The Freedom to Marry passes in Maryland and Maine, and leads in Washington

I’ve put in a lot of hours over the last four months making phone calls for Referendum 74. I know people who put in far more hours than I did. Tonight, it appears as if our work paid off. Referendum 74 is getting approved at just under 52% of the vote. There are about 600,000 votes left to count in the state, and one quarter of them are in King County, which has Referendum 74 passing by 65%. I ran the numbers and put them in a Google Sheet:

Signs point to approve with the assumption that late breaking ballots do no worse than votes counted earlier. I think that’s a reasonable assumption, given the great last minute Get Out The Vote effort from Washington United For Marriage. What I don’t know how to project is how many more ballots will arrive for each county, as I have no idea what kind of turnout is reasonable to presume.

Meanwhile Maryland and Maine passed marriage equality. The tide has turned.

And on the fourth year…

Four years ago right about now mom died.

This year, I haven’t broken down at random times. So that’s a plus.

It doesn’t seem like that long though. I still remember the 48 hours leading up to her death very vividly.

But in other ways, it’s been forever. I finally got everything for her estate done, signed the final paperwork and sent it to the lawyer on Thursday. I hate to think how long this would have taken if the family had fought over anything. Being the executor has felt like it would go on forever. Now I wait for final notification and hope I didn’t screw anything up.

Tomorrow, I will drive to Lynden and leave flowers on her grave. I’d do it today, but I am leading a phone bank for Approve Referendum 74 tonight, and that is too important to skip. For the rest of the local family, I leave an evergreen branch on their graves around Christmas, to continue my grandfather’s tradition. However, mom’s buried too far away to do that if there’s snow. The flowers I leave aren’t elaborate. I’ll probably just buy a small marigold. Mom doesn’t care. She’s dead. This is for me to keep memories alive.

Amazing Cake!

Amazing Cake

I apologize for posting this all over my social footprint today. However, this cake is just too amazing to not share pretty much everywhere. Today was the last day for my summer teaching gig. One of the students made this and brought it in for the class to enjoy.

The young man who made this is in high school. I couldn’t make macaroni and cheese from a box in high school.

Don’t Do This

Bandwidth graph for 4 hours

I have purposefully left my wifi open and free to use for anyone close enough to do so. If you are in my building, look for the SSID ApproveRef74. No password, and for the most part, no restrictions.

Today I realized someone in the building has been running a server off my wifi and has been maxing out my upload bandwidth. I don’t know who, but his name is James. Or at least I assume so because his computer was named JAMES-PC. That computer is now banned from my network.

If you look at the graph, the green is me watching a very high quality video feed. No, not porn. A soccer match between DC United and Philadelphia Union. The blue is the dipshit who owns JAMES-PC transmitting nearly as much data as I was watching. Way to take advantage of my hospitality.

Since I can’t send a message to James, I’m leaving this out there in case he googles himself or the SSID or something. When someone offers free wifi, don’t make it unusable. Now you have to buy your own wifi. If you aren’t James and you are doing this to someone else’s wifi, stop.

Death and taxes

Got the call from the accountant this morning. They’ve got all the taxes figured out and the forms ready for me. This includes for my mom’s estate, the trust, and for my dad.

Once those are sent in, I can close the estate.

It will happen before the 4 year anniversary of mom’s death.

More phone banking

Thursday I participated in my third week of phone banking for Referendum 74. It was a very odd session.

My own dialer session called 141 people, but I actually had only 3 conversations with people and none of them were undecided. They were all strongly for marriage equality. With those folks, all we generally do is remind them that a vote to approve Referendum 74 is a vote for marriage equality. But not only were there no undecided people, there were no anti-marriage equality people. I had a lot of hang-ups, refused to answer, not homes, and wrong numbers. I think I had 3 people who were angry we had called them. Don’t you know my number is on the Do not call list? asked one lady. Nope, I don’t. See, lady, political calls don’t have to scrub people based on the do not call register. There’s this little thing called the First Amendment. Of course, I don’t tell them that or argue with them. I simply just ask Would you like me to put you on our do not call list? and then I do. Anyway, bummer about not talking with any undecided voters.

I also spent some time training a fellow next to me. He really had a hard time with it. In the role play before we started calling, I played an undecided callee. He really wanted to convince my character that marriage equality is a matter of civil rights and started to veer into trying to argue my character into voting for marriage equality. Which isn’t what we are trying to do. The phone bank script emphasizes the personal and emotional benefits of marriage for gays and lesbians. Rather than talk about fairness in hospital visitation rights, we’re supposed to talk about how visitation means a gay/lesbian family member gets to visit their loved one. It’s sometimes a subtle but important distinction. People sometimes think domestic partnerships are fair, for instance. We’ll tell them that no one dreams of a domestic partnership document signing, they dream of a wedding. The point, I think, is to make it personal and real. Even the prejudiced people, for the most part, don’t hate gays. They fear them, and we’re trying to make gay marriage just a bit less scary.

Anyway, dude to the left of me kept slipping into arguing. He also got off script early on too. Rather than tell people we’d like to talk with them about the freedom to marry, as the script notes, he started telling people we’d just like to ask a quick question about Referendum 74. Which doesn’t get the idea of the freedom to marry or even marriage equality burbling in callees’ heads at the beginning. Talking about a referendum tends to close off discussions before they start. And second, if they are leaning against, it’s gonna make them feel lied to when we do want to talk more than a quick question. Liked the kid, but he was making things hard for himself.

I won’t be doing the phone bank this week though. There’s a Sounders match on Thursday night. However, I’ll be participating in a training session on Wednesday so they can have me run future phone bank sessions. We’ll see how those go. I’m surprisingly good on the phone. I found this out when calling people on behalf of Ron Sims in 2004. I don’t know how good I’ll be at helping people do this though. As I’ve found out this summer, I’m not exactly a natural teacher.

Phone banking for Referendum 74

For the last two weeks I’ve spent 3 hours on Thursdays phone banking in support of Referendum 74. Washington United for Marriage has been running a pretty organized campaign to make sure marriage equality passes. They are doing phone banks at least 4 days a week. They’ve run some demographics to identify likely undecided voters. And then we call them. Find out what their concerns are about letting gay and lesbian people get married. Try to allay those concerns. Talk to them about how much marriage might mean to gay and lesbian families. It’s all persuasion rather than arguing.

My phone bank equipment has dialed almost 400 people in those 6 hours, and I’ve had about 35 actual conversations with people. We get a lot of people who don’t want to talk, and a lot of answering machines and wrong numbers and calls that just don’t connect. And out of those 35 conversations I maybe have nudged 2 people a bit more toward supporting Referendum 74. Just having the conversation that isn’t an argument gets most of them thinking about it in a way they haven’t previously. In the end, if we get only 1,000 people to support it who otherwise would have voted against it, that might be all the difference we need.

I kinda sorta think Referendum 74 will pass pretty easily, but that may just be optimism. I strongly support it, and live in an area where most everyone else also strongly supports it. I’m in a bubble that likely is inducing wishful thinking. But I kinda know that, so I’m working to get this thing passed anyway, just in case I am wrong.

Which reminds me, do you want to help out? Even if you only do one phone bank, that’s 20 people who have a conversation about marriage that won’t otherwise have that conversation. I’ll make you a pie or buy you a beer if you help out.


So the teaching gig is going all right. But not great.


The no curriculum thing is really a drag. I don’t think I’d want to be stuck with slavishly following an existing curriculum. But starting off with no curriculum has been difficult. I spend a couple of hours each day planning what to cover in the four hours in the afternoon.

Classroom management. Specifically, I really don’t know how to handle the differing speeds at which each of the students are picking this up. One student struggles with the basics of HTML syntax, while another wants me to teach him Javascript.

Teenage attention span. I swear they all have A.D.D. They all want to try out the fancy HTML/CSS toys and go way off track. Which is fine to a degree, as I don’t want them to learn the one true way of Web development. But they get themselves into dead ends from which they don’t know how to extricate themselves. Getting them individually unstuck takes up a lot of time.

And lastly, while none of these issues are really all that major, I don’t have a teaching support network. I have general support and encouragement from friends, but that’s not what I’m looking for. Specifically, what I wish I had is people who can answer questions like I’m trying to do X, how do I do it? and this happened, what do I do? People I don’t have to seek out, but who are already there. I don’t have a breakroom with other teachers, for instance. That would be awesome.

Still glad I took the job, but wishing I knew how to do it better.

Teaching web building

And in one other bit of news, I started this afternoon on a temporary part time job teaching a group of 8 high school students how to create and build web sites. So for the next two months I will not have the free time I have had. Instead of a flexible half-time schedule that I’ve been doing for my one client, I will be doing that work in the mornings and heading to South Park Community Centery in the afternoon for the class. A lot less flexibility and I’ll need to be way more organized to get my personal stuff done.

Also, this is the first time I’ll have taught in many many years. My previous teaching experience was as an assistant to someone else, or when someone else already prepared the material to be covered (when I worked at the Department of Employment). This time I have to come up with the lesson plans and activities myself, as well as hold high schoolers attention for 4 hours a day. Oh, and I had all of 2½ days to come up with the first day’s plan. I did a lot of breaking the ice activities today. Thought getting them talking would be good before we dived into HTML. Which will be the next few days. Once they have the hang of basic HTML and CSS we’ll move into WordPress and also cover “social marketing” and some basic web design.

Oh, and the cool thing about the program. If the students do well, they get paid for this.

heart attack-ack-ack!

Also last Monday, my aunt had a heart attack. I posted something about it, but locked it down to friends at the time. The situation was not good for a bit. However, the latest email update was from her instead of my uncle. And she gets released from the hospital tomorrow! Which is most excellent news! Likely to be no permanent damage even. I am thrilled because we’ve had enough crappy news in my family the last few years. We could stand to go a decade or two without more.