Biden-Harris Inauguration

After 4 long years of anger, racism, hate, lies, wars on science, decency and democracy by a King of the Jackasses presidency and his cowardly enablers, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated today. And he got right to work undoing several of the idiotic things the worst president in history did. I hope after that debacle, Congress can get on with good ol’ fashioned political debate based on reasoning and logic rather than ignorance and lies.

It’s another example of Republicans making a mess of the country and Democrats having to fix it.

200 days of DuoLingo

I haven’t missed a day of French lessons on DuoLingo since I started in June and today I’ve completed 200 consecutive days. According to my DuoLingo score of 78 (out of 160), I can “Follow along with short lines of argument and main plot points, as long as the words are common and familiar” and “Talk fluently about factual topics you know a lot about, such as art, music, and movies”. That may be true if the person speaks to me or I speak to them very slowly. I guess I’m almost half done with the entire course.

Learning French

Earlier this year, Havana started learning French using DuoLingo. When the pandemic started, we all decided we’d follow her lead and learn a language too. I chose French because I took it in high school but never learned as much as I would have liked, plus I thought I could practice with Havana. Hudson, Eva and Gay chose Spanish.

Months later, I’m the only one who still does it regularly. In fact, I never missed a day. Today is my 150th consecutive day! I’ve slowed down a lot since the early days when I would aim for 500 XP points a day and to be #1 in each week’s league competition. That would take me 2-3 hours a day which became too much to commit each day. These days, I’m happy with 100 points per day and to just not get demoted to the league below.

Right now, I have 31,091 XP points am almost at the end of Castle 3 (of 8 Castles), so maybe 35% complete with the entire course. I am far from fluent but much better than I was at French in both reading, writing and listening than I was in high school.

Biden is President-Elect

It took several days since November 3rd of vote-counting for Joe Biden to reach a lead of 0.5% in Pennsylvania when it was called for him which put him over 270 Electoral Votes. The election had the largest turnout in American history and Democrats once again won the popular vote as they have in 7 of the last 8 elections, proving once again that America is more progressive than it is conservative. It’s also more proof that the Electoral College is broken given that it’s not obvious who won when one candidate gets over 4 million votes more than the other candidate.

Our pandemic pod partners, the Silks, came over to celebrate and watch the victory speeches. Congratulations to a long-deserving Joe Biden and to history-making Kamala Harris!

Joe Biden making his best speech ever
Kamala in suffragette white
Bowie, Hudson, Zach, Eli, Fiona, Edie, Eva, Gay, Havana and me toasting champagne (and kids’ champagne)

Good riddance to Trump. What a jackass. True to his character, he’s a sore loser and, despite zero evidence, is pushing conspiracy theories that the Democrats stole the election from him and refuses to concede. Trump and his lemmings believe the Democrats stole the Presidency but no Senate seats. Trump lost because most Americans don’t like him. It’s that simple. The claims of fraud are just a ruse to continue Republican voter suppression tactics to keep voting difficult and to prevent low-income and minorities from voting in future elections. I hope he really does refuse to leave the White House and is hauled out in handcuffs on January 20, 2021. But he’s also a coward, so I predict he’ll leave in the middle of the night so no one can watch.

Patrick’s bumper sticker

51st birthday

It’s a pretty great birthday: an early Daylight Savings Time change gave me an extra hour of sleep, for lunch I had a Katz’s Deli pastrami sandwich direct from NYC, my dad is making good progress in the hospital, the Steelers beat the Ravens and remain undefeated, Jon & Megan got me a a cool Filson waterproof backpack and a case of sour beers and the Seahawks beat the 49ers.

Birthday lunch

For the first time in years, I didn’t have steak for dinner or my traditional German Chocolate Cake. Instead, dinner was takeout from Omega Ouzeri and the cake was from Deep Sea Sugar & Salt.

When Gay and Havana celebrated their birthdays during the pandemic lockdown in March and April, I did not expect Hudson’s or mine would be too. But here we are. Eva’s birthday will be too.

My dad’s slow progress

My dad had surgery Wednesday and then had two seizures that night while recovering. They put him on anti-seizure medication and, while he did have a third seizure soon after, the seizures have stopped. That’s good. But 6 days later he still has not woken up! Because of Covid, my mom can’t even visit him in the hospital so we had a Zoom call with him hoping he’d hear our voices and we could encourage him to wake up. But this afternoon, we heard that he partially opened his eyes after being asked to by the nurse and he is pulling back from pain tests (pinching, touching his hand, etc) which is the first positive sign. I’m very hopeful for the first time in days.

I voted!

Washington State has had mail-in voting since 1983 and it’s been an option for all Washington residents to vote by mail since 1991. In 2005, it became legal for counties to do voting entirely by mail if they chose to and in 2011, after 38 of 39 counties statewide went exclusively to mail-in voting, mail-in voting became the only option for Washington voters. I’ve never voted in person in Washington and we can verify online that our ballots have been received and counted.

I Voted! social media profile image in English

I’m rethinking my opinion of the Electoral College. I fear the “tyranny of the majority” too so I’ve always agreed with the reasons the Electoral College exists but it failed in 2000 and 2016 by not doing its job — it did nothing in both cases. In both those elections, the winner of the popular vote did not become the President. That has happened 3 times before but hadn’t happened in 112 years. In 2000, judges were allowed to decide the outcome of the election rather than the people or even the Electoral College. In 2016, which seemed exactly what the Founding Fathers were trying to avoid by creating the Electoral College — a demagogue — the Electoral College again did nothing. If it doesn’t fulfill its purpose, we need to either fix it or get rid of it. We’ve correctly gotten rid of a few other things that were originally in the Constitution, so we can get rid of this too.

Worse, the Electoral College means that everyone’s vote is not equal. The Electoral College votes are intended to represent the populations of each state, but they don’t. A table showing each state population and how many people one Electoral College vote represents, shows how unequal they are. For example, one electoral vote in Wyoming represents 192,920 people compared to Texas where one electoral vote represents 763,050 people. That means that a Wyomingite’s vote is worth almost four times more than a Texan’s vote! The average electoral vote across the country represents 515,000 people and in 21 states a single electoral vote represents fewer than that, so votes in 21 states have more voting power than votes in the other 30 (which includes the non-state District of Columbia), from 2-4 times as much! It’s just math, this is easy to fix but politicians don’t want to change it because it gives them more power and makes it easier for them to influence elections. The Founding Fathers would surely consider that closer to tyranny than democracy.

My dad in emergency surgery

My 85 year-old dad fell down taking the recycling out into the garage last night, got up, went into the house and for hours carried on and didn’t even realize he fell. Later in the evening, my mom noticed a scratch on his arm and he complained that his head hurt so my mom called 911 and they took him to the hospital. He may have a concussion. That’s how I understand the facts, at least.

This morning, he had surgery to remove a hematoma on his brain — we were initially told it was a blood clot — and the surgery was quick and apparently went well. He’s not out of the woods yet, but I’m optimistic. Unfortunately, my mom can’t even visit him in the hospital yet because of Covid.

I love you Dad, I hope you can read this soon!