right? Well, they were within their right to free speech, I will give them that. I don't think I would have booed, I probably would have just left. The original post was merely to illustrate the public's opinion of Walker. Now that I find out that this happened before the bill was even introduced, I find it even more revealing than before. Walker is in a city where he is not welcome anymore. 

I truly hope nothing further comes of this blog post for the restaurant. They did what was in everyone's best interest to do. I hope this has clarified a few things for you all. With that, it's 2am and I need some sleep. Good night, all.