On my forties

This year is already flying by so fast that I just today realized how close my birthday is.

I’ll be forty-three in just a few weeks. Naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot about my forties. I’ve noticed that each decade of my life seems to have an over arcing theme.

My twenties were about learning that pretty much everything I’d been taught about life, people, and right and wrong, was complete bullshit. It’s the decade that I came to terms with my atheism.

I got married because it’s just what you did. I followed the pre-programmed life plan that every good christian is taught, and of course, as soon as I realized that there was no rational reason to live in misery because an old book says I have to, that whole life plan began to fall apart. There’s a lot to unpack there, but I’m not going to go into it.

My thirties were about finding my way again, learning to be happy again. There was some fumbling, and consequently, some tough lessons learned. It wasn’t until my late thirties that I actually started living, instead of just surviving. Up until then, every year had been a struggle just to stay afloat, financially and emotionally.

My forties, so far, have been about friendships. I’ve spent a lot of time examining my friendships, learning which ones have been worth trying to hang onto, and which ones actually ran their course years ago, or had been toxic since the beginning. For example, I’ve stopped clinging to one sided friendships. Some people in my life were friends that I’ve known since high school. Back then we were great friends. Over time, we became very different people. I kept trying to contact these people, kept trying to force the friendship when these people were making no attempt to do the same. As tough as it’s been, I’ve now let all of these friendships go, and not surprisingly I haven’t heard anything from those people since. I now recognize those kinds of friendships very quickly, and I let them go just as fast.

I’ve also learned that some of the friendships I’d clung to were not beneficial to me in any way. That is to say, these people only contacted me when they needed something, even if that something is just emotional support. The rest of the time, they vanish. It’s amazing how these people will find me after not having spoken for years. I reassure them, I help them out, whatever, then they disappear again, and ignore my attempts to contact them. I’ve let those people go too. One tried to contact me on hangouts a few months ago, I just ignored her. I’m done with being that friend to people.

Likewise, I’ve learned which of my relationships continue to enrich my life. I’ve learned how to be a better friend, and consequently, how to be a better partner to my SO. To sum it up, statistically speaking, I’ve only got twenty to thirty years left. I don’t have time for bullshit anymore.

Granted, I haven’t yet hit the halfway point in this decade of my life. So who knows where I’ll be at fifty.

I feel pretty good about it though.

The inevitable demise of Google+

Let me start by saying that I LOVE Google+. It is so much better than Facebook, in so many ways. Less clutter, more control over who sees your posts, more control over what kind of posts you want to see, no stupid fucking algorithm deciding anything for you, no ads, WAY better group functionality, better event pages, better photo sharing capability, cleaner UI, and so much more.

Google+ seemed to attract techie/intellectual type people. Programmers, computer gamers, artists, the DIY crowd, makers, and people that generally had an inclination toward science and technology. It quickly became the place where I made a lot of new friends, which set it apart from Facebook even more. Facebook is where you keep in touch with people you already know, and that’s all it’s ever been for me. Google+, on the other hand, was a place to meet new people. I loved it immediately, and it’s been a special place for me ever since.

People have been calling it a “grave yard” almost since it came out, which, until the last year or so, has not been at all true. Certainly, it’s never been as big as Facebook, but it has never been as empty and barren as what so many people tried to paint it to be. There were Communities with tens of thousands of active users. It was extremely busy, just not the behemoth that Facebook was/is.

So, you might ask, why didn’t more people move over from Facebook? The answer to that is simple, and so fucking frustrating. Two reasons, really. For starters, people fear change, especially when it comes to anything technical. G+ looked, felt and interacted much different than Facebook. Much like the world’s unfortunate, and quite frankly ridiculous addiction to Microsoft, people tend to stick with what they know, even if there is something better out there.

Also, related to this, people weren’t using it because people weren’t using it. I’ve seen this with a lot of great software, particularly with chat applications. People will jump on for ten minutes or so, can’t find any of their friends, or their friends have accounts but were also only on long enough to get discouraged, and they leave, never to return. So no one uses it, because no one is using it.

Secondly, Google just made a lot of bad, BAD decisions when it came to Google+.

I joined Google+ during it’s really early days, when it was invite only. It was integrated into all things Google, including Gmail, events, Youtube, and Hangouts. I LOVED that integration, especially for RPG gaming. In fact, TTRPG players were, and still are a huge portion of the G+ userbase.

Back then, you could create a Community around your game, D&D for example. Post a notification about a game, people would respond and when the game filled up, you created an Event in the Community, and invited the people that made the cut. When it came to game time, those people would get a notification from Google Events, with a link to the Hangout.

Everyone would join the Hangout, where there were apps built right into the thing, including 3D dice rollers that would roll dice across the Hangout window, white board applications, mapping applications, and screen sharing applications, all built into Google’s native Video/Voice chat system. And if you wanted, you could broadcast that Hangout live on Youtube (where it could be archived for later viewing) and inside Google+.

It was fucking perfect for gaming.

The beginning of the end was maybe five or six years ago, I don’t remember exactly. For some reason, Google decided to remove all of that integration. Suddenly, Events disappeared. Okay, no biggie. Then Youtube integration and Hangouts-on-air disappeared. Again, not really a deal breaker, but it did suck. Then Hangouts became it’s own thing, no longer integrated into Google+. Even worse, all of the Hangout apps went away. No more dice rollers, no more screen share, all gone. Events eventually made a return, but it was an after thought, and wasn’t nearly as integrated into things as it once was. Hangout Apps also returned about a two years ago, but much too late to make any difference. People had already left hangouts in droves by that point.

Then came the Google+ redesign. The redesign wasn’t bad, in fact I liked it’s new look, but a lot of people didn’t. It was the last straw for a formidable number of Google+ denizens.

All of these changes happened within a year, and that’s when the slow, but steady exodus began. It was just a trickle, but it continued, never ceasing. I finally noticed a few months ago that most of the posts I was seeing were from organizations, companies, and bloggers, and not nearly as many were just normal people posts. Communities are also really slow, and many of my favorites are all but abandoned. With no one around to moderate, spam bots have slowly infested every corner of Google+, and the developers seem completely uninterested in doing anything about it.

Last month, I started to wonder if it was worth sticking around.

So what this all boils down to, is that Google seriously screwed the pooch on this one. It was the ultimate exercise in self sabotage. They had a great product, which people were flocking to when it first came out. For a few years, it seemed like G+ might actually have become a contender to Facebook. Somewhere along the way though, Google+ lost it’s way, and the ship started taking on water.

Then came the announcement yesterday. Google is sunsetting the consumer version of Google+, the version we all use, in August of 2019. The reasons are due to a stagnant userbase, and the discovery of a data leak earlier in the year. It appears that the data leak was never exploited, but Google knew it was there.

The migration posts began less than an hour after the announcement was made. By noon, looking for a new online home was all anyone was talking about, mixed with posts mourning the downfall of our beloved Google+. New Communities sprang up, centered around looking for somewhere else to go, specifically somewhere that isn’t Facebook. Lots of alternatives have been suggested, with people, including myself, trying them out and reporting back on features and functionality.

Then this morning, more bad news for Google+. A lawsuit has been filed over the data leak.

Where does that leave us then? A #GooglePlusRefugee hashtag has been started on a number of services. The most popular ones that people are trying out are Mastadon, Mewe, and Diaspora. I’ve looked at Mastadon in the past, and to me it’s just a glorified Twitter clone.

Mewe looks like it has possibility, but it also looks like it’s aimed at thirteen year old girls. Given the behaviour of corporate owned Social Media giants in the last few years, Twitter included, I’m really shying away from this one just on that premise alone. I’m trying to give it a chance though.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Diaspora today and yesterday, and I really like it. It’s a little rough around the edges, but I think the sudden influx of users from G+ may hasten the development a bit. It’s an entirely open source project, with the developers being people mainly working on it in their spare time.The open source and decentralized nature of Diaspora really appeals to me, and I’ve already added lots of new contacts. It seems like it could be a great place to put down roots again.

I’ve tried a few Diaspora Android apps, and settled on Dandelion. It still leaves something to be desired, but it’ll do, and like Diaspora itself, hopefully it’ll see some marked improvements now that Facebook and Google+ have pissed off so much of their userbase, forcing them to move on to greener pastures.

For a lot of us still on Google+, there is a debate about whether we stick it out until the bitter end, or jump ship as soon as we get comfortable with something else. Personally, I’m leaning toward jumping as soon as I can. Diaspora has managed to really capture my attention, most of my G+ friends have moved there, or were already tinkering with it to begin with, and I’m enjoying it. Ultimately though, it’s going to depend on the response from the development team over the next year. As I said earlier though, the platform still needs some polishing, but the sudden influx of users will probably be all the motivation needed there. Pluspora, the pod that I’m currently residing on, gained over a thousand users yesterday morning alone, prompting the hosts to increase server capacity to deal with it.

If you have a Diaspora account, or would like to try it out, you can find me here. I’ll be checking out Mewe as well, and I’ll post if I decide to make that move, or not. For now though, Diaspora is winning.

Mass Twitter unblock python script

I subscribe to several block lists on Twitter, as part of my efforts to avoid drama. One of the lists I subscribed to turned out to be much too aggressive, and I suspect that I’m blocking a bunch of people that I probably don’t really want to be blocking.

There are about 9000 people on this particular list, so unblocking them manually is highly impractical, and unsubscribing from the list does not unblock them. So I downloaded this list as a CSV file, and wrote a python script to go through it, automagically unblocking them for me.

A couple of features:

  • It unblocks 100 IDs, then pauses for 8 seconds, so as not to run afoul of the Twitter API rate limit.
  • The CSV that you get when you export your block list from Twitter, isn’t really a CSV, because there is only one column in the file, and no delimiters of any kind. So rather than import the CSV module and read the file as a CSV, I just have it reading the files like any text file. It works fine.
  • I wanted to get an email when it finishes the list, or when it encounters errors, so I pasted in an email function that I use quite a bit in other scripts.
  • This does require having a Twitter API key. There are many sites out there with instructions on how to obtain one, so I’m not going to cover that here. I already have several, as I have several Python scripts running a variety of Twitter tasks for me.
  • Added in some error handling.
  • Added command line arguments so that you specify the list file in the command line, and can optionally specify a line number to start from if the script bombs out partway through. This was happening frequently while I sorted out how to deal with trying to unblock deleted twitter accounts and such. Instead of erroring out, it now simply moves on to the next line. Not so much an issue now, but the capability is still there.

Usage: python3 twitterunblock.py <file.csv> <optional – starting line number>

#!/usr/bin/python3
# Author: DeadTOm - deadtom@deadtom.me
# License: GPLv2 - https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html
# Python Version: 3.6.1
# Description: Unblock a list of twitter IDs from a csv
# Usage: python3 twitterunblock.py <file.csv> <optional - starting line number>

from twython import Twython, TwythonError
import time
from email.mime.multipart import MIMEMultipart
from email.mime.text import MIMEText
import smtplib
import sys

APP_KEY = ''
APP_SECRET = ''
OAUTH_TOKEN = ''
OAUTH_TOKEN_SECRET = ''

twitter = Twython(APP_KEY, APP_SECRET, OAUTH_TOKEN, OAUTH_TOKEN_SECRET)

if len(sys.argv) == 2:  # Check to see what arguments were passed from the command line
   listfile = str(sys.argv[1])  # Get CSV file name from command line
   startingnum = 0  # Set the starting line number to zero, since none was specified
elif len(sys.argv) == 3:
   listfile = str(sys.argv[1])  # Get CSV file name from command line
   startingnum = int(sys.argv[2]) + 1  # Get the starting line number from the command line. Offset by one, because computers count from zero
else:  # If nothing was passed from the command line, print usage and exit
   print('Usage: python3 twitterunblock.py <file.csv> <starting line number>')
   sys.exit()


def unblock(blocklistfile, currentnum):
   linecount = 0
   global linenum  # Needed to modify the global variable, outside the function
   linenum = 0  # Keep track of line numbers when reading files
   global startingnum  # Needed to modify the global variable, outside the function
   startingnum = int(currentnum)  # Set starting num to the number passed to the function

   with open(blocklistfile) as blocklist:  # Open downloaded blocklist file, and iterate through each line
      for idnum in blocklist:
         if linenum >= startingnum:  # Skip lines we've already read
            startingnum = linenum  # Set the global variable "startingnum" to the current line number, so if the destroy_block command erros out, the function will know where to resume
            print('Line num: ' + str(linenum) + ' Line count: ' + str(linecount) + ' Unblocking ' + idnum)
            twitter.destroy_block(user_id=idnum)
            linecount += 1  # Increment linecount
            if linecount == 100:  # Every 100 lines, pause for eight seconds, then reset the counter
               time.sleep(8)
               linecount = 0
         else:
            print('Already unblocked ' + 'Line count: ' + str(linenum) + ' ' + idnum)
         linenum += 1  # Increment linenum


def sendmail(body, subj):  # Put together the mailer and send the message to me, using my mail server
   fromaddr = 'from@emailaddress'
   toaddr = 'to@emailaddress'

   msg = MIMEMultipart()
   msg['Subject'] = subj
   msg['From'] = fromaddr
   msg['To'] = toaddr

   msg.attach(MIMEText(body, 'plain'))

   server = smtplib.SMTP('mailserver', port)
   server.ehlo()
   server.starttls()
   server.ehlo()
   server.login('username', 'password')
   server.sendmail(fromaddr, toaddr.split(','), msg.as_string())
   server.quit()


try:
   unblock(listfile, startingnum)
   body = listfile + ' has been finished.'  # Set up the body for the email
   subj = 'Twitter unblock run finished - ' + listfile  # Set up the subject for the email
   sendmail(body, subj)
except TwythonError as oops:
   if '503' in str(oops):  # If a 503 error, wait five minutes and continue
      print('Encountered \"503\" error. Waiting five minutes, and continuing.')
      body = 'Error while running ' + listfile + ': ' + str(oops) + ' at line number ' + str(startingnum) + '\n Waiting five minutes and continuing...'  # Set up the body for the email
      subj = 'Twitter unblock run had an error - ' + listfile  # Set up the subject for the email
      sendmail(body, subj)  # Email the error message to me
      time.sleep(600)
      print('Starting over at line number ' + str(startingnum))
      unblock(listfile, startingnum)
   elif '404' in str(oops):  # If a 404 error, move to the next line number, and continue
      print('This user no longer exists, waiting sixty seconds and then skipping.')
      body = 'Error while running ' + listfile + ': ' + str(oops) + ' at line number ' + str(startingnum) + '\n Skipping user and continuing...'  # Set up the body for the email
      subj = 'Twitter unblock run had an error - ' + listfile  # Set up the subject for the email
      sendmail(body, subj)  # Email the error message to me
      startingnum += 1  # Increment startingnum, so as to skip the invalid ID number
      time.sleep(60)
      print('Starting over at line number ' + str(startingnum))
      unblock(listfile, startingnum)
   else:
      print(str(oops))
      body = 'Error while running ' + listfile + ': ' + str(oops)  # Set up the body for the email
      subj = 'Twitter unblock run had an error - ' + listfile  # Set up the subject for the email
      sendmail(body, subj)  # Email the error message to me

sys.exit()

You can download the script here.

 

 

Site re-vamp

In my pondering about what to do with this web space, I’ve decided to scale back on the scope of my blog. Rather than just being a general, personal, life blog, I’m going to start crafting it toward my hobbies, gaming, and techie stuff. So I’ve done considerable weeding of previous posts, and changed up the header images a bit.

More to come.

Vacation 2018 was a success

We took a two week vacation, the first five days of which were spent finishing up the teardrop. We stayed close to home for the maiden voyage, going an hour south to Lake Como. We ended up staying at the Rock Creek Horse Camp, which is about a ten minute walk from the lake.

Image

Image

Image

From there, we headed up north to Lake Koocanusa, and found a little spot a few miles up a dirt road, right on Big Creek. We spent three days there. It was pretty great.

Image

Then we spent a night at Tally lake, but literally just the night. The mosquitoes were so bad that we didn’t even try to have breakfast there. We packed up and pulled out about 8am, and had breakfast at a little day use area a few miles down the road. I imagine Tally lake would be a great place to stay when the mosquitoes aren’t so bad. Huge campground, great beach.

Image

We spent the last few nights at Ashley lake.

Image

We’re back at work this week, but planning on going out again this weekend. Still deciding where to go next. We’re so thrilled to finally have the teardrop done, and on the road.

What doing

In my early 20’s, I had a friend named Jodi that more or less lived with me. She lived in this little cabin way out of town, with no electricity and no phone, but would often work so late, and have to be back to work so early the next day, that it made no sense for her to drive all the way home and back that night. So Jodi would crash at my place two or three nights a week.

Jodi was a kick. She was a short, fucking adorable, very skinny lesbian that almost always shaved her head because at some point she decided that hair was just too much of a pain in the ass to deal with. She was always smiling, always upbeat, and had an unusual knack for knowing when I was having a bad day.

She would call me up and say “Hey Allen! What doing?”.

Jodi lives in Arizona now, but I still occasionally get an email from her. I used to have a few photos of her, but they have long since been lost. I suspect they were in a box in my storage unit when it got broken into and emptied out, years ago.

I miss Jodi.

Anyway, when trying to decide on a title for this post, her voice popped into my head with “What doing?”, so there it is.

I’ve been contemplating for the last few months, about what I might want to do with this blog. I get the urge to write once in a while, and this always makes a good outlet for it, but it’s usually just venting about personal shit, and not terribly interesting.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I used to write a lot. Like… a LOT. I have shit tons of unfinished stories, mostly fiction, sitting on my hard drive. I either get bored with an idea, or I get busy and forget about it, and shit just doesn’t ever get finished. The last time anyone other than myself read one of my short stories, was in college. So we’re talking twenty years ago. I write that stuff mostly just to get it out of my head, because nothing else does the trick. Then it gets shuffled into limbo on my hard drive, and forgotten about.

So far as blogging goes, in my single days (post ex-wife, pre-Laure) I wrote about single guy life. As in, nearly every day I would have some little anecdote regarding something that had happened to me, or something I noticed, and I would turn it into a story and stick it up on my blog. It felt good to unload my thoughts like that every day. Those things still happen now, all the time, but I’m usually so busy that by the time I’m able to sit down and write about it, a few days have passed and it doesn’t seem that interesting anymore. Again though, this teardrop project has completely taken over my life for quite some time now, so once that’s done… maybe I’ll start writing more. I’d like to think so.

In other news, it’s Friday. Just two days of work next week, and then I’m off for two solid weeks. Hopefully it will be spent camping. There will be photos.

Vacation is imminent

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for me. I’m rather thankful for it though, because it’s keeping me distracted from the relentless onslaught of fuckery coming from our government.

Not gonna go there though.

Our vacation starts soon. Just for shits and giggles, I set up a twitter bot that tweets a daily countdown from my account. I was bored, it was kinda fun.

I’ve spent the last two weeks working on the teardrop every spare moment I have. It’s been two weekends of working on it from the time I wake up, until the time I go to bed. During the week, I’ve been coming home from work, changing my clothes, and going straight out to the garage and working until sometime between eleven and midnight.

It’s almost done.

I’ve got it skinned, which is a major milestone. It looks pretty good but I am pissed that I wasn’t paying attention to which side was working with, and marked the shit out of the driver side with my router as I was cutting it out. Oh well.

Tonight I’ll finish installing the port holes and the cabin fan in the ceiling, and hopefully get the solar panel mounted. I’m not sure how long this is all going to take me. While I’m doing that, Laure will be cleaning up the galley, touching up paint, and making the curtains.

Whatever I don’t get done there tonight, I’ll definitely finish up tomorrow night. I also need to stain the wood that will go on the inside of the hatch, and finish painting primer in the galley.

Next is finishing up the hatch, which isn’t that big of a deal, although I am stressing about just when the hell the fucking goddamn hinge is going to show up. It’s in Billings right now, five hours away, but tracking says it may not show up until Tuesday… we’ll see. I didn’t pick up enough trim when I was at The Teardrop Fix-It Shop in Victor last weekend, so I may be driving down there again this weekend to get a few more pieces of that. I need those to finish the hatch completely. But even if I get everything else done, skinning the hatch and putting on the hinge are things that can be done in an afternoon. Then it just needs to sit over night to allow the sealant to dry.

Anywho, aside from the hatch, all of the major stuff is done. Then it’s a whole shit ton of little things. Porch lights, skinning the tongue box and installing it, installing the plumbing, cupboard doors, and lights in the galley, and fixing the turn signals.

I’m confident I can get all of that done in the next few days.

I’m managing to not lose my steam on this yet. I keep picturing us sitting next to Ashley Lake, eating hot dogs, and reading in hammocks. That’s been doing the trick.

Struggling for connection

Not since my mid-twenties have I had a close-knit circle of friends that I regularly spend time with. At that time, it was friends I’d made during college. Royce, Travis, Kendra, Cindy (whom I was married to for a tick), Jackie, and Jody.

Before that, it was friends from high school. Donald, Lester, Dan, Jim, James, Erin, and Jenny.

Before them, well I moved so much during my elementary and junior high school years, about every six months, that I rarely had time to make friends, and so I just didn’t bother. The frequent relocating was due to my mother’s mental illness, about which I’ve gone into in great detail before.

I’ve mentioned before, that I was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder, a little known personality disorder that gets most often confused with schizophrenia due to the similar names. “Schizoid” is often used to denote a person who has schizophrenia, and schizophrenia is almost always misconstrued to mean dissociative identity disorder… which are two VERY different things. SPD and schizophrenia are also nothing alike. Not even close.

Anyway, the point is that most people have never heard of SPD. As disorders go, there are worse things to deal with. I’d never heard of it until my diagnosis about fifteen years ago. My therapist explained it to me, and I did a lot of reading on it, and in the course of just a few days, so many things about my life and behaviors began to make sense. For example, the fact that most people hold absolutely no interest at all for me. In fact, most of the time I want every one around me to just go about their day and leave me the fuck alone. But then, for whatever reason, somebody will catch my interest, and we’re suddenly really good friends.

It doesn’t happen often.

I have a hell of a time forming connections with other people. Most of the time, I feel like I’m standing outside of my own life, watching it all happen without me. I feel like I’m missing out on so many things. Some of those things are real, but most of them are just my disorder fucking with me.

I have a general apathy about people, commonly misconstrued as a lack of empathy, which isn’t exactly the same thing. I care about other people, I’m simply not willing to let their problems become my problems, if that makes any sense at all.

It’s difficult for me to get motivated about anything, and when I do get motivated, that motivation can very easily get sucked out of me in a hurry. Depression has a similar effect on motivation, but also not quite the same thing.

I spend a lot of time imagining the person I wish I could be, and the life that person would lead, something I can remember doing in the fifth grade. The comments on my report cards almost always included some note about me spending too much time day dreaming.

These are all very common symptoms of SPD, and they’re only going to get more pronounced as I get older.

I’m not just writing about all of this to fill you in on the ins and outs of my emotional problems, there is a point. That point being that I have spent most of my adult life struggling to connect with other people, and failing miserably at it. There was a time just after my divorce, before Laure and I were reunited, where I was so lonely that I would go to Walmart and wander aimlessly, without buying anything, just to be in proximity to other people.

I think that was the root of my decade long obsession with Flickr, and photographing people. It was an attempt at connecting. This blog is another such attempt. I’m aware that it has almost zero readership, maybe three or four people on a busy day. However, there was a time waaaaaay back when, where I was writing about actual interesting shit, and my blog was getting hundreds of hits a day, and I couldn’t keep up with the comments. That however, was just as social media was taking off. Twitter was in it’s infancy, MySpace was just beginning to lose the battle to Facebook, and blogging was still where everything was happening.

I feel so isolated from most of the people around me that, like so many people today, I spend a lot of time looking to the internet to help me make those connections, and being sorely disappointed.

I know this all sounds like depression talking, it’s not. I’m fine, but it may be time to go back to therapy for a bit.

A bit of politics

…because this particular bit has been bouncing around inside my head for a few days, and needed to get out.

I am not a lawyer. So take these opinions for what they’re worth.

Article II, section 2 of the US constitution states that the President ”…shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment”. So if he’s being impeached, he can’t pardon himself for what ever crime or crimes are in question there. The fifteen minutes of searching I did turned up several cases establishing precedence for a president preemptively pardoning someone, and that a pardon can be made before an indictment is brought. As stated earlier, the way around this is to impeach him.

Impeachment requires that the House of Representatives vote, by a simple majority, to impeach the president. If that succeeds, then it’s the senate’s responsibility to try the president. This of course means someone has to preside over the trial, and finding someone to do that, who doesn’t have a blatant conflict of interest, could be a challenge.

Given the insane party-over-country credo demonstrated again and again by the GOP in the face of countless legal and ethical gymnastics, many of which those same politicians showed they would not tolerate from Bill Clinton, there is no telling if an impeachment would lead to a conviction, or a removal, or a parade for Donald Trump.

Many people are drawing parallels between Nixon and Trump. Granted, they are following the same PR play-book, damn near word for word, but there are some stark differences. While Nixon was a corrupt, morally bankrupt president, he wasn’t stupid. Trump… is a different story. Also, Nixon actually won the popular vote to become President, whereas Trump did not.

Nixon discussed pardoning himself when impeachment became imminent, then resigned three days later after learning that wasn’t possible. Not that he had a need to pardon himself, because Gerald Ford preemptively pardoned him anyway. It’s extremely likely that Trump’s predecessor  would follow Gerald Ford’s example, and pardon Trump of whatever he gets convicted of. Who would succeed an impeached Trump is difficult to tell, since damn near everyone in the line of succession is somehow involved in this Russia business, or knew about it and chose to look the other way. When this all goes down, a lot of people are going down with it.

Regarding this “the president can’t obstruct justice” garbage, obstruction was one of the charges being leveled against Nixon, and it was also the one of the charges that Clinton was impeached on. The precedence is there. The idea that it can’t happen is just more hot air from Trump’s legal and PR teams.

There have been many indictments so far, and many more are in the works. There has already been witness tampering, and numerous cover-up attempts. Countless lies have been backpedaled on by Trump’s PR people. Trump has so many ties to Russian money, and the Russian government, that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. Trump and his staff have lied about said ties so many times that even they can’t keep it all straight.

Too much to cite in that last paragraph, go read it yourself.

The question isn’t “if” Trump is going to be impeached for a whole menagerie of criminal entanglements, it’s “when”.

Another Memorial Day weekend has come and gone

This weekend is a big deal for my family. We have a family get together every year, at the same lake, all renting the same cabins that we have for decades. I haven’t missed one of these since 1986. My grandmother has been going since 1947. So again, it’s a big deal.

I always come back feeling very contemplative for a few days. I think being around so much family, and being reminded of so many childhood memories, and being disconnected from technology and the relentless onslaught of information twenty-four hours a day, gives my mind a much needed break.

Regardless of how restful it is, we always come back feeling exhausted. There is lots of packing and planning involved, particularly in regards to meals because Laure has celiac disease. She can’t eat what the rest of us are eating, so she has to plan everything out ahead of time, we do the shopping, and cook/prepare it all the day before we leave. She also deals with depression and a tremendous amount of anxiety, which of course is aggravated by the anticipation of the trip, and every year she spends the entire week prior feeling overwhelmed, and we have repeated conversations where she tells me she doesn’t want to go, and I assure her that she always enjoys it while we’re there, and she just needs to power through this hump. And she always does enjoy it, and looks forward to it the rest of the year.

Then there is the challenge of getting a teenager with Asperger’s to properly pack and prepare to leave. He too insists that it’s miserable there, he hates it and hates going, and there are lots of dirty looks and attitude, and double and triple checking to make sure he packed everything I printed out on the list we prepared for him. Then of course we get there and we barely see him for three days because he’s off playing with other kids and having a ridiculous amount of fun.

I have a saved checklist that I print off every year, and it takes a few hours to get everything together and pack it all into our van. And on Monday morning, it all has to be packed back into the van, the cabin cleaned, we drive the hour and a half back home, unpack and put it all away, start laundry, shower, and spend the afternoon napping.

As much fun as we have every year, it’s exhausting.