So, I know this is what you have been all waiting for: my personal take on the election. Like most of the people on this site, I was disheartened at the news. Indeed, the sense of angst and powerlessness I feel about George W. Bush's re-election is on par, as far as I am able to discern, with how I felt after the terrorist attacks on our nation three short years ago. Nevertheless, as the dust settles around us and things return to normal, or rather orient themselves towards the new, conservative state that will in time be referred to as "normal," life will go on from day to day mostly just as it tends to do, punctuated by the occasional national policy-based outrage that will cause we lefties to shake our heads, just as it tends to.

My silver linings:

Sean "Puffy" Colmes must now kill a majority of registered voters between the ages of 18 and 24

This will no-doubt result in the most awesome reality show of all time. Like a cross between Battle Royale and TRL.

Hopefully we can finally stop whining about the stolen election

Despite everything, I am glad that we can finally go back to having a properly elected POTUS. At last, I can disagree with the issues and not have the easy fall back argument of the president's questionable legitimacy. In any case, the Bush administration won't take responsibility for its mistakes. Would we have been as harsh and demanding on a more progressive administration? Perhaps we should be, or rather, perhaps we should make it a point to be buck-stoppers instead of buck-passers.

We can forget about Ralph Nader

No more buck-passing. We lost on our own terms this time.

Awesome Music

For whatever reason, periods of economic strife and political unrest breed totally awesome music. After two terms of Ronald Reagan, and one of George H. W. Bush, we were given Nirvana. Two terms of Bill Clinton and we were all listening to Spice Girls and The Backstreet Boys. Indeed, if unemployment trends don't reverse themselves, we may suddenly have a larger percentage of the population with the free time for artistic expression (or criminal enterprise, but this is supposed to be a silver lining, so forget I said that).

A re-evaluated democratic party

After the election, when people started snapping on John Kerry, the American left immediately allowed itself to remember something that most of us were politely forgetting: most of us only went with Kerry because he was "electable," which translates as "not the one I wanted." Indeed, if I was going to pick a cake at a bakery, I would not want to go with the one best described as "edible." The core of the democratic party should be messages that make for electable politicians (as those are the only kind of politicians that are any good, really). In the future, we should go with candidates who are "incredible," or "brilliant," or even just "charismatic," because they will be innately electable by their agreement with democratic platforms.

Nationally, the democrats have little more than the ability to filibuster. They have no choice but to rise from their ashes. Hopefully with some degree of majesty. They have approximately 1 year to do this before mid-term elections.

We liberals have 4 years in which we have been cast as the conscience of a nation

This is perhaps just another way of saying that we are now the annoying voice that you ignore before doing that thing you wanted to do. Indeed, conservatives have now been given the role of America's visionaries. Nevertheless, we do have a role, and there are indeed quite a good number of us. By the same token, conservatives no longer have us to kick around any more on the national stage, and quite frankly, they are not starting from the best place. The spoils of victory (and let me be honest, I hope they work miracles, because America needs some miracles right now) are theirs, but their losses are theirs too.

Barack Obama

I almost didn't include Senator-elect Obama because I know that, really, he's just a guy. An amazing, charismatic guy by all reports, but goodness, I'm not sure I can stand to blow him to heroic proportions and not have him truly become Jack the Giant Killer. Keep hope alive, Mr. Obama, and we'll try to send you some new friends as soon as we can.

A Bush victory is proof of a "reality-based" world

If we learned anything from these election results in 2004 it's that even when the most basic rules of storytelling say that the embattled underdog will rise up and topple the evil overlord, the "reality-based community" pays no heed to your dramatic sense. If we can learn that lesson now, and really take it to heart, that puts us one-up on Bush, who may be forced to learn it the hard way in the Middle East.

The next four years will go faster, I promise

One thing I've noticed: seems like every year goes by a little faster than the last one, for good or ill.

And that's what I've got.

There's a node on this site. I can't remember where exactly, but the punchline is this: the zen master says, "If you don't like the way the nation is going, raise your children well." Our short term strategy didn't work out so well this time. As long as we're being forced to think in the long term, let's make the most of it.

Oh, and while running off to another country makes for a lovely image, in the name of all that is good, keep that dream firmly in the house of Morpheus. If you left, we'd have to find a replacement. Even if you kept your citizenship and voted absentee, who would volunteer? Who would attend marches? Who would do all the political things that need doing the other 364 days out of the year? We already feel like our country has abandoned us. Don't you abandon us, too.

Keep hope alive.


Lennon says Ok, ok...I'm sure you're about as happy as I was when Clinton was re-elected...but is this really on par with how you felt after Sept 11? Wow. I mean honestly, thousands of people dieing vs so idiot politician winning an election. Is that an accurate comparison?

Let me be clear: I'm not comparing the two events in and of themselves. I'm speaking honestly about my emotional reactions to them. I didn't lose anybody on 9/11, and I was living in Chicago at the time. I'm not using hyperbole here: the angst, the helplessness, the "What now?" that I feel, it's right up there with what I felt back then. That's emotion for you, I guess, illogical. If that makes me a lesser person, I guess I'll have to redeem myself later. As Halspal says Abraham Lincoln once said, "Every day, I must die, or be better."

I have taken the recent bit of shocking news with awe-inspiring calm. Perhaps because the simple expression "George W. Bush has been re-elected to serve as President of the United States for 4 more years" has not quite sunk in yet. In the coming days, as I sift through the daily dose of news featuring AMAZINGLY LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE DEAD, I shall come to rest on this somber reality. I will then proceed to eat all my hats, finger-fuck myself, pick a fight with my mother, and just run out onto the street, yelling strictly in vowels and waving my arms about (see: chanting). I will then be locked up in an institution where I'll be hunched over all day, murmuring to myself "burgers!! get yer Guantanamo burgers!!". I trust that major American National Security Agencies (which one was it that really existed again?) will fund my extended stay and provide for my family while I recuperate.

I suspect that a lot of Americans will go through a similar process of revelation and enlightenment. My heart goes out to them. They may even share with me the feeling I get when I apply for a VISA to a hotshot Western country. That heart-sinking Not Welcomeness. By and by, you may figuratively find yourself being left alone at the dinner table. Less now are you the people from the land of Mickey Mouse than the land of, umm, a really BAD, BAD Mickey Mouse.

A widely held belief is that Americans are good naggers of their own government. The impression we get is that there's probably an interest group for left-handed lefties who camp outside capitol hill, demanding that the military salute be revised. That's all very nice. You peacefully protesting, that is. We ourselves didn't have much of that until recently. However, I can't help but notice the inversely proportionate Peacefulness of the American Protest in reaction to the war being waged on INNOCENT PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE URBAN LUMBERING WE NOW REMEMBER AS 9/11.

I imagine this is why some Americans are despairing. You people have made your voices heard through inumerable channels, taken to the streets with your incendiary Bush dolls and Steve Bell cut-outs and just showed the world how much you care about the transgressions of that Animal in the White House. Hell, he was pretty self-effacing without you having to point it out.

'cept...

You have to put that banner down now.

I just don't get it. I don't understand the way most of the people feel in reaction to the election. So the person you voted for lost. Now figure out a way to win next time.

If Kerry had won and those that voted for the other guy were reacting the same way, how would you feel?

I remember distinctly the last time my guy lost to Bill Clinton. I didn't run screaming for hills, move to Canada or any of that silliness. I worked with my party in whatever small way I could to see that it didn't happen next time.

Another thing I don't understand is the complete hate of the President. I don't understand where things have gone that is no acceptable to call the leader of your country a dipshit or a fucking moron. When did we move from respecting our leaders, even if we disagreed with them to calling them liars?

My background and belief system tells me that I should respect and pray for our leaders, even those I don't agree with. So when President Clinton was in office, I added him to my prayer list. When a Democrat became my govenor, I added her to my prayer list and if John Kerry had become President the same would have happened. I pray for one simple thing, guidance. Not that my will will be enforced by a higher power, but the leaders will make decisions and stand by those decisions.

I have often times disagreed with those in charge of me, but that does not mean i have ever called them a liar, a moron, or some other name. While I have unfortnately laughed at some off-color joke, I have become ashamed of those times.

Where will things go now? I do not know, will America go to hell in a handbasket over the next four years? I hope not, but I will continue to pray for the President and all the leaders that over me. Especially when I disagree with him/her.

I appreciate Nero's sentiment, but I have to respond because I was basically on the same page in 2000, 1988, and 1984. However, Bush's re-election is different. I would like to hear a Republican address each of these issues honestly, because I think they are things that should bother any American.

After 9/11 Bush had a lot of 'political capital', perhaps more than any president since Pearl Harbor. His response in Afghanistan was widely accepted and justifiable by most reasonable people. However, things then started to go awry, and I need to understand why certain things were done. The Bush administration certainly never feels the need to explain itself, but I think some Republicans somewhere should:

Without going into the many sordid details of the Patriot Act, why do we need unchecked government surveillance? Our government is built on a system of checks and balances. Surveillance has always been sufficient for law enforcement needs while still allowing the judicial branch to exercise some control. Are we scared the judges will notify the terrorists? That sounds like extreme paranoia that the terrorists have eyes and ears everywhere which is obviously not true. You may think it doesn't affect you because you're not a terrorist, but since the government is no longer accountable to anyone, how can you be sure they won't come after you for some other reason.

Why do we need secret courts to try terrorists? We can seal court records already, and prevent sensitive information from being leaked. The only reason they could possibly need secret courts is so they can do an end run around the legal process which we pride ourselves on. Why should we blindly trust the government?

Why should U.S. citizens be held indefinitely without being charged of a crime and without due process? Again, we pride ourselves on the fact that we have systems in place to prevent innocent people from being incarcerated. It already fails occasionally, so why should we support the complete erosion of the process? Because we're scared of terrorism? Wouldn't that mean the terrorists have caused us to erode the very freedom that they 'hate' so much?

Is it okay to go to war on false pretenses? Why does this not bother anyone? Sure you can justify taking out Saddam lots of ways, but shouldn't our government be honest about it? How does it make sense to have a scandal over a sexual affair, but nothing about going to war based on fabricated information?

How can we be so sure taking out Saddam helps the war on terrorism? Sure, Iraq is better without him, but since he had no known links to Al-Qaeda, and he was very interested in preserving his own regime, why was he so likely give terrorists assistance in attacking us? There werre no reasons given other than wild conjecture and the claim that a madman like Saddam would do anything to hurt us. Saddam may have been evil, but he did not come to power by being insane. All else being equal, Saddam gone is a good thing, but when we went in chaos ensued and many weapons went missing. Thousands of dead Iraqis on our watch is not likely to improve Middle Eastern public opinion of us, and it's very likely to play into the hands of terrorist recruitment efforts. Why is there no debate about this?

Where was the plan for Iraq's reconstruction? I haven't heard anything about the Bush administration's early plans for re-constructing Iraq and I read a lot of news. Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East could have predicted that there would be massive turmoil. All we hear from Bush is that "it's hard work, we need more money and troops, and elections are in January." Meanwhile insurgents are infiltrating the police forces and executing their own trainees. Why wasn't training started on day 1 when the Iraqi public opinion of us was still very strong?

Why does Halliburton get billions in no-bid contracts? Cheney's word that they're the best company for the job is not quite justification enough for me. Come on people, does it not at least look really bad when you have the former CEO of a company as the vice-president of the country and this kind of massive deal materializes without so much as a public justification? You wanna talk about morals...

Why are gay marriage, abortion, and stem-cell research the leading issues of morality in this country? Democrats really dropped the ball on the family values thing. It's easy to agree that two-parent households are better than single parents, and that kids shouldn't do drugs or have sex, but Democrats didn't bother to talk about the issues at all. But in all seriousness, don't we face larger problems in our country like crime, the economy, and terrorism than two gay people falling in love and getting married? I mean, if morality has anything to do with human suffering, I'd say an abortion causes less human suffering than a rape, or a death in a car accident, or domestic abuse, or wars that kill thousands, or families becoming homeless because they can't find a job that pays enough.

I could go on and on about Bush spending our 'political capital' with brash foreign policy decisions, and the importance of uniting the world against something as ethereal as terrorists who are difficult to target precisely, can spread themselves out around the world, and who having nothing to lose. When Bush accused Kerry of using the politics of fear I had to laugh out loud. What about "If Kerry gets elected the world will drift towards tragedy"? If that is not fear-mongering then I don't know what is. Political disagreements are one thing, but I don't feel the American people have held Bush accountable for anything he's said or done. There's been no real political discourse, and I think reasonable people are justified in being morally outraged.

Today I declare today to be the day of the Zoloft Happy Knife™. May its shiny glory forever glorify on this day, and henceforth every day of this day shall be the day of the Zoloft Happy Knife™. HAIL!

I'm a South Carolinian by birth, a Texan by upbringing, and an Ohioan by residence.

Ohio was the swing state that swung the election for George W. Bush. It was a very, very close race. The "red state/blue state" stuff is misleading, because even in Texas, a reported 40% of the populace voted against their former governor.

Winning by 53% or even 60% is not an overwhelming vote of confidence -- hey, if any of us scored 60% on a test, we wouldn't be bragging about it to the folks back home. It is not a mandate, nor is it a glorious sign of having been chosen as the One True Voice of the People.

But that's how our system works. Binary parties, binary votes. Yes/no. Flip the switch, one way or the other. Two men enter, one man leaves; both don't get to lead.

So if Dubya won fair and square, I'd be disheartened and frustrated but I'd get over it and get on with what I laughingly refer to as my life.

The problem is, I remain unconvinced that our boyishly charming POTUS did win fair and square this time.

I don't know what happened in South Carolina or Texas, but I do have some firsthand knowledge of what happened here in Ohio, The State That Turned The Tides Red.

Leading up to the election, I saw a lot of support for Kerry around town. Kerry signs and stickers outnumbered Bush signs and stickers about 4 to 1. The Bush rally brought 30,000 people, but the Kerry rally brought 50,000.

But signs and rallies don't matter ... ultimately it's the vote that matters. Or at least it's supposed to matter.

I've voted in every presidential election since I turned 18; I voted here in 2000, and in comparison, this year's turnout was tremendous. I and Braunbeck waited in line for close to two hours, and watched several people wait for an hour or so and then bail because they had jobs or kids or just plain had to use the restroom.

In some places in the state, people waited in line for 10 hours or more. Everyone I talked to -- and my coworkers live in all corners of the city -- had hour-plus waits.

What can cause huge, long lines at the polls?

  1. More people turning out than expected.
  2. Not enough voting machines being deployed.

Both these things seem pretty intuitive. Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell oversees the elections process and appoints the members of boards of elections in each of Ohio's 88 counties. He oversees what kinds of voting machines are used, and how many are distributed to each polling location.

Blackwell is a diehard Republican. Some voters -- voters in historically Democrat-voting districts -- have complained that not nearly enough machines were distributed to their locations, thus ensuring slow lines that many voters would not be able to endure.

Was the shortage intentional? Being forced to not vote because you gave up your place in line to go to work or pick up your child from daycare is not legal grounds for challenging an election's outcome. But given the small winning margin, it might be an effective tactic indeed.

There weren't enough machines. Most people stuck it out, anyhow.

But that's just the start of the story.

Two days after all those stories of crowded polls, Blackwell's office released the voting statistics. According to them, fewer people turned out to vote in Columbus this Tuesday than in 2000.

And suddenly all the local news stations who had been showing broadcasts of historical, unprecedented turnout in the city were wringing their hands and wondering "why registered voters failed to turn out."

Huh?

Even if polls got 50% fewer voting machines than in 2000, that's still not enough to explain how 5-minute waits turned into 1- and 2-hour waits.

But wait ... there's more!

Walden O'Dell, who runs Diebold, the company that makes most of Ohio's voting machines, is a neoconservative. According to an August 28, 2003 article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he told attendees at a Republican fundraiser that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

And just today, (you can read the story at http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041105/ap_on_el_pr/voting_problems) an "error" with the electronic voting machines in Gahanna (a Columbus suburb) was found to give Bush 3,893 extra votes. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.

In short, Bush got 600% of the possible vote, just in one precinct.

So. Gee. How many of these "errors" have occurred in the state? How many occurred across the country?

I suppose that if a big chunk of votes just "disappeared" into electronic aether or midnight landfills, one would end up with a bafflingly low voter turnout statistic, wouldn't one?

This whole thing just smells.

It should smell no matter what party you belong to, because it smells like a democractic process that's been poisoned, gutted, stuffed, mounted, and put up in the corner with a smile on its rotting face.

This ain't a football game. This ain't about being a sore loser. This is about our future, and next time you might not much like the guy who's been set up to win.

But Kerry conceded, the whole world thinks Ohio is a red state, and we're all pretty blue.

And I've stopped believing our binary system works.

Where do we go from here?

New Harbor

Let's talk about inertia. Let's see if I can get started.

Ok. Twenty minutes to write that.

This is going a little faster. Now. Going on the fourth day here. Bad weather's stopped all helo traffic. We're out here, 50 miles from McMurdo.

Ok. Ten minutes to write that. Either my brain stops on its own, or I get interrupted. That was looking for wrenches to check the propane supply. Make sure it's not leaking.

Ok. Ten more minutes. That was a radio check. Most of the camp has gone up to Explorer's Cove to the remote jamesway there where the divers are planning another dive.

Ok. Five more minutes. Sam came in looking for tools. Been like this for a week and a half. No time to sit and write, but when I do, can’t think too well. Been kind of chilly for the past couple days. -1F with wind chills to -30F. Got chilly in the jamesway last night. Someone probably forgot to fill the preway (heater) with diesel.

Two days ago the wind blew just right, and the vane on the smoke stack didn’t pivot, and the whole tent filled with diesel fumes. Woke everyone up. Guess there’s plenty of ventilation so we don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning. (That sentence interrupted for 2 minutes between “have” and “to” while Sam handed me a radio. He’s hiking out to the jamesway and wants to do a comms check when he gets there.)

Last night we watched “Danger Man” on DVD. Two episodes. I fell asleep during the second one. Henry Kaiser’s brought a slew of DVDs. We have “New Harbor” Theater on certain nights, and last night was one.

Eating well. There’s enough food here for a couple days. They didn’t expect there to be 9 people in this camp for so long, so once we’re done with the fresh stuff, we’re moving on to the frozen rations you don’t break into unless there’s nuclear war back in the northern hemisphere and nobody comes to get you at all.

Pepper soup, is what they broke into last year.

Followed the election down here. Lots of disappointed Kerry fans, a couple of happy Bush fans. Generally, though, being here is more mportant for the moment, so it was just a passing thing. Urgent notes from the north came and went. I can't say we're unaffected by it, but honestly, it seems so far away now that even though we know we're going home and back to people for whom it was a big deal, it feels at the moment it can't possibly matter.

Last night we had pizza. The night before Henry made us Thai food with the curry and fish sauce I horked down from the United States for him. It was great.

Temps here in the jamesway are hovering around 50F at waist level. Down around the feet it’s probably closer to 40. My feet are perpetually cold (unless I’m in my sleeping bag). I’m wearing a couple layers of poly pro all the time. Long underwear.

In contrast--the Alaskans among us think this is summer. Even Sam and Dug, two guys from Albany, New York, are wandering around in sweats. They’re not even putting on gloves. Another week and I’d probably be used to this.

Ok, another twenty minutes.

I doubt the helo’s are flying today. I can’t see Hjorth Hill and forget about Erebus. You gotta be able to see Erebus before the helos will fly. It’s a total white-out over the ocean. Blowing snow here. Air filled with ice fog.

Been losing my enthusiasm for taking pictures. Pumped a couple 10 gallons of glycol into a conduit last night. Got all over everything. Smells like fuel and doesn’t evaporate. Thick as pancake syrup in this temp. Need to fill the pipes so they don’t freeze and explode.

We were out till about midnight. Bright as day, of course, so only the position of the sun in the sky gave any indication of the hour.

Everyday I’m stuck out here the sched gets pushed back. Right now, my flight home is pushed back to the 20th of November from the 14th. I don’t want to miss Thanksgiving, not to mention my company probably will disavow all knowledge of me by the time I get back.

Once I get used to this, truth be told, this is really no big deal. It is a tad adventurous, compared to a trip to the mall to go XMAS shopping, but the danger factor is nearly nil. I'm just stuck near the frozen sea ice in Antarctica for a couple days. We got electricity via generator, computer network via satellite, and a pantry full of cookies and bagles and steaks. The people around me are very independent and interesting. Dennis here was a prison guard on Death Row in Nebraska. Now he's a driller in Antarctica. Dug (no-"o") was a Navy Seal. Heidi worked with the Canadian Department of the Interior up near Resolute. Sam works for the New York Department of Health, but studies foraminafera both there and here. And then there's me and Tony and Jeff, the not so interesting guys from California. Not so terrible for us, company-wise, but they've got to live with us.

No Call from helo ops yet. Maybe they're flying. But probably not. We don't get out today, we won't get out till day after tomorrow.

Here's what's happening to date. I wrote about the trench and the conduit. The divers. Etc. Let me reproduce that here. I was still thinking straight when I wrote this.

Dear everyone,

This week has been much crazier than most of my Antarctic weeks. It's been 12-15 hour days, every single day, including Sunday, which is the day off down here. We've had our entire schedule shot to hell. Our cam deployments down in the Taylor valley have been preempted by a DV visit (DV = distinguished visitor). So we've had our helo schedule totally invalidated, and now we have to figure out when the hell we can get our instruments down valley on some other day.

I'm here at New Harbor, which is literally on the shore of the McMurdo sound at a place called "Explorer's Cove". The cove itself is totally frozen. The sea ice is 14' thick, but it's heaved in places to pressure ridges of 12' or more when you have to climb over to get where you want to go. The sides of these pressure ridges are pretty steep, if not vertical. We wear things on our boots called "stabilicers" which basically give you spikes to climb the ice. The place we're working is about a mile from the camp, so we have to either hoof it back and forth a couple times a day, or if one's available, we take the SkiDoo (and go flying over the ridges). Our purpose for being here is to install the ROMEO underwater cam. The cam is going to live on the sea floor under the ice all summer long. It was an interesting day, starting with me working with Jeff to rewrite the microcontroller code for the cam itself. Then we went out to the dive hut.

Today we had an ice driller make us a 65' long hole in the ice, basically from the shore down into the sea to where the liquid ocean started. It took him 5 hours to bore through all the ice, and when he got to the sea, we inserted an stainless steel pipe into the hole. Doug, our diver (ex Navy Seal), went to the seafloor from the dive hut, and found where the pipe broke through. We fed him our fiber umbilical through the dive hole. Then he inserted our fiber optic umbilical into the conduit, and it came up the other side. We then sealed the pipe on both ends and pumped it full of glycol so it wouldn't freeze internally.

Then we connected the cam to the fiber in the dive hut, and a laptop to the other end, and proved we could see the ROMEO webcam though the umbilical. That process sounds easy, but it took about 8 hours--today. Previously, our GAs (general assistants: basically 20-year old kids who come to the ice to do odd jobs) dug a 100' long, 52" deep trench in SOLID ICE with a chain saw. It took them 4 days to get from the shore to the point at which we would start drilling. The conduit went in at the bottom of that trench.

Couple of interesting things about today--I spent about 3 hours debugging the cam code in real time in the jamesway doorway in -10F. Luckily, Jeff's laptop kept working (we powered it with a generator) but I got frozen from sitting there not moving, and so was pretty chilly for a while.

Our diver, Dug Coonts, was under the ice for 106 minutes putting fittings on the pipes and managing things from the ocean floor. That's a record. He was pretty frosty when he came up. I had to help pull him out of the dive hole because he was so cold his hands and arms didn't work anymore. We really pushed it with him in so long.

Everybody out here at this camp is a grade-A personality. Top flight people to work with. No whiners. Just doers. Proud to be among them.






November 6th, 2004. New Harbor Camp, Antarctica

Filed for 'Final Judgement' in my divorce today (see Summary Dissolution of Marriage). The six-month waiting period was actually up on 2 November, but that didn't seem like a good day to go to the county courthouse.

Parked the truck at 1:00 PM, entered the courthouse and passed through the metal detector, and negotiated the rat maze to the Family Law section. I didn't have to wait line! I had found a PDF of the form online and filled in my name etc. before going downtown. The clerk checked off several areas that needed more information, said three copies were required, and inflected it all like I was a real moron. I had forgotten about the triplicate requirement. One of those blank areas was the address of the courthouse, which they had filled in with a stamp on all previous documents; the other two were address boxes for my ex and I, which were located below the "to be filled in by court personnel only" line. Sheesh! She also told me I had to supply two stamped envelopes for them to mail the judegments in. There was nothing about envelopes anywhere in the printed instructions for filing the form, and they were not at all apologetic about that oversight. It is amazing how they simply do not care about making one waste time jumping through hoops.

I resolved not to get tense about the snag. I drove surface streets to Kinko's a few miles away, made my copies, begged for a stapler - they had staples at all of the little convenience stands, but no staplers. I bought a box of envelopes and two postage stamps (from a machine), and filled in the address information on the envelopes and affixed the stamps. I was heading for the door when I had an intense image of the court clerk telling me "I said 'stamped envelopes', not 'self-addressed stamped envelopes'!" I bought two more stamps and put them and two blank envelopes into my folder of divorce documents as well, and headed back to the courthouse.

I parked on the street about 40 feet from my previous spot, went through the security station again, and waited in line behind a few people for the 'start here' clerk. She took my papers and said "You're just dropping these off. Thank You." I asked about the small fee the instructions had mentioned (separate from the original filing fee) and she said there was none. I had specifically dug out my checkbook and taken it with me (I pay bills online, the courthouse doesn't like cash and won't take ATM cards). So I guess the lack of fee and the requirement for stamped envelopes balances out, somewhat. Total time on this task: 1.25 hours. I should get the final papers in about 4 weeks.

I didn't exactly feel relief or anything at having filed the paperwork, but I felt an urge for some small celebratory act , if only for symbolic purposes, some drive to ingest something of the world that would make me feel different for at least a little while. I won't have a drink, as eight months without feels good already. Haven't smoked pot in 15 years, and the couple of recent opportunities that arose let me know that I will continue that trend. Sweets and food indulgences offer no real pleasure anymore, since staying only 10% overwieght is hard enough. So I bought some cheap cigarillos and smoked one outside while reading a few pages of "The Magic Mountain" and petting TwoSocks, the formerly feral feline that lives in the backyard.

Eventually my anger will fade, they tell me. That's about the only thing I feel anymore, and that only a couple of times a day. The rest of the time is flat and grey and featureless. I have a real hard time even imagining that anything will ever seem worth doing, worth striving for, worth even hoping. I'm handling what few responsibilities I have, but that's just to avoid causing trouble for others. No pain, but no pleasure. A life increasingly defined by what I don't do.

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