I Want To Remind You to VOTE One More Time

Well folks, we’re only 2 weeks away from Election Day, which means we’re running out of time to vote. As I’ve said before, I love voting. I think it’s really awesome that I’m lucky enough to live in a country where I get a say in who makes the rules.

It’s important to vote in every election, but this election feels especially critical. The world is facing a once a century health crisis, and our country is losing at it, big time. Many just under the surface issues in our country are creeping up above the surface (systemic racism, police brutality, sexism, climate change, homophobia, xenophobia, and a way too many more) and whoever we elect in every position up for grabs is going to determine how we react to it.

While this election is so important our vote is also being attacked in a way it hasn’t in decades. States are fighting to not count some mail in ballots, which given the pandemic seems essentially unconscionable.States are revoking voter registration of citizens. Outside of that, many mail in ballots are going to be rejected because the unnecessarily complicated rules weren’t followed. One of the many, many things I have in common with Obi-Wan Kenobi is that my allegiance is to the Republic, to Democracy, so here are my voting tips.

1. Have a plan! Just saying I’m going to vote isn’t enough. Know what day, where, all that stuff.

2. If you are voting my mail, like me, read the instructions multiple times. If you are confused by them, ask someone else who voted by mail. If you’re still confused bring the ballot to a polling place and vote in person.

3. Mail, or drop off you ballot early.

4. If you can track you ballot, do it.

5. It is illegal for anyone to intimidate you at the polling location. If someone does, start recording on your phone and call the police. Make a fuss about it.

6. If someone official says there is an issue with your registration you should request a provisional ballot. They cannot deny you this.

Please vote! Please encourage everyone you know to vote as well. It’s a little late for letter writing (mailed my 200 letters encouraging others to vote on Saturday), but volunteer to text or call people to remind them to vote. Each thing we do to encourage the vote will only slightly increase the percentage of voter turnout, but if a lot of people do the things we can have a huge impact. With all the tomfoolery going on this election I fear we’ll look back on hanging chads with nostalgia. So it’s important that everyone who can vote does. We can not afford a close race this time.

My 200 letters fitting nicely in one bag, much to my surprise.

I Miss Traveling So Much I Pretended to Walk Through Australia

I love to travel! I literally went on 5 vacations in 2019. I was actually looking forward to fewer travels in 2020 so I and my bank account could recover. I was thinking more like 2-3 trips and most of them long weekends. Alas, I’ve only ventured as far as the Morton Arboretum in 2020, but I am by no mean relaxed or enjoying financial prosperity. November 3rd will mark one year since I have stepped foot on a plane, which is probably a recent record for me.

To deal with the monotony/ever escalating changes that is 2020, I decided to sign up for a virtual challenge. There are several apps with which to do this, I chose Yes.Fit (this is not an ad as companies don’t care to market to my dozen of fans) as they had a lot of longer races and I liked the idea of virtually walking through a places I have been. I chose the Great Ocean Road in Australia as my first race since Australia was one of my first big trips. I simply entered the distance my phone’s pedometer told me I traveled each day until I completed the 154.8 miles of the race.

I went to Australia in 2005 with an organization called People to People, which finds promising young high school students and invited them go on trips to other countries to learn about other cultures. I spent 3 weeks in Australia and New Zealand. I basically knew no one when I went. It was incredibly scary, but a lot of fun.

We went to New Zealand first and let me tell you New Zealand is incredible! It’s so beautiful. It was the first time this Prairie State resident had ever seen mountains and I loved it! The flora was beautiful. So many ferns. We stayed at a Maori house, repelled off a cliff, toured the major cities, and went to a sheep show. My only complaint is there are way too many sheep, 9.5 sheep per person. They could take over. We went to both the North and the South Island and I learned the North of the South Island is North of the South of the North island. If that’s confusing you can think of it as the South of the North Island is South of the North of the South Island.

Then we went to Australia. I loved it just as much if not more. Sydney is a phenomenal city and their aquarium walks a fine line of having clown fish souvenirs and not getting sued by Disney. I pet a kangaroo and held a koala. The Opera House, incredible. The Sydney Harbor Bridge, fun to climb. The Great Barrier Reef, is a global treasure and must be protected!

Check out some photos of photos of the trip (this was pre social media for me). Note the funny bit at the Tropic of Capricorn and how little I’ve aged. Also, apparently I was at all obsessed with myself at 17 and took very few photos of myself.

While I did not go to the Great Ocean Road, it was nice to reminisce about my trip, and add something to do when I go back there. Australia and New Zealand were wonderful to me. It gave me a sense of independence and courage at a time I needed it. The people were all nice and while so much was different (the toilets flush the other way) so much was the same. I genuinely miss being there sometimes and I cannot say that about any place I have ever visited. Let’s all try to stay safe so we can travel in the world once again.

I Really Want You to Get Excited About Voting

Hi it’s me, again, ready to talk about the election, again, because this is literally the biggest thing going on right now, so I have and will be talking about it a lot.

I am passionate about voting! I literally got made fun of in college for being so passionate about voting (which is very weird, but that’s what it is). In my opinion, voting is the easiest way to get your voice heard in this country. If you’re not voting and you’re unhappy with the direction America is heading in, you are doing the equivilent of eating a Big Mac while complaining about your weight. You are not helping the problem, and you’re actively making it worse. So you need to vote, in every election, including the primaries. If you’re unhappy with the candidates and you aren’t voting in the primary, guess what, you’re eating the Big Mac again. Primaries are great because they have more candidates with divergent political views. So if your views aren’t being represented, maybe someone in the primary better represents your views. But if you didn’t vote in the primary that candidate didn’t get support.

Local elections are important too. Do you want to defund or add funding to the police? The folks that make those decisions are elected in local elections. Want better quality water, or pot holes fixed on your block? Again, local elections. Again, eating the Big Mac if you’re not voting in these.

So we have this myth in America that all votes in Presidential elections are created equal. They unfortunately are not. We have this nonsense called the Electoral College. So when you vote for President you’re actually voting for a delegate who will vote for the President. Each state has a set number of electoral votes based on how many Representatives (based on their population) they have and how many Senators they have (2). So, this means that people who live in smaller states have more powerful votes than people in larger states.

To make things even more confusing, 48 states and DC have a winner take all policy. That means if 50.1% of the population votes for Candidate A and 49.9% of the population votes for candidate B in one of those states, all the electoral votes go to Candidate A. This is why swing states matter so much!

But does this matter, you ask? Yes! Shouldn’t this just mirror the popular vote? Not really. 40% of the elections that have happened in this millenium have had a President win who lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College!

Now, I know what you are thinking. Why did we do this? Congress couldn’t decide if they wanted Congress to elect the President or the people and this was somehow a compromise. It’s definitely a bit of classism. It would be racism, and sexism if anyone other than property owning white men could vote initially.

I know what you’re thinking now, Katie why should I vote if the system is rigged? My answer is very simple, if your vote didn’t matter they wouldn’t be trying to take it away.

Guys, Republicans are really trying to make voter suppression a thing. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a nasty global pandemic going on and people want to vote from home for that reason. Republicans are messing with the post office to make that hard. So if you vote by mail, try to find out if there’s a drop box that you can put your ballot in, or mail it early. And make sure you sign your ballot! They’re also doing really, really, awful stuff in some states (where local officials make national election decisions) like purging you for from voting registrations if you didn’t vote in other elections (more reasons to always vote). Other states are making it so your name for your voter registration has to match your name in another government database, but the voter id database allows for spaces in last names, but other databases don’t allow for spaces, so good luck to all the Del La Torres and Van Ivan’s of the world. Here’s some links on vote by mail and voting laws. https://www.voteamerica.com/absentee-ballot https://www.usa.gov/voting-laws

But Katie, you say, that still doesn’t solve this Electoral College malarkey! You’re right, but here’s some things we can do to help ensure a high voter turnout (high voter turnout = more likely to elect Democrat) in swing states.

1. You can donate money to the Democratic Party in general, The Democratic Party of a a swing state, or Joe Biden directly. Yes, you can donate money to a state’s party you do not live in. Corporations, the Koch Brothers, and other evil entities do it, so let’s level the playing field and do it too.

2. You can volunteer with the Democratic Party or the Joe Biden campaign.

3. You can volunteer with an organization that encourages voting. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve volunteered with an organizaiton called vote forward since 2018. https://votefwd.org/ I’m sure there’s others, but this one I know. You can sign up to adopt voters in groups of 5 or 20 (you can do multiple groups) and print out a page letter that goes to each of them. Most of the letter is pre typed, but you add in the individual’s name, a sentence as to why voting matters to you, and your name at the bottom. Then you mail it. So it costs the price of ink, stamps, paper, and envelopes, but I feel like most people can swing that for democracy. One thing I like is the return address is from the state you’re sending it to. So I’ve been doing letters for Florida, because I love a lot of people in that dumpster fire of a state, and it’s nice to fill out the envelope and pretend for the 30 minutes a week I work on these, that I actually do reside on a street called Island Way and obviously because I live in a more tropical climate, I have no problems.

Until next time, wear you mask, social distance, and fight the man!

My Thoughts on How to Fix Our Country

With Labor Day upon us, the summer is basically at an end, what a summer it was! Division is so high in this country right now, we’re fighting over whether or not masks can prevent respiratory illness and whether its ok or not that Black and Brown individuals have worse outcomes on just about every metric as white people. It seems so strange to me. I entered this summer having the belief that most people are reasonable. That when presented with evidence showing that wearing a mask could save your life and lives of people you love, most people would wear a mask. That when presented with overwhelming evidence that minorities have worse outcomes in our country, most people would believe systemic racism was a real thing. I thought that a lot of the debate came from how to fix these problems not whether or not they actually existed. Obviously, I was mistaken. I don’t know how to fix the US (sorry misleading title), but I do know we can’t do it with four more years of a Trump presidency.

In 2016, I worked for a company that did political poling. While I did not do it, many in my department did, so I do have a general understanding of what happened. At the end of the day, Trump won because voter turn out low and when voter turnout is low, the Republican candidate tends to win. Turn out was low because people didn’t get existed about Hillary. So the way I see it, the only way for Trump to lose is for people to get excited about Joe Biden.

Despite my first paragraph, I do think most people get that Trump is bad news and that they support Biden quietly, but quiet support is not enough. Everybody needs to get pumped about Biden!! Now, I’m not saying elected Joe Biden solves all our problems. It does not, but it does give us a shot. So if you’re on the fence about Biden or don’t want to talk about how you like him, see my rebuttals to reasons people don’t like him below separated by category: He’s Too Liberal for Me, He’s Not Liberal Enough, and But Bernie.

He’s Too Liberal for Me

Person: I’m worried it’s going to feel icky to vote for a Democrat!

Me: I hear you, and I see you. I voted for Republican Judy Baar Topinka in my first gubernatorial election over Rod Blagojevich. As a Licensed Psych Major, I didn’t like that Rod was cutting mental health funding. Also turns out the man is corrupt AF. It felt icky for a minute, but then I was fine.

Person: Ok, good to know! But isn’t he going to raise my taxes?

Me: Not unless you make more than 400k? Do you? Cause if you do, we should talk more. I miss you and would love to catch up.

Person: That’s not the point! People earn their money, why should the government take it in taxes?

Me: Because taxes pay for things like the police, fire departments, ambulances, libraries, roads, and other things you utilize regularly.

Person: Makes sense, but doesn’t he want to defund the police?

Me: No, he just wants to enact some basic reforms that will reduce the risk of people dying in police custody, like choke holds.

Person: But sometimes the police need to restrain people, if the person is dangerous to themselves or others.

Me: Tots agree! In fact, when I worked with adults with intellectual disabilities, I had to deescalate situations where people sometimes larger and stronger than me were doing dangerous things like choking someone, throwing tape guns, or throwing big old desktop computers. I always did this without using chokeholds.

Person: Wow! You must have received a lot of specialized training in deescalation and were paid a fortune.

Me: *Takes a minute to finish laughing hysterically* No, as a supervisor, I made less than 30k and the training was a half day once a year. Also, just to point out, defunding the police means taking money that would go to law enforcement and using it elsewhere. For example, schools could spend some of the money used to pay for police in the schools on counselors. Then the counselor could work to mediate issues between students, so then the students wouldn’t get into fights, which when cops are in schools, lead to arrests. This would probably be cheaper for the tax payer in the end.

Person: That’s fine and all, but I’m worried there will be a lot of riots with Biden as president.

Me: I have no idea if a Biden presidency will have riots, but a Trump presidency does.

Person: Good point, but I don’t think I can vote for someone who is pro-choice. Abortion is my number 1 issue.

Me: Ok, that’s fine. Did you know that abortion rates go down when countries make it legal? It’s weird but true. So, if your goal is fewer abortions, you want it to to be available.

Person: That’s a lot for me to think about, but I hear Biden is a socialist.

Me: Nah! In fact the socialists aren’t crazy about him because he’s too conservative for him.

He’s Not Liberal Enough

Me: You liked Obama, right? He was Obama’s VP. He did a lot of good in that position. If he’s good enough for Barack Obama he’s good enough for you. Do you think you are better than Barack Obama? Because unless you are Michelle Obama (which if you are hi! Thanks for reading this!), you are not.

Person: Yea, but Obama had to pick a white guy.

Me: Duh! But you know what government is full of, old white guys! He could have picked any, but he picked Biden. Then he didn’t just leave Biden out of the loop, he had him intimately involved in the running of our country. They even havefriendship bracelets.

Person: That’s a good point, but I wish he was doing things like defunding the police and enacting Medicare for All.

Me: I personally agree, but a lot of people don’t (see my above section) and the President has to take a lot of opinions into consideration. I’d rather have a president who sees police brutality as problem over one who does not and will enact policies to reduce police brutality. While Obamacare is by no means perfect, it is infinitely better than what existed before it and we partially have Joe Biden to thank for it. The Obama Biden team had to fight tooth and nail to get that bill passed and a lot of the issues with it come from the compromises made to get it passed. Biden will work to strengthen it. Trump will continue to work to destroy it.

Person: Great points, but he’s kind of a rapist.

Me: Obviously we should always believe survivors, but the lady who accused him lied about having a bachelor’s degree, so we need to take what she says with a grain of salt. Before you go there, yes, there have been some creepy pictures surfacing on the internet, but our choices are a creepy probably not rapist and definitely a rapist. I take creepy over rapist every damn time!

Person: *sighs but agrees* He’s voted poorly a bunch of times, pork barreled and whatnot.

Me: That’s not great, but try to find a person in congress that long who was not. Our nation was built on compromise, the only way to keep our nation going is compromise. Biden gets that.

Person: I’ll have to think about all you said.

But Bernie

Person: Bernie should have won the nomination.

Me: I get it, but he didn’t.

Person: That’s because people don’t get the term ‘socialist’. It’s not bad.

Me: Personally, I agree, but I don’t America is ready for that. Remember socialism was the bad guy until very recently. Imagine years from now, you’re older. You’re trying to figure out how to put your 2.1 kids through college, pay for alimony, pay off your house, save for retirement, and this new candidate comes on the scene from the Islamic Fundamentalist Party. You don’t think you’d be completely against everything he stands for and turn into a country song faster than you can say these’s stars and stripes don’t run?

Person: I’d research him.

Me: Ok, but do you think most people would? Remember everyone you ever did a group project with (Obviously none of my group project partners)? If they couldn’t Google the Louis and Clark Expedition even though it was like 10% of your grade are they really going to research candidates in their spare time.

Person: Fine, but Bernie never betrayed his principles and never voted against something he didn’t believe it.

Me: I doubt that. As Pam Beesley from the hit television show The Office would say, pobody’s nerfect.

Person: Actually, I think Karen Filippelli is better and should have wound up with Jim.

Me: *Flips table in anger*. Ok, we’re just trying to have a nice conversation. There’s no need to spread so much hatred and negativity. If you mean to say, that it was wrong of us to hate Karen and not watch Parks and Rec when it first came out because we didn’t need that man stealing ho to get her own show, then yes you are correct. Karen’s only crime was liking a guy who liked someone else more and who has not been there. However, that does mean she was better for Jim. On the Gay Witch Hunt episode of the Office Ladies podcast, we learn that Jim does not wear his sleeves rolled up for the entire season Karen is on, despite the fact that he does in every other season, in part, because he is not fully comfortable around Karen. He also clearly states to Michael in A Benihana Christmas, Part 2, that Karen is a rebound. Karen was a great character, but there’s this false narrative in the corners of the internet that she is a more independent woman than Pam. While any comparisons of this nature are inherently anti-feminist, here we are. Karen states in the episode Traveling Salesman that she did not move to Scranton because she values her career, but rather to be with Jim. In the following episode, The Return, Karen asks Jim if he still has feelings for Pam. He states he does. In the next episode, Ben Franklin, Pam states she has feelings for Jim. Karen remains with Jim, despite this knowledge for the next 10 episodes. Meanwhile, Pam has just called off her wedding. She gets her own apartment and car. Based on her conversations with Roy we are led to believe that this is the first time she is on her own. She begins taking art classes, thus pursuing her passions. When she does rebound with Roy, she insists things be different and done on her terms. Pam has the better character growth. Also, no woman, even Karen, would be fine with Jim’s Athlead/Athleap nonsense, to make a major financial and career decision without talking to your partner is wrong.

Person: Right, Jim is kind of toxic. He’s unnecessarily mean to Dwight.

Me: *Calmly resets table just to flip it again* Jim ‘Jimothy’ Halpert, is a flawed character, but he comforts Dwight when he is sad over things ending with Angela and helps him gain business at his bed and breakfast. He does this after Dwight stole 25% of Jim’s yearly commission in Diversity Day. Assuming Jim’s salary was 50% commission, Dwight steals 12.5% of Jim’s yearly income in one day. That easily amounts of over $10,000 each year that Dwight gets and Jim loses for the remainder of Jim’s time at Dunder Mifflin. Given the fact that show lasts for 9 years and there is a one year time jump between the penultimate and ultimate episodes of the show, this is easily $100,000. Little pranks seem small in comparison. But let’s stop calling fictional characters toxic. It’s counterproductive, and ruins TV shows in a time when watching TV is one of safest thing we can do. Look what we did to Ross. He was by no means perfect, but now everyone hates him and believes him and Rachel were awful together. Thus partially ruining the show. Also, Ross does some pretty selfless things. He doesn’t fight Rachel over the fact that she unilaterally makes the decision to take her child to another continent. He tells her that he loves her and he wants her back. And if she did not love him, he would have let her go.

Person: Wow! That was a long, but important tangent, I’ll stop trying to as the kids would say ‘cancel’ fictional characters for being imperfect. However, I still think Bernie is better fit to run this country.

Me: Ok, but again he didn’t win the nomination. Also, he has alternative theories as to what causes cancer by some reports did not pay child support for his son. I think we all know what happens when our leaders have alternative health theories (broadly gestures around our current pandemic). I say this not to disparage him or his accomplishments, but to point out that much like the various fictional characters mentioned above, Bernie Sanders has made mistakes and should not be idolized. It is in fact a similar idolization of Trump that has in part led to this mess.

Person: I’ll have to mull that over.

Wow, so it looks like I got everyone super pumped about Joe Biden! Yea me! So, we need to remember to vote and to encourage others to vote. If you have some time, consider volunteering with an organization like Vote Forward, https://votefwd.org/, that does a letter writing campaign to encourage people who are not likely to vote to vote in the upcoming election.

Remember to wear you mask, wash your hands, and do all you can to prevent Trump from winning the 2020 election!

I Finished the 2nd Game of Thrones Book and I Though I’d Share Some More

Hi All! As longtime fans know, part of the way I’ve been occupying myself during this pandemic has been reading the Game of Thrones book series. I’m a first time reader and relatively new fan to the show, but I am in love! Reading a book about a country being ravaged by a fantasy war and how much it makes the lives of our characters absolutely suck, is oddly soothing during a global pandemic. While the TV show and the first book followed pretty closely, the second book is where things really start to diverge.

I think most surprisingly by the fact that Arya never meets Tywin Lannister. She is working at Harrenhall as a servant and Tywin is there, but the too never cross paths. They figure out she is a girl much earlier in the march from the castle where Arya is held as a prisoner because, you know, nature calls. Also, the whole being held and tortured at that other castle made more sense to me than it did on the TV show. The Lannister’s have tasked The Mountain with going along the countryside and doing what he does best: pillaging, raping, and torturing (why they have him do this, I’m not completely sure). Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie get caught by this group. Also incredibly tragically, Arya loses Needle! Like the book, they’re torturing a villager to death each day to figure out where other armies are going. Gendry is never almost tortured because they realize he can smith, so they have him do that. Finally, Arya’s escape is crazy different. She gets Jaqen H’ghar to help her free a bunch of Northern captives, while Tywin is away, but never tells anyone who she is. After they leave Roose Bolton takes over and she doesn’t tell him, but becomes his personal servant. She decides he’s not to be trusted, so she convinces Gendry and Hot Pie to leave.

Moving on to the other Stark sister, the main difference for Sansa is Shae is not her handmaid. In fact, for most of the book, Tyrion has Shae living in a pretty nice house in King’s Landing. When battle becomes imminent he moves her to the Red Keep and has her be a handmaid for a random lady in court who is not in the show. However, she does get to say one of my favorite lines: every man who tastes my cooking tells me what I great whore I am.

As I’ve said before, Shae is very different in the books. That was literally her only funny line so far. Tyrion is falling for her, but we see no signs of reciprocation. Also, he is super hung up on his literal whore ex-wife. He pretty much admits Shae is not in love with him, but that doesn’t stop him from falling for her. So it makes the end of their story much more plausible. Personally, I found it really out of character for both of them in the TV show.

Back to the Starks, Jon is a warg! Just straight up wargs into Ghost and sees Mance Rayder’s camp (perfect name for a raiding king btw). Also, Bran wargs into a tree and talks to him, it’s kind of weird. Also, Jon surrendering to the Free Folk and killing Halfhand in order to gain their trust to then betray them, is much more explicitly spelled out as Halfhand’s idea.

Robb and Catelyn and separated for most of book 2. Initially Catelyn is trying to forge a peace with Renly, then he dies same as the books. Then she goes to Riverrun with Brienne and stays there to take care of her dying father/wait for the war to end. Side bar, Edmure is actually a competent adult in the books. Additional sidebar, Catelyn’s inner monologue is super mean to Brienne. She’s written as more ugly in the books and Catelyn just always comments to herself about how ugly Brienne is when she eats to drinks or whatever. It’s pretty mean. Robb is barely in the book.

Speaking of mean, Theon! Wow, in the TV show he’s at least a little leery about betraying Robb, but not in the book’s. Papa Greyjoy is like hey I’m betraying Robb and Theon just jumps on board, then goes a little nuts in taking over Winterfell. Even his sister (who is named Asha not Yara and their meeting is much less incesty, still incesty, but less), is like Theon stop trying to hold Winterfell this is dumb. But what really gets me is Theon expects everyone to be happy to see him when he returns! They’re just like bro, you’re betraying the family that raised you for 10 years, no one likes you, and he’s genuinely shocked and upset. At one point Maester Luwin almost convinces him to take the black. I wish he had.

Things diverge differently from the TV show with Theon too. He teams up with Ramsay’s servant Reek (I know, but Theon becomes Reek), who is actually Ramsay in disguise. It’s Ramsay who convinces Theon to murder the village boys and pretend its Bran and Rickon. Ramsay also shows up and conquers Winterfell for the Boltons. He kills everyone and burns it to the ground. This is before the Red Wedding.

I want to take a minute and discuss the Red Wedding. It hasn’t happened yet, but still. I think part of my confusion with it in the TV show was 1. I was trying not to discriminate against Walder Frey because he played Mr. Filch in Harry Potter. 2. I have no idea how Roose Bolten, Walder Frey, and the Lannisters ever crossed paths. It’s better laid out in the books. First of all, Walder is referred to as the Late Walder Frey because he has a habit of playing both sides then showing up at battles late and saying he was there to help whatever side is winning. Secondly, a bunch of Frey’s are with Roose at Harrenhall discussing how Robb will lose and they need to betray him. Arya overhears this. In the books the agreement between the Stark’s and Frey’s is more than Robb weds a Frey girl. It’s that and Arya marries a Frey boy and two Frey boys, both named Walder, are fostered at Winterfell (Fostering kids other places is more common so Theon’s situation is not as him being taken prisoner as he makes it). So in book 2, even though Robb has not yet betrayed his promise to the Frey’s Arya overhears a Frey boy complaining that he can no longer marry a princess. So The Stark’s are already betrayed we just don’t know it yet.

Heading across the Narrow Sea, things are different for Dany too. The folks in Qarth are not working together to capture her dragons. The House of the Undying scene is completely different. She sees a bunch of visions, including a wolf man dead at a banquet (foreshadowing much). There’s no Drogo, no Iron Throne covered in ashes or anything like that in her time there. Xaro Xhoan Daxos does want a dragon, but he tries to get it by marrying her and getting it as a present. He’s also pretty obviously gay, and does not own a giant vault, so Dany does not lock him in one.

A few minor differences/things of note:

  • Renly is less obviously gay. His guard is a rainbow guard and he likes fashion, but those are the only clues. Ser Loras is even less obviously gay.
  • Stannis takes one of Robert’s bastards, so he’s being super evil super early.
  • Davos has multiple sons almost all of whom are employed by Stannis, so I get why he stays more.
  • Sansa is actively working on an escape, but still expecting a knight to do it.
  • No narration by either Cersei or Jaime, which feels like a waste.
  • The Hound is way more creepy to Sansa. During the Battle of Blackwater Bay he goes into her bed very drunk, even for the Hound, and makes her sing to him.
  • The Battle of Blackwater Bay takes 6 chapters!
  • Whenever Jojen Reed (the kid from Love Actually) does something dangerous his sister freaks out. But he always says I know how I will die and this is not it, which feels kind of iconic.
  • Finally, Walder Frey has so many kids/grandkids named Walder Frey, it’s kind of funny. There’s Big Walder, who is younger than Little Walder, and even Black Walder.

Books 3 is over 1,000 pages, but stay tuned for my continued observations on GoT.

Katie’s Covid Killing Tips

We’re about 4 months into the pandemic and I hope we all realize things are going horribly. Case numbers are skyrocketing just about everywhere in the US. According to npr, the US is getting over 17,000 more new cases per day than we were 3 weeks ago. That’s insane. No other developed country is doing this poorly. I know a lot of the attention is going to Florida and California, but other states are really messing this up too. In Illinois, we’ve almost doubled our number of new daily cases compared to 3 weeks ago. How is this happening?

The thing is, we know what we should be doing, we’re just not doing it and it makes me so angry. So many people I see on social media, possibly even you reading this, one day post about how mask wearing is important and the next are posing a mask free group photo. My only hope these people think they’re doing it right, but they’re just horribly mistaken. The other option is that they’re incredibly selfish idiots with a death wish.

We could have beaten this thing already if we had just done all the things right from the get go. Obviously, our federal government and many state governments have failed miserably. But at the end of the day its up to each individual to do the right thing. To quote the great Jonathan Van Ness “Just cause you Ameri-can doesn’t mean you Ameri-should.” As I’ve stated before, the government said I could smoke at age 18, but it’s still dangerous, and I’m a non-smoker. The government says I can go to a bar right now, that doesn’t mean it’s safe or that I do. I’m no medical expert, but based on everything I’ve read and learned in the past 4ish months here are my suggestions on how kill this thing.

  1. You should only be not wearing a mask when close to a small group of people (like less than 10). This group should be entirely closed, so if I am only mask free around persons A, B, C, and person B is mask free around me, B, C, and D we are doing it wrong. It is not a closed group.
  2. We all know the rate of indoor transmission is so much higher than outdoor, so if you are inside a place that is not your house, you should have a mask on and that MASK SHOULD NEVER COME OFF. This means it is impossible to eat or drink indoors. That means no indoor restaurants or bars and don’t work out at a gym if it means your mask is coming off.
  3. Even if you are outside, if you are closer to someone than 6 feet WEAR A MASK. This makes outdoor dining tricky. If you are dining with someone not in your mask free small group you must be 6 feet away from them. You really can’t do that at a restaurant. Also for restaurants, the next group must be 6 feet away from you as well. I drive past a lot of restaurant patios, most of them aren’t doing it. (Go to a friends backyard and eat there so you can maintain distance.) If you are playing a pick up sports game or joined a league this summer, (why?) you need to wear a mask the whole time. Also, you can’t take an outdoor group photo unless everyone is wearing a mask.

This is only 3 things. Three things that could save your life and/or the life of someone you love. It’s really only one thing (wear a mask!), but I spelled it out because we’re not listening. It’s not that hard and the only side effects are saving money and eat healthier. All things you probably are trying to do.

Someday this pandemic will be over and our lives will continue. Someday they’ll learn in school how stupid Americans were during this time. I’ll be able to proudly tell my kids I did what science told us would keep everyone safe. Will you?

This is the Darkest Timeline, Right?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been consuming a lot more media during this pandemic, because there’s very little else we can safely do. Luckily, the pandemic has corresponded with the release of the show Community to Netflix. A brief description of a a phenomenal show I highly recommend you watch: the show is about the misadventures of a study group at a community college. The study group is made up of some quirkly characters, including Abed, who is definitely on the spectrum and understands the social world through pop culture, specifically television and movies.

In one episode, the study group is at a party and the pizzas arrive and they have to decide who gets the pizza. Abed points out that by making this decision they are creating different timelines (you know, like Star Trek). The episode shows what would have happened in each timeline, sometimes they fight, sometimes people make out, and then there’s the darkest timeline. In the darkest timeline, a ball falls down, which causes someone to trip, which causes a gun to go off in someone’s purse, somehow there’s a fire too. The timeline the show follows after this episode is a much happier one where everyone starts dancing and having a good time. The show occasionally goes back to the darkest timeline (which may only exist in Abed’s mind) and we see the aftermath of the party is the guy who was shot dies, someone loses an arm in the fire, someone loses their voicebox, the one with the gun in her purse goes insane, and someone else becomes an alcoholic.

Well folks, I have decided that this is the darkest timeline. I mean, I’m sure there’s a darker one, like the Nazi’s could have won WWII, but this is pretty bad. (WWII related side note, my mom recently told me that when my great uncle showed up to the draft office, he was so attractive that the folks there were like wow this kid is hawt! Let’s put him in a uniform for each branch, pick which one is the best thirst trap and have him recruit for that branch for the whole war. Cause you know, everyone will want to look as fly as my great uncle. While this has nothing to do with anything, I just want to 1. write this shit down for posterity and 2. let you all know I have some attracitve genes.) Back to our timeline though. Following basic medical advice during a global pandemic is a politically charged issue. The major leaders of our country will not say that the lives of 13.4% of the people in our country matter. We all decided cause its summer we’re going to forget the pandemic and now we’re in worse shape than when we started. (A 4th of July at home chilling is far superior than a 4th of July in the hospital, wondering if you’re going to die.) The President said liberals are trying to overthrow America. Like I’m barely paraphrasing (Also why didn’t I learn in school that Mt. Rushmore was sacred to the Lakota?) Guys, it’s bad! It’s really, really bad!

Going back to Community and its darkest timeline. The Abed there decides that this must be the darkest of the timelines, dons a black goatee (you know, like Evik Spock in Star Trek), and vows to go to the back to the prime timeline (the one our show follows) and take over their counterparts (you know, like Stark Trek). I thought about doing this, but I encountered a few issues. 1. I don’t know how to go to different timelines. 2. When would be the best time to change things and what should I do. Abolish the Electoral College prior to 2016, prior to 2000? Prevent someone from stepping on a butterfly thousands of years ago. It seems too complex.

Eventually Evil Abed decides to not take over the prime timeline, but rather restore his own timeline. I agree with this because 1. the physics of going to another timeline is currently impossible 2. this is probably the only timeline (as various members of Evil Abed’s study group mention) 3. seems like the right thing to do. Prime Timeline Katie is probably having a kick ass summer in her nice new condo, going to work, going places, seeing people. I’ll let her enjoy it. She freaking deserves it!

I know how I want to restore our timeline and they’re things I’ve discussed before. Wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from people unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s almost never absolutely necessary to be less than 6 feet away from people. Don’t get a haircut. Don’t eat indoors in restaurants. Don’t go to the gym. Don’t go to bars. Vote! Sign petitons demanding justice when injustice exist.

The problem is I cannot make anyone else help me. Everyone has to decide for themselves what actions or inactions they will take to affect the timeline. So let’s try to make some smart decisions people.

Global Pandemic Check-In: 3ish Months In

Hi Everybody! Wow, what a few months it has been. 100,000+ American dead, police brutality got thrust back into the spotlight, the response to the police brutality protests was more brutality by the police, journalists were arrested/attacked. Wow! Remember when we were all shook that baseball was canceled. Simpler times!

I, for one, am exhausted! There’s just been so much going on both in the world and personally, that I can barely keep it straight. Each week feels like a month. I like to occasionally play a game I like to call “How Long Ago Was That?” I think of an event (like my birthday) and decide how long ago that was (15 days) and feel incredibly shocked that it hasn’t been like 6 months.

I want to take some time to remind everyone to take care of themselves. Do the things you can still do that make you happy. Remember self-care. Self-care sometimes means taking a step back from news of social media or whatever. Remember you can’t control what is happening in the world, but you can control your response to it.

That being said, we are still in a global pandemic and Covid cases are increasing in many states. Even in Illinois, which has done a good job of re-opening responsibly, is still getting 500+ new case a day. This means every week 3500+ people are getting infected. We’re not out of the woods yet.

The world is starting to open up and I get that everyone wants to go out. I’m starting to go out more too, but definitely much less than the max Illinois can do. Just because the government says it’s ok doesn’t mean you have to do it. You can eat a meal at a restaurant inside, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a risky activity. The government says I can start smoking at 18 and drive with a BAC of .07, but that doesn’t mean that I would do these things.

The government has to balance between what would keep the most people safe, keeping this social construct called the economy safe, and preventing wackadoos from suing the government and canceling all restrictions (hello Wisconsin!). I’m not saying the economy isn’t important. It is. People need to work to afford to live. And if you have to go back into work, go back in, but maybe stay in more when you’re not at work. Limit your exposed.

There’s a certain randomness to Covid. We don’t know who will be asymptomatic and who will get horribly sick. I’ve experienced the randomness of serious illness before. You don’t want it in your life. I’ve had a doctor tell me my lungs will never be 100% the same again. It’s devastating news. And yes, you can heal and recover from a serious illness, but I can tell you it took me years. Years, where I could not do the things I loved bedause of this random illness. In some ways I will tell you I came back stronger, but in some very real ways I have not and probably never will. It’s been 12 years and it hurts to even admit that. I still have times, not many, but some, where every breath hurts. You don’t want that for yourself.

I get economic hardship too. In the past 3 months I have lost my job, moved in with my parents, and indefinitely put my plans of homeownership on hold. But I will tell you, I would rather go through economic setbacks over health problems. 12 years from now, I will have recovered from the loss of income, the gap on my resume, and everything else, but I’ll probably still have bad breathing days. So remember your health is most important and stay safe.

I Finished Reading A Game of Thrones and I Have Some Thoughts

As we all know, I have a new, but strong, for the Game of Thrones television series. Last summer, I happened to be in a bookstore with a $5 off coupon and saw first A Song of Fire and Ice (GoT) book, A Game of Thrones available for like $7, and decided I’d buy it (for like $2!) read it when I had the time. Due to my multiple book clubs, and incredibly busy/important (and humble) life, I was never able to get to it. It’s an incredibly long book! Like about as long as the longest Harry Potter book, so getting the time to read it was going to be no easy feat. Then, we hit a global pandemic and I got laid off, so I finally had the time to read it.

Though I know this will change later in the series, the first book follows the first season fairly well. I thought some events, like our boy Robb being named King of the North, happened in Season 2 of the TV show but in the first book. I was mistaken. I guess Ned and his death were such big parts of the first season, that I assumed his death had to be the finale. I’d like to point out a few important things though.

The book definitely sets up the world better than the TV show. For example, I know the difference between the Andals and the First Men. I kind of thought they were together, like Jesse and the Rippers. The First Men came first (duh), fought the Children of the Forrest, eventually made peace, and worshipped the old gods. The Andals came later, more or less wiped out the Children, and worshipped the Seven. The Northerns are descended from the First Men so they worship the old gods. But since Catelyn is not a Northerner, she worships the Seven. She makes a big deal about not being from the North in the books.

So even in the books Bran is going to be king, which was quite a shock based on the TV show. However, the show did Bran dirty. Bran is all over the books. The only characters to have chapters told from their perspective in Book 1 are: Eddard, Bran, Catelyn, Sansa, Arya, Jon, Tyrion, and Daenerys. If we were to do one of those, which word doesn’t belong based on the show we’d all pick Bran. But here we are, he’s a narrator. Freaking Cersei is not a narrator, but Bran is. While I did not count, I’m pretty sure he narrated more chapters than Arya and Sansa. So I feel like based on the books, he’ll be a less random choice.

A lot of people know this, but a lot of our young adult characters are younger in the books. Jon and Robb are 14 and Dany is 13. What’s also interesting is even Ser Jorah is a bit younger. He’s only about 40. Shae is 18, which is the same age as Theon.

Shae’s character is also a lot less in the books. I feel like she was a bit sassy and into Tyrion from the get go. Here, she’s just a whore and young. Not much else to her personality.

Speaking of Tyrion, he doesn’t get knocked out right away in his first battle but actually fights. He does alright. He’s much less of an alcoholic in the books. Don’t get me wrong he still likes his wine and his whores, but it’s less of his personality. He’s also a lot more physically deformed.

Finally with Tyrion, it’s super apparent he has absolutely nothing to do with somebody trying to murder a comatose Bran! The only reason Catelyn thinks Tyrion did is it is because Littlefinger (that MFer) says it was his knife, but Tyrion won it from him when Tyrion bet against Jaime Lannister in a tournament. In what universe would Tyrion Lannister bet against the only member of his family who doesn’t hate him. Most importantly, in what universe does Catelyn Stark think it’s a good idea to start a war over evidence that stupid!! Continuing on this tangent, I could have sworn in the TV show Cersei tried to kill comatose Bran and set up Tyrion, but I could be misremembering. Finally, how can Littlefinger, who allegedly loves Catelyn so much, have someone try to kill her son and then her cause she’s there and leaves her fingers permanently damaged in the fight. What a jerk! Littlefinger is also into Sansa right away. Creepy!

Speaking of Bran’s injuries. His fall is a little different. in the TV show, he’s just chilling in the window sill when Jaime shoves him out. In the book, he’s on the cusp of falling and Jaime assists (like Scar and Mufasa). So yes, it’s evil, but it’s decidely less evil in my eyes.

Jaime is like barely in this book. It’s mostly mentioned what he’s up to. Jaime is invading River Run, but we don’t actually see him (but we meet the Blackfish, who is at the Vale (?!?) and Catelyn’s brother in the first book). Conversely, Stannis Barethon is mentioned so much in this book. Did you know he was on the Small Council, because I did not.

A few things with Ned. We don’t actually hear Ned get the deal of confess and we’ll send you to the wall, its implied though. The last scene from his perspective, is Varys telling him to think of his children. We get Ned and Robert’s backstory a bit more clearly. Ned and Robert were both sent to the Vale to be wards of Jon Arryn. So basically they were raised like brothers and Jon was like their father. This makes not only Ned’s quest for justice make more sense and also Theon’s position is a bit less awkward.

In the TV show, when we learn the Lysa was behind Jon Arryn’s murder it’s super surprising, but it makes a ton of sense in the books. Jon Arryn was trying to get their son sent away form his mother’s to be someone’s ward because he is such a mama’s boy. Lysa is not about that nonsense. She also leaves King’s Landing the moment he is murdered, you know like a guilty person would do.

After the incident with Arya, Joffrey, Sansa, and the Baker Boy when Sansa is questioned she says it all happened so fast she doesn’t remember. She doesn’t flat out agree with Joffrey and lie. I feel like this makes Sansa a less annoying teenage girl (though still an annoying teenage girl, it’s not her fault, who wasn’t).

Finally, and my opinion most importantly, Syrio never ever teaches Arya that there is only one god, the god of death. And what do we say to the god of death. Not Today!

31 A Year for Fun: Rewatched the Star Wars Movies

Hi all! Let me start off by saying sorry to write this while everything is metaphorically on fire, but I set a deadline to do 12 somewhat fun things and write a blog post about each one before my 32nd birthday and we’re down to the wire. So consider this a quick mental break from the nonsense going on in the world right now.

So, as my dozen of long-time fans already know, I love Star Wars. Earlier this year, I went to Disney and got to pilot the Millenium freaking Falcon! After this great trip to Disney, my sister, who has never felt strongly about Star Wars decided to to finally watch all the movies! As her roomate, I took it upon myself to go through this endeavor with her.

We did all the live action movies in the order in which they came out (4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9) and then the side movies Rogue One and Solo. My sister enjoyed them all, so we have another convert. I was concerned she would miss half of the movie, especially Empire Strikes Back as I would regularly say lines about 10 seconds before the actor and would pause the movie for my Fun Facts! This was coupled with the fact that my Dad would watch the same movie at his home and we’d text each other GIFs of what was happening in the movie. It was a lot for a relaxing movie watching experience. Below are my thoughts on Star Wars.

Thinking about what is going on now, I think we have something to learn from Star Wars. The Rebels sometimes gave up hope, it sometimes felt like too much, but they always rallied and got it done in the end.

They also worked together despite their differences. It’s not uncommon knowledge that the Empire is supposed to be Naziesque (one of my many Fun Facts!), but also the Empire is also not diverse. I’ve never seen a non-human in the Empire and very few women. The Rebellion is a group of people working together despite their differences and that’s what we need to do now. The Naboo and the Gungans had a lot of issues, but they set them aside to defeat the Trade Federation and worked those issues out later. That’s what we need to be doing now.

Also, shoot it takes time to defeat evil! The movies take place over what, like 60 years? It took 60 years to freaking defeat Palpating (also how tf is he back in 9, not a complaint just curious). So it’s going to take some time to get the world to where we want it. Princess/General Leia Organa spent her entire life doing the work and we’re going to have too.

Onto some more random thoughts:

  • Luke Skywalker is annoying. I said it. He’s hysterical in The Last Jedi, but other than that, he’s whiny and self-righteous.
  • I don’t understand how George Lucas could create so many plot holes between the originals and prequels.
  • Leia is a badass! Her entire planet gets destoryed and she just keeps fighting the fight.
  • The Empire Strikes Back is hilarous.
  • I will never not scream during the mynocks scene.
  • Ewoks are amazing!
  • Chewie may be the best of all of them!
  • The prequels are cheesy, but not bad.
  • Qui-gon was killed way too early. So much lost potential.
  • Why does no one else have a purple lightsaber, besides Samuel L. Jackson wanted one?
  • Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen are incredibly attractive.
  • I’m glad they didn’t try to YA novel the prequels and turn it into a love triangle. I feel like if it same out 5 years later they would have tried to do that.
  • There’s a scene in Attack of the Clones that I think exists soley to make you think Anakin is losing his arm. I still get anxious during it.
  • Revenge of the Sith is so frustrating, because on numerous occasions, you watch characters make what you know are bad choices and you see decisions that could have been made but were not that would have had a different outcome.
  • Han Solo’s death was such a great full circle moment for the character. His scene in Rise of Skywalker makes me tear up.
  • The Last Jedi may be the funniest of the movies.
  • The Kylo/Rey force connection sequences are beautifully made.
  • Rey’s origin, while not well explained, was better than the fan theories.
  • I think people need to lay off Solo. It’s not bad, it’s just that Han isn’t the Han we know and love yet. He hasn’t gone through all the stuff that make him Han yet so he’s not the same as the smuggler we know and love.

I have a theory I’d like to share. In The Phantom Menace, Obi-wan discusses being ready for the trials. I believe the trials are the confrontation with joining the Sith and having an easy way to save their friends or finding another way and not joining that Luke, Anakin, and Rey face in the 3rd installment of their movies. Anakin obviously fails, but the rest pass. It’s just a theory, and there’s probably a lot to disprove it, but those are my thoughts.

Speaking of theories, if you need a break from the world Google Jar Jar Binks is really a Sith Lord. I’m not saying it’s true, but I definitely don’t not agree with it.

Finally, there’s a lot of great memes, especially from the prequels. I recommending, Googling Hello There General Kenobi to see some great ones. Also, Ewn McGregor in staring in Christopher Robin gave the world Winnie the Pooh Star Wars crossover memes you didn’t know you needed. It may be the best thing on the internet. It’s over Christopher Robin, I have the high ground!

Until next time, wear your mask and fight the power!