2017 pets of balloon juice calendar update

i’m still plugging away on the calendar so if you’ve procrastinated sending in a photo, it’s not yet too late.

bjcalendar2017 at yahoo dot com

Thinking Security

Several of you have asked in comments or by email if I’d write a little bit (a lot of bit?) about security. Specifically, personal security. I intended to get this up earlier in the week, but things went sideways on Tuesday, then did an inversion on Wednesday, then a triple lindy yesterday, so…

The first thing that I think is important is something I, and several others, have stressed here in posts and comments: freaking out is not a useful activity. I’m not stating that to pooh pooh anyone’s reactions to the elections, whether they be anger, fear, anxiety, stress, depression, or any combination thereof. All of these are normal and understandable responses. And, of course, if you are feeling really overwhelmed and are having trouble finding/regaining your equilibrium please go see a professional counselor or therapist.

The second thing is don’t do this!

CLEVELAND – Police are investigating the theft of seven guns swiped from a Cleveland home sometime early Tuesday morning.

A mom and her two children were asleep upstairs when she said the thief or thieves broke into the home and cleaned out two gun cabinets. “They’re ready for a war, we were ready for a war,” said Teena Brayen

Brayen and her family are doomsday preppers. “We’re preppers, we believe in preparing for what could happen,” said Brayen.

The Brayens are part of the Three Percenters Club, a militia group that ‘exists to… protect and defend the constitution and our way of life’ by helping people ‘execute Military Strategies to defend against foreign and domestic enemies’.

But the items they wanted to use to defend against invasion in Rome made them a target for invasion in Cleveland.

On November 22, burglars – who, Brayen believes, spotted the weapons when she was moving into the home – took seven guns, 12 machetes, body armor, smoke grenades, more than $1,000 in ammo and some of their food.

Two gun cabinets were emptied of their contents: a high-powered, armor-piercing sniper rifle; five shotguns, and a pellet gun.

Leaving aside the Brayens and the Three Percenters Club, which is not the same as the other Three Percenters, what was missing here was a failure to think security.

Thinking security means to proactively consider what the potential threats might be in order to establish effective, reasonable solutions to them. This means to consider what the potential threats and dangers are to oneself, one’s family, and one’s property (home, business, etc) and what reasonable steps should be taken ahead of time to either deter them or, should deterrence fail, respond to them in the most effective and safe manner possible. This is not just for human threats like crime or terrorism, but also for preparing to deal with natural or man made disasters such as a hurricane or blizzard or earthquake or a gas main explosion or a fracking induced sinkhole or earthquake. To do this one needs to consider several questions.

  1. Who or what is the threat? And what kind of threat is it?
  2. Does the location, item, and/or person need to be secured against a potential threat?
  3. What is the extent of the location’s vulnerability?
  4. Does the potential security countermeasure need to be human, animal, technological, or a combination of them?
  5. How far can I, and how would I go about, extending my secure zone away from myself, my family, my home, etc?
  6. What effect will the potential security response have on me, my family, my friends, my neighbors, my employees, coworkers, and/or customers?

Read more

Writers Chatting: Meeting Reminder

Just a reminder that there will be a writing group thread on Sunday (Dec 4) at 12:30 EST/9:30 PST. For now we are going to talk process, resources and support. We’ll revisit sharing pieces after the new year.

See you there!

Also: There will be no recipe threads for a while, but I’ll probably put together some holiday stuff later in the month. My focus is usually around Christmas stuff, but if anyone wants to send me recipes and info on different holiday celebrations, please do. I would love to post about that – include photos!

Early Morning Open Thread: Pakistan Is Trump’s Latest BFF

A match made in Gehenna — an aging would-be demagogue to his opposite in a politically-fractured nuclear power whose security state is run by religious fundamentalists. Works in either direction! From the Washington Post:

Pakistan’s Press Information Bureau on Wednesday released a readout of a phone call on Monday between Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and the U.S. president-elect, Donald Trump. The readout is unusual in that it focuses almost entirely on Trump’s contributions to the conversation, and reproduces them in a voice that is unmistakably his…

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office…

Lavishing praise on the Pakistanis would be a major turnaround for the president-elect. In 2012, Trump took to his favorite social media platform, Twitter, to denounce Pakistan.

On Jan. 17 of that year, he wrote: “Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend. We’ve given them billions and billions of dollars, and what did we get? Betrayal and disrespect — and much worse. #TimeToGetTough”…

Pakistan is a major beneficiary of U.S. assistance and is slated to receive almost $1 billion in economic and security assistance in the 2017 financial year…

PEOTUS Smallgloves really can be turned with a sufficient slathering of blatant flattery, can’t he?

I expect both sides of the conversation to angrily deny it later today. Important distinction, as of now, Trump can’t actually have the offending reporters arrested and/or beaten to death by an angry mob…

Monday New York City Meetup (Also News on Montclair and Rochester)


Looks like we’re going to have a good crowd! Besides socializing, people are psyched to discuss some post-election strategy. Please join us!

Date: This Monday, Nov 21
Time: 6:30 P.M.
Where: Joe’s Shanghai, 9 Pell Street
2 blocks south of Canal Street and just west of The Bowery. People can take the J Z N Q or 6 trains to Canal, walk east to Bowery and then south to Pell St.

Note – if the restaurant is too crowded or noisy we will move to another nearby. Arrive before 6:30 so you don’t get left behind!

My email will be spotty till then so if questions or concerns please email both me (hillaryrettig at yahoo dot com) and commenter Edith Silver (edithsilver1 at me dot com).


No one signed up so this Meetup is cancelled.


Not a Meetup per se: I’m giving a workshop on Joyful and Effective Vegan Activism at the Rochester Vegan Association and you’re invited!

Vegan potluck starts at 5 PM.
My talk starts at 7 PM.

Event is free but preregistration required; space is limited so do it asap. (Venue and other info at the link.)

Hope to see some Juicers at this event!

Mose Allison RIP

Dead at the ripe old age of 89. When I first moved to Rochester, it seemed like a depressing place, a boarded-up rust belt city ringed with Chili’s-ridden, Godforsaken suburbs. One day on the radio, I heard some Mose Allison song, I think it was his version of “Seventh Son”, and after it was over, the DJ talked about having seen Mose Allison at a dive on Monroe Ave. (they have a funny way of pronouncing “Monroe Ave” here and it’s supposed to connote something bohemian or run-down), and I thought maybe this wasn’t such a bad place after all.

“Tell Me Something” is my favorite Mose Allison. You can’t beat lyrics like this:

You say the world’s a mess
It’s anybody’s guess
As to who will deliver that low blow

Guest Post: jacy Weighs In

I have’t been posting much, though I have been talking to several BJ people via email which is helpful. I don’t have a lot to say that someone hasn’t already said more eloquently. I am always grateful to hear commenter jacy’s thoughts, in many ways they have reflected my own. There is a need to be proactive and move through this and not despair. She posted a link on FB to a list of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry groups to support, that I bookmarked.

Today, she sent me an email and asked if I could share it with all of you. I said of course. Walking a tough road, as many of us have, gives us skills that can be used as we face this new challenge together.  From jacy:

I’ve been here before. I’ve got my own personal Trump: an unbalanced, pathological narcissist who is capricious and concerned only with his immediate gratification, who has no understanding of how the real world works, no empathy for any other person, and who will always blame someone else for any problem or difficulty. And it’s unfair, but this person has an enduring measure of control over my life, at least for the next 6.5 years, when our youngest child turn 18. I can’t do anything about it, so I had to find a way to protect myself and my children from the damage that he will continue to inflict. Dealing with this sent me to the darkest place imaginable, where there were many, many days I had no hope, where I felt I could not stand one more moment of the pain and the anger and the uncertainty. And yet, here I am. I’ve had nearly 2.5 years of this already, and I’ve adapted. I sought help, and I stood up. You can too.
Here’s what you can do:

1) Put your house in order. Get up, clean up, go to work, pay your bills. Take care of your health. If you are having difficulty, reach out. Go to therapy, join a support group, call a helpline. Take the projects you’ve been putting off and work on them. Improve your immediate situation or environment. Exert control wherever you can, because this will dispel feelings of helplessness.
2) Disengage. Avoid places (be it online or in real life) that make you feel bad or hopeless. There is a difference between being informed and being inundated with negativity. Do not become involved in pointless arguments. Minimize your contact with toxic people or situations. Time to cut ties that hurt you more than help you. Do not relitigate the past. Avoid the negative echo chamber – seeking out repeated confirmation of your fears or bad feelings on a constant basis will demoralize you, and will just re-traumatize you.

3) Organize. Get yourself a notebook. Starting with your immediate level, make a political/societal contact list. That may start with your metro council, your municipal government, your school board. Expand upward to your state government and legislature. Your congress people, your senators. Federal level contacts. You should have a list of every elected official or government office that you can contact. Next, a list of organizations you want to support or influence. Keep this updated and add to it.

4) Inform yourself. Read and research. Avoid bad and apocryphal information, and don’t disseminate bad information. Get all the facts, and verify what you hear. Be prepared, and be accurate with what you present.

5) Agitate. Speak out whenever possible. Become comfortable with asserting yourself. Do not normalize unacceptable things. Do not be afraid to use strong words, if those words are accurate. Find the line you stand upon, and do not back down from it.

6) Make them pay a price. Bad things are coming – but even if you can’t stop every bad thing, you can increase its cost. Life is a negotiation, whether you like it or not. Everything anyone does has a cost – do what you can to make the cost of bad decisions, bad ideas, and bad policy as high as possible. Obstruct. Protest. Write letters. CALL PEOPLE AND DO NOT STOP CALLING. Call and make your feelings known. Call people out publicly. Expose bad behavior. Document racism, sexism, misogyny, bigotry, hate. BE LOUD.

7) Expand your comfort zone. Make it a point to engage people who need to be engaged, to become involved in your community at every single level. Reach out to people who are marginalized or in danger or hurt or frightened. Meet new people. Find others of your tribe, whatever tribe that may be, then expand your tribe. We are stronger in numbers.

8) Believe and hope. Do not let the fact that this is a brutal world full of terrible things blind you to the fact that every day is full of wonders, big and small. Celebrate the good, and do it publicly. Promote positive news and stories. Support people who are making a difference, no matter the size of that difference. Every act of kindness ripples out, and we never will know where those ripples end, or what small act will be the one that saves a life, that changes a life, that sets in motion some greater thing. None of us is helpless. NONE OF US.

9) Take the long view. The driving force behind evolution is pressure. Without adversity there is no innovation or adaptation. We’re bright little lights that burn for a short time, but the thing that makes us special is that we don’t give up, that we burn as bright and long as we can no matter what winds blow across us. In every period of history there have been terrible events, yet here we stand. Do not assume the worst – be open to the fact that we don’t know what’s going to happen, good or bad. We must be prepared to take every advantage that opens to us, and to hold the line until that advantage comes.

This is my favorite proverb, and it explains my philosophy in life as succinctly as is possible: “For every evil under the sun, there is a cure or there is none. If there is one, then find it. If there is none, then never mind it.”

Be well, know peace, and never, ever give up.

Let’s make this post one to discuss other positive action steps. I’d like to know if anyone has an opinion on this organization and what they are proposing: FairVote.Org  Other than that, I’m still on a media blackout. You?